Saturday, December 24, 2011

26.2 Miles. Because 26.3 is just crazy.

I am 6 weeks away from my first full marathon. I have a wonderful plan, fantastic training partners who keep me honest and a brain and a heart full of doubt. This is really hard. Much harder than I thought it was going to be.  When I signed up, I was running well; feeling strong. I had images of running the entire thing, finishing at a pace that rivals Oprah (who finished at 4:29 which I think would be cool because that is my birthday, even though Oprah had a personal trainer and a dietician and all the time in the world to train). Now I hope I can finish.

I had a 14 mile run today. Good news is that I did it.  Bad news is that I feel like a truck ran over me. My legs ache. My feet are sore. I had to walk to last mile and I swear had you offered me a million dollars to run that last part, I would have passed it up. I couldn't have mustered anything. It was horrible. I thought about laying down on the greenway, calling Joe and hoping he could find me and carry me back to the car.

Cindy said her 14 mile run was the roughest too. I've also read blogs so it seems like this self doubt is completely normal and par for the course. I know it is the pain talking, but right now the reasons WHY I am doing this have completely escaped me.

There is really no point to this blog other than to whine and to get my worry out there. I remember when I was training for my half and I wondered and doubted if I could do it.  Now 13 miles is pretty easy. I am hoping the longer runs get up there too. Gosh I hope so.

Friday, December 16, 2011

November Music

People Help The People by Birdy
Call It What You Want - Foster the People
Used to Did by J. Roddy Walston
Don't Stop by Foster the People
The Fear by Ben Howard
Get Burned by Sleeper Agent
Turn Off This Song by Lonely Forst
All I Ever Wanted by Airborne Toxic Event
Not Your Fault - AWOL Nation

I am working on the 2011 edition of Amy's Audibles, my favorite songs from the year.  Email me if you want a copy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turns Out I'm A Big Fraidy Cat.

So to refresh you on my half Ironman attempt for 2012, I had planned on doing the Beach to Battleship half in November in Wilmington, NC.  I know several people who have done it and are still alive. The swim is a point to point with the current, the bike is flat and fast and the run is flat.  It has been super cold the last few years which makes me happy.  I recruited Cindy to do the swim, Courtney to do the bike and Doreen to do the run portion with me. It was all working out perfectly....until I got the email from Set Up Events that they were moving the date to October 20. NOOOOOO!  I had already committed to Cindy that I would do the Columbus half marathon with her that weekend.  I feel so badly I could not be with her when she finished her marathon this year, I really want to experience this race with her.  So not doing Columbus is not an option for me.

So I started looking for other 70.3 events.  I found a number that have cool themes but conflict with the MS ride.  Others were simply too far away to afford to do this coming year. I finally found one that is do-able: The REV3 Anderson 70.3 in Anderson, SC about 2 hours away from here.  Rev3 is a new events company that puts on triathlons that are very family and spectator friendly. Reviews online and from people I know are very favorable. The date is October 7 so it works being 2 weeks after MS ride and 2 weeks before Columbus. OK so I will do Anderson 70.3.

Then I looked at the course.  It's hilly; all of it - the bike and the run.  I looked at the elevation charts.  Yep, they are hilly.  Then I looked at the size - it's small which means that I might be last.  I started to freak out.  My freak out got worse. What if I can't do this? Why do I want to do this? Maybe I shouldn't do this. Maybe I should wait, knowing deep down waiting means I will never do it. 2012 is my year to do a 70.3. So I made an old fashioned Pros and Cons list.

  • Cheaper (entry and hotel fees)
  • Joe can travel with me
  • Timing works well with TIFL
  • Nice perks
  • Will feel more accomplished sine it isn’t an “easy” course
  • Close means easier for my parents to come
  • Close – means I can preview and even do a few training rides/run on actual course
  • Smaller race means it won’t be so overwhelming for my first
  • Very good reviews and freakishly passionate recommendations who have raced with Rev 3
  • Hot Air balloon Theme
  • Contact with them has been positive and encouraging
  • On Facebook and twitter – lots of communication
  • Race is on Sunday – means I don’t have to take a day off work
  • Bike course has turns which means I won’t want to get an aero bike
  • There is an Olympic distance if I really freak out

  • Hilly which means harder bike and harder run
  • Small means I could be last
  • Small means mostly everyone will be faster than me
  • It’s scary to do the distance alone, much less a hilly course
  • Temperature may be in the 80s – running in heat sucks
  • Swim is wave start, so relay option might not work out easily
  • It’s not ideal and it’s not what I had planned or thought about 

So as I look at this I realize that most of my cons are fear based. What if I can't do it?  It's going to be hard. What if I can't do it? What am I thinking? I'm slow, I'm fat, I'm not talented at any of these three things in any way.  WHAT. IF. I. CAN'T. DO. IT? It hit me. I'm scared.

Thinking about doing it makes me want to cry.  Thinking about NOT doing it makes me want to cry. Reading about other people doing an Ironman makes me cry. HOLY CRAP I AM SO SCARED. I know I am going to do Anderson, there are just too many reasons why I should and not really any good ones not to do it. I'll just train. I can do it. I think. I don't know. I think I can do it. I don't know. Wow. I am so scared.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 Days of Thanks

Today is November 1 and apparently there is a 30 Days of Thanks "Challenge" going 'round the internets. Instead of posting each day of FB, I thought I would do a blog post so that I have a copy of it to keep.  I feel especially thankful at this moment, so I think the hardest part of this challenge is going to be narrowing down my thanks! 

