Saturday, November 27, 2010

Philly Marathon

The Philly marathon - the big day finally came! And went. And took with it my ability to navigate stairs. I think that makes me a totally-for-real runner now.

Philly was actually the third marathon I signed up for - but the only one I made to the starting line. I had signed up for a marathon last year but IT band problems stopped me a few months into training. Then I signed up for the Green Bay marathon this spring. The plan was to run that with some friends (and, ohh hahahah, I, bwhaha, had thoughts, hahaha, that I would, hahah, LOL, qualify for, hahah, Boston! oh my god, so funny.....). But then that whole Olympic thing happened, bringing with it stress and major IT band trouble and the GB marathon plans went out the door. Much like Russia's medal hopes in Vancouver. (yea, suck it plushenko... anyway).

After I finished that half mary, I was in quite a bit of pain; legs were buckling, cramping, etc, just not very much fun. As I watched my friends come in for the full marathon - looking to be in even more pain - I thought to myself 'NEVER. EVER'

The next morning at 6am, I signed up for Philly.

I even convinced a friend
(amy) to come out and do it with me so I wouldn't have to suffer alone! Which, in hindsight, was a fantastic idea. I know I could have gotten through the training alone, but it was so much nicer having a friend to do those long runs on Sunday with.

So we fly to Philly on Friday, hit up the expo on Saturday, buy a bunch of crap and then treat ourselves to pretty much the most delicious Italian dinner ever on Saturday night. The garlic cloves in oil and bread were out of this world - if it was a tad bit more socially acceptable, I would have filled up a giant vat and sat in it. right there on the table.
(Pretty sure that delicious oil was the cause of some issues the next day though.... )

The other really cool thing about this race is that I was able to share the experience with my mom. Philly is only an hour away from her home so we stayed out there and my family came to cheer us on.

Race morning! My mom drops us off, we hit the porta-pottys and then tried to find people to hug. In the city of love, it shouldn't have been that hard, right? We knew it would warm up but at 6am, it was COLD. bbrrrrr... Tried to just stay near people for awhile. But then... as the sun started to come up a bit... I saw it.... the Rocky stairs! Amy and I ran over to the art museum and ran up the stairs as our warm-up. Woot! Woot! I think I yelled something like "what you got philly!" (turned out a lot!)


The race started off with a bang - we got a high five from Bart Yasso! Amy saw him and bee-lined us over to him so we could get high fives from the mayor of running. It. Was. Awesome. I ended up emailing him at his site afterwards to just say thanks and he responded! So that was a great way to start things off.

The first mile I had told Amy I was going to stick with her. I didn't want to get caught up in the energy and go out too fast and I knew she would keep me grounded. The first mile was a lot of fun - saw my mom, got a high five from her. Tons of people cheering, even with a 7am start! We came through the first mile marker at about 10:30 and Amy looked at me and said "you want to go, don't you?" I squeaked "YES!" and took off.

My plan was to hang somewhere between 9:30s and 9:45s for the first half. I had a couple of miles where I was a bit too fast but only one sub 9 - most were right around 9:45. It felt ridiculously easy. I kept thinking I should pick it up but I also had no idea how my feet were going to hold up so I decided to just stick with what was feeling good.

I couldn't believe the amount of crowd support out there. Everyone I had talked to about Philly talked about how great the course was and how much they loved the marathon and wow - I get why! There were only a few stretches of this course that wasn't lined with people. In fact, some of it was even reminiscent of the State Street portion of Ironman Madison - so fun! (not that I had any silly thoughts about doing THAT bit of insanity) This race also had your front name on the race bib and that made it even better. Hearing your name called out is such a boost. I've done it to other people countless times but I had no idea how much fun it was when it was YOUR name being hollered out. It's like kid eating glue fun.

So things were going just dandy until about mile 10/11ish when I started to feel the foot stuff creeping in. I have this issue where the balls of my feet start feeling like they're on fire. When that happens, I end up having to start landing on my heels which in turn makes my quads go 'yo, yo crazy woman, whatchu doing down there?' So it's a fun little cycle of hell. It hurts during half marathons so I was pretty sure it would hurt like mad during this. By mile 15, I was already toast. I couldn't run normally and my quads were starting to whine. Adding to this, my stomach started feeling left out so it started to get in on the action.
(a pit stop at mile 19ish took care of that - damn you massively delicious olive oil! It caused a literal oil slick in my stomach. whoa!!!)

I started walking a bit of every mile just to try and ease the pain a bit. I knew it wasn't actually helping but I just couldn't push past more than a mile with how bad it was hurting. It was like having an out of body experience though. I would feel myself walking and say "wait, I'm sorry, what is going on down there?" and my legs would respond like a petulant teenager, "just leave me alone! you don't understand anything!" and my head would say "come on now dear, it's not all that bad, think of the starving ethiopians." and my emo legs would say "you don't know anything! you've never felt this way, ever! and screw the ethiopians. They'd be done by now!"

So I just chugged away as best as I could. I had my ipod with me but I found it much more distracting to just listen to the crowd and think about other things, ANYthing other than running. By mile 24 I must have looked pretty wrecked because I started to hear my name a ton. It really lifted my spirits everytime.
(thank you philly!) At one point, I made contact with a guy who hollered out for me, encouraging me. Something about the way he gave me a high five and pushed me on made me feel like I was back at Tuesday Night Track and hearing my track buddies push me on. That was the ONLY bad thing about that race. No donkeys! I missed seeing my friends faces.

At a few points along the course I started to get a bit choked up over the fact that "oh em gee, I am running a MARATHON!!! This is insane!" But every time I would get emotional, I would start to hyperventilate. So, yes - hyperventilating and running are not BFFs. I would shake my head out like a bull and just charge through. But I saw my mom about a quarter mile away from the finish line and I had a really hard time holding it in. By that point I was just sick of this stupid running thing and as I stuffed down my feelings, I said 'that's IT! I'm finishing this NOW.' I pushed with everything I had left and kicked my way all the way to the finish. I literally just put my head down and ran as hard as I could.

I was SO relieved when I finished but I could barely walk, my stomach was revolting, I was frustrated with my performance but overall, I felt amazing. Absolutely amazing.


The only dig against this race is they ran out of water and gatorade at the end. I was really surprised. And very bummed. I desperately needed something to drink. I did grab some chicken broth though and WOW. Never has chicken broth tasted like the sweetest nectar of sweet nectar land. The awesome thing about having your family there is that at the end, when you look like you've just been to hell and back, your mom feels really, really sorry for you and sends her husband off to get whatever you want. Oh, and she gives you her down jacket to keep warm too. (I was shivering like mad). Thanks mom!!

