Sunday, April 24, 2011

Trying Tri's been over a week now since Frank Maples!  Time flies, huh?

I already told you how nervous I was about this race.  Somehow I managed to get a decent night's sleep and woke up ready to go.  I took a lesson from friend Katie and took a shower that morning.  (Not that she told me I need to shower, but she showers before races....just thought I should clarify that...) I've never done this before because my thinking is I'm going to go out and get nasty anyway-why waste the water and soap.  But, I have to say I can see now why she does it.  I felt awake and clean and overall refreshed.  I might add this to my pre-race routine.

I debated on exactly what to eat.  What I eat before I workout depends on the nature and length of the training.  Before I swim, I eat half a banana.  Before a shorter run I eat a cup of cereal and almond milk or a little oatmeal.  Before a longer run or a bike ride I eat a larger portion of oatmeal.  Because I had never combined all three sports at one time, and because I still had not completely decided exactly how I was going to fuel during the race, I decided to go with the larger portion of oatmeal.  (Mistake 1 of the day---it was too heavy on my stomach and felt like a brick when the race started.)

I had already loaded up everything I needed so all I had to do after the shower and breakfast was dress and jump in the car.  I walked outside and it was FREEZING out there.  (Well, not freezing, but it was cold--and WINDY.)  Immediately I began second guessing my clothing choice (a tank tri shirt and tri shorts), so I grabbed a short sleeve shirt and a jacket to throw in my bag....and (after taking a pre-race picture) we were off to Scottsboro!  ...For those who "know" me, you know I take a goofy pre-race "running-girl" picture.  I've done it before every race so it's a tradition.  Since this was going to be my first tri, I wanted a new pose to mark the new adventure.  I thought about "swimming girl" or "biking girl", but didn't know how to pull them off.  After careful and thoughtful consideration, I went with "strong girl" because that's exactly how I was feeling.....

I decided to crop out the bike shorts....
When we got to the race (in much faster time that I expected), I picked up my packet, got my leg marked, and started setting up my transition "station".  I was very pleased to see so many people I knew because talking gave me something to do to calm me down a bit until it was time to get warmed up.

The wind was RIDICULOUS and it had rained so it was cool and damp on top of windy.  I knew it was going to warm the same time if the wind kept blowing the whole time, a jacket was going to feel okay.   I went back and forth until it was just about time to start the race.  There were a variety of clothing options displayed all around me, some with heavy jackets, some with arm sleeves (something I don't have yet), some wearing long sleeves.....  I decided to keep the jacket on-it was two miles and would prevent me from having to put it one before the bike (and I knew I would need it then).

Just before we started lining up, my FCA group huddled up.  Let me say-I LOVE this group.  I'll have to write up a whole separate post about them and what being a part of the group means to me....but it became crystal clear to me at that moment in time when we linked hands and prayed.  I was reminded of something a new friend said to me recently..."When I train or race, it's an act of worship to me."

(Very thorough) Pre-race announcements were made ...and about 5 seconds before the start I realized I had made mistake 2 by keeping my jacket on, but it was really too late at that point.  As we started running a buddy asked how fast we were going.  Mistake 3-I looked at my watch to see the pace said 6:30.  WHAT??  REALLY??  That's WAY TOO FAST.  It didn't feel that fast at all.  Maybe it was wrong, but instead of just calming down and backing off the pace to something more reasonable, I decided I would just keep running hard.  That is the flip side of mistake 3....not pacing myself.  I don't know which is worse, looking at my watch to see a number that completely freaks me out, or not using the watch but not being able to evenly pace myself at a level I am comfortable with.

Because the run was only two miles, I had decided beforehand to run hard the whole time.  The only real problem with that is I've NEVER run HARD for two full miles.  (Note to self--this is why I should do speed work and tempo runs.)  I'm pretty sure I slowed down the whole time.  But, on the plus side, I didn't ever stop running and I didn't allow my mind to take over.  It was a gladiator-level battle, but my mind didn't win out.  I did have several people pass me on the run, but I kept running as hard as I believed I could at that point in time.  It didn't feel like a huge victory, but looking back I can say that was probably the best part of the run (winning the mental battle)---well that and the fact I finished it right around 16 minutes!!  (Fastest time ever for that distance!)

When I got close to the transition, I started mentally running through exactly what I had to do.  Since  had taken my jacket off, I put it back on while I was running (I should have zipped it up because I fumbled with that before getting on the bike).  Since I practiced this and had placed everything just as I would need it, the transition from run to bike was very smooth.  I leaned over, took off my running hat and replaced it with my helmet...while still down, I slipped off my shoes (speed laces ROCK!) and my bike shoes on.  As I was coming back up, I zipped my jacket (should have already been done), and grabbed my bike off the rack-ready to go!!

Here is what I will call lesson 1 instead of mistake 4 because I don't view it as something I should have known to do was just something I didn't really know before that I want to keep in mind for the future.  I "should have" taken a drink of water then.  I thought I'd get some on the bike-but I've never gotten comfortable doing that, so consequently, Mistake 4 was not hydrating (or fueling) enough (well, really I should say "at all" during the race.  There's no way to really know if this had any affect on my performance, but I'm still going to call it a mistake.

