Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon recap

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Guess who set a Personal Fucking Record this morning?!?! I did. That’s who. Sweet Thang beat me in the sprint to the end but I still finished in 2:26:56 an 11:12 pace. AND I ran the whole thing. I chopped off 33 minutes from my last half. It. was the easiest half I’ve ever run. I just focused on the moment of each mile. When it got a little hard I focused on form. Keep breathing, lean forward, use my arms, land on a mid foot stride. I had a great attitude. And I noticed I was booking it but tried not to get caught up in it or think too much about it. I wanted to run as strong as I could when I felt good to pull and carry us for the earlier miles. I didn’t know what miles 11-13 would bring. Turns out they were no big deal. I feel so good about this race. I even love the fact that in mile 12 we started getting pelted with icy sleet, that my fingers were unusable cold even with gloves. We had these results because we consistently worked our asses off. In heat. In cold. In wind. On hills. Three times a week. Week after week. The hill route we have been doing and the wind sprints coach Guido on the cross country team subjected the kids and by default me to all paid off big time. The course was great. The volunteers were awesome. There was a lot of love on that course. Super fantastic excellent race!! I’m kind of sad I’m not planning to run the Santa Hustle Half Marathon. This was officially my last half of the season. Time to focus on strength and cross training before training season starts. What’s your winter training plan?!


Respect the Run: Going the distance.. again

I had to look at the blog  to see when I last wrote about running, How sad is that?  Maybe it’s a good thing I  reached the point where I just do it and don’t really tell anybody about it.  That hasn’t been on purpose, I only just noticed it now.  So let’s see what’s up with the running.  I ran my most recent Half over Labor Day weekend, then I chose to do something different.  I wasn’t injured or lazy so within a week  Sweet Thang and I were back out running.

We had to change our schedule and our routes a little because MiniMe and The Destroyer  began running on the local cross-country team. Yes, they really do start them at age 6.  We have had mixed results with the experiment  but overall they both like running and both run faster than I can.  MiniMe even beat her brother by less than a second when she pulled an 8:53 mile in the Liger Mile.  It was the first time my baby left it all out on the course and I was so proud of her.  The kids in cross-country has added another layer of chaos to our lives but it has also resulted in Sweet Thang and I accidentally discovering the BEST hill route.  Start at Founders park and if you head right around the circle there are two hill to climb, head out onto 106th and depending how far you go East you can grab 2-4 more.  We do out and back so we repeat the same hills back, you get one more into Founders Park.

The funny thing about accidentally discovering this hill route comes from one of the multitude of great running things that have happened since Labor Day weekend. The weather cooled off and we are both getting faster.  There are runs where I’d venture to say I have more left at the end than Sweet Thang.  We are just enough competitive with each other.  Of course if left to her own pace she could still smoke me in a half, but I bet I’d last a lot longer than those Early Spring training runs for the Y where I couldn’t do it past 2 miles or so.    I’ve been getting up early to run on Saturday morning for so long my body wakes up no later than 7:22.  This can be annoying when I go to bed at 3am at the Chateau  and I don’t have plans to run that early on my girls weekend.  But it’s also just  another sign in a long line of signs from the fall that  I AM a runner. I am a runner. I AM A REAL RUNNER!!!!!  Squeeee!  I sure never saw it coming two years ago when I picked up the habit.  Which brings me to weird things runners do,  like getting excited about running on new road before cars can drive on it.  Or driving along, seeing a hill and thinking…”Man I’d love to run up that effer”. Or calling your running buddy and saying crazy shit like ” You know, if we loop back and forth along abc street we can pick up BOTH the overpass hill and the long one in the other direction, waddya think?”  Which is why it was funny when within 24 hours she picked the hill route mentioned above, we have been running it a lot lately.  It may be my favorite out and back route.

I’ve also developed a preference for route types. Out and back are great for when I need to force myself to get ALL the mileage in.  But sometimes for the longer miles I want scenery so we make bigger loops through neighborhoods we haven’t explored yet.   As Sweet Thang and I put in our mileage for our next race,  Indianapolis Monumental (Half) Marathon in two weeks, our furthest distance from home mileage has climbed.  For instance, I now think nothing of seeing friends driving while I am out running.  If they aren’t distance runners they always go ” Wow, you were all the way over there?” To me it’s just part of X mile route.  About a month ago on our 10 miler  Sweet Thang and I calculated we could get a great 10 miler in if we ran to the Starbucks and back.  I countered with, we would have to stop at Target and shop as well, but as luck would have it neither of us run with purses so we had to make do with running our planned 10 mile route instead.

