Friday, October 24, 2014

The Super Secret List, Part II

Last week I shared my super meaningful race goals. Now it's time to shake things up with less meaning and more randomness. I'll try to explain them as best I can, but I honestly don't have good reasons for wanting to do most of these races. I just wanna. :)

Part II: Specific Races I Want to Do for Vague or Random Reasons

1. Baltimore Running Festival (Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay, 5K): I'm no fan of the city of Baltimore, especially since my experience in January. Still, I've heard great things about this event, and plus you get an Under Armour shirt. I'll probably do the 5K, though it would be cool to be part of a relay team.

2. Casey Cares Foundation & Orioles 5K: Though I don't care much for Baltimore in general, I do like the O's and I love Oriole Park at Camden Yards, so finishing a race there seems pretty awesome. Running + Baseball = Bliss!

3. Clyde's 10K: I've heard this race is worth running just for the food afterwards. I love food. Sold!

4. Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta (10K): I have no idea why I want to do this race. It's in July in Hotlanta. Gross. I think maybe it's stuck in my head because it's the second race I ever knew about when I was young. I think some of my siblings ran it once, or something. Anyway, I want to do it someday. I think.

5. Cherry Blossom 10 Miler: Now that I have run 7 miles, tacking on 3 more seems doable, with the proper amount of training, of course. I don't know of a lot of 10-mile races, but I've heard of this one and it seems pretty popular, so I might as well go for it someday.

6. Army 10 Miler: And this would be the only other 10-mile race I currently know of, so it might as well be on the list too.

7. Ragnar Relay (Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC): I know a few people who have done Ragnar relays, and they're absolutely INSANE! (The races, that is, not the people....though one could argue that someone would HAVE to be crazy to do one of these things!) You run with a team of 12 people, each taking 3 legs of a roughly 200-mile race, while the rest of the team follows along in a van. You even run overnight -- seriously, it's crazy. But it also sounds crazy FUN, if you do it with fun people, and that's exactly what I hope to do someday.

8. Columbia Triathlon (Olympic distance): Although I plan to stick with sprint distance races for next season at least, I do plan to move up eventually to Olympic distance triathlons, and it just seems natural that I should do this one. It's a challenging course, but some of it is the same as Iron Girl (same lake, same run course plus some extra). I don't know if this will end up being my first Oly distance race, but it's on the list.

9. Nation's Triathlon (Oly distance): Swimming in the Potomac sounds like a really bad idea and therefore I must do it.

10. NYC Triathlon (Oly distance): I watched this one on TV and decided that it looked fun.

11. Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon ("modified International distance"): This race is crazy, and hard, and also crazy hard. It might be many years before I'll be in good enough shape to complete it, and who knows how long before I'd get lucky enough to win a spot through the lottery. I don't really know why I want to do it, other than just being drawn to insanity. It's like this: once you embrace the insanity of triathlon itself, suddenly all kinds of things that normal people deem "crazy" seem perfectly normal and in fact desirable. So, I want to do this crazy hard thing. Lord help me.

If you've done one of these races and have any helpful advice for me, please share it! If you'd like to join me on one or more of these, please share that too! If you just think I'm completely nuts at this point...well, you're welcome to share that also, but it's not like you're telling me something I don't already know. ;-)

And if you thought this list was random, just wait until you see Part III...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Headstrong (I Hope)

Consider this post a preview of this Sunday's Marine Corps Marathon 10K. I'd like to get into the habit of writing a short preview of each race, listing my goals and any concerns I have going into the event. Of course, for Iron Girl, I had a whole WEEK of preview posts, but that's just because my first triathlon was such a big deal!! In the future, most preview posts will be just a day or two before the race. This time, I know I'm going to be super busy and exhausted on Saturday, and tomorrow I want to post Part II of my Super Secret List, so you get this preview a little early!

Up until yesterday, I was feeling pretty confident about this race. I've run 6 miles twice and 7 miles once during training, so getting through 6.2 this weekend seemed to be a no-brainer. And then I rattled my brain. Literally.

As I darted to my car in the rain, head ducked low to keep the drops out of my eyes, I opened my car door hard and fast...right into my forehead. It hit with such force that it made a loud noise (as did I), and I staggered around for a second trying to process what had just happened.

