31 December 2011
Over the past calendar year, I have completed nine half marathons, two 10k (6.2 miles), one 30 mile bike ride, one 3 Nautical Mile (3.5 miles), one Muddy Buddy and seven 5k (3.1 miles) events. I covered Colorado (3 times), Arizona (2 times), Texas, Idaho, Oregon and Ireland with my half marathons. With the 5ks, I inducted my dear friend, Tami, into the thrill of a race and we even did a Muddy Buddy event together. I went from doing nothing to shooting for at least one event per month. I guess you can say I upped my exercise to a whole new level. During this calendar year, I qualified to join the Half Fanatics (http://www.halffanatics.com/) and set a goal to complete one half marathon in each state which led me to join the 50 States Half Marathon Club (http://www.halfmarathonclub.com/). I love the events. Overall, I have been successful in finishing though there have been two events in which I didn’t complete the full 13.1 miles and two events where I logged a “DNS” (did not start). Those four events haunt me at each start line and those four events are quieted with each finish line I cross. I cannot say that they are getting easier but I can say that I am able to conquer the doubts a little quicker with each successful race. My time fluctuates with my best time finishing 13.1 miles in 3 hours and 36 minutes and my worst of 3 hours and 56 minutes. I am looking forward to the races I’ll do this coming year, the places they will take me, the people I will meet and the strengthening of my intestinal fortitude that will allow me to ignore that wench in my head that tells me I’m not good enough.
It is a well-known fact that I am not satisfied in my current position at the “job that pays the bills”. My mentality began to poison me – making each day a challenge and it required sheer will power just to make it through the day. I hated my job and began to get the mentality of what I imagine a loathsome government worker would have. The Veterans who I serve were getting shitty service from me and I just didn’t care – I wasn’t happy, I felt taken for granted and I became even more cynical than I already was. I don’t know when I realized that my ‘tude had to go and that if I were going to aspire to different work, I needed to do something to make that change happen but the epiphany came and I began to make the changes needed. I enrolled in a Master’s program with Colorado State University and I made a pact with myself that I was going to give the best I had to the Veterans who needed my help because that was my job. And I HAD a job – in a time when so many do not, I could not take that for granted. This has worked for me. While I am still not happy with my job, I do give all I can and the service I’m providing has improved. Some days are easier than others but I remind myself that I am the only one who can control my outlook and there was no way I was going to give someone, something, the power over me to determine my happiness level. That job is mine, and mine alone.
In the middle of the year, my brother suffered a life-changing illness which has left him fighting to regain use of his arms, legs and throat. One of his doctors explained the event to him as a “cavernous malformation” in his spine. My father calls it a “black swan”. No matter the name, it has changed his life. He is only 36 and was in the middle of finishing up his work for his Ph.D. He has come a long way since his days in ICU when it wasn’t even known if he would survive but he still has a long way to go. His incredible drive and determination to walk again and the wit, humor and refusal to accept anything less than being able to eat, talk, walk and move all his limbs is awe-inspiring. Mason’s new life just didn’t happen to him, tho. It has also impacted my sister and my parents and everyone who cares for Mase. My parents lives have changed – dreams they had are on hold while Mason recovers – and my sister constantly has Mason on her mind. He calls her when he’s frustrated, depressed and sad and she has become his bolster – carrying his strength when he just can’t do it. Mason has an incredible support system within his friends and family but every step is a fight. This has led me to be grateful for what I have – 2 legs, that while they creak and the knee goes out, allow me to walk; 2 healthy children who are pursuing their own dreams; friends who care for me and family that I can always count on. When I am throwing a pity party for myself, I bring myself out of it by remembering that I really have nothing to complain about. I must remember that every day is a gift and that it is my responsibility as a human to try to bring a little light to someone else.
This past August, The Boy started college and moved in to the dorms. I finally became an empty-nester and I have to say I thoroughly loved it. I know of many people who, when the last child leaves home, goes through an identity crisis – what do they do now that the DNA Thieves no longer “need” them? How ever will they fill their days? People asked me that too – they wanted to know if I was going to fall apart or turn into the crazy cat lady. Well, I may still turn into the crazy cat lady but I don’t think falling apart is in the cards for me. It was my job as a parent to keep my kids but for a short time. I was responsible for giving them the building blocks on which they will build their lives and I did that. They may not be the shiniest building blocks, or the most strong, or the most sound, and I more than definitely made some mistakes along the way but I did my job. Now it’s their turn to make their life into theirs – warts and all. And it’s my job to make my life into what I want it to be. On my to-do list: travel, more races, help my friends and family, support my children, get my Master’s, start on my Ph.D., learn a language (thanks, Mom, for starting me on that one), find a job that I love, go on a date or two, etc, etc, etc. I contend that “empty-nest” is a misnomer. It’s actually a coloring book – just waiting for you to color out of the lines using the entire rainbow from the box of crayons.
My friend, Deb, says that I am a “collector of people”. She says that some people collect knick-knacks, some people collect stamps and some collect other things but I collect people. I have been thinking about that lately and I do believe it’s true. But I don’t put them on a shelf, laminate them or store them in an airtight container. My friends, my “people”, enhance my life, bring me new perspectives, challenge me and make me strive to be “good people”. They are each a treasure to me and I hope that in the coming years that they will know what they mean to me. I’d like to add one or two to my “collection” in 2012 and I really, really, really hope my friends aren’t offended by my new-found terminology.
For 2012 my goals are to continue with my racing, my education and my traveling. I’d like to bring comfort to my folks (both the PA folks and the CO folks) and I’d like to be the kind of friend to my friends that they are to me. Life is good. Strike that. Life is absolutely amazing and I plan to suck every last ounce of enjoyment out of it. May you all do the same.
24 October 2011
23 October 2011
11 half marathons, 3 sprint triathlons and 1 30-mile bike ride over 8 states and 2 countries through the course of 12 months covering 556.72 miles during training and events – those are my stats as of today. Before I embarked on my insanity, I had done approximately 2 5k races (and they were local races so they probably weren’t even close to being 3.1 miles). Fast forward to today and I consider myself fully engrained in the whole racing sub-culture. And yes – it is a sub-culture. Those of us who are embroiled in it have race schedules memorized, know where to find new races, drool at the sight of new tennis shoes, belong to groups such as Half Fanatics, 50 States Club and Marathon Maniacs and think financially in the form of “how many race entries can I get with that?” It’s a sickness. But a sickness I fully embrace and feed.
Up to yesterday’s race I thought I was getting better. My time really wasn’t improving – it always fluctuated by a couple of minutes in either direction – but I chalked that up to not really training with emphasis (And I don’t. Train, that is.). I believed I was getting better because after each race I was less and less sore. I got to the point where I was sore after the event but the next day I had no residual effect causing me to wince when brushing my hair, walking or breathing. What I discovered today is that over the course of the last 10 half marathons, I have been cheating myself. I got comfortable. I believed my brain when it told me that a faster time just wasn’t in the books for me so I should just get used to it. And then the Portland Run Like Hell half marathon happened and opened my eyes.
I signed up for this race quite a while ago and was able to convince 3 of my friends to do it with me. Deb, Courtney (aka – Cab), Brittney (aka – Bikey) and I were going to take on the course with style. Cab and Bikey actually dressed up to the theme – Zombies – and they looked great. Deb and I talked about it and left it at that. The race had a 3 ½ time limit and I expressed my concern about not being able to finish within the timeframe and that I absolutely did not want to be picked up by the SAG wagon. Brit said she’d stick with me and push me along and so our game plan was born. Deb and Cab would wait for us at the beer tent and Bikey and I would walk together.
The course was absolutely beautiful. It meandered through downtown Portland, headed north a bit then winded south through Terwillger Park and then back through downtown Portland to the finish line. We couldn’t have asked for better weather – a cool, sunny day which highlighted all the hues of the fall scenery – and it didn’t rain. And I couldn’t have asked for a better task-master than Bikey. She started us off at a good clip and for 6 miles I tried to keep up with her. Mile 1 was completed in 14:15, mile 2 in 14:36, mile 3 in 15:02, mile 4 in 15:35, mile 5 in 14:36 and mile 6 in 15:53. The woman pushed me and each time I tried to slow down, she would turn around, smile at me, and turn back around. She was way too chipper for so friggin’ early in the morning and I couldn’t have that perkiness leave me behind. However, between mile 7 and mile 8, I slowed down while Bikey maintained her pace and gradually she was further and further ahead of me. And then the cop cars, the ones who were tailing the last runners, passed me – after, of course, stopping to tell me that traffic was open behind me and to be careful.
