Rut.

ChooseRut

I’m in a rut. A running rut. Or maybe just a racing rut. Or some other rut. I don’t know. Could be global.

Do I still like running? Yes. Unless it is 8000 degrees and 500% humidity.

Do I still like racing? I think so. But I’m not sure. Maybe yes, but not right now.

Do I still like training? I think the answer, at least for now, is no.

Do I still like blogging? Definitely yes, but given my recent rut-like existence, I just haven’t had much to say. Which is why I have been The Worst Co-Blogger Ever. Haven’t posted because I don’t want to harsh the blogosphere mellow. If Colby didn’t love me so much, she would have fired me months ago.

I do think a large part of my running rut has to do with my lack of a goal.

For the first time, I’m racing without a goal. None. Nil. Nada. And let me tell ya, it’s incredibly un-motivating.

For the Marine Corps Marathon, my goal was to finish, which I did.

I didn’t have a specific goal for the Philly marathon, but I wanted to do it as a “pre-training” of sorts for The Big One. Boston 2015. I didn’t want Boston to be my second marathon for some reason (?).  Despite my bizarre, allergy-ridden experience at Philly, I’m glad I did it because the snowy weather last winter was brutal, and if I was starting from scratch in my winter training for Boston I would have had a panic attack. Or ten.

Then came Boston. And, except for the weather, it was everything I hoped it would be. Everything. My goal for Boston was to experience running Boston. No Other Goal Needed.

Though I struggled with the weather during Boston, I BQ’d again. So I’ll be back in 2016. And for Boston, I think that just running Boston will always be enough of a goal for me. Now that I know what it is like to run that course, experience those crowds, and turn right on Hereford, left on Boylston, I’m pretty sure I’ll never need another motivator to run Boston.

But before Boston 2016 comes Baystate 2015. And I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing with it.

Fact: The only “goal” I can think of right now is a PR.

Fact: I have neither the time nor the energy to train for a marathon PR at this time. I’m split a lot of different ways and the piece of the pie available for racing right now is not big enough to train for a PR. I’m also dealing with some as-yet undiagnosed GI issues which will not help in that regard.

Fact: I find it hard to feel excited about training for a race when I have no goal. And that is what I have been dealing with this summer. I don’t mind the running  (except for the heat and humidity, which is always the case), but when I think about it in terms of “training,” and what I “should” do, the spark just isn’t there.

I can easily run a 5K with no goal. A half marathon is a little harder, but still doable, since I run enough that I don’t really have to train for a half anyway. Still, I ran the Fairfield Half in June: I was crabby going to it, meh during it, and didn’t even get an adrenaline rush after it. It was yet another race where I did fine but nothing new or exciting. I don’t even think I recapped it here, because I had nothing to say.

And now I’m training (and man oh man, I use that term loosely) for a race that is twice as long as the Fairfield Half. Oy. That’s an awfully long way to run without a spring in your step.

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold & snowy winter this year, so working toward Baystate will give me a base for my Boston training. At least that is what I tell myself when I’m procrastinating before a 6 AM run.

And I still like running. I really do. But the time commitment and mental commitment for “training” is so different. Having to put in the time (and even there, I’ve been slacking)  without the mental investment is just not fun. Or inspiring. Or motivating.

Methinks I’m taking a racing break after this one, so I can just run without any sort of plan – even a half-assed one – and not worry about it. I can still do the running, but not have to think about the running, talk about the running, plan the running, track the running…

At least until January, when Boston training will start. Hopefully, I will have climbed out of the rut by then.

Have you ever been in a running rut? Or a racing rut? What the hell did you do to get out of it?

The Hills are Alive…

With the sound of grown women crying.

Note to Self: when you sign up for a race that has “Hills” prominently displayed in the title, and markets itself as the 2nd toughest race in Connecticut, it’s not going to be a cakewalk.

