March 30, 2008

Today was a big day. I had some things to prove to myself out there in my 10k. I’ve been so afraid of running for so long and I decided recently that I am absolutely done with creating false limits for myself on the run. No more sabotage. No more excuses. Time to face up to my fears and see what happens.

Well, if you are in the mood for an expansive and freeing experience, I highly recommend considering the possibility that you are a limitless being who is capable of achieving whatever you set your mind to. I’m not going to lie – I did not go into this race raging with confidence. But I was trying to entertain the belief that I am capable of running fast; That the only limits on my performance today would be those I imposed on myself. So I ran like hell. And when I got tired, I dug deeper and ran harder. And only when I thought I was actually going to blow up at mile 5 did I even consider letting up at all – and somehow even then I ran harder than I knew I could. Know what the result was? A PR by more than 3 minutes and by 7 minutes on that particular course. So needless to say, I’m happy with the result.
Truthfully, I cried [read: bawled] on the drive home at the realization that my dreams actually are attainable. When you hold yourself back for so long it’s really an incredible experience to let go and realize that you’re as good as you hoped and better than you’ve been allowing yourself to believe.

I feel that it is important at this time to acknowledge that (without asking her) I invoked the spirit of Marit in my race today. Every time things got tough and it started to hurt, I just thought of how Marit is the embodiment of HTFU and how much mental toughness she has shown in the past two weeks. It’s easier to run into the pain when you remember that it’s a gift to be able to run in the first place. So thanks, Marit. Your positive energy is awe-inspiring.

Earth Hour

March 29, 2008

Before I start yakking about myself, I thought I would remind everyone that tonight is Earth Hour at 8pm. Don’t forget to turn off your lights to show your support of global action against climate change. If that’s your bag, baby. I know that on March 29th when there’s snow on the ground and more falling from the sky, the unhappy, over-wintered parts of us think that a little global warming might not be a bad thing. But I think most of the under-nourished creatures on fast-melting ice in the Antarctic might disagree.

I missed masters swim yesterday because of the wintry road conditions so I was left with a swim to do after work. I came home first to walk the dogs and was amazed to watch them go SWIMMING in the now-melting pond. Okay seriously, it was possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen. Jack would wade out into the water, Finn would follow (almost against his will, it seemed!) and then both of them would swim to shore and run around like complete lunatics, growling and sliding in the snow together. Repeat x 100. It was a great time.

I didn’t get into the pool until 6.30pm. I know myself well enough to know that producing a quality workout at that time of day is very difficult for my body. Producing a quailty workout at that time on the Friday of a very busy week is virtually impossible. So it was not a quality workout – at least not physically. I had 12 x 150 to do and I was just not making my intervals.
I was frustrated and slow and tired and I wanted to get out after two 150’s. I somehow got my hands on a healthy dose of HTFU and finished the set in spite of my less-than-speedy swimming. It felt good to wrap it up, and staying in the water was a little bit of a victory in itself.

This afternoon is my 10k. Time to step up to the plate. I’m psyched. Although who ever heard of a running race in the afternoon??? I guess I’ll be glad of the extra 10 degrees when 1pm rolls around since it is not exactly balmy today.

In other news, we found out yesterday that the venue for our wedding has been shut down. Long story. So we are back to the drawing board with where to have our wedding. Which is in 4 months. Which is very soon by wedding standards. Anyway, it seems that we both still like each other enough to get married WHEREVER the location may be, so we’ll figure something out.

Facing My Demons

March 26, 2008

Last night I went to the track to face my running demons.  On the track I am out of my element.  I don’t know the etiquette, I don’t know which direction you’re supposed to run.  I don’t know if people will yell at me if I alternate directions like my workout tells me to do.  I am a fish out of water, so to speak.

I arrived at the track and did the prescribed warmup.  My scheduled workout was nothing earth-shattering – 4 x 800 – but any run on the track is enough to give me a belly ache just thinking about it.  My directions were to hold back at first and progressively let loose with each 800.  Well, you don’t have to tell me twice to hold back on the track!

