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

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.