Category Archives: Fear

My First Group Ride / I Got Robbed

Yesterday,  I went on my first GROUP RIDE!

Yes. The two words more terrifying than “Brazilian Wax” or “Magic Mike”…

What if I suddenly forget how to stop and start my bikemachine?
What if my neon orange jacket is too embarrassing to be seen with?
What if I can’t keep pace and my super sweet friends who would never shun me SHUN ME?

I had so many “what if’s” as I was getting ready that I almost had tears in my eyes. I took some deep breaths and tried to believe what I tweeted the night before:

Good advice, Me.

Good advice, Me.

The game plan was to ride up Tunnel Road in the Oakland/Berkeley hills with my newlywed friends TJ and Michael.  They’re both experienced cyclists and wonderfully sweet people.  Definitely the kind of folks you want to do something scary with for the first time.

I mean, come on.  Look at these faces!  (Ignore ominous thumb cloud.)

I mean, come on. Look at these faces! (Ignore ominous thumb cloud.)

It’s about as gentle as a hill ride gets in the Bay Area, good for figuring out gearing on the way up and descent isn’t terrifying.  They also suggested a short segment that wouldn’t be overwhelming.  Thanks guys!  While the road winds quite a bit (danger! danger!), it’s such a popular cycling route that most cars avoid it unless they have the misfortune of owning one of the multi-million dollar homes positioned on the hillside.  We joked on the way up that there must be some underground, Dr. Evil-esque grocery store that only sells fancy milk and bread.  Otherwise, these people literally have a 20 minute drive to the nearest egg.

We parked near the Firestorm Monument (foreshadowing….), spent a little bit of time talking about riding in a group and off we went!

That's the view from the starting point of this ride!  The Bay Area is awesome.  Can you see the Bay Bridge?

That’s the view from the starting point of this ride! The Bay Area is awesome. Can you spot the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges?

I had a slightly shaky start because I’m so unaccustomed to having anyone near me as I push off!  They rode up a few feet and we settled into a nice pack? Group? Murder (of crows)?

Fun Fact: the term for a group of unicorns is a “blessing.”  A blessing of unicorns.

It was really interesting keeping a steady pace behind someone.  TJ set a nice, slow speed for us and we took turns in the lead position.  The incline was gentle enough that I stayed in my big ring  but at one point, a combination of slow speed, big gear, and steeper grade got the better of me and I lost momentum.  We regrouped and I realized that I shouldn’t let my fear of spinning out of control keep me from shifting to the small ring.  It’s for hills!  Derp!  I shifted and my bike immediately felt 200lbs lighter.  I couldn’t believe the difference!

I think it was around this point (halfway up the hill) that I remembered to press “start” on my Garmin.  D’oh!  Bummed because I’m a total data freak and I was looking forward to seeing the elevation gain.

Can I just say how nice it was that every cyclist calls out “good morning!” to each other.  There were folks on tandem bikes, fancy kitted-out cyclist dudes and everyone in between.  They were all so friendly!  I liked that.

Before I knew it, TJ was calling out “that’s our driveway!”  Great success!

Dr. Evil's cul-de-sac?

Dr. Evil’s cul-de-sac?

Before we headed back down, TJ gave me lots of great tips about descending.  We agreed that Michael was welcome to zip down the hill but TJ would take it slow with me.  That was really sweet and generous of her because she loves a speedy downhill!  The beginning of the descent was pretty intense.  It wasn’t particularly steep but the only descents I’ve done so far have been very, very short.  To continually go downhill, feeling that wooshing speedy feeling was overwhelming.

(At literally 7mph.  I didn’t even know it was possible to go downhill as slowly as I was until I looked at my Garmin data later.)

When we discussed descending techniques, TJ mentioned being in the drops, as opposed to on the hoods.  I actually haven’t ridden in my drops since I realized early on that I should be on the hoods.  Remembering how unsteady my steering felt during those early rides, my knee-jerk reaction was “nope, not today.”  Well, we rode for only a couple minutes before my hands were cramping like crazy from trying to feather my breaks from the hoods.  We pulled over for me to take little emotional breather.  I was uphill from TJ so I decided to ride down to her in my drops and, like shifting into the small ring on the ascent, the drops were a game changer.  I had easy access to my breaks and realized that the steering difficulty in the past had much more to do with my inexperience.  It felt a bagillion times better.

