Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tentative 2012 Races!

I put together a list of races that I'd like to do for 2012. The list is tentative, mostly depending on money and how my saving for the Chicago Marathon in October is going. But hopefully by this time next year, I will have completed not only a 5k and the 4.748 mile (let's just call it an 8k) Thanksgiving/Manchester Road Race, but also a 10k (or 2), a half marathon (or 2!), and a marathon!

This is what I've got so far:

January - ?

February - ?

O'Hartford 5k, Hartford, CT - 3/18/2012

Simsbury River Run 10k, Simsbury, CT - 4/29/2012

East Granby Ridge Run 5k, East Granby, CT - 5/19/2012

Amica Iron Horse 1/2 Marathon, Simsbury, CT - 6/3/2012

July - ?

Old Wethersfield 10k, Wethersfield, CT - 8/26/2012

Surftown Half Marathon, Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, RI - 9/16/2012

CHICAGO MARATHON! Chicago, IL - 10/7/2012
Chester College Family Weekend 5k, Chester, NH (Depends on the date)

Manchester Road Race 4.748 miles, Manchester, CT - 11/22/2012

Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage 5k, Northampton, MA - 12/2/2012

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Be proud of your achievements!

It feels like it's been forever since I've blogged! I've thought about what to write for about a week or so now, but just couldn't get any of my thoughts to really make sense. When I went out for my run last night, I tried to work on this. I came to the conclusion that it is much easier to write about a horrible experience and things that I need to change than it is to give myself credit for actually having a good running experience! To be totally honest, I've had 3 REALLY GOOD experiences lately! It almost seems ridiculous that I haven't written about any of them!

The last race I wrote about was the 4th of July 5k in Enfield. Ugh. What horrible memories. That is definitely one that I WILL NOT be doing again! I didn't participate in any races in August (it was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene) or September (I think because of our vacation?). The next race I took part in was the 2nd Annual Chester College 5k in Chester, NH. This is where my niece Siara goes to school. My sister (Siara's mom), Rich and I decided we were all going to do this. It would be my sister's 2nd 5k, my 5th, and who can keep track of Rich at this point! I found it a little difficult to plan for a race that was such a distance away. It takes a little over 2 hours to get there, but we obviously left some extra time to allow for any traffic, etc. Hydration is usually one of my biggest issues, and it's hard to drink enough that you're hydrated, but then be in a car for 2 hours! My sister and I had taken a drive up to the school to visit Siara a week before the race and while we were up there we took a drive of the course. Wow! This was going to be hilly! We were determined though! Then a few days before the race I looked online and the course had changed from the previous years' course, so it was going to be a complete surprise when we actually ran it! There were actually only 67 of us who participated. This was by far the smallest race I've done! It was an out and back, which I kind of liked. I knew as I was going out for a mile and a half what the next mile and a half would be like. I really wanted to come in under 50 minutes, as my PR at this point was 56:48. More than anything I just wanted to get a new PR. I'd had so many disasterous experiences up until this point that I just really needed to have a positive one. I didn't even care that I was the last person anymore. I'd been last before, and it had pissed me off, but I knew that I was doing something special and beneficial, both for me and for others, at that race. In the end, as I came in last...

Chester College Family Weekend 5k - 10/22/11 - 52:54 PR!

I kept up with my original goal of doing one race per month on November 24th. Rich, Ralph and I signed up to do the 75th Annual Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving! This race is a huge deal, and very closeby! At this point, I think the biggest race I had done was with a couple thousand people at the O'Hartford 5k back in March. This race had a cap of 15,000 people!! It was going to be crazy!!

Also, up until this point the most I had done was 3.1 miles. This race was going to be 4.748 miles! And not 4.748 flat miles - 4.748 hilly miles!! The whole thing isn't actually hilly, but it takes place on 4 different streets in a big square, and the 2nd street is a HUGE hill! I'm not exaggerating. It was comforting to know that after I battled that hill it was all downhill and straight from there. A lot of people dress up for this one. I was mostly concerned with making sure I'd be warm enough because I really just wanted to finish the damn thing! Rich and Ralph dressed up though:

