29 November 2010

I should be committed...

Today I have registered for two Rock –n- Roll half marathons - one in January in Phoenix and the other in October in Denver. I also registered for a half marathon in February in Apache Junction, AZ called The Lost Dutchman. If I were to just look at this schedule, I would think it daring, and even a little nutso. But there’s more. This schedule is just what I registered for TODAY. Here’s what I’ve got going on from now until October 2011. And they are all paid for:

· December 5 – Rock n Roll ½ marathon, Las Vegas, NV
· January 16 – Rock n Roll ½ marathon, Phoenix, AZ (completion of these two events qualifies me for a really cool “Desert Rocks” medal)
· January 30 – Groundhog Run in Kansas City, MO – this is just a 5k
· February 20 – Lost Dutchman ½ marathon, Apache Junction, AZ (this race will entitle me to “Half Fanatic” status of ½ marathon runners)
· May 1 – Oklahoma City ½ marathon
· October 9 – Rock n Roll ½ marathon, Denver, CO

Then, I have on my “want to do” list the following:

· March 13 – Shamrockn’ Run ½ marathon, Sacramento, CA
· June 12 – Edge 2 Edge ½ marathon, Ucluelet, Canada
· September 4 – Oregon Wine country ½ Marathon

If I add those three events that I have not paid for yet to my schedule, I will only need to find events for April, July, August, November and December to have one event a month for the year. This just blows me away. In 2008, the most adventurous thing I signed up for was to be the swim leg of a Sprint Triathlon Relay Team. Two years later, I have competed in 3 triathlons, 1 ½ marathon and 2 5k races. What in the world has gotten in to me?

I don’t look now for those cheap (non-existent) weekend flights to Europe when I get antsy and need to travel. I now find myself scanning the Triathlon and Marathon listings of events. I work out whether or not I can drive to it or if I need to fly. I drool over runner web pages and swimmer sites. My Christmas wish list includes such things as a backpack, runner sleeves, under armour and KT Tape. And I keep finding myself thinking of keeping those 5 months open for different types of events so I don’t get bored.

And the only two thoughts that keep reoccurring? 1)”What the hell are you doing?” and 2)”You know, you could’ve had a plane ticket to Europe by now with all these entrance fees…”

No, I’m not a runner. But I play one on TV…

14 November 2010

Mayhem Like Me

or
Two 5-Mile Laps Are Redundant

My alarm goes off at 6:00 am Friday morning. I am supposed to leave around noon for Saint George, Utah for a sprint triathlon. But I can’t seem to get going. I’m tired. I’m not looking forward to the drive and I’m doing it on my own – no Boy there to compete with, no friend waiting for me at the finish line. All by myself. I don’t have to go. It’s just $35, not a big loss if I forfeit but it will save me the gas money and the hotel cost – a win to my bank balance. However, I’ve told everyone I’m going. I’ve plastered it all over my Facebook. I’ve told my kids, my friends, my family and my co-workers. And I know that once I get going, get there and get it done, I’ll be glad I didn’t give in to my inner battle. So I packed, got the oil changed in the car, went to the bank, secured my bike to the bike rack, loaded my car and took the dog to my Dad’s house. I plugged in the addresses for the hotel and aqua center in to Keegan and hit the road.

It’s a beautiful day for a drive. The sun is shining and the scenery is spectacular. I keep looking at my bike in the review mirror. I’m really worried about the security of its placement. Every time I look in the mirror, I think of that commercial – “I’m your favorite state flag. I’ve been with you for 14 years. In flag years, that’s about 101. And I’m barely hanging on…” I imagine a little bump sending my bike careening off my car in to another car causing a 10 car pile-up – “Mayhem like me”. I giggle as I think of my bike as mayhem and that stupid commercial keeps running through my head. It’s during this drive that my bike names itself. My bike’s name is Harvey.

St George is on the Nevada side of Utah. I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought it would be easy to get to. It’s a good 6 hours away so I have to find things to entertain myself with. I look in the rear view again and giggle. Mayhem. What a funny word. But oh-so-appropriate. I sing at the top of my lungs. I sing so much that I am actually losing my voice. I stop in Green River for lunch. I stop at Ghost Rock and take some pictures. It’s gorgeous – the fierceness of nature humbles me and I stand there, totally in awe, of her power. I take a look at my clock and realize I still have 3 hours left and I’m losing time. I have to get to the aqua center by 8 to get my packet. If I keep farting around, I’ll not make it. Then I realize that perhaps I am subconsciously trying to sabotage myself. I refuse to give in to my self-destruction, check on Harvey (and giggle) and get back in to Harrison. While driving, I remark upon the distances between civilizations. I had forgotten that there are long distances between stops and when the highway signs tell you “next stop 110 miles”, they mean it. I stop in Beaver for gas. And I giggle. Beaver has a high school and their mascot is the Beaver. The Beaver Beavers. I’m doing a lot of giggling this trip.

