Friday, December 31, 2010

11, or maybe '11, Goals

I'll have to confess...I really "hate" New Year's Resolutions.  I've made, and broken, my fair share which is why I don't like them.  Why say I'm going to lose 20 pounds, clean out ever closet in my house or finally get all those pictures in a scrapbook when I "know" I won't do it?  For the past I don't know how many years I've just decided not to resolve to do anything.  That way what ever I did manage to get "done" would be better than what I had planned. usual, my sweet husband recently challenged my thinking without even realizing what he was doing.  He got to talking about goal-setting and about being intentional about some various things in his own life.  I told him I had just gotten used to the idea that I'm a "winger"; I had just accepted this "fact" about myself.  (Winger-someone who wings life, doesn't live by a list.)  For years I had lists for everything.  Not just the average "to do" list for the day or week, the usual yearly resolutions, or your run-of-the-mill bucket list.  I had lists of lists of lists, budget lists, lists of books I wanted to read/movies I wanted to watch, lists of plans for my house, my yard, my get the picture.

The only problem with all these lists....they "never" came to pass.  Usually the fastest way for me to break a goal was to write it down!  I'm probably the only person you'll ever meet who can go to the store with a grocery list only to mark half the items off without buying them and buy twice as many things that weren't on there at all!  I had just come to terms with the "fact" that all those lists and plans stressed me out more than they helped me be organized or focused.  I accepted the "fact" that winging things meant never having to apologize to myself for breaking a plan/goal.

But, as is often the case with's not that simple.  I think it took me letting go of my ideas of what it means to set (and keep) a goal for me to be able to embrace the real idea of setting (and keeping) a goal.  It comes back to the fear of success/fear of failure.  I have long had it in my mind that if I give up a goal I'm not really failing....but I'm coming to believe that not trying to reach a goal I want for myself amounts to failure before I even start.

So....I'll resolve once more.  But this year, I'll resolve with resolve to complete my goals for the year.

In this blog I'll only worry you with my "fitness" related goals for the year.  First, my planned races:
  • January--I think I'll start the New Year off with a 4 mile "fun run"
  • February 13th--Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon New Orleans
  • February 26th--Wounded Warrior 5K
  • March 26th--McKay Hollow Madness 25K
  • April 23rd--helping direct the Cookie Dash 5K!!
  • May 15th--Iron Girl!!  (Sprint Tri)
  • May 30th--CONQUER Cotton Row 10K (sub 60 should be doable) ((OR I'll do the 5K and shoot for sub 25:00))
  • June--Heel and Crank Duaththon
  • August 28th--Rocket Man (Olympic distance) Triathlon
  • October--Huntsville Half
  • December--Rocket City Marathon and Recover from the Holidays 50K (first Ultra)
I plan to complete my first sprint and Olympic distance triathlons as well as my first duathlon, marathon and ultra.  As far as time goals go, I want to break 25 in a 5K by June, break 60 in a 10K, and 2:15 in a Half (maybe in New Orleans??).  I don't have a time goal for the tri's, the duathlon, McKay, the marathon or the 50K.

I'm planning on making P90X a staple of my fitness routine, up my running mileage, and bike and swim at least two to three times a week.  It might sound like a lot, but really it isn't as much as it sounds.  I'm hopefully going to learn from my mistake last year of not working backwards from my goal races to make sure I get adequate training and don't try to do too much too fast. 

I'm working on a plan now.  A plan I plan to keep! 


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Memory Lane

It's that time of year when we all (most of us anyway) look back on the past year....and then ahead to the fresh new one about to start.

I can hardly believe this year is almost over....and am even more shocked with all I've accomplished.  Although I didn't check off the main running goal I had set for myself this time last year (running Rocket City)....I'm very pleased with where I'm at.  I'm going to take a little stroll down the 2010 Memory Lane...
January-notice the pond is iced over!
I started out January 11th...It was TWELVE degrees outside!  I walked 30 minutes...wearing SEVERAL layers of clothes, including my giant down winter coat!!  By the end of the month, I was hooked.  I was walking to warm up, then running/walking in various intervals (running  up to about a minute), then walking to cool down.  My longest distance was 2.39 miles (which took me 32:41 to complete).  Quote of the month:  "The goal is to get to where I can run comfortably for that middle 10 minutes."  ((Running comfortably for ten minutes isn't even a good warm up anymore!!))

This is when the goofy pre-race pose started!

In February, I signed up for (and ran) my very first (real) race-the Wounded Warrior.  It was supposed to be a 5K, but thanks to weather it was shortened to a basically a 3K.  I achieved all my goals in the race-1) not be last, 2) run the whole time, and 3) pass someone!!  When I run out on that course now I think about that morning (more often than not).  That girl didn't have any idea she could run!!  Notice the cotton long sleeve shirt.  I had one like 3 layers under that, too!!  Plus I was wearing running tights under my pants!  I was in complete awe of all the "real" runners out there that day.  I can't wait to do this race again!

My calves had started bothering me early on.  I wish I had known then what I know now--it was a matter of strength.  If I had worked on over all strength, particularly the fronts of my lower legs, AND if I had RICEd, and rolled, I don't think I would have had the injury that was coming on.  Quote of the month:  Train by my instruments.  (I need to keep that one in mind!)

By March (with an ever painful left calf) I was running 5/1 intervals and had gotten up to FOUR MILES (average pace of 12:26).  I had started a training group with Fleet Feet to train for Cotton Row where I met Speedy...someone who would come to be one of my best friends!!  Who knew that she and I would be coaching the group just a year later??!!  I don't have any pictures from March because it was pretty much "just" training the whole time.  Quote of the month would be a tie between "Keep running and stick with the plan" and "Cross train!"
That contraption on my hip is a heart rate monitor I had to wear for 21 days...
A lot of good things happened in April.  I ran my first "real" 5K (Cookie Dash in 33:19), I won a six month membership to Riveria Fitness and started strength training, I ran hills (and on the trails) for the first time, I went to the doctor (and started PT) because of the pain in my left calf, and I called myself a "real runner"!!  Quote of the month:  "When I get in better running shape, I can certainly see myself trail running." 
I had to take my own pre-race photo since I was all alone that morning!
May...Even though my left calf had been hurting since the beginning, May is the "injury" month in my mind.  The pain had ramped up to the point I was limping a good bit of the time.  I simply couldn't take it any longer and scheduled an MRI just before Cotton Row (my goal race at the time).  Because I go to church with my doctor I found out the results (periostitis) before race day...although I didn't let that stop me from rimping (run/limping) through the 10K (at a horrible time of 1:17:36).  May was a painful month.  Because I had been so stubborn in the previous months I had a TERRIBLE 10K experience ...but I did finish what I had started and found out I'm not as wimpy as I think I am (but don't tell my husband!)  I also ran an 8K that month...and pretty much met my goals for that race (see the goals above for Wounded Warrior).  My time wasn't great (58:27), but I was proud that, other than just a little 10 second break, I ran the whole time (even through pain).  Quote of the month:  "I overlooked the pain I was in."  (Not a smart thing...but -hopefully- lesson learned.)

June was tough.  I couldn't run, and didn't know what the 5-6 weeks off would do to me.  But...I discovered Newtons and spin class, and I embraced a whole new way of eating thanks to the diagnosis of multiple food allergies.  This month was a turning point for me.  Instead of the time off causing me to lose steam, it actually helped me more than I could have imagined at the time.  My husband tells me now that he fully expected me to quit.  It would have been understandable because of all I had been through and given my MO.  Needless to say, I didn't give up.  No pictures, but the quote of the month will only be truly funny when you read my race schedule for the year... "...even though I'd really love to get a bike and train for a tri...I think it's a bit too much right now."

