Posts Tagged With: competition

Final Countdown

Well. Not final. To be fair, I might write again before all this is over. I just realized it’s been a few days since my last confession. So, here it it: 12 days to go. 33 miles to run. 2.75 miles a day if I wanted to run every single day. And I want to. But, I have obligations. For starters, I have a date with a certain New England football team on 12/24 in Foxborough. Could you see it? Excuse me, Mr. Brady, but I need to run around your football field 4+ times. Can you delay the game if I get a quad cramp? Um. No.
So, here is the plan:
12/21 6.5 miles
12/22 2.5 miles
12/23 6 miles
12/25 5? I’ll be at my sister-in-law’s for an all day brunch. Think they’ll miss me for an hour or so?
12/26 3
12/27 5
12/28 3
12/29 2

I am still (still!) telling myself I can’t do this. I am still waiting for the epic fail. My legs have been holding up and. And! And, I registered for St. Pat’s! So, there’s that. The game plan after 2016 is this: rest for a solid two weeks. In that time, develop a new yoga & strength training routine. Gradually add the run back into the mix. Sometime in late January-early February start training for Holyoke’s notorious hills. This year I have Millz by my side (aka speedy because he finished the Safe Passage 5k in 16 minutes. Yikes!). He’s never run longer than 3.1 miles and I don’t know his hill strategy, but I do know he’s fast!

Anyway. That’s that.

Categories: Confessional, Hilltop, Holidays, life, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitching

So. The last thing I said was I wanted to finish the 1000k challenge. My plantar fasciitis is barely a blip but now, now I have a new concern (insert eye roll here). The situation is this: I am running just fine. Last week I logged 22 miles (including a nine miler on Sunday at Ashley which was breathtaking) and DURING each run I was fine. The problem comes when I stop. No. That’s not entirely true. I am a little more achy than usual, but that’s not it. To be more accurate, the problem really starts when I lay down to go to sleep. All of a sudden my legs begin to twitch and tingle. It’s like restless leg syndrome on steroids. Like being electrocuted with teeny, weeny, tiny tasers. My hips catch on fire and I can’t get comfortable enough to save my sleep. My worst fear is that I have a pinched nerve and yet I can’t bring myself to see a doctor. I’m sure I’ll be told I’ve been over training and blah blah blah. Cue the Peanuts teacher voice…

Everything in my being is telling me & myself to stop running for a little while. We aren’t training for anything specific. I don’t have another race until March so why run so much? Why this silly 1000k challenge? I’ll tell you why. I’m in the top 10% out of 331,000 participants. I am 130 miles away from my goal. That’s a measly 2.8 miles a day. What has come over me? Why this competitive bullcrap? Normally I wouldn’t give a damn about being in the top anything percent so I have no idea why this matters.

A line from one of my favorite movies, “I’m standing on the platform at Limbo Central…”Or wait. Maybe I’m the one in Indecision City?

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Nature Calling? Don’t Answer!

I wish I could say I know me and myself better. If I had a better understand of what makes us tick I think I’d be a happier moi. Right? Just saying. It’s the morning of the Toronto half and my hotel bathroom has seen me at least three times. Nerves and that last water I shouldn’t have downed at 9pm. In the parking lot of the race everyone is gathering and gossiping. We all stop to gawk at the elites blazing by and then resume our chatter. I don’t think I need to but I tell Kisa I want to find a restroom. Preferably one indoors and not resembling an upright plastic coffin. I find a four-staller and wait nearly a half an hour. By then the inkling was a reality and I’m glad I waited. During that time, I’ll be honest, I devised a finishing time. In 2006 I finished in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Back then my motto was, I Just Want To Finish. This time, despite it being nine years later I wanted to shave seven minutes off my time. An even 2:30 and I that’s what I announced to Kisa. I was done with saying, “I just want to finish.” I wanted a PR and 2:30 would do it. I told Kisa to start looking for me at 11am.