I finally arrive in St George and get frustrated at Keegan. I forgot I changed her language to German and she’s yelling at me to do something - right, left, straight, I don’t know. But she’s yelling and I even imagine her muttering under her breath that I am stupid American who doesn’t know her left from her right. I am getting quite fed up with her attitude and as soon as I pull in to the parking lot of the hotel (no thanks to her), I hit her settings button and turn her back to English. Yes, I had a battle with an inanimate object and I won.

I don’t even unload Harrison after checking in to the hotel. I just head straight out to the aqua center as it’s 7:30 and I have 30 minutes to check in for my packet. A humbled Keegan guides me, in English, to the appropriate place and I park and go inside. Here’s where another inner-battle begins. I am arguing with myself about switching to the Beginner Triathlon (200 meter swim, 5 mile bike, 1.5 mile run). It wouldn’t be any biggie, I’m sure, to switch. All I have to do is ask. Go ahead. Ask. I hear myself check in for the Sprint Triathlon. I don’t hear myself ask to switch. I grab my numbers, my timing chip and my sorely lacking “goodie bag”. This is one thing marathons have over triathlons – the goodie bag. A marathon goodie bag truly has goodies in it. This goodie bag had a packet of sunscreen and a “what to do in St George” pamphlet. Disappointing. Not even a tube of chapstick. I am told that I’ll get my t-shirt at the finish line and am shoo-d away so they can get to the next person. I know I’ll show up tomorrow cause I’ll have to finish to get my shirt. At least that solves that battle that would’ve occurred later.

After settling in to my room, I start sorting out all my stuff for the race: swim stuff, bike stuff and run stuff. I pack them in layers in my Girl Scout bag which has become my swim bag over the years. It’s a nice canvass bag but it doesn’t have enough room for three events plus snacks, helmet and water. I really should invest in a nice duffle bag for this sort of thing if I am going to keep it up. And all indications are that I am going to keep it up so I better invest in one soon. But not too soon. The next event I have is half marathon and there won’t be a need for all my accoutrement for that one. I’m still battling with myself over even showing up in the morning. I wonder when I’ll stop being my biggest speed bump and just do it. I know I can. So why do I keep arguing with myself? It’s no longer a question of whether or not I CAN finish but one of whether or not I’ll START. That realization blows me away – I’m no longer worried about finishing. I’m now worried about starting. It seems like I am going backwards in progression.

My alarm goes off Saturday morning at 6:00 am. The triathlon starts at 9:00 am but it’s a shotgun start. This means, the first to get in line are the first to go. No heats. No setting up by previous times. A free-for-all. I had thought I’d get up early after getting a good night of sleep and get out there to get set up with a primo endcap for Harvey and towards the front for the swim. But I didn’t get a good night of sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I kept worrying about the race. I kept arguing with myself about going. I worried about The Boy who was at snow camp and I hadn’t talked to him. I kept wishing I had someone there with me to egg me on, to be the physical presence I needed to actually show up. I wondered about my knee. I wondered about the swim. I worried about the run. I did everything but sleep. So when 6:00 came, I was not anxious to get out of bed. I just wanted to sleep. I just wanted to pretend I hadn’t driven 411 miles for a 3 hour race. I wanted to be at home.

But I wasn’t at home. I was in St George, Utah. I had already invested time and money in to this so I got up. I got showered. I braided my hair. I double checked my race bag. I re-packed and reloaded Harrison. I secured Harvey to the Mayhem Bar (what I started calling the bike rack). I got a brown-bag breakfast from the hotel and stopped and got my diet Dr. Pepper. And I got in Harrison and headed to my race.

I get to the race parking lot and start unloading everything for the race. Parking is about ½ a mile from the race start so I double check my bag, load it on my back and hop on my bike. And I am STILL arguing with myself about starting. In the bike transition area, I find that my lateness might actually work in my favor. While I won’t get an endcap, there are so many bikes on the rails that I can pick basically any spot I want to lay my stuff down. So I do. I spread my blanket down and start setting up my stuff in the order that I’ll need it. I slide off my Uggs and my shirt, grab my goggles and ear plugs and head inside to the pool.