When I got on the bike the first thing I noticed was the wind.  I have never ridden in wind like that before.  I had to pedal the whole time, even going down hill!  The first few miles were particularly hard.  Struggling with trying to make some time on the bike reminded me of the verse for the day I had read that morning... 1 Corinthians 16:13  "Be on guard.  Stand firm in the faith.  Be courageous.  Be strong."  After several people passed me (including two women I've been training with) I started chanting "Be courageous.  Be strong." over and over in my head.  I was able to pass a couple of people (way fewer than the number who passed me), but most importantly, I was able to increase my speed significantly.  (Well beyond my usual average speed!)

As we neared the transition area I attempted to think through what needed to happen...but my brain wasn't functioning as well as I would have liked.  I was able to get off the bike without falling (yea!), and get over to the rack without slipping.  I racked my bike, took off my helmet and slipped my shoes off...but forgot about my socks.  I tried to take my jacket off over my head, but it wasn't unzipped enough so it got stuck!  I pulled my Garmin and my socks off.  I turned to run toward the pool when, thankfully, a couple of guys from my FCA group asked if I had my goggles-which I did not, so I grabbed them and took off.

Here's where the race got funny for me.  As I was running toward the pool I was thinking about having to jump in feet first and going over the mechanics of swimming in my head.  "Reach, pull all the way through....RELAX your breathing, make sure you breathe all the way out.  Don't get in a hurry, just swim the way you know how to swim.  This is it.  You are going to pass can do this.  200 meters is less than a warm up."

When I got to the edge of the pool I had not caught my breath yet so I stopped for minute to just breathe in and out a few times in an attempt to recover just a bit so I could enter the water a little calmer than I felt.  I glanced behind me and saw someone coming so I jumped in.  I quickly realized I wasn't going to be able to freestyle right away because I was still gasping for air.  So, I did the breast stroke about 15 yards and then put my head in the water to start swimming.

I took maybe 2 strokes, and rolled over on my back.  In my mind I was thinking it was just so I could catch my breath.  Little did I know that wouldn't happen until well after I exited the pool!  As I neared the edge I turned back over in order to go under the rope and push off from the side.  I saw the person who makes sure you touch the edge like you are supposed to and thought, "Okay, she is surely a lifeguard.  I'm not going to drown.  Now SWIM." ...and I promptly rolled back over to my back again.  I backstroked (well...kicked on my back) pretty much the whole 200 yards.  I saw my husband making a video and was trying to send him mental messages to please turn off the camera.  I didn't want to have a recording of me drowning and being rescued by the lifeguard.

The one thing that kept going through my mind doesn't matter how you get there--just KEEP MOVING forward toward the finish.  Side stroke, breast stroke, back stroke, kicking-whatever is going to work-just keep making progress.  I got down to the end of lap 6 and my husband said, "just one more down and back and you're done."  I can honestly say I was giving it all I had.  The thing that has stayed with me, though, is how "all I had" was coming from my legs.  I was kicking, but I could hardly move my arms.  I don't believe I should have had anything left in my legs at that point in time.  If I had truly giving it all I had in the run and on the bike I would have thought my arms would have had more  left in them than my legs.  Miraculously, mercifully, I made it to the stairs (touching the stairs stopped the time).  I came in 78th place (not sure how many total finishers there were).

When I got out of the pool, I had to bend over and just breathe.  I believe I really did leave all I had in the pool.  But...I realized that Mistake 5 was an issue with form on the bike.  I noticed when I was riding the next day I was pulling on my hooks (the part of the handle bar you are supposed to rest your hands-the shifters and brakes) ((EDIT...uhm..I think the part is actually called the hood, but I probably should have just said I was pulling on my shifters/brakes?)).  Because I was pulling (instead of engaging my core, and using my legs and glutes), my arms were worn out by the time I got to the swim and yet I still had "plenty" of leg left.  I believe if I had used my legs more and my arms less on the bike I would have had more to give to the swim portion of the race.'s the thing.  I came in third place in my age group.  I can't complain about how I did on my first tri ever.  And, make no mistake, I'm actually very happy with how I did (now that I've had a week to process and think about it).  In fact, I'm thrilled.  I was able to overcome some negative thoughts that were swirling around in my noggin.  That alone made the race a success!!  Winning an age group award was a bonus!!

I have to say thank you to my coach...she knows who she is.  Without all the valuable information and training I would never have done as well as I did.  Not to mention all the peeps I trained with.  They pushed me and kept me going.  The two ladies who passed me on the bike had put a target on my head, and they both were able to easily smoke me.  But...let me tell you...I'm gunning for them in May and June!!  Iron Girl Atlanta and then (if I register) Monster Tri in's ON baby!!  I'm bringing it!!  After that I'm moving on up to an Olympic distance with Rocket Man here in Huntsville in August.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Boundary Conditions"

((I wrote this Friday night...but apparently was so excited to get to sleep I forgot to post it....when I sat down this morning -Sunday- to write up my recap, I found it waiting to be here it is...))

Every day this week I've woken up and shared my crazy dreams with my husband.  He's so sweet to listen...mostly I think he's amazed that a person's dreams could be so bizarre!  I considered writing them out, but honestly, either there's no way anyone would believe them...or someone would try to have me committed.  Yes, they have been that strange!!  But...I also have had no doubt they are all related to anxiety over my first triathlon.