Fast forward 120 minutes later and the subtle idea I need to pee (again) creeps into my head. At first it’s just a vague idea, but then the suggestion of hydration makes me think maybe pee? Guys zipping off into bushes make me really question pee?! Finally, fountains gurgling make me know definitely pee! I’m not desperate but I know I’ll take the next opportunity, no matter where it is. Up ahead. Mile ten. I spot a row of four pit stops with four people waiting. I’d be 5th. Quickly calculating one runner per potty, I should be stalled waiting for & using a stall for no more than 3-4 minutes tops. Just to sure, I start my stopwatch because I’m curious. Two minutes. Four minutes. Five minutes. All of a sudden I notice two of the porta-potties haven’t opened. No one has come or gone. The doors remain firmly locked. Humanity takes the place of the runner in me and I wonder aloud if the people inside are okay. I’m picturing them passed out (or worse) in compromised positions, a la Elvis style. Not good. I’m ready to call for backup when luckily, I’m brought back to reality when a girl emerges from one of the middle stalls and snorts loudly in disgust, “YOU do NOT want to GO in THERE. Someone literally lost their sh!t…from both ends. It’s Dis-Gus-Ting.” While she wipes her feet on the grass the rest of us look away groaning and grousing and suddenly I’m back in the race. To hell with the dead runners. Four bathrooms has just shrunk to one but I’m too timid to jump the line and suck it up in the sh!thouse. Now seven minutes have gone by. I’m second in line. Luckily, the guy in front of me announces with gusto, “I’m not proud!” and into the muck of whatever he disappears. A minute later I’m in my (much cleaner) plastic coffin and peeing with gusto. I emerge feeling 10lbs lighter. Yet, I’ve lost ten whole minutes. Pisser.

I’ve been told to ignore the siren call of nature. It’s all in my head. And yet. Yet, if I hadn’t stopped for ten minutes I wouldn’t have gotten angry enough to push myself up to an eight-minute-mile pace for the last three miles. I was only three miles away from the finish line and I wanted needed to catch the 2:30 pace rabbit…at the very least. I promised Kisa but more importantly I promised myself. Here’s the thing: Thanks to my pee break I flew like the wind, passed the race rabbit and finished six minutes ahead of the pronouncement I made to Kisa. 2:24.

I can’t help but wonder – what would have happened if I never stopped for the bathroom? Would I have come in at 2:30 believing keeping up with the race rabbit was the fastest I could go? Maybe I wouldn’t have tested myself. Maybe I would have played it so safe it was downright stupid? I don’t know. Maybe the next time nature calls I just won’t answer.

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Mixed Up Moi

So. The St. Patrick’s Day 10k road race has come and gone. I have mixed feelings about the day. I’m not talking about just the race. I mean I’ll get to that in a minute. I’m talking about the whole day from start to finish. I am of three minds when it comes to this 10k. Fear. Fun. Frustration. Fear – for starters, I woke to snow coming down in huge glittery flakes. That in and of itself was enough to get me jittery. I have always been afraid of injury this time of year. It will do me no good to turn an ankle just before Just Cause. As I watched the roadways become blanketed in white I wondered if I really should be running at all. But, this is the year of courage. Or, at least that’s what I told myself. Can’t back out now.

Fun –  the whole race was fun. 7,000 people all vying for road space. Sidewalks still snow drifted. Yet, this was my strongest race by far. I powered up every hill with a smile on my face and even a laugh once or twice. I ran through puddles while others tried to dance around them. I just didn’t care. On every incline I looked around for exhaustion but never found it. The whole six felt comfortable and even, dare I say? simple. I found myself goofing off – high-fiving and fist-pumping little kids and adults a like. I didn’t take anything seriously. Even the downhill sprint – I sort of lollygagged my way down, not really paying attention to anything except the clear blue skies and the throng of people trying to hand the runners beer. The first year I ran this 10k I just wanted to finish. Accomplished. The second year I wanted to conquer the hills and not feel cowed by them. Accomplished. This year I wanted to beat my time…but somehow I forgot that along the way.

Frustration – when the finish line was in sight I had two simultaneous thoughts. One, I could run another 10k right now because I felt that good. Second thought – Oh yeah! This is the year I wanted to beat my time! Too late I turned on the jets. There was so much more in the tank that sprinting the last 1000 yards was a breeze. Only. It wasn’t enough. I beat my time by thirteen small seconds. That’s it.

I’m mixed up. Normally I don’t compete with me or myself. At one point numbers were just numbers and times really didn’t matter. Not yours. Not mine. I simply didn’t care until suddenly this year me, myself and moi – we care. I’m confused because I’m mad at myself for making a mockery of the run. I ran so easily that surely I could have run harder for longer. The hills proved that. I could conquer every incline without losing pace. I felt strong the whole way. This lack of focus has bothered me enough that it actually has taken over my sleep. I had a dream that I was able to watch myself run. How stupid is that? A coach pointed out every time I slowed to high five a little kid. “See that?” he would accuse. “You lost three seconds right there!”

