Sunday, November 14, 2010

The battle just begun.....

there's many lost, but tell me who has one?

Today was 10th race of the year. It was the Chilly Half Marathon and it was the hardest race I've done thus far. I'll admit that it wasn't my race to win. I battled with 13.1 miles a month ago at the BAA Half. This one was more than an after thought. The longest I ran since the half was a whopping 7 miles. I was supposed to do 10 miles last week, but got my ass handed to me on that run. Today was not much different. As my friend's husband once said, sometimes you are Freddie Mercury and sometimes you are Courtney Love. The first 6 miles, I channeled my inner Bono while I was Boy George on the second half.

It's called the Chilly not only because it happens in mid November, but it starts at 7:30am when the average temp west of Boston is 25-35 degrees. But the cold is not what makes this run hard - it is hilly. I've run hills. I've trained for hills. This was a roller coaster right from the start. It makes me want to never run another race west of Boston - you know - except for that Boston Marathon race.

Going into today's race, not only was I physically unprepared, I was burnt out. I gave everything in my October races and didn't have much in reserve tank. I moped to the race this morning feeling pretty bitter about leaving my warm bed. I met my friend C who had a much better outlook. I thought there were 6000 entries to this race and looking at the start I'd be shocked if there were 600.

We started out strong which I knew might come back to bite me. I battled from start to end. We had rolling hills for the first 5 miles. People whizzed by us and we were running a 9:30 mile. This is what they mean by a runner's race. Around mile 6, I knew I had to stop at the port-a-john. My bladder was full and my intestines were not happy. They managed to overpower the drugs I took to prevent an evacuation. There was a line, but I could not keep going. C went ahead while I waited. The bathroom stop took forever and I never quite found my groove again. I overheard a guy in the race talking about the race getting nasty after mile 5 and no words were truer. One hill was so steep, I looked for the stairs. I walked a good portion of the hills. I walked more than I'm proud of. My first half marathon, I prided myself for not walking at all. My second half marathon, I prided myself by finishing way ahead of my projected time. This race - pride went out the window.

I finished. My time wasn't terrible considering my 10 minute bathroom break and the fact that I had to walk a few feet at times. My legs hurt. My feet hurt. My shoulders were sore. My official time was 2:27. My GPS time was 2:17. I'm happy to not have a long race for my last race of 2010. If I decide to do the Chilly Half again (it was a pretty course when I wasn't wincing through the pain), I would definitely do more hill training so I can come back and give this course a nice crotch kick.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Fundraising Page - Don't Dream it, be it'

My Fundraising Page

As a kid, I used to sleep with the TV on. It's a bad habit that has followed me into adulthood. One spring morning, I have a dream of lining up at the Boston Marathon. I wake up and the start was being televised. I watch all those runners and thought how cool that would be. I say, "One day, I want to run the marathon."

Twenty years later, I live in South Boston. It is Sunday morning before the big parade. I'm awake and getting my tiny apartment ready for my parade party. I'm running across the street to get ice and there is a race going on. People are cheering those runners on. I'm overweight and have only run to catch a bus or train. I watch those runners and think they are pretty cool - and I'm a little envious.

Ten years later, it's pouring outside. The rain is coming from every angle. I'm standing in a girls and boys club trying to stay dry. We get called outside to line up. This is my first race. I'm back in South Boston and I'm about to run the very race I watched ten years before. It's miserable and that would be every reason not to run. But I will run it anyways. The weather has kept my husband from bringing my 18 month old out to watch my first race - but I still run. I'm not first, but I'm not last. I run past my old bars, my old apartments and a very few spectators. I'm soaked to the bone at the end and my long hair is one big knot. But I'm hooked.

I go on to register for a 10K, then a half marathon. I sign up for a triathlon, then swimming lessons. I beat my 5K personal record. I beat my half marathon record. I run mile by mile closer to the goal - The Boston Marathon.

On Friday, I get the phone call from Team in Training. Congratulations, you are on our team. You will be running the Boston Marathon." It took me 30 years to get to that starting line.

As the wise Frankenfurter sings, "Don't dream it, be it."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Sort of Homecoming

I’m running a 5K this weekend. A 5K is not a big deal to me anymore. This will be my 5th if you count the 5K I had to run at the end of the triathlon. 5K’s are fast and a great way to work on speed. I’d like to run this one in under 30 minutes. That’s my goal. What makes this 5K different is that I’m running with my past. I’m running in Providence where I spent the better part of 10 years of my life – those formative 20’s. I worked there. I went to school there. I drank there. I saw many bands there. I made friends there. I fell in love there. I broke my heart there. I’m running on a team of people I have no seen since June 1989 – graduation day from high school. I’m running with a girl who introduced me to college radio when I shared my first show with her. If you ask any of these people from the past, they would not use the word ‘athletic’ or ‘jock’ to describe me. But I guess that’s what I am today.