This morning after my husband patiently listened to the unbelievable overflow from my subconscious brain...he did what he does best....he explained me to me.  (How is it possibleb this man knows me better sometimes than I know myself???)  He told me on top of my worries about performance, I was experiencing "boundary condition" nervousness.  In his factual, mathematician, brainy way he explained my problem was "boundary condition" anxiety or stress.

He began to math there are a special class of problems...  My eyes started to glaze over so, knowing me like he does, he went back to talking about something I could understand.  He said the real anxiety comes from the transitions (well, in addition to performance anxiety).  He went on to say the act of running, biking and swimming doesn't cause me anxiety because if it were a race in any one of those sports I wouldn't be AS nervous...but it's what happens in between those events that makes the race "interesting".  He almost lost me again when he said something like it's the same in math boundary conditions...

Now...let me say, my husband is the KING of the game Balderdash.  That's the game you try to make up believable definitions to strange words and get people to think you are giving the actual meaning.  He has fooled me on more than one occasion outside of playing the game.  I immediately looked up this theory, or math law, or whatever it's called....and sure enough, he was telling the truth!!!

Math "boundary condition"
In a numerical simulation, it is impossible and unnecessary to simulate the whole universe. Generally we choose a region of interest in which we conduct a simulation. The interesting region has a certain boundary with the surrounding environment. Numerical simulations also have to consider the physical processes in the boundary region. In most cases, the boundary conditions are very important for the simulation region's physical processes. Different boundary conditions may cause quite different simulation results. Improper sets of boundary conditions may introduce nonphysical influences on the simulation system, while a proper set of boundary conditions can avoid that. So arranging the boundary conditions for different problems becomes very important. While at the same time, different variables in the environment may have different boundary conditions according to certain physical problems.
And, it makes sense....and completely fits.  I've practiced transitions, but this will be the first time I get to experience them in reality.

One of the recurring themes in the dreams is forgetting something-mostly my shoes.  The other recurring theme--people from high school are there in one way or another.  It's bizarre.  I think it's because I've sort of "reconnected" with so many people from my past through FaceBook.  I'm NOT who I was back then.  I didn't even like to participate in PE much less do exercise willingly...much less look forward to it!  But, I digress....

Anyway...tomorrow I'm going to just try to do my best and remember this is my first's okay not to know everything.  I just need to try to learn from the experience.....but just like the above quote  says (that I'm guessing you skipped over like I would have...), "...different variables in the environment may have different boundary conditions according to certain physical problems."  Meaning...every race will have its own set of challenges that will be different from every other race.  A lot of what I learn tomorrow won't carry over because it's a reverse tri (run, bike, swim instead of swim, bike, run).

Ah to bed.  I'm hoping that since I'm packed up* I should be able to skip the anxiety dreams tonight.  (*Having used the list my coach sent out I didn't forget my swim cap and goggles-something I had not packed prior to looking at the list!)

.....But, let me just spell out the "boundary conditions" for tomorrow and walk through what I'm going to do when I get there....

I'm going to
  • unload my bike and find a good spot close to the mount/dismount line (to avoid running in my bike shoes to far).
  • set out my towel with items needed for transitions--thinking/writing through this below
  • pick up my packet and get my leg marked (SO COOL!!!)
  • tape my Gu to the bike (I need to think about when to take in fuel, or if I will even need this)
  • walk through the whole area and know where the race will start, what direction I'll end the run, what direction to turn on the bike, where I'll come in from the bike leg, and how to get to the pool from the transition area
  • go to the bathroom
  • run a warm up half mile or mile
Tri "boundary condition"**
Thinking through transitions...the run is is the bike, so I'll
  • put out my bike shoes with the velcro undone ready to slip my feet in
  • lay my helmet down and open the strap, front facing where I will stand so when I lean over to put my shoes on I can (while I'm down there) take my running hat off and grab my helmet to put it on while at the same time I'll slip my running shoes off and bike shoes on.
  • put my sunglasses in the helmet-put them on before the helmet
Then comes the bike/swim transition...I'll have to rack the bike, take the helmet and sunglasses off, slip the shoes and socks off, take my Garmin off, grab my goggles and swim cap and start running to the pool...I'll put the cap and goggles on before I get there.

Fuel is another concern...I started to say I have no idea how long I'll be racing...but the run is two miles...I think that will be anywhere from 17-18.5 minutes (8:30-9:15 miles--hopefully I can hold that for two miles).  The bike is 15 miles, but I have no idea what the route looks like, or how windy it will hour or longer.  The swim is a complete unknown, but it's last.  I think I'll take a Gu about 15 mintues before the race (I like the little boost of caffeine) and then tape one to my bike to take about 1/2 way through the bike leg. I'm going to sleep.

Thanks for stopping in...come again tomorrow to read about the race!!!

**Uh...NO, that's not MY transition area--that's a man, and notice his shoes are already attached to his bike--something I have not even tried....yet.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Want To Be FAMOUS!!!

I have mentioned before...the only podcast I listen to faithfully is The Marathon Show.  It's really a Blog Talk Radio show, but I just download the podcast so I can listen when I want to...not to mention I seem to be busy every time it's on live.

I love that show.  The host, Joe Taricani, is AMAZINGLY talented at keeping me entertained.  He interviews people, but his questions are not canned and stale.  They are insightful and interesting.  He has talked with elite marathoners, race directors, product inventors (SnuggBuds and Head Sweats to name two)...he's even recorded while running a marathon of his own!!  The show never fails to inspire me. 