I’m not going to worry about it. I’ll take it for what it was supposed to be: a training run for the Toronto half. I haven’t registered but it’s time I put St. Patrick out of my head and started thinking Maple.

ps~ I can’t even post pics from RaceWire. They sent me a group of what they thought were pictures of me at the finish. Yes, I’m in the photos but all you see is a hand, a tip of a shoe, a suggestion of what might be bib #7238. The good news is Kisa got a blip of video when I ran by him at the start 🙂

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The Antelope and the Elephant

Everything about the Run Like an Antelope 5k was driven by Kisa. He’s the one who discovered it, learned more about it, and was so moved by it, decided to sign up for it. He read the story out loud and finished with, “I want to run it.” My reaction was cautious although I know it sounded skeptic. “Um. Okay.” It’s not that I was wary of Kisa’s motives or that I questioned what moved him. I got it. I got him. I could see he was 100% committed. My issue wasn’t with him. It was with the timing of the whole thing. Less than two months to train with tons of travel in between then and the race. Not to mention we were already on the road when he found out about it. We couldn’t even start training then and there. By my calculations we would have barely five short weeks in order to go from zero miles to 3.1.

As predicted we barely trained between 80204 and 04852. Half a dozen good runs and a bunch of physical therapy sessions then our training was put on ice while we traveled once again. If asked, Kisa would tell you that while on vacation we hiked a lot. We did. Plus, our rental cottage palace was at the top of a steep hill. In order to come home from anywhere we had this monstrous hill to battle our way up. While it was great for the quads I still wasn’t sure we would be in the right frame of physical come race day.

Race day. As the rain threatened and sometimes advanced and we stood around getting colder and colder I asked myself more than a few times why I wasn’t home on the couch with a good cup of coffee and an even better book. Just by looking at Kisa’s eager face I was reminded of the importance of the day and the negative thoughts were soon forgotten when we started to run and more and more runners passed us. I forgot about wanting to be home with caffeine and Coleridge. I found myself gritting a competitive spirit between my teeth and tamping down on the urge to surge ahead. A man running in jeans infuriated my sense of ability; ignoring him was next to impossible, but I was determined to stay by Kisa’s side. Stride for stride I would not leave him. Mile by mile we alternated running and walking (more of the former than the latter) and I couldn’t help being impressed by how little we slowed to a walk.

Kisa had said all along that he goal was to just finish. He didn’t expect to run the whole thing. His ambition was firmly grounded in reality. What I didn’t anticipate was his own competitiveness emerging after I had finally swallowed mine. By mile three a girl in purple passed us slowly. Kisa admitted under his breath he had been keeping pace with her the entire time. Now he wanted to beat her. With one tenth of a mile to go he was determined to sprint it out. Really? I eyed a steep incline but Kisa was already surging ahead. Really. We glided by Miss Purple then Miss Sporty Headband and Mr. ShuffleLot as well. Kisa grinned. He had wanted to beat them, too. Who knew?

In the end our time didn’t matter to anyone but ourselves. We weren’t awarded medals, not even an honorable mention. But, we had a great time. We’ll be back next year. And, in a strange twist of fate, remember that coffee I had been dreaming about before the race? At the after party we won a new coffee maker and four boxes of k-cups. I got my coffee after all.
[I’m saving the old coffee maker for my good friend Belise. Maybe her next paramour can use it. ;)]

Categories: Charity, Confessional, life, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sisters

