Thursday, February 27, 2014

Disney Princess Weekend, Princess Half Marathon - February 23, 2014

This is post 2 of my recap from Disney's Glass Slipper Challenge of a 10K on day 1 and a half marathon on day 2. Part one can be found here.

I've got to say, this was a tough race, and I wasn't feeling it from the moment that we returned to the hotel room after the 10 K the previous day. I was in a funk. My foot was bothering me, and the humidity from the day before had really gotten to me. I think I had also overdosed on my albuterol during the race which also can lead to a lot of self-loathing. I had been texting with my friend Julia the night before the race, telling her that I wasn't feeling it... and was actually considering not going to the startline the following day.

But of course, I set my alarm anyway, and that 2am wakeup call came, and I was wide awake and ready to give it the good-ole-college-try. I had hoped that if I repeatedly told myself I was going to be ok, and I was going to have a good time... that I actually might start manifesting that as reality. But the minute my feet touched the floor, I knew that there may be trouble brewing. That pesky heel pain was back, though at a very dull achiness, but this was certainly not a good sign. I got myself ready, had a good cry, then woke the other girls up to begin the day.

We arrived at the start line very early, and were all so exhausted that we cat-napped in the car for a little bit. I had made plans to meet up with some people before the race, but we wound up blowing them off to steal the extra relaxation time. Brina and I were in a higher corral than Kelly and Michelle, but Brina really wanted to share the race experience with them, so she moved back. I was concerned that with the foot pain I was already having, I might lose my pace and run the risk of being swept, So I split off from them and headed to my corral alone. I still wasn't feeling it and was considering getting out of the corral altogether, but then I ran into someone I knew in passing from facebook who was running her first half marathon, so I stayed in the corral. I have to say, that I really liked Disney's new corralling system where the corrals are smaller and the gap between them is only 2 minutes... it made the start line process much more bearable, and soon it was our turn for our send off. Unlike the day before where the runners in my corral moseyed through the start at a snails pace causing an intense bottleneck, during the half, there was running from the start, and I had a little more room to maneuver.

Like most halves where I start the race with a few minutes of running before breaking into my run/walk/run intervals, I got 5 full minutes of running in straight out of the gate. I'm used to having some arch pain during my first long run period, but this day was different. Every time my right foot hit the ground, I got not only the shooting pain up through the trigger point in my heel, as well as a sharp pain in the outside of my ankle.

That ankle pain was ultimately the pain that brought me to the doctor last summer because over the course of a run, it had me worrying that I had fractured a bone in my ankle. It turned out not to be broken, and was instead swelling inside one of the bones in my ankle, but was left inappropriately treated for months and we only found out what was wrong with it this past December when I found a new podiatrist/orthopedic surgeon. But I digress. What you need to know here is that the pain I hadn't felt in this intensity for over 5 months was back with a vengeance. Normally the pains that I feel when starting out on a run will subside by the time I hit 10 minutes into a run, but these pains weren't subsiding... and in fact were getting worse the further I went.

At that point, I REALLY wasnt feeling the race. The self-loathing began in earnest. Crowds have a tendency to make me angry, so being in a field of 30,000 racers wasn't making this experience any easier. And on top of this, the fog wasn't lifting (fog also makes me nervous, I can't explain it, so please don't judge), it was really hot, and the humidity was hovering somewhere around 96-98%. This was NOT fun, and I soon made the informed decision to slow myself down to a walking pace. Even walking, I was passing people left and right and getting stuck behind large groups of women who were walking 6 and 7 abreast at a slower clip than I was... again, increasing my frustrations. I tried to put on some soothing music to calm my nerves, and that worked for the most part, at least until I got to the parts of the course where there were extreme bottlenecks, where we had to take the cloverleaf interchanges. These stretches of road do vile things to my feet and ankles because of the extreme camber. But I kept going.

I had hoped to get in some character stops, but every time I passed one, the lines were ridiculously long. Because my pace was already so slow, I didn't want to lose any more precious minutes of the race and add to my risk being swept. I did stop in Magic Kingdom to wait in line for a photo in the alcove in front of the castle, but that ate up at least 5 minutes... and left me feeling more anxious.

Not anxious enough to not stop and make a pressed penny later in the park or take a picture of myself in the stockades near the Haunted Mansion, though. I also stopped to take picture of me pulling the sword out of the stone, but I accidentally jumped the very short line here, and felt awful about it for the rest of the race. Oops. Sorry.

