31 Reasons

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The race is not to the swift, but to those who keep on running…

In 2 days time, Tina and I will embarking on a cancer fighting odyssey across the state of Massachusetts- The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. I simply can’t wait. It’s my favorite weekend of the year. Always has been. A beautiful, selfless weekend. That’s the best kind of weekend if you ask me.

Tonight, as has become a 10 year tradition, I made ribbons, together with my Mom, honoring those who have lived strong and those who, in the face of cancer, continue to do so every day. They will ride with me this weekend. I will carry them on my back. Each mile, every pedal stroke we’ll ride as one.

Each year my list grows.
And grows.
As the ages get younger.
And younger.

My heart just breaks.
Into 31 pieces.

This is why I ride.

Xoxo,
Colby

Salted Watermelon WHAT?

Me, rehearsing my order: “I’ll have one delicious, creamy, luscious, yummy ice cream cone, please.”

{Glances at the longest and slowest moving line in the history of lines.}

Me, suddenly hysterical: “I DON’T HAVE 3 HOURS! WHY!?! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!?!?!?”

{Throws tired sweaty self into a bale of hay and wails.}

And my efforts to obtain a delectable ice cream cone at the half way point of My Last Long Pan Massachusetts Challenge training ride the other day? THWARTED. Unless I wanted to pitch a tent, lean my bike against a cow, and hunker down for the ‘scream in 2 days time, I had to get my mid-ride fuel from another source. Like my sweaty jersey pocket. Instead of the beautiful, sunflower filled farm that makes their own ice cream. Gah. Such is life.

Enter this weird little beauty.

Salted Watermelon Gu

Meet Salted Watermelon Gu. Hello, Gorgeous!

Unbeknownst to me, a bunch of runners voted in a GUMOCRACY campaign to select a new GU flavor. I don’t even know what that means. But it sounds fantastic! Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and GU Energy Labs paired up and announced the first “Official GU Flavor of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon” back in March. Uh. Where the hell was I?! I don’t know how I missed the memo because I woulda been ALL OVER THIS FLAVOR. Thank goodness I found it!

GU developed three new flavors for the campaign – Salted Watermelon, Apple Cinnamon and Caramel Macchiato.  THEY’RE HOLDING OUT ON US!  Salted Watermelon GU Energy Gel was crowned the winner. I discovered the Salted Watermelon GU last Friday at my local bike shop and snatched it up. I’ll be honest. They had me at “watermelon” and “salted.”  Just like they already have me at “caramel” and “salted.” They also would have me with “Caramel Macchiato.” Sensing a trend here? I’m planning on petitioning both GU Energy Labs and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series for a hit of the stuff. It’s gotta be somewhere, right?

And GU Salted Watermelon taste?

Think Watermelon Jolly Rancher with a Dash of Salt.  And seriously. What CAN’T a salty watermelon Jolly Rancher do?!? It was a party in my cracked, dry mouth. (And didn’t pull out my fillings! Watermelon GU, 1. Watermelon Jolly Rancher, -2.) Superb! It did the trick!

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Honestly? It could have tasted like one of those bullshit melted Fla-Vor-Ice Pops which I despised as a child, and I still would have been good with it.  I was fading. And in need of a quick fix. GU does the trick for me on long runs and long rides. There is a definite time and place for energy gels and chews. In the absence of my beloved, 72 mile awaited cone?  It was both the time and place.

And it didn’t disappoint.

Speaking of endurance events and fueling, check out this interesting infographic from the folks at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. They reached out to us with it.  Neat, huh? They however did NOT reach out to us with the Watermelon Salted GU Energy Gels. Nor did GU Energy Labs. I wish they had. I would have been mainlining the stuff as soon as it fell into my greedy glycogen depleted paws.

What’s your go to endurance fuel? Have you ever run a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Event?  Flav-Or-Ice: Yeay or Nay?

How Long is a Marathon?

 

And That’s a Wrap!

Who just rode her last two long rides and wrapped up training for her 10th Pan Massachusetts Challenge?

{Cue Running Man}

THIS GIRL!!!

emmawatson

Welp. Nothin’ left to do but pack, obsess about my bike and GET EXCITED for the Pan Massachusetts Challenge!  I can’t believe this is my 10th year riding. I really can’t. I’m getting that PMC-All-Choked-Up feeling every time I think about it. Come this time next week, I’ll be planted firmly on Tina’s Cape Cod Rental House’s Couch, drinking copious amounts of beer and re-capping our 200 mile ride across the great state of Massachusetts all in the name of Kicking Cancer’s Ass! It’s an EPIC experience. One I can’t imagine living without.