Overall, this was a great first marathon experience. It wasn't a perfect day but that was fine. I learned what it meant to push through feeling crappy. I learned that 26 miles is far, but 26.2 is ridiculously far. And I learned that I really, really adore chicken broth.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dell-icious

The Wi Dells half marathon has been on my schedule for awhile but for some reason, in the week leading up to the race, I completely forgot that I was doing it. I normally try and do smart things in the week before a race, things like drink lots of water, get lots of sleep, eat good foods, do a lot of calculus and brain surgery. However, in the week before THIS race I did none of those things. (Which is strange, because I usually perform at least one brain surgery a week. Except I call it watching Glee.)

I didn’t think it would really affect my performance but it’s just weird that I literally forgot that I had a half marathon coming up in a few days. I mean, come on – it’s still a half marathon! I think because I’ve been so focused on these long, long runs on the weekend, the number 13 is – well, it’s not small – but it certainly feels far more manageable than I’ve ever viewed it before. I think I got a little complacent.

So I haul my complacent self along with my buddy Amy
(freezerpop) up to the Dells on Saturday night. We pick up our race packets and stroll the expo. (all 3 exhibits) Then we decide to dine like Kenyans – pizza and beer. That’s how they do it, right?

Sunday morning arrives and oh fun – it’s raining. Oh well, more incentive to run a good race – be quick and spend less time in the rain dodging raindrops. My plan was to try and keep it at 8:30s – just stay consistent and strong for the whole race. And I came up with that plan approximately 15 minutes before the gun went off. Had I known what I was getting myself into, I might have reconsidered that plan.

You see, the Wisconsin Dells contains hills. Many of them. Many, many of them. Having not visited the dells since high school, I was not familiar with this geological information. And man, did it end up biting me in what the british refer to as the arse. I knew the entire first mile was downhill – which then meant that the entire last mile was uphill since it was an out and back course. So I knew I’d have to save some in the tank for that last final push. What I didn’t realize is that the entire course was like that.

I took it out pretty conservatively since it was a
) crowded b) downhill c) raining so it was a very wet downhill. Didn’t feel like wiping out in the first half mile and running the entire thing with skinned knees. Skinned knees only look cute on 6 year old boys who have yet to develop sweat glands.

So the amazing thing is that I did actually stick to my plan of staying consistent and considering how tough it was, I’m super happy with my pace. (I managed to stay between 8:25's and 8:50 for the most part)

As we were approaching the turnaround, I started counting the women to see what place I was in. I have no idea why. I’ve never done that before but I needed a distraction and counting seemed like a good one since it’s such a difficult task for me. Just recently someone I work with sent out an email reminding us creatives to attend a workshop that was titled something like “Financial Strength and Consistency for the Non-Numbers Crowd.” I replied “Why do people always assume creative types aren’t numbers people? I can totally do math! Watch. 2+773=kitten”

So there I am, counting with no idea why. I get to the turnaround and realize that I’m in something like 58th place. I needed a goal to get me through the second half so I decided that I would try and be in the top 50. That seemed like a fun place to be.

Also occurring at the turnaround – me saying quite loudly “Seriously??!?!”

The course went down this huge long hill and then the turnaround was at the bottom of it so you had climb back UP the huge long hill. It was a bit demoralizing. And also just knowing that OH EM GEE – we are now going back through all that hill crap again. I definitely had a couple of moments of not knowing if I could make it – well, I knew I could make it but I had no idea if I’d be able to keep a consistent pace.

At mile 7 there were two girls directly in front of me, one wearing a bright blue shirt and one wearing a bright yellow shirt. They kind of looked like MnMs and since that sounded like an amazing thing to be eating while perched on my sofa watching Jersey Shore, I decided I needed to pass them asap. So we come to a downhill and I fly past them. And then the course immediately turns back up and I slowed a bit. Well, those two had the MOST consistent pace and sure enough, they passed me within about a minute. Argh. This happened a good 6-7 times. I would fly past them on the down, they’d evenly chug right past me on the up. We didn’t say a word but I know they were totally annoyed with me. I’d be too! But I wasn’t able to really work the up and I kept losing time so the only place I could make it up was to work the down and really let it go.

From about mile 11.5 to mile 12, there was this awesome long downhill that I took full advantage of. Flew down it, passed a ton of people. By this point I had kind of lost count of the women I was supposed to be picking off in order to make the top 50 – I knew I was close but I also knew I’d have to hold some off at the end. It had helped me a TON just getting to this place though. Having a reason to pick it up – even if it was a completely made up random reason – made a big difference. But by mile 12 I was having no fun. And I knew that I had a giant hill still to conquer.

I start up the hill and I’m feeling strong, just trying to keep it even and glancing at my watch counting down the minutes until I’m done. I’m also trying to hold off those dam MnMs who I know are right behind me and likely to catch me if I slow down too much. So I make it up the hill and I’m all Woo-hoo!!!! Almost there!!! I’m almost ready to cry I’m so happy it’s almost over. And then the road winds around and wait – WHAT?!?!

There’s still another hill! I had totally forgotten that the course flattened out and then went up again. ACK! RUDE!

I stopped and took a few walking steps to just gather myself and wouldn’t you know it, blue and yellow MnM chug right on by. Son of a …. I tried to stay right behind but I kept falling off the pace slightly. And then, like a donut waiting for a kid at the end of fat camp – there was the finish! Aw sweet spooning cows. Thank you! I kicked it in with everything I had left and passed the MnMs and a bunch of other people who had been plodding up the hill in front of me. And yay! I finished as the 43rd overall female! It’s so fun to hit random, mean nothing, made up on the spot goals.

Overall it was a good lesson in perseverance. And also – KNOW THE COURSE! Had I been expecting it, it might have been different. Or maybe it would have been worse since I might have psyched myself out? Who knows. All I really know is that I’m glad it’s over.

After race, I walked around, took some time to gather myself and assess the damage. In the past two half marathons I’ve done, I’ve had some pretty annoying leg cramping and pain. After Lake Country in Sept, I literally couldn’t walk down the stairs. So I’d made a pretty solid effort to increase my leg strength. It was a nice surprise to have my legs be relatively fine at the end. Made it feel like all those dam squats I’ve been doing were actually worth something.

After leaving the race, FreezerPop and I drove through the downtown area of the dells and we somehow magically wound up in a candy shop. We have NO idea how that happened. So they have one of those MnM dispensers where you can pick your own colors and guess what I got? Yep – a lovely little bag of yellow and blue MnMs. Delicious.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ironman? Yea... No.

I'm saying this now in hopes that I never look back and think about how 'cute' it was that I used to think this way. I'm also saying this now in hopes that it will forever be true. And I'm mainly saying it now because in order for it to happen, I need to say (blog) it out loud.

I will never ever do an Ironman.

Ever.

Never.

Hear that universe? Never.

That should be a pretty simple thing to avoid, right? Becoming an Ironman? Because it's not like you just one day decide, oh hey, today I think I'll swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then just cap all that off with a marathon.

