Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

This IS my Happy Face.

Here follows a riveting, step-by-step recap of last weekend’s rain-athlon.  You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  You’ll be forever changed.  You’ll never get this four minutes back.

After taking most of Thursday to get my head back on, I did well Friday.   It finally came down to the fact that I couldn’t face being a wimp.  It came down to ego.  Facing the triathlon was the lesser of two evils.  I needed the bragging rights, I couldn’t sit home pouting while everyone else put on their big pants and did the race.  Plus – did I mention? – they have free beer.

Once I figured that out and got moving I felt better.  I got organized, printed a triathlon check list and realized I’d done well getting everything arranged and packed.  The alarm went off at 4am, the car was loaded and we were set to go.  Weather.com never changed its mind; this is what our drive to Tunica looked like:

rainy

 That’s rain, not a crappy picture.  Although it is also a crappy picture.  Hey – it was 5am and I was only on my third coffee.

I stalled on the Happy Face a bit when we arrived, getting out of the car in 52 degrees of windy rain.  We set up my transition in the rain and mud and went into the hotel to stay as warm and dry as we could until the start.  The lobby was full of people in varying stages of concern, irritation, or resignation, making me not the only one with the Idonwannas.  One of my friends walked out and went home.  I felt slightly envious.

Sitting on the lobby floor I wrestled with the now sentient and obviously reluctant wetsuit which, as I pulled at the rubberized neoprene, continuously snapped back into its original shape like a new rubber band, clinging to my calves as I pulled and stretched with increasing effort.  I finally got the reluctant thing – I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any happier than the rest of us –  about halfway up my thighs.  Standing, I jumped in place and tugged on the suit, because jumping up and down helps?  At one point I got my arms into the arm holes but couldn’t stand straight because the crotch was still halfway up my thighs.  Normally this type of thing would be a bit embarrassing, bent in half, in public, captive to a large stretchy garment of rubber, but everyone else was doing the same dance.

The best part?  When I finally got it on, found a stranger to zip me and was able to stand straight?  I had to go to the bathroom.  And it wasn’t optional.

Thank you, nice lady in the bathroom, whom I’ve never met before, because with my hair smashed inside the rubber swimming condom and my body squished flatter than a pancake you looked for a moment as though someone was not in the correct restroom, and yet you didn’t scream.

thankyou

Waiting for the start, standing in barefoot in the wet, muddy grass in a sleeveless wetsuit and 52-degree rain made the jump into 68-degree water feel nice.  Even nicer, I felt no fear of the swim.  I wasn’t much faster than last year, in fact it seemed to take much longer – because this time I knew where I was going? – but I made it.  I ran through the squishy muddy grass to my transition site.   The wetsuit that didn’t want me is now my best friend, “please, I love you, don’t leave me” and I plopped in the mud, finally jerking it off my feet, pulling socks on over the mud – who cared at this point – and crammed on my bike shoes.

Running through the grassy muddy transition I worried about all the stuff that could get crammed in my cleats and if I’d be able to clip in, but the Gods of Rainy Triathlons provided a handy-dandy shoe washing station:

IMG_0660

 That’s not me ^^

This is me:

MIM tri v.2

This IS my Happy Face ^^
(DISCLAIMER – I am not a member of the Very Awesome Thunder Tri Team, but Kat C. loaned me this jacket to stay warm on the bike.  See?  Awesome people.)

The bike was great!  I was hitting 20 – 21 mph!  It was so easy!  No strain, quads kicking in and not complaining, calves are silent – maybe it’s a miracle?  I’ve had a miraculous cycling miracle with my 2014 training plan of four bike rides?  This is AWESOME!  I’m golden!  I’m like … in a shitton of trouble, turning left halfway through the bike into a straight-on headwind blowing misty rain in my face.  I dropped from 20mph to 10 in about 13 seconds.  A woman in my age group passed me and disappeared into the distance.  Dammit.

If you’ve never done a run following a bike ride, even a really slow bike ride, it’s weird.  Cycling cadence is much higher than a run cadence; your legs get used to going round and round faster than usual, so when you head out on the run it feels like you’re still slogging through the mud of transition, yet you’re gasping for air, doing a 100-count-per-minute cadence.  It seems to take most of the first mile to get the message to my legs that they can relax now.  I managed to pass the lady who’d passed me on the bike and came into the chute knowing I’d left everything on the course, finishing 6 minutes slower than last year, all of it lost on the bike.

