Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Timberman is Final!!!

Well, this is just how I am. I get thinking about something. I try to put it off, and it ends up consuming my every waking moment. Then, when I just can't stand it anymore (usually a day later), I just commit.

And, commit is what I did. Yesterday after talking to my cousin, I realized that the Timberman Sprint was closing soon (they have 800 registered already.... 1000 is the cap). So, I registered. AND, I just got my campsite for Friday and Saturday nights! AND, they are super cool, might let me check out late on Sunday (since it will be hard to check out at 6am before the 1/2 IM start). *With no extra fee.*

I can't tell you how excited I am about this. It's not the race really (although it sounds like a blast). It's the fact that I get to mix about a gazillion things I love:
  • Seeing my family (since I can't afford to go to the big reunion)
  • Driving
  • Escaping from civilization for a weekend
  • Camping
  • New Hampshire
  • Saving money
  • Getting to support my cousin (who I realized last year was into triathlon!)
  • Witnessing my first 1/2 IM (on the docket for next year)

Okay, I'm done gushing. For now. ;-)

Rode the bike last night. I think I might be a little tuckered still from Sunday's ride (and Monday's sweat fest of a run). In a rare move, I decided to cut it a little short. Probably smart as I'm a little sore today (back mostly, haven't noticed that before) and my legs just didn't have it yesterday. Must have been the extra climbing, huh? This is also week 4 in a build stage (and since the marathon, hardy har), so it's good that this is a recovery/taper for the upcoming race. I'm thinking this might be a less is more kind of week.

Question for you bikers.... Yesterday, I noticed that my elbows were incredibly sore (like tendonitis sore). Is it my form? Is there something I can do to adjust my position?

Take Care Everyone!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Getting Stoked!

Lots of fun stuff going on around here this week!

I'm getting ready for my first tri of the season. This past weekend, I went to Ludlow and drove and rode (Thanks for the tip, Clif!) the course. Very doable, with only one monster-esque hill (but I did it with flying colors... I might have been in the granniest of all gears, Shadow, but I got 'er done!). I left that ride (adding 3 more miles to get my workout in) with a great feeling. Then, I stuck my feet in the swim site (nice pond!). It's clear, warm, and has a nice bottom. I'm feeling very good about this.

And, I'm thinking about adding a triathlon to the schedule (gasp!). My cousin is doing his first 1/2 IM at Timberman this August, and lucky me, there is a sprint the day before... Soooooo, I'm *thinking* about getting a campsite at Gunstock, and just getting away from it all. A race, camping, and supporting my (really cool) cousin at his first attempt at the distance - Priceless! (And cheap!)

AND, I realized I forgot to tell ya'll that I'm signed up to do the Chicago Marathon this October. Not sure how that slipped my mind, lol! It's going to be a great season!

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Heavy Heart

Today is Memorial Day.

Unfortunately I have to be at work, but my mind and heart are with those that have given their lives in service for this country and those that have died at the hands of terror.

I was going to report about my week, but my heart is heavy. A good friend of mine is hurting.

I hope that you all have thoughtful and happy days. Hug those close to you just a little longer. Give an extra smile. Lend a helping hand.

This life is so precious. And short.

DHB - My run today is for you.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Around the bend

Things are looking up!
  • My bike and I are bonding nicely. I even FIXED the front shifter cable myself, thankyouverymuch! Thanks so much for all of the great tips.
  • My new derailleur is on the way.
  • As is my new wetsuit.
  • Cloud 9 and I are officially over. Noo, it's okay, I promise. As great as it was in the beginning, it all unravelled very quickly. I'm actually feeling somewhat relieved to have this resolved.
  • Now I have more time to train.
  • And to finish my Ph.D.

  • Work is going interestingly... Some weird thing (that has nothing to do with my project, by the way) is happening. My advisor is excited, and we're meeting in the hallway now to talk about my stuff... He even wrote it up on the floor hallway chalkboard (usually a sign of success around here... everyone gets to mull it over... pretty neat). That was a first.
  • I'm sleeping! Two nights in a row now, with absolutely no help whatsoever. A week ago, I flushed those nasty pills that paralyzed me and went to Sleepytime Extra Tea. It worked!

  • Diet is pretty much okay. I'm kind of avoiding the scale though. I'm pretty sure that I will not see the decrease I want... yet. I bet that after a few more weeks of high intensity training will help though!
  • I'm starting to get excited for my first tri of the year. I'm going down this weekend to drive the course and stick my feet in the pond (and see how murky it is). The bike course is very hilly, and that's something that I haven't done a lot of lately. I figure that worst case scenario would be for me to walk. Eh, oh well. At that point, at least I'll know that I had finished the swim, right? There will be plenty of time later to work on climbing skills and power.

That's about it for now! I'm looking forward to a "long" bike tomorrow, as well as a day out with one of my best friends... We're going to the mall (haven't been there in ages!), then to Olive Garden for dinner and then to see the DaVinci Code. I can't wait! Sunday will be a long run (yeah right!), and cooking. Some cleaning. Unfortunately I'll probably have to work Monday, but I'll try to keep it short. It *is* Memorial Day after all!

Take Care everyone! Travel Safely!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Trying to turn it around

Lately, I don't know why, but I've been in the WORST mood. I think part of it has to do with the sleep issue (which seems to have been solved with Sleepytime Extra tea, thankthegoodlord). Another part of it has to do with the fact that it's graduation time here at school, which is just one more reminder that I'm still here.

Still here. *sigh*

I have been getting alot more done lately, but then again barely scratching the surface. I'm almost sure that this is what my sleep and irritability issues come from. Every time someone mentions graduation or I see another dissertation defense announced in the elevator or someone asks me when I'm finishing.... I throw up a little in my mouth. I know what the solution to the problem is... but....

My boss mentioned that he was having a picnic this weekend to celebrate the graduations that we've had from our group. First of all: These functions are always incredibly painful. I mean, we all get along wonderfully when he's not around, but once you add that one tinsy tiny variable, it's weird. Like, get-me-the-hell-out-of-here-weird. Like, why-isn't-anyone-talking-weird. Besides that, there's the whole reminder that I'm old, and I'm starting to get lapped. Honestly I'd rather have tacks stuck in the palms of my hands than attend this little get-together. I'd rather run a mile over hot coals in bare feet. I'd rather be tied to a Jeep and driven buck naked over 5 miles of broken glass. So, I'm not going.

So, to try to get myself out of my funk, I just purchased a wetsuit. :) It dawned on me that my tri on 6/4 is going to be very cold, indeed, and I just didn't think that renting a suit on the day of the race (having never practiced in it) was such a great idea. Besides, this sucker is going to pay for itself (with peace of mind... I hear it's easier to swim with one! I did it a long time ago, and honestly I'll take whatever help I can get.).

My run yesterday was tough. Short and tough. I think I'm still dealing with some issues from the marathon (tired, running feels like torture), and my swim today was also tough. Hope the bike is easier. I got some help from a friend and adjusted the front shifter cable so HOPEFULLY that fixes the chain dropping problem. (And boy, does it feel nice to get some experience fixing my own bike!)

About the triathlon: It's my third, actually. But here's the thing... Last year, my second tri (ever) ended up with a tow in. The water was incredibly rough, and given my lacking swim skills, I think I made the right decision to end it. So, this tri, while being a C race, is also very important to prove to myself that I CAN do this.


Really funny story:

So, I'm sitting here and I notice my office mate (we have a divider between us) fighting with a piece of paper that is usually hanging on the end of the divider. I see his long arm come out and thwack the paper back up, only to see it fall back down again. It barely registers, until I see him rummaging in the office supply drawer and lurching around the office. Then he comes back. Now I'm paying attention. He's peeling the tape apart at the top of the sheet, trying in vain to attach the effer back to the divider. Finally, I say, "Are you okay?" His response, "NO!" "Oh, no!, what's wrong!?" He starts to laugh. He tells me that the stupid paper fell off, he's trying to hang it back up, and he can't find any tape... So, he's using what is left at the top (you've all done it, you know it!) to get it to stay. He looks so frustrated (and he's usually so laid back). I started laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face. It's only funny (hysterical actually) because this is exACTLY how I've been feeling lately. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Interesting Weekend

It was an interesting and restful weekend.