That doesn't happen. It CAN't happen. Not without a lot of thinking and planning and training and thinking and training and training. Oh, and LOTS of training.

So why do I have this fear that I might someday find myself in a sea of latex wetsuits, treading water while I wait for a canon to go off and travel 140.6 miles just to hear some dude I don't know call me an Ironman?

Because I've witnessed it first-hand.

That Ironman crap is more contagious than a yawn.

I've seen perfectly sane friends of mine get glazed over eyes when even just the word Ironman is mentioned (even if someone across the room is talking about the movie). I've seen how their eyes scan to find that little 140.6 bumper sticker at races. And forget it if they see that little M-dot tattoo on someone else's leg. You can't even talk to them if one of those things pops out!

And if you're not familiar with that little M-dot thingy, here's what it looks like inked onto a limb.

Full disclosure here - I HATE tattoos. If you want to doodle on yourself, use a cheap pen. And then when it washes away, you get to do it all over again! It's like ENDLESS fun!

I really should be more forgiving of the M-dot because I have friends who have them and I have to say - some of the ones I've seen are very cool. And I guess on people that I like, I don't mind tattoos. I forgive them because they have other redeeming qualities that make up for their complete lack of sense on the tattoo issue.

I will now step off my tattoo soap box before I find myself with 5 less friends. (I love you guys! and you're all very pretty! with excellent hygiene! and clean fingernails!)
... oh man, am I in a hole.....

Anyway - my original point is that Ironman is intoxicating. It has a lure, a siren song that is impossible to resist. Once you hear it, you can't look away, you can't resist the call, you have to follow the light.

Luckily, it appears that I'm partially deaf because I've never heard it call to me. Maybe it got the wrong number? I'm probably just unlisted.

I don't get it. And I sincerely doubt I ever will.

Next year I will know about 20 people, good friends, that are signed up for Ironman Wisconsin. (IMOO11) I will follow them around like a sherpa on race day and I will cheer my brains out for them throughout their Ironman journey. I will be at the swim start, holding my breath as the canon goes off. I will be running alongside them, screaming encouragement as they plod up the killer hills. I will be waiting for them at the start of the marathon to yell completely obnoxious things like "almost done! just a little marathon to finish!" and I will be at the finish line, probably crying my eyes out as the cross the line, hear their name called out and collapse into a catcher's arms. Because I will know how much they put into that day and how important it was for them to finish and have the ability to say "I Am An Ironman" ....

But at no point during the day will I wish I was them.

Because don't get me wrong, I don't hate Ironman. Quite the opposite. I LOVE it. I love everything about it. I love the inspirational stories, I love the fluff pieces NBC produces when it airs the world championships, I love watching, I love reading training logs, I love watching "What it takes", I love the stories of triumph over the impossible. It's just all so..... ummm... inspiring! I mean, truly - it's inspiring.

But I love Ironman for other people. For myself - I don't understand what would motivate a person to sign up .... I'm certainly glad there's some sort of answer to that question because god knows, Ironman stuff keeps me quite entertained! So thank you ironman completers of the world for suffering endless hours in order to provide me several moments of amusement. A tip of the hat. Or perhaps, a tip of the swim cap.

When I did my first triathlon and had such a terrible experience, everyone kidded me that I'd be back for more and that I was probably hooked. And they were right! It was an amazing challenge and I did come back for more!

And they all said the same thing about going to an Ironman. That I would catch the bug and find myself thinking more and more about it. And that I'd eventually be signing up.

Well, I've now survived two viewings of IMoo and I'm happy to say that not a single bug bit me. I harvest no morsel of a thought nugget that I would want to do it someday. And if I can survive two mass swim starts without a trace of the goosebumps... well, I think I'm good. Everyone around me got chills and a little teary when the canons went off and the swimmers started to head off on their journey. I'll admit - it IS a very dramatic scene .... but really .... I just got a little nauseous at the idea of swimming in everyone's pee.

Because ya KNOW that's what they're doing in their wetsuits to stay warm.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

an 18 mile jaunt

I ran 18 miles today. But I'm not sure what I'm more excited about - my 18 mile journey OR the fact that Michelle Kwan has finally returned to the ice!

Eek! Be still my heart.

As far I know, she's been away for 3 years now! An eternity in skating land. Even though I'm not crazy about the routine she performed, man, it's great to have her back. And basically the only thing that brought her out of retirement is Kim Yu-Na, the Olympic champ and South Korean mega-star who swears up down that Kwan is her hero. (demonstrated here in this super sweet little duet -awwww!)

Ok, no - I'm more excited about my little 18 mile jaunt. Let's be real here.

OR - ok, maybe I have to amend that. What I might actually be MOST excited about is the fact that I might actually have been mistaken for a marathoner today.

The Lakefront Marathon was going on today and I had several friends racing it. So Amy and I went to the start line to cheer our buddies on as they started on their 26.2 mile journey. And then we planned on getting our 'little' 18 mile run in while they suffered.

So we're walking around at the starting line looking for our friends all dressed to go for our run and it occurs to me that, omg, someone looking at me might actually think I'm running this marathon! Someone might think I'm a MARATHONER!

Holy crap!

I look the part!

That means I'm over halfway there, right?

Ha - well, I was until I started my pitifully slow 18 mile run and realized I still gots me a LOT of work to do.

But hey - the fact that I might even look the part is a heck of a lot closer than I was last year where I still thought a 15k was a reeeeaaaaalllllllllly long way to run. Now a half marathon is just something to do on a sunday (ok, or a bit more than that, let's be really real here)

I was heading out for a long run last weekend and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Sometimes I get really reflective before my long runs as I know I'm about to bury myself in the pain cave for a few hours. And so I looked at myself in the mirror as I was about to launch myself on this epic 15 mile journey and I said to myself, "girl, you look awfully stupid!"

Because I have completely fallen victim to a disease I like to call "Runner's condiments disease".

I have all the symptoms.

Compression socks


Geeky Visor (which I always swore that I hated)


Giant bulky black sports watch (but only because I lost my giant bulky PINK sports watch)


Completely annoying fuel belt (another thing I swore up and down I would never get)


All sorts of gus and chews and electrolytes, etc, etc, etc


Super nerdy running books


The most amazing recovery drink ever


A gazillion pairs of 100 dollar running shoes all in order to find the RIGHT pair of 100 dollar running shoes. A pair that doesn't aggravate my IT band, a pair that has enough forefront cushioning, but not too much heel, enough arch support, but not too much because that makes it too soft and over-corrects and causes knee pain.... AHHHHH!!!!!


Yep. I'm a full on victim of runner's condiments disease. "They" say that all you need for this sport is a pair of shoes. Oooohhhh, what lies. What rancid awful lies "they" tell.

