The Reno Tahoe Odyssey is in the books. The race I wasn’t sure I’d ever do again but I’m so glad I did. 178 miles, 2 vans, 12 people – all of us women from our 5:20 am running group. The majority of the women I knew, the ones I didn’t know well I knew very well by the end. It took us just over 30 hours to complete and we had a total of 2 hours of sleep on one of our breaks. People who have never run a relay think you’re crazy and don’t get it but those of us who have taken the leap know all too well how amazing they are. Continue reading
The only bad run is the one that didn’t happen. When you’re having a crappy run, it’s difficult to believe that. Continue reading
It’s been a while since I’ve run on trails. I loved it. The slower pace, how it’s easier on your body but takes more effort. The quiet solitude. I used to run trail half marathons and my (not so secret as of right now) secret bucket list race isn’t a marathon, it’s a 50K. Continue reading
The insidious thoughts in your head urging you to quit…. Continue reading
I’ve been struggling the last 6-9 months. With running, with swimming. With everything endurance related. Several months ago I ran with my teammate Olivia who is a doctor. She was amazing as always but she kept telling me to slow down my breathing. I did a season of races all which were slower than I had planned. As in, over ten minutes slower in a half marathon. A minute a mile slower. I spent months working hard, trying my best. Feeling like I was giving it more than my all, but looking at my watch and my times with confusion. My teammates were making comments when I ran. Relax your hands. My hands??? Running makes me relax. Why do my HANDS look tense??? Relax your face!! OK. MY FACE??!! Geesh. I need Botox. Why am I so tense?? Over time when I ran I felt increasingly nauseous, burped constantly, had cramping, exhaustion, dizziness. It was discouraging, deflating. I thought maybe I’m not cut out for half marathons anymore. Maybe I should drop down to the 10K. Maybe it’s a mental thing. Maybe I should go back to fitness competitions.
Then I ran the last half marathon of the season. My favorite distance on a tough course with another teammate and friend Pete pacing me. Maybe I just needed a pacer. Someone to push me. But it sucked. Pete was great but I threw up the second I crossed the finish line. Then I went home with my kids and literally fell asleep half sitting with my face mashed into the couch. I blogged about that race not going well and Pete messaged me that he wanted to talk to me about it. I thought he’d offer sage advice, help me bust through the mental self sabotage I didn’t know I was doing. Give me the physical answer to why I’m slowing down so much.
The next time I saw Pete was at swim. He waited for Olivia to be by me and knelt down. “You have exercise induced asthma. You can’t breathe when you run. You wheeze. It’s a struggle for you the entire time you’re running. You need an inhaler.” I looked at Olivia for some sort of confirmation that this was completely wrong. She’s a doctor. But she nodded. “Just use it and see if it works. It should make a big difference. It’s not uncommon.” Yeah?? Well it’s uncommon for ME!! My first reaction was anger. That 2 seconds that passed where I was just pissed. I do NOT need anything to help me!! I am NOT weak!! There is NOTHING WRONG with me!! But I looked at them and said, “Um, OK. Thank you. I’ll try it.” And then??? Despair. Sadness. The next ten seconds I felt like life as I knew it was over. Complete dejection. I got it together but then cried to myself off and on during swim. I left early. I wanted to go hide. Somehow I felt as if I was failing. But who knows??? Maybe it will help? Maybe I’ll do better, feel better – more like myself. Maybe this was the answer to why I’m cramping, sucking in air, exhausted, slow, dizzy?? When life hands you lemons – throw them back at people!!!!
About a year ago, I ran with a man from New Zealand who is an Olympic athlete for the 10K distance. I asked him how he chose the 10K. After all, it’s ONLY 6.2 miles. I think it’s an unspoken attitude that the marathon is the ultimate running race, the Ironman full distance is the ultimate triathlon race, qualifying for Boston is the runners dream, Kona is a triathletes dream, etc… He told me that it shouldn’t be about doing what we think everyone else is doing or having goals that aren’t what we really want. The stigma with distance is a self-inflicted perception that really has no merit. Pick a distance that you like, that you feel comfortable with and stick with it. Perhaps he told me that because he’s a big wimp and can’t DO the full distances, but for me it was sage advice. I’ll never go Pro or semi-pro, I’m not an elite athlete. I’m an almost 43 year old single Mom of 11 kids who wanted to age gracefully, be healthy, stay in shape and pass those tools down to my kids.
I bring this up because post Irongirl I found myself telling people I “only did the sprint distance”. Like it was nothing. No big deal that I trained and tackled 3 different sports at the same time. I chatted with my teammate Theresa on our Tuesday night run about it and it was reassuring to hear her echo my feelings. Coincidentally, they mirrored my Olympic friends statements. Pick the distance that you can do and stick with it. The half marathon is my favorite running distance. I can keep myself trained for it year round without it interfering with my family and my life. I am signed up to run Napa Marathon in March, but after that I probably won’t run another marathon. Honestly, it’s a lot more time for training. The same goes with a full Ironman. Even the half. It’s really, honestly too much for me to consider. I’ve always wanted to maintain that it’s challenging but FUN to train and participate in events. When I take on a distance that feels like too much, it’s no longer fun and the amount of challenge becomes stressful. I’ve already decided that a triathlon over the Olympic distance is more than I want to do. Now I need to learn not to apologize for it.
