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Race Recap: Ironman Austin 70.3

Austin got added to my schedule late in the game; actually, after I thought my season was already over to be precise. After Whistler I felt strong physically and wasn’t satisfied ending the season on a mediocre (at best) note. I thought about IM Cozumel (THANK GOD I DIDN’T DECIDE TO DO ANOTHER FULL IM) for a few moments, but worried about having another sub par race and decided the cost – both financial and potentially emotional and physical – wasn’t worth it.

Austin was a great compromise for me. I got to extend the season by a couple of months to take advantage of the end of the mild sunny NW season, travel with some great training buddies, see a new place (Austin!), and fingers crossed close the season out feeling positive and ready for rest.

Our pre-race trip was a blast. We drove the course, checked out the lake, SBR-ed a little, laughed a LOT, and generally kept things low-key. Our rental property had tons of chickens and ducks (for eggs), and produce grows there year round to provide for 20 families that are part of the co-op. We took full advantage of the eggs and produce and had a legendary and awesome pre-race meal chef-ed up by G. And then it was race day.

(race recap vid by G – way better than photos!)

Pre-Race

I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off race morning to a HUGE clap of thunder and lightning and sheets of water falling from the sky. Really? Ugh. I reminded myself if anyone could combat water falling from the sky it was us NW ladies and I simply ignored the fact that this day could get ugly.

Our chauffeurs (our men) drove us to the finish line, where we had to catch a shuttle to the swim/T1. Thanks (but not!) to the weather, traffic was backed up for miles, and though we’d left 3 hours to take a 35-minute drive (including the shuttle) and set up transition we only ended up with a few spare minutes to get our tires pumped and evacuate T1.

Swim // 34:47 // 1:48/100 m

I was really nervous about this swim. I always am nervous about every swim. But because of cooler temps and dwindling morning light I hadn’t gotten a solid distance OWS in over 3 weeks.

All that for nothing though, because it was pretty decent. I started out less aggressively than I probably should have, but was only 2 rows back and 5 swimmers right of the main line. The first 400 went from calm (such polite swimmers in Texas!) to a shit show, to calm again, and then I knew I’d be fine. All was smooth and well until the last stretch back in to shore, at which point our very late starting wave (3rd to last or so?) started hitting all of the floaters from earlier waves. Floaters being the people from earlier waves who were stopped to take a break, tread water, and hang on to kayaks. It got rough on the way back trying to manage them, the super speedy swimmers who were passing from the wave after us, and increasingly choppy water.

I continued to work hard and swim up to where my hand touched the ground. As I exited the lake I had no clue what my swim time was and just ran up the chute to the strippers and on to T1. In retrospect:

-I liked the swim course. The buoys were really easy to spot.  The triangle was pretty even and no turns were overly sharp. The water was murky but didn’t feel dirty or dark.

-I should have gone out harder from the start. I never got that OH SHIT I CANT BREATHE panic feeling which means I didn’t swim hard enough. But, I did enjoy having a smooth swim and not having the though of quitting cross my mind. (Yes, during every single swim I think about quitting at least once.) It felt good to be strong for the whole swim and to never fade.

-I know someone has to go last (or near it) but I’ve never encountered so many floundering swimmers. Not even in Boise! It was frustrating knowing that I could have gone faster without having quite a few small delays in getting around people.

T1 // 2:59

The transition area was much larger than I’d anticipated but luckily I knew where my bike was. Unluckily the recent rains had caused Goat Heads to grow everywhere. For those unfamiliar, these prickly bristly little vines are so sharp they rip tires and flat tubes so we were advised to carry out bikes the entire way out of transition. (Yeah yeah, if only I raced Cyclocross I’d be proficient at that).

My transition itself – meaning wetsuit off, run to bike, bike stuff on, wetsuit in bag – was very efficient, but I lost some time trying to carry my bike for sure. And I felt like an idiot. When I got to the mount line I realized I had a Goat Head in my shoe. I ripped my shoe off to get it out and hoped that was the only one.