Of course, in exchange for all these condiments, I have another collection that I'm actually quite proud of. My awesome, yet totally ill-fitting stack of race t-shirts! (I swear, I have maybe 2-3 tees in that stack that actually fit well and I wear all the time - the rest of them are relegated to night time tees or under-stuff tees. Most are either way too big or juuuuust too small. They really should have a fitting room at registration)

Just when I thought I had this running world figured out, it's like I delved into a new layer of sub-culture with this marathon training thing. Because ya know what - it SUCKS.

News flash - marathons are NOT easy.

Know how I know? Because 18 miles is NOT easy. And considering you have another 8.2 miles to run - and you hope to run it all faster than your adorable little training pace..... yea, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it again - marathons are NOT easy.

Of course, since I have yet to actually DO a marathon, that's just an educated guess at this point. Maybe I'm wrong?

(Unfortunately, I'm quite smart and I'm pretty much 95 percent sure I'm right on this one. Bummer)

Man.... I miss figure skating.....

Monday, September 6, 2010

my pet chipmunk

I have a regular visitor to my patio - I call him Crackhead. Crackhead the Chipmunk. He comes to my patio every morning and chirps his little heart out.

Chirps? Is that the right word? Not sure I know what to call the sound that chipmunks made. I didn't learn it as a kid. Darn you Old McDonald's Farm! Robbing me of precious knowledge by always focusing on the cows and ducks.

Anyway - I was talking to a friend and telling him about my chipmunk and the racket he makes every morning. He went home and told his wife and she came back with a reason that she swears is true. Apparently the chipmunk that chirps in the morning is the female chipmunk yelling at the male chipmunk to come home. (apparently there's a chipmunk strip joint nearby and the males get up to all sorts of shenanigans)

I like to feed my little chipmunk pistachios sometimes - mostly because it's funny to watch the little guy stuff his cheeks with ten nuts, looking like he's come down with a case of the mumps. But also, I do it because after the chipmunk gets his nuts, he returns to say thank you! It's true. He comes back and hops right up to my door and looks at me for a few seconds, perhaps imperceptibly nods his head as a universal sign of "yo, thanks woman".

Well, this weekend, he took it a step further. He started climbing my screen door!

When I first looked over and saw this chipmunk suspended upside down in my door, I jumped out of my chair. And he ran away. It almost looked like he was inside - seriously creepy. Because as much as I like that little guy, I am not about to invite him in for a beer and fish fry. Ew. He probably has syphilis from all his time at the chipmunk strip club.

All weekend he kept getting braver and braver with climbing my screen door. At first, he would just hop up and then back down. Then he started hopping up and actually climbing it a few steps. And then yesterday afternoon, the little dude actually climbed all the way up to the top! I couldn't figure out what the heck he was doing.

But then I realized what he was after - the bag of pistachios is right by the door and he was looking for a way in! He kept coming right up to the screen where the bag was and then he would sniff around for a way to get in. What a smart little guy! I never give animals any credit for having brains because I normally think they're so dumb. I mean, really - they don't even have opposable thumbs, how far could they possibly get.

But of course, now I need to figure out if I will use this knowledge for good or evil. I could continue to throw out nuts for the little guy - OR, I could start taunting him with really, really good food placed just outside his reach. Maybe a steak or banana cream pie placed right inside the screen door..... close enough to smell but juuuuuuuust out of reach. hmmmmmm...... oh the possibilities....

(note: the author of this blog does not technically support animal cruelty. Except when it comes to ferrets. Those things are just stupid.)


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lake Country Half Marathon

I signed up for the Lake Country half-marathon as another stepping stone to the Philly marathon this november. Several of my friends were also signed up so it looked to be yet another awesome race day. The more the merrier when it comes to pre and post race antics! Amy (freezerpop), dave and I all planned on heading up together.

I typically have this thing against car pooling. I'm coming around and I'm not such a hater anymore but it definitely takes some convincing to get me to share a car with anyone pre-race. I just really enjoy my (bad) music rock out sessions in my car - and I'm cognizant enough of my utter lack of skill to know not to inflict that sort of pain on anyone. I once let my guard down during a work trip in Tampa (powered by cuban coffee AND an espresso) and treated my two camera guys to a back seat concert of Celine Dion. I have never - and will never - live that down. (how is it possible to hear celine dion and NOT belt out along with that canadian song bird? Granted - I probably get closer to a canadian song raptorsaurus but hey, we can't all be multi-talented with our own cirque styled show in vegas.)

What was I talking about?

Oh right - so Freezerpop asks to carpool. Immediately I think Heck No! I have some new Justin Beiber songs downloaded just for the ride! But then she mentioned that she had these super delicious cookies from the OutPost for after the race and I immediately agreed. Man I'm easy. Rode up with FreezerPop and we listened to that classic country station on sirius - I ended up belting out "The Race is On" (yea, you know you love this song too)

I put her in charge of navigating us to the race and I asked her to plug in the address to my GPS. She goes - oh wait, watch this! she grabs her phone and tells it the name of the church we're heading to fully expecting it to take us there. What's amazing about this is that she was serious. She truly believes her phone will obey her every command. (what's weird is it totally didn't work -who knew?!?!) Dave and I had a heyday with this later - "Dear phone, will you do math for me? Dear phone, will you please make me breakfast? Dear phone, will you go the bathroom for me?" I don't know that we'll ever be able to stop asking our phones for favors now.

I've been dealing with weird calf thing for the past two weeks so I really haven't been running much at all. In fact, I haven't run for over a week. I've done some pool running but absolutely no impact on the leg. I probably had some minor tearing on the side of my calf a few weeks back but I developed a hematoma over it and it HURT. No fun. But I've been rocking the compression socks and that's been helping out a ton.

In fact, I have an ode to compression socks in the form of a haiku that I'd like to now share.

Oh compression socks
Squeeze my leg and hug it tight
make calf feel all right

I am thinking about forming a fan club for compression socks. I LOVE THEM. Wow. They have made a huge difference for me this week. I'd also like to issue a formal apology to all those I may have mocked for wearing them in the past. (I mean, come on, they still look awfully stupid) I am a convert! Sign me up for the services at the church of compression. I'll put my dollar in the collection basket as long as they keep cranking these bad boys out. (Do they make full body compression sleeves? Interested)

Before the race, there were the ritual potty stops. The first time we stopped, it was still early, still sort of dark out and there wasn't really anyone around. I was waiting impatiently for FreezerPop and I hollered to the porta-a-potty "You done yet?" and she responds "'I'm just wiping!" A guy happens to walk by right at that moment and yells to her "That's good, hygiene is important!"

Basically my warm up consisted of gingerly heading out for a run, crossing my fingers that it wouldn't bother me. And PHEW - all clear. little tiny twinges but nothing compared to how it had felt. And it ended up not bothering me in the race at all. I was very, very relieved. I had been to the doctor on wednesday and she said it was fine to run as long as it wasn't too painful - I was just worried that if it WAS painful, would I be strong enough to fight through it. quite glad I didn't have to cross that bridge.