Here are a few things I learned:

1. The small bike pump I have attached to my old bike actually DOES have a presta valve fitting!

2. The small bike pump does not fit on my new bike due to the triathlon frame geometry and the freakisly short screws they use for attachments.

3. There is a bike shop just 10 miles away from my new apartment!

4. Strangely enough they don't know about CO2 cartridges (but they have them - my new resolution to the bike pump problem... I figured I'd train how I want to race.)

5. The cartridge cannot be stored inside of the inflater without discharging the damn cartridge. Guess how I know? ;) You can however put your smart cap on and figure out that that you can store the inflater disassembled (and then put the cartridge inside of the bottom piece).

6. I'm a blonde. I knew this. I just reconfirmed it.

7. My bike HATES going from the smallest to the middle chain ring (I have a triple.).

8. I can reattach my chain in under 5 seconds. Twice. Note to Jeno: My acronym works wonderfully in these situations.

9. I can out bike a flea-bitten, rabid sounding and looking dog that is ferociously threatening my heels. (Thank goodness he had a crappy bike.)

10. I can yell REALLY loudly at said dog while struggling up a hill as fast as I can, and he will be chained up upon my return. (I do have to admit to calling said dog an a-hole on the return trip, which made me laugh pretty hard.)

11. It was SO SMART to go back to the car to get my jacket.

12. Icecream can be a dinner (although I was *starving* the next morning and informed Cloud 9 we were going out for breakfast as a result.).

12a. Kielbasa, sunny side up eggs, hashbrowns and delish homemade cinnamon toast is not a good pre-run meal.

13. There are thousands of different kinds of spark plugs. Don't ask.

14. Watch the tree. Watch the tree. WATCH THE GD TREE!!!!

15. It's not a real trail run unless I'm dirty, itchy and bleeding profusely.

16. Always call a friend before leaving and upon returning from a trail run (did that.)

17. It will start raining EVERY time you think about doing the groceries.

18. Making dinner is a good distraction from the torrential downpour outside.

19. It's helpful if you actually read the recipe, though.

20. The oven is very hot.

21. The oven is very hot. Yes, I know I repeated myself. Seems like I didn't hear it though, as I burned the crap out of my finger... twice.

22. It's possible to finish grocery shopping in 30 minutes.

23. The new Shimano 105 front derailleur I won from ebay (hence the rushed shopping) may help with my chain issues.... I can only HOPE!

24. My first triathlon is in less than two weeks.

25. Oh Sh!t. My first triathlon is in less than two weeks.

Friday, May 19, 2006

1st Run!

Since April 29th, that is....

I came home from work around 4, and ohmygosh was I tired. For some reason the afternoons are always the worst. But, I got dressed and headed out to my favorite Quabbin Reservoir. I guess part of me has a hard time driving to the place I'm running at, but considering Quabbin has some of the most beautiful views and TRAILS, I guess it's worth the 7 minute drive.

I got to do a little exploring around this pond (which I found out later has a trail all the way around it!), and then headed up the road to the dam. It was a bit of a climb, but the legs felt pretty good. There were a couple of little aches and pains, but all things I had experienced before the marathon as well. I got to the dam (was going to run across it) and realized I'd been running for over 20 minutes already (oops!). I headed back down the road and saw this trail head that I have been eyeing for some time...

Yeah, I had been running for 45 minutes (and this was my 1st run post marathon), but it was just calling. I went down the path. Aches and pains disappeared immediately. I was flying! I saw a deer go off in front of me, white tail straight up. Wow, can they run! I ran and ran and ran... and then realized I'd better find my way back to the car. :)

Also, a belated but very happy birthday to my friend, Danielle! I hope you have a great weekend, hon!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sticking to the Schedule

The quest for sleep continues....

I went to the doc yesterday. She seemed pretty concerned about the sleep debt I was in, and prescribed a pretty heavy duty tranq. Guh. It worked. And, VERY quickly. I felt like I had been paralyzed just a few minutes after taking it. I'm supposed to take it for the next week, but I think I'll see where I'm at in a few days or so (It's habit forming and gives me a hangover.). In any case, I'm feeling more normal (talking and focus is a little better) even WITH the hangover.

I've also managed to get back on that schedule I was talking about. It's requiring some sacrifice and discipline, but that's okay. My goal is to get to work early so I can get home in the afternoon and workout.

Speaking of workouts! I got on my bike again finally. We had a pretty good time (went a little farther this time, and the speed was much better!), except for the dropped chain. I impressed myself though, as I was able to get it back on in a few seconds. For some reason it really does NOT like going from the first chain ring to the second. I'm thinking it's my fault (and that it has to do with my "release" of the shifter.... I'm wondering if I'm going too fast - anyone have a thought about this? Jenn P - I know you have the same bike... any advice?)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The one suggestion....

Thank you all so much for your caring and suggestions.... I tried many of them...

It's funny that the one thing no one suggested worked!

Sleeping over at a friend's house. (More than likely it was the very long conversations we had about my stressors, but hey... this might work for you too!)

It works. And, it makes sense. Lately my bed has been the axis of evil. Changing the scenery was a good thing (in a few ways, snicker).

Last night I went over to Cloud 9's house. He made a great dinner (grilled porkchops... much better than mine were!), and we talked.... and talked.... and talked. Things are better now :) A little communication goes a long way, you know?

We also talked about school. I've had this made-up deadline hanging over my head. He helped me realize that the world won't end if I don't meet it. Just working as hard as I can will get my goal accomplished. Thinking about a terrifying (and perhaps unfair) goal is probably going to cause more stress than productivity.

When I woke up this morning, I was surprised to feel happy and refreshed! Almost like my old self! I still have a lot of sleep to catch up on, but this is a start.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Desperate...

I'm.


Still.


Awake.


Seriously, folks, I'm not sure what to do here, but obviously this isn't a problem I can solve myself. I'm starting to doubt my ability to complete simple tasks without falling asleep (during the day only, of course).

Why the hell is this happening!?

Someone please hit me over the head. Hard.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sleep? What's that?

It was a great weekend. I decided the previous weekend (when I couldn't find a present to my liking) to surprise my mom with my very presence. We had a great time (and for once, she was very surprised). We spent the time steam cleaning her carpets (woman will move 100s of pounds of furniture, and she only weighs 100 lbs. soaking wet... geesh!), and just hanging out. I gave her a framed picture of myself after finishing the marathon (the one I posted) and wrote my "thank you" to her from my report in her card. Went over pretty well... :)

I'm still not sleeping, and this is really starting to piss me off. I'm doing all of the right things, and have resorted to sleeping pills (Ambien when I was home...). I just can't seem to shake the cycle, and I'm petrified of getting addicted.

Part of it is due to school stress. I was dealing with school stress just fine when I WAS EXERCISING. Alright. So, recovery is officially over. I think I recovered just fine with a week of very limited (i.e. ONE swim and steam cleaning carpets for 2 hours) exercise. I swam a mile today, and plan on doing weights and core when I get home. I swear, I don't care if I can barely walk tomorrow as long as I effing sleep tonight. I'm beyond desperate.

THIS FU#&ING SUCKS!!!!!!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A little slack...A little structure

Well, I'm not used to cutting myself slack, but I did it yesterday. I got home, mentally prepared (but sluggish) to go for a bike ride. It was still cloudy, the time was okay, but I was still feeling blah and tired. I thought, "You know, no one is going to blame you if you don't ride today. In fact, it might be a good idea (given the lack of sleep and the extreme exhaustion) to skip it."

So, I did. I rarely listen to that voice, but it seemed to be wise last night. I made a good dinner, watched a movie, took a hot bath and went to bed prepared for a good night's rest. I got into bed, read some of my book and turned out the light at 10pm.

And waited. And waited some more.

11:20pm. I'm still awake. I finally marched myself to the bathroom and took two sleeping pills (the normal dosage). Went to bed. Finally, FINALLY slept.

Until 9 am this morning. Guh.

