Wednesday, October 27, 2010


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.



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.....