Monday, December 29, 2008

Bread From the Sky

I woke up this morning to more snowfall and laughed out loud. It's beautiful and I do love it, I just can't believe it keeps on falling. I resigned to the fact that I'd be running on the treadmill this morning since it had rained the night before and it was probably pretty icy. But then I went out to get a coffee and drove by this guy running in the snow, falling all over the place and squinting because he could barely see. I said to myself "now that looks like fun" or maybe it was a little "if HE can do that then so can I!" So I bagged the treadmill and got suited up to run out in the snow. Here's how the hill looked when I started my run.

As I started to run, I realized that this was going to be a doozy. The snow was really falling and the snowflakes were huge! The only thing I can liken the snowflakes to is crusts of bread. But it was breathtaking. I ended up pulling my beanie over my eyes a bit just to keep the snowflakes from finding their way to my eyeballs. The downside to this plan wasn't only that I couldn't see but I looked like a total idiot. However, it was effective.

So I ended up running for an hour. The temperature was actually quite nice-right around 30 and there weren't too many cars out. It was interesting at times, trying to find my footing with all of the frozen ice under the snow but it was a fun challenge and WAY better than the treadmill.

Here's my feet as I stood on the porch after my run. My ankles were a little cold. Notice the chunks of snow tucked in between my shoes and pants.

I ended the day with a club trainer ride at the Thompson's house with friends and soup. Good stuff.

I am grateful for good friends and the peace that running brings. Who wants to run tomorrow?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Shoes That Will Take Me Anywhere

It hasn't stopped snowing for days. Seriously. I've been getting the running done on the treadmill but I'm tired of staring at that little piece of spackle on the wall all the while trying to stay motivated. I love running but I hate the treadmill. So today, I ventured out into Narnia dodging clueless drivers and snowplows. When is it that it'll occur to the motorists out there that I'm not waving at them to be friendly, I'm waving so they will see me and maybe, just maybe move over a bit. One man made sure to wave back excitedly, all the while leaning on the wheel and actually steering towards me! I think he got close enough to see the terrified look on my face.

I ran through a neighborhood where the snow was so deep it was hard to get a forward motion going.......I came upon two cross country skiers and made sure my pace was faster than theirs-it was a close match but I was pleased to finally pass them and kick a little snow their was then that I realized they were elderly.

I'm not sure if this can be considered a workout. And at times, the dance I was doing out there couldn't quite be considered running but it felt good. I "ran" for an hour which was what I wanted to do.

I'm grateful for a beautiful place to run, the ability to do so and these shoes that will take me anywhere, even if at a granny pace.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve, the boys are out sledding, I've got the turkey in the oven, presents are wrapped and laundry completely done. And I've already been on facebook three times today. Sans pictures, I thought I'd do a little post.

I've been considering changing the name of my blog since there will be so much more than triathlon to report on this year! I'm open to suggestions....

Since my disastrous 19 miler, I've been building up the running frequency to prepare for the track season which starts on January 5th. I am giddy with excitement for what is around the bend. I know my life will be changing drastically but I feel like a kid the night before Christmas. I get to go to college and learn. I get to run track and be coached.....and see what I'm really made of. I get to show the boys that an education is a gift to be treasured.

We've been rolling through the holidays at full speed and time seems to be flying by so fast I haven't had time to stop and think. I sold my fancy Volvo and bought a used Subaru. It's funny, it was such an economical step down but it felt like a step up to me. I am 35 years old and this is the first time in my life I have bought a car for myself. I love it!! I sat in the Subaru dealership in Post Falls, Idaho eating a snickers bar from the vending machine for dinner awaiting paperwork to sign. I felt an incredible sense of peace and happiness. There are moments I could cry. These waves of panic rush over me and I have to stop and focus on breathing. I have never experienced such a mixture of fear and excitement in my life....I guess jumping out of an airplane comes pretty close. There are such parallels to skydiving and the adventure that lies ahead for me. Sometimes in life, you don't know exactly how things are going to look or feel when they're flying by you at 120 miles an hour. But you must stay calm, weigh your options and make quick decisions because LIFE is not going to slow down for you. It is a huge leap of faith, one that I am willing to take and anxious to conquer. Honestly, I am at times terrified but continually find peace in the belief in myself and drive to see just what I'm capable of. It's a fun little game, I must admit.....this game of Life.

I am grateful for my boys, their unconditional love and ability to roll with the punches. I am grateful for the love of my family & friends who are always willing to remind me of their belief in me. And I am grateful for those of you who above everything else, can laugh with me and make me laugh. Life is so incredibly entertaining and humor is one of those things I hope I never lose sight of. Thank you. I promise to make it entertaining for all of you on the sidelines, God knows we all need something to laugh at....