I saved this BIG guy on a run--he was easily 4-5 inches long!
Ah July, month of independence.  When I think back over the year, July is when I would say I really started running.  Having healed from the injury, and having given up all the foods that were wreaking havoc on my immune system, I felt like I had emerged from a cocoon!!  I started running with Turtle, swimming with Flipper, and even went on a trail run with friends.  I discovered not only yoga...but also my GLUTES!!  I remember feeling incredibly nervous, not sure what would happen.  Quote:  "Next year, I'm going to do the HiWAAY Sprint Tri--run 3 miles, bike 6, then swim 400 meters. Heck, maybe by then I'll do the Olympic distance Rocketman Tri (1.5-km swim / 40-km bike / 10-k run).....or maybe I won't do that!!"  (You can see where this is going, right??)

August ...I started coaching NOBO and running with Daisy.  I have to be careful here because if I start talking about Daisy I'll start gushing like a school girl.  Suffice it to say, I love her.  (Not in a freaky way...don't go there.)  I ran the Running of the Bulls 5K (and set a new 5K PR of 32:44) and was just so disappointed in my performance I wanted to cry.  I didn't stop to think about where I'd been...just where I was on that particular morning.  If I could go back to that day, I'd just have to slap myself and remind myself of something I had said just days earlier:  "I'm just so darn shocked with how well I've been doing."  One race shouldn't make or break me....ever.

Can you tell I've lost weight??
In September, I didn't tell anyone but I made the difficult decision not to run Rocket City.  Several factors impacted the decision not the least of which was my resolve not to train myself into injury again.  I took the pressure off and relaxed.   I had several good (dare I say GREAT) runs with Daisy and a completely amazing first Half Marathon (I can say that now that the sting of the loss from that day has cooled).  My time wasn't fantastic (by my standard), but was a VERY respectable 2:38:59.  (Certainly something to beat!)  I noticed a marked improvement on my pace...which lead to the quote of the month: "THAT is the power of speed work....and hills for that matter.  When it was over, I was glad I had done it....but it still didn't feel good."

Ah-ctober.  I started doing P90X, and riding a real road bike (borrowed from MV8r).  Most notable happening of the month:  I WON FIRST PLACE IN MY AGE DIVISION IN MY FIRST EVER TRAIL RACE.  Now, I won't belabor the fact that most of the serious runners were competing in the longer race being held at the same time, that's beside the point!!  (I came in 6th place out of 25 women!!)  Knowing I really didn't run my very best race that day (for a long list of excuses I won't trouble you with) is surprisingly still very encouraging to me.  I think that little Alabama shaped medal helped me BEGIN to think I really can run well.  It got me to thinking about what it means to do my "best" and if there would ever be a "good enough".  The answer is this month's quote:  "No, "my best" is not "good enough"....and that's exactly why I'm afraid I won't do good enough, because even my best doesn't cut it."  Interestingly enough, I was very upset with myself when I wrote that post.  I thought it was wrong to think I wouldn't reach a point where "my best" was "good enough"...but now I think the truth is that there's "always" going to be room for improvement.  So "my best" really will continue to change.  Reaching for a result that is just beyond what might be "my best" right now in this moment is NOT a bad thing.  It doesn't make me a bad person, or any less content with what I have right just means I recognize that I can get better.  That is a very humbling thought.

Before I put on my tiara....

Although I ran FOUR races in November, it will forever be the "Chasing the Turkey" month for me.  Neither the Huntsville Half, the Krispy Kreme Challenge, nor the Jingle Bell Run were "my" races.  I paced in both of them.  The Turkey Chase was going to be "MY" race....but it turned out to live completely up to it's name.  I chased the turkey'll have to read the blog post for the full story.  (((I'll change the picture once I have the photos in my computer.)))  I think this month's quote is what helped December be as good as it has been.... "...the truth is as long as I'm not trying my hardest, I'm failing before I even start."

From Jingle Bell 5K (notice how warm it was that day by my outfit!)
December has been my best running month yet.  I can NOT get over how much I've improved in one short month.  I set a new 5K PR in the Rudolph Run (28:45) to prove it!  I don't know if it has been a physical improvement as much as it has been a mental one.  I don't even feel like the same person.  The exciting thing is I believe I'll continue to see exponential improvement.  I don't have a quote for the month yet...I still have one more post to write before the year is over.

Thanks for taking this stroll down memory lane with me.  It's been a great year!!  Come back tomorrow to read about my goals for 2011.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rudolph Run Race....

I knew one friend had been running a bit slower, and had been hurting since she ran the St Jude's I told her I'd see her at the finish line.  I decided I'd stay with the other little group of gals unless they either took off too fast, or slowed down too much.  I knew the start felt a bit quick, but it wasn't so bad I couldn't talk so I figured it couldn't be too fast.

This course is pretty nice for spectators for the most part. 

My cheerleaders saw me off at the start...then walked over a block to see me at about the half mile point...then walked over another block to see me at 2.5...then walked back a block to see the finish.  I knew from the day before the long straight stretch was going to be the worst part (other than the second little hill).  It was SO NICE to have friends to chat with. 

I was actually really glad there weren't split callers on the course.  I knew we were ahead of pace, but I didn't know we hit mile one at 9:21 (I'm pretty sure that was my fastest mile up to that point in time.)  I felt like I could run faster but at the same time I knew I didn't want to run off from my friends only to have them pass me later because I was walking!  I don't remember anything we talked about, but it certainly kept my mind occupied which kept it from feeding me a line of negativity! 

The course elevation profile shows some hills that I just didn't perceive.  The only two I had any thoughts about were on Greene and on Williams.  I was concentrating on those hills so intently, I didn't even realize we had passed mile two---split time of...are you ready for this....9:14 (new mid-race mile PR!!).  We lost one gal somewhere between mile 2 and 2.5.  The hill on Greene was shockingly easy (again).  I had intended to slow down just a bit going up the hill on Williams but one of the gals I was running with kicked it in and I didn't want to lose her so I did too.  When we got to the top she gleefully said, "I LOVE HILLS!!"  Freak.  (Yeah, I know...I've said the same thing...I'm a freak too!  The difference is, she's much faster than I am....she's done a 50K, she should be faster...)

The down hill didn't feel as good as it usually does....I realize from looking at the Garmin data that's because I was running faster than I think I ever have for any length of time!  We got to Cruse Alley and I remember thinking the finish was just around the corner somewhere, but I actually had some trouble at that point concentrating on how much further we had to go.  One of the gals started speeding up and although I wanted to stay with her, I just didn't think I could.  However, I do know I was still talking just a bit.  I wasn't chatting it up, but I was making words.  I had the thought that I really shouldn't be making words at that point in a 5K race.

Just after we rounded the last corner, I asked the 50k girl I was with if "that" was the finish....there was a banner hanging up, but I didn't know if that was my goal line or not.  She said it was and asked me if I wanted to catch the other girl.  I sort of breathed out "yes" in that higher pitched sound you make when you think "that's a good idea for you, but I don't know if that's going to work for me."  I started having that sensation I seem to always have that the finish that the line seems to move away from me faster than I am moving toward it!!  I started thinking I might throw up...and then I heard my daughter and my best friend cheering for me!!!!  I decided I better not puke since they might be taking pictures.