The other part of my warm-up consisted of realizing i FORGOT MY WATCH!!! Ahhhhhh!!!! Ok, normally, this wouldn't be a big deal to me but I had signed up for this race specifically to test my ability to take it out nice and easy to practice what the philly marathon pace should feel like in november. Gahhhhh.... not as in lady gaga. More like Gaaahhhhhh, idiot! I decided to place myself by the people in the 9:00 group and just see if I could sort of pace myself off others.

As I was waiting for the start, all I could think about was 'could this day have been any more beautiful?' Wow. After a pretty brutal summer of heat and humidity (and skeeters the size of wooly mammoths) this day was such a relief. Definitely chilly but it kind of felt fantastic. The only thing was that after a summer of such intense heat, I had completely forgotten how to dress for cooler temps. I kind of dinked around in the morning with what to wear and couldn't quite figure it out. Complicating the issue was my desire to lessen the nerd look of my one compression sleeve.

So I'm digging around my closet for a tech tee, deciding I don't want long sleeves because I would get too hot. So I pull out this shirt I got at the beijing olympics and have for some reason never worn and think hmmmm... today at the Lake Country Half Marathon, I shall represent Team China! And if anyone asks why I'm wearing it, my answer will be "well, because CLEARLY I'm chinese!"

I start out nice and easy but I'm just going by feel so I really have no idea if my pace is nice and easy or if I'm just feeling nice and easy. I did this same thing at Green Bay where I was feeling fantastic doing 8:11-8:20s until I hit mile 8 and everything sucked donkeyballs. I'm not very good about going by feel yet but I felt like I was probably maintaining a sub9 pace and that was just where I wanted to be.

They were calling out splits at each mile and I finally listened at mile 3. I pretty much am terrible at math so I think it took me until Mile 5 to do the calculation in my head and realize that I was right around an 8:45-8:55 pace for those first 3 miles. I was trying to figure out if I was under 9 minutes so I had to first multiply 3 by 9. I was literally doing that hand trick you do to multiply 9's - where you put up your hands and put down the finger that you're multiplying 9 by and then you have your answer (27) So there I am running along, looking at my hands and trying to figure out which finger goes down. I must have looked awesome. (I mean, really, if I'm representing Team China, you think I would be better at math)

My calf was feeling just fine but at around mile 3, the bottoms of my feet were screaming at me. I think my shoe just doesn't have enough forefront cushioning (so I went and bought new shoes right after the race) This same thing happened to me in Green Bay and my quads ended up hurting like crazy after the race. I don't really know what happens there, the bottoms of my feet really don't bother me in long runs or when I train so not sure why they bothered me today and at GB - oh and at Cudahy Classic too.... hmmm, maybe there's a pattern? I should probably figure it out. Hopefully the new shoes help.

But besides the feet thing, I felt great. Lots of energy, I felt really strong and like I could keep up this pace for awhile. So that was reassuring. At around mile 10, I started trying to increase the pace just a bit. I felt great up until around 11.5 and then I started feeling not so great. Legs were starting to seize up a bit - but it was the quads which annoyed me because that's not normally a place that I have problems with. But my quads apparently REALLY like racing because every time I do it, they just have to jump right in to get a piece of the action. Gah, they're so needy.

So now I'm tantalizingly close to the finish and I look up - ok. whoever decided that a mile long hill at the end of the run would be fun - I spit in the general direction of your face. So MEAN. Ouch! That didn't help the quads out at all.

Came to the finishing chute and was pretty relieved it was over. Had a little left in me to sprint a tiny bit at the end.

Found the donkeys who had all had great races - awesome job guys!!! I walked around a bit and wow, my legs were jiggly-wiggly and threatening to give out on me in a fell swoop should I look at them sideways. Hopefully the added support of the shoes in the front will make the balls of my feet less like a fiery orb of pain which will then make my quads back the f off! sheesh.

I finished in 1:55:08 which is five minutes off my best time of 1:50:14 - but I don't know that I necessarily needed to go faster today. I'll likely go a bit slower in philly and this was a really good test for me to just take it easy. I've totally failed at that lately. And while I'm not thrilled with how beat up my quads felt after the race, I think I'm A-ok with how I ran this race. I just need to get this forefoot/shoe thing figured out before november. I'll have another chance to test things out in october at the Wisconsin dells half marathon. Knowing that I CAN pace myself makes me think that maybe I'll actually 'race' that one.... eh, we'll see. Main goal is still just to get myself to the start line of philly without being (too) injured.

Oh and I probably need to put some Celine Dion on my ipod. But that's a given, right?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Impossible is Nothing

It's this kind of story that reminds me that a moment that might seem "hard" is actually a gift.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cudahy Classic - 10 miles of suffersandwich, with pickles

I signed up for the Cudahy Classic 10 mile race back in early June – back when I still harbored the silly thought that I could continue training while on travelling to 6 different cities and producing 4 different videos for the wild extravaganza my company calls Annual Meeting. Better phrased by the photo department as Annual Beating.

That decision caught up to me right around mile 5. OUCH.

Overall the race was good but wow, fatigue is kind of a bitch.

I arrived to the race around 7:15 where I met up with my good buddy, Freezer Pop, aka, Amy. She handed me by number, which she had been kind enough to pick up for me and as thanks I said, “no pins?”

So that showed me right away what sort of mood I was in. That mood being defined as a crankypants.

I tired to shake it off because really, I lovelovelove racing, races, being at races, watching races, different races of people even. Except the Asians.

Kidding. I like them too. Especially since their DNA creates narrow hips and crazy stage parents – the two essential ingredients to creating a fantastic skater.

So it’s about 15 minutes before the race and FreezerPop and I are making the rounds, finding friends, warming up, being silly in general. We stood under the shade for awhile which turned out to be a terrible idea as apparently the mosquitoes of Cudahy love the shade too.

So we’re standing there and getting bit up all to heck by these monster mosquitoes. They were especially fond of biting my butt – which, hello, first buy me dinner at least.

We make it to the start line, the gun goes off and I get kind of buried into the back of the pack and I see Amy take off way ahead of me. My plan was to keep it nice and easy for the first 5 miles in order to simulate what the philly marathon pace would feel like in a few months.

Well, here’s the problem. I’m kind of competitive. And by ‘kind of’ I mean, ‘super-duper-really competitive to the point of it being a super-duper nuisance which eats my brain and makes me itchy’.

So I see Amy up ahead of me and of course, my first and only instinct is to catch up to her. So I do. Well Amy happens to be a competitive little monster as well (probably why we get along so well) and we end up leap frogging for the next mile and a half. She’d pass me, I’d slow down to try and settle into a comfortable pace, I’d see her ahead of me and get annoyed, and then I’d have to catch up and pass her. She walked one of the water stops and I passed her. Then she caught back up to me. We ran side by side for about 3 minutes when I said to myself “this ends now”. I kicked in a little sprint for about a minute, long enough to lose her and set off on my own. ::snicker hehe:: I know she’d be back there trying to keep up so I just kept pushing until I couldn’t see her behind me anymore.