My public running declarations have waned, maybe less so on my private  Facebook, but my running hasn’t.  In two short weeks I will cross another 13.1 finish line and  someone will place my 5th  Half Marathon medal around my neck.   I will stumble over to the nearest patch of grass and begin the battle between stretching vs am I going to puke.  Sweet Thang and I will be praising and cursing our individual performances. Then we will no doubt have the crazy runners delusional moment where we talk about, ” I know we said no more halfs this year but  Santa hustle is just 4 weeks away…..”  Hopefully one of us will remember our pact and enforce the  winter of cross, strength, and speed training.  How do I know I’m going the distance with running in general…It’s because I also know Sweet Thang and I will seek one hill day a week.   Ask me how that is going when there is 4 inches of snow and ice on the ground and I’m running in 10 degree weather in the dark…… Then remind me how I went on and on about preferring cold weather running to the 105 BS we had last summer.

How’s running going for you?  Fall is a great time to pick up outdoor running if you’re considering it.  Have a great day Lovies, I’m off to buy flower bulbs and get them int he ground in the next 36 hours while it is still 77 degrees in Indiana.


Respect the Run: Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday morning Sweet Thang and I ran the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon.  Sweet Thang is by far a  faster runner and could of finished the race easily in about 2:30 or so but she stayed with me the whole time because that is the way we trained, “In this together”.  Partially out of a desire to simply be a more hard core and better runner and partially out of a desire to work hard for her to make her sacrifice more palatable (to me and my own insecurities  not from any feedback from her that she wasn’t as happy as clam running slower next me to all summer long), I trained harder and smarter for this race than I have for any of the previous three half marathons I’ve run.  What did that get me, a race finish at just about EXACTLY the same pace as all the other halfs.  We finished at 2:59:15 and 2:59:18. I actually got the three seconds faster time which is total bullshit because we crossed that finish at exactly the same time and she did it with FAR more energy left than I.

On the drive home I found myself simmering in some disappointment that I didn’t finish faster, that I’d somehow let myself and Sweet Thang down.  Again I really don’t think she cares, and I more than realize the I’m running for life not just a certain race. There are ways to train into speedier times and I really shouldn’t be spending any time at all beating myself up over what in fact  is the strongest race I have run.

I trained my butt off:

  • I gave up smoking and a few other unhealthy regular habits in late June. Not only because I needed to for my health and sanity, but also because I wanted to increase my running prowess.
  • Sweet Thang and I started training for this race about the time the record heat and drought conditions were plaguing most of the country, yet we never missed a run in any of the weeks leading up to the race.  We never let the heat or sun derail us. We simply made adjustments  and found a way to make it work, one run at a time, 3 days a week, week after week until race time.  We often ran with less water than we should of been drinking.  Sweet Thang is a Camel compared to me and sweats far less than the buckets at a time I do.   In doing this we accidentally accomplished heat training and hydration training.  We didn’t plan it this way, we didn’t dwell on how badass we were really being in doing this. Mostly I think we just knew we needed to run, we wanted to run, we couldn’t control the weather so we just DID IT!  I can’t tell you how many times I climbed in my car after finishing, looked at the temp gauge reading something like 101-105+ and  just thought, “huh, we are crazy but it’s done”.
  •  Not to dwell on the weather,  but we live in Indiana, it does NOT get that hot here.  We usually have a few weeks of 90-95 temps in maybe July and August and the rest of the time it’s somewhere in the 80’s.    What we do have normally is humidity, which this year we had much less than usual but enough  thick air sticky days to condition us to running in that too.
  • In the past I’ve had muscle pain, tightness, and soreness difficulties and/or foot injury difficulties, this time I had none of that.  Towards the end I did start battling some upper back and shoulder pain and tightness which had me a little worried.  I think my lack of injuries this time was a direct correlation to the fact that I actually accomplished some cross training via spin classes and weightlifting.  I also stretched a lot more regularly and made liberal use of my foam roller.