So, I am running with past demons and labels of who I was 18-20 years ago. A dorky theatre kid who dressed in her grandfather’s clothes because she thought it was different and cool. A girl who got tattoos, dyed her hair every month and went to 3 shows a week because she thought it was cool. A girl who could barely climb a set of stairs and would never consider running 1K – forget 5. So, it will be weird to be pumping my arms and legs as I run past the parking lot I used to get drunk in. Or the places I’d park my car to go to work – or the restaurant I spent a New Year’s Eve with friends.

Sometimes, I have a hard time seeing myself as someone who is motivated by competition and goals. No one in those days would say I had a lot of ambition. I am sure that the only running I did in school was to get a class on time. I sometimes wonder what those in my past think when they see on Facebook that I completed a half marathon. Or do they even think about it all?

It's always hard to reconcile your past with your present. You look at old photos and laugh at your hair or clothes. You cringe at your weight or lament the lack of fine lines on your face. You think to who you were, and how you dealt with people and life on whole. I'd like to think I'm a kinder and better person whose still pretty funny and off beat. I'd like to think I'm a better version of that hip theater geek and wild radio chick. This run will help bring together the new and old Amy into one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

This was my original title for my last post - but I decided to hold it for the Half Marathon post. Which is now almost 3 weeks late. I hope that I would be able to use it to describe my experience. It's from one of my favorite running songs. I first heard it in Queer as Folk and more recently as the theme song to Biggest Loser. One day I will tackle my love/hate relationship with Biggest Loser - today is about what I'm proud of - my 2:13 finish at the BAA Half Marathon.

As everyone knew, I needed to finish my half marathon by 11am according to the BAA prerace materials. When I was at the training clinic, they toned it down to 'you need to finish 2:30 after the last person crosses the start'. That's better. I could do that. Yet, I wanted to finish this thing in 2:20. Even though I knew I'd cross the start after the 8:30am start time, I still wanted to come in before 11am.

I have to admit that this race even at 13.1 miles was a blur to me. It was a cold morning and I had to sacrifice a long sleeved tshirt to the tshirt gods at the start. As any race that has 6000 entrants, it was a shuffle to the start. But it cleared relatively quickly. Everything came together. It was a beautiful day. My playlist was right on with the songs I needed. I was checking my pace of my Garmin. What? Did that say 9:44? And I felt pretty decent. If anyone likes doing long distance endurance running, I highly recommend running with a camelback. I never paused at water stations which really helped my pace. And it was nice to have the water right when I needed it.

The BAA waxed poetic how lovely the course is. Maybe next week when more leaves changed, that would be true. You do run under some lovely trees, but this all comes down after mile 7 which marks the harder part of the course is just at its beginning. It was a very easy race until mile 8. There were no steep slopes, but lots (and I mean LOTS) of rolling hills. Around mile 9 through 11, it is very up and down on cracked and battered asphalt. Not fun. Also, it's an 'out and back'. You are passing lots of people on their way back from where you are headed. This course had a lot of that. BAA coaches boasted this fun atmosphere. It narrowed the road further and just made me think, does this ever end?

The last part was through the zoo. At this point, I am done. My legs feel like lead, but I'm still keeping under a 10:30 pace. I don't really look at the animals I'm passing. It's windy and there is a fun part where you run upslope on a dirt path. I remember thinking, are you serious? The end takes place in White Stadium on for-real track. It's a bit windy and all over the place way to get there. You think, awesome, we are there....wait...not yet? The course could be a mirage at times.

But entering the stadium with families and friends waiting and cheering you on was pretty cool. My last 1/2 marathon, I was towards the end so it was like running alone. Granted that was 729 finishers as opposed to 4498. I sprinted to the end and crossed at 2:17:50. Before 11am. Before 2:30. Before 2:20. Hot damn! According to my GPS, my finish was 2:13:31. Holy schmokes!

I knew I was doing pretty good. I felt strong most of the run. I had moments where I thought - I'm ready for this to be done now. At mile 11, I felt super awesome and I attribute that to massive runner endorphins. That feeling passed by mile 12. But at the end, I felt great. Most races, I beat myself up over my time. I always think that I could have been faster, stronger, better. Not this time. I did better than I thought I'd do. Like by a lot.

