Friday, April 29, 2011

Todays' hot confident pic...

Royal wedding, royal couple, royal confidence.

Photo Courtesy: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The running chronicles; that was a great run

Human sized hamster wheelImage by phyxiusone via FlickrI can't remember the last time I felt this good after a run (minus some knee pain, but let's ignore that for now).  The threat of rain forced me to the hamster wheel tonight and I wasn't really looking forward to it.  I hoped that my mind would get out of the way and let me have my run.  I just wanted to run.

The whole idea is to get it done.  Just run.  Remembering the sage words of the guy at the track on Monday - don't race, just run.

I tried not to start out too quickly, something I do all.the.time.  I get out there and go like a bat out of hell and before I know it, I'm tired.  From there, it's a struggle to go the distance.  This time, I took it a little easier and made sure it was a pace that I could keep, but a pace that I could keep and then comfortably increase as I got closer to my goal of 4 miles.

The first two miles were fine, keeping at about 8:30/mile.  Well, my left knee felt tight within the first mile.  My IT bands started to yell a little at me.  Other than that, it was fine.  I calculated that I was hitting a mile just about every two songs on my play list.  Not too shabby. Threw me off a little bit before I realized that Helena Beat is longer than the songs before and right after it.  I digress.

So I hit mile 3 and was starting to think, "Oh when will this be over?".  My brain was nearly numb from the repetition of the hamster wheel.  It's beyond boring.  And the corner banks drive me, and my hips, nuts.  OK, time to get over it.

So after the friendly female voice told me I was pretty close to my record distance {at the hamster wheel, that is}, I kicked it up a notch.  All the while, I was trying to suppress the need to answer nature's call.  There's nothing like running a great run, knowing your goal is in sight, and your body telling you that the choice to have that 1/2 coffee, 1/2 hot chocolate in the afternoon, after the turkey burger at lunch, wasn't a wise one.  Extra incentive to go a little faster and get the run done!

Finally, I hit four miles, my goal for the night.  Wow, I just did that!  It felt soooo good.  This was only the second time I've made it all 4 miles on the hamster wheel.  I'm so glad I reached my goal.

Once I completed the run, I realized that I can do it.  I've had doubts about my running, but, no more. 

I left the gym sweaty and hot.  I was confident.  I was full of hot confidence.

I'm going to keep running and racing.  I'm going to run farther, and I'm going to just run.  I'm going to run and have fun.  I'm going to do a 10K in May.  I'm going to just run until race day, and on race day I'm going to run until I finish.  I.cannot.wait.

Dear Saturday: please hurry up and get here, I have a great run to do in the morning!
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That smile says it all...

Look, Mommy, I lost my fourth tooth!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The running chronicles, mystery no more...

MysteryImage via Wikipedia

Runner Dude is no longer a mystery.  I figured it out yesterday afternoon after it had driven me crazy since Saturday.

I'm not going to release my methods for finding him and figuring out how I do, indeed, know Runner Dude.  I would seriously be questioned and found to be insane on a number of levels.  But really, who hasn't been driven nuts by a familiar looking face and then fed their curiosity, looking around at places online that you think might mention them?  Never?  OK, so I am nuts, now that's out of the way.

I do know Runner Dude, a.k.a. Tom*.  So, turns out that I worked with Tom.  Talked to him on several occasions.  Played some softball together over a summer or two.  Seeing him out of context, though, really tossed my brain overboard and I could not put his face into a familiar setting to  I am glad I wasn't curt or rude to him, but, feel badly for not connecting the dots.  I'm sure the same was the case for him, though, since he never did use my name when he'd talk to me in these random encounters.  Familiar face.  Out of place.  No name.  Talk it up and see what happens.  OK, I get it.  But how could I have not figured it out?!?!?  Seriously, I feel *this* big.

Where's Waldo - I Am WaldoImage by Moriartys via FlickrSo, the short-lived mystery of the Runner Dude has been solved.  Now that I know who he is, I'm less freaked out about the potential to run into him at a race in the near future.  He's no longer this "Where's Waldo" character that just pops up out of nowhere.  I will admit, though, that I feel rather sluggish after realizing what a crazy fast runner this kid is.  Makes my 26 minutes look like I was standing still.  

I plan to reach out to him and admit my huge brain fart of the last month.  Knowing what a nice natured guy he is, I'm sure he won't be offended.  At least I hope.  

Mystery solved!

*Names have been changed because that's what you do when you talk about people on the internet.
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The running chronicles; where to go from here?

I have come to a turning point with my running.

I have to decide if I want to run or if I want to race.  That's right, run or race.  They are not one in the same.

Do I want to be fast or consistent?  Do I want to go long distance, or be fast at the shorter races?

