Archive | March, 2009

I’d like to thank the Academy!

30 Mar

I’m taking a little time out from your regularly scheduled programming to let you know that Dani from “A Daily Dose of Dani” has given me the Kreativ Blogger Award. How awesome! 🙂 Thanks, Dani!

The rules of the Kreativ Blogger Award are as follows:
1. Post the award on your blog, and link to the person who gave you the award.
2. List seven things you love.
3. List seven blogs you love.
4. E-mail or comment on those blogs to let the people know you’ve given them the award.

So, here goes!
Seven things I love (in no particular order):
1. Love. Yes, I love love. It’s the best stuff on earth.
2. A good book- usually nothing can make me as content as curling up with a book and reading for hours.
3. Training for this triathlon. It’s tiring, at times painful, and is consuming my life, but it makes me happy.
4. Coffee. Nothing starts my morning as beautifully as a quick stop at DunkinDonuts for a large Toasted Almond, skim milk 1 Splenda 🙂
5. Sunshine. I miss the feeling of the warm sun on my face. Come on, spring, let’s kick it up a notch!
6. My family and friends, for loving me, believing in me, and being infinitely supportive of me–in all aspects of my life. And for being absolutely fabulous.
7. Road trips. Even just taking the long way home makes me happy.

Seven blogs I love:
1. SPITSisters For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with this wonderfully written young adult novel in blog form, you’ve been missing out. While it might be geared towards younger audiences, believe me you will find so much that you identify with, you’ll be eagerly awaiting each new update!
2. Super Fat Super Chick Aimee’s weight loss journey is so honest and real that you can identify no matter how much weight you want to lose.
3. A Shirt That Races Such a fun, awesome idea.
4. Operation Skinny Bitch Because losing weight isn’t easy- and everyone could use a little extra support!
5. Your Ill-Fitting Overcoat Beautifully written and beautifully honest
6. Two Birds One Blog Always witty, always funny, I love love love this blog
7. Surviving Myself Again, another one that makes me laugh out loud. I love it even though he dislikes those who walk on treadmills, and, alas, I am one of those people. But I don’t care- I love it anyway.

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Not waving but drowning

30 Mar

I got the bike from Audrey today. For now, it is in my kitchen resting against my kitchen table (which I never use anyway), but I can’t wait to ride it. April is almost here and I definitely need to broaden my focus, which up until now has mostly been on running. Biking, I figured, would be next. I was all settled with this idea of expanding my focus one thing at a time until a conversation with my mother on Saturday.

“Have you figured out where you’re going to practice swimming yet?” my mom asked. “Uhhhh…no” I replied. I hate remembering that I haven’t figured this out yet, because I know that I need to. It’s just never made it’s way up to the top of my radar screen for long enough to actually work out a solution. “Well, you should figure out what you’re going to do. I’m most nervous about the swim part of this” she says. This is news to me. My mom is not the type to be unnecessarily nervous, and I have been feeling most comfortable with the swim part. Correction: I had been feeling most comfortable with the swim, until this very moment. Something you need to know about my mom is that she is never wrong. Ever. If she is worried, then she has a reason. And if she has a reason, well then that reason is right, whether you want it to be or not. “But swim is first…” is the only argument I can come back with. Weak response, I admit–the fact that swimming will be the first leg of the race does not speak to my ability to make it through. “I know, but with everything else you’re on land. If you get tired or hurt you can rest. But when you’re swimming you’re in the water, it’s not the same. You’ve always been a strong swimmer, but I don’t think you’ve ever done any type of distance swimming in your life. It’s different. I’m your mom. I can’t help it if I’m worried.”

Oh, no. She’s right (of course). I tell her that there’s “swim angels” in the water during the race, to pull you out should you start to flail about, or to talk to you if you just get a little freaked out. I can tell this makes her feel a little better, but not much. And it doesn’t make me feel better at all to use this as my reason why I’ll be ok– I want to be able to happily ignore these swim angel people. I kind of liked the idea of having one aspect of the triathlon that I didn’t have to worry as much about, but I realize now that I was fooling myself.

And I think the universe is trying to reinforce this realization, because a friend of mine, without knowing anything about the conversation I had with my mom, sent me a message on Facebook that says “be careful :(” and is followed by a link to an article about how triathlons pose deadly heart risks- particularly due to the swimming portion. The article goes on to describe the stress swimming can put on your heart and how scary it can be to swim with all those people around you. That training by swimming in a pool is not equivalent to training in a lake or river. And how, exactly as my mom said (see, told you she’s always right) it’s not easy for swimmers to slow down or signal for help and even those posted to watch them might not notice when they’re in trouble. I’m reminded of the title of my favorite poem, Stevie Smith’s “Not Waving But Drowning”. I’m not one to overreact but we all know I’m a compulsive overthinker (and I can’t imagine why my friend thought it was good idea to send me this article). This is putting a lump in my throat and I haven’t even showered yet- not a good way to start the day.