  1. Day 1: I work at a fantastic company, with some great people that are smart, funny, witty and make the days more bearable.  My boss is understanding, appreciative and always gives me far more credit than I deserve.  She is always looking for ways to help me improve myself and is supportive of my life and athletic pursuits outside work.  Sure there are bad days and annoying co-workers, but for the most part, I truly love the people that work here and consider many of them extended family.  It's a great place to sit my butt for 10 hours a day and I am thankful for the chance to learn, grow, be challenged and get paid. 
  2. Day 2: I am inherently lazy but have lofty dreams and goals.  Today I am very thankful to my running partner Cindy, who meets me well before the sunrises, no matter how hot or cold, or whether she is or isn't training for something and encourages me to run.  She keeps me focused, keeps me on pace and believes that I can do anything I want to do. I may do the actual running, but she is the reason I like it.  We've evolved from polite acquaintances to close friends and I am so thankful to have her in my life.
  3. Day 3: A little more than a year ago I could only run for one minute at a 17 mile/minute pace. And then I would puke.  While I am still slow, and I am still not sure I LOVE running, I am very thankful that I have the strength to run, and that my body responds to the challenges I give it. I can look down while I am running and see my legs performing and I realize how much I have grown and improved in that year. Today on day 3, I am thankful for no major injuries and the opportunity to get better.  
  4. Day 4: I hear tales from dysfunctional families where siblings don't speak or the kids no longer talk to the parents.  I consider myself very lucky to be close to my family. So for Day 4, I am thankful to have my brother Mike in my life.  Not only do I love him because he is my brother, but I really like him. The last few years we have made an effort to hang out more and instead of talking about family stuff, we have talked like friends, sharing silly drunk stories from college or talking about work struggles. He makes me laugh and I love spending every second with him. Even though he lives in Florida and I only see him one or two times a year and only talk with him every 3 months or so, I still consider us close and am very thankful that he is my brother and friend. 
  5. Day 5: I just finished watching Grey Gardens, the incredible true story of Edith Beale and her mother Edith Beale.  The two of them, once socialites, live in absolute squalor.  It is an incredible story that many people will probably find sad and a bit gross.  At the heart of it though is a love story between mother and daughter.  So today on Day 5, I am thankful for my mom.  She raised me to be strong, independent and smart because that is exactly what she is.  I am often told that I look just like her and I take this as a huge compliment because she is and always has been beautiful. She is my go to person for advice and to talk about every day issues.  I love her very much and am very thankful she is in my life, lives so close and supports me in everything I do. 
  6. Day 6: Joe's dad died on October 24.  For the most part, we are one of the few of our peer group to lose a parent. It's an odd and surreal and it's going to affect Joe in a million different ways over the next years. So on day 6, I am thankful for my father, James Mann.  I am a Daddy's Girl, through and through. My dad has always been the person I have long talks with and I remember vividly when I told him I kissed a boy for the first time. I worry about my dad more than any person and I am lucky to have him so close by.  We've had a few health scares and that has just made me more aware of how short life is and how much I need to cherish it.  I love my Daddy and am very thankful for him.
  7. Day 7: Today Cindy and I went swimming for the first time in months.  We've been concentrating on getting her ready for her marathon so running has been the training of choice. But we both agree swimming is a great exercise and cross training opportunity, so we hit the pool. I fell into my strokes pretty easily, despite the long absence. I realized as I swam, that I am very thankful for my overall health. With the exception of some aches and pains, my body responds to what I ask of it. As I get older, I realize how important this is and am very thankful for my health. 
  8. Day 8: I have always been a very vocal supporter of our right to vote.  I always vote, even those primary elections that most people don't even realize happen. So this year I was flattered when I got a letter from the Board of Elections asking since I had such a strong voting record, if I'd be interested in working at a precinct.  I said yes and began training.  Today was the election day and even though only 13% of the population voted, I am very thankful that we have the right to do so. I know we as a country take our right to vote very for granted, so I am glad that I do it and that 13% of people do it too.
  9. Day 9: Ten years ago I married my best friend.  That is such a cliche and brings to mind cheap invitations and Precious Moments figurines, but in this case, it really applies. Joe and I have been married for 10 years, together for 18, and during that time we've fought, cried, grown, changed, apologized, talked until the sun came up, but more than anything, we've laughed.  Marriage is both the hardest and easiest thing I've ever done. It takes work, care and lots of laughter, so today, on my 10th wedding anniversary, I am very thankful to be married to Joe.  He is my best friend, my confidante, my safe place to be the silly, stupid, actual me.  I am thankful that he is committed to making our marriage last, admits mistakes and works every day to make me feel special and loved. My life is better because he is in it and I am very thankful for our friendship, our marriage and our laugh-until-I-snort-and-cry silliness that only makes sense to us.
  10. Day 10: I had no real ambitions to work in radio; it just kinda happened to me.  I had always imagined I'd work in corporate America, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. Now, I cannot fathom how I ever wanted that.  Today we had an annual sale day called the PAE.  It was an Olympic theme so the sales staff broke into teams, dressed as countries and competed for prizes throughout the day.  The management staff had to dress up as well with one coming as a coach, another as a tennis player, while I came dressed as a referee.  I brought a flame, played Olympic music over a loud speaker all day, gave out gold medals and trophies for hourly awards. I know I've been thankful for my work already once this month, so maybe today I am thankful that life got in the way of my plan and instead of carrying a briefcase, today I wore jeans, a ref shirt and carried in a bag full of streamers and pom poms.
  11. Day 11: Today was a rough day.  Not bad, just overly busy and one of those days where nothing seemed to go the way it was supposed to go.  I ignored some advice I should have taken, got lost, ended up with 2 blisters a day before a race and wasn't able to catch up on much needed work.  So today I am very thankful for my home and my couch. My home is my safe place, where I feel comfortable, my haven. On a bad day, being home is just the best.
  12. Day 12: It always seems like a good idea to run a race...when I sign up.  The morning of always brings dread though.  Today was the Thunder Road half marathon in Charlotte.  I wanted to run it to get a double medal for running two halfs in a month (Rocktoberfest in October was the first).  Cindy and Doreen decided to do it with me and we agreed to run to together.  The day ended up being a comedy of errors; the train left early so we had to stand in the cold for 45 minutes, the convention center was not open so we didn't have the warm place to wait pre-race, my stomach was stressing me out and none of us were exceptionally happy to be running the race.  We got started and almost immediately I knew I would need to stop at the first porta johns, which were at mile 2.  I ran a little ahead of both of them, knowing I would need to stop.  I got to the portajohns, stopped, waited in line and Doreen stopped and waited with me.  We looked for Cindy but never saw her.  We waited until the cop car indicating the last runner was right behind us and figured either something bad happened and she stopped running, or just somehow made it past us without her seeing us, or us seeing her.  The bathroom break was just what I needed so Doreen and I continued our run.  We have been working on running continuously without walk breaks and we were able to do the first 7 miles only walking through water stops.   The miles went by quickly, I felt great.  Doreen started to fade though so the last few miles were filled with walk breaks and lots of whining from her and encouragement from me.  I remembered how I felt at my last race, less than 30 days ago and smiled when I thought about my run today.  So today, I am thankful for not giving up; for knowing bad days and bad races are just that; days and races.  Poor performance does not a life make.
  13. Day 13: I feel really good today, such a dramatic difference from last race where I was sore for days. Joe and I went on a bike ride, our first in a few months. I love being on my bike; I feel like a kid. We didn't go very fast, or very far, but today I am so very thankful that after 18 of years of being together, Joe and I have something we both enjoy doing. It makes such a difference. I have a friend who is going through a really rough time with her husband.  Today a bunch of girls went over there and I have to say it was really kinda odd knowing how unhappy she is. I am thankful that Joe and I work on our marriage. I also saw a number of people that I used to work with; some I have remained close to, others not.  I am thankful for the friends I have in my life and glad I realized that I do not need to remain friends with everyone I've ever known. Realizing that my life is better without some people in it is a lesson I am thankful for having learned.
  14. Day 14: The last few months I have been working with the Young Leaders for McCrory group in Charlotte and taken the lead planning our first event which was tonight at The Gin Mill. I didn't know what to expect, but we ended up with over 90 people showing up and staying after Pat left.  When I was younger I wanted to be a speech writer for a president so it has been so fun for me to be involved with politics, get to know some key people and dip my toe into these waters. I've loved getting a glimpse into this life and am thankful for the new experience.
  15. Day 15: I am an animal lover and we have an eclectic mix with two cats, a parrot and a ferret at our house. One cat is basically a wild kitty and the other cat, Pablo, is amazingly awesome. He's like a dog and a baby all in one super snuggly mix. He sleeps between us and follows me around.  I can't explain how much I love this little kitty and I simply fall  in love each morning as he sleepily follows me into the bathroom to get ready for my early morning runs. He is just the greatest cat ever and I am thankful we have him in our home.
  16. Day 16: Today is my friend Shelia's birthday.  I've worked with Shelia for years, but gotten closer over the last few years. She is my cheerleader when I need it, my honest critic when I ask and is the perfect travel companion. I am thankful to have her in my life and very excited we are headed to Key West for a week in 2012!
  17. Day 17: This morning was a Calgon morning.  It was pouring, I had a meeting at 7:30 but Miller had spent the night and the earliest I can drop him off at daycare is 7:30 so I knew I was going to be late to the meeting. Of course, five year olds have little sense of urgency so we didn't even leave until 7:20 and with traffic, I knew there would be no way to make it to the meeting.  Plus, going to the meeting would have made me late for work, which my boss said was OK...but I didn't want to push it. Something had to give. So I emailed the head of the meeting and explained I couldn't make it.  Miller and I took our time getting to daycare and I took my time getting him settled. I was able to stop for breakfast and get to work 15 minutes early. So today, on November 17, and at the age of 37, I am thankful for the recognition that sometimes I can't do it all and that is perfectly, wonderfully OK.
  18. Day 18: Today I took a vacation day and slept in until almost 11.  This is super simple, but today, I am thankful for my bed and my ability to sleep.  Gosh, I love my bed.  Today was also a fun day with Joe.  We met at Bonefish Grill, ordered take out, sat at the bar and got a bit tipsy. Joe and I spend a lot of time together, and we talk a lot, but there is something wonderful about concentrated alone time talking and catching up.
  19. Day 19: Ahhh Saturdays.  Lazy days, naps, catching up on TV. My home is my comfy place so I love my weekends. However, I'm in training for a marathon so my weekends now start with a run. Now things have been stressful at work and I've been on a bit of an unhealthy eating kick.  I am not exxagerating when I say I have eaten McDonalds for every meal.  On the training plan: 8 miles.  UGH.  Wow, McDonald's does NOT do a body good.  I got through it...but barely. But I am thankful for running buddies, understanding husbands and mostly that my body, despite being fueled by complete crap, does what I ask of it.
  20. Day 20: My Sundays are usually super lazy.  Well today, Joe and I decided to completely re-organize our closet. Our bedroom looked like it threw up. BUT...I finally got all my laundry put away, switched out summer with winter clothes and feel really productive. I feel like I am always doing laundry and putting it away, but really I am very fortunate enough to have enough clothing to even have a summer and winter stash. I may not make a ton of money, and gosh knows I do not save enough, but I have enough to get by and my basic needs are always taken care of.  I am thankful for the laundry because it means I have clothing.
  21. Day 21: Today is my friend Mandy's birthday.  We have been friends for over 20 years, meeting when I was in high school and working at Ann's Hallmark. It seemed that no matter what happened, the other knew exactly what to say to make it better.  As we grew up, we stayed in touch, writing letters through college then talking on the way to our jobs after graduation. We both got married, she moved to Boston and then DC but email was now a way of life and we had long conversations throughout the work days. She has since had two children and is a stay at home mom so our lives, once so mirrored, are completely different with not a lot of common interests. We still email and share book recommendations but we are not as close as we once were.  I know that this is natural in friendships, but with Mandy, I am not worried.  I know things might be different now, but I also know she'd be there if I needed her and eventually, our lives will converge on common ground again. So today, I am thankful for old friends that share a lifetime of memories and look forward to seeing how our friendship continues to evolve.
  22. Day 22: This morning I finally made it back to the gym.  Cindy is amazingly awesome and has basically taken on the job as my own private, personal trainer. We worked on arms, abs and back.  Then I went to Walmart and bought all the food that we need for Thanksgiving and also got some really super cute holiday stuff to wear.  Cindy, Doreen and I are doing a 5K Jingle Jog so we are all going to dress up. I got to work feeling healthy and accomplished and in love with my friends.  I have so very much to be thankful for, but today I am thankful for productivity and happiness.
  23. Day 23: Tomorrow is the release of the Muppet movie. I am a muppet fan and many of the movies, shows and characters play major parts in my life. But I really didn't realize how much so until I started talking with other people about the muppets and was very surprised when others in my age group were not excited about the movie. What else is better than sitting with a group of people and identifying who is what muppet?  (Unanimously, I'm Kermit) Then I found Muppet Radio. There are interviews with muppets, snippets of comedy bits and song after song. I laughed and I cried and that was just on the way home from work.  So this may seem ridiculous, but today I am thankful for Jim Henson, who shared such sweetness and innocence and joy. From one Kermit to another, thanks for sharing your vision with the lovers and the dreamers.
  24. Day 24: Thanksgiving is by far my most favorite Holiday.  It's all the family and friends without the guilt or commercialism of Christmas.  This year Joe's mom and brother came to our house for dinner. It has been exactly a month since Joe's dad died and it still seems like he is just in another room.  I was happy they came down and we made the traditional dinner.  Joe invited his best friend Anthony and I invited my friend Molly. It was an eclectic crowd, but those are the best times.  Before we knew it, conversation had taken a slightly dirty turn and we were all laughing with tears in our eyes. So today I am thankful for a lot: my husband, my family, new friends, good food, but mostly, laughter.
  25. Day 25: Today I am thankful for long hugs and set a new goal: to never be the one who breaks off a hug first. It's been 5 years since I've seen Joe's Aunt AnnaLee and cousins. We went over today and I just loved it. I don't know if it is because AnnaLee is from York, PA (where my family is from) or it is just her, but she is the one person in his family that I instantly felt a connection to. I've loved every time we see her, which isn't that often even though she lives in Charlotte. It was neat to see his cousins too...all of which have always been so very nice to me. They all have kids who are now in college and high school and are amazingly smart and interesting. It was just a neat visit, catching up with each of them and getting to know them a little more than "Joe's younger second cousins." When we were leaving AnnaLee and I hugged each other...a long hug that just made my heart smile. Long hugs are the best and it was the highlight of the trip.  So I am thankful for long hugs and vow to never be the one who stops hugging first.
  26. Day 26: I've mentioned Cindy and Doreen a bunch, in this thanks blog and also in several other entries. I truly believe that my guardian angel brought us together because we needed it. Today I was reminded of how lucky I am to have them in my life, for a number of reasons.  We met for a 6 mile run as part of my scheduled training. I don't think any of us wanted to...but we all got started.  Cindy wasn't feeling it so Doreen and I ran ahead, knowing that Cindy (who is the turtle with us being the stupid ahres) would catch up in no time once we burned out. Doreen lost her mom a little more than a year ago, so she has been a good person to talk to about Joe losing his dad. I was telling her about a dream I had last night. It was so vivid, so real, it has really affected me. It was simple too. Joe, his brother and my were sitting around a table.  His dad was there and he simply put his hands on the boys arms and said "It's OK". We all started crying. I woke up. I asked Joe if by any chance he had the same dream; it felt that real.  So I told Doreen about it and we shared some common beliefs we had. It was great to be able to talk about that with someone who understood and feels the same way. We met up with Cindy and were talking about running and that none of us had wanted to do it but we did.  Then Doreen told me that they were in it for me; unless I cancelled, they were going to suck it up and show up for me. I got teary eyed. Seriously, training for a marathon is a huge time commitment and here they are volunteering the time and they are not even doing the race!  They are giving up their time and pushing themselves completely just for me. I was so touched I can't even really express how wonderful that felt to hear. It's very random how the three of us came to be running partners, but I am so very lucky we did. They have changed what I think I can do.  It's really great and I am very, very fortunate to have them in my life.
  27. Day 27: I have been a pretty consistent blood donator all my life and about two years ago finally got Joe to come with me.  Now we do it every 56 days and we compete about who bleeds the fastest. We know the names of the people at the Red Cross and they know us. It's fun. So today I am thankful that I am able to give blood. I know that someone that needs it will get it and I am glad something so easy for me can make a huge difference for someone else.
  28. Day 28:  Joe and I have chosen not to have children.  This was a decision that I agonized over for a couple of years. I knew that not having a child was what I felt was the right way to go for us; I even donated eggs when I was younger because I felt selfish sitting on this "gift"-the ability to have a child.  So even though my gut said no, I was worried about missing out on something or always regretting it when I was older. I talked with people who had kids and asked them how they knew they wanted them.  Several people said it was because all their other friends were having them.  Others said they just always knew that they did. Another said there was actual, physical pain when they saw women with babies.  I never had any of that.  But I had always been the girl who does exactly what is, college, job, etc, following along with societal norms.  A woman who chooses not to have a baby is not normal. So after years of discussion, debate, visits with doctors and an online community of child free adults, I finally felt at peace with my decision. I am not going to be a mother.  A few years later Sandy and I started working together and she told me about her efforts to become pregnant.  I was familiar with IVF after my egg donations so volunteered to help.  This evolved into me being her birth partner and being in the room when Miller was born. Over the last 5 years, my relationship with Miller has grown and I am so lucky that Sandy has allowed me to be part of his life. He's got a room at my house; I have a car seat.  I've taken him to soccer practice, games, birthday parties and he's spent the last 3 of my birthdays with my family and me. He's an absolutely adorable, fantastic, kid.  He's also had meltdowns, we've left the house without shoes or a toy for show and tell, we've had a balloon pop that turned into an all night cry fest, whined until I winced and had several nights of wet beds, bad dreams and tears.  We've snuggled all day when he wasn't feeling well, we've read book after book and we've played tickle monster til I lost my voice.  People tell me Sandy is lucky to have me, but it's me that is the lucky one.  She has allowed me to share in the most intimate details of her life and to visit the ups and downs of motherhood every once and a while.  She has allowed me to experience the love of a child and for that I am eternally, forever thankful.
  29. Day 29: I am so very lucky to have a close relationship with my mom.  I am even luckier that my mom happens to be an absolutely amazing woman who is smart and funny and always knows what I need to hear...even if I don't want to hear it.  She's out of town right now and I really wish she wasn't because right now I really want to talk to her.  So today I am especially missing and thankful for my mom.