I "knew" I had a kick no matter how drained I was feeling, and I knew I needed to turn it on because it was about to be over and I'd regret it if I didn't with complete disregard for who I might be passing I did my best to sprint....  If you look at the data, it worked.  At mile 2.98 I was at a 7:54 pace...mile 3.02-7:30...mile 3.07-6:52...and my final pace was 5:07!!!  Amazing!!  (Mile 3 split time was 8:52!!!!)

I was breathing hard, but about one minute after I crossed the finish line I was completely recovered.  Final official time--28:45, 16/43 in my age group (the master's winner was in my group) and 233/636 over all).  I think that's the very first race I've finished in the top half!!!!!  Don't get me wrong--I'm OVERJOYED and very happy with the results...and, at the same time...I believe it wasn't the "best" I can do. 

I talked to the coach who paced me in the Cookie Dash later and he said I should be able to chat and talk in a 5K.  He said I should feel pushed close to my limit the whole time.  So...I set a new goal.  I want to break 25 by June.  I'll need to incorporate hills and speed work into my training runs, but I believe it's completely doable.  (By the way, breaking 25 would have put me in fourth place in my age group--third really since the master's winner was in my group.)

It was a great race.  The whole process has opened my eyes to the realization that first of all--I'm getting much faster, and second of all--I am still holding back.  God gave me an ability that I believe is a gift.  No...I'm not saying I'm super fast, or anything like that.  But, when I was doing the course run-through I saw a man in a wheelchair who had no legs.  I thanked God for giving me the ability and desire to run.  Like I said before, I don't want to run faster to prove anything to anyone.   I just want what is seen on the outside to match what I believe on the inside.  Yes, there is still a nag in my head, but I am stepping out in faith on the belief that she is a LIAR.

I really like what Eric Charette says:
I'm just an ordinary person with average abilities striving to do extraordinary things and through hard work, every day I get a little closer.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

And, Merry Christmas!!!


Rudolph Run Pre-Race Recap

Man...what a boring title!  But, hey...might as well call it what it is!!

Back a couple of months ago I was talking to my two main running buddies about pacing at the last few races I've been in.  (When you coach, your entry is paid if you agree to pace participants in the training group.)  I was talking about how I didn't really believe I could run a sub-30 5K and they called me out.  They both said they believed I could do it easily....and challenged me to race against them at the Rudolph Run. of them got hurt and the other one had sick family, so neither of them entered.  Not only that, I was forced to run alone several times leading up to that day.

There's a longish side story that I won't go into...but my best friend from Arkansas got to come to watch me race.  I explained to her that I wasn't racing to WIN, but to beat myself, to beat my time, and mainly to beat the thoughts in my head that I can't go faster than what I've been running.  She and my daughter came out in the freezing cold to cheer me on.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again--having loved ones out on the course is like pouring gas on a fire for me.  It just infuses me with energy!!

Anyway...I went out the day before the race to run the course, just to get a feel for it.  The only thing I didn't like was one lone straight stretch (those tend to be boring).   There are two "hills" on the course.  I remember the first time I encountered the first hill....when I realized my training group was going to "run" up it...I just about laughed out loud.  I thought I'd "never" be able to run up the whole thing.  That hill has become VERY easy for me now.  I'm not bragging...I'm saying it's amazing!  The second hill is a little tougher, but I had run up it a couple of times and didn't explode, so I knew I could do it...and the reward is a nice, fast, down hill slope.  On my training run I had to remind myself the whole time to stay slow...and I still kept an easy 10:30 pace.

Now, let me say here for all you seasoned racers....I haven't really had the experience of running a race much faster than my training runs.  I read a blog post one time where someone talked about "those runners who race at their training pace"....that was the first time it even occurred to me there could be a difference.  The problem is I really have no idea what kind of time difference we're talking here.  So when I finished the easy practice run in 31:50....I just wasn't sure what that meant I could run the actual race in.  Could I REALLY knock off almost two full minutes??  Also, I have learned I can run "much" faster after a mile or so warm up-something I didn't do before the practice. 

I had made plans to run a couple of slow miles to warm up with a few friends.  I think that was the best decision I made for this race.  I wasn't as nervous as usual because I felt strangely confident.  I knew I had been running pretty fast and I knew I had run the course the day before at an EASY 10:30 pace so I "knew" I could go a bit faster than that.  At the same time, I was hoping to find someone to hang with so I could chat and not have to listen to the thoughts in my head.  The friends I warmed up with didn't say they had a time goal...but one of them said she hoped to break 30 which meant a 9:45 pace.  YIKES...saying it out loud started up the naysayer in my head.  I decided to set my virtual partner for 9:45 and then VOWED to not look at the pace, but just check to see if I was ahead or behind at any given moment.  (Rather than constantly checking like I usually do!)

Completely without fanfare someone yelled go and we were off.....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Accurate Reflection

A friend posted a quote on FaceBook recently that said,
"Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit… we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts."– Aristotle
My reply was,
I believe we do what we do because of what we just doing something in an effort to make us into something we don't accept as true about ourselves is futile!! I think the key is to first change your beliefs then act out of faith on that belief...almost the same but not quite. (it's a different direction really.)
What's interesting to me is the fact that when we initially change our core beliefs, most of the time, our outward behavior doesn't exactly match what we have decided to believe.  We have to step out in faith on that belief so that our actions become an accurate reflection of what's on the inside.  The hard part is changing the belief in the first place.

When people try to go about this process by doing the reverse, change behaviors in order to change beliefs, it just ends up frustrating the person. 

Let me give you an example...I used to think I couldn't run.  I tried to run because other people said anyone could run...but I just couldn't do it.  No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't seem to make it happen.  All my "attempts" just reaffirmed my belief.  In January I made the decision that I COULD be a runner, I just had to figure out how best to make my body fall in line with what my mind believed.  Instead of looking at the fact I couldn't run 30 seconds straight as a "failure", I looked at it as a starting point...and every tiny movement forward from that point (running 40 seconds) was "proof" that my belief was correct.

I think the big problem is when someone SAYS they believe one thing, but their actions tell a different story.  Our actions ALWAYS reveal our core beliefs.  ...and when a change in behavior is necessary, it's crucial to examine the underlying thoughts that drive that behavior first.  Then you can make a conscious decision regarding what you will, and won't, hold on to.  The "easy" part is acting out of faith on that decision.

A month ago the gauntlet was thrown when my regular running buds challenged me to a race that was held this past Saturday.  They both ended up not being able to compete...but I was committed to trying my best to run a sub-30 5K.  I honestly didn't start out thinking I could do it....but my buddies forced me to look at the truth-the data from my runs.  They challenged my beliefs.  They basically opened my eyes to the fact I was buying into a lie.  I didn't need to change my behavior...I just needed to change what I accepted as truth. 

It wasn't like I set out to run faster so I would believe I could....the truth was I just simply had to open my eyes to what was already happening.  In those times when my mind wasn't in control (at the end of the Cookie Dash race, on every day runs where I was just chatting away and still running a 10:30 pace, times when I thought I needed to stop running buy Daisy said that wasn't an option and --miraculously-- I was able to keep going) I was already going much faster than I thought I could.  My belief that I couldn't do it didn't match what was already happening....  I decided to accept the idea I COULD run "fast" (meaning, to me, last Saturday, a sub 30 5k).