Cutest TJ demonstrating.  I love her.

Cutest TJ demonstrating. I love her.

Also, can we please check out these views?  It was so clear and gorgeous.  I promise I’ll get better pictures next time…

Why didn't the chicken cross the road?  Because she didn't want to get a good picture?

Why didn’t the chicken cross the road? Because she didn’t want to get a good picture?

Riding down the hill, I felt more and more comfortable.  We still took it very slowly, just what I needed.  In fact, I think if I had been riding by myself, I may have ridden uphill faster than I rode down!  How weird is that?

I was so happy!  Great success!  Learned a ton, didn’t make a fool of myself….all good things!  Wonderful day!

Until we discovered this:

Fuck.

Fuck.

Really?

Really?

 

Purse with beloved salmon colored Coach wallet stolen.  Lots of teaching cash stolen.  Motherfucking SWIM BAG stolen.  Driver’s side window busted out on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.  Cause that’s convenient.  Thankfully, I had my keys and my iPhone with me.

TJ and Michael jumped into action, cleaning out the glass as I cancelled my bank card and called Tim to cancel our credit card.  They were very supportive and sympathetic, as were the multitudes of cyclists who passed by.

Great ride and learning experience with a totally shitty and expensive ending.  I can’t wait to ride Tunnel again and again and again!  With nothing of any value in my car.

HUGE thank you to TJ and Michael for being great friends and teachers!  You guys are the best!

GO TEAM!

GO TEAM!

Tell me about your first time descending on your bike!  Or something scary you did this weekend!  Don’t tell me about a time you got robbed, I’m still too bummed.

 

 

 

 

CA Sprint Tri Training – Week Five

Late again.  I know.  I bet smart bloggers who write weekly workout posts actually work on them every couple days and just keep a draft going.  Maybe they don’t and I should do that and be the most organized blogger of them all!

Monday 5/7 – Rest.  Successful.

Tuesday 5/8 – Run, Swim, TDM

Very short run because I’d had a bit of discomfort in my tendon a couple days before.  My foot is pretty reliable but it’s directly connected to tightness in my calf.  If I stretch and roll my right calf adequately, my foot seems to be fine.

700 meters in the pool.  After making the decision to race the Mermaid Tri in less than a month, I’m upping the distance in the pool.  I was never truly comfortable with the incredibly short workouts on my training plan.  I’ve switched over to the Ruth Kazez 0-1650 swimming plan.  I did it at the end of last year and gained comfort and fitness in the pool pretty quickly.  Maybe should have built on that instead of losing it all and starting from scratch.  I’ll file that away as yet another triathlon lesson learned.  In any case, swimming sucks and is also going better.

TDM with Kim.  She kicked my ass.  Love that girl.

Wednesday 5/9 – BRICK

Exact same brick as last week (30 min ride, 20 min run) on the same route.  My pace was almost identical.  It felt about a thousand times easier because it wasn’t 90 degrees and I drank water before the run.  Look at me, learning!  Also wore my tri suit for the first time.  It was comfy.

Nothing sexier than an unzipped onesie and a salty face.

Nothing sexier than an unzipped pink onesie and a matching salty pink  face.

Thursday 5/10 – TDM Intervals, Cycle

TDM has a brand new class!  It’s a 45 minute cardio intervals class.  I want to attend it a couple more times before I write a full review.  It was hard but super fun.  If I wasn’t doing so many hours a week of cardio, I would take it regularly.  Also, I was really sore the next day in strange places.  It was a winner.

TOUGH 45 minute cycling workout at the gym.

Friday 5/11 – Rest

So. F*cking. Sore.

