Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It was supposed to be another 20 miler over the weekend but strong winds kept us inside. My walking buddy Carrie and I headed to the gym and hit the treadmills (those evil contraptions). I was worn out from the holidays and dehydrated for some reason so after 3.5 hours on the treadmill, I waved the white flag. I'm sure I got in somewhere between 14 and 16 miles...the treadmills at the gym restart every hour and I kept forgetting how far I had gone. The race is only 11 days away and we leave in just over a week for Disney World! I'm so excited. I feel like I'm well trained but I can't help but be a little nervous. I know I can do the distance but I want to get my PR so bad I can taste it! Whatever happens will happen. As long as I have a smart race, everything else is beyond my control at this point. I also hit 300 miles in my training this week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I feel like I just walked a marathon! I just worked my first convention for my new job and spent a lot of time on my heels. I would have given anything to have my running shoes on! The New Albany 1/2 Marathon is this Sunday! I know I'm prepared but I need to catch up on some rest prior to then if I want to get a PR! I'm still fundraising and I'm almost to $3000! The thermometer is on a delay but the money is still trickling in. It has definitely slowed so be sure to send this link to all of your friends! The more people that are aware, the more money we can raise, and the closer we will get to a cure!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spirit of Columbus 1/2 Marathon

5:15 wake up call. It wasn’t exactly rise and shine since it was still dark out but it was nice to have Julie and Stacy staying at my house to distract me.

7:30ish start time. So we heard that the race started 30 minutes late last year and at 7:30 we were lined up and waiting to go….and this year was only about 15 minutes late so I guess that’s an improvement.

This is also when I noticed that this “walker-friendly” race must not have many walkers registered. I was lined up right behind the 10:00 minute pace team and there wasn’t anyone behind me.

Gun goes off! I was only worried about the first 3 miles….and it turned out that my worries were completely rational. Right off the line I was last. Even after 5 years of distance walking, I’ve never been last.

Mile 1: Where the hell is the mile marker? I know I’m slow but I’m not a 20 minute miler! I also understand what John the Penguin Bingham is talking about when he says “You might be a penguin if there is a cop car behind you, hitting you in the knees and there is a truck picking up the cones as you go.” The motorcycle cop almost fell off his bike because he couldn’t go “that slow.” And then I overheard the police cruiser guy tell another officer that he couldn’t even idle “that slow.” Thank you, CHIPS, you’re awesome.

Mile 2: Where are the F*ing mile markers?? I still have no idea where I am in terms of pace or distance. Now, most of you know that I whine a lot when I’m not happy. It is pretty common for me to WANT to quit during a long race but I’ve never actually done it and I’ve never actually MEANT it. It is NOT common for me to be having these thoughts in the first 2 miles. My shins were on fire and the constant noise of the police cruiser 5 feet behind me was a little overwhelming. I have never been so close to giving up and I got a wicked case of “floppy feet.” I was fighting back some tears. Again, tears aren’t something I whip up unless it’s mile 26 of a FULL marathon and in my opinion, those tears are EARNED!

Mile 3: Finally! A mile marker!! Despite the awful start and the burning pain in my lower leg, I was only about 2 minutes behind my target pace. But then an EMT decided to get out of the ambulance that joined the parade behind me. He thought I would like some company. As much as I would have loved company, I was mortified to be walking with the EMT. “I do NOT need your help thank you very much; I’m a well trained athlete that just happens to be slow.”

Mile 4: I was catching up to a “runner.” I told the EMT that was STILL chattering in my ear to give me another quarter mile and I will catch up to her, pass her and leave her wondering where I came from. And this is exactly what happened. The burning was slowing fading and I was picking up the pace. As I passed the “runner,” the EMT stayed with her and I was off.

Mile 5: Finally! I was hitting my stride and getting more and more comfortable as I strolled down the middle of the right lane of Riverside Drive, just south of Hayden Run Rd.