I discovered this gem last year when I driving to Arkansas one day to see my son.  I was going to be in the car for about 12 hours (there and back), so I searched for some podcasts to keep me entertained....and struck GOLD.  I ended up listening to every single show he had recorded up to that point (it was a very new show then)...and wanted MORE.  I've listened to every show since then, some more than once!  Last summer when my goal was to run Rocket City in December, the show pumped me up about the race....but even after that goal was postponed, the show continued to inspire and motivate me.

Here's what it says on the home page:
The Marathon Show is an online radio show for and about marathons and marathon runners. We cover topics that make you think, make you smarter and make you laugh about running. It's a show for runners of all abilities. We speak with elite runners and the top names in marathon running, but we mostly speak with people just like you. We like to make average famous because every one of you has remarkable determination. We celebrate the finish line on The Marathon Show, not the finish time.
I think no matter where in the pack you are, the show has something to offer for anyone who loves running.  Somehow Joe manages to keep coming up with great ideas.

One of his latest ideas is to have a guest host contest.  My first thought about the contest was "NO WAY anyone will EVER come close to being able to fill Joe's shoes."  I didn't even consider entering.  The way you enter is to post a photo in his "guest host entries" photo album on FaceBook....the top five most liked people will then submit a one minute long monologue that will be scored by a panel of judges.  For the record, I really don't have a lot of FaceBook friends.  The two people who were already entered were Endorphin Dude and the (GORGEOUS) creator of Sweaty Bands.  Come on...there was no way I was going to enter a popularity contest with either of them.

Click here to LIKE it.
But, as time went on, I realized everyone must be thinking the same thing as I was because no one was entering the contest.  Let me tell you...if there are only three people entered, chances of being one of the top five most liked is VERY HIGH!!!  :D  So, I decided to throw my fears by the wayside and my caution to the wind and enter.  After a few agonizing minutes of trying to decide what picture to post, I went with this one.  It's fairly recent, shows me in running gear, and hey...I'm showing off my first half-marathon medal--I LOOK like a WINNER!!

Well...I immediately posted the link on my FaceBook wall.  My mom liked the link, but didn't understand she had to click on the picture to like just my picture.  I was going to send her an email to clarify...and decided why not send out the link and instructions to a few other people, too.

I don't know what made me do it...but I sent out an email to EVERY SINGLE CONTACT IN MY COMPUTER!!!!!  Yes, every single one.  Yes, on purpose!  All my neighbors, all my kids' past teachers, everyone I had ever sent an email to or received an email from.  EVERYONE.  I've never in my life done anything like that.  I almost chewed my hand off wondering what kind of responses I'd get.  I thought for sure I'd get some back telling me they didn't appreciate the spam.  Maybe there were some people who thought it, but more than that....I got LIKES!!!!!  So far I'm up to 55 LIKES...and that doesn't include the other 19 people who liked the link (it's a little have to "like" the picture itself, not the link to the picture.  If it comes down to 19 votes, don't think I'm beyond messaging those friends with a tutorial.  As it stands now there are still only three of us entered, so that might not be necessary.  :D

I'm already getting nervous about the monologue.  Now, don't get me wrong, I can talk for DAYS...but it's not the most interesting banter.  Just ask my husband.  On top of that...I really can't stand my recorded voice.  I want to believe that's NOT what I really sound like to everyone else...but it's funny how other people's recorded voices sound exactly the way they do in person.  I'm going to have to somehow get past that before it's time to record.  Thankfully Joe will be helping with that part of I have to believe it's going to be just fine!!

I'll let you know how it goes...but in the mean time....PLEASE, go LIKE my picture!!!

((You'll first go to The Marathon Show on'll click the "like" button at the top of the page....then you should see my picture on the top row of on it....just under my picture you'll see "like  comment" on "like".  If you don't see my picture...go to the left hand side of the screen and look for "photos", after you click on that, click on the "guest host entries" album, then click on my picture...and like it!!  ... you just helped me on my quest to be FAMOUS!!!  THANK YOU!!!))

If you are logged in to FaceBook, and you have liked The Marathon Show, you will be able to like the picture....if you don't see "like" under it...then you'll have to go back to The Marathon Show's page and "like" it first.  While you're at it...shoot me a friend request, too!!  If you're still reading, you're already my friend-even if we've never met!!!!

Thanks for stopping in!  Come again soon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Motivational Quotes

A friend of mine posted a quote on FaceBook...
"Your biggest challenge isn't someone else. It's the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells "CAN'T", but you don't listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper "can".  And you discover that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are."
I wanted to see who said it so I Googled...and found a real gem of a website:  In fact, I LOVE this site so much I'm not only book-marking, I'm going to put the link right on my computer's desktop.  There are so many great quotes on there I'm a little overwhelmed!

The reason motivational quotes are so inspiring is because they resonate with something inside of us.  The words my friend posted on FaceBook spoke to something deep within me that has been fighting to get out...something that is breaking the surface--that still small, but ever growing, voice that whispers "can".

I've been telling everyone I'm coaching, the biggest challenge to running is not your body-it's your mind.  I have come to believe the people who run well are the ones who have learned to listen to their bodies, not the chatter in their heads.  I haven't met a runner yet who doesn't have the chatter. I think the difference is where the chatter comes from.  For many of us, it's internal, but for some it's external.  How we overcome the chatter is the same...doing "it" anyway.

