Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lunchtime bliss in 30 minutes, looking forward, and the Big Breakup

Two posts in one week, for real? Yeah. Pretty stellar, yo. Three topics in this one. Buckle in! Here goes.

1. Big jolt of awesome today, in the form of a half-hour yoga class. Just down the hall from me, a little flow and a little savasana and the rest of my day was really quite lovely. This will be a new routine; once or twice a week, a little break on my mat, just for me.

2. After the crazy-tough half marathon last weekend, I registered for the Soldier Field 10-Miler, which happens over Memorial Day weekend. It will be my last endurance-distance race for the year, I think, and I'm actually looking forward to keeping up my training in order to do my best. After that, it's triathlons as far as the eye can see - three, maybe four, by the end of summer. Five, if I shake down someone who owes me money. (Unfortunately, I don't have enough to loan, so this is highly unlikely.)

3. This is the big one, guys. I initiated the end of a relationship I've been in for about eight years. I broke up with my scale.

Those closest to me know that I put on a significant amount of weight between Thanksgiving and New Years. Between getting sick right before Thanksgiving and all the food-related trappings of the holidays, the pounds crept on unnoticed until I could no longer deny them. And metabolically, things have slowed down in Maggie Town, so the numbers became an obsession.

An immovable obsession.

So I moved Taylor (that's the manufacturer of the scale) to the closet, and never looked back. I'm watching what I'm consuming, but I'm not allowing myself to be consumed by it, and it seems to be having an effect.

Let me be clear: this is not about being thin. This is about being competitive. It's about trying to run a 10-minute mile, getting a new PR in a sprint tri. It's a little bit about great deltoids (I have 'em) and liking what I see in the mirror, but the truth is, I like what I see in the mirror so much more when it's not filtered by the number on the scale. I'll check in now and then just to ensure that we're trending the right way, but the truth is, my jeans will do that for me, too.

The truth is, right where we are, whatever that looks like ... that's beautiful. Growing strong, growing healthy ... that's beautiful, too. Take the time to appreciate where you are, because life is short.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

That time I ran pruney

For the second year, I traveled to Champaign, IL to participate in events from Illinois Marathon Weekend. No marathon for me; this year I did a Friday night 5K and a Saturday morning half marathon.

And lived to tell the tale.

See, while Friday night's weather was perfect, Saturday's forecast was fraught with peril. Rain pretty much from the starting gun through mid-afternoon. Plus lightening, and even a bit of "tornadic activity." (Sidebar: "tornadic" is just an awesome word.) Still, we forged ahead, and at first it wasn't bad. I ran the first full hour with just a bit of a mist and a few legit showers.

That's the point at which all hell began to break loose. The rain kicked in for real, and the entire field of runners just sort of slogged through the streets of Champaign.

Runners wearing rain ponchos is kind of a sight to behold, but there was really no way to keep warm and dry. (You know how they talk about Arizona being a dry heat? Well, here in the midwest, we have a wet cold.) I had contemplated taking off my outer layer (which is now in the trash, thanks to a winning combination of rain, sweat and what's left after having been used as an impromptu tissue for about four miles) and I am so glad I didn't, because my last hour was a chilly endeavor like none I've ever experienced.

Around mile seven, I got sick to my stomach from taking Gu without water. (Note to self: don't do that.) It quickly exited my stomach of its own accord, and I shook it off as best I could. My fellow runners and I made our way through the course, bolstering each others' attitudes as we went. I am convinced that many fewer runners would have gotten this far without the amazing volunteers and spectators who showed up. It was rare to go very far without someone there to cheer, play music or shout encouragement. There were plenty of water stops, and even one with fresh orange slices. Truth is, Champaign knows how to support runners ... even in the worst of conditions.

Nearing mile 11, I was passing a frat house with a porch full of cheering fans and a huge yellow lab. They were playing music, and it inspired me to try speeding up a little. Which was a huge mistake; instantly, my left quad seized up and I started to fall. This was it; my race was over. But wait! One of the porch cheerers was there, catching me before I hit the road. Runners asked if I was okay as my frat friend hoisted me to the porch. His girlfriend got me water, some gel, and showed me how to stretch it out. It wasn't working; they called for a medic, and my race was over. I was close to tears, but trying to be brave.

As all this was going on, the marathon course was being evacuated. Lightening was on its way, and the race was going to be over soon. I had no idea any of this was going on, so when a little rest and stretching seemed to be working, I let the sweet medics in a golf cart know that their services would not be needed; I was going to make it to the finish line, even if I had to walk.

I walked a lot. It took me almost an hour to finish the last 5K of the course, but I made it on my own feet. Entering the stadium, it was eerily empty and quiet. While the night before it had been teeming with fans, friends and fellow athletes, today it was empty and desolate. The stadium had been evacuated and everyone was being moved to the interior areas and to safety. The jumbotron, which the night before we had seen ourselves cross the 50-yard-line today just showed a message against a red background: Athletes, please pick up your medals and exit to safety.

It took hours to get the feeling back in my extremities. Every inch of skin was pruney and water-logged. I was so hungry I could've eaten Velveeta. But I did it; I finished what I'd started.

She who does not quit can battle demons, and that's how yesterday felt. For everyone who didn't believe in me, and for every time I didn't believe in myself, I chose to keep going. And damn, that feels good.

My results were not what I wanted. I was on pace for a new PR, but with all the troubles I had, I'm pretty proud to have at least bested my last half marathon time by a tidy margin. In truth, though, I won yesterday. I entered that empty stadium triumphant.

And I wore my medals to do laundry today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prepare and plan, and then ... have a blast!

This year is very different from the last few years; the years since I became a runner.

In the beginning, I never met a race I didn't like. But these days, I'm having to be uber-choosy about my races. Time, budget and just trying not to exist in a perpetual state of burnout require me to be smart about my race schedule. Which means I'm days away from my first - and only - half marathon of 2015, and I'm as prepared as I'm going to be. I've planed as much as I can.

And I'm nervous. And excited. And ready. But mostly nervous!

It's been over a year since I laced up for a 13.1, and I know what I want out of it. I have a few pace and time goals, but I'm not sure I've trained to hit them. So I'm putting my focus and energies into one really big goal:

Have all the fun.

I've never done that where a half marathon is concerned. I've never gone out just for the joy of running, but this Saturday, that's all gonna change. I'm going to hit the starting line with a kick-ass playlist and an attitude that says "I came to play." Because at its heart, that's what this is supposed to be. Running, and working out in general ... this is the recess of our adult lives. Sometimes, I'm so busy training and planning and reaching for the goal, I forget that it's supposed to be fun.

While I won't be in Disney World, and my running sisters won't be there to cheer me on, I will have a fantastic finish line (Illini Stadium, anyone?) and a tribe of runner friends who will celebrate each other. I'm prepared. I'm as ready as I can be.

So now, it's time to have some fun! See you on the 50-yard-line.