Am I sacrificing anything by going either way?  Am I giving up endurance if I choose to be fast in the short race?  Am I sacrificing speed if I choose to be a long distance runner?

Am I over-thinking this?

I started doing this for fun; then it was to show myself I could; then it was to prove that I could; then I became competitive, and I keep getting faster.  Once I start cross training, I know I can do anything with it. 

Question is, what is it that I want to do with it?

It's not like, "What do I want to do with this rug now that I've moved the furniture?".  It's more a matter of finding the direction I want to go in, what kind of running do I want to do, and, essentially, what do I want to do with it?

Transferred from http://de.wi...Image via Wikipedia I had a guy at the hamster wheel tonight (I've seen him there often) give me some good advice, which is what sparked this question for me.  He suggested I try an upcoming 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles).  I told him I'm not ready for that.  I just did two 8K's and a 5K and am hoping to work toward a 1/2 by end of summer.  "Just go, just do one", he encouraged.  Then he told me - just run it, don't race.  Don't race, just run it.  Enjoy it, have fun. 

Don't race.  Just run.  I have been thinking about that concept since he said that.  And how does one run, not race?

I'm not the fastest, I'm not the best, and I'm not breaking any records of any kind.  I am getting better, at least I am getting faster.  I'm working through my injuries and managing them the best I can.  I'm on the road to better health.  I'm seriously hooked.

But what is "getting better"?  Is it getting faster?  Is it going farther?  Is it feeling better while I'm running?

So, I am now at the point where I need to decide - do I want to run or do I want to race?

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Monday, April 25, 2011

The running chronicles, Egg Shell Shuffle

The Egg Shell Shuffle was a great way to kick off Easter weekend.  Conditions were great for running, it was cool but not bitter cold, there was a breeze but not strong wind, and the sun was gently hidden behind the clouds, waiting until later in the morning to make a full appearance.  I could have done without the little bit of wind that did strike before the race while we stood waiting to start. 
Can you say mud?  After several days of rain, there was more mud than grass in the area surrounding the pavillion where we all huddled.  Awesome.  Seeing all the mud made me a little afraid of what this race was going to look like.  Trying not to jump to conclusions, we simply stepped carefully and tried to stay on the concrete under the pavillion as we waited for the start.

The 1/2 marathon shot off 15 minutes before the 5K.  It was a good sized field for the 1/2, and it was a good crowd cheering them on, including us 5K'ers.  Aaaaand - they're off.  And now we wait.

So we're standing there minding our own business, when out from the parking lot comes this huge Easter Bunny!  I kid you not, the Easter Bunny was suited up, bib on, chip timer on the ankle, ready to race.  Hysterical.  The bunny looked like he could stand another meal or three, so we assumed this was a slim, running bunny, and the bib and chip timer were the convincing factors.  Yep, the bunny ran the 5K.  And to foreshadow - we passed him.  Rock on!

Tangent alert! {don't worry, it will all come full circle in a few minutes}
OK, so a couple weeks ago when I got my race packet for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K, a random guy {Runner Dude} chatted me up when I was taking my daughter to the bathroom.  He seemed to recognize me, asked if I was doing the 8K, how I wanted to do, wished me luck, the whole nine yards.  No clue who this guy is.  So I was telling my friends this little story while we waited for our race to start.  Not long before our start, who should appear before my very eyes - Runner Dude.  No eye contact was made.  Who is this dude?  More on that later.

OK, back to the race. 

A loosely gathered start line, Katie* and I chose our position in the pack.  Our first choice, a nice open pocket about 1/4 way from the front, seemed OK until I noticed that one of the women in front of us was wearing Shape Ups.  Ya, not a good one to start behind, she's most likely not in this for speed.  Let's move further up.  And we did.  We found a spot among what we assumed were some more serious runners.

The start was uneventful, but crowded.  Running on the small path that winds through the Forest Preserve is not easy with a few hundred runners all trying to break from the crowd and find their pace and space.  We were able to pass quite a few people to start out, albeit on the grass.  It just feels good to pass people, you k now?  Somehow, the Easter Bunny was in front of us, going at a decent clip.  That really didn't matter, I just wanted to get out of this tight pack of feet flailing around me. 

It always amazes me how little control some adults have over their extremities when they run.  Arms all over the place, legs literally swinging to the sides, I often wonder how they are moving in a forward direction, and it's honestly pretty distracting to watch someone battle themselves like that.  I knew we would be in trouble unless we got around the girl running like Phoebe, and luckily we found an open pocket and dashed around her, leaving her well behind us. 