While I worked out the whole human claw foot thing, I came to a decision about the race. I decided that if I were going to be outside the cutoff, I might as well enjoy myself. So I started looking around. I marveled at the colors, took in the sights, got my camera out and took pictures; I enjoyed the weather, the fact that I was out in it and I contemplated the difference between a sprint triathlon and a half marathon. Before I knew it, I was at mile 11 and my foot had turned human again and the blister wasn’t hurting.
I never saw mile 12 because the race organizers had already removed all signage and volunteers. In fact, I had no idea where I was. I kept walking in the direction I thought I needed to go but the panic was beginning to rise. I pulled out my cardio-tracker to see where I was mileage-wise and discovered that I was already at 13.12 miles. I texted Deb and talked to anyone who I thought might know where the bloomin’ finish was. Deb told me to keep going the direction I was and I finally saw some Zombies with their medals and they told me where the finish line was and I wasn’t far. I finally see something that looks like the finish but I wasn’t sure if it was the start line so I asked the two cops who were sitting in front of it if it were the finish line. Being the helpful public servants that they are, they looked at me like I had sprouted two heads and ignored me. I took a chance and crossed the line (which was the finish line) – and looked up at the clock that was quickly being dismantled – I crossed at 3 hours and 38 minutes and that was GUN time, not my chip time. I was frustrated, pissed and relieved all at once. They couldn’t wait EIGHT FRICKIN’ minutes to dismantle the finish line? They didn’t KNOW I was still out on the course? And why couldn’t they leave the bloomin’ course markers up for just a little bit longer??? And where the hell was my frickin’ medal??
All of this emotion came pouring out of me when Cab came up to me from behind and startled me. I collapsed in to her hug and couldn’t keep the tears and the relief from pouring out. I finished the Run Like Hell Portland half marathon. Not only did I finish it, I walked a total of 13.44 miles AND I did it in 3 hours and 36 minutes – a personal best. All four of us finished the race and soon all the emotion I felt during those panicky few minutes was replaced with laughter and conversation of four friends basking in the knowledge that we finished something together. It was a wonderful day.
Bikey pushed me during that race. She showed me that I’ve been cheating myself and that I can work harder. Today I can’t walk or breathe. My arms are sore, my ribs are sore and the blister on my left foot is nothing compared to the rest of the aches and pains I have. I feel like I did after my first marathon last October. I feel this way because I got comfortable and I failed to continue to challenge myself to do better, go farther, go faster. Thanks, Bikey, for the reminder that the only one I cheat when I get comfortable is me. You’re still too damn perky in the morning, though.
Mile 7 – 16:04
Mile 8 – 16:07
Mile 9 – 17:37
Mile 10 – 18:56 (attack of the claw foot)
Mile 11 – 16:37
Mile 12 – 16:00
Mile 13 – 17:51 (panic mile)
Total distance – 13.44 miles, 3 hours and 36 minutes, average pace of 16:04 minutes/per mile
According to the race results, I was last. I have no idea how those people who I passed who never passed me finished before I did but what they do with their race is not my concern. (At least, that’s what I’m trying to tell myself)
05 August 2011
And yet, I sit. Paralyzed with fear of what might be and what might not be.
I still haven’t mastered how to cook for three after my divorce and that was 15 years ago. How the hell am I going to figure out how to cook for just one? Cause I HATE leftovers. Except for meatloaf and lasagna, leftovers have no place in my life.
Without The Boy around, will I turn in to that hermit I claim I could easily become? I’ve always been independent but this will be the first time in my life that I am truly on my own. My friends with kids tell me not to worry, one or both will be back some time but I’m not so sure. Especially after that eviction notice I gave The Boy. My daughter is well on her way to establishing her life and like me, I can’t see her returning home for anything other than a visit. This thought both saddens me and thrills me.
I wonder if that girl supposedly singing on “Jay Leno” realizes she attached some sort of taxidermy critter to the top of her head and if she’s on “Jay Leno”, shouldn’t she have enough money to be able to afford an entire outfit instead of some horrible quilting experiment out of denim gone terribly wrong?
Like I said, I’m antsy. I can’t keep my thoughts coherent. I am excited about finally being deemed “highly qualified” for a position but I am disappointed that it’s not overseas. The position I really want, stationed in Ansbach, Germany, just closed today. I know that. I know it can be up to a month before any notification is sent out. I KNOW that. Still, I find myself frantically checking my email for the dreaded “not qualified” or “qualified” letter.
It seems that for the past 5, 10 or 15 years I’ve been looking forward to the day when I’ve successfully sent the DNA Thieves out and can “get back to my life”. But what life is that? I can move, if I want to (and I want to) but I’ll not do it without some security. I can have cereal for dinner every night, if I want to but really, how sad is that? I don’t think I’ve ever thought too far in to the future cause if I had, wouldn’t I be more prepared for Deliverance Day (the day The Boy moves out)? For the past year, I’ve been talking about the day I hit “vested” status with the State so I can quit and take my retirement with me. Well, V-Day is 3 months away and the closest I’ve come to being able to quit is the first notification email I received today. I find myself playing it safe – maybe too safe. I’m hoping that come December 2, 2011, an amazing employment opportunity in Germany will be dropped in my lap, I’ll be able to refurb my house so it can be rented and I’ll finally find myself living the life I want. I just wish I knew what life that was.
I’m concerned that my constant talk of wanting to “start my life” hurts my kids. It can’t be easy to hear over and over and over and over and over again how excited your mother is to finally be rid of you. But my kids weren’t a burden and I can’t imagine my life without them. My DNA thieves are amazing people and I am enjoying our changing relationship. And I wonder what I’ll do to fill the vacuum of them no longer needing me.
I wonder if I am alone in this petrification that I am experiencing, on the eve of my youngest moving on. I wonder how complacent I will be and wonder if I will let my life just pass me by or will I take it by the horns and say, “What the hell? Why not?” And go for it.
So here I sit. Listening to The Boy and his friend giggle while playing video games, I think of my daughter and plan my next steps. Will I have the courage to take my plans to the next level? I certainly hope so. In the meantime, I think I’ll take the dog for a walk and contemplate the greatness that may or may not be.
01 August 2011
I'm running out of time! Won't you help me reach my goal of $1250.00 for the American Cancer Society? October 9, 2011 I will be participating in the Rock n Roll Denver half marathon. Walking 13.1 miles in memory of my dear friend, Margo, and for all who have been touched by cancer.
But I need your help! Pass this on to everyone you know. $10.00 would mean a great deal. Won't you help?
Please click here to visit my personal fundraising page.
Thank you so much for your support!
19 July 2011
A Letter to CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc - in response to a reduction in Certified Trainer benefits
July 18, 2011
Good afternoon. I received the letter informing me of the new QAP limits and I am a little concerned about the new program.
First of all, I received the letter on July 14th and the letter stated that the new program would be implemented July 11th. This is not sufficient notice of a major change to a program that is one of the few benefits of taking on the responsibility of training new team members.
Second, the original $300 every quarter was almost sufficient as a bonus for assuming additional responsibility. $300 a quarter broke down to $100 a month which then broke down to either $25.00 or $20.00 a week additional "income", depending on how many weeks were in a particular month. I could reconcile this amount for making up for not receiving minimum wage when doing the days in the training which did not involve tips (Expo training, POS training). At $4.26 an hour for POS and Expo training, the QAP card made up for this - almost.
Third, the new limit of $200 every quarter is insulting for the care, time and responsibility I assume as a Certified Trainer for Old Chicago's. $200 a quarter breaks down to $66.66 a month, $16.66/$13.33 a week and doesn't even begin to come close to reaching minimum wage in "income" when conducting Expo or POS training.
I became a Certified Trainer because I believe in the culture of Old Chicago, believe that every team member has the right to be trained to standards and by the best representatives of the restaurant. I take my job seriously, enjoy sharing my knowledge and thrive on being one of the few who assume responsibility for someone else's professional growth within the restaurant. I love my Old Chicago restaurant, respect my managers and fellow trainers and enjoy working with all the team members at my store. I always felt I was an important and respected member of the entire Rock Bottom Restaurant company and the QAP card was one way that Corporate showed their respect to me. However, I am now not quite so content with Corporate or the lack of concern for all personnel receiving the QAP benefit.
