>Kara Goucher recently blogged about her NYC Half Marathon experience. I am a huge KG fan, and the honesty and candidness with which she talks about her life and training is unmatched throughout alot of professional athletes. One of the parts that struck me was when she said this:
“At ten miles, the lead group really sped up, and split up. I went with the move initially, but then I started to worry about blowing up, and let three women go ahead of me. About a mile later I realized I felt fine. I hadn’t let the others go because I had to; I’d let them go because I was afraid.”
Fear. It’s such a huge part of racing. Not that I can really compare myself to the calibar of athlete that KG is, but I still know a thing or two about fear in a race. I am still somewhat haunted by HURT, in fact. Winning a big-name 100 mile race is the ultrarunning equivalent (for me) of getting to Kona. It’s making a name for yourself. You don’t get lucky in 100’s. If you win one, it’s because you deserve it. Very few training days go by when I don’t think of what ran through my mind when I was told coming in from lap 3 of HURT that I was now leading the women’s race. I know that in that instant my race began to deteriorate. I may have been the strongest woman out there still running, but I was too afraid to show it. Like flipping a switch, when I was passed and sat comfortably in second place, only then was I able to regain my composure and race my race. The bottom line? I didn’t truly think of myself as capable of winning that race. I was afraid of going for it.
In an effort not to dwell on that too much, I have focused my energy on ensuring that this year, if there ever is to be a spot to Kona within my reach, I will not end up with the same fate. Come November I still may not have earned myself a spot, but if I can look back and say that there was not a single moment in a race when I was afraid to give a little more – to get tough and go for it – then I’ll be okay.
So, easier said than done, right? This week, however, was one of those weeks that I put into the bank of “get tough” weeks. It will be drawn on in races when I need reassurance that I can do it – speed up, push harder, and go with the pack. (Okay so there probably won’t be a “pack” persay, but it’s a metaphor people!) Starting with my Tuesday from hell which was a mental hurdle, to the Wednesday speed workout that kicked my butt, another long day Thursday, followed up by a solo long run in the cold rain on Friday morning. But it didn’t end there. Saturday as I was walking out the door with my bike, the rain started. It was only about 40 degrees as it was, but at that point, I said F it, I’m still riding outside. It was as if I was being sabatoged- the weather was bad, drivers wanted anything but the added distraction of me on the road, and I had to stop twice when I noticed loose screws on my bike. But, I did it. And then I swam my workout. Because it wasn’t a great day for training, but it was a day to get tough.
Those moments that go unnoticed and unrewarded (until blogged about, of course) are what will give me confidence when I battle for a top age group spot. Sometimes it’s hard to find words to motivate you when the weather is bad and when your legs are dead. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why you should keep running when you’re huddled in the cold rain waiting for a running partner and realizing that they aren’t waking up that morning. Sometimes it’s hard to bear a solo 50 mile ride with trucks spraying gross street rain in your face.
But sometimes, you just get tough.
>(or just how to look like you know how to ride a bike)
Get BIB SHORTS! I’m super excited that I will be riding for Twenty20 Cycling this year! Kris Auer helped me get set up last year when I finally decided to really learn to ride a bike. I am proud to sport his store’s logo as I continue to ride my bike this season! Part of that, of course, is getting my first pair of bib shorts.
>Everything was great until I got into the car to drive home. Pulled onto the ramp to get on 83 South and….dead stop. Nice. 30 minutes later, I had moved 1.5 miles. I got to the pool 1.5 hours after I left work. Usually it takes 35 minutes. I cringed as I realized I’m usually on the last leg of my swim set right about then.
I get to the pool, change, and realize that I have to pee…..now. While I have no qualms about peeing in open water, I do have the decency not to pee in a pool. Run to the bathrooms and they are all full. In the 3 years I have been going to the gym, I can honestly say the gym has never been so packed that this has ever happened to me. But no, not with other girls who need to urgently go to the bathroom. The stalls are all full with girls changing. Twenty-something, and older, girls who apparently find themselves so self conscious they can’t get partially naked in a room full of other girls. Really? Are we in 6th grade gym class? Please. Live a little, people.