The course was a very basic "there and back" course.  We ran about 1.5 miles one direction, turned around and ran back to the finish.  At one point there were signs saying "turn around ahead", and I was really anticipating some sort of cul de sac style turn around.  Oh no.  We were nearing the water station, my friend, Alan*, passed us in the other direction, and I looked ahead to see where we would turn around.

I have to interject that it was here, at the water station, where we passed the Easter Bunny!  He stopped for water long enough for us to pass him up and leave him in our dust!  Yeah us!! 

I declined a beverage, looked ahead, and - THERE!  We turned around.  BAM!  Just run, turn the other way, and go back the way you came.  No cul de sac, no gentle corner or bend, just a full 180.  It took me by surprise but I recovered right away, and we were on our way back to the finish line.

I'm glad I had a new play list because it messed with my head enough when I thought I saw the finish line not far in the distance, only to realize we had some winding to do on the path and it really was farther than I thought.  With the new play list, I wasn't counting on a certain song to come on to let me know I was at 2.5 miles, 2.9 miles, or anything like that.  I was really trying to enjoy the run, keep a good pace, and make sure I didn't slow down too much so I could get a personal record time.  We were pretty home free on the last mile or so, with only a couple people ahead of us and nobody passing us.  I don't like being passed.

The whole course, to this point, was on the paved path.  No "off-roading", no changes in terrain.  Katie and I saw the finish line, and we signaled each other to sprint to the line.  Assuming we were finishing on the path, we took off.  We were probably a good 1/4 mile from what we thought was the line, so we did our best to speed up as much as we could.  There's nothing like hauling ass to the finish line, only to realize that the finish line isn't where you first thought it was.  We had to turn.  On the grass.  The grass was mud.  And it was a small stretch on the mud to the real finish line.  Thank all that there is to thank that we started to sprint when we did, or we'd have been trying to gain finishing speed in the quicksand that was the final stretch.

As we raced for the finish line, we saw the clock which read "25:20" (or close to that), and we put the after burners on.  As we hit the mud I saw the clock roll to 25:55 and I tried that one last boost for the finish, and Katie and I were seconds apart.  We crossed the finish line at 26:03 and 26:04, Katie edging so slightly past me there at the end.  We rejoiced in our victory over our previous personal best time, which we set in the Shamrock Shuffle two weeks prior (26 and change).  It felt great.  We were fast.  We were Hot Confident, baby!!!!

We tried to hit the brakes as we crossed the line, which wasn't really that tough considering we were in a mud pit.  Before we knew it we were being hunted down by volunteers who were grabbing for our ankles before we were even stopped.  Only in running can one grab for someone else's ankles, even lift the hem on their pants, and not get slapped or even arrested for lude behavior.  We conceded and let them grab for our ankles and retrieve our timing chips.  We took a couple minutes to try to walk off the excitement and loosen the legs.  No easy feat in the mud.  As we turned to return to the pavillion and find solid ground, we saw that Katie's husband and three kids had come to cheer her (us) on.  It was really great to see them at the finish.  It's always nice to have someone there who will smile at you and give you a hug while you're drenched in sweat and you gasp for air, telling you what a great job you did.

Crap, we just ran really fast!  We did it!  That was great!  We celebrated, speculated our position in the final scoring, and watched as other finishers crossed the line and landed in the mud.  Including the Easter Bunny.  We smoked him! 

And here is where the inuendo was running rampant.  The post-race brain is a thing of wonder sometimes. 

Only after a race can a man get away with asking multiple women, "Want a massage?", or "Care for a back rub?".  And only in that setting could a woman gladly accpet and make it verbally obvious how much she's enjoying herself, without being looked at like she's violated some unspoken moral boundaries.  Only in running can someone gleefully declare that they "...beat the Easter Bunny!" and not get stared at as if they have dashed the hopes and dreams of children everywhere.  And only in running can you get edged out of the top 3 by your good friend, leaving you empty handed and your name not announced, and you still celebrate her victory and really don't care that you're not going home with another beer glass, sticker, water bottle, or other symbol of your achievement.  No really, it was fine, and I'm really happy that we killed that race together.

Because all that matters is the time on the clock as you finish, and the fact that you ran the hell out of that race.

I helped Katie and her husband return the three kids to the car, so they didn't all look like they'd just been to a mud volleyball tournament.  As we walked to the car, who should happen to see me, make eye contact with me, and chat me up?  Runner Dude.  Dude!  He was really cheerful as he asked me how I did, congratulated me, and parted with "Great race" or something to that effect.  I really don't know how he closed the encounter because I was so taken aback that he was so enthusiastic talking to me, and I honestly can't identify him! 

