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!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dirty Spokes Xterra 5K Trail Race...Alabama Series

My traditional (yes, goofy) pre-race pose!
Since packet pickup was at the race site just prior to the start, and I was paranoid about being late, I decided to go to the race alone and let my husband come a little later.  I was really hoping it would be a small turnout so I would at least have a chance of placing in my age group.  When I got there I started looking at every female face in the crowd, trying to decipher ages!  The only problem was, there was a 15K going on at the same time and all the race bibs were the same; there was simply no way to size up the competition!

When I picked up my packet, I was just a tad disappointed to see the shirt was a MEN'S medium, meaning it was going to swallow me up.  There was a really cool little sample size of Degree deoderant in the's as well.  Don't these people think women run trail races, too???? (*See note below.)  But, although slightly annoying, these both felt like clues that maybe there really wasn't going to be too many other women runners to stand in the way of my (age group) VICTORY!!  However, as the race time drew closer, I saw more and more females, dashing my hopes.

My goals:  don't get lost, and finish fast enough to get home, shower and make it to church on time!  Anything else would be gravy.

I decided to warm up by taking a look at the start of the course--a section I had never even seen before.  As I was trying to figure out exactly where it started, a couple of women who looked about my age came up with a map.  We all started out together, but they decided the course turned at a point I decided it went straight.   I wasn't sure, but I felt confident the pink ribbon in the trees wasn't there by chance....  After about a half mile I headed back toward the start where I was delighted to see my husband!!
I'm much further back
I saw several friendly faces and had the chance to get a few good luck hugs and smiles of encouragement before the start.  Since I had been out on the beginning of the course, I really couldn't understand how it was that all 200 of the runners were going to "RACE" on a single lane trail.  (I'm not a good judge of numbers when there's a mob crowd, but there were quite a few of us there; the 5K and 15K racers would be running together for the first 3/4s of a mile or so.)  I quickly found out we wouldn't...we just basically fell in line like trail horses and you moved ahead any chance you got!

I passed several people early on who I hoped I wouldn't see later on passing me, but most of them had fuel belts, which I took to mean they were "15Kers".  I chatted with a couple of people here and there, and before I knew it, we were at our first road crossing.  My sweet husband was there to smile at me and cheer me on!  (It is amazing to me just how much it means to me and how encouraging it is to see him when I'm racing. ) 

I was overjoyed to see the majority of runners taking the split off for the 15K..but dismayed to see the 5K course take a decided incline!  I tried, but couldn't hang on to the fairly aggressive pace I set and had to walk a bit.  A couple of men passed me, but I didn't see any women moving in front.  I was keeping my eye on a short dark haired women who had been ahead of me and was relieved to see her walking as well.  She must have heard my foot steps quicken because when I started running again, so did she.

They had cautioned us before the race to stay on the marked course.  They said there were markings, but if it didn't say turn, DON'T TURN.  I think that's why short dark haired lady kept straight, even when the arrow on the post pointed left.  I called out to her and said the marking was on the post to turn left...but she said, "Oh no, we have to keep straight."  I saw the same pink ribbons (the ones they told us to watch for) up in the trees, so I knew I was right....

When I realized I was now ahead of HER, I picked up my step, knowing it probably wouldn't take her long to figure out she was wrong and I wanted to put some distance between us!!  When I saw racers up ahead, I called back to her, but I never saw her again.  (She could still be lost in the woods for all I know....)

I started losing steam a bit so I pretended Daisy was beside me!  I decided she was running very strong, and I didn't want to let her down by walking again.  I could hear her telling me, "YOU GOT THIS!!"  That worked for a while, until I hit an all too familiar section of the trail---the part that goes steeply up!  I reminded myself the best part of the trail was just after that, but the anticipation didn't keep me running.  As I was making my way up, I was passed by a couple of men and a very young woman.  The Daisy in my head told me that was just fine because I was going as fast as I could make myself go at that point!!

When I got to the section of the trail I really love, I realized I wasn't going to be on it for long when it took an unfamiliar turn....into another section I had never seen before.  I came to a fork in the path that, from what I could see, wasn't marked!  I looked up ahead to the right and saw some pink ribbon!!!  But, at the same time, I could see runners who had made a left turn.

Would I follow the pack, or my instinct??  I paused to take a second to decide until I heard someone coming up behind me, and I then charged off to the right.   The ribbons don't lie--that's why they are there!!

I realized I had just made my way in front of all those people who had run off to the left!!!  But, then for a very long time I didn't see any pink ribbon....and the trail got progressively more technical....and narrow.   I was about to panic, thinking I had made a bad choice, when I saw some hikers coming toward me.  I asked if they had seen other racers up ahead and they said yes, about 25 or so.  I knew I only had about a half mile to go, so I told myself to try to speed up a bit because I'd been keeping about an 11:30ish pace; I didn't think that was going to win any awards...but I just couldn't make my legs go any faster.

View from the finish area!
About that time I woman passed me and I told her, "you're doing great!!"  She said, "YOU'RE doing great.  I've been following you the whole time, come on!!"  ...That's all I needed to hear, I kicked my legs back into run mode, and fell in line right behind her.

We made our last road crossing before the finish, and in doing so, I kicked a big stick with one foot right into the back of my other leg!  OUCH!!  It immediately starting stinging....but I didn't let up.   I had decided I would NOT let this woman beat me, but there was nowhere to pass her.  As we got closer to the finish, I knew it was about to open up.  I told her, "I just want you to know, I'm going to do everything I can to beat you!!"  About that time, it did, and I kicked in my killer sprint.  We raced neck and neck to the finish mat!!  (Thankfully, my neck was a little longer than hers!!)