Saturday afternoon sitting around the pool with everyone I found myself thinking, “I could still register for tomorrow’s Olympic distance”, and I considered it for a moment, before realizing I was completely untrained for it.  I knew, given my sincere desire not to injure this year, that  it was a bad idea.  But if I were trained up enough…

WTH??

Get yer head outta yer …

It took considerable effort and most of the day – and a sunny day at that, which would normally help more than it did – but I think I have finally successfully completed the most recently needed headeroidectomy.

This time last year, a couple days before the Memphis in May Sprint Tri, I was also a bitch, but it was born of fear.  Heart-pounding, jump-out-of-the-car-and-run-to-the-portajohn fear.  I wish I were a better person, a person who could panic with grace and good humor, but so far in my life that has never happened.  At least for now I’m stuck being a jerk.  Hopefully I’m shortening the jerk duration but I have no proof.

I’ll tell you the difference a year makes.  I have no reason to believe that you will believe what I’m about to say because I sure didn’t, and I’m the one who heard the words come out of my own mouth, although I could have been channeling some long dead Egyptian god of the Nile, in which case it would have been my own mouth I guess, but not my own words, right?  Anyway, you can imagine my shock when one day my mouth said out loud, “I’d like to get a swim in the lake.”

I turned around reallyquick to be sure Jeff Dunham was not standing behind me playing a practical joke but, no, it was just me and Murphy, and Murph was busy chasing a squirrel and barking.  He’s good and all, but I’m pretty sure he cannot be a ventriloquist and bark at the same time.  Apparently it was my mouth which said that.

Obviously it was surprising.  It was not what I expected my mouth to say, but there you go, it did, and when I thought about it I realized that my mouth was right.  Brain also thought it would be nice to swim in the lake.

So, we did.  Becky and John and Jay came over and we jumped in the cold lake water squealing like girls even though two of us were boys and we swam around until the cold water made us get a little vertigo.  Then we climbed out of the lake, had a beer or two and ate pizza.  It was quite a nice afternoon and I was pleased.

I’ve ridden my bike in circles clipping/unclipping, I think I know how to shift.  I may not really love riding the bike but the panic is mostly gone.  The swim was actually fun, especially the beer part afterward, which was my favorite.  And, of course, all that’s left after that is the run.

My training is not where I wish it were, it’s harder to run slower than I was running last year, which means it’s near impossible to run faster, and faster would still be slower than it used to be.  This makes my ego hurt, and it probably hurt your brain reading that sentence but I swear it makes sense.  So I know that I’m not going to kill the triathlon this weekend.  I’m just going to swim without panic, ride my bike with a normal workout heart rate and finish up with a run.

Then – and this is where the genius comes in – you are going to be soooo impressed – all afternoon Saturday I will sit around the pool in the sunshine with my friends and  free beer.

I repeat – all I have to do is go for a little swim, tool around on my bike, and then run, and I get all the free, warm, soft sunshine I want!  And if I get too warm in the free sunshine, I can get in the pool!  Then I can get in the sun!  Then the pool!

Hallelujah

Okay, plot development.  This is the sad part of the movie where the heroine is deathly ill and the hero is gone off to war or something, I don’t know.  Wherever heroes go.

Current forecast for Tunica this Saturday:  feel like temp of 50, 60%-70% chance of rain.  Mostly cloudy and mid 60’s for the afternoon.  I felt very frustrated, which is quite 3 year-old-of me, albeit an improvement over being very 2-year-old-ish.  Crank crank pout and stomp feet.  DON’T LIKE.  Make it go away.

Of course it’s not going anywhere, unlike our flake of a hero.

So this is what’s going to happen.  I’m going to get wet in the water, then I may get wet on the bike, which I’ll be riding in already wet attire, and then I’ll run in wet attire which wouldn’t get any drier regardless, it will get wetter with rain, or with sweat, or with both.  I’m going to think of the participants who are doing both the Saturday and the Sunday race, with a 40% chance of thunderstorms Sunday morning also.  I’m going to think of Becky’s bike breaking last Saturday, and I’m going to think about all the people who wish they had the luxury of running, biking and/or swimming but they don’t, and I may do it soaking wet and cold.  Who knows?