There were so many people that the start line was backed up for what seemed like forever! We parked at Ralph's place and walked down to the start line from there. Again, THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE! Racers, spectators, animals, kids, strollers, costumes, props - just so much going on!! We were stuck somewhere on the side as they sang the National Anthem and couldn't get through if our lives had depended on it! As the gun was about to go off, we snuck under a side barricade that someone held up for us, somewhere around the 35ish minute finish mark. I couldn't drive that route in 35 minutes let alone think about running it in that time! It surprisingly only took me about 2 and a half minutes to cross the start line, but after I'd gone under the barricade I had no idea where Rich and Ralph were anymore. I knew I was going to have to walk most of the 2nd street, so I told myself that no matter what, I had to continue to run the entire length of the 1st street, no matter how bad I wanted to quit! I didn't let myself down either - and it felt good! The hill on the other hand DID NOT feel good! It was horrible!! My calves hurt, and I was actually starting to feel hot, even though it was somewhere in the 30's out! I just kept telling myself that I would do so much better after I got to the top of that street though! Another motivating factor was that when I had reached the 1st mile split I was around a 16 minute mile, which for me is AWESOME! As I got to the top of the hill, I felt really accomplished! I still had about half the race to go, but I knew that the hardest part was over. I continued on by alternating running and walking, playing more mind games with myself. As I mentioned earlier, there were a ton of spectators, and it wasn't just at the start line. The spectators lined the entire race course! It feels so good to have so many people out there clapping and cheering for you! And it was kind of nice to be one of the slower ones and having had started towards the front - everyone was passing me and I could check out all the cool costumes! I must add that the race definitely had it's share of assholes. The pushing in the first third of the race or so was horrible. I got elbowed so many times, unnecessarily. Yes, it was crowded, but you know going into it that with 15,000 people you are not going to have a terrific race! I was really worried about some of the kids that were running, thinking that they might get trampled! It was a big drunk race also. People running with beers, carrying coolers of jello shots, people HAMMERED on the sidelines - at 10am!! It really got to me somewhere around mile 3 1/2 when some guy around 30 years old yelled out that we "needed to work on our running so we wouldn't be so slow next year". I yelled back at him, "MAYBE NEXT YEAR YOU'LL GET OUT AND DO IT INSTEAD OF YELLING FROM THE SIDELINES!" It just goes back to that old saying, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." Anyway... I tried to keep positive! When I got to the 3 mile mark, I had noticed that I was right on time with what my PR was at the last 5k, so I was happy with that. I was pretty tired as I got around 3-3 1/2. I'd run, I'd walk, I'd run, I'd walk. I also tried to give high 5's to all the kids on the sidelines who had their hands out. I hope that maybe in some small way I can inspire at least one kid to take up running in the future! I also played a game with myself that for every kid that had his hand stuck out, that I would high 5 them, and then I would run a little bit. No matter how tired my legs felt. If I gave a high 5, I would run. And I did. And before I knew it, that 4.748 miles didn't even seem as long as it really was! As I turned back down Main Street, I knew that Rich and Ralph would be somewhere on the sides waiting for me to pass. My 3 goals before I started the race were to 1. Finish! 2. Finish under 1:40, and 3. Finish under 1:30. As I came down the last little bit, I passed the guys and gave them both high 5's and I finished in...

75th Annual Manchester Road Race (4.748 miles) - 11/24/11: 1:22:57 PR!

The last one I'm going to write about here is the 5k that Rich, Mandy, and I just did on December 4th. It was the Hot Chocolate Run in Northatmpton, MA to benefit Safe Passage. Rich did this one last year and it was CRAZY! It was the biggest race I had seen at that point. I remember how freezing cold it was as I waited for him and was so thankful that he was a fast runner :) It was the first run that had gotten him back into running. I remember him telling me last year that I had to do that one with him this year. At that time I had no idea where I'd be after the surgery the following month, and the hills in NoHo scared me so much that I never thought I'd be able to do that! This year was all about doing new things (AND SUCCEEDING!) so I signed up for it and really wasn't THAT scared, especially after I knew the hill that I would be battling at that Manchester race :) I liked the cause that this race supported also. Safe Passage is an organization that helps women and children effected by domestic violence:

They increased the capacity from 5,000 to 5,500 for this year, with a separate start time for walkers and for runners. We wanted to wear some crazy costumes for this one as it's another big costumed event, but time and money became an issue. We threw together some cool outfits though:

This photo is deceiving though. It looks like Rich was the most dressed out of all of us. He was actually the least dressed - he ran in his Santa hat and Santa shorts! The organization hasn't posted their photos yet, but when they do, I'm sure they'll have a pic or two of Rich running shirtless (in 30ish degree weather!), and I'll be sure to add it!

I again wanted to try to come in under 50 minutes, but I really just wanted to give it my best shot. Like I said, NoHo is pretty hilly. The race starts out with a short, very steep, hill right in front of you. Once you get to the top, it's flat for a good portion. I was again pretty happy when I got to the 1st mile mark and I was around 16 minutes. I had a shot at coming in under 50 if I kept that up, but I knew that I'd have more hills ahead of me. I was a little disappointed with some of the organization of the race. The trailing car and the trailing police car weren't actually "trailing" - they passeed those of us at the end and stayed in front of about 20-30 of us, which I thought was rather unsafe. It's tough to try to do your best at a run when you not only have to worry about form and pains and the normal running stuff, but also cars driving past you when you're not facing them because of how the race route is designed! The course was also very scarce for supporters/spectators except at the start/finish line. I kept my headphones on pretty much the entire time. I did pretty decent for the 2nd mile and geared up for the last mile where the other 2 hills were. Ugh. It's one thing to have hills at the beginning of a race and be done with them, and another to have the hills at the end of the race! They were pretty killer, at least for me. But because I knew the route ahead of time, it was comforting to know that once I got up and over them I would be golden! I got to the top somewhere around 48 minutes, but didn't have enough in me to finish it out in 2 minutes. The calves were tired, cars were going by at this point so we had to run (against opposite foot traffic) on the sidewalk, and I had to RUN THROUGH A BAND! I can only imagine what I looked like going down that huge hill that we had to run up at the start, but the band took up the whole length of the side street! I ran through part of it, over to the side, jumped up onto the sidewalk, down off the sidewalk, and booked it down through that finish line!

Despite the hills and some of the disorganization that came with being one of the slower people, it was actually a pretty cool race! Mandy actually KILLED her previous PR! Rich kicked ass, as usual :) And he told me when we got back home later that it meant a lot to him that I did that race with him this year :) As for me...

8th Annual Hot Chocolate 5k - 12/4/11: 51:45.69 PR! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm going to Chicago!

O.k.... I'm not OFFICIALLY going to Chicago. But my plans are to go to Chicago! The last time I was there, I was 15 years old. It was for a Girl Scouts program that centered around careers in the media. Lots of classroom time, but also lots of exploring the city. I loved it! Rich and I have talked for years about going there. He's never been, and I'm dying to go back!