I thanked her profusely for encouraging me, and apologized for wanting so badly to beat her!!  She laughed and said I had kept her going and it was great to race.

After I caught my breath, I looked around to see who all might have finished before me....but I didn't see as many as I expected.   I asked my husband if he knew how many there might have been, specifically how many women who looked my age!!  I saw some ladies I know near the finish, but I couldn't tell if they just came in, or if maybe they had already finished their post-race bananas and were just chillaxin before the awards ceremony.  (They are all three much faster than I am so I figured they had been there a while.)

Since my A goal was to make it to church on time, I wasn't overly interested in the awards ceremony, unless there was a chance I would be in them.  When we found out the preliminary results had been posted, we went over to check them out.  My husband was the first to see my name on the sheet....


Yeah, that's right, I WON my age group!!!  The woman I came in with was younger than me; she won her age group, too!  My official time was 36:05--not a great pace, but not too bad all things considered.  Let's not forget, it was good enough to WIN my age group....and I was the sixth place woman (out of 25)!!!

Not a bad finish for my first trail race!!  I took a look at the 15K finish times; there were only two women in my age group, so I would have placed no matter how long it took me!  (But, again, I wouldn't have made it to church, which was certainly part of my "A" goal.

McKay Hollow Madness, here I come!!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

*By the way...let me just say...they did exchange the men's medium for a men's small t-shirt--and it's an AWESOME tech shirt-probably the nicest race shirt I've ever gotten.  AND...they had better goody bag booty than the "ultimate goody bag" from the Women's Half!!  (In addition to the men's deode, they had a Bluebeerry Pomegranate Roctane Gu, an Xterra temporary tattoo (I'll wear it next time), $10 off at Sports Authority, and $2 off RoadID.  Not bad as far as I'm concerned!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

FIRST trail race!

NOTE:  this was written Saturday 10/23/10...

I'm getting running to run my first trail race tomorrow.  Although I've run on part of the course an average of twice a week for the last couple of months...there are other parts that I've never even seen!  I wanted to sign up for the 15K.  This race is on Sunday morning at 8:30.  There's no way I'd have time to run 9.3 miles, shower and be at church by I just signed up for the 5K.

I don't know why I think this, but my guess is that it won't be a very big race...meaning...there won't be very many 40-45 year old women runners...meaning...surely I'll have a chance to win an age group placing!!  Having said that, I'm not going to set a goal, other than the hope I won't get lost, and that I can finish fast enough to get to church on time!!

If this goes well....I'm signing up for the McKay Hollow Madness race that will be in March of next year-it's a 14 mile (TOUGH) trail race.  It's one of those "you-have-to-finish-to-get-a-shirt" kind of races!

One race at a time.....

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!  (In fact, come again tomorrow to see how I did!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Run, Bike, P90X!

Yesterday I did a tri!  Not in the official way... but I did three kinds of workouts, so I'm calling that a tri!

I ran 3.5 miles on the trails with Daisy (not my best run at all, but got it done).  Then, later, I rode the super-fast road bike I borrowed from MV8r on a nearby greenway for seven miles.  Later still, I did the Legs and Back workout from P90X.  (DISCLAIMER:  I didn't do ANY of the pull ups because, 1) I'm not set up yet with the bar, and 2) I can't do pull ups! --I'm going to have to learn how to modify those.)

You might think I'd be sore today, but I'm really not.  I mean, I can tell I worked out, but it's not like I can't move today.  ...I'm getting stronger!!

One thing is for sure....there's nothing I've done that can get my heart rate up like running.  They talk about getting "in the zone" on P90X, but I just can't get my heart pumping doing those work out moves.  I'm sure part of it is because I'm not doing all the moves exactly correct just yet...but I think the other thing is that I can vary my speed while I'm running, to achieve better results with my heart rate, much easier than I can doing anything else.

Having said all that...I'm quickly becoming a fan of the bike.  Riding on the greenway was such a great experience.  I didn't have to worry about cars at all, which was a HUGE advantage, plus, it was much more flat than the route I took the first time.  Having a flatter place to ride allowed me to stay at a more consistent speed.  The only bad thing is that the longest greenway I know of is only 7 miles total.  Sure, I could do it multiple times, but that gets as old as running laps around a track.  YAWN!! 

I just remembered the advice I give to anyone who is looking for a new route.  Amazing when my own words come back to me!!  ...I'm looking on, under "Explore"/"Activities".  You can look in your own area for routes that have been shared by Garmin users (running, biking, hiking...all kinds of things!).   How exciting!!  :D

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Before or After?

Since I started P90X, I decided I should take some photos...and, no, I will not be posting them any time soon!  What's interesting about it is the fact that just a few short months ago, I couldn't even fit in the shorts I wore for the photos!!  I was more than just pleasantly surprised when they not only fit, but they were comfortable.  As we were taking all the "standard" before shots, my sweet husband said my pictures looked more like "after" shots than "before". 

Truthfully, they are more like "during".  I've lost about 15 pounds since the first of the year, and several inches all over my body.  Clothes I couldn't even think about putting on are now fitting loosely.  I should be pleased...and to an extent, I am. 

But...(isn't there always a "but") the same time, I am not where I "want" to be.  I don't have a certain weight necessarily.  I don't even have a certain size goal in mind.  I just know I have a lot of shaky parts that I'd like to either lose or tone.  My glutes and love-handles are especially jiggley.  I have gotten close to where I would like to be one time, but I wasn't really working out then.  I was walking A LOT of miles each day, every day, and eating VERY LITTLE food.  I don't believe I was healthy then. 

