Monday, May 24, 2010

Where in the heck have you been?

So I run a 25K and I think I am a running goddess and I never blog again.   Is that what you are thinking?  Or, it could be "thank goodness that girl shut up for a little while, doesn't she have a life??".  Well, yes, in fact I do!  The month of May happens to be the most insane month of my life.  On top of the end of school festivities, field trips, and warm weather hoopla May brings, we also celebrate our anniversary and the birth of our 2 sons.  For crying out loud, we even celebrate our freakin' dog's birthday!  If I were to blog, it would most certainly be a laundry list of things that I need to get done (like today I need to wrap Tyler's presents, bake his brownies for school, go to a play date with Sam, teach my running class, order my Dad's birthday present (oh yes, he is a May baby too!), blah blah blah).  So I figured I spare you the boring to-do lists of my life and take a bit of a rest with the blog.  Just like I am taking a bit of a "rest" from my running training.  Well, it is supposed to be a rest but I still find myself going out there for a run 4 times a week (I guess 2 times are a given since it is my job now!).  You could say I am addicted.  Or sick.  Either one is fine.

I am feeling a little like a slacker I have to admit.  I've got friends all around me training for another 1/2 marathon (and my husband for the marathon) that is this coming Saturday. I am not running in either as I will be a cheerleader and overseer of my children.   And then all of my tri-buddies are training for the Hawk-I Triathlon which is the following weekend but I will be in Balitmore whooping it up with my college gals (believe me, even though I am missing doing that event I'd rather be drinking wine with my girls than sloshing around in open water in my hot swim cap).  Oddly enough, when Sam and I cheered on the ladies as they took their inaugural swim across Lake Geneva, among the sea snakes (thanks Kara), I was jealous I was not in there.  And to think, last year I SO dreaded that open water swim (if I was blogging back then, you would have had some really good laughs).  Maybe because last year it was freezing and this year it was close to 80.  Yep, I am going with that reasoning because if ya'll thought I missed it for swimming in the fishy, weedy lake you might have me committed at this point for sure. 

But, I tell you what...sometimes it is nice take a break from the hard training and just appreciate the sport of running.  Nothing taught me that more than the 5K race I did this weekend with some of my Running 101 buddies.  There were 6 of us that showed up to the race on a threatening rainy morning.  4 ladies were running the race with personal goals in mind, whether it was to complete the entire 5K running, hit a specific time, or beat an old time.  I paced with my good friend Kristin to help her get close to beating a 30 minute 5K.  Now, typically when I run a 5K I take off with abandon and do not pay attention to anyone, or anything, until I hit the finish line.  It was so nice on Saturday to take the focus off of myself and watch everyone around me trying to make their goals a reality.  I could see the look of determination and focus on the faces of each runner.  After Kristin and I finished (30:08 this race we will crush it Kristin!) we watched the other ladies come in.  Every one of my running 101 gals crossed that finish line with a Personal Record.  I can tell you that I feel the most amazing sense of accomplishment when I finish a race and know that I beat my old PR and have had an awesome race.  But I cannot describe the feeling of watching someone you have helped over the course of 7 weeks cross that finish line accomplishing her goal.  I swear I felt like crying...but I fought back the tears for fear of looking like a crazy sap.  Did I mention that three of the ladies took top 4 in their age groups??  What did it for me was when we were walking in the parking lot to go home, Linda F held up her medal and exclaimed "I have never won anything like this in my life until today!!"

Me either, I thought, as I got into my car.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Divas Do Grand Rapids

Well, I told myself this run would be the determining factor whether or not I would really try the marathon.  I know I am already signed up for the darn thing, but mentally I needed the nudge that said "hey, if you can run 15.5 miles and not die, you should be able to do 10 more with out medic assistance".  I am happy to say I am so excited to do my marathon in Baltimore because I had SO much fun at the Fifth Third River Bank 25K.  I would be wrong to say the actual run was the highlight, though.  It was great, don't get me wrong, but it was the adventures before and after that made the trip.  And lucky you get to hear about them all...settle in...this is a long one.

I wasn't sure if we'd even make it to Grand Rapids on Friday. But after a lively game of Chinese fire drill, we figured out our carpooling situation and all got down to the Amway Grand Hotel Friday evening.  Thanks to the handy restaurant guide that Peg whipped out (just one example of our Type A behaviors of the weekend), we found a BIG O's (don't even go there with the name...), a cute red and white checkered tablecloth Italian restaurant.  I inhaled a heavenly pre-race dinner of spaghetti and bread.  And a liiiitle glass of Mark West Pinot Noir.  Hey, a girl needs to calm down her nerves.  (Sidebar:  Do not consume mass quantities of garlic bread before any running race.  I think I was still burping it up at mile 5).

After dinner we checked out the expo.  Along the way we spotted the signs for the starts of the different races. 
(Left:  the girls pose by the 25K start sign.  Right:  Peg and Tom pose at the 10K sign, which Tom smoked!)

