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Sunday, October 30, 2011

What doesn't kill you gets you that much closer to your 100 miles

Thursday night saw me staring down the 37.4 miles left in the October 100 mile challenge with four days in which to squeeze them.  I walked two miles right after work on Friday with plans to fit in the remaining three after my nephew's birthday party.  Unfortunately, there was a little hitch in that plan.  Turns out, for some reason, my husband wanted to watch that little baseball game that was on.  And then his beloved Cardinals went and won, and we couldn't miss all the post-game celebration.

Photo credit: http://cdn.everyjoe.com/files/2011/10/cardinals-2011-world-series.jpg
I'm not a big baseball fan, but even I enjoyed watching them revel in their improbable win.  To a point anyway, and then I was just thinking about how I still had two miles to walk and an early wakeup call in the morning.  The evening walk ended up getting bagged, though Jeff was nice enough to watch the remainder of the postgame coverage at home so I could get to sleep.

My friend Jim knows I have some trail races coming up and needed to start putting in some miles and had been kind enough to invite me to a group run at Castlewood Park with the St. Louis Ultrarunners Group, which he recently joined.  My trail race in November is a 30K, so I figured 16 miles would be a good training distance, and since they were planning on running 3- and 5-mile loops, it would be pretty easy to put in 16 miles with the group. 

Did I say easy?? Hahaha hahaha hahaha.  I not only suffer from Athletic ADD, but I have a secondary diagnosis of Athletic Amnesia.

Thank goodness I'd made plans with a friend, because there's NO WAY I'd have gotten up at 6 a.m. if I didn't have someone expecting me.  I dragged myself out of bed and checked the temperature.  36 degrees!  Though I ran in cold and snow last winter, I got soft over the summer.  I wasn't sure how to dress but settled on shorts, tall socks, a long-sleeved shirt, and a short-sleeved technical t-shirt.  That ended up being the perfect choice.
I made it to our meeting spot about 26 seconds before Jim, and then we headed off to Castlewood.  My friend Sara was running behind and planning to catch up with us on one of the loops.  We followed the group down the road and then cut off onto the trails near the river.  The first part was pretty flat, and while I was in the back, I wasn't dramatically behind everyone else.  That changed as soon as we hit the Castlewood steps.

Skippo 20K
I get to "run" these three times in the Skippo...yea...
Everybody else made quick work of the steps, while I did my best to distract my knees from hating me by taking in the view, only to remember that my knees don't have eyes and couldn't care less about the fall colors.  Finally at the top, I ended up running and chatting with Mark, and we ended up not seeing where everyone else turned, so we decided to take a shorter way and catch up to them at the bottom.  There we met up with Lee and Jim, and soon after that the others came out of the woods.

We headed onto the trail on the other side of the road.  I managed the first gradual hills OK but fell further and further behind, finally having to walk up one of them (and then others).  Jim stopped and waited for me, despite my assurances that I'd be fine on my own if he wanted to run with his group.  Once again, my ability in reality doesn't anywhere near live up to my perceived ability.  I knew it would be a tough run, but I forget how hard those hills are for me...and how inconsistent my training has been over the past few months.

So Jim and I stuck together for the rest of the run, and as we ended that second loop we met up with Sara.  She and I met once through mutual friends and then connected recently online, so it was nice to have a chance to hang out and talk, and she did a great job out on the trails.  We headed back to the first loop, which meant another trip back up the stairs, but Jim promised me that they'd get easier every time. 

He's a little bit of a liar, but we made it to the top.

So glad to be finished with steps!
There was some discussion about the history of the park, and though Jim suggested I research it and write about it, I'll just stick with sharing someone else's work. :)  I really couldn't get over what a perfect day it was for a run.  Cool, bright, and a great place to take in the beauty of fall.  Getting to share it with friends--and not fall!--was a great way to experience it.

We dropped Sara back at the cars so that she could go pick up her kiddos and then headed out again.  One thing about running with Jim, there's no shortage of conversation. :)  He's really encouraging and always has nice things to say, too.  He's way faster than I am, so it was super nice of him to hang back with me instead of pushing the pace like I know he could have.

This was the longest run I've done since the marathon back in May, so by the time we'd hit about mile 13, I was really feeling it.  My left knee was sore, my feet hurt, and my legs ached.  We still had three miles to reach my planned 16, though, so we couldn't quit yet.  This time, we headed up a trail that just got steeper and steeper.  "I think we may be doing a lot of walking for these miles," I told Jim.

He let me get away with that for a little while, but once the trail flattened out a little he convinced me to run again.  It hurt, but walking didn't feel so great, either.  Sometimes my legs feel like they could run forever while my lungs are threatening to secede; this was the opposite experience.  I didn't feel too tired, my breathing was OK, but my legs were hating me.  I guess that just means I need to be putting in more miles. 