Saturday 5/12 – Run, Swim

BROKE THE THREE MILE WALL!  I woke up on Friday morning and thought “I want to run four miles today!”  My foot felt good, I took it pretty slowly and it was awesome.  With marathon training on the horizon, I really want to put this injury behind me.  It was a huge confidence boost to comfortably run four miles.  I could have done more without a problem.  WOOOOOOT!

Also, there were ducklings!

Hella cute!

Hella cute!

Another half mile in the pool.  Still working on fundamental aspects of my form: rotation, keeping hips high, and not pulling my head up when I breathe.  I’m breathing much less frequently.  Huge improvement.  Great success.

Sunday 5/12 – Cycle

Another huge breakthrough: I rode my bike in Oakland for the first time.  Between the drivers, the hills, and the potential for sketchy encounters, I’ve avoided riding in my hometown.  Near to my house, there’s a long street with a bike line.  I got up at around 6 to avoid cars and sketchmos.  I had a bit of anxiety but I decided in advance that I wouldn’t worry at all about pace and if I was struggling on a hill or felt freaked out, I would just walk my bike.  It went well!  I had to shift a lot, which is good.  I still shift the wrong way a lot (I’m not kidding) and shifting to the small ring makes me nervous that I’ll spin out.  I nearly did once but I just let the pedals spin until I could regain my balance and put my feet back on the pedals.  Great success, again!

Another fantastic week of training!

How was your week, friends?

The Tough Stuff

Things are going well.

Let me say that again.

Things are going well.

It bears repeating because in the great, grand scheme of life, things truly are going well. But for the last few weeks, that statement only feels true about 10% of the time.

Almost all of my present unhappiness, anxiety, and frustration are related to the extra weight I’m carrying. The bad feelings are compounded by fact that I’m handling it so poorly. Why should some PMS/ibuprofen water weight send me into this tailspin? And why am I consciously shoving unhealthy food into my mouth knowing full well that I’m *ensuring* guilt and emotional chaos?

Punishment.

Am I punishing myself for getting injured? For daring to think I might actually be strong (when on some level I still don’t believe I deserve that confidence)? Some heavy questions for a sunny Wednesday.

Things have been considerably better since I resumed working out a week ago. The mere fact that I’ve done eleven workouts in the last seven days should quell any fears I have about abandoning my athletic lifestyle. Apparently, I’m not in a place to accept reality if it’s positive.

Today, I had my first outside run. My intention was to run conservatively and respond to any signals from my foot. Most of the signals came from my heaving lungs and I spent 3 miles simultaneously celebrating my pain-free foot and lamenting my loss of cardiovascular fitness. What I didn’t realize until I finished was that I ran considerably faster than I thought and planned. In fact, after my conservative warm-up mile, I basically did a funky progressive tempo-y run.

20130313-184759.jpg
Maybe slightly more even splits next time…?

During the run, I felt like it was going rather poorly. It felt hard. In a more generous moment, I wondered if I had simply forgotten that even easy running is harder than hard anything else. Still, I was not impressed with myself. Then I reviewed the splits. Now, eight painless hours later, I recognize that it was a triumph.

My response to today’s success was to defer my entry to the Oakland Half Marathon. I may or may not elaborate on that decision but it basically came down to the fact that I want my next half to reflect the fitness I’ve gained since last October. I don’t want to PR by the skin of my teeth. I don’t want a medal for running conservatively and obsessing over my foot for two hours straight. I don’t want to re-injure myself. I don’t want to hold back. I want to crush it.

And I will.

I mean it.

Reality

9 miles done today. 3 loops of Lake Merritt.

My trashed legs didn’t loosen up until mile 6 when conveniently, my new iPod shuffle betrayed me and ran out of juice. SO RUDE.

I fought through the last lap and finished strongly. Felt pretty good until it occurred to me that during peak marathon training, 9 miles will be a midweek run.

And I will run TWICE what I ran today. SEVERAL TIMES.

Holy shit.

Wrestling

It was announced recently that wrestling, one of the original Olympic events(!) is being eliminated. WTF?

In honor of a legit and homoerotic sport, I had a major wrestling match yesterday.