Currently, I feel very healthy.  I pay attention to the kinds of food I eat and I'm working out in several different ways.  I just believe it's going to take time to get to where I want to be with my body. 

And...I'm good with that.  I'm at the place in my life where I'm not really working out to change an outward appearance...I'm working out because I love it.  I love how my body feels so much stronger than it ever has before.  I love feeling muscle in my legs and my arms.  I love that I'm finding muscles that I didn't know existed (thank you P90X!).  I love that every single day I can do more than I did the day before. 

I'm not a before or an after.  I'm a "today", a "now", an "in this moment". 

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


For anyone familiar with P90X, the title of this post will be all too familiar.

I am now someone who recognizes the challenge for what it is...a dare to do your very best, knowing you (as the average person) will "never" meet the impossible levels of fitness displayed on the screen!

I began the 90 day dare on Monday.  MV8r had posted on Face Book that she was going to start the workout plan and I, blindly, said I would do it with her.  I had heard from a couple of friends that it was a tough work of whom I knew had not only lost a decent amount of weight, but also got totally BUFF in the process.  But, REALLY??  Tough describes something that is difficult, but still doable.  P90X is IMPOSSIBLE to complete as a novice.

In all fairness, the booklet, that I didn't bother to read until peeking at it briefly today (day four), says you should take a complete fitness test prior to starting the series, and if you can't meet a minimum of requirements you should start with P90.  Also...I believe the whole point is to improve through the whole 90 days.  It's set up so that you should NOT be able to do everything they do.  And, really, if you could, you wouldn't be doing those workouts, you'd be teaching them, or strutting your stuff on a beach somewhere or a magazine cover!!

So, I started out bright and early Monday morning at 5:30 with MV8r.  Half way through the hour long torture session, the DVD froze up.  We tried everything we could to get past that spot, but nothing worked.  Not wanting to stop after only 30 minutes, we popped in the Ab-Ripper disc and completed a full 60 minutes of what they call "muscle confusion". 

My muscles weren't "confused", they were crying out, "This is not right! Why aren't you running???"  But, they were really screaming just a couple of hours later when I met up with Daisy to do our usual trail run....and they were outraged when I went to "run" two miles with the NOBO group that evening.  ((I intentionally "swept", meaning I was with the slowest person so we walked the whole time.))  Tuesday morning, my muscles weren't confused at all....they were certainly, without a doubt, in agony!!

I had planned to run with Daisy Tuesday morning, but my right foot was hurting and it didn't seem to be working itself out so I backed out.  Dr Google diagnosed it as tendonitis, so I rolled it around on the Trigger Point barbell thing, and took some anti-inflammatory meds which not only helped my foot, they also calmed the soreness in the rest of my body.   But my muscles were still not ready to "Bring It" again at 2:00...but "Bring It" for day two of P90X!

That night my better half and I were talking about the workout and I was going on about the success stories on the website.  I guess he really does listen to me at least some of the time because the next day, after I met up with MV8r at 5:30 for Day 3 (yoga), he said he thought we should buy the Complete P90X System and do the program together!!!  Since I wanted to capitalize on his resolve before he changed his mind, I ran next door and borrowed the DVDs from my neighbor and had Day One ready to go when Hubs got home.   And....he surprised me by changing into his workout clothes and doing it with me!!!!

Yes, you read that right...I did P90X Yoga X (just 45 minutes, not the full hour and a half) yesterday morning at 5:30, and then P90X Core Synergistics yesterday afternoon at 3:00!!  This morning we backtracked and did the Fitness Test which I stupidly thought would be "easy".  HA.  They fooled me with that one!  I went to total muscle failure on my arms, legs, and core doing the "tests" that were called for.  ....and I'm running tonight with my NOBO 2 group.  They are doing hills, but since I'm coaching at a 5K this Saturday, I get a "by" on the repeats (I'll have to do them next week).

We'll start the nutrition plan next week after I've had time to look at it and go to the store--if I have enough energy to push the cart!!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!  Let me know if you, or anyone you know, has experience with the P90X system...just, please, don't tell me to "Bring It"!

(PS...If I get brave enough, I'll post some before pictures.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's About Time (Part 2)

....We walked down to the race area (maybe a block or two from our hotel) wasn't at all as electric as I expected.  I remember when I did the Race for the Cure in Little Rock back in 1996 (wow, that was a long time ago!), it was like the air itself was electrically charged!   (...I don't think it was just me feeling it that morning, but maybe it was since it was my very first race.)  This race actually seemed strangely calm despite the thousands of people (mostly women).

We looked around for the others in our group (we didn't all stay in the same hotel)...we were especially looking for the woman who had agreed to pace Speedy to a sub-2 hour finish (a goal that was abandoned once they were out on the roller-coaster of a course).  Not finding her, MV8r and I left Speedy at her coral (the third), and walked back to the fourth coral (where I had been assigned-according to expected finish times).  MV8r has done many halfs and, if I'm not mistaken, her worst finish time up to that date was like 2:17:XX; she was supposed to be in the second coral but she graciously moved back in order to run with me!  ((She also hadn't done any running in a couple of weeks, and was coming off not only a week-long Mexican vacation, but moving to a new apartment (read: up and down stairs a countless number of times)!!))

As we found our place, in true Dana fashion, I started making new friends!  Conveniently our names were printed on our bibs, making the process of meeting new people so much easier!!  I believe the gal I met at the start was named Angela.  We chatted about how it was the first half ever for both of us and how we thought we should place ourselves between the 2:30 and 2:45 pace groups.   About that time the announcer started saying things we couldn't understand....until he said Jo Dee Messina was going to sing the National Anthem!  Even with all those people, an eerie silence fell across the crowd-and that's when the electricity of the moment hit me!!  Just a few short minutes later, the race was started.  ((I never heard any kind of sound other than cheers from the front corals.))  After about five minutes of inching forward like cattle, we finally crossed over the start line (maybe not five, but that's what it felt like!).

