Happy Dance

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Published on: November 9, 2012

This race report is about, oh, a year in coming, but I figured you deserved to know.  You’ve been waiting a year, right?

So, without further ado, my Chicago Marathon 2011 race report:

The day started out ominously enough with a migraine. Blinding headache, nausea, shaky hands, the inability to open my eyes beyond little slits.  Yup – that’s exactly how I would have planned out my perfect marathon morning.

My normal pre-race Poptarts weren’t playing so nice with my stomach, so I opted not to be smart and not antagonize my stomach any more than I already had.  I wandered around the pre-race area (I had signed up with the running group CARA to train with and they had a spread out), trying not to puke, and after about an hour started to feel the meds kicking in … thank God.

I managed to force down half a banana and a few bites of a plain bagel and called that a victory! Headed out of the hotel to wander the streets — it was going to be another warm marathon — and once again was thankful for paying the money to train with CARA: they had special porta-potties just for us.

After all the pre-race rigamarole, I made my way to my 9m/m pace starting corral and bounced around nervously.  I was going to DO this!

The day started out ominously enough, but that all ended up being a non-factor, surprisingly enough.  I met the migraine with a “well, I’ll just have to deal with this” kind of attitude and I think that helped… getting all worked up about it certainly wasn’t going to make it better.

Went into the race as well-trained as I’ve ever been for a marathon. Nursing injuries that were only bothersome rather than worrying. The only downside: I had gained a good 5-7 pounds in the 2-3 weeks before hitting the start line. I’d like to have a mulligan on that, please.

Anyway – crossed the start line about 8.5 minutes off the clock time – not too shabby! I had lined up with the 4 hour pace group, but as we shuffled forward, I somehow ended up with the 3:55 pace group. This was *not* in the plan, but I just went with it. I had wanted to stick with a pace group, and ya just gotta roll with things, sometimes.

The 3:55 pace group disappeared by the third mile or so — I wasn’t really working to keep up with them — and I found myself all on my own. At that point my strategy was to keep as close to 9m/m pace as possible, without feeling like I was working too hard.

I was expecting spectators around the 3.5 mile mark, but they didn’t make it out — disappointing, but looking for them certainly kept me occupied! — and I knew that I’d have a long slog north and then back south before seeing friendly faces.

This first stretch actually went pretty well. I was feeling fatigued, but I thought it was “just enough” … meaning, I was pushing but not so much that I couldn’t keep this up. I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t supposed to actually feel “easy”.

Saw my posse around mile 11.5 and that was a huge boost! They were screaming and yelling and had great signs they made, too! I stopped and chatted for about 30 seconds while they kept urging me to keep running. :)

Got through the half marathon mark at around 2:00:50 … so, less than a minute off my goal pace. It was at this point where I acknowledged that sub-4 probably wasn’t going to happen, though I still figured I would keep pushing until I couldn’t and see how the chips fell.

Miles 13-16 kind of flew by. At mile 16, I think I made a mistake — I tossed the water bottle that I had been carrying. Since it was warmer than planned, I wanted it with me, especially during the early parts of the race where the water stops are fewer. After mile 16, I knew I could count on there being water at least every mile, so I tossed it. Never should have done that, in hindsight, because it slowed me down (I had been stopping for Gatorade, but drinking my water from the bottle on the run). Oh well. Lesson learned.

And a note about the heat: the race started out in the lower 60’s and was in the low 70’s by the end. Definitely not ideal marathon weather. But, while I know I probably could have gone faster with cooler temps, I also didn’t suffer any major consequences from the heat, either. And plus, it was PERFECT spectating weather!

Somewhere between 16 and 17, I saw another friend who was watching out for me — total surprise to see her there! I almost missed her, in fact, despite the fact that she was screaming at me like a crazy person. Lesson: if *I* don’t know you’re there, it might not matter if you see me…

The wheels started falling off this marathon around mile 19 — I could feel my legs starting to tighten and cramp. And I basically told myself, “Don’t suck. Just do it.” like the Nike t-shirt said. Remarkably, I think that kept me moving forward more than I might have otherwise…

I didn’t allow myself to walk except during water stations. Of course, as the race progressed, I stopped earlier and walked longer, and you can see that in my split times.

I knew my parents were going to be at mile 22.5 and it was awesome to see them. I stopped for a bit, and both of them just kept snapping pictures of me standing there. Hee. My family doesn’t understand my desire to do these things even one bit, so it meant a ton to me to have them out there in support.