The rest of my time out there passed in a flurry. I kept moving. One painful step in front of another. Zoning out. I was emotional and wanted to cry. I found myself asking why I do this at all. I was sad and hurting physically and mentally. By mile 9, it was taking every fiber of my being to keep going because I just didn't care anymore. Only twice have I ever thought about taking a DNF at a race... once last year at my terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad race at Singer Island which was brutally hot, and once at the brutally cold race in Albion, Montana.... but this would be number 3. And this time, the desire to just give up was worse than those two events. This time I found myself saying that after this race not only would I be done with running Disney, but I would probably be done with running altogether. I found myself realizing that this wasn't fun. And if I'm not having fun, why even bother?

I told myself I could revisit the idea of quitting in another half mile, and kept going. Somehow a half mile later, when still questioning quitting, I gave myself another half mile. and from there, it was half mile to half mile. I could make the decision later. And somehow I found myself rounding the corner and seeing my favorite sight ever.

The gospel choir.

There is something to be said about that gospel choir. During my first half marathon, I saw that gospel choir. Being Jewish, I am not sure that I believe in the idea of heaven the way that many Americans do... but seeing that choir was the closest thing to heaven I had ever felt.... and during this race, it was no different. I knew that the finish was right around the corner, but these singers took away much of the self-hatred that I had been simmering in for the previous 13 miles. If asked, I'd probably tell people that my absolute favorite part of the Disney race experience is this choir, and that experiencing the crowds and bottlenecking on the course is ALL worth seeing and hearing this choir. It gave me the strength that I needed to push myself forward through the finishline.

And hug Mickey Mouse when I got there.

Net- 3:51:51
Pace 17:42/mile

Definitely not the greatest, but even with all the stops for photos on the course, also not the worst.

Half #19 done!

Now to get that swelling under control before deciding whether I will participate in half #20.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Disney Princess Weekend, Enchanted 10K - February 22, 2014

It was going to be a long weekend. I'd run back to back (x6) races before, but struggling with Bronchitis last week, and still feeling iffy on my foot at times, I knew that the dreaded 2am wakeup call for the first race in the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge would come too early.

It was a girls weekend with my friend Brina, Michelle (her best friend growing up), and Michelle's cousin Kelly (who believe it or not, is a legitimate reigning beauty queen formerly holding the title of "Mrs. Arkansas Woman" and currently holding the title of "Ms. Woman World Elite Grand Champion"). I've got to say, these were absolutely amazing women, with such amazing stories to hear, and though we probably stayed up way too late each night (considering we had 2am wakeup calls), I wouldn't have had it any other way. But still, it was hard to raise myself up out of that bed in the morning. Anyway, I digress.

We got up early, got dressed and headed off to the start line. Like always with the Disney races I have experienced, the crowds were monstrous. We stopped for a quick photo standing in front of the start line, and then trekked over to the start line party where we waited. And waited. And waited some more.

By the time we were allowed into the corrals, my feet were already on fire from standing around so much! Brina and I were in a different corral than Michelle and Kelly. The plan was for Michelle and Kelly to run separate, but for Brina and I to run together. You know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

I had never run a 10k before. Going into this event, I knew that I severely disliked the 5k distance (because believe it or not, it always feels so God-awful long), but I didn't know what to expect for a 10k. I know, I know, the next day would be my 19th half marathon, and half marathons are considerably longer than 5ks, but still... there is something about the shorter distances that gets to me... perhaps that it really takes me a few miles to feel like I even want to be out there, I don't know.

Getting ready to start, I was feeling jittery, yet excited from the pre-race atmosphere. As our corral was moving up to the start line, I realized I had to use the bathroom. I always have to use the bathroom right before a race, but have learned that this is just nerves and I quickly lose the urge once I get moving, so I thought little of it. I reminded myself to calm down, took my inhaler and before I knew it, the fireworks signifying our start were going off.

As soon as Brina and I crossed the start line, we were shocked. It didn't feel like a race start. People were just moseying across the start line like a herd of cattle, slower than anything I had ever seen or experienced before. And this herd never seemed to break up and actually pick up speed. We darted and weaved. Brina would bounce through a group of people and I would do my best to follow, or at least keep her within a couple arm's distances away. At multiple points we were grabbing one another to steer through this crowd. Not only was it annoying, it was downright dangerous. Not even 10 feet into the race, we watched 2 people who were immediately in front of us collide and fall down, leaving us to jump around them lest we be taken out with them. Yikes! I knew the field for the race was ridiculously large and that the course would be packed, but this was something else entirely.