Once I regained my composure, I hopped in the car and drove on to work, sneaking peeks in the mirror at my growing wound along the way. There was a small cut, and all around it grew a rather large bump. Naturally there was pain right at the site of the bump, but also a headache gradually spread across my whole head.

You may now pause and laugh at my klutziness. It's okay -- I laughed about it quite a bit myself. :)

So I fought the pain with good ol' OTC meds yesterday and went to bed hoping today the pain would be mostly gone. No such luck. The bump is just as large and the headache has been even worse today!! I was scheduled to do an easy 30-minute run this morning, but I opted out due to the pain. I was planning to run today and then have two days of rest before the race. Now I'm not sure whether to squeeze the easy run in tomorrow or just skip it entirely. If my head hurts at all in the morning, I won't run. If it doesn't hurt, then I guess I have to decide whether to risk it or to play it safe.

Chances are, my head will be just fine by Sunday morning. I mean, there might still be a sore, bruised area at the surface, but any internal pain should be long gone. Still, I'm revising my race goals slightly just in case my head gives me any trouble. It was difficult coming up with goals for this race because I don't have anything in particular to prove this time around, and I know I can't achieve a PR right now because I run so much slower than I did four years ago. Mostly I just want to enjoy every bit of the experience, run the best race I possibly can at this moment in time, and finish strong.

To that end, here are my goals:
Reach: Run the whole thing, no walking
Realistic: Walk 5 minutes or less (3 or less if there is no head pain)
Easy: Run as much as possible (if there is head pain)

Expo and packet pick-up are Saturday (squeezed between my kids' sports and a Halloween event) and then the race is Sunday morning. I hope to get a race report written early next week. Until then, think of me as I run with the Marines! Semper Fi!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Super Secret List, Part I

Not too long ago, I hinted at a Super Secret List of races I want to do, and mentioned that I might share that list with you eventually. I'm finally going to do that! I'm breaking the list into 4 categories, each of which will get its own post. That way, I can explain some of them in further detail. My plan at the moment is to post another section of the list each Friday, but we'll see if I can stick to that.

Part 1: Specific Races I Want to Do for Specific Reasons

1. Arlington 9/11 5K: This was my first-ever 5K, but the experience left something to be desired. It's a great event, and I'd love to support it every year that it fits into my schedule. First of all though, I am seeking redemption. My first time back to the race, I want to enjoy it, whether it goes well physically or not. I want to savor the experience, fight through any moments that are tough mentally, and finish strong. Then eventually I would like to run the whole thing, as was my goal the first time I attempted the race. Ideally I could accomplish all of this in one shot, but if not, I'll take the mental victory first and the physical one later.

2. LARS Turkey Trot: This is another race I have run before and want to take another stab at, but not because I need any kind of redemption. I just think getting out and running a race on Thanksgiving morning is a lot of fun -- I can see why Turkey Trot runs are so popular! This race is local, passing through some of my favorite parts of my town, and it benefits a great local charity. I hope to make this a family tradition every year we're in town for the holiday! Oh, and I'm already registered for this year. ;-)

3. Marine Corps Marathon 10K: I loved this race when I did it in 2010, and like the previous two, I'd like to start doing it every year that it doesn't conflict with something else. The Marines really know how to put on a race! The course is great and being part of the marathon event is exciting and inspirational. I'm registered to participate this year, in just a little over a week! Yay!!

4. Baltimore St. Patrick's Day 5K: Now we're moving on to races that I haven't done, and that's precisely why this one is on the list. I registered for it in 2010, right before I succumbed to the pain, went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with a stress fracture. I spent the month of March limping around in a removable cast instead of running for green beer. It was frustrating to lose the money, but even more frustrating to miss the experience of my first race when I felt so ready for it. I'd like to run this race someday, for fun and to complete my unfinished business. And, of course, for the beer. :)

5. Cooper River Bridge Run (10K): I've been saying I'm going to do this race for years, and someday I must make good on that promise! But I'm motivated by more than just that. I grew up in Charleston, SC, and had a lifelong fear of the bridges that once stood over the Cooper River. I was so afraid of those bridges that I had recurring nightmares about them -- actually I still do from time to time! I did the Bridge Walk (which used to be separate from the Run but part of the same event) once while I was in college, and it was terrifying. The bridges were just so tall, and narrow, and rickety. The new bridge is wide and sturdy and safe, but still very very tall. The thought of running across it is not appealing to me at all, and yet I feel compelled to do it. I honestly don't know why. I doubt that running the bridge will conquer my fear of it any more than walking it did so many years ago. It's just something I have to do. Someday.