I stepped out in faith on that belief in Saturday's race....and I not only reached my sub-30 goal....I ran it in 28:45!!!  I'm going to write up a race recap because I don't want to forget even a moment, but for now, let me just say I went into the race treading lightly on a new observation of myself-and it proved to be ROCK SOLID!!  This is another new starting point for me.  January 2010 I started working to make my body accurately reflect my mind's decision that I AM a runner....January 2011 I'm working to make my times accurately reflect my mind's decision that I AM a FAST runner.  (My new goal--one I'm SURE I will achieve--a sub 25:00 5k.)'s the thing....I'm not seeking faster times as a way to validate myself or my ideals.  I read a great quote of a quote today that I think fits.....

"...a gold medal is a wonderful thing.  But if you're not enough without one, you'll never be enough with one." --from the movie Cool Runnings.....quoted by David Purinton, Huntsville Track Club President, in an article written for the HTC News.  I don't need a faster time to show anyone anything--not even to show me that I am a fast runner.   It's not a matter of trying to prove to myself that I can run faster.  It's just a matter of bring the external in line with the internal. 

The truth doesn't change just because the image does.....
I want to be an accurate reflection of my beliefs.

Thanks for stopping in; come again real soon!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Survivor Lessons

I LOVE Survivor.  I've watched every episode since the second show of the second season.  I can't adequately describe to you just how much I love it, or how excited I get watching it.  It seems to get better every year.

If you don't know anything about the game (is there really anyone who doesn't know??)...the game starts out with two tribes who compete against each other in challenges for rewards and team immunity. The tribe who loses the immunity challenge must vote one of their own members out. As the numbers dwindle, usually when there are about ten players left, the two tribes merge into one big group. At that point it becomes an individual game. If you win individual immunity you are safe from the vote and are closer to becoming the SOLE SURVIVOR.

The SOLE SURVIVOR, the winner of the game, the person who outwits, outplays and outlasts every other person wins not only the title, but ONE MILLION DOLLARS!! Not bad.

The game is not just a matter of physical and mental strength. It's a very social game. The people you are playing with choose whether or not to keep you around.   In the end, after the merge, the people who are voted off become the "jury".  (When there are only three contestants left, the jury votes for the person they want to have the $1M.)  Just like in life, the jury votes are based on wildly different things. Some of them have voted for the nastiest player because the majority of that group of people believed that was the meaning of game. Other groups have voted for the weakest-looking player because that person didn't rely on physical strength, but instead on his/her social prowess. You can't ever tell which way a jury will swing.

Something happened on a recent episode that has never happened before in the history of the show. Not one, but TWO people quit. Just simply quit the game. I had to look it up, because I only actually remembered a couple of them, but in all of Survivor history there have only been six contestants to voluntarily leave the game (we're now in the 21st season!).

Now, let me say....a lot of players THINK about quitting, a lot of players TALK about quitting...but most of them stick it out.  One player this season had to be talked out of leaving early on (by fellow tribe-mate, legendary coach Jimmy Johnson).  That player, Holly, did her very best to talk the other players into staying...even though their leaving would bring her two steps closer to being the winner of the game.  She said, "you signed up for something now suck it up and finish it".

That statement, and that attitude has really stuck with me.  Much like the sayings I got from this blog, "behave in accordance with a decision previously made", as well as "suck it up, buttercup"..."you signed up for something...finish it" will go into my file of mantras.  Not that I've ever even considered not finishing a race, but with the idea of "finishing", for me, comes the idea of finishing well.  I'm tired of that feeling after a race that I could have (and should have) done much better. 

At some point, just surviving can't be enough....I want to THRIVE.  My "race" is this Saturday.  My goal is to leave it all on the do my very best, the whole 3.1 miles.  My A goal is to run my first sub-30 5K.  There, I said it.  That's what I want.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon! :D

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shopping for My First

I struck gold.

I was checking out the Fleet Feet Huntsville Racing Team website one day.  I clicked on "Team Blogs" and found How We Roll...  Because I'm a comments reader (most of the time anyway), I found See Jane Run.  


Jane is a local runner who (whom?) I didn't know prior to reading her blog.  I love the way she writes.  More than that, I love what she writes about most--her faith and (duh...) running.  Although she's younger than I am, I hope I can be like her one day in all three of these areas (writing, running, and how she expresses her faith).

Last night I read her most recent post, "Just Looking", and it solidified something in my mind that's been buzzing around up there for quite some time.  Let me sidestep just a minute and tell you a story.  (It's related, I promise.)

I used to shop for jeans by just going to a store I liked the look of (Gap), or a store I could afford at the time (Target), and grab up a bunch of sizes and styles and then buy the ones that were the most comfortable and/or were the cheapest.  Obviously I checked out my butt, however I never liked the way any jeans looked on me, so that never really mattered as much as comfort and price.  It never occurred to me there might be a better way to shop for jeans (meaning a way for me to find jeans that fit well, look good, and are worth the price tag).

Until I shopped with Speedy!!  After the Women's Half Marathon, she, MV8r, Mom* and I went to the mall.  Speedy wanted a new pair of jeans from Buckle.  Just the thought of shopping for jeans breaks me out in hives so I opted to watch the AL/AR game on the large Dish Network kiosk TV in the center of the mall...while the others spent no less than an hour in the store trying on every style of jeans they have.  Let me say, I didn't know there were that many kinds of jeans in one store.  Afterwards they were all talking about how Buckle has the best jeans and how the salespeople still work on commission so they strive to make you happy so you'll buy more. 

That night MV8r offered to let me borrow a pair of her Buckle jeans since we are roughly the same size and shape.  Okay...what's worse for me than shopping for jeans?  Trying on a pair of jeans that looks great on someone else (because I know they won't fit and/or look good on me).  I tried to say no, but she insisted she knew I would like them...and as usual, she was right!  They fit like a glove.  I loved everything about them.  The next week I decided to go to Buckle and buy that exact pair.  I got the size, brand and style so I wouldn't have to try anything on.

Wouldn't you know it...they didn't have them in the store.  The sales guy did everything he could to get me to try something else, telling me I could make an appointment if I didn't have time right then.  He also told me he was the manager and didn't make commission, but it's his passion to make sure people leave his store loving their jeans.   I refused, thinking I'd just buy MV8r's exact pair on-line--after all, I already found the pair I love.   Uh, no dice-not available. 

So, I bit the bullet and set up a time to "get fitted" for jeans.  I won't go into that story, but suffice it to say I left with a pair I LOVE.  They look great on me, they fit like a glove, and they are worth the price tag.  I like everything about them--the fit, the color wash, the pockets, the length.  I love them every time I put them on.

.....When I read Jane's latest post, basically about window shopping for races, it got me to thinking about how I have been choosing what events to enter.  And, how I've been doing that the same way I used to choose jeans.  All the ones I've done so far have either been "comfortable", convenient or cheap.  (I really did want to do the Women's Half, but I wouldn't have registered if it weren't for friends who were also doing it.)  I have registered for the Rock N' Roll Mardis Gras Half Marathon and I am looking forward to it VERY MUCH.  But, that race is about the location (NOLA), and the hype (Rock N' Roll series)....certainly NOT about the race or the course.  ((just like I used to buy jeans based on comfort and price not how they fit ME.))

I have a couple of races in my cross hairs I think will be a good fit for me--McKay Hollow Madness and Iron Girl Atlanta.   But, as I start the search for my first marathon, I'm trying to seriously consider what I'm looking for.  Just like when Speedy went looking for jeans, she knew the exact features she was looking for (not only size, but wash, pocket style, rise length, waistband, etc...), I am trying to develop a list of features I want in a marathon. 