We had started near the back of our corral, and passed probably 3/4 of the people we started with before we even got to 3/4 of a mile... but the crowds never seemed to let up. And on top of the super slow pace, people were stopping in the middle of the right-of-way to take photos and ooh and aah over the Disney eye-candy. By mile 2, the pack had spread out enough for me to get a decent run/walk/run interval going and I was at my pre-injury pace, albeit wheezing very loudly, and coughing up a lot of gunk. I could tell that Brina was getting impatient with me for not being able to keep up, and for continually losing her in the crowd, so I asked her to go along without me, which she did.

And then something amazing happened. We hit a very dark area of the course and over the sound of my music, I started to hear something. It was the strangest sound, so I pulled my earbuds out, to take it all in. It was silence. People had stopped talking, and the course was almost silent except for the sound of sneakers hitting the pavement all around me. I had never heard anything like this before, and it was totally surreal. Unfortunately it didn't last long because we were soon at a water station and the chatter began, but I would have dealt with the insane crowds again and again in order to just experience this sound again. It's funny. I paid all this money for a Disney race, and the one experience from this event that will probably stick with me forever is that moment on an access road without music or entertainment, and just the sound of feet.

Pretty soon, I was entering into Epcot's World Showcase near China. I rounded the corner and saw the flaming pillar and got excited. I'd never run through Epcot before, so this was definitely a first. And while the World Showcase was an awesome experience, with 98% humidity, a fog that hadn't yet lifted, and the heat index rising, I was having more and more difficulty catching my breath. What's more, the ground in the World Showcase was damp and slicker than a freshly surfaced ice rink. I knew that I needed to protect my feet, and I my steps became even more tentative. We exited Epcot through the Disney Boardwalk. In all my times going to Disney, I don't think I've ever been to the Disney Boardwalk, and it was a really neat experience. Running on the boards was sweet relief to my feet and bad ankle after the slickness of the World Showcase, but once again, the participants were significantly bottle-necking. I think on my next trip to Orlando that I may want to visit the Boardwalk again to explore a bit... but again, I'm digressing.

Leaving the Boardwalk, I became acutely aware that I had I still had to use the restroom. I was about 5 miles in at this point, and right on pace, so I kept chugging along. The breathing was getting more and more difficult and the pain was amping up in my bad foot, but I kept pushing. I was going to finish strong. The course took us back through Epcot and around Spaceship Earth. And then the cramping started. I had to go to the bathroom so bad I was almost doubled over in pain. I knew I could push it and make it to the finishline, but waves of nausea were threatening. So I made a bee-line to the nearest bathroom...

At something asinine like mile 5.8 or 5.9.

In a 10k race, this is the equivalent of stopping right before the finishline. The entire time I was in the bathroom, I was beating myself up. Obviously, I am my own worst enemy here, because the stop was REQUIRED, but still... I was taking every opportunity to be mean to myself. Personal note to self: be gentler on myself in the future.

I came out of the bathroom and wanted to cry. Disney races are so crowded that most people know not to count on them to get a personal record, but somehow, through it all, I was right on track for one. And I had thrown it all away, in the blink of an eye.

But I finished, and in the end, I guess that's all that really matters. I got the same medal as everyone else. And I also got some personal knowledge to boot. I'm not a big fan of the 10k distance.

Chip - 1:41:57
Pace - 16:27/Mile.

Day one of Glass Slipper Challenge finished. The Half the next day wouldn't be as "easy" on me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sick little princess

Just a quick little update as I prepare to head off to Orlando for the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon weekend and the Glass Slipper challenge (a combination of a 10K on day one, and a half marathon on day 2). I am SUPER STOKED about this much needed girls weekend away, spending time at Disney World's Epcot and Magic Kingdom, and  the actual races.

If you remember, I was supposed to run the Disney Full Marathon back in January, but my foot injury prevented me from participating. I left the weekend happy to have supported my friends, but sad that I wasn't able to enjoy all of the RunDisney festivities.

I feel like this is my time to get my RunDisney fix. a much needed RunDisney fix.

So, I'm all packed and ready to go. But I'm bringing a whole lot more stuff than I had planned.

A whole extra bag.

My bad of drugs.

Lots, and lots of drugs.

Because, yep. I'm sick again.