Bike // 2:43:15 // 20.58 mph

At mile 2 I pulled up on my pedal to climb a tiny incline and my foot went FLYING. My stomach dropped as I thought I was going down, but I regained my balance and pulled over to a dead stop. Mud from the heavy morning rain was stuck in my cleats from running through T1. I did my best to dig it out with my fingernails and though frustrated I felt grateful that I hadn’t flatted like SO SO SO many people I’d already passed. A significant portion of athletes didn’t even make it to mile 2 without flatting from the Goat Heads.

The next 45?ish miles of the bike were frustrating. The pro: I felt like a pro! I was passing EVERYONE (which is what happens when hardly anyone starts later than you, regardless of how fast you actually are). The con: There were people all over the road and in some spots it was really tough to get around them. Like areas that weren’t closed to vehicle traffic or where pavement was poor (which was most of the course).

That said I enjoyed the bike more than I thought I would. The course wasn’t Texas-pretty like I’d expected, and wasn’t as flat as I had in mind either, but it was a new experience to ride hard for the whole leg, knowing that there weren’t climbs to save up for. I have never hit a goal HR for a 70.3 (always a bit low) but in Austin I exceeded it by a few bpm’s and felt strong. I KNEW I wouldn’t blow up.

T2 // 2:58

I was pretty excited to be off the bike by the end and climbed into T2 ready to run. I got a little bit disoriented finding my rack, which is no one’s fault but my own. I had practiced identifying the spot but I guess in the moment I just forgot. I probably lost 30 seconds or so; after making one mistake I slowed down a little to make sure I didn’t make another.

Run // 1:43:14 // 7:54 min/mi

The run was a 3-loop course that in a sick way I sort of looked forward to. A bit boring? Yes. But who is looking at scenery during a 70.3 run? If you are HTFU. A 3-loop course made it easy to break down: Loop 1 – adjust, Loop 2 – hold steady, Loop 3 – push to the end.

As always, the run is a bit of a blur to me. It was great to see my teammates and friends out on the course and I cheered loud every time I saw them. I felt tired the whole time, but solid. The run was quite hilly with hardly a flat section, some trail, and some mud, all quite evident from my huge range in splits from mile to mile. I know I didn’t take in nearly enough calories on the run, which perhaps contributed to my fog.  But my body felt on the borderline of rejection so I stuck to coke and other liquids at every aid station and that got me through.

I’m proud of my run not only because I PR’d it on a not easy course, but because I pushed so hard all day leading up and still stayed strong. There was a walk-worthy hill out there (that we hit 3 times, obvs) but I didn’t… I ran. I told myself all morning that THIS.WAS.IT. and that I should be grateful for being out there. And I gave it my all and really did feel grateful all day long, for a good race, a supportive husband, good friends, and a fun trip.

Overall 5:07:10 // 15th AG

In the end I PR’d by 8:45, after already knocking nearly 9 minutes off my PR on the distance earlier in July. I am thrilled. This was such a better end to the season than fading off post-Whistler and starting a 4-month off-season feeling less than stellar.

Would I recommend Austin 70.3 to others? Yes. I’ve heard mixed reviews from others, but I really enjoyed the race and the course. The more I race this distance the more I realize there is no perfect race; every course leaves more to be desired, the weather is always a factor, and you never know when your wave will start. Austin was a much flatter bike than you’d get anywhere around the NW, but I was pleasantly surprised by the rollers to keep things interesting. The run was tough – but aren’t they all?

Now… To the off-season! (Which I’m already winning at, by the way.)

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Throwback

The other night I was looking through old photos and came across a few gems.

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You see, I haven’t always been this crazy about running and triathlon. In fact, I absolutely hated running until fairly recently. But I have always been crazy about sport, fitness, and health (minus a few years post college).

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Growing up I practiced gymnastics about 20 hours per week on top of normal public school (middle and high school), still got good grades, and really couldn’t have been happier. I was the queen of time management and learned how to fit everything I wanted to do into my life, thanks to my parents who were pretty much fulltime chauffeurs.

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Other kids wanted to hang out after school, watch tv, eat mac & cheese, and gossip. But all I really wanted to do after school was to get to the gym as quickly as possible to practice, and get better. Summer was the best because it meant 6-8 hour training days rather than the usual 4.