So now for the running part. Bucket List item #10 = Complete a marathon. I had always known about the Boston Marathon and thought maybe someday I'd give it a try. Then I read into how you get to participate in the marathon. Unless you are raising money for charity, you need to QUALIFY to run Boston. Which means you not only have to run another marathon first, but you have to run another marathon in a certain amount of time. For women 18-34 years old, you have to finish in UNDER 3 hours 35 minutes (for the 2013 marathon) - that is a pace of just over 8 minutes per mile. If you're not really into running, try to think back to the track in high school. You would have to run each lap in 2 minutes, and run about 105 laps. Ummm... maybe someday, but probably not in the near future :)

So doing some more reading, I found out that you don't have to qualify to do the Chicago marathon! You can go the charity route, or you can pay the registration fee and do it! While I would love to do it for charity, I already do the Penguin Plunge in the winter and ask for donations for that, so I don't want to ask too much of people who are already donating to one of my causes.

So this is it... my proclamation! I WILL BE RUNNING IN THE 2012 CHICAGO MARATHON ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2012! This is truly going to take a lot of hard work. A lot of training. A lot of money. I am only at the 5k stage right now, and would still like to participate in a 10k or 2, and a half-marathon before I head to Chicago (Bucket List items #8 & #9). There are going to be nights and/or weekends when you'll want to get together with us for dinner or drinks, but my training and scheduled races will have to come first. There are going to be places I'd love to go, things I'd love to buy, but they will have to wait. It is going to take around $2,000 at least (probably more) for Rich and I to go - the hotel cost, the airfare, the registration fees, the food, the souveneirs - nothing is free! I am starting with $50 in our fund (donations are greatly appreciated!) but I will make the sacrifices I need to make to be able to do this. If you consider yourself one of my friends, you will support me in this. I'm not saying I won't have time for people, but changes need to be made for this dream to become a reality. Don't be upset that we can't afford to come out for dinner - come run with us instead! Sign up to do a 5k with me and then start the Couch-to-5k program - you'll be surprised by how much you can accomplish too! If you think you can be really determined, try to get to Chicago with us! There is no reason why I can make it there next October and you can't! I certainly don't have the body, don't have the stamina, and don't have the money - but I will! Make a positive change in your life like I've made in mine! I promise we can have one hell of a celebration when I get back from Chicago :)

This is going to happen!
In less than a year, I WILL BE A MARATHONER!

Monday, October 17, 2011

ING Hartford Marathon

The last couple weeks I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas to arrive! Rich was going to do his first marathon on Saturday, 10/15, and it felt like it took forever for that day to get here. Every day was like an eternity! I asked him numerous times how he was feeling in the 2 weeks or so leading up to it. If you've ever met Rich, you know we're a lot of the same, but a lot different at the same time. I'm more outspoken, to say the least, and Rich is much more reserved and not very talkative. It seemed he got more and more excited as the days went on, but lets not forget that we have different meanings of excitement. He was ready to just get out there and run, not talk about it for 2 weeks. One night he asked me how I was feeling about the marathon. I wasn't even sure why he really asked me. I told him I was anxious. I couldn't wait to be there - to see him start, to see him finish! And then I said, "a little jealous." He responded, "wow... that's honest." And it was. As proud as I was of the feat he was about to tackle - and conquer - I still wished I was at the level that he was at so that I could get out there and do it with him. If I had gotten off my ass years ago and started making the improvements in myself that I'm making now, I could've been there too. But that's water over the bridge and we are where we are. And if I couldn't get out there and run, I knew for damn sure I was going to give him all the support I could! I read for hours and hours and days and days about suggestions, recommendations, stories that other marathoners had told about their first marathon or their 50th marathon. I passed on every little bit of info I could - even if it didn't mean much to him this year, I knew it would stick with me for when I eventually got to that point.

Thursday night we went to the Expo at the XL Center in Hartford to pick up his bib. You could pickup on Thurs., Fri., or Sat. morning, but we figured that the sooner we got everything straight, the easier Saturday morning would be. Plus, they were giving out free beer between 5-6pm on Thursday night. 'Nuff said - Rich was there!

He got his t-shirt, his bib number, and we walked around looking at different booths. We ran into a woman who used to come into Mobil years ago when we worked there (she was giving out free granola bars). I also ran into a guy that my mom used to work with years and years ago. Another bonus was that Rich was able to pick up the Gu he wanted to bring with him on race day and a stick of BodyGlide, saving us a trip to Dick's on Friday after he got out of work. We walked by a mannequin wearing an ING Hartford Marathon sweatshirt and a medal around its neck. I pointed it out to Rich. He said, "Oh that's the medal that the winners get?" I said, "That's the medal that YOU are going to get!" He had no idea every finisher got a medal!

In true Rich fashion, all of his stuff was laid on out Friday night - highly recommended for an easy Saturday morning! Bib number was pinned to his shirt. Shorts, socks, sneakers were out. Gu. BodyGlide. KT Tape. Not sure if I'm forgetting anything. Also, the tuna casserole for carbo-loading worked out really well! Saturday morning we were up at 4am so we could leave by 6. You never would have known he was about to run his first marathon!

The drive to Hartford was smooth - that's probably the first and last time I'll ever say that! It was a little bit of a chilly walk to where the start line was. We had just over an hour until the gun. I know he just wanted to get going and hated waiting around. Better to be there early than late though. The people started crowding in and I couldn't believe how packed Hartford was! This was by far the biggest event (outside of a concert) that I had ever been to. It was AMAZING! We people watched for the most part until it was time for him to run. I love looking at all the cool outfits people put together. One of our favs was a guy (with a CRAZY moustache!) in a t-shirt that said "Where the ___ is the finish line?" Rich wants that shirt :) I left him around 7:45 as he got in with the crowd and I made my way to the opposite side of the start line so I could see him take off.

They played a recording mentioning 11 of their highlighted runners, did the National Anthem, and then it was go time!

