Friday, November 23, 2007

Trotting with Turkeys and TriGirls

This is the view of the lake at the University of Richmond before yesterday's Turkey Trot, the Richmond Roadrunner's annual 10k on Thanksgiving morning. It is a challenging run, with lots of hills and some trail cut-throughs that can turn ankles. Yet when all is said and done, you really feel like you've earned your pumpkin pie--and then some! The weather as you can see was perfect: it was cool in the morning, but warmed up to the mid 70s by midday.

The race is getting quite large--this year they capped registration at 1,000 runners which included almost a dozen TriGirls, a couple Maramarc guys, various friends, and my husband and son. Of course, there are always a few runners who show up in turkey costumes and it's always a matter of pride to be able to beat the them! I ran the almost the whole race with my son, but on the last hill he got a bad stitch. My husband ran a good race and would've finished before me, but he was kind enough to stop and run in with #1 son for the last 3/10 mile. I didn't PR, but was happy to finish just over an hour. Post race, the TriGirls gathered at my car, which has now been dubbed the TRIgirl Booze Wagon, and enjoyed post-race glogg, mimosas, and Wild Turkey.

It is such a joy to share a small part of the holiday with my fellow TriGirls. I am so blessed to have them in my life--through our shared blood, sweat, and tears they have become my sorority sisters, women who will be my friends for many years to come. The support they have given me over the past 4 years has seen me through some hard times. Thank you girls, for everything!

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Bigger Bowl

Back in July, Blogger IM Training posted the following:

"In a world that believed in the limitations of man, Roger Bannister dared to imagine. He imagined that he could run a sub-4 minute mile, a feat that was far beyond the collective imagination of the time. Yet once he stretched beyond these mindless limitations and broke the 4-minute barrier, the floodgates of imagination were let loose. Just as suddenly, many others dared to imagine within the expanded Bannister walls. And just as quickly, dozens of others ran faster than a 4 minute mile.

As triathletes, it is up to us to challenge ourselves and stretch the limits of our minds. As we do, so our bodies will follow.In a funny way we are like goldfish – we will always expand to the size of our bowl. No matter how big the challenge set before us, we will find a way to succeed.

Think you can’t do an Ironman?I think you are wrong.Buy a bigger bowl.Dare to dream. Dare to peek outside the confines of your imagination. Stretch out your arm and put your hand through the fire. Grab hold of the other side and pull yourself through.

I promise, you won’t get burned."

At that point, I had just DNF'd in my second 1/2 Iron race--succumbing to heat and the "I'm not having any fun" blues. I told my husband to shoot me if I ever signed up for a full iron race. The following few days were tough: I hated myself for wimping out. I could have finished that race, and I should have finished it. Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth. My thesis professor told me, "Well, now that you know how if feels, you'll never do that again," and I hope he's right.

I am waking up every morning thinking, "Holy crap, what am I doing?" That bigger fishbowl just cost me $450, but I'm going to try my best to grow into it.

It's Official!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ironman Florida

Wow. What an amazing experience. Now I totally get it.
Those TriGirls did such a fantastic job--all 9 of my friends finished, some in under 14 hours which I think is incredible for a first time Ironman.
I volunteered in body marking, so it was an early morning for me too--up at 4am, and we didn't get home until after 1am. Man was I tired, and I hadn't even biked or run. I did, however, do umpteen squats. In the morning at body-marking, I was positioned in the 43-44 year old men's section, which wasn't such a hardship! What legs those guys have, and thank goodness most of them shaved.
I also worked from 1-5:30 pm in the women's changing tent, helping all the age-groupers get ready for their marathon. The job entailed becoming many things: head cheerleader, medical screener, coach, friend, and general sherpa. "What do you need?" or "How can I help?" were always my first questions to each woman. All were very grateful for my help, which I felt so good about. I also got to take care of all 10 TriGirls and gave them all big hugs on their way out the door. Carmen made it in with 10 minutes to spare before the bike cut-off. She seemed ready to throw in the towel, but I hustled her out of there before she could think twice about quitting. I did tell several women, who weren't looking forward to the run, that it would hurt more in the long run to quit than to see it through. They all agreed!
I was glad for that unique view (as a non-ironman) to see what it's like for them as they face a whole marathon after just having biked 112 miles. Seeing every last one of those women get out on the run course, whether they finished it or not, helped me realize that if they could do it, so could I. So, of course I signed up for next year! I'm not sure my husband is totally ecstatic about the idea, but I think he's become resigned to it. Whenever I talked to him over the weekend, I would gush on an on about how amazing it was to watch. I'll finish up school, and put off serious job searches until the following year to give me flexibility and time to train.
Now, on to the marathon. I think I should be able to punch out a short little marathon, after what those girls showed me what they could do! Ha!

And they're off!

Yesterday I ran the Richmond Marathon, my second. Last year I ran with several trigirl friends, and we all did well to hang together until about mile 13. At which point, I bonked. Granted it was 80 degrees out, and I wasn't keeping up with my nutrition or hydration. When my husband met me at mile 20, I was so ready to quit. He talked me through the next two miles, walking most of the way and then I got serious. "Just 4 more miles till I see my kids...just 3 more miles till I see my kids..." The mantra worked, and I finished in 5:16. My friends, most with at least one other marathon under their belts, had finished before me.
This year, the weather was blessedly colder--the high was 48 degrees--and somewhat breezy, but overall good for running. This year was spent training for two 1/2 iron distance races, and going into my taper for the marathon, I felt much stronger. I missed my long taper run last weekend, having been up on Saturday from 4am till 1am watching my friends finish their first Ironman in Florida, and Sunday travelling home. Then this past week, I got sick. Head cold/sinus infection. Yuck.
Friday I talked to my coach, Grandison, about if I should bag the marathon, switch to the 8k race, or just show up and take it mile by mile. I didn't want to miss my last big race of the year, and hell, I had put in all the training. She advised me to show up and take it mile by mile. Which I did. I started out running the first 5-6 miles with Maria, a running buddy of one of my friends from grad school, keeping a steady 10:15 pace. She took off down the hill at mile 7, and I hung back, in an attempt to conserve my legs. After a quick potty stop at mile 9.5, it was back on the road. At mile 13 my friend Mindy and her mom were waiting to cheer me on, and give me hugs. Mile 15 takes runners across the Lee Bridge, and the wind had picked up considerably. I found a big guy to draft behind--he thought I was nuts running literally on his heels, but it helped keep me warm and broke the wind. At mile 17, some TriGirls were waiting--it was so good to see them. TriGirl 40 gave me some love, and that saw me through to mile 22, where my husband was waiting to run me in. What a welcome sight--thank you honey!
I had made it much farther without walking than last year, and I was on track to finish close to my goal of 4:45. I passed two more TriGirl cheerleaders, and hit mile 23. At that point, I cranked up my ipod, found some good tunes, and dug in for the last 5k. I passed Maria at mile 25 and kicked it in for the last mile. Thank god for Avril Lavigne ("hey, you, I don't like your girlfriend..."); the song set a great pace and I sprinted in that last mile finishing in 4:51--25 minutes better than last year.
My splits:
13.1 miles--2:25
20 miles--3:44
26.2 miles--4:51:12