MV8r and I had decided beforehand we were going to stick to a 5/1 run/walk interval and shoot for a 12:00 pace overall.  My main concern was starting out too fast, as is my M.O. for all the races I've done so far...but with all the people there wasn't much danger of that anyway.  What shocked me was how many people (who started IN FRONT OF ME) were walking!  I have heard on numerous occasions some of marathoners' biggest pet peeves are:
  1. walkers who start too close to the front
  2. runners who suddenly start walking right in front of you without looking behind them
  3. walkers who don't move over to the sides of the course, and
  4. people who walk several abreast (making a WALL for you to navigate around)
Let me tell you----I GET IT NOW!!!  I used to think all of that was just runners' bravado.  You know, "I'm a REAL RUNNER so I hate everything that has to do with walking."  NO, IT'S NOT!!  All of those things really are INCREDIBLY ANNOYING to say the very least.  Since I knew I was going to be run/walking, I purposely started further back, and "always" made sure I was over to the side, with no one behind me at each walk interval.  It's completely understandable to be dodging people at the start of a race-there are thousands of bodies moving in the same direction, naturally you're going to have to move around other racers....but for people to be walking within the first TENTH of a mile---they should have started further back.  Yes, it's possible some of them may have gotten hurt right out off the starting pad, but THEY SHOULD HAVE MOVED TO THE SIDE.

Shockingly, the first hill was at about the half-mile mark!!  (Seriously, look at the elevation map on my Garmin data.)

If you look at the elevation information and change it to "time" instead of "distance", you'll see that we ran the ever-so-slight downhill the first 5 minutes, walked our one minute...and then got to run the up hill section!  This pattern of starting run intervals either at the base of an uphill stretch, or in the process of moving uphill continued the WHOLE time I was running intervals!!  But, I think (for me) it worked out just fine because if we would have decided to walk the ups and only run the downs/flats, we'd have been walking pretty much half of the WHOLE race, if not more!

I really wasn't paying attention to any other runners around me...other than the walls of walkers who were continually stopping, in the middle of the road, right in front of me, without bothering to look behind them first!!  (Okay, I promise not to mention that, in this post, again...I'll have to devote a whole post to this very was THAT annoying!)  I tried to take in the sights of the course.  I wanted to be able to remember everything I saw.

However, the main things that caught my eye were other runners' forms!  Not as in body shapes, but running form and gait!  Since I just started coaching, I have learned to pay very close attention to it.  There were MANY runners (run/walkers) out there with HORRIBLE (read: injury causing) form.  MV8r and I talked about how hard it was not to run up alongside some of them and give some instruction.  Yes, everyone has their own running style; there are things that matter and things that don't.  But, if you are favoring one side and pounding one foot over and're going to develop an injury.  If you are running bent over at the waist or shuffling your feet in mile one of a half marathon, chances are really high you're going to develop an injury.  If I can see you over-pronating, without the use of a slow-motion replay, chances are really high you're going to develop an injury.

I finally had to tell myself to stop watching anyone else, and just focus on myself.  I could NOT get over how strong I felt.  I hadn't really trained per se for the race.  I had run a couple of six-milers and an eight-miler with no walk intervals...and ran/walked a 10-miler, but I can't say I was even close to being prepared to run 13.1 miles.  I had certainly NOT prepared for hills other than the slight inclines on the trail I usually run (which has a total elevation gain of about 137', whereas the race route had a total elevation gain of about 635'!!).  Not to mention I had two very bad running weeks leading up to that day, plagued with weird pains and low energy.

I had to wonder if it was race-endorphins or something that would crash halfway through, leaving me crawling at the end.  It was that fear that kept me running what felt almost painfully slow.  I'm not even close to being fast, but I felt like I could have easily picked up the pace.  Even going up all those torturous hills felt relatively easy.  MV8r told me fairly early on she knew she was in trouble because her quads were fried.  When she said that, the "crash and burn" fear washed over me like acid rain!!  I wondered if I was fooling myself with a delusion of strength.  Funny...I NEVER have that feeling (that I'm delusional) when I think I'm hurting!

Anyway...we were at about mile five, going up yet another nasty hill when I lost MV8r.  I looked around and she had disappeared.  When I got the top, I ran in place until I saw her (only a few seconds really).  I realized I had run through the last walk interval because I had pulled away from her as we were moving up the hill but, again, I felt so strong I didn't feel like I needed a break even after going up the hill so we kept moving.  She told me that I was going to have to pull away from her because she knew she wasn't going to be able to continue on the pace we were setting with her knees feeling the way they were.  I protested and reminded her I didn't have a time goal and said I would happily stay with her because I did NOT want to be in danger of speeding up and then keeling over at the end, or worse, before the end and not even being able to finish the race.

She assured me that as strong as I was feeling at mile five/six, if I kept up a run/walk interval and stayed at about a 12:00 pace, I would certainly do just fine.  She said if I started to feel bad, I just needed to increase the walk, or decrease the run interval, or slow down.  She kept telling me I really needed to run my own race because I would regret it if I didn' at the next uphill section when I pulled away, with a little tear in my eye, I just kept on going.

No, I'm not exaggerating here, I had a little tear of excitement, and a tear of sadness.  I was happy to be feeling as strong as I was, but at the same time I loved every minute running/walking with her and was completely enjoying the experience of being with her in the race.  (I think secretly she just needed some silence because I'm such a talker!!)