The runners just kept coming and coming and coming! I spotted Rich as he ran by, but he hadn't noticed me. I started to cry a little. I couldn't believe my baby was running a marathon! As soon as all the runners had gone by, I hiked my ass down to the Mile 5 point. I didn't think I'd have a chance to get to any other spot on foot to catch him, but figured out I could make it there and still have PLENTY of time to make it back to watch him cross the finish. I got there in time to see a good majority of the half-marathoners (who had split from the full around Mile 1) pass by. It was about 5 or 10 minutes until the marathon leaders ran by. It was barely 25 minutes and these people were already at Mile 5! Little by little, more marathoners were coming by and I clapped and cheered for all of them. It was so overwhelming being there! The smiles I got, the people saying thank you - these people were running 26.2 miles and they were thanking ME! It was so inspiring seeing these people of all shapes and sizes out there running. Just under 50 minutes, I saw Stephanie (actually, she saw me!), a girl I had gone to high school with who I just connected back up with in the last few months or so. She ran from the other side of the street over to me to give me a high 5! This girl had to run another 21 miles still and she was using up energy to give me a high 5! I was so happy to see her! I knew her pace was just a little faster than Rich's normal pace, so it wouldn't be long until I saw him. I had my eyes out for his bright green shirt like my life depended on it. And then I saw him! Ahhhhhh!!!

Rich didn't think he'd see me again until the finish line, so I was happy to be able to surprise him there. He smiled when he saw me, and gave me a high 5 too as he ran past. It felt so good to see him out there in the middle of the race :) I knew it would be at least another 3 hours until he finished, and I was just going to be waiting around anyway, so I stood there and clapped for every other marathoner that walked and ran past me. All that clapping though, my arms HURT! But I told myself that if these people could get out there and run 26.2 miles, I could deal with the pain for an hour or so of clapping. I know from personal experience how good it feels to have someone cheering for you, especially when you're at the end of the pack. I've been there many times, when most people have gone back inside or headed to the finish and you're left with no one out there but yourself. I made sure that every one of those people got the support they deserved!

I walked back towards Bushnell park, talked to Rich's brother to give him an update, and walked around where the finish expo/celebration was. I had plenty of time to kill! Then I made my way to the finish line. I watched numerous half-marathoners finish. I saw the winning male AND female marathoners finish - and I'd like to add that the winning woman was running her FIRST marathon! I saw people collapse. I saw people cry. I saw people puke. A lot. I was as close to the "after" side of the finish line as you could get - right on the fence. I told Rich I'd be there at the finish and I had no intention of leaving until he crossed that line! When it hit 4 hours, I knew it was getting close. Rich had said he'd finish in around 4:20/4:30 as long as all went well, but it could be much longer if anything happened. At 4:15 I saw Stephanie finish - YAY!

Rich was only about 4 minutes behind her when I saw them at the Mile 5 mark, so I figured he should be there not long after her. 4:20 came and went. 4:30 came and went. 4:40 came and went. Even with a few port-a-potty stops along the way, he should've been there now. I thought for a second that something had gone wrong. I was supposed to get texts at 13.1, 17, and 20 to tell me where he was (not from him, from the organizers), but I never got a single one. I was worried for a minute, but told myself I had to keep positive. I kept the camera on the whole time, afraid I'd run the battery out, but afraid that if I turned it off he'd get to the finish line and I wouldn't catch it. And then, just a few minutes before 5 hours, there he was!

YAY!!! I can't put into words how happy I was at that moment! I pushed my way through a couple people next to me (and kind of into the elite area) so that I could get to him. He walked over to me and I hugged and kissed him. And then started crying :) I noticed him limping though as he walked over to me, so after what seemed like the longest hug ever I asked what had happened. It was his hip - an issue he had a couple months back when he was walking home from work one day that had disappeared up until Mile 18. He said he started to feel it around Mile 17, really felt it at Mile 18, and knew at that point that he shouldn't push it. So he walked (super fast!) from Mile 18 to 26.2, and did a quick run just to get under the finish line!

I met him around the side to take his picture and help him hobble over to his free beer (pretty much his whole motivation to make it from 18 to 26.2!). The guy at the Ten Penny Ale booth where Rich got his free beer had a severe lack of personality to say the least. He was actually pretty douchey for someone who was greeting people who had just run 26.2 miles! It's great that you're giving something away for free, but you're still promoting a business dude. Along with his free beer, there was a hot dog table in the beer garden for the runners to get some free grub. As I helped Rich make his way over there (through the Bushnell Park mud I must add, after the downpours the night before), the woman told us that there were no buns left, just hot dogs. WTF?!?! So he got 2 hot dogs and put mustard on 'em and ate 'em with his hands. I suppose it's better than only having buns left and running out of dogs, but still! Also, the port-a-potties in the park were pretty scarce, and the ones that we did find were pretty full. I'd say that the beer dude, the hot dog buns, and the port-a-potties were really the only big complaints of the day though. It was a very well organized event, and Rich said the most well-organized event he'd ever done.

In the end, he finished with a time of 4:56:24 - still under 5 hours! An AWESOME time for his first marathon! Next year he will run one with me. For now he's working on recovery, and lots of eating :) Congratulations to him and everyone else who finished the ING Hartford (full and half) Marathon - and everyone else who sets out to conquer a goal!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Mental Battle

It's been a while since I've written anything. Actually, the last posting date was 7/9, the day of my last 5k. I think I tried to hide that day in the back of my mind and forget about it. I was on a mission to do at least one per month, but my August race was rescheduled until November due to Hurricane Irene. Thoughts of running and racing are in my head a lot today. I've been looking around for a race to do towards the end of September, even though I've slacked on training. Win or lose, it's ultimately a battle between me, myself, and I that I need to conquer. I reconnected with an old friend today also who lives in Cali. We were in Chicago together over 15 years ago, and I just found out that she is not only a marathoner, but also a triathloner! She reminded me that, again, "Marathons are VERY much mental, it takes more mental endurance than physical."

