100 Things About Running Entry #9

100 Things About Running Entry #9

Running for charity!

If you remember back to my post about Boston, I had mentioned that I one day planned to participate in that race for one of the charities.

I still might, but not 2013. And probably not 2014. (And who knows how long they’ll keep those non-qualifying pace slots even available.)

Because a couple of weeks ago, I made a decision.

I am running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the American Brain Tumor Association’s Team Breakthrough!

Chicago had initially been on my list for 2013. My friend Rick and I had talked about it and that was the year we were going to run it. Then he decided to run it this year. I resisted and didn’t sign up. And it sold out. But as in most major marathons, there were charity slots available. I was set on Chicago being in 2013, and didn’t really look into the charity option.

(To explain the 2013 thing, I had planned to run NYC in 2012 since I had guaranteed entry through the NYRR 9+1 program in which as a NYRR member I ran 9 races and volunteered at one in the year 2011. But then they bumped up the price to where it would have been $227. My line in the sand for a non-destination (for me) race was $200. You might say “It’s only $27!” but I had to draw the line somewhere. And clearly with the number of people rejected through the lottery they aren’t hurting for money or people who want to run it. I’m just not one of them.)

And then I got an email from ABTA about the slots that they had available in Chicago. Read it, but didn’t act on it immediately. But I guess it stored itself in my head because a few days after receiving it, I had a series of dream about my childhood friend Philip.

Philip and I were pretty much inseparable from the time we moved to Tennessee when I was almost 3. The summer I was turning 5, we took swimming lessons together. We carpooled with either my mom driving us or his mom driving us. The day we jumped off the diving board, Philip got really sick right after jumping off. Lessons got called that day, and his mom took me home and took him to the doctor. They were sent to the hospital and he was admitted after tests showed a tumor in Philip’s brain. In the attempted treatment, he developed an aneurysm and he died. Since then, brain tumors have been a cause close to my heart.

Putting all three things together – Rick deciding to run Chicago a year early, me receiving the email from ABTA, and the dreams about Philip – it seemed like the universe was sending me a message.

And so I signed up.

Yes, I have to raise money, and I’m working on that. It’s not nearly as much as I’d have to raise were I running Boston or NYC for a charity, and it’s not so much that I was uncomfortable committing to it, but it’s still a challenge. I know probably the majority of the people reading this don’t know me, but if you’d like to support me, no amount is too little. My participant page can be found here if you want to see it and/or donate.

My training starts tomorrow (5/14), and while I’ll probably address some things on here, the majority of the training will be tracked on Running With Mickey, my running blog. Please feel free to follow along there!


100 Things About Running Entry #8

100 Things About Running Entry #8

“It will change your life forever.”

I kept hearing that as I was training for my first marathon. Variations (however slight) on the theme of “When you cross that finish line, it will change your life forever.”

I heard it during pretty much every podcast of The Marathon Show.

I heard it every time I watched Spirit of the Marathon.

I read it in Marathoning for Mortals.

I heard and/or read it so many times, I think I had the finish line built up to be this mystical thing where as I crossed, the sky would open up and a bolt would come from on high, instantly making me a clearly different person.

So when I crossed the finish line at the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon and the sky didn’t open up and there was no bolt from the blue, I tried to figure out what I’d done wrong.

Sure I had a feeling of accomplishment. I had gone 26.2 miles. I cried – that actually got me quicker attention when I went to medical for simply preventative ice for the knees – with the realization that I’d done it. But I didn’t really feel any different. I was still me.

And to be honest, as I reflected on it, I started to question if I’d done it “right”. I mean, my stomach was acting up for the whole first half until we got bananas, and I wasn’t able to run as much as I’d wanted to. Maybe the whole “life changing” thing only happened if you’d done it closer to how you’d trained.

Now, deep down, I did realize this was silly. Things always happen. Rarely if ever does anyone have a race go exactly as they’d planned. We’re all adjusting on the day of and even moment to moment during a race. But I wanted to have some kind of epiphany, something where I could clearly say “This is where I changed.”

When I talked about this on my running-centric blog, several friends reassured me that they hadn’t had the lightning bolt moment either but just a slow realization about things. So it was seeming more and more like the change was more like something that revealed itself over time. I have seen my training paces (generally) come down. And my endurance has been better – a six or eight mile weekend run is (relatively) easy-peasy now.

But I still didn’t really feel different.

I’m sure that my result at Broad Street last Sunday is also in part thanks to my marathon training and the muscles and endurance I built up doing that.

But still, I felt like my old self.