So. I will try not to obsess about this swimming thing. What I will do is just take from this the understanding that I need to focus on it all equally- run, bike, swim. Just as I didn’t want to be the one barely able to put one foot in front of the other during the run, I don’t want to be the girl with training wheels and swimmies either. Or the one not waving but drowning.

It’s like riding a bike…or is it?

25 Mar

Something that I’ve noticed is that I have spent a lot of time thinking, writing and talking about running. And actually running. Yet I am running because of the triathlon. And we all know that “tri” means three, and “athlon”, well, I don’t know what that means but probably something to do with sports or events or something. How would I know, I’m not Greek, or Roman, or whoever invented the word triathlon (sidenote: I just looked it up and it’s actually French. Guess I’m no historian. But this might come in handy should you ever find yourself on Jeapordy). Anyway, the point is that there are 2 other events that I have yet to put any real focus on. I’ve been biking at the gym but I’m sure that’s not the same, just how running on the treadmill is not the same as actually running outside. And swimming…to date I’ve been doing exactly no swimming. In fact, I have yet to determine a sufficient solution to the problem that I don’t even have a place to swim. I have been joking with my pal Callie that I will be swimming in circles in her above-ground pool all summer long, but it is starting to look like that is not so much of a joke. Since they just moved in last weekend and the pool has not used for quite some time, there are currently polywogs swimming around in it. If they don’t get cleared out in time, maybe I’ll just have to plan on some polywog races this summer.

I’ve been so focused on what I considered my biggest obstacle (running) that I haven’t focused as much on biking and swimming, and therefore don’t really have a clue as to how much of an obstacle these two things will be. Knowing me, there will be some minor technical difficulties to overcome (we all know I seem to have wardrobe issues when it comes to athletics) but besides that, who knows what I’ll be facing. And I guess now that I’ve semi-overcome the terror that running used to inspire in me, it might be a good time to hop onto a bike and see what it has in store for me. I wouldn’t want to get too over confident in my athletic abilities– adding wheels, chains and handlebars to the mix should be interesting. I’m borrowing my friend Audrey’s bike for the triathlon and training (super big thank you to Audrey!) and I’m just hoping to return it in one piece- meaning I hope that I am in one piece when I return the bike, and hopefully the bike is in one piece, too.

The well-worn phrase “It’s like riding a bike” always pops into my head– how hard can it be to ride a bike, if everyone refers to something that’s easy to pick up again by using this phrase? But I have a feeling that this saying vastly underestimates my personal hesitation towards a sport that involves a piece of equipment that needs steering and requires me to wear a helmet. This last concern is not solely due to the fact that I’m pretty sure no one looks cute in a helmet. It’s also because any time you have to wear protective gear to avoid brain injury, you should think twice about what you’re doing. But since thinking twice about anything isn’t really my style lately, I’m just planning to put on that helmet and start pedaling.

Keeps Getting Better

24 Mar

When I wrote that I wanted to be crossing more finish lines, I didn’t realize that I would cross another one on Saturday. But I did! Instead of going for a Saturday morning run, Lola & I signed up for a local 2-mile race. With the pressure of completing our first race off, and still feeling pretty darn good about our time, neither of us took this one as seriously. Well, we took it seriously, but we weren’t a jittery mass of nerves about it. In my mind, we can only get better. It can only get easier (never easy, but easier).

For example, one lesson I learned from my first race is that I ought to be wearing a turtleneck whilst running. I learned this by reviewing my official finish line photos, in which you might not notice that I crossed the finish line, but you certainly would notice that my cleavage crossed the finish line. There are about a dozen completely horrifying photos, and in nearly all of them I look more like a stripper than a runner. The only good thing is that the amount of skin I’m baring makes you notice less the bizarro facial expressions that I’m making. Now, when I was running I did feel my tank top slipping down, and I kept tugging it up, but I had no idea that the situation was as bad as it appeared on camera. The only 3 people who I allowed to see the photos literally howled with laughter. And no, I will not be posting any of those photos here; they really are that embarrassing. Lesson learned: no more tank tops for running. For Saturday’s race I wore a Nike running shirt that went right up to my neck and a Danskin zip up that zipped up to my chin. Not a chance of exposure at all. Which was a good thing, because it was freezing cold on Saturday morning and my cleavage would have ended up with frostbite.