Mile 6: Where the F* is the water?? They were out of water at the water stop so that just agitated me. Nothing makes me angrier than a race that advertises that it is walker friendly and then doesn’t fully support the race course. It did validate my type-A personality and when I want water, I want it NOW and I’m going to prepare for that so I had water with me. The good news was that I had made up all the time lost in the beginning and was now 30 seconds AHEAD of pace so I backed off a touch.

Mile 7: Why is this hill so steep?? We came out of Griggs Reservoir Park and had to walk up the hill that I remember sledding down in the winter as a kid. I don’t remember struggling to run up it back then while dragging a sled…weird. I also passed another “runner” while in the park. You have no idea how satisfying that feels to a walker but I’m sure it’s a little annoying if you are the runner being passed….oh well.

Mile 8: Hmmm…I wish I would have worn a hat. I had lots of sunscreen on (as always) but the sun was glaring right in my eyes. And once again, “Why is this f*ing hill so steep??” I felt like I was crawling up Riverside towards Lane Ave.

Mile 9: The Perry Township police were doing their best but sometimes you can’t stop an elderly Upper Arlington couple that wants to get back to their mansion after enjoying their Bob Evans breakfast. Despite the lane that was coned off and the police blowing their whistle and waving (and me throwing my arms up in irritation), an old man came into the race lane and passed me on my right. I would have been toast had I been wearing headphones.

Mile 10: Lonely and BRIGHT! It was a long, quiet mile. There was no traffic and I was walking the EXACT same pace as the clouds were moving. I kept swearing that there was shade in front of me but then I would get there and the cloud would just keep moving. It was like an oasis. I did spot the Columbus skyline and that meant I had this in the bag! I also had the terrible dilemma of being thirsty and having to pee. Do you keep drinking more water to deal with the thirst and risk peeing yourself or do you risk dehydration?? I went with the water and prayed I’d make it to the finish.

Mile 11: I started to regret the decision to wear my old shoes. I thought maybe the new shoes had been causing the shin splints so I stuck with my magical Disney PR shoes. But after a full marathon, a triathlon and MONTHS of training, these shoes were shot and my feet were feeling it. I still had to pee and there weren’t ANY port-a-potties along the course. I shouldn’t have been surprised I guess. This wasn’t Disney World after all.

Mile 12: Bless those kids at the water stop. You could tell they were bored out of their minds but they cheered for me anyways and their water was ICE COLD. I don’t forget things like that. This is also when a car was driving towards me with all the windows down and a whole car load of people were yelling GO TEAM. I don’t know who they were but that was the BEST feeling….but I still had to pee.

Mile 13: I could see the finish line and when I looked up I could see people wildly waving and screaming and yelling my name. I was too far to see who it was but then I heard a “GO PURPLE” and it didn’t matter who it was other than it was one of my team mates and I had goose bumps….and still had to pee.

FINISH! I saw that my fans included some Team in Training alumni and my momma. I smiled for the camera and THEN stopped my watch as we always instruct our TNT people to do. Even with my unofficial watch, I knew I had done it. The official time was 3:14:10 which is 8 minutes faster than my previous personal best, which was less than a year ago. My victory was short lived. I was ready to find the race director and kick him in the shins. They were out of medals, finishers t-shirts and hats. I was fired up. That is unacceptable to advertise all these wonderful benefits and then not provide them. Where were the sponges, oranges and all the other fuel along the course?? I won’t be recommending this race to any other walkers and I certainly won’t be signing up for the Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon as planned.

But in the end, despite not having a medal, I know I got a new personal record in the half marathon and that’s what I was ultimately after. Besides, if I wanted to be fully supported and entertained, I would do the Disney races.

Several hours later….I’m suffering the consequences of my floppy feet. In the first two miles, my feet were kind of flopping around and I kept kicking my left ankle bone with my right foot. I now have a bruise and raw skin. That’s fun! The real pain of maintaining that pace won’t begin until tomorrow. I wonder if my boss will notice if I wear Crocs and never get up from my desk.