Race conditions were extreme:

  • When Race morning came  we arrived to a course with about 3000 other runners  and discovered we were under a Red flag with talk already of what the plan was if it was Black flagged.   Red flag means the course and the day are under extreme weather. It means slow down, stop more, drink more water, don’t try to PR, don’t push yourself, don’t be stupid.  Black flag means the timers are stopped, the race is over, you can get your medal but there isn’t any official time.  I hated the idea of this because if it happens I’m  STILL OUT ON THE COURSE AND HAVE TO GET BACK.   I’ll get a medal but I’m not going to feel like I earned it.   If that ever happens I’m sitting my ass down on the side of the course and waiting for someone or  something to come get me.  If it isn’t going to count I’m not doing it anymore, harrumph!  All that training to waste, all that effort put in so far for naught, the pissiness this  would invoke in me would be pretty close to infantile and luckily it didn’t happen.     In our case it was 90-93% humidity and Isaac storms headed our way without ever getting there.   Temps were not too bad,  mid 70’s and over cast, but the air was Indiana thick and heavy already at 6:30 am.

In spite of them I still ran strong  and hard, I pushed myself:

  •  In my last three halfs I’ve run out of ability to run  somewhere around mile ten or so and had to walk most of the last 3 miles, one of my goals is to complete a half that I can run in entirety.  I REALLY wanted to be able to run all 13.1 miles this time.  I didn’t make it BUT I made it much further and felt much stronger than I have in the past.  I don’t know how you measure “running the whole thing”, but for me I have always considered it OK to walk through a water stop and not have that count against me.  This time we didn’t  even have the need to use every water stop and when we did I ran all the way up to them and started running sooner after them.   I felt strong in my run all the way to that dreaded mile 10.  I was starting to get physically tired, running for over two hours straight will do that,  but I didn’t want to give up.  Thus began the mental battle for  perseverance and strength of will vs. fatigue and the dementia that starts to set in when I can no longer think straight.   There is nothing worse than the battle inside my head during a half marathon.  I’m tired and I hurt, so I want to walk and shake it out a little. I’m stubborn and I don’t want to “fail” so I don’t want to stop running.  I want to cry because the two sides of me are really starting to piss me off.   This affects my confidence , which starts to screw with my head even further, which starts to make me acutely aware of every tiny thing on my body that is bothering me.  It is really easy to work myself up into pissed off despair. So I have to trick myself.   I start  with my head, I call upon some kind of inner strength. I tell myself things like ”  Shut up, Sherry can’t run anymore, but I get to.” or ”  My angels are with me giving me strength, I can just picture them up above me helping me along.”  In yesterday’s case I pictured my dead older brother running in front me with his back to me giving me the it’s ok you can do it pep talk.  Or ” All .runners have rough patches, I just have to push through this and I will feel better, that’s what those girls in the Olympic Marathon did.”   I also  try to be very logical with myself. I start at my toes and take inventory. Socks are soaked through with sweat but these are good socks, there shouldn’t be any blisters. My knees don’t hurt, my thighs don’t hurt, my back is getting a bit tight but I can adjust my form to accommodate this. My shirt is soaked through ( did I mention I sweat buckets), but my skirt isn’t dripping yet, so that is a good thing.  All this mental chit chat can take 10 seconds or 10 minutes depending on the “place” I am in.   I was able to run soley until after mile 10.  In  miles 11-12 I was able to run way more than I walked but it was starting to get harder. In Mile 13 usually the excitement of being almost done  allows me to force myself to the finish, this time the way Mile 13 was laid out and my extreme fatigue and mounting attitude problem caused me to walk more than I ran it.

Usually Mile 13 is “Wahoo,  only a little further to go I get another medal, let’s do this”. This time I was more like “F you and your stupid freaking medal, just give it to me you assholes, I don’t even want a finish picture I’m so pissed off about how you laid this last mile out I could spit in your face you stupid race organizers.  Who puts 4 turns, 2 water stops, 2 hills and 2 curbs into mile 13 and makes it so I can NEVER see the finish or how to GET there until the last .10, what kind of idiots ARE you?   What? I STILL finished right around 3 hours, this is pure crap, F you and the rest of the damn world except Sweet Thang because we were in this together” .  There is a reason they say hard core runners are crazy, this is what 13+ miles does to your brain.  There is nothing left at the end.

Then 30 seconds  after crossing the finish line someone handed me a full bottle of water and the  pride of getting another medal kicked in. Then I managed to stumble/fall into some nice soft grass and start stretching, oh man did it hurt but it was over.  I could even imagine doing another one, soon.  I suppose the lesson learned here is that you can’t judge  the success of a run by the  bib time, you really should judge it by how you feel.  I feel I  trained harder, smarter. I feel I pushed myself more physically and mentally. I  do not feel like I let myself down, I feel like I can actually consider myself a hard core runner now.   When I got to the end there was NOTHING left, I put it ALL out there on the course, and that  is the true measure of success.