And then this week was my observation – where my assistant principal comes in and observes me teach a lesson. For a variety of reasons, these always make me nervous. I mean they make everyone nervous, but they make me especially nervous. Probably because they haven’t always gone great. I’ve typically gotten a “conditional satisfactory” whatever that’s meant or in a few cases even had to redo a lesson. Largely because I overcomplicated it and tried to do far more and higher work than I needed to. This time I kept it simple and stuck to the basics.

And a funny thing happened as I was doing final preparations. I realized that while I really wanted it to go well, I wasn’t the nervous wreck I typically am. I had a plan. I had contingencies in place for different things that could happen. I had boiled it down to the basics.

In short? I realized I’d taken what I’d learned from my training – have a plan, have plans for what happens when the plan doesn’t work, keep it simple stupid – and was applying it to my lesson preparation.

And most amazing, I actually heard myself say to someone at the store on Thursday night (I work parttime at the Disney Store):

“I ran 26.2 miles! I can do this observation thing!”

It may not be that bolt from the blue I had anticipated, but crossing that finish line has changed me.

I know I can do whatever I set my mind to – I just have to put in the work and trust my training/preparation. I love Kathrine Switzer’s quote at the end of Spirit of the Marathon: “You triumphed over the adversity. That’s what the marathon is all about. And therefore you know there isn’t anything in life that you can’t triumph over after that.” So true!

And if I forget, I can just look at my RoadID dogtag, the quote side. “There will be days I don’t know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing I have.”

Does the finish line change your life forever? Yes! It may be more subtle than you’ll ever expect, but once you cross it, you’ll never be the same person you were.

(Oh, and that observation yesterday? Satisfactory! Not even conditional!)

100 Things About Running Entry #7

100 Things About Running Entry #7

Broad Street Run!

So Sunday was finally it! The Blue Cross Broad Street Run was here!!! All of my training was about to come to a head.

Going in, my base goal was the same as for any race I run: finish and have fun. My “I can live with it” goal was to finish in 2:15. My “reach goal” was to break 2 hours – that was big as it would put me with an average pace of sub-12 minute miles, something I hadn’t yet done in a race longer than 4 miles.

The set-up…
In a “crazy runner” effort to save money, I made the decision to pay the $20 fee for day-of pick-up and take MegaBus down early Sunday morning. Well, the one early morning option was scheduled to leave NYC at 1:15am and get to Philly at 3:15am. Not exactly ideal, but by doing that and skipping an overnight stay, I essentially gave myself at least one race registration fee. So I did it. The bus was a little late leaving, so it was a little closer to 4am when we got to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. I went in and got changed into my running gear – pink SkirtSports running skirt and my Team Breakthrough tech shirt, socks and shoes – then wandered to find a table to sit and read for a little. My plan was to start walking towards the subway’s Broad Street Line so that I’d get there at 5 or a little after. (I’d been given a card to show for free admission to the line since I wouldn’t have my bib yet.) Packet pick-up was to start at 6, and I wanted to be there early given how chaotic some other things had seemed through the whole preparation process. Well, I managed to hit one of the express trains, so I was there WAY early. One other woman was with me, so we hung out until pick-up opened. I ate my Luna bar and drank my Starbucks double shot while we waited. Got my bib and got it all situated, then got my bag ready to check. Took it to a school bus where I was given 2 wristbands – one for me and one for the bag. The bag was then put on a school bus in a seat based on its number. Then I headed to the Pink corral, which was way in the back. I think I’d read somewhere that there was going to be a certain time to enter the corrals, but people seemed to be going in anyway. I didn’t see anyone really checking bibs going in, but then again, being in the last corral it’s not like we were in a corral too fast for us. (Well, unless you shouldn’t have been in the race with a 15 minute mile pace requirement anyway.) I chatted with a few different people – funny how a runDisney mylar blanket makes a good conversation starter! – and nibbled on a ginger chew. My friend Johnny from FRNY called me and I went over and chatted with him and his partner for a few minutes before they headed to their corral. It was almost time!!