For Saturday, though, I made it through a very slow 16 miles, which was my goal, and since I was still able to walk that evening I added in another 2.6 miles with the dog.  Today, between a couple of walks g and trick or treating, I logged another 6.  That leaves me with just 3.9 tomorrow in order to have an even 100 for the month...and because I've spent so much of the last week walking, I will be getting back into a regular running routine starting Wednesday.

I'll have to, because I'm sure I'll be sneaking plenty of this guy's Halloween candy. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Better late than never

Back in September, it sounded like a good idea to get in on an October run/walk 100 mile challenge.  After all, I was going to be running 13.1 on October 2...I'd be a tenth of the way there just two days in.  Piece. of. cake.

And then all of the sudden it was Oct. 26 and I had only 59.9 miles logged for the month.  Unfortunately, doing the math I realized that it would be possible for me to get in the remaining 41.1 miles in the remaining days of the month. The good news: I'm feeling super motivated.  The bad news: it required me running 6 straight days, when I've never run more than two in a row.

Sigh. Why is it that I'm so determined to finish this (ultimately) meaningless challenge?  And what the heck was I doing all those October days I could've been running??

So here's my miles cramming plan for the rest of the month:

  • Wednesday--3.7 rainy miles while N. practiced volleyball
  • Thursday--5 miles--actually ran/walked 6
  • Friday--5 miles
  • Saturday--16 miles (the one run that really matters to me...trail miles at Castlewood Park, good training for both the Skippo 30K and the Pere Marquette race
  • Sunday--5 miles (thinking I can combine this with trick-or-treating)
  • Sunday--5 miles (after the Halloween parade)
I think I can...I think I can...I think I can...stay tuned to see if I actually could.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Since I saw you last...

Honestly, I feel like nothing has happened in the past week (!! how often do I go a week without boring gracing you with my presence in the blogworld?), but I guess a few things have.  Between the kitten tragedy, the Halloween party, N starting back up with club volleyball, and two nights of parent-teacher conferences, there's been little time to do any kind of training.  Strike that, it's not completely true.  There's been little time that doesn't require me getting up earlier to do any kind of training.

When I'm not running or riding, I don't feel like I really have much to say.  I'm not doing anything all that creative with my family, I tend to avoid talking much about school because of confidentiality and all that jazz, and I've spent a lot of time on my butt.  Exciting! (If only there was a sarcasm font).  But, it's been a week, and there are a couple things I can tell you about.

This weekend

 In return for working two 12-hour days, we got 1/2 day off Friday.  It was GORGEOUS out.  I had big plans to go home, eat, and hit the local mountain bike trails.  To illustrate the dangers of me sitting down, I got home about noon, sat down while my food cooked, started reading, and read until nearly 5:00.  Then I had to hit the trails after Jeff and J were home.  Perhaps not the best scheduling, but it was a beautiful ride.

Trail 2...there are 6 different trails here.  It's about 10 minutes from my house, so it's a great spot to go ride or run.
Saturday morning we were up early for J's last soccer game.  He scored again, for the third time in three games! This, after a 3-year scoring drought.  I'd be excited to get to sleep in later on Saturdays from now on except for the fact that the end of soccer means I'm free to do my long runs earlier.  Rats.

Batman ride after dark
After soccer, we headed to Six Flags for the day with J, N, and N's girlfriend.  J is finally old enough to ride the big roller coasters, but we weren't so sure that would actually happen.  He definitely has a big dose of his mama's yellow streak.  He did it, though.  I think I was as scared as he was...I was so worried he'd fly off.  I was holding on so tightly to him that my arms hurt the next day.

We got on the Batman ride first, he started getting nervous in the seat, and by the time it was cranking up the first big hill he was all "I'm scared, I'm scared".  Unlike his mother (who has little to no voice still today), he resisted screaming.  Instead, when I looked at him after the ride stopped, he was holding his breath. :)

It was a really great day at the park.  It wasn't too crowded most of the day, the weather was just beautiful, and there was no fighting or whining. 

Six Flags
Plus, we got to play dead.  How much better does it get?
Sunday morning I was up bright and early to head to Marquette Park for a training run.  This is one of my favorite places, and its hilly trails host my club's Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Run, a demanding course that kicked my butt last year.  I have a score to settle with the race, plus some smack talk I need to be able to live up to, so I'm trying to actually put in some real training for my comeback. :) (I know...me...who'd have thought?)
This picture doesn't even begin to capture how pretty the drive was.
Turned out I didn't need to worry so much about being on time since I was the only one there.  I still had a good time.  It's more fun to run with friends, but I don't mind running alone, especially in such a great place.  Last week I hiked most of the course with friends and ran the hills; Sunday I ran as much as I could.  There was a good stretch during miles 4-6 that I walked, not because my legs needed a break, but because I really really needed a bathroom and was a little delusional about how much farther it would be.

