Saturday, January 13, 2007

The distance girl

I haven't been able to sleep much the past few days.

There's not really one thing on my mind. It's really bizarre. I just try to sleep, and before I know it, it's 1:17am. Not fun.

I wasn't sure if I'd have enough energy to swim on Friday, as I hadn't slept well and was still getting over the little bug I had earlier this week. But after school, I went to the brand new Y down the street, and dove in.

I didn't even go that far...relatively speaking, of course after this year's training schedule. 2250 yards. Just nice and easy with a few negative split 200s just to push me a bit. A 500 warmup. 10X50 drills.

It was awesome.

I have a few sounds that I just LOVE. My bat hitting a line drive. Leaves crunching. Laying down in snow and just listening.

And I love the sound of water as you're swimming laps.

For me, there's the sound of water as you swim in Lake Erie--with the waves hitting you and cresting by the shore. Then, there's the sound of water as I swim laps in the Y--my breath, and a muffled sound of me moving through the water. In the summer, I love the sound I hear when I swim at the outdoor pool in the summer. It's similar to the Y, but with a lot of kids laughing muffled with the sounds of my arms and legs moving.

I remember the sounds of the water at Ironman less clearly, but I clearly remember the sounds in my head. I could probably type back most of what went through my brain that morning. It was almost like I was watching myself swim and taking notes on the situation as it was unfolding.

Strange, but true.

Today, I ran at the zoo with some friends. It was awesome. We did some hill repeats, and said hi to the bear-sloth (did you know that such a thing existed? I didn't), the tigers, the seals (my personal favorite), the wolves, reindeer, and camels. Before I knew it, 70 minutes flew by. I have no clue how far I went.

I came home, and made some dessert for my family progressive dinner tonight. I'm sort of a dessert girl, so I volunteered to make it. Then, I had to clean things up a bit. I vacuumed, dusted, mopped the floors, and straightened up the place a bit. In our spare room, I have a shelf where I have a bunch of my race numbers tied together with a ribbon in a stack. Each one has written on the back the race and time, and sometimes another comment--"1st in Age Group!" "Very hot!" "Almost hurled!" Also on that shelf, are a bunch of trophies that I have from when I started road racing back in 2003. There's quite a few-mostly 2nd in Age Group for the road races, since my buddy Jenn was always first (I just never could quite catch her--she's speedy), but there is one glorious 5K age group win (not my PR, though--kinda weird!), but definitely some 1st for tris. "1st in Age Group." It really used to motivate me quite a bit.

I looked at the shelf and thought to myself, "That's funny...those just don't seem to motivate me as much anymore."

Perhaps it's because the longer the race, the lower in age group I seem to fall. But, whereas that might have REALLY bothered me 3 or 4 years ago road racing the shorter stuff, it really doesn't bother me now. Really. I say that, and probably only Matt can vouch for it. He used to see me get all geeked up about trying to win my age group, or being so pissed if I came in "third--ew." He'd roll his eyes and half-smile when I came home from my races with my little report of who beat me, or who I beat.

Over the past two years, I've been focusing on long distance stuff. 2005 had for me a marathon and a half ironman, with a few road races and sprints/olympics sprinkled in for fun. 2006 was the year of the Ironman, with a half ironman, olympic, and half marathon in as training, and a few road races that really were just glorified tempo runs.

I finished 69/100 in my age group at Ironman. And I am really, really happy with that.

At first, I think it was a little hard for me, to go from bringing home some shiny little trinket almost every time I raced--whether it was a coffee mug, a trophy, a ribbon--to finishing in the middle of the pack, at best. And then--and NOW--I think I realize that I've really changed in the past two years.

I'm not a trinkets girl anymore.

I am a distance girl.

I love to go long--to run with nothing but myself or a good friend for 2 or 3 hours, to hear the sounds of nothing but my feet on the trails, my arms in the water, or the wind through my helmet.

I can't stop thinking about getting another chance at an Ironman next year. I hope I can. I can't wait. I think now, I've seen the value of making my own goals and deciding what MY first, second, or third place is.

So I dusted off that shelf, with the random plaques and trophies. I know that things are cyclical, and that someday, they may be just what I need to get going again. Someday, probably, trinkets will seem exciting to me again.