Deep down inside there has to be something that keeps me going. I haven't figured out exactly what it is yet, but once I can find it, I can learn how to use it repeatedly. Rich and I showed up in Enfield at the Twilight 5k on 7/9 and met up with my sister, who would also be doing the 5k (her first!), my bro-in-law, and my niece. We were earlier than we needed to be, but it's always hard to guage what the traffic/parking situation will be like, especially when the race is part of a town festival. I felt that I had eaten what I'd needed to, I was hydrated enough, I had been able to use the port-a-potty just before the race (don't laugh, this is always a huge concern of mine!), and I got some pre-race stretching in also. I really felt ready! My calves always seem to lock up at the beginning when I push it too much too fast, so I had planned to fast walk the first 5 minutes or so to make sure I was loose enough and then get in a mix of jogging and walking like I had trained with so far. If only things played out in reality like they play out in my head.

I had learned from previous races that the slower ones need to stay towards the back or you'll pretty much get trampled at the sound of the gun. So as I heard the gunshot and people started moving (between 250-300 of us), I was feeling good! It took less than 30 seconds for my confidence level to go straight to the ground. What I would guess was because I was walking at the start (even though I was obviously registered with a bib number and all), the cop cars and bicycle volunteers all went in front of me and behind all the people in front of me. It took less than a minute before they were so far away from me that even if I had started running I wouldn't be able to catch up. As I got to the first turn I could barely see everyone that was in front of me. This ended up being the beginning of my downfall. Luckily I had printed the race route out and tucked it into my sports bra or I'd have been lost somewhere in the middle of Enfield. I found out later that I took the 2nd turn too late and went a whole extra block or two out of the way. I spent the next 55 +/- minutes COMPLETELY ALONE! There was not one runner/walker in sight. Twice during the race I was so worked up between being frustrated on figuring out the smaller turns that weren't really labeled on the map, to just being pissed off that I was left behind, that I could barely breathe. I had to literally stop right where I was and try to concentrate on breathing so that I didn't collapse right there. Because if I did collapse, who would have found me?!?! I'm sure it also goes without saying that the water station wasn't even setup when I had arrived where it should have been.

I encountered a couple angels on the course when I needed them the most. Somewhere around the halfway mark I was crossing a street hoping I was going the right way, and a mother and her two kids were crossing the other way. One of the children (somewhere around 7 or 8 years old maybe?) yelled out "yay! you can do it!" and I wanted to just stop and cry right there. I was caught somewhere between myself, a 30 year old woman, doubting that she could finish, and a young girl who I'd never even met, that not only cheered on me on, but ASSURED ME that I could do this! I needed that at that moment! Also, somewhere around the 2/3 mark I went through a small neighborhood and (what I'd assume to be) a husband and wife were sitting out on their front steps and just started clapping and cheering for me. Again only a little after this I had to stop again for breathing issues, but unfortunately the high from the cheerers only lasted for so long. Soon again after I was feeling horrible, angry, mad, and every nasty word I could think of went through my head.

The best way I can describe it is from all the cartoons when I was younger with the angel on one person's shoulder and the devil on the other. My head almost constantly feels like that during the races. I tell myself that I can do it, that I AM doing it! Then I start feeling horrible for being last, for not being able to run, for having to stop, etc. And I go back and forth. I have never felt pure anger during a run though. And as angry as I was at the police and the organizers for just leaving me there, I was angry at myself for letting others make me feel that way. Jogging, training, whatever you want to call it, is actually very empowering for me. To know that I got the surgery I needed, that I got back out there and started working out, that I had completed races and was no longer letting something hold me back - I love the feeling of it! And these horrible feelings of hatred were keeping me from the high that I should have been feeling.

When I finally got to the end, somewhere around 55 minutes or so, I could see Rich, but had no breath to you tell to him with. Finally he saw me and I told him how mad I was and just kept saying "they left me! they left me!" He told me to keep going and that my sister was still clocking my time for me. I told him I wasn't running through their finish line. And fuck them for leaving me. And fuck them for not giving everyone equal treatment. It wasn't until about 5 minutes later, when I'd had some water and calmed down, that I realized that there actually was no finish line. They had taken it down somewhere shortly after the 46 minute mark when my niece had heard them announce that there were "no more runners out on the course". I felt even angrier at this point! Why, just because I came in 8 minutes or so after the last guy, was I not worth them keeping the finish line up for? No finish line, no official timer, nothing. My name isn't even registered on their race results. I paid the same registration fee as everyone else did and received completely different treatment.

In retrospect, I am actually very happy to have finished. I could have taken a shortcut somewhere in the middle with my small sports bra map and just gone back to the start, but I kept going. And I know that took a lot of mental strength to do that. I ultimately did the race for me, and still completed 3.1 miles whether they clocked it officially or not. But I can't say that I'm not completely disappointed with the Town of Enfield and their race committee. As I do after each race, I can only hope that the next one will be at least a tiny bit better. I am still trying to beat my March PR, and I WILL BEAT IT!

5k time on 7/9/11: Unknown

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Be Prepared!


I'm doing my 4th 5k in about 4 hours! This will be my first evening event, and honestly, I'm not sure if I'd schedule one this late again - the wait is killing me! I'm not really too nervous, just more antsy to get this thing in motion! In the past I'd be freaking out by now wondering if I have everything ready that I need and trying to sort through tons of "what if's" in my head. But I think I've gotten a better handle on what I need to do to prep myself before a race at this point. So I figured that with some time to kill, why not try to make race day a little less stressful for others as well? Most seasoned runners won't need this - it seems like some people who've been through this enough times (coughRichcough) can just throw on their sneakers and go! But for anyone looking for even a little insight into a less-stressful day, here are some tips I thought I'd throw out there!

