Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What's Next?


That's what.

Taking some time off always makes me remember how much I love these sports. Whenever I was pregnant, I would miss anaerobic stuff like none other. While I'm running around a track teetering on the point of puking? Not so much. But take it away from me, and I remember how much I enjoy it.

Since November, really, I've been running running running and it's been great and all, BUT....

...TST is a triathlete, yo.

So it's about time I start acting like one!

This is also the first year in 6 out of 7 years (lost one season due to being pregnant with Bug) that I will NOT be doing a 70.3. I knew it was time for a break. I do love that distance and, like the marathon, feel as if I'm now confident and experienced enough to actually race it. I know I'll be back. But I felt like I needed a break from it so that I could continue to love it, and not resent it. I know that I made the right decision, because I am so so so so excited to get back out there and am looking forward SO MUCH to what for me will be an attempt to go back to the roots and hammer the short(er) stuff this summer!

Now bear with me. Remember--seven years, people. Seven years since I really focused on short course. So I'm sure I'm going to fall flat on my face a few times.


Here's what I'm looking at:

5K on June 26th--it's in memory of a former student who was killed in action in Iraq. I would love to do this, and I think it's about time I get a new 5K PR. (My current is 23:43 which came 6 or 7 years ago and I know I can do better) My only concern is that it might be too soon after the marathon to give that a legit go, but we'll see how recovery shakes out in the next week or so.

Lifetime Oly: July 10th. SO EXCITED for my team race and to see all my teammates and Baby Pharmie, too! Can't WAIT!

July 24th: Huntington Sprint literally down the street from my house (It pays to live on Lake Erie) This is a free race I earned from volunteering while preggo. Local and lots of friends--would like this to be a hammer fest, too (do you see a trend here?)

August 21st: Sprint or Oly--could see what I feel like later--also nearby and also free from volunteering--yahoo

September 11: Thinking about a half marathon with Matt, Ana, and my other friends Rob and Sarah. I've done it before--the course is super fast (slightly downhill point to point) and it would be nice to try and go low 1:40s

September 24: Dances with Dirt Trail Race Relay--just going to have a great time here!

So that's the plan so far. For now, I need to stop eating everything in sight (Cinnamon Toast Crunch! It tastes so good when it HITS YOUR LIPS!), and focus on actually resting and recovering and all that stuff. Oh, and get this! I think I talked Ana into riding with me this weekend and possibly doing the Huntington Sprint in July! I can talk that girl into anything! Skinny skiing? Bullfights on acid?

(That's a Caddyshack reference, in case you missed it. Matt will be so proud. Anyone catch the Old School reference, too?)

Happy training to all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Winner! Deshler Designs Giveaway

How about some super fun news for a Thursday?

We have a WINNER in the Giveaway for some hair candy from Deshler Designs!

And.....drum roll please....

COMMENT #3! That is HEATHER, who said "Thanks for putting this out there!"

Congrats, Heather! Please send your headband choice and contact information to Emily at:


To everyone else, thanks so much for entering and hopefully you'll head on over to Emily's site and pick out some new hair candy anyway...I know I will! Summer's coming and this hair needs to get the heck out of my face, stat.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Risking It

"So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's A Great Balancing Act."--Dr. Seuss, in Oh, the Places You'll Go! and me almost every night when I read this book basically by heart

"Yeah, you know, technically I'm not even really supposed to be here right now. So f-- it...might as well make the most of it." --Eminem, Cinderella Man, the first song to come on my iPod when I put the headphones on at Mile 14

I've had a little more time here to think about everything that happened on Sunday and why I am still so happy about it. I know it sounds strange. Conventional wisdom would say that one should not be happy unless things are a PR, right?

But occasionally, for me, racing isn't all about time. It is a lot of the time, but for me it's also about more than that. I mean, seriously. I'm not winning these things. If it was all about time for me, I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago.

Sometimes in our little circles, our little stories, our little heads, we forget how amazing it is that we can do these things to our bodies. That we choose to have this pain; that we choose this fight. That many of us do in a morning what most people do in a week. I know I forget that sometimes.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. And Self? You've done some great things. It's okay to relax every once in a while.

In the past ten years, I've done somewhere in the ballpark of 20-30 sprint and olympic distance triathlons, countless 5Ks and 10Ks, I don't know--6 half marathons?, 5 full marathons, 5 half-ironmans and 1 Ironman. And I haven't won any of them.

That's a lot of stuff to do, too.

Sometimes I forget that this in and of itself is a pretty big deal. And I chose to do all of it. ALL of it. I put myself through what it took to get to all of those start and finish lines by choice.

