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.