Well....did I mention that MV8r was also the timer of our duo??  Although I was wearing my Garmin, and I do know how to program intervals, I hadn't done that because I didn't see the need for both of our wrists to tell us when to change pace.  When I pulled away from her I tried to do some math in my head in order to determine when I should walk next, but I quickly abandoned the idea and instead decided I would just run until I didn't feel like it.  But, again, the crash and burn fear welled up inside of me like gas bubbles from bad chili.  Not only did I start to worry about going to fast, I worried about what not walking would do, and just for good measure, I threw in worry over the fact I hadn't been able to poop all morning long!!

Yes, I'm a real runner...I can talk about poop!  Usually I'm able to get that taken care of first thing in the's like clockwork!!  The only variation is before breakfast or after, but it's an EVERY morning kind of thing....until that morning.  I tried and tried, to no avail.  (By this point in the race I had taken in 2 packets of Gu, and all I could think was "Gu Doo" would strike any minute.)  There seemed to be plenty of port-o-lets (when did they stop being called port-o-potties??), but I began to be consumed with the notion the urge would strike when I was no where near one....

I immediately "bean-o'ed" all those fear bubbles because I have learned, (begun to learn) all those negative thoughts and fears take a significant amount of energy.  They are a total energy zap.  Also, it was about this time I had entered the only out-and-back section of the race.  Naturally all the front runners had already gone by when I reached this section, but I figured Speedy, her pacer, and all the others from our group (aside from MV8r) would be coming toward me any second so I shifted my focus to the faces on the other side of the street.  It was more than just a little entertaining!!

On the "out" section of this's down hill.  So as I was easily cruising a decline, the faces coming toward me had been fighting a steady up hill section pretty much the whole way "back" (which was not yet known to me).  I should have known there was something wrong when most of the faces looked like they had been washed with red coolaide...and there were some "cheer-leaders" at my mile 6.something with signs congratulating runners for making it "all the way up".

OH.....speaking of signs....I almost forgot, but I'm going to throw it in here...early on, there were a pair of guys sitting on the side of the race route with a big sign that said "SINGLE DOCTOR".  I told them they needed to have cards to pass out with their information because no one was going to stop in a race to chat with them!  There was another guy who had a sign that said "Women are my favorite people."  There were several others that I may (or most likely will not) remember...but I loved them all.  The  "cheerleaders" (meaning anyone who cheered) on the sidelines were probably my favorite thing about the whole race.  I loved it.  If I ran by a section of people not cheering, I would tell them, "feel free to cheer for me!!"--and they ALWAYS did!!  (And, since my name was no my bib, they cheered for me by name!!)

Anyway, at some point I spotted Speedy's pacer...and just a couple of steps behind her--SPEEDY!!!!  She was just behind the 2:00 pace group!!  I was so proud, you'd have thought it was me on the other side of the road instead of her!!  Not too terribly far behind them were several of the girls from our group--easily spotted since we were all wearing the same cute shirt!  About the time I went by the girls...I spotted another port-o-let...and remembered my failure to evacuate my bowels that morning.  For crying out loud, it was already about 8:30, I was at least two or three hours over due, and ...OH MY GOSH....OVER HALF WAY THROUGH MY FIRST HALF MARATHON!!!!!!

I've never really been one to practice visualization.  I've pretty much been of the mindset that it's a complete waste of time.  I'd rather be putting together a plan of HOW I'm going to do what ever it is I want to accomplish rather than sitting around day-dreaming about it.  But, at this point in the race, the proverbial hay was already in the barn...well, really, the hay was getting spread out to the livestock.  It was well past the point of planning, so I replaced all the fears of keeling over before the finish and poo-trepidations with visualizations of crossing the finish line at the end....running at a full on sprint with all the energy I was saving up by keeping my pace slow.  ((Since I was no longer doing intervals, I was keeping a pretty steady 12:00 pace.))

I should mention, this race course was COVERED with well-appointed aide stations.  They had gatorade and water, there were tables with bananas and other fruit (I think these were restaurants doing this, not the race itself), and they handed out Gu at the 1/2 way point.  I had a hand-held water bottle, and I was packing my own supply of Gu (taken before the start, 4 miles, 8 miles and then about mile 10.5 or 11), and Nuun tablets that I added to every other bottle of water (which I refilled by grabbing cups from volunteers at aide stations).  By the time I was just past the turn around point, I had already downed 3 packets of Gu, and at least 4 bottles of water.  I could feel a sloshing in my innards, not to mention I knew I would be going up hill for quite a while, so I made the decision to make a pit stop, unnecessary as it turned out to be, it at least allowed me to mark off my list the fear I would be running with pee (or worse) trickling down my leg!!

I worried that spending all those precious minutes dribbling droplets of pee would put me well behind MV8r...but after I got back on the course, I spotted her coming down the hill---with TWO other members of our group!!  I could NOT believe I wasn't last in our group!!  This, combined with the facts I had made it to the uphill cheerleaders and with how unbelievably strong I still felt, put a decided pep in my step.  It was short-lived as I came to YET ANOTHER up hill section.  I gave myself a one minute walk break, and then started running again.  I decided I was strong enough to push my pace a little faster, and dropped it down to between 10:30-11:30 until the next incline, which I decided to go ahead and walk.

By that point (mile tenish), the hills started to get the best of me.  The cheerleaders had started to thin just a little bit, it was getting hot, the idea that I was really running strong started to wear off (probably because I was pushing the pace and not running quite as strong as I had been when I was going a minute or so slower!)....and the fact that I felt so alone out there almost got the best of me.  I decided to find someone (or several someones) to talk to.  I chatted with several people, but no one really seemed to be in the mood, so I started cheering the cheerleaders!  I begged for cheers, I thanked them for being there, I found people to high five, I read signs and pretended they were for me...if a sign had a name on it, I would tell the person holding it, "I'll just pretend that says 'Dana' on it!"--and they would oblige with cheers for me.