I've been thinking. I remember during Lent when I gave up everything nasty (all desserts basically) in a drastic way, that my sleeping patterns were like never before. I was sleeping 8, 9, or even 10 hours a night --like a BABY. I think it may be time to look into this again. See, because I don't really have the will power to just have a treat every now and then. And even when I do, I notice drastic changes. Irritability, more cravings (more often), sleeplessness, weight gain.

I've also noticed lately that my will power during the day is good. I pack a lunch, and I'm "allowed" to eat everything in that bag (it's almost all good: nuts, fruit, veggies, good sandwich, a little treat like yogurt covered raisins). But then I get home.... It's all over.

Why is this? Well a large amount of my time is taken with *working*, so I think less about food. (I also stock my desk with sugar free gum and healthy snacks for whenever I get cravings. I also make sure that I drink 48-64 oz of water while at work.) When I'm home, however, my time is less structured. Maybe it's time to rethink that. I've noticed the past few days that I will get to 5 or 6 o'clock with a very good eating day under my belt, only to completely ruin it when I get home. I eat everything (and I mean everything) and anything in site.

For the next few weeks or so, I'm going to come up with a structure to my (limited) time at home:

Arrive home.
Eat small snack.
Exercise: bike ride, run, weights, core (pilates, crunches), hiking
Make good dinner. Enjoy dinner with a lot of water.
Chores (cats, bills, clean)
Quilt, cross-stitch, read, watch part of movie, email, call friends/family or blog.
Shower/Bath.
In bed to read.
SLEEP.

So here we go:

1. Drink more water at home. At least 20 oz + whatever I need to exercise.
2. Drastically cut out sugar/desserts. Look for better alternatives for my body (fruit).
3. Create and follow a structured schedule while at home.
4. Ensure that I'm getting the calorie needs that I need during the day so that when I get home I'm not binging.
5. Consider eating a somewhat larger meal or meals at work and having a smaller meal at night. (giving that a shot today)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Chilly New England Day

It's one of those dreary days. The ones where you want to shut the window, turn off the alarm, and climb back into that warm bed. I'll have to settle for a nice cup of tea, I suppose.

I finally slept. So, that's a start. I'm still physically exhausted enough to make me think that I might be fighting some low level bug. Walking up to my building was tough this morning. Weird.

So, I'm not sure exactly why this is happening, but I'm noticing that I'm getting lax about my diet again (even with my goals posted on the sidebar). I think part of it is that I'm not in hardcore training, so it's hard for me to think food = fuel. It's good to realize that this is a particular problem, I suppose, but I need to go a step farther and fix the problem. Hopefully I can start running (easy) again this weekend and that will help the focus. I'm still swimming and biking, but with the emphasis on recovery, not training. Or, maybe I just need to be a little lax right now and give myself a break? Dunno, I've just never felt this way. Now I feel like I'm blathering on.

So, I'm thinking about running the Chicago Marathon. But it's weird. It's like the more I think about it, the more I'm just not sure I want to go. It's not really the expense (although $90 is a lot right now, especially with triathlon registration looming.). It's more about the training. Now that I know what a time commitment that is... Guh. I'm just not excited about it like I was CMM. I'm going to sit on it a while longer. Maybe after I get a few *enjoyable* runs under my belt.... Maybe it's that the last one was just so torturous.

Maybe it's just the weather...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tired to the bone















Yup, that's exactly how I would describe it. I've honestly never been this tired before. Reasons I can think of:

1. Marathon (duh)
2. Insomnia (yeah, that didn't make sense to me either... I just can't shut off my brain)
3. Stupid sinus headache (forced me to take Tylenol Sinus Nighttime - turns out the stuff has a flippin' long half life)
4. Certain other reason that I won't get into here.

I'm so tired I can barely type. Here's hoping another 10-11 hours nips this in the bud.

In other news.. my swim times are coming down nicely (as compared to last week.) I even managed a golf score of 103 today, which is not that shabby, considering I haven't done drills in a dog's age!

Recovery goes on...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pics from Quabbin!

Here we go! Finally pics of my beloved Quabbin.
As you can see the trail is IDEAL for future trail runs :)



A pretty stream...




Quabbin Summit Tower...


Part of the reservoir...

Me through a tree... (with Mr. Spidey on my nose!)


These walls are throughout the entire Quabbin...

Might have been old pasture markers.

Now, this was COOL. Before this picture, the trees (up on the hill) were disiduous... No pine trees. Then all of a sudden this beautiful (young) pine forest began.

It was like walking through gauze... An enchanted forest.



Anyone interested in the history on the Quabbin can go here...or here...It's a pretty neat story! If you've ever read Steven King's Dream Catcher, it's the site of the last horrific (fiction) scene. :)

Bike, Quabbin!

What a beautiful weekend!

Friday dawned a beautiful day, so I went to school early and left early... I had decided to swim at lunch, and then maybe go for a hike... I got home and promptly fell asleep on my living room floor. Thankfully, the phone rang soon after, and Cloud 9 asked me if I wanted to go hiking around Quabbin... Sure! I figured I'd get my second wind soon... We got to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Saturday was great... I slept 11 (ELEVEN) hours, and finally woke up feeling almost like myself again. I had decided that Saturday was a rest day, since I had done something almost every other day of the week. I did my laundry, watched Tristan and Isolde while I folded it, and then headed out on a Quilt shop excursion. I was trying to look for some neat Batiks or flannels for my mom (hint, hint: Mother's Day), but inspiration wasn't hitting. And then, I realized what the best gift would be. Nuh uh, I'm not sayin' a word! I got back from shopping, and was tttiiiirrreeeedddd. It always seems to hit in the afternoon. I think I took a nap and then watched Saint Ralph - GREAT MOVIE about a kid that decides to win the Boston Marathon to save his mom. A must see, and a tear jerker. I finished out the night by making my Aunt's award winning strawberry pie and sewing.

Then comes today: I skipped church. Yah, I know I'm going to hell for that one, but it was 1st communion and well... Gah. It was just too beautiful, so I chose to spend my time with God in HIS church. Outside. I loaded up the bike and took him/her to a FLAT area (truth be told there are still some gentle rollers, but nothing compared to Thursday's ride, which I checked out on my hike with Cloud 9 - Not so small!). We had a GREAT ride. Shifting like a dream, braking fine, much better speed (12.8 - Um, that was my average from LAST YEAR - getting that at the beginning of the season, after not riding a bike for 6 months ON TRASHED LEGS - I"ll take it!) Clipping in and out was fantastic. I got it! Just like that. No fuss, no muss. I actually cannot wait to ride again. That's the feeling I was looking for. I feel like I rediscovered love (cue cheesy easy listening love song)...

I came home and showered and then packed for my hiking trip with Jen. We went back to the Quabbin, and I FINALLY remembered my camera. It's one of my favorite places on earth, but every time I forget to take pictures. We hiked about 5-6 miles and had a great time. Of course, I came home and napped again for 2 solid hours...

Here are some pics! Well blogger is sucking donkey butt again, so I'll try later! I hope you all had beautiful weekends!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Maiden Voyage

Guh.

That's about all I have to say about that. I guess I expected bells to ring, or something like that.

I'm talking about the first bike ride. Yesterday. Beautiful blue skies. Me and the bike.

I rushed home to get dressed in my new Otter Pops jersey and loaded the bike onto the car (I live in a valley... legs weren't up to climbing, or so I thought....). We drove to the Quabbin. I had looked at the map, I swear. Topo lines were *very far* apart... I figured I could handle it.

I keep reminding myself that my legs are still trashed (ohmygod, I had completely underestimated that!), but there is now a little fear about that Oly I signed up for (That's probably a good thing.). I think I hadn't been respecting the distance before, but uh, now I do. I went FIVE MILES yesterday. FIVE. I felt like I needed a nap afterwards. How was it that I thought I could RUN? Maybe next weekend. Maybe.