Turns out that although I felt great for the majority of last week, and although I made it through the Ft. Lauderdale A1A half marathon on Sunday without any problems... I never really kicked the crud that I picked up during marathon weekend as my lovely souvenir.

Apparently it just went into hiding and came back no less than 20 minutes after crossing the finishline at the race. Except now, instead of a sinus infection, it is very clearly bronchitis with asthmatic symptomology. I feel like that PSA about asthmatic children with the fish flopping around out of water.

Which poses an interesting situation for me. Of course I am going to listen to my body... but I am also going to cross my everything that the medications work fast... because if there is one thing that I have tons of experience with... it is asthma and bronchitis.

Up until I started this whole running thing 2 years ago, I let breathing problems dictate what I couldn't do. I really struggled with running and calling myself a runner because my whole life I had been told I couldn't... and now, going into this weekend... I am finding myself in the same old battle of feeling like my breathing will hold me back.

I could use all the positive juju I can get right now. Because I want to be a Disney Princess.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A1A Ft Lauderdale Half Marathon - Feb 16, 2014

Let me just say that there is no doubt that this race is BY FAR, my absolute favorite race, with the flattest fastest course that I have ever seen. I love this race. It was my 3rd race ever last year, the first race that I really felt my body working to PR at when I first started running half marathons, and a race that I really looked forward to this year... despite the ongoing health saga that I seem to have been dealing with the past few months.

I had finally kicked my illness that in retrospect may have actually been the flu, I was breathing great without having any residual coughing or wheezing. My body seemed to be recovered from the Miami half a couple of weeks prior (I was SORE SORE SORE for days after this half as it had been my first back after my awful foot injury), and I wasn't really experiencing any twinges of pain that may be residual from that injury either. I was stoked for this race.

And it didn't let me down.

The night before the race, I had a sleepover at my friend Seth's house, and we stayed up probably a little later than we should have laughing and talking about our races past and our upcoming plans for the future (another 5 in 5 days in April). We finally went to bed around 10pm, and I barely slept. Part of that was being somewhere other than my own house... the other part of that was probably just standard pre-race jitters. Because he lives about 2 miles from the start line, that meant that we got to sleep in a little the next day, but the wake-up call still came a little too early for my liking. We got ready, had a few wardrobe disasters, and headed to the start.

We met up with some friends before the start, and headed off to the start corral. One of the things that I really enjoy about this race is the soft starting corral system. This year, there was a huge group of charity runners from the Hebrew Academy for Special Children, and they all staged at the back of the corral.

While I love charity runners, and while HASC is great because they take kids and teens with disabilities to do something amazing at these events, it was quite difficult to share the course with them. First of all, they notably had WAY more energy than anyone should legally have at that hour. Second, when the race started, a number of these kids plowed their way through the waves of runners who were aiming to improve their times, and who had just as much right to the course as anyone. Again, I want to clarify that they were an amazing group to share the course with and they really inspired me to be the best I could possibly be... but in the end, they were just waves of teenagers who didn't really understand race ettiquette, who ran zigzagging patterns through clumps of runners (running me over in the process more than once), who stepped on the heels of runners (myself included again), and who walked 4-5 people abreast with the strollers and were not aware of runners trying to pass them.

And while I loved that they were so supportive to one another in their endeavors, after 10 miles of having one girl continually screaming and whooping in my left ear, I was ready to put her in her place. Thankfully, I didn't because I reminded myself that they were just as entitled to be excited about their first race as I was excited about mine... but that doesn't mean that I didn't *want* to say something.

And now, I'm sure that I sound like a grumpy old woman who begrudges the neighborhood kids who walk across her yard on the way home from school...  But I swear it wasnt like that. I think these kids just needed a little more training in ettiquette and what to expect during a half marathon and it would have made the experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

The course this year was the same as years past. It started next to the Museum and went down Las Olas, across the drawbridge (that thankfully didn't open!), and out to the beach for a spectacular sunrise.