Since I’ve never done anything like that in a race before I felt like it was kind of a mean tactic but to be honest, it was kind of fun to have ANY sort of tactic in a race. It was strange because I knew that dropping her was best for both of us – she slowed down quite a bit after I sprinted ahead so she likely settled into a more comfortable pace (and she’s training for the philly marathon too). And I just knew that if I kept leap frogging with her, it would mess with my head.

It’s weird how running is SUCH a mental game. I always heard it but I never really “got” it until I started running track sessions at the Pettit Center over the winter with davey and Nicole. Nic and I are around equal when it comes to speed but she has WAY more drive and strength than I do which helps her to run a lot faster over longer distances. And when I try and keep up with her on the long stuff, it just messes with my brain – I freak out thinking “I can’t maintain this!!” and I would end up psyching myself out. Every single time.

The interesting thing is that she says she felt the same way about running with me. Which to me is just crazy because I KNOW she’s faster and stronger than I am so for her to have mentalness when running with me just shows how much your finicky brain plays into it.

So we eventually we decided that we should always start about 15 seconds apart - that way we wouldn’t become complete head cases that they’d have to cart away to “Running Posers-R-Us Mental Institute”.

So back to the Cudahy Classic…. Getting distracted here…..

So I’ve sayonara-d Amy and I’m on my merry little way. At this point, I started feeling pretty good and although I was trying to keep the pace easy, I just settled into what felt good and unfortunately that was closer to an 8:00/mile pace than the 9:00/mile pace I wanted. The course was two laps so as we approached the second lap I started day dreaming about how wonderful it would be to just be done.

Wait – I want to be done? Ohhhh crap. Suffer-fest straight ahead.

Mile 6 I started to pay for that stupid feeling good crap. I started walking the water stations, which I never, ever do. And oh, ya know, taking fairly generous walking breaks – 20… 30…. 40 seconds. Whatever. I just needed to get some water and calm down. I even started taking a full cup of water and dumping it over my head to cool because oh yea, it was HOT out there. Cooler than it’s been but still hot enough to be fairly miserable.

It was VERY hard to not just stop and throw in the towel on this one. I think all of the months of travel and stress kind of came back to bite me in the butt. Much like the mosquitoes. Apparently they were predicting my day. Damn soothsayer mosquitoes.

My time slowed down to 9:00’s for the last 4 miles so I guess I did execute my race strategy – I just did it in reverse! Argh. Finally on the last mile I got some energy and was able to kick it back in for the last half mile. I even had a decent kick at the very end! Although this one girl came FLYING by me at the very last second – and crap, she was in my age group! I finished 9th in my group so not too bad but I definitely should have been a bit smarter about how I ran this.

But hey – this is why I run. For the amazing life lessons ;)

And the life lesson for today – when a mosquito bites your ass, listen.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Maaarrrrrathon

I guess technically it hasn't been that long since Vancouver but wow - it feels like years. Maybe that's because I tried very, very hard to block most of it out of memory. I didn't really realize I'd done that until just recently. That bummed me out a bit. The day after I got back from China, I was at CVS printing copies of my favorite digital photos ( I had, literally, over a thousand pictures from Beijing), I was buying a photo album, I was re-decorating my place with all of China crap, I mean souvenirs.

But the day after I returned from Vancouver - actually, not even a day later, literally 5 hours later, I was on a flight to Minneapolis on my way to a shoot with my 'real' job. I was even supposed to head to Atlanta that night but LUCKILY my flight was delayed and we ended up just flying back to Milwaukee rather than get stuck in Minneapolis. That's the first time I've ever been grateful that air travel can suck.

So it was a little hard to soak in the Olympic experience. Because you don't get a chance to do it while you're there. You tuck your experiences into a little corner in your brain and think "wow, this will be so much fun to look back on". Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the corner I stashed all the good memories in yet. I know I will eventually but ge'ez, I really should have drawn myself a road map to the memories. "Turn left after the time you tap danced at the family reunion and bear right when you see the somersault off the church alter."

In reality though, I've barely thought about Vancouver since being home because I've been totally consumed by two things. Work. And Running.

I had committed to the Green Bay Marathon back in May and so I was running quite a bit in Vancouver trying to get my long runs and speed work in. Do you know what's an absolutely terrible idea? Trying to get long runs in when you're working insane hours with insane levels of stress. Yep. Pretty stupid idea. I ended up coming back pretty beat up - which I realized when I attempted a 14 miler the saturday after getting back. About an hour after I finished my run my IT band pretty much seized up and I was unable to run for almost a month. It stunk.

Now that I've learned to love running, NOT being able to run is just torture.

The whole thing had started with me getting this crazy idea in my head that I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. To do that I would need a time of 3:40 - a pace of 8:20 per mile. Pretty speedy - but I really do think I have it in me to do.... but probably not for another year and by that time I will have moved up an age group and hooray! Then I'll have an extra 5 minutes to qualify! One good thing about that whole 'getting older' thing I guess. Well.... it's still a dream, a bit far off but ....

So the GB marathon was out of the picture - but I still planned to run the half-marathon.

So I race the half in Green Bay and I finish feeling absolutely miserable. I developed this enormous blister on the side of my foot (2 months later and the scar FINALLY went away), I had gone out too fast and I faded BAD by the end. I finished in 1:50:14, 40 seconds faster than I did the year before but I was pretty bummed out by it - I really wanted to finish in 1:48. So even though I still beat my time, I wasn't too thrilled.

This is what I wrote after the race...
Well, the absolute best thing I can say about this run is that I definitely had NOTHING in the tank left at the end. My legs were completely shot as I finished. I was done, done, donezo. Like Gonzo but with the word done because that creates the word donezo, made popular by those pesky trustfunders on Laguna Beach. But popular catch phrase notwithstanding, I'm still pretty disappointed. And I'm mostly disappointed with just how crappy I felt after the run - my legs were cramping and buckling, I felt like any wrong step would cause them to completely seize up. It was really weird. I've never felt like that before and it's really bothering me because it doesn't feel like it's a day/condition/fluke thing - it feels like it's a strength thing. So argh.... I have some work to do. I've been doing my long runs around a 8:45/8:35 pace and that's been feeling relatively easy so there's really no reason I couldn't go 8:15s here.