6. Iron Girl Rocky Gap (sprint tri): This was the triathlon Candice and I were first planning on doing. Even though I switched to Columbia for good reasons, and ended up finishing my first tri even sooner than I would have if I'd done Rocky Gap, this still feels like unfinished business because it had been in my mind for so long. The timing is challenging because it's right after school starts, which is always a chaotic time of year, but hopefully someday I can make it work. Maybe I can even get Candice to do it with me!

7. Iron Girl Columbia (sprint tri): My first triathlon will always hold a special place in my heart, and it's just a wonderful event that I'd love to participate in every year that I can. In 2015, though, my goal is specifically to beat my time. The first time around, my goal was just to finish alive and preferably in an upright position. I wasn't concerned about time at all (as evidenced by my 10 minutes in T1...LOL) and was perfectly satisfied finishing in just under three and a half hours. But I know I can do better! There is plenty of room for me to improve in all three sports (and transitions!! hahaha), and by next August I should be able to obliterate my old time. I can't wait to give it a tri!!

Each of the above races has emotional and/or psychological significance to me, and will be very gratifying to complete. Though they aren't necessarily the most important goals on my horizon, they are good for keeping me motivated to train and improve while I ponder and select other goals to pursue as well. I look forward to reporting on another satisfactory MCM 10K experience soon!

Meanwhile, stayed tuned for The Super Secret List, Part II: Specific Races I Want to Do for Vague or Random Reasons....coming soon....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Daily Lunar Eclipses -- Is That Too Much to Ask?

Mornings are killing me.

Sunrise is getting later and later, which is making it harder for me to get out and back before my window of opportunity closes and I have to be home to help with school prep and drop-off.

The problem is that 5:30am is D-A-R-K now, and often chilly as well. Even the days when I'm not overtired, and actually feel motivated to do the day's workout, I have trouble tearing myself out of my warm, cozy bed before the sun has approached the horizon. My brain seems hardwired not to want to get out of bed in the dark.

Here is my thought process every morning when the alarm goes off: "Outside is dark and cold. My bed is warm and soft. I want more sleeeeeeeep." And that's it. I give in nearly every single morning.

The one morning when I actually managed to get up WITH my alarm and get my butt out of bed was the day we had a full lunar eclipse just before dawn. As the moon darkened, it had a reddish hue, earning it the name "Blood Moon," which was pretty cool. For the first half of my run, I watched the eclipse happen, and then in the second half, I watched a bright, beautiful sunrise. It was a great run! If only I had something that spectacular to watch EVERY day, instead of the dark dark dark that keeps me in bed...

My running progress hasn't suffered too much, miraculously. Somehow, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to finish my 10K in less than 2 weeks, just from running twice a week lately. I completed a 7-mile run this past Sunday --the farthest I've ever run in my life -- and I didn't die, so I ought to be able to complete 6.2 without dying even if I only run 2 or 3 more times before then. But just barely getting through my next event isn't enough for me. I want more.

I need to get back in the pool and on the bike. Right now I feel like a fraud for still considering myself a triathlete, since I'm not really upholding the "tri" portion of the term. I'm not so much doing the "swim bike run" thing; rather, I'm doing the "run...sometimes" thing. And the truth is I actually miss swimming and biking! I had come to love all three sports and was enjoying them, so it's sort of absurd to me that I can't seem to make myself do two of them now!

What is it going to take to motivate me in the mornings? What will get me out of bed in the cold and dark on all the days when the moon is just the moon and the sun doesn't appear until my workout is nearly done? Until they invent a bed that literally launches you onto your feet when your alarm goes off, I am stuck fighting this battle with myself, inside my head, all alone. I need to turn the lazy monologue into a dialogue and argue myself out of bed. I need to come up with things to tell myself that will remind me why I do this stuff at all. I have quite a few mantras I play on repeat in my head when my workouts get rough and I feel the urge to quit. I need something similar for mornings. Any suggestions???