October Music

Teardrop by The Collective
When I was Younger by Rizzle Kicks
Cemetery by Charlie Simpson
Metronomy by The Look
New York City Moves to the Sound of LA by Funeral Party
Midnight City by M83 (every time this song comes on I look up to see who it is.  I really like)
Don't Stop by Foster the People
Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men (from Iceland...who knew?  Folky, but I love her voice)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rocktoberfest Race Report - Small Medal, Big Pity Party

Signing up for a race always seems like a good idea. There is plenty of time to train and my optimism takes over and I see me finishing with a huge smile on my face. So of course I signed up for Rocktoberfest half marathon, mostly because the medal was very cool looking. I had been running pretty regularly with Cindy, who was training for her marathon, and Doreen who was training for her first half, and ran 10 miles the first weekend of October. Then life got in the way so I didn't do any more running. I went out for a 6 mile last weekend but started too fast and could hardly get through 3. I really had no business running this race. I mentioned to Joe that I was thinking of deferring a year and he said he thought I would hate myself if I did that...that I needed to suck it up and run. He was right.

Then on Thursday I woke up with a pretty decent cold. I had a ton to do at work so suffered through the day. Friday I called in sick, slept until 2:30 in the afternoon and went back to bed at 7 that night. I was worried about the lack of hydration, nutrition and overall being sick, but I also knew that I was going to run the race.

Saturday morning I felt OK actually. All that sleep turned out to be what I needed and while I still had a lot of nasal congestion, I felt OK enough to get ready and meet Cindy at the train. We rode the light rail up to the race together but I was hardly my usual pre-race self. I was feeling pretty miserable and dreading the race. I was grumpy and a bit worried about getting through the course. I took 2 cold pills right before the start and got in line. I made a promise to myself to run my race - slow with walk breaks. Before I knew it, we were on our way.

I pretty quickly fell to the back of the pack, which I was expecting. This race had a 3 hour time limit and anyone who fell behind that was not going to be able to finish the race. I finished my last half at a 3:03 so I knew I was going to be pushing it. Once I had settled in the back I noticed the cop car behind the last person. I knew I just had to stay ahead of that car and I'd be alright. I took my scheduled walk breaks for the first mile but quickly found that I felt better when I was running. I made sure to keep my pace slow but decided to see what I could do. I ran.

The course was very pretty, winding through Myers Park, down Providence Road and through some neighborhoods in the Southpark area. There were some hills but I just kept my head down and ran up them. Before I knew it I was at mile 6, having ran the entire way without a break and I felt great. It was the closest I have ever come to being in the running zone. It just felt better to be running.

My friend Molly told me she was going to meet me somewhere around mile 7 and run in with me. I started to worry that I was going to lose my mojo so decided to take another 2 cold pills, even though it had only been an hour since I took my first 2. I was feeling good so I didn't want to lose that edge.

Now I have never been a particularly public person when it comes to my bathroom habits. But one thing I quickly learned once I started running, is that runners talk. They talk in detail about races, shoes, training plans and bowels. I have discussed my gastrointestinal habits more with Cindy than my own doctor. All that jostling from running creates some GI pressure so it is a very common for a runner to have stomach issues. There are even the stories about the elite runners that don't stop for a bathroom and just run and go at the same time. I will never, ever, be an elite runner. During my first half I had some stomach issues around mile 7 but kept running and the feeling passed. So when I started feeling some pressure, again around mile 7, I was worried, but not too badly. I knew that stopping would make me fall behind the cop car and that was not an option. Molly was standing at the corner so I decided to keep running.