Mile 1-7 were easy peasy cheesy wheezy. I felt fantastic. And since I normally negative split all of my long runs, I felt like I was gearing up to have a great finish time. I get to mile 7 and the song that always makes me think of my dad pops into my earbuds. It juiced me up and I started picking up the pace gearing up to start gradually kicking it in to the finish - 8:05. Fantastic! But then I just couldn't keep it up through mile 8 and my pace fell back a bit. I get to mile 9, walk in order to pop another gel and just couldn't get going again (because yes, I totally walk the aid stations if I'm drinking or taking something. Seriously - how in the world does anyone drink water while running? I try and it goes like this "::suck air::... ah, crap, no water... ::suck air again:: ... crap, no water... tip cup, SPLASH! coughcoughsputtersputter... aw crap....") So get going again and sigh.... just couldn't pick it up.

When I got to mile 12, I was pretty sure I was going to have to walk the final mile. I looked at Lambeau field as a giant evil demon in the shape of an Australian toilet bowl. And that was perfectly appropriate as I was feeling like - well, play madlibs here and fill in the blank.
(don't ask me why it's australian in shape, I just assume since the water flushes backwards that their toilet bowls are on the quirky side too - quirky like they have yard lines and goal posts..... sure)

I crossed the finish line and must have looked out of it because some guy grabbed my arm and asked me if I was ok. Yes, fine, but can I please borrow someone else's legs?

So super grumpy me is sitting there, feeling bad for myself and watching the marathon finishers coming in thinking "there is no way, NO WAY, I will ever run a marathon - I think I'M miserable right now? Dang, look at THEM!"

Cut to less than 24 hours later, I'm sitting on my couch at 6am looking at the Philadelphia Marathon site and what do I do? Yep. I register. I think it's because I know it's a challenge I want to take on and really, what better time is there to do it than right now? I have a job that (usually) gives me the time to train. I am in the best shape of my life - with room for a LOT of improvement. And if I want to keep that little "qualify for Boston" dream alive, well, then I should probably do a marathon and see if I even like running them!

Luckily I conned one of my friends, Amy, into doing it with me so at least I won't be suffering alone! Because I know it's going to suck. But I also know I'm going to be a stronger person for doing it. The training, the dedication, the race itself - maybe I just really like the idea of "stacey the marathoner" but hey - if I really like the idea, then why not make it a reality?

The race is the weekend before Thanksgiving which I'll be spending in Jersey with my mom and Steven. I've already dubbed that week "Gobble, Gobble, Hobble, Hobble".

So since marathon training will likely be a lot like Vancouver in that it's sometimes just not all that fun, I think I'll need to blog the good stuff. This way I'll have that road map to my memory corner.... I think I'm going to need them when I'm in the pain cave!

(pain cave is totally one of my new runner-person phrases that I throw around unabashedly in my head - but never out loud.... maybe AFTER the marathon I'll use all of my cool runner-person phrases out loud.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Oh, Canada....

The flame is out. The Games are over.

And Canada is really, really loud right now.

There have been horns honking non-stop since the end of the USA-Canada hockey game. I can hear whistling, bullhorns, cheering, whooping and hollering - and about every 15 minutes, there’s a chorus of “Oh Canada”.

Man, Vancouver is gonna be a mess tomorrow morning. And by mess, I mean, there will be a few beer cans left on the street by careless Americans and sloppy Russians, because even in their drunken revelry, I’m sure these very polite Canadians are still picking up after themselves.

It was a phenomenal games. But wow. What a roller coaster. I spent as many moments with happy tears in my eyes as I did with tears of sadness and grief. I still can’t watch a video of Joannie Rochette without a heavy heart and a lump in my throat.

I’m completely spent.

Was it easy? No. Was it fun? No.

Was it worth it? Yes, absolutely.

The USA-Canada game today was a nail biter – but it ended the way it should. I’m an Olympic fanatic and before today, I couldn’t name a single player on the USA men’s hockey team. I guarantee that every Canadian knows their teams starting line-up by heart – and they might even know what size boxers they wear. They’re that intimately familiar with their team.

On the broadcast they mentioned that something like 4 million people tuned in just to hear the announcement of the team. Keep in mind Canada only has a population of 4 million and two. The two that missed it were ice fishing and forgot what time it was.

This was Canada’s game. It’s right that they won.

America would have celebrated for about ten minutes and then moved onto something else. Canada will cherish that game forever. After the game ended, people were hugging each other all over the IBC, the hollering and cheering went on forever and when “Oh, Canada” was played, you could hear people singing all throughout the cavernous IBC.

Everyone in the research and dot com room was standing and applauding Canada’s win. And, what has become completely standard for me in this Olympic games, I got a little teary eyed.

Of course I did. Because I would cry at an exceptional Canadian bagel right now.

I think I’ve enjoyed the Canadian moments as much as the American ones in Vancouver. There’s such an ecstatic, joyful vibe when Canada does anything that you can’t help but get swept along with it.

I love the way they celebrate their wins, their country and each other.

One of my favorite Olympic commercials has been a commercial for a nutritional sponsor of Canadian skiers. The narrator talks about their food products and how they’re powering its athletes to gold - at the end he says, “We’ll take some credit – but not too much. After all, we are Canadian.”

I love it.

I just love it.

At the start of the games, Canada’s “Own the Podium” program looked like a huge mistake - every time I heard journalists talk about it or saw anything with that saying on it, I kind of cringed. It seemed like a program destined to fail. When you say you want your athletes to "own the podium", you basically set up that anything less than gold is a failure.

How incredibly unfair to the athletes.

The first couple of days were pretty dismal for Canada, there were one or two high points but mostly, disappointments. (and on top of that, the massive gaffes)

The worst disappointment being the loss of the hockey team to the US. I think that was the one and only night that I went to sleep without hearing the rowdy crowds on the streets below.

That loss just sucked the air out of the Games for Canada.

But the tide changed when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dance gold. They became the first North American team to win the ice dancing gold medal and I believe the youngest team ever to win. And they’re just so dang Canadian! You look at them and you love them. So wholesome! So adorable! So funny! So sweet!

Seriously – very Canadian.

When Scott Moir was belting out “Oh, Canada” on the podium, the entire country sang along. And that moment was a turning point for this Olympics for Canada. I don’t know if it’s because the Canadian fans suddenly saw, ‘hey, our athletes CAN do this’ or if it was more logical and maybe Canada’s best events were yet to come – but ahh… there was Olympic magic in the air after that night.

Sidebar – it must be noted that Sweden has the best knit hats ever.

This morning, CTV (Canada’s version of NBC but with a way faker fake fireplace) had Donald Sutherland on as a guest and it was bizarre to hear that legendary voice chat causally about curling. He compared it to chess.

That’s so odd – I compare it to beer pong. Ways Donald Sutherland and I are different, I guess.

Anyway, they were trying to get Donald, or Donny as I call him, to make a prediction on the USA-Canada hockey team and Donny kept demurring, finally saying only “may the best team win and if the other team is best, I hope they lose”.

Ahhhh, Canadians.