Pere Marquette
I know I'll be complaining once winter hits, but right now I'm really thankful to live somewhere with seasons. :)
 I couldn't be too worried about the walking.  It was just too nice a day to stress out.  I'm hoping to make it out there several more times to run before the race in December, so I've got time to improve.  After my bathroom stop, I headed up for the last 1.8 miles of the race.  And it starts with a LOT of up.  First steep hills, then big steps. 

Pere Marquette
These babies, and a bunch more just like them, only taller.
Trail running is so much harder than road running, but it's SO much more fun.  It makes me pay attention to what I'm doing, so I never think about how much longer, how far I've gone. I just enjoy myself and the trails. I had the park pretty much to myself until the last 30 minutes or so, when I started seeing other hikers out there.  It gets pretty busy on nice days.  Last weekend we were out later, and we saw a bunch of families out on the trails and picnicking at the visitors' center. 

The good news is that I felt great after the run.  The not as good news was that I had to drive to St. Louis because I'd volunteered to help at registration for the grade school club volleyball tryouts.  It wasn't bad, and since I was going to be over there anyway, I had brought my mountain bike and intended to ride at Creve Coeur afterwards.

I got finished, and while I wasn't tired, I just wasn't feeling the ride at all.  I just wanted to go home and sit and read.  But it just felt way too lame to have packed all my bike gear and then go home without riding, so I drove to the park anyway.  I ended up riding around 5 miles, and I'm getting a little more confident on the switchbacks and downhills.  I still have a long way to go before I'm not riding my brakes, but hopefully I'll get there.  While it was a fun ride, I just wasn't into it.  I think it was the whole being out there alone thing.  Mountain biking is way more fun with other people.  I do better when there's a stronger rider to follow...plus, then there's someone to call the paramedics for you. :)

Anyway, since I still wasn't feeling it, I gave myself permission to head back to the car.  On the last section, a guy rode up behind me.  He wasn't close enough that I felt like I should get over, and he didn't ask to pass, so I stayed ahead of him.  Having somebody behind me definitely made me push a little harder than I would have otherwise, so it was nice to have the company, even if it was just for a few minutes.  No pictures of the park, sorry, I didn't need to stop, so I didn't want to stop and take pictures.  Bad blogger.

It looks a lot like this, though.

  • I applied for grad school.  I've only been out of school for ten years.  Sigh.  I never thought it would take me this long to go back.  I'm both dreading it (not sure how I'm going to manage fitting it into my schedule with N's volleyball stuff) and excited about it (I love school....I like the thought of adding to my skills...more money is always good).
  • Club volleyball = 3 x a week practice in St. Louis.  Here's what that looks like for an 8-10 (PM!!) practice: Leave at 6:30 so he can be 1/2 hour early to warm up, etc; sit from 7:30-10 (when practices are during daylight I run or ride); 10-11 drive home.  Repeat 2 days later.
  • Grad school + club volleyball = schedule clusterf***.  Here's my dilemma: if I register for a Monday or Wednesday class, I can't get him to practice in St. Louis.  If I register for a Tues or Thurs class I miss basically all of his high school volleyball matches when that starts up in February.  My husband could maybe take care of the Monday practice, but Wednesday would be a problem.  Hmmm
  • I put down the wrong birthdate for myself on my grad school application, so it's quite possible that they'll decide I'm not smart enough to go to grad school. :-/

Monday, October 17, 2011

Boo humbug

Halloween is a big deal around here.  My husband loves Halloween.  My seven year old loves Halloween.  My in-laws love Halloween.  My side of the family is more of the Scrooge persuasion.  I remember my mom hating Halloween...primarily the trouble involved in coordinating costumes for four kids.  My brothers and I have always managed to get our kids in costume and take them trick-or-treating, but the holiday has always seemed like more work than magic.

A sister-in-law and her family channelling GI Joe.
I knew what I was getting into when I married this man.  As long as I've known him, he's thrown a big family Halloween party.  When we were first dating, he and his sister lived next door to each other and coordinated an elaborate (and creepy!) haunted house set up in and between their houses. 


While that particular tradition went away when he moved in with me and we no longer had space (or time, or in my case the willingness) to set up gory scenes in the dining room, but one custom that has remained is the family costumes. 

My sister-in-law's family as Willy Wonka characters...their costumes are always AMAZING.
Everyone dresses up.  Kids and adults.  Usually families try to coordinate costumes.  While I could never really get behind the decorations and such, this was one area I embraced.  I'm not much of a seamstress, but I can sew well enough to make a costume.  There were years when I was sewing 3 or 4 costumes.

Sister-in-law's family and a good friend
Last year I posted a sampling of past costumes I've made, so I won't go there again, but suffice it to say that making your own costumes is neither time-saving nor cost-effective.  And it's a bit stressful when you leave all the work until the last week.