This is where my lateness hurts. There are around 400 swimmers and the line wraps all the way around the pool. There is still 15 minutes until the first swimmers hit the lanes and I find myself all the way at the end. And this line does nothing for me. I am still debating with myself about switching to the beginner tri. The check in for the beginner tri is right where I’m standing. I’m sure I can switch. All I have to do is ask. But I don’t ask. I stand there watching all the groups talk and laugh amongst each other. I’m by myself. No one to talk to. No one to laugh with, to commiserate with, to encourage. I sort of force myself in to a group of three women in front of me. It’s their first triathlon and they’re nervous. I tell them that this is my third and that it gets addictive. They hold my place in line so I can use the restroom.
9:00 on the nose the first swimmers hit the lanes and the race begins. I’m still thinking about switching. At least, until I pass the check-in point. Now I’m in it to be in it. And I think I’ve quelled my inner demon. I’m here and I’m gonna race. At about 10:15 am, I am finally getting to the front of the line. There’s a lane open in the shallow end. No one wants to go in the shallows. I don’t care so I take the lane. My cap is on, my ear plugs are in and I pull my goggles down. I’m ready. I mark the time I jump in the water – 10:35 and I start my swim. I am on fire – pulling, breathing, pulling, breathing. Every three strokes I breathe. I use only my arms and I’m pulling strong. In fact, I think I’m making my best time. The counter tells me how many laps are down, “1 down, keep going!”, “6 down 2 to go! You’re doing great!”, “You’re done! Good job”. I pull myself out of the pool and mark the time – 10:45. 10 minutes for a 400 meter swim. Not my best time but definitely not the time I had at my first tri that I did as a relay of 18 minutes in 2008. I’m improving.

I head to the transition point to get ready for the bike. Dry off, cap off, earplugs out. Pull on the bike shorts. Dry off the feet. Pull on socks and shoes. I get my gloves and helmet on, grab my bike and head out. I’m excited now. I know my transition time was long but I don’t care. I’m ready to go! Out of the gate, pass the timer plate and hop on my bike and I am immediately confronted with a friggin mountain. Who in their right mind puts a mountain as the first obstacle on a race? It’s just outside the gate and I REFUSE to get off and walk my bike up it. I know that if I make this, the rest will be a breeze. I make it to the top and am anxiously waiting for the downslope of the mountain. But that’s not going to happen. No downslope for me, just even ground followed by a couple more hills. And these people expect me to do this twice??? I kept wondering why the bike wasn’t getting any easier. I kept wondering why it was so hard for me when everyone else made it look so incredibly simple – no heavy breathing from my co-racers, no one walking their bike up the hills like me. Why am I not getting any better on the bike? My inner demon came back and came back strong. 1 lap of a 5 mile circuit is enough. 2 are redundant. I ended up walking 2 more hills. There was one really nice downslope but that was at the end of the 1st lap. You then had a little flatness while you did a U-Turn and headed out to do the lap all over. I came to that U-Turn and my inner demon won. Instead of staying to the left to do it again, I went to the right. I headed in to transition for the run. Instead of a 10 mile bike, I did 5 miles. I felt guilty, ashamed and a little rebellious. I failed at the bike but I didn’t let it win. I went on to do the run.

The run was like the bike – 2 laps of 1.5 miles each. I had the argument with myself that if I didn’t finish the full 2 laps for the bike, why should I finish the full 2 laps for the walk? In answer, I turned on my iPod to the music I had selected for this race and I turned it on loud. I concentrated on the scenery and my music and before I knew it, I was making the U-Turn to head back out for the second lap. I was making good time for a change and I was enjoying the walk. The kinseo tape was working its magic and the music was keeping me pumping. In fact, I was feeling so good that I actually ran the last .75 mile to the finish line. And my knee didn’t hurt. And I didn’t hurl. And I didn’t jip myself as I did with the bike. I marked my best time with this run and it felt good. It gave me confidence that the bike took away. I didn’t run all of it but I did RUN and that’s a big thing for me. And I RAN across the finish line.

At the finish line, I turned in my timing chip, collected my shirt (which is actually quite nice), grabbed some ding dongs, peanuts, yogurt and 2 cups of chocolate milk and headed back to my bike. It was time to go home. I loaded up Harrison, secured Harvey to the Mayhem Bar and headed out. While I only did half the bike, I did finish another triathlon. And just that knowledge had me saying, “See – I can do it and you’re an idiot” to that inner voice that doesn’t have faith in me. And for now, it is subdued. At least until the ½ marathon in December.
Official Times:
Swim (400 meters) - 11:08
Bike (5 miles) - 41:59
Run (3.1 miles) - 48:35
Transition 1 - 8:19
Transition 2 - 5:27