Monday, May 16, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...

There's a lot going on in my personal life right now, so I wasn't able to ride the Vino Fondo, like I had hoped, last weekend. It was a hard decision for me, after putting in all that training for 5 months, but we had a lot of extended family in town & it was the right decision. It would have been very selfish of me to be out riding the bike half the day with everyone here to get together. I had a great weekend with my family, & really enjoyed Mother's Day with my mom. (apart from smashing in to her back driver's side door after dropping her off after church... fail)

She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer just after Christmas, & it has been a hard road for her, & for us, so far. It's hard to watch her go through this, & I so wish that it wasn't happening. I've been helping her as much as I can, & with the help of family she's doing really well right now. She has everything that she needs & is in a good spot for the time being. I don't mean to drop a bomb like that & just move on, but it's hard to talk about, or type, & so that's all I'm going to say about that. I love you, mom :)

I haven't been myself lately. I have been running & riding my bike, but neither has brought me much joy. I use these activities to have a good cry most of the time lately instead of focusing on training. I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm glad I hesitantly typed the word "tentative" under my racing schedule, because I'm not sure I'll be following it at all. That is completely not like me in the least. When I say I'm doing something, it's as good as done. It's just not the case right now. We've had a lot of family coming & going also, so I've had a lot more socializing & meals than I've had training lately. I've gained 6 pounds, & this former fat girl is terrified of going back "there". I've managed to refocus & get some discipline back into my diet, so even if I can't work out I feel like I have my diet back under control. It's been a big juggling act.


I also didn't run my first 10K ever that was supposedly this morning. Teresa reminded me of Big Shark's open water swim that just started in New Town & I decided that sounded like a better time :) Plus, I've been ignoring the swim for the last couple of months. It's a lot of work for me, & I'm just barely getting by with basically junk miles on the run & bike these days, so swimming just hasn't been appealing. I'm really glad I got out there & got in the water this morning! It was drizzling, & a cold 52 degrees, but the water temp seemed warm at around 70 degrees. We struggled to get those wetsuits on, so that served as a nice warm up :) The swim course was 1000 meters, & originally our plan was to swim 2 loops & then get on our bikes for 15-20 miles. It was just sooooooo cold! We settled for one loop of the swim, bagged the bikes & headed to go get a coffee. Looking VERY attractive, I might add ;)


Much better :) Instead of the bike I went out for a short 3 mile run later that afternoon in the rain.

Teresa was going to be running the Girls on the Run 5K the next morning, & her friend wasn't going to run it after all, so she had an extra bib. It didn't take much to talk me in to that. I really enjoy the 5K distance, & since my mom has been feeling OK & had her cousin in town, they took my kids for the weekend. I decided to take advantage of that & go run.


It was sprinkling, again, & in the low 50's. I love this weather for running! Absolutely perfect. I put myself in corral 1, even though it said "competitive runners finishing in 21 minutes or faster". I knew I didn't have a shot at that, but corral 2 was the general public & that meant 3,000 + little girls & their parents/teachers. I thought I would at least look cool for a few minutes while we were getting warmed up, then I would be quickly left in the dust ;)

I decided that since I have had no joy in running these days, that I would get back to the old me & see how that felt. For one thing, my hair stylist had started to get on me about running with my hair down. She was right, it was damaging my hair. I think for shorter races it will be OK, as long as I don't train like that all the time. I know it's weird, but I just really love my hair down & the pony tail holder gives me a headache. So... I did things like the old me:

     1) hair down!
     2) booty shorts (they don't look good on me, so I stopped wearing them, but they are so darn comfortable!)
     3) no Garmin or watch (I didn't have one for a long time until my dad got it for me after the first marathon)


These were all great decisions & I wound up having an awesome race. Just me. Free :) I did a great job not flying out front from the start with those much faster people, & just focused on how the effort felt. I wound up running it in 21:58, just 6 seconds away from the PR, & taking first in my age group. Not too shabby. It wound up being a great weekend! None of it was on the training schedule, but it was just what I needed.

Tonight I wound up riding my bike for 40 miles in the hills of Wildwood, to make up for the lack of bike riding this past weekend, & had a great ride out there all by myself.

Endurance sport is how I keep my sanity, fitness, & overall cheerful disposition (be quiet, Bryan). I'm glad to have it even if my training, & attitude, haven't been perfect. I think what I need is a goal to shoot for so I can start to feel like myself again, but it's hard when I need to be here for my mom & I'm not sure what the future will hold. So I've decided that what's important is that I spend time with my mom, & just do my best to keep it all balanced (work, family, training, etc). That's the only thing you can do when life gives you lemons. Make the best of it, don't get down on yourself for not being perfect, & just try to find happiness no matter what situation you may find yourself in. I'll be sure to post the recipe for the perfect lemonade once I get it all figured out ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Home Run in Nashville!

(The photos all look like they were taken in 1972, but they were, in fact, not)
Special thanks again to Josh Cox & CEP Socks for the opportunity to run Rock n Roll's Country Music Half Marathon on 4/30. What a great party all the way to the finish line! I had a great time despite the heat & enjoyed the city for the brief time that I was there.

I drove from St. Louis, & on the way I just happened to stop at a gas station in Metropolis, IL. It was apparently also a Superman museum of sorts, & I had to get my picture taken as Wonder Woman. You know, for my kids ;) It was a good trip, & I drove straight to the expo since I still had no clue where my friend Molly lived, & was waiting for her call.

When I arrived, I was thrilled to find that I would be starting in corral 2!! I know!! So excited that I had to take a photo. In talking to some of the girls at the start, since they projected right around the same time, it appears that it was due to my projected finish time & not Josh Cox's awesomeness! Even cooler, since there were something like 32 corrals. I chose what I thought was a conservative time, but it ended up being my actual finish time of 1:45. I was not too broken up about that because I know I did what I could with the fitness I had.