It was GREAT.   I went from feeling just a little drained to feeling completely energized.  More than that I realized that I could have a modicum of control over how I was feeling.  I was walking up what I believed to be the last hill (because there was a woman behind me who kept saying it over and over--this is the last hill ladies)...and mustered up all my energy to make a surge to the top, when I rounded a corner to see....ANOTHER FREAKING HILL!!!!!  Not just a hill, but a long bridge--where you could see the whole freaking thing.  The elevation map doesn't do it justice (I'm pretty sure it is measuring the elevation of the ground -which was a river- rather than the actual road!).  I just started laughing at that point and decided the route was certainly made by a man trying to "show those women runners who's boss!!"

I found another person to talk to, Tammy from Nashville.  We walked up the incline together; she pulled ahead when we started running again.  I decided then and there I would keep her within sight, and at the 13 mile mark, I would close in on her and make her my person to beat!!  I know that might not sound nice, but truthfully, I had figured out that she stared out behind me, so she was already ahead of me time-wise, so there was no reason not to push ahead of her with my killer sprint!!  I wasn't actually sure I would be able to pull out the sprint bullet, until I got close to the cheering crowds!  By that time, Tammy had a considerable lead on me. 

But, in the last tenth of a mile, I pushed ahead as if she were standing still, with a finish time of 2:38:59!!!!  I could hear the announcer calling out my name as I ran over the finish mat (something like, "WAY TO FINISH STRONG DANA!!   GREAT FINISH LINE SPRINT")  I imagined my husband and kids there in the crowd cheering for me and I cried out in joy!!!!  The only two things that could have made it better would have been if my family would have actually been there to see it...and if I had a finish line photo of myself!!  I don't know why MarthonFoto didn't get a picture of me, but I'm going to say it was because I ended the race at a 6:00 pace in the middle of walkers, and runners moving at double that pace.  I was going so lightning fast they couldn't catch it on film!!  (can you hear the laughter in my voice??).

This post is already long enough, and the only one still reading is...well, probably just me--I don't think even my mother will still be reading!! I'll give the after-the-finish-line recap in the next post!!!

Thanks for allowing me to be more than just a bit indulgent by giving the minute-by-minute recap.  There were so many thoughts, sights and sounds there's no way to capture it all in a blog post, but hopefully this will allow me to re-live the moment later on down the line.  ((At some point I'll add pictures.))

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's About Time (Part 1)

It's been almost two weeks since I finished my first half marathon.  The newness of that reality is starting to wear off...and the sadness of the day is starting to lessen just a bit.  Several other sad things and many other happy things have taken the "headlines" spot of my life in the last two weeks.  I'm continually reminded to "make every day count".

Having said all that...I think it's time for me to try to write up a race recap.

I love reading recaps that other people write that are long and drawn out.  It makes me feel like I am there, running the course (usually much faster than I run when I'm in my own body!), experiencing the race through the eyes of the writer/runner.  I'm terribly sorry, but I can't write that kind of recap.  I don't have the memory to be able to store all the thoughts, sights, sounds, experiences and people I meet along the way in my mind, much less the writing ability to convey those things in a way that would keep you awake much less entertained.  But, I would like to record as much as I can so when I start forgetting I can look back on it and relive as much of the experience as I can.  (Honestly, I started forgetting before the race was over, so I'm spitting into the wind at best, but I'll still try!)

I rode up to Nashville with Speedy and the friend who loaned me her bike.'s time to give her a name.  After thoughtful consideration...I'm going to call her Motorvator.  (She's a motivator and she's very driven, "motor"vator...I'll shorten that to MV8r.  It's not perfect, but it would be exceptionally hard to capture this person with just one name.) was the perfect start to a great weekend.  We chatted the whole way to our hotel.  As we got closer, we saw the signs, the starting line area, and all the hoopla that goes along with a big race.

Our hotel was just a couple of blocks from the start line/expo so after we got checked in we walked over to pick up our "ultimate"ly disappointing goodie bag.  I don't know what I expected...probably more samples of junk I'd never use, or coupons that I'd just have to throw away, or trinkets that I'd feel bad about getting rid of but wouldn't be worthy of keeping around.  But, I'll admit I was let down by that one little thing.

I had vowed not to buy anything at the expo, excecpt a "meaningful" souvenir to commemorate my first ever half marathon.  I chose 13.1 and ENDURE beads for my (fake) Pandora.  I should have stopped there, but as we were walking by the Power Balance booth, we were "caught".  After an unbelievably convincing demonstration (performed on not only myself, but two of my running buddies and a complete stranger)...all four of us bought silicone wristbands for the low, low price of $25 each (which I'm really glad to see is a discount from the website price).  ((And, might I add...The Shaq believes it works, too!))

After we made it out of the expo, it was time for dinner.  Since just about anything that tastes good at a restaurant is on my "do not eat" list...going out to eat is not the fun it used to be.  Italian used to be my very all time favorite food.  I can remember a time in the not so distant past when 13.1 miles would have been a great excuse to belly up to an all-I-could-stuff-in-my-gullet-pasta-bar.  I'm still not happy over the fact that with the increase in mileage I can't also increase my consumption of starchy, saucey, garlicy, cheesy Sicilian delights.  Well...we went to what smelled like the best Italian place in Nashville, Buca di Beppo...and I ate....salad with plain Jane grilled chicken.  Thankfully Speedy has quite a bit of the same allergies as I do so we shared the...uh, yummy...salad (although she got to have a fantastic looking giant meatball).  As we munched like rabbits, the rest of our gang got to eat pizza and some fantastic looking/smelling pasta.  It was PURE TORTURE.

