Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why do you run?

Late last night, when I was supposed to be on my way to bed, I saw a friend had posted a youtube video on Facebook (link is at bottom of post)  This video was poor quality but the message was rich.  I awoke this morning, thinking of it again.  And it inspired me to write about it.

I'm sure many of you who participate in triathlon, running or some other crazy endurance sport have been asked the question "why?".  Why do you get up before it is light in the dead of winter to pedal away on a trainer that takes you nowhere?  Why do you decide to spend hours in a pool every week, swimming back and forth as you stare at the unchanging line at the bottom? Why do you choose to run out on the streets, fending your way through traffic and pain of climbing hills and challenging terrain, to end up in the same place you started? Why do you give up your relaxing weekends to throw yourself into a race where the first leg is bound to give you a kick in the head (literally), and the rest is most certainly a promise of pain in one form or another? 

I know I have been asked before, why I race; why I train.  My answer is usually a simple "because it's