Pretty quickly I realized that continuing running without a bathroom was not an option. It got to the point where I couldn't even run. We waited for another port ajohn...nothing. I tried to run the downhills, but couldn't for more than 30 seconds. No running. So we walked. On top of this, around mile 10 I started feeling really lightheaded and nauseous. I knew it wasn't my normal high heart rate causing my puking, so I started getting really worried something was seriously wrong. I told Molly that she needed to drag me over the finish line if I passed out. She kept telling me I could do it and how inspirational I was to others and how awesome she thinks I am. At this point her words sounded pretty ridiculous and I was really worried I might pass out. The cop car, which at one point was about a mile behind me was now much closer. I could see the two women that were behind me, the only ones who saved me from being "THE LAST ONE." I tried to run but each time was forced to stop. Walking was all I could do. The last two women passed me. I was now last. There was nothing I could do about this, as much as I wanted to run. Cindy met me about 500 feet from the finish line and with her encouragement I did manage to run the short distance in.

Usually I feel great crossing the finish line. I often think it is like child birth - any pain you feel during is instantly forgotten when you realize what you have accomplished. Not this time. I couldn't get comfortable in my body, didn't want to eat or drink anything and really all I wanted to do was curl up and cry. After all that, the medal, while cool looking, is really, really small. I don't know why I had built that up in my head, but it just seemed not at all worth it once I saw it.

It wasn't that I came in last that bothered me. I think it was the dramatic difference. The first part of the race was so great; I felt so natural and like a runner. To finish so horriblly seemed a cruel trick of fate. Joe thinks it was the second dose of cold medicine so close to the first, when I didn't actually need it that threw me off. That would explain my wooziness and nausea. I hope that was it. I just know that no matter what Cindy and Molly said, I felt horrible. I know I am not ever going to be a good runner; or biker or swimmer for that matter. I don't do these things to win, but on the other hand it would be really nice to not totally suck at them either. It'd be nice to finish a solid middle to front of the pack. Sure I ran it and finished it and did it "faster than those that never began" and all those other quotes people say to those of us that come in last, but it still felt pretty bad. The funny thing is that I actually set a personal record, a PR. I ran this half marathon almost 4 minutes faster than my last...feeling sick and with really no training or nutritional base. So somewhere in my heart I know I should listen to all the cliches and be happy that I did it. I should try to hear Molly when she tells me how much I inspire her. I should concentrate on how cute my outfit was (OK this I will concede - I looked really damn cute).Instead all I hear is me, feeling sorry for myself that I didn't do better and that I will never be a good runner.

I know this is a character flaw of mine. Seconds after something good happens to me I am doubting myself, the situation or other people. As soon as I realize I am happy, I look for the bad thing to happen; the proverbial other shoe. Even knowing THAT makes me grumpy. I guess I am glad I did the race. I think I would have felt worse if I didn't. I wish the medal was bigger. I wish I had performed better. I wish I had run the entire course. Pretty much I wish a lot.

My next race is in three weeks, a half marathon that Doreen, Cindy and I are going to run together. I know I will look cute (great outfits are the #1 reason I do races) and I know the three of us will have a good time. Between the three of us we manage to support when one of us needs it and I know that we will be there for each other. Then I start really training for my first marathon in February, a goal I have wanted to accomplish for as long as I can remember. I know I can finish the it walking or running or a combination of both. What I don't know is if I can be happy with what that finish looks like. I want to be, but right now all I can think about is how much this race sucked, how much I suck and how I put myself through all that for a teeny, tiny, stupid little piece of medal.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Music

Holy crap it's October!!

Trojans by Atlas Genius
Paradise by Coldplay
Pencil Full of Lead by Paolo Nutini
Invisible by Sklar Grey
Called Out In The Dark by Snow Patrol
Natural Disaster by Laidback Luke vs Example
Lights Out, Words Gone by Bombay Bicycle Club
Video Games by Lana DelRay
Dedicated to My Ex by Lloyd/Lil Wayne

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breakaway to the Beach...The MS 150

Joe loved doing the MS 150 last year and recruited me this year. We got Chris Rohlfs signed up to ride while Cara played sherpa, driving my car down. The ride is a two day ride to the beach. The first day you ride 100 miles to Florence, SC and spend the night there. Sunday you can choose a 100 mile or a 50 mile option, with both finishing at Sunset Beach, the last beach in North Carolina.

We started on Saturday in a heavy fog. It really felt like we were riding through a shower and soon every part of me was wet. Joe had to ride without his glasses on because it was pointless. The only good thing about this was that it wasn't hot. I'm not going to lie; at mile 3 I did wonder why I decided to do this and how in the world I was going to get through it all. I had a massive headache that 4 Excedrin hadn't even begun to touch. The MS ride is very well supported...with a rest stop every 10 miles or so. The stops have bathrooms, food, water and Gatorade as well as a bike shop. I was very thankful for the bike shop as we pulled into to the rest stop and I realized I could not unclip. I've been having problems with my clips so spent the day before at the bike shop getting them adjusted. I also bought new shoes, put the old, adjusted cleats on the new shoes and bought new cleats on my old shoes. Like an idiot, I never checked the new cleats so was very lucky I didn't have to stop before the rest area. I circled around until Joe got off his bike and came and caught me. I really could not unclip and ended up taking my foot out of the shoe. The bike shop guy adjusted it and after a 20 minute break, we were on our way again. My headache was still present so I took 4 more Excedrin. One more rest stop, 4 more Excedrin and STILL it raged on. The course was pretty basic the first day. You are in the middle of rural South Carolina so there isn't a lot to see. There are a couple of rolling hills, but nothing too horrible. Of course my head pounding with any exertion made walking kinda horrible, but I was able to hang on with Chris and Joe for most of the first 30 miles. I did puke once...but I think that had more to do with all the Excedrin I had taken at that point, well more than the suggested daily dose for sure. Then the rain started. It had been thundering, so we knew it was coming, but still....not fun. It rained for almost an hour. Everything was completely soaked. It stopped raining as we pulled in for lunch. I took my socks off, tried to squeeze my pony tails dry but quickly realized I was soaked and there was little I could do about this fact. (Tip: bring zip loc bags next year. Even my spare socks were soaked.)

Lunch was the halfway point and I was feeling OK. My headache was still there but I had only take 2 Excedrin since my puking. I got in with random groups of people, chatting with them as we rode together. It was a very social time and I actually had fun, even though Chris and Joe, being the stronger cyclists had gone on ahead. We'd catch up and rest stops to make sure we were all OK.

I have been nervous to ride with a group because I wasn't sure I had the skills to hang. Towards the end of the day though I would jump on the end of a paceline to see what all the fuss was about. I really did feel a benefit and as long as I wasn't in the middle, felt comfortable enough to hang in there. The last 20 miles were spent hopping from paceline to paceline. Some groups were too big, without great communication on what was happening up front so after a few close calls, I'd jump to another. Joe and Chris waited for me at the end and we all pulled into Frances Marion University together around 2pm on Saturday. We checked in and volunteers took our bikes. Since we were doing the 50 miles on Sunday, we would actually be taken by bus to the start site, 50 miles away. Volunteers took our bikes, shuttled them to the Sunday start and set them up for us. This is the second time in a month I have left my bike and it still felt odd. But they were wrapping each bike and it really looked like they were taking utmost care of them.

The rest of the afternoon we hung out at Frances Marion. They had tons of food, a beer tent and music. The four of us grabbed chairs and just enjoyed catching up.Joe and Chris drank beer, Cara and I people watched and ate our fill. After all the beer tickets were gone, we headed for our hotel in downtown Florence. We took a brief, but chilly dip in the pool, showered, headed out for dinner and as soon as we got back, crawled into bed.

We woke up Sunday morning feeling tired, but good. The shuttle picked us up at our hotel and took us to the Sunday 50 mile start site, in Green Sea, South Carolina, about an hour away. Our bikes were set up for us, we grabbed some drinks and snacks and got started. OW. I was unprepared for how sore I was in the seat. It was actually hard to sit down for the first mile or so. I asked Joe if it got better and he said no. I almost cried. Lucky for me, and my pubic region, he was lying. By mile 4 I had forgotten about it. Weather predictions were pretty bad and the sky was pretty dark. Based on Saturday's time, we figured we'd get into Sunset Beach around 1pm. We were just hoping to beat the "severe wind, rain and storms" that were in the area. Pretty quickly we got in with 3 guys that were keeping a strong but steady pace. With the 3 of us, we made a paceline of 6. They pulled into the rest stop and Joe and I said to each other, "that was fun...but a bit too fast." We agreed to find another paceline. With the headwind getting stronger as we got closer to the beach, we knew a paceline was the only way to make it the second day. There were some TIFL friends at the rest stop so we decided to get in with them. We got started, but after the first group, this seemed slow. So when they 3 guys came up on our left, I urged Joe to jump to their paceline.