Someday I’ll run the “whole” thing and some day I will break 2:45 and maybe even 2:30.  All I have to do is keep  up the good work and maybe find a freaking cool weather race!


Respect the run: Another 13.1

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Half Marathon number 4 is done!! Time for an ice bath, an apple fritter and a giant Diet Mountain Dew!!! Race recap to come later Lovies because I’m off to the Chateau for three days!!!


Respect the Run: 10:16:40:44 till 13.1 with my Sweet Thang

Hello Lovies!    I’ve got my next Half Marathon 13.1 in 10 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 44 seconds and counting down.  The Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend.  It will be my 4th in 2 years.  I’ve been training  pretty hard with my Sweet Thang running buddy.  I know her from our kid activity circles and she was also in the 500 Festival Mini Marathon training series I completed in the spring.  We hadn’t run together much because  in spite of her short little legs she is faster than me at her normal pace.   I’d start out with her for as long as I could keep up, which often wasn’t long. I’ve written some about my struggles with the last 13.1 I ran.  After the Mini was over I had to rest my foot, I got active at lazing, then I got cleared to run and knew I had to get off my butt or I’d never be trained in time for the Women’s.    I knew I run and I was just about to cinch up my big girl panties and get it done alone. But then some crazy stuff started happening in our town with weirdos trying to steal our kids and there were several reported murders of women who were running alone across the country. I didn’t feel safe running alone anymore and I put a call out for a running buddy.  She said she would meet me to run one night back in  June and somehow we just never stopped.

At first I worried I’d be too slow for her.  It only took a few times to work through that she was happy to have the motivation and the company and the pace wasn’t going to be an issue.  As the miles climbed I asked her if she was going to sign up for the race. She already has a half booked in November and didn’t know if she wanted to take on one more.  As we climbed in consistency and miles per my training plan she pulled out her big girl panties and her credit card and ponied up and entry fee and now I don’t have to run the race alone!

Training  for this race in particular has been like no other.  I’ve just come off one of the most stressful summers of my adult life, dealing with  adventures in ADHD for myself and the kids, YMCA camp nightmares and a very crazy work environment/schedule.    Over the months we have taken turns bitching, venting and rambling ( ok it is just me that rambles) and now we can pass 6 miles with no music and only conversation.  It’s a darn good thing I had a crapton of  long rambling stories I could tell her as we slogged through  record heat, humidity, and finally one  blessed rain run last night.  I feel better than I ever have before a Half Marathon.   Injuries have been limited, nutrition has been great, I’ve managed to do some cross training and I have her to push me every single day to run better, faster, longer.  I’ve gotten better  and stronger in my run, not just because I’ve made some significant lifestyle changes in the last few months but also because I don’t like to let her down.  I figure if she is willing to sacrifice pace for me I’d better be willing to push it and work hard for her.  She has joined that rare group of women who get to yell at me and tell me what to do.

For instance one day last week we were doing 8 miles.  I have gotten into the habit of running with less and less technology.  I’ve taken off the heart rate monitor because I thought it was causing me to limit myself in pace without using my body as a guide.  I’ve taken off the earphones and run with the music on speaker so we could both hear it and still talk, only turning it up when I needed extra motivation.  And a few times I’ve decided to ditch the phone/runkeeper app altogether because I didn’t want an every mile reminder of  how far we’d gone and how slow.  I just wanted to enjoy the run and the company and let my body do the rest.  So I found myself on that 8 miles with no technology whatsoever.   It was her turn to pick the route so I just showed up with my self and my belt of various Gu’s.  She didn’t really want to run that night, but had forced herself to do it partly out of obligation and partly out of some trash talking from me. So we set off on a new route and began talking.  I had no desire to walk at all.  This was all well and good until I  asked how far we’d gone expecting her to say 6, and she said 5!  Ugh, my back was tight and I was getting a little sluggish.  I had to walk a bit in mile 6-7, but not much and not for very long.  I won’t just stop and walk with Sweet Thang like I will with Babu, I hold out as long as possible and then tell her I’m thinking about walking.  We set a point to run to, then to walk to and stick to the plan. It allows for the walk without doing it so long you end up walking the whole thing.  We got to 7.0 and she pushed me to run. She pushes me in those last miles because she is naturally faster and has more energy at the end.   Let’s run the last mile she tells me, you can do it for another 12 minutes no sweat, and we will be done by the light and we can walk up the hill. I HATE that hill, it is tolerable on mile 2,3, 4 but the more we run our loop the harder it gets and trust me it isn’t even THAT big.   I buckled on the BGP and committed to the run, telling myself it would be worth it to walk up the hill. So we push it for the next 12 or so minutes and what happens when we get to the dang light? Well first of all we miss it, as in start to sprint for it and have to STOP miss it.  She looks at the runkeeper and we are only at 7.75. I cannot even tell you how ticked off this makes me.   The light changes and she starts running, she is ahead of me and I’m huffing up the hill about to die yelling, “you told me I wouldn’t HAVE to run up this hill!”  So she turns around as says, “Well you can quit right now if you want, but what’s it gonna be?  Are you going to go ahead and stop or make yourself do it? It’s up to you”. THAT BITCH! She knew I’m so stubborn and obstinate  I’d make myself run up that damn hill just so I could prove her wrong.  She also knew I wanted to run up that hill and how much better I’d feel if I did.  So I did just that, I ran up that damn hill. She stopped about 10-20 yards ahead of me and I knew it meant  she was at the 8.0 mark, so I dug a little deeper and ran it in to the high five, feeling fantastic I’d made the hill my bitch ( hardly lol).    I  served as her motivation to start, and she served as my motivation to finish!    She asked me later in the week as she was teasing to tell on me for  wanting to cast my BGP aside what I would of done if she wasn’t there. I flat out told her I’d of stopped after missing that light mid sprint and called it good at 7.75. I’m a good enough girl like that  a lot!

