Monday, April 29, 2013

18K And The Floodgates(it's long folks!)

         (After the 18k. Sweaty, grit and dirt on my face, and super PROUD)

On Sunday morning, after a largely restless Saturday night's sleep, I rose with the sun to prep for an event that I had been getting ready for literally for weeks, months, in advance. My nerves were rattled, I had butterflies, and the day before I'd been nauseous with the thought of what lay ahead.

I tried to self talk, reassuring myself that I was well prepared, and that I'd just treat it like any old Sunday Run Club long distance run. Besides, I was running with a big gaggle of my run club buddies, so having them there would definitely make it feel less scary!

I had laid out all of my washed and ready clothing the day before (PS the running capris are definitely too big. Very slippy for the first 10 minutes!) along with my bib, my charged ipod, my Gu for fuel and my water bottle. (Yes, I only bring one) and my ball cap. I drank my 16 oz of water an hour before I was leaving, to hydrate and umm, get it out, before the race. I had my light but protein filled breakfast (1/2 cup cereal, blueberries, almond milk, a few almonds) and hit the road with my friends Jay and Leigh.

Once at the event, we met up with the rest of our group and did some pre-race photos. Everyone was doing various distances, some 5k, some 10k, several 18k. I literally started to feel supercharged. As the 18k call came, I felt the need for some team RAH RAH so we all put our hands in on top of each other and did a "GO TEAM" kind of thing. I was PUMPED UP!

I was concerned about having people who run my pace to stick with because I didn't know the route at all, plus, I run much better when I can just chat and pretend it's no big thang. We headed out, me hitching up my pants and holding them for the first stretch til they stuck, when my Nike app chimed in at 1 mile in with our distance and my pace. Woah. I knew we were going too fast and I was aware that I should slow it down. There's always this adrenaline surge where everyone is running around you and you just want to GO. It's hard to settle into a sustainable pace with that going on. At least, it's hard for me. We were running a 9:43 minute/mile pace, and my last 16k I had run comfortably at 10:10. I KNEW that was going to be too fast. However, I figured I'd just keep going until I felt like I needed to slow down. The first water station was around the 3k mark, at the top of a HILL. We got to the top and I paused to walk 10 seconds or so while I chugged my water. As I picked up again, I saw my friends were still walking. I kept running, figuring they'd catch up with me in a second. I never saw them again.

I kept on trekking, hovering between 9:43 and 9:50. I wanted to just get the 10k section DONE and the racers doing that distance out of my way. I completed my 5k time in 29 minutes, and then my 10k around 1:05 hours, based on what the girl beside me said. I had spaced on hearing what my Nike app reported. In that time, I followed the rest of my plan I'd decided on pre-race, which was to walk through every water station, and to have my Gu around 50 minutes into my run. I had these older women runners around me, hilarious women, they were doing 10:1's so sometimes they'd be behind me, then they'd be with me, then behind me. At least for the 10k distance. After that, it seems, I lost everyone that had been with me up until that point. I had told the women they were my pace bunnies, but now I was literally on my own.

Can I just mention a moment here how FRIGGIN HILLY this run ended up being? Seriously people. It was challenging. Once I got past the 10k hills, we had to loop around and do the whole thing over again. I've got to say, I'm not a fan of the loop around. It was also starting to get HOT. It felt very warm, and I was wearing all black, including a hat and a tech hoodie. At one point I realized that I was no longer sweating, which I KNEW was not a good sign. Meanwhile, other than the water drinking breaks, I was keeping my pace and still running. I kept a girl in neon pink in my sights for several km's, until I caught up with her and saw she was struggling. I tapped her shoulder, and when she took out her headphones, I told her that I'd been trailing her, and she had to keep going to keep ME going! She nodded with teary eyes, but didn't speak. A French speaking couple behind me chimed in that they, too, had been following her. The man added in, "We (he and his partner) will run beside you, and she (me) will run in front of you! We'll get you going!"  I felt a rush of ......I don't even know....just emotion, swell in me. I told her, "Let's get to the water station, we can get our water and walk a bit."  Up the hill we went, we got our water, walked maybe 30 seconds, and took off again. The couple ran ahead and we lost them, but I stayed in front of her for a little while longer until I turned back and saw her walking again. At this point, I was heading to the neighbourhood section for the second time, and I was struggling myself. I climbed the second hill and turned into the neighbourhood, and saw the same woman waving from her driveway. She gave me some encouragement and I kept running. As I saw more people in driveways, I kept running. Then, I felt my legs like lead and the sweat stop, and I decided I had better walk a bit.