Not that we thought that it was going to be easy. If you recall, we didn’t think anything at all because we forgot we were running the damn thing. But truth be told, had we given it thought, we wouldn’t have worried too much. We have suffered through the sufferfest that was the old Fairfield Half course, with hills you could ski down – but had to run up. (Even the new Fairfield course is hilly and it’s always 80 freaking degrees.) A little more than a month ago, I ran a hill named “Heartbreak Hill” and lived to tell. Colby runs trail races that end at the moon. So if we had prepared for the race, we would have thought, Hills. OK. So it won’t be a PR course, but we’ll be OK.

And those hills that knew we were ignoring them and not paying our proper respects? You know what they did? They kicked our disrespectful asses.

SAT AM: We start texting around 5:30 AM. Salt tablets? Address for race? Do we have the right date? Copious amounts of water? We’re ready. Kind of. I still don’t know where I am going, but fortunately, my GPS does. Call Colby from the car for pre-race giggles and nervous musings on the 66 degree, 97% humidity weather we are having (at 6 AM), and our call gets dropped twice. Even though we are less than 25 miles apart on the same damn road. Look for a post on cell phone rants coming soon.

We both arrive without incident. Colby is able to park within feet of the start line. God Bless the Small Race.

The joy before the misery.

The joy before the misery.

We are laughing because her number is 12. I’m 48. No, this is not because we are part of the elite team. It is because they assign numbers alphabetically. Still, it is cool to see her with “12” on her bib and I’m kinda wishing I married someone with an A last name so I could be in single digits.

We look around and can’t help but notice that some people look like they are heading to a Rocky Horror Picture Show or maybe the prom? We know this race was not marketed as a costume race and yet feel underdressed in our running shorts and singlets. For the Love of God. Please do not tell me that I am now expected to gussy up for a half. I can barely remember my Garmin and my Glide. Is there a memo I have missed? Stay tuned for a post on this topic.

Bib pickup starts at 7, race starts at 8. There are a few hundred people signed up for the race and there are 3 – count ’em – 3, porta potties. You do the math. The line takes up most of the 5K course. The race is delayed almost 20 minutes while we wait for the porta potty line to clear. We feel the temperature go up minute by minute and panic, quietly. The last visitor is cheered as he exits the stall.

And we’re off.

The first 2 miles are on a flat rail trail through the woods. Not too bad. To exit the rail trail to the rest of the course, though, we have to run up a wooden walkway that is narrow, steep and full of switchbacks and elderly people out for their morning constitutionals. The person in front of me almost took a gentleman out. This is weird.

Just after mile 2, our friend Patty and her daughter Grace were waiting to cheer us on. Grace even made a sign! Such a great surprise and made my morning.

I think it was around mile 3-ish where several miles of hills really started. Holy Crap. HOLY CRAP! For the next several miles, there was a total of 610 feet of vertical climb. That’s not hilly. That’s mountain-y. It’s also painful and at this point, I start thinking that I not only don’t like racing, I’m pretty sure I don’t even like running. I generally have at least one of these moments in any race where the mercury is above 70. Which it most certainly is at this point.

And it wasn’t just the big hills. The course is rolling almost the entire way after you get off the rail trail. Quads! Hammies! Calves! They all hate me at this point, as well as, I am assuming, Colby.

See, Colby was all ready to run a fun half in Branford that ended at a brewery on Sunday, but since I couldn’t make that one, she switched to this one. As all BRF’s do. 

But that doesn’t mean that she won’t beat me to a pulp at the end. And it would be well-deserved. This course is hard.

I spend miles 7-9 running a little faster, thinking of how Colby is going to kill me when she sees me at the finish. Should I just keep running after the finish line until I get to my car and high tail it home? I think she has a busy weekend – probably doesn’t have time to drive to my house and kill me. Will buy me at least another week.

The sun comes out and I think of the delayed start, and all that beautiful overcast sky that was wasted waiting for people to clear the porta-potties. I go from hot and uncomfortable to a hot mess. In seconds.