I put on my racing flats.  This is the first time I have run in racing flats on the track.  Right away I feel different.  Fast.  I can feel the bumps in the track through my shoes.  I start running and the sound of my shoes on the track surface makes me smile.  I am feeling like the real thing.  But fear is everywhere around me and the words “hold back” are echoing in my head.  I recognize the girl that I am.  She is afraid.  She does not think she is a runner.  She has a million really good reasons why she should not be a good runner.  She is convincing and she is holding back.

I look at my time.  It means nothing to me.  I have nothing to compare it with.  I am ‘holding back’ girl and I think that is probably a fine pace. 

Then I go for #2.  A little faster.  A little harder.  I am still holding back.  I am still afraid.  The fear is like an insulator that keeps all my energy contained.  I look at my watch.  20 seconds faster than the first one.  Again, this means very little to me but I can see where this is going.  I am starting to formulate a number that would be nice to see on my watch.  Maybe I am creating a goal.

I take off on #3.  I let rip a little more.  I feel pain.  I hear a cacophony of voices inside my head.  The negatives and the positives.  My voice shouting out insults and the voices of Marit, Beth, and Elizabeth shouting out challenges and encouragement.  A little of that protective insulation falls off.  I feel a change taking place.  I look at my watch.  Another 10 seconds faster.  Now I am 10 seconds from my new goal.  I can taste it and imagine it.  But there is still the voice of doubt that says “don’t get your hopes up – you might not be all that”.  I try to silence the voice.  I am talking to myself on the track.  In public.  I don’t care.  I want to be somebody else.  I want to be me.

I take a deep breath and run like I have never run before.  At the bend I realize I have been holding my breath.  I let the air out of my lungs and keep moving as fast as I can.  I challenge myself to puke.  I challenge myself to blow up.  I say it over and over and over again into the silence: “you are fast, you are strong, you are fast, you are strong”.  There is nothing in my head but those words repeating over and over again to the rhythm of my fast-moving legs.  I think I will explode.  There is a quiet inside of me that I don’t recognize.  The girl of fear is fading away.  I have no peripheral vision.  It is like I am in a tunnel with no thoughts except a rhythmic mantra which is thundering in my ears.  I do not notice the force of the wind.  I do not feel the pain in my legs.  And I know I am becoming somebody.  Someone who is a runner.  I push the button on my watch and fall to the ground.  Nine seconds.  Not the ten I wanted.  Nine.  But I am smiling on the ground in a heap.

By the time I stand up, she is back.  The girl of fear.  She is terrified.  She wonders if these times are very slow.  She wonders if she gave it all and it wasn’t enough.  She wonders if her lifelong dream has been shattered by the realization that she is not as fast as she needs to be in the place where it counts.  The girl of fear drives home and tries to stay positive.  She wants to cry.  She wants to stay around.  She thinks I need her to protect me.  And I allow her to hang around for the evening, making me feel awful.  After all, look how much failure she has protected me from in my lifetime!  She has done such an amazing job of keeping me from becoming who I want to be.  But I’m not enjoying her company as much any more.  I think she’s kinda lame.  And whenever I get a taste of life without her, I think it’s time to let her go.  But of course, that is the hard part.


March 25, 2008

Yesterday I missed Masters swim so my smartass coach sent me a set to do after work that ended with the sentence “That’s what you get for skipping Masters”.  I then received an additional consquence for smacktalking and not inviting her over for coffee and was assigned 2 x 25 fly no breath.  Clearly she underestimates me.  And has no sense of distance since I live about a 2 day drive away from her and she would have been late for coffee anyway.

So…while I was mulling over the set she had given me, I was also thinking about the SuperFly Challenge over on Danielle’s site and about the smacktalking I had been doing this weekend with Jen.  (Are you sensing a theme?)

GB worked late last night and the pool was open unusually late, so I packed up a picnic dinner of bars and gels in my swim bag and went to the pool at 6pm.  I settled into an empty lane, arranging my bars etc. on the block and got down to business.  The set went by pretty quickly and although I wasn’t swimming especially fast, I felt good.  Instead of doing the 25 fly no breath I was instructed to do, I incorporated it into a 100IM just to be a showoff.  This was the first time I have done 25 fly without breathing and I was surprised to realize that it is actually easier than 25 free with no breath.  Maybe because you actually take less strokes in fly, I don’t know.