Not that any of us were nervous about actually running the race. Nope. We were more concerned about the weather. Even though I kept checking on my Blackberry so much my battery died, the meteorology situation did not budge. Saturday morning's forecast: 44 degrees (real feel 32), 25 mph winds with gusts up to 38 mph, light rain 30%. Awesome. Like it's not bad enough to run in a cold, spitting rain, but then to throw some wild whipping wind in your face. So after stuffing our faces with Italian cuisine and checking out the expo, the clothing neurosis began.  First Staci and Sara came bounding down the hallway in their proposed morning racing outfits.  Then Lisa and I spent a good hour pulling together what we thought we should wear: Should I do the purple coat?  There will be high winds and rain after all.  But the rain chance is low.  Perhaps I should just do my long sleeved shirt.  Should I bust out shorts? Hat or no hat.  And on and on and on it went.  My Nike duffel bag (that I stuffed with every article of running attire I owned) was like a magicians' hat.  It seemed to have no depth as I pulled out more and more clothing options.  

At 9:30 pm we settled on an outfit and decided we needed to test it out.  So we laced up our sneakers and down the elevator we went, into the elements.  No, I am not kidding.  We took a little jog around part of the hotel to see how it all worked out.  Satisfied, we headed back into the hotel, passing an elite Kenyon/Ethiopian guy on our way (Tom pointed him out earlier to us at the Expo).   I exclaimed, "We can't be that crazy...he is doing the same thing!".  Lisa pointed out he probably does that as part of his "elite" training regimen.  We were doing it simply because we are Type A freaks.  Point taken.  Keeping with our OCD neurosis, we neatly layed out our clothing, gadgets, race bib and sneakers (with timing chip already attached), and settled down for a long winter nap...

The alarm(s) blared at 6am and before I could even put my contacts in, I checked my Blackberry yet again, willing it to change the forecast.  It hadn't.  Lisa and I stumbled down to Peg and Tom's room to grab some coffee (waking them up in the process) and went back to our room to watch the local news (and weather).  Grand Rapids Saturday morning weather man:  I hate you.  Why?  Because in his cozy newsroom, in his ugly purple shirt and tie, he states in his meteorology fake voice, "A band of rain makes its way over downtown, just in time for the runners".  Thankfully we were distracted from all of this because from our 11th floor vantage point, we could see the early morning race preparations.  We even watched the 5K racers start at 7:30 am.  We headed outside for a final clothing check and promptly turned around and went back upstairs (way too cold to stand out there).  At 8 am the 10K racers started (GO TOM GO!).  Still hanging out in our room, the hand-cycle race was lining up at 8:10 am.  Hey, doesn't our race start soon (yes, ladies, it starts at 8:20 am)?!?!  After posing for a few random pictures, we bolted downstairs and shot outside, hearing them announce "Just 2 more minutes until the start of the 25K!!!"  Lucky for us, we could see the start mat from our hotel and we lined up just in time to hear the start horn blare.  And off we went.

Since I was so preoccupied with my clothing, I hadn't given much thought to the race, and the fact I'd be running 15.5 miles that morning.  I barely had enough time to put my ear buds in and start Sara's Timex (Zach trumped me on the Garmin...something about a dumb 20 mile training run...) when I crossed the start tarmac.  I settled into my pace in the first couple of miles and was in my own little world. Thankfully, the hated-purple-shirted weather guy was WRONG and there was no rain.  We headed into a trail that took us alongside the river and the trees seemed to wrap themselves around me, shielding from the wind.  It was PERFECT. 

I was pretty carefree for the first 8 miles.  I chatted with an older man about his Boston Marathon aspirations.  I checked out all the attire, from the lady running in her old school high top purple Reebok's (yes, I passed her), to the guy with the crazy 80's printed running shorts (jeesh!).  I dodged farmers blows and launching spit, as well as water/Gatorade cups and GU wrappers (what a mess...I did try to be eco-conscious and throw mine away, but in the last few miles I can't be sure what I did...).  And although I didn't run it with any of my girls, I did run back and forth with cool-purple-vest lady.  I'd always see her out of the corner of my eye...she was my pace partner and she didn't even know it.  Like when we rounded the corner and started our way back towards downtown.  The carefree wooded trail gave way to mean hilly pavement with that dreaded wind whipping my face and blowing my hat practically off my head at times.  I'd look around, and take comfort in seeing my cool-purple-vest lady.  I'd pass her.  She'd pass me.  I'd run by her side,  focused on the run ahead but strangely comforted by her presence.  The hills finally passed us as we weaved back into the city through neighborhoods with cheering fans.  It was exactly what I needed to kick it in and finish the longest race I have ever done!  2 hours and 17 minutes (and 18 seconds for those counting).

Through the finish corral, a volunteer put a medal around my neck as I gasped for breath.  I stumbled over to where the food/water was, hoping to spot any of my fellow divas.  Someone tapped my shoulder and I looked up to see cool-purple-vest lady in front of me.  She thanked me for a great race and she said, "As long as I saw your white jacket and white hat, I knew I was doing OK".  I laughed and told her I thought the same thing about her.  And after she left, I spotted Lisa and Sara. 

The first order of business:  BEER TENT

lisa and I put one back
Lisa, me and Sara in the beer tent...