It’s an out and back course, so the rollers that were there from miles 3-7 on the way out are sadly still there on the way back. Fortunately, many of the bigger hills were uphills on the way out, so we get some – not enough – never enough – but some – nice downhills on the way back. Except at mile 10, where there is an endless uphill that makes me want to puke. Or cry. Or both.

When I see our personal booster club (Patty and Grace), I know that just that weird wooden walkway and the rail trail are all that separate me from a massive bottle of water and a lick of shade.

Once on the rail trail, I’m kind of alone. I can see two guys about ¼ mile ahead of me and there is someone around ¼ mile behind me, but no one right near me. I realize that I have never run a race this small before. Felt weird, but kind of cool. More weird than cool, though. City Girl likes crowds. I also like someone to chase for the last mile to keep me going. Here, it’s just me and a bunch of trees that all look alike.

The finish is nice – plenty of people hanging around to cheer, and the medal is cool. Lots of water.

My face and legs are covered in salt. So are Colby’s. We are officially disgusting, sweaty messes. We don’t love our times, but it turns out that it was more because of the tough course than us having tough races, because we both finish well in our divisions. I actually came in 2nd for our division and got a sweet pint glass with the name of the race and my place engraved on the back it. Hamden Glass We spent the next hour bitching about the race and agreeing that we are DEFINITELY doing it next year.

Did you ever doubt?

Sweaty, Miserable, Smiling Fools.

Sweaty, Miserable, Smiling Fools.

12 Months of Racing

On this, the 5th day of Christmas, a 2014 recap of sorts. Go ahead: sing out loud. You know you want to.

The Happy Finishers!

xo Colby and Tina

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
A lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
2 marathons
And a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
And a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
Yes, a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
Yes, a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
12 miles in Central Park
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
Yes, a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
A freaking trail Ultra (Colby)
12 miles in Central Park
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
Yes, a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
A new 5K PR (Tina)
A freaking trail Ultra (Colby)
12 miles in Central Park
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
And a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
Obstacles at Fenway
A new 5K PR (Tina)
A freaking trail Ultra (Colby)
12 miles in Central Park
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
Yes, a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
A single-digit snowshoe race (brrr!)
Obstacles at Fenway
A new 5K PR (Tina)
A freaking trail Ultra (Colby)
12 miles in Central Park
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
And a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
Races in 4 states,
A single-digit snowshoe race (brrr!)
Obstacles at Fenway
A new 5K PR (Tina)
A freaking trail Ultra (Colby)
12 miles in Central Park
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
Yes, a lot of stuff between us two

In the year 2014, Colby and I did do:
Raise $15K for the PMC
Races in 4 states,
A single-digit snowshoe race (brrr!)
Obstacles at Fenway
A new 5K PR (Tina)
A freaking trail Ultra (Colby)
12 miles in Central Park
103 blog posts (so far)
4 centuries for cancer
3 hilly half’s
2 marathons
PHEW! That’s a lot of stuff between us two!!

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT 2015 BRINGS!!

MacGyver Would Have Made a Great Distance Runner

Courtesy of Celebremix

Courtesy of Celebremix

 

For all you young’uns out there, MacGyver was a 1980’s action-adventure TV character who was known for his ability to craft anything out of anything to solve his problems. As Wikipedia says, “Resourceful and possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of the physical sciences, he solves complex problems with everyday materials he finds at hand, along with his ever-present duct tape and Swiss Army knife.” The Urban Dictionary defines a macgyver as “someone who can jump start a truck with a cactus.”

You get the picture.

I love tapping into my inner MacGyver and remember one vacation where we realized that our 8 month old needed his mobile (left at home, of course) to fall asleep, so I Macgyver’ed one out of a ceiling fan, a belt, a coat hanger and some stuffed animals.

Of course, that was my first kid. If it were my 3rd, I would have tossed “Go the F*ck to Sleep” at him and left the room. But I digress.