Merry Christmas!! Hang tight, I can't wait to share what's next!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Elvis, 19 miles and some friendly EMT's....Viva Las Vegas!

I’ll begin with this: My intention for running a marathon was to experience running the distance before I did my first Ironman. In addition to that, my recent diagnosis of lupus encouraged me to temporarily simplify my training in an effort to get healthy yet still have a goal to work towards.

Being in the midst of many life changes and the stress of my current situation, it just wasn’t possible or realistic to get in the running volume I would have liked to. I accepted this knowing that I couldn’t expect my marathon result to be ideal nor did I deserve this. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who put in the hours of training a marathon requires and execute a well thought out plan. I went into the marathon hoping for a decent result but knowing deep down inside, I didn’t do “the time” and therefore shouldn’t expect anything.

Laura and I arrived in Vegas early on Saturday afternoon. I have to say, I am not a fan of Vegas. Everything it represents is a striking opposition of what I seek out and enjoy. We found our hotel was so huge it was actually difficult to find our way outside for a pre-race run….and even when we found our way outside-where were we to run? Stoplight to stoplight? In addition to that, I found it to be incredibly excessive. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy nice things such as clean sheets of good quality, fresh food with good presentation, quality customer service, the convenience of internet connection…..I have a great appreciation for nice hotels. But I also enjoy being connected with the outside, smelling fresh air and exploring what a destination has to offer. What was so disturbing about Vegas is how much money is put into building these enormous structures as if to keep people in, locked up. And then to see the casinos filled with people parked behind slot machines staring at a screen, clicking a button, either not aware or not bothered by the fact they can’t even see through a window to the outside. I understand that different people find enjoyment in different activities, Las Vegas is a place that has little to offer me and incidentally, I have nothing to offer Vegas. I'm happy to report we enjoyed ourselves anyway.

We went to the pre-race pasta dinner expecting to see a small performance by some Cirque Du Soleil performers along with an Elvis Karaoke competition. To our dismay, the Cirque Du Soleil “performers” were standing around while we were in line to get our spaghetti but then left soon after. Laura and I got a good laugh at our stupidity and the entertainment we provided each other was worth the $35 a piece we paid for our spaghetti dinner. We turned in early after taking these pictures in front of the marathon sign. There were some girls taking pictures of each other in front of the sign so we asked if they’d take our picture. I’m not sure what I’m doing to the sign but I’m fully aware that I look like I’m humping it like a cocker spaniel.

This second shot is a keeper. After taking the “humping photo” I said to Laura (as the girls are standing there, my blackberry in hand, waiting for the next shot) “get under the sign”. She looked at me peculiarly and as I was getting situated on the floor under the sign, she was on all fours crawling underneath the sign. She was confused as to why I thought it’d be a good photo op but she generally follows my lead on these things-this was no exception. My face looks like it’s going to pop in this picture because she realized what I meant after she was "under" the sign and followed suit. I’m laughing so hard I can’t breath. Notice my eyes aren’t even open-my cheeks are taking them over.

We turned in early and woke up at 4:30am for a 6am marathon start. We made our way through the enormous hotel, following the heard of marathoners with sporadic Elvis look-a-likes scattered about. We found our way to the start line and were pleased that it was a nice morning, perfect running weather. The high for the day was going to be in the 60’s and it was in the high 40’s at the start. We wore disposable gloves that we could toss as it warmed up.

In the weeks before the marathon, I talked to a lot of people who have run marathons, trying to get a feel for how to run the darn thing. I have run enough half marathons in half irons and road races that I know within 1 or 2 beats, where my heartrate should be. But I lacked confidence in the full, both due to my lack of training as well as lack of experience. The consensus was, DON’T START TOO FAST! So I came up with a plan. I would keep my heart rate over 10 beats below my half marathon starting heartrate and re-evaluate at the halfway mark. Laura is an experienced marathoner but the rule is, when we go to races, we run our own race and if we end up together, that’s great. If not, see you at the finish.

From the time the gun went off, my body hurt. CRAP! When I started running I was reminded how that this was going to hurt. I hoped that once I ran a few miles, I’d get warmed up and feel a little more comfortable. I never felt “good” but I kept my heart rate consistently between 151-152 the entire first half. I ended up running it about 1:15 slower per mile than my half marathon pace so I felt that I was being very conservative, focusing more on heart rate than pace. As I passed through the halfway mark I remember thinking to myself “I’m half way done and I feel like I should be finishing”. I plugged along and started feeling a bit sick, getting hot and then feeling dizzy and nauseated. I took water in at every aid station and sipped on my water/gel mix but didn’t feel like I was absorbing anything… it wasn’t going anywhere.