From there, we traveled about a mile north then west for a quick 3 mile detour through John Hugh Birch State Park. I think the park portion of this race is absolutely my favorite part because the road is narrow, and there are overhanging trees and it is shady and peaceful. By the time I get there, the crowd has thinned out a bit and I am able to get into a good groove. It winds up being a very serene and peaceful time running. At that point, I was well aware that I was on track for a PR.

entry to the park
But the truth is (and I think I was trying to deny it), it wasn't really a PR that I was on track for... it was complete burnout. As a run/walk/runner, I do 60 seconds of running followed by 60 seconds of walking and repeat through the duration. Under normal circumstances, I will average about 15 min per mile for the first half of a race, and then get a bit of burnout at around mile 9 and struggle the rest of the way. I know I fall apart, but there doesn't seem to be much that I can do about that. Finishing up my first 10k, I was averaging 14:33 per mile, which I somewhat feared I couldn't maintain, and would lead to a massive breakdown around mile 9. But I couldn't seem to slow myself down to better pace myself.

I was feeling excellent. I was happy to be out there. I was happy feeling the ache and burn in my muscles. I was happy to be alive. I left the park, and ran past my own personal little cheering section (I have a friend who is a TNT coach and who is super supportive of me). He told me to slow down a little, but I was on fire. And it sounds funny saying that because my "on fire" pace is still comparatively so slow when you consider others... but whatever. Enough self-depreciating talk.

I headed back out to the beach and north until mile marker 8 where the turnaround was. And suddenly, the sun was REALLY hot. it had been chilly when the race started so I wore a jacket. I was overheating but the breeze off the ocean gave me a chill when I unzipped my jacket. I felt my face getting sunburned. Those last 4 miles were bound to catch up to me. I knew with every passing interval, I was about to hit my breaking point and have my never-fail break-down moment where I would fall apart.

But it never really came. Sure my time slowed down as I entered the last 2 mile home stretch. I wound up missing my PR by less than 2 minutes, but I never really broke my stride.

And apparently I didn't break my heel either because there was almost no pain in that pesky injury!

Before I knew it, I was entering the chute and collecting my medal. No PR for me, but I got something way better.

The knowledge that even after such a bad injury and months laid up, I'm back! And I'm just as strong.

Gun- 3:23:07
Net- 3:18:01
Pace- 15:07/mile
10K Split- 1:30:20
OA- 3204
GRP- 266/285

*strangely, about 20 minutes AFTER finishing this race, I once again developed a cough and severe wheezing indicating an asthma attack. I haven't had a legitimate attack in years. not sure why it happened after the race rather than during, but hope it gets gone quick, I've got a big weekend coming up!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Frustrations abound at the gym

I recently joined a Gym. LA Fitness to be exact.

Not necessarily to lose weight (although I should probably lose about 60 lbs), but that would just be a happy byproduct.

I joined to give myself more training possibilities for my running. Right now, the weather is hit or miss, but we are going into the rainy season in South Florida soon, and the temps will also be heating up. And in the past I have learned that as the days get longer, I have less opportunity to run. Because I am totally NOT a morning person, this meant a lot of training runs at night after dark, which cuts into my precious together time with husbeast.

So I joined a gym to have access to things like the dreadmill, and the elliptical, and possibly the stationary bike. I chose LA Fitness because it also has a sauna and a steam room, a pool and a Jacuzzi. All super welcome bonuses for me as we don't have any of that available now that we are homeowners.

But I was also very turned on by the idea that there would be fitness classes. Like spin, and Zumba, aerobics, Latin Heat class, and yoga.

All with one startup fee and a marginal monthly membership, I would have access to a lot of really great opportunities to lead a more active lifestyle.

And of course, they have the dreaded weight machines. While I don't begrudge anyone the use of machines, that just isn't what my goal is. My goal is to make having a more active lifestyle part of my day-to-day. My goal is to supplement my running. My goal is to enjoy exercising. And being on those machines screams BORING. Oh man, I would rather jab myself repeatedly with sharpened and rusty darning needles than spend time on those dang machines!

But of course the startup fees at the gym include a single session with the trainer, in the hopes that they can rope you into a contract for a quite pricy personal training plan... which would be geared toward spending most of my time on those dang weight machines and less time doing the things that I joined this gym specifically for.

I didn't want this intro session with the personal training, but I suppose I wasn't forceful enough to say no. While, professionally, I always counsel people to cut back on their conflict avoidance style, it is easier to coach someone into doing this than it is to follow my own guidance.

So this week, I had my intro training session, which I didn't really want in the first place. I saw down and we talked about goals and why I joined the gym. And I was candid and clear. The gym will be used to supplement my training and encourage cross training, particularly as I come out of this long drawn out foot injury. And he took my measurements, told me that I was a good 60 lbs overweight (which I am aware of because I am not blind and can see the numbers on the scale), and wanted to talk about diet.