When a Certified Host Trainer conducts training, they receive no loss of income - they continue to make their hourly wage. When I conduct Expo or POS training, I take a large cut in pay as I am not out on the floor. The QAP card, as was explained to me, was to make up for the loss of income and the fact that Expo and POS training were only 2 hours each, it should come out even. However, when I serve, I generally make between $14.00 to $20.00 an hour, depending on volume and tip revenue. The $4.92 per hour (average - including a percentage of the QAP card benefit) that I make conducting Expo or POS training is well below my minimum and is below the state and federal minimum wage. This cannot be a logical step for a company that states it is concerned for the well-being of its personnel.
I understand the need to streamline business practices and ensure that a company is running economically sound. Skimping out on your staff, however, is not an ethical or sustainable way to do it. If you are going to reduce our QAP to the point where it is no longer "income" but a gesture, steps need to be made to ensure that Certified Trainers are appropriately recompensed for their time and expertise. When a tip employee conducts training that prohibits them from collecting tips, minimum wage should be the standard. Or, restore the QAP limits to a level in which it is actual income.
When I received the letter, I seriously considered stepping down from the Certified Trainer program - if a company doesn't respect my knowledge and recognize the additional responsibility, why should I even bother? However, I know that if I back out of the program, I will only hurt my store and leave them in a bind. My personal ethics will not allow me to leave more work for someone else and I refuse to punish my store for policies that are out of their control. I think it would be wise for CraftWorks to reevaluate their new QAP program. If you are going to stick with the new limits, as I am sure you are, you should ensure that the Certified Trainers, who happily assume more responsibility and are the bedrock of foundation for new members, are properly recognized and recompensed for this role.
18 June 2011
When I did the BolderBoulder at the end of May, I suffered an injury to my hip flexor. Which means it’s painful to walk and I was told to not do any races until I could walk without pain. I could do weight training (recommended), swimming and the elliptical. I just wasn’t supposed to walk for any lengthy duration (and all my races are lengthy because I am so s.l.o.w.). However, I had already paid the registration fee for today’s race, had already requested the time off from both jobs and was very anxious to color another state in on my map. Granted, coloring is not a valid reason to forgo medical advice, but it was a reason to me. I did waffle for the next two weeks about whether I should go or not and didn’t really reach my decision to go until Thursday – the day before I was scheduled to leave. My boy, the thief of my DNA, the male heir to half of my fortune
06 June 2011
April was the first month I did not have a race scheduled since October of last year. And I didn’t like it. I kept looking for a feasible race – something close that I could get to in between shifts at the fun job and the job that pays the bills – but I couldn’t find one. So I settled for 5k events. They were enough to whet my appetite but failed to satisfy my craving. I did one the first weekend in April and was excited when I came in with a time of 38 minutes – that blew my old best time of 52 minutes out of the water. Then I got the news that the course was only 2.2 miles, not 3.1. Hmph - so much for really rocking that race. I did another 5k toward the end of April but I didn’t finish that one. We had an uncharacteristic amount of rain and the course was on a muddy, hilly track. I think I walked about 2 miles with my feet slipping and sliding all over the place and I decided to quit. I was NOT going to get injured on a stupid 5k – I was saving that distinction for one of my beloved half marathons, by golly! Besides, the very next weekend I was flying to Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (please remember that when I say “marathon”, I really mean “half marathon”).
I was very excited for May. I had THREE races lined up and was contemplating a fourth. The first one was the OKC race May 1st; the second was the Run Colfax race in Denver May 15th and the third race was “just” a 10K in Boulder, the BolderBoulder 10K on Memorial Day. The other race I was contemplating was the Grand Valley Marathon May 7th in Palisade – an easy race to get to with no travel or time off required. Whether I signed up for the Grand Valley Race or not, May was going to be a stellar race month for me and I couldn’t wait. I was excited and nervous all at once. Never had I attempted two marathons in one month and never had I attempted a race with a 3 ½ hour cut off (Colfax had that cut off). Yea for May!
The Oklahoma City Memorial was a bust for me – it rained like I had never seen rain before and it was cold. I decided to not even start. I rationalized with myself that I pay to race, not be miserable and that I couldn’t afford to twist an ankle or have my knee go out on me while I was walking. But what it really amounted to was the fact that I was a wimp – I could’ve done the race and my heart knew it. Oklahoma is left uncolored on my map (I have a map of the States on my wall and I color in each state when I complete a marathon) and when I think of why, I kick myself. The quitter in me tells me that not doing that race did me in – I’ll never do another one. The drill sergeant tells the wimp to shut up and she won’t be quiet until I sign up for the Grand Valley Marathon. “Redemption,” the Drill Sergeant tells me, “You do this one, you’re still good. You don’t do it and well, I’ll go find a new recruit.” I couldn’t have my Drill Sergeant abandon me (who would I blame my potty mouth on?) so I signed up to do the race. Besides, it had a medal.
Grand Valley was a beautiful race with Pike’s Peak (not really, but it sure seemed like it) smack dab in the middle of it. Not only did I have to go up it on the way out, I had to go down it on the way back in. Everyone who passed me going down the mountain as I was going up it asked me if I was ok. One guy even told me that there was a medic at the top. How was I supposed to take that? Yes, I was walking up the mountain and yes, it was killing me but I was still moving and I was even encouraging them as they ran by me on the way down. What part of that screams distress? Still, I made it to the top, I made it down and I finished 6 minutes faster than my best time at the Dallas Rock n Roll. So there, you “true runners”! I made it and didn’t have to stop at the medic station for first aid! Granted, it took me twice as long as some of you but I still finished and I even worked a double at the fun job right afterwards. AND I got a medal – the SAME medal you got. (Imagine me sticking out my tongue and performing the ever elegant raspberry)
The next race on my schedule was the Run Colfax Marathon. I was nervous about this one as it had a cut off time of three and a half hours and I have yet to do one of my races in three and half hours. I am getting closer to that time but I’m not quite there yet so I was worried about this one. I did not want to be picked up by the SAG wagon and I wanted the medal. Of course the weather couldn’t cooperate – it was rainy, windy and slightly chilly. But I have come to expect nothing less than rain at a race. My friend Cheryl says I should contract my services out to areas that are in a drought – get them to pay my race entry and I’ll come and it will rain. I’m your very own walking Indian rain dance but slightly more successful as of the 7 half marathons I’ve participated in, only 2 have been without drizzle or rain. And at this race, not only did it rain but it snowed as well. The Colfax was a beautiful course, though, despite the rain and snow, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The course went down the most “colorful” parts of Colfax Avenue and even ran through a Firehouse (I really enjoyed THAT scenery). It ended at Denver City Park and my friend, Mark, walked with me the last 2 miles of the course and Tami was waiting for me at the finish line. I must say, it was the best way to spend a birthday.
The last race of the month was the BolderBoulder 10K race on Memorial Day. According to all the advertisement, it’s the “best 10k race in the nation” and attracts a lot of runners from all over the world. I was a little skeptical because I couldn’t imagine a 10k generating so much interest and I couldn’t believe the cost to enter – it was almost as much as one of the Rock n Roll series marathons. AND they didn’t give medals! What kind of funky race doesn’t give a medal? And why in the world did I register for it if I wasn’t going to get a medal??? I wasn’t very worried about this race – it’s just 6.2 miles and that is just half of what I’m used but I was a little concerned over the reported 50,000 people signed up (yes, that’s the right amount of zeroes) cause, as any one of my friends or family will tell you I DON’T DO PEOPLE. My wave started at 0824 exactly and off I went. I kept expecting the crowd to thin out because it ALWAYS thins out but not this time. The people kept coming and coming. There was a big group in front of me, there was a big group behind me and there was a big group all around me. Everywhere I looked I saw nothing but bobbing heads and undulating flesh. I got tripped 3 times by people passing me, I tried to hold hands with a number of surprised folk and yet the crowd never thinned out. I started with a group of a thousand and I finished with a group of a thousand. And I got my first running injury. Just after mile 1, I pulled something in my left hip that made me catch my breath. And then it made me contemplate quitting. For the next mile I thought of nothing else than getting to an aid station and throwing in the towel. All the people were overwhelming, I was hurt, it was raining (of course it was raining), and I kept getting stomped on and tripped. I tried to keep to the right; I tried to keep to the left. All I wanted to do was quit but the crowd was relentless. By the time I saw the first aid station, I was swept by it with the crowd. So I told myself to make it to the next one. And then the next one. And then the next one. Until I was at the course summit and only 2 miles from the finish. Limping and whining, I made it to the finish with the millions of others. And I wasn’t even last. But I didn’t get a medal. However, I did get my first injury which, according to the doctor, is a typical IT Band injury and will sideline me from running (ok, keep in mind the very loose interpretation I have of the term "running") for the next 1-2 months.