I’m glad we got the 8.01 though, and you know what else, I haven’t walked  once in the two 6’s we have put in since!  I don’t know how long it will take us to finish the 13.1 together, or if I’ll end up walking the last 3 like I have in every other 13.1 I’ve done but I do know this…..I’ll probably have the best 13.1 of my life and if I do I will have Sweet Thang to thank for a solid half of that effort, the last half!

I guess we will find out in 10 days, 15 hours, 47 minutes and 00 seconds…and counting!


Respect the Run: Rock N Roll Marathon Chicago Race Recap

4 Medals earned so far, space for roughly 27.

Sunday morning Babu and I ran the XSport Fitness Rock N Roll Mini (5k) Marathon in Chicago.   Earlier in the year I signed up for the 1/2 Marathon portion of this race.  I came off the Indianapolis Mini (13.1) Marathon with an injured sesamoid joint, rested 4 weeks and then lazed ( the active verb tense of being lazy, coined by a friend of mine).  I wasn’t properly trained for another 13.1 so soon, but  I also wasn’t going to just throw away  hundreds of dollars in race fees and hotel costs.  So for a few weeks prior to this race I had crazy girl runner is going to run/walk 13.1 anyway plans going on in my head.  I know I have said this before but ANYONE can complete a half  marathon.  You might not be able to complete it quickly, you might not feel very good during or after, but you could get up off your couch and go bust out 13.1 miles right this very second if you chose.  I wasn’t worried about my  ability to “get it done”.  I have been training for  about a month and Sweet Thang/Speedy (still working out running buddies nickname) and I have reached the 6.5 half-way mark in distance runs.   I am smart enough to understand trying to run a half marathon right now would have basically ruined the rest of my trip to Chicago and possibly left me injured with only 40 days until my next scheduled Half Marathon over Labor Day Weekend.

So imagine my glee when I discovered that there was a Mini (5K) and there was a medal for it!  Here in Indy a Mini is 13.1, that is why I keep making the distinction, but I imagine you are clear now, so I will stop.   I basically race for two reasons, to feel strong  and proud of myself and for the bling.  In the middle of 13.1 miles getting to the next water stop begins to be replaced by getting to the medal.  I like shiny things, and I’ve started a medal hanger in my home office.  Behind it sits an apron my mother embroidered.  She was a stay at home mom and local piano teacher who also raised and showed Schipperkes.  She  married in the 50’s and lived in the housewife era and died in 1971 at the age of 40.   I am the antithesis of housewife, I hang the apron there so my Mom can be a part of those medals, a little cheesy I know but it is also red and my home office color scheme is retro robin’s egg/tealish blue and red for the exact same reason, a nod to mom.  But I am digressing.

