Sunday, August 19, 2012

Always Pause the GPS During a Crying Jag

I had 10 miles scheduled for my long run last weekend, but due to the heat, humidity and a lack of water (I was literally sucking rain water off of the oak leaves), I ran 8 and then walked home the last mile.  This weekend, I rescheduled the 10 miles.

6 am on Saturday, the alarm went off.  I was tired, and hit the snooze button.  I was achy from laying crooked on the couch reading the night before.  I may have missed 1 or 2 work out sessions the previous week, which means I was super cranky (ok, maybe even PMS-y).  Hubby and I had been squabbling over unimportant things (I still really want that desk for the den!).  I had a Nyquil hangover from the allergy attack I gave myself on Friday by tearing my room apart looking for my running belt.  I still didn't know where the belt is, so I knew I was going to have to velcro a snack size bag of chewies to my arm band, which means I should drop them about 3 times over the 10 miles.  It was raining.  I had every excuse to stay in bed.  I didn't.

I thought ahead, and hit a bottle of Lemon Tea Nuun in the bushes that I would pass up to 4 times, depending on how I ran my loopy route.  It was mid 60s and drizzly, but being the good New Englander I am, I had my sunglasses perched on top of my head, just in case.

The rainy run. If you look closely at the hills, you can see the fog heavy on the trees.
This was taken around mile 7 or so.
I head out, with all of those random, cranky thoughts swirling through my head.  Usually, at mile 1, I feel my shoulders relax and a big sigh just comes out on its own and I'm Running.  Yesterday, the thoughts kept swirling and the tears starting to come.  I didn't want to stop running, so I fought them. I tried ignoring the thoughts, but they kept coming.  I can't even tell you what they were, but they formed this black cloud that sat over me.  Finally, at the base of the first hill, I started crying.  I slowed down, choked back a few tears then started running again.  I felt like I bounced off a wall.  I just stood there for a second, and paused the GPS.  If the road wasn't wet, I would have sat down, instead I just squatted down, put my head in my hands and cried.

It was one of those silent cries, where your tears are streaming down your face. I sat there for a few minutes, until I was exhausted and empty.  I stood up, and looked around.  It was still raining, but seemed brighter.  I tentatively tried a few strides, it felt good.  I unpaused the GPS and ran up the hill.  And I kept going for another 8 or so miles.  I hit 10 miles as I ran up my driveway. I was smiling.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Olympic Heroes

Well, with the Men's Marathon completed, the Olympics are basically over.  I say "basically" because I still have all of Saturday on the DVR, so I haven't seen the Men's 5K, Women's Volleyball Gold Medal, and the Men's 4x100 Relay or Bolt's "humble" speech afterwards.  Unfortunately, the 2 weeks of Global Group Hug that is the Olympics usually fades by the time alarm clocks go off on Monday morning.  So, before it does, here's who inspired me the most this year:

Everyone Who DNF'd I can't imagine the heartbreak to stop by 2.2 miles (Des Davila) or 11 miles (Ryan Hall and Abdi) in The Olympic Marathon. But it's that whole "live to fight another day" mentality.  Sometimes, today is not your day, and you don't want to waste tomorrow.  The only potential exception: Taoufik Makhloufi.  It really, really looked like he bailed on the 800 so he could run well on the 1500.

Manteo Mitchell He ran a "slow" 400m (46.1 seconds) and half of that distance was after his leg broke.  Yeah, this is the exact opposite of the DNF'ers, but it was a relay race.  He had 3 other people depending on him.  It's one thing to disappoint yourself, but he didn't want to let down his teammates.  

Oscar Pistorius He fought for years just to run in the Olympics.  He made it into the finals twice (400m and 4x400m) and came home empty handed.  Heck, he finished 8th in the 400.  But he has got to be the happiest "non-winner" in the games.  I'm sure you know his story, but what impressed me the most was that even with the all of the fighting, all of the publicity, he's still very humble about it.  He hasn't become angry.  He just wants to run, and he's going to keep running.

Juventina Napoleao Who?  She's the marathon runner from Timor-Leste.  If you watched the marathon last weekend, you may have seen her during the start, but not likely during the finish.  Out of the 107 women who crossed the finish line, she came in 106 (Caitriona Jennings of Ireland came in 107).  Why is 106 more impressive than 107?  Because Juventina got a PR of 3:05:07 in the Olympic Marathon.  Think about this, here's a woman who qualified for the Olympics on the Universality standard (meaning in all of Timon-Leste, there was no one who could met an A or B standard).  So, she obviously trained, and trained and trained.  She wasn't training for a medal, she was training for herself.  And it worked, she PR'd. And in the Olympics!  She's 23, so I like to think she'll be back in 4 years, and run a sub-3 hr race.

