Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tobacco Road Half

Last year I ran my first half marathon at Emerald Isle, North Carolina.  It was their inaugural race at the end of March.  Seemed perfect for us - beach, quick road trip and a flat course.  I finished in 2:32 (according to my watch) and was quite pleased.  I had trained hard and consistently.  I planned to race it again but it's an expensive weekend, so when friends talked about Tobacco Road in Cary - I made the decision to run locally and save money.  (Race fees!  Shoes!  Oh the thinks you can think, when you think about saving money! ;-) )

   Decided to wear my shirt from last year's race.  :-)

This morning I woke up at 4:15 to have breakfast before picking up my friend Jennifer who was also racing the half marathon and hoping for a PR.  I ate a bowl of oatmeal and had a Shakeology.  I also grabbed a ripe banana and a bagel, but ended up skipping the bagel (except for one bite).  I drove to Jennifer's house and we headed to the USA Baseball Campus in Cary.

Traffic wasn't nearly as bad as predicted, and we arrived with no problems before 6AM.  I ate my banana and we walked to the start line.  Stood in line at porta-potties where I discovered A.) I had attached my bib to my pants through my shirt and B.) After using restroom, the toilet paper wasn't coming off the roll.  I tore individual sheets until I had enough to do the job - which seemed to take about twenty minutes.

Checked our bags (very good and secure bag check). Met up with a few friends and said hello.  Waited and chatted until it was time to head out to the start line!

As I started walking over I knew, I KNEW, I should pee one more time.  I will later regret that.  We finally started and after running 30 seconds I realized there was a plastic tag stuck on my sock.  I ran to the side and pulled it out, then ran back to Jennifer.  Lots of uphill on the way out of the park, then down-down-down.  Down to find a water station at mile 1.  (Grateful for it at mile 12!)  Saw my friend Lindsay volunteering at mile 1.7ish aid station!

Jennifer had a strong walk-run going and I immediately knew I wasn't going to keep up.  I let her pull ahead around mile two and didn't see her again until the turn-around.  I also had to pee.  I HAD to.  Stopped for porta-potty, had to wait.

The run merged on to the American Tobacco Trail at this point.  The trail felt wonderful under my feet - I love running on crushed gravel.  I tried to keep my
own 3:00/1:00 run-walk, but when my watch turned to one hour, I lost the ability to monitor seconds.  So, the run-walk became a bit grey.  I was quite cold on the run until mile 4, my hands even felt numb.

Around mile 5 (and right after passing an aid station with porta potties), I needed to use the restroom again - but not to pee.  It was a moral imperative.  With a clenched jaw and clenched "cheeks," I scuffled through the turn around and made it back to the potty.  Ahhh, that's better.

Unfortunately after stopping for a minute in the porta john and bending down for my nutrition belt, I felt seriously dizzy.  Oof.  Took me about a quarter of a mile to get back in the groove and convince myself I was not in fact dying.

Glanced at my watch (which I stopped for potty breaks so I wouldn't be thrown off for pacing), and realized - hey!  I'm doing... better than I expected!  Tried to kick it up for a mile.  Then just felt so, so tired at mile 9.  Things were starting to hurt.

Two young women were in my "pack" for a while and one of them was blasting Taylor Swift from her iPhone.  The speaker.  For some reason this really got on my nerves, but it encouraged me to try to stay ahead of them!  Merged back on to the road at Mile 11ish (I had been passed by several full marathoners at this point) and began "the climb."  Aka "the walk."

Tried to run the last half mile into finish line and walked until the very last turn.  Then HAULED ass. :-D

Nutrition on the run:  two packs of Honey Stinger chews, one 9-oz bottle of watered-down Nuun, sips of water and Gatorade here and there.  Never bonked, but came close.

It was a great day to run.  So thankful.  Oh - and I finished in 2:38 - porta potty stops and all. :-). Under my goal of 2:50!

     Bling and a race bib - two bits!

   'Dere it Is

   Compression - take me away....

    So very thankful.

Thanks to the volunteers, my family and friends for their support in training, my husband for being amazing, Andrea for encouragement, and to all the people who stepped out of their comfort zone to run with me today. <3

And a very big thanks to my five-year-old who came running down the stairs when I got home.

"Mommy!!  Mommy!!! I am so proud of you for running today!!!!"
"Thanks, bud!"
"And aren't you proud of yourself?"

A little bit, my sweet.  A little bit.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I Got Nuttin'

Tomorrow is the Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon.  I am registered for the half.  Last year was my first half marathon - the inaugural Emerald Isle Half Marathon.  I was prepared - having completed a 12-week training program for beginners.  I missed a few weeks from an illness, but other than that I was incredibly consistent with my training and I finished it in 2:32.  This year... eh, not only am I dealing with the fact I am struggling to balance life things with training, we had a bad bout of illness, including pneumonia for myself.  I weigh more - 12 pounds more.  I should have had many more miles under my belt going into this, and I had been hoping to set a personal record this year.


It's got me feeling a bit nervous as I think about tomorrow.  I have ran ten+ miles four times in my life.  FOUR.  Rather than approaching tomorrow as a race, I am looking at it as a "supported training run."  In other words, this distance was part of the training plan to IM 70.3 Raleigh all along.  I just hadn't planned on running it with a thousand+ of my buddies.  There will be no PR, although I am hoping to complete it under 2:50.

