Monday, October 26, 2015

The Girl Who Came in Last

DLF, ever see that acronym before? No, seriously it is a thing, it means Dead Last Finish. I don't think I have ever heard of it before, or if I did, I simply forgot about it.

My friend and I were talking about what it feels like to come in last place at a race, especially when you know you are last from the start. I can say so many things about the feeling of coming in last place, after all, it has "happened to me" a handful of times during this short athletic life of mine.

Let's first reflect on one of the 'greats' who came in last place...

Remember this guy?  He was the amazing dude who kept going for 17 hours, just to cross the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in 2013. He was determined, and simply kept going... I heard he has finished other marathons over the years, which is amazing to me, because at what point do you give up?

Today, I was talking to a colleague about the 5 mile race this weekend, in which I tied for last place with my bestest buddy. During this discussion we started talking about the difference between a 5k and a 5 miler. This conversation came up because I was telling her that the race director for the race I did this weekend were debating turning the 5 miler into a 5k. His reason for such a switch? To make it more accessible... Basically 5k is easier for people to wrap their heads around, and so larger crowds will show up to the start line of a 5k. My colleague and I pondered this for awhile...

Anyway, let me tell you a story about a girl. This girl was determined, she was determined to do some triathlons, ride a bike like she did when she was a kid (meaning for hours on end without even realizing she was exercising), she wanted to be 5k ready at any given time, and so this girl began her journey. Her first big roadblock was a metric century ride that she did with her cousin. Because of some bicycle debacle, and because she was just not used to these types of events, and because she was out to have fun, and because she is slow, she was the last of the riders to finish the metric century.

A couple years later, this girl decided to do a half ironman. During the training, it never occurred to her that she might be the last person to cross the finish line, yet she obsessed about being the person who wouldn't cross the finish line. Race day came, and while she was on the run, the course rider kept coming up behind her telling her that there were 5 people behind her. Suddenly a couple people passed her, then there were 3 people behind her, and then another person passed her. The next, and final time the guy rode by, he told her that there were two people behind her... yet no one else passed her. She was the last person to finish, what happened to the other two? They didn't cross the finish line.

Fast forward two years, and this same girl thought her running life had ended. She was so fatigued and tired all the time, plus it was so damn hot outside, and she just wanted to give up. Then that determination kicked in. She remembered her half ironman, and her bike ride, and her marathon, and her ten half marathons, and she started to consistently run again. She wasn't fast, but knew that she wanted to get faster, especially if it was going to help her running buddy. She new that, even though she had run significant races in the past, a five miler was going to be hard on her. She new that five miles is a huge difference than 3.2 mile, but she knew if she kept her head up she could do it.

She showed up to the race, ran that race, struggled through that race and crossed the finish line tied her best friend for LAST PLACE! I'm not going to lie, she thought it sucked that she was in last place. I'm also not going to lie, she felt extremely blessed to have had the journey with her friend and immensely proud that she crossed the finish line.

So, next time you are faced with last place, remember there are people with no place!!! Then go and eat some donuts to celebrate...

A Nike commercial that says it all...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Who Inspires?

Everyone is inspired by different things and people, which is natural, because let's face it, if we all liked the same things, life would be pretty boring. While watching all of the people who went out to see an Olympic Athlete in Columbus this week, I learned that I am absolutely not inspired, nor interested, in spending my time going to see a professional athlete who has spent her life as a career runner. Career runners just don't do it for me. Is it cool that they are fast enough to run in the Olympics? Yep. Is it cool that they have won several marathons? Yep. Is it cool that they traveled the world? Yep. But watching career runners, who spend their life chasing after the fastest finish line, simply doesn't do anything for me... If it does something for you, enjoy the experience!!!

So, what/who inspires me? Well, let me tell you...

Kayla Montgomery - HS runner who has MS - This is a girl who doesn't hold back. She runs despite the difficulty she experiences post run. She was diagnosed with MS in her HS years, at which point she decided to join the track team. She amazingly was one of the fastest runners at her HS, even her state. People claim she had an unfair advantage because she couldn't feel her legs while running, but I would argue that those same people simply couldn't handle they were beat by a girl with MS.

Dick Hoyt - Retired military man who makes triathlons possible for his son - He has a son who has cerebral palsy. His son wanted to be a runner, and Dick took up the sport so that he could push his son during races, thus allowing him the experience. Over the years, Dick's son wanted more, and so Dick took the leap and began training for marathons, triathlons, even ironmans. He had no personal motivation, but instead a selfless motivator, his son.

Rose, Liam, Toby - My little people - These three kiddos have taken on running and/or swimming at the ripe young ages of 12, 10 and 8 respectively.

Sue and Chris and Janell - My various buddies - Well, let's just say Sue puts up with me for miles on end, whether running or cycling. But the real thing that inspires me about her is that she pushes relentlessly through, even when times are tough. Chris has been a bit of a silent cheerleader for me, and an active cheerleader for her local people. She is a sports enthusiast, who will take on, even a half ironman. I've admired her athleticism for yours. And then there is my sister Janell. She is is at every race, especially those that support her friends, and their families. The thing about all of these three ladies is that they are not out to win the race, but experience something new and simply better themselves with their athletic pursuits.