The next 43 miles seemed to fly by. We attracted people and at one point had a long steady paceline of about 25 people. We were averaging 20-22mph and I felt great. The core 6 of us stayed together and stopped at every rest stop. I don't even know those guys' names, but we were all committed to getting to the beach before the storms and the 6 of us had our rhythm down. The effects of a paceline are incredible. My pattern became "pedal, pedal, rest, rest, rest" and never dropped below 20mph. The route was perfectly flat and very rural; we hardly saw another car. We'd pass people, pass pacelines; we were making incredible time. Since we were stopping at every rest stop, occasionally we would get to a stop and have people tell us that they had been waiting for us, that they heard we were a good paceline and ask if they could join us. I felt so professional! The three of us were wearing matching Team Gita 24 Hours of Booty kits and we looked like we knew what we were doing!

We were less than ten miles away from the finish when the speed started inching up and before I knew it, we were doing 26-28mph. I started getting more and more tired and found that even drafting I wasn't able to keep up. I would fall behind and three times one of the guys came back to get me. (It is almost impossible to catch up to a paceline if you are alone.) After the third time I knew I was going to be dropped. I told Joe and Chris to go on with them and figured I'd fall in with another paceline soon.

The problem was that we were so far ahead of everyone, there wasn't another paceline for a very, very long time. I was less than 5 miles away and felt like I was swimming in mud. The headwinds were so strong it was almost comical and what a difference that made. I felt like for every pedal stroke I did, the wind pushed me backwards 10 feet. I was going as hard as I could and only doing 15 mph. I kept telling myself that I could run 5 miles...I for sure could bike them. But wow, it was tough. I was alone without a single other cyclist in sight. Finally, I saw Joe and Chris ahead. They had pulled off and were waiting for me and I have never been so happy to see them. Chris was also on the phone with Cara. Seems our paceline speed got us to the finish line almost an hour earlier than we had planned so we actually beat Cara there.
The three of us finished and we all felt great. Once Cara got there we ate lunch, showered in the surprisingly nice "shower truck", loaded the bikes and headed home. I felt really good the next day too...although I was not too eager to sit on a bike seat anytime soon!

Overall I was thoroughly impressed with the entire MS150 operation. Every rest stop was well stocked and staffed, the volunteers were always so very nice and accommodating. From taking our bikes to the start area, to getting us there, to having everything ready at Sunset Beach, the logistics of this event must be staggering. But for me as a rider, it was seamless and I felt completely taken care of and safe. I had a great time and am thrilled Joe and I did it together. I love that we have a hobby that both of really enjoy; now I just need to get stronger so I can do a better job keeping up with him! We will be back again next year for sure!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall TV - What I Will Watch

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Ahhhh Fall TV. So much hope and promise. And like lambs to the slaughter, many will perish quickly. Here are my picks for Fall TV 2011. I hope at least some of them survive.

MondaysHow I Met Your Mother-8pm- CBS (premieres 9/17) This is season 7 for this brilliant sitcom and I am excited to see where the show goes. Season 6 was one of my favorite, although not necessarily one of its funniest. I've been with this show since the beginning and that, along with the writing and acting has made me genuinely care for these characters. The episode where Marshall's dad died was one of the most impactful shows I've seen in awhile. I sobbed! This show blends laughs with tears for a fantastic view of life. Watch it.
Terra Nova - 8pm-FOX-9/26- This looks good and I might try to watch it online. I'm too in love with HIMYM to jump off at this point. Update:  We watched a few of these and while I like Jason O'Mara, it just didn't hook me enough for us to stop HIMYM. 
Castle-10pm - ABC - 9/19 - I love Nathan Fillian and this is him at his charmingly smirky best.
The Playboy Club-10pm - NBC - 9/19 - Another possible web watch for me. It is also my pick for a quick cancel. Up against Castle and Hawaii 5-0, I just don't see it making it. Update:  Yep, first to be cancelled.

TuesdaysNew Girl-8pm - FOX - 9/20 - I have seen the pilot episode of this and while a little slow, has some truly laugh out loud lines. Zooey Deschanel is adorable and I am a huge fan of Damon Wayans Jr. Update: Well Fox apparently thought that just any black guy can be funny and swapped out Damon Wayans Jr.  He wasn't funny because he was black...he's just funny.  So without him, this show is kinda horrible.  We dropped it.
Ringer- 8pm- CW-9/13 - This is getting major hype as Buffy's return to TV (Sarah Michelle Gellar) but while I loved Buffy, that had very little to do with her and a lot to do with Joss Whedon's fantastic writing. CW is good about re-airing their shows, so I might try to catch it, but my heart won't be broken if I don't. Update: We tried watching this, but wow.  It's stupid.
Raising Hope - 9:30pm - FOX - 9/20 - One of the truly funny shows on TV, this is a must watch.
Unforgettable-10pm - CBS- 9/20 - File this under the "Shows I Don't Really Care About But Will Check Out Until I'm Bored. " Joe and I have a 3 episode rule - if it grabs us in 3 episodes we are in. If not....flip! Update: I forget even trying this show.
Covert Affairs - 10pm -USA - 11/1 - I watch this show because of Christopher Gorham. He's a great actor and a nice guy. Follow him on Twitter and you will see what I mean. @Christopher_Gorham

Suburgatory -8:30pm- ABC - 9/28 - I really don't know anything about this, but based on the strength of ABC's sitcoms lately, I'm in for at least 3 episodes. Update: This is worth watching.  Jeremy Sisto is so likable, Alan Tudyk is so unlikable he's likable and the show has a Dead Like Me meets Veronica Mars feel to it.  We like it and since it already got picked up for a full year, apparently other people do too.
Modern Family- 9pm- ABC - 9/21 - The greatest sitcom on tv. Period.
Happy Endings- 9:30pm - ABC - 9/28-This little gem premiered late last year and I fell in love with the zany crew. You could say this is an updated Friends (There's a gay guy! Interracial couple!) But it's cute and gives you another chance to see Damon Wayan Jr. Update: Since it is now your ONLY chance to see Damon Wayans, Jr. you now must watch this.  Plus the show is jsut funny and has me in tears at least once a week. 
Revenge -10pm- ABC - 9/21 - Majorly hyped on billboards, TV and radio, I can almost guarantee this will be cancelled by October 15th. But I'll check it out, because there isn't anything else I watch at 10PM. Update: Deemed a chick show by Joe, I now watch this solo, but that's OK.  It is nice to have a guilty pleasure that doesn't take place in high school.  There are lots of likable characters on this show and each episode wraps nicely while also stringing along some drama for the weekly watchers. 

Community-8pm - NBC- 9/22 - I was late to the party with Community but it has grown on me for its quirky one-off episodes and Joel McHale's smarminess. There is lots of talk about this not making it this year, but I am rooting for it.
Parks and Recreation-8:30pm - NBC - 9/22- The best sitcom on TV that nobody watches. Period. It's funny, endearing, sweet and irreverent. Watch it.
Person of Interest-9pm- CBS - 9/22- Billionaire teams up with a presumed-dead CIA agent to prevent crimes. Sure, OK, I'll try it. It's got Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson so I know all the LOST fans will be watching. Surely it can last 3 episodes. Update: This is a good show.  There's drama, intrigue, good characters and great writing. It's been a while since a really good drama...this is it. Check this out and then tell me you don't change some of the words you use when on a cell phone.
Prime Suspect-10pm - NBC - 9/22 - I really don't know how many NY detective shows can survive on TV, but this one stars Aidan Quinn, Kirk Acevedo and is based on a British show, so we will apply the 3 episode rule and see how it goes. Update: Eh.  It's OK...Joe is a fan.  I have slept through as many as I've watched. It's OK but not great.
Burn Notice -10pm -USA - 11/3 - Traditionally a summer show, this makes a rare fall appearance. I love this show, even if it is becoming incredibly formulaic.
Archer -10:30pm- FX - 9/15 - You can catch this show on reruns ALL. THE. TIME. But it is hysterically wrong and that makes it oh so funny.

A Gifted Man-8pm- - 9/23 - I'm not really interested in the premise here, but I have a small crush on Pablo Schreiber (brother to Liev) and Patrick Wilson is reliable, so I will check it out. Update: I fast forwarded through the first few episodes and still knew exactly what was going on. Even my crush on Pablo Schrieber couldn't save my interest.  Dumped.
Supernatural-9pm - CW - 9/23 - Hot guys battle demons and otherworldly creatures. It sounds pretty basic, but underneath it is a story about family and loyalty and it's actually pretty funny. Last season was a little less than stellar and I am not sure what will happen to my favorite character Cass, but I've been in since the beginning and will watch until this show dies (and then brought back to life and then sent to hell only to have an angel bring it back but missing its soul.)

Saturdays are for catching up on Tivo!