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It wasn’t uncommon to spend weekends all over Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, or even Hawaii for competitions. I got to see new places, compete against the best, learn a lot about myself, and have a lot of fun in the process.

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Though I did eventually (obviously) quit the sport, my current running and triathlon days remind me a lot of my gymnastics days, especially as I develop more friendships and relationships within the sport. Yes, going to the lake is about swimming and getting faster, but it’s also about camaraderie, socializing with people who have similar goals, and catching up with friends.

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Filed under Life, Photo & Video Posts, Training

Aging Up

Today is my birthday, and in the amateur sporting world of running and triathlon it’s a big one. Though I only turn 29, based on the timing of my birthday I will from this point forward be aged up into the 30-34 age group.

Eeeeek!

The 25-29-ers are fast and fierce, don’t get me wrong. They feel and look friendly, kind, and caring, but out of nowhere athletes will in essence eat you up and spit you out. But in a friendly way. They’re there to compete, but there’s an air of compassion and we’re-all-in-this-together-ness. Athletes are there to race, but against the clock, the course, and themselves. All season long this year, at the start of every race, I watched those 30-34’s and thanked goodness that I was still in the 25-29 group.

The 30-34’s look more hardcore. They’re geared up. They know what they’re doing. They line up, size each other up, and are ready to go. There are fewer athletes that are new to the sport – it ain’t their first rodeo – and they look more confident, calculated, and dialed. They chat and smile and wish each other luck, but it looks to be surface. The 30-34’s are there to race too, but against EACH OTHER.

Next time I pin on a bib I’ll be racing among athletes who are older than me, but in triathlon age is (to a certain point) a virtue. My set of competition will be more experienced and they’ll have more years of endurance build up under their race belts. And there will be more of them! The 30-35 in women’s triathlon is one of the more popular female age groups so the swim start is large and the field is wide. I’m worried that I’ll be intimidated. I picture the swim start at Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3, lined with fellow-colored swim caps, and wanting to turn around and walk back ashore.

Not that I don’t usually feel that way but…

The upside is that I have about 10+ months until I race an Ironman again, and when I do (assuming I race Canada) my age group will have not only double Kona slots but more to start with due to the age 30-34 participation ratio. Another upside? In an Ironman every last athlete starts together so I can seed myself in the chaos or on the fray depending on how I feel; no matter what I’m up against 2,800 people for the first 1:00:00-1:30:00. And I’m not a competitor in road races, plus there’s no violence like in a swim start, so the worst thing that happens is I get crushed (in performance) in NYC. But unless your name is Kara Goucher that’s pretty much a guarantee, meaning I’m used to it and unafraid. However in triathlon I’m generally average enough at everything and not terrible at anything  so I perform and place decently; every second I spend swimming rather than getting beat up counts!

Another upside… when I actually turn 30 it will feel like a nothing birthday because I will have already endured the worst part: aging up. 🙂

On a more serious and sap-tastic upside note though, I’m about 800 miles from home, my husband, my family and friends, and I’ve never felt so loved. Riding into San Francisco in the back seat of a cab I was reading birthday wishes from so many people and I’ve never felt more satisfied with my life. I never imagined that I’d be right here, right now, but the details of my life are exactly how I always wanted my adult life to be but didn’t know was possible. As a 12, 15, 17, or even 22 years old if you’d have told me this would be my life I’d have responded:

Living in Seattle? Maybe. Seattle’s cool.

Married to my best friend at 27? I’m too selfish to conceptualize what that means. Or I was… until I fell…

A Boston Marathoner and Ironman? HAHAHA. I HATE RUNNING SOOOOO MUCH.

Working at a full-time job that isn’t work because you believe in the purpose? I wish! But since I don’t feel that strongly about anything other than exercising I doubt it. Unless someone will give me a salary for elliptical-ing!!

But when I string it together right now my life is just as me as when I was 12, 15, 17, 22, or 25. The things that have always been common, that are unchanged with age and experience because they are inherently who I am, are thriving right now because I’m living the life that I always wanted but never knew specifically existed. I’m 29, and I’m truly happier and more myself than I ever remember having been.

I hope for many things, but when I blow out the proverbial candles tonight I will wish for this feeling to recur on every birthday for forever. Life. Is. Good.