So, I got back and drafted a letter to my bike:

Dear (Unnamed) Bike,

I first met you a few weeks ago. My how handsome you were! You were the first and ONLY bike that I laid eyes on and rode (blush). We had such a great time together in the parking lot, zooming around the building with the mirrored windows - My, how good you made me look! I even tried those funky aero bars - Whew! I was in love. (pitter patter)

So, I paid for you, and took you home. You were cheap, good, and fast - It's rare these days to find all three in one place! We had a little trouble at first with the bike rack. It seems you were a bit more attached to the LBS than I originally thought. But Nice Bike Boy came out, and he had you straightened out in no time (much to my chagrin). I assured you that we would be back to visit. We made that bumpy trip home together, and I lovingly made a place for you in my home. I apologize for making you sit next to The Tank.

I admit to neglecting you for a solid week, but as I explained before (as I stared at you longingly from across the room, afraid of what might happen if I were to grip those handlebars), I had a very important LOOOONNNGGG race to do. And my friends thought that with our relationship being so new, you might hurt me. Because of this, I gave you space so you could get used to your new digs while I prepared for my race. It tore me apart, if you must know.

So, I came back on Sunday, so ready for our maiden voyage. Unfortunately, I had underestimated how tired my legs would feel from said race, and I had to ignore you some more. But, today dawned and the legs felt better. I raced home and quickly primped for our first date, dressing in my new Otter Pops jersey (bright pink to match my shoes). I loaded you onto the car, and we drove to the Quabbin (which I *thought* was flat).

Things started a bit shakily. You must be patient with me, I've never used clipless pedals before. I was so anxious to take you out into the sunshine that I refused to follow anyone's advice about a nice grassy field for one's first ride. Bah Humbug! We didn't need no stinkin' grass! (Although I did think for a minute that you were going to buck me when you weren't shifting properly... Which, I have to admit was my fault... Remember that! You're not going to hear it often!)

You played along fairly nicely until that gargantuan hill. Good golly! You might have helped a little bit! Remember how my legs feel? And then, you were fooling me with your erronious speeds... You LIED to me, you ba$tard! Thank you for making me feel horrible, telling me that I was going 0.0 mph when obviously I was careening down that hill! I mean, throw a girl a bone, will ya! And, what's this about keeping your left brake just out of reach? You know what short arms I have, you punk! Why are you being so distant? You know how downhills scare me.

Anyway... I see that this relationship is going to take a lot of work (on both sides!). I'm going to have to take you back to the LBS (oh, stop crying!) so they can straighten you out. That's right. Just you wait until Nice Bike Boy comes home. Then you'll be sorry. For now, you're going to sit in that corner and think about what you did. I *might* talk to you on Sunday, when I hope and pray that "gargantuan" hill is more like a speed bump. That was embarassing!

In the meantime, I'm going to try to grow a set. 5 Miles. Geesh.

Not so fondly (yet!),
Your Owner

Thursday, May 04, 2006

CMM Redux


What a great day that was. I'm still reeling. And, I miss my friends terribly.

But, I have a bike ride to look forward to this afternoon. My first! I know, I know... I know I said May 1st, but uh, there was just no way. I've been swimming a lot (love the pool right now), and walking. I might try a run this weekend, but it's gonna be short, and most likely on a trail. We'll see though. Legs feel great, they're just a bit... tired. Gee, I wonder why?

So, I did the whole lessons learned thing for this race....

1. Gels and Powerade do not supply enough electrolytes, especially during hot conditions. (Okay, it was high 70s... normally I would not call that hot, but realize that my body is used to 50s.)

2. Which brings me to part 2. It might have been savvy to train for the weather. Maybe bundle up on a warmer day... Dunno, the jury is still out on this one.

3. Stopping at the med tent is not a sign of weakness. Those folks are there to help, and they did!

4. HR is just a number and can easily be ignored (intelligently).

5. There is NO substitute for diligent training.

6. It was VERY wise of me to accept a kind friend's offer.

7. Buying a bike right before the marathon: VERY FREAKING SMART! Sersely, guys, if you know you have a HUGE-ass race coming up, buy something pretty that you can't use until after the race. Make it training related. You'll thank yourself later. PMS sucketh. (That's post marathon syndrome...)

So thank you so much to all of you that responded either here or back channel. It was such a great day (great in many aspects).

Out of all of the people I shared my report with, I did receive *one* negative comment from a friend, however. She seems to think I pushed it too far and that I shouldn't "pull" this in my next race... that I'm "damn lucky" and she hopes next time I'll have compassion for my body instead of mental fortitude. I guess she would have been prouder of me had I had quit. It put a negative spin on it, you know? Honestly, I was never in any danger! I was surrounded by very knowledgeable runners and triathletes the entire time. The folks at the med tent were happy (both times) to send me on my merry, cramping way. I'm SURE that if they thought I was in danger, they would have made me stop. There were many people that day pushing themselves to the limit. I'm neither heroic nor special. We were all hurting together. I'm sure that there are other stories just like mine.

Anyway, we've emailed back and forth a couple of times and I guess we're going to agree to disagree. Sometimes you just have to step on your feelings to save the friendship, I guess.

On a more positive note, I'm entering the last phase of weight loss. I imagine this one will be a bit more challenging, but ever-so-rewarding once I get to that goal weight. I will be choosing to lose 13 lbs. in 100 days. :) It would have been 10, but I went and ate a bit too much the past week or so.... Oops!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

RR (CMM) 'Till I Collapse - Part V

Post-Race
Leap of Faith: Big and Rich

I put myself on a limb
And I feel it giving way from the weight of the rain
If I brake or I bend
I get myself together again, put my face to the wind

[Chorus:]
It might be a long, long way to my golden day
That's a chance I'm willing to take
There's no chain, no cage that I won't brake
In this long, long leap of faith

I close my eyes
And I walk right to the edge,
throw my hand up to the sky
Oh, I'm not afraid
I'm not afraid to live this life through my dreaming eyes

To a rocket I've been tied, I'm ready for the screaming ride
It's full of fuel and I just lit the fuse
I'm a raging burning ring of fire and I get hotter as I get higher
And I'm tearing a hole right through this sky of blue
Oh, There's no chain no cage that I won't break
In this long, long leap of faith


I hobbled back to the hotel with the aid of three of the most gracious and kind people I have met on this earth. They had made me feel like this entire weekend was about me even though they all had their own goals, and they celebrated with me. They will forever be close to my heart for what they did for me that day, and the entire weekend. I would like to think that we will always share a special bond because of CMM ’06.

The time after the race was bitter-sweet. I was elated, but my body was still in a bit of a state. I won’t go into details, and if you really want them, you can call me. Actually, I still might not tell you. J It was a comfort being around my friends, and even better once I had a full meal. It was the best meal ever. It might have been stomped on in the kitchen, but it was pure heaven… And well deserved. I looked at my HRM at the hotel. I had registered an average HR of 174 (85%) and burned a total of 3300 calories since 7am. Well deserved, indeed.

I can say without a doubt that the outcome of that marathon would be been much different, if Dan had not been at mile 20. He was a rock and constant support through those 6.2 miles. He met my (nearly) every need: water, chips, powerade, and even an apple I neglected to tell him I would never eat. Poor guy carried that thing for miles! I’m so sorry! He supplied a constant banter, telling me to think about others who had worn the tags before me, those who had surely gotten through worse. He really helped put it all into perspective. Most of all, I could tell that he was happy to do it, up for the challenge. I cannot wait until the day when I can Pay it Forward to honor what he did for me.

It was a day with huge expectations and unforeseen conditions. I honestly think I did the best that I absolutely could, physically and mentally. I gave it my all. In talking with my mom, I understand how she worries about the “all” that I gave. While I see her point, I really would have been disappointed had I given up. Granted, things were starting to look pretty grim when my groin and intestines started acting up, and had one more thing entered the equation, I’m well aware that that would have been the period at the end of an incomplete sentence.

I’m proud of the way I prepared for this race, and I’m proud of the way I ran it. I stayed on top of my nutrition the absolute best that I could. I stayed flexible with what the day was giving me. I was rock solid in my mental capacity to allow moments of acknowledgement of hurt yet reel it back in to focus. Really, there's not much I would change (although I am looking into this whole cramping issue seriously.)