The Good Wife-9pm -CBS - 9/25- I love this show. The writing is good and the basic law show part of each episode is always engaging, creative and interesting. But the real draw for this show is the ongoing personal journeys of key characters including Julianna Marguilies' Alicia. Did she sleep with Will (Josh Charles)? Will she stay married to Peter (Chris Noth) for the success of his campaign? Can she and Kalinda ever get over Kalinda sleeping with Peter? Will Eli (Alan Cumming) find love? If it sounds like a teenage drama, it's not. It is compelling, emotional and you will fall in love with Alicia's strength and determination to do the best she can.
The Walking Dead-9pm - AMC- 10/16 - They show this on repeats so I don't have to choose between this and Good Wife. AMC makes really high quality shows and this is no exception. I am compelled to watch this post zombie-pocolypse show because of the characters. It's worth checking out.
Dexter-9pm - Showtime - 10/2 - Dexter is one of those rare shows that just keeps getting stronger, darker and better each season. America's most loved serial killer, I am so glad Dexter is back. New episodes are on Sunday but rerun throughout the week.
Pan Am-10pm - ABC - 9/25 - To be honest, I don't know if I even care about this show and I am generally not a fan of Christina Ricci, but it is a unique premise, so I will check it out. Yes, I'm a TV whore. Update: This is escapism at its finest. Not great, watchable and yet you won't be heartbroken if you miss it. Cancellation rumblings are swirling so catch it now before it's gone.
Homeland-10pm - Showtime - 10/2 - This is the show I am most excited about this fall. It has been filmed almost exclusively in Charlotte and I can't wait to watch the scenery. It also stars Damian Lewis, who I have loved ever since his brilliant show "Life" that was far too short lived. On top of that, the premise sounds intriguing, critics have been raving and the trailer has me hooked. I have high expectations for this and hope it lives up to them. Update: This along with Person of Interest, may be my TV shows of the fall season to judge you by.  In other words, if you don't like them, I might have a hard time liking you.  This is proving to be promblematic since Joe is not a huge fan of Homeland, and I really hate to divorce him. But for reals, this show is just great.  Acting is good, I still don't exactly know where they are going to go with the plot and if you liked Morena from Firefly or V, you get to see her naked.  A bunch. I can't wait to see this show each week, and if you want to be my friend, you better too.

I usually try to post updates about 3 weeks in so I will keep you posted. Til then, Happy Fall TV Premiere Day!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Race Review - The Nations Tri 9/11/11

Other than just being an American, I have no real connection to the tragedy of September 11, 2001. So I have no idea why I felt the need to do something memorable for the 10 year anniversary. When I got an email from USAT announcing pre-registration for members for the NationsTri on 9/11/11, I just wanted to be there. I talked Joe into registering with me, we paid the somewhat hefty fee and began training.

This was to be my first International or Olympic distance tri. That is 1500 meter swim in the Potomac River, a 26 mile bike ride into Maryland and a 6.2 mile run around the gorgeous monuments in DC. I knew I had each part of those easily but for some reason, never quite got to putting them all together in what is known as a brick.
The two weeks before the tri were a weather nightmare. A hurricane-turned-tropical storm was taking its time moving up the coast. Add in normal rainy fall weather and there was substantial flooding up the east coast. People started discussing currents, temperatures and general conditions of the Potomac. I started researching acceptable levels of sewage in rivers and checked the water levels daily. On Wednesday the organizers made the very hard decision to cancel the swim portion. Along with a faster current, there was also a lot of debris in the river and it was just not safe. So instead of a tri, it became a sort of bi...we would bike the whole course and then run. I was initially very disappointed, but once we saw (and smelled!) the river for ourselves, I knew they had made the right call.

We went to the expo on Saturday and picked up our packets, sampled the latest and greatest energy foods and shopped way too much. Then we headed down to transition. This was my first large race so at first I was alarmed that we had to rack our bike the day before. After talking with my more experienced tri friend Jerry, he assured me this was quite normal. The transition area was the largest I had ever seen, with row markers. We got there pretty early on so I was able to secure a place towards the end of the row. I wrapped my seat, handlebars and shifters and made a mental note of where I was set up. I tied a pink and black ribbon just for placement help. It felt odd leaving Maddy overnight, but I was assured security was tight. I did feel better after seeing some of the really high end tri bikes that were there.

We then headed back to our hotel to rest, pin our numbers on everything and pack for the next day. Joe has made no secret that this is his last triathlon, but selfishly, it was so much fun getting ready with him. I really wish he would fall in love like I did because it felt different this time. There was more energy, more a sense of team I guess. I just loved sitting on the couch, both of us pinning and sticking numbers. We met our friends Jason and Miriam, their kids Ryan and Sophia and Tim and Jenn and their son Felix for dinner. I was so touched that both of them drove almost an hour to see us. We had a great meal, laughed a lot and got back to the hotel early enough to get some sleep. I checked and re checked my packed bag and we went to bed, with the goal of getting up at 3am, leaving at 4am to be there at 4:30 when the parking lots opened.

Joe and I are really good at sleeping. I hear other people who don't sleep well in a strange bed or if there is a big event the next day. Not us. So when I woke up feeling well rested, I was happy we had gone to bed early. Then Joe looked at the clock. Instead of was 4:30. YIKES. We jumped up, threw on our clothes and grabbed our gear. We were able to get out the door 20 minutes later. I had to skip my pre-race routine but I knew I had time before my wave and hoped it would all work out. We were able to find a parking spot rather easily. I knew that they were closing streets so I wanted to be outside the course so we could leave when we were done. As a result we had to walk about 2 miles to get to transition. It was eerie walking in downtown DC at 5am in the darkness of night. We walked along the river and were able to see The Jefferson Memorial with no people gathered around. DC does monuments very well and it is a gorgeous city on any day. But walking in the dark, with the monuments lit up, knowing it was September 11, made for a very cool 2 mile walk.

We got to transition and the time seemed to fly by. We got our timing chisp and before I knew it, they were closing transition and lining people up. One of the fellow racers, a first responder, got up to sing the National Anthem. At this time the sun was rising and the view looking over transition was magnificent. As the National anthem was sung, a jet flew overhead. There are no words for how breathtaking this was. To be there, in this place, the symbol of our freedom, and to be doing something that I love. I get goosebumps still thinking about it.

We then had a moment of silence to remember all those that lost their lives in 9/11. It is a testament to Americans that we really did have a moment of silence. We had roughly 6,000 people jammed in one spot and you could have heard a pin drop. This was by far my favorite part of the entire weekend and it made the trip worth it. Thank you humanity. I remember right after 9/11 it felt like for the first time, the entire country was united as one. We just described ourselves as Americans, and everything else didn't matter. That feeling came back at this moment and it was a magical sensation

Since there wasn't a swim, they corralled people by swim start time and let groups of 15 go into transition every 15 seconds. Joe was in the first group but I had almost an hour before I would start. After his group left, I wandered around and realized I was thirsty. I had plenty to drink in transition, but could not get back in there. I started to panic a little, knowing by the time you realize you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. There was water for sale, but of course I didn't have any money on me. Panic deepened. I finally saw a woman who had a grocery bag of what looked like water bottles. I grabbed a honey stinger out of my back pocket and asked her if she would be willing to trade for a bottle of water. She explained that the bag was empty bottles but mentioned water was for sale at a nearby truck. I explained I didn't have any money and she pulled out her wallet and gave me $2. I offered her my protein bar as a trade but she wouldn't take it. She just said "Honey, go get yourself some water." I have no idea who she was, never saw her again, but I am grateful to her, not only for the water but for reminding me that people are basically nice.

I spent the next hour people watching, listening to stories starting with "at my last race". I was not overly nervous, just anxious to get started. I lined up when it was my time and suddenly was running into the transition area to get going. The transition area was mostly grass, with the exception of the enter and exit, which had turned into mud pits. There really was no way around them so I picked up my bike and tried my best not to get mud in my cleats. No such luck and instead of immediately mounting my bike, I ran for a bit to try to stomp out the mud. It was not ideal, but I cleared them enough to clip in and I was under way.

The event directors had described the course as rolling hills with some short steep climbs. I was worried about this as I started, but once I cleared the start I stopped worrying and just enjoyed the ride. I was absolutely amazed to see that they route was completely closed to traffic. How in the world the event directors got DC to close streets in downtown DC on September 11 is a small miracle, but it was absolutely heavenly. It was a bit crowded since we all basically started with only 15 second intervals, but I was able to pass most people easily and only had a few times where I hit some major bike traffic. I didn't want to exert myself too much in case the rolling hills were too challenging, but I was able to maintain a nice 20mph pace on the way out. The course was beautiful, heading out of DC into Maryland. We reached the turnaround point and I realized that what they considered rolling hills, I would have described as "mostly flat!" I was feeling good, enjoying passing most people and was still able to eat and drink as I needed. About 5 miles from the finish I rode over a bridge and had another memorable moment. There were some condos overlooking the water, an American flag draped from one balcony where a man stood, drinking his morning coffee. He waved, I waved back and smiled. I felt happy. I finished the bike feeling really good. I had an average speed of 20 for the entire 26 miles and I felt strong. I knew I had been running really well in training so I took my time in transition. I changed socks, put on my shoes, ate a stinger and took some salt tabs. Instead of running to the exit, I took my time and walked, hoping that the extra time in transition would allow for a faster run right out of the gate instead of the normal 5-10 minutes it usually takes for me to "feel" my legs again. I started running and it felt easy, of course with tons of people cheering it usually is. I didn't pay any attention to my watch and just ran. I do love crowd support; it is fun to read signs and it is also some positive peer pressure to not take walk breaks.

