Monday, October 25, 2010

Took a trip to the dark side

Monster Sprint Tri 300M Swim, 12.66 Bike, 5K Run

Someone told me they had cookies. They had pancakes and I ate four. Don't judge.

The best thing I did going into this race was not looking at it like a race. My goal was to go have fun and learn. I had never done a tri before. Didn't train for this and never attempted a brick. But I knew I could swim 300M, that's usually a warm up for me. I knew I could muddle through the bike. And the 5K, can do that in my sleep. So why not put it all together.

The day before the race, my dear friend David gave me and Bojana a transition 101 so we wouldn't DQ ourselves!

Saturday, I ran 21 miles. I woke up Sunday morning and my quads were pretty darn tight. A little worried, but I told myself, it's short, you're done in less than 1:30. Just muddle through.

Got to the transition area, racked my bike, set out all my gear like David told me and headed to get my chip. Saw a bunch of my RAW buddies and my colleagues from work.

A few minutes before we had to line up for the swim, I jumped into the pool. I haven't been in the pool for a month. I hit the water and my legs were mad. I decided then to take the swim really easy and go with mostly arms. On a 300M swim, losing 30-45 seconds is nothing.

300M Swim - 6:39

This was pool swim where you snake the lanes. Swimmers are spaced 5 seconds apart. I did ok for the first 100, but being out of the pool for a month started to take it's toll on me. I had to breathe just about every stroke and I was really trying to save my legs for the bike and swim, so I was about 85% arms. The guy behind me passed me on the last 100, but by the last 25, I zipped by him.

Transition 1 - 1:11

Threw my cap and goggles off. Threw on my sunglasses, strapped on my helmet, socks, bike shoes. What the heck? My glasses are fogging. Threw them off, said screw it, I'll deal with wind and sun, grabbed Enrique (my bike) and headed out of the transition area.

Bike 12.66 - 45:41

I had been on the bike maybe a dozen times before this race. I knew this was my weakest link. I was so focused on marathon training that I just didn't have the time to spend on the bike. The course had some hills that I wasn't prepared for. But I made it and my time was respectable. I wanted to take in some fluids on the bike so I had my Gatorade there. I am so new on the bike that I was worried about bending over and grabbing that water bottle. But I was thirsty and knew I better take in something. Got it! Yay! Took a few sips. Oh shit! I have to lean over and put this thing back. I thought about throwing it to the side of the road but then thought I may want it before the run again. So do I gamble and risk a fall or pitch it? I gambled. It was a little rocky and I thought, screw it, I'm not going to do this again. I'll drink at the transition area when I'm off the bike. I did the ride at about a 16.8 MPH pace. Not bad, but I see lots of room for improvement next time.

Transition 2 - 0:59
Remembering what Gail taught me about getting in and out of clips, I unclipped my right foot well before the dismount line so I didn't have to worry about falling and making a fool out of myself. Holy cow, running off the bike into the transition area was a weird feeling. Not only do I have these funny shoes on, my legs feel like Jell-O! Racked my bike, threw on my Kinvaras and off on the run.

5K - 25:38
This was the weirdest feeling ever. I felt like I was running through water and in slow motion. I honestly thought my legs were going to buckle under me. David told me that feeling will go away in about a mile. Come on mile!!! Where are you? I want to feel my legs again. I had my watch set on multi-sport. Had never used it before. I didn't set the screens to see my pace. I had no idea what I was running, but I was sure it was around a 9:30 pace. But here I am passing people.

Up until now, I was pretty uncompetitive. Just enjoying the moment and having fun. But hey, I'm feeling fresh, I'm passing people. The little competitive voice came back into my head, "get that one, easy prey. Oh, he's hurting, chick him. Oh little fairy, how cute, buh bye." I counted 15 roadkill before I stopped counting. I was feeling remarkably good. I looked at my watch and was trying to predict my finish time. I wanted to finish around 1:30. During the run, I knew I would blow that away. Got to the finish line and finished in 1:20:11. Wahoo!!!! My run was a 8:17 pace. Blew me away. When I got home I downloaded my splits: Mile 1 8:27, Mile 2 8:21, Mile 3 8:08, Last .1 7:34. Hot damn! That felt good.

I finished 9th in my AG out of 58 and 186th overall out of 617. Not bad first time out of the gate. One year ago, I ran the Susan G. Komen 5K in 26:40. That was a PR for me. I just ran 21 miles on Sat., swam and biked and I hit a 25:38 5K, two weeks after a marathon. That felt pretty damn good.

If you read my previous blog about Chicago Marathon, you can sense how devastating it was for me. But, I can't even put into words how that marathon impacted me. Only a few people really know because they are the ones who have had to deal with me as I recover (not physically, but emotionally) from that disaster.

Every race has a purpose and there's a reason why you had to have that race. Good or bad, there's a message. I had to fall flat on my back in Chicago to learn how to handle the stress of a big race and my OCD. I had to have this tri to remember this is about fun. This is why you do this, you love it. It's not about a PR every race. It's about learning, having fun and enjoying the journey.

Breathe, relax, have fun. I'm still going to try harder to do better, but I'm not going to let the fear of failure control my race.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Live to Run Another Day

From: Ambler, John O [mailto:John

As mad as I was, I knew I would live to run another day. Quitting the sport never entered my mind. I’m not a quitter. I love running. I didn’t love the run I had on 10-10-10, but I still love running none-the-less.

Chicago Marathon was nothing less than a disaster for me. Ok, before you tell me, “You finished. You should be proud.” Don’t. Finishing was never a goal. Even during my first marathon. I knew I would finish the damn race. I know what my training looked like. I know what I’m capable of running. Quitting was never an option.