It was so cold, in fact, that I felt like I had swallowed a fireball, which after searing my throat decided to land in my chest and smolder for a while. I literally could not take a full breath the entire time I was running. I have asthma, but just barely, and it makes me feel worse to take my inhaler than not, because it makes me shaky and I hate it. Half that time I forget I even have asthma, because it really doesn’t affect me. Except when I’m running in the cold. At first I couldn’t figure out why I felt so awful. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to run anywhere near as well as I had the weekend prior. Halfway in to the first mile, I was nearly gasping. Prior to starting the race, my confidence had led me to boast to Lola that we would finish in 24 minutes: a 12-minute mile, meaning a 34 second improvement over last weekend. Lola said 25 minutes: a 12:30 mile. We went back and forth but I stuck to my 12-minute mile prediction. Now I felt like I was eating my words. The run was through a neighborhood this time, and there were lots of hills. I wanted to run into someone’s warm cozy house and take a nap on their couch. As always happens in the first few minutes of running, I could only think of how much I hate it, and could not think of a single reason why it ever seemed like a good idea to be doing such a thing.

Then we came upon the 1 mile marker. The time was 11 minutes 10 seconds. Despite feeling completely awful, we were doing better than we anticipated. I knew I could at least keep up the “I-swallowed-a-flaming-fireball-that-is-stealing-my-oxygen” pace that I had been running at, and that if we did that, we’d finish even better than we’d hoped- again!

And we did. In the last few seconds, Lola and I turned and looked at each other and without saying a word, we each kicked it up a few notches, racing each other to the finish line. We crossed the finish line at the same time- 22:18 (actually, I think Lola was a half-second ahead of me, but let’s just say we finished at the same time, shall we?). An 11:09 mile. That may not be so great to some, but for us, it’s fabulous.

Victory!

17 Mar

I don’t know the last time I was as nervous as I was before the 5k. I woke up at least 10 times the night before, once so soaked in sweat that I had to change my shirt. The race was Sunday afternoon, and let me tell you it was the longest morning in the history of time. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, the air was crisp and fresh, and I honestly thought I was going to puke at the starting line. I know sometimes runners puke at the end of the race, but leave it to me to do it backwards. From the second I woke up to the second we started running, all I could focus on was trying not to freak out.

But I didn’t freak out, and I didn’t puke. I was nervous as hell; that didn’t go away until a minute or two into the run. I underestimated how hard it would be to dodge the people slower than me while also trying not to get knocked over by the faster people (yup, that’s right, there were people slower than me!). The crowd at the start of a race isn’t very fun. Lola and I had agreed that it was ok if we didn’t stick together during the race; neither one of us wanted to hold the other back. But within the first few seconds of starting, I had already lost her. I didn’t know if she was ahead of me or behind me or even next to me. I started to get nervous but decided not to think about it- I couldn’t handle any more things to be anxious about.

Then as the crowd thinned out a bit, she was next to me. Hooray! Propelled by the excitement, the adrenaline, and the rush of the crowd we ran farther without stopping or slowing down than we ever have before. In those few moments, I think we were runners- you know, the ones who make it look easy.

Then reality set in as I realized I could barely breathe, and that we were only maybe a half mile into our 3.1 mile race. But Lola and I naturally run at pretty much the same pace overall. She has more speed where I have more endurance. Her quick pace made me move faster; the duration of my sprints made her keep running. We ran by my parents, who were proudly waving their bumble bee balloons (how cute is that!?). It was the first moment in which I felt the magnitude of what I was doing and how much it meant to me, and I started to get a little emotional (my mom would later tell me she got choked up at this point, too). But I had the rest of the race to run and hadn’t earned the right to bask in the glow of accomplishment yet.I felt pretty darn good until we rounded a corner and came upon one of the race volunteers who was yelling “If this is your second lap, go left. If this is your first lap, go right.” Those two sentences knocked the confidence right out of me. We were coming around for the FIRST time and people were already on their SECOND LAP? What?! Is that even possible? Are they wearing jet-propelled footwear? Are they human? Am I the most horrible runner ever? I was shaken. All those people I thought were behind us might be behind us only because they are about to lap us?
“We’re doing a lot worse than I thought!!!” I said to Lola in a slightly hysterical pant. “No. No way. I don’t think so.” Lola replied. I am usually the one saying how awesome we will be, but in that moment I had visions of the entire crowd of spectators being home by the time we crossed the finish line, my parents the only ones standing there to see us shuffle across the line. “Ok!”, I said, not entirely sure but just wanting to believe her. Besides, what could I do? I already knew that my best was not going to be as good as other people’s best. I was just shocked to see how much better their best was.

We just kept on going, pushing each other along without really saying much. I don’t even really remember hearing the music playing on my iPod. I was just in it, in the moment, in the race so much that I almost wasn’t aware of what was happening, only of what I had to do next. Which was keep….on…..running. And then run some more.