#1 - KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING! Most people have a GPS or a smart phone these days, but in the very least, you might as well spend the 3 minutes it'll take you on Yahoo! or Google Maps to figure out exactly where the race will be. It also never hurts to find an alternate route. If your race is of any significant size, or part of a fair/festival weekend, most likely there will be lots of streets closed in the area. Learn how to get in the back way through the next exit in case the one you'd normally take is closed off ot thru traffic. Even better, some races (like mine tonight) offer shuttle parking locally that will bring you directly to the site. Instead of wasting your energy flipping off every other car in traffic next to you, park at the mall and take the shuttle! You'll also appreciate not having to walk the mile back to your car after you just finished your 5k, 10k, etc.

It's also a little helpful to know the course beforehand. If the official site for the race posts this, try to become a little familiar with it. Some even post elevation maps! Knowing any of this stuff can't hurt you at all, so you might as well help yourself!

#2 - KNOW WHAT YOU'RE BRINGING! A lot of race day headaches can be solved by laying things out the night before. Just as you might iron your clothes the night before work to save yourself the time and hassle the next morning, the same goes for doing a race. It's a lot easier to wash your favorite sports bra that you realize is in the laundry the night before the race than it is to try and do it an hour and a half before you actually leave for the race! If you have a million pairs of everything, this probably doesn't apply to you. But I like to know what I'm wearing ahead of time and know that it's all clean and ready to go! This rule goes for little stuff too. If you normally bring an iPod running with you, make sure it's charged up and in your bag! I HATE working out without my sleeve scrunchies (since I only work out in t-shirts right now), so it's a MUST that I have those with me. If you have a headband you like to wear, a knee brace, any extra "non-clothing" stuff, make sure it's ready to go with you! They may seem like trivial items to some, but it can start your race off in a bad mood if you're doing it while lacking something that really matters to YOU!

#3 - KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO EAT/DRINK BEFORE THE RACE! Ok... this one might seem a little extreme, but trust me, it's beneficial! If no one in the house has done any grocery shopping and the only thing you have to feed your body with before a big race is last night's leftover Chinese take-out and a couple of beers, by about the half mile mark you're just going to want to turn around and head back to the start line. I'm not saying you need to feed yourself like an Olympic athlete, but let's face it, you get from your body what you give to your body. You need to fuel it properly. You don't need to eat a pound of pasta the night before a 5k. It's 3 miles, not 26! Have something with carbs and protein the night before, but not something ridiculously heavy that's just going to make you feel weighed down. Keep the day of meal(s) simple. I like peanut butter, maybe a slice of bread, some string cheese, an apple - and water! That's only from my own experience though. You should know from any training you've done what works for you and what doesn't. But make sure that what works for you is available to you! Suffice it to say, the more nutritious, the better.

#4 - KNOW HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME! I wanted to call this one "plan to be early!" but it didn't really flow :) Expect some traffic. You're not the only person running the race. I've been to races where there have been 200 people and I've been to ones with over 5,000 people. I've gotten there super early, and we've gotten there so late that Rich had to run down to registration while I searched for parking in the garage! You don't know what you're going to come across, so it's always better to be early than late. Also, keep in mind that if you didn't register online you'll have to register when you get to the race. Again, I've been to some that are electronic registration and you can finish them in just a couple minutes. Some have forms that might make you think you're applying for a mortgage! If possible, print out the registration form at home and bring it with you already filled out (Thanks for the tip Mandy!). Lastly, and the most important as far as I'm concerned, you're going to want to pee before the race! Even if you don't feel like you have to go, GO ANYWAY! I'm a strong believer that the distance of a mile actually changes based on how full your bladder is. I read about one woman who was about to run a marathon - she showed up and used the porta-potty and immediately got into another porta-potty line because she knew she'd have to go again and the line would just get longer the more she waited. You are definitely going to want to make sure you have enough time for this before the race starts!

#5 - KNOW HOW TO RELAX! Easier said than done, but your body will thank you for it. The GI tract doesn't normally like running to begin with. Add in a ton of stress and you've got a recipe for disaster! If you follow the first 4 tips, this one should really be pretty easy. Try to get a good night's sleep the night before. Maybe watch one of your favorite movies before bed to keep your mind off it. If you're into meditation and yoga, the quiet might help you. Maybe it's blogging with Pandora on that keeps you calm :) Whatever it is, try to keep positive thoughts in your head, try to visualize yourself crossing the finish line, and believe that you are giving it your all and your best. All the preparation will help lead you to success :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kinda poor planning?

I had my first 5k under my belt and was ready for the next one! Rich had done the Simsbury River Run (Simsbury, CT) twice and told me I HAD to do that one with him this year now that I was back into running. I told him I'd do it, and I was going to beat the time of my first 5k. He just replied, "ya?" I said, "Well I can't do any worse!" He then went on to tell me that people are always battling to beat their PR. That first one I'd done was so much harder than I'd expected it to be, and I had been training more since then - I didn't think there was any doubt I'd beat mine! I agreed to it - 5/1/11. My goal was to do one per month. This one is usually held the last weekend in April, but that happened to be Easter Sunday (and my 30th birthday!), so they had moved it forward a week. I still count this as my April race :)