I “Officially” wrapped up my training this weekend, a Tour de Sunflower, if you will, with my Zippy Other Half. I told him I wanted to do a long ride this weekend, my last before the PMC. And of course, off we went. He’s good like that. There is nothing better than doing something you love, with someone you love. A perfect, long ride with My Guy. A meandering 73 mile jaunt that took us to Buttonwood Farm which is currently teaming with sunflowers. Oh and I mean TEAMING. Happy, inviting, smiling sunflowers grown for the Make a Wish Foundation of Connecticut. It’s freaking beautiful.

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It was quite the hilly ride. And 73 miles ain’t short. But seeing as how I’m Little Miss Hill Climber lately, it wasn’t all that bad. Tough. But not impossible. Today’s ride was a Race Against the Storm which rounded off two fantastic rides. Just the two of us. Two Peas. My Other Half is so supportive. He’s so great riding with me. Always looking back. Always looking out. Always smiling. He’s been part of my PMC journey for years now. He knows exactly how important the PMC is to me. And I love that about him. It’s nice to ride along with someone by your side. I am lucky.

My Last Long ride is an emotional one for me. It always has been. It’s less about the training and more about why I’m training. I can’t help think about why I am riding. And for whom I am riding for. I can’t help but remember those who have lost their fight with cancer. Each year the list gets longer and longer. My heart just breaks. The ribbons I wear in honor of those who have been impacted by this insidious disease will gently flap behind me. Like wings. Generating lift. Propelling beyond cancer. Towards hope.

And that’s exactly how I see it.

To donate to Colby’s Ride: http://www2.pmc.org/profile/NB0049

To donate to Tina’s Ride:  http://www2.pmc.org/profile/TC0204

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Those Old Grey Mares Just Ain’t What They Used to Be

I think Road Runner ran in the June 28 race in my town. In the women's 40-50 Division.

I think Road Runner ran in the June 28 race in my town. In the women’s 40-50 Division.

 

I think they’re better.

I ran a small, local race on June 28 before heading into the Big Apple with Colby. (No, I was not hungover for this one – that was during our epic jaunt through Central Park on June 29.) I was a little tuckered for this one, from finally getting in a training ride early that morning for the Pan Mass Challenge. Got back from my ride, friend texted me to see if I would run the race and I was off, with echoes of my mother, circa 1986, saying “And if she asked you to jump off a bridge, would you do that too?” swirling around in my head.

Possibly, Mom, possibly. Especially if there was a finish line at the end.

The race was 2.2 miles and one of a summer series hosted in my town where the races get longer each week, ending with a 10 miler on Labor Day. Very low key. $5 per race. No name – this was the June 28 2.2 mile race. No bibs or chips. When you finish, you get a popsicle stick with your place on it and head over to a table where they write down – with a pencil and paper – your place and all your information. Someone calls out the times as people pass the finish clock and they match your place number with the time called. About as Old School, Low Key as a race can get in 2014.

Apparently, in my town, Low Key Does Not Equal Not Competitive.

Sweet Jesus.

I ran reasonably fast (7.27 pace) and came in 82nd. Yes, I bolted across the finish line and was handed a popsicle stick with the number “82” on it. Placed 82nd out of 216 runners.

Holy Shit, these people are fast. (By way of comparison, if I ran that pace for the Diva Long Island 5K last year, I would have placed 6th out of 1200).

And you know which ones are superfly fast?

Women in the 40-50 age group. Most competitive group of the bunch (women’s division).

I placed 6th in the women 40-50. Had I been in my 30’s, I would have placed 3rd. Had I been in my 20’s, I would have placed 3rd (and I definitely would have been hungover). If I were in my 50’s, I would have placed 4th.

See the trend? We still got it, Ladies!

I have noticed it at a lot of the races I run – women 40-50 is a big and fast age group. I love it. We are not stopping. We are not checking out. We are not slowing down. We are running more and getting faster.

It’s awesome. And inspiring.

Look out, Harriette Thompson. We’re coming for ya!

Glass cases of emotion brimming with potato salad.