And then he dropped his first insult. That I could never lose weight eating a bagel and banana in the morning because that's runners food, and runners food doesn't work.

And then he started talking about how I need to eat chicken and more protein, disregarding the fact that I clearly told him I am a vegetarian.

And then we got to the point of the actual training session which overall went fairly well, although he seemed to ignore the fact that I told him that one of the exercises was causing tremendous heel pain, and I was concerned about the possibility of injury because I have a race coming up this weekend.

To which his response was basically, If you have a goal to lose weight, you shouldn't be running anymore, particularly not running half and full marathons. They aren't healthy, and will cause you to get hurt and destroy your knees, hips, and ankles. Then there was the accusation that my foot injury was caused by running...

Pardon me for a second here as I flip to my big girl language, but NO ASSHOLE, my foot injury is not related to running. My injury happened because I am a KLUTZ and I fell in a freaking hole and tore a tendon and didn't know it, then got bad medical advice. Yes, running was part of the reason that it didn't heal as fast as it should have, but  that doesn't mean it came from running.

AND by the way, just because your charts say I am overweight by 60lbs and at a heightened risk for things like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity related death...  my doctor has indicated (on multiple occasions) that I am in tip top physical health and that the only reason I should be working to lose the weight right now is for vanity.

But of course, I didn't say any of this, though I definitely wanted to as I envisioned punching him in his muscle bound EYEBALL.

And instead, when he tried to sell me the personal trainer for the affordable cost of $40 per week with a 12 month contract (and a one time initiation fee), I meekly told him that this was not going to be fiscally prudent based on our family budget, but maybe some other time down the line.

To which he told me that he'd still like to get me to sign an agreement with him (personally) to give up a year of running altogether to see how the weight falls off.

Next time, I will shank a bitch. And after he recovers from the initial shock, I'll just run away.

13.1 miles away.

Even at my molasses pace, I'd probably lose him after that first point one of a mile. Afterall, that point one will getcha.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Failing is an option, quitting is not

Erica at Wornout Soles recently wrote a post about 30 life lessons that she has learned in celebration of turning 30 this month. I found her blog through a group on facebook, and while all of her life lessons really seem to be really great lessons to have learned, I struggled over understanding and believing her lesson #15.

Failing is an option, quitting is not.

I am super competitive with myself. I am a loose-ends-tie-r-upper. When I give myself to something, I give 110%. When I take a class or an exam, I cannot stop working until I have given my very best. Everything has to be perfect in order for me to be proud of my accomplishments.

When I compare myself to others doing similar things (like writing a paper for example), a B is a fairly good grade and I would tell others that this is great, but deep inside me, I don't believe it for myself. I've come to realize the past couple of years, its not that I think that I am better than others, or that I need to be better than others, but rather, It is about my own feelings of self worth. I feel like I have to constantly prove to others (and myself) that I am worthy.

Failure is just not an option for me.

Because failing is a sign of weakness. And if I fail, I wont be worthy.

... Because somewhere along the lines, I have taught myself that to be worthy is to get straight As, to be worthy is to complete ridiculous running challenges, that to be worthy isn't just to study karate but to have a black belt, that to be worthy is to not just contribute money to a good cause but to take up the mantle for that cause. I spread myself too thin, because it isn't enough to work part time and work on a doctoral dissertation, but I have to be doing all this other stuff too, and constantly give my free time to helping others with anything and everything (I seem to be the go to person for a lot of people and always feel myself dropping everything that is me-centered to help others out). 

And all of that eventually leads to burnout.... and worse, feeling like a failure. Because, you know, its not enough to be doing one or two things, when I can instead be doing a LOT of other things.

Years ago, while in undergraduate, I was going through a rough spell. And I was with a dear friend and talking about something that was emotional and I excused myself to cry. I NEVER want to let anyone see me cry, because to me, it shows weakness. I'm a super emotional person anyway, but I don't want others to see tears. Anyway, after I was done crying in the bathroom, I came back out and my friend had a come-to talk with me. I don't remember anything of that conversation or the circumstances except this. After a brief pause where he asked if i was ok, he said to me:

Amy, why are you so afraid of crying in front of others? Crying is a natural expression, let yourself be human.

