Monday, September 26, 2011

A Pissy PR.

So after a week of zero athletic effort, I set out to PR in the 5K on Saturday morning at the Eastbay Rib Mountain Half-Marathon/5K for Special Olympics.

It was a very foggy, miserable kind of morning. I was a little worried we were going to be stuck in a rainstorm (my dear husband was doing the half), but the sky cleared and it was a beautiful 47ish degrees at the start. The sun even came out and lit up the trees on the side of Rib as we crossed the bridge. It was lovely.

I should preface this by saying that typically I'm a 10-min-mile kind of a girl. My previous 5K PR was 30:20. I have also never barfed due to exercise. Ever. Never ever.

This was the first running of this race, so it was lightly attended. About 175 half-marathoners and about 180 5K run/walkers. There was no chip for the 5K, so my time is the one from my Garmin.

We were off right on time, and I was feeling pretty good. I started passing people and thought "Huh. That's odd. I don't pass people."

But it kept happening.

The course is flatish, straight, and out-and-back, so you can see everyone ahead of you. I kept gaining and gaining. It was weird. My GPS chirped. My mile split...8:50.

WTF? I do NOT run sub-9s.

So I kept on, still feeling good...pretty scenery. I see the leader coming back, but I can also actually see the turnaround at the same time. A novel experience. I blow by the water station (really, do you need water on a 3 mile run when it's 45 degrees? mais non) and am thinking "Holy crap. Still passing people and I can see the park we came from!"

Chirp. 8:40.....whaaaaaaa?

At the mile 2 marker, I started to feel like I was going to barf. Like really going to barf. This had never happened on a run (Never. Never ever.). I slowed to a walk for about 30 seconds. Then I thought to myself "NO. You will NOT just STOP. You will finish running, you pansy ass."

So I picked it up and kept on, somewhat slower.

Finishing time? 29:30. Finishing distance 3.2 miles. The course was long. Bastards.

I could have finished sub-27 if I hadn't blown up at mile 2. I was so NOT expecting that to happen. I might have been sub-29 if the course had not been long. So these are my pissy things about my PR. Still, it's a PR and I proved that I really can run faster than previously thought.

My husband? 2:10, and he walked most of the last 2 miles because his knee went "NO. NO! NONONONONONONONONONONONO!!!!!" at about mile 11.5. Jackass.

A few things about the race:
1. The start/finish is in a very nice park in Wausau. Plenty of parking.
2. The course is really beautiful. Especially at this time of year. The last little bit is on a windy train through the park, which was neat. Watching the finishers come in through the trees was kind of cool. Good police presence on the roads near the park, and the traffic lane on one side of the road was blocked off for us. I believe the course was open to traffic on Rib, but don't quote me on that.
3. Starbucks, Eastbay, GU, Subway, and Qdoba were sponsors. What does this mean?
a. Free (awesome!) coffee/tea at the start and finish
b. High quality finishers shirt (cotton for 5K and tech for half)
c. Free GU (and not a crappy flavor!) in your goody bag.
d. Free Spenco slides and insoles,queso and chips, and sandwiches at the finish
4. The had the Spicy Tie band! Those guys are awesome!
5. There were a number of Special O athletes giving high fives at the finish. I think that's great.

I don't have anything really negative to say about the experience aside from the course being a tad long. It's not like I was trying to qualify for anything, though, so it doesn't really matter. My husband is on the state Special O committee, so he knows the organizers. We suggested porta-johns and garbage cans nearer to the start. It was kind of a hike to go pee before the start, and I had nowhere to toss my water bottle when the start buzzer went off.

Put this one on your calendars for next year, people. I think I'll do the half next year. It'll be a nice tune up for the Whistlestop Marathon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Good-Bye, My Friend

On Saturday evening, my friend Nicki was thrown from her motorcycle after a freak encounter with a bird. She died on Sunday, after giving the gift of life and healing to countless people as an organ donor. She never wore a helmet, and fully understood the implications of that choice.

She was 32.

She leaves behind a husband and son that loved her very much. It was obvious how much she loved them, too. Her workstation at the hospital was covered with pictures of her family, including a calendar made special with her son's face.

Nicki was one of the most vibrant people I have ever known. She lived every moment of her life to it's fullest. She was perpetually smiling and laughing. Her laugh was amazing. Full throated, head thrown back, total abandon. She loved to party, hang out with her friends and family, and most of all? Ride her motorcycle. She loved that bike. She worked two jobs to get it, and she rode it whenever she could. She dreamt of Harley Davidson tattoos...hell, she even married a man named Harley.

It gives me some comfort to know she left this life doing something she loved, riding down the road with someone she loved. Live fast...die young...and leave a good-looking corpse.

I will always miss her. But even though I'm crying today, I know that in the future when this grief has dulled....I'll think of Nicki, and I'll smile.

RIP Nicki. We all love you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

You'll Never Know if You Don't Tri

So I did a triathlon on Saturday. Yeah. It rained the whole time, which isn't that big of a deal (you know, with that whole swimming in the water thing), but it makes for a lot of wet, dirty gear.

The pros:
1. It's something different, for when you're burned out with always running, running, running.
2. It encourages more well rounded fitness (swimming is hard, yo).

The cons:
1. You need a crapload of stuff to do a tri. Bike, swimsuit/wetsuit/trisuit, bike shoes, running shoes, optional socks or quicklaces, swim cap, goggles, towels, gels, bike helmet, bike tools and spares, gear bag.
2. It's so complicated. You have to think about each stage and it's unique fueling/hydrating needs.
3. If you're really going to train, you're looking at a major time commitment.
4. Swimming in open water with 20 other people? Yeah. It sucks.
5. Biking with no clear destination gets a little boring, and that much time on a bike? Hurts your va-jay-jay.
6. I can't express the amount of dirt that was in all my gear. I know some of that has to do with the rain and the transition area, but holy moly was my stuff dirty.

Bottom line: I'm glad I did it, but I have no desire to do it again. I might to the Cloverleaf Lakes Tri again, just because I'm sort of from there and my friends do it. I will never, never sign up for a larger tri. Tri people are nuts. They are SO focused and obsessed with being tri's really intimidating. I know people feel that way about runners and racing, but I've always found the running community to be really welcoming and friendly. Not that the tri people were unfriendly, plenty of them were nice, but I could sense their irritation with the newbies when we were in the water. I exercise to clear my head, but the tri just cluttered my brain with logistical nightmares. Not very relaxing!

My 9 miler on Monday, though? It was awesome beyond belief. It was 45 glorious degrees at sunrise and I felt great. First mile was almost 12min, but it's up a huge hill and I wasn't warmed up. I ran every mile faster than the one before, culminating in an 8:47. The last half of my run was all sub-10s. I was so happy. At the end of it I felt centered and happy...uplifted. At the end of the tri I just felt....wet.

Ok. I just got off a third shift and I'm fading fast. Gotta get some sleep, and maybe a little hiking/walking later!