I say this, because the night before the race I found out someone I know who has two little children--one just a few months old, and a little boy just a few months younger than Jackson--was given 2-4 years to live. Cancer.

Two to four years to live.

It made my heart sink, and I thought what it must be like for her to have gotten this news this past week. For her husband to get this news. To know that she won't see her daughter's first day of kindergarten. Or her son's little league games. Or her 15th wedding anniversary.

Somehow, my little saga, my self-created struggle, seemed rather insignificant.

I had been mulling in my head my options all week. What if I played it safe? Ran with the 3:50 group--an 8:46 pace--which I was completely positive I could handle? Clock myself down a few more minutes and chip away at the PR a bit?

Or what if I just went for it--3:40, knowing that I didn't get in the miles I wanted to....knowing what that might mean later in the race? This spring has been, to put it mildly, pretty awful for me. To get in the miles that I did required a minor miracle. And I knew that my long runs were not as numerous as they had been in the past. That the marathon is a huge nasty gorilla who will either tolerate you being in its presence, or grab you by the hair and bash you against the wall, depending upon the day. You never quite know until you're in the middle of it.

I thought of her, of this news she just got this week. And that sealed it.

3:40 for sure. I choose this risk. I choose this pain. I choose to do this because it reminds me of how much joy I get when I push my body beyond the limits I set for myself.

I fully understood and accepted what the outcome would be. Either I would do it, puke, and collapse at the finish line, or I would try and absolutely blow up.

Either way, my sun would still come out tomorrow.

There's really not much else to say. I could go mile by mile, but you'd probably laugh out loud. It's actually kind of funny to see my mile splits. Just looking at my mile splits, you would deduce that no one has ever ran a more stupid marathon than that chick. And on paper, this was not a good race for me.

But I do believe that this, in fact, was a good race for me. It reminded me why I do this, and that I have, in fact, come so far from where I started.

In this race, one where the wheels started to fall off around mile 12 and were completely rolling behind me by mile 14, where my first half was right on pace and my second half was horribly painful and slow, I still ended with a 4:05.


As short as three years ago, I did not think I was capable of a 4:05. I have now reached the point where my horrible marathon--my worst-case-scenario marathon--is a 4:05.

That alone is kind of blowing me away right now.

I thought of quitting. As we ran through downtown all I could think of was why, why whywhywhy did I not sign up for the half? I am in fantastic half shape. I could have knocked this half out of the ballpark. But my right hamstring was already seizing up on me by about the half marathon point, and I knew then that it was not going to happen today.

Part of me wanted to stop.

I was ready to stop when I saw my family. They were going to be somewhere around mile 17. I was ready to just collapse in a heap when I got there and be done so that it didn't hurt any more.

But they were early. They caught me off guard. And I couldn't stop then. They gave me the encouragement to keep moving forward.

So move forward, I did. Slowly, painfully, but I vowed I would make it somehow to the end.

At mile 18, I stopped at the medical tent. At this point, I was stopping to stretch my hamstring about every half mile or so. Each time I would say in a hushed whisper, "come on, hammy...come on hammy, hang on..." But it didn't seem to be listening. The two guys in there gave me a few stretches to try so I did.

"Do you need any help? Are you sure you want to keep going?"

Yes. Yes, I am.

Miles 18-25 had pain in almost every step. I was so glad at least I threw my iPod in the race belt at the last second, so I tried to step with the beat. I just kept thinking about how pain is good, how I feel just fine!, to block out the pain in my hamstring and the one slowly developing in my right knee.

Somehow I can salvage this race. I can learn something here. I can show myself something here, wrapped up nicely in this disaster.

The last thing I wanted to do was to go to school the next day and tell my students I quit. The very thought made me tear up. I didn't want to say it to Jackson, either. And I really didn't want to let my teammates down. I felt like I already had a bit, as I know they were rooting for me and for most of them this stuff comes much easier than it does for me. I wanted to be the success story that they were hoping for.

Maybe I still could be.

The last two miles hurt so badly. I had already watched the 3:50 group come and go after making a desperate attempt to latch onto them. Then the 4:00 group came. I tried, but had nothing. But I reminded myself that I chose this pain. I knew this might happen. This was not mental, this was physiological. I knew I hadn't done what my body would need to do to run a 3:40. Many, many people can get by on a lot less than I can, but this confirmed that for me to do this time would require somewhere in the ballpark of 50-60 mile weeks, minimum. Multiple 20+ mile runs. No triathlons, because I wouldn't have time to do anything but run, breathe, teach, and raise two children. And even then, there's no telling what the gorilla might do. But that would be what it would take for me to have a shot at it.

And about mile 25 I made peace with that. I made peace with the fact that I cannot do that right now. No, actually that's not really right. I will not do that right now. This is my choice. I am happy with it.