Those words have since stuck with me. And frequently when I have a run, or screw up something, I remind myself that it is ok to be human, and try to let go. And with that, I realize that Erica from Wornout Soles is right... failure is natural. All children who learn to walk fall down. And it hurts and they cry. But they don't quit, and eventually they are able to walk a few more steps without falling down. They learn through perseverance and dedication. Perseverance and a refusal to quit are behaviors that allow us to become better and stronger people. Those are the behaviors that strengthen our souls and decrease the odds of failing the next time.

All that being said, I finally made a leap and got myself a gym membership at LA Fitness. I haven't been to a gym in years, but in South Florida heat, it almost makes sense because running can be so brutal outside sometimes. Plus the Dr. wants me to work more x-training in. I wanted this particular gym because through membership, I would have access to all sorts of classes like spinning, Zumba, Latin heat, etc. I'm terrified of weight machines, but I thought these classes would be a great way to get out there and push my comfort zone. I've now taken 2 classes there, and have learned the following:

1) I am built like an out of shape linebacker.
2) This white girl ain't got no rhythm. 
3) it is entirely impossible to do a class without staring at the amazing asses on the other girls. 
4) I have the grace of Steve Urkel.
5) I look and feel like a fool

But all of those things combined, I am finding that I am really enjoying this new activity. I'm nervous and scared, and I think I just need to keep it in perspective.

I'm fairly sure that at some point, I'm gonna fail (just look at that list above), but I wont be quitting any time soon.

(And maybe this will be just the remedy for not having enough me time.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Miami Half Marathon- Feb 2, 2014

I normally wait a couple of days after a race to do a race report but I wanted to write this post earlier in hopes that I don't forget some of the craziness that ensued. If you didn't know it, I absolutely love the Miami Half Marathon. Absolutely. Love. It. It was my second half marathon when I started this crazy running journey, but it was the half marathon that made me fall in love with the half distance. I also do some promo work for USRS and know that they are a really well run organization. I was so excited to be returning for another year!

They got a new sponsor this year, so it was no longer called the ING and instead was sponsored by people I'd never really heard of. But knowing that the company facilitating the race had such a great reputation, I still trusted them that they would put on a top notch showing. I was excited. Again, have I mentioned that this is my favorite half marathon ever?

We got there early and heard rumors later that parking had been a fiasco. We pulled into a private $10 lot about a block north of the starting line. We were a little later arriving than I had wanted, but stupidly, halfway through the drive from my house to downtown Miami, I realized that I had left Brina's bib on the table near my front door. So we had to take a half hour detour and head back to the city. I think that was why we jumped at the first available private lot, and in the end, it was probably what saved us from the congestion that kept others waiting to get into the municipal lots for close to an hour. How's that for a plot twist?

Anyway, we got there and hit the restrooms inside the American Airlines Arena, and waited for the other Half Fanatics for a group photo. Somehow, Brina and I lost Seth. We waited for him until the last minute before heading to the start corrals, but we didn't actually see him again until he passed us about half a mile into the course. Silly boy.

On the causeway
I should have known that there was something off during this race when they started the race 8 minutes late. That may not seem like a big deal, but in a city where you have to time races perfectly to finish them without expiring your permit to keep the drawbridges from going up, that is kind of a big deal. THEN, the corrals took much longer to clear than i thought. Brina and I didn't start until the gun time was already up in the 30 minute mark. The sun was already coming up and the course was already heating up. We paced awhile with a couple other half fanatics, and as we began the incline on the first bridge around 2/10 miles in, I rolled my bad ankle.

In talking with the podiatrist recently, we've determined that I have great bone structure in my feet but the high arches will make it far easier for me to roll my ankles now because I already have a good deal of weakness. Which is interesting because I rolled my ankle on NOTHING. and had the jersey barricades not been flanking the road, I surely would have face planted. A LOT of people reached out to me to help me steady myself and asked what happened and what I tripped on, and I felt like an idiot. I tripped over NOTHING.

But then I was really shaken up. I kept going, but was really worried. I had just rolled the ankle that left me laid up the last 2 months. I wasn't having heel pain, and there was no issue in the pocket that was bothering my in the ankle either, but I was really worried.

We kept at it. But my head was reminding me to take it easy and focus on finishing not on time. Over the bridge we went, and through the causeway. and then I started coughing. having been so sick recently, I never kicked that lingering cough. I couldn't seem to catch my breath, and Brina slowed down to check on me. She suggested inducing vomiting to help clear my throat, which took awhile but it did make me feel better.