It was hard to get moving after that, but I did. And felt the blinders go on and the focus just be on one step after the other. Move forward. Go faster if possible. At this point, I was shooting for sub-4:10…

The rest of the marathon after seeing my parents was tough: I had thought I’d have some posse on the course, but never saw them (to their credit, they were there, but since I didn’t know WHERE they were, I ran right by them, oblivious to the screaming). But I knew I was just SO GLAD to almost be done with this thing.

Going up the bridge on Roosevelt and then turning the corner to see the finish line? Best feeling ever. But I knew I still had work to do — I was running right up against the 4:10 demarcation point that I had made up in my head somewhere down the line. So, I dug deep, upped the pace and stumbled across the finish line, 20 seconds ahead of the 4:10 mark.

And then I just about collapsed. And then I started crying. And then I started thinking, “damn, if I hurt this much NOW, I’m not even going to be able to walk tomorrow!”. Hee.

Got some water, got some food, took pictures and the sloooooowly made my way back to the hotel, where I was meeting up with everyone.

All in all, this was — by a huge margin — my best marathon.  I never gave up.  I never gave in.  I trained as well as I ever have and I know that I left everything I had out on the course.  Absolutely no regrets.

At this point I can say: I’m satisfied with my results and I’m never going to do another marathon ever again!  Yay!

(do you believe me?)  :)

 


Starting again. Again.

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Published on: October 31, 2012

Seems like this is where I always up:  apologizing for not keeping up with this blog.  Acknowledging that I fell off the writing wagon.  Yea, well… this probably won’t be the last time, I s’pose, but I’m going to give it another go.  Maybe it’ll “stick” this time.

So – I finished my marathon last year (just in case any of you were hanging on the edge of your seats waiting for my victory post) — and it was as good a marathon experience as I could have hoped to have.  I was trained, I dealt with race day variables (another warm marathon day), and can honestly say that while I didn’t hit my sub-4 hour goal, that I pushed as hard as I could, every step of the way.

I’m proud of my 4:09 finish and happy to finally say that I did a marathon the right way, to the best of my ability, and I feel absolutely no need to have another go ’round with it to prove anything to myself.

(don’t quote that back to me when I sign up again…)

Now, a year later, I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck I’ve been up to.  Right?

Well, this year has been tough in terms of training — some personal stuff that I’m just now taking care of has kept me off the roads.  Things are starting to turn around, though; I’ve signed up for a fun little 10-mile race that’s coming up in a couple of weeks… and I’ve even gone through some training spurts to get ready for it (it’s still gonna be ugly, though).

This year has also provided me with a new way to get rid of my money:  I’ve fallen in love with mountain biking.  On a whim, I went down to Brown County to partake in a women’s only mountain biking camp (they gave me a bike to use, how could I refuse?), and after just a day, I left there determined to buy a mountain bike sometime before the very next weekend so I could start hitting the trails.  I’ve never denied being an impulse shopper!

It’s a great sport — I usually don’t know what I’m doing, but I haven’t broken any bones (yet) and I’m having a blast with it.  The best way to describe it is that it’s like being a kid again:  all adrenalin and speed and dirt and fun.

On the nutrition front, I’ve had a similar arc to things:  started out great, took a dive bomb around March, and since then I’ve been battling my way back from my highest weight in years.  I’m about 6 weeks into eating whole, healthy foods, and am about 10 pounds away from my goal weight for the year (which is 7 pounds lighter than what I weighed on January 1st).  I’ve been logging over at MyFitnessPal.com and that’s been a great site for me — the community is really keeping me accountable for maintaining good eats (meaning: they yell at me when I get too far off plan…heh…).

Now that I’ve caught everyone up, I promise I’ll start putting together posts that are, you know, interesting and funny and all that other stuff. I’ve been saving it up for a year now, right?

Another (last) go round

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Published on: October 8, 2011

(yes, yes… it’s been awhile… forgive me… please?)

This morning I watched the sun come up on Lake Michigan, with the city skyline at my back. Despite being a life-long Chicago area native, I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I’ve experienced this, and I’m glad that I hauled my butt out of the hotel bed to get out there.

I looked at both the sun coming up and the streets already prepped for the 45,000 marathon runners who would take over the next morning, and couldn’t help but reflect on the journey. I don’t know what it is, but sunrises and rows of virgin port-a-potties make me all contemplative, it seems.

