Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rock and Roll Arizona 13.1 race report

Two weeks ago today I completed my first half marathon. It started out with my friends and I gathering outside our hotel rooms at 6:00 am to drive to the race start.
 We arrived at the start with plenty of time to spare and immediately took advantage of the vacant port-a-potties at the drop off area.  we hung out near the UPS trucks until it was time to hand our bags over to them so that they could transport them to the finish line. The final prep before getting into our corrals included lubing my toes with every blister prevention known to man and waiting in VERY long lines to use the port-a-potties.
With corrals starting every two minutes, it was a good half an hour before my group reached the starting line. During that time I must have adjusted my shoe laces at least 10 times (people around me surely thought that I had OCD) and started to remove the numerous layers that I had on to keep warm before the start. (One of the really nice things about these races it that all the clothing left at the start or on the course is giving to the homeless or other people in need).
My 13.1 mile journey started slowely as I continued to remind myself that this wasn't the usual 5k race that I was used to. At mile one I heard someone say to their friend "we have completed a mile" and thought to myself, "nothing like being reminded of the 12.1 miles I have to go!" ARGHH...
At the 1.5 mile mark I was looking for the port-a-potties but refused to wait in the lines. There was no way I was going to stop this soon into the race, to stand in a line knowing the time I was losing, only to have to face the long journey ahead. I am not one of those who is able to stop and get going again easily. Once I stop or start walking the battle to keep running gets harder and harder.  While I had no set in stone goal for this race, I was hoping that I would be able to run the whole thing and no port-a-potty line was going to nix that hope at the 1.5 mile mark!  As the miles went on and my search for an empty port-a-potty or some alley way to duck into continued, my focus changed from the need for a bathroom to the mission of run the whole race. Living in CO was a huge advantage for me. The course was flat and the altitude change made the cardio part of the race more then bearable. In fact, I never felt that I was struggling in that area and probably could have pushed it harder except for the fact that my quads had other ideas. At about mile nine, my legs were starting to have enough of this whole thing ad by mile 10 my quads were rebelling at very step. I knew that now it was just a matter of mind over matter. I told myself  "you only have a 5k to go, you can do this!"  At mile 11 I thought "ok,  just keep running until you hit the 12 mile mark" and at the 12 mile mark I thought" there is NO way you are going to walk now with only 1.1 miles to go!"  It was a battle of mind over matter but I did it. I ran the whole race! Now some people could watch the clip of me coming across the finish line and think "that isn't running" but I would say, "oh yes it was!" It wasn't pretty but it was running.
After crossing the finish line I remember thinking to myself  " how am I going to ever do a Half Ironman" but allowed that thought to quickly escape until a later date. I received my medal, had my picture taken, and hobbled over to the UPS truck to pick up my bag with my change of clothes in it. After finally hitting the port-a-potty I continued to hobble over the designated meeting area. While I stood around awhile for fear of sitting and not being able to get back up, the idea of getting off my feet won over and down I went.  Fortunately the others found me and I was able to stay where I was until we had to go. And yes, I did need to be helped to my feet. :)

The day was a huge success. Everyone finished and we were all very happy with our efforts.
Waiting at the airport the next day it was very obvious who had done the race the day before. People wincing when trying to sit or stand or walking with a limp or very gingerly were very common. I felt right at home :)
Since the race, I have had some lingering blisters and muscle soreness that has kept me from doing to much running. I was able to finally start running again yesterday and it felt good to be back out there. I don't enjoy running but I actually missed the high and feeling of accomplishment, of having sucked it up and getting the miles in.  I truly never thought I would take on a challenge like this and then actually complete it. Just goes to show you that if you Dare to Dream, sometimes those dreams come true.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hanging with the elites.....

My friend Meg and I arrived in Arizona yesterday afternoon. With no time to spare, we checked into our hotel and headed To P.F. Chang's to "do" happy hour with Dean Karnazes, Deena Kaster, Ryan Hall and Josh Cox.  I enjoyed listening to their stories and words of wisdom.  Who runs a 4.45 minute mile??!!! Ryan Hall does. I can not even imagine what that must feel like. I can hardly imagine what a 8 minute mile must feel like for any amount of time beyond 10 seconds.  The message that they all conveyed is that no matter how fast or how slow each of us is, we all feel the same thing when we cross the finish line. The "high" is no different for an elite runner then it is for us mortals. We all are victors.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Five days and counting

In five days I will be competing in my first half marathon. While I have always been inspired by those who take on these type of challenges I never thought I would participate in one myself. Truthfully, before I started doing triathlons two years ago I would never have believed I would have accomplished all that I have. It really is all about taking one step in front of the other and not letting fear stand in your way. My friends Meg and Annegret are doing the race with me. Experiencing this with them will make this event all the more memorable. Here is a picture of the three of us after our first 10 mile run.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I just purchased another new pair of sneakers. One would think that I am bordering on a sneaker obsession. Maybe that is true. However, my true motivation(or original one before I became somewhat obsessed with them) is to find a pair of shoes that work for me, that won't cause blisters, that feel just right. Maybe I will always have to deal with the blister issue as I seem to have a running gait that is a perfect breeding ground for them but I haven't quite settled on a pair (or size) of sneakers that just speak to me :) Note however, the pretty white and blue ones at the bottom of the picture. These might just be the ones!!!

A year of firsts

I have never "blogged" before. Just one more thing to learn about and experience in this new year.
It is only January 9th and I have already committed to three new ventures. I will be participating in my first half marathon on January 17th in Arizona. I have signed up for this summer's Boulder 70.3 (Half Ironman) race and am now finding myself doing the "blogging" thing. No wonder I am tired! :)
While the journey to this summer's 70.3 race is just beginning, it took the commitment to the half marathon to convince myself that I could even sign up for the Boulder race. A half Ironman consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon (13.1 miles). For the record, I am not a runner. I find it the most painful of the three sports of triathlon. I am slow and my form leaves a lot to be desired. While I am learning to dislike it less and embrace it more, it is an ongoing process. I am fine with the fact that I will never be fast. I am fine with the fact that most people who I compete against will be faster runners then me. I am not fine with my current ability and speed and am determined to improve in this area however painful that might be. Yikes!
Beyond the whole running thing, is the fear of racing itself. I am always a bundle of nerves before a race and even months leading up to it. Being nervous for months is not an easy state to be in. Adding three races in Boulder (the mecca of triathlon) where I will be amongst the pros and elites just adds to my fear. Yet I continue to take on these challenges. Somewhere deep inside I must either be a glutton for punishment or have a belief that "I can do this". Probably a little of both.