Distance runners channel their inner MacGyvers a lot. In fact, the first sports bra was actually 2 jock straps sewn together by Lisa Lindahl, Polly Smith, and Hinda Schreiber in 1977. Thus was born the “JogBra.” True Fact. Store it away in case you’re ever on Jeopardy.

If you look around any race, you’ll see all sorts of creative ways runners try to keep hair back, keep injuries at bay, avoid chafing, prevent blisters, stay hydrated…you name a runner’s ailment and someone, somewhere has figured out a creative way to address it.

When I complained about my painful callouses on my toes, my triathlete friend Laurie showed me this super-special way she laces her sneaks so that her feet stay firmly in place but her toes have plenty of room to move around. She competed in the Ironman World Championships, so she knows blisters and callouses. And when she hands out advice, I take copious notes. And pictures.

Laced up sneaks - Laurie Style

Laced up sneaks – Laurie Style

I haven’t tried it yet and my change in running shoes is doing the trick so far, but I have a feeling I’ll be lacing up “Laurie Style” by the time the real heat of the summer sets in.

My big find last week were the Band Aid Blister bandages. No, not for blisters. MacGyver wouldn’t use them for blisters. Too obvious. Last week I discovered that they work beautifully for those adorable love bites that sports bras leave in hot & sticky weather.

After the Heartbreak Hill half, the band on my sports bra attacked the skin on my back to the point where it was bleeding. Thanks to the heat & humidity, I think the Glide I applied melted off before we even started the race. So I finished a killer half and my quads, hamstrings, calves and even feet felt fine. Great, even. But I needed to take recovery days because there was no way I could get a sports bra on without popping a Vicodin first. Ridiculous.

By Wednesday, I was itchy to run again, so covered the wound with a non-stick steri pad with a bandaid over it. No good. It was rainy and the water soaked through the bandaid and steri pad, leaving me YELPING by the end of my run.

Thursday I was a little gun shy about running again, but then noticed my box of Bandaid Blister pads left over from a battle I lost with a pair of borrowed boots in our March Snowshoe Race. Threw one over the wound and headed out for another rainy run. Worked like a charm! The sticky part of those bandaids forms a seal, so no moisture gets in to the wound. Plus, they are padded and filled with a gel that protects against pressure discomfort. Finally, you can leave them on for days, to let the wound heal underneath while you keep it dry and protected. Love them and am buying more boxes. Can’t wait to see what else they are good for.

What are your MacGyver running tips?

And for the love of God, does anyone have a sports bra that doesn’t bite in humid weather?

Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon Recap

Headed up to Boston for the inaugural Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival, and I’m oh, so glad I did. The race started and ended at Boston College (my alma mater), and the entire race took place in Newton (my hometown). Plus, much of the course took place on a portion of the Boston Marathon route, which was cool (and hard). Once I heard about this race from Diva Cindi, there was no way I was not running it. Diva Cindi was able to run it with me (yay!), though, alas, Colby was not. Waah.

The festival was a 3-day celebration, with everything from a 5K to a 10K to a half (with a “hat trick’ option for the ambitious folks who wanted to run all 3) to a kids’ fun run and even a 2-mile doggie run hosted by Eukanuba. Diva Cindi and I signed up for the half marathon only, and honestly, it was plenty enough to tucker us out! I would have liked to visit the Expo on Saturday and participated in some of the non-racing events, but scheduling was not on our side, and by the time we got to Boston, the expo was closed.

You would never know that this was the first year of this race by how well it was run. I think the Runner’s World crew must have been trained by the Marines. Well run, well-marked, organized. Well-planned course with roads as “closed” as possible given that Commonwealth Ave is a major road, and plenty of water stations and porta-potties on the route. Love that the race had an early start time of 7:30 AM. Logistics were a piece of cake. Setting up on Boston College Campus was genius (and not just because it is gave me a chance to walk around my alma mater) – there was plenty of room for tents, porta-potties, food stations, people, bands, kids, dogs, you name it – and there was a huge parking garage right on campus. We got to the campus at around 6:15-6:30, had to park, pick up our bibs and visit the porta potties, and yet never felt rushed to make the 7:30 start. Smooth sailing the whole way.