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Riding My Bike in Portland

Pre-Ironman I had some misconceptions about how I’d feel post-Ironman:

  1. That my bike and I would need a break. In fact, we might even need to see other people. I couldn’t fathom that I would want to be in the saddle anytime in the immediate future.
  2. I thought that I’d be dying to run fast, and run my heart out. With months and months of slower endurance training I felt eager to be done with the hours and up for focusing on intensity.

Thought #2 is topic for another day, for when I have the bandwidth to write a novel, but since IMC I’ve felt shockingly amazingly awesome about being on my bike. Despite the near 6 hour ride that day and many (many, many, many) hours on it through the summer it’s been so enjoyable and fun to ride without such an agenda. I’m enjoying pushing myself and my lungs to whatever extent my body feels like without worrying about impact and injury, and with the lingering tiredness just starting to lift I’ve needed that ounce of prevention.

This weekend we spent time in Portland, and outside of races I’ve never ridden my bike outside of Seattle. Thanks to the awesome folks at Athlete’s Lounge they hooked me up with a few route recommendations, I strung some together, and hit the road this morning.

Having grown up in Portland I can navigate myself in a car pretty well. I may not know street names, but I can get myself from point A to point B in a pretty direct manner without getting lost. However, I never rode a bike when I lived here. Seriously, not once! So I was a little nervous setting out on the road just after sunrise.

The air was a chilly 50 degrees, and in shorts, finger-less gloves and a sleeveless jersey with arm-warmers I started on the cold side. But riding the first 5 miles entirely up hill got me warmed up pretty quickly!

I rode past high school party stomping grounds along Cornell Rd. and then up to Skyline Blvd. From the moment I got my drivers license at 16 years old Skyline was my favorite place to go for a drive. Beautiful views, beautiful homes, forest, rolling pastures, and farmland all mixed in. Just minutes away from the city but so so peaceful and beautiful.

Skyline Blvd is known for it’s awesome cycling – and cars that don’t like cyclists – but I only passed a few other riders and the handful of cars that passed me did so respectfully.

Though I’m definitely a city girl, rides like these make me feel like I could do country. Maybe. Someday. Sort of. Or probably not. But they make me WANT to want to be country!

After about 8 miles rolling and winding, I was rewarded with a newly paved and not too technical downhill all the way to Sauvie Island.

Sauvie Island is so pretty in the fall. I haven’t been out there in years, but an early autumn-morning sunrise with chilly air left me feeling like I could have ridden the 11 mile loop at least 10x 5x without getting bored.

Being on the Island reminded me of childhood fall seasons, as THE place to get your pumpkin is the patch out there. It looked like the farm was just getting ready to set up. As soon as I saw the signs I wanted to kick myself for not having brought cash. Apple cider would have been absolutely amazing; much better than chews and deliciously warm to combat the cold morning.

After leaving the Island and crossing the bridge it was less than 10 miles back to where I had parked my car.

It was so fun to ride in my old stomping grounds and to see areas I haven’t taken the time to visit in so many years. It’s not even as though they hold an extreme amount of sentimental value, but it was such a breathtaking morning and such an engaging and freeing way to spend time seeing new(ish) sights. I think that I need to start bringing my bike with us on more road trips (and we need to start going on more road trips), and I need to seek out new routes in the Seattle-area. Today makes me look forward to fall very very much.

Do you have any bike route recommendations for me? Seattle? Eastern Washington? Anywhere that I can drive to from Seattle?

 

*None of these photos are my own. They came from rubbertotheroad.com and sauvieisland.org. But this is seriously how amazing it looked out there this morning!

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Seattle Century Ride

Last Saturday I embarked on my 3rd 100 mile ride.

The 1st was too soon after my crash to be awesome, and I played it quite safe by stopping every hour or so to refill bottles and get off the bike to make sure I felt well enough to continue. It was a good confidence booster to remind myself that no matter what happens I CAN get through this, but it took me so long, and I was so tired, that I can barely legitimately call it a century.

The 2nd one went surprisingly well. At mile 40 I couldn’t believe that’s ALL I had ridden – I should have been at mile 75 for how my legs felt – but I reigned it in and kept my energy and strength level and consistent by backing off a little, eating what felt like a lot, and drinking what felt like even more.