10101Friday. How in the name of Ron Burgundy did that happen?!? A lovely four day weekend segued into a yucky four day work week peppered with trail runs, road runs and {music swells} The Dreaded Hill Repeats. It was a whole bucket full of same old, same old with a dash of sadness and pinch of disgust thrown in for good measure. As a result, my blogging promptly fell straight into the shitter.

The Week in Numbers:
Miles run: 40
Miles biked: 45
Number of vegetables in this week’s CSA: Bushels upon bushels
Glasses of wine consumed:  Copious amounts
Amount of money raised by some dude on Kickstarter in Ohio to make potato salad: Upwards of $40,000
Amount of money raised by Colby to ride across Massachusetts in the Pan Massachusetts Challenge, a 2 day, 200 mile cancer fighting odyssey to benefit life-saving cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: $2,842.25

See where the pinches of sadness and disgust came from? Has the whole world gone mad!?!?! Or is the Potato Salad Dude on to something? Are people funding potato salad because it’s quirky and silly and it’s just the lightness they need to balance the BATSHIT CRAIZINESS that has saturated the rest of the goddam place? Perhaps.

This guy wants to make potato salad.
I want to help fund a cure a for cancer by riding my bike 200 miles across the state of Massachusetts.

Who are you funding?

I know, right?!  Tough Call!

I’m being facetious. Perhaps the guy will do something noble and feed the homeless with 1,000,000 pounds of potato salad. Or donate it to potato farmers across the country who can certainly use the influx of cash. Or better yet, start an education campaign alerting parents to the dangers of leaving helpless children alone in sweltering locked cars while they run in and grocery shop for potato salad ingredients.

Just a thought.

Welp. Ohio Dude raised it. Fair and square. At the very least I hope he uses his potato salad for good, not evil.  He with the best shtick wins. Here’s a thought: What if I made potato salad WHILE riding my bike? Or better yet, juggle, peel, yodel and make potato salad while riding A UNICYCLE in support of cancer research!  I think I’m on to something.

Kickstart THIS, Baby!

Tina and Colby, Pan Massachusetts Challenge 2013!

Tina and Colby, Pan Massachusetts Challenge 2013!

Have a dollar to spare? Hate cancer more than potato salad? Then donate to our ride! Any amount will do! We’ll ride, you donate. Together we’ll kick cancer’s ass!  :-)  Many heartfelt thanks in advance!

To donate to Colby’s Ride: http://www2.pmc.org/profile/NB0049

To donate to Tina’s Ride:  http://www2.pmc.org/profile/TC0204

Don’t let me catch you.

I’m smack dab in the middle of Week 4 of training for Colby’s Ultra Big Adventure, also known as She’s Lost Her Mind and Signed Up for a 50K. And so far? All is good. I’m pushing myself harder than I have in a long, long while. And I’m digging it. I am also sticking to the Training Plan I cobbled together off of The Internets. It seems insane reasonable, so I’m going with it. In the midst of all of this running madness, I am also riding my Cancer Fighting Bike, Henrietta Pussycat.

Henrietta Pussycat.

Henrietta Pussycat.

She’s totally badass. My 10th Pan Massachusetts Challenge is in exactly one month. 200 miles in 2 days in support of cancer research. I can’t say it snuck up on me. I’ve been riding it for a goddamn decade. But somehow, it did. The two weekly “Rest” days in my 50K Plan have been spent on the bike. And I’ve gotta admit. I love that damn bike.

Sunday’s Hungover Central Park 6 Miler with Tina (we should make t-shirts and have pudding shot stations) was followed by Monday’s After Work 25 miler on Henrietta. It was just she and I, spinning wildly. I say this every damn time I finish a good ride. I love cycling. Love it. And I love riding with my Other Half. But Monday, I rode alone. Even without my Missing Piece, I kept the pace up. In the big ring. Like a big girl. Just me and Henrietta. That was until I came upon Some Guy on a mountain bike. Whom I passed. Politely. I’m going to say this. He was not THRILLED by my zippiness. Nope. Not one stinking bit. I think the pony tail got him. How do I know this? Because he pedaled his ass off to catch my wheel and bark at me.