By mile 15 I started to realize that things weren’t looking so good and my heart rate started to drop so I began walking through the aid stations and finally after mile 17, I succumbed to just straight walking. I have never walked in any race-not even through an aid station. I walked past an ambulance late in mile 17 and thought about stopping but it all seemed so dramatic so I plugged on hoping a walk would turn things around. It was somewhere between mile 18 & 19 that I began to get really cold and started staggering a bit (well this is awkward). I had these visions of dropping on the side-streets of Vegas and that didn’t sound so appealing. By the time I made it over to a police officer I was really shaking and felt very dizzy. He got me in his car and cranked up the heat and called the ambulance. So much for no drama. I asked him to tell them not to put the sirens on, this is humiliating enough. I have never DNF’d and to have sirens and an ambulance for running just shy of 19 miles in mild weather was more than I could handle. Once the ambulance got there and got me in the back, they couldn’t get a pulse on me because my body was shaking so severely. I told them to look at my watch-Timex gets it all! It was cool outside, in the 50’s but I consider that perfect running weather. They said I was white as a sheet and having difficulty regulating my body temperature and that I needed medical attention that they could not provide for me. This is where I drew the line. I knew if I could just get in a hot bath and down about 5 ibuprofen, I’d come around. My hands were so puffy and red, they couldn’t see my veins, it was the weirdest experience. They covered me in some wonderful hot packs and while we waited for my shuttle they made me sign a sheet that told me how I refused medical treatment, against their recommendation which could result in injury, death, blah blah blah. Standard cover-their-butt sheet. Which I understand. They were very nice and took good care of me. I just wanted to get back to my hotel room and get warm. Unless they were transporting me to the hospital, they couldn’t transport me anywhere. So we waited for my shuttle. If you could have seen this HUGE shuttle pull up….you would have laughed. I did. I had to walk around, covered in my heat packs and ambulance sheets as all of the runners passed by. As I sat there waiting to take off, just me and the driver, I watched all of the people go by. All of these people who worked so hard to get to this day and were executing their plan. Some running, some walking.....but they were doing it. I did not deserve to be classified with them-no matter how slow they were going. This was humbling. I was giving up for the first time in a race but there was just no possible way for me to walk 7 more miles being as cold and unsteady as I was and I just couldn’t get my body to run. I applaud each and every one of those people who crossed the finish line at the Vegas marathon. I am sad I wasn’t one of them and at this point, I’ve written off the marathon until I get more clarity on what went wrong.

Props to Laura for running a 3:44 on the uninspiring Vegas course. She really wanted to break 3:30 but still trudged on through the second half not feeling as good as she would have liked.

I had an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday and after going over all the details, the consensus was that the prednisone (to treat my lupus symptoms) I was on the two weeks before the marathon was the biggest culprit. The medication caused me to retain a ton of water and put my system way out of balance. I had a good 4 pounds of water weight on me which seemed to inhibit my ability to absorb fluids and calories and also caused me to have difficulty regulating my body temperature. I added that I'm sure it didn't help that I didn't put in the training necessary to run a marathon. He called it "the perfect storm". I think it was a disastrous storm..."perfect" doesn't belong.

Thanks to Laura for the sympathy and fun, I enjoyed her company and we managed to laugh a lot which makes everything better. Thanks also to all of you who texted, called and offered advice and support for me on my first marathon. I just wish I could have reported better results.

Now, it's on to getting myself ready for the track season. I'm going back to school at SCC and am running on the track team! It's okay, laugh out loud....I did. It's hilarious that I'll be running alongside girls I could have given birth to but I figure opportunities like this don't come along very often. I have never been coached as a runner and am excited to see what the coaches can do with an old lady like me. I have decided to bag Ironman this year. In addition to that, I am going to focus on getting settled as a single mom, student and employee. My plan is to just race locally in sprints and olympics while doing as many road races as I can. This is a huge relief of stress for me although this will be my first year in triathlon that I haven't raced nationally. I will miss racing the big ones like Oceanside, Wildflower, Honu and name a few. But it is clear to me that this is the best thing for my health and my boys. And I'm particularly excited about running track for SCC. For now, I'm going to enjoy the journey. Life is messy but I'm incredibly excited to see how this all unfolds.

Today I am grateful for the opportunities that seem to be placed in my lap like I ordered them. Right now, my life feels like a great big treasure hunt. Just when I think I'm totally lost and doomed, I turn around to see a great big treasure waiting just for me. Sometimes you just have to have faith in the journey.....and I am most grateful for this crazy journey called life.