My new road treasure
When I was done, she sidled back up to me and told me she had a piece of "road treasure" for me. We know she likes to collect pennies, so she picked this little trinket up for me on the road thinking it was a penny and thought I could use it. It sounds really dumb, but that meant the world to me.

It was getting really warm, and it was really humid, and there wasn't a water stop in sight. I think the first water stop was 3 miles in... which I think is a little more than slightly inappropriate.

And we kept at it. Over the second bridge and through the condo area heading to Ocean Blvd. And as I was doing my running intervals, I was acutely aware that there was some distance building between she and I. She wasn't going really fast, I was just really off my game. And I was still scared. I told her to go enjoy her race because it wouldn't be any fun for her to feel like I was lollygagging, and it certainly wouldn't be any fun for me to be dragging behind her at a snails pace cramping her style. It was hard to see her leave, but I had developed a new game plan.

I was going to walk as much as I needed to, and I wasn't going to beat myself up over time. I was going to finish, and I wasn't going to get hurt. and I was going to enjoy myself out there.

That's Adam in the purple off to the left of the shot
Somewhere along Ocean Blvd, I met up with Adam, a running friend who is a TNT coach who was pacing someone who was going about my speed. I know Adam from the bridge repeats group that I was active in before this foot issue got really bad and I was banned from running on concrete, and it was nice to catch up with him. We stuck together until mile 8 when I had to stop and stretch my back out and then couldn't catch back up.

The water stops weren't frequent enough, and I really took issue with the fact that they seem to just give volunteer opportunities to any high school student with community service hours. By the time I was around mile 8, they were joking around, having water fights (WITH MY WATER) and blocking the entire right of way for runners. At one point, there were so many kids in the path that I had to ask them to move out of my way, at which point, a kid thought I said "Give me gatorade" (because that sounds just like "get out of the right of way") and I crashed into him, got gatorade all down my front and sent him to the ground. Sorry kid, if it was my fault and I hadn't just done 8 miles and you had been smart enough to understand etiquette, I might have helped you up, instead he got an over the shoulder "so sorry" as I trekked along.

And then I met up with Farah, an amazing woman I have paced with at races when she was having a bad go of it. It was funny, I heard her calling out to me from behind and she gave me some cheesy line about how great I was doing and how much that SHE was inspired BY ME. It really was awesome. She knew I was struggling. So she paced me to the end. And from the point I met her around mile 8, to the end, I needed all the help I could get.

First It got really muggy, then the roads started to get really slick from the humidity. Then it got really dark... and we all know what comes next. TORRENTIAL downpours. It cooled me off and felt amazing for about the first 10 minutes, but it lasted probably 2 miles. and it made the ground like a skating rink (this is normal in South Florida), and the cups and water station waste turned into a combination of slick goo and squishy muck. We got waterlogged and we slowed down even more because I was worried about messing up my foot again.

And just like that, the rain was over and we were about to hit the drawbridge signalling that we were at mile 11. I was stoked. We started up the ramp, and wouldn't you know it...


And it COST ME 7 minutes of valuable time.

By the time it came down,  I was ready to jog in the last 2 miles... but standing around zapped my energy. Totally NOT cool.

But we joked that we would get the same really awesome medal as everyone else when we crossed the finish line and we were excited about the medal this year. Before we knew it, we rounded the final corner and heard the crowds roaring for us all as we crossed the finish line, and we had done it.

But we got to the end of the chute to find out that they RAN OUT of medals. I tried to pass it off like this has been known to happen sometimes at bigger races, and that it wasn't a big deal...

But it hurt, and standing around at the finish like and seeing everyone walking around in their medals just made it hurt all the more. I didn't even get a post race drink, we borrowed someone's medal for a quick photo op as we left the post race area, but I just wanted to get out of there. I was so sad I wanted to cry.

It shouldn't be a big deal, but to me it was. Logically I recognize this as a first world problem, but that didn't make it any less sad.

So after towel drying off at the car and changing my shirt, I walked to a gas station and got a beer and drank it in the parking lot out of a paper bag. cause nothing says despair like drinking a beer out of a paperbag in the middle of the day in a parking lot.

Totally a not flattering picture, but without a pic, it didn't happen.

Clearly not my best time, but also not my worst. I feel like I've been hit by a truck, but I finished my first race back since early December. I hear a lot of people didn't finish this race.

Gun 4:29:07
Chip: 3:51:34
Pace 17:41
Division 1276/1292
Gender 7669
Overall 15189

Time to start training again.