Me vs. Me

Round one was in bed when I woke up. Neither Me could decide what type of run to do. The Me’s engaged in an endless debate between tempo and intervals (pyramid or fartlek?!) that continued through dressing, teeth brushing, and deodorizing. I dragged us into the car and headed to Alameda.

As I circled for parking, Me told me to turn around and head home. And to stop at Burger King for a ham and cheese biscuit, no egg thankyouverymuch. Me calmly explained to Me that no, we had a day off on Monday and it was time for a run. Round 1 went to Me and we got out of the car to begin a 3 mile tempo run.

(Are we confused yet? Try being me. Or Me.)

We all headed out for Round 2. Too fast. The pace felt good but we all knew that it would be a struggle to sustain. Me suggest that we do the first two miles at tempo and cool down in the third. Me called Me a weenie and reminded us that the point of this run was to struggle. To hurt. To get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Embrace the pain. It’s temporary. Success is FOREVAHH!!!

(Me has clearly spent too much time looking at inspirational mantras on Pinterest…)

And hurt we did. Whenever Me wanted to abandon the workout, Me begged us not to. In the third mile when our heart was exploding and Me strongly urged us to take a brief waking break, Me put Me in a headlock and kept Me at bay until the run was DONE.

20130213-101919.jpg
BOOYAH. THE TITLE GOES TO ME!

And we all won.

(Cue 80’s sitcom audience “awwww”)

When both Me’s are equally matched, how does one edge out the other?

Bring it, Eleanor

I think I may have actually done something every day this week that scared me!

Monday: Okay, the week didn’t really start off that scary. I *did* go to TDM after running 7 miles and cycling almost 7 miles the day before. Class had the potential to be quite crappy. It wasn’t!

Tuesday: SPEEDWORK. ‘Nuff said. Oh and a brutal TDM class after. My thighs and calves called shenanigans.

Wednesday: FIRST DOUBLE DIGIT BIKE RIDE! FIRST FALL!

Thursday: Hill workout. Feels like the worst speed work ever but in slow motion. Also kind of feels like Dailey Method thigh work done WHILE RUNNING. Either way, it’s intimidating and challenging. Oh, and horrible. And I went to actual Dailey Method after where I completely sweat through my purple Old Navy capris. So not sexy.

20130203-212408.jpg
I did a lot of sweating on Thursday. Above is a sweat stain in the shape of Batman that I left on my front stoop. You’re so welcome.

Friday and Saturday: These were rest days but full of personal challenge. I headed up to a beautiful camp in the redwoods to work as a master voice teacher for several high school choirs. I worked with wonderful colleagues but for an introverted girl who has some anxiety in social situations, I was pretty nervous about spending a weekend away from my comfy routine. It went very well from both a teaching and social standpoint and I had a great time. Big success!

20130203-213139.jpg
Amazing young singers keeping my art form alive. Inspiring.

Sunday: Today was my second double digit ride. I ventured onto actual roads (taking advantage of the completely empty Bay Area streets. Some sort of sporting match?) I’m going to write more about this ride but for now I’ll say that it was GREAT. I really enjoy cycling and each time I go out, I feel more skilled, safe, and confident!

Ooh! I also figured out how to work my standing floor pump, giving myself a flat in the process.

20130203-214444.jpg
Hello new friend. How do you work? No, seriously. How?

Overall, an awesome week of fear domination!

What was the last thing you did that was scurry?

On the Road

On Sunday, I went on my first real bike ride.

Let's.....do this.....?

Let’s…..do this…..?

That’s my worried face.

There were worried tears as I got dressed, as I drove to the start of my route, and as I put my helmet on.  It may seem insane but remember, I didn’t learn to ride in the wonderbubble of childhood invincibility.  I’m learning as an adult who has fallen down, been in car accidents, and has generally been banged up a bit.

I set off with the intention of riding around Bay Farm island.  From my research, there would be a paved path around the perimeter of the island.  And there is.  I just didn’t follow it.

Obviously the blue part of the map is land...

Obviously the blue part of the map is land…

Each one of those little, gray pins is a place where I stopped.  The first few miles were fairly smooth sailing.  I stopped a couple times to decide which way to go or just to calm down.