We parted with the family and made it back to the car where we warmed up before heading out of the parking lot.  As we drove out, we passed a trio of runners coming in the other direction, one of them being Runner Dude!!  Dude!!  With a full arm (shoulder to finger tips) wave, huge smile and enthusiastic voice, he bid us adieu as he and his pals jogged back toward the pavillion, leaving Katie and I laughing in the car as we left the parking lot.  How totally random that someone would recognize me on multiple, pretty much unrelated occaisions, and I can't place them for the life of me.  The mystery of Runner Dude continues, who knows when the next encounter will occur.  Stay tuned.

Four races under my belt for the season so far.  Eight months left in the year.  Lots more races to go.  Bring it on.

*Names have been changed because that's what you do when you talk about people on the internet.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Egg Shell Shuffle Play List

New race, new play list.  I'm actually disappointed that I won't get through all the music I've become accustomed to hearing since I've started running longer distances!  Anyway, to switch things up, here is this week's 5K play list.

Big Time SensualityImage via WikipediaPorcelain - Moby
Mirrorage - Glasser
Helena Beat - Foster The People
Big Time Sensuality - Bjork
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People
Been Caught Stealing - Jane's Addiction
Cannonball - The Breeders
Raise Your Glass - P!nk
Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
U + Ur Hand - P!nk

If I'm lucky, I'll be crossing the finish line right when P!nk is raising a glass.  Hopefully before.  We'll see!

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I'm not ready to be a mother-in-law

It's a Small World day careImage by insidethemagic via Flickr
I don't mean that anything is *happening* too soon or anything, but I just sat and listened to my daughter tell me about how she hangs on a boy in her class, and a friend of the boy's threatened to end the friendship if the boy stayed friends with my daughter.

My daughter's teacher clued me in a month or so ago to a budding friendship she has developed with a boy in her class.  The friendship is completely mutual.  He saves her a spot at lunch, protects her on the play ground, and they are practically joined at the hip most of the school day.  The teacher even has to "break it up" sometimes!

Ethel really hasn't said much to me about this, and while I have asked some questions, I haven't grilled her or anything.  She's six.  So tonight she opened up to me about her day like she never has before.

Ethel's life in kindergarten is as mysterious as her early days at the day care center after I returned to work.  For nine weeks it was just the two of us each day while Daddy was at work.  No matter what, I was with her all.the.time during those nine weeks.  Finally, our time together ended and she began a life outside our house, apart from the comforts of her crib, her swing, my arms.  But not from my heart.

So then, almost six years later, I found myself having difficulty letting her go again when she started kindergarten.  Yes, I know, there will be many more of these times, I get that.  The point is, I had to get used to her life as a school aged kid.  Life with a kid who had a life outside my home.  Again.

I've learned bits and pieces of Ethel's life outside our house and day care as the school year has progressed.  What I have chosen to focus on is her academic progress.  I hear snippets from her about friends, time on the playground, kids she sits near at lunch, who was on yellow or red on any given day.  Until tonight, though, I never realized how little substance I really get from her with respect to friendships and relationships with her classmates and other kids at school.  That said, I've continued to do my best to harvest the friendships she's had all these years at the day care, and those friendships are thriving.  They have no less importance in her life today than they ever have.  They are just different.  And I'm trying to accept that.

Tonight, Ethel opened up to me at bed time.  Those eyes, big, blue, and bright.  That face, clear and beautiful.  That tiny voice, telling me that she really likes "Paul"*.  Telling me how Paul has a friend, "Doug", and Doug saw Ethel "hanging on" (in Ethel's words) Paul on the playground one day, and Doug wouldn't be friends with Paul anymore if he stayed friends with Ethel.  So, Ethel explained to me, she and Paul are playing a trick on Doug, not letting him know that Ethel and Paul are still friends.  Then the declaration, "I like him so much!".


Again, it's not like anything is happening, aside from her hanging on some boy.  Still, it was just one of those moments when she opened up and talked and talked.  It didn't matter if she was talking about hanging on a boy or playing hopscotch on the playground, she was talking to me.  She was telling me things about her day, about things and people she likes, and it opened this little window exposing parts of her life that I don't normally get to see.  I listened and hung on every word she said.  I drank up the excitement in her voice, and if it weren't getting so late, I'd have hoped that moment would never end.  Come on, like you don't get tired by the time it's lights out for your kids, right?

Anyway, I listened and she talked.  I asked a couple questions and she answered.  We talked about the fact that Doug isn't being very much of a friend if he says such things to Paul, and how hanging on Paul is probably not the best approach.  She smiled a lot.  So did I.

