So be sure when you step. You step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Toddlers, Teenagers, Turkey Trots

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the token Turkey Trot.   Which, of course, does not surprise anyone since running is favorite thing to do upon waking up.  I also signed Brenna up for the "tot trot" - a short 35 meter dash for kids under seven years old.   She was excited and enthusiastic about it, especially since she had new running shoes.

In fact, both kids have new running shoes.

So it's just about transitioning from the stroller to the sidewalk.

Because yes,  we still do sometimes use the stroller, but it's not just as simple as it used to be.  For example, a simple jog to Walgreens to pick up a prescription easily turns into a shopping spree.

The day before Thanksgiving, I took the kids to the packet pickup.  Hayden surprised me by announcing that he also wanted to race.   "Are you sure?" I asked him, because the race had an $8 price  tag.   He assured me, and even though I was skeptical, I believed him.

Race day was hectic and the tot trot was crowded.  The kids were understandably intimidated.

Brenna was a trooper and nervously stood at the start line.
Hayden, on the other hand, refused to leave my side.
 The start gun went off and the tot trot turned into the tot stampede...there were kids running everywhere.  My kids ran too - or maybe Hayden moreso got dragged - and less than 60 seconds later, it was all over.  The finish was a sea of lost kids, standing and screaming for their parents.  Once nice thing about having kids attached to your hip is you cannot lose them, even if you tried.

The adult race was much more organized.  The 10K started first and the 5K started five minutes later.   Of
course I chose the 5K!

The race started off fast but I stayed in my comfortable zone.  Within the first mile, I passed most of the girls in front of me.  I knew there was one more girl up ahead, but she remained out of my sight for most of the race.  The course quickly became crowded as we merged with the slower 10K runners.   It is much easier to just go around people on the left instead of weaving through the crowd, however, it's not very strategic because it is a longer route.  I chose that option anyway.

My longer route was 3.19 miles but I didn't care.  Until I saw the finish, looked down at my watch, and realized I was not going to break 20 minutes unless I started to sprint.  So, I smiled one last time and managed to cross the finish line at 19:56.

I recently turned 32 and I guess maybe I acquired some patience with my older age because for the first time ever, my mile splits go from slowest to fastest.
Mile 1 - 6:20
Mile 2 - 6:15
Mile 3 - 6:10

I knew that there was one girl very much ahead of me who after the first corner, never re-entered my sight line.  So I was surprised to learn at the rewards that I finished third place, not second.  Who was the other girl?

The other girl turned out to be so much faster than me that she never was in my sight to begin with!  And not only was this girl many minutes faster than me - she was only 13 years old.

But anyway, I got a small check and a pie.  The pie was strawberry.

On a similar note,
I am doing an inaugural, all-women trail race series.
The first race was a 5K on a hilly trail and an easy win.
The second race, a 6K, was on Saturday.  
There were some new, fast looking faces at the race.  But the only one that made me nervous was a short, thin girl lined up directly on the start line.  She was 13 years old.

Again, the race started off fast, but again, I know better so I allowed the young girl to take the lead.  I knew my best bet was not to run fast, but to run smart.  Unlike at the turkey  trot, I selective about my route...keeping the distance as short as possible, while attempting to avoid puddles of wet mud. 

A little past Mile 2, I was able to take the lead and pick it up for Mile 3.  This race was 3.75 miles and during the last half mile, I got tired.  I carefully glanced over my shoulder and saw emptiness.  I sighed with relief and slowed down.  But a few minutes later, I glanced again and there she was - moments behind me.

So once again, I realized that I had to frantically sprint to the finish.
This time, I barely beat the kid.  These kids are going to be super stars one day.

I wonder if it all started with a toddler trot?

Monday, November 18, 2013

"So When Are You Going to Do One?"

It was that day of the year again - perhaps my favorite day of the year - the day of the local Ironman.

This is a day that I immensely enjoy....a day that the entire city is immersed and obsessed with my favorite thing.  The triathlon.  All day people are swimming and cycling and running....and my neighborhood is packed with people who love swimming and cycling and running as much as I do.

My day is very active as I cheer on my friends.  I even drag my kids and husband with me.