So – yes – I’m running the marathon tomorrow. I know that I had proclaimed on a number of occasions that I was done with marathons… but, I knew I wasn’t quite done. I needed one more shot — one more go at not even necessarily hitting my goal time (and PR’ing the race), but going into it knowing that I did my homework and finishing knowing that I gave it 100% effort. My previous 3 marathons had extenuating circumstances of some sort — GI issues, heat cancellations, injuries — and I knew that for my own peace of mind, I had to have one “good” marathon.

The training started about 4 months ago. Well, actually, the training started shortly after my credit card got dinged with the impossibly high entrance fee, I suppose. I started building base, running here and there so I could get trained enough to even START the marathon training.

A new thing I did: I joined CARA (Chicago Area Runners Assocation) and signed up for their marathon training program. And without even knowing my results, I’m crediting my success to them. Doing the long runs with them not only made me accountable for the weekend miles, but the weekday miles, lest I not be able to keep up with my pace group.

Throughout the last 20 weeks, I’ve come to the same conclusion, though: I simply do not enjoy marathon training. Especially this time, when I did things right and really upped my mileage, I just get sick of running so much. Not only that, but everything else I do is prefaced with the question, “Will this affect my marathon training?” I’ve back off all strength training and other sports for fear of hurting myself, and I miss the variety that NOT marathon training offers.

But, when all is said and done, I did this one up right. In 2007, I thought I was well trained, having run about 335 miles over the course of my training. This year? 477 miles.

I’m as ready as I can be. My goal is sub-4 hours and a half marathon that I did on a whim a few weeks ago translates out to a 3:52 marathon. So – this is possible.

Really, the only thing that will keep me from this is me. This will be hard; it’s SUPPOSED to be hard. The biggest struggle will be mental. The urge to quit, to slow down, to make excuses why it might not be my day… the temptation is overwhelming sometimes. To not succumb, that is what a marathon is all about.

But, I’m stronger now. I’m determined that whether or not I hit my goal is second to whether or not I leave everything out on the course. I have friends and family coming out to watch (thanks, everyone! I appreciate y’all responding to my guilt trips!) and I can’t let them down any more than I can let myself down.

And this is my last shot at it. (really!) And I’m gonna do it.

Like a Nike sweatshirt told me, “Don’t Suck. Just do it.”

Groovin’

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Published on: February 6, 2011

Why are things so difficult sometimes?

I was just telling a friend about how it is when you get in a good groove:  everything’s easy, the decisions are like second nature.  It’s as though your first instinct is to do the healthy thing… and everything else falls away, because it doesn’t support your long-term goals.

And when that groove eludes?  Man, it’s the pits.  Every healthy choice is a struggle.  It’s not even as though I WANT the ice cream… it’s more a basic need.  Like I might not survive without it. Which is ridiculous (well, maybe).

When things are going well?  I can’t even remember how much of a challenge it was, pre-groove.  And when things aren’t going so well?  It’s beyond my ability to even think in the long-term and how what I’m doing sabotages what I truly want.

I’m such a black or white, all or nothing person:  I don’t live in between on any level.  All in or all out.

Anyway – I’m really trying to find that groove.  Monday starts official half marathon training.  And Hal (of Hal Higdon fame, for those new folks here) will be pretty disappointed in me if I don’t step up and do it up right again.  And if I’m being honest?  I’m scared.  Scared to fail.  Maybe scared to succeed.  Or scared because I know how much work succeeding will require and I wonder if I even have that in me.

I surprised myself last season with as dedicated as I was to my half marathon training — that literally had never happened before.  And so I approach this race — with a similar goal in mind — with a little bit of trepidation:  do I have it in me to do it again?

Right now, this is my plan:  to take it just one week at a time.  When I contemplate the plan in its entirety, I get all freaked out about the mileage and the difficulty and the consistency required (especially with 2 feet of snow currently on the ground!).

So, I’ll break it down.  Next week, I have 6 runs that I need to get done.  I’ve got my schedule and plans in place to make sure that I get it all in.  And I’ll see where I’m at by the end of the week.

And then, I’ll take a deep breath and move on to Week 2.  That simple.

Time to start that groove.

Lofty?

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Published on: January 4, 2011

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m kind of a goal-oriented person (can I be nominated for Understatement of the Year yet?).  I NEED something out there to work towards.  Because otherwise?  Yea, I don’t actually work at all.