Get out to the pool. Nice – my favorite lane is open. And by favorite lane, I mean the one that is so shallow the water barely passes my hips. And the one side makes me dizzy because the wall curves up. And the other wall juts out of nowhere causing me to swim in fear that my stroke will hit the edge, so I swim funny on one side.
Go out for my run. Running through Patterson Park, and realize that now, I am going to be forced to go to the bathroom in a Patterson Park Porta Potty. I may as well have picked up some syphillis off the ground and smeared it all over my body.
Run run run. Finally done! woohoo. I am now going to order my Chipotle online since I’m running late. [Order dinner, go shower] get out of the shower and see my confirmation e-mail, that I successfully ordered my dinner to Chipotle…in Hunt Valley. Nooooooooo. Re-order my dinner to the Chipotle on Boston Street. Call the one in Hunt Valley only to find out its already been made. This buritto now costs me $16.
Arrive at the Chipotle. Find out my dinner isn’t ready because they ran out of steak, but are 3 minutes away from having it ready. 10 minutes later I go back. “Oh no, you don’t have your order yet? Here’s a free bag of chips.” ….because, you know, dry salty chips without their $3 guac to go along with them is totally making up for their ineptness tonight.
Arrive home. Just as Miss Twist is pulling away.
But I got a Kindle today. That was sweet.
>When I was growing up I played soccer in a league that was a few towns over. I can’t even imagine how many times my parents had to cart me from Severna Park to Crofton and beyond for games and practices. Then, after going to Spalding, I befriended a lot of people in the Crofton/Bowie area. Route 3 and I became even better friends. One of the most distinct memories I have of that stretch of road that took me from one side of the world to the other, is a sign that is put up outside one of the developments: If you lived here, you’d be home now.
That sign always irked me, because I was like “whatever, I dont want to live there. I want to be home later because I like that better.”
On Tuesdays now I swim, and it’s a hard day. My main set consists of 100’s repeats (see this old post). Every week it gets harder as the rest gets shorter and the reps get longer. This week I hit #12 and had 3 more to go. I smirked under water as I hit that mark and the only thing that came to mind was “if this was last week, you’d be done now.”
Similarly to how I always felt about that sign on Rt. 3 though, I didn’t want to be done. I wanted to keep going. Because I like it there more.
>My new fave thing to watch on the trainer is Jimmy Fallon (or Jimmy Balloon as my droid auto-correct likes to say). Today’s ep I was catching up on was one where Jimmy wrote some thank you notes. So I was inspired to write a few of my own.
Thank you, America. You give us the tools to try to do anything on our own. And when we F it up, you created jobs for just about any task under the sun so I can just pay someone to fix it.
|Apparently framing/matting isn’t my talent|
Thank you, person who put a yield sign at this intersection that no one ever notices and proceeds to come to a full stop anyway.
Because when I am stopped at the actual stop sign, and give you the “no, YOU go signal,” I feel like I’m being a good person. When really I’m just following the law. But its a good boost at the end of my commute.
Thank you, Miss Twist. For bringing softserve ice cream to my door at an almost awkwardly late time of night. When I heard your ice cream bells jingle for the first time in 2011 tonight and sprinted out of my house, beating all the other kids on the block, I had a sense of accomplishment. And a tasty treat to finish my night with.
>The NY Times ran a Valentine’s Day story this year asking people “What’s your 6 word love story?” I am a sucker for things like this. The first day I read them, there were 72 pages of comments of people’s 6 word stories. A few weeks later there were 115 pages. There are now 140. Some of my favorites are:
- Keg stand: I held her feet.
- I was late. He waited. Hours.
- Wanted to watch her smile. Permanently.