Eric Charette ( says this:
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 and if by sharing my experiences with you, it enriches your life, then my work is complete.
Check out his latest blog entry on his experience attempting to run the Delano Park 50 Mile race.  He  says, "We all have our own personal kryptonite and mine lies above my shoulders."  I think that's true of most people....but some people either have stronger kryptonite in their heads, or they just haven't strengthened enough to overcome the effects.  I believe, since none of us are Superman, we CAN certainly overcome the effects of kryptonite.

I started to say I am not saying people can do anything at all...but the more I think about it, the more I disagree with my own initial thought.  Here's the thing-no matter what the obstacle is, there is someone out there who has overcome it.  People with NO LEGS run.  Okay....there's a guy with only half an arm (ONLY half an arm, the other one is completely missing) who competes in triathlons.  He placed 674/728 in his second tri--and he was the only physically challenged athlete in the race.  This video is interesting, although a little long...if you can't watch it all, skip ahead to 3:50 and then again to 5:15.

When I see things like this, I can't help but think...if he can do it, I can certainly do it.  The thing is, it's not his body that stronger (although it is), it's his will, his determination, that far exceeds my own.  One of the differences between Hector Picard and myself is that my first thought earlier was to say although I can do some things, I CAN'T do "anything", Hector would say, "I'm going to figure out how I CAN do anything." 

The quote, changed to suit my own needs:
My biggest challenge isn't someone else, or even my body. It's voice inside me that yells "CAN'T".  I won't listen.  I'll just push harder until I hear another voice whisper "can".  I am discovering the person I thought I was is no match for the one I really am.
Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Just Keep Moving Forward

I have been feeling really behind lately-in everything.  Housework, training, watering my plants (well...I'm down to one living houseplant now, so I should change that to "plant").  In fact, it's worse than just "behind"....that word seems to imply I can still see the "goal line" and catching up is doable.  The truth is I feel like there is no possible way to catch up at the rate I'm going...I'm just slipping further and further ...behind.

I got to looking at my yard last week.  The boxwoods have been grossly neglected and needed to be cut WAY back.  The crepe myrtles needed to be trimmed.  The monkey grass had not been cut back and is already starting to grow again.  Not to mention the normal everyday mowing, edging and trimming.  My husband SAYS he enjoys yard work....but only after it's done, not at the point in time when it has to be started.  Since I don't work, I  decided if I would just do a little every single day I would eventually have "all" the work done...or at least have it at a manageable level. 

But after four days, it seems everything looks much worse now than it did when I started on it....and because I spent so much time on the bushes in the front, the back yard might take a brush hog to cut.  (Not really, but it does look really bad because the weeds are taking over.)  ((Note to all you people asking why we don't just get a lawn service....remember, I don't work and that was one of the compromises we made for me to stay home.))

Okay....reality check.  The truth is, I really am further along than I was, it just doesn't LOOK like it right now.  The crepe myrtles have been cut, 1/2 the bushes have been cut (and the hedge trimmers are at the shop being sharpened so the rest of the bushes will take 1/2 the time the others did), most of the monkey grass is cut back, the front yard has been mowed and edged.  Yes, I do still have a long way to go but in all fairness, the work will never be "done".  I think the key is learning how to keep everything in balance.

It's the same story with training.  Sometimes I fee like I'm taking one step forward and three steps back.  But, the truth is the steps "backward" are making me stronger so that my "one" step forward is stronger and will propel me farther forward.   (Like the three steps backward are into the pouch of a slingshot...and the "one" step forward is made flying through the air!!!)  For instance...when you work out hard, you are essentially tearing your muscles down...but when they heal, they are stronger than they were before the "damage" was done.

I have to remember to just keep my focus on moving forward, and remember that doesn't always looks the way I think it should.  I also have to keep in mind that the way something FEELS isn't always a good indicator of the truth.  For example, this morning I biked 15 miles then ran 3.  When I got off the bike and started running, it felt like I was moving at about a 12 minute pace.  My legs felt like lead weights moving through molasses.  According to my Garmin...I was under a ten minute pace.  Thankfully I had something other than my subjective feelings on which to base my progress!!

In the words of Winston Churchill...Never, never, never give up.  But, I think when I go to do my first tri next week I'll keep the words of Dory (from Finding Nemo) in mind..."just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..." and hopefully that will help me just keep moving forward!

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again soon! :D

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Earning My Shirt

As I said yesterday, the race I've been looking forward to for months was canceled last Saturday for severe lightning.  After they made the announcement they went ahead and gave out the "finishers" shirts.  I was more than just a little disappointed about not "earning" the shirt.  I really wanted to run the race.

Even though I live about 2 miles from the course, I had never run on several sections of it, and certainly hadn't run the whole thing.  Running a course is never the same as racing, but I decided to stare fear in the face and head out on my own Monday to embrace the madness and conquer the snail.  (The race is called the McKay Hollow Madness probably because it's a ridiculously hard course that finishes pretty much straight up....and the "mascot" of the race is a snail.  There are several theories of why they use a snail but I don't know the real reason behind it.)