Around mile four, I ventured on to real roads!  It was fairly early in the morning so there weren’t many cars on the street.  I actually preferred the smooth paved roads to the bumpy bike path.  I had a bike lane most of the time and cars passed me with a wide berth.  As nervous as I was about the *idea* of riding with cars, the reality of road riding was very freeing.

So, why did I tear up several times during the morning and off and on ALL day when I got home?  Well, if you take a look at miles 5-8, the route is a mess.  Stops, starts, and a LOT of backtracking.  I ended up in some residential streets and got lost literally 15 times.  I was near the end off my ride and every time I looked down at RunKeeper, I was FURTHER away from the goddamned bridge back to my car.  It was absolutely maddening.  Because I’d veered off the bike path, I also had to contend with some busy intersections.  During the ride, I struggled with pushing off and beginning to ride.  Even when I had the right of way at an intersection, I was so afraid that I wouldn’t get my bike going that I let cars go by.  This situation probably came up three or four times and it was absolutely demoralizing.  When I write that, I feel silly and dramatic but in the moment, I couldn’t have felt further away from my triathlon ambitions.  The idea of riding a BIKE IN A RACE…..IN JUNE……  It just feels very far.

Eventually I got back to the bridge where my route began.  I looked like this.

This is my 0.005 seconds from crying face.

This is my 0.005 seconds from crying face.

I was really shaken up for the rest of the day.  Came home to Tim a puddle of tears.  I planned to run 5 miles but I was completely drained emotionally.  Instead, I ate an insane amount of terrible food and spent the rest of the day in bloated misery.

Look at me, growing.

With a couple days of distance, I am proud of that experience.  There were a number of positives:

* I didn’t die!

* I didn’t fall!

* I didn’t cause harm to any children, animals, or drivers.

* I didn’t get so lost that I couldn’t get back on track.

* I didn’t hurt.

* I didn’t QUIT.

Yesterday, I returned to Bay Farm for my 5 mile run.  I ran the part of the route that confused me so I would be prepared to ride it again this Saturday.  That’s right!  I’m going for a redemption ride this weekend to get comfortable with the route and my bike.

Oh, after YouTube teaches me how to fix this:

Whomp whomp.

Whomp whomp.

When was the last time you did something CRYING SCARY?

Change of Plan

During half marathon training, I secretly decided that, someday,  I would run a full marathon.

(It must have been a really good run when I made that decision because in mile 5 of my half marathon, I was convinced that full marathons were a HOAX.)

There was no question in my mind which would be my first: Chicago.  By all accounts, it’s an amazing first marathon.  I’ve always wanted to visit the city, mostly to eat at the restaurants of Grant Achatz and Rick Bayless.  The first marathon recap I ever read was Liz’s description of the 2010 marathon, so it’s been on my radar since before racing even felt like a possibility.  Chicago is typically held on my birthday weekend (10/7), allowing me to celebrate a new age with a huge accomplishment.  Not a bad tradition!  I went public with my intentions several months ago and have completely adjusted to the reality that I would run the Chicago Marathon on 10/13/2013.

So, yesterday, I was randomly reading an article that mentioned the Portland Marathon.  On 10/6.  In Portland, OR.  I love Portland.  I live (relatively) near Portland.  It’s supposed to be very friendly to first-timers.  Registration is open.

PORTLANDMARATHON

It’s GO TIME.

My attachment to Chicago was a bit hard to let go of but as I considered the huge list of pro’s, it was a no-brainer:

Pros:

  • BIRTHDAY WEEKEND!!! Aaaaaaand I will get my first marathon in on the last day of age 30.  F*CK YES.
  • Much closer to California so the travel is less expensive and less stressful.
  • MUCH closer to Seattle so spectating will be much easier, more convenient, and less expensive for my family.
  • Food trucks.  Food trucks.
  • Bestie lives in Portland.
  • VOODOO DONUTS.  WHAT BETTER PRE AND POST RACE FUEL IS THERE?
  • Less expensive!
  • Mid 50’s.  After training all summer, how GOOD will that feel?
  • The Chicago Marathon will always be there and because it won’t be my first one, I won’t need my entourage to travel with me!