But.......I get spared from the lake waters, eat real food for lunch in lieu of gels and relax on my couch instead of tackling headwinds on my bicycle.  I feel very satisfied with my choice to not subject myself to such self-inflicted misery, although every year, I am routinely asked:  So, when are YOU going to do one?

Even my husband asked me this, to whom my answer was:  When I am 50.

OK, so 50 is pretty far away.  Maybe I will be grandma.
However, I still consider myself still fairly new at this sport.
I have never used a coach or even a training schedule.  I have never tried a tri-bike or long sleeved wetsuit. I have never raced in a different state or swam in the ocean.  I have never found my footing during an Olympic triathlon nonetheless felt ready for anything longer....

I obviously have a lot to learn.

When I returned to running post high-school cross country, our city was having its inaugural rock and roll marathon.  Despite having very little experience with distance running, I actually did quite well and was quickly enamored with the marathon.  It was challenging.  It was prestigious.  It was undisputedly hardcore.

Anyone can run a 5K...but 26 miles?  You have really love running to run 26 miles.

But the marathon came at a price.  I suffered through an endless array of injuries.
Shin splits.  Tendonitis.  ITBS.  Sciatica.  Pulled hamstring.  Stress fracture.

My scoliosis, an annoying and unsightly 25-degrees curve in my spine, makes me prime candidate for pretty much any injury.  Each injury was unique in its own terrible way but they all shared one common thread:  They made me depressed.  And how does a runner deal with depression if they cannot run?

The marathon just wasn't worth it.

Over the past 7 years, which includes running for 30-weeks during my pregnancy, I have learned a lot about myself as an athlete.  There is so much more to running than just distance and there is so much more to recovery than just taking a day off.   My body will perform in amazing ways, but it requires a little more work and a little more patience than perhaps other bodies.

So while the marathon, a lost love, is still waiting for me to return, I am in no rush this time.  I am enjoying the path...filled with 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and trail races.  I have won races I never thought I could win and have set PRs that I never thought possible.

I am going to do a marathon again one day, but I am not going to limp and hobble away from the finish line in defeat and depression.
So until I can get my body to that point, there is no reason to even contemplate an Ironman.  Until then, I am going to enjoy the journey and seek successes that may be shorter but that are also followed by breakfast and sunshine.

And, of course, I will continue to celebrate the day of the Ironman while cheering on my friends, who are amazing and admirable athletes, while at the same secretly happy that it's not me out there.  At least, not yet and not any time soon.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Before and After Pictures

I think I mentioned a few posts below that over the summer I drove my car into my bedroom window.

I was working from home and playing hooky - to be more specific, I took a break to go to the neighborhood pool.  I did a quick swim and rushed home to return to work.   I carefully coasted into the driveway, just like I have a hundred times before, and gently tapped the break.  Except, somehow, it was the gas pedal instead.

I jumped out at the car, wearing only a Zoot bikini and flip flops, jaw agape.  I didn't know what to do, so I paced back and forth in the front yard for 20 minutes.  Every once in awhile, I glanced up to see if the damage somehow magically disappeared.

Eventually, I gathered my gall and called my husband.  He handled the words, "Dude, I just drove my car into our bedroom" surprisingly well.  It took me a little longer to come acquire the same ease, however, today I am ready to talk about it.

The previous owner converted the garage into a master bedroom.  David and I never loved the fact that the windows faced the street.   Lets call this the "Before Picture."

And I guess we can call this one the "After I Drove My Car Into the Window Picture" or shorten it to simply the "After Picture.

The wall was boarded for a few weeks and then reconstructed.  We decided to forgo the window.  After our new wall was complete, I realized that it was now the perfect wall for supporting handstands.  And if I am going to be handstands, I figured, why not stop there?  And so, it has now become a family yoga corner.





So....even though I am very pleased with the end-result, I do not recommend trying this at home.  I can't believe my husband still allows me to park the driveway. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

End of October

I don't have many memories of Halloween growing up.   I slightly remember collecting my candy in a pillow case.  I do remember the year my mother made my costume, though.  I was a bat.

