Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Break Fresh Start Go

Okay, so I wallowed for maybe an extra day or two.  In snow. 

But I'm ready now.  I feel at peace with my decision to stop at the half in Athens, and I am excited to get back on the horse and make this thing happen.

It's fitting, really, that I'll make this happen in Cleveland.  12 years ago and 35 pounds heavier, I finished my first marathon in Cleveland in five hours and fourteen minutes.  They even changed the course this year to be more like that old course, and it is all on the west side.  Miles 13-19 are in the city that I teach in.  The turnaround is about 2 miles from my house. 

In short, imma gonna have support and friendly faces ALL up on that course. 

So I'm ready.  I'm not really sure how to connect the dots from a botched attempt at a race where I was very tapered to May 18th, but that's why I have Coach do the leg work for me. 

And you know what? The sun is out.  It's getting warmer.  I'm heading to Chattanooga Wednesday for our annual Evotri Training Camp and it's gonna be hot and hilly, so I can get in a good 16 miles of heat and hills and trails. 

It may be hot in Cleveland, and I'm going to have to deal with that as it comes.  But, as my friend Katie said to me yesterday, "There was 100% chance it was too hot in Athens at mile 13."  Indeed.  So I'm going to have to roll the dice and hope and pray that it's not that hot in Cleveland on May 18th.  But if it is, I'm going to do whatever I can to acclimate and be ready. 

I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.  And Betty White is just so awesome.
I'll be a hell of a lot more ready than I was on April 13th, anyway.  Our CLE schizophrenic April weather is in full swing, but today will be 75, so when these days come, I'm just going to have to get out there and run in it.

It is worth mentioning that my legs were trashed after last Sunday's race. Those 13.1 were no joke and took quite a bit out of me.  I ran the half in somewhere around 1:46 (not counting two stops) which would be a PR for me.  Um, yay? 

Anyway, the heat left me very sore and dehydrated.  But I feel like myself again today after my run, and I'm ready to hit this hard and make it happen.

This jam has been pumping me up this week.  Enjoy.
Oh, and hang on for the ride--this will be an interesting journey to the next start line.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Minus 50

So less than 48 hours after it was too hot for me to finish a marathon, I woke up to this:


I mean....I....what the...

There are no words.

Except, of course, that clearly that was NOT meant to be my day. 

Have a rotten cold at the moment--might be the 50 degree temperature swing in the past two days--but I'm trying to regroup and psych myself up to do this again--for real this time.

I'm very excited that Spring Break starts on Friday and I get to head to TN next week for some much needed fun and training with my Evotri teammates.  Oh, and a long run, too, I guess.  I'm gonna need to con them into that somehow.  Maybe I can break it up a bit and they can each take an hour?  Maybe I can promise them lots of beer?

Trying to keep the chin up over here.  Been a rough week, and not just with this race.  But I know that all this work wasn't wasted.  There's still a good engine in here.  I just need to get the chance to let it work.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Today, I can cry

Okay, so first of all, I'm a bad blogger and just saw the comments from Robyn and Jo in my moderation folder and promptly cried again.  You both rock.  Thank you. 

There is so much irony in today, that somehow this has to be funny.  It will be, someday.  But not today.

I'm allowed to cry today.  Just today. Then I'm done.

That whole weather/heat thing I was worried about?  And I tried really hard to ignore it but checked a few more times and watched the low and high temperatures creep up, up, and up some more?

It did me in.

The thing that just kills me, and Robyn sort of hit this on the head, is that I did SO many things right this training cycle.  I ate clean, got up so early and nailed EVERY. SINGLE. RUN. that I did. I am leaner and without a doubt, much stronger than I was in October.  I knew I had this. I just knew it. 

I told my friends about 11 days before the race (aka the night before the first time I could check the weather report) that "I am ready for anything that might throw at me--except heat, of course! LOL" 

LOL. LOL, indeed.

In the past 4 months, I have not done one run outside in a temperature warmer than 36 degrees.

Not one.

I did two treadmill runs of 14 miles when the ice and wind chills were so bad.  They sucked, but I did them.  All of my morning runs were inside.  Every single one.

Today, the low was 61 and the high was 81 in Athens.  It was, quite literally, the warmest day of 2014.  And probably the warmest of the past 6 months.  35+ degrees warmer than any outside run I have done since September.

And I really wanted to believe it wouldn't be that bad, because how could it? I have nailed every single run I have done this session and then some.  My buddies have been surprised at me, because I'm not usually the one setting the pace--I'm usually the one frantically trying to keep up. 

I did everything right.

It didn't matter. 

See, I have this thing that I don't like to admit or talk about, but it's this irregular heart thing involving extra beats.  And I've been aware of it for over 20 years, and it almost never ever causes me problems.  The only time I EVER notice is when it's hot.  Temperatures that to many don't seem too warm can really mess me up, big time: crazy high heart rates that defy all logic. 

I realized at mile 9 today that I felt like it was mile 22.  And mile 9 is entirely too early to feel like it's mile 22. 

I kept going, but I knew that it was only going to get hotter, and my heart was doing that racing in the heat thing again, and it was just too early for that.

So I did what was really, really difficult: I decided I was done at 13.1.  I decided I was going to stop and try again at Cleveland, even though Cleveland is usually too hot for me to succeed. 

It was hard.  I said the F word and cried a lot.  I wanted to keep going.

But it wasn't going to work, and I knew it.  So I cried some more, and I'm crying a bit here while I type and then I'm done because I have to go to work tomorrow and I can't be sniffling while teaching World History and doing practice DBQs. 