The race…
The race was scheduled to start at 8:30, and I can only assume it did. There were no speakers in the back corrals, so I have no clue what all happened before the race. The green corral – which was kind of in the middle – had been staged on a side street, and once they moved out and up we in the back three (gray, yellow and pink) finally started moving forward. And a little after 9 we finally got started. This was by far the largest race I’ve been in – around 40,000 people were registered – but I never really felt crowded in. Sure there were some places that got narrower than others, but even there I never felt pressure to go faster or slow down. Crowd support was great, even for us in the back. People were out on their porches or sidewalks cheering us – even church congregations were on their church steps! It’s a net downhill course, but there are still some ups, some of which are pretty long and gradual. Still, I kept plugging on with my 4/1 run/walk interval. On the longest uphill, I did walk a little more just to try and conserve some energy. The fluid stops weren’t as bad as I feared on spotting the first few tables at the first one. As long as you went towards the back tables you were fine. Those who stopped at the front tables were having to stop and wait for water to be poured. As I got to the Mile 9 marker, I looked at my garmin to see where I was with time, and after some quick mental calculations I realized that I could make my A goal, even if it was just barely. I’d have to push, and I didn’t have a lot left as I’d pushed hard through the rest of the race as well. I’d done what I could to stay cool (it wasn’t hot hot, but it wasn’t cool either once we got going) – dumping water on my arms, head and back – but there was still a toll taken there as well. So Mile 9…time to buckle down. And the biggest fights my brain and heart had with my legs. Every time I’d drop to a walk, my brain was screaming “Come on! Move!!” The people cheering us in definitely helped…but it was hard. When I saw the 1/2 mile mark, I checked the garmin again and knew I’d have to run it in if I wanted to break 2 hours. And run it in pretty hard. I just kept moving forward, pushing hard so I’d know that I’d done everything I possibly could. I got across the finish and beeped through the unused segments to end the workout. As I was walking towards the medals, I got up the courage to look at the history and find my time, knowing that there would be some difference as the beeping through took a little longer than usual.

1:59:43 on the garmin!!!!!

I knew at that point – especially having been on the front row of the Pink corral and having started the garmin a split second after crossing the mat – that I’d done it. I’d broken 2 hours!! I was totally spent, but thrilled.

I got my t-shirt and my food bag, then got my bag from the bus and headed to the line for the shuttle bus to the subway. That was kinda crazy, made moreso with Philadelphia having a team in playoffs with a game yesterday afternoon. Still, I managed to get back to the 30th St Station and get changed into clean, dry clothes. Then I went across the street to Slainte for cheese fries and a black velvet. I should have probably gone with the burger or something with a little more protein as later on while I was wandering around being tired and just feeling off after deciding I’d try to walk to Independence Hall…which was further than I’d thought from the map. I got tired and the little distance back to the station just kept growing. I finally got back and got some diet coke…and a donut to get some sugar (the protein thing hadn’t occurred to me yet). Then headed out for the line for the bus back.

I had a great time! I would like to do the race again…but we’ll see what they end up doing with registration next year. I do think I’d probably splurge on a hotel room the next time. It was rough being on so little sleep…moreso afterwards than before or during. But I had a great time!!

And official times are in…

1:59:21!!!! 11:56/mile average pace!!! My best in a race over 4 miles EVER!!!!

100 Things About Running Entry #6

100 Things About Running Entry #6

or Why I’m NOT Running the NYC Marathon

I know. It’s a big one. Possibly on more bucket lists than even Boston. It seems like everyone wants to run it (at least judging by all the angst on FB and various running forums today as it’s supposed to be announcement day for those who got in via the lottery – though apparently emails may not go out until tomorrow it’s looking like now). And if you live in NYC and run but show no interest in it, you’re sort of looked at as some kind of alien from another planet.

I know this because I’m not running it this year. Or probably ever.

I could have. I’m a NYRR member and last year I ran my 9 races and volunteered at one. Heck, I even ran at least one “extra” race because I got qualifying credit for one I wasn’t able to run – due to the Christmas blizzard, they gave credit to anyone who’d registered for the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run…and I was stuck in Orlando, so there was no way. By virtue of those two facts (membership AND 9+1) I had a guaranteed entry for 2012.

But the bottom line is they flat-out out-priced me. You have to draw a line and stick to it. My line was $200. Had I registered, I would have shelled out $227.

Granted, $27 isn’t a huge amount in the great scheme of things. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and for me $200 was it.

Would I have run NYC in 2012 if the cost had been under my bar? Yes. Part of me would have liked to have run it for a few reasons. First, I do think it would be a neat way to see the city. Second, the peer pressure in my running club is enormous, and you can sort of feel like an outsider if you’re not running it or haven’t run it. Third, I do love New York and living here. But as I said, I had my line, and I’m sticking to it.

Will I spend more going to Disney? Yes. Unless I somehow rack up enough airline miles to fly for free and stay with my sister or a friend, I will be spending more. BUT I get a vacation out of it. Ditto if I run San Francisco or Big Sur one of these years (I’ll talk about those in other posts). Or any other race that will require travel. I’ll be able to have a little vacation. (Chicago will be happening in 2013…and that’ll be another one that will just be airfare and race registration as I’ve got enough friends there I can definitely crash somewhere.) There are other marathons I’m looking at (such as the Donna) that are cheaper and in the case of the Donna actually does good without having to pledge a certain amount to a charity. ALL the money collected for it goes to help fund breast cancer research!

