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