Finally, we turned a corner and there it was. There is no feeling like seeing the Finish banner high in the air ahead of you. I turned to Lola and said “Is that it?!”. All this looping around and people passing us and I wasn’t sure, I didn’t want to get too excited for nothing. “That’s it!” she said. And we took off, faster than lightning. Ok, maybe not exactly faster than lightning. That would mean lightning was slower than us, and if lightning was slower than we are few people would ever get struck by it. Because they could outrun it. But I did feel full of electricity–I have never felt adrenaline like I felt it in that moment. We ran fast. My body couldn’t move fast enough for all the sudden energy I had. I crossed that finish line at full speed and it was nothing short of glorious.

Adding to the beauty of the moment was the fact that we finished exactly how we trained: together. Oh, and we weren’t last. We finished in 39 minutes 3 seconds. That’s a 12 minute 34 second mile, which completely surpassed what we thought was a lofty goal of a 15 minute mile. I am immensely proud of us. I always knew we could do it, I just didn’t know we could be as good as we were.

When I got to work Monday morning I had an email from my mom:
“when i woke up this morning and sat at the kitchen table there were your 4 safety pins…i felt like I shouldn’t move them..that they should stay there forever marking your special accomplishment..I wondered if you wanted these safety pins even though you now have over 200..i think these pins are special …..

I think they’re special too. I’m framing those suckers. They represent the sweat, the pain, the drive, the determination, the stubborn craziness it took for me to do this. The represent my first major step towards the triathlon. They represent that maybe, at least for that day, I could actually consider myself an athlete, and a runner. I will never again cross my first finish line. But now I know for sure that I hope to be crossing many more in the future.

On pins and needles

15 Mar

Watching Run Fatboy Run with Lola did not make either one of us less nervous. She said she is so determined not to finish last that she will push me to the ground if she has to (she’s joking…a little bit). I assured her we won’t be last, and even though I never thought we would be, now I know we really won’t cause there’s no way in hell I’m going to get into a shoving match with Lola during our last steps to the finish line. We spent too much time discussing our “finish line photo” expressions to ruin it. My finish line face will be serious, with a hint of joy and accomplishment. Ah, who am I kidding? My finish line face will not be pretty, and my finish line photo the bane of my existence as it lives on in infamy on the race website.

We went over all the details of tomorrow like the incredibly organized and apprehensive people we are. I told Lola something that has been bothering me since Friday when I picked up my race packet- I only grabbed 2 safety pins. Obviously, to securely pin on your race number you should have 4 pins- one for each corner. But when the guy said “Need some pins?”, I got all flustered and almost said “No” when I really meant “Maybe, what for?” Then I realized what for so I said “Yes” but only took 2.

Two! What was I thinking? Lola assures me that we’ll get there early enough to stop by the registration booth and grab some more pins. “You don’t understand”, I say, “If I don’t have the pins tonight I will stay up all night thinking about how I need pins. I’ll run to CVS later.” “That’s crazy!”, says Lola. “Go tomorrow- don’t worry about it tonight, it’ll be late, you need to go to bed early. Maybe you even have some lying around.” But, nope, none with my sewing kit (it’s a small, travel sewing kit- I’m not that domestic), none in my desk drawers…I’m out of places to look. I don’t own any safety pins. I try not to think about it as we watch the movie and I do manage to put it out of my mind. Then, towards the end of the movie, when Fatboy is running his race, there’s a shot of the race crowd. “Look at all those people with their numbers properly pinned on”, I sigh. “Don’t worry!”, says Lola. “I have 4 safety pins! We can always do 3 and 3- it’ll be fine!”

A short time later, I am standing in the aisles of CVS wondering where the safety pins are. Not the office supply aisle. Not the hardware/home aisle, although they do have about 82 kinds of lightbulbs, screws, and the thing you put in your sink drain. But no safety pins. So I head down the road to Walgreens. As I walk down the brightly light aisles I start to curse the 17 types of Crazy Glue and begin envisioning a sleepless night of safety-pin hunting. Then I spot them.

I am now the proud owner of 225 brass and nickel-plated safety pins in assorted sizes. And, hopefully, I’m about to become the recipient of a great night’s sleep and maybe even a fabulous finish line photo.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, It’s only a day away

14 Mar

Today is March 14th. That means tomorrow is my first 5k! I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t get nervous. Or, actually, more anxious than nervous. The anticipation is always what gets me, with anything. And this is no exception. Lola’s coming over tonight to have a nutritious night-before-the-big-race dinner and watch Run Fatboy Run. Knowing that we both share the same nervous excitement makes me feel less nervous and more excited.

Am I ready? Heck yeah! Oh wait, except I’m kinda not. But a secret trick of mine is to pretend that I’m confident about things and then I trick myself into actually being confident. Sound silly? Maybe, but try it- it works! Anyway, I think I’m as ready as I could be at this point. I’ve definitely been working hard. A few short months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed that I would be doing this, so regardless of how or when I finish tomorrow’s race, I’ll be happy to have finished it. And I’ll also be happy it’s over!

But for now, it’s still looming on the horizon. Yikes!