Let me back up just a bit and explain the "stare fear in the face" part. 
  • I had never run more than 13.1 miles
  • I had never run more than about 6 or so miles on trails at one time
  • I had never even seen parts of this course, but have heard how technical (tough) it is
  • I was going to go alone (something some people think is completely crazy)
  • It had rained like crazy and I hadn't ever run through the mud before
  • There are some pretty steep drop offs...I recently heard of a very experienced trail runner who fell and severely cut his hand on a rock, and another who fell and broke her wrist.
  • Phone service is sketchy at best out there
Water, a banana and A&W!
I could go on and on about the fears in my head and the plethora of reasons excuses of why I shouldn't have done it...but I did it anyway.  I set up a mini aide station at mile ~10, went to the bathroom, debated for a while about exactly what I should wear since it was cold but I knew I would heat up pretty quickly/but what if it rained?...I decided to wear my jacket, hat and gloves-which I shed at about mile one, but at least I had a place for my phone which I set up with an app that was supposed to tweet and email my exact whereabouts and stats at each mile (in case I broke a leg, my husband could find me quicker)...I agonized about which water bottle to take-the one that straps around my waist and leaves my hands free but makes noise and is heavy or the more comfortable hand held that would keep me from being able to break my fall or pull myself up the rocks I knew I would encounter.

I finally told my mind to stop and my legs to go...and I was off.  I made several mistakes I'll write about later but I thought it was very funny the first song to play was "Three Little Birds"'s the "don't-worry-about-a-thing" song (I added this to my playlist on the sidebar, along with some other new ones).  Thank you God for that reassurance!)  (BTW, I used the phone speakers, not ear phones-I had to be able to hear a bear or a stalker coming after me!)

Did I mention the fog??
Mile legs are hurting already.  What is that?  I'm running on the road, they can't hurt now.  No...that's just their normal grumblings about not wanting to move...they'll warm up.  Man it's foggy out here.  HOLY SMOKE-those are people coming at me-what if they are killers out looking for a runner to chop up into little pieces.  You watch WAY too much scary TV.  "Hi there, how you doin?"  (Please don't kill me...)  Can I do this?  If I can't then I'll just quit.  Funny...that's what's on the shirt "When the going gets tough, just quit".  How can I quit in the woods?'s really foggy and cold, but I'm sure I'm going to get hot.  Let's see, 15.5 miles...if I can average a 15 minute pace that would put me finishing in ...4 miles an hour...almost 4 hours...that would be 16 miles...half a mile less would be about 7.5 minutes.   I started late so will I make it to Little Rosies by 1:00 to meet Daisy and Peanut for a celebration lunch?  Should I really eat Mexican?  I want it so bad, but I'm allergic.  Heck, I think I'm going to feel bad after this anyway, so I might as well eat.  Okay, time to hit the goes nothing.  I'm going to do this.  Am I really going to do this?  Yes...I'm going to do this. looks different out's GORGEOUS.  I'm so glad I did this...I'm doing this.  I need to take pictures so I'll always remember.  I don't want to stop...but man is this pretty.'s not a race, I can take some pictures.  I don't need to worry about my time.  Surely I can keep better than a 15:00 pace.  I'm going to run all I can, it'll average out.
First water puddle...I ran "around" it.
Mile four(ish)...what the crap have I gotten myself into?  No...stop that, this is beautiful and it's not a race so I can enjoy it.  Wow...I'm hot.  But, boy am I glad for's so stinking WET out here.  My shoes will never dry out.  How will I wash them.  Am I going to make it to Little Rosies?  I'm okay..I'm still way under a 15:00 pace, but I keep taking pictures so that's slowing me down.  But...IT'S NOT A RACE.  Man, it's so beautiful out here.  I'm glad it's not dry because all the water makes it so pretty.  I'm glad for music.  SQUIRREL!!  Hey there gonna race me??  Yeah, okay you win.  I wish I was running with someone, it would be nice to have someone to share this with, and to TALK TO.  Am I still going the right way?  God, please don't let me be lost.  Okay're on a path.  You aren't going to get lost.

Okay...Warpath...I'm going the right way.  It's going to be wet and slick and hard.  Get ready.  Take pictures.  Dwayne will never believe what I'm doing out here.  I've been running in mud...well water puddles is more like it.  But, seriously, I was losing too much time trying to navigate around them.  Okay...start climbing.  Hey, this really isn't that hard.  This was a lot harder a few months ago.  I'm doing this.  I'm really doing this.  By myself.  I'm not going as fast as I think I would if it were a race.  I wonder how fast Katie ran it?  She wasn't racing either...but I'm sure she wasn't taking pictures either. more pictures.  But, Dwayne would never believe what I'm running in...what I'm about to run through.  Ah...wouldn't it be nice if this were the race...this would be where the aide station would be.  There would be friendly faces here, and maybe Dwayne would be here to take my picture and give me a kiss.  God...thank you for that man.  I love him so much.  I can't believe this is my life!!  There were storms all weekend long and instead of working claims, looking at roofs and writing checks for damage, I'm out running 15.5 miles in the woods.
In the beautiful-WHOA NELLY...that's a drop off.  That must be where he fell.  What if I fall?  I could hit my head and DIE out here.  It would be hours before someone found me.  My phone would smash and I wouldn't be able to call.   I hope my app is working.  Will I make it to Little Rosies?  Boy, do I want Mexican food.  An hour and a half almost for six miles....that's okay, I'm still just under a 15:00 pace.  Man that's slow. it WET out here.  Finally a section I can RUN.  I'm running fast.  I am a runner.  I can't wait to race this next year...Katie, it's ON next year.  I can run fast on trails.  I wonder how much faster I could do it if I were racing?  HOLY SMOKE...that sounds like a water fall...where is it?  OH MY GOSH...THAT IS GORGEOUS.  I have to take

video.  Dwayne would love this.  I hope he gets in shape to be able to run this with me next year.  Hey...less than 10 miles to go.  TEN miles?  Really? I could quit now.  What I just did was hard.  It's wet, it's muddy.  It's not really safe to be out here alone.  NO...stop it.  STOP.  IT.  This is fun.  You want to do this.  Poor Dwayne is working and I get to be out here running.  I love him.  I don't deserve him. 