Katy - One of my colleagues - This woman can swim! Not only can she swim, she has accomplished feats that many of us only have nightmares about. I think of swimming the English Channel and I envision swimming in a pool treadmill that NEVER stops. She thinks of swimming the English Channel and says 'why not'? And so that is what she has done.Although she proves to be one of the most accomplished athletes I know, she is still always there to lend a hand to the new participants in her sport. Not judgement, just acceptance.

That girl who crossed the finish line LAST! Gasp, yep, she is more inspiring to me than the person who crossed the finish line first. The runners who lead the pack are fantastic; most are supportive, some stick around to cheer on the final athlete, they want to share the excitement of their sport. Unfortunately, there have been a few middle of the packers, who have decided that back of the packers are lazy, not interested in training 'their way' which is apparently the right way, shouldn't 'dumb down' their sport. Those back of the packers inspire me even more, because they literally have to run through some of that negativity; and they do it.

I guess what I am saying is that the humble, kind, dedicated athletes, who have either dealt with adversity or are real humans that infuse their athleticism in their lives, are the people who do, and will always inspire me!

Need a little inspiration? Go and watch of of these people at their swim meets, runs, triathlons, and you will officially understand why they inspire. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I'm so determined right now. Determined to make excuse after excuse for my current condition.

Up 25 pounds of the 100 plus pounds I originally lost. Unable to comfortably run more than 4 miles. Skipped a big race several weeks ago because I wasn't ready. Why, you may ask? Well I'll tell you... I'm tired, had personal trauma, enjoy cookies (especially when I am having personal trauma), not comfortable running alone, couldn't get to the gym, and have been uncomfortable for weeks.

A friend of mine just texted me and said something like: 'Your body doesn't do heat. Apparently mine doesn't do cold.' I totally understand what she is feeling!!! It sucks when your body doesn't react as intended. Here's the thing, my body does do cold, so much so that I keep my house at a frigid 65-68 degrees all times of the year; and then all of a sudden it doesn't, do cold that is. This week for example? I walked around thinking, 'damn, I'm uncomfortable'. Guess what? It never made it above 50 degrees in North East Ohio, but I was still uncomfortable. Was the discomfort because of the quick change in temperature? Or because of the before mentioned excuses...  

Anyway, today I went out to spectate the Columbus Marathon and wondered why the heck I was internally whining all week? What you see while standing on the sidelines of a marathon, are a group of people who have true grit. There is no time to complain when you are running a marathon, because the energy used to complain could take away from the energy needed to finish the race.

I need to apply that theory to my excuses. Sure, I've been uncomfortable all week, and I mean really uncomfortable. I've basically been feeling like my body has been in a vice that is being squeezed, but every time I give that discomfort attention, it takes a little energy away from what needs to get done.

If you've been following along recently, I have officially decided that it is time for a half ironman encore, and I finally pulled the trigger. It is now time to make myself a different type of uncomfortable. I'm going to literally push my boundaries beyond this current place of discomfort, hopefully lose more weight, eat normal food again, and quit complaining...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

One More Step...

What do you do the day after your best run in a long time? Or when you don't have a car? Or when you are hiding from your cat because she has decided to aggressively nibble on your toes? Or when you are avoiding a mountain of laundry? Or when you just finished reading a book? Well, one might hang out on the couch and watch TV, but instead I've decided to start thinking about an event schedule for 2016.

It has been a long time since I have intentionally planned a race schedule, and I figured it is time. It is time to get off my butt. It is time for me to make goals again. It is time for me to get athletically organized again. It is time for me to acknowledge that MS isn't holding me back, I AM holding me back.

When my best buddy told me recently that she wanted to start running a little faster, I said No Problem... Let's do it. Low and behold, we took the challenge to heart without even knowing it. Thirty seconds faster per mile, and we both have survived. Ask me if we kept it up for our 5 miler... If we did? Well, I will congratulate us both with a pumpkin donuts (whoops, not supposed to reward with food), or a big hearty pat on the back! Or a trip to Australia (need to win a million dollars for this one)!!!

This thirty second change in pace doesn't make us award winning runners, but it certainly gave us some confidence. And so here I sit writing some goals.

Because I need to be mindful of the cost related to these events (registration fees, bike tune ups, gym memberships, running club membership, new shoes, travel to, hotels for a couple of nights, replaced bike gloves, new sunglasses every week, new wetsuit if I lose weight, new swimming suit, etc.), it is best that I begin my planning now!

My best buddy and I have already talked about doing the Cap City half marathon again. This is a great race, and even better because it is close to home!

I was also talked into doing another half iron distance tri in 2016 to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday. And because I have some awesome supporters in this world, another friend of mine has agreed to do the race!!! And others have committed to cheering me on in the process. The event and date are yet to be determined, but my mind is committed to making this happen! Shoot, I was training for a half iron distance race through being prodded and tested for MS. I did my half iron distance race less than two short weeks after being diagnosed... It is time to prove that I can still do it!

AND, no summer will happen without a significant bike ride. This too is in the planning phases, but I'll be planning to do another ride in 2016. Because I don't run in the summer, that much, I'll be looking for a ride late in the summer.

I realize that my best buddy will probably read this and jump up for joy, because she knows she is going to be recruited for the bike ride, too. But I am also sitting here, jumping for joy (that was supposed to be funny) because this planning is one more step to taking back control of my athletic life...