I was so excited to complete the set because my big plan was to break out the 400 fly at the end.  And I did.  And it was far less painful than you might think.  I was disappointed to note that the pool was empty and the lifeguard was reading her book, so no-one witnessed this feat except me and the muscles in my lower back.

So now I have another notch in my swimming belt, which truthfully, is not where I need notches right now.  Tonight I run on the track.  Now THAT is where I need notches.

Country Living

March 24, 2008

cord.jpgJack and GB went out of town this weekend so Finn and I had the place to ourselves.  It has been a while since he and I spent time alone together and we had a great time.  We cuddled, broke the rules of no dogs on the couch (even though that rule was originally put in place by ME – I know, I’m a hypocrite), practiced not running away in the woods, played a lot, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. 

Finn was a little confused about Jack being gone and spent the first 30 minutes or so looking for Jack behind doors and in corners which was hilarious to watch.

I drove into town yesterday for a group run.  Apparently everyone in the group except me takes Easter Sunday off so it was a group run of one.  Kind of annoying since I could have saved myself the drive and I was looking forward to pushing myself in a group.  Instead I got stuck hanging out in my own head which made for a somewhat painful first 50 minutes.  I was really struggling to get into the run and to push myself at all.  Although my run has improved a lot already this year, it has historically been my limiter.  Most of (if not all of) my fear in triathlon is around running.  Fear about being slow.  Fear about having the potential to be fast.  Fear around committing to my running.  Fear of hurting on the run.  When it comes to the run, I am terrified.  And when I can’t get out of my head it gets worse and worse.  Finally after 50 minutes of yesterday’s run I thought about Elizabeth’s chicken and Marit’s inability to run at the moment, and I was able to dig a little deeper and push a little harder.  But I would not call yesterday’s run a victory by any means.  If anything, I allowed myself to repeat old negative thought patterns for 50 minutes.  It’s a process, I know, and I’m getting there.  But it’s a slow process.

I spent the bulk of the afternoon and evening stacking the cord of wood we got last week.  Since the wood was dumped pretty far from where we stack it, this involved throwing every log over a giant snowpile and then throwing it from there over to the stack.  I was determined to stack the whole cord as a surprise for GB and I managed to get it done.  I had to apply a little workout mentality to it since I considered giving up once it started to get dark.  Finn was very helpful and thought I was throwing the logs for him, so he spent several hours running back and forth.  By the time I got done, my hands rough and full of cuts and splinters, I was feeling like a real country girl.  I guess the next step is to be able to split the wood myself.  Maybe next year.

At Last!

March 23, 2008

I decided not to ride in the morning with the big boys. The following is an exerpt from a phone conversation this morning as I began to enact Plan B:

Me: Hi, Tara? It’s Ness.
Tara: Oh hey, what’s up?
Me: Well, I’m planning to ride this afternoon and was wondering if you want to come.
Tara: Uhhh, well…how warm is it supposed to get?
Me: Oh, really warm. It’s supposed to go up into the forties!
Tara [choking on her breakfast]: Uhhhh. Forties? Gee, I don’t know.
Me: Okay wellll….I’ll call you closer to the time.
Tara: Would I need gloves and booties?
Me: Yeah, you might want to wear those.

My friend Tara was my godsend today and agreed to brave the outdoors with me. We had a great ride and it felt SO GOOD to get outside. It was windy and pretty cold but the sun was shining and I was oh so happy. We did have to stop at the bike store for her to buy booties (which, by the way, are my new favorite things!). It was amazing to have warm feet and warm hands. I have never had the appropriate cold weather riding gear before and it made SUCH a difference!

I am a happy, happy camper now that I have ridden outside. It was everything I imagined and more.


March 21, 2008

booties1.jpgToday we had a wind advisory. Advisories in general crack me up and wind advisories are especially humorous. It’s not the wind I find funny, it’s the fact that we need someone to tell us that it’s windy out. If you have functional ears OR functional eyes believe me, you do NOT need a weather channel or website to tell you that it is very windy out at the moment. A simple glance out the window at the lawn furniture and house pets being blown around will clue you in.
Anyway, enough about advisories. The real point of this rant is that tomorrow I am going on my first ride OUTSIDE. It is not slated to be especially warm (certainly no heat advisories will be in effect tomorrow). But I have an outside ride on my schedule and by George, I am planning to ride outside. How serious am I about this?