I'd been to Rich's previous two in Simsbury and we knew the route to get there, where the check-in was, where the start line was. This should've been a walk in the park. Except... this was the year they switched things up. It was in about the same place, but not quite. Parking was in the same area, but instead of the registration being in the lot, they had  moved it down the street into this park and made a festival out of it. There were WAY MORE people there than in years past! The kids were doing their fun run up and down the sidewalk, there was no clear direction as to where the registration tent was. It was a mess before I'd even gotten my Bib!
Stupid me decided I'd wear my flip-flops down there instead of sneakers and just change before I ran (I actually HATE having shoes on my feet!). It felt like I'd already done a 5k to get down to registration and get back to the car to drop off the t-shirt and change into my sneakers. On top of that, the 5k and 10k had different starting lines so Rich and I wouldn't even start together. And the icing on the cake - the portapotty's were no where to be found! If you know me, you know I freak out about not having facilities around should I need them. Now I was rushed, I had to pee, I was pissed off that everything had changed so much. I was just in the completely wrong mind set to do this. I found a portapotty on the way over to my starting line and thanked God! It was close enough to my starting line, but there were, give or take, 15 people in front of me waiting to use it too - and we had less than 10 minutes to the gun. All of a sudden I saw Rich running over - this was the only one he could find too (and it was even farther to his starting line!). I told him to go in front of me, since he had farther to get back to his start, but just as he had finished, THE GUN WENT OFF! Are you kidding me?!?!?!

Rich was yelling to me, "Just go! Just go anyway! You're chip timed so it doesn't start til you actually run across the line!" I said, "I can't! I have to go now!" :( Now on top of being frustrated to begin with, I had to do 3 miles without using the bathroom first??? Good thing I ran from the portapotty when I did - there was no actual "start line", so they started the timing from when they actually sounded the gun. I wanted to quit before I had even started. I was so upset and devastated to begin with. I had used up what little jog I have the ability to do just getting to the start line. This was going to SUCK!

So I went along with my fast paced walk, trying to compose myself and think positive. And just like the first 5k, I got further and further behind everyone else. I was afraid that soon I wouldn't even see anyone to know where I was going! I made sure I kept one girl in front of me in my sight so I had some chance of not being last. After what seemed like forever, I saw the makeshift 1 mile sign and looked at my ipod - I was at just about 16 minutes! No way! That was about 2 minutes under what my pace was for the first 5k I'd done! And with all that had happened before the race even started to stress me out?? I was so happy!! And then, a few more minutes up the road, there was another makeshift sign - "5k - 1 mile." OMG!!! The first sign was for the 10k'ers!!! I wanted to collapse right there. As I looked at the ipod, I was at just about 20 minutes. I was doing HORRIBLE! :(

But I kept going. I kept the girl in sight. And she was the ONLY girl in sight! The locals who had sat outside by the road to cheer people on had all gone inside. It was me, my ipod, and the streets of Simsbury. Although they were quiet, the streets weren't blocked off. There were no cops out directing traffic. There was pretty much nothing. It was a pretty nice day though - that was about the only upside. And I swore that just a little after mile 2, my grandpa, who had just passed away 2 months before, was with me. Not long after that, I got a burst of energy from "Let It Go" by Cavo. And then a little after that, a volunteer who was there to give direction between the 5k and 10k route, told me she loved my shirt!

::Side note - It was a Biggest Loser shirt that says "Unless you faint, puke, or die, KEEP WALKING!" :)

Just after her was a pretty decent downhill so I tried to jog quite a bit there and pickup some time. I was keeping somewhere around the 20 minute mark, so I knew I should be under an hour, but the whole slip up at the beginning had really thrown me off from knowing where my pace really was. I kept thinking the end was coming but I swear it never did! I kept switching places with the girl behind me because I REFUSED to be last! And finally, I saw the finish line! AND I SAW RICH! He had finished his 10k before I finished my 5k! He didn't see me, but his bright orange shirt stood out and gave me my last burst of energy to get to that finish line! I used what little breath I had to call to him after running through, and he poured his bottle of water over me and brought me to the shade. I couldn't believe I had actually finished that thing!
Looking back, we needed to get there sooner. We unfortunately needed to account for all the changes they had made from the years prior that we hadn't anticipated. Also, I need to wear my sneakers to the run! Had I not had to switch them when we went back to the car, I probably would've had time to use the portapotty before the race. I wondered what my time would have been if I hadn't hit all the obstacles before I had even started. And I wondered how much time would've been cut if my start time was actually calculated from when I crossed the start line, not from the gun time. But I can't redo history - I can only look forward to the next one. I still finished, I still managed to not come in last, and I still got my t-shirt :)
5k time on 5/1/11: 58:12

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oh Hartford, you nearly killed me!

Max's O'Hartford - What did I get myself into?!?! Rich had done this 5k with his friend Chris a couple years before but I hadn't gone to watch. I wish I had - I would've known what I was in for! He's been running (and working out, and staying fit, and just about every other healthy thing there is!) for waaaaaay longer than me! But I like that he has advice to offer and has already experienced a lot of what's new to me. He's done quite a few 5k's actually. I had gone to support him a couple times in Simsbury, once in Northampton, and probably a couple others that I'm forgetting. I had set a goal for myself though - I wanted to do a 5k before I turned 30 (on April 24th). I decided on the Max's O'Hartford 5k (in Hartford) on 3/20/11. I knew I wouldn't be able to run it. And that's not a doubting myself sort of thing, or not believing in myself - I physically couldn't do it. It was too close after the surgery, and I hadn't been cleared to run yet. So I knew that the whole thing would pretty much be walking. I was ok with that, but still should have gone out to train more!