I suspect this was a safe choice for my mother, who has never resembled a Betty homemaker of any sort. Bats are perhaps one of the ugliest creatures to spawn on the planet, so this gave her a lot of leeway.  Even a horribly hideous costume would be successful, as long as it was brown.

What I didn't realize back then, as I was standing in brown tights, deformed wings, and tears streaming down my cheeks, is how much work goes into everything when you are the parent.   This last week in October has been filled with fall festivities - all of which has left me somewhat deflated.

I want to give my kids warm family experiences to remember, however I had many of those experiences and yet all I remember is that butchered bat costume.

One thing I may consider giving up next year is the pumpkin patch.  The problem with pumpkin patch is its opened during October.  Even though this year we waited until the last weekend to go, it was still 91 degrees.  After a long car ride and smothering the kids in sunscreen, we waited in the sun to ride the ponies.

And then we took a hayride to the pumpkin field so that the kids could pick out overpriced pumpkins. 
They each selected a small pumpkin that they  I had to lug around for the remainder of the day.  
Shortly after our trip, all the pumpkins at Sprouts (even the large ones) went on sale for $1.  So, not only did we pay $20 to get into the farm, we overpaid 400%  for our pumpkins.  

Hayden's pumpkin got carved and sent to school,
Brenna's pumpkin still sits outside our decorated house, which now needs to be un-decorated.

Albeit work, I admit, I did have fun decorating.
In addition to the deformed panda bear and Mr. Wonderful  from last year, I created three new characters using butter knives and fake blood.
On Halloween, my creativity continued as I made Hayden's favorite food:  Hot dogs.
I made them look like bloody fingers!!
At first, I was quite proud.

But then he refused to eat them since they did, indeed, look like bloody fingers.  

Hayden did like his costume though (Thomas the Train).  Brenna was a mermaid and a little more demanding and dramatic.

After celebrating at each of their respective preschools, it was time for them to pay me back by collecting as much candy as possible.  Previous years proved their trick-or-treating skills to be sub par.  I mean, last year, we practically had to drag them around the block.   This year, they walked on their own, with very little whining, and we even made it off the street.  And, Hayden only tripped and spilled his candy twice!

They really enjoyed knocking on the doors, perhaps too much, and did a good job holding out their buckets for the droplets of candy.  Unfortunately, we came home without any Twizzlers or Butterfingers and too many tootsie rolls.

One thing I have learned raising twins is to take as many shortcuts as possible.  Next year, we will just buy a pumpkin in the comfort of a clean and air conditioned Trader Joes.  And the hot dogs will remain plain, boring hot dogs.

In hindsight, I do appreciate the effort my mother put forth when attempting to create my bat ensemble.  It's a lot of work to get a kid into a costume, nonetheless make the costume.

And for this reason I will spare myself the stress and stick to the consignment stores.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One weekend: Two hard races

Race #1:
This was Brenna's race - a very short, very fast, very straight course.  Hayden opted out so this was a unique opportunity for Brenna to claim something, and have a moment to shine on her own.

I was excited for her.
I was ecstatic as she lined up on the start line in her form-fitting pants( showing off her perfect legs) and her race bib plastered to her Hello Kitty shirt.  She was the image of intimidation.
Just like most races, there was that uncomfortable wait from the lineup to the start.  Brenna's face began to appear nervous.

Of course, I am on the sideline, frantically waving and jumping up and down - so she could be less nervous and more mortified.  I shock myself sometimes by behaving like that mom.  You know, the embarrassing kind that I swore I would never become.

When the race started, all the kids started to run.
I don't think Brenna expected quite the stampede.
Lost in the shuffle, she started to freak out.

My baby girl was scared.
She wanted to quit.
I jumped in the race, grabbed her hand, and a mere few seconds later, she flew into the finish.
She was very proud of her well-deserved medal and wore it for three days straight:

Race #2:
This was my race - a half-Ironman distance relay race.  Naturally, I was doing the run portion (a half marathon).

I signed on to do this 5 weeks ago, very honored to be part of such an amazing team.  It only dawned on me a few days later that 13 miles is a really long distance.  After taking many weeks off due to injury, my first long run, 10 miles, was brutal.