I think I'll take my time on this decision because, unlike jeans, I will ALWAYS remember my first marathon.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon.

(*By the way, "Mom" is not really my mother, but it's another runner's's a long story I won't ever tell here!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chasing the Turkey

We always go to my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving. I love it there. I love being at her house, I love all my in-laws, and I love where she lives. My only sadness this year (well, apart from not being able to eat all my usual favorite Thanksgiving Day foods because of food allergies) was not being in town for our "Turkey Trot" race. I knew it was going to be a fairly small event, but with all the familiar faces of the local runners I love seeing at races. So, I decided to find out if there would be a race where we were going...and lo and behold, I found one!!

The Inaugural Bluffton Turkey Chase was being held about 30 minutes away from Mom's house! I talked to my husband about registering for the race; I didn't want to offend his family by being gone that morning, and didn't want to stress anyone out by having my own (selfish) agenda. At the same time, with all my food allergies, knowing I wasn't going to be able to eat any of the yummy food, I really wanted something fun to look forward to on Thanksgiving. The day before the race he said he not only thought it would be a good idea, he said he was considering registering himself as well.

Now...let me say he used to be an elite (local) runner. He wouldn't compete with the Kenyans or anything, but he won a lot of his college cross country races, and was a front-of-the-pack runner in the handful of other-than-college races he entered. His best one mile time was in the 4's, and his usual 5K and 15K pace was in the low 5's. He was fast...back in the day. That was about 25 or so years ago ...:::cough::: and 25 or so pounds ago as well :::cough:::... , and long before he practically shattered his ankle in a non-running-related accident. Although he sporadically works out on the elliptical, let me just say he is not in the best of shape to go out and run a 5K. the same time, I know him well enough to know he wouldn't do anything to hurt himself.  He's had a full physical and has recently been to the cardiologist who said he has a very strong heart. That said, I was thrilled with the possibility of running a race with him....and yet, I knew he would NOT be able to keep up with me if I decided to RACE. I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, bragging...I'm just telling it like it is. I've been running and he hasn't....and he has a gimpy ankle.

He made it very clear that I could do what ever I wanted to do-run with him or race on my own...or start out with him and then take off mid-race. But, I was internally very torn. There was a huge part of me that wanted to just RACE the thing and see exactly what I could do under the veil of anonymity! No pressure to perform, and absolutely no expectations from anyone for anything. I had a great run the day before and was feeling pretty spunky. Although it was a little warm, it was NICE running weather and it looked to be a flat, fast course....and it seemed to be a very small race (read: less competition!).

BUT, this might be my "only" chance at running with the love of my life...a chance I didn't want to take for granted. We registered that morning without any idea what I was going to do (his plan was to just walk/run/finish). I did a full on warm up (complete with butt-kickers and high knees and a good half mile or so topped off with a couple little wind sprints) ...while he took in the scenery. As we were waiting to start I continued to debate what I would do (run with him or not).  He started talking smack, saying if I wanted to beat him I needed to do it early on because if I waited to the sprint for the finish he would smoke my ham.

I should have realized what was happening.  But I didn't.

I not only bit the bait, I swallowed it hook, line and sinker. I agreed to run with him, and we decided to run 5 minutes and walk 1 minute, at a pace set by him, and then we'd race to the finish when we got to the last tenth of a mile.

They sounded the horn and we were off.  Since this race was called the "Turkey Chase" they had someone wearing a turkey hat on a bike out in front leading the way--CUTE.  We very quickly lost sight of him...but we were still running MUCH faster than I would have EVER started on my own.  Our first run interval was at a pace of between 7:39-9:17!!

Again, I should have realized what was happening.  But I didn't.

My "poor" husband was wheezing and huffing and puffing.  I kept saying we were starting off too fast, that there was no way he'd be able to keep that pace up the whole time.  He told me I needed to go ahead and leave him but at that pace, I was doing good just to keep up!  But, I knew it was only for 5 minutes and then we'd have a walk break so it was all good.  At the end of our 60 second reprieve, my dear husband sounded like he was going to keel over.  I kept asking him if he needed to walk longer and he kept telling me NO.  We slowed down each interval after that.

We were passed by the woman in the knee brace.  We were passed by the man we met at the start who said he never runs.  We were passed by the woman pushing the baby jogger.  We were passed by the 5 year old running with his grandmother.  Then we were passed by the man walking with the oxygen tank.  Only kidding about that last part, but at one point I heard sirens and was CONVINCED someone had heard my darling husband gasping for air and decided to call 911.  Yes, it was REALLY that bad.  The whole time we were running, I felt GREAT.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't have maintained that initial pace he set for the whole race, but maybe I could have done it using the interval method.  But he seemed like he was doing good just to continue to move forward much less to keep running.

With each interval he made it appear to be harder and harder to keep going the full time, but he did...until we neared the end of the race.  He said he wanted to shorten our last run interval (before the sprint to the finish) and then lengthen our last walk interval.  That would mean we would be walking up to where we would sprint in the last little bit.

In the final run interval he told me, again, if I wanted to beat him I needed to leave him there.  I was so consumed with worry for my dear, darling, out of shape husband I didn't want to leave him on the course.   At the same time, I was terrified that he would hurt himself trying to beat me.  I had visions of me blissfully flying through the finish only to look back to see him collapsed on the road.  But he assured me he was fine.

And again...I should have realized what was happening.  But I didn't.

As we were walking to the start of our own personal race to the finish the people were cheering and clapping for the man they thought wouldn't make it this far...oblivious to what was about to happen.  We had planned to round the final corner and take off...which we did.

I could hear Daisy in my head telling me what a great finish line kick I have and I was feeling especially spunky because of the lack of effort I had to give on the course...and I shot ahead the first, oh, maybe 50 FEET.

I'll pause here and ask you know the meaning of the word "sandbagging"??  I always thought it was just someone who wasn't giving their full effort.  But, no.  Sandbagging, according to the Urban Dictionary is actually "when a player in any game chooses (on purpose) to not play their best. Normally this is because they are too superior, they want to hustle you...."

It was at the moment my darling, formerly wheezing, huffing, puffing, lolly-gagging, SANDBAGGING husband SHOT past me that I finally realized what had happened.  I was consoled ONLY by the fact I had refused to put a bet for anything other than bragging rights on the line!!  The crowd was laughing hysterically because I was screaming "YOU CHEATER!!  YOU STINKING CHEATER" as he surged ahead of me with apparent ease as I was running my shoes off as fast as my legs could carry me.  (So fast in fact that my hat flew off my head!)

He told me later that I would have easily beat him if I had left him early...and that he had completely orchestrated the finish, lengthening the walk break so as to maximize his recovery in order to give him enough umph for the finishing sprint.  (My fastest pace in that finish....4:19!!!)

I was chasing the turkey alright...but it wasn't the kid on the bike I was trying to catch!!

(BTW, he was at least sore the next couple of days.  Serves him right.  Stinking sandbagging cheater!!)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!  :D

Monday, November 22, 2010

Trail Fail!

I had a doctor appointment today (for a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad ringing in my ears) so I couldn't make the run with Daisy and our third (I have to think of a name for her).  I had decided before the appointment to take my clothes with me and go for a solo trail run in order to start preparing for my next BIG race.....drum roll please.....

"Extremely Difficult"
This year the McKay Hollow Madness Trail Run is going to be a 25K (increased a bit from years past).  There's a McKay Hollow trail, and this race includes that section, among many others, so I decided I would explore it a bit.  I had planned to go out two miles and then come back.