Serious enough that I put away my trainer. I know it’s not permanent and I’ll probably need it again on Tuesday, but it feels good to stash it in a corner for now. Certainly preferable to having it as the most central piece of living room furniture like some idolistic statue dedicated to the gods of Watching-TV-While-You’re-Cycling.

Serious enough that I paid a pretty penny (well thousands of pretty pennies, to be more accurate) for gloves and shoe covers. I believe roadies in all of their athletic toughness refer to these as “booties”…? Add this to what they call “bib” pants and you have almost a complete baby outfit! Why don’t they just go one step further and refer to their padded cycling shorts as diapers? But I digress. Anyway, I bought some “booties” and some gloves and some gel and now I am READY TO RIDE! Given that it’s the first ride of the year and I want to start things off by raising the bar, I’m going to do a group ride with a bunch of men who are faster, cooler, and stronger than me. Perhaps I should leave the booties at home and then I can yell “AT LEAST I’M NOT WEARING BOOTIES!!!!!!” as they drop me from the pack. Ah well, I’m excited.

Spring Run

March 21, 2008

Last night I had a trainer ride that was dragging and dragging.  I swam after work and then had zero motivation to get on my bike.  Finally GB convinced me to just get on with it and even did part of the workout with me, for which I am grateful.  I didn’t get on my bike until pretty late so I knew there wouldn’t be much daylight left for my quick run off the bike.  Since it was the first day of Spring and I was entirely unmotivated to put on running tights, I ended up running in shorts.  I don’t know what I was thinking – well, actually I DO know what I was thinking!  I was thinking I was going to rebel against the cold – but I did not wear a hat or gloves.  Just a shirt, a running jacket, and shorts.  Yup.  And I think the “real feel” temperature was in the low twenties if not the teens.

It was just a short run, and I did warm up quickly so I didn’t hate myself for too long.  Actually, but the time I had turned around, it was nearly dark, very peaceful, and the full moon was lighting my way through the trees.  It was one of those awesome moments where you think “this is what it’s all about”.

 This morning I swam with Masters and now I’m DONE FOR THE DAY!  In spite of the snow falling and the wind blowing, I can feel a great day coming on….

Rainy Day Run

March 20, 2008

Yesterday was very rainy. All day I toyed with the idea of doing my run on the treadmill. Then when I got home and got dressed into my outside running clothes, I was still bargaining with myself for an indoor run. At last I got out the door, and boy was I glad. It was raining but not too cold – probably in the mid 30s and it was just gorgeous outside. I realized I had hardly spent any time outside for the whole day and just revelled in the fresh air. I felt like I was running pretty well and was really feeling in the groove. It got even better when I passed two people at their mailbox and the man said to the woman after yelling ‘hello’ to me: “Wow, I thought I was tough…”. That made me feel great, of course, and my spirits just kept getting higher and higher. And then on the backside of the loop I was running and OWL flew in front of me. I don’t know much (okay ANYTHING) about owls but this one tends to hang out in the vicinity of our neighborhood and this is the second time I’ve seen it while running. I often see it when I’m driving to or from work. Pretty cool to see it up close.

After my run GB and I headed into town for burritos and grocery shopping. We have decided to reinstate the weekly Wednesday date night. I know, grocery shopping is hardly a romantic date, but the point is to spend quality time together and we actually had a really fun time.

I am rethinking my plan to drive somewhere warm this weekend since I don’t think it’s that warm even 5 hours South of here.

Bust Your Butt

March 18, 2008

Given that Marit and Elizabeth were in a bike accident on the final ride of their San Diego training trip yesterday, it seems a little pointless to blog about the details of my day or my training.  My heart goes out to Marit who broke her sacrum and fractured her hip (literally busted her butt) and to Elizabeth who has been taking such good care of Marit while she’s in the hospital.  There is an update here if you want to know more.  I’m relieved they are both okay, although this will be an inevitable interruption in Marit’s big IM debut this year.  The good news is that she’s young and perky and will no doubt find ways to turn this all into a positive experience.

These things always make us stop and think about how lucky we are to be healthy.  So here’s to Marit and Elizabeth, poster girls for great attitude and sportsmanship in the face of adversity.