Overall, May was a successful race month. I finished 2 half marathons and one 10k in one month. This time last year, I was barely doing 10 minutes on the treadmill and hadn’t even entered a 5k yet. I spend free time on www.halfmarathons.net, dreaming of my next race. I spend any liquid assets on race gear – Ktape, Tech Shirts, running socks, fuel belts, etc. I do my best to get my friends addicted with me so I’ll have company on a race and I think of things in relation to entry fees. For example, “I could buy a couple of new outfits for work or I could enter ________ race.” Guess which usually prevails?
My name is Bethany (or Starunner as I prefer to be called) and I am an addict. It’s been 7 days since my last race and I can’t stop thinking about the next one. And I’m thinking my doctor imposed 1-2 month sanction from racing will be whittled down to 2 weeks. There’s a race in Idaho I’ve already paid for…
Grand Valley Half Marathon – 3:39:59
Run Colfax Half Marathon – 3:37:30
BolderBoulder 10k – 1:50:44
And just to give some perspective, my first half marathon in San Francisco in October of 2010 came in at – 4:26:26.
25 May 2011
I need your help!
I am participating in the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Denver CO on October 9, 2011. I have pledged to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. I have one person on my team (me) and I'm short so far on both my personal goal and my team goal. Can you help?
For the half marathon, I won't actually be running but I WILL be walking. 13.1 miles to raise awareness and funding for the American Cancer Society. Too many people in my life have been touched by cancer. Too many people in my life have lost their fight to cancer. Margo lost her battle to breast cancer and she's the captain of my team - not in physical presence but I know she's watching over me. And she's telling me that I better do her name up right if I am going to name a team after her! Any donation will help. If you want to wog with me, you're more than welcome. I may have to be drug across the finish line but I will finish. Can I count on your support?
To give a monetary donation, please go to: My Personal Fundraising Page
So you want to join my team? Click HERE to join my team! (Please do not donate on this link)
And the face of my team, Margo. She makes it personal for me.
02 April 2011
Today was Central High School’s April Fool’s 5k. It was a special day – we were offered 5 extra points per individual to do the race and Marlea and I weren’t going to miss out on it. For this little 5k race, I’d get 10 points for my team – I just couldn’t pass it up. My half marathons and triathlon were only giving me 5 points each and this one was gonna give me 10??? You betcha, I’m all over it! Besides, I have been unsuccessful in finding a half marathon to do in April so I need something to fill the void. It’s amazing how addicted I’ve become to the whole race thing. It’s a sickness, really, which should be addressed sooner rather than later. But being the procrastinator that I am, I’ll address it later.
I am hoping to get a personal best in this 5k. The last 5k I did, it was attached to a triathlon and I did that in 48:35 and the Turkey Trot was 46:08 so I wanted to do better. This was another small race held out at the Botanical Gardens and river front trail. The start was a chalk line and the finish was another chalk like with someone standing at it, writing down numbers and the time as displayed on the big chronograph. Small - maybe 100 participants. But good support, good food and a beautiful course. We started off and I just walked. I was feeling pretty good so I started to shuffle. But only for 2 light posts and then I would walk for two light posts (there were light posts evenly along the first half of the route). I did that for as long as there were light posts. I’m not very good at judging distance but I think I did that for about a mile, give or take. Then we turned on to the river front trail and I concentrated on gradually building up my walking pace. I was steadily passing people and I knew I wasn’t in the back. I liked this feeling, this feeling of not being the last and not waddling along like some pregnant elephant. I could get used to not being last. I also had to hurry because I had to be to work at 12 and if I was going to get to shower before going to work, I couldn’t dawdle. The day was perfect – lightly cloudy with a coolish breeze and not one single rain cloud in the sky. It felt good to be out in shirt and shorts and not wish I had brought my arm sleeves or my $8.00 throw-away (which I never threw away) jacket. It was just gorgeous. And before I knew it, I was on the last half a mile and then I was at the finish. And yes, it was a personal best for me and boy could I tell – face all flushed, out of breath, calves tightening up. It felt good.
The race organizers had the standard for us at the finish – bagels, juice, fruit and water – plus they had scrambled eggs. I’ve never been at a race where you got fed scrambled eggs! Then the thought came to me – I was in the middle of the pack, possibly even closer to the middle front of the pack – perhaps I was so impressed with the food because there WAS FOOD available. I mean, all the other races I’ve done, by the time I’ve gotten through, something was always out – whether it be Gatorade, chocolate milk, fruit or bagels. But not this time. This time there was plenty for me to choose from. Yes, this not being last thing is pretty good: I might just have to do it again.
Marlea and I each got 10 points for today's 5k. I'm hoping Team Skinny-R-Us did not make it.
Official time 5k time – 38:48 (a new personal best)
29 March 2011
2 weeks ago I attempted a half marathon here in my own area. The fact that no travel was involved (other than the 1.5 hour drive to get to Gateway) should not be as surprising as the fact that I didn’t finish it should be. I don’t know why I didn’t finish it. I kept trying to rationalize it away – I was dead last; my knee was hurting (it wasn’t); I just got over being really sick (which was true); the wind was blowing me all over the route; I had no one at the finish line for me; and, my favorite, The sag wagon was on my tail. I cannot discount the psychological reasons for not finishing – it is VERY discouraging to know you’re the only one still out on the course and it is VERY discouraging to have the Sag wagon 30 feet behind you – but I should’ve finished it. There was no reason other than I wussed out for quitting. In this instance, the complacent fat girl won and it did some damage to my confidence. Not only did I quit, but I was sorer than I had been at my very first half marathon and it took me longer to recover. Knowing that I did not finish this half marathon had me worried about the next one coming up – the Dallas Rock-n-Roll ½ Marathon exactly a week later.
I had first signed up to do the ½ with my friend, Cheri. She and I both started on the “race circuit” (as I like to call it) at about the same time. The difference between her and I is that she actually TRAINS for her races, whereas I just, um, well, I’m not sure what I do but I know it can’t be classified as training. Cheri has actually been building up to the half marathon while I didn’t do anything of the kind, I just signed up for them and hoped I would at least finish.
Cheri and I belong to a rather unique group of friends. When the internet first started out, there were these things called “chat rooms”. The chat rooms were formed around common interests or situations and our chat room was formed around single moms online, aka MOL, aka “Loopies”. Our group has 22 in it (the number has increased and decreased over the years) and we’ve been friends since before cell phones, facebook, myspace and texting. I’ve not met all of these incredible women face-to-face but I count each of them amongst my closest of friends. We’ve weathered divorces, children in trouble, health scares and severe sadness. We lost our dear friend Margo to breast cancer in 2008 and Cheri is a 12 year survivor of that disease herself. We’ve watched the Loop kids grow up, join the military, get married and have their own children. And through it all, the majority has not met face-to-face. I’ve been lucky in the fact that I’ve met about half of them but the fact that I’ve not physically given each of them a hug has not diminished the place they hold in my heart. In any case, when it got out to the Loop (that’s what we refer to ourselves collectively) that Cheri and I were going to do a race in Dallas, 2 others decided they would join us for the weekend – Terrie and Sheryl. A full-blown Loopie weekend – I couldn’t wait.
Because I want this to be a race report, I am going to spare all the wonderful details of our weekend together. Just know that if you were an outside observer, you would have remarked on how close we all were and how much history we must have together and you wouldn’t be wrong.