I can't even tell you how emotional this whole, entire event was for me. A volunteer on a bike raced by me (Thank You redhead dreadlock girl!) and said, "You're FANTASTIC!" and I started crying. Not just little crying, more like, ugly cry. I contained it, but my head was an inner debate of "I AM fantastic!" to "HOW am I going to FINISH this?" The hills, the heat, my was all coming to this moment. I kept my walking to 30 seconds or less, and started to run again, a bit slower now. Into this internal dialogue for some bit, a man ran by me and said, "You are SO strong! You've been doing incredible! You've got less than 3km to go! You GO, girl!" Cue waterworks #1000. That "less than 3k" seemed very far at this point, my head was all over the place, but I kept just....going.

Just before 16k, there was the last water station. I was hurting, mentally struggling and just wanting to be DONE already. I started to drink and walk and as I threw my cup, I saw the volunteers ahead cheering me on LOUDLY. The one female volunteer was saying, "I SEE you, GIRL. You are almost done! Don't you give up now!"  I laughed and started my run again. As I passed her, she high-fived me and said, "Tracey (on my bib) You are AMAZING for doing this. Get it!" It instantly cheered me up and gave me some renewed energy. So, female enthusiastic volunteer, THANK YOU so much. YOU WERE AMAZING.

At 17k ish, an older man volunteer ran a bit with me, his hand on my back. He said he was a heart patient, and my running was for him, and he thanked me for doing it. Again, sob sniff sob. On I went, to the last bend  for the end, and then I saw it....the last and final HILL. At 17.5k, there's a huge hill. I almost cried again, I kid you not!

I moved my legs slowly up that hill, just wanting to be DONE already, when my final race angel came up behind me. I had slowed to a walk, and she said, "I've been trying to catch you since 11k and haven't been able to until now. You were FLYING. You CAN'T walk now!" We laughed about the "stupid hills!" and I ran to the top. From there, blissfully, thankfully, it was all downhill to the finish.

As I ran into that final stretch, I heard my name being shouted from various places and I cried with tears and a huge smile. I saw my run buddies and high fived them, got my medal and food and then, the floodgates opened once again and I was a total mess of emotion.

I'm sort of spacey when I finish an event, I'm just decompressing from what just happened and the fact that I DID IT, so I forget to ask everyone else how THEIR runs went for a few moments! Between the crying and the emotion of my friends all having fantastic runs, it was a huge day. I saw Steph and Janice come in and rock their runs, and then I saw Jay and welled up again. Sharing this made it all the more sweet.

We did pictures from there, and waited to watch friends do their 2k and 5k runs, cheering on strangers and our peeps alike. Jay's crazy acute eyesight had her calling out names on bibs, as people sped by to the finish, some with confused looks on their faces. We laughed and kept shouting encouragements.

I have to say, the volunteers made a HUGE difference for me on this run, and I want to thank them whole heartedly. I also need to thank my friends for supporting me all through this crazy adventure, those at the event and those in my heart. Many days and nights, I wouldn't have gone out to run without their pushing and inspiration. Last but not least, I have to thank my family for encouraging me to do this, for putting up with Run Club nights and Sunday long distances, which usually make Sunday a write off with eating all the food and napping!

Honestly, this was one of the best days of my life, SO monumental in scope personally I can't even put it adequately (or apparently succinctly) into words. It was a huge challenge physically, I really pushed myself over distance and obstacles and heat, but also mentally. I don't want to bore you with my crazy cheesy moments(well, any more than I already did, that is!) but I had some very real epiphanies out there on that long, hot run, and despite the sunburn and the sore hips, it was totally worth it.

My time, for those tracking these things, was 1:59:35, including those walks and hills, and I'm uber happy with that.

Now, the training commences once more, for my next challenge, and I have no doubt it will be an incredible journey from here to there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Random Tidbits

My friend Jay asked me on the weekend if I was sort of "over" blogging.  I don't think I'm done, but it certainly has it's highs and lows. Sometimes I have a ton to say, sometimes life gets busy, sometimes I'd just rather not share with the world, know what I mean?