The course was beautiful and, well, hilly. Shocking that the “Heartbreak Hill Half” was hilly, I know. Weather was hot & sunny. Certainly not as hot as it could be in June, and definitely not as humid as I had feared, but let’s face it – hot is hot and the sun was relentless. I saw a news report that said it was 72 at the start. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time, since I thought it was cooler.

Shalane Flanagan led us out at the start and we were off (though, rest assured, I was nowhere near Shalane)! I love it when the starting corrals are not crazy-crowded and you can actually kinda-sorta run – or at least jog –  through the starting gate. The first mile was pretty fast for me despite running in a pack of people– around 7:19. Didn’t expect that, but then again, the first mile was flat or downhill, so I enjoyed it as much as I could. By mile 2 we were heading uphill. I slowed a little and the crowd thinned a lot, which made it easier to sneak into pockets of shade. A lifesaver.

By mile 3, we were back out on Comm Ave and started running Heartbreak Hill and the rest of the Newton Hills of the Boston Marathon course backwards, so there was plenty of downhill action. Of course, with an out-and-back route, what goes down must come up, and I don’t think there was a runner in the race who wasn’t thinking about how not-fun it would be to run back up those hills from miles 9-13.

Probably the most surprising aspect of the course to everyone (including me, and I have been running these hills for years), is that the entire course is hilly. It’s not just Heartbreak Hill or even the stretch of all of the Newton Hills. The entire freaking course is rolling – on the way out, you are mostly heading downhill, but there are definite rollers. On the way back, there are rollers but you most certainly are heading mostly uphill, and your hamstrings will not let you forget it.

Here’s an elevation chart for the course. Plan to do a little hamstring stretch after you review it. You’ll want to.

It looks like an EKG readout. And not in a good way.

It looks like an EKG readout. And not in a good way.

Miles 3-5, as always, stunk for me. Why do I always feel miserable during miles 3-5 (or 4-6) in every half I run? That is the point where I feel like I will never be able to finish. My mind goes nuts. What if I get sick? Or pass out? Or just can’t make it! It’s like Debbie Downer takes over my head. Crazy talk. I might as well worry about getting mugged during  the race. I always finish and barring an injury on the course, I will always finish, even if I have to walk. I have also never gotten sick or passed out in a race. And if I did, I’d deal with it.  Yet I can’t stop myself from fretting for almost 2 miles on a gorgeous Sunday morning. Ridiculous.

My running partner for miles 3-5. Not fun. Photo: courtesy of NBC

My running partner for miles 3-5. Not fun.
Photo: courtesy of NBC

By the time I passed mile 5 and headed into mile 6, I got into my happy place. The miles started to click by and I was reminding of how much I love half marathons and distance running. It’s like another person (a much happier, more confident person) took over my body. I love when she shows up and kicks Debbie out.

Just after mile 8, we turned onto Route 16, which officially brought us onto the Boston Marathon course, heading in the right direction this time. So freaking exciting. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I will get to run it again in April. Yahoo!!!!

Just before mile 9, we took a right onto Comm Ave, and all that separated me from the finish was 4.1 miles of hills. Yup. That’s all {insert sarcasm}.It was at this point, just after I decided that I was feeling pretty good and wasn’t going to risk stomach upset by eating some sports beans, that I swallowed a bug. So disgusting. And I wish I could say that it was the first time it happened to me, but I can’t. Yuck.

I run hills all the time, and my M.O. is not to look too far ahead. I focus on a tree, pole, car, whatever I can see a short distance ahead and not on the entire hill itself. Anything to take the focus off of whatever Mount Everest lies before me. Little by little, I conquered each hill. When I saw the man in the Gorilla suit slapping hands at mile 12, I knew we were in the homestretch.