The run course was mostly flat as well and we ran by an amazing number of monuments which helped the "wow this is so cool that I am doing this" feeling. As I hit mile 1, I started realizing that my legs were cramping. This is very unusual for me and for the first time, looked down at my watch. Now I usually run at around a 11 minute mile when I am with Cindy or at the greenway. I simultaneously panicked and celebrated that I had run the first mile at a 9:08 pace. Holy crap! I pulled over to the side and rubbed my legs. Never having leg cramping on the run, I really wasn't sure what to do. I took my last salt pill and started running again, this time actively slowing down to a 10:30 pace. I still didn't feel normal and started doing the mental bargaining I usually reserve for longer races. If I run to that light post, I can walk for 30 seconds. My legs still were aching; they moved from a cramp to a flu-like ache feeling all over. As I hit mile 3, I also needed to go to the bathroom. Luckily there were port-o-johns but when I looked in them, I knew that there was no way I could use them. Figuring this would work itself out, I kept running.

The course was well stocked and at this point, the sun was up and it was getting rather warm. I was delighted that they were giving out ice at the water stations in addition to the Gatorade. I made sure to drink at every stop, hoping to fix my cramping. I guess I just started out too fast, but I was never able to shake the aching. At mile 4, a blister started forming and at this point I was trying to maintain a run for a minute, walk for a minute race plan. I was pretty frustrated; I've been running so well and not even being able to do 1:1 was pretty upsetting. I stopped, took off my shoe and readjusted my sock hoping to prevent my blister from getting too bad. I only had a mile and half left at this point and it felt like it was going to take forever. I did have a nice woman come up and tell me my back was getting a bit sunburned and put sunscreen on.

After that, I decided I needed to rally and push myself to finish. I started running again, still mostly feeling like crap. As I started my last mile, crowd support really helped me keep going. My legs felt foreign, my blister was burning but as I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I was instantly elated. Nothing feels as good as seeing the finish line and knowing you are going to finish. I picked up my run and finished, grabbing a medal and a cold wet towel as soon as I crossed the finish line. Joe was right there, having finished almost an hour before me. I was hoping my run time would be around 1:10 but it was 1:21. As it was my first 10K, it was technically a PR, but still I was very disappointed with my run.

It was fun comparing races with Joe; he also had a really strong bike and a weak run since he continues to have trouble with his knee. He said he still doesn't want to do another tri, but could be talked into doing this again as a relay if he could do the bike part. We both talked about how much fun that was and how nice (and amazing) it was to have the course closed. We grabbed our gear and jumped on our bikes and rode back to the car, both on a high from having finished, but enjoying the bike so much.

Overall, we had a fantastic time. It was one of those trips where everything worked out, from finding parking easily, to catching up with friends, to enjoying the race. I don't know that I will do this particular race again; it was a tight time frame for just a weekend trip, and I was really swayed by the 9/11/11 significance for this year, but I am in love with the bike course and the event directors. Their communication was fantastic, from answering specific questions on their face book page, to the pre race meetings to the actual day of event coordination,the flawless execution made my race day perfect. While I am bummed I was not able to swim in the Potomac, I think the directors made the right call on that matter. So if you live in the DC area, or just want to do a memorable, fun, flat and well organized tri in September, check out the Nation's Tri. You are guaranteed to enjoy your experience for sure!

One sad note: on the bike course around mile 5, a man was laying down at an aid station. Joe said he noticed him and he was still there when I passed and we both wondered what happened, especially so early on the course. We found out later that he actually had a heart attack and died. He was a coach for Team In training, and in his early 50s. So very sad that such a fantastic day ended so tragically for him, who was motivating others to improve their lives through fitness. I hope his family is comforted by the fact he was doing something he loved and that he touched and influenced so many people.

Photo credits: Ryan Almon, Dottie Swanson and the DCPD helicopter pilot.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Next Big Thing I Can't Explain

My next race, The NationsTri, is this Sunday. That's 4 days, 14 hours and 16 minutes if you are keeping track. I'm nervous, excited, worried, in disbelief, not packed and yet ready, but not prepared. Yes, that is a tad bit schizophrenic, but that's how I feel. This race is an Olympic, or International distance triathlon, which is a 1500 meter swim (basically a mile), a 24 mile bike ride and a 6.2 mile run. I know I can do each leg easily; it's the putting them all together that I am worried about. But with 4 days away, I know there is nothing I can do right now to make myself better. Tapering has begun.

So with one race almost over, I look forward to the next one. My plan has been to do a marathon next year but my brother's wedding is scheduled for the weekend I had in mind. So change of plans to a half iron man. A half is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. As with many endurance events, the training is the hard part. The race is one day; the training is 4 months, four or five times a week, over and over again. I was talking with Joe about doing the half because with training that intense, it really affects him too, even if he never takes a step with me. He is reluctantly supportive of me and said "Well let's see how this one goes."

Hmmmmm, no. I can't explain this to him, or really anyone, but it doesn't matter how I do this weekend. I'm still going to want to do a half and then a full ironman. I don't know why I am compelled to compete in something there is not even the slightest chance I will win, but I am. I love the training. Even though I tend to forget how far I've come, on the days I remember, I am absolutely brought to tears with my progress. There is a part of my 6 mile loop that I have had to walk. It's a long, steady hill and in the beginning I could not run it without puking, so I just started walking it. Three weeks ago, I ran the entire stretch, at a faster pace than usual. When I made it to the top of the hill I felt elated. It wasn't about the medal. Only Cindy and Doreen saw me do it, but it was one of the best days I have had in a long time. Not run - days. That morning run made the whole day seem perfect. Little stuff that usually would annoy me didn't. I was utterly happy. On a recent bike ride Joe and I overtook a group of 5 bikers. Sure it was on a downhill, but we were easily doing 25-28 mph and they were probably doing 12. It was so much fun and the highlight of the ride for me.

I am not good at triathlons. I'm decidedly average, a little below truth be told. I am mediocre at best. Trust me, I am a competitive person (play Uno with me once and you will know I am telling the truth) but doing triathlons isn't about that. It's about growing and challenging and doing something I never thought I could do. When I first heard about Ironmans, I had to look it up online and then had to check and recheck it all happened on the same day. (It does.) It's insane. For me a full will be 15 hours of constant motion. My perfect day is in jammies on the couch. But for some reason, I want to do a full ironman.

So this race coming up will be the next step. Hopefully the weather cooperates, the swim isn't too cold, the bike is flat and the run isn't windy. Hopefully I have fun and Joe doesn't hurt himself. But even if the swim is cancelled due to flood warnings, the bike is shortened due to bad weather and my run turns into a walk, I am still going to do a half ironman in 2012 and a full sometime before my 40th birthday. But I guess that is the thing about passion; it doesn't have to make sense to anyone else but me.

August Music...and a rant

Rant first. I have been a satellite radio subscriber since 2004 and have loved it. I have it in my car and stream it all day long at work. I cannot work in silence, so it is literally on all day long. I listen to Alt Nation until 11am and then switch over to BBC Radio One for the rest of the day. At least I used to. As of August 9th, Sirius/XM stopped carrying Radio One.

I have worked in radio for 15 years, and in that time have had a few stations flip formats. We always have people calling talking about how devastated they are not to have their station and I usually laughed at them. Then it happened to me and it was horrible. Really horrible. Yes, I can stream BBC live but there is a 5 hour time difference which Sirius/XM used to adjust. So when I am at work, it is the night time techno stuff. Boo. I really am heartbroken not to be able to hear my favorite DJ Dev at 5am. I miss driving to work listening to Chris Moyles. I am sad. To all those people whose pain I mocked, I apologize. I get it. I am one of you now.

So that being said, August music is a little light since I am trying to find new habits. Due to so many customer complaints, Sirius/XM has brought back BBCR1 online so at least I can continue to stream with a 5 hour delay at work. I guess it's something. I still miss Dev.

Shuffle by Bombay Bicycle Club (this is really great)
Feel So Close by Calvin Harris
Stay Young Go Dancing by Death Cab (it's a happy Death Cab!)
Come Closer by Miles Kane (NOT to be confused by the song of same name by Ne Yo)
Gambling Man by Overtones
Call Out In The Dark by Snow Patrol
Raise Your Weapon by DeadMau5 (That's Dead Mouse to all you non number reading English speakers)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

July Music

Summer time means heavy on Brit Pop. It makes me happy!

Bounce by Calvin Harris
The A Team by Ed Sheeran
Still Life by The Horrors
Hawaiian Air by Friendly Fires
One Big Family by Temple Cloud
The Kin and All His Men by WolfGang
Down with the Trumpets by Rizzle Kicks* (2011 best of contender)
The Horrors by Still Life
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala by Arctic Monkeys

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ride Report - Booty Time Again!

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite events of all time: 24 Hours of Booty. The Booty Loop is a 2.97 mile loop that runs through Meyers Park. The goal of the event is to raise money for cancer research...the riding is actually secondary. This isn't a race; any mileage goals are personal. You have 24 hours to do whatever you want; bike, camp out in Bootyville, eat, sleep or skip it all together. This flexibility lets you make the event what you want. We choose to ride, eat and hang out.