My recent success at the half marathon distance has gotten me thinking about some pretty lofty (for me) goals.  I want to be fitter, stronger, faster and more competitive at 40 (okay, okay… 41 for the racing season) than I was at 30.

(Of course, 10 years ago I was 40 pounds heavier and spent more time on my couch than on my treadmill… so, perhaps my goals aren’t quite so lofty?)

Okay – let me modify slightly:  I want to be more competitive than I was a few years ago, when I was training regularly and in pretty good shape for a 30-something.  I want to prove that 40+ isn’t over the hill.  At least not for this chick.

Here’s what I’m after:

Another half marathon PR.  I’ll be following Hal’s advanced half marathon plan again, hoping that’ll spring me for a sub-1:50 half mary.  Actually, I’m going to shoot for an 8:15m/m pace half marathon (which is 1:48ish), but I’ll settle for anything less than 1:50.

And why is 1:50 such a magic number?  Because that’ll get me into a starting corral for…

The Chicago Marathon!!

Yep – that’s my big A+++ race this year.  I’ve tried the marathon 3 times now.  And haven’t yet really pulled it off to my satisfaction — there’s always been something that’s happened:  injury, intestinal issues, heat wave that got the event CANCELLED when I was at mile 22… you know, the usual.

So… fourth time’s the charm, right?

I’ll be likely jumping on the Hal train for the marathon as well, seeing as how he hasn’t steered me wrong yet (though if it’s a train, is there really much steering involved?  Hmmm).  It’ll be a vigorous, high-mileage plan and I’ve got to admit, Hal’s got me a little scared right now.

Luckily, I don’t have to think about that quite yet.  After all, I’ve got a half marathon PR to go get first, right?

Here we go again

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Published on: January 2, 2011

Another year comes, another resolution to be better about keeping up with this blog.  But, I really, really mean it this time.  Really!

2010 — despite my silence — went out with a bang for me:  a half marathon PR at the Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in December.  Back in October I had talked about how I was following Hal Higdon’s advanced half marathon plan… and that while it seemed to be good at the moment, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to follow through with the rigorous 5-6 days/week of running.  But – as it turns out – my body actually DOES like running that much.  It’s almost like running that much doesn’t give my body a chance to forget how to do it right.  Or something like that.

The race itself?  I couldn’t have asked for better conditions: started out around 50 degrees, absolutely no wind and a flat course, most of which was up and back down the Vegas Strip (lots and LOTS of interesting people to distract you).  I went out at a conservatively fast pace, and felt like I was just flying along for the first 8 miles or so.  And that’s when the race truly started for me.

I got to the 5k-left mark and was struggling; that time in a race where you have to dig down, know that you trained for this, and keep moving forward.  I knew I had a bit of a cushion built in, but not so much that I could slack off.  At this point, all the fun people and distractions?  Not so good.  I’d start looking around and all of a sudden, my pace was a minute slower than it should have been.

Time to focus.

The closer I got to the finish line, the more panicked I became because I kept thinking I had miscalculated somewhere in the last few miles, and I wasn’t going to make it.  Problem is, my legs couldn’t go any faster than what I was doing.  Of course, my oxygen-starved brain wasn’t helping my already-challenged math skills.

So, knowing that I was putting out maximum effort, I stopped looking at my watch and just concentrated on turning my legs over as quickly as I could.  The finish line seemed so far away…

I scanned the horizon, looking for the finish banner, but not seeing it.  I heard the music, knew I couldn’t be far, but WHERE THE HELL WAS THE FINISH LINE??!  I finally realized the joke the race organizers had played on me:  the finish line was actually OFF the Strip.

Once in the parking lot of the Mandalay Bay hotel, I sprinted madly (or – stumbled awkwardly, depending on your viewpoint) for the finish. And managed to eke a 73 second PR (despite the fact that I had already re-calculated myself out of it)!  I left it all out on the course, that’s for sure, and as I drunkenly weaved through the finish area, all I knew is that I had a big, stupid grin on my face.  I DID IT.

Hal made me do it.  And then I went and actually did it.  What a great way to end my season!  And – I have to admit – Hal might be making me do other such outrageous things in the near future…. stay tuned…

Hal made me do it

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Published on: October 10, 2010

So, after a month or so of just doing easy base miles, I’m now 3 weeks deep into Hal Higdon‘s advanced half marathon plan.