The waterfall at the end puts this one to shame!
Mile seven(ish).  Oh battery is going dead.  That app is sucking the power right out of it.  Duh... it's using the GPS and playing music, and all those pictures and video...of course it's going to run down.   Okay..turn off the music, turn off the everyone so they'll know what's going on when they stop getting my tweets and emails from the app.  I wonder if it's working?  Am I going to make it to Little Rosies??  It's not going to be fun running out here alone with no music.  Okay...pretend it's the race.  Whittling away, whittling away...every step I take I'm whittling away.  Hey...I'm half way done.  WOW.  I've done half already.  I can do this.  What if I can't?  I guess I could walk back from the aide station.  I sure hope no one takes my stuff.  That would suck because I'm not going to have enough water if it's not there.  I could hitch a ride back to my car.  Yeah, and get woman-knapped by a murderer.  I wonder how Ashley feels about me running?  Does she admire it or resent it?  I wonder how much battery I have left...gosh 5%??  Man...I love who ever marked this course-this is great.  There's no way anyone could get lost out here.  All these trees to climb over.   It's freaking wet out here.  Whittling away, whittling away...every step I take I'm whittling away.  Am I going to make it to Little Rosies?  I don't know what's on the other side of the aide station...and I know SOB ditch and Death Trail are going to slow me down.  HEY...there's the water tower.  HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF JESUS!!!!  TWO AND A HALF HOURS!!  That's great!!!  The cut off time was three and a half--I'm here an hour ahead!!  That's great.  Why did I think I would want to eat a banana?  I haven't had an A&W for years, man, this is SO GOOD--but I know more than just a sip might not sit well on my stomach.  Fill up the water bottle and GO.  You know, I think Katie won it last year in just over this time...but the course was only a half-that's only 3 more miles from where I am now...and I stopped to take pictures and video...and I'm not racing...and I wasn't as prepared as I could have been, as I will be next year.  I could take her.  I could do it.  I can run fast on trails!!  I can do this.  I only have about 5 miles to go!!!!!!  No way I won't make Rosies now.  My phone is dead...I hope they wait to eat.  Five miles, about an hour and a half--no way Death Trail will slow me down that much.

Mile 13(ish).  Ah...that's SOB ditch...I've hiked that before....but it didn't look like THIS.   Okay...look at me walking a tree trunk!  Heehee.  I wish I could take pictures of this.   STINKING FART WEEDS!!!  THAT HURT LIKE A BAD WORD!!!  MAMACITA, OUCHYWAWA.   ((I had just tripped over a big limb and it smacked the back of my right calf-hard.))  That's going to hurt for a while.  Dad gum.  No, I didn't fall, I tripped over a stinking stick.  What MASOCHIST put this course together?  This is freaking crazy.  I still have two AND A HALF miles left to run.  Run?  Who am I kidding?  This is insane.  How long would it take for Dwayne to realize I haven't called him to tell him I'm done and call rescuers?  How long would it take them to find me?  I don't have enough water.  This was crazy.  This was stupid.   I don't ever want to see mud or water again.  Ever.  This really is madness.  No.  I don't HEART the madness.  I hate it.  Those people are crazy.  I'm crazy for thinking I wanted to do this.  Slush mile?  No, more like slush 15 miles.  This sucks.  I'll never make Rosies now.  There's no way.  I might as well stop.  Hey...look at that...a DEAD SNAIL.  (Here I had to stop and laugh like a truly crazy person.)  That's the funniest thing I think I've ever seen.  The snail just quit.  Wow..look, there's a section I can run. baby run.  WOW.  I'M FLYING.  HOLY SMOKES.  I'M RUNNING FAST.  How do I still have energy to run this freaking fast??  WOW....don't look at the Garmin, you'll fall...WOW...I AM DAVID O'KEEFE!!!  Next year I'm going to run the whole course this fast.  This is GREAT.  This is a great course.  I can do it.  I love my life.  It's so pretty out here.  How blessed I've been to have been able to see the woods like this.  I know you aren't supposed to run on muddy trails....but if it had been a race we'd have done it.  It's okay.   I'll make Rosies.  I won't be able to shower though.  I bet I STINK.  I'm not as muddy as I thought I would be but that's because of all the water.  I wish I had some way to video the whole course.  The waterfalls, the streams, the fast I just ran down that hill.  That was fast.  I can't imagine how those fast people feel running like that (okay, faster than that even) ALL the time!!  I want to do speed work and hills.  I want to be faster.  I love running fast.  I love running trails.  I'm so happy I got to do this.