Mike and Mary Beth come up from Florida and set up our campsite which for Joe and I, is just a base of operations. This year Mike's friend Bob and our friend Chris Rohlfs also set up tents next to us. Chris, Bob, Mike and MB all planned on sleeping, but Joe and I just use the tent area to rest between laps.

So the riding begins at 7pm and as the name implies, is 24 hours. This year we skipped the first lap. There are so many people (1200 to be exact) and not everyone knows what they are doing. There are professional riders trying to get some speed and there are kids on tricycles. It makes for a slightly scary, very crowded ride. We did it last year; I'm glad I've done it once, but won't do it again. This year we also had Miller with us so we waited for dinner to be served back at camp.

It was hot. Really hot. I had heard all the heat warnings and had imagined it was hot, but it was hotter than I imagined. It was hot. The 24 HOB people did a great job with extra hydration stations and misting fans, but from it was still really hot. My parents braved the heat, hung out with us and we all had dinner together. Then they took Miller and left for home and I started my riding.

My goal was 100 miles this year and I had planned on finishing by 6am. I started my first lap a little after 9 and remembered why I do this; it's fun. Chris, Joe and I all rode together in a little mini pace line. The route is really pretty; super tall trees line the road that is mostly flat with one exception, a steep, short climb at Hopedale Ave. A group of people camp out in this area with a PA, playing music and encouraging us riders as we head up the hill. It might not sound neat, but it is such a fantastic atmosphere and does help as you climb the hill.

Climbing is my weak spot but I'd catch up to the boys on the flat parts and we rode most of the night like that, doing 3 laps at a time and then coming into Bootyville for drinks, snacks and a little stretching. I knew I had time but all of a sudden it was midnight. We headed out for 4 laps before coming in for midnight pizza...which though not really good pizza, was the best pizza I've had in a LONG time! I was exhausted but hit 50 miles at 2am. I was really off pace and really tired.

Last year I accidentally stayed up all night. The plan was to sleep but I was wired so while everyone else slept, I rode, hitting my goal of 67 miles by 4am. I thought this year would be as easy, but staying up all night was much harder than I thought. One by one Chris, Bob and Mike and MB all went to sleep. Joe and I kept riding.

Joe and I are still figuring out who we are as a riding couple. He is so strong on the climbs and really, as an overall cyclist. I am much stronger than I was last year, but still have a long way to go until I feel like I can ride comfortably with some peers. Leading up to Booty we've had a couple of rough rides where I wanted to stop at 20 miles, Joe pushed along til 40. Those rides usually ended with Joe waiting at a light while I struggled up a hill, silently (and sometimes not so silently) cursing him for making us go the extra distance. I feel badly making him wait for me and on the other hand, expect that if he is going to ride with me, that he ride WITH ME. I did so much of last year's Booty alone, I figured that would be the case this year. I was wrong; Joe stayed with me the entire time. It was fantastic. Sometimes I'd tuck in behind him and let him pull me up the hill, other times I'd ride next to him and chat. A few laps we raced on the flats. We came in together and rode every lap together.

I settled into the ride and concentrated on enjoying myself. I worked on my cornering skills, chanting my brother's advice on the turn (trust the bike, don't brake, trust the bike). Around 4am Mike and Chris gave up on trying to sleep (did I mention it was hot? 93 at night!) and we rode together, increasing our rides to five laps at a time. By 6am everyone was up and we all had breakfast together. I was at a comfortable 83 miles and knew I'd finish. It was either that, or the fact that I was punchdrunk tired and basically functionally retarded, but breakfast was the most fun. We were all there, all talking about different experiences we had over the course of the night, laughing at the inability of everyone to really sleep and just enjoying the experience. With the sun rising, we set out to finish.

Riding 100 miles in one setting seems like a big deal, and I am sure it is in some respects. But as I rode my last lap, it didn't seem so hard. It was great to see Joe waiting for me at the finish line and we rode into Bootyville for the last time. We had hit our goal. It was 8:20...later than I'd planned but still before the heat of the day. We packed up our things, sat down to wait for Mike to finish and fell asleep! Exhausted doesn't really cut it. We waited for Mike to finish his 100 miles, saw Cara and Chris (who had less than 20 miles to go) and we left. We got home, showered and slept all day. It was fantastic. Even better, neither of us was sore. At all.

I'm sure camping out in 100 degree weather and then riding around a 3 mile loop 33 times does not sound like fun. But this event is so much more than that for me. I love the cause and feel proud raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation as well as the Brain Cancer Fund for the Carolinas. I love that Mike and MB come up and I get to hang out with my brother who I really like as a person. I loved riding with Joe and having us sync up as riding partners. I love eating for basically 18 hours straight and then sleeping all day long and not feeling a bit bad about it! I am already shopping for a tent to serve as our sunshade for our patio for next year and Joe and I have already decided that we are going to stick with 100 miles as our goal, but try to get them done faster. No matter how it goes next year, I am sure we will ride and sweat our booty off!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


It's so easy to tell when I am busy at work. Even though I listen to music all day long, when I am busy I don't really hear it. So the last few months (March- June) have been busy, so here is that music that I heard!

Title - Artist
Simple Math - Manchester Orchestra
Pictures - Benjamin Francis Leftwich
This Is Why We Fight - Decemberists
Living in America - Dom
Royal Bangs - Fireball
Embrace - All You Good People
Too Dramatic - Ra Ra Riot
Colors - Group Love
Getaway - Yuk
Girl From Mars - Ash
Taken For A Fool - Strokes
Darling Buds of May - Brother
Are You Leaving - Erik Hassle
Box of Stones - Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Save The World - Swedish House Mafia - Up Up Up by Givers
Go Outside - Cults (This is going on my 2011 Best Of CD)
Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan (This is my Summer 2011 Memory Trigger. You know..the song that forever makes you think of a particular time in your life.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

That was worth it.

This year I have been tasked with starting up a Rock Hill branch of Tri It For Life, the triathlon mentoring group I am in. We started out small...30 athletes and a solid group of 10 mentors who are really pitching in and helping. It's been a lot of work and a lot of driving to Rock Hill. We have biking on Tuesdays, running on Wednesdays and swimming on Saturdays. The pool is 55 miles round trip from my house. At least the gas is cheap.

So this started April 16 and for the past 9 weeks these ladies have been working their little booties off. We have women from the age of 11 to 84. Each one has shown up, session after session, and the improvement has been remarkable.

This past Saturday was what we call the Mock Tri. We set up everything and have the athletes go through the entire race, to work out kinks and to give them the confidence that they can indeed do this triathlon.

Setting up this event was pretty easy for me and tapped into my event planner past. Easy doesn't always translate into fast and the whole thing was pretty time consuming. In fact, the entire Rock Hill start up has been pretty time consuming. It has messed up my sleep schedule, zapped my energy, and I can't tell you the last time I cleaned my house. Nothing will kill your passion for an organization more than being involved. I was really looking forward to the day being over.

The women started showing up early, which is odd in event world. Everyone was ready and super nervous. I said some pre event remarks, our Tri It president said some remarks and we started lining up in the pool area. As we did I saw one women standing in line crying. She was nervous. I went up and hugged her and asked her what was wrong. She said she just didn't think she could do this. I knew she could and told her so. Quickly it was her turn in the water and of course she got through it. I watched as all the women made it through the swim and then headed out to the bike course. This was the scariest part for me because I wasn't with them. The road is busy and I felt like I was letting my kids go off by themselves for the first time. I started feeling better as they came back from their ride. Of course everyone was fine. We even had a flat tire and I am proud to say the girl changed her own tire! After the bike is a 2 mile run. At this point it was hot and nearing 11am. As some of the stronger athletes came in we would cheer and then those women would stand and cheer on everyone else.

Everyone finished with huge smiles on their faces but there are a couple that really made me tear up.

Sandra - Sandra and her daughter Aimee train together with Yulonda, a neighbor. Sandra has come to every single training opportunity I have provided her with and her ability has multiplied. She has pushed herself and it is apparent to everyone (but her) that she is so strong now. She still doubted that she could do it. As she crossed the finish line, Yulonda was right there and the two just embraced and hugged for a long time. I started crying. It really is the greatest feeling to have someone else believe in you, ESPECIALLY when you don't believe in yourself. I am forever grateful for Cindy for believing in me when I couldn't see the strength in myself.

Beverly (pictured above) - Beverly is the grandmother in the three generation team; Kenzie the granddaughter, Wendy the daughter. I know I am not supposed to pick favorites, but Bev is mine. I worked individually with Beverly on her very first training session and taught her how to use the gears on her bike. Her husband died last year and like many people, Bev and Wendy dealt with the stress by eating. After gaining 30 pounds, they knew they needed to do something. They joined Tri It For Life and I am honored that I played a part in their journey from mourning to remembering. Watching them grow, both physically and emotionally, has been a true blessing.

I can't explain why, but I am fundamentally a different person after crossing that finish line in 2009. It changed the way I think about myself and what I think I can do. I have been bitching and complaining about the time this organization takes and the various little issues I have. But in the end, I played a tiny part in a fantastic group of women changing their lives forever. I'm pretty proud of that; of them. Today makes it all worth it.