I took a week off for my triathlon, and then returned with another 10-miler that slightly boasted my self confidence.  I followed up with a 12 miler and 13 miler - and then declared myself ready because I had no choice.  But being part of a team relieved a lot of pressure and I actually felt like I really was ready.

The race day morning air was saturated with energy and excitement - I loved being part of it all while not putting on my wetsuit.  As I watched athlete after athlete jump into the water, I was filled with delight that I was remaining dry.

Our swimmer, a talented athlete who is returning to the sport after a life-altering medical condition leaving her short a limb, bravely jumped into the water with all the others.  If she was scared, it did not show.

She swam a fantastic swim - I was there to help her out the water but honestly, she did not need help.  I switched the timing chip to our cyclist and he sprinted off with his bike.  Now, I just had a two hour and 20 minute wait.

I laid down, drank water, did some drills.
I was concerned about my feet because I felt a blister forming.
So I re-adjusted my shoe a few dozen times.

I started to run a little after 10am - very aware of the elevating sun and warming air.  I was also aware of my foot that I cautiously wrapped in mole skin, but it felt okay.  The tailwind made that first mile effortless, but everything after that got exponentially worse.

Miles 2-6 were fine.  I was still aware of my foot but I was averaging 7-minute miles with relative ease.  But then Mile 7 started and my foot started to hurt.  Despite my best effort, I must have changed my gait because then everything else started to hurt.  My quads.  My hamstrings.  My other foot.

I struggled to hold 7:30s and then 7:40s.

Even though I managed to put on a smiling face for the camera, my form, or lackthereof, is a complete giveaway of my crumbling condition.
Mile 4                                            Mile 10
 At Mile 11, I was in so much pain that I was doing the unthinkable:  stopping.
I wasn't even walking - I would just stand for a few seconds to allow the pain to subside.

I wanted to quit.
But I had a team relying on me.
The stopping-running method is not efficient nor recommended but it did finally bring me to the finish.

With the heat and lack of training, I wasn't expecting anything phenomenal but I also was not expecting such excruciating pain or a piddly 1:36:07.  Our team finished 20th, and while respectable, I wish I could have ran slightly better.  But, we had a great time and I am thrilled I got to participate.

When I got home, I inspected my foot to find out that my blister was actually a Planter's wart.  I removed it with a pair of tweezers and after much stretching, I am pleased to emerge unscathed despite a little bruising to the ego.  At the end of the day, I am so grateful to be able to run, even with a nasty wart.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Running Fast is Hard

With my intercostal muscle and foot finally fully healed, I have been loving every step of running.  I have not managed to find the willpower to find myself at the pool – it’s cold in the morning and in the afternoon, well, I rather run. I always tell myself, “Run today and swim tomorrow instead.”  And then the following day, I simply repeat myself.

I had an itch to race but resistant because I am not in my best shape.  When I saw my friend Angie last week at the trail race (as mentioned below), I thought it was really cool that she could just run a race for fun.  She is nursing school so not in her best shape either (last year, she won that race - this year, she chatted with me for the last four miles).

I love racing.  I also want to be able to separate the fun aspect from the competitive aspect.  I cannot always be in tiptop shape but that doesn't mean I need to sit at home.  Octoberfest seemed like the perfect event to pull off a "just for fun race."

My original plan was to do the 5 mile race as a tempo run.  I cannot even recall my last tempo run.  But after a chatty 45 minute warm-up with a friend, I missed the start and switched to the slightly later 5K.  And also, 45 minutes to me is practically an entire workout on its own.
As always, I felt great during the first half mile but I cautiously kept myself from sprinting ahead.  I was guessing I was running a 6 minute pace.  I started to feel tired around Mile 2, which is typical, so I looked down at my watch.  I was surprised to see I was only running a 6:20 pace.   And then we reached the stairs.   Stairs?!?!    I took them two at a time, which in hindsight, was not the best approach.  It made my legs feel really heavy when I attempted to run fast again.  I looked at my watch – 6:27 pace!

I ended up with a 19:36, so not horrible considering the lack of training. And because of the convoluted local race schedule, I placed 3rd and got a plaque.

It made me re-realize how hard it is to run fast  (if that is even considered fast).  But, it was fun, and that was the point.