This was then – November 23, 2005 –
This started out as the run from hell. It all started with my sister telling me she only runs for 30 minutes. (At the time she told me this I remember thinking, “oh good. I’m way past running for just 30 minutes and felt relieved.) If I remember correctly she said she’s up to 3.5 – 4miles at a time. The last time I ran I covered four miles in 50 minutes. That means she is definitely going to smoke my azz when we run together this weekend. Not good. Not good at all. So, I decided to step it up, just to see if I could even do it.
I started this run at dusk. Great for losing the Everybody Is Looking At Me attitude. Not so great for maneuvering around pushed up sidewalks and overzealous roots. I also started this run with a new-fangled toy my husband bought me – one of those fancy armband music things. (Don’t I sound 80 years old? I don’t know what an mp3 player is!) It’s this armband thingy that has me thinking this was going to be the worst run of my life. First, my arm is too skinny. The Velcro strap wouldn’t cinch tight enough to keep it high up on my arm. (Looking back I remember how silly Kisa and I got trying to make the strap tight enough to fit my arm. We were reduced to giggles by the time I hit the road.) Five minutes into my run and the whole thing had slid down to the crook of my elbow. If I didn’t keep my arm bent the entire time the whole thing would have gone flying off, for sure. Second, if you aren’t fast enough with the buttons (say, starting the stopwatch thingy) you have to start all over again. Then, I couldn’t figure out how to play the next song. I ran through three Sparks before I realized the song was looping. Because I couldn’t stop in mid-run to figure it out I blindly pushed buttons until I got the song to advance. It reminded me of when my sister and I were kids and we had to hurry to get our chores done. We would pretend we had a “faster” program built into our arms and by pushing these “buttons” we could work faster (A la bionic man?) Silly. Third complaint. These earbud things! I couldn’t get them to stay in my ears to save my life! Ugh! It was the most distracted run ever!
So. I had all these complaints about my new toy. I was convinced I would throw the thing at my husband’s head when I got home. I was absolutely convinced I would go back to the days of holding a giant disc-man in my hand as I ran. But, along the way something amazing happened. As long as I remember to advance to the next song I didn’t have to worry about a cd ending. I could just run and run and run. I flew along the darkening streets. I concentrated on the smells in the air – someone drying laundry, someone grilling hamburgers, someone else’s wood stove, a car in need of an oil change, stupid stuff (?!). My legs were tireless and my heart soared. THIS was the way to run. It felt so good to just go! Who cares that I couldn’t keep my new toy on my arm? Who cares that my earbuds wouldn’t stay tight? Who cares that I had to reach over to push next every time a song ended? I was running life the wind. It was the best run of my life.

Here and now – I love this post because it is a litany of firsts – first time wearing an mp3 player. Yes, I really did hold a Sony discman in my left hand when I first started running. It was my first time wearing earbuds as apposed to honking huge headphones. But, even that has magic to it. There I was, holding a discman, wearing 70s style headphones, running like a hippo and I did not care. I’ll say it again. I. Did. Not. Care. This was also the first time I went running at dusk and discovered I really love the gloaming. The one thing that makes me sad about this post is that I never fess up to exactly how long I ran.

Categories: Confessional, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For BecE

Written September 16th, 2008.

Everyone around me is making me ill and it’s my own damn fault. I’m surrounded by running, running, running. Everywhere I look someone is bragging posting their stats. “I ran this far…” “I ran this fast…” “I ran this race…” I ran. I say it’s my fault because I chose to surround myself with these people. I thought I would appreciate the motivation. I thought I would be encouraged by their determinations. I read the blogs of runners of all levels. Many of these people I have never met. Nor do I want to. They are making me sick. Some are training to run their very first 5K. Some are in the marathon phase of their lives. Some are running beyond marathons and getting into ultra marathons. Nevertheless, they are all running something somewhere for something.

I sound bitter. I know it and I hate it. I am bitter and pissed. One of my best friends is running a marathon this January. I’m happy for her, yet I can’t help but feel a little lot jealous as well. Another friend isn’t training for anything at all, yet she runs every single day at least three miles. For the hell of it. I should be impressed, yet I can’t help but feel a little envious as well. These people, these friends – I must stress that – these friends are doing what i said I wanted to do.

So, if that’s true… If I really am jealous and really am envious and I really truly want to run, why aren’t I doing it? Why am I not on the street in the early morning light banging out a few miles? Why not me? Injury led to pain, pain led to fear, fear led to let down. Other than that, I haven’t got a clue. I don’t know why I don’t run.

I do know that the day before yesterday I got on the treadmill for exactly 30 minutes and was able to put in a 2.77 mile run. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to sneeze at, either. At least I did it. Can I get to marathon level? I don’t think so. Will I start running every single day? I seriously doubt it. Am I okay with that? No. Not right now. Did I mention I’m bitter and I’m angry? Will I ever be okay with not running something substantial? Hopefully. In the meantime I will have to put up (and shut the fukc up) with all this running from everyone around me.

Categories: Confessional, life, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Sleeping with the Enemy

“I think I will go for a run.”

He stands over me with a small smirk on his face. He knows I won’t stand for competition over the cage. I’ve come to think of it as my gerbil cage. And why shouldn’t I? I’ve spent many a lonely night running and walking nowhere on that thing. Mine. All mine. I’ve logged more stats. I’ve spent more time. Surely there are squatters rights for this kind of thing? Isn’t there some logical rule…something about possession being nine-tenths of the law?