??, Heat Miser, Cold Miser (from the movie The Year Without a Santa Claus (I think)
Every year I swear off making costumes.  This year I really meant it.  Between work and N's club volleyball schedule and trying to fit in some training, I just didn't want to put in the time.  Failing in my anti-costume campaign, I then cast my vote for one of our lamer (in my opinion) costumes, simply because it would be relatively easy to make. 

D (the Invisible Man) and N (a statue) opted not to participate in the Pac-Man theme
Turned out it was fairly easy, relatively cheap, and I was finished making them before our guests rang our bell (a first). If I can make that a tradition, maybe next year I'll even help decorate.

Yeah...probably not. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Little pawprints on your heart

First off, thanks for all the kind comments, thanks for the people who didn't tell me I'm an idiot for being so sad over a kitten, thanks for the people who shared that they would have made the same decision, thanks for the people who didn't share that they wouldn't have made the same decision, thanks for the people who shared about their reactions to the loss of their pet and let me know that it's ok to feel this sad.  Every one of your comments made me cry while also making me feel better at the same time.  And if you want to stop reading now, go right ahead.  The rest is probably more for me than for anyone else. 

I was worried about telling J about Sammie, but he handled it fairly well.  He cried a couple of tears when I first told him, then he had a couple of questions.  When I was telling him that we sat with her until she died, he asked, "And then she just disappeared?" It was an interesting little window into his understanding, or lack thereof.  I guess it might go back to when we had  Dingo, our 14 year old cat, put to sleep a few years ago.  Because I took him to the vet while J. was asleep and didn't try explaining to him about having a pet put to sleep, it must have seemed like the cat just disappeared.

He also said that he hoped that Sammie found Dingo in Heaven so that we could all be together once we all died, and he cried a few more tears at school when I dropped him off.  Otherwise, he handled Sammie's death surprisingly well.  Honestly, I was a little concerned about how easily the 7 year old took the loss while N and I were devastated.  That evening, though, I was reassured.  When I came home from work, J was laying on the floor with his arms around our dog.  He looked really sad, so I asked if he was missing Sammie.  "Yeah.  Nathan already buried her in the yard behind the garden, so I went out there and sat with her for a little while."

That day in school was a little rough.  Seems like mentions of cats and kittens came up in everything we did.  While I held it together when my students were in the classroom (thank God for a job that requires your full attention), I cried basically the entire rest of the time.  I hadn't bothered to put on mascara that morning, knowing full well it would be all down my face by the time I got out of town, but the rest of the makeup was a waste, too, since it was all washed away.  One of my students told me, "You don't look very good today."  She was correct, but severely lacking in tact, so I tried to help her rephrase it: "I think you mean that I look like I don't feel very good today, right?"  She looked dubiously at my tearstained face.  "Uhhh....sure."

J. is doing fine, N. is sad but seems to be doing OK, and I'm still crying at least once every day.  Today I ran over a squirrel on the way to church and burst into tears.  I'm not sure why this has all hit me so hard.  I think it's the combination of her being my child's pet, her being such a sweet loveable thing, and guilt.  I'm the one who wouldn't hospitalize her.  I made the decision.  And while N. never argued with me or even asked me to please take her back to the vet, my older son told me that N. had texted him that night asking if he could borrow money.  That breaks my heart all over again.

But you know, you make decisions and have to live with them.  And move on.  Hopefully before I permanently lose the ability to write a complete sentence. :P

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kitty sick day

October is shaping up to be a stellar month.  It's pretty rare for me to miss work, and so far this month I've called off because I couldn't walk after a race and because my son's kitten was sick.


Remember this sweet little thing?  When N woke up this morning, she was on the floor of his room flopped over on her side looking barely alive.  It was about the most pitiful thing I've ever seen.  I have no doubt that if I'd gone to work today she'd have died while we were gone.

So, despite spending my shower thinking about activities to go along with today's subtraction lesson, I took a personal day, rushed J to the before-school program, and took her to the animal hospital.  And as much as I like to think of myself as tough, I can tell you that I cried pretty much from the moment I handed over the box she was in.

It was just so sad, you guys.  And she's pretty much got all of us in love with her.  And my big, tall 17 year old man of a son is just in love with this cat.  Basically the first thing the vet said was that they may not be able to save her, but after an hour or so she was perked up a little.  I was tearfully happy until they brought the treatment plan estimate.  Three days of hospitalization at a cost of $700-1,000.

There's just no way, especially because they expect the money up front.  No payment plans.  But saying "no" sounds an awful lot like "let her die", which is terrible.  More waterworks.  So the doctor gave me a treatment plan and a glimmer of hope, and I've spent my day nursing a kitten.  Now I'm nervous every time she's not in my sight, and as I said on facebook, it's like having a baby again. 