For me, these people are what the Olympics are all about.  Competing in a sport you love, and doing your best.  And remembering we're human, so sometimes doing our best for that day is only 2.2 miles.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Resetting Expectations

Sorry it's been a couple of weeks.  Quick recap since my last post: Ran 8 miles for my long run last week (ok, it was 7.9ish, but I'm going with GPS margin of error) and I ran the fastest non-race 5K I've done in a while (just over 30 minutes).  I was ready for the Rindge NH Le Tour De Common 5K.  Sort of...

Last year, this was my first real 5K after completing Couch to 5K and the Warrior Dash.  I had zero expectations, well, 1 expectation: to not be DFL (yeah Dead F--ing Last).  My boys ran the kid race, and Pete (then 6) ran the first lap with the little kids, but still needed to do a second lap.  He ran by himself, with me pacing him and cheering.  I wandered off to the starting line and a few girls in their 20s started chatting with me.  The eventually confessed they were intimidated by all of the "real runners" and included me in that group.  They had JUST finished C25K and the fact that I "looked like a real runner" after only running for about 6 months calmed them down.  I had challenged my 9 year younger Brother-in-law to the race, winner gets bragging rights.  He had been in the army about 4 or 5 years prior, active duty in Afganistan, and had wanted to get back into shape.  To there was a lot of excitement over the race.

This was me, "The Real Runner" and my boys after the 5K last year.
We're dancing with the flash mob. Don't ask...

They call it Le Tour De Commons because within the 5K, there are 2 serious down hills and 2 major uphills (the first is 200ft in under a mile).  It starts off downhill and we were FLYING.  I dropped back after about a half mile, but me, BIL and another woman in my age bracket were jockeying for the lead the whole race.  Run, walk, run, walk. Uphill, downhill, uphill, uphill. The three of us went down the last hill with me in the rear.  She finished, 3 seconds later BIL, 5 seconds later me.  Then we stuck around for the awards.  The woman in front of me got a medal: 3rd place for Women 30-39!  Holy Crap, I came in 4th (out of 7, but still).  I wanted that medal!

Fast forward to this year.  I feel slower, but I can't tell if that's because I'm running longer distances or I'm transferring my slower pace to the shorter distance.  So I do what any good engineer would do, check my training logs.  Both year, my pre-race training runs are within 15 seconds. Third isn't out of my grasp!

Me this year, heading towards the finish line (my boys jumped in right after this photo).
Slower, but better dressed?

We get to the race.  The kids run plays out EXACTLY the same way as last year.  I start looking around and I see a large group of Modnadnock Region Milers shirts.  A running club!  I look for 30-39 year old women, and I see "real runners", women who have been running for decades.  I look for Third Place from last year, she's not around.  I look for walkers, ok, we got 4 of those, and a few old people, and that weird guy from last year who ran in jean shorts.  We start and I'm flying again.  The heat starts to weigh on me. The humidity.  I went out too fast.  Too much walking, but the air's so heavy.  Finally, the finish is in sight!  Pete and Brian jump in and run with me.  I'm too worried about stepping on them to appreciate it.  I'm hot, tired and I can see 33 on the timer.  I finish.  Thought my official time was 33:00, but it was 33:26  Check the standings: 10/10 for age group (67/82 overall).  LAST PLACE.  I was crushed (and dehydrated, but mostly crushed). 

The Start.
Notice all of the runners without shirts and with short shorts up front?
Those are "Real (fast) Runners".  See the orange shirt to the left of the pole?
 That's Hubby. I'm to his right.

The next morning, I planned to get 6 miles in to cobble together a 9 mile weekend.  I felt horrible and eeked out 3 miles, puncutated by a crying jag around mile 2.  Made it home and flipped on the second half of the Olympic Women's Marathon.  I remember a few things: the finish, Kara picking up Shalane after the race (made me cry), and Des stopping due to her injury (I was really rooting for her).

I finally looked up the final results for the Olympic Marathon and found another woman to admire: Juventina Napeleao from Timor-Leste.  She didn't meet the A or B standard, but made it to the Olympics on the Universality Standard (which allows every country to send at least 2 athletes per sport).  She got a personal best in the Olympic Marathon of 3:05. She knew she wasn't going to medal and yet came out and gave it everything and PR'd. That's a Real Runner.
I have 3.5 hours to finish Zooma.  The 5K time predicts a half finish time of 2:33, which I don't think I'll hit (I did 2:34 on a flat course in Feb), but keeps me at my "under 2:45 goal" (maybe I should make that 2:43 to line up with the B standard?). There are going to be a lot of women faster than me. And maybe a few women slower than me.  And if I come in last, I'll still finish. 

And I'm still a "Real Runner".