After torture-the-allergics was over, we went back to the room to set out our race clothes.  I wore a skirt I borrowed from MV8r, a super cute Nike singlet we had made for the race, my Sauconys, my new beads on a silver chain (also purchased at the expo-something to transfer the center charm out of my race medal), my white Nike sweats hat (well, at least it was white when I bought it), my fully charged and ready to go Garmin and my Power Balance wristband)....((yes, and Nike socks and my sports bra, duh)).  I also set out my Rice Energizer and apple juice for breakfast and my water bottle and my vanilla bean Gu for the race.

After making some plays on Words With Friends (I'm "DanaDeBard in case you play), and texting the fam, I laid my wittle head down on the comfy pillow to try to get some shut eye.  ...It might have worked if I weren't sleeping with Speedy, in a bed next to was like a bunkin party!  We chatted for a while like school girls....until we finally remembered we were running 13.1 miles in less than 12 hours and decided sleep was better than dishing about boys (just barely anyway).  Other than the 15 times I woke up worried that I wouldn't wake up with the alarm I got a good night's rest.

I woke up, ate drank my breakfast, brushed my teeth, got dressed in a flash, took some goofy pictures and we were ready to hit the road for the short block or so walk to the start line!!!

As I'm looking at these pictures, I can't even remember that morning.  I can't describe to you how different I feel now.  I honestly feel like that day was a turning point for me.  As if somehow 13.1 miles did something magical....or more likely, I was sleep deprived and don't clearly remember the morning!! my next post I'll try to recap the race.  (I won't do a good job of it at all, but I'm going to try anyway.)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Yes, you read that right.  I'm being ARRESTED!!!  I'm being locked up for "good" and your donation is my key to freedom!!

Before you decided I've completely lost my mind and stop reading....let me explain.  It's for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  I've chosen to participate in their fund-raising effort by agreeing to be locked up on November 17th.  In order to be released, I need to raise $3200 in bail money!

I'll be honest, the only thing I knew before today about muscular dystrophy was...well, nothing.  I started to say I knew about Jerry's kids, but I think if you'd have asked me yesterday, I wouldn't have been able to tell you his telethons were for MDA.  After I got the call saying a friendly warrant had been issued for my arrest, I did the geek thing I do-research.

Turns out, muscular dystrophy isn't just one thing...the muscular dystrophies (MD) are a group of more than 30 genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement.  There's no treatment or cure and no way to reverse the diseases.  There are some therapies and drugs that are used to treat the effects of the various diseases.

According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association website,

MDA is the world's largest non-governmental sponsor of research seeking the causes of and effective treatments for neuromuscular diseases, sponsoring 330 research projects annually.

There are so many different causes that are asking for your money these days.  We have all been hit by one disease or another either personally or through a friend or family member.  Obviously, the charities that raise awareness or sponsor research for those nearest and dearest to our hearts will also be the ones that reach into our pocket books as well. 

Allow me to tell you why it is you should click on my bail raising link and help to raise funds to research these diseases.  Because if you're reading this blog, chances are you either run now, did run at some point in time, or want to run some time in the future.  Children and adults who are most severely hit by MD aren't afforded that luxury.  These diseases rob people of the joy you and I know that comes with running.  There is constant ongoing research looking at everything from how to eradicate these diseases to how to most effectively treat them.  But, that costs money.

Ultimately, my goal is to raise $3,200 for "bail" by November 17th at 2pm, but that's the "marathon" if you will.  I have been told that one hour of research costs just $74.  Therefore, I have a preliminary goal to raise $74 in 74 hours (that's my "one mile" mark).

I know all too well how easy it is to put off making a donation when things like this pop up--I am the QUEEN of procrastination.  But, won't you consider CLICKING THE LINK and making a donation that will help me make it the first mile of my marathon...and help MDA get closer to a "cure"??

Thanks for stopping in....come again soon!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Save Your Ta-Tas

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  I'm ashamed to say, even with having a mother who has gone toe-to-toe with the breast cancer beast, TWICE, and having my own little boobie scare six months ago...I'm still NOT as aware of my breasts as I should be. 

I think mine are pretty easy to over look really.  When I went to the Moving Comfort website to see if I needed to be fitted for a running bra, I found out they don't even have a size for me.  (Go to "Bra're instructed to measure around your rib cage, just under your girls and add 5" for band size....then you measure your chest.  When I enter my band size, my chest measurement doesn't even show up on the "bust size" drop down!!.....I'm not kidding when I say mine are small.)

A while back, I had a real scare when my right boob failed "the test".  I was told I have several cysts in there that will have to be watched pretty much from now on.  Thankfully it doesn't have to be smashed, just checked with ultrasound.  But, have I felt them up since last April?  Uh, unless situating them in my running bra counts (and it doesn't), then no.  I haven't even really given them a second thought since then other than when I've bemoaned the fact they're shrinking as I've lost weight.

I was reminded today it's time for my recheck already; I go tomorrow to have that done.  Unfortunately, it's the niggling little fear in the back of my mind that has me remembering to be aware.  (Not all the pink I've seen everywhere the last five days, not all the changed profile pictures on Face Book -including mine as of today, not the 5K race I'll run on 10/16, not even the 3 Day Walk for the Cure a dear friend is participating in at the end of this month.)