There will be something else different about tomorrow.  This will be on my wrist.

Andrea wrote "be brave" on her wrist when she raced and completed her first half iron-distance triathlon.  Swim Bike Mom says it often. "Be brave.  Be thankful."  It's all we can do, really, if we want to do.

It's incredibly scary to think about running for two hours and fifty minutes.  In a race.  With a bunch of ... other people.  We have so much on our plates - careers, family illness, family concerns, parenting, aging, retirement, savings (or lack thereof).  We question ourselves so often.  We hear other people doubting us ALL of the time.

Tomorrow is out of my comfort zone - way out.  And the thing is - that's where we find out what we are made of.  A friend once told me, "Anyone can feel like a rockstar coasting downhill at 35 miles per hour.  But when you are climbing a hill, and your leg muscles are screaming - that's where you really find yourself.  The top of the hill comes with the satisfaction that you had the ability within you, all along, and did it."

I hope to find that when I cross the finish line tomorrow.  But the truth?

(And you, too, can have one of these sweet medal holders from Swim Bike Sell!)

Starting your journey, your NEW journey, your scary journey is the most important thing you can do for yourself.  Step out and look up.  You can coast from your coach, or you can try something new - and know that YOU did it.  It's your story to live.  My story has turned into trying to serve others, especially the Blazeman Foundation and ALS Research, but also meeting my own goals.  It's scary, but it's something.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tri Just a Little Bit Harder

So.  This happened last week.

I registered for a second half-iron distance triathlon this year.  I am still doing Raleigh, Lord help me, but this one fell into my lap.  Or I fell into its lap.  Either way, I am registered, as you can see.

Why would you do this?  You're crazy?  You haven't even finished one half-iron yet?  What the what?

I know.  And I know.

   My folks with my kids this past summer 

Since starting triathlon, one thing I have always wanted was for my folks to get to see me finish a race.  I was never  athletic.  When I was in school (and even college), they came to every single concert.  But they never cheered me on during a race or game because I didn't do them.  I had hoped they would come to Raleigh this May for my first big race, but my mom was recently diagnosed with COPD.

She's doing really well, overall.  A few setbacks after weaning off steroids.  Hopefully they can figure out the issues and get her feeling better.  While I am thrilled she kicked her 50-year smoking habit, it just sucks to see the setbacks happening because she's working so hard.

She's a pretty awesome lady.  She has always been my biggest fan, encouraged me throughout my life and I've never doubted her love.

  Mom reading something at her Mad Men company holiday party

My mom is incredibly bright - a talented writer (she will OWN you at Words With Friends and Scrabble - OWN), a gifted artist, she loves reading.  A heart as big as the sun.  She had quite the life in her youth (after growing up in a house that relied on government assistance) - actually working at an advertising agency in the "Mad Men" years (she has the pictures to prove it, as you can see :D).  But after having my brother, and then me, she devoted every ounce of her strength to make sure we had everything we needed - and mostly made sure we knew how much she loved us.

   Her Senior Picture

There's so much more I could say about my relationship and friendship with my mother, but I will leave it at how this race - THIS scary/joyful/terrifying/necessary race - is for her.

See you in a few months, Lake Michigan!

And don't feel left out, Papa - it's for you, too.  XOXO :-)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

And I Ran

Have you ever seen this meme?

I have seen it several times over the last few years, and it is inspirational but had been one of those, "Yeah, yeah, I know, I know" messages to me.

Until this past Thursday, when Andrea shared it in our Team Drea Challenge Facebook group.  And she said, "thank you."

She thanked us - the people running, triathlon-ing (I've made it a word now), walking, riding, racing - for taking on the commitment to better ourselves and raise funds for ALS research and the Blazeman Foundation.

What a completely selfless act for her to thank us.  The meme immediately meant more to me than it ever had before.

"Thanks to all of you."

When Saturday morning rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was run.  Because, well, honestly it's  usually the last thing I want to do. ;-)  After taking a month off because of the flu and pneumonia - and that happening after several weeks of mild illness and post-race slump - I realized the Tobacco Road Half Marathon is NEXT WEEK.  Raleigh Ironman 70.3 is in less than three months.  (And Steelhead this summer - that's another blog post).

As I snuggled under my warm blankets, I knew my run wasn't simply to avoid injury next week and prepare for Raleigh.

I *needed* to run for her.

  But but but - the rules of this trail say "SLOW," so.. I shall be slow! 

Nine miles later, I was finished with my workout.  I had a quiet moment of reflection, and I was so thankful Andrea had shared that meme.  There aren't adequate words to describe my gratitude.


Today I rode 37-miles with a few challenging hills.  I gained weight over the winter and that makes such a difference when cycling and trying to climb.  But I made it up each and every hill, knowing I was slow, I was struggling, that I have so much work to do before my first half ironman - but I did it.  And then... I ran.  It did not feel like sitting on the couch eating a brownie, to say the least.

I paused at .73 miles.  I believe my words were "F this noise."  I stopped my watch, ready to get into my car and drive home, even though I was supposed to run at least one mile.

"Thanks to all of you."

"And I run harder for them.  I know they would do the same for me."

I hit the start button, and I ran.