Thanks to all the well wishes and support that you've all given me. You knew I could do it when I doubted myself. You guys rock!

Now for the TMI*****

So, yeah. I rocked this 1/2 Mary. My legs feel pretty good. My bowels are not as happy. I always have this issue on long runs. I try to empty out with some coffee before. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. The combination of nerves and high sugars just frankly jack me up. A few times I thought, maybe I'll stop. I never felt that urgency so I kept going. Maybe it was good that I did. Once I did stop to - um, smell the roses - it didn't stop. I would say that I spent the last 4 hours in bowel distress with all colors of the rainbow making an appearance. Can't wait for the marathon. I may run in diaper for reals.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All I ask myself is that I hold together

I had another title, but want to hold that one until after the race. This was going to be all about my long run on Sunday. But I think I will sum up the week leading up to my half marathon Sunday. I had every intention of getting up early last Sunday to mimic what my morning would be like on race day. Plan: Have iced coffee ready first thing in the morning. Eat breakfast. Poop. Leave house by 8:30am. Be back to house by 10:45am. Here is what really happened. Alarm went off at 6:30am. The bed was warm was stayed there until 7:30am. Decided it was okay if I got on the road by 9am. I got up and ate breakfast. I could feel that I had bathroom business to take care of. This is my biggest Achilles heel – my digestive track. I spend the next hour trying to get something going. But now I’m at the point of no return. I take medicine – which I know is not great – to sort of keep things at bay until my 13 miles are up. This puts me in a mood. I decided to make the best of it and grab my GPS. What the? It’s frozen. It’s the second time it has done this. First time was at the triathlon. I was about to cry. This was not how I wanted to start my trial run. After researching the web on how to fix my watch, I was finally on my way.

I won’t get into a mile by mile account. I started strong. Averaged a 10:20 something mile. It wasn’t until mile 9 that I felt myself slow down a bit. I had a major hill at mile 10.5 which I ended up walking up part way. As I suspected, I was feeling pretty rough after that hill and needed a bathroom ASAP. I decided to ditch the second loop around and headed home. I thought I had done 11.99 miles. After I was done uploading my data, it ended up being only 11.59. Bummer. I did manage to average a 10:41 pace. Not too bad for 11 miles. Technically, I’d only have a mile and a half to go. My time was 2:04 – so….I might have made it in 2:20 minutes. That would be 19 minutes better than my first half marathon. I am aiming for a finish of 2:20. I went to a training clinic that went over how one should tackle this course. If I can run a comfortable 10 min mile until the hills – that would be great.

Training the rest of the week was a massive bust. I took Monday off since I was a little sore. Tuesday through Thursday either featured rain or no sleep. Today was the first time I was able to go out there. I can’t tell you exactly how fast I was since the GPS decided to take the first a nap the first .60 mile. It took me 30:22 to run about 3.1 miles. Tomorrow, I’ll run an easy 2 miles – then rest.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Begin the Begin

I'm trying to be better about posting here. The title refers to today where a good portion of the charity programs have posted their applications on-line. I have to admit that I am freaking out about not getting accepted and sitting on the sidelines for another year. I have poured my whole race season into running this. I've postponed adding to our family for this. For the last 24 hours, it's all I can think about. Ways of raising money. Reasons to accept me. Why I want to run. My original plan was to apply to as many charity programs as I could, but what if I get on more than 1 team? Can I decline a team if 3 choose me? Or am I screwed to raise 11,000 and run on 3 teams? I'm looking between 2 teams right now and trying to decide which one I have a better shot with. I want this more than anything. Yes, I want to put myself through a grueling training program. I want to lose toenails and have my legs scream. I want to cross that finish line more than anything right now.

As a kid, I've had many dreams. Be a rock star. Be an actress. Be a writer. Move to England. Run the Boston Marathon. Marry Bono. None of these were based in anything that resembled reality. Until this year, running the Boston Marathon was up there with being a rock star and touring with U2. For the very first time in my 39 years, I am close to living out a dream. Doing something so much larger than myself and pushing myself beyond my limits and comfort zone.