For newbie runners, taking on a 5K is an amazing accomplishment. Running the 3.1 miles without stopping, increasing minute miles. That’s fantastic!! After my hysterectomy I couldn’t run a mile without having to pee and I was over 10 minute miles. I ran a half marathon in 2:17 and I was proud because I DID it. Now I’m hovering at the sub 1:45 time and I don’t have to use the bathroom for a half marathon. That was less than 9 years ago. It isn’t whether or not I CAN do more – of course I can. It’s more about doing what you WANT. And always with me, it’s about having fun.
In the last year I’ve run several half marathons, but two of them I ran in almost exactly the same amount of time. In one, it was a slow, easy run. I felt amazing the entire time. At the end I had that feeling like I could go forever. I did not push myself, it was relaxed. In the second I had miles where I felt fantastic, but I pushed. I pushed the entire way and harder for 4 miles of it. You can tell I was pushing hard because my time dropped. The numbers showed my struggle. In the easier race, I was by myself, doing my own thing, wanting to push harder but sticking to the plan that it was an easy race. In the second race, Pete paced me. Without him I would have walked, my time wouldn’t have been nearly as good.
At mile 4 I felt a little nauseous but it went away. At mile 8 I told Pete I felt really nauseous. He told me in his calm, supportive manner that I could throw up when I crossed the finish line. Okie dokie then. By mile 10 the feeling was gone. I had some tough miles and some great miles along the way. It was cold, constantly drizzling, windy, rolling hills, breathtaking autumn views of trees, fields, a lake. Pete commented that the scenery and weather must remind me of New England and indeed it did. At mile 11 I felt my body ache. My right hip is a little out, my upper back doesn’t feel too bad, my muscles are working….. At mile 11 I was feeling tired. Then the finished loomed. My kids were cheering, Taylor ran us in and Pete’s power of suggestion happened. The last 3 miles I didn’t feel nauseous at all but as soon as I crossed the finish line I dry heaved in some bushes. Sexy, I know.
For whatever reason, this was a tough race for me in a string of tough races. After my first half marathon of the season – which went perfectly – my time hasn’t been what I wanted. I’m fine with a tough race, but I want to push through it and still finish strong and this season hasn’t panned out that way. I’ve contemplated dropping down to the 10K distance, but the half is still my true love. I could give a list of reasons that it didn’t go well but in reality there is no rhyme or reason. Nutrition, training, etc.. are all good. Attitude, drive, desire all the same. Now that the season is over, Irongirl is coming up and then the winter training sets in. My sights will be on the Napa Marathon in March and the increase in mileage. I can relax and train and set my sights on next season.
My kids are awesome. No. I’m not biased??? They run 1-2 5K’s a year and last weekend was one of those races. Reno 5000 puts on exceptional races here in Reno. This was the 3rd and final in a series offering a 1 mile, 5K, 10K and half marathon. Samuel – my youngest – opted for the mile run and five other kids decided to run the 5K. We have a tradition to write our PR on our hand with a Sharpie marker. Just to know the time we’d like to break.
I took off for the half marathon ten minutes prior to the kids starting the 5K. I ran with Pete and when my watch read 47 minutes I told him I knew all my kids were done running the 5K. I wondered how they did, how they felt, if anyone PR’d….. It was a cold, windy, rainy day and although it’s not the most difficult course, it’s not the easiest either. We’re at 5300 feet in elevation with constant, rolling hills.
When I came down the last quarter mile of my half marathon, all the kids were cheering. Taylor jumped the barrier and told me he was running me in. Awesome!! I asked how everyone did, what were the times, how was the course, etc… He told me Alana was the only one to PR but he and Gabrielle both came in 4th for their age – the other three girls took 1st, 2nd and 3rd – but it was their favorite race to date. After I crossed the kids were full of enthusiasm for the race. It was a tough but great course, the weather wasn’t great which made it even more fun (Definitely an inherited attitude from their Mamma!), they had a great time, and 3 of them took the podium!!!
Not one of my kids has ever been disappointed that they didn’t PR. I hope I’ve passed on my goals. #1: Have fun. It’s the journey, not just the destination. #2: Finish the race. We GET to do this. #3: Beat your time or at least be proud of it. You’re there, you finished. Embrace it. #4: Podium. Yes it’s fun. It’s a good goal, but in the end it’s that you did it. I’m so proud that they had fun with the event. Proud that they finished. Proud of Alana for her PR. Mostly, though. I’m proud the have the right attitude and they were there with me.
I’ve said it before but I’m reiterating. I heart going to packet pickup. The swag, the energy, the happy faces. I’ve passed my dysfunction down to my children who also adore going to packet pickup. Today was the day. Packet pickup. 5 of them are running the 5K, one of them is doing the mile and I’m running the half marathon. My coach and amazing race director puts on several races throughout the year and this is the final in a series of three. It was scheduled for last month, but we had so much smoke here that it needed to be postponed. At least it’s happening!!! Supporting local is also something I try to do, so all around this is a great event. Usually my kids run the Halloween 5K, but it’s on the same weekend as my Irongirl triathlon in Vegas. Bummer. But fantastic that they’re doing this one instead.