The event in Chicago was very well-organized and executed.  It was our first out of town race and there were things I really liked about it. For starters the 5K and 13.1 all start at the same time. The corrals are stagger started one at a time every 1-2 minutes.  This is quite different from what I’ve experienced in the past where the whole mass of people just starts moving at once and you feel like you are some sort of death march to the start line.  The  Race emcee actually gives a start countdown  for each and every corral from the top seeds to the slow people in the back like me.  We were in corral 25 of 29.   The 5K bibs  were red and the 13.1 were blue.  At first I was worried I would be one of only a few “losers” in blue bibs running the red race, but as it turned out  I was worried for nothing, lots of blue bibs ran the 5k.   Babu avoided this by waiting until the  packet pick-up Expo to sign up for the 5K, thereby getting a red bib.

THE EXPO

Speaking of the Expo it was fantastic, we walked about 2 miles down the lake front path from  The Palmer House Hilton, where my Hilton Honors membership scored me a VIP check-in and a courtyard room that had zero street or L noise, to McCormick Place for the expo and back. It was hot but we enjoyed the scenery and the exercise.   We walked out of the Expo with probably enough SWAG to cover at least his $50 5k late entry fee,  our nice new bags were quite heavy on the way back.  I only bought some NUUN at $5 (a good price)  a tube so I felt like I restrained myself quite well.  We got to try a whole bunch of different GU’s, Gel’s,shot blocks and bars. It was like being at the Sam’s Club on a weekend and eating lunch from the samples, only with running energy options.   I discovered that Cliff Bars are WAY better than the PR Bars I am choking down before long runs or as run night dinner these days, that RAZZ GU is quite tolerable and that Snickers started making something they are calling Marathon Bars.

RACE  TIME

Race Morning we woke up at 5:30, dressed and stretched quickly then made the 3 block walk from our hotel to our corral.  The race energy and vibe was friendly in our corral and we cheered for each of the 24 corrals in front of us as they were released.  It was hot, I had sweat running down my back before we even began and the humidity was pretty high.  The emcee went on and on about how we should all back off and slow down due to weather conditions, that today was not a day to try for a PR.  I  have been running in these conditions for a few weeks now and I told Babu that I wanted him to push me during this race, I wanted to go HAM because I was only going 3.2 not 13.1. I  figured I’d see how far I could push myself in prep for having to run 13.1 in close to the same weather.  I often feel like I don’t push myself enough to go faster.  Soon enough it was our turn.  I knew I simply had to follow the red bibs and stay to the right.   The route took   us under some tunnels and then dumped us along the lake path for most of the miles before turning us in the middle of mile 3 back up the street to the finish.  There was an extra water/Gatorade stop added to the route.   I really do NOT like Gatorade, I think the yellow tastes like goat piss, it upsets my stomach every time but I took a few sips because of the heat and humidity.

THE RUN

Running felt great. My legs, breath and heart were all in sync, Babu pushed us as promised and backed off to slow down when it started to become too fast too soon.   As we hit  the mile 2 marker I knew I was going to have enough energy to push through the last 1.2 and  maybe even PR. In spite of my Runkeeper seriously screwing up in the first mile I  was pretty sure we were  at a sub 12:00 pace and could keep it for the duration.  Then we found the “dude with a tude”.   Age and body type are not a unilateral fitness indicator, every runner knows this.  In every race I am going to get beaten by a seriously fat dude, an old lady and a little kid.  It is simply a fact of running. Plus you can never truly tell on the course if you are faster than someone else you are passing because a- everyone starts in a different corral and b- lots of people do run/walk intervals. The best indicator is to keep an eye on the other runners you started with and gauge your performance based on theirs.  Every runner picks out  people to pass, it is part of being competitive, I don’t take it personally when I get passed and neither do most other runners.   But without fail there is always some guy we pass who is younger and in  better shape than me who is not pleased that the chubby  middle aged woman is “beating” him.    It is easy to tell when this  happens because Babu and I keep a steady run stance and we almost always encounter the ‘dude” while he is walking.  This time  as we got past him,  he sprinted  and then stopped just ahead and went back to walking.  We kept our pace and passed him again, as soon as we got past him he again sprinted to get past me and then went back to  walking.  This  happened at least 3 times.   I always  get a bit “fuzzle you dude with a tude”   and if I can I pick up my pace and just keep running knowing that every single race (so far) I’m going to beat the dude.   Sure enough we smoked him on the small up hill climb at about mile 2.5.   As we made the turn to head to the finish we could see it up ahead.  I knew it was further away than it looked, but  something  about seeing that banner always puts some pep in my step.   There was NO WAY I was letting this dude beat me.    I knew he was back there,  I knew he was tiring himself out by not holding a steady pace and I knew he was going to try to book it past me as near the end as possible and that, Lovies, was not going to happen.   We picked up the pace, pushed it to within a quarter to a tenth of a mile near the finish, set our sites on the person  who was some what ahead of us we wanted to beat ( this isn’t personal, I just need  extra mental motivation to sprint at the end so I always pick someone I want to reach and pass before the end and others are likely picking me out as well)  and let loose.    Babu and I passed her within the last 100 yards  one on each side, I kicked into after burn and gave it all I could muster knowing he was back there, trying to pass us and wanting so badly to stick to him. And we did, he didn’t come through the  post chute until  at least 30 seconds after we did.   Feeling like I was going to puke for a full minute after finishing was worth every second of distance we put between him and us.   Babu and finished together at 35:58, an 11:14 pace in heat and humidity.  I thought I might of PR’d but alas I was wrong, my PR is a 33:42 (10:30 pace) I achieved in  February of 2011.  This race definitely falls in my top 5  favorite runs though,   and serves a spring board of confidence to get me to the next half in 39 days.