The rest of this might read like the Academy awards, but there are some people I need to thank, and I’m not stopping when the orchestra starts playing.

While all of these achievements are mine, the power of friendship is what got me through it all. During training, it was my training partners, J, J, and J who all helped me with daily encouragement and support through those 18 weeks. They helped me when I was going naper tutty with walks and coffee, and listened to me rant about the weather with patient smiles on their faces. Girls, you are amazing friends. I hope to always be there for you when you meet your challenges and chase your dreams.

I also want to thank the folks at WL2R and TRI-DRS. You all were great weathering the training and tapering storm with me. So supportive. And meeting you all in person is just like meeting family (in some cases, better!). Know that I am with you all in spirit as you swim, bike, or run your way to your own finish lines. And, the TRI-DRS tag spirit lives on. Just knowing that someone stronger than I had worn them previously was enough to carry me through those tough times.

Marty and Lisa, you guys are the best. Two kinder, more generous, and funnier people could not be found in Nashville this past weekend. I already miss you both (and Dan!) immensely, and cannot wait until our next meeting. Yes, I already went to the LBCM website. Give me a week or two. I’m nearly positive I’m in for the ride.

Sheila, I have to say I did a double take around mile 2. I swear I saw a lady with blonde hair, decked out in a pink tutu. I thought, “Oh, my God, Sheila is here.” And I realized you were. You have such strength, it amazes me. I hope someday to have an ounce of the crackheadedness that you have. The intensity, the passion. Thank you for showing me what training and being an athlete and human is all about. It’s a lesson I will not soon forget.

Last, but not least… I have to thank my mom. A constant source of inspiration and my role model for life, she has shown me what the proverbial marathon really is. She has pushed through and beyond the toughest challenges that life could dish out – over and over again. She instilled in me a desire to never quit unless it was absolutely impossible. She is the one responsible for forging my iron will and for giving me the vision to chase my dreams.

Speaking of dreams…. There are many more. This life is such a gift. And, we surprise ourselves daily. The strength I found in those last 6.2 miles will stay with me for the rest of my life. It’s amazing how many things seem easy now. You never know, until you put it ALL out there, just what sort of potential you have. I think I started a tap… I intend to draw from it often.

“To a rocket I’ve been tied. I’m ready for the screaming ride. It’s full of fuel, and I just lit the fuse.” –Big & Rich

The End (Or is it the Beginning?)

Monday, May 01, 2006

RR (CMM) 'Till I Collapse - Part IV

Around mile 11, the ½ marathoners split off, thanks to the slightly annoying directions of Elvis. Honestly, I’m glad. The course has been crowded, and I’m wanting to be with my fellow runners who are in it for the long haul. Strangely enough, I’m isolated when this happens (Be careful what you wish for and all of that….), but I catch up to the main pack in a few minutes.

And, I’m not sure what happened here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that mile 12 was off. And maybe mile 13.1. Or maybe I just slowed down… I cross 13.1 at 2:31… The reason I say this is that mile 14 was then a 10 minute mile. I was back on track, and feeling okay.

It was around this time that I noticed a little tightness in my right calf muscle. It got steadily worse until about mile 15, when it started cramping. Ohhh, boy. This is NOT good. I still have 11 miles to run. I started to get upset. I got a lump in my throat that made it hard to breathe. That’s stupid. There’s no crying in running. You can’t do that, Jen. You want to end it now? Start crying and feeling sorry for yourself. Because you know running and crying equals asthma. Game over.

Think. Focus. What is your body saying to you? The one thought that came to mind was in the form of two people. IronBenny and Nancy Toby. I remember the updates to Benny’s blog, and hearing that he was going through cramps (this after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles) early on in the marathon. And I remember Nancy blogging to his site: “Eat the soup, Benny!” SALT! I need salt. Of course, I just passed an aid station that was giving out pretzels. I touch my face gingerly and feel a thin crust all over.

I look around. I see two ladies spectating on the side of the road. They seem to have a lot of snacks (and I’m desperate.). I ask them if they might have any pretzels. They say no, but offer something else. I thank them and move along. Just then a gal in front of me turns around. She’s wearing a bright pink shirt. She asks me if I’m cramping. I say yes. She asks if I need salt. I’m in disbelief. She has salt! Willingly giving it out! She hands me a tiny ziplock bag of table salt and says, “I SWEAR it’s salt!” We laugh, I thank her profusely, and start downing the stuff like it’s… err… candy.

Which is kind of a bad idea, because I’m not near any water. Finally I get to an aid station (things are cloudy here, I’m not sure exactly what mile I was at) and down a bunch of water and power aid. I think I took 3 cups. I walk and drink as I fervently will the salt to work it’s magic. I notice maybe a little relief over the next ½ mile, but then the cramps return. Now my left leg has joined in on the fun.

Around this time we go by the river. It’s a beautiful trail behind a complex of office buildings. I start to think that this race is starting to unravel. I start to get upset again. I think, “Okay, this is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Give yourself a moment or two to acknowledge that, and then move on.” Okay. Done. Moving on.

As we finish the trail and get back to the road, I see a familiar person in front of me… Could it be? It is! It’s Letty! I’m a little concerned though, because I remember that she was 3 corrals in front of me. As I catch up to her, we chat. She’s having a rough day too and also experiencing cramping. I try to offer some encouragement, and she urges me on. I say a prayer for her.

And then it starts in earnest. The cramps are kind of alternating between my right and left calves. I start to wonder when this is going to end. I see the 4:45 pace group pass me and then the 5:00 as well. I change my goal from sub 5:00 to simply: Finish.

Finally, I see a medical tent. I go in and tell them what the problem is. The guy gives me a salt packet (like in McDonald’s) and a bottle of water. I down the packet and ½ of the water. He asks me kind of incredulously if I want another packet. Yes. Down the second packet and the rest of the water. They ice down my legs (all while standing… I wasn’t sitting for anything.), and then I’m on my merry, cramping way. Walking was bad. I just felt like the slower I went the higher the potential for bad things to happen.

So I settled into a run-shuffle. It worked pretty well, and I was still getting places. I kept waiting for some miracle relief from the salt, but the cramps kept on. I saw the time that Dan and I agreed to meet at Mile 20 float away one minute at a time. 10:54. 11:02. 11:10. I hoped that he wasn’t worried, but knew that he must be wondering.

I reach mile 17 and the wind starts to really pick up. Not just a nice 15 mph breeze. Noooo. This is dry-your-eyes-blow-everything-from-here-to-kingdom-come. Flags are whipping, cups are flying, dust is now the new air. I close my mouth and crunch down on sand. Now I start to think… Hard. How much water have I had? Was it enough? Was it too much? See, because with this wind, I can’t tell how much I’ve been sweating. The last time I peed was at mile 3, so I should be fine where hyponatremia is concerned… But I’m probably on the verge of dehydration. That makes sense, I think, because with lack of water, I’m not absorbing any of the salt that I’ve been ingesting. I’m taking 2 and 3 cups at water stations, taking my time, really drinking as much as I can, but this is starting to feel like a losing battle.

Mile 18. I’m happy to reach this mile, because now it’s just one more mile until it’s one more mile until I see Dan. Well, it made sense to me. It was the full extent of the math that I could do at the time, okay?

Mile 19 stretches on forever. More wind. More cramps. I start to wonder if Dan might have moved up to Mile 19, but then realize he’s so OCD, that he will probably not change the plan. J That’s probably a good thing. I wonder how Lisa did on her ½ marathon and if I’ll get to see her and Marty. That would be such a lift!

Finally, I see the sign for Mile 20. I see some guy waving at me. He has Dan’s yellow visor. Did Dan give his visor away? That guy is really tall. Hmm. And, he’s pointing at me. I look the other way. Maybe he’s pointing at someone else. There’s no one around me. Then he starts calling my name. “How does he know my name?”, I think. The fog slowly clears. That must be Dan. Eureka. Beauty. Help is on the way!

But, this guy is on the phone! And, I’m running by him! Is he coming or not? I find myself letting go of those pent up emotions. I think part of me was just waiting to get to mile 20. I knew that if I made it there, Dan could help me do the rest.