Mountain Man {Yelling}: DON’T LET ME CATCH YOU!
Me: {Snippy} What?
Mountain Man: I SAID. DON’T LET ME CATCH YOU.
Me: {Calmly} I wasn’t planning on it.
Mountain Man: {Annoyed, panting, semi-crazed} You know, the ONLY reason you passed me is because you have thinner tires. You have THINNER TIRES.
Me: {Slows} The reason I passed you, is because I am faster than you.

And then I turned the screws.
Launched.
And didn’t look back.

Really? And what were you going to do if you caught me? Knock me off my bike? Shame me? Throw thumb tacks? Who yells that at someone? Was he really that put out by a girl passing him? Or was he himself having a bad day? I didn’t imagine it. It really happened. Quite frankly, I didn’t care for his shitty angry tone. After a fantastic weekend, a mid-grade hangover, a touch of lingering alcohol induced gastritis, a long ass day at work, and now a Hurry Up and Race the Sun bike ride, I was in zero mood to deal with The Defeated Mountain Man and His Bruised Ego. Back off Dude. I’m just going about a really good workout. I’m not a fan of anyone getting all up on me when I’m alone on a bike. Or when I’m alone anywhere; running or riding. So I got all sassy. Let’s be honest. I got obnoxious. What I said to him might not necessarily be true 100% of the time, but it was at that very moment. On the heels of the Like a Girl post earlier this week, I was feeling empowered. So I flexed my self-confidence a lil’ bit.

And dropped him, just Like A Girl can.

Riding STIRLING STRONG in honor of Stirling, my PMC Bunkmate, who lost her battle with cancer.

Riding STIRLING STRONG in honor of Stirling, my PMC Bunkmate, who lost her battle with cancer.

 

Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Aside

veryinspiringbloggerThe other day I learned that The Force Majeure over at  A Voluptuous Mind nominated our blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Thank you!!! Thank you!!! She is one cool, bright, witty chick who hula hoops and has a lovely way with words. She’s also a runner. But she just doesn’t know it yet. :-)  I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear the news. For reals. Inspiring is such a powerful, evocative word. That it is associated with Our Little Blog makes me proud. Damn proud. So. Without further ado, here are the rules of the award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you (Check!)
  • List the rules and display the award (Check-a-roni!)
  • Share seven facts about yourself (Seven Facts About Tina and Seven Facts About Colby.)
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated
  • Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you

You like Us! You really, really like Us!