Next weekend is another race.  It is a kid race.  Like me, the kids have done minimal training.

Brenna, who literally follows in my footsteps (since I do not let her cling to my leg), is eager to run to run like mom.  She even sticks out her tongue deep in concentration.  Her short legs are surprisingly quick.

Hayden, on the other hand, is not only realizing how hard it is to run fast, but how hard it is just to run.  After a few seconds, he pretends to fall.  And after a few falls, he is exhausted.  This is the result of too many summer afternoons watching My Little Pony because it was 120 degrees outside.  

I don’t want to force him to do something he dislikes, but if up to him, he would only play with Lego and trains all day.  So, I do not know if he will do the race – that’s for him to decide – I can only encourage him to be healthy and remind him what I remind myself:  It’s all about having fun.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Never Ending Question

It is always bitter sweet when triathlon season ends.
On one hand, it is very freeing to be relieved of the pressure of finding time to go to the pool and hop on my bike.   I can do what I want to do, and that is way I prefer to do things.

But, on the other hand, I get easily bored.
I like having goals.

So, after a week or two of puttering around, it always begs the questions:  What should I do Next?

This is why I was quick to sign on to run a half-Ironman-distance relay race.  I was stoked to get the chance to participate in one last triathlon of the season, even if it was just for a portion.  Only after the fact that it dawn on me that 13 miles is quite far.   It has been nearly 2 years since I last tackled that distance. And, with only three weeks to train, I wasn't left with much time.

For this reason, I opted to sit out at first trail race of the season on Sunday in lieu of a long run.  I am so lucky though that I have a side job that enables to be involved, even when not participating.  

I love the mountains.  I love being around others who also love them.  Like, my friend Angie.   Angie is perhaps one of the most talented athletes I know so I took the opportunity to run with her  the last few miles of the race.  

She said (without me even asking) that I should focus on running for the rest of the season.  This is exactly what I wanted to hear!!!!

But with my intercostal muscle being nearly fully recovered, I can't shake that nagging voice in my head to keep swimming.

Last year I was determined to "train my weakness."  I swam all winter.
In Arizona, it sounds reasonable.  But, the desert does get cold. 

I hate being cold.

I ask myself, Was it worth it?
I've had some frustration with a general lacking of personal bests, however I repeatedly took time off of my swim.  I also won two races - so, in that regards, the hours in the pool have paid off.  Maybe I just need to continue being patient.

I hate being patient as much as I hate being cold.

I need to contemplate this issue.  While I do this, I am going to shift focus onto my kids.

After a summer of being held hostage to sweltering heat, I dare say my kids are teetering on the brink of becoming couch potatoes.  I am trying to re-introduce them to outdoor activities, it is just proving to be a time consuming project, as documented in this rather lengthy video of attempting to get to the end of the street.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lifetime Sprint Triathlon

I almost did not make it to this race.

You know that strained lat muscle I mentioned below?
It turned out to be a strained intercostal muscle.  Which turned out to be a pretty big deal.

I never knew this muscle existed until I hurt it - but now I know it is involved in everything.  It hurts to laugh, cough, roll over, sit up, and pick up my kids.  It hurts to breathe and hurts to sleep.  It hurts to open car doors, heavy stores doors, and the house door while also carrying 15 plastic bags of groceries.  It hurts to turn my bike.  And, mostly, it hurts to swim.

When I hit the one week mark without seeing any signs of improvement, I started to accept I would not race my last triathlon of the year.  In some ways, I did not care.  Because of my foot injury and Hood2Coast recovery, my mileage was low and my speed work was sparse.  I felt slow and sluggish.

This carried over to the bike.  In fact, my legs felt so powerless on my bicycle, I took it to see Mr. Bikeman.  "Something must be wrong with my bike", I complained.  "Maybe I need a new one."  It seemed obvious to me the best way to get out of my slump was to find myself on sleek, sexy, out-of-my-price range, TT-bike.

Mr. Bikeman was fast to say, "You absolutely do not need a new bike.  This is a great bike."

Whatever.  It is a road bike.  And it old.  And ugly.  I want a pretty bike!

"This bike would look pretty if you cleaned it more often," was his predictable response.  And then Mr. Bikeman cleaned some grime out of the cockpit and lectured me on my peddle stroke.