POST RACE SWAG

We were handed so much in the post chute I almost couldn’t carry it all.   Full bottles of water, full bottles of Gatorade, Jamba Juice frozen smoothies,  chocolate milk, fruit cups, marathon bars from Snickers, the list goes on, I couldn’t possibly take it all.  The best thing  ever was not nutrition or hydration, it was small towels  dripping wet as they came out of huge ice water vats.  We each were given two and we placed them around our necks and on our heads.  I  first used mine to lay them on both wrists and wipe my arms down.  It was instant body temp drop, we kept them on while we walked back down to the sidelines of the finish and cheered the  rest of the 5K and top runners of the 13.1 on.  I was lucky enough to see the first female half runner cross the line within 5-10 minutes of my 5K finish time. She glided in without even looking all that worked up. These elite runners have such smooth gates, they are so beautiful to watch.  I get choked up about the fast girls during every race. I have only an inkling of how hard they must work to train and maintain that level of fitness and strength.   They are badass  mother runners and an inspiration to me to train harder, longer, smarter.

All in all I give 2 thumbs up to the Rock N Roll and Chicago race organizers.  Very well done.


Random musings on running and beating myself up

Running season started again for me last week.  I signed up for my 2nd Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon and the lengthy  training program at our local Y.  I haven’t run much since I finished the inaugural Women’s  Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend.  It started out innocently enough, taking a break to rest and bask in the glory of completing two halfs within a year.  Initially I had plans in my head to run a third half in either October or November. But as the weeks progressed I found that i just wasn’t doing any training to get the job done.   I hadn’t  registered for either, so there was no immediacy to the situation and i just chose not to train.  I ran a  5k Turkey Trot over Thanksgiving and hoped it would motivate me to to at the very least start a regular work out schedule of running 3 times a week and add in some cross and strength training.  But it was the holidays and I was busy and full of excuses. I had also started smoking regularly again and the next I knew it was Christmas. I knew training would start on the 16th of January and that become I’ll just enjoy and slack off until running season gets here.  I put about ten pounds back on during that time, not to mention  the hard earned muscles I’d garnered from earlier training had turned to mush.  I began last week very excited but knowing I am terribly out of shape.

The thing is, I am excited to be training again, and even though that first run last week in the cold and wind was brutal, I enjoyed it.  Mentally this time is different. I’m not getting that runners’ high from these limited runs because at this point they are a struggle to finish without walking.   I also sort of feel like I’m in a don’t really belong anywhere no man’s land.   This year they are offering two levels of training, beginner and advanced.  I didn’t want to mentally put myself in either of those places. I don’t feel like a beginner, I’ve done this before. I know what I’m doing and how my body will respond.  The advanced program calls for higher mileage, and I am woefully out of shape. At first I was like, It’s no big deal, it is just more miles, I know I can do this so I signed both of us up for the advanced knowing it was all the same group and we could talk to the coaches and make the right  choices on a run by run basis.  Except for I don’t like living in case by case basis world, I like to have a set plan and stick to it.  The Husband recently suffered a back injury that revealed he has disc problems in 3 places.  He has gone through rest, has had one epidural injection to ease his pain and he agreed to  sign up for the race and training program so we could do it together again. He probably shouldn’t be doing extra mileage and so far has declined to do so.   His pace could be much faster than mine, when left  to his own devices he runs about a ten minute or slightly less pace and I am still in the 12+ range, that is a pretty slow pace for a runner.   None of the other runners in our advanced group are that slow. No no one is telling me I shouldn’t be in the advanced group, the advanced coach is one of my personal hero’s. He always comes back to the end for me and helps me finish my run, doesn’t admonish me when I have to walk for a bit and always gently coaches me to the end and pushes me further than I planned to push myself.   But in spite of that I found myself choosing the 2 mile options vs the 3 mile advanced option last night.  I  made this decision mid run for reasons I will outline in a moment, but he was expecting to see me do 3, and had to go back and look for me when I didn’t do it. I inconvenienced him and caused him concern, I felt really badly about this.   Though it only re-iterated what I already  knew.  If I choose to pursue the advanced path, if I choose to declare myself and advanced runner in this training group, I am always going to finish last on probably every training run.