I was super, super, SUPER anxious before the race! I hadn't gotten much sleep. I realized after that I certianly hadn't hydrated myself enough. I was nervous, excited, afraid, enpowered - so many different feelings and emotions! There were actually a few changes in our plans the morning of race day which didn't help. Just logistics of getting there and picking up other people. We hadn't pre-registered (which I definitely do suggest doing, I just happen to not want to run in the rain and not lose out on $30!), so that set us a little behind as well. When we got to Hartford, parking actually wasn't too bad at all (use the Civic Center Garage!). The registration process was all done by computer and went super fast! I was a little disappointed that they were out of XXL shirts though and I had to settle for an XL. Rich told me not to worry - some day I'd have a closet full of XL's that would all be too big for me :) It was honestly special enough that I had a bib to pin to my shirt. I knew at that point that this was for real! I just could not believe the number of people that were there! In hindsight, I wished I had come up with some crazy Irish-looking costume, but I also kinda think that would've just been more added stress. The bathroom line was horrible though, and I have a huge fear of not having a bathroom available when I need one!

So as race time approached, Rich and Ralph (his twin) and I headed out to the starting line. Or where we assumed the starting line was, since there were so many people we couldn't even see it. I realized I didn't bring my mp3 player with me - ugh! That was going to be a long 3 miles! When the gun went off, it was another couple minutes before we even moved. The guys wished me luck and we all took off. Except for some reason I felt like I was a seasoned runner with the rest of them! I did an ever-so-light jog just seconds from the start line and was already out of breath! People were rushing past me - I though I was gonna get trampled! What had I gotten myself into?!?! I kept walking, and for the first half mile or so, I could still see a decent amount of people. I was definitely at the back of the pack, with all the people walking with strollers. But I was determined! A couple people had some short chats with me on the way, but as time and distance went on, so did all the other participants! I was around about 20 people, then about 10, then about 5. I was struggling at a fast walking pace just to not be the one to come in last! That was my huge goal - don't come in last, and don't take over an hour to finish. I volleyed back and forth with a group of 3 people. If they got ahead of me, I forced myself to move faster. My biggest obstacle though was my breathing. Each breath was harder and harder to take in. There were so many times when I just wanted to quit. I felt like each cop car I passed that was blocking off the side streets couldn't wait for me to go by so they could open that street back up again. I wondered if Rich and Ralph were at the finish line waiting, if they knew I was still going, if they had doubts that I might give up, what time they thought I'd come in. My hands were throbbing and I kept shaking them but nothing made them feel better. Surprisingly though, my leg didn't hurt! But each step I took, I felt like I'd never reach the end. One of the volunteers rode by me on a bike and told me I was about a quarter mile from the end. I finally felt like it was achievable at that point!

As I walked around the last corner (that I had no idea was the last corner!) I saw the finish line with just a few handfuls of people there. Most had already made their way over to the celebratory (free) beer and the long line to wait for their corned beef. I got a little closer and saw Rich and Ralph standing at the finish line cheering for me. I used what little energy I had left to get myself to the finish line as quick as I could, noticing in the meantime that I was still under an hour! I nearly collapsed as I ran through and into Rich's arms. I was so happy, but so out of breath, and so ready to cry, all at the same time! It took me a couple minutes to compose myself, but I had honestly never felt more proud of myself than I did right there at that moment.

I learned quite a few things after that first race. First, have good running shoes! I wish I knew what made me think it was a smart idea to try to do the 5k in $20 Kmart sneakers. Bad idea! Second, the throbbing hands was from dehydration. It kicked in around mile 1, so I was WAY underhydrated. Third, if you aren't a skilled runner, don't start in the middle of the pack and towards the front! Start towards the back and to the side, or you will get trampled. But the biggest lesson I learned that day was that no matter how much I doubt myself or think I can't do it, I can. To me, that day kick started the rest of my healthy life.

5k PR set on 3/20/11: 56:48

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Me? Inspiring?

I wanted to start writing for a number of reasons: to keep track of my own progress, to help motivate others, to answer questions that other people might have and not know where to find the answers. There are a lot of overweight people out there just like me, and a lot of them have yet to take that first step. Maybe you hate running. Maybe you THINK you hate running and don't know where to start to give it a shot? Maybe you're just looking for some motivation and/or inspiration? I guess I just wanted to write out answers to questions that I had (and still have!) and couldn't find or had a hard time searching for.

So here's a little background. I'm 30 years old. I've been overweight pretty much my entire life. Lots of start and fail efforts. And while my nutrition is pretty much in check, once I stopped working at a job where I was on my feet all the time, the numbers on the scale just crept up higher and higher. I'd lose some weight, I'd gain it back, and so the cycle went on. January, 2009 was when I decided that it was going to be MY year! I started a food diary, Rich (my b/f since 2002 - for anyone who doesn't know me personally) had been certified as a personal trainer and had me working out at night. I was going to the track in the morning with my sister. I was starting to see some real results - and I was so proud of myself! I was down about 35 pounds in just under 5 months when my next hurdle came. I fell down the spiral staircase leaving work and my ankle and leg suffered. I was out of work for a couple months, but the workers comp battle went on FOREVER! Back and forth to appointments, independent opinions, physical therapy, blah blah blah. The good news came when I was FINALLY granted the leg surgery I needed in January, 2011. I was laid up for 2 weeks, but it was a success (yay!). Technically I'm not cleared to run until after my 6 month follow-up appointment next month, but one of my bucket list items was getting a 5k in before I turned 30 (April 24th). More about that in my next post!

That's the jist of my road up to the first 5k though. Knock on wood there'll be no more injuries and only more positive things to post about! To date I've done 3 5k's - not the greatest results, but I crossed 3 finish lines! I'll write about each of the 3 separately, and anything else that seems to fit or that I think will help.

One more thing... I'm long-winded. My posts will tend to be longer than most people would probably care to read, but I hope you'll find them worth reading anyway!