But, running and cycling issues aside, most of my summer was focused in the water.
When I thought about the hours, the boredom and the frustration that I invested, I cared about this last race quite a bit.  Otherwise, all those Master practices would have been for nothing.

It was not until the day before the race that I decided my injury had improved enough to endure a half-mile swim.  And even then, it was with a lack of certainty.  And after a two-week swimming hiatus, I now lacked confidence as well.

I felt so nervous getting into the lake water on race day.
I felt more nervous as I floated among the large wave of red swim caps (ladies under 40).  It was so crowded our bodies brushed together.

As always, the start was brutal.  Limbs frantically flew everywhere, including my own.  After a few minutes of chaos, I settled into a rhythm, relieved that I remembered how to swim.  But it was crowded the entire time.  It was windy and the water was choppy.  Sometimes I gasped for air and wound up with a mouthful of toxic lake water.  It became about survival.  Who cared about technique?

My swim time was 14:03, which a PR for the distance.  It was a top swim time, too, so maybe the course was long.  (I like to believe the swim course is always long).

My T1 transition was unpracticed and clunky.  My spot was in the back of the very large transition area.  It was going to be slow no matter what - so yeah, I took my time.  And  a shot of apple cider vinegar to kill the lake demons.

Eventually, I ran my bike out of transition and realized I had to run further than usual in order to mount.  The mounting spot was across the parking lot!  This added nearly a whole minute to my bike time.  But, I felt great on the bike.  The course had many very tight turns and multiple u-turns.  It was crowded, making it challenging to pass.  My overall bike time was a little slow (just shy of 35 minutes), but my cycling time (from mount to dismount) was pretty good (just under 34 minutes).  Not a PR, but also not too shabby for a road bike.

My T2 transition was less-slow than T1.  I grabbed a small electrolyte-induced water bottle for the run.  The goal was to use this water instead of the water stations.  But as soon as I started running, the water started splashing out.  It was a cheap, plastic mini-water bottle with a cheap, plastic sprout.  At about a half mile, I realized I barely had any water left.  I drank the remaining drops.

It was a beautiful day, but still September and still warm.  I was thirsty.  Since I am incapable of drinking from a cup while running, I had to stop at both water stations.

I knew by stopping twice I was not going to break 20-minutes on the run.  But, I did not know that I was in the first place female position.  What a treat to find that out as I crossed the finish line.  I won!

In most ways, I felt stoked because I like winning stuff.  Although, my kids were rather unimpressed (as usual):

and more impressed with the food, (as usual):

In another little way, I feel embarrassed because my winning time is so slow compared to other typical winning times.  It is even 75-seconds slower than my PR.  Before this race I said that I didn't feel my fastest, but I felt the most well-rounded. And that is true:  I didn't win this race by being really good in the run, I won by being equally decent at all 3 events.  And, of course, by luck.  No matter what, a win is always partially contributed to pure luck that no one faster was there.  Because at my level, there is always someone faster.  Just sometimes they are doing bigger, badder things.

Or sleeping.

Friday, September 13, 2013

General Update about Stuff

The kids went to their annual doctor appointment where it was confirmed that they are indeed  taller and heavier than they were the previous the year.

So we have been busy doing BIG KID things.  For example, Brenna and I tried ice skating.  This was a good idea in theory.   It was less of a good idea when I realized I had no idea how to stop and suggested that we just "bang into the wall." 

They are also training for their next race.
So far we do not have the best track record.  During their first race, they sat down and screamed.  And then their second race was canceled due to rain.

Training thus far is trying to make it around the block.  Going around the block can be tedious because there are just so many things to pick up.  Like rocks.  And twigs.  And trash.  And abandoned chewed gum.

And as for me, I have been happily running and persistently swimming.  In fact, I swam 21 miles in August.  For me, that is a lot of miles in a pool.  I was at a pool almost every day!  Even in a lapse of childcare, I still went to Masters.  Thank goodness for computers, tablets and phones and $2 episodes of My Little Pony.

I feel like I should be a good swimmer.  I have crazy long arms and big hands.  Like a monkey.  But, also like Michael Phelps.