To quote the great Forrest Gump, that's about all I have to say about that. 

What kind of kills me the most is that I know I can do this.  That, and Tuesday is supposed to be 36 degrees and snowing both in Athens and Cleveland.

You're soooo FUNNY, Mother Nature! $(#)%&!

So much irony in the ONE SINGLE DAY I would have loved it to be 40 degrees and cloudy, it was in the mid 70s and not a cloud was in the sky.  So much irony in that I am in the best shape of my life and I have to stop--no, I made the decision to stop, which I think is even harder--trying to reach a goal that I know that I absolutely can achieve.

Got home, and got this shirt in the mail finally that I was hoping would come before the race so I could wear it.  It's from this shop, and I kind of love it:

 Elle est forte.  She is strong.  Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future" --Proverbs 31:25

It was just a bit too late--in fact, I missed it by probably just a few minutes as we left yesterday afternoon.  Just missed it.  

But she is strong.  She will try again.

She will also cry for about another hour though.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Fall down seven times, stand up eight

About a month ago, I found out I was selected as a Women's Health Magazine Action Hero!  I was quite surprised, and super excited.  It's been fun connecting with a dynamic and diverse group of women: we are pretty much at all stages of life.  Some in their teens, most in their twenties, and a few like me, too.  Seasoned veterans. (That sounds a lot better than "older.")

I mean, I did start blogging here in 2005.  In the good old days!  When internet was one step above dial-up!  And I was about to start my Ironman journey!  Oh, man.  In some ways, that feels like yesterday, and in other ways, it seems like...well, like almost a decade ago.

So much has happened since then. 

I was assigned to write my post this week for our Action Hero blog, and I smiled.  Perfect timing.  I need to stop and reflect anyway, and think about this marathon I'm going to run next Sunday.  What can I say about where I've been and what I'm about to attempt?

When I think about where I've been and where I'm about to head next Sunday, it's a little surreal.  In 2002, I completed my first marathon in a time of 5:14.  I remember it pouring rain on me as I brought up the back of the pack that year.  I also remember not caring.  I was just so happy to make it to the finish line, even if they were tearing it down.  Even if the balloons at the finish had already blown away.

I set a goal, and I made it.

That was 35 pounds heavier.  That was before I had two children.  Literally--it was almost a lifetime ago.

I was, most assuredly, a different person.

That first marathon made me dream bigger.  I set my sights on the MS150 Pedal to the Point the following summer, and although my buddy Peter and I were too tired to even go to Cedar Point that night and instead watched the E! True Hollywood Story of Anna Nicole Smith in a run-down Howard Johnson's in Sandusky (yeah. that's pretty pathetic), we made it.  I rode 150+ miles in 2 days. 

So then, of course, the next thought that popped in my head was, "hey, I'm just about a 2.4 mile swim away from Ironman." 

Because that's totally logical, right?

Since 2002, I've seen a precedent set of dreaming very big.  Bigger than I had any reason or really any right to do.  I certainly did not look like an Ironman triathlete.  But I decided I'd build up toward that.  In 2005, I took 56 minutes off my marathon time and finished the Flying Pig Marathon in 4:20.

So could I break 4?

But in between, I focused on Ironman.  And what a journey it was.  I made some amazing friends and despite having pretty much the worst weather you could have for an Ironman, it was honestly one of the best and most memorable days of my life. 

Then, I had a day that topped that, and my little Jackson entered my world and stole my heart. 

Training became something different then--it wasn't just about me and my times.  It was about justifying my time away.  I didn't just want to run aimlessly; I wanted to run with purpose.  Every ride, every swim I did had a focus in a way that I didn't quite have before. 

And because of this, I got faster.

Every time I had in every distance started to drop.  In 2008, I set my best bike/run split at Steelhead 70.3.  Then, I broke 4 hours in the marathon at Columbus.  That May, I had a great day at the Cleveland Half Marathon, and then I got pregnant with my little bean, Emery Grace.

The joke some of my friends told me really was true: one kid was pretty managable, but two kids made it feel like you had an army.  (Major props to anyone with more than 2 kids.  You are my heroes, all of you.) Between working full-time and working out, I had to prioritize even more and get even more focused.

And my times dropped again.  When Emery was 6 months old, I PR'd the 70.3 distance by 16 minutes. 

That's when I really felt like Boston might be within grasp.

So I tried. And failed. And tried again. And almost, just almost made it, and missed it again

So here I am.  One week out from another attempt.  I feel stronger than ever and very fit.  I know I have put everything I have into this race: every ounce of my focus outside of being a wife, mother, and teaching, has gone into this race. 

It is still a reach.  There are no guarantees.

But I think about whatever will happen at this finish line and what I'll say to my kids.  They are only 6 and 4; they have no idea what Boston is or means or how hard I've worked to get there, since I've done most of the work while they were sleeping.  But someday, I will tell them.  I'll tell them that Mommy had a dream...a dream that sounded crazy and unreachable, but step by step, finish line by finish line, she inched even closer.

And there were times when she failed, and felt crushed.  She got injured and couldn't compete.  She felt like all her time and effort was wasted.  But then she remembered the words of a teammate, that no race or training cycle is ever "wasted."

I learned quite a bit on this 12-year journey since I crossed that first finish line. 

Regardless of what may happen next weekend, I want them to know that you don't ever have to stop trying. 

I'm going to line up at that start line next Sunday with a nice healthy appreciation of where I've been.  And then, I'm going to take a deep breath, say a little prayer, trust myself, and take that first step.

That's the only way you can get anywhere, anyhow.