So, I was shocked when I heard the following coming out of my mouth:

“Dan, get over here, I need you!” Wow, if that’s not gratitude, I don’t know what is. Honestly, Jen, did you learn nothing from your parents? Geesh. What he does is heroic, though. I see him chuck the phone to some bystander (That made like zero sense to me, but I spent no time worrying about his phone that he seemed to have just given away.) and run out to get me. He says, “Hey! How are you?!” I start to bawl. I just let it out. “I’ve been cramping since mile 15.”

We run a few steps. I could almost hear him collecting his thoughts. I was wondering if he was going to make me stop. Then he starts giving me orders. It’s great. “We’re coming up to a water stop, just around the corner. We’re going to find a bottle and fill it up, and you’re going to just walk right through it. You don’t have to do a thing. Just keep moving. Take baby steps. No long strides. You can do this! You’re tough!”

A minute later, my calf cramps like a *&^%er and I yelp. We get to the station. I have 3 or 4 cups of water. He just keeps handing them to me and I down them. Walk some more. Then start to shuffle. We’re motoring along (sort of) and he starts to tell me to think about those I know that have struggled. Pappy. Kelsey. Sheila. I think of IronBenny a lot too. How much worse he must have felt. How I could do this. How I felt like an absolute wimp when I heard myself moan: “Shut up! This isn’t suffering. You PAID to do this, remember.”

At this point, we hear Marty yelling at us! What a surprise! It was so good to see him. I hear Dan and he talking a bit… I’m just motoring on. Focus. Run. Left. Right. Dan asks Marty to find a bottle somewhere… I’m wondering why but keep going. We end up using that bottle for the rest of the race, filling it up at the water stations and drinking inbetween. It was a life saver. Marty runs with us for at least another mile… Boy it was great to see him, and I send happy thoughts to Lisa who is at the finish, hoping she did well on her ½ (although they both refuse to tell me how she did…).

It never enters my mind to stop, but when my groin muscles decide to join in, I really wonder how much farther I will make it. I feel betrayed by my body. My mind is ever so willing, but my body wants out. I change my goal yet again. “I’m going to go until I can’t go no more.” If everything seizes up and I’m reduced to a puddle, fine. Then, I would know I went as far as I could physically go.

Mile 23 added a new challenge. It seems that my intestines are no longer enjoying the gel/powerade/salt/water cocktail that they are receiving. I feel rumblings and then cramping of a different nature. I had already been ever so ladylike the entire past 3 miles with Dan, belching and burping my way through gels and water and powerade, but I have a feeling that joining the brown streak club might be the end of the road. I clench every muscle I have (this led to a very sore core later on) for a couple of minutes and the feeling passes. Now I was beginning to get a little concerned. One more mile. Just get to mile 24.

Around this point Dan goes, “Oh my god, I’m leaking!” My brain can’t handle this. I’m thinking, great. Dan has a problem now. He’s bleeding or something, we have to stop. I think I keep running, though, and he says, “No, look!” Nothing like peeing on the fly. Literally. I wish inwardly that I could have done that at mile 3.

At mile 24 it dawns on me that A) I ONLY had 2.2 more miles. (That still seems like an eternity… When was it that I thought that 6 miles was a short run? What an idiot!) and B) I only had one more mile before I had one more mile before it was just 0.2 miles to the end… and C) That Dan’s plan was to peel off the course at mile 25 to let me “enjoy” the last mile. Part C freaks me out the most. He is constantly talking, telling me to use those TRI-DRS tags, to think about those who used them before me. Encouraging me. Urging me on. Telling me I am strong (to which I scoffed inwardly – God, I was so pissed off at my stupid body!). A whole 1.2 miles alone felt like torture. I finally bring it up.

He says, “Don’t you worry. I’m not going ANYwhere. I’m sticking right here with you to the very end.” This made me want to go faster. “&%$#!!!!!” (calf cramp right in front of water station) “Nooo, easy grasshopper! Small steps.” I take my last gel and manage to dry heave the sucker down.

Mile 24 is a blur. One more mile to 25. Someone says I only have 3.6 miles or something to go. Dan gets pissed and tells me not to listen to them, that they can’t do math. He remarks loudly, “Oh, nice math! What, do you buy lottery tickets too?!” I’m guessing that the guy who said it was a bit of a dolt, because everyone really laughed.

The band at mile 24 is playing the chorus: “Come on baby, make it hurt so good…..” I think, how appropriate. Dan says, “You know what they should be saying? They should be singing, make it hurt so Wicked-good!” He gets a chuckle out of me.

I start to think about how hard this is. I come to the realization that it’s harder than grad school. I’m a little shocked at this, but I realize it’s true. I had thought when I started training that since I’m in grad school and have suffered (oh whoa is me! ├činsert sarcasm), a marathon would be doable. Not easy, but within reach. Now, in the midst of this sucker, I think, “Surely I can finish the last 8 months of grad school… Piece of cake! At least it’s air-conditioned!” Funny how our perceptions change.

I thought that I will enjoy mile 25, but honestly it’s just long and lonely. No real crowd support (that I remember).

FINALLY, I see that Mile 26. Marty is there with my camera, and I manage a thumbs up (Liar, I think.) He takes a few more pictures, and I can see I’m just looking at the ground, concentrating on each step.

I look up and Dan is gone. I’m crying. Tears streaming down my face. I cannot freaking believe that I’m here. I’m in the finish shoot, people all around, shouting my name! I try to go faster and I seize up again. It seems like everyone groans with me. I look up and see the camera. I try to smile and lift my arms to the sky. I hear the loud speaker announce my name. Beep, Beep. I finished.

It’s like my legs decided to give up only after they heard those two little beeps. I see a girl in a red shirt and think that the med tent might be a saavy idea. I get there with a little help and they lay me down, stretch me out. Calf one seizes. Then my groin. Then a calf. They get my information. I see Dan. They’re taking my pulse and I realize my watch is still going. I turn it off only to realize I could have given the girl my HR. Duh. I see it says 5:35 (Actual time: 5:34:21… Typing that I just realized it’s a straight… ). Thank God I finished, is all I can think. Thank You, Dear God.

We get out of there pretty quickly. I see some guy on a stretcher and I just want out. There are others who need the attention more than I do, and I have a feeling the more I move the better I’ll be. For some reason I’m obsessing about my chip. So, we make a move toward the rest of the finish shoot. I get my medal. Wow. I get the cool mylar blanket. I get the chip removed. A banana. The nasty Schpenko sandals. I leave my shoes on, though… From backpacking experience, I know it’s always wise to leave the shoes on until you’re where you want to be for the night. And, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find. I was glad to be on my way… as a Marathoner.

One more part to go...

RR (CMM) 'Till I Collapse - Part III

Race Day
‘Till I Collapse: Eminem & Nate Dogg

'Cause sometimes you feel tired,
feel weak, and when you feel weak,
you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you,
you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that s--- out of you
and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter,
no matter how bad you wanna just fall
flat on your face and collapse.

Yo left, yo left, yo left right left

Till the roof comes off, till the lights go out
Till my legs give out, can’t shut my mouth.
Till the smoke clears out and my high burns out
I’ma rip this s--- till my bone collapse.

[Verse #2:]Music is like magic there’s a certain feeling you get when your real
and you spit and people are feeling your s---.
This is your moment and every single minute
you spend trying to hold onto itcause you may never get it again.
So while you’re in it try to get as much s--- as you can
and when your run is over just admit when its at its end.
Cause I’m at the end of my wits with half this s--- that gets in. ….
That’s why you see me walk around like nothing’s bothering me….

“Jen. It’s 3:56am.” Wha? Huh? What day is it? Where am I? Who am I?

Wow, talk about one of the best night’s rest ever. Like in the history of man. And, that’s not even taking into consideration that it was a pre-race night. I’d like to bottle that up and sell it to all racers. I would be rich and famous.