amyandtinadancing

7 Things About Tina!
  1. I love music. I have zero talent, but if I did, I would be the annoying person who brought their guitar everywhere and asked to sing with the band at weddings. As it is, I have to settle for hosting friends and serving them enough alcohol that they will play Rock Band or one of my singing board games with me.
  2. I love crossword puzzles. And logic problems. I may be the only person who ever enjoyed taking the LSAT because so much of it is similar to puzzle solving. But I hate cryptograms.
  3. I have an anaphylactic soy allergy. I hate being allergic to soy because I now can’t use my favorite flank steak marinade, but I love that I have an excuse to turn down all offers of tofu -no questions asked. I know it’s healthy. I still wouldn’t want to eat it.
  4. I moved to NYC without a job during the recession of the early 90’s and it remains the best decision I ever made. It set the stage for my career, meeting my husband…basically all of the things I now love in my life.
  5. I am sure that I would be a happier, more balanced person if I practiced meditation and yoga, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that I just don’t like them that much. And I think I definitely will be a happier, more balanced person when I stop beating myself up for not liking meditation and yoga. Working on that.
  6. I hate to swim and almost never go in the water. I don’t even like to lounge in a pool chaise. I cannot STAND the feeling of a wet bathing suit and just typing this out is giving me the willies.
  7. I can say the alphabet backwards. Really fast – almost as fast as I can say it forwards. I wish that my special talent was in the music arena (see 1 above), but alas, no dice. I have never found a use for this amazing talent. Maybe if I’m ever pulled over for a suspected DUI I can bust it out to prove I’m sober.
7 Things About Colby!
  1. I am well versed in just about every damn breed of dog that exists according to the American Kennel Club since the age of 5. I used to climb up the book shelf and pull out “D-4″, The Dog Book as I would refer to it, of the Encyclopedia Britannica and obsess about every single breed.  Mom:  Hey look Colby! There’s a Beagle! How cute! Look! Snoopy!  Young Colby: Uh. No Mother. That’s not a beagle. That’s a Harrier. For the love of god, get it straight. Please. How I am not at Madison Square Garden judging Best in Show is beyond me. I fear I have missed my calling.
  2. I had an imaginary friend growing up. His name was George. He and I would play for hours in the front yard, waxing poetic about what we wanted to be when we grew up, and what places we would visit. Good times. Good times. Sadly. George died suddenly one day. I’m not sure how. I just remember he was dead. End of story.  Rest Peacefully old chum.
  3.  I am a vegetarian. Little known fact, right?!?!?  Who knew!!  I was also a vegetarian in college. But it was the “I don’t eat meat so instead I’ll eat pounds of pasta and Cap’n Crunch instead. And,what the fuck is a vegetable?” kind. Now I’m happy to report I am far more balanced where protein and carbohydrates are concerned. I’m a distance runner. I have to be. Or I’d be a sad, shallow little puddle.
  4. My grandmothers were affectionately known as Big Gram and Little Gram. I think you can guess why. I take after Little Gram who was just about 3 apples tall. Big Gram had the most beautiful, soulful eyes ever. They are the same eyes as my Mother.  Little Gram had a big smile and a big mouth and more teeth than the average human being. They are the same as mine. I could probably bite the ass off of a horse. But I’m a vegetarian. And besides, that’s beyond gross. And wildly inappropriate.
  5. I love tomatoes. Love them. The smell of tomato plants and basil reminds me of my Grandfather. He had a massive garden and I would spend many weekends with him on his tractor. I used to sit in the fields and eat warm tomatoes off of the vine, wiping them off on my shirt and letting the juice drip down my chin. Close my eyes and I can still smell, taste and feel the sun. I wish I had paid more attention to everything he said about growing crops, and planting tomatoes. I miss him terribly.
  6. I found distance running at the worst time in my life. And in turn found myself. It was my control in a time of chaos. It was my therapy. Each mile brought me out of the fog. The strength I gained propelled me forward. Each finish line a new beginning. In many ways, it brought me back to life. For this reason, running will always be a part of me.
  7. I was an actress. I was in an improvisational interactive comedy show called Joey and Maria’s Comedy Italian Wedding out of Boston. We toured all over. I was Maria.  I figure I’ve been married 100s and 100s of times.  It was a complete blast.  I worked with some funny, funny, talented people. When I auditioned for it I didn’t tell anyone. I just went, without head shots, without a clue as to what to do. I walked in and they asked me how my day was. So I told them. Colorfully.  :-)
And now for our Inspiring Blogger Nominations! And honestly, these are just a handful of our favorite blogs in no particular order. So here you go:

On Running Like a Girl

Since when did “Run like a girl” become an insult?  Or “Throw like a girl”? Or “Fight like a girl”?  Or ANYTHING Like a Girl?  If you haven’t seen this ad, please watch it. Watch all of it. Then watch it again. Then share it. With everyone. When I first saw this ad, I had such a lump in my throat. I really did. What the hell happened?  It made my heart break.  At what point do little girls lose their confidence? According to this new ad from Always feminine products, it happens at some point during puberty.  Apparently, the girls they surveyed claimed their drop in self-confidence coincided with puberty and their first period; which is why the response of a 9 year old versus an 18 year old when asked the question is so drastically different. Sure. It’s a marketing campaign, a poignant one at that, whose intention is to sell Always products. But. It is sparking a broader conversation around female confidence. And I think that’s fanfuckingtastic.

Tina and I had a discussion about Running Like Girls as we were Running 6 Hungover Miles Like Boozebags Girls in a steamy Central Park on Sunday.  We came to the same conclusion.  We both never thought that Running Like a Girl meant we were to bust out with the stereotypical limp arms, flailing feet and ridiculous pouty out-of-breath expression.  Ever.  Tina grew up in a large family with brothers.  If she wanted to play at all, she had to Throw Like a Boy. Or Run Fast Like a Boy.  For Tina it became the opposite; “Pick Tina. She can Kick Like a Boy.”  She didn’t hear the reverse.