And it was like a big weight was lifted off of me. The gorilla let go and stopped bashing me in a bit. I high fived all the kids I saw. I stopped and chatted with a former student at the last water station. I screamed like crazy at my two friends on the corner of East 9th and St. Clair.

The weather was just the same as Ironman Wisconsin. Almost exactly the same, down to the wind and rain and 53 degree temperatures. It didn't rain much the first 3 hours and just misted which was actually pretty nice, but that last hour it started to really come down, and I remembered that finish line that day in Madison.

In short, I remembered why I do this. Because of how fun it is, and how alive it makes me feel.

I ran down that finisher's chute, with a smile on my face and a hard-fought, well-earned 4:05 finish. And now I know. I know what I can do with the time I am willing to give. I know that setting realistic goals is probably the smart thing to do, but going hard or going home also makes a better story.

That reaching far too high is much better than not reaching at all.

I have absolutely no regrets about the way I raced this race. Don't let my splits and my 7:50 second mile tell you any differently. It was absolutely reckless. It was full of wonder. It was full of pain. It was something I am very happy not to even try again for possibly years. Because I can walk away from this and say, for the very first time, that I raced a marathon.

And that makes this story, in my book, a happy ending.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


No, really, I am.

Mostly that it's over. And I'm dry now! And not cold anymore. A 4:05 equals my second best time ever, and given the rotten weather I am even more okay with that.

But I'm very happy with the end result. I knew in my heart that this was just a bit out of reach, and unless things went perfectly, it wouldn't happen.

I have also decided it is about time to stop doing things I don't want to do.

I know I would have killed the half today. When you start having to stop and stretch at mile 14, that's a bad sign. I was ready to quit at mile 17 when I saw my family there, except they surprised me and saw me at 14. I figured I'd just gut it out and try to make it to the finish line.

I think I'll need more explanation later, but the short version is this: I said before I do believe I could qualify for Boston, but for me it would require a lot. A LOT. A lot of things would have to be sacrificed. I did sacrifice quite a bit this time, but not nearly enough. I will never, ever sacrifice too much time with my kids, time with Matt, or being the best teacher I can be. I have sacrificed all remnants of being a triathlete the past 4 months. I don't like it. Those are some pretty big jobs. There is only so much of me, and I did what I could.

Realistically, I should have tried for a 3:50 and I think I probably could have done that. But then I would have wondered, always wondered. Now I won't, and that makes me happy.

I'm also kinda like, why am I running fulls if I don't like to run fulls? The last mile was fun, mostly because I was TOTALLY hamming it up for the crowd. But the rest was very painful and not fun. I spent quite a bit of time stretching and talking with the guys in the medical tent at mile 18.

The bottom line is this: for me personally to get to Boston requires things I'm absolutely not willing to give. I don't regret attempting; now I know for sure. I will sleep better tonight knowing this. I would have wondered.

What kept me going was that I wanted to go to school tomorrow and not have to tell my students I quit. I also didn't want to explain to my own children that I quit. I am not a quitter.

But I am in a pretty good deal of pain right now. And unless I can devote what needs to be devoted for full marathons, I probably shouldn't do them. I'm not much of a fan of half-assing things.

So I can't wait to hammer Lifetime this summer with my team, get in the pool, ride my bike again, train with the kids this summer for the tri, and absolutely KILL half marathons for a bit.

Pictures to follow, but my family is amazing and I was so lucky to share this race with good friends, too.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just What I Needed

I’ve said before how I’m not very good at slowing down, so you can imagine how much fun I have when it’s time to taper. Yeah. SO pleasant to be around! I’m either gasping and saying “is that a weird pain in my ankle?! Maybe it’s plantar fasciitis! Or a torn ligament! Or DYSENTERY!” or I’m lamenting how huge and slow and sluggish I feel.

So when I saw a little 30 minute run on the docket I thought, just 30? Really? Because if Matt had a say in this it would be about 3 hours and 30 minutes.

(The patience that my husband has, especially with me during race week, is UNREAL.)

We had a storm and then the sun came out just in time for a sunset, so I headed out.

I was supposed to do 4 pickups for 45 seconds to half marathon pace (which for me is about 8 or just under) and after a mile or so I got into them.

I had to really hold myself back. I found that my instinct was to go low 7s.


Then, I was convinced the Garmin was lying to me. The battery was low; surely this was NOT TRUE. I was so convinced that I went to MapMyRun.com just to be sure that distance was really what it said it was.

I knew it would be wrong.

Except, it wasn’t.

I ran just 3 short little miles, but at a pace that felt so natural and easy and even slow to me. Like I was out for a leisurely stroll.