Then, as long as I don’t fall off the bike or on my face, I’ll be done.  If I do it without complaining and with grace and charm I will be a heroine, at least in my own eyes.

And – the beer will still be free.

Sh*t happens. Later we can get over it.

Well good morning you two, and how are you doing this fine day?

The sun is shining, reflecting off the lake, but I find this confusing as the sky is overcast.  Apparently somewhere on the other side of the house the sun is poking through just a bit, even though I cannot see it.  Another metaphor for life.  And this morning I am thinking especially of my dear friend Becky who has diligently put in all the miles training for her 2nd half-Ironman, which is being held this morning in the Gulf Coast.  Well, two-thirds of the race are being held anyway; the swim has been cancelled.

I saw her face when they announced it and my heart fell for her.  Later the crank fell off her bike.  All of that, the hours and hours of training, struggling through hard workouts, planning, worrying, dreaming.  Done, gone.

Titanic

Fill in the metaphor: ___________________________________________________

I know she’s devastated.  I combined some $%&* and some tears when she told me.  You know how it is, for a minute you think, really?  You’re kidding, right?  But, no, she’s done, it’s over for today.  We all know how this feels.  You’ve worked so hard, you’ve followed your plan, you do everything the boss says, or the trainer says, you follow the rules and all of a sudden you run into a wall.  You break your foot, or your bike fails, or your boss reviews your input and says no.  Boston gets bombed out.  NYC gets stormed out.

shit happens

Personally, when stuff like that happens to me and I get this type of input:  “life goes on” “make lemonade” – it just makes me mad.  I believe we need a little space to be upset.  It DOES suck.  It does hurt, it’s incredibly disappointing.  Oh well, la-la-la, get over it, look over here, a rainbow!  Oh yeah?  Guess where your rainbow can go.  I’ll be fine in a bit, just back off.

Last week I had the great opportunity to attend the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Annual Convention in Spokane, Washington.  This may surprise you, but there is not an overwhelming plethora of running club secretaries in the Memphis area.  I know, right?  I am a company of one.  So it was a lot of fun to talk shop with other attendees, and I’ve carried home a notebook full of ideas.

This is the fourth convention I’ve attended and I believe the best so far (possibly inching ahead of our hosting in 2012, don’t tell anyone).  I met Bernard Lagat!

bernard

I wasn’t going to ask for a photo – but others did, so I jumped into the fold.
No pride, no regrets.

He spoke at lunch of the sacrifices his family made for one another, the opportunities he was fortunate enough to be given.  A very engaging speaker, he talked openly and honestly about success and failure, accepting and moving forward.  He laughed along with all of the attendees when he described what coming in fourth in the Olympics felt like.  Fifth place, you pretty much know it’s not going to be your day.  Third, *sigh* I made the podium!  Second, *yay* I’m not first but I’m not third!

Fourth:

horseshoe handgrenade

Don Kardong addressed this also when he spoke on Saturday.  This must have been an especially bitter pill when the first place finisher was later stripped of his medal for doping, but just like Mr. Lagat, he was charming, humble, and funny.  He joked that after the doping issue the first place medal was divided into thirds and this was his portion:

neck_ribbon_image

Um…thanks?

That evening Deena Kastor spoke.  She was the 1997 RRCA Roads Scholar recipient, living in Colorado working as a waitress, training, then working all day on her feet, training again at night.  The scholarship allowed her to quit work for a year and focus on her training.  We all know how well that turned out!

All three were humble, grateful people, appreciative of the help they’ve received and the chances they’ve been given.  They are among the best in the world but they would not have been there speaking to us without dedication and hard work.  They fell, they struggled, they stood back up.  They grabbed the opportunities they were given and remain grateful for all of it.

I will never be an elite runner.  I have, however, realized through these speakers that I can continue to strive to be an elite person, even if I do slip a bit, falling back and struggling when the sh*t shows up.

++++++++++++

ADDENDUM:   After the DNF Becky cried a bit, then put on her shoes and ran out to the course to cheer on her friends and teammates.  I’m proud to call her friend and hero.

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