A tiny, furry, uninsured baby.  So I walked out of the vet's office $250 poorer, but I didn't have to bury a kitten today, and I didn't have to tell my boys she died.  And I really, really hope there's no "yet" attached to either of those last things.

Update: She died, just before midnight. :( She seemed better all evening until I went to check on her around 10:30, when she started stumbling around and went downhill from there. I sat with her til N got home from practice, then I sat with him while he sat with her til the end. If I thought I was cried out, I was wrong. It's beyond gut-wrenching to watch your child lose his pet. Sad, sad night.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What would you do-oo-oo for a Klondike race?*

Would you get up at the crack of dawn?  (anything)

Would you ride with friends? (anything)

Would you get a little lost? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you pass a lake? (anything)

Would you love the fall colors? (anything)

Would you run on singletrack? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you talk and laugh? (anything)

Would you appreciate the flats? (anything)

Would you wish the teeter totter was part of the track? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you slide down gravel? (anything)

Would you scale a cliff? (anything)

Would you sing the Rocky theme incessantly as you ran uphill? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you count down miles? (anything)

Would you push hard at the end? (anything)

Would you finish with a smile? (anything...anything to race!)

I think I've mentioned a time or two that I was hurting after last Sunday's private half ironman, so when I agreed to yesterday's trail race at Klondike Park, I did so with the understanding that I was going to take it easy.  I'd walked several miles during the week, but I wasn't sure how a run would go.  Even so, I was looking forward to getting to hang out in the woods with some of my friends.

Judy, Vanessa, and Lindsay picked me up at about 6:30 and we met Krystal and Jeff (not my Jeff) at the park, near Augusta, MO.  Despite some slight navigational difficulties, we got there in plenty of time to sign up.  Since most of us hadn't pre-registered, the lady who checked us in said we could come back after the race to see if there were enough shirts for us to get one.  I was hoping there would be because I liked the shirts.

Krystal, Lindsay, Judy, me, and Vanessa before the race
The park is in a beautiful area with river views, bluff views, and a lake which was once a quarry.  Though fall is in evidence through the changing leaves, the temperature by race time was straight summer, and I was glad for my sleeveless top.

The race started on a paved road and then curved down around the lake.  Apparently they used to mine for silica sand there, and there was plenty of sand blowing across the trail and beside the lake area.

The lake is to the left here
Lindsay and I had agreed to stick together and take it easy, and by the time we were at the lake we were well behind most everyone else.  We decided it would be pretty cool to come in last.  Normally it would stress me out to be so far in the back, but my entire goal for the race was to hang out with my friend, have fun, and run as much as my knees let me.  As it turned out, my knees did just fine, and the other two goals pretty much went hand in hand.

The first mile was primarily paved trail with a short stretch of trail and then a long hill.  We opted to walk the big hill.  Once we got to the top, though, we got to run downhill on some sweet singletrack. 

Yeah...I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.
I love running on trails.  So much.  Add the colors and the company and I was just having a wonderful time.  In addition to talking the whole way, I spent the run checking out the trails to see how I'd like mountain biking on them (I think it's a bit above my abilities at this point, though).  The first section of singletrack wasn't too technical, but there was a lot of downhill (not my strong suit on a bike) and some fairly tight switchbacks.  Luckily, my running skills were up to the challenge.

Coming into our third mile we ran into Vanessa, who wasn't feeling well, so we all ran the rest of the way together.  There was a water/gatorade stop at mile 3, and then the arrows pointed us onto the Katy Trail.  I've done two different week-long bike trips on the Katy, so it's just a special place to me.  It makes me happy just being there...plus, it's nice and flat. :)

Some day maybe I'll stop taking pictures on the run...
We got to share the trail with all kinds of people out on their bikes (which also makes me happy) until we were back at an entrance to Klondike Park.  Having decided that the race would be better training for the many hills of Pere Marquette if I actually ran some of these hills, I made it to the top of this one. 

Back in Klondike, the race route took us to the singletrack on the other side of the park.  This part was considerably more rocky and technical, with some cool bike skills areas (teeter totter, drops, etc).

I'd love to see somebody else ride this, but I think I'd still be an admiring spectator at this point. :)

There was another water stop at mile 5ish, and though we were hopeful about nice, flat trails ahead, the ranger on duty assured us there was no such luck.   After passing him, we headed down a steep, loose-gravel  hill.  With the gravel sliding under my feet, I almost fell twice but managed to make it to the bottom without injury. We had said hi to a lady on her way up, and she wasn't particularly friendly, but when we made the return trip we realized that she probably only had enough energy to breathe and keep moving forward. 