I must disclose that Ethel is not the only one with a love story at a young age in our house.  A couple of weeks ago, her brother declared that he was going to get married.  He and his bride to be, Lucy, proudly declared that they were going to marry when Hot Dad picked the kids up from day care one evening.  Luckily, the mother-in-law to-be was there, too, and she and Hot Dad shared a good giggle over it.  On the way home, however, Fred called the whole thing off.  The next night, the wedding was back on, but Fred insisted he was not marrying Lucy , he was going to marry her older brother, Ricky .  {insert dumbfounded look here}  What do you do with that, right?

There hasn't been a wedding yet between Fred and Lucy, or Ricky, but we know the day isn't too far in the distance.  It was fun to talk to the kids about Fred's wedding, whether he could really marry Ricky (which we did confirm, yes, he could), and who would be invited to the wedding, regardless of who he married.  Apparently they're going to get a place with bedrooms, bathrooms, and we'll be invited to come over sometimes.  So will the inlaws.  Awesome.

Ah, it's spring and love is in the air.  And this is only the beginning.  Send coffee and wine, it's going to be a long road.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The running chronicles, the passing of Grete Waitz

With just a couple days until my next race, I did a nice run back at the hamster wheel with a coworker.  We just met today, and had a good time chatting while we ran our short two miles.  I ran without music in my ears for the first time in nearly a year, and it was OK!  When I started running last year I got winded after like two minutes, maybe less.  Tonight was totally different.  We talked nearly the whole time, although my coworker was more winded the closer we got to two miles.  In her defense, she hasn't run regularly in a while.  She plays soccer, so this whole longer distance thing isn't exactly her bag.

Anyway, it was refreshing not to hear myself gasping for life as I ran the wheel with this girl who is younger than the kids I grew up babysitting as a tween and teen.  I realized that I'm now conditioned for longer distances and it feels really good.

Time to update my play list.  I've decided that for each run, I'll try to change the play list.  The all women artist run, the all indie label run, maybe an R&B run and some runs in the decades.  Whatever, I guess I'll start with this weekend, but, I will have to check out my play list and see what I can do with it.  After that, I'll have to ask for suggestions on what is should run to in each race.  Are you game?

Resting 'til race day when I try to meet or beat my PR of 26 minutes and change in the 5K.  I think as long as we do a sub-27 minute race, I'll feel pretty good about it.

I did learn some sad news tonight, however.  Grete Waitz, Olympian, record breaking marathon runner, and ambassador to the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge (among many other things) has lost a six year battle with cancer.  She died yesterday at a hospital in her home country of Norway.  She was 57 years old.

I met Grete a couple of times when she was visiting team tents at the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Chicago, and she even stood in for our team picture several times.  Grete was an incredible runner and opened many doors for women in the sport of running. 

I am relatively new to the world of running, but have known of Grete Waitz for many years through her work with the Corporate Challenge.  It will be a much different event this year without Grete's words of encouragement before the race, and her smile and support after the race.

I will run this weekend and remember Grete Waitz, all that she accomplished, and all that she went through as she battled  the evil of cancer. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mr. Sun, please come back!

I could really use some sunshine right now!

Seasonal Affective Disorder really bites, especially this time of year when it's dark and rainy.  I could really stand to have some sunshine back!  Days like this it seems that everything that bothers you just bothers you that much more.  No fun!  Everything seems overwhelming, I just need some sunshine to brighten the day!

One thing we're all excited about is Easter this coming weekend.  I have a race Saturday morning followed by an egg hunt.  Later in the day we're going to church with some friends, kind of giving it a test drive, and the afternoon service is followed by an egg hunt!  Sunday morning we'll wake to find what the Easter bunny has left, and we'll spend the day with family. 

So let's hear it, Sun!  Come out, come out, wherever you are!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The running chronicles - "You aer a star"

"You aer a star"
This is a long entry.  There are some cute pictures from my daughter included.  Beware.  I wrote this in two evenings.  I change tenses a few times.  Deal.
I had no idea how today was going to go.  Being only my second 5 mile race, I really don't have a good idea of how I perform at this distance.

Let me back track a little and just make it clear that I am by no stretch of the imagination an accomplished runner.  I don't know if that was ever more obvious to me than it was today.  I think I got a little too high on my high horse after last week's race. Today's race, while a nice race, was much different than last week's race.  It was cold, the event was smaller, and there were three distance races being run: 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles), 5 miles, and 2 miles.  I did the 5 miles.

I listened to the pod casts in the car, rather than during the run.  I am so glad I did, too, because I laughed so much while I listened!!  Two Gomers is a humor-filled pod cast by two guys who set out to run, and they start from scratch.  I am already hooked, and can't wait to listen to more of their episodes.

Anyway,the location of the race was great.  A large forest preserve area with a lake dropped right in the middle, surrounded by trees and trails.  The trails which we would soon invade.  The lane leading to the race was a long, slow, winding road.