You’re just too adorable for words.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Things I've learned about Canada

I'm really quite fond of Canada. I like the people, I like the scenery, I like the polite buses. I could live here easily - it reminds me of Seattle but with more Canadians...

Things I've learned about Canada

- The people are always very sorry. They will apologize for just about anything. Even if you step on their foot, they will immediately tell you they're sorry about that. Even their buses apologize - when a bus is out of service, a sign flashes "Out of Service. Sorry"

- Canadians are very obedient. They will never ever cross against the light. Ever. Even at 7am in the morning when there are no cars on the street. If they have the do not walk sign, you bet your Sorels they won't.

- Only Canadians can make red and black plaid look really, really awesome.

- Canadians are better at displaying their pride then we are. Every single person on the streets of Vancouver has at least SOMEthing that says "Canada" on it. If the Olympics were held in Chicago, I don't think you would see that. Americans are weird about displaying their pride - it's either an obnoxious full out pride (coughredneckcough) or it's a discrete, almost embarrassed pride. I was proud of my family that they seemed to find a perfect level of national pride when they were here - proudly wearing flags, but also embracing Canada and every other country they encountered... especially Ireland... or the Irish pubs anyway....

- The Canadian sense of humor is pretty awesome. Even Donald Sutherland is hilarious.

- It's really, really gorgeous here - and so much scenic variety. The ocean, the bay, the mountains, the green, it's beautiful.

- They've completely lived up to their billing of being the friendliest country. And it's not a fake, forced friendly - it's a genuine, want-to-help-you friendly. The volunteers all wear these bright blue jackets - and kind of look like overgrown Smurfs - but you know when you see a blue jacket, that you're probably going to see a smile.

One of the best things about walking home at night is listening to the crowds yelling "Go Canada!" and the random outbursts of "Oh Canada". And it doesn't JUST happen after games - it happens all the time, every night. I've been getting home at anytime from 10pm-2am and at every hour of the night, you hear the people whooping and hollering. It's constant.

I've taken to opening my window at night as I unwind just so I can listen to the people own below. It's fun. It's easy to get swept up into the Canadian pride.

One of the other things that's been happening is random street hockey games breaking out with the kids. You'll be walking down the street and all of a sudden there's all these kids with sticks and a ball playing in the middle of the street or on the sidewalk and everyone just stops to watch, cheering the kids on. It's awesome. Even the news is constantly reporting on it - the traffic helicopters will zoom in on games instead of traffic.

This place has definitely embraced the games whole-heartedly.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

punch-in-the-gut

When people ask me what I'm going to remember most about the Vancouver Olympics, I think my answer is going to be the daily punch-in-the-gut feeling. There have been so many odd/strange/sad things happening throughout these games.

Two days ago, Netherlands speed skater Sven Kramer won the 10,000m event by 4 seconds, setting a new Olympic record in the process. But he was DQ'd immediately following the finish. Why? Because his coach made a mistake and told him to change lanes one lap too early.

Sven Kramer is widely regarded as the best distance speed skater the world has right now - and speed skating is Netherlands equvilant to the NFL in the states. It's that big over there. This incident is a national disaster.

There was an isolated camera on Kramer's coach throughout the event and they put the footage up at nbcolympics.com - it's 6 minutes of devastation. You have to watch it to believe it. You can see him calling out to Sven to change lanes and then moments later, he realizes his mistake. He continues to encourage Sven to skate hard and finish (Sven had no idea what had happened) but while Sven is on the other side of the rink, the coach is wiping away tears... just unreal

Sven Kramer's coach video

Yesterday, the South Korean short track speed skating relay team was DQ'd for an illegal push which meant China won the gold. During the chinese team celebration, one of the skaters jumped up on the padded boards and kicked her teammate in the face! Her teammate had a giant gash in her cheek and there was blood everywhere.

Unreal.

Russia has just gotten trounced at this Olympics - in everything! They used to absolutely dominate skating. This is the first olympics since - 1960 I think? - that they haven't won a gold medal in skating. For a nation with as much old school pride as those people have, Vancouver is going to be a terrible memory. People are already calling for the minister of sports head.

Wonder if they're re-enact that old "ship 'em to Siberia" thing they used to do...

Watching them lose so spectacularly to Canada in hockey yesterday was just stunning. We were all thrilled for Canada but there was this uneasy vibe in the air. It definitely didn't have that miracle on ice feeling to it - it was dark and kind of sad to see this former powerhouse just play so bad. A NBC commentator actually said - on the air - that they brought their "euro-trash game"

Ouch.

(he, mysteriously, was missing when they came back from commercial... hmmm, wonder why? We speculated that he was in the commentator penalty box)

We were watching bobsleigh yesterday and, as has been the case with every sliding event at this games, there were a lot of crashes. At one point I asked how in the world they stay in the sled when they crash and sure enough, two runs later, a German girl came out of the sled and went flying down the course spread eagled. Scary.

When you come to the games, you just want everyone to do their best - they work so hard for this moment. But Vancouver has been filled with so many odd mistakes and gaffes and - well, a lot of bonking.

It's a bummer..... to put it lightly.

The ladies final gets underway tonight. I'll be holding my breath that the crazy errors and mistakes that have affected the entire Olympics don't creep into that event. The short program was some good stuff - crossing my fingers that trend continues for the free skate.

My prediction?
Gold - Kim Yu-Na (this girl needs to win. She's the most amazing thing to happen to skating since Michelle Kwan)
Silver - Joannie Rochette (oh god please let Joannie skate her best....)
Bronze - Mao Asada (I predict two falls but still a podium finish)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

with glowing hearts

With glowing hearts.

Everywhere you look in Vancouver, there is that sign. “With glowing hearts. Des plus brilliant exploits”. It's the Olympic motto for 2010.

When Joannie Rochette took the ice tonight, the motto Vancouver built their Olympics on was on full display.

I will forever be amazed at the strength Joannie showed. To skate at the Olympics, in your home country with all of the pressure of expectations and just two days after unexpectedly losing your mom – can anyone come to terms with how difficult that is?

She skated a clean, absolutely beautiful short program – and something the press is skirting out of respect for Joannie is the fact that she’s not known as a consistent skater. And she’s had a really rocky season. For her to come out and lay down a clean skate at the Olympics is incredible in and of itself. To do it under these circumstances? Miraculous.

I don’t normally say stuff like this but it was pretty clear she was getting some help from another place.

She was so focused and so in the moment during her skate – so controlled, so steady. But then at the end, with that massive about of emotion being released, it was evident what a heavy heart she was skating with. It was so devastating to watch.

Immediately following the event I built up a narrative slideshow to walk viewers through her program – I had a hard enough time watching the performance, writing the text and relieving the performance was very difficult.

The strength of character she showed will always inspire me. Just to take the ice in the first place had to feel like laying her soul out on the line.

I don’t know how she did it.

But I’m sure her mom would have an answer for that …

With glowing hearts.