It was a long way back up that hill, but I made it, humming the "Rocky" music the whole way.  I may have even raised my hands in the air like the champion I am when I got to the top.  I'm not sure...it's all a fog now. :)  We passed our ranger friend again and then headed back towards the beginning.  Knowing that the end was near, I picked up my pace a little bit.  I was really enjoying myself and had a big smile on my face.  We got back to where we'd started, and the arrows were pointing us back towards the lake.

Really?  I kind of thought we were basically done.  :-/  Still pushing, we rounded the lake, crossed the bridge to see the smiling faces (and cameras) of the friends who'd been finished for some time, and up a hill to the finish line.  My time was 1:29:16 for the 7 mile race (49 out of 56).  Possibly my slowest time, but most definitely some of the most fun that I've had in a race.

As recovery runs go, this one was pretty much ideal, and it was made better by the post-race food.  There was bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. and honey.  I love honey, and on that grainy bread it was delicious.  And if three pieces of bread weren't enough, we stopped at O'Connell's in St. Louis for some awesome burgers, fries, and pickles.

This was the second in the St. Charles County Parks "Wild in the Woods" trail race series.  Unfortunately, "real life" is going to keep me away from #3, but I'm hoping I might be able to make it to the final one, and I'm going to do my best to clear my schedule (ha ha) for these next year.    If you live in the St. Louis area, check out this race series.  They have well-run races in amazing parks.  You won't regret it.

*Thanks to Lindsay for letting me borrow her facebook comment for a title. Thanks, also, to her for making me crave a Klondike bar all day. And for the two glasses of wine, which weren't ice cream but certainly did the trick. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday 13 (for real, this time)

1.  For the first couple of days after the private HIM, all I wanted to do was sleep.  The thought of training for anything big made me want to cry.  By Tuesday evening my brain was all ooh, this would be cool!; unfortunately for my brain, my body was still all If you make me get off this couch I'll cut you.  But by Wednesday, I was promising to do a (slow) trail race with a friend on Saturday and committing to a 30K trail race in November .

2. I joined a 100 mile challenge for October.  Run and/or walk 100 miles this month.  Hopefully I do better than my abysmal failure in...whatever other month I joined one of these challenges.  The sword of Damocles November trail race hanging over my head should help inspire me to log some miles.

3.  I 'm doing a women's mountain bike weekend at Land Between the Lakes (in Kentucky) in November also.  I have no idea who'll be there.  I don't know that I know anyone else going.  I didn't even ask.  Once I got the OK from Jeff, I said I'd be there.

Total strangers riding in what may or may not be Land Between the Lakes
Photo credit: http://www.johannisholm.com/nieuwewebsite/foto/image/MTB.jpg

4. Three years ago you'd have had to hold a gun to my head to make me go spend a weekend with a houseful of complete strangers.

5.  Three years ago I thought 50 miles was an insanely long distance to ride a bike.  (I kind of agreed with this on Sunday).

6.  Despite having no desire to have any more pets, I let my 17 year old get a kitten.  The kid so rarely asks for anything that I hate to tell him no, even though he'll (hopefully!) be away at college next year.

7.  So, basically, my 17 year old got a kitten, and I got a cat.  Yea.

8.  At least the kids are happy.

9.  I have to admit, it's the cutest little thing you ever saw.

10.  The dog thinks it looks yummy.

11.  I got my Champion Eco-Fleece outfit from Teamarcia's giveaway.  LOVE it. So comfortable.  I'd show you a picture, but its powers don't extend to making me look like brunette Barbie, so imagine me cozy and skinny.

12.  I'm finishing up my third trip through the Twilight series.  I'm not proud of this.  Neither are my children: "What are you, thirteen?"  I've held out against watching any of the movies, but my resolve is weakening.

13.  I'm running in a 7 mile trail race with some friends on Saturday (and while usually "running a race with friends" consists of riding to the race with them or seeing them before the race and then running my own pace, this actually means running with anyone slow enough to put up with my recovery pace), and then I promised Jeff that I'd spend the rest of the day working on our family Halloween costumes.  Since our party is next Friday, it's none too soon.  Our idea is the lamest one we've had yet, and I'm all about it because I think it'll be relatively easy and fairly cheap to make.


Have you read the Twilight series?  Seen the movies?

Any plans for the weekend?

What's your favorite past Halloween costume?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Private HIM in (really unflattering) pictures

As you already know if you read my stupid preliminary race report, Sunday was my friend Mike's private half ironman.  You can check out his race report here.  It, for better or worse, has a little more detail than mine.

We started off at 11 a.m., a glorious start time that coincided with the beginning of the lap swim at the YMCA.  We ran the half mile from Mike's garage/transition area to the Y.  To save time, I just wore my swimsuit under my clothes; unfortunately, it's just a 10 year old tank suit with no chest support...not ideal for a run...so I wore a sports bra over my suit for the run.  You'll have to take my word for it, but it was quite the classy look!