Normally, this would have been a great sight to see at this hour, not long after sun up, life just beginning to emerge as day breaks.  But today, there were two things keeping things from being as beautiful as they could be.  One was the cold.  With temps in the upper 30's, maybe 40, it wasn't anywhere near the beautiful temps of last weekend.  And it was windy.  I mean gusting windy, not just "cool breeze" kind of windy.  Lastly, my intestines seemed to be experiencing their own anxiety over the upcoming race.  Let's all admit, there are times when you just know you need to get to the potty (yes, I still have young kids and that's what it's called) before you seriously pull the car over and don't care who sees what you have to show.  And any mom who has sneezed, laughed, coughed, walked, run, or just sat down, knows that any delay could mean disaster.  All I had was a small cup of coffee and a couple pieces of toast before leaving the house, but my body was begging for mercy by the time I got off the tollway.  I lucked out and was one of the first to get to the parking lot (just after some of the volunteers), and first to get to the facilities.

Do you remember that I mentioned it was cold and windy?  Ya, it was.  And at 6:35AM, there's nothing more eye opening than using the County facilities which aren't heated, and are barely protected from the elements.  While my bowels thanked me, my hind end sure didn't.  Well, that was 'behind' me now.  {snicker, snicker}

As I left the facilities, another woman was walking out with me, and as we talked she said, "...the two halfs I ran were in Florida, so the weather was much different".  Um, two halfs?  Ya, I'm doing the 5, and it's kind of a stretch.  Confidence, remember, confidence.

you aer a sun
I sat in my car with the Gomers until it was time to head to the start line.  I proceeded to put my head band on, sliding it gently over my forehead as I positioned it in place over my ears, realizing that my forehead was actually peeling!  Last week at this time it was at least 65 degrees, and by the end of the race I swear it was at least 80 (well, it was by at least noon), and the sun was warmer than I've felt it in months.  I spent most of the day outside, resulting in sunburn on, among other spots, my forehead.  Today it was peeling.  And it was barely 40 degrees.  Really?  Dude.

At the start line, I scanned the field to see if, by chance, I might know or recognize someone.  Nope.  Still, I made friendly pre-race chit-chat with a few ladies near me.  I found myself amidst what were obviously running clubs.  Matching shirts, water bottle belts, standing close together as if for fear that someone might get between them or something.  Anyway, the field looked like some pretty serious runners, and I was feeling a bit novice.

The race wasn't a huge one.  If I'd had to guesstimate at the time, I'd have said under 400 runners between the two races at this start (1/2 and 5 mi).  I didn't look around too closely, though, but I could tell it was a smaller race.  We were all gathered near a white flag with green lettering reading "START", which was about as formal as the start was.  After hearing a thanks from the woman who runs the beneficiary of this race, we heard the count down, and finally - the starting gun.

It was a good start.  With a small field, there wasn't a huge rush to trample and stampede.  Instead it was a nice, controlled start where everyone found their pace and it wasn't long before the front two packs were evident.  Before I knew it, I realized I was in the second pack, and we weren't killing ourselves.  Soon I also realized that I was probably in a pack of runners who would go on to do the 1/2, so they were obviously not starting out with great intensity and speed.  Very cool.

I felt good at the start and for the first couple of miles.  Honestly, it did feel and look more like a brisk October day than a bright, springy April day, but the scenery was still pleasant and calming.  Calm, that's what this race was, it was calm.  In contrast to last week's event, the world's largest 8K, this was nice and small and calm.  The runners were excited, but, serious - and cold.

My legs felt good and I wasn't winded at all, but around the two mile mark my IT bands began to flare up a bit.  I had found a couple different runners along the way and kept pace with them, but around mile 3 I couldn't take the pain any more.  At this point, I stopped trying to push through the pain as I'd been doing, and I remembered that I was here for fun, for a charity, and to get another 5 mile race under my belt.  I also reminded myself that this course is a hilly one.  Oh, was it hilly.

you aer my mommy
Now, before you start to think, "Big deal, some hills", let me remind you that I live in Illinois.  My driveway is a hill.  This is the flat lands, we don't do hills.  So this wasn't San Francisco steep, but the course had lots of inclines and elevation changes, which I am not used to.  Along with these inclines we got wind.  Oh did we have wind!  As we rounded the body of water that rests in the middle of the beautiful trails we were navigating, the water was being blown by the strong winds to the point where there were actually waves with white peaks bashing the rocks at the edge of the water!  Peaks!  Another thing we don't get here in Illinois, waves.  It would have been a nice distraction if the wind shaping the waves wasn't also trying to main line right to my lungs with each breath I took.