Problem is, I’m so out if it I can’t talk. I feel like my tongue has been super-glued to the roof of my mouth and my brain has been taken out, stuffed with cotton, and put back in. I make it to the shower fine. I think I hit the important parts and start to towel off. (Are you cringing yet?) I slip. But, I catch myself –just in time- . Only to hear the scariest Mommy Dearest voice I’ve ever heard. Lisa roars: “What are you doing in there?! You spend 18 weeks of training just to fall down in the tub the day of the race!?!?! What are you thinking? Get out of there NOW!” Okay, okay, Lisa, I’m fine! She doesn’t seem to believe me until she sees me a minute later. Walking, Talking, Breathing. Look mom, no hands! Okay, not funny. Poor lady. Like my mom always said, “Honey, your middle name is not Grace.” Why should today be any different?

Body parts intact, I suit up. I get all dolled up and Lisa takes a picture. It’s a day full of promise. And, I can’t wait to get to that start line! We all meet in the lobby at 5am sharp. We miss the stragglers (sorry guys!), and head to the buses. We’re goofy. Lisa and I are singing Thunderstruck and she impresses me with her Back in Black rendition a few times.

The bus is dead. I’m not sure if people are tired or what (Well, I suppose that would be a logical excuse, considering we had to be up at the butt-crack of dawn to catch the bus from the finish to the start). So, we start making trouble as we exit the bus.

Dan: Hey Marty!
Marty: Yeah?
Dan: You left your smokes on the bus!

Marty: Hey Dan?
Dan: Yessss….
Marty: Is this your Gatorade?
(pregnant pause, holds bottle to light)
Marty: Err, maybe not…

Now, for start areas, this race has it going on. Bananas. Bagels. Water. Fruit. Coffee. With cream and sugar. I mean, heck, it was almost worth it just for the pre-race meal! We sit around for a while, and then I feel the urge to visit the blue box. Could it be? I wait in line, doing the potty dance. Come out a new woman. I’m on the board. NOW I’m ready. I try to contain my glee.

Besides this and other moments, it was amazing to see TRI-DRS Lisa at the start area a few minutes before we headed to the corrals. I mean, what were the chances? 24,000 runners. Milling around in random Brownian motion. Okay, wow. Dork mode off. Anyhoo, it was cool.

We make our way to the corrals, hugs and good lucks all around. I figure I’ll see Dan, Marty and Lisa on one of the out and backs while the two courses are still together. We make plans to look out for each other, and that bolsters me a little.

The corral is empty. Worse than that, I seem to be one of the only peeps with an orange number on. What? Did they call everyone and say, “Hey, that Jen-girl is going to run this marathon… Better wait until next year!” Finally people start coming in, and it gets pretty stuffy, actually. So crowded in fact that Leslie and I get separated. In my mind I wish her luck and hope that I will not be the only de-flowered marathoner by the end of the day.

I chat with a guy who is doing his first ½ marathon. I tell him that so far the half is my favorite distance race. I wish him luck. He looks at my orange race number with googley eyes and asks if I’m running the marathon. I say yes. Then he asks if I’m going to run without an ipod. I say yes again. More googley eyes. Okay, thanks for making me feel like a total and complete nutter, but this IS part of the Rock ‘N’ Roll series, is it not? There is a band almost every single mile. So, who’s the nutter now? No harm, no fowl, so I give him a smile and move to the side. Do NOT rain on my parade.

The wheelchair racers take off. I wonder… Why didn’t we sing the National Anthem for them? Are they not worthy? 15 minutes later, we sing. Actually, I think this is the first race where there was more listening than singing. What a beautiful voice!

Then they start letting the corrals go. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7… Ooh, only 6 more. I take my heart rate. 70. Uh, okay, can we get a little excitement here? I mean this IS your first marathon and all? How about 80? Or is that breaking too much of a sweat?

Corrals 8-9-10. HRM: 89. Okay, there we go. At least I know I’m alive now! I’m still a little impressed at my calm. Finally, it’s our turn. I start my HRM (103… Here we go!) and cross the mat to a chorus of beeeeeeeps. We’re off.

My first thought is neither glorious nor worthy of one’s first marathon. “I have to pee.” Mile 1 ticks by at a gloriously low HR of 130-something and a time of 11:20. Perfect for the start. I begin to think that today is going to be the perfect day. It’s cloudy, the sun is peaking out just a tad and there is a cool breeze. Ahhhh. I’m here with 24,000 of my running friends, and we get to tour Nashville on foot. Oh glorious day!

I get to the first water station. Even though we did the wave start, it’s still pretty crowded. I’m at the left side of the road, and water is on the right. I panic. I run right across the road, and in the process miss the only table I can see. I turn around (!) and run back to the table, cursing myself the entire time. I have now run backwards on a marathon course. I could have passed it, but it’s another mile until water or anything, and that just doesn’t seem like a good idea, you know? It doesn’t dawn on me until I get moving again (and see like 15 tables laden with liquid) how ridiculous it was to think that there would only be a single table at a water stop for a race of 24,000 people. Come on Jen, use those brains!

Mile 2: I really have to pee. I see people going into the McDonald’s but that doesn’t seem like a good idea. I’m picturing a line. Finally I see the first set of blue boxes… With 4 lines 7 people deep. Oh come on! That’s going to take like 10 minutes! I figure I’ll wait until Mile 3 (or pee myself trying). I bet the blue boxes will be nearly empty then, because all of these silly people will have peed already.

Mile 3: Ha ha! I finally see boxes. And NO line. Go me. In and out we go. Much better! Now, all this time my HR was super great. It crept up to 150, but stayed there. I was feeling great. My 5K time was around 36 minutes, but that was with the bathroom break. By mile 4, I was back on track with a split of 11:20ish. I start to formulate a HR plan for the race 150 for next couple of miles then 160 would be okay. 170s for the end. MAYBE 180.

Right about now, I notice that it’s getting warmer. The sun is out. I feel pretty good, but there is something gnawing at the back of my head… I can’t quite figure it out. I start to see the HR creep a bit, but I figure it’s because I’m in the midst of the race, and the excitement is causing the creep.

Now I start to look for Dan, Lisa, and Marty. See, this course is super great if you’re running with friends, as it is like a 3-leaf clover with 3 chances to see those at different paces, as they return. The course is cramped here, and moving is tough, but I stick to the left hand side (the middle of the road). I’m looking for the black ensemble of Marty and Lisa, but it’s Dan who catches my eye first, leading the trio. He asks how I’m doing: “Okay!” Then Marty and Lisa and I air-five. It was such a lift to see them! It carries me for the next two miles.

So far the bands and crowd support have been great. It’s still a tad crowded, but I’m running my own race now. I’m in the bubble. The course is a bit hilly, but nothing like my training runs. I don’t even have to do my 2 feet trick. I’m motoring up and down, concentrating on form and breathing easily.

I get to the first turn around and realize just how much of a down hill it had been. Cuz now we’re going up, up, up…. I sneak a peak at my watch. Uh Oh. 170. No, that’s not good. I start to bargain. How about 160-170 on the hills, recover on the downhills and shoot for 160 on the flats? Yeah, that will work.

Mile 6-7: Realization dawns. I’m going down, breathing easy. But my HR doesn’t seem to get it. 170. Holy crap. My heart sinks. What the hell is going on? I’m running great. My breathing is very easy. I feel good. Hang on. Hang on, Just. One. Minute. I’m HOT. (Cue angelic music.) By Jones, I’ve got it! I mentally smack myself on the forehead, and realize that this is new. I have trained in nice cool Massachusetts air. This is hot. A tad windy. A little hilly. I’m in mile 7 and my HR refuses to go below 170 (for those keeping track at home, my max is 205, so you should know that I’m in my 3rd zone… not really where I want to be with 19 miles to go.)

Decision time. I can either start walking now (No.), or I can see what all of that training and mental preparation can do for me. I’m going to up the water and powerade intake, too. Not just one cup. Take two. If they have Powerade, take that instead of water. Be absolutely anal about the gels. Don’t miss any. I’m thinking (now that I figured out the problem… duh… still a little ashamed it took me that long.) that I can still do this if I’m smart. And, if I’m lucky, that sub 5 hours will still be waiting for me.

