Friday, October 31, 2008

April, 1994

In April 1994, I was a 16 year old high school student primarily concerned with my softball games, if I'd be going to prom, and can I get up early enough to straighten my hair.

I was a half a world away from the genocide unfolding in the country of Rwanda.

I was actually, for a 16 year old, kind of up on current events. I mean, I payed attention more than your average bear. And I vaguely remember hearing something about Rwanda...something about "tribal warfare" and a lot of killings.

Now I'm 31, and I've studied the event extensively. I know now that the word "genocide" was carefully left out of the American press. That the United Nations failed miserably in their attempts to keep the peace. And that in a country of less than 8 million people, almost a million died. That would be like if the United States today, with a population of 300 million, lost 45 million people.

In three months.

I've become increasingly frustrated with the big talk but lack of action from world leaders on the genocide in Darfur. I'm doing what I can to get my students aware of the situation and trying to help, despite the lack of attention to it by the American press. So when I heard that Paul Rusesabagina was coming to speak near us, I had to take some students. And I had to be there, too.

Because part of me is still ashamed. Mad that I was alive during that awful 100 days. And that I didn't do anything; that I didn't even know. So to meet such a thank him, to shake his hand and tell him how much he inspires meant more to me than I can put into words.

And from listening to them on the bus ride home, I think it meant a lot to them, too. And hopefully, will inspire them to act.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Off Season Tale

And I'm not even pregnant this time!
So what does one do during an off season, anyway?

Well, I don't know, really...I'm learning as I go, I guess! I can tell you that I'm down a few toenails, up a few gin and tonics at weddings, down a few loaves of pumpkin bread and, somehow, miraculously NOT up a few pounds. I'm dreaming big, relaxing, and going to the pumpkin patch. I'm excitedly plotting my next move while still giddy from the moves of April to last Sunday.

So here's some evidence:

My 2 good buddies got married--one in WV, and one in Cleveland...lots of fun!

And little Bug loves the Pumpkin Patch!

Actual triathlon-y stuff to come later...for now, off to chill with my boys!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Race Report: Columbus Marathon, 2008

When the big races come, I've come to realize (and I also realize this is not conventional) that I do best when I step back from the hype a bit. Earlier this season I was questioned a bit in my rationale of pre-race strategies, but you know what? It just works for me. So we go with it--giddyup!

For example, at Ironman, I did not attend the pre-race pasta dinner--I ate dinner with good friends instead. I stayed in a hotel a ways away from downtown. And I tried my best not to hang out in the expo.

This weekend, I didn't even GO to the expo. I had no desire whatsoever. You've seen one, you've seen them all, right? In fact, as mentioned below, I hadn't even really thought about the race until Thursday evening, but not for the best of reasons or circumstances. But it's in these moments, of quiet and calmness, when I do my best thinking. And that's when I go over things in my head, and picture how the race will go. And every time I pictured the finish line I saw a 3. Every time. I can't explain it, except that there was no doubt in my mind I was going to do it.

So, my awesome buddy Cerveza picked up my packet and stuff for me. We were staying with her and her hubby since they were doing the half, which worked out really well. Matt, Bug and I loaded into the car and headed down to arrive mid-afternoon. Cerveza is kind of Betty Crocker and made enough pasta to feed a third world country, as usual. Which was good, because I knew we'd eat well that night for sure! My teammate Sweet and his wife Cara--my mommy/teacher/triathlete/runner partner-in-crime-- got to come over and share dinner with us, too. I am pretty sure Cerveza put rocket fuel in her pasta sauce with the way that all 4 of us ran the next day.

So we went to bed and I'm pretty sure I slept no more than 3 hours. Bug was so confused and didn't know where the heck he was, and FREAKED OUT pretty much all night. Around 3:40am, we gave up and just let him snuggle in bed with us. Then, after I closed my eyes for what felt like 30 seconds, the alarm was going off.

Your token "It's 5:27am and we're sleepy" shot

I got up, had some coffee and peanut butter toast on wheat, and got ready to go. The weather was PERFECT for me at least. A good solid layer of frost was on the car--bonus! Me likey cold. We drove downtown and I hit the port-o-potties (twice!) and before I knew it there was 2 minutes to the start.

Except I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy in the back. Uh oh.

How do I find Pacer Catherine? aggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhpoop.

I started HAULING with 2 other dudes on the sidewalk, trying to get to the front. "Excuse us! Excuse us!" I kept saying as I blew by people and accidentally knocked into them. Then I hopped the fence. Whew! I made it.