For me, it was; “Pick Colby. She’s Strong”- not necessarily “Strong Like a Boy” but “Strong for A Girl”; a different variation of the same damn theme.  Now that I write it, it was a slam. Sure, I got picked first but there was a subtle undertone. I only got picked first because I wasn’t really like the other girls, I was more like a boy. The message meant to be sent was: Girls were inferior. And you just got lucky, Honey. However, it didn’t waver my self-confidence or change my perception of who I was.  I didn’t internalize it. Or believe it. I Was Strong. I Was Strong For Anyone. Not just for a girl. It was that simple.  If you asked me those same questions throughout my life, I would have the same response. I know I would have and I had an EXTREMELY early voyage into Womanhood.  Why would my answers have remained constant? Because I had (and continue to have) a strong, dynamo of a Mother who empowered me and told me I could be anything I ever wanted to be throughout my entire life. And I believed her.

You can do anything.

You can do anything.

You can do anything.  

The message was steady and persistent, constant and loving. As a result, it never crossed my mind that I was inferior to ANYONE. Work hard and you can do anything. That was the message. I never for one minute second guessed that because of my amazing Mother. And I still don’t because of her. Girls need strong women present in their lives in order to debunk the social myth that being “Like A Girl” is a negative thing.  They need them. Like fish need water. It’s imperative. Confident girls remain self- confident when they have strong role models ever-present in their lives. It is then that they grow to be empowered, strong, confident women.

As a result, they will believe in themselves. Always.

 

Wanted: Hill Seeker

Hills. We love ‘em. We hate ‘em. We never want to admit that we really need them. Oh but Grasshopper, We Do. We need them especially if we’re training for our very first Ultra Marathon. {Insert dry heaves here.} Enter The Hill Repeat. I’m just going to head straight to the punchline. I’ve never felt more weak in my life.

I did Hill Repeats yesterday. Or some lame ass version of them. I usually incorporate hills into my runs and rarely set out to run strict hill repeats. I’m learning that if I want to complete this 50K with both legs still firmly on, I need to do a legitimate Hill Workout at least once a week. So. With this realization in mind, I decided to carve out time for the ever elusive Run at Lunch. I wedged it right in the middle of an eternally long experiment. 004(Fact: I’m a scientist in real life. One that is currently wearing purple skinny jeans, a Madonna concert tee and a leopard print band aid on my thumb, but nevertheless a Lab Nerd. So there you go- a little about Colby.) The good thing about a long experiment is that at some point you may be lucky enough to have a window of opportunity to embark on a Run at Lunch.  Although about as rare as spotting a unicorn with a rainbow mane bearing a roll of parchment with The Cure written on it, I did manage to find myself with a window of time. So I seized it.

Hill Repeats suck. Run hard uphill. Recover downhill. Build strength and power. That’s really about it, right? That was my goal. I was initially pumped. EYE OF THE TIGER, BABY!  What happened was that after “warming” up by running a very unpleasant, hot, humid 4.5 miles in a steaming concrete jungle, I found a nasty long hill to run up. It was then, during that very first one, that I realized how weak I am. I powered up that hill with all I had.  Efficient Colby. Short stride. Chest up. Elbows driving back. Eyes looking toward the crest of the hill.  My heart rate is rocketing. I am huffing. And puffing. Sweat is stinging my eyes.  I am momentarily blinded.  Surely I’m making progress!  I squint at my watch.

20 goddamn seconds.

 That’s all.

Oh Poodles. I have a long way to go.

I am pleased to say that despite exhaustion and heat stroke, I endured. How? I’m not sure. But Hooray!!

yeay

I ran uphill as hard as I possibly could for 60 seconds (which in a bizarre twist, ended right at the top. Nice hill choice!) Then I ran jogged rolled back down, catching my breathe and repeated the sadistic ritual for 10 minutes. I figured less was more.  Besides, I was red lining. It was hard.

But between you and I, I loved it.  Pain, suffering and all. It showed me my weakness which isn’t a bad thing at all. Revealing a weakness is creating an opportunity for growth. Hills are an opportunity for me to prove to myself that I am stronger than I think.  Weaknesses turn into strengths with drive, grit and determination. They don’t call hills Mounds of Opportunity for nothin’. :-)

hills

 

Fairfield Half Recap

 

Last year’s Fairfield Half recaps were all about running on the surface of the sun. Well, the headline for this year’s Fairfield half is “We Didn’t Melt!” As Colby reported, it was the coolest weather this race has had. EVAH! Yippee! The race was good – amazing crowds, great course, incredibly well organized by JB Sports. I had a good, though not mind-blowing, time, and felt strong throughout. It was a fun and drama-free race, so I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow recap. But I will share a few thoughts…