With my 3rd century being so soon after my first and second it was a little more challenging for me to get myself excited about spending another 6 hours with… MYSELF! Luckily the Seattle Century was happening and I figured at least I’d have a pre-mapped and marked supported course to follow, and maybe I’d meet some cyclists along the way.

Within the first 15 minutes I met a friend to ride with, within the first 2 hours I got fresh pie, and when 100 miles was said and done I had climbed over 5,100 feet. Success!

I highly recommend the 100 mile ride to anyone looking to get in that kind of distance. It was incredibly scenic, well-marked, safe, and the event allows riders to start early (a plus so you can choose to pace yourself however you please OR take off before you risk congestion). I hear the other rest stops had great food too but I only cared about pie and getting done. The ride was a tough hilly course, and I pushed myself in the second half of the ride to keep up through all of the climbs and descents (I’m silly a bit wimpy), but it was a beautiful route through Woodinville, Redmond, Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, Snoqualmie, Issaquah, over Lake Washington, and back to Magnuson Park.

The 100 mile distance is still hard for me to wrap my head around, and to combat that I find myself focusing more on time and landmarks than mileage. It’s similar to when I first started running in that a count of miles sounds impossible, but if you can break it down into 3 or 4 chunks pretty soon you’re halfway done, and in the blink of an eye there’s only have a tiny bit left. Though my “almost home” landmarks are still about 20 miles from my front door, once I get there I know I can make it. I’m definitely going to have to find a few of these on course in Canada to keep me motivated and happy.

If anyone is looking to ride the Seattle Century next year let me know! I’m definitely in for more pie. 🙂

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Cinco de Mayo Training

60 mile ride.

4 mile run.

Hour of weights.

Then this happened.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Race Recap: Magnuson 10k

When I woke up yesterday morning the last thing that seemed like an awesome way to pass time was to be outside. It was raining and cold with a forecast of snow. But despite a stupid hamstring and even more stupid weather I really wanted to race this one. My hamstring has been making good progress despite continued training and a half marathon last weekend, and to me part of racing is making the best of the cards you are dealt that day and doing the best you can under the circumstances. There’s really no such thing as “if the course wasn’t so hilly” or “if I wasn’t dehydrated” or “if only I had slept better last night”. You chose a hilly course, you didn’t drink enough water, and that sucks that you didn’t sleep well. But that’s how it is and you better try your hardest to be the best you can today, and do your best to capitalize on others’ crappy cards, too.

Back to the hamstring: Though I haven’t slowed my training much I’ve been really excellent about icing, not stretching, and listening to exactly what my dumb leg needs, constantly. And I guess I’ve been doing something right; since the worst of it the Tuesday before last I’ve made notable progress daily. Which made it disconcerting when I woke up for the race and it felt more tight than it had the day before. Tight muscles + 36 degree racing weather isn’t exactly recipe for success, but I decided to go, check things out, and give myself permission to quit without considering it quitting at any time.

When I arrived on site it was so windy that Lake Washington was white-capped and crashing all along the park. Oh and there were kiteboarders there. On Lake Washington. If that tells you anything… I arrived, registered and developed my plan of attack: 30 minutes before start time I’d start running parts of the course to warm up. If my leg didn’t let up I’d slow jog the 10k. If with 10 minutes to go it still felt good I’d throw in some fast accelerations to see if it would tweak out or adapt to the speed and hold.

Warm up was a success in more ways than one. I saw a bald eagle swoop to the lake to fish about 100 feet away; I’ve never seen one so incredibly close and it was breathtaking. My leg started loosening up and letting go of the knot, so my new goal became to stay loose up until and through the race. I knew if I stayed smooth and steady – even if fast – it would behave. And lastly out on the warm-up I spotted some “race friends,” AKA runners I recognize from past events. Though I still think triathletes are the friendliest athletes around, I like that I’m starting to get a better feel for the running scene. It’s nice to know who the fast ones are, and it’s nice to feel like maybe some of them recognize me, too.

Finally it was Go Time so I slow jogged back to the start, climbed into the starting queue two rows from the front and we went!