Race morning arrives and our alarm clocks go off disgustingly early. Cheri and I get ready and my nerves are starting to kick in. What if I can’t finish like I couldn’t finish last weekend? What if I hold Cheri back? What would Terrie and Sheryl think if I don’t finish? What if I have to get picked up by the Sag wagon? I had all of these “what ifs” just flying around in my head, making it hard to feel confident about at least finishing within the required time limit. Throughout all of my internal distress, Cheri and I were chatting and laughing and I kept wondering how she could be so calm on a morning when disaster was just a second or two away. I envied her calm demeanor and wished I could be so confident. Finally it came time for us to head out. Sheryl was just going to drop us off and then come back for Terrie and they would meet us at the finish line. Taking one last look around to make sure I had everything, we head out.
It took a little longer to get to where we needed to go due to construction and the sheer amount of people signed up for the craziness. Cheri and I were trying to make the Half Fanatic photo at 7:15 but were unable to get there in time. Sheryl kept apologizing and I kept telling her that it was ok – we just couldn’t be late for the start! We had wanted to be dropped off at the Start area but due to construction and poor instructions from the Rock-n-Roll people, the finish line was the best that could happen. Sheryl found the finish area and Cheri and I got out and we were immediately hit with something we weren’t expecting in Dallas – cold and windy AND it looked like it was going to rain. That was just great. Because of course I couldn’t be a part of a race that didn’t have crappy weather!
Cheri and I decide to jump corrals – we were assigned corral 15 but chose to go in the back of corral 14 (we’re such the rebels) – the reasoning behind this is not clear to me but it probably had something to do with the fact that I didn’t want to be dead last again and if there was a corral behind me, then dead last would take a little longer to happen. At least that’s what my head told me the reason was after the fact. In any case, we’re in our corral and we’re slowly winding our way to the start line so we can actually start our walk. When we finally cross the start line, everyone takes off and Cheri and I put on our best wogging faces and hit the trail.
I’m not sure if the pace is good for Cheri but she’s not complaining and I’m actually feeling good. We had a decent pace going and before I knew it we passed mile 1. My friend, Amber, catches up with us (she was late getting to the start and had to run to even get counted in the start) and she walks with us too. So there the three of us are – Cheri and I and Amber: Amber who’s this tall, beautiful girl, walking with me, a short oompa-loompa and Cheri. And we talk the whole way. We’re walking and talking, talking and walking and occasionally, we actually shuffle/wog a little bit. We keep this up for a good deal of time and before I know it, we’ve passed the 5k mark – and if a 5k were all I was walking, I would’ve had a personal record! That means to me it is a good pace. I check with Cheri, make sure I’m not holding her back, and she confirms that the pace is working for her. Amber’s still with us and I know she’s starting to get bored with the pace. I try to convince her to move on but she says she’ll stay with us, that the pace is good for her so we keep moving and talking, talking and walking and throwing sporadic attempts at running in for good measure.
I am thoroughly enjoying this race. I’ve not turned my iPod on and have not needed to – the conversation has been wonderful and I feel like we’re making really good time. When we hit the 5 mile mark, I consult with my GPS on my phone – yep, we’re making good time and we’re on pace for a personal record for me, SCORE! At mile 6, Cheri’s K-tape has disintegrated and we pull to the curb to apply new tape. Amber takes this time to move on and we wish her speed. We fix Cheri’s tape and hit off, down the path again, to the finish line. Through our conversation, we discover that we both generally hit “the wall” between mile 8 and 9 and we make a promise to one another to not let the wall get the better of us.
We continue walking, talking, shuffling and wogging and the miles are (slowly) melting beneath our feet. We pass the 10K marker and the 10 mile marker and we both get excited knowing that we have only a 5k left. We’re still on pace to set personal records and new energy has been infused in our legs. I’m excited – I’ve never felt this good at this point in the race before and I know I’m going to finish. The doubt the Gateway ½ put in my head has been squashed and new confidence is oozing out of the sweat dripping off my forehead. I’m increasing our shuffle/wog sessions and I’ve started chanting during them to encourage Cheri. Cheri has been my personal motivator and I wanted to return the favor to her. And in all actuality, I was pushing Cheri due to selfish reasons – I wanted to finish and I needed her to get me to the finish line.
We’re finally down to the last 1.1 miles and I can hear the headliner band at the Fair Park – we are almost there! Cheri has a moment of panic and I grab her hand and talk to her, help her calm down, tell her how proud I am of her and how wonderful she is. We finish the last 1.1 miles hand-in-hand with the exact same finish time. Cheri sheds almost 10 minutes off her best time; I shed a little over a minute. And it only sprinkled on us – the downpour held off until later that afternoon. Cheri and I collect our medals, get our photo taken together, grab some grub and go out to the parking lot to meet Terrie and Sheryl. We see them, dressed in their matching shirts and hats with their pink pom-poms and I get the biggest smile on my face. AND they brought Dunkin’ Donuts. I have the best friends in the world.
The Dallas Rock-n-Roll half marathon will be held forever in my memory. Not because I got a PR. Not because there were Dunkin’ Donuts waiting for me (and that certainly helps!) but because 3 of the best friends in the world were there for me and one of them walked with me. I just love those girls! I still don’t know what the difference between the Dallas race and the Gateway race was. I don’t know why I didn’t finish one but did really good on the other. The Boy thinks it has to do with elevation – Gateway was the first race I did at a high elevation (above 6,000 feet), all the others have been just a little above or at sea level. If it is elevation that caused my issue, I’m going to have some trouble in Denver in October unless I do some elevation training.
And I almost got away with referring to me actually doing “training” without laughing…
Official time: 3:45:15
11 March 2011
My heat was scheduled to start at 8:00 am so I arrive at the college at 7:00 am – making sure I got a good parking place, a locker and my packet. The 1st Annual Mesa State College Indoor Triathlon was not well publicized and therefore was not well attended. There were probably 40 athletes all together so it had that small race feel – and I love small races. There were no racing bibs for this race and with everyone starting and stopping at the same time, there was no need for timing bands either. After instructions were given, each athlete was assigned a volunteer whose responsibility it was to annotate distance covered in each event. Jordon, my volunteer, and I shook hands and we took our lane – me at one end, Jordon at the other. With a blast of the air horn, my heat starts and I hit the water for my 20 minute swim.
Let’s talk a moment about the other 9 people in my heat. The other nine 20 and 21 year olds. The other 9 swimmers and bikers. The other 9 who were regaling everyone within earshot of their late night drunkenness the night before and how they were just “gonna go for the finish”. These 9 who started out at the bleat of the air horn like their suits were on fire. Nothing intimidating about them at all. Nothing. So while I maintained a steady pace, these folks started out all on fire but couldn’t keep their pace up. By the end of the 20 minutes, I was actually pretty close to their total laps.
Swimming for a length of time is very different than swimming for a distance. It played with my head – I kept track of distance for awhile but when I passed the normal length of a triathlon (500 meters) and I saw that I still had 10 minutes left, I grew momentarily whiney. It took everything I had to just keep going. At every 50 meters, I’d look up at the clock and mark the time left. I began a new mantra, “I can do anything for ____ minutes”. I was saying that a LOT. Until, finally, I had one minute left – enough for one lap. I finished the lap, heard the air horn and dragged my butt out of the pool. My final tally of lengths was 32 which is about 825 meters. The number one in my heat did 41 laps. Not too shabby for a 42 year-old.
Enough of the self-gloating, it was time to move on to the bike. There was a set amount of time for this transition – 10 minutes – and I found myself trying to decide if I just wanted to throw pants and a shirt on over my suit or to change all together. I decide to change all the way around and get out of the wet suit. I dry off, throw on my pants and my Half Fanatic shirt, grab a Luna bar and my iPod and head off to the bike. I’ve got 3 minutes left to set up my bike and get ready for the next leg of the race.
I like this portion of the race. I’m on a bike but I’m controlling the “incline” and the “resistance”. I’m not stopping to walk my bike up a hill; I’m not stopping because my foot is going numb. Just peddling, peddling, peddling - and trying to avoid looking in to the floor to ceiling mirrors that are placed across from me. I find myself glancing at the time on the speedometer and begin my mantra from the swim – “I can do anything for ____ minutes” and eventually I was done. Total miles biked – 7.1 miles.
