Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lesson From My Son: ENJOY THE RIDE

When I train for a half marathon, I do it with gusto. I start about eight weeks out and follow a strict schedule, logging every time and pace improvement. I hydrate obsessively. I change my eating habits. I change my sleeping habits. I adopt a “two drink maximum” policy on weekends.

That is why every year, for the past three years, I marvel at my son (now age 11) when he shows up and competes--with nary a training day--in the St. Anthony’s Meek & Mighty Triathlon. This year was no exception. 

True to form, my son picked up his race packet on Friday and completed the tri on Saturday. No training, no practice, no early morning wake-up swims or runs for weeks ahead of time. He didn’t even eat anything for breakfast that morning, despite my prodding about the importance of fueling your body. "Nah, I'm not hungry, I'll be fine," he said.

Actually, on the Tuesday before the race he did show momentary panic, asking me if he could run with me on Wednesday morning because he felt an urgency to practice for the race. I run about four times a week, but at 5:30am, so I responded that no, I would not be waking him up at 5:15am to head out the door and run on a school morning because:
A) He’d be crabby for the rest of the day if he woke up that early and 

The St. Anthony’s Meek & Mighty Triathlon traditionally welcomes about 900 or so participants each year, most of whom are children and teenagers, though some adults do race. The two age categories are 7-10 and 11 and older. The 11 and older category must swim 200 yards, bike 5.4 miles and run 1 mile. This seems like a lot for a scrawny, skinny, barely-75-pound 11-year-old, but mine loves it. And as a seasoned racer, I totally get why he puts himself through it each year, even sans training.

Triathlons, like any road race I’ve ever run, are electric. As the race volunteer marks your arms and legs with a Sharpie, it’s like putting on war paint. You can see the other competitors’ bikes and shoes and race paraphernalia and you take pride in your own and the miles and memories you've put in together. The smell of the sunscreen, the feel of goose pimples on your arms before the sun comes up to warm you . . . it’s all just . . . electric. 
Now imagine you feel all that electricity but none of the nervousness or worry about beating a personal record or a buddy in the race with you. You are there just for the accomplishment and bragging rights of getting up early on a Saturday morning to finish something fun before most people wipe the sleep out of their eyes. That’s why my son is there.

It’s good for me to see my son on his bike with his arms raised high like this. I will always picture his posture of success. Even before he’d entered the third leg of the race (the run) he already felt like a winner. 

I’m going to adopt this posture for all the races I’ve signed up for this year. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't beat myself (or my PR). Not that I won't strategically train--I will, of course. But I will also remember that it's great just to be DOING IT with a healthy heart, two strong legs, and supportive family and friends to cheer me on. 
This month, I’m running a Foam Fest 5K with two great girlfriends (it is the day before Mother’s Day, and what I asked to do for Mother’s Day) and later this month I'll be doing a Color Run with my husband and children. 
In the fall my husband and I will be traveling to Savannah with friends for all of us to run their Rock N Roll Half Marathon, and then a week later we're back in St. Pete for the Women’s Half Marathon. In early 2015 I’ve got a six-person team running a 200 mile Ragnar race with me from Miami to Key West. 

Type-A that I am, I have already recorded and printed out training schedules for all these events in hopes of beating times and ultimately, meeting my goal of running 1,000 total miles this calendar year. But I will also post this photo of my son next to my training schedules and--as he clearly did this day--remember to just enjoy the ride.

Monday, March 3, 2014

#ilovetheburg -- St. Pete is the BEST city!

Yesterday, as much of the nation battled blinding snow and pelting rains, we in St. Petersburg had what could only be described--with no hyperbole--as the perfect day. Sunny, 77 degrees and a slight breeze meant that EVERYONE was outside. My husband and I dropped our kids at a friend's house and took a bike ride downtown on our beach cruisers. I know the photos below weren't technically seen on one of my runs, but they were seen while exercising, and they were just too good not to share. Enjoy my beautiful city! Come visit us soon!

Paddle board classes going through Coffee Pot Bayou (NO filter on this photo--it was really that blue and gorgeous outside!)

Down by the park (which is on the Bay), we passed so many people laying on blankets, with picnic baskets, dogs, children, frisbees... you name it. As we rode past the beach we overheard scads of French Canadian snow birds playing no-joke games of bocci ball...
... and discussing the literary merits of Danielle Steel in the shade.
We passed an outdoor yoga/balance class that would rival any Cirque du Soleil

And on the ride back we passed this beautiful family of octuplets getting ready for a photo shoot in the park:
When we got back to our friend's house, they took us all out on their boat for a little fishing, margaritas and, as my my son instructed me, a #selfiesunday.

I live a life of abundance. No doubt.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3-Day Cheering Section

About five years ago I did the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, 60 mile walk. (This was before all the press came out about the questionable spending of the money raised during these kinds of events. Not sure I would do this event again based on some of those reports.)

The walk was physically exhausting and quite painful by Day 3, mainly because two days before the walk I had dropped an 8' piece of drywall on my foot while organizing a client's garage. I knew something wasn't right with my foot, but I had trained for months and was not about to back out. After the race, when my foot was blue and I had to be carried to the car, I got an x-ray which confirmed I had walked 60 miles with a broken foot. Not much compared to the cancer survivors who were walking, I realize, but I felt accomplished and proud of myself for pushing through the pain.

Anyway, the only things that got me through that pain was the support of my good friend Jen (who walked with me in honor of her mother who is a 25-year breast cancer survivor) and sweet little faces like the ones you see above that cheered us on every single step of the way. 

