Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cotton Row 10K-Take Five...Better than Decent (part 2) I was saying in part one, a friend asked me how I did after the race and I said, "decent".   I may have added the part about this being my second worst CRR10K ever.  I think my friend marinated on that comment because a couple of days later I got this email:
I don't know what your IMLT finish time is, don't care, never will.

When I was in the Georgia marathon, back in March, several times I would
think "I'm tired". Then, I'd remember "Dana did one of these, after
biking 100+ miles. I can do this."

Same thing when swimming 2.4 miles in Chattanooga.  "Dana did this, and then
rode 100+ miles, and then did a marathon. This swim is EASY. "

So, quit worrying about your finish time. I know you are.

2015 IM Chatt will be difficult, and you don't need to be stressing
about finish times, that will make it difficult, and no fun. Don't let
finish time suck the joy out of your training.  A day will come when you
cannot complete an IM. Heck, a day will come when neither of us will be
able to do a 5k. So, rejoice NOW, and enjoy the opportunity to
swim/bike/run in God's creation.

(visualize Billy Graham thumping on the podium)

And you didn't do "decent" in Wet Dog. You kicked butt. I was THERE, I
HEARD you yelling when you saw the results.  (Side note-I screamed like a 3 year old that just got a pony for Christmas!)

You represent the "common man". You are the athlete for the 99%. You're
not the high school track star. You're not the collegiate swimmer.
You're like the rest of us. And you succeeded. Home-town girl done good.
Don't act like 2nd place is "decent", it is awesome.

One of the definitions of "decent", according to Webster, is "adequate".

(Thundering voice) IS THAT WHAT YOU MEAN?!

(visualize wiping forehead with handkerchief, taking a breath, the crowd
is in shocked silence)

Brace yourself: When you say you did "decent", you are distancing
yourself from the rest of us, who would LOVE to get 2nd place in age
group. Really? Don't want to hang out with us anymore? Think about it:
you have athletes who are just trying to COMPLETE a triathlon.  They are
reading your blog. What do you say to them, in next-to-last place, that
they did "less-than decent". No, you would tell them that they rocked.

REPENT!    :)

Now, please stand as Brother Bob leads us in 'Just As I Am'

Let me say...this was an email God intended me to get at the exact moment I got it.  I had just finished physical therapy for the day and was lamenting over being "so weak" and thinking "WHY ON EARTH CAN'T I GET STRONGER?!" and even "I JUST NEED TO QUIT TRYING"!!  I had been ruminating over my finish time from Monday's race training run.  When I got this I just started crying.  I would never tell anyone who had given an effort they were "decent".  (And to be clear--anyone who starts a race gives an effort...anyone who starts to train for a race gives an effort...anyone who gets off the couch gives an effort---it's all relative, but it's all en effort!!)


I must have read this email 25 times (I've only had it a couple of days, I'm sure I'll read it hundreds of times more).   I thought I was getting better about this pattern of thinking but have somehow slipped back into it.  (Maybe I never really got out of it?)

I can't say I did awesome.  I can't say I am proud of how I did Monday.  I can say I did better than decent.  I can say I'm really glad I did it.  I can say I accomplished the goal of the day.  I can say I am getting stronger (even when I don't feel like it in any given moment*).  I can say my measuring stick is ME.  I think that's the biggest reason I can't say anything I ever do is awesome, because I generally hold something in reserve, hold back, don't try my absolute hardest.  I'm only letting myself down when I do that.  And, maybe I'm letting other people down as well.  One of my favorite quotes says this:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"     (emphasis mine)

So, if the inverse of this is also true, when I don't let "my" light shine (God's light through me), I'm unconsciously telling other people they don't have permission to shine either...   That's plain crazy!  
I know I don't want to live in a box, and I certainly don't want you there either!  So, go shine your light!

Read about this sculpture here.


((*My doctor warned me about evaluating how I'm feeling in a moment-by-moment or day-by-day manner.  He said to ONLY evaluate my progress on a MONTH-BY-MONTH basis.  So I try to ask myself, "am I stronger today than one month ago?"...CERTAINLY unequivocally YES.  So the next time I whine about not getting stronger I will remember this email and REPENT!))

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cotton Row, Take FIVE--Better than Decent (part 1)

I'll spare you the details of my three ringed circus-worthy life but suffice it to say, it's been crazy lately!