“You finished.” Well, no shit. I finished…4 minutes worse than my first marathon. I trained harder, my times were faster. I RAN TRAINING RUNS BETTER THAN THIS!

I’m probably the most Type A person you will ever meet. I never missed a training day. I nailed every single training run. Some were ugly. But I never, ever said, screw it, I’m tired, it’s hot, I’m not doing this. I put in the miles. I put in the hours. I trained hard. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. so I could pound out 14 miles before work. I ran a 22-mile training run with an 8:51 pace. I was ready.

So what happened? I freaked out. My fear of failure literally made me sick. I had stomach cramps at the expo. I woke up with stomach cramps the day of the race. Not intestinal stomach cramps—the kind that I get when I’m stressed, really high in my stomach, right below my chest. The forecast kept getting hotter and hotter and hotter. Before bed, I saw the high was forecasted to be 86 degrees. This just made my stomach turn even more. I had a lofty goal, the weather was not cooperating, my stomach was not cooperating. I was worried. Really worried.

Race day rolls around. Surprisingly, I got a good night’s sleep. I had the blessing of a dear friend who volunteered to pace me. He is my angel. I had a shit day out there and he wouldn’t leave my side. He did everything he could to help me, from getting ice, to water, to food, to convincing me that it was all going to be ok. At one point, I wanted to walk off the course thinking I would rather have a DNF than this sorry ass time. But I remembered conversations that he and I had about his one and only DNF and the pain he still has today about that race. I didn’t want that. And I couldn’t do that to him, not after everything he had done for me. And going back to that quitter thing, yeah, that ain’t me.

I told him I wanted to start slow. I was hot at the start line. I didn’t feel right. We got to the 5K mark and I said, “I’m behind.” He put it into perspective and told me not to worry, just follow. I kept pulling ahead and he would pull me back to where I needed to be.

It got really hot, really fast. Approaching the 10K mark, I got really worried. I was boiling. I told him, this isn’t my day. My legs are cramping. I’m hot. I threw my shirt off. He told me to drink. I had 3 ounces of fluids to his 30 ounces.

Like the angel he is, he carried my shirt. I told him to throw it on the ground. He wouldn’t. He carried my water. I was trying so hard to focus, but all I could think about was how this just wasn’t my race, not tripping on sponges, cups, and banana peels, and the masses of humanity.

I got to the ½ marathon mark, 2:05. This just sucks. I know, I know, there are a ton of people who would kill to reach a half marathon in 2:05. But, I didn’t train to run a 4:10 marathon. I trained to run a sub 4 marathon. And my body is quite capable of running a sub 4.

I started crying. I was mad. I could not go any faster. I didn’t have it in me. It’s survival now. I can still PR this stupid race. However, what was bad, got worse. 10K and I knew I couldn’t throw down a sub 1:00 10K. Not today. I don’t know what mile it was, but he told me, I could still PR this. I threw him the dirtiest look and said, “I’m shuffling.” He smiled and said, “Yes, you are.” I may have even laughed. Well maybe not, but it makes me laugh now.

Finish line. Thank God. There is the damn finish line. 4:39:23, four minutes worse than my first marathon. I was nauseous. I wanted to puke—partly due to the heat, partly due to my pitiful performance out there.

Through this 18-month journey to tackle 2 marathons, some of most amazing people have entered my life. I wanted to stick my head in my shell and hide from the world. But my world wouldn’t let me. The most poignant note I got, “You love to run and will likely continue for the rest of your life. Keep it all in perspective and don’t lose that infectious enthusiasm that makes so many of us your ‘followers.’”

That’s the real Suann: the girl who wants to share her passion for running, the girl who doesn’t want to hear “I can’t run that far,” the girl who wants to share the joy of someone who ran further than they ever have before, the girl whose favorite running memory was watching one of her best friends do something that she never though she could run before.

I’m damn lucky I have the support of some really awesome people. And I can’t let them down by sticking my head in the sand. My five minutes of pissing and moaning turned into five days. I’m sick of listening to myself whine. Surely everyone else around me is.

Ok, so it wasn’t my day. Does it still hurt? Yeah, it does. Have I moved on? Yeah, I have. Time to cowgirl up. There’s another marathon with my name on it. Marathon kicked my ass twice. But we’re going to kiss and make up one day. I lived to run another day and I’m damn lucky I can run.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Found My Mojo

Well, maybe it wasn't really ever lost, just misplaced.

Physically, I am ready. I've trained hard. These legs have the speed. These lungs have the endurance, but this head didn't have the confidence.

Between work life, home life and training hard in a hot and humid summer, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I didn't have any energy. I was so tired. Insomnia returned.

I went into my first week of taper and struggled with my speedwork. The speed was there, but it felt so much harder to keep that pace. My legs felt like lead. My head screaming, "you suck." But I plugged through the workouts nonetheless.

Fast forward to marathon week. My body feels 100 percent better. I'm running effortlessly. I'm sleeping better. I'm resting. Well heck, there is something to this taper thing. Huh.

Somewhere, somehow, my mojo came back. The goal that once seemed nearly impossible, now seems attainable. I'm not scared. I'm not worried. I'm not doubting myself. I'm ready to run the race of my life.

The marathon is just as much mental as it is physical. If I had a quarter for every time I have heard that...But it's true. It's time to trust my training, trust myself and lay it all out on the line.

Try harder. Do better. It's time to run the race of my life.

I'll see you in Chicago on 10-10-10.