 Despite the fact that I only had three long swims in training, my swim went pretty well.  I felt the most comfortable yet in the water and didn't need rest between laps.  I still need to work on my turns and my breathing, but the most difficult part of the entire swim was changing into a sports bra afterwards.  I almost dislocated my shoulder trying to pull that sucker over my wet body.

Running back from the swim
Kind of funny.  That red shirt is from my first half marathon, where I met Mike for the first time.  And when I showed up at his house that morning, guess what he was wearing?

Same shirt...we're cool like that.
So, the swim, the part I was most worried about, went well and I felt pretty comfortable that I'd be able to finish this whole thing.  I got back to the house and switched out of my running shirt and into a bike jersey...

Wow, I'm moving so fast my feet are blurred....
It was a beautiful day but still a little chilly, so I covered my ears and slipped on some arm warmers.  With my bike shoes and helmet on, I was out the door.

By the time I hit the end of the driveway I remembered that my front derailleur wasn't shifting.  I handled the problem with my usual aplomb.  The bike leg was fairly flat, so I figured it wouldn't be that bad. 

Unfortunately, within 10 miles the chain was rubbing against the derailleur.  I wasn't sure exactly why or what that meant, but I figured it wasn't good...and I definitely didn't want to screw up my bike for a free race.  I considered calling Jeff to come and pick me up, but a) the Rams were playing and I knew he wouldn't be happy to make a 30ish minute round trip to come and retrieve me and b) I really wanted to finish the dang race.  "Luckily", I discovered that the chain didn't rub if I had the bike in the smaller rings in back.  So my chain was happier and my legs were not at all pleased.  I settled for calling Jeff and asking him to drop off my mountain bike during halftime.

Getting ready to add air to the mountain bike tires
So I ended up riding 26.5 miles on the road bike and 29 on the mountain bike.  Yes, it weighed twice as much as the road bike and the knobby tires aren't made for speed, but at least I could shift and not worry about screwing up my bike.  My farthest ride this year before the HIM was 33 miles, and by about mile 36 I was pretty much over the whole bike leg.  Surprisingly, my butt was fine; it was my back and knees that were hurting.  And my pride.  I knew the difference in bike was going to kill my time.  And it did.  The 29 miles on the mountain bike took me a half hour longer than the 26.5 on the road bike; even considering the time spent airing up tires and switching over water bottles, it was a big difference.

Coming past transition with 2.5 miles left to ride. 
The Rams game was over, so Jeff and J were already there playing catch.
I have to say, I was thrilled to get off the bike and not at all excited about the prospect of 12.5 more miles to run (remember, we ran one mile to get to and from the Y for the swim).  "Triathlons are stupid," I announced as I rode into the garage, "Duathlons are where it's at."

I changed socks and shoes, then threw on a different shirt and took off on my first of five 2.5 mile loops.  My knees were killing me.  12.5 miles seemed like an eternity, yet there was no way I was going to quit after suffering through that bike leg.  I ran all of the first loop (slowly), promising myself that I could walk later if I needed to.  J went with me on the second loop.  He'd brought his bike, but part of the loop was a big downhill on a road, rather than bike trail, and his bike handling skills are even worse than mine.  He also had his scooter and wanted to ride it, so I let him.  I assumed (and sort of hoped) he'd need some breaks to walk, but he kept up just fine.

Other than when he was ahead, that is.
His company really kept me going and distracted me from just how awful I felt.  He stayed back for the third loop and I headed out alone.  This was probably my best part of the run, and I had a brief shining moment imagining that I was getting stronger with each loop. 

Not so much. Number four was awful, and the short walk breaks I intended to take stretched out as I revised my return to run spots.  My only consolation was, as I passed yards with yappy dogs, the thought that I only had to pass them one more time.  I passed my friend Lindsay's house and saw her husband and son in the yard.  "This SUCKS!" I called to them.

As I came through the aid center for the last time, Jeff told me, "Have fun!"

I may or may not have given him the look of death.  "Isn't that why you do this? Because it's fun?" he asked.

"It's not fun doing it," I replied, "It's fun having done it."

That final lap seemed to take forever, but as I got to the spot where I turned off the trail, Jeff and J were waiting for me, and J ran in to the finish with me as Jeff jogged behind us.

Almost there....
Finally, we crossed into the garage and I. was. done.

A half ironman.  Kind of.
You can only imagine how happy I was to sit down and be finished.  I think this 8 hour race left me more drained than the 14 hour one the weekend before.

So I'm thinking that maybe next year I'll do a "real" Olympic distance triathlon.  All of the distances in that are well within my ability, and I think the training for that would be manageable.  And it would be interesting to see how I'd do if I had the proper training behind me.  I knew my training for this was pretty lousy, but I didn't realize how abysmal it was until I looked back at my Daily Mile posts from the time Mike posted about the triathlon until we did it (if you're curious, you can look below).  Ridiculous.  No wonder my knees waited til today to stop screaming at me.