Um, except for one thing. Now I was in the 6:00/mile pace group.

Yeah. Not in this lifetime.

I looked around and wiggled my way back a bit and finally found Catherine and her balloons with 30 seconds to spare. WHEW!

Okay. Focus time.

The gun went off, and we made our way to the front. My game plan was to stay with Catherine at least until 20, and then see what happened from there.

Can I just say this is a fantastic course, by the way? I think I underestimated the nice-ness of Columbus. It really was very scenic and had awesome crowd support. Definitely a great place to go for a mid-sized marathon. There are a few "hills" though, or really more false flats. It's not completely flat like a lot of people say, but I liked the slight change in grade and I think it was good to use different muscles for a bit.

Anyway, back to the story.

So the first 7 miles felt so slow I wanted to pull out a magazine. Which is good, I guess. I did have to make a port-o-potty stop around mile 4 for what I'll just say is a leftover pregnancy related issue that I ain't gonna go into here. It was all good, though. I caught back up to Catherine in no time. We chatted about Ironman and stuff, and she was such an awesome pacer--telling us stories, jokes, and giving us encouragement the whole way.

I saw Sweet at mile 7 and again at around mile 14! It was so awesome to have him out there and I hoped that Cara's race was going well, too. I knew she was trying to Boston Qualify and I knew we definitely lucked out with the weather. But anything can happen out there, you know? So I just hoped for her.

We hit the halfway point at 1:59:45. Right. On. Target. I still felt so slow I wanted to get a crossword puzzle or something, which was a good sign. I took a gel at mile 7 and again around 13, and had some water or Gatorade Endurance at most aid stations.

Around mile 15 I started to get into that area where you're getting tired but still have double-digits to go. I tried to just focus on Catherine's balloons, the crowd, and my steps. It was not quite as easy anymore, but each mile ticked by and I felt really, really good. I took another gel around mile 18 and drank some more.

Mile 20 came. I was both relieved and nervous, too. This, I thought, is when people blow up. This is when stuff goes wrong.

But so far, nothing.

So far, feelin' freaking fantastic, actually...which in and of itself was a little nerve-wracking. When, I thought, is the other running shoe going to drop?

It just never did.

Big ups to that guy around mile 21 with a big vat of vaseline--he even ran with me a little bit so I could get my grubby hands in there and smear it on my back and arm where my jersey was rubbing a bit. Thanks, random Vaseline Man! And, um, that's kind of nasty that I stuck my hand in some guy's vaseline jar. But hey, anything goes at mile 21.

At mile 22, Catherine told me if I was feeling good, I should leave her. I was feeling really, really good. So I did. Not very far, and I could still hear her a little bit behind me, cheering everyone on. But it gave me even more of a boost to think, "Holy crap. I just passed the pacer. And I feel awesome."

I took one more gel, and around that time I knew I was going to do it. It was just a matter of by how much, which is what happened in Cincinnati. But this time really meant a lot to me. There are things I don't talk about here, because I don't think the world-at-large needs to know, but it's safe to say I really didn't have any business doing this race. I wasn't sure I'd get through the training, and I questioned myself while doing my long runs. I thought about demoting to the half. And of course, now, I'm glad I didn't, but I knew going into this that this one would mean a lot. This one really would show me what I'm made of. This one took more than any other one just to get to the starting line.

I started to feel myself getting a little emotional. Gotta keep the emotions in check, I thought. Just like in Ironman. It's not over yet.

After mile 23, I rounded a corner to see a guy with a guitar providing entertainment (which the course had a TON of, too--another plus). He was acoustic and singing,

Whoa, sweet child of mine...
Whoaaaa sweet love of mine...

Whooooaaa sweet child of mine, mmmmm yeah....

And then, suddenly, all I could think about was Jackson.

I got a FEVAH. And the only prescription is MORE COWBELL, MOMMY.

I teared up.

I missed him so much, that morning and all those mornings I had to do my long runs. And he doesn't know the difference, but I do...and I just really felt like I wanted to make him proud and do this. I needed to do this for him, to show him someday how you can do what you think is impossible, that whatever your heart is set on is reachable no matter how many obstacles are in your way. No matter how many question you or your methods. That just over a year ago I got in "trouble" for walking 2 miles and was 50 plus pounds heavier wondering if I'd ever really compete again, and because my drive is so internal and focused this year I've blown every personal record out of the ballpark.

I've been rewired.

And someday I want to tell him that Mommy did it, but that I did it with him--that most of my runs were at 5am on a treadmill so I didn't miss a second with him, and that on my long runs Daddy and him would meet me and run the last 4 with me.