Mile 14(ish)...Here it is.  This is it.  I have to hurry up if I want to make it to Rosies.  I bet they are wondering.  I have 30 minutes, about a mile to go.  No prob...oh, stink...that's mud.  Where's a rock I can grab?  Oh my...I'm slipping....WHAT FREAKING MASOCHIST PUT THIS CLIMB AT THE END OF A 15 MILE RACE???  Wait, is it masochist or sadist.  A masochist hurts themselves...a sadist likes to hurt other people.  Wait, no one is making me do this.  Am I the masochist??  I am so glad I didn't bring the hand held water bottle.  I'd never make it up this thing.  No, I'd throw it away.  I could come back when it's dry and hike down to get it, but I wouldn't make it without my hands here.  Holy I going to make it?  It's almost 1:00 now.  How much farther.  If I don't see that water fall soon I'm going to stop and cry.  I don't remember this being so hard when we were going down.  Wait...that's the TREE I took a picture of...that's the TREE!!!!  THAT'S THE TREE!!!  It's not far's right around.

OH SWEET JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I REALLY DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!  Okay, stop still have to climb up just a little more.  Man, I'm glad this isn't the race....people would be able to see me here and there's no way I could go any faster than this.  I'm not going to be able to run across the imaginary finish line.  There's no way.  Lord, thank you...and please let me get up this last little climb.  (((Note: there's a BEAUTIFUL waterfall at the end and even though I glanced at it...I don't think I even really took it in I was so relieved to have reached the end!)))

Okay...there's the little bridge...I can run.  If this were a race I would run.  I CAN RUN.  WOW!!!  REALLY??  I'm seriously running.  (I ended with a pace of 8:47!!)  Okay...that's enough...walk to the car.  It's 12:57.  I really did it!!  I made it!!  I'm starving to death, allergies or not, Mexican food here I come.  Recharge the battery.  PLEASE tell me you guys waited and can still meet me there to celebrate.  I DID IT.  I JUST RAN MCKAY HOLLOW MADNESS.  I loved every minute of it.  That was the best run I've ever had.  I FEEL GREAT.  Man, am I muddy.  I wish there were people here.  Won't that be cool next year to have Dwayne there at the finish--or better still if he runs with me!!  I'm going to train HARD for next year.  I can be a contender!  I can.  I can do it.  I wonder how fast Katie finished this year?

....Okay....sorry for taking you on a trip through my mind, but it was so much easier to write it that way.  Other than the bruise and big ole bump on the back of my right calf and a little soreness, I feel great.  Tuesday I just ran a mile (walk run with NOBO), and then did yoga.  Wednesday I ran 3.5 miles.  Thursday I ran 4.  Friday I did another yoga class.  I think I have a stomach virus because I started feeling really sick Thursday evening...I thought I was feeling better Friday but then it got much worse.  I haven't made it out of bed yet this morning other than to the bathroom...but I'm sure hoping it's better today...I would love to go hit the trails again!!  ....But I know I need to get on the bike and in the pool.  I have my first TRI in just TWO WEEKS!!!

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again soon.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Non-Race

If you've been reading my blog for long, you know I've been talking about running the McKay Hollow Madness 25K for quite some time.  I've been more excited about this race than I have about any other race, ever.  I wasn't as prepared as I "should have" been...but I felt good about what I was going to be able to do.  I have developed what is probably an unhealthy confidence on the trails which allows me to go a bit faster than what I can on the roads.  I don't quite understand it, but I love it nonetheless.  I "knew" I wouldn't win anything (they don't do age group awards, only top 3 females and top female masters), but I believed I would do "well" (without overly defining that word).

I had been watching the weather for weeks.  Early on it was predicted to be fantastic, just a low chance of rain on the Wednesday before.  As the date drew nearer however, the weather became more and more foreboding until around Thursday when was forecasting a 100% "chance" of rain.  How is that possible?  100% chance.  Usually, I would bet those odds.  But...I didn't want to believe it so I continued to prepare to race Saturday morning....even when I woke up to crashing thunder and blinding lightning. 

My alarm went off at 4am so I could take my thyroid meds (one hour before food).  I had intended to go back to sleep until it was time for breakfast, but I couldn't sleep for all the racket going on outside...not to mention all the thoughts bouncing around in my head concerning the race.  I was in complete denial that it would be cancelled.  Four hours later my denial became undeniable when the director pulled the trigger and blasted shotgun holes through my dreams of running this race this year.  Everyone present when the announcement came was given their "finisher's" shirt.  (What else were they going to do with all those shirts??)

Several people decided to go ahead and run the course anyway, but being the sensible person I am, I knew that wasn't the best idea.  (Okay, so really my husband told me he really didn't want me to run in the lightning because people get hit all the time and he didn't want to lose worked.)  There was also a group that went out Sunday morning to run the course...but I didn't want to miss church for a run that wasn't a race.

Warrior offered to go out with me some time and run the course since she knows it like the back of her hand, having done it many times, but she wasn't going to be able to go for at least a couple of weeks.  I was crushed.  I have several triathlons coming up and felt like running 15.5 miles of TOUGH trail wasn't the best "training" for those races.  At worst it could even be potentially hazardous to my summer racing plans if I put off running the course too long and ended up twisting an ankle or something.

So, Monday morning, after a full night of hard rain, I decided to run the course alone.  (The comment about the rain will make sense when I write up "How I Earned My Shirt"...hopefully later today!)

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon!