Sunday, April 28, 2013

Race Plan...

What's that???

I'm not a big planner. I talk in vague terms. I am not detail oriented. I schedule potlucks and forget to have someone bring the plates and silverware. I put things on my schedule and forget to register. I register without looking at my schedule. The bottom line is I don't like being tied down and I like to do things because I like to do them. For instance, I run because I love to run. With that said, I have been obsessing about the half marathon I am running next week and have no clue why. So here is my 'plan' and what I am obsessing about... I want to PR this race.

Now ask me what my plan is... Yep, don't really have one. My friend Sue has listened to me talk about this race all season long. It is amazing to me that she still runs with me because I am quite certain that I am probably the third most annoying person on the trail. Oh and don't ask who the most annoying are because I'm not telling!!! The plan hasn't even changed that much over time. It is to start out slow, I mean painfully slow, and speed up as the race continues.

I have friends who make plans that are so detailed that they print out splits that they then tape to their arms to make sure they actually PR, or hit their goal. I have plans of starting out painfully slow and speeding up as the race continues.

I have other friends who set their watches to beep at each mile, or are set to beep when they are running too slow or too fast. Yep, that sounds like way too much work for me. I'd have to learn how my watch works, which would require me to find a manual and peek at it. That is not going to happen! After all my plan is to start out painfully slow and speed up.

I really can't get into this whole planning thing. I'm not good at it, I don't really care all that much about my pace. All I care about is having fun, running well and not pooping my pants while I'm at it.

Unfortunately my got runs sign will be in my closet for this race! But I'll bring it out when I spectate my next race!!!

In the mean time my lack of planning has found me registering for a few more events. I am hoping when I get to work and put this stuff on my calendar it will all work out. I will be participating in the Cap City Half Marathon (next weekend), Soldier Field 10 miler, Greenswell Aqathalon, the Wendy's Triathlon and the Highbanks Triathlon. All of that before the end of June!

How is that for a plan!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Active Vacation

The surfers!!!
My family used to joke that my sister was the exercise bully. I think I have successfully usurped that role. The reason my sister was called the exercise bully? Well any time we went to visit her she would take us on insane hikes up mountains, or unexpected long bike rides. She also successfully recruited a number of us siblings to triathlons. Now in those days my sister would also joke about her home being the vacation exercise spa, or something of the sort. I have to admit I have slowly adopted that mentality for vacationing over the years.

It is no secret that I recently spent a week on Kauai Island in Hawaii. I was so fortunate to go on this vacation because my brother got married. It was the perfect reason to purchase a plane ticket and disappear for the week. As I mentioned before I enjoy being as active as possible so am always seeking the activities that will allow me to experience the beauty of a new place while also allowing me to feel good about myself. In Hawaii I did just that!
The Beautiful Couple!!!
I arrived in Hawaii ready to go! I was super excited about hiking the Napali Coast and got a big crowd to agree to the hike. Well, a lot of people backed out but my cousins Ann and Drew and my nephew Brady took the challenge. We drove up the coast on Wednesday and began a very complicated hike. We hiked about six miles that included a ton of climbing and descending. The coastline was beautiful!!! We were amazed at the barefoot surfers who were running the trail with their boards to get to the beach that was two miles into the hike! After several hours of hiking and running out of water we were totally spent! We took our time getting home by jumping into the ocean, stopping at road side stands and doing a little shopping. That was only the beginning!
A few of us hikers. 
The coastal view from the hike. 


Another awesome view with my nephew!

The next morning I woke up and prepared myself for surfing lessons. Five of us, including my little nephew, hopped in the car and headed over to the beach not fully understanding what we got into. If you haven't surfed before, you should know that it is hours of doing push-ups and for beginners, flopping off the board into the water. Doing the push ups on the board, while on the beach, is fairly simple. Try doing that over and over with waves making the board unstable! Not only that, you have to manage your surfboard... Oh and climbing on the board and being knocked around by the waves. It took me many days to recover from the surfing experience but an experience I can call very memorable. I certainly was NOT a natural at surfing but my nephew sure was!

Falling off the board. 
My nephew was a natural!
And I did get up a few times. 
After surfing I went on a bike ride with my cousins. It was a simple bike ride on the coastal trail, well kind of... The bikes were fairly simple! They were cruiser bicycles with no gears and only had back pedal brakes. It has been years since I have used such a bike and so I found myself stopping Flinstone style because I no longer understand how to back pedal break and get my feet on the ground at the same time.

The following days were filled with wedding activities, tubing, shopping, snorkeling, swimming and more shopping. Oh, and eating lots of cookies. I think it is fair to say my digestive system got as much of a workout as my body on this vacation. Would I change anything? Absolutely not! What a great way to celebrate a great couple...

Next time you are on vacation, try a new activity! It might just be one of the highlights of your trip!!!



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Aloha!!!


Yep that is right, I am blogging from Hawaii!!! Well this will be short until I am home! Did you all know surfing is really hard! I sm still recovering from that workout and from my hiking .. There is still snorkeling and running and kayaking in my future. Stay tuned for more Hawaii fun and pics.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keep Truckin'


It was so sad to watch the news coverage yesterday from Boston. As I said to one of my friend's, one of the places I find the most joy is on a race course! Now that very joyful place is the scene of a terrorist attack; at least that is what the media tells us! During this time as I remember the injured, the families of the injured, the runners, the innocent bystanders and those who died, I also remember the joy I feel when I toe the start line of a race. Damn it I will not let this situation take that joy away from me. As a matter of fact none of us should. The best way to overcome this is to lace up those shoes and keep doing the thing we love! Log some miles for those who can't anymore! Today I will wear a race shirt with many others because the only thing I know how to do in this situation is show my support. In the words of my soon to be sister in law keep truckin'!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Revelations

I'm tired from a long weekend of long workouts. I have a million things I am trying to get done and procrastination has gotten the best of me. I work best in last minute situations with EVERYTHING. I decided to spend this time identifying what I have come to love through running/cycling/swimming. Here is what I love:
  • Breathing - On many occasions I have found myself struggling to breath in the morning. I love camping and can recall various mornings when I have woken up in my tent with puffy eyes, a stuffy nose and a little wheezy. I always assumed this was because I was coming down with a cold that would always disappear a few days after returning from the woods. The true culprit? I'm allergic to trees. What trees you may ask? Basically all trees. 
  • Zyrtec - Zyrtec is quickly becoming my best friend. I might try Allegra one of these days since Zyrtec basically knocks me out, but still, Zyrtec makes breathing much more enjoyable in the morning. Now my friends don't have to listen to me whine (as much) about the fact that I can't breath while we are running.
  • 4:30 am wake up times - To many of you, this may be a huge shocker. Now let me say this, I do NOT really like waking up at this time but I truly love the workout I get in the morning. Just three months ago I would have told you that you were crazy if you even suggested that I should try getting up that early for a workout. Now I do it four days a week. I will however say that I despise 5:30 am wake up calls on Saturday but I do it anyway.
  • My camelbak - For some reason, I have been running with my hand held bottle this year even though it doesn't agree with me. Yesterday, I put on my camelbak for my eleven mile run and I started wondering why the heck I would have even considered using the hand held in the first place.
  • My friends - And in the context of this blog, my athletic friends are especially inspiring, or at least obliging. For instance, I have one friend who has endured my daily phone calls for the past couple of weeks to make sure they stay on track and get out for their runs. Another friend wakes up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 to meet me for 5:30 runs two days a week. How kind is that! She also puts up with my text messages informing her of our next goal race. I'm probably the most annoying person in the world but my friends still love me (or at least that is what they tell me).
  • Optimism - I am a very optimistic person, most of the time. We all can get into our doom and gloom from time to time, but once I get through the hard times I appreciate the good times so much more. I can typically weave my way through a very difficult situation on the trail by taking a moment to breath. For instance, yesterday I was starting to think I might not make it eleven miles because I was having the dreaded stomach issues. At mile 10, rather than throw in the towel and sit on the corner with the intention of begging my friend to come and pick me up, I regrouped, reminded myself I could do it and did just that.
  • Sports beans - I much prefer eating whole food but I haven't quite figured out what whole food is best carried while on the trail for consumption during my run. One of my friends brought me sports beans just to try out during my run. I ate them, they fueled me and they were not the culprit of the stomach issues. I think that was self inflicted by ice cream the night before!
  • Ice cream - Now I do love ice cream but it is necessary to recognize that love sometimes is not enough. For instance, although I do love ice cream it really isn't the best fuel. I do have a Graeter's date on the horizon with a friend but it will happen AFTER my big run for the week, not right before.
  • Calf sleeves - These have basically saved my legs over the last year. It really isn't easy coming back from a stress fracture. The phantom pains, the shin splints, the over compensating... Calf sleeves have saved me from some of this discomfort. I'm not a particular fan of how they look but they really have helped me recover much more quickly from all my long runs.
  • Now this one will surprise everyone. I honestly don't even want to admit it right here because I know I am going to get so much hell once the words are permanently etched on my blog but it is truth. I do love one of my running skirts. OK, so let me qualify this. I still stand by the fact that they are ugly especially on my body type. I also still shake my head at the skirts that look like glitter pens on the trail while I am simply trying to take in nature (and the exhaust fumes from the highway). I still think it is silly that people wear them in an effort to look cute on the trail, I mean, come on, we are running for crying out loud. We are supposed to sweat and look like we put all of our effort out on the trail when all is said and done and the running skirt takes away from all of that, from my perspective... However, I have come to love one of my running skirts. The likelihood of anyone seeing me in said running skirt is very slim. I tend to wear it during my early morning runs, and for now I will keep it that way. 
  • Sweat - It is so entertaining to me when people tell me they hate to sweat. I love to sweat! Sweat tells our story from a run. I honestly equate sweat to effort. Now this is not always the best basis for judging our effort since it is difficult to tell how much you sweat while swimming but I am so satisfied when it gets warm enough for me to sweat it out on the trail!
This is the most uninspired post I have written in a long time. The effort was worth it though! It is a good reminder that I gain a lot from my athleticism and should keep truckin'. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Your Left!

Bike back!
Passing!
Get out of my way!!!

These are all things you might hear when a cyclist is about to pass you on a multi-use trail. Or you might hear silence and then see a blur pass you almost clipping your arm off your body as a cyclist flies by you unannounced. I'm a runner, swimmer and cyclist and I'll tell you what, nothing frustrates me more than a cyclist who has bad manners on the multi-use trails, or anywhere for that matter.

We all need to take responsibility for our safety and look out for those around us. Oh, and guess what? Sometimes we also have to admit when we are wrong.

I am a woman of many distractions. Ask me about a plant and you will get a story about a tree and the bushes around the tree before I even mention the plant originally in question. Many years ago I lived in Hallowell, Maine and I worked across the river in Augusta. The only reasonable way to get to work was by driving through two traffic circles that intimidated the heck out of me. When I first moved to Hallowell I remember often driving out of my way to cross the river at another location simply to miss out on the hazard of the traffic circle. For those of you who don't know, the inside lane has the right of way in a traffic circle. Anyway, as I was gaining confidence in the traffic circle my route to work began to shift to the more reasonable route that took me 8 minutes instead of the 28 it took me to cross the river way out of town. On one particular day I was seemingly very distracted behind the wheel. I was distracted by the music, the trees, the cyclists on the road and probably even my cell phone. I told myself out loud that I needed to stop being distracted otherwise I was going to get in a car accident. Well I didn't listen and the next day an accident is what happened. I hit this dude in the traffic circle because he slammed on his breaks even though we had the right of way and I didn't slam on mine, well, at all.

Next thing I know an ambulance is coming to the scene of the accident and I was sitting there more annoyed because I didn't hear the warning that I gave to myself just the day before. The guy I hit wasn't permitted to be driving because he had significant back surgery the week prior to the accident and so he needed an ambulance to check him out. I walked away without a ticket, he did not. I walked away uninjured, he did not. I walked away with a very damaged car though!

At this point, the only route I had to work was my bicycle. I happily took my bike across the river every day for about three weeks until my car was in working order again.

Fast forward many years and I found myself supporting my friends during their relay around Columbus on my bicycle and I again found myself distracted. This time it was a distraction because of a boy and my cell phone. We were newly communicating, it was the middle of the night, my friend was walking and I was trying to text and ride. I was there to support her, not the other way around! Next thing I know I face planted into the tree. Was the distraction worth the encounter with the tree? Well if you asked me at the time my answer would have been absolutely! Would I say that today? Nope! Let me say that he was worth the energy and the risk at the time, but I can't say a long term injury would have been worth it in the long term. I was lucky and walked away with a scratch on my face!

So fast forward about 10 months and yesterday I was riding up an down the local trail in Columbus screaming "ON YOUR LEFT" every time I passed someone in the hopes that they would move to the right of the trail. Most people obliged. I was also in a situation where I was passed by many cyclists who wouldn't take the second to alert me of their passing. This about drove me insane! Now as I said, I get distracted easily and yesterday was one of those days where my mind weaved from topic to topic and then circled back to three topics prior. I found myself almost crashing into a tree (again), almost riding off the trail and so on. I was wrong in being distracted but the cyclists who kept flying by with no alert could have been putting themselves in harms way! Me being the harm.

I again want to acknowledge that I was fully wrong by riding on the trail totally distracted but I also want to acknowledge that passing people, especially at high rates of speed, is equally as dangerous! It was so worrisome to me that I took note of the team jerseys that kept passing me because I figured I could write a letter to those teams to ask them to remind their riders to be more courteous on the trail. Rather than do that right now, I need to acknowledge that I too was wrong yesterday, but at least I let everyone know I was passing them by.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Beauty of the Sideline

I had the pleasure of watching a number of my friends race the race that they have been dreaming of. That sub two hour half marathon, a sub two hour and fifteen minute half marathon, PR after PT today! The best part was that I got to be on the sideline and have absolutely no shame in being there! I have had issues in the past with being the cheerleader at races because I always feel like I should be on the course doing what everyone else is doing. The reality is we all have to recognize our own goals and stick with them and be encouraging to each other along the way.

It is no secret to my regular readers that I have fairly aggressive goals this year. They include a PR at my half marathon, finishing my half iron tri and some open water swimming events. I have taken a different tactic and rather than solely focusing on running I have been swimming and cycling. Someone asked me a couple of years ago if I would do something that I totally hated just so I could keep running and I answered with an enthusiastic, of course I would! Well this year I have been scared that this change in direction and a more intense inclusion of other sports would water down my love of running but it has done the exact opposite! By changing my focus a bit I have been enjoying no injuries this year and I think that it has allowed me to keep running rather than being sidelined because I simply can't run (like last year).

Watching old and new friends run their races today reignited my passion for running. Every type of endurance athlete was represented today. Their were the fast runners, the slow runners, the enthusiastic runners, the race walkers, the casual walkers on the course and they all had a purpose! Whether they were running for a cause, to PR, to encourage a friend or simply because they can, they were all their doing it!

Being the cheerleader was a gift that I hope others choose to give their friends in the future because what you get from it can be just as rewarding to you! I never regret the early morning to go and find the odd location on the sidelines to scream my friends' names as they dash by. The smiles they throw at you, the hugs at the end of the race are all worth it!

Long story short, runners (and race walkers) are awesome!

Monday, April 1, 2013

I Can Still Run!!!

And my cell phone saga continues, but that is another story!

I headed out for a run at 5:30 this morning with Sue. If you haven't picked up on it, I have a couple of friends I run with often; Sue is one of them. We are training for the CapCity half marathon together and we have plenty of time to joke around, share our stories and I have a tendency to make things uncomfortable from time to time because I am the queen of TMI. Anyway, there is a tendency to struggle with your mind while training for any endurance event. I have been keeping a collection of stories from the trail or my life that have come from or impacted my training. I figured you would all enjoy a little TMI too...

Chafing 

On Saturday morning Sue and I headed out with our running club for a leisurely ten mile run. One of the things I have learned with endurance sports is that the mind is the biggest enemy but one you can certainly conquer with the right attitude or company. Well on Saturday morning my head was starting to get the best of met. At about mile seven Sue told me my breathing had changed but I really didn't notice. Anyway, as I noticed myself drifting to the dark place I had to find a way to entertain the masses. Well I should say entertain myself! I started telling Sue about some challenges I have as a result of a surgery I had years ago and the discomfort I sometimes experience. Well the discomfort is chafing in an unmentionable area. All I have to say is OUCH!!!!!! I am a proud owner of Vaseline and for good reason!

The Effing Hill

Mantras are fairly popular with runners. We use them when going up hills, down hills, around corners or even
when on a flat straight away that is hard on that particular day. On one of our most frequented paths the very end of the run includes a nice little incline that is fairly insignificant but at the end of 10 mile (or even 2 miles) it looks like a big ole' fat mountain that needs to be attacked with reckless abandon; I also use my mantra that goes something like this... It's just an effing hill!!! In addition, my friend and I have this little game we play while going up the hill. It is a mind game that simply includes us choosing and landmark and then deciding we can make it a little farther so it goes something like this. Let's make it to that tree, now the speed bump, the manure hill, the blue shed, the gum wall, the stop sign, the curve, the brown sign, the fire hydrant and on and on... Oh and did I mention this hill is only two blocks, yet we divide it into about thirty short landmarks. So, one day we were running with another one of our good friends and we were fretting about the hill and we were only a mile into our run. Our good friend told us that we were being silly because the hill that I affectionately call "the effing hill" is really only a slope. All I could think was 'how dare he take away our badassedness by calling the effing hill a slope'!!! This is a learning moment for all readers. Don't mess with a runners mantra regardless how silly YOU think it is!!!

I Can't Expletive Breath

I went to meet Sue on the trail at the wonderful hour of 5:30 am. I forgot to bring my Garmin and this was also the last time I saw my cell phone. Anyway, we hit the trail and were running REALLY fast (again don't mess with a runner, if they say they are fast then they are fast) I found myself huffing and puffing and telling Sue I couldn't breath. She said, let's slow it down... our physical reaction felt like we actually sped it up. We kept running, I kept whining that I couldn't breath and we kept 'slowing down'. Well Sue had this bright idea of trying to change the subject so that I would quit focusing on my breathing, so what does she do? Points out all of the coyote eyes that were staring at us from the woods just waiting to feed on their next victim. Now I don't know about you but that certainly made me run faster and I finished the run saying I still can't effing breath!
*Side note, if we ran as fast as I think we did, we were running about 2 minutes faster per mile than our typical LSD run. 


The Twitch Doctor

I have been dealing with an interesting health issue lately that has me going crazy!!! Just ask my coworkers. I honestly couldn't believe that I have been complaining about the same thing for over six months. I found myself sitting in the Doctor's office last week thinking that this guy is going to think I am nuts! After all  the last few times I saw him I burst into hysterics when he told me I couldn't run! Now remember just a few short years ago I would have given him a hug if he told me that I had to sit on the couch eating bon bons while watching copious amounts of television. Well, he came into the room and asked me what brought me to his office. I looked at him and told him he is going to think I am crazy. I told him my issue and he started responding with a very kind "Well you know Sarah, the same thing happens to me when..." He laughed, I laughed! Finally I said "OK I guess I am crazy" and then he decided to look more closely. When he took a look he was shocked and said, Wow, that is not normal at all!!! I think you need to see a specialist! I chuckled and said, well at least I can still run...