  • You can run the same race every year and yet run a different race every year. This is the only race I have run 3 times, and it has never felt like the same race. At all. The first year, I had just gotten over Fifth’s Disease (given to me by one of my resident vectors) and thought I was going to need medical attention. I probably should have stopped and sought medical attention. But it was only my second half marathon, so I just figured that it was not uncommon to feel like you were dying while running a half. I now know that I was wrong and probably on the verge of heatstroke. Oh, well. Live and learn. Last year, I was healthy, but it was so freaking hot out, I kept thinking I had slipped onto the Badwater course by accident. This year, the temps were great (for June), the humidity low (for June), and I was free of childhood viruses. The race wasn’t a cakewalk -it was still 13.1 miles – but it was fun. Same race, yet a totally different race each time.
  • There is a fine line between running on air and running lightheaded. Around mile 9, I truly felt like I was running on air. It felt great. I’m in the clouds! I could run forever! Then I realized I was running on air but not in a good way –  in a dizzy, time-warping kind of way. Turns out my happy buzz was the product of dehydration and a desperate need for an energy boost. Grabbed 2 Gatorades at the next water stop and came back down to earth. Kind of reluctantly, but I knew it was for my own good.
  • I have to start races closer to the front, because no one else seems to line up based on pace. I thought that the unwritten rule of racing is that that people are supposed to line up generally by their pace, even when there aren’t markers. Maybe the rule needs to be written and repeated, because I started in the front third, and had to work my way around some walkers within the first half mile. I am not kidding. Walkers. At the front. And yes, they were walking three across. Yes, they were. I don’t even care about my time as much as not ending up in some kind of 5-runner collision. And yeah, I do care about my time a little, too. Yes, I do.
  • Almost a year into our relationship, my Garmin and I are still frenemies. I think my Garmin is embarrassed of me because I don’t know how to use it. I’m the worst Garmin user ever. I forgot to hit start when I crossed the starting line, and turned it on a few blocks later. Then I realized that was stupid, since I had no idea where I turned it on so couldn’t keep track of distance anyway, so I turned it off and then turned it on again at mile 2. For the remainder of the race, I had to do math every time I looked at my Garmin. I hate math. And yes, after running 8 miles in the sun, even counting by 2’s can be hard. Next time I think I’m leaving it at home. This is the 3rd race where I have forgotten to turn it on at the right time and I don’t think I have ever remembered to hit stop when I crossed the finish. And I swear I’m not usually a dingbat.
  • Running on hot pavement for 13 miles is killer on the feet. Dogs were seriously barking by the end.
  • Whether it’s your first race or fiftieth, a great race or a difficult one, long, short, hot, cold, there is nothing like the thrill and relief of crossing a finish line. Nothing!

Shout out to Spartan Shawna, who ran the Fairfield Half for her first half-marathon! In kids’ Nike Frees with no socks! And not much training!. Amazingly, Spartan Shawna finished with a good time and no injuries. Though she be but little, she is fierce!

(We will, of course, get her set up a little better before she tackles the Hartford Marathon in October A little training, here, grown up sneakers and socks, there – it’s all good. Fear not, Spartan Shawna, we’ll hook you up!)

And of course I have to give a shout out to the songs that motivated me most during the race:

1. Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Yes it is overplayed. Seriously overplayed. And yes, we are all kind of over it and its bazillion memes. But it came on and of course, I thought about how happy I was. Happy that it was not too hot and humid. Happy that I am healthy and can run a half-marathon. Even happier that I was running a race on a gorgeous course with friends – old and new – and that we were all gathering afterward to hang out, share war stories, and bask in the thrill of the done. A wonderful way to spend a summer Sunday.

2. Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.” At mile 9, it was time to get the Led out, and this is one of my favorite Led Zep songs. Given its psychedelic lyrics, it fit in nicely with my lightheadedness- I certainly was enjoying my own groovy trip along with the crowds of people in the song sitting there with flowers in their hair…. at least until I realized I needed a Gatorade and a Gu. Cue the end of the happy half marathon trip. So sad to see it go.

3. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Because I will never get sick of hearing it. Ever. And Dave Grohl’s drumbeat is awesome and perfect for a run.

Tomorrow, “Where in the World is Colby?” heads to NYC and I’ll get to take Colby running in one of my favorite running spots in the world….Central Park!!!! Stay tuned…