Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chasing down a goal

Have I mentioned that I am not a fast runner?  I will never set records.  I will never win races.  I will never even place my age group (unless I happen to be the only runner in my age group). I will never run farther than everyone else or do anything else extraordinary when it comes to athletic endeavors (or likely any other endeavors either, for that matter).  I'm okay with this fact.  Yes, I'm mediocre and I don't have a problem with it.

That said, I have been trying to beat my person best in the half marathon since May 2008 when that personal best was established.  I came close a couple of years ago, when I came within 25 seconds of that time.  But, with 2-3 half marathon races under my belt most years since 2008 I have not been able to improve upon my time.  That is . . . until two weeks ago in Madison, WI.  I had tried a new training program and was running faster overall and feeling pretty good.  I was ready, although that's usually the case as I'm pretty obsessive about training "according to the plan".  Race day arrived and the weather was about perfect, low 50s, cloudy and little wind.  I had eaten my post-race meal of pizza the night before with exactly 2 beers spread out over a few hours.  And somehow, after 5 years of trying to better my best by doing all of the same things each time I signed up for a race, this time I was able to cross  the finish line with a new best to beat!  Almost 30 seconds better, and feeling good (despite the unexpected "OH CRAP!" short, very steep hill at mile 10.5 and the non-stop gradual uphill over the last mile).

I still have 3:40 to knock off my time to hit my ultimate goal.  Whether I can do that in Madison is yet to be determined, but this is a race I want to return to, and Madison is a city I will visit again!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Goofy's Challenge!

Goofy's . . . ahh, Goofy's.  What an interesting experience.  Seriously, this was the hardest thing I've ever done.  When I first contemplated running this race, I half-joking told my husband we should go do it for my 40th (which was last summer).  I was pretty sure he'd tell me I was crazy.  Instead, he said "Let's go!"  In case you don't know, Goofy's is a bit of a crazy race in which you run the 1/2 marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday.  Both races start at an ungodly hour and require you to board a bus to get to the start line even earlier.  Our alarm went off at 2:30am, yes AM!, not one but two days in a row while on vacation at Disney World.  Who thought this was a good idea, again?

So anyway, 7 months before the race we signed up and made our arrangements for a family trip to Disney World.  Six month before the race we started training.  And training we did.  We trained through the summer.  We trained at camp (in the middle of nowhere, each alone) through the fall.  We trained during rain, rain/snow/sleet mix, blizzards, snow, cold and wind.  We convinced babysitters to show up at 8am on a Saturday so we could do you second day of long runs (the really long one) together instead of running 20+ miles alone every third weekend.

And suddenly we were getting on a plane with the kids to go to Orlando and it was race weekend.  Both races, quite honestly, were huge, a bit overwhelming, spirited, full of interesting people, packed with entertainment, characters, bands, music and sights.  We did, after all, run through all of the parks.  The only difficulty was that on the marathon day (day 2) it became quite warm before we finished and we had to do a run/walk for the last few miles of the race.  But really other than the unpredictable weather (which honestly was okay since it made for a fantastic trip otherwise), it was everything I could have asked for.  It was incredibly challenging, incredibly inspiring and a reminder of just how tough I really am.  I still will never win any races or qualify for Boston or meet any of those other "tough"-runner benchmarks, but I will always remember the 30 hour period in which I willed (after much training) my body to run 39.3 miles simply because I thought it sounded like fun.

I recently learned that Disney is now offering the Dopey challenge.  The 5k Thursday, 10k Friday, 1/2 Saturday and full Sunday.  Is this in my future?  Who knows, but it's pretty close to 50 miles and I have 10 years before I reach that decade milestone.  That gives me lots of time to think about it I suppose . . .

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Winter Blues

So I realized on my run this morning that I never posted an update from Goofy's Challenge.  It's been 6 weeks since the race and yet I haven't managed to make one single blog post about it.

In short, it was amazing and the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  In fact, it was so amazing that we are headed (sans kids) to Disneyland in Anaheim Labor Day weekend to run a 10k/half combo.  I will write about Goofy's soon, I promise, but for today I have other thoughts on my mind.

After Goofy's Challenge, I came home thinking I would do some skiing and keep running and just take it easy for awhile.  Well, the skiing was terrible--iffy weather and pitiful grooming by the DNR, it was cold, snowy, really cold, slippery, blah, blah, blah and somehow I found myself having a hard time finding the ambition to get out the door.  I started weight training, some short treadmill runs (UGH!) and riding my spinner once a week, but managed to find one excuse after another to not go outside and run.   I tried to motivate myself by briefly considering running a marathon two weeks before my scheduled half marathon in May.  I even went so far as to print out a training schedule and sort of follow it for about a week before deciding that I just didn't feel like running a marathon this spring and throwing the training schedule away.

And then I convinced myself, with the help of my encouraging husband and a good friend (who said she'd do it with me), to do a sprint triathlon this summer.  For the record, I am NOT a swimmer.  The last time I did anything that resembled "swimming" was 9th grade gym class when I was required to spend a semester in the pool.  I was never a strong swimmer, even in my younger days and quite frankly have always been a little scared of being underwater.  So when I decided to do this, I also decided I had to put myself out there and make it happen.  For 3 weeks after "declaring" my goal, I put off getting a swim suit, etc.  (again the excuses!), but then once day my husband agreed to pick one up for me.  Well, I'm proud to admit that I've made it to the pool two weeks in a row, and while it's not pretty I haven't drowned and I continue to have courage to go back and improve.  I also have the found my running mojo again, which makes me so very happy!  Hmm . . . maybe I need to reconsider that marathon mid-May . . .

Monday, January 7, 2013

28 weeks

I am officially in week 28 of the Goofy's Challenge training program!  28 weeks!  Where in the world did all that time go?!  But seriously, I can't believe the first leg of the race is only 5 days away and 6 days from now we'll be celebrating.  I'm nervous, but I know I can do this.  I have trained faithfully and am feeling good.  My injury has healed and I am ready.

I have to admit that somehow all those interesting (at least to me) random thoughts I usually have while running have magically disappeared as the runs have gotten longer and harder.  In all honesty, it's hard to think about much of anything when you're running 12 miles in a blizzard at 4am and know you have 24 miles to run the next day.  Somehow all of those observations on life, nature and everything around you are lost in the never-ending shuffle just to complete your run that day.  I had forgotten (so quickly) what it is like to run in the winter.  I had forgotten how the brain's ability to dump everything out in that soothing way gets caught up in the ever-present thoughts of "don't fall on the ice", "where's the safest place to step", "umm . . . that car isn't giving me much room so think, think, think how can I get out of his way", "please don't snowblow your snow on me" and "wow, my ears (hands/face/feet) are really cold today!".

Certainly not the same effect as running on that beautiful spring, summer or fall day and letting your mind drift.  But, then I remembered that I don't run in the winter to gain speed or find the tranquility.  I run in the winter to maintain fitness so that I can get out and enjoy those beautiful spring, summer and fall days.  And honestly, the change of pace (on so many levels) is quite okay.