10k 6.2mi // Time: 42:52 // 6:55 min/mi

Things I did well:

Adapt my plan and stay smart. I knew that I shouldn’t have a lot of expectations for this race, so I managed realistic hopes for a steady performance rather than set an awe-inspiring goal. With every stride I assessed my health and pushed my pace conservatively. When the course got muddy or hilly or snaked I reassessed some more to keep my pace strong but not compromise my leg with an uneven surface or quick movement. I wasn’t too proud to accept this and be okay with it.

Keep a competitive mindset. I effectively used the people in front of me to pull me forward and to scout what was coming up ahead. This was a little tricky because the 5k, 10k and 15k all started together and consisted of 1, 2 or 3 loops accordingly, so you never knew who was running what until you reached the finish of a loop and runners either stopped or kept running. Though I wasn’t running to gut myself I picked people to pull from and continued to climb the ladder for the entire race.

Size myself up and start right. I’m pretty good at knowing my own pace, but I also assume that I’m much slower than everyone else. The last couple of races I’ve gotten frustrated trying to pass around slower groups of people so at the start I lined myself up two rows back, right behind the crazy fast guys. I only got passed by a couple of people the entire race (5k-ers) and ended up picking off many of those who started in front of me, and  constantly had someone to try to catch. I think I did good.

Things I could have done better:

Scout the course. I absolutely know I should have done this and I didn’t because I’m lazy, not because it was impossible. If I had scouted the course I would have known where the big hill was, where the crappy snakey path was, and to expect a mud run in the second half of the loop.

Reach out. Like I said, I always feel like triathletes are more friendly than runners. They cheer each other on as they get passed, and nothing brings two strangers together more quickly and closely than a mutual love for the sport. I saw runners that I recognized and waited for them to give the smile and nod. They didn’t, so I didn’t. But one of them gave me a cheer at the end of their 5k, and I realized I should have been the one to reach out. Next time. Though I was the only person on the course to cheer people on as they passed, I could have done better.

I had a really great time yesterday, and though many signs pointed to ‘skip it’ I’m really glad I didn’t. I’m starting to get the hang of racing so that I can show up, know the plan will work, and feel confident about what I’m doing rather than worry about everyone else. In my opinion racing should always hurt and be uncomfortable if you’re doing it right, but if you have a plan and confidence you welcome the pain rather than fear it. Now I’m really looking forward to my next race in February.

Magnuson Park Run Seattle Washington

Course Map: 1 loop for the 5k, 2 loops for the 10k. The lucky 15k-ers got the snakey death path and mud run zone THREE TIMES!

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12 k’s of Christmas: Race Recap

Ever since I crossed the finish line of a successful-but-not-fulfilling Seattle Half I’ve been looking forward to this race. A good opportunity to redeem my racing self, a fun opportunity to race with a few friends, and delicious team brunch as a post-race reward. Perfect Sunday. I stayed wary after Seattle and didn’t register too far out, but my foot has stayed healthy so I’ve been training to truly try to race this event. And that I did!

I was really grateful for a late race start this morning. The rain was forecasted to lighten and clear 30 minutes prior to the gun firing, and honestly, I’ve just been tired lately! I don’t have a problem racing in the rain (well, at least not for a 12k), but the past couple weeks getting out of bed has been the biggest battle of the day. Last night I was enjoying couch time so much I suddenly realized it was passed my bedtime (10pm!) and I just didn’t feel like rushing. I was also happy to wake up and have a leisurely breakfast with coffee and some household chores before heading out for the day. Yeah, athletes have to empty dishwashers, too. 😦

I suited up and off to Kirkland we went!

As usual we were one hundred years early, just how I like it, so I had plenty of time to warm up in the car, pee more times than necessary, then re-hydrate only to pee more. With  30 minutes left to go I went out into the cold and rain (weather forecast = NOT correct), and circled the area for a warm-up in. All the while knowing that by the time I started I’d be cold again anyway. My warm-up got cut short anyway once I saw how long the line for the bathrooms was! But while I was waiting I spotted my coach and a few friends so I had company while the line inched forward slowly. Well, actually they spotted me thanks to my favorite neon shirt!