Next on the agenda:  MASSAGE!

even the Douglas J guy looks excited! little does he know he will be rubbing down Sara's sweat through her cute pink shirt :o)


Snug in Sara's bed...

After a trip back to BIG O's for an Oberon and big fat slices of pizza, it was time to tell Grand Rapids good bye.  But the Divas will be back...hopefully with some of you out there too!

Post race:  Staci, me, Lisa, Sara and Peg


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pre-race Zen

In 48 hours I will be standing on the start line of the race I have been diligently training for the past few months.  During this training time our group endured runs in the snow and runs in unseasonal heat and too many runs in the wind.  We dodged crazy dogs, made emergency bathroom stops at undisclosed locations, had a couple of our water stations stolen, and even did some "destination" excursions.  This is typically the time where I start to freak out a bit...wondering if I have it in me to complete such a distance. I felt that way last August before the 10 miler.  I certainly felt that way before the Capital City Half Marathon.  But this time, I feel an overwhelming sense of calm.  I am more uptight and nervous about what to pack than I am about actually running.  Perhaps because we are staying overnight somewhere has me distracted from the fact that I will be running 15.5 miles on a course I have never seen before.  Another distraction could be for the last 2 weeks I have been racing around like a chicken with her head cut off, with a to do list consumed with birthdays, BBQs, school activities/paperwork, etc. etc.  Or maybe I am fixated on the post-race Michelob Ultra tent for after run beer imbibing (and a hotel room reserved until 5 pm to nap it all off...).   Truth be told, the reason for my uncharacteristic sense of zen is I have not put any pressure on myself to complete the race in any given time (I do have a goal in my head...but I choose to keep it right up there along with the other random thoughts floating in my brain).

So, it is TAPER week, meaning the week before a big race when you cut down your mileage considerably to rest up for the said big day. Now you all know I typically am a healthy eater and occasionally indulge in a sweet treat every now and again (aka chocolate cake). So you would think the week before this big race I'd be eating all the Quinoa, Tofu, Oatmeal and Protein shakes I can, right?  NOPE.  I have been consuming more sugar than one girl really should in a week. If I was keeping a food journal, the abridged version would look a little like this (note:  amounts are approximate.  perhaps i erred to the smaller side to make myself NOT  look like a TOTAL cow...)

breakfast:  sensible english muffin with peanut butter.  another spoonful of peanut butter. and another.
lunch-piece of sweetielicous roasted red pepper and feta quiche that was about the size of my head.  i ate the whole thing.  then i "split" a chocolate chunk cookie AND a lemon cherry bomb cookie with my mom.  mathematical note to self:  2 halves of a cookie do in fact equal a whole. don't kid yourself.
dinner:  sit down dinner "skipped" b/c of such a big lunch. instead i scarfed down a snack wrap from McDonald's (crispy of course) and then a trip to scoopy doo's ice cream shop for a Reese's peanut butter cup flurry.  it was Sam's birthday, after all.  i needed to help him celebrate. i might have came home and eaten a girl scout cookie too.  i can't be sure.  after all...i DID "skip" dinner...

i vow to make today a bit more healthier.
breakfast:  waffle with almond butter.  just one more scoop of almond butter...
lunch:  turkey wrap with homemade guacamole.  pretzels and chips and more guacamole.  shoving my hand in the guac. bowl for more. now practically licking guacamole bowl...
dinner: Boca burger and fries.  not my typical sweet potato baked fries with olive oil.  nope.  not this week.  straight from the Orida bag in all their trans-fat glory. maybe a few carrots for good measure. and a big fat glass of Cabernet, because it pairs SO well with a veggie burger...
dessert: i *had* to bake brownies for Sam's preschool picnic Wednesday. the smell of baking brownies to me is probably a whole lot like cigarette smoke to a smoker. the brownies were barely out of the oven before I was frosting and cutting into them.  i rationalized i would not have the time to do it later when they were fully cooled.  naturally, they were a mess, so i had to eat the "pieces" that were not suitable for preschool picnic consumption.  when it was all said and done, i probably inhaled 3 brownies worth of "pieces".  All while watching "The Biggest Loser".  Lovely.

i vow to make today a bit more healthier.
breakfast:  as usual, something sensible. a banana with peanut butter.  jeez, i eat a lot of nut butters.
snack: cheese and triscuits. many more triscuits.  i am not eating anything else until the picnic.  pinkie swear.
lunch:  darn it all!  Sara calls and mentions going to Sweetielicious (they have gotten a good dose of my business this week!) for lunch.  had i eaten yet?  ummmm...nope. not really.  1/2 a veggie sandwich and pantry salad (that's the one with the candied pecans and mounds of blue cheese...mmmm...) later I did maintain some self control and said no to the cookies.  for now.
dinner:  a little randomness at the preschool picnic.  maybe a slice of pizza.  perhaps a scoop of taco dip and chips.  probably a few grapes to be a reasonable role model. and polished off with not one, not two, but THREE desserts.  I am a sucker for M&M cookies and PB cookies with the Hershey kiss on top...

Today i vow to make today a bit more healthier.  Maybe. 
At least I know I'll be lining up Saturday to burn off all the damage I did this week in a 25K with my favorite running girls.