But apparently having nearly freakishly sized limbs does not help you at all if you cannot figure out how to control  them.  My elbow does not bend enough.  My hips do not rotate enough.  My wrist bends at the wrong time.  I take too many stokes.  Bla. Bla. Bla.

I strained my lat muscle though so for now, I can only run.  I cannot swim.

The injury did not happen in the pool, or even near the pool.  It happened in yoga class, while attempting a forearm stand.

This is my second yoga-related injury.
Who knew yoga could be so dangerous?

Then again, I seem to rather accident prone (Brenna should probably re-think ever going ice skating with me again).  I even ran my car into my own house.  Aside from 9-year old Stephanie Tanner, who does that?

Ah yes, the same person who injures themselves in yoga class.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hood to Coast

Hood to Coast was everything I was expecting - gorgeous scenery, great people, and an overall epic experience.  The race start was staggered in 15-minute intervals.  The slower teams began at 7am and the faster teams began at 7pm.  We started at 3:30pm.

Because of our later start, we were able to enjoy our morning in Portland.  The Embassy Suites provided a really good complimentary breakfast.   I had an omelette (made to order), a pancake, a yogurt, potatoes, orange juice and coffee.  I don't get to eat a breakfast like that very often, if ever, because I usually do not stay in an Embassy Suites.

Anyway, the race started on Mount Hood.  It was lovely up there.  The air was so thin that it made our bag of Doritos inflate and my ears crack.  We started with six other teams.  Our first runner was real fast, and passed them all.  This is what people call a "kill."

I was the second runner.  People warned me that my leg was a steep downhill, but they also assured me that it was nowhere as bad as Leg 1.  I knew that it was important for me to lean forward during this downhill to avoid burning out my quads.

Mind you, I have only ran a few times in the past month.  None of them fast.  Few of them over 6 miles.  So, while my legs were able to turn over at a 6 min mile pace, my cardiovascular system was not able to keep up.

At one point, I glanced down at my Garmin to note that it had only been nine minutes.  It's not a good sign if you are exhausted after only nine minutes.

I slowed down but at the expense of my legs.  I wore my Hokas in attempt to lessen the effect but my legs were toasted regardless.  I thought the scenery would serve as a distraction, but instead I barely noticed it.

We finished running down the Mountain and met our Van 2 in a large Safeway parking lot.  There were a lot of other vans there and I met people from all countries imaginable: Amsterdam, Italy, France - and everyone was so open and friendly and interesting.

Eventually we continued back to Portland and had dinner at Whole Foods.  It was the first fresh food since my breakfast feast.  It was also already 9pm, which is my bedtime, so needless to say, I felt tired.  After my soup, I slouched at the table and looked at my teammate standing up, rubbing his belly that was full of smoked salmon.  "Yeah," he said thoughtfully, "I really feel like I need to go for a run."

My second run was around 12:30am through the industrial district.  This stretch of the race is completely dark.  Despite getting crowned with a headlamp, I could not see anything but endless blackness.

I didn't even see other runners!  I "killed" four runners within the first mile, but after that, it was just a sea of black.  The first three miles were pretty good, probably around a 7:15 pace.  But then my legs became heavy with lactic acid.  The best thing you can do when this happens is to run as fast as you can so you that you can be done. So, that is what I did.

I was hoping for sleep before my last run but of course it did not happen.  That is what I dislike most about these relay races - sleep never happens!  Even if you get the chance, your body does not cooperate.

By the time of my last run, my legs were so sore.  I did tons of stretching (at one point, I even had an audience of those in awe of my flexibility.  But the last thing I wanted was to put on a show,  I just wanted my legs to stop aching!)  However, without rest is there is no recovery, body contortion and compression socks aside.

My third run was on rolling hills through the woods.  I would say that these 5.8 miles mimicked the pain of the last 5.8 miles of a marathon.  I hate that pain - that is why I don't run marathons!!

I focused on killing people and hit my expected pace.  And then....I was done!!!!

Despite the fatigue and the pain, I had a great time in Oregon.  I met many fabulous people, saw many fabulous sights and at the end of it all, I felt like I really accomplished something.  It was more of an adventure than a race.