On to the treadmill!! We’re directed to wait until we’re told to go (I realize that this event has mainly college students in it but I think even THEY could’ve figured out to wait until they were told to go…) and then we were off. I set it at 3.2 at first, then 3.4, then 3.5 and up and up I went until I stopped at 3.9. My iPod is blasting, my legs are moving and I’m thoroughly enjoying this race. I’m repeating my mantra over and over again and before I know it, we’re done. 20 minutes has come and gone and I’m done. Jordon comes to write down my distance (1.2 miles), we shake hands and part ways. I collect my belongings, head to the gym for a quick snack and then head home. I have to get to work in about 2.5 hours and it would be nice to just lay down for a minute or two.
The wussy mini-indoor triathlon totally kicked my butt. It was exhilarating, trying, exhausting and fulfilling. I was able to do an event in the morning and still get to work on time in the afternoon. While the set time was more challenging than a set distance, it was a fun change of pace. The “1st Annual” is indicative that it will be an annual event – I sure hope it is. I will definitely do it again. And maybe the next time, I won’t come down with the flu the next day.
02 March 2011
Over many a quaint and curious sites of marathon lore,
While I coughed, nearly dying, pain-filled heaves while a lying,
Doubt came gently rapping, rapping at my mind’s door.
`'Tis but foul doubt,' I muttered, `tapping at my mind’s door -
Only this, and nothing more.'
Tuesday evening came and I knew it was coming on strong. I get sick about once a year and apparently my body decided this would be the ideal time to do it. Being the stubborn Taurus that I am, however, I refused to acknowledge out loud what I knew was happening. I remembered reading somewhere that the best thing you can do for a cold or other simple illness was to sweat it out so I decided I would go to the gym and do my typical workout and then hit the Jacuzzi and steam room afterwards. Brilliant plan, wouldn’t you say? Not only medically unfounded but socially irresponsible – yup, that’s me. I’m the smart one.
I managed to make it through half of my usual workout and I did spend 15 minutes in the Jacuzzi and 5 minutes in the steam room but by the time I got done, I felt worse. My cough was awful. The little miner-dude in my head was insistently pounding to get out and every joint in my body ached. I looked in the mirror in the locker room and was amazed that my normally pale complexion was even paler. AND the lymph nodes in my throat were so swollen that if you were to just look at my face, you would’ve thought I gained about 100 pounds. This was not good, not good at all.
Wednesday found me calling in sick to work. I thought that if I just rested, my body would be able to kick it and put it to bed. That idea seemed to work – for awhile. That is, until I had to go to the fun job that night because, I of course, was pro-active in trying to giving up my shift (NOT). Fortunately for me, the crew on that night was very willing to get me out of there as soon as possible. I’m not sure if it was purely selfish on their part (they didn’t want to get sick) or out of concern for me but I honestly didn’t care - they got me out and I went home and went to bed.
Thursday I was even worse – so much so that I went to the doctor. I figured if it was bad, they could get me on some antibiotics or shoot me. I didn’t really care at that point. My diagnosis was not good – walking pneumonia – and my doctor was not thrilled with me when I asked her to just give me something so I could race on Sunday. I don’t know if you’ve ever been verbally lashed by a physician before but my experience with it was not the most pleasant. However, I got my medication, a doctor’s note excusing me from work on Thursday and Friday, one last look from the doctor expressing her intense dislike of my plan of action along with last minute advice of water intake and rest and was sent on my way.
During my illness, Tami was also sick. I didn’t give it to her, I’m sure, but we were quite the pair during our travels to Phoenix. Friday I was actually feeling better. I still had the cough and headache but the body aches were gone and as long as I kept ingesting ibuprofen, the headache was manageable. The cough, however, was a big pain in the patootie. It was non-productive and made my sides ache. Sleeping was a challenge as was almost anything else. But I was determined – I was going to get to Phoenix and get to the start line.
Poor Deb. She fought so hard to get to Phoenix on Saturday – from delayed planes, to canceled planes to routing through Buffalo (yes, New York) – she still didn’t give up. And I was still sick and Tami was just getting sicker. I think Tami had the full blown flu, whereas I just had pneumonia. Between the noise that Tami and I were making while trying to sleep, Deb couldn’t rest at all. She ended up on the bathroom floor with the door shut and earplugs in and she still couldn’t sleep. I felt so awful about that. “Hey Deb! Come do this race with me, share the hotel and I’ll let you sleep on the bathroom floor!” Some friend I turned out to be.
Sunday morning arrives way too early for people who didn’t sleep. Deb and I get ready for our race and Tami is just worse. I tell Tami to stay in the room and rest – she would be nothing but miserable out on the course and she wished us well and went back to bed. Deb and I headed out to the car to get to the shuttle point. The day was just beginning and we could tell it was going to be somewhat icky. I was actually feeling good, tho, and I enjoyed the drive with Deb – talking with her, catching up, and apologizing profusely for her lovely night on the bathroom floor.
We get to the parking area and are directed where to park. We then wait for Digs (who was also getting over being sick) and board the bus to the start line. There are dark clouds on the horizon and it’s a little chilly for Arizona. I just keep hoping that I get to the half way point before the deluge and Deb tells me of her plans to run the first 6 miles and then walk. Digs says she’ll stay with me. Break! We’ve got our plan! The Lost Dutchman is a large race; however, you wouldn’t know it by the feel. It felt like a small-town race – the volunteers were wonderful, the logistics absolutely superb and the course well thought out. Markings at every mile (no kilometer markings in this race!) and aid stations every two miles with incredibly trained water hander-off-ers and all that. AND this was the first large race I’ve done where they have not run out of the handouts at the stations by the time I got there. In my book, that’s everything.
No corral start for The Lost Dutchman – it was a free-for-all. Wherever you managed to line up was where you started for the race. I, knowing my slowness, automatically gravitate to the back of the back and Deb and Digs follow me. The race starts, Deb plugs in her iPod and she’s off. Digs walks with me and we get to moving. I know it’s going to rain, it’s just a matter of when and I’m still hoping it holds off until I hit the halfway point. Digs and I walk and talk, talk and walk for about 3 miles. She notices that we’re the absolute last and I think it hurts her incredible competitive nature. I tell her to go on – run, don’t let me hold you back! – yet, she still walks with me. So I pull over at the next porta-potty. It’s the only way she’ll go forward, is if I totally stop. She runs ahead and I use the facilities (might as well, I’m here). For the next few miles, I do a combination of shuffle, wog and walk and before I know it, I see Digs up ahead. I pass her (inside I’m exalted – I passed her! I don’t care if she’s sick, I passed her!) and keep on shuffling/wogging/walking. Then the rain comes. At first it’s a little drop every now and then, then it downpours. And I haven’t hit the halfway point yet: I’m close, just not there. I see Deb on the way back, toss her the car keys so she can stay warm while she’s waiting for me and walk on. Digs passes me, tells me it’s too cold to walk and starts her jog. Diligently, I continue with my walk (I’ve abandoned wogging/shuffling by this point) and I whittle away the miles, inch by inch. I have finally found a shoe/sock combination that doesn’t set my feet to fire and I’m loving it. I’m not whining, I’m not complaining, I’m just walking, walking, walking. I smile every now and then when I see a camera but I know it’s going to be a shitty picture. I sing to my music, I tell myself over and over again that I really need a new playlist. I wonder if the Half Fanatics will let me go by Starunner on my official registration. I see Marathon Maniacs fly by but no Half Fanatics and I see the cardboard brick wall the race crew set up at the 10 mile mark. I think to myself, “Yea! Only a 5k to go!” And then I think, “Wait, you idiot. It takes you an hour to do a 5k!”
Then I see a Girl Scout troop manning an aid station and their enthusiasm gets me going. I shuffle a little bit, wog even less and keep my walking pace up. I don’t feel like I’m making any better time than the Rock n Roll Phoenix but I don’t think I’m doing any worse, either. I finally hit the 1 mile left marker and I get a little pep in my step. I’m actually feeling pretty good, my feet don’t hurt and as long as I don’t breathe deeply, I’m not coughing. I first see Digs at the finish line – she’s cheering me on. Then I see Debi and she’s cheering me on. And then I cross the line, collect my medal and go to my friends. Another half marathon is in the books and I didn’t die. My official time was 3:57 but my cardio-time on my phone said 3:46 (it stopped when I stopped at the porta-lets). So while I officially increased my time on this one, I really didn’t. Not too bad for being sick, eh?
My official time was 3:57, Deb’s was 2:51 (way to go!) and Digs was around 3:31. Not bad for a bunch of sickies and a first time half marathoner, eh? And I’m officially a Half Fanatic now. I’m number 837.