I told my coach I really wanted to run the Cotton Row 10K but I balked when she told me I would need to do it as a training run because I wasn't in race-running shape.  I pouted and stomped my foot and told her I most certainly HAD to try to break an hour because that's what I had done for the last 3 years running and it was only last year that I finally actually did it.  (That conversation took place before I really even started running again...) 

As I started realizing just how much running fitness I have lost and how little time I had to rebuild it before this race I started rethinking the desire to register.  I put it off until the last possible minute.  I finally decided it didn't matter how fast I was able to run it, I couldn't possibly NOT run it because I have done it every year since I started in 2010.  This is the only 10K I've ever entered, and I didn't want to let a thing like performance determine if I would have fun in one of the best races in Huntsville. 

There are so many things that make this race amazing, not the least of which is the fact I see so many people I know out there-either running or on the course cheering.  It's the biggest race in town (maybe the Liz Hurley breast cancer 5K is bigger?).  It's on Memorial Day so there is a tribute to soldiers before the start, and this year they had pictures of fallen soldiers along road to the finish line as well as on the shirts of many runners.  I also really LOVE this course.  It's challenging.  It's basically 3 miles of uphill followed by 3 miles of down(ish) hill.  It's hot (usually one of the first really hot days of the year).  And...there is a brutal hill smack in the middle of the route.  It's a Hunstville tradition.

I lined up at the start already knowing there was really no way I would be breaking an hour.  I had not run more than a couple of times in the previous two weeks (did I mention my life has been crazy lately?), and I haven't run more 5 miles at any one time since January.  So, I took the start line with ZERO expectation.  I just wanted to run and enjoy the day.

The first 3 miles I was running off my heart rate.  When it would get up to 175, I would take a walk break until it came back down.  I played around with that recovery number a bit, but pretty much settled on 160, allowing that to be the "it's-time-to-run-again" signal.  When I got to "the hill" (Mountainwood), I turned the corner and made it a goal to run to the first mail box.  I didn't quite make it, but almost.  (Heart rate 185...)  I walked the rest of the way up, and then started on the 3 miles basically down hill to the finish line.  A funny thing heart rate stayed below 175 for almost the rest of the time-even though I was running faster.  (Again--down hill running takes so little effort!)

Although my heart rate wasn't elevating, my legs were letting me know they were TOASTED (which is why I couldn't run harder to get my HR's a vicious cycle!).  But, since I had made a "deal" with myself to only walk with a HR of 175, I kept thinking, "This is ONLY aren't even really working!  You can keep running through fatigue."  I cheered spectators, telling them, "you can pretend I'm who you are here to see and cheer for me, I won't mind--I'll be your stand in family member!"  When I would see someone with a dog, I would ask them, "Hey, can you get that dog to chase me, I need some motivation to keep going!" And, as always, I would thank the volunteers.  Around mile 4 I noticed I didn't really have it in me to chat it up with anyone.  Fatigued.

When I rounded the last turn, I told myself, "this is it...the faster you finish, the faster you will be DONE...this is JUST fatigue and you can run as fast as you can make your legs go and then it will be over!"  About that time a friend came up beside me and cheerily said, "okay, let's finish this thing".  She sounded like she hadn't even been running.  I seriously didn't even have the energy to talk to her.  But she started pushing the pace.  I thought she was pushing awfully early, the finish was a good quarter mile away, but I really didn't want to let her leave me so I pushed with her and kept my focus on solid form and breathing.  I want to think I was pushing her as much as she was pushing me, but I know the truth was she was pulling me along.  We ran up behind some people going a bit slower so we split apart and when we did I was afraid I would end up slowing, so I threw in a little surge to get around.  When I did my friend said, "go ahead..."

In my mind (and out loud) I have said that same thing a thousand times.  What that means when I say it is "I just don't have it in me to keep this up;  I'm pulling back;  I'm taking my foot off the gas; (and unfortunately a lot of the times) I'm throwing on the brakes."   At that point I thought I was going to puke.  I knew the finish line was still a decent ways away and I knew to keep this pace was crazy given the fact I had taken the rest of the race so conservatively.  When people get to the finish and FLY through the end it almost always means they had more to give on the course.  I knew that was the epitome of my day....and I didn't want to pull back.  I told myself I DID have it in me to keep it up and it didn't matter if I threw up.  I held as strong a pace as I could possibly hold and finished as hard as I could go.  1:06:21 chip time (1:06:42 gun time).  Second worst Cotton Row ever for me.

After the race a friend asked me how I did.  I wanted to say, "I stunk really...but it is what it is this year..." but instead I thought for a second and I said, "I did decent".....

To be continued...