But, for now, I'm going to trade them in. I'm going to trade them in for the distance, and I'm going to dream at night about going long, and about another Ironman someday.

And I'll make my own definition of first place.


Triteacher said...

Weird! I've had insomnia all week too. I never have that problem.

Glad to hear you've found your niche for this leg of the journey -- go long does have such a nice ring to it. :)

TriBoomer said...

After many short tri's I tackled longer distance events last year. The speedy TriBoomer too a back seat to the one that could go long. And ya know, I'm happy with that.

Stay tuned...

teacherwoman said...

Insomnia. It must be a thing in common between teachers. I have struggled a bit, and was completely worn friday evening.

What a wonderful post. I just love reading yours. You are so descriptive. Although I am not a regular swimmer...nothing compared to you, I do miss that feeling of just "being" in the pool and pushing myself as far as I can go.

Wes said...

When you are competing against yourself, how do you NOT come in first? That is the question... Go long, Iron Sara. The road and water calls you. We'll try not to weigh you down as we go along with you for the ride :-)

Curly Su said...

nice. thanks for the reminder.

Laurie said...

Your writing never ceases to inspire me.

RunBubbaRun said...

I think "going long' will let you see things and appreciate it more sometimes. If you go to fast all the time you might just miss all that.

congrats on the placements and get some sleep.

jeanne said...

that was beautifully written. well done!

Amy said...

I'm awake with you with insomnia. And the sounds of swimming. And the performances at races. Great post as usual.

Also, I'm so jealous about running at the zoo! How freakin' cool!

Lloyd said...

Fun. Our zoo run rocks! Have you tried the paths outside the zoo too? Inside, my fave is the tiger. She always seems to jog right along side (inside her cage, of course) and join the group. Hope someday I can get back to the zoo for some hills.

My spin on your hypothesis, "the longer the race, the lower in age group...," is that longer the race, the more friendly the people are. Both participants AND volunteers. Rarely at a marathon or longer do I see people not encouraging each other. Sometimes folks even assist each other. You just don't see that in the competitive local 5k.

And oh, good thing you haven't seen me at the pool. You'd hear the sound of choking on water, which happens whenever I try a flip-turn! But yeah, our new pool is wonderful, if not chaotic with the crowds.

E-Speed said...

I just realized JFK may have been the first race I didn't come home and instantly look up the splits of every girl in my age group (I did do it, just not right away). Maybe I am getting there too ;) Its still fun to win some gimcrack every now and then though.

Robin said...

It's cool when we come to those kinds of realizations. My husband said that Ironman was the first race he hasn't seen me really get ramped up about, and I said "that's 'cuz I have no hope of winning!" LOL. I was just out to finish and have a good time. I really enjoyed that, too.

And I loved how you write about the water. As a swimmer, the water is so important - the texture, the temperature, the sound. Who knew that water had so many different ways of being water?

Scott said...

Awesome trip photos! I think you did great for your first time on a surf board! You mean I have to wait a whole year to read about another IM training journey...

Jodi said...

One thing that I really learned to love in high school was the sound of the someone jumping of the diving board. That sound was my life for 5 years! I just love how a sound, song or smell can bring back so many memories.


Kurt said...

I also suffer from insomia from time to time and it is from the change in the training routine as well as my asthma.

I still love my hardware. Of course I give it all to my youngest and we are forever trying to figure out where to put it all.

Still there are races I do knowing I will not receive any but do them because I enjoy them and love the tougher competition.

Rae said...

A zoo run? That sounds like fun!

I bet Jack Bauer loves to run long, too. =)

TriShannon said...

Great talking to you yesterday! You are definitley a distance girl now!

Charlie said...

My 3 age group awards are a hat, a keychain, and a mug...Distance gives me much cooler trinkets for display.

Andy said...

It is always nice to get some hardware on your wall, just to say that you have some (I am still working on it, I don't count those finisher medals. Well I might count the ironman finisher medal, who knows)

I am slowly trying to convert to this distance person you are speaking of, but it is hard to do when you have not been near the top and you want to get there (even at one of your local races). I will get there though...