You read that right:  the advanced plan.  Now, as I’ve said here before, I’ve been a total slacker for almost 2 years now.  You’d think I’d want to be smart and ease my way into this, right?

You would have thought wrong.  I’m nowhere NEAR that smart.

Yea, I thought the beginner plan was way too easy.  And the intermediate?  I almost went with that plan — it seemed the prudent thing to do.  But, as I surveyed the running plans on the Hal Higdon website, I could almost hear the disembodied voice of Hal urging me to click on the Advanced plan.  “You’ll love it”, he seemed to whisper in my ear.

And I clicked.  And I did love.

It would be hard.  Well, advanced even.  But I thought:  this is just what I need.  Hal to ride my butt and get me to this half marathon in December in the best shape I’ve ever been in.

Yes, Hal’s got a tough job to do.  Whipping me into top form — after almost 2 years of nothing-much — wasn’t for no sissy running plan, that’s for sure.

And so far, the plan is coming close to, but not yet totally kicking my butt.  I’ve been running 5-6 times a week, and running more pain-free than I have in a long while.  Cardio’s building nicely, legs are feeling good and I’m really excited about training.  So far, Hal hasn’t led me wrong.

I’m taking it week-by-week, swapping workouts where life dictate, but haven’t missed a session yet, which is unusual for me. Typically I would have already deteriorated into not even looking at the plan by now — so, I’ m hopeful at the moment that this might stick.  Of course, 3 weeks is just a small bit (well, 25%, I suppose) of the full 12 weeks of training.  There’s still time to revert back to my normal behavior.

Perhaps this is my new normal?  That remains to be seen, I suppose.  I’m optimistic, though: hell, weirder things have happened.  And plus, Hal thinks I can do it.  And he knows everything, right?

Impossible?

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Published on: October 7, 2010

In the midst of my internet meanderings, I came across a daily motivational quote on potential, and in the middle of it were these two sentences:

“Think of all the things, once considered to be impossible, that are now commonplace.  Always remember that when there is a good enough reason, there is a way.”

And that got me to thinkin’ a bit … I mean, really – how many things have I now done that I was TERRIFIED of doing at one point or things that I would never have thought even be possible? And, as you can imagine, I managed to scrape up a few examples…

(drumroll, please)