I pondered for about 10 minutes, got the blessing from my parents and dude, and registered!  And then I got REALLY excited.  Woke up this morning, still REALLY excited.

I AM GOING TO RUN A MARATHON.

2012

Oh hi!  How have you been?  I’ve been….busy.

Busy.

Busy.

The holidays have been amazing.  Lots of delicious food, family time in Seattle and WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING!  Can’t even tell you how fun it is to shop for a wedding dress as a fit person.  Subject for a future post, I promise.

No, I really promise.  3x a week blogging schedule in 2013.  It’s happening.  Pinkie swear!

I realize I’m a day late and several dollars short recapping 2012 but I can’t let it go undocumented.  This was a truly monumental year in my life.  I discovered physical and emotional strength that I had no idea was in there.

* I Learned to Run

…..and it changed my life.

Who in the HELL is that woman?  Not the woman who started 2012, that's for sure.

Who in the HELL is that woman? Not the woman who started 2012, that’s for sure.

I’ve spent the better part of the morning trying to write this paragraph.  When I began the couch to 5k in February, my running intervals were around a 10 minute mile.  I was neon pink and puffing at the end of each interval but I felt more alive than ever.  I was awake.  I started to push myself to go a liiiiiiittle bit faster in the last interval.  A liiiiiiiiittle bit harder up the hill.  I learned to push.  I accepted and even welcomed discomfort.

One day, I woke up and was ready to run a race.  It was f*cking awesome.  I ran into a couple of good friends there so the pre-race excitement was off the charts.  The sea of bobbing heads in front of me when the race began is one of my best memories of all time.  I was swept up in the race energy and ran 5k without stopping for the first time ever!

The FINISH LINE.  My new favorite place on earth.

The FINISH LINE. My new favorite place on earth.

I was hooked.  So hooked that three days later, I took a huge leap of faith and registered for a half marathon. To be run on my 30th birthday!  I spent the next 4.5 months slathering sunscreen on myself, foam rolling, running, and exceeding the sh*t out of my expectations.  Double digit runs?  Wikiwhaaaaa?  I completed my first half marathon.  It was hard.  It was totally worth it.

During this process I became a runner.  I know many people who run much faster than me and are reluctant to refer to themselves that way.  I have no problem with it.  From the moment I arrived at that first race, my identity expanded to include “runner.”  I found myself reading every book/blog/training plan I could find, plotting workouts, talking about running, writing about running, running about running.  I was a runner.

Here are the stats:

Not. Too. Shabs.

* I Got Strong, Courtesy of The Dailey Method

I was scared to return to Dailey Method.  I had gone in early 2011 and though it was clearly effective, it was very embarrassing and frustrating.  I was heavier and that was challenging but it was really my negative feelings that held me back.  This year, I had some mojo building from running, weight loss, and regular yoga practice.  The first class back was nearly better than my best classes in 2011.  I was ready to get strong.  And I really, really did.  In April, I joined the trade staff and continued to regularly attend classes as my primary form of cross-training.  It absolutely transformed my body but more importantly, made me feel like a strong, sexy, fit beast.  It also kept my completely free of injury by strengthening and stretching my running muscles.

Happy girl in her happy place

Happy girl in her happy place

My TDM improvement is a bit harder to quantify than running but I’m still a stat girl.  According to my records, I attended 109 classes.  Booyah.

* #TriFri

Blogs have been a huge source of inspiration over the last year.  I absolutely love marathon recaps and they introduced the possibility of racing into my consciousness.  A number of the ass-kicking ladies I read are triathletes.  Reading about speedy marathons are amazing and motivating but nothing blows my mind like triathlon.  It’s just so badass!  I started to maybe, kinda, wonder what that might be like.

(!!!!!!!)

#TriFri (Triathlon Friday) began with stationary cycling at the gym.  I pedaled like a maniac, sweating my balls off.  LOVED IT.  As I walked from the bike to the treadmill, I looked at the pool.  Baby steps.