Despite the hills, and despite the fact that my time was nowhere near a PR, I don’t ever remember feeling so good at a half marathon finish. Especially in the heat. I ran the last half mile at an average pace of 7:36, so there was definitely still fuel in the tank. I was able to sprint to the finish line and felt fine right after I stopped. All of this suggests that I did not push myself hard enough during the race, but I never felt like I was holding back at any point. It’s just as if I started to gain energy during the last few miles instead of lose it. Even though my pace times were undoubtedly slower on the hills, my body and energy levels felt  great. Huh. Whatever the reason, it was nice to finish and not feel wrecked.

I finished with a time of 1:51:23. Almost 8 minutes slower than my “Best Time Evah” at Boston’s Run to Remember last year, but given the heat and the hills, I’ll take it. Happily. It was a challenging race and I’m a happy, happy runner. Plus, I got a very cool medal.

Medal Photo courtesy of Diva Cindi

Medal Photo courtesy of Diva Cindi

It’s always funny to me how even though my playlist doesn’t change that often (i.e., I pretty much listen to the same damn 200 songs throughout the course of a running year), in each race there are different songs that really motivate me. Here are my top 3 from yesterday:

1. “Longview” by Green Day. My son just performed this in a School of Rock show, so I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. A lot may even be an understatement. So, I’ve heard it a lot and still love it – sign of a great song. Happened to come on at the start and got me moving right out of the gate.

2. “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” by Counting Crows. Not an obvious choice for a running playlist, but then again, I have some Grateful Dead on my playlist, so there you go. It has a steady beat, a pretty quick pace and it is my favorite Counting Crows song. Plus, it is great on a distance run – at nearly 8 minutes long, I just zone out to it and realize when it is over that I have covered some decent distance.

3. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. Queued up when I started up Heartbreak Hill. Perfect. There is no stopping on Heartbreak Hill. There. Is. No. Stopping. On. Heartbreak. Hill. Freddie Mercury agrees.

No question I’ll be back for more next year. And next time, Diva Cindi and I are bringing Colby with us (yes, Diva Cindi, I have all but signed you up again for next year). Can’t wait!

2013 Goals – the Recap

goaldreamsimage

Back in January, I set a bunch of goals for myself in 2013. Time to review and see how did before putting a list together for 2014. Here’s my original list and my progress…

1. Run a marathon. Check! Marine Corps Marathon on October 27. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. Cannot wait until my next marathon.

2. Ride the Pan Mass Challenge. Done. Incredible. Inspirational. Life-changing. Counting the days (11!) until registration begins for PMC 2014.

3. Do yoga regularly. Epic fail. Time to accept that I just don’t like it enough to do it regularly and move on. I’m a person who would love to love yoga, but I am not a person who actually loves yoga. There is a difference. A big difference. I’m sure I’ll do it from time to time and I do enjoy the stretching, but “regularly” and “yoga” just ain’t gonna happen for me.

4. Find another pick-up soccer league, since my old one seems to have dissolved. My old one started up again over the summer. Unfortunately, due to PMC & marathon training, and my fear of injuries (I sprained my ankle pretty badly during one of these games a few years ago), I never made it to a game. Next year!

5. Become more fit overall and take care of my body. Eh, I did ok on this one. Definitely cross-trained more – training for the PMC helped in that regard. Definitely stretched more, but still not enough. Started weight training and then dropped it. Repeatedly. Hope to keep making progress on this one in 2014.

6. Find a 5K that is conducive (i.e. does not have a completely crowded, bottlenecked first half-mile that all of the “fun” races seem to have) to me breaking a 7:30 pace. Then actually doing it. Never broke the 7:30 pace. Waaah! Didn’t run too many 5K’s this year, because my race schedule was full of longer and different types of races. Fastest 5K was at a 7:37 pace. Did run a 2-mile run portion of a Duathlon at a 7:25 pace, but never quite reached this goal. 2014!