At first glance, it looks like I did this alone. But that's not true, because we did this together--all three of us. And I want him to know that someday.

So I held that in, until we got to mile 26. Because that's when I saw them. I saw them, and I knew Catherine was still behind me.

And I was going to do it, alright.

The last 300 yards or so are down a slight hill, and I don't remember anything except that I started crying with about 100 yards to go. I sped up as fast as I could and crossed the line to see 3:58.58 on my watch. A 20 minute PR; a new personal best.

A nice volunteer took my chip, and I told her "I'm sorry--I'm just happy" as I laughed with big stupid tears. The overwhelming amazement of this whole past year just caught up with me, I think. That doesn't just happen to me at finish lines. I'm usually the one who's laughing and high-fiving.

And then I found Bug and Matt, and Cerveza and her hubby Dave, and Cara. All four of us had near-perfect days. Dave PRd by 10 minutes in the half; Cerveza by 4. Cara is going to Boston.

And I saw a 3.

Me and Cara, the Boston Girl!
And then as I kissed Bug with big tears on my cheeks saying, "We did it, Buddy! We did it," he grabbed my banana. Cuz that's how he rolls.

Oh, sure, he looks cute but you'd better WATCH YOUR BANANAS.

So as I look back now, I'm even more happy with the results and dreaming bigger. I negative split a marathon.

Negative split. A MARATHON.

Who does that? Somehow I did, and I still can't believe it. Seriously--disbelief. Mile 24 was 8:53, for cryin' out loud. It means I had a combination of excellent training from awesome Coach Emily, a perfect day, I ran a smart race, and some good mental boosts from Coach Kara who has really become more like Friend Kara, and support from my team , friends, and family.

My awesome teammate, Sweet, fresh off a 9:58 in Kona last weekend!

So that's the end, really. I'll outline my training in another post, as well as my nutrition, more just so I can have a record of what I did because it freakin' worked for me BIG TIME.

And I've got quite big plans for the future, too. But for now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for a little off season. Because I haven't stopped moving since my 6 week checkup with my doctor last November, and I've got a lot to do over the next few weeks. I'll be going on lots of walks, leisurely rides, heading to the pumpkin patch, watching some football, and drinking some cider. WITH a little bit of Captain, of course. ;)

But be forewarned...I'm going full speed ahead when the season starts again. And I've got BIG plans. Because I've really redefined what my upper limits are, and I'm still not near them yet.

Not even close.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm sitting here typing in bed, because, quite frankly, I am POOPED and it's comfy. So there. I wanted to type up my race report now, while it's all fresh in my mind, but see this need (and I mean NEED) to inhale a nice juicy burger nownownownowNOW took over. So it will come. I promise. With some good pictures, too.

But for now, I need to sleep, especially considering I got (maybe) a grand total of 3 hours of sleep last night.

But you know what?

I did it.

And the really odd thing is that I just kind of knew I would. I told Matt that on Thursday. We were folding laundry that had taken over our room and putting it away, and I just stopped and looked at him and said, "You know what? I just think I'm going to do it."

So then I did. And I'm pretty excited.

We got an absolutely PERFECT day. Some would say cold, but for me the furnace, I was LOVIN' it.

And it's safe to say that some things I thought were simply impossible just really aren't anymore. I think I've finally gotten that through my thick skull. I don't even think I really believed it until now--even after Ironman.

2002 5:14
2005 4:18
2008 3:58

And of course, that leads me to the next question: can I take off 18 more?

Because that's something I just never, ever thought would be possible for me. But I feel like it is. Not tomorrow, or anything. Probably not next year. But in my five-year plan.

This season has been, in a word, unbelievable. From the news that I was going to join this wonderful group of people in April, through PR after PR all year. I am, quite simply, in disbelief.

And I just have a feeling that it's only going to get better from here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Laying it all out there

It's quiet now, and Bug's asleep.

It's been quite a challenging week, and an emotional one at that. I haven't really even had time to think about the race, and maybe that's a good thing. There's been no obsessing, no freaking out, and I forgot to mention it to most of my students. A few of them remembered from a week or two ago when I let it slip, but other than that, my day ended quietly in an empty classroom like it usually does. Tomorrow it will just be me in my room for a scheduled work day, which I love. Time to actually plan, make some calls, look up interesting lessons, and do all the other things I never get to do in a jam-packed school day.

So it's Thursday night, and I have about 2 more days until the big day. I've never felt more ready, but the events of this past weekend have definitely taken my mind off the race. I think it's time maybe I started thinking about it.