Then there is the stubborn and injury factor.  Last year I started out of shape and by mid February had run myself into a stress fracture on my right foot.  I was in a boot, dealt with the mental and physical set backs and went on to run  my very first half  marathon with no problems.  One of our coaches is very familiar with my stubbornness and it has been a topic already this year, spoken out loud in front of everyone.  I don’t mind it, I know it is true and for me it is sort of a badge of honor. A lot can be overcome with stubbornness, but it can also cause a lot of problems.  When I was training for the  Women’s half I started to notice a familiar feeling in my left foot.  I simply ignored it.  I wear heels a LOT, my appetite for shoes and especially heels is not secret to those that know me.  I wear them to work, I wear them  on GNO.  I like them high, the higher the better and most of my heels I wear on a regular basis are 4″ or taller.  I’m already 5’8″ and I like being even taller in heels.  I notice when I wear them that sometimes by left foot does not like this, especially  in the part of my foot where the big toe meets the foot.   This  same spot started talking to me almost immediately last week after that first run.  I’ve been ignoring it. Thinking maybe I will try to solve the problem with new shoes and the inserts I  already wear to help prevent further stress fracture injuries.   last nigh when I headed out for the 3, it started in the first half mile. I made the decision at the turn to do the 2  because it would be better for my foot. Maybe my foot would reward my scaled  back effort by not hurting after.   Bad news, my foot is unaware or unwilling to accept this plan.

So here I sit, not even two full weeks into another running season, wrestling  emotionally with what all this means. I KNOW it means I should make an appointment to go see Dr.  Hate, that I should start mentally planning to be in that damn boot on another foot for 4+ weeks and find a way to NOT repeat the mental pit party and slacking I indulged in last year.  I’m already in  a much better place. There isn’t a lot I’m wrestling with emotionally this year. I’m not hiding a 3rd chat career from my husband, I’m over PJ and all of the Almost Divorce shenanigans.  All in all things in my life are quite good. So why don’t I feel more  empowered and strong and badass right now?   I’ve quit smoking all things, and I feel so much better having done so.  There is limited nicotine and  THC working itself out of my body. I’m mentally and physically healthier than I have been in the last 3+ years.   I’m getting my brain back as each week passes and my mental acuity and focus continues to climb. I’m more focused and plugged in at work and home.  By all accounts I should be feeling pretty good about myself right now.  I don’t have anything mental to wrestle on runs other than daily life and work stressors. By all accounts I should be setup to push my body to even higher limits and bring  my pace time down closer to the sub 11 minute mark.   I  should be in super runner ninja kick-ass mode, but I’m just not.   Instead I just feel sort of meh about the whole thing.  I sit here hiding from the pain in my foot, the feeling that I don’t really belong in that advanced group and  wondering why on earth at almost 41 years old after everything I have   triumphed over that I still feel the need to beat myself up as harshly as possible when  things don’t go just like I expected.

I don’t have an answer.  But I do know what needs to be done, it’s the same basic answer to all problems, put on my BGP and  own it.   So tomorrow I will call Dr. Hate and  make an appointment, but I will also complete my scheduled 3 mile pace time trial and push myself as hard as my body and lungs will go. I’m going to downgrade myself to the beginner category and if later in training I feel like I can and should take on more mileage I will. There isn’t anything wrong with me if I choose to be smart instead of stubborn for once.   If he says it’s boot time again I will do it without the pity party that accompanied last year.  I can do upper body strength work outs while The Husband runs and I can pick up mileage as soon as he clears me.  Rather than hide from the problem I can face it and make my contingency plan.  Maybe it won’t be a new stress fracture and everything  can continue as planned. In the meantime  I will simply choose to BREATHE and not wallow in the meh.   I’ll probably still be wearing 5″  heels on Saturday night though, a girl has to hold on to some stubbornness.