So back to the running.  I walked.  I gave in right around mile three and walked.  I would get passed by one of those groups of women from a running club, and in my humiliation I would get to trotting again and pass them up easily.  My IT bands didn't like that very much and I'd be forced to walk again about 1/4 mile down.  Oddly, those same women didn't pass me again when I walked.  I don't like getting passed after the first mile, so it was redeeming when I didn't get passed twice by the same group.

So while I walked, I decided not to beat myself up but to focus on the scenery and feeling my legs and keeping my mind on getting running again.  I didn't swear (OK, I did once), I listened to my music, and just looked around to see where the rest of the field was at.  A couple times I thought I was closer to the finish than I was, so my increase in speed at those points was met with great aggravation from my IT bands, and I'd have to walk a little again.  Soon, the balls of my feet were hurting on top of all this, and even walking didn't ease the trouble, so I just ran the rest of the way.

The 1/2 marathoners split off from the 5 milers just before our finish.  It was interesting to see the runners moving on to the longer race, as I'd started at the gun near many of them.  I felt pretty good about that.  Kind of gave me fleeting hope that I can probably pull off a half before I give myself credit for.  Something to consider.

You aer my kids {me w/Fred & Ethel}
I got to the finish line and saw those big huge numbers on the digital clock on the table next to the finish line.  Not being chip timed, finishers were herded into a small lane roped off by bright tape and some very cheery volunteers claiming that each finisher had done a great job, despite what those big numbers actually said.  After the overly cheery man took my bib strip, I stopped the Garmin and realized that I'd missed my goal time.  Missed by a good margin.  This was craptastic.  Sure, I finished, and sure I was having some pain that slowed me down a bit, but, I missed my goal.  Crap.

I was the only finisher in sight at that point, and right then I assumed that I must have been one of the last 5 mile finishers.  This was really depressing.  I knew it was a small event, this wasn't last week's race.  I just couldn't help, though, but to be disappointed with my finishing time.  Garmin told me 49:21, a full five minutes slower than last week.  Not good.

I made my way to the finish line barbeque, where my Godmother and all the volunteers had laid out a generous spread of bagels, chips, pretzels, sport drinks, water, and best of all - coffee.  Especially in this cold, I could not wait to have a nice, hot cup of coffee.  They even had real half and half instead of powdered creamer, oh heaven.  After finishing my finish line water, I dove in for some nice hot Caribou.  Yum.

I did what I don't normally do and I stretched while I tried to warm myself in the sun.  It felt so good to stretch, and I know that's something that should be as part of my routine as wearing my sports bra is, but it's one step in the process that I usually leave out.  Note to self: must stretch after every run.  Good thing I did, because a couple other runners joined me and we all kept each other company until the half finishers filtered in, and they began the awards.

I don't *always* stay for the awards, but this time I did.  We were all there for a good cause, and it's always nice to hear a round of applause when each name is called.  I like to support the other runners, and most of all, I like to see who they are, what they look like, and hear their times.  Come on, like you don't think the same thing, just admit it.

It was hard to hear the announcements, so a few of us moved forward closer to the "stage".  By this time, the crowd was kind of small, so I figured it was for one of three reasons.
A) It was cold so people had gone home
B) The race was smaller than my original estimate
C) There were still lots of runners on the last leg of the half

Speculation aside, we listened and watched as runners of all ages collected their prize for their accomplishments an hour or two earlier.  The young couple I was standing with, a physical therapist and her boyfriend, giggled as they heard their names as winners in their age bracket for male and female finishers in the two mile race.  We agreed that the fact that they were the only runners in their age group didn't matter, they won fair and square.  Then the 5 mile awards began.  First award was to the woman who won the 70+ age division.  You'd never know by looking at her that she was over 70, that was really exciting.

you aer a star!
So then I heard my age bracket announced, and I listened closely.  I had to see who my competition was, who had beat me to the finish, who she was and what she looked like, and what her time was.  The announcer stumbled over the name (as if it included all 26 letters of the alphabet in two syllables), and before I knew it, it hit me - IT WAS ME!!  Shit, she just called MY name!  I WON my age bracket!!  Are you kidding me????

I hurried to the front to accept my pint glass emblazoned with the emblem representing Equestrian Connection, and heard the cheers from the other runners.  I had no idea if she said any other names for that age bracket, I barely knew my own name had been called!

That made me feel a bit better about my disappointing performance.  Again, I reassured myself that it was cold, windy, hilly, and it was only my 2nd 5 mile race, and kept hearing a little voice in the back of my head saying, "GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!"  Yes, it was saying it in all caps.