I sometimes wonder if the fans realize how much the impact the runners. Well, some of us. Here's to all the friends, parents, kids and dogs who stand along every race route in every city in every kind of weather to support those who run, walk and push hard. Your smiles, encouraging shouts and posters mean the world to us. THANK YOU.

Monday, February 17, 2014

10 Miles of "Whose idea was this?"

Last weekend I ran the Caladesi Island Trail and Beach Race. I've raced on the beach before (last summer at a duathlon in Sarasota), so I was ready for the uneven surface of the sugar sand, as well as the hip/calf strain involved in running on the angled part of the packed sand.

This race was 10 miles total:  7 miles of beach with 3 miles of trail in the middle. Since Florida is currently the only state without snow (that's right, even Hawaii has snow!), I was excited to run on the beach in February. My excitement dwindled, however, after running the first 3.5 miles into cold, rainy, 40 mph winds during high tide so that--on certain parts of the course where the dunes jutted out to touch the sea--we were forced to run in the ocean which resulted in 6.5 miles of running in cold, wet shoes.
At only 10 miles, it was the hardest race I've ever run because of all the obstacles and elements. Granted, it was no Spartan Race, but I never claimed to be a Spartan, just a mom who runs, preferably around obstacles, not through them. I finished with my slowest time ever, my shame alleviated only mildly by the fact that even with that time, in my age group I still finished 13th place--that's how much EVERYONE was struggling.

I spent the last 3.5 miles doing my best to ignore my exhaustion and frustration. Instead I focused on the golf ball-sized frothy bubbles of foam that washed ashore with each wave and then blew across the sand in front of me like tumbleweeds through a deserted western town.  I mourned all the dead, cracked horseshoe crab shells, and even rescued a starfish that had washed up too far from the tide, throwing it back into the fray of the foam.

Though my pride was broken by my RunKeeper, who sarcastically reported every five minutes, "You are 1 minute and 30 seconds BEHIND your target pace," I have to say I really lived up to the title of this blog on this race. When I released any hopes of a decent time, I took in all the beauty of a stormy sky and all the nature Seen On My Run.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Zero Visibility

#seenonmyrun this AM? Nothing more than 10' ahead of me. Ran through the clouds--nature's filter--for 3 miles. Couldn't see what was ahead too clearly, just had to keep running through it to get where I needed to be. Beautiful metaphor for my life right now.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

13.1 Things I Learned at the Key West Half Marathon

On January 19 I ran the Key West Half Marathon, my 8th half. I had trained and was ready for it, and a few weeks before the race my husband (who was not trained or ready) decided to run it with me, god bless him. My 40th birthday was in December, so a trip to the Keys was the perfect bday getaway. Nothing makes me feel young and happy like tooling around Key West with no agenda (other than the race), good friends (who joined us for the trip), full belly laughs, and a cocktail-filled Tervis.
Along the way, I noticed 13.1 things that seemed share-worthy, so here goes . . .
  1. Distance runners are a work hard/play hard group. In 96 hours I saw 2,000 people take over this tiny island and drink, run, puke, hydrate, and repeat. I like this crowd.
  2. There should be a Race Course Cheering Code. If you're going to stand outside your home on race morning in comfy slippers, pajama pants and a streaming cup of coffee and just stare blankly as us as we run by--no clapping or words of encouragement--just go back inside. My pain is not for your enjoyment.
  3. Some women need the support of more than 2 jog bras at once. You know who you are. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
  4. Just as there is a Grumpy Cat, there are Grumpy Runners.
  5. You cannot go to Key West and not have a slice (or 3) of pie at the Key West Key Lime Pie Co.
  6. To the ladies who run half marathons in Kardashian-esque makeup--at 7:00 a.m.--I ask you:  Why? Good god, WHY? Who needs a smoky bedroom eye at Mile 13? Or Mile 1 for that matter? Just stop it!
  7. When at all possible, it's a brilliant idea to combine your race weekend with a food festival. Our race happened to be the same weekend as the Key West Seafood Festival. Pre-race meal of conch fritters, lobster bisque and frozen margaritas--SCORE!
  8. When I'm exhausted and dehydrated, I make bad choices. I might even growl at an elderly volunteer at the Mile 8 water station when he doesn’t pour water into the cup fast enough (because the course is too narrow to set up water tables). And in my frustration and thirsty state, I might slap the half-filled cup out of his hand but then pretend it was an accident... and feel very guilty about it later.
  9. Lycra athletic capri pants work well in races and in general when on vacation. Wearing them around town post-race can make you appear very sporty and athletic, even when engaging in gluttonous food/alcohol intake. BONUS: The stretchy material works with your gut, not against it, as you expand.
  10. Key West has some of the best restaurants in Florida. DO NOT MISS: Maple bourbon candied bacon donuts and an apple almond fritter at Glazed;

    Then get a $14.95 lobster roll at Eaton Street Seafood Market; the yellowtail snapper and “life chaning fois grois” at Pisces; lobster appetizer at Louie’s Backyard; ridiculous mahi mahi jalepeno soup and the BEST fresh squeezed lime margarita in town at Pepe’s; ANY breakfast with a bloody mary at Blue Heaven (the Loveless Cafe of Key West).

  11. I obviously don't do makeup on race days, but I desperately need to figure out a better running hairstyle. This look, while functional, just never looks flattering in race photos or otherwise. Suggestions welcome in the comments!
  12. You CAN gain 5 lbs in one weekend, even if you run a half marathon. (See #s 5, 7, 9 and 10)
  13. Chafing happens. Be proactive with your Glide. (No picture for this one. You’re welcome).
    13.1. It’s OK to break a few laws in Key West. In fact, it’s encouraged.