I knew it wasn't going to be the nice, mostly flat, plateau loops I've been used to, but I was woefully unprepared for what I found.  It's not a running's barely a hiking trail!!  The pictures won't do justice to what I saw in the .12 miles I ventured out on my own before deciding I needed a hand to hold in order to check it out further!!

Have I lost my mind?  Am I really going to do this race??  What on Earth am I thinking?

Well...maybe I have lost my mind.  I am really going to do this race.  And...I'm not really sure, except that it's "only" 15.5 miles....just 2.4 miles further than I've already gone.  I love the trails.  There's a 5 hour cut off, but that seems very doable, especially since there are several runnable portions (according to the detailed coarse description).  I think I can do it....just not today!

After my trail fail, I ran a couple of miles on the cushy plateau.  I'm not sure how exactly I'll train for the race since I know Daisy and our third will NEVER go out there with me (and I can't say that I blame them at all!).  I'm going to have to drag my husband out there on a hike so I can get a better look at the course.  (No, we won't go all 15 miles of it, but if I can at least see parts of it I'll be "happy".)

It's worse than it looks.
....BTW, this isn't my next race, I have four before then:  The Turkey Trot (hopefully) on Thanksgiving (in Blufton, SC), the Rudolf Run (5K) on December 18th, the Rock 'n Roll Mardi Gras Half on February 13th (NEW ORLEANS HERE I COME!!) and the Rocket Run 10 miler on March 19th.  McKay Hollow is March 26th.  Yes, in case you missed it...I'm NOT running Rocket City on December 11th.  I don't think I actually ever posted it here, but I decided some time ago that it was too lofty a goal and I let go of it.  I don't know if that will be my first marathon or not.  Ask me after March 26th!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Jingle All the Way

I have been one of the coaches for a training group that has been working toward a stronger, faster 5K called NOBO2.  The goal race for the program, Jingle Bell Run, was held yesterday.

Let me just say this...I was a coach, but my group really kicked my fanny!  I think I was pushed harder by coaching them than I would have been had I been a program participant. 

Some of the people in my group had other races planned for their goal and some were injured.  There were only a couple (from my group) who raced yesterday.  Turtle (who was in my group) had gotten so fast I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pace her (she ran a sub-30 training run last week and was going for a faster time yesterday).  So, I decided to pace two women who were going for 32 minutes (or so)--a 10:30 pace.  We were joined by MV8r (who wrote the training program for Fleet Feet).

The weather was unseasonably warm yesterday.  The high was something like 70!  Strange to have a Christmas type race wearing a sleeveless top!  It was a very festive race!  They included jingle bells in the race packet to wear on your shoes!  How cool is that?  There were even several people dressed up in Christmas type outfits.

The training group met a little early to warm up.  We ran a little bit and then did our usual warm up calisthenics (joint warm ups, high knees, butt kickers, high skips, striders...).  Those things wear me out!  But, I believe in the idea of warming up really good before a run/race, and the super fast coach who lead us in these drills every week kept saying to trust him.  Funny...a member of the Fleet Feet racing team came by and said, "you guys are going to be worn out before the race even starts!" 

As usual, I was very nervous.  I just wasn't sure I could keep up a 10:30 pace for the full 3.1 miles.  Not only was I panting from the warm ups, I didn't do so well in the last race (Running of the Bulls) at holding my pace.  We've done a couple of tempo runs with a pace between 10:30 and 10:15, but they were only for 20 minutes with a 5 minute walk break followed by a second 20 minute run. 

I kept hearing Daisy in my head telling me how sure she is that I am fully capable of running a sub-30 5K.  Unfortunately I also kept hearing my own voice telling her I really don't believe I can.  But, there weren't any slower runners for me to pace this 10:30 it would have to be-like it or not.

Before I knew it the gun was fired and we were off.

My Garmin has been acting up lately, not giving an accurate pace, so I called it a liar when I saw 9:34.  I was sure that was wrong,  because it felt like I was running at about 10:45 or so.  But when MV8r and the two gals we were running with started telling me we were going too fast, I suddenly appreciated the warm up drills for all their worth!!  I slowed down.  I kept waiting for my body to begin the revolt, but when we made it to mile one at 10:17 and I felt completely (COMPLETELY) fine, I knew it was going to be alright.

I was holding the pace between 10-10:30 when, some where between mile one and two, we passed by a guy I recognized from NOBO who had stopped running.  Knowing the girls were in good hands with MV8r, I stopped to see what was going on with him.  He was having an issue with his knee that I quickly realized I couldn't help with.  I had to make a decision...either leave him behind and try to catch back up to my girls, or use him as an excuse to slow down.

I bid him adieu and set out to make up some ground.  I passed by several people I knew, the whole time thinking they would be passing me soon when I couldn't breathe and was forced to walk, but I decided I had to try, knowing there was less than a mile and a half to go to the finish.  I knew from my experience at the Huntsville Half that I could make a fairly aggressive sprint mid-run without it costing too much ((no you didn't miss the recap, I haven't written one)).  I picked up the pace (according to my Garmin I was running between 7:30-9 for about a half mile!!).  Before I knew it I had caught up with the girls!! 

After going that fast (and feeling incredibly good despite some almost incoherent grumblings from my legs and ankles) I was just a little reluctant to slow back down, but I had to pace someone.  (I had my race fee paid in exchange for being a pacer for someone in the group.)  About that time I saw a girl up ahead from our group who didn't have a pacer with her.  She was wearing the long sleeve training group shirt and was DIEING from the heat.  She told me her goal was anything under 34.  Looking at the time and where we were I told her she was going to have to pick up her pace just a little, but I KNEW she could (and WOULD) do it.

I reminded her to think about her form, and told her we were about to come to a slight down hill section (hoping to keep her mind off the slight up hill we were on).  (I knew I was doing good when I could talk without gasping for air!**)

**Make no mistake, I'm NOT bragging here....I'm actually just extremely shocked that I was doing as well as I was.  I mean it was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn't dead.  I honestly think having someone to pour myself into helping, helped me not think about myself and gave me purpose and a reason to push harder.

As we got closer to the finish I told her she was going to have to speed up just a little more.   She told me she might throw up (my thoughts exactly at that point)...I told her that was fine, she could do that, but she was GOING to make her goal one way or another!!  She had been carrying a water bottle which I knew could be hard to sprint with so I took it from her.  I told her as we neared the finish line that she needed to kick it up into high gear and RUN for all she had.  I told her I was her person to beat and I took off.  I have no idea who all I passed at the end but the last 25 or so feet I forgot about everything else and just let myself fly, in time to turn around and see the girl I was pacing fly over the mat in 33:16!!

I have to say, that was my best race yet.  I felt exceptional the whole time.  I don't know for sure if I could have actually cut 3:16 off the total time...but given the fact I stopped for what felt like a while to help the hurt guy, and the fact that I held myself back quite a bit almost the whole time, I honestly think I could have done it.  Daisy has told me several times she has no doubt I can do it, but I know she's not in my body, and I do have doubts enough for the both of us!!

Turtle had a disappointing day, finishing in about 31.  (Remember, last week she ran the same course in under 30.)  The girls MV8r was pacing had a slower run this week compared with last week as well.

There was some discussion regarding why they all seemed to have slower times.  The group's decision was that the warm up drills took something out of them...but I'm going to have to go with the heat instead, because I think the warm ups helped me get that first nasty mile out of the way.  Now, for someone who is only used to running 3-3.5, maybe the warm ups did hinder rather than help, but I know I'll do them from now on before a (shorter-distance) race.