After getting my packet, I turned the corner to see Kara Goucher on the stage for a Q & A. I knew I would regret it if I didn't ask her a question, so here's what I said: "First of all, I am one of the 25 people to win a bracelet from your blog & I just wanted to say thank you. I love it!" So, she's all "That's great! Thank you for participating!" & she seemed genuinely excited to know that :) Then I asked her how she rebounds mentally after not reaching a goal. Like Boston. Her goal was to win, just a few weeks prior to her being in Nashville, & it didn't happen. She just said that her mother always told her that it's OK to be sad, & to cry, when you don't meet your goal. She said that she has her little cry & then she moves on, focusing on what she's going to do next to improve. Good to know that she is human & goes through the same struggles.

Here's a picture of baby Colt & Adam Goucher, who is on his way to a comeback it sounds like. You can hardly see a darn thing in this shot, but what a cute little baby!

My allergies were acting up big time, so I stopped at a drugstore right in front of Centennial Park, which is where the race would start, & is also right across the street from Vanderbilt. What a beautiful park, area, & campus. Stay in school, kids! ;)

Finally I made my way to Molly!! So nice to see her after a few years, & so happy to see that she is still the same. What a gracious host & amazing person. She insisted that I sleep in her bed while she was on the couch. I did nothing to deserve any of this. A free race entry, place to crash, & a day to spare. What a great weekend!

We went to a restaurant called Bricktops & had a great meal. I tried a local brew, Yazoo Dos Perros, since they had no Guinness (as is my pre-race tradition). Delicious!

Race morning was nice & relaxing as well. Molly had coffee brewed, so I had some of that while I read one of the books on her coffee table "And She Sparkled" by Joan Steffend. Perfect thing to read to set my mind on the task at hand. We headed to the park, me doing a warm-up jog & Molly as my bicycle escort. I still can't believe she actually woke up & went down there. I would have totally stayed in bed ;) I made my way to Corral 2 (I know, right?!) & did some drills, stretched, & talked to some of the girls. One girl forgot her hair tie & was freaking out, so I gave her mine since I had a hat on. My hair would stay off my neck & I would have felt bad about her the whole time. Crisis averted. Phew!

Aaaaaaand, we're off!

Knowing the elevation ahead of time, I decided to go out a little fast. My effort level was not hard, by any means, but my pace was a little fast because I knew I would need those seconds later in the race. I did not know, however, that what sort of looks like a fairly flat course would turn out to be a course filled with loooooong steady inclines. I have been doing my long runs on a trail with rolling hills so I though I would be prepared. I didn't really have the endurance for these long hills. Plus, it seemed like they had all the aid stations in the middle of hills so I had no choice but to walk through each of them. I had a "dump one cup over the head, drink the other" method that I used from the very beginning since I knew it would be a hot day & that really saved me I think.

I also NEVER race longer races without my Nathan handheld water bottle. Historically, I don't do well with the aid station cups (they make me nervous. what if I spill it? etc. ugh) & I don't like to slow down, or have the option to stop. In the future, as annoying as it is to cart that thing around, I will be bringing the water bottle. Without all the walk breaks through water stations (every single one!) I may have very well gotten close to that 1:42 in this race. Also, I had to use the inside back pocket of my running shorts for my gels since I usually put them in the zipper pocket of the handheld, & I had never tried that before. I had to deal with those things poking & stinging me in the butt as I developed a bad chafing. It is still there & bothering me more than a week later! Lesson learned.

Here are my mile splits:

Mile 1 - 7:33
Mile 2 - 7:24 (was downhill)
Mile 3 - 8:09 (starting hilly section)
Mile 4 - 8:08
Mile 5 - 8:07
Mile 6 - 7:47
Mile 7 - 8:18
Mile 8 - 8:42
Mile 9 - 7:52
Mile 10 - 7:46
Mile 11 - 7:46
Mile 12 - 8:08
Mile 13 - 8:35
.23 - 1:25 (6:15 avg pace)

For a total of 1:45:39 per Garmin & 1:45:35 official (7:59 avg pace)

After mile 8, I was fading. The hills were making me nuts, as it seemed like the whole darn thing was uphill, & it was getting rather hot. I noticed the 1:45 pace team & decided to stay with them & let that guy do the work, pulling me along. Smart decision. I needed to stop thinking so much & complaining to myself about the long hills. I stayed on his shoulder until the last aid station, which I walked through, & finished just behind them. Good enough for me :) I would have loved to get under 1:42, but I really wasn't worried about it. I was just looking to have some fun & see the sights.

The race finished at LP field, which, not being a huge sports fan & not really researching anything before heading to the race, I thought was a baseball field... ... ... Yes. So I'm hot & ready to get this thing over with, & I can see the finish line. I'm telling myself (in my head, thank goodness) "OK, we're gonna slide into home! Just a few more steps!"  I get to where the stadium actually is, after getting salt from the medic tent & helping a girl who is about to pass out, & I see "Tennessee Titans" on the side of the building. ... ... ... FAIL. :)

I met up with Molly & her boyfriend B & we went back to her place where she made this amazing meal! Delicious :)

She also had these beautiful flowers for me. So sweet! I put my medal in front of the flowers, which you can hardly see, & it is the coolest medal I've gotten! Super-bling :)

 I had an amazing time, & felt like I had the best race possible. Seriously, those hills... I mean, it reminded me of this 5 mile out & back that I do from my house all the time. I don't like that route. It makes me want to walk. & it's only 5 miles. I never actually walk, but I contemplate it every time. Maybe it helped me in Nashville, or maybe I just need to go a different way from now on for my 5 milers ;) Either way, I had a great time at this race & would love to do it again!