Super cute right? Anyway, I am not sappy enough to post my own 6 word love story. And in light of the fact that most people arrive at my blog after googling a race name or ultrarunning somethin-somethin, I will make my 6 word story training/racing related. Here’s a few to describe my recent state of mine:
- Let’s go to Kona. I hope.
- ‘Get tough’ days make good results.
- Make it fun. Keep it pretty.
>So….I did my first Duathlon last weekend. It was….neat. Allow me to elaborate:
About a month and a half ago I dug to the depths of the interwebs to find some multisport events that would give me some time to practice before Columbia. One such event was the inaugural St. Patty’s Day Duathlon. Originally put off by the somewhat high entry fee, Ryan and I were swayed back to doing it when we rationalized the potential to win back the entry fee. So we signed up and didn’t tell anyone (not that I really am friends with any girls around here who could/would do it) in hopes of taking home some dollar dollar bills. Which brings me to lesson #1 in putting on an inaugural race: Drop some bones on a prize purse, and people will come to compete.
Race day came and I was super glad not to be triathloning in March. It was quite cold and early as Daylight Savings coincided with race day. It was real dark when Ryan and I got there. Would not have wanted to get into the water. We picked up our packets and found out that the race was also abiding by inaugural race lesson #2 – make a sweet shirt. Seriously, this is one of the most ridiculous shirts I have seen in some time at a race. The cool weather did pose another sort of problem as I had to create an outfit that would allow me to be comfortable on the first run, transition quickly to the coldness of a early morning ride, and then back to a run where I’d work up a good sweat. I settled with trishorts, a bike jersey (but not a douchey one), and my Oiselle arm warmers for the run/bike and then just changed to my Oiselle singlet for the second run.
About 100 people lined up, split fairly evenly between the Duathletes and the 5k-ers. The run was an out-and-back on a rolling road, and the pack shot out quick. I was determined not to pull a Club Challenge and go out at 6 min pace, and was able to contain myself and go through at 6:30. Intending to save the legs for the bike, I scaled back and bit and was in third place with a 17:25 for the first run. Perfect. My T1 was fairly slow, but whatever, no one is ever really “good” at shoving sweaty hands into fleecy gloves. I then proceeded to reel in people on the bike. Some may attribute that to the fact the “bike I was riding was too nice for that race” (jealous?) but I just attribute it to being awesome. I passed one of the girls but didn’t even have the other in sight. For being only 14ish miles this course was challenging and I got in a couple good little climbs and even hit 41 mph on a descent. The fact I’ve been on the bike this winter was evident. As I came in on the bike I passed Ryan who was about 1/2 mile into the run and he gave me the gang sign. And by gang sign I mean peace sign. And by peace sign I mean he was indicating I was in second place.
T2 went a bit better and I just wanted to hang on to my place. My legs didn’t really feel like they were able to kick it into any higher gear, so I just went with what I had and hoped it was enough. It was. A slightly shorter route due to the entering/exiting of transition lead me to a 16:48 run#2 split, 1:22:00 total time. Second female, and got some cash money to show for it. And in addition to the money we brought home pizzas because they followed inaugural event rules #3 – feed the people well!
>Tuesday, February 1st: 10x100m on 2min. Average pace? 1:48. Comments: My arms are just so weak. After the first 50 of the warmup they were tired.
Tuesday, February 15th: 12x100m on 2min. Average pace? 1:45. Comments: Felt pretty bad initially. First 8 were slowish then it clicked and got a little faster. Sore arms may have been due to the batting cages 2 days prior…
Tuesday, March 8th: 12x100m on 1:50. Average pace? 1:34. Comments: I think I cracked a smile for the first time ever in a swim workout.
I know I still have a ways to go to get where I want to be, but it feels good to be getting faster in the pool. All the time I get asked: why do you do it? There are a lot of reasons, but sometimes its for the progress. The little victories. The not getting out swum by a 12 year old in the lane next to me. Or the old man on the other side. It is for the day to day grind that, sometimes, just might end in my favor.