I carry on with the new plan, only looking at the HR as an “interesting” number now (although anything below 180 is now an achievement). In fact, I’m barely looking at all. And, the new plan seems to be working! I reach mile 10 at 1:57. I do a little math (still able to do that) and realize that if I keep it up, I could reach mile 20 before 4 hours, which would put me within striking distance of that sub 5 hour. I know I’m meeting Dan at mile 20, so with his help I should be able to do it, barring any unforeseen issues….

RR (CMM) 'Till I Collapse - Part II

Pre-Race:
Thunderstruck: AC/DC

I was caught
In the middle of a railroad track
I looked round
And I knew there was no turning back
My mind raced
And I thought what could I do
And I knew
There was no help, no help from you

Sound of the drums
Beatin' in my heart
The thunder of guns
Tore me apart
You've been - thunderstruck ….

Now we're shaking at the knees
Could I come again please?
Thunderstruck, thunderstruck
Said yeah, it's alright
We're doing fine
Yeah, it's alright
We're doing fine (So fine)
Thunderstruck, yeah, yeah, yeah,

So, I’m going to be honest here. I started looking at the weather 2 full weeks before the race date. Neurotic? Yes. Stupid? Yes. But, I couldn’t help myself.

I was well rewarded for my neuroses. The entire week before Saturday April 29th, I saw only suns. And, for the first week Saturday’s forecast said “scattered thunderstorms.” I thought, “Oh, that’s okay. Most thunderstorms start in the afternoon. I’ll be done by then.” I also thought that the forecast would shift a day, like it always does. Friday looked beautiful. So did Sunday. I waited. I waited some more.

Two days before the race, a major freak out ensued. Thursday dawned, and the weather went south. Now the weather stated simply “thunderstorms, with a possible world ending.” Okay, maybe not, but that’s what I thought.

And before you get the idea that I melt when wet, I don’t mind the rain (See Hartford Half-Maraswim RR.). It’s the idea that the event could be canceled, and then what? Thunderstorms in the south are bad. Like hide-under-the-covers-with-your-favorite-teddy-bear-BAD. Like pee-yourself-BAD. Like cancel-the-race-BAD. Okay, point made. It doesn’t help that I loathe thunderstorms.

So, I did what any normal and sane (tapering) person would do (Well, that’s an oxy-moron and we all know it.). I freaked out. Big time. Then I did a search for local marathons the following week. I found one 10 miles from my house. I calmed down, and then wondered why I was spending money to go to Nashville. :) I would find my answer soon enough.

So far as sleeping that week went, I was on the hell-train. I was minorly worried that I was now wasting the last 18 weeks by not getting enough sleep, but the truth of the matter was that I was just too keyed up. I figured that I’d crash sooner or later, and I just hoped that would happen before, and not during, the marathon.

Thursday, I left work early and went home. I putzed around for a few hours and only started packing around 9pm. But it was a great night. People from all over the country were calling, texting and emailing me. For some reason, it made me very emotional, and I cried. I was just overwhelmed that people really cared that much.

Another sleepless night. I had set three (yes, three) alarms. I was petrified that I would oversleep-get a flat-miss my plane… You get the picture.

Friday

I got to the airport fine. Of course. The weekend magic started when I realized that the girl seated next to me was going to CMM to watch 2 of her sisters run the half marathon. We had a great time chatting, and I really started to get excited again.

Of our big group going to CMM, only Lisa, Dan, Marty, Leslie, and Letty ended up being able to go. I was sad that the others couldn’t be there, but honestly a little relieved too. And for a selfish reason. I’m an introvert. There. I said it. I can’t stand huge crowds. And, this sounded like a great way to meet and really get to know part of my running family. I couldn’t wait.

I got my chance at 9am sharp on Friday morning. Lisa, Dan and Marty had driven down 8 hours from the mid-west the night before and had so kindly offered to pick me up at the airport. I couldn’t wait. As I made my way to the baggage claim, I saw Lisa. Wow, she’s so pretty, I thought! But, then I saw Dan… hiding behind this huge pole. What the…? They were hiding from me! “Boy, I must have horrible airplane head,” I thought… Finally I said hi, and we all exchanged hugs like we were family. It’s like I knew them already. They’d left poor Marty sitting in the car (grin), so we exchanged more hugs and were on our way. I remember them remarking that I had packed lightly. I’m going to savor that, and remind any future man who has the pleasure of helping me with my bags that it has been said that I can pack lightly!

After some catching up and eating (a common theme for the weekend… I was ever so thankful that I had found someone that needed regular feedings like I did! Marty was my partner in crime, and I was never hungry. He also somehow managed to pay for every single meal that I had in his presence…. Of course, others felt left out, so every time Marty ate, Dan had to pee. And that caused Lisa to text message. We had quite the OCD bunch, folks.), we made our way to the Expo.

Now, I’m not sure where these volunteers had been trained, but I had a feeling it might have been during the Third Reich. Talk about belligerent, mean, not-had-their-coffee, need-the-giant-stick-up-their-butts-removed, GRUMPY! Not like ANY other race I’ve been to before. They also had these cute little cut-out feet on the floor to show you where to go, and Lisa started to walk on them. I followed her because it was funny, you know? And then this GUY... This Volunteer Guy with a big-stick-up-his-butt said (in an exasperated voice), “Ladies, be careful. There are people walking behind you.” Ohforheavensakes. Lighten up, fella. We were joking kind of loudly that they were a lot like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld… And the one girl there with a sense of humor goes, “That’s right! NO SOUP FOR YOU!”

Anyhoo, we behaved for the rest of the time. The expo was fairly organized, but it was a little scattered. Every other race I’ve been to they have the race number, your chip and the t-shirt in all one spot. In a bag. Your gear bag. Not this place. Here you had 4 different stations to go to. The direction was all very militaristic as before so you couldn’t go wrong, but wow.

We shopped a bit, and I tempted the race gods by buying a Finishers T-shirt. I barely touched it. Barely even looked at it, even! Just stuffed it right in the bag to be worn at a later date. We finally made it out of there (remember I hate crowds.) to the fresh air. I decided I needed a nap. I had finally gotten to my breaking point, and I was so tired, I could have cried. They went to lunch, and I died. It was great. Thankfully, we had already made arrangements to meet for dinner… I got up, still feeling tired, but much better. Plus, I saved my legs. J

Dinner was cool. I had kind of insisted that we get going early (at 4) figuring that we would still have to wait, but would beat the major dinner crowd. I was right. It worked out beautifully. Once we got to the restaurant, I was able to call our mystery guest, Lisa from TRI-DRS (a native of Nashville, who was really sweet and helpful!). I tried to surprise Dan with meeting her (I know he was very happy to meet her.), but he guessed like 5 minutes before she got there. It was so great to meet another TRI-DRS member. All of us had a great time chatting and eating monster portions of spaghetti.

Now, my pre-race meal really starts with dessert. Before every huge race, I make it a habit to have icecream, and there was this tre-cool icecream shop just a few blocks from the restaurant with life-sized icecream cones/photo-ops. So, we parted ways with Lisa, and made the pilgrimage. Here is where I give my gratitude to Leslie. She had scoped out the place the day before and had tried their “birthday cake icecream” and gave it her highest recommendation. Two words: Wicked good! Thank you, Leslie!

So, a plate of pasta, 3 really good rolls, and 2 scoops of wicked good icecream later, I was pretty full. Pleasantly full just a little later J We wished Letty and Leslie and company good luck the next day and parted ways. Dan, Marty, Lisa and I spent a couple more hours chatting and laughing and then it was time to get serious.

I set out everything for the next day. Stared at it for a while. Took a picture because I realized it would last longer. I felt calm. Pretty relaxed. And happy. I knew tomorrow was my victory lap. And the weather was looking great. They were forecasting 60s and clouds. Perfect! Just a tad warm (remember, I’m from MA), but perfect. I wasn’t complaining anymore. Someone during the weekend remarked that being a weather forecaster is the perfect job. I mean, what other job can you screw up so monumentally on such a regular basis and not get a pink slip?

More to come!
'Zilla out....