I grew up swimming during the summer and on vacations but never in an organized fashion.  Like with strokes.  So I bought a suit, goggles, and swim cap and spent the next several months working up the nerve to look like a fool in the pool.  Once I finally did, I loved it.   TriFri was officially on!

One more major obstacle:  I’ve never ridden a bike.  Pretty scared to do it.  Scared of looking like a fool and also scared of maybe killing a child.  So I went to the beach and my breezy, Sonja, helped me ride!

SO FUN.

SO FUN.

It was scary and fun and awesome.  I spent the next 6 months pondering getting a bike of my own.  Then I did.

Oh hey!  BIKE!

THIS IS MY FRIEND, THE BIKE.

Rolling.

Rolling.

So, in summation:

*I worked from running 30 seconds to 13.64 miles!

* I ran 5 races!

* I learned to swim freestyle (in progress)!

* I learned how to ride a bike (in progress)!

* I built a 6-pack and some serious Michelle Obama arms.  Sorry for the straight-up brag but……not sorry.

I also broke off my engagement, moved into an apartment, realized four days later that my fiancé was the love of my life, we repaired our relationship, I moved back in, and couldn’t be happier!  And I did the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) intern program which was super challenging and scary and amazing.  Oh, and I went to Hong Kong and Disneyland (twice!)  Yeah, 2012 was a big one…

* I changed my life.  I did infinity things that were scary.  I became strong.

Best.  Year.  Ever.

RACE RECAP – Rock n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon

I’m a HALF MARATHONER!

I’m 30!

It’s all happening!

Pardon the slight delay of the race recap (and 100th post!)  I wanted to process yesterday’s events and I also needed to work my way through this:

If you understand “Family Love Shauna”, you and I are friends.

Yes, that is a birthday cake that looks like a hamburger.  I joyfully LOST IT when presented with the hamburger cake.  Bold, all-caps, nothing can express my love for this man and this cake.

Anyway, I digress…

If you just want the down and dirty stats:

Chip time: 2:16:45 (10:26/average)

Overall: 4749/9790

Division: 379/983

Gender: 1830/5282

So there that is.

Pre-race went smoothly.  I woke up before my alarm with lots of energy.  It barely registered that it was my birthday because I was mechanically going through my morning routine.  We left around 6:30 to head down to San Jose where we picked up Rachel.  Sweet man dropped us off near the start about a half hour before go time.

Still thumbsing at thirty.

Everything was very well organized and surprisingly not packed, considering there were about 14,000 people running the half and the mini marathon.  Potty lines were long but not insane and the gear check was super-efficient.  Well done, RnR.  After a hug, we parted ways and squeezed into our corrals.

Let’s do this!

I had an emotional moment at the very beginning of the race.  It was finally here!  I was doing it!  I’m sure I had the goofiest grin on my face as I blinked back a few tears.

My strategy was to go slowly for the first 5K (around 10:20) and then allow myself to cruise for the majority of the race.  I expected that cruising pace would be somewhere between 9:45-10mm.  Faster than my long runs but sustainable over a long distance.  According to RunKeeper, I executed this strategy exactly as I planned:

Yep. It felt exactly like that.

The run felt exactly like what the splits reflect.  My body felt strong and capable.  My heart and lungs were easy and responsive.

But my mind…

My mind really challenged me from the first mile.  I was constantly assessing whether or not I was feeling good, going at the right speed, making the right choices.  Even though the answer to every question, every time was YES, I behaved as though the answer was no.  My body felt great and yet, I feared it.  My speed was right on pace (according to RunKeeper – we’ll get to that in a moment) and yet, I second-guessed it constantly.  The best moments of the race were fleeting thoughts I would have of family, friends, the training that got me to the race, and the incredible changes that have occurred.  Unfortunately, those thoughts were brief and infrequent.  It was mostly two hours and sixteen minutes of unrelenting pointless strategizing.