December 18th.  Rudolf Run.  I'm going to continue to train hard so I can have that sub-30 5K.  (But my real goal is to beat Daisy in the race!!!....I can't say I believe that's even possible, but I'm going to hold on to hope anyway!)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Running for Donuts??

Notice the reflective details; I guess they work!
I ran an interesting race yesterday...called the Krispy Kreme Challenge. In order to "complete" the challenge you must run two miles, eat a DOZEN donuts, then run two miles back, in under an hour.

Yes, I said eat a DOZEN donuts!

No, I did not complete the challenge. Honestly, if I weren't allergic to several things in donuts (including the 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat), I might actually try to do it. Hey, what can I say-it's a "challenge" that sounds doable. But, allergies have saved me from myself this time!

So, you might be asking why on Earth I would enter this race if I knew on the front end I wouldn't be a "completer". My neighbor wanted to register her kids, but she was going to be out of town. So I said I would run with them. Other than the fact we walked pretty much all of the two miles to the finish, it was a pretty good little race. (Turns out running on a stomach containing ONE donut, carrying a box of 11 uneaten ones, is hard for a 10 year old! (Yes, if you don't eat them, you can carry the box back with you...but you don't get a finisher's medal.)

There were a few guys (like two or three) who had combined this race with another one called the Dizzy Fifties. They went out and ran about 6 miles on the trails, then drove over to the KK Challenge, COMPLETED IT, then drove back over to the trails to finish the first race. Their main rule-you have to, uh... keep the donuts in your stomach the whole time! I think they call it the "Dizzy Donut".

Yeah...I WOULD do it, but see, I have allergies. So, even if--no, WHEN....even WHEN I get to the point in my training where I can run 50 miles, I won't be able to complete the Dizzy Donut.

Ah, shucks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This morning I was getting caught up on some blogs and came across this post from a local runner See Jane Run.  It's almost exactly what's been weighing heavy on my mind lately!  Not the path she took with it (the FaceBook friends path), but the whole idea of race cutoff times being extended so as to include more people.

I spend a good 15 minutes writing a comment and realized it was so long I needed to just cut and paste the monologue into my own post here....and then promptly lost what I had written!!!!

Darn it.

I'm going to take that to mean I might need to take some more time to consider what I have to say on the topic before spouting off my gut reactions to it.

Jane, thanks for making me think...for challenging me...for ENCOURAGING me today.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon.  (Maybe I'll have shaped my thoughts into a post by the time you come back!!)


Monday, November 15, 2010

Fear of ....Success??

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  - Marianne Williamson
I had this quote on my refrigerator for YEARS when my kids were younger.  I'm sure they probably never even really read it.  I'm not sure why (or even when) I took it down.  But, I do know I've never fully embraced the whole idea of being afraid I am "powerful beyond measure".  I think I would say I'm more afraid of failing miserably.

However, like so many other things in life, I'm finding out the counter-intuitive statement is usually the right one.  The last shall be first and the first shall be last.  Whosoever wishes to gain his life must lose it.  Lift your knees a bit and drive your elbows back a little to help you run stronger--even when you are feeling so tired you want to shuffle your feet.  Run faster if you are hurting.  So, maybe, just maybe, the idea of being afraid of being fast is what keeps me "slow"...or at least keeps me from giving it my all and therefore realizing my "full" potential.

No...I'm not going to be the overall winner in any races.  But, could I be faster than what I've been telling myself I am??  YES.  I'm continually shocked at my Garmin data.  I am increasingly amazed when my pace is right around the 10:15-10:20 mark and I'm talking.  Or, when I start a run thinking I won't be able to finish and I not only complete it, I feel GREAT the whole time.

Two very dear friends challenged me today to embrace the racer that lives inside of me!  One of them lovingly pretty much called me out for sandbagging.  No, she didn't use that word, but that's what I heard (albeit lovingly said).  And...I think she's right.  I think back to all the times I've said the same thing to other people...and I can see myself doing all the same things I saw them doing (talking the whole time saying a run was SO HARD, saying they weren't going to be able to go a certain pace, only to do it "easily"....and, my personal favorite, going slower in races than in training runs).

It's not success I'm afraid of (I don't think)'s of trying as hard as I can and failing miserably.  But, the truth is as long as I'm not trying my hardest, I'm failing before I even start.  I'm obviously NOT very afraid of failing since I run into it with arms wide open as if to embrace a long lost love.  Failure is my trusted companion, my comfort zone.  Success on the other hand feels as foreign as I imagine it would feel to walk on stilts or ride a unicycle.  (I did have a taste of success at the Xterra 5K I ran recently where I WON MY AGE DIVISION!!  I quickly spit it out like hot pizza, not even allowing the taste to register on my buds.....but my tongue is still burned just a tiny little bit!!)

The gauntlet has been thrown down by my running buds...and I've taken it up!  Rudolf Run.  December 18th.  8:00 a.m..  The race is on.  I will be RACING (not pacing) that day.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Better Biking

After a FANTASTIC (almost) four mile run with Daisy this morning, I went out and biked TEN miles!!  It was the best biking yet! 

The biggest reason it was so good?  Gearing!  Yes, learning how to properly use the gears of the bike significantly improved my time on the bike.   I think it's like anything else, learning the proper way to do things increases our enjoyment of the activity.  (At least for me it does.)

I don't think anyone here really cares about gear ratios or WHY bike gears are set up the way they are...but maybe you'll like knowing the "proper" way to arrange your chain?  If not, it won't hurt my feelings if you stop reading!

Basically, in a nutshell, if you want POWER and speed, like on a straight-away or going down a hill, you'll want to have the chain on the largest sprocket thingy (yes, there's a name for it, but I don't know what that is and I'm too lazy to look it up) in the front, and the smallest in the back.  If you are going up a hill, you'll move the chain to a smaller sprocket thingy in the front and bigger in the back.'s the thing, going up a hill you'll be spinning like crazy and won't be going far for your rotations, but it will be incredibly easy to peddle!  However, when you're on the flat path, you'll be getting major bang for your buck because with every rotation of your feet, the wheels will be turning quite a bit.  (Does that make sense?) was a  super fantastic ride.  I wish I lived somewhere that was more biker friendly because I would really like to feel safer riding on the road.  There are people who do it, but I'm not one of them yet.  I'll stick to the greenways and mostly untraveled back roads for a while (at least until it drives me crazy!).

After I get the next two big races out of the way (Huntsville Half on Saturday, and then the NEW ORLEANS ROCK AND ROLL HALF (!!!!!!) on February 13th) I'm going to find a "heel and crank" to sign up for.  I'll have to work on not drowning some more before I sign up for the sprint tri.  I've already pretty much decided to sign up for the group that trains for that event (Tri 101)....but, like I said, I really have to work on my swimming.  I guess it's really a matter of learning how to do it better, right?

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Monday, November 8, 2010

What Racing Does for--TO--Me...

I really do love racing. I don't know why, it's not like I will ever WIN (other than possibly my age group--like I DID at the Exterra 5K!!!) But, even though I love them...knowing I have a race coming up does something to me...well...some things (plural).

First of all...I check the weather incessantly. I know you know what I mean (if you've ever raced before). I check the average temperatures when I sign up, I check 10 days out, I check daily up until the day before, then I check about every hour until the race starts. It's just non-stop worry about everything weather related. Will it rain? Will it be windy? Will the sun be out? What will the relative humidity be? (And, I don't even know what that means!) With the temps getting cooler I find myself obsessing over what to wear, even on a normal day, but it's even worse for a feels like there's so much at stake. (As if I had money on the line!)