But before all that, I need to run a half marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Is this a personal record I'm looking for? Is this something I'm putting on me? No. The Boston Athletic Association has told me that I need to run it 2:30. My first half was done in 2:39. That was 4 to 5 months ago. I hope to God that I'm stronger, faster, better.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Iron Lung

Hi old friend, I've been sucking at updates lately. I'm going to try to be better as I hopefully ramp up to Boston Marathon training. Here is my recount of the Title 9 Tiathlon:

All I can say is wow. It was awesome. 3 months ago, I could barely swim. Today, I am a triathlete. Of course, I didn't get a great nights sleep. The alarm went off at 4:30am. I packed and repacked my bag 4 times last night. The Weather Channel said 50 degrees. Ugh, what a morning for a swim. My excitement started to build as I loaded up my car and bike to drive 45 minutes to Hopkinton. I listened to my iPod, getting myself psyched up. As I neared the park, all I could see where cars with bike racks. Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up' blared as I drove into the park, and I got a little weepy.

I first saw my friend Christina when I walked into the transition area. I ran over to get marked with my number 264. The guy who did it gets a A because I still have to large 624's on my quadzillas, biceps and a big ole 39 on my calf (my age). I have to admit that I was loopy. The whole time between walking into the area to walking over to the swim start was a blur. I remember standing with Christina, Rachel, Liz and Rani (who was in the next rack over). Rani and I did a warm up swim. The water was warm - the air temp was not. The reservoir was very rocky - like big boulders. I got my first race injury by cutting my toe. After our warm-up swim, I wandered aound taking it all in. All women chatting, getting ready. Everyone was so nice and supportive.

We lined up for the swim according to swim cap color. Liz and Rachel were in the first wave - they are pros. Rani was before Christina and I. It was cold waiting for our wave. We were the 5th wave. The water level was low and it was even rocky at the start. We all waded and doggy paddled out to a treading water start. I am a swimming novice so i use a noseplug. I was having issues with that and my goggles so when everyone took off swimming, I was still futzing. The swim was long. It seemed like they kept moving the finish. I survived by side-stroke and backstroke. I was slow. I passed a few people, but not many. Then the last wave started and a few of them caught up to me. Boy, that chafed me. I started to really churn and finally got to the finish. Scott was there on the beach cheering me on.

My transition from swim to bike was unimpressive. I struggled with my wetsuit for the first time. Scott was behind me trying to take pictures with his phone (which would end up on FB without my consent) as I wrangled with my seal outfit. As I'm drying off my feet, I see someone run by me. WTH? You mean, someone has swam AND biked??? There were 2 girls next to me and we all kind of looked at each other in disbelief. And off I was on the bike. Holy hills, batman. Add to that, I had my bike tools strapped on ghetto-fashion with velcro. My bike needs a redesign from the comfort rental bike to a lean mean racing machine by my next race. So - the tire pump half falls off, clanging and banging against my tire. Not good. I had to pull off the road and figure something out or toss my pump in the woods. I strapped it to my Camelback and pushed it as far out of my way as I could. I learned many things on my ride. I learned about my gears. Trial by fire. I learned that age is just a number as calves with 49, 42, 53 owned my a$$. Hills suck running and they suck biking. I can share the road with cars even if an old dude in a Crown Victoria nearly took me out. I saw Christina running as I climbing the last blasted hill.

I ran my bike in, dropped my helmet and Camelback and I was off to the run. My transition was 1 minute. My legs were like bricks as I pumped them. This was the one leg of the race I could make up ground. I was finally passing people. I passed a few on the bike and even less on the swim - but on the run for the very first time - no one passed me. The spectators and race volunteers were so encouraging. You are on your last legs and they are telling you that you are a winner. As I crossed the dam on the reservoir, I saw a triathlete with a medal around her neck. I asked, are there finisher's medals? Everyone gets one, she said. I fist pumped and said, awesome. I dug in and pumped harder. I love my medals. I love my tchotchke. This is the 7th race I've done this year. Every time I've crossed a race where it is timed and they are calling out names - they never call my name. I want to hear Amy from Quincy. Today I did! 624, Amy from Quincy...congratulations! Christina, her family and MH were cheering me on. I was a triathlete!

The end of the race, I just searched for Rani, Liz and Christina. We hugged. We snapped photos. We ate some grub and dropped more money on tech shirts. Ok, that was me. Everyone was beaming ear to ear with pride. Even as it rained gently, we didn't leave. The race director made the announcement that the last triathlete was about to cross the finish line. We all immediately ran to the finish to cheer her on. It took her 3 plus hours to finish, but she was smiling and hold her head up high. And she probably got the loudest cheers of the day.

I want to thank all of you who encouraged me and for my virtual support group of Christina, Rani and Rachel. We are going kick a$$ in November ladies! Thanks to Liz who swam with me almost every week and that was a big help as the swim was my fear. And I big shout out to Scott who supported me, worked with my crazy training schedules and wrote me a blank check for whatever crazy tri-gear I felt I needed.