New York is somewhere I can literally run almost the entire course. My running club does a “Blue Line Run” which covers the last 20 miles of the marathon. About the only section I couldn’t do on my own is the bridge that opens the race. And while I’m sure it’s amazing if you’re on the top deck, with my lack of speed and my luck I’d be stuck on the lower level where…let’s just say if urban legend holds true you WANT to be in the center (not good for a run/walker like myself) to avoid getting wet with stuff that’s NOT water.

I am 100% content with my decision to not run it. I know there are people – many of whom applied through the lottery and didn’t get in – who don’t understand how someone could have guaranteed entry and not use it. But I have to be true to myself. And while I love the city, I just don’t feel a burning need to pay over $200 just to run it. I’m not a freak or an alien…I just have different priorities than some people. I don’t criticize them, and I’d hope that they wouldn’t criticize me. (And believe me, I know there are a lot of people who don’t get the draw of running Disney. That’s ok. As an old professor of mine used to say, “That’s why god made chocolate and vanilla!” Hee!)

It’s all about choices and priorities. And ultimately, it’s about running…and isn’t that what binds us runners together? The love of running? Regardless of where we run. 🙂

To those who are running it, good luck! And hopefully I’ll see you at Mile 24 (where my running club is in charge of the fluid station…and also has a cheer section)!

100 Things About Running Entry #3

100 Things About Running Entry #3

or Lessons Learned in a Hot(ish) Small Race

I’m currently training for the Broad Street Run 10 Mile race on May 6. My training plan called for a 10K this weekend, and this one fit right in. It also let me start to explore some non-NYRR races.

It was a definite change – there were 148 people who participated in the 10K. Not sure how many in the 5K or the 1 mile walk. So teeny! Our timing chips were these foam things with a metal reader in them that had been put in numbered ziplock baggies. We were instructed to pin them on our shirts or shorts/skirts. Interesting.

We all headed to the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach where the start and finish were. There was a loop that made up the 5K, so those of us doing the 10K did that twice. Luckily I always carry my Nathan handheld (because the pouch is just right for my inhaler) because there were no water stations anywhere along the course.

The weather was supposed to be in the 50s at the start time and climbing through the 60s, but I’m pretty sure we were well into the 60s by start time and it just climbed. It was hot and no shade (shades of the out and back at WDW for sure). Also, my allergies have been acting up, so the inhaler ended up being used a couple of times. Still, I felt like I was starting out well. I might have taken off a little fast, but I thought I could hold that run pace. Well, with the heat and the wheeziness, I wasn’t able to fully hang on. So insert some more fast walking – I really try to keep my pace up walking when I have to drop to it in a run interval.

I knew approaching the turn to go around the course again that I was pretty far back in the crowd, but I wasn’t sure exactly where. I felt a little better when I passed one guy and saw a few people coming back towards me. I just kept reminding myself that DFL (Dead F-ing Last) is greater than DNF (Did Not Finish) and that is greater than DNS (Did Not Start) any day and kept on going.

What I am most proud of is that as I went around the dog leg and could see the turn around at the end of the boardwalk, I could also see that the volunteers who had been there the first time around weren’t there. I knew there was no timing mat to check. I did know that there was at least one person behind me, but I wasn’t sure how far. I admit, I did consider turning around when I knew that no one was coming towards me with a chip pinned onto them. But only for a moment. Because I knew that I’d feel completely down on myself if I did that – like a total fraud. So I committed to do it, no matter what my time was. So I went to the end of that boardwalk and did the whole course!

My official time was 1:16:06 – which is slower than my PR (which was set on hills) – and I finished 138 out of 148, but I’ll take it. I completed the whole course. I also learned that smaller races, while it’s nice not to have the hassle of the corrals and stuff, smaller races are tougher if you’re a back of the packer. I was running on my own much of the time, and it was harder to find someone to “chase”. As the morning went on, I also had to do a bit of weaving among people just out on the boardwalk for whatever. But all in all, I’m happy with the race and my results.

Oh yeah…after it was over, we went back to the bar where number and shirt pickup had been. We each got a drink “coupon” in our bags, and I’d been hoping they’d have their taps going as they have Magners on tap, but they didn’t. So I had probably the best tasting Heineken I’ve ever had. Funny how being a dirty, SWEATY, smelly princess – and add thirsty to that – makes even beer taste good. LOL. Also wonderful Irish “Soda Bread” Scones. YUMMY!

3 weeks and a day to Broad Street!