5 Seemingly Impossible Things

  1. Running a 5k … I remember being at the Brookfield Zoo Run Run 5k/1 mile walk.  Some college friends and I were there for the Zoo Walk Walk (as we liked to call it), thinking it’d be a fun way to pass a weekend morning.  As I looked on at the people lined up for the 5k, I was probably 40 pounds overweight but still a weekend athlete, and inexplicably I thought to myself, “I could totally do that.  It’s only a couple of miles” (note that I didn’t actually know how many miles were in a 5k yet).  And then, even more inexplicably:  “Next year I’ll do it.  Next year.”  And next year?  I toed the starting line of the 5k.  I remember being so nervous, so scared I wouldn’t make it to the finish line.  I had trained, sure, but this was different:  for the first time in years, I was doing something competitive that was just me pushing myself as hard as possible.  I finished that first 5k in 29:36.  I was ecstatic. And mostly dead. Which was good, because if I had more energy, I would have puked.
  2. Running a half marathon … this has turned into one of “my stories”.  You know – everyone has them – the stories that you trot out for people that don’t know you too well, the stories that are fun, entertaining and are guaranteed a laugh or two.  Very long story short:  I broke my arm.  Badly.  I was in rehab for a very, very long time.  Long enough to become friends with some of the folks there.  One of the OT’s?  She dragged me, kicking and screaming into joining with Team In Training to run the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville.  I thought she was crazy.  I thought *I* was crazy for allowing myself to be peer pressured into it.  Funny how the thing I so didn’t want to do, the thing that seemed like the longest, hardest thing I’d ever done turned into one of the best things I ever did for myself.  Or, rather, was forced to do for myself.  :)
  3. Getting up at 4am every day … a non-sports/non-tri-related impossible thing.  When I was in college, the 8am class was my nemesis.  Unless I absolutely had to, I wouldn’t schedule one because I KNEW I wouldn’t be able to get up for it.  One semester I ended up in a 5-day/week, 8am Advanced Calculus that just about killed me.  I skipped at least once a week — even though I could nap for 1.5 hours in between that and my next class.  If you would have told me then that I’d be STARTING work at 6am?  I would have laughed at you. No – I would have had milk (or Coke Classic, as my drink of choice back then) coming out of my nose, rolling on the floor, unable to stop the tears, laughed at you.  And now?  My alarm clock starts ringing at around 3:40am.  Every work day.  And – like the responsible adult I am – I get up and get going.  I honestly never would have thought it possible.
  4. Surviving a triathlon swim leg … when I decided to dip my toes into the triathlon waters, I knew that swimming would be my Achilles heel.  Even as a kid, going swimming wasn’t ever high on my list of things to do.  Oh sure, I was forced to go to swim lessons by my well-meaning parents, but I never enjoyed it.  In fact, the mandatory swim class in high school?  Yea, I managed to finagle my way out of it.  Wasn’t pretty, and the teacher (who – of course – was also the swim coach) openly derided me in front of the class, but hey – I didn’t have to swim.  Who’s laughing now, buddy? (at least that was my thought as I strode triumphantly out of the pool area and headed to study hall).  So, fast forward to summer, 2004:  my first triathlon.  Um, yea.  Perhaps, I *should* have taken swim class in high school.  It wasn’t pretty.  Lifeguard assistance was necessary (hyperventilation + swimming = notsomuchfun) and I ended up doggy-paddling to the other side of the lake.  I made it, but had decided then and there that this was the end of my triathlon career.  One and done!  Apparently, I’m a glutton for punishment, though…
  5. Completing a Half Ironman … I remember the debate, the back and forth about whether I could even dare to do such a thing.  The adrenalin rush when I went through the online sign-up.  The immediate panic about 3 seconds after the adrenalin rush.  And the low-level panic that stalked me throughout the 20-week training program.  I was nervous about it all, but mostly the thought of 1.2 miles in Lake Michigan made me so crazy it almost gave me hives.  And then – the day arrived.  To my amazement, Lake Michigan – for the first time ever, it seemed – was calm.  As I stood on the beach, awaiting my wave start, a calm took over:  I knew I’d be okay.  That somehow I’d make it.  That even if I had to bob from start to finish in my wetsuit, I could do that.  And you know what?  I did.  As it turned out, the swim was the best part of my day.  The bike?  Who knew that 56 miles could be so HARD?  And the run??  Let’s not even go there.  I started the run thinking, “I’m FINALLY at the part that I like the best!” but switched quickly to thinking, “OMG THIS HURTS… is it done yet? I’m never gonna make it!”  But – 6+ hours later, I crossed the finish line, never in my life so proud of what I had accomplished.  Style, panache and all semblance of sanity may have deserted me over the course of 70.3 miles, but I did it.

And what are some of your Seemingly Impossible Things?

There’s something I forgot to mention…

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Published on: January 25, 2010

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____________________________________

Um, yea.  Last fall?  I registered myself for Ironman Wisconsin.  Kind of on a whim.  More of a “just on the weird offchance that I decide I want to do it, then I’ll have that option open” kind of thing.  And then decided not to tell a soul about it, you know, because I’m all about the drama.  Or something like that.

I don’t know that I was ever really serious about doing it.  All along, while secretly wanting to be called an Ironman, there’s a large part of me that has absolutely no desire to put the time and effort needed into the training.  I mean, it’s not like my idea of fun is climbing on my bike for a “short” 3 hour trek after having spent 7 hours in the saddle the day before (and let’s not even mention the running and swimming that most likely was squeezed in there as well).

And so, here I sit:  it’s January and I feel like I ought to make a decision.  I thought it would be an easy decision — don’t do it, never tell anyone that you signed up.  But now… but now… there’s this little voice that wonders if it might be possible.  Wonders if all that’s holding me back is that the enormity of this task scares the pants off me.

And what am I scared of?  Scared of failing – of course.  Scared of being too lazy to train for it the way I’ll need to.  Scared that my body won’t hold up through the training.  Scared that I’ll do all the training and then have something stupid happens that ends my journey before the race is finished.  Scared that I’m not fast enough.  Not committed enough.  Not up to the challenge.  Just not good enough.  And that then – epically – publicly – everyone else will know that too.

Being rational about it, though, the ability to successfully complete an Ironman takes more than just will, heart and a butt of steel.  It requires time.  And resources.  And more time.  And money.  A willingness to forgo a social life.  And some time on top of that, of course.  Coming into play are whether I’d be able to ever get enough sleep to support the long hours of training each week.  And the necessity of having to not only give up softball, but also anything else that didn’t fit into the training plan.  That’s a huge sacrifice.