And Debi – if you’re reading this: I am so sorry you’re sick. You didn’t have a chance. :(
12 February 2011
This is the second small, local race I’ve done and I’ve come to really enjoy them. No hoards of people, no fancy start line or finish line, no “D” tags for timing: just 3 or 4 organizers, about 30 volunteers, 2 policemen, tons of donated goodies and a simple route with beautiful scenery. I have no idea how many people were participating in the combined 5k/10k route but it couldn’t have been more than 500. My Dad tells me, “I thought you said there weren’t going to be a lot of people?” And I said, “Well, there’s really not.” Shows you the size of races I’ve come to get used to over the past few months because last year I would’ve been hyperventilating from the crowd. Today I was comfortable knowing that I’d be able to breathe.
When we started off, Dad told me to not let him hold me back. I told him I wouldn’t and was thinking to myself, “I can’t even keep up with you right now and you’re worried that I am going to hold you back???” I think my legs don’t like to walk the first 2 miles. They are always stiff and I clomp down the road like a Clydesdale Horse. I told Dad that my shins were really tight today and that he should just ignore my clomping. After the 2 mile marker, however, my body gave in and walking became smoother and I wasn’t having any trouble walking at my Dad’s pace.
For an hour and forty-eight minutes Dad and I walked. We talked about my siblings, my kids, my brother’s kids and genetics. Talked about the half marathons I’ve done and how his back is healing. For almost 2 hours I had my Dad’s company and I found myself feeling like a little kid again, out on “special night” where my Dad was all mine with no other competition for time or attention. I loved the time with him and while we didn’t set any land speed records, we finished the race (and a little bit more cause we kind of deviated for a little bit off the course). I have a pretty cool Dad and I am so glad I had that time with him. And, according to my Cardio-Tracker on my phone, I burned enough calories to gorge myself on 2 avocados. Not that I’ll be eating avocados for lunch, mind you.
By the time we made it back to the Rec Center and the finish line, we were the last to come in off the course. In fact, everything was already being torn down and put away so I have no “official” finish time. But I wouldn’t trade a finish line for the time I had with my Dad. It was a beautiful day for a walk with my Dad. I hope we do it again soon.
Distance: 6.47 miles
Climb: 168 yards
08 February 2011
Upon reflection, I’ve come to realize that I have been very fortunate with my travels this past year. I’ve been to Washington State, Tennessee, California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. I experienced the Bahamas with my children for the first time and became reacquainted with the place I call “home”, Germany. I’ve shared my love for travel with my BFF and might have even infected her with my bug. I discovered that my two best friends from high school are still as cool as they were back then and that I love the friendship that is growing – I look forward to being “little old ladies” with them and relish in the fact that they just can’t get rid of me.
My races (and I use that term incredibly lightly) are my call to travel, my excuse, my own little experiment with insanity in an attempt to maintain sanity. They give me the reason TO travel, TO experience, TO battle. I am also very happy to report that I have recruited others to my cause, having been recruited by a die-hard “runnerd”, Jackie. I ran the Rock n Roll Phoenix in January with my camp bud, Digs. I’ll be running the Lost Dutchman this month with my high school bud, Deb. I’m meeting up with my Loopie Girls in March to run the Rock n Roll Dallas. My friend, Amber, is joining me for the Oklahoma City Memorial in May and I even got my Dad, who just had back surgery in December, to join me for a 10k this weekend. My friend in Africa just signed up for the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon on February 27 (By proxy for me – which means I get the medal! Come on, Mike! You knew I’d lay claim to the medal!). And in order to keep things interesting, Amber and I are doing a “Muddy Buddy” in August in Boulder. Yes – insanity is catching and I hope each one of them find their own personal reasons for continuing. For me it’s the travel and the inner battle that is my “crack”. I wonder what it is or will be for them?
I was attempting to trace back the roots of my current infatuation and I am afraid I have to blame it on the good ole Highline Hustle Sprint Triathlon in June 2010. This is the triathlon that took me out for a spin and left me crumpled and discouraged, failing to complete and yet, ever more determined to finish at least one. This unsatisfied thirst to finish dug its heels in and gave me the oomph to finish the Black Canyon Sprint Triathlon in October. Shortly after Black Canyon, I participated in my first ever half marathon – the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco. This marathon I entered as a lark (it was a lottery drawing for participants), got in on amazement and finished out of sheer determination to not leave without the shirt. I then had to sign up for a second half marathon just to prove the first half marathon was not a farce. And by then, I was hooked.
I have friends and co-workers tell me that I am an inspiration to them and I just laugh at the idea. How can I be an inspiration for someone when I just do it – no thought or planning or, god forbid, training involved? I thrive on the battle that rages inside the day before the race (“Why bother – you’re just going to be last”), getting to the race (“No one will blame you if you don’t show up. Heck, they won’t even miss you”), during the race (“Quit now. You’re a big fattie and have no place here”) and then after the race (“That was a fluke. Bet you can’t do it again”). I love it even more when my inner Drill Sergeant comes out to play – she can be a real bitch.
I have found a love and that love is endurance whatever-it-is-that-I-am-doing. Perhaps I’ll one day move up to a 26.2 but not yet. I have not become a Half Fanatic yet (http://www.halffanatics.com/) and I’ve not run out of internal battles yet. And 13.1 is still a challenge to do. It’s hard to say if they’ll ever not be a challenge but if that ever happens I’ll be looking for something else. It might be a 26.2. Who knows?
I am going to stop being green with envy when my friends travel and I am going to take that moment to realize that I have been incredibly fortunate. I still have a lot of traveling to do and I still have a wild and crazy path ahead of me. Instead of looking longingly at someone else’s path, I’m going to look at anticipation to the road I’ve got ahead of me. And if I don’t want to turn right, I won’t. It’s my road and I get to determine where it goes – what wondrous new paths I’ll get to set. I am looking forward to walking (or wogging) a time with those I know and discovering new and exciting people, events and places.
Happy inner-battle to all!
24 January 2011
I’m not sure if you’ve heard yet, but I’m taking on a new challenge. I signed up for an endurance race – but I also signed up to help change the course of cancer. That’s because I joined the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team. Every step I take and every mile I conquer will save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. And … I’d like to ask you to join my team. I don't often ask for such a commitment but this is a worthy cause - too many of my friends and loved ones have been touched by cancer as, I am sure, yours have too. Let's walk together to say "ENOUGH!"
Don’t worry – it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or how fit you are. The DetermiNation program will help us train for and finish the race. And since we’re dedicating our race to fighting cancer and raising funds to save lives, the finish line is just the beginning.
By joining the DetermiNation team, we’re helping the American Cancer Society save lives every day. That means:
■More people in our community can stay well by getting the info and tools they need to help prevent cancer or find it early.
■More people with cancer will have the support they need through every step of their cancer journey to help they get well – whether it’s a free ride to treatment, a place to stay, or just talking to someone who has “been there.”
■ACS can fund and conduct more groundbreaking research to find cures to help end this disease.
■ACS can fight back so more people can have access to lifesaving cancer screenings and treatment.
Thanks to people like us, 11 million cancer survivors are celebrating another birthday this year. I’m so excited to be a part of this lifesaving experience – and I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Click here to get started!
Visit my PERSONAL page
Visit my TEAM page to Join!!!
18 January 2011
I left Saturday for the Phoenix Rock n Roll ½ marathon. I packed about 30 minutes before leaving to take my dog to my Dad’s for the weekend – not breaking any of my traditions in that aspect. I’m a crappy pre-packer. I don’t do it the night before or even a few hours before. Nope. No preparation for me. Almost time to go = time to pack. I must say, packing for a run is a lot simpler than packing for a triathlon. With a triathlon, I have to think in levels. First is the swim, then the transition, then the bike, then the transition and finally the run. I usually need 2 bags for a triathlon – one for the hotel and everyday clothing and the other for the event. Oh, and I can’t forget the bike or the mayhem bar! So much to get ready but with a run, I can throw it all in with my suitcase. That’s actually kind of nice.