The only other thing that got me out of my head was anticipating seeing my great guy.  He found a spot where I would see him around Mile 5 and Mile 12.  I spent a good mile looking for him and that was a wonderful boost during Mile 4.  I did the thing that you’re absolutely NOT supposed to do and cut across the ENTIRE street to yell hello to him.  We almost missed each other but he heard me at the last second.  Being a professional voice user comes in handy sometimes.

I can’t say that I ever hit one low point.  It sort of all felt like a low point.  I HATE to admit that because I looked forward to this event so much.   I reminded myself several times that it was supposed to be hard.  It was supposed to be harder than a casual long weekend run.  It’s a race and I was there to be challenged.  That helped a lot more in the second half of the race than the first.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a proof. I didn’t want to pay $30. But look, I’m smiling!

Around mile 9, I started to need bathroom time.  That tends to happen to me during periods of prolonged heart rate elevation.  I told myself to slow down a bit and it would be fine.  It wasn’t.   I kept running and began seriously considering a potty stop.  I was into the 10th mile and didn’t like the idea of stopping so I kept going.  I ran two more distracted, annoyed miles before I spied a single potty with no one waiting.  I dashed in, “evacuated” and immediately felt tremendous relief.  I was about 15 degrees cooler and ready to RUN the rest of the race with no fear and no excuses.

At this point, I was way tired so I just kept telling myself “run to Tim, run to Tim.”  I ran to Tim, screamed “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” and booked it towards the finish.  Sweet crackers,  that last mile felt so long!  I kept willing the finish to reveal itself and it just….wouldn’t.  I kept running, taking pride in all the people slowing and walking around me as I pushed with everything I had.  Finally the finish line came into view and I kicked it in.

I had one more tearful moment realizing that I was about to become a half-marathoner.  And then, I WAS!

YEEEE. UHHHHH.

Rachel found me almost immediately after I crossed the finish.  I grabbed a bottle of water and managed to ask her how her run went.  She didn’t hit her goal but since she’s about to taper for her first full on 11/10 and had trouble sleeping the night before, she wasn’t terribly disappointed.  We had a sweaty finisher picture taken.

Interlocking thumbs up. How I managed that choreography, I’ll never know. And again, this is an ILLEGAL PROOF THAT I STOLE FROM THE INTERNET.

I felt quite nauseated.  I knew I shouldn’t sit down so I drank water, ate a leftover shot blok and stretched.  Then I had to sit.  Each time I tried to get up and walk, I knew I wasn’t ready.  My fueling plan worked well during the race and I clearly used up everything I had to get to the finish.  Surprisingly, my body felt great.  No significant tightness, no pinching or whining.  Just the overall level of fatigue one would expect.   We found Tim and I just curled up next to him for a moment on the ground.  We had left the “secure area” so there was no more free water available but I began to feel better after a few minutes of rest.

So, if you haven’t been able to sense it yet, I was not thrilled with my race.  Based on the pace RunKeeper told me I was keeping, I should have come in between 2:10 and 2:15.  Why, with sub 10mm splits 9 out of 13 miles did I end up with a chip average of 10:26?  Well, because I can’t run in a straight line, evidently.

Um, EXCUSE ME?

How in the F*CK did I manage to add over HALF A MILE to my course?  Well, some of it might be GPS inaccuracy but I also didn’t effectively run the tangents.  In retrospect, I realize that I was on the outside of the course most of the time.  I had more room to breathe which felt great but had I known it was going to completely f my time, I would have stayed in the middle and the inside of the turns.  I don’t regret my bathroom stop at all because it was necessary and allowed me to run the end of the race.  I majorly regret giving up time to something as simple as course positioning.  The dull, slightly bummed feeling I have is reminiscent of the math error I made in my 10k.  If my time reflected my effort, I would be thrilled.  In this case, I ran around a 10mm over 13 miles and my time doesn’t reflect that.  Sigh.

BUT.  (and I’m almost done, I swear.)

I trained for this race.  I ran this race.

My initial goals were to finish strong and get through the training without injury.  Check and check!

I am a strong, healthy, and improved woman as a result of the preparation and execution of this event.

An enormous THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me every literal step of the way.  I love you and I’m grateful.