And it was 8:30.



Needless to say, this was definitely what I needed to see.

I don’t know what is going to happen on Sunday, but I just sort of have this calm sense that’s been winning out over the freak out sense, that says I’ve done everything I can possibly do, and deep in there, I can do this.

I think this was my body’s way of reminding me that. That I’ve been here before; that I’ve been scared, that I’ve been reaching for something I actually said before I could never do, that I wondered if I could even do it.

And I did it. I fought like hell, but I did it.

I am starting to really believe that if I can just keep my head in my own head and in each moment--each mile--then I have got this.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Wait...now it's my turn?!

My kids were freaking out. ALL week. Freaking out, wondering if they did all they could. Frantically asking questions about the Gilded Age and Marbury v. Madison and the Peggy Eaton Affair and the Tariff of Abominations and the Great Society.

All week I said REPEATEDLY, "You guys will be FINE. You have to TRUST YOURSELVES. You have to believe that you did everything you could and you prepared the best you could, and whatever they ask you just believe that you are ready and go with your gut."

And then they had their test.

And they were fine.

Happy, even! Giggly. And some even told me thanks for getting them so ready.

Ahem. Perhaps I have a thing or two to learn here.

Because now that their test is over? Holy CRAP MINE IS NEXT SUNDAY.

It's here.

And I'm starting to get a little nervous.

Okay, okay. A LOT nervous.

I do sort of have this calmness, though, too. I swing between being nervous and thinking OMG WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO and you know what, self, you are going to be fine.

Every once in a while I'll have this wave of "it'll-be-fine-ness" rush over me, too. I think about what it will be like to cross that finish line, no matter what happens. I know I'm the leanest and fittest I've been in quite some time. I remember that I am running stronger now than I ever have, and now's as good of a time than ever to go for this crazy goal. The worst that could happen, in the scheme of things, isn't the worst thing ever.

Sometimes I just have this feeling like I'm going to do it.

And then I swing to ACK! again.

I have a feeling this is how it's kinda going to be for the next few days.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

How about a GIVEAWAY?


I am very excited to host my very first giveaway EVER here in TriSaraTops land!

Remember back when I told you all about Emily's awesome headbands at Deshler Designs? Well, she has been gracious enough to give away a FREE headband of your choice to a fabulous blog reader out there!

I'm telling you--these things are awesome. I have SO. MUCH. HAIR. and they never fail me. Plus, they are super cute. Guys, if you have a gal in your life that loves to be active, you should enter, too! You'll score major points. I promise.

Here's the scoop:

Giveaway: Free Non-slip hair band from Deshler Designs! (www.DeshlerDesigns.etsy.com)

You have SEVEN ways to earn chances towards a free headband!

  1. Become a follower of my blog: www.trisaratopsimadventure.blogspot.com
  2. Follow Deshler Designs on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/DeshlerDesigns
  3. Follow Deshler Designs on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/DeshlerDesigns
  4. Heart/Favorite Deshler Designs on Etsy www.DeshlerDesigns.etsy.com
  5. Make a purchase from Deshler Designs on Etsy after 5/1/11
  6. Tweet a link to this giveaway
  7. Post a link to this giveaway on your FB wall

So, you have up to 7 chances to enter the giveaway--it's that simple! IMPORTANT: Please leave a comment to this post for each entry you complete. Winner will be chosen from the comments left to this post on May 14th using the random number generator @ http://www.psychicscience.org/random.aspx .

Good luck, and be sure to swing by Emily's Etsy shop to check out all the hair candy!

The best laid plans...


My spring break was pretty rough. Let's just say it was not quite as bad as my winter break, where all four of us got the stomach flu, but a very close second. I found myself crying quite a bit and asking for a "do-over." To say it was stressful and not relaxing at all is quite an understatement.

I'm supposed to run long today but couldn't do it this morning. Now I'm going to try and time it up with a naptime if I can, but it has to be alone. Boo. Good mental prep, I guess. Plus, I think I need some alone time after this week. Some people get mani/pedis...I go for 2 hour runs alone.

Despite most of my plans falling completely apart, I did manage to sneak out for a quick shopping trip with my Mom (holy J. Crew sales! I am the sale-rack master), a quick lunch with Best Friend, and last night actually got to use our tickets to see Jon Stewart which I thought for SURE were going to fall apart like every other plan we tried to make for this week. So that was good.

And summer is just a few weeks away--yahoo!

And boy am I looking forward to acting like a triathlete again. Running is fun but I know at heart I'm a multi-sport girl. I can't wait to get back on my bike and in the pool.

AP test on Friday and my big test two weeks from today! Now off to at least change for my run...if I'm wearing the clothes it has to happen, right?