7. More race goals: try at least three 5K’s or half marathons that I have not run before. Finish the &*^%)$!%# Fairfield Half with my head held high (and hopefully without the minor heatstroke). Done and Done. Ran Boston’s Run to Remember Half Marathon, Vermont Covered Bridges half Marathon, Guilford’s Frosty 5K and Boston Volvo’s Thanksgiving 5K, all of which were new ones for me. Also competed in two duathlons, which was an entirely new type of race for me. Fairfield Half was hot & steamy, but I ran a smart race and finished with my head held as high as I could hold it after 13.1 miles of misery.

8. Volunteer at a race to pay it forward for all of those who have handed out water and rung cowbells for me in past races. Done. Volunteered at Boston’s Run to Remember. Great experience. Volunteering at a race needs to become an annual goal for me.

9. Try Pilates. Or cross-country skiing. Or both. Something new, in any event. Never got to Pilates, but I did try cross-country skiing, and loved it. I also did my first burpee. Didn’t love that as much, but obviously didn’t hate it too much, either, since I accepted the Spartan Race 30 Day Burpee challenge and went on to do 900 more.

10. Make headway with Colby on our idea for a 5K race for the disabled. Would be great if we could actually pull it together in 2013; if not, would like to have something in the works for 2014. We have not gotten around to this. Keeping it on the list for 2014.

And there is a year of goals in review. I met some, didn’t even come close to others, and some remain a solid work in progress. Truth be told, if I had met them all, I would have felt disappointed, not satisfied. What’s left to do if you meet all of your goals???

Off to work on my list for 2014!

Goalimage

Ready, Set…

One of my many favorite things about races is people watching before the start. I love to get to a race a bit early so I can walk around and watch everyone go through their own pre-race routines.

Confession: I have one pre-race routine, and one only. It all centers around the ladies room (or porta-potty, if it’s that kind of a race). Not so much with 5K’s, but at longer races, I am obsessed with making sure all of my earlier hydration is taken care of before the race begins. I have had to stop at porta-potties along the course before, and it ain’t fun. Nothing like waiting in a line for a dirty porta-potty at mile 9. So, my own pre-race warm-up (obsession) centers around finding the bathroom with the shortest line. I’m like a Black Friday shopper looking for a bargain when it comes to scoping out the “best” bathroom situation. If there is a long line at all of them, I have been known to get right back in line right after using the bathroom just in case. (side note: Colby and I found a bathroom at the Danbury Half that no one else seemed to know about- there was never a line of more than 2 people! It was our first big score of the day, and really set the tone for what turned out to be a great race for both of us. We felt like winners before we ever got to the starting line.)

Other people have far more interesting pre-race routines, though, and when I’m not checking out bathroom lines, I’m checking out the warm-ups.

1. Eastern Fusion. Colby and I watched a guy on Sunday do what looked to be a short round of tai chi, followed by a few sun salutations. In the middle of the gym where people were lining up to get their bibs. His last sun salutation came close to taking out another runner. Personally, I’m amazed that it is possible for someone to get into that zone in a smelly crowded gym. But maybe that is just because I suck at yoga.

2. High Steppers. Outside, I always see lots of people running back and forth doing high knees. I’m not sure what this does. I keep meaning to check my Kara Goucher book, but always forget by the time I get back from the race. And right now, I’m too busy enjoying my coffee to check. And I wouldn’t do it anyway (too busy with the bathroom), so I’d rather not know how much it would help my performance. I will note that the people who do this look pretty fierce, so it must do something good.

3. Pre-Race Runners. I also always see a lot of people running before a race, which is interesting to me. I guess for a 5K, a warm-up run might work the kinks out before the start, although, unless you time your warm-up run to end right before the start, I wonder if sitting around afterward lets all the kinks settle back in? Anyway, I’m really fascinated by people who run before a longer race, like a half. I love long runs, but I generally find the 13.1 of the race itself to be enough for the day.