But in the face of all that, there’s still this whisper, this call to do something great.  Doing something that only a very small percentage of people have ever done has this draw to it, and it’s slowly reeling me in, robbing me of all logical thought.

And so…. well, maybe… perhaps… I just… might… possibly… train for (gulp!)… an Ironman.

Maybe.

I’ve done my homework:  I’ve looked at the training plans.  Hyperventilated over the number of really, really, REALLY long bike rides I’d have to get in over the summer.  Grew physically tired looking at some of the peak 20-hour training weeks. And have now started mentally rearranging my life to accommodate the craziness.  I’ve tentatively told my softball teams this would be a year of just being a sub.  I’ve talked to my boss and got the okay to work the later shift one day a week to ensure that I’d get at least one full night’s sleep a week.  And – most importantly – I’ve begun the work of putting in base miles to prepare for training to start at the very end of April.

So, I guess – right now at least – I’m in.  Kind of.  We’ll see how things go between now and the official start of training.  I totally am reserving the right to reclaim my place in reality, though, and back out.  Yes, that’s my big ol’ disclaimer to my little announcement.

So… who wants to go for a bike ride?  Just something short?  You know, like, 7 hours or so?

Holiday Plans

Categories: me, race, training
Tags: ,
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: November 6, 2009

So, where were we?

Let me summarize my life the past few months (since I’ve been alarmingly absent from this venue for awhile)…

Chicago Marathon training.  YAY!

Ankle injury.  No training at all.  BOO.

Vegas Marathon training.  YAY!

Chicago Marathon with friend as training run for Vegas.  YAY!

Mystery foot injury for entire week before Chicago Marathon that was so painful that I broke down and went to the doctor (mostly to ensure it wasn’t a stress fracture).  BOO.

Ran the full Chicago Marathon.  YAY!

Endured my most painful marathon EVER.  BOO.

Conversely, experienced my most enjoyable marathon EVER because I got to run the entire thing with an awesome friend of mine (sans a few miles where I frantically ran to catch up after an unanticipated bathroom stop). YAY!

Which just about brings you up to date with all my goings on.  Nope – you didn’t miss much.

Because of the injuries and the “I’m training!” and then the “I can’t train!” and then the “I’m back again!” and so on, I decided to end my season on the high note of the Chicago Marathon.  I had done (kinda) what I set out to do at the beginning of this year, and finally acquiesced to the signals my body was screaming at me and shut it down.

I mean, what fun is training if you’re always worried about how much things are going to hurt when you hit the pavement?  I’ll tell ya – no fun whatsoever.

And since the joy was gone, I decided I needed a break.  A long break.

So – I’m on a self-imposed running boycott.  It’s been almost 4 weeks now since I’ve run at all, and I almost don’t even miss it.  The act itself had gotten stressful because I never knew what to expect (and conversely, always had such high expectations that I was trying to meet). Though tinged with regret and sadness, it felt good to let it all go and give myself permission to not run.  And to not worry about not running.

It took a bit, but I’ve developed a new plan (yes, another New Plan… I’ve got an endless supply of ‘em…).  For now? My focus will be in two areas:  biking and strength training.

I’ve taken up a Winter Cycling plan created by one of the talented coaches that frequent beginnertriathlete.com (which is where I call home and hang my virtual hat) that will turn me into a monster on the bike by early next year (that’s a promise, he says!).

And the strength training?  The program my trainer has put me on just might kill me, but if it does, I’ll look damn good in the casket.  I had started to see results from my previous efforts, and with this kind of focus and planning, I’m going to be a rock star by early next year.  And that’s a promise, too.

Running will be slowly added back into the mix, starting in the next few weeks.  Easy runs. Short runs.  Runs without any expectations of pace (my biggest obstacle to ever being able to “ease” back into things).  I have plenty of time between now and next race season – no need to rush.

And between now and race season is the holiday season!  For which, I’m hoping that armed with a solid bike/strength training program, I’ll navigate with a minimum of poundcakes added to the hips and without thighs that look more like well-endowed turkey legs than the legs of an athlete.  And here’s hoping that Santa will be nice to me and send me muscle tone and motivation in a pretty, bow-tied package for being such a good girl all year.

It could happen.  :)

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