Also, I pay VERY close attention to my body. At every little twinge, ache, and (say-it-isn't-so) PAIN, I stop and think about what I've done, what I need to do, and how this could effect my performance in the race. For instance, I have a niggling little ache-lette in my ankle and in my upper calf right now that I'm babying as if I had a stress fracture. I didn't go run trails with Daisy this morning because I thought I might need to west my wittle weggy. I also try to make sure I get enough sleep...AND I watch everything I eat-making sure I eat enough, but not too much...nothing that I'm not supposed to have...good quality foods with a healthy mix of carbs, fats and proteins....and certainly enough water.

Also, I try to make sure I don't do anything that could make me sick. I wash my hands ALL THE TIME. I am careful of what I touch-like the baskets at the store that are surely covered in germs that will prevent me from a great race. I stay away from coughers and sneezers-even if the offender is a dear friend who would have really liked a soy latte from Starbucks today since she was stuck at home sick and with sick young-uns. Hey, come on....I can't risk catching whatever they might have. And, if I get a sniffle I start pouring in the vitamin C...if it's worse I rush over to the drugstore to search the aisles for a magic pill that will cure what I think ails me.

I agonize over the fact that I have NOT prepared as I "should have". I haven't logged nearly enough miles. I haven't trained nearly like I should. I haven't pushed through in training--how will I ever expect to do it in a race.

And....hopefully I am learning something new each time that will help me do better then next time. I think it takes me a while to learn some lessons...I have to experiences the consequences of my behavior (namely, lack of training) over and over before it will finally sink in.

And....that's okay. I'm loving the journey. I'm loving learning the lesson that it's not about the end result as much as it's about the process of getting there. That has been a theme of my life that I've been trying to get a handle on for a long time...and one that may take me a few (or a LOT) more races before I can say "I get it". One thing writing this post has brought to my attention is how I should be doing all these things (watching the weather to know how to dress for runs, trying to stay germ-free, taking care of my body in the best way) all the time. I shouldn't wait until the week of the race to pay attention. Now, I shouldn't be a freak about it, but maybe I could even out just a little bit?

Well...sorry for the ramble....but thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I don't even know what week I'm on in P90X anymore...I'm not keeping good records and I'm also not doing it every single day.  I know, I know...I'm supposed to be "writing it down" and I'm aware I won't get all I can out of it if I'm not doing it every day.  But, here's the thing.  This is more than just a 90-day thing for me.  I'm going to be doing some kind of work outs "forever".  (If you've seen the Sandlot, you'll get this YouTube clip...if you haven't, just skip it because it won't make sense...but I can't EVER say the word "forever" without hearing this in my head....)

So, the fact is...not doing the scheduled work out every single day isn't that big of a deal to me, especially when I'm also running and biking.  I typically don't "skip" more than one day, and I haven't skipped any workouts....except one of the DVD's that I'm borrowing from my friend is too badly scratched up to use, so I have to substitute a different DVD for that one....which is why I purchased my own set today!  Once I get my own workout log book I'll start "writing it down" and keeping track of my reps and my weight (that I'm lifting, not on the scale-I do that already).

Yesterday's torture workout was Kenpo X.  That's one of those DVDs that seem like it would be "easy" to me.  It's punching and kicking.  But, let me tell forearms feel as though I've really been in a street fight.  Not that I've ever been in a street fight...but it seriously feels as though I've been blocking myself from being beaten with a baseball bat.  I don't understand it, but I think that means I'm doing it right!

Today's workout was Stretch X.  I didn't realize stretching could feel like a real work out.  I mean I found out a while back that Yoga (which I always thought was just stretching and breathing) really "Ain't for Sissies" but...stretching?  Really??  Who knew??  Not that it was anything CLOSE to the workout yoga is, but it was certainly not easy and certainly NOT fun by any stretch of the imagination!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is "My Best" "Good Enough"??

I was reading an old Runner's World forum thread this morning and it's really got me thinking...which, as always, has me writing!

The original poster said:
I've been running for about three years now and I love it!  I've run in a couple dozen races from 5Ks to a half marathon and while I definitely want to keep improving, I am proud of how I've done so far. 

In all my training, there have only been two times EVER that I was unable to complete a run (due to bad shin splints), but I still have this weird issue: whether I'm racing or training, and whether I'm running 12 miles or 2, I always begin my runs nervous and with a nagging feeling that I won't be able to finish.  I know it's silly, and usually the feeling goes away almost as soon as I'm under way, but I can't shake it.... (emphasis mine)
I wish I could say I completely understand, but the truth is, I don't.  Not because I don't have that exact same feeling (duh...if you've read any of my posts you'd know I do)...I don't completely understand because, for me, that feeling doesn't stop until I reach the end of the run/work out/race. 

...a measuring stick...
Unfortunately, sometimes (maybe more often than not) that feeling derails me.  It doesn't usually keep me from starting (like the original poster).  It doesn't keep me from "finishing"...but what it does is prevents me from doing "my best".  I end up slowing down, or walking, in the middle of a run for no good reason other than my brain thinks I won't be able to keep it up.  I finish a work out/run with an overwhelming sense that I didn't give my very best effort....most of the time because I know I didn't.

The bad part is, I'm beginning to understand why...I think.  Fear of failure.  It's a cycle.  A bad cycle.  I start out worried I won't do "good enough".  At some point I slow down or walk because "I just can't do it" I don't end up doing "my best"...which reinforces the idea that I "can't" do it.  I've never quit a race, and I've never walked out on a work out....but I have slacked more than my fair share.

If this struggle sounds familiar to you, I wish I could say I have this thing figured out and wrap up the post in a neat little package, but I don't.  I'm still working on it for myself.  It's like an addict trying to tell another addict how to stop using.

But, I will say this....I think the key is to let go of any preconceived expectations, and give yourself (myself) full permission ......

See, I can't even finish my thought there because I was going to say "to do what feels right"....but that's crap.  If I only do what feels right at the time, I'll never get faster.  I'll never go further.  Because the truth is, training to do more is work.  And, the truth is "my best" changes every day.  My best in January was running 30 seconds at a time.  That "best" is certainly NOT good enough anymore!!

biking vs. running

What's funny....I don't feel that way when I bike.  I think the biggest reason is that I have NO experience at all on a bike so anything I do is going to be my best.  I asked a seasoned biker the other day what's a "good" speed and he said there was no way to answer that because there are so many factors-namely the wind-that can effect how fast you go.  I have nothing to compare myself to-not other bikers, but not even myself since I've only been on the bike three times!  So I don't start out afraid I won't do well, because I'm proud of anything I do on the bike.

Maybe that is the key (be proud of anything I do)....but how can I be proud of slowing down in a final 800m speed work interval when I was able to pull out a killer sprint the last 25-30 feet without even blinking an eye.  Speed work is sprint work, I shouldn't have been able to go even faster--I should have been going "fast" (doing my best) the whole time, right?? 

But, what IS my best???  How will I ever know if I don't give my full effort?  And, not only that, how will "my best" ever be "good enough" if "my best" is always changing? 

So, to answer the question in my title....

No, "my best" is not "good enough"....and that's exactly why I'm afraid I won't do good enough, because even my best doesn't cut it.

Yes, I'm aware something has to change in this line of thinking.  But, for now, I think I'll just go ride the bike!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!