As always, thank you to those that have listened to me whine through my summer training and had more faith in me than I had in myself. Thank you Team in Training for giving me a purpose!! And congrats to all my racing friends that were out there today-I know a lot of you also PR'd!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On January 11, 2009 I completed the Walt Disney World Marathon for the second time. It was a long six months of training but it all paid off and like every race with Team in Training, it was unforgettable!

Our team met on race day at 3:00 am and headed to the starting area which was in the Epcot parking lot. I’m not much of a morning person but we were all too excited to sleep the night before anyways. My training buddy, Carrie and I put on our mouse ears and got ready to walk through the “happiest place on earth.” At 6:00 am Mickey Mouse and his friends announced the start of the race and set off the fireworks. We both were having a great time, even as the sun came up and the Florida heat kicked in. At mile 10 we headed into the Magic Kingdom and we got to walk right up Main Street USA towards the castle. Other than finishing, that was my favorite part of the race! While everyone else was stopping to take pictures with the characters, Carrie and I just kept pushing forward. By the time we got to mile 16 and were headed towards the Animal Kingdom, I started to realize that we were right on pace to finish in 6 hours and 45 minutes, well under my 7 hour goal. I have to admit, Carrie’s non-stop “sunshine” and optimism was starting to wear off on me but I knew that there was still a lot of race left. I knew from previous experience that I was going to struggle through miles 19 to 23.

I have been coaching with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for three years now and it was very strange to be on the other side of the race. In order for me to participate in the race, it took a lot of selflessness on the part of the other coaches and trainers. I absolutely could not have done it without the help of our amazing walk trainers and my friends, Marcia and Monica. They were a huge help throughout training so that I could focus on my own training but even better, they were out on the course on race day coaching and cheering for everyone on our team. Just when I knew I was going to need it, Marcia was waiting for us at mile 18. As expected, I hit the wall just past mile 19. My body was holding up just fine but mentally, I was exhausted. Sensing that I needed some “alone time,” Carrie and Marcia started to walk ahead of me just a few feet. I know that if they wouldn’t have been there, I would have slowed down to a crawl at that point. I kept following along and I focused on getting through each mile, one at a time. We had been using a pace chart to keep us on track and despite hitting the wall, we were still on target for that 6:45 finish!

Our TNT run coach, Jim, always tells the marathoners that the first 10 miles are about using your head and having a smart race. The second 10 miles are when all of the training kicks in and you use your legs. The last 6 miles though are all heart. We are out there to raise money to find cures for blood cancers and those last 6 miles are when you think about those that cannot be out there with us. And that is just what I did! I thought about the heroes that I was walking in honor and in memory of and I dug deep as we made our way to mile 25 in the World Showcase in Epcot. I know that I was looking pretty rough at that point but I knew I was going to reach my personal goal of finishing in less than 7 hours. My body was finally starting to feel the strain of that pace and I started to slow down. I was already starting to tear up when I saw the sign for mile 26. There was a gospel choir singing to us (No, I wasn’t hallucinating!) and just around the corner was the finish line. My best friend Julie and her husband had run the marathon and were in the stands with her parents cheering me on. I saw and heard them but I didn’t have the energy to even look up! So much for a good photo op! I crossed the
finish line in 6 hours and 46 minutes, setting a new personal record! I was so excited. Carrie and I exchanged a huge hug and went over to get the coveted Mickey Mouse medal.

It was an unforgettable day and it was amazing to have so many people supporting me on race day. I could not have gotten to race day though without all of your financial support. Thanks to your generous donations, I was able to raise over $3600 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Team in Training is all about making a difference and we do that by acting as a TEAM! We raised over $7 million for blood cancer research and patient services. We are getting closer and closer to cures. One of the doctors at the James Cancer Hospital is even confident enough to say that the cure is already out there, we just need to funding for clinical trials to find out which test tube actually holds the cure. That is a pretty powerful statement and that is why I continue to stay involved with Team in Training. Thank you so much for all of your support. It means so much to me but it means even more to those that have benefitted from the research.

I am back to coaching and until that cure is found, I’m going to keep volunteering and keep fighting for those that have lost their battles.