4. Massage Clients. Lots of races have massage therapists on site who will provide free massages to runners. And lots of people take them up on their offers – before the race. When I see someone get massaged before the race, I see someone who I would never allow to be my white-water rafting guide. Or my money manager. These are the risk takers. I am always too afraid to get the free massages – what if they mess me up? Not because they are bad therapists, but because it just happens sometimes. Nonetheless, there are always people lining up to roll the dice for the pre-race massages.  Fascinating.  And daring.

5. Barefoot Runners. OK, I should really say Barefoot Runner (singular) because there is only one in our neck of the woods. And there’s no pre-race routine, here, I’m just fascinated by his feet. There is this one guy who runs barefoot – not minimalist – barefoot – in all of the crazy weather conditions CT throws at us. And on pavement. I made a mental note to see if I could check his soles for burn assessment after the Fairfield Half last June, but I was too heat stroke’d to care by the time I finished. I wouldn’t be shocked to see horseshoes on the bottom of his feet.

6. Drinkers. Many of the 5K races we run start and end at bars (perhaps this is why Colby and I have never been asked to join any elite running teams). And I see lots of people getting their drink on before these races. Color me impressed. Anyone who has been drinking with me before knows that I have the tolerance of a 90-year old teetotaler and can barely drink after a race (sadly, I rarely let this unfortunate fact stop me), let alone before. I take my hat off to you, pre-race drinkers!

I have to say, just watching and listening to all the people before the race on Sunday got me very excited that race season 2013 has fully begun.  Even when the race itself doesn’t go the way I want, the people watching never disappoints!

Goooooooal(s)!

Wishing Everyone All Good Things in 2013!

Wishing Everyone All Good Things in 2013!

So, I’m not into New Year’s Resolutions. Way too impatient to wait until December 31 to change something if I think it needs fixing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but for Pete’s sake, if it is broke, why wait?!?  For me, making a resolution to effect a change come January 1 is akin to people planning to start a diet on Monday…if you have to put off a change to an artificial date, isn’t it kind of doomed from the start? I guess that the dawn of a new year is a powerful motivator for some people and implementing changes on Jan 1 works for them. Just not for me.

That said, I think that Jan 1 is a great time to set some goals for the year ahead (or, “goooooals,” as we soccer fans like to say). I have a bunch, and thought I’d list the sports related ones here.

By the time the ball drops on December 31, 2013, I hope to have:

1. Run a marathon. Good Lord, it is time. Even my non-running, most-likely-to-be-adversely-impacted by me having a marathon training schedule husband thinks so. With his total support, I’m going to run a marathon in 2013.

2. Ride the Pan Mass Challenge. February 7, 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of my beloved husband’s final treatment for cancer. He’s doing great and I can’t think of a more special way to lead in to his 25th anniversary celebration than by raising funds for cancer research while riding with some of my dearest friends.

3. Do yoga regularly. Would like to practice it at least once a week.  if I can actually clear my mind once, so much the better.

4. Find another pick-up soccer league, since my old one seems to have dissolved.

5. Become more fit overall and take care of my body. Do enough core work that I will be able to tell whether I actually have abdominal muscles. Do more weight training – get my back and arms up to par with my lower half. Get more massages, use my foam roller more and continue to stretch daily.

6. Find a 5K that is conducive (i.e does not have a completely crowded, bottlenecked first half-mile that all of the “fun” races seem to have) to me breaking a 7:30 pace. Then actually doing it.

7. More race goals: try at least three 5K’s or half marathons that I have not run before. Finish the &*^%)$!%# Fairfield Half with my head held high (and hopefully without the minor heatstroke).

8. Volunteer at a race to pay it forward for all of those who have handed out water and rung cowbells for me in past races.

9. Try Pilates.  Or cross-country skiing. Or both.  Something new, in any event.

10. Make headway with Colby on our idea for a 5K race for the disabled. Would be great if we could actually pull it together in 2013; if not, would like to have something in the works for 2014.

I love this list. It’s challenging, but doable and really makes me look forward to seeing what I can accomplish in 2013.

Cheers to all and may you all meet your goals and keep your resolutions, whatever they may be!