My local airport is a rinky dink joint with dreams of playing in the big leagues. It takes about 5 minutes to check in at the counter and 5 minutes to go through security. No fancy body scanners, no awkward pat downs. Just a quick walk through the metal detector (don’t forget to take off your bracelet which happens to have a flexible piece of metal running through it resembling, quite freakishly, a knife on the x-ray machine) a grab of your belongings and you’re done. I used to get to the airport at home at least an hour and a half before departure. Now I get there about 45 minutes before departure and try to entertain myself for the remaining 40 minutes before boarding takes place. Like I said, it’s a small airport with none of the diversions of its bigger sisters so self-entertainment is a must. I find a comfy spot to call home and break out my book. I am amazed at the amount of people who cannot be disconnected from their phones or computers and thinking about everyone on their phones and computers leads me to get on my phone – check facebook, email and play a game or two of “Jewels”. My book goes unread on my lap. However, 2 hours on the plane with no access to my phone gives me plenty of time to read. I’m reading Jen Lancaster’s “Such a Pretty Fat” and cannot contain my giggles, snorts and “oh me”s. The woman can write. 2 hours flies by (pun intended) and I find myself amongst the desert people of Arizona. And it’s WARM. I’m very glad I didn’t wear my heavy coat – even though I froze my toes off this morning, I would have expired after 5 minutes in the heat with my coat on.
Collecting my belongings as instructed, I exit the airplane and make my way to passenger pick up. My friend Digs collects me at the curb and we’re off to the Expo to pick up our packets. The expo is a typical Rock n Roll expo – packet pick up, shirt pick up and then corralled to the merchandise area, winding your way through vendor after vendor before hitting the exit. I’m usually excited about the expo because I’m usually starving and I need to eat. But this expo didn’t quite have the goodies I needed to ease the hunger. Digs finally got properly fitted for a pair of shoes, tho, so it was a success. As we’re walking to her car, I tell her that she needs to take me to Dunkin’ Donuts or I was going to start chowing down on her arm. Have I mentioned that I lose all discretionary ability when I’m hungry?
After gorging on two donuts and coffee with cream (or rather, cream with coffee), we blew some time at Digs’ house before heading off to the Half Fanatic dinner. It was great meeting some of the people I will soon be considered a part of when I finish my next half marathon in February. These are some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met and they all made Digs and I feel a part of the insanity – even though we weren’t an official part of the group yet. Not yet – one more race for me and then I can join the madness that is the Half Fanatics. It was nice chatting and eating and talking about running with these folk.
At the end of the dinner, I switched “cabs” and moved my gear from Digs’ car to Jackie’s car. Jackie and I were sharing a room for the race and Digs was going back to her house to get ready to head to Vegas immediately after she got done running. Jackie warns me that she gets up early and, by association, so will I. She’s got a group picture for the Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs at 0645 so that meant that I would be heading out with her. I was fine with that – not like sleep is necessary or anything! We both get our gear ready for the next day and then hit they hay. I spent most of the night worried I was keeping Jackie up with my snoring or worrying that I wouldn’t finish the race. And I found myself missing my friend Tami who has come with me on my last two adventures but couldn’t make it on this one. 0430 came awfully quickly.
Jackie and I made the 0530 shuttle to the start from our hotel. This means we got to the start at 0600. The Fanatic/Maniac picture wasn’t scheduled until 0645 and our race wasn’t set to go off until 0830. Hearing the weather report while we were getting ready, we both decided to leave our race sleeves at the hotel because lugging them around during 80 degree weather did not sound appealing. However, 0600 in a desert is a quite chilly. We were both regretting our decision to leave the sleeves by about 0605. I found a discarded emergency blanket on the ground after Jackie’s group picture and picked it up. Someone left it, I found it and by gum, I needed something to warm up my arms. Emergency Blankets are a misnomer. Yes, they may be for an emergency but in no sense of the word are they “blankets”. While taking the chill off my arms, it did nothing to keep me from shivering. It was 41 degrees and I was shivering. What a crappy Coloradoan I am. I should’ve been running around exclaiming about the heat, not whining like a little girl who got her pigtails pulled.
In any case, time passes; we spend about 30 minutes in the porta-potty line and then head to our respective corrals. Jackie was in corral 4, I was in corral 26 and Digs was in corral 23. I decided that I would start in Digs’ corral so I go wait in it for her to show up. I get a text from Digs that she’s in 25 and that I should come join her so I do. And together we wait for the start of our race.
The half marathon begins exactly at 0830 and it’s a wave start – meaning, corral 1 goes first and then 15 seconds later, corral 2 is released, etc, etc. 0915, my corral finally hits the start line and off Digs goes. She’s going to finish way before me (and she did – by one hour and one minute) so I wish her well, turn on my tunes and head out.
When I’ve done “half Marys” in the past, it’s never been long before the crowd thins out and I’m on my own with just a few scattering people walking ahead of and behind me. But this time the crowd didn’t thin out. I had to keep weaving in and out of people to keep walking and it was confusing me – why were there still so many people walking with me? I’m the slow one. I’m even wearing my shirt that says; “If it weren’t for me, you’d have no one to pass” so why was I the one weaving between people? What exactly was up with that? A few weeks ago, I had downloaded a program to my phone to keep track of pace, distance, calories and steps taken. When I come up to mile marker 2, I take a look at my phone to see what my pace was. My goal was to maintain a 17:20 pace so I could finish in less than 4 hours. I had to look at my phone several times for the reality to sink in. The reason why the crowd wasn’t thinning out was because my pace was 15:14! I was so flabbergasted that while I was looking at my phone, I must’ve picked up my pace because it then reported that I was averaging 15:04 per mile. Granted, I was only at mile 2 but that’s the fastest I’ve EVER started out. And I wanted to keep it going like that. So I put away my phone and promised myself to only look at it every 4 miles or so – just to keep my momentum up and to keep me from getting discouraged. I turned up my music, held my head square, put one foot in front of the other, and kept going. I was going to kick this pig and call it good. Heck, I might even catch up to Digs! (yea, right)
I found myself thinking of the silliest things on this race:
“Why, in a race designated in miles, do they have kilometer markings?”
“Who in their right mind thinks this warm weather is appropriate for January? Yes, I’m very happy it’s not 21 degrees like it is at home, but seriously. January is SUPPOSED to be cold.”
“I think it’s time for a new play list. If I have to listen to Christina Aguilera one more time…”
“That woman is running a marathon a day after her mother passed away. I don’t think I could do that.”
“Why the hell am I getting tears in my eyes when I read all the “In Honor Of” and “In Memory Of” statements? I am turning in to such a freakin’ wuss.”
“Man! I look goooood! Good form, good pace. Sheesh, I am just totally ROCKIN!”
“Ugh, just got a glimpse of myself. I am NOT lookin’ good. Heck, I’m surprised I’m not getting pointed at and laughed at.”
“Why do I have to be short? Why can’t I be just a half an inch taller? Then these pants wouldn’t be dragging on the ground.”
“Your pants are dragging on the ground, you idgit, cause they’re falling down.”
“Thank god I put on compression shorts this morning so I wasn’t mooning anyone as my pants were falling to my knees. That would be embarrassing.”
(It’s important to note here that the mere fact that my pants were falling down was NOT the embarrassing thing…)
This dialogue carried on and carried me through the entire race. I would occasionally pull out my ear plugs and offer support to someone limping or to tell the mom who was carrying her son’s picture on her back that I was ever so grateful for his sacrifice (he was a Soldier in Iraq) but usually I was talking nonsensical and non-stop to myself. I stayed consistently in the middle of the pack I started out with. There were two girls in pink tu-tus that I tried to keep up with for awhile. Until I passed them. And then there was the old lady with shiny silvery hair that I tried to keep in my sights. Until I passed her. And then there was the “Team in Training” people I kept playing leapfrog with – they all kept me going on. One foot in front of the other, one breath after the other. And I didn’t start whining to myself until mile 11. This, I call, progress.
I finished my walk in 3 hours and 46 minutes. I shaved 7 minutes off my last time and, according to the time keeper of this race, I had an average pace of about 17 minutes per mile. However, I started my GPS program the minute my corral started moving forward. It said (I have yet to name it) that I walked 14.15 miles at a pace of 16:05 in 3 hours, 47 minutes and 41 seconds. While I have to take the official time, the back of my head won’t stop saying, “You walked a 16:05 minute pace. You made that route your BITCH!”
Yea, the back of my head rocks. It has to. Cause my body just laughs when I program that speed in to the treadmill.
Next up – Fruita Sweetheart 10K February 12 and The Lost Dutchman Half Marathon February 20.