Still, I couldn't help but feel that this race really showed me that I'm not as good a runner as I had started to believe I was.  I mean, really, all I do is run a few times a week and race whenever I get the chance, and the money to cover myself.  It's not like I "train" or go to the gym or belong to a running club.  This really kind of took me down from the high I was still on from last week's race.  So, time to move on, start really training, and cross train like I know I should.  Notes to self tallied, and I headed home.

After a hot shower, I found a trail of pictures drawn by Ethel, which really brightened my day and my mood.  There's nothing more heart warming than pictures from your children with supportive, loving, or otherwise non-whining sentiments on them.  You'll find the first of them at the top of this entry, and no, that's not a typo, she really spelled "are" as "aer".  So friggin' cute. 

Later that night, I looked for official times to be posted.  Nada.  It wasn't until today that I found the official times, and can I tell you - I was so wrong about my performance!!!!!!!!  I finished 31st out of 69 runners in the 5 mile race, and did I tell you - I won my age bracket!!  I didn't just win it, I SMOKED it!  I took the second place girl in my bracket by 11 minutes!!  Woo hoo!!

Now that I'm out of my own head and seeing the bigger picture, I see that for my 2nd 5 miler, I did pretty damn well.  Now I just need to work on getting my IT bands up to 5 miles, and before I know it I'll be a 10K runner.  I can easily do that in the next month, especially if I can get back to my yoga and do some cross training.  I now feel so much better about yesterday's race, and am so excited about my reward.

I love you

Saturday, April 16, 2011

5 mile Play List

Tomorrow is my second race in as many weeks, back to back 5 mile races.  Last weekend's race was an 8K (4.97 miles to be exact), tomorrow's is a 5 mile race.  No matter, it will be fun and I will challenge myself to complete the race without walking, beating myself up, or otherwise being a poor sport about things.

I've revised my play list.  I was turned on to a podcast by a couple guys who are essentially novice runners who just go out and, well, run.  And train for a half marathon.  Nothing like diving in head first, right?  Anyway, I've added one of the podcasts to my play list, in the interest of changing things up a little.  We'll see how it goes.

Tomorrow's play list:

Episode 1 - 20 weeks to the race - Two Gomers Run A Half Marathon (TGRAHM)
Can't Wait (live) - BAD
Cannonball - The Breeders
Mirrorage - Glasser
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
Been Caught Stealing - Jane's Addiction
Helena Beat - Foster the People
Lump - The Pres. of the USA
Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
U+Ur Hand - P!nk
Pump It - BEP
Raise Your Glass - P!nk
Let's Get It Started - BEP
Sober - P!nk

I won't get through most of that if I listen to the whole podcast, but if I don't, I have a good list to get me through.

Need to remember to have at least some toast in the morning.  Have been drinking water like it's going out of style today (after the morning coffee deluge that makes every Saturday morning worth waking up to), and I'm looking forward to the yummy grilled foods that are promised to follow the race.  Yum.

The running chronicles

It's hard to focus on your next race when you have a little one who is under the weather.  Fred has fallen ill, again, and he and I didn't get much sleep last night.  This comes one week after he spent a week on the couch battling a fever.

The other thing that doesn't help is when you absolutely let go of your healthy eating for one night and enjoy several pieces of pizza and some hot wings.  With blue cheese.  And some beer.  Oh, yum, but it was soooo good last night!

Race day is tomorrow, my second 8K.  I honestly have no idea how I will do.  I won't know anyone, so won't have my newest running partner there with me, helping me keep pace.  The nice thing is that this race is for charity and benefits a wonderful equestrian therapy program where a good family friend volunteers her time.  Being just my 2nd 8K, I know I need to just have fun and take it easy.  After the disappointment I felt when I walked last week, I know I'll be pushing myself not to repeat that mess.  Temps are back down into the 40's, but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny.  Man, when will it just get warm and stay like that?!

I'm trying to stay confident.  Since last week's race, I only did a slow, short run Tuesday night.  I organize my company's participation in the annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, and decided to tell our runners that they can come with me on my evening runs after work.  I've had a few takers, Tuesday being the first of them.  She hasn't run in quite a while, and despite walking a few times, she really did a great job.  It was good for both of us.  I was able to take it slow, walk a little, yet still get out there for one run this week between long races (long for me).  I think it helped eliminate my quad pain, too!

Now I just have to watch my eating today and get my playlist in order for tomorrow.  And get Fred healthy.  And grocery shop.  And get cat food.  And renew my license plates.  And get a hair cut and pedi (cannot wait for that one!!).  And get my race packet.  Not necessarily in that order.

Ya, I am a running mom.  In more ways than one.  Oh boy, I'm gonna need some coffee for this one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

This is not confident

Plastic surgery to prevent bullying.


 I hope the surgery provides the protection from bullying that her mother was looking for.