And then I peed.  And then we waited for the 5k to start. And then we waited more because they had to tow a car that was parked illegally and in the way. And then the 5k started. And all the while I got really really cold, like could feel the individual hairs on the back of my neck cold, and then we finally got to enter the corrals. And then, we ran!

12k // Time: 52:08 // 6:56 min/mi

I’m going to start this part by saying that I am very proud of this race for a few reasons.

First and foremost I followed the plan, which included: Don’t look at your Garmin, go out fast and without fear, and push yourself past where you’ve been. Running fast is a different kind of tired and pain than running long, and it’s something I’m not accustomed to. It’s also something I don’t consider myself good at. When the gun went off I ran and I didn’t let myself or other runners hold me back. I tried to operate on omigod this is hard omigod this is hard omigod this is hard keep going keep going keep going for the whole 12k, and maintained that feeling rather than viewing my pace and measuring performance from that data.

Secondly, sub 7 minute miles? For 12k? I remember not that long ago when running one single mile in less than 8 minutes was VICTORY for me. I can now acknowledge that I’m a better than average runner, but I don’t consider myself to be fast. But I do smile a huge smile at the thought of that progress… I’m getting faster! And I have numbers to back up the progress: Though my pace was significantly faster, my average heart rate was lower than my previous 12k.

And most importantly, I had fun. I donned Christmas socks and lined up with antler-wearing crazies in 42 degree misting rain and I ran uphill. And it was awesome. The misting rain and running uphill is actually not abnormal, but Christmas socks? Who am I? And enjoying antlers and Christmas tututs (question: what do tutus have to do with Christmas?)? Normally out of the question. But I embraced the holiday cheer and went with it, and found myself among one of my favorite types of people: my fellow crazies. And we ran and it was fun.

Today makes me look forward to my next 5 races even more than I already was. They’re another chance to push myself and see what I can do and  to soak in the race environment. And, another chance for a race-day video! What race day video, you might ask? Well stay tuned. Because one is coming, and it’s going to be awesome.

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Running Slippers

This morning I woke up a later than usual. I usually do a 6-8 mile run plus 1:15:00 of weights on Thursday mornings. It’s generally a big morning for one of the most tired days of the week, but last night I had a good chunk of time to myself so I knocked my weights out a day early to allow myself some extra zzz’s.

Forewarning: Extra zzz’s always throw me off.

I hopped out of bed laid in bed for about 5 minutes after my alarm clock went off, and contemplated whether I should really get out of bed. No. Yes. No. Yes. Really? Definitely. I got up, stretched, pulled on my running tights and made it downstairs.

I dawdled for a little bit, checking twitter and my RSS feed while stretching. I got my ear warmer and heart rate monitor and gloves all situated. I realized I forgot my key, so I disassembled myself, pried it off the larger key ring, stowed it in my pocket, got re-situated, and stood at the front door thinking about whether there was anything left to do. Nope, there wasn’t. Just the actual running was left to do.

I closed the door behind me and stood on the sidewalk while my Garmin caught a GPS signal. As the signal reached full strength I went to take my first step and realized.

I was still wearing my slippers!

It’s been a few days in a row of joys like that. I was tempted to just run in them, but decided that my podiatrist, who I was seeing just a few hours later, probably wouldn’t approve. So inside I went to put on my real shoes, and I ran happily ever after.

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Move

I’ve always been captivated by Nike’s advertising. Before I knew I wanted to work in the field, and before I played any sports that Nike sold attire/equipment for (my gymnastics days), I tore their ads out of all my magazines and posted them on my childhood walls for inspiration. Heck, I didn’t even like running back then, but Nike portrayed strong and fit female athletes that I aspired to be. Nike didn’t use the girl power card and that was part of what won me over; instead they confidently knew that of course women can do it. Be strong, train hard, have focus, don’t give up. That’s the same for all men and women.

From when I was that pre-teen posting their pages on my walls, all the way until now, I’ve always wanted to define myself by the sports I play, the training I do, and the work I put in. I relate to it all differently now, certain Nike imagery has really moved me and/or still does. Toping that list as my all time favorite ad is Move. On the least inspiring of days, just the audio playing behind my outlook email window lifts me up. Playing sports is a beautiful thing.

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