How not to train for a half ironman:

Totals for July 25-Oct. 1 (not counting the untracked miles at Berryman):  Swim: 2.47 mi; bike: 149 mi.; run: 74.4 mi.

July 25-31: Ran 3 mi.; Biked 43 mi.

Aug. 1-7: Ran 12.5 mi.

Aug. 8-14: Ran 7.9 mi; Biked 16 mi.

Aug. 15-21: Ran 23 mi.

Aug. 22-28: Biked 21 mi.; Swam .63 mi.

Aug. 29-Sept. 4: Ran 11 mi.; Biked 18 mi. ; Swam .99 mi

Sept. 5-11: Ran 17 mi.; Biked 51 mi.

Sept. 12-18: Ran 14 mi.; Swam .85 mi.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Triathlons are stupid, and so am I

Today was my friend Mike's private half-ironman.  I did it.  I finished.  It sucked.  I knew going into it that I wouldn't do great because I was way undertrained for such a demanding event, and I knew that only grim determination would get me through.  I just forgot how much grim determination hurts.

Swimming is stupid:
  • Actually, swimming was the least stupid part of today.  Thank you for that, swimming.  1.2 miles in 51:30.  Not a screaming pace by any means, but I'm pleased with it being as it was my 4th long swim.
Cycling is stupid:
  • Riding 25 miles with only your three hardest gears in your biggest chainring is stupid.
  • Knowing your front derailleur isn't working two weeks ahead of time but forgetting to take your bike to the bike shop is stupid.
  • Riding 31 miles of a half-iron distance triathlon on a mountain bike is stupid.
  • Forgetting to lock out your shocks is stupid.
  • Forgetting to move your co2 cartridges from the road bike to the mountain bike is stupid.
  • Sometimes fortune takes pity on the stupid and you still don't get a flat tire. Thank you, fortune.
  • Spending 17 miles cursing triathlons and making up song lyrics about how much you hate triathlons is probably stupid but also a helpful diversion.
Running is stupid:
  • Sore knees are stupid.
  • Blisters are stupid.
  • Stupid blister-giving Nikes are stupid.
  • Wearing shoes you know give you blisters is stupid.
  • Taking walk breaks isn't stupid, but constantly revising the start line to begin running again is stupid.
  • Ruining your happy feelings (only 5 miles left!) by doing the math and realizing that means another 50 minutes of running is stupid.
  • Math is stupid.
  • Using up my quota of the f word for the remainder of 2011 is stupid, but therapeutic.
  • 2.5 mile circles of hell...I mean rings of death...I mean, laps are stupid.
General stupidity:
  • Not doing more training is stupid.
  • Choosing a half-ironman, even a private one, for your first ever triathlon is stupid.
  • Pride is stupid, and that's why I'm going to post pictures from the race when I get them, even though my face looked better in the middle of childbirth.
  • Pride is stupid (part II), and that's why I'll admit that the 70.7 miles today (we ran an extra .4) took me 7:56:15.
  • Calling off work tomorrow because I can't walk is stupid. 
  • Writing this race report before sub plans is stupid.
  • Doing a full ironman would be REALLY stupid (for me...the rest of you, go for it).
Assorted non-stupids:
  • Having a friend who's cool enough to put on something like this (including t-shirts and an amazing dinner afterwards)
  • Two awesome volunteers who had the "privilege" of listening to me whine every time I came through the transition area/aid station/garage (and still cheered for me anyway).
  • My husband being there for the entire run portion.
  • My 17-year old son coming to the Y and keeping track of my laps for me.
  • Chamois Butt'r
  • My 7-year old running the second 2.5 mile lap with me was an awesome diversion.
  • Dinner afterwards.  I know I mentioned it already, but seriously.  It was fabulous.
  • My brother Jim swimming 1.2 miles and riding 56 up in Wisconsin in solidarity with me.
  • And, of course, finishing the distance.  It's a pretty cool thing to have accomplished, even if I never, ever want to do it again.
And a funny story from the run:

Like I said, J kept me company on one of the laps.  I ran (death slogged...you say potato, I say po-tah-to) while he rode his scooter.  I truly hoped thought he'd need to walk parts, but he kept up great.  Here's how the conversation went:

J: This is some good mother-son time.
Me: Mmm hmmm
J: Are you doing OK?
Me: No.
J: Do you want to walk?  We can walk.
Me: No.  I mean, my body wants to walk, but my brain wants to keep running.
J: Well, my body wants to go fast, but my brain wants to stay here with you.
Me: Aww, that's really swee--
J: [takes off] I'm going to listen to my body for a little while.