“Let’s go outside” I retort with a wink. I was fully prepared for the litany of excuses. I’ve heard them all: I’m not ready for the road. I’ll run slower with hills. It looks like rain and it feels like rain. And when I hear this I will have no sympathy – yeah, so? Except. Except the excuses don’t come. What I hear instead is “Sure! Lemme check the doppler radar to see where this storm is going.” We could see dark storm clouds rolling across the sky. So, we wait for the sun and 20 minutes later we are headed out the front door…to run outside.

Because I have been running around the neighborhood for a year I have a better lay of the land than kisa does. Strangely enough I have none of the territorial angst with outside as I do with the cage. In my mind I am able to conjure up decent, easy walk/run routes that would avoid running up hills or walking while crossing streets. Walk to Yelle, run to Crazy, walk to Old Dale, run to Rolf, walk to bank, Run to light – Reverse on return. Running on the downhills.

So. The run. We started out easy enough. Because of the narrowness of the sidewalk I paced ahead but just enough to still hear him, talk back to him. As we ran we talked. I asked body questions, urging him to scan his ankles, knees, hips, heart. Listen to them, answer them. Make a conversation part of each and every run. Especially since his knees are wounded veterans with long scars as evidence.

In the end he admitted being outside wasn’t that bad. In the end I admitted having a running partner after all this time isn’t going to be so bad.

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By My Side

My husband asked me if I had written about our run. No. No, I had not. It wasn’t that I thought the event was  insignificant, unworthy of words. That wasn’t it. I think, and this is going to sound strange, I needed to process my feelings about the whole situation. Situation? That makes it sound worse than unworthy. This, my friends, is called quicksand; the muck and mire or not being able to explain myself properly. Sinking slowly into sounding stupid.

What I meant (and what I think I have always meant) is that my husband together with even the word ‘running’ is something I am finding a little hard to accept. This is an about-face attitude coming from him. After the 21.24K he was less than enthusiastic about me returning to the run in any capacity. Okay, he was dead set against it. He would have preferred I pick up needlepoint. Origami. French poodle grooming. Anything but running and ruining the knees. And, now here he is, sharing my treadmill, logging his own mileage and this latest thing, running with me. It’s all so strange and at times I think I should pinch myself to make sure I’m not in la-la land.

Running with Kisa is something I always dreamed of doing. It makes my run safer. Having him there gives me more places to go, too. It adds diversity to an otherwise been-there, done-that routine. His stride is bigger so he pushes me to go faster. For now, I have endurance on my side. I can go for longer. (ooooh, that sounded bad). But, eventually Kisa will catch up. Soon he will be matching me minute for minute, mile for mile. And you know what? I can’t wait. Bring it on, big man!

Categories: Confessional, life, running | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Call of the Crazies

The crazies. They want me to run with them. They have the same name and the same desire to run and for me to run with them. They are obsessed in very different ways, but the run is always there for both of them. One of them is driven, competitive, getting faster and faster, obsessed with time and performance. The other is a goofy runner – talks on her phone, films her footsteps, runs so that she can have another slice of chocolate cake. But, (and this is a big But) they both can run for miles and miles and miles. Me, I haven’t cracked three in months.

Yesterday I ran 2.89. So close to three. So, why didn’t I keep going? One tenth of a mile and I would have been there. Why did I stop? It irks me that I’ve been concentrating on speed and strength all this time. My first run was 2.5 miles in 30 minutes and since then I’ve been adding distance to the same amount of time. I can safely say in another run or two I will have regained my old pace, my old comfort zone. Every time I have run I have been careful to listen to every part of my body. From the hips on down I haven’t heard a single complaint. Feet aren’t pinched, ankles remain strong, knee is silent, hips are complacent. Everyone is enduring. It’s encouraging. In another week I hope to add another 10-15 minutes to the endurance. Can I maintain pace? I certainly hope so. That’s the goal anyway. I would like to run 3-4 times a week for a total of 15 miles a week.

In the meantime here are my challenges – I haven’t run outside yet. At all. Not one step in the concrete jungle. I barely like walking around here. How will I adjust to a run? So, mission #1 is to get outside. Mission #2 is a given – hills. In the entire time I have been running inside I haven’t played with incline at all. I’ve just been concentrating on speed, getting my lungs to be okay with intake.

The crazies will be here in eight days. I have heard their call. Both have said “run with me.” Who knows? Maybe by the time they get here I will not only answer their call, but rise to the challenge with confidence.

Categories: Confessional, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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