That is EXACTLY why there's a whole month dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness.  Hopefully having your face rubbed in it (started to say "them" but didn't want to offend anyone!) all month, you'll stop long enough to feel your boobies...even if you're a guy, because guys get breast cancer too.  If you're a woman or an at-risk man, schedule a mammogram.  Talk to your friends and family about doing the same.  Donate to breast cancer research.  Participate in a Breast Cancer Fund Raiser.  There's a lot you can do to raise awareness.

Ask my mom...breast cancer is highly treatable IF it's caught early enough.  Do NOT ignore anything that feels different than it did last month....or different than it did six months ago when you last thought about it. 

By the way...I'm more than just a little nervous about the ultrasound tomorrow.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

PS....I set a new PR on the trail I run all the time this morning!  I wanted to stop MANY times, but Daisy kept me going!!  37:28 (pace of 10:49 for 3.46 miles).

PPS....Yes, you read that right earlier---I'VE LOST THIRTEEN POUNDS since I cut out all the foods on my allergy list!!!!!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Back In The Saddle Again

No, I haven't been riding horses...I've been riding a bike!

A friend of mine is letting me borrow her super-fast Fuji road bike....along with all the gear you need to ride (helmet, sweat band, gloves, shoes...and, heretofore unused butt balm!).  She brought it over Saturday; I spent an hour on it just learning how to clip-in and out.  ((This was the day after an hour long spin class.))  I didn't go very far because she told me I would certainly fall so I didn't want to be far from home when it happened.  It didn't!

Yesterday, I decided I would take a "real" bike ride.  I had a little trouble shifting gears-I haven't quite figured out when to shift and what gears to use.  But, I didn't fall, and I didn't get hit by a car (which was a little bit of a miracle--Sunday afternoon is not the best time to go for a bike ride!).  The worst part-it was really WINDY.

I started out with the idea I would go about 10 miles.  I thought I was being fairly conservative because the day before, when I was practicing clipping in and out, I was on the bike for an hour and my legs felt fine.  There were three things I didn't count wasn't actually RIDING on Saturday.  Propelling a bike forward takes a bit more force than puttering around the neighborhood clipping in and out of the pedals-especially being out on a road that is mostly one long no-passing zone with no shoulder.  (Read, cars will still pass, but by just barely going  over the center line....meaning I wanted to try to go as fast as I could to make for the least inconvenience to the cars.  I don't know if that was the best philosophy or not...I'm going to have to look up rules of the road for bikers!)

I also didn't count on the fact that I would be EXTREMELY nervous and feel like I was going to throw up the whole time.  My stomach was in knots.  I think I want to get a rear view mirror thing to put on my my friend's helmet so I can stop being paranoid about having cars come up behind me that I'm oblivious to!

I also didn't count on the gale force wind!  Riding into the wind up a hill is NOT easy at all.  Although my heart rate didn't get up as high as it does when I run, and my legs didn't feel as spent as they do when I'm one point I was wondering how I'd get the bike home if I gave up and called Hubs to come get me.  I decided that wasn't an option and kept going...and by the time I got off the bike I decided I LOVE IT.  Maybe not as much as running, but I think when I get more comfortable with it, I think I will love it that much.

Yes...I will be trying Tris next year.  I just have to learn to swim better!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

(Don't's my data from this first ride.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Make Every Day Count

 My signature saying for about ten years has been "Make it a GREAT day!!"

I heard it one time on an insurance adjuster's voice mail and I loved it.  (I was an adjuster at the time and let me just tell's a VERY STRESSFUL job; telling someone to "make it a great day", much less actually doing it, was a tall order.  But every time I said it, I was reminded the quality of my day was fully within my control.  I have told, and continue to tell, my can't control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward it.  That's what "make it a great day" means.  It's not about trying to change, control, or "fix" things that are outside of's about making sure the way you are viewing things comes from a positive perspective.

The lady who died at the Women's Half is named Lynn Manzelmann.  I didn't know her, but from what I've learned about her, I wish I had.  Her obituary said:
She was sassy, full of spunk, and lit up the room when she walked in.  She drew people to her like a magnet and made them roar with laughter.  She embraced all who were lucky to know her. ...she was a passionate leader...A consummate cheerleader since high school, she was a huge football fan.  Lynn was a competitor and challenged those who knew her to be their best and go the extra mile.
I've always said when I die I want people to CELEBRATE.  I know my fate when I leave this world will be to spend eternity in Heaven.  I have no doubts about that, and it's an unbelievably comforting assurance.  I'm not making light of the fact when someone dies, there's a hole left on Earth, but at the same time, if I've done what I'd like to do, I will leave behind much more than a hole.  I'll leave a lot of people inspired.  I hope to leave this world just a little better than it was when I got here 41 years ago.  I can't single-handedly solve the problems of the world, but I can strive to make the world around me a little brighter.

Sassy.  Full of Spunk.  Lights up the room.  Draws people to her like a magnet and makes them roar with laughter.  Embraces all who know her.  Passionate leader.  Consummate cheerleader.  Competitor.  Challenges those who know her to be their best and go the extra mile.  I want those things to be said of me.  To sit down on the sidelines and hang my head in sadness is to fly in the face of everything I believe Lynn Manzelmann was in life, and would make a mockery of her death. 

Imagine her death, she reminds me to LIVE every day....and to make it a GREAT DAY.

One of her two daughters posted a comment on my last blog entry...
I am Lynn's daughter. I am also a runner and she inspired me to run marathons. Your words are strangely comforting. Thank you for remembering and mourning her. She was truly amazing person and mother and I wish you could have known her. Keep running. Keep writing. She would absolutely tell you to make every day count.
Rebecca, if you're reading..I'm going to do just that....Make Every Day Count.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

That's ME  Yes, skydiving-tandem jump.