So I have done 2 "stand alone marathons." One, in 2002. Trained alone, 30 pounds heavier than I am now, and just happy to finish. Finishing time 5:14.

Then, me and my partner in crime, Canada Jenn, did the Flying Pig in 2005. Trained with Second Sole and my awesome buddies there. Actually had a clue. Lost the poundage. Ran a 4:18.

This race, I'm setting the goal at 3:59.59. Things went so well during training, that I thought about lowering the bar even more. But I don't want to get too ahead of myself...18 minutes is a lot to chop off, and a BQ is still too far away, so I think sub-4 is a good goal for right now.

The plan is to run with Pacer Catherine of the Clif Bar Pace Team (who just so happens to be an IMW Veteran as of this year) for the first half. Then, pick it up just slightly if I can, or stay to her like glue if I cannot.

So that's the plan.

Weather looks good so far, but this is me we're talking about and I get rained on in pretty much every race I do, so I'd better not speak too soon. I do not do well in heat, and I think I'm out of the woods for that at least.

The events of the past week have been sort of a punch in the face of perspective, so I really am rather calm and collected at the moment. In the scheme of things, really....this is just a race. I'm going to do my best, do what I know I can, and enjoy the day and the finish with my buddies and Matt and the Bug.

So, there you have it. Not the usual intense pre-race situmatation that I usually find myself in. But, regardless, I just kind of have a good feeling about this. And I just kind of feel like I'm going to do it.

So that's what I'm going to do. For those who want to play along, I'm number 4025, and you can probably track me somehow here.

See you on the other side of the finish line.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And in a week from today will all be done.

Whatever the results may be.

And that's kind of exciting. Scary, but exciting, too.

It's been one of those whirlwind weekends. Something awful happened Friday. Something that is really your worst fear come true...something that makes you stop and realize how little you have in your control when you kiss your loved ones goodbye in the morning. Something that makes you stop and think that sometimes you almost don't have time for that kiss. And how you'd just never be able to live with yourself if Friday was that day for you.

I spent part of Friday evening in a place no one wants to be in--the Emergency Room, with a few other friends and quite a few tears. I spent Friday night thinking, what would I do if it was just me alone in this bed? Would I be able to handle that?

Somehow we have to, sometimes.

So this week, my race has been pushed to the back burner. And, the more I think about it, I remember that I do best when I push it back there. I am, first and foremost, a mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I'm no professional athlete. I get to race in Columbus next Sunday morning and have that moment--where I have to wait in line for the port-o-potty, hands shaking, yawning like I always do when I'm nervous--because I am lucky enough to have that moment.

That morning.

After Friday, I woke up and drove to West Virginia with Matt and friends from my childhood-- most of whom I am lucky enough to still call my friends today. And I focused on the happy thoughts, because I had to--that one of my bestest guy friends since kindergarten found such an awesome girl. I danced with a ridiculous hot pink feather boa around my neck. I kicked my shoes off because they made my feet hurt, and danced to Baby Got Back like I was pretty much in the video. I did the best I could to live that evening like the gift that it was.

There is suffering and joy in all of our lives. I'm very blessed that most of mine is pure, sheer joy.

And with that, I look forward to the finish line next Sunday morning.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fall, Taper, and other assorted thoughts

Had a great run on Friday--13 miles with a good negative split. Then we celebrated Bug's birthday Saturday with family and friends, and Sunday I had a nice recovery ride. Even had to pull out my new 2XU arm and leg warmers. Love it! Fall is pretty much my favorite season.

I'm pretty excited because one of my good running buddies is crossing over to the tri-side! So excited for her. I'm always pumped to get a new training buddy!

Now I'm in taper, which is nice, as I'm getting a chance to breathe. But, you know how it goes...taper time creates phantom pains and the feeling of being, essentially, a fat bloated cow. Although, the Friendly's Reese's Cup Sundae I took care of (well, I had about 3/4 of it. close enough) might have something to do with it. Today, I just had one workout. And it felt pretty weird! I've been "on" for a while now, and now that I'm slowing down and gearing up for the big day, it feels a little strange.

I've never been more ready for a race. But the marathon is a funny animal, and you never quite know with unwavering certainty what you're going to get. All you can do, is what you can, with the day that is given to you.

And trust yourself.

And that's what I plan on doing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

One Year Later

...and I love them more every day.

Happy Birthday, Little Bug!

Two weeks until Columbus...and I'm gonna make this one count. Big time. :)