So, just to switch it up a bit and let you take a peek in to my world and my random ramblings, I thought I'd just post today around a variety of thoughts or events that have been going on or are coming down the pipe for me.

-Sunday was run club. I did a 16k run and finished it in 1:47, and that was taking a walk break for a minute to eat my Gu as well as stopping at lights a few times. Sweeeet. I have a race this weekend, 18k, and while I'm paranoid about getting lost on the route (I don't know the area at all, and it involves foot bridges and side streets and hills and trail paths!) I think I'm good distance wise. I'd like to do it in a certain time frame, and the 16k run was practice for settling into a pace and holding it throughout.  I'm worried that I won't have a run partner, which for me makes a HUGE difference in how well I run, so we'll see how it goes. The whole point is just to get a feel for the whole experience. Runs are tricky though, because you can have a great run, and then the next time you go out, just totally stink it up. It all comes down to a science (who knew?) regarding fueling, sleep, fresh legs and eating the right breakfast-light, no dairy, but with protein. Oh, and making sure I really hydrate the day before.

-I had my last Swordplay class. I don't know that I'd sign up for it, especially not in the warmer months when I like to be outside, but I had a great time doing it. The friends I went with made the difference of course, but the instructors and other, more experienced, students were really welcoming and helpful too. It was definitely a neat experience and I like to think I let out my Warrior Princess a little bit while "stabbing people in the face."  (They're in masks, calm down! It's the expression they use to make sure you hit your mark.)

-I went to get some new workout clothing because I needed some warmer weather stuff.  All of my clothes from last summer are too big and I really needed something to run in that won't be falling off! No one needs to see that! I'm already known in Run Club for constantly hitching up my slippy pants! I got some running capris and a tech jacket. I had a limited time to grab stuff cause my husband was running an errand while I did a quick shop. I grabbed some larges and for laughs some mediums, plus some varied sizes, and headed into the change room to feverishly throw stuff on. I'm not big on caring about sizing because I think it's pretty random and I think for workout wear or skinny jeans it's not very accurate (they have stretch) but I freaked out none the less. The jacket that fit me is an EIGHT and the capris are a medium (also an 8) and are a bit TOO BIG. I wore them to run and they were a bit slippy again! I think they'll be okay for now but I'll have to go back eventually and get another pair (I obviously need more than one pair of running capris for the summer!) in a SMALL. I came home SO excited that I immediately put the outfit on and modelled it for my husband. It met his approval, if you know what I'm saying. wink wink. Okay, I just creeped MYSELF out there. Obviously when I shop for some actual clothes, like jeans that don't stretch, I'll get a better idea of where I am size wise. I'm about 12 lbs away from my first goal weight, a weight I NEVER thought I'd see again, which seems crazy to me. Once there, I'll reassess my goals.

-Food continues to be an up and down thing with me, and while I'm *this* close to my goal, the scale rarely moves. My body, I think, is kinda comfortable where it's at, though I may not be. Of course, my doctor reminded me some weight GAIN is pretty standard when going back on the pill, so the fact I've been holding steady is actually pretty good. I'm still working on tweaking my eating plan, getting in 5 meals a day, getting the combinations right, and not being overly crazy about it either. I'm also trying to not be overly crazy about the poochy stomach that doesn't go away no matter how small my measurements everywhere else get!   In my eyes, it just sticks out MORE as it's more visible. D'oh. Ah well, life is about accepting our imperfections along with our strengths, and my husband says no one notices my stomach because of my boobs, legs and "new butt" (ie I now HAVE one) I wish I could take a day and see myself through some more kind/complimentary eyes, because sometimes self talk is BRUTAL.

April is winding down, May is around the corner with sunshine and flowers and new challenges. Time to start making some of those plans for when it's here!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Doing It For The Masses Of Fans

I haven't written in a little bit, and I've had a few texts with demands for me to get my butt in gear and write a post. Okay, okay. My audience has spoken. Ahem!

Truthfully, I haven't felt like blogging. Some of the joy of journalling out my thoughts seems to have been robbed from me as of late, but I can't let people down, so you know, here I am. It's lovely to be so adored. Okay, it's my friends and family, but still! It's the thought, people!

I've actually been pretty busy, and enjoying that feeling. April is a very busy social month, and May gets even  more hectic, all in a good way. I can't really complain.

I went out with my favourite girls in the whole wide world to celebrate my friend's 40th birthday. As we sat around the table laughing and talking, we discussed how we certainly don't feel 40ish. Oh, we may have changed looks wise, a little. Our lives may not resemble our 16 year old days, but I had a flash that evening of SO many dinners and times just sitting around with those same girls, laughing and talking and just being ourselves. I came home actually a little verklempt, and it wasn't (solely) the booze talking. I envisioned the past, and I saw the future, and those girls have been a part of if it for more than half of my life, and I hope for the remainder. I'd love to see us at 80 out celebrating and laughing and sharing in all of those life moments that got us to that place. Times change, looks change, situations and jobs may change, but our hearts carry on no matter the outside wrappings and trappings. It feels good to be with people that just accept you for who you are, flaws and foibles and all. Who have seen you irrationally angry or drunk weepy, at your worst moment, or at your best and still choose, repeatedly, to stand by your side. I've had lots of crappy life events, but I've been blessed by fantastic friends. True story. They are all, individually, amazing souls and I'm proud and honoured to be included in their company.

I'm still doing Swordplay classes and other than my typical perfectionist breakdown in the second class, I've been having a GREAT time. The last class we learned all of these cool grappling moves, where you turn your  body and grab the other person's sword and such. Whooo. I was IN THE ZONE. I loved it! I love laughing with my partner, Jay, as well. We are both pretty focused individuals, we repeat the move several times to get it "right" but we also crack each other up in the process. It makes for a very entertaining hour.

I have Swordplay this week, Book Club, volunteering, Run Club and a dental appointment. Plus, several birthdays! It's going to be a whirlwind, but a fantastic one! I like being busy, and I like being surrounded by friends, so for me it's a win/win!

One last thing I'd like to touch on, that may lead into another post down the line. When we were out at dinner, my friend made the comment that "Do you KNOW Tracey, she doesn't like change!" That, generally, is true. Change for me has usually meant something worse was coming up, or I was being taken out of my comfort zone. However, I'd say I've actually been embracing change for quite awhile now. I'm the girl who has moved 3x in 4 years, and made a life and new friends each time. I'm the girl constantly taking on new challenges and activities that scare the poop out of me. I'm the girl meeting new people on the daily, and welcoming them into my life. Change is all around me, and I'm actually antsy now for more to come. I'm still working on the concept of something new and scary each month, leading up to 40. I have one coming up at the end of this month, and just for giggles, I may throw in another. Change and I take some time circling each other in assessment, but we've formed a new sort of understanding. It's one that I hope will take me on many wild adventures and challenges to come.

Turning 40 is around the bend, and I intend to put a lot behind me, and embrace everything before me. It's only just begun.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The More Things Change....The More They Stay The Same

I always have WAY too much jingle jangling up in my head. I've been this way since birth, and honestly, it's like  I can never just "shut 'er down" and meditate in the silence. There IS no silence in this noggin. Consequently, I get anxiety a lot, because I worry non-stop about a ton of "stuff."  Some days I'd like to be that chill person who doesn't stress, but then other times I think people like that live in denial about reality.

I was going over my blog the other night, re-reading from the very beginning. Lo and behold, I come across a post from 2009 where I'm contemplating the VERY SAME topics as I'm struggling with right now! You know, the "what the hell am I doing with my life or want to do" question. Well, that was a buzz kill. Apparently I've made no progress on this front in FOUR years. That's....encouraging. I start to get a plan in action, but then something happens to blow it out of the water. I know, Universe telling me something, maybe?

I just started watching the series, "Mad Men" since I've heard so many rave reviews from friends and on social media. Drinking and driving, infidelity and smoking aside, dang it! I'd kill as a 50's housewife! At least if you stayed home with your children then, no one kept asking what you'd like to do next! Running your home and raising your children WELL was important, expected, and maybe not respected as such, but, at least there wasn't this pressure to be more or do more.

I read a blog this morning talking about how nowadays, you can't just be a Mom, you have to be a MILF. You can't just "stay home," you have to have a perfect home, kids in every activity, volunteer, have a side gig etc. Totally. Agree.

Do we put this stress on ourselves, is it imposed by society, or other women? Where does this come from? It's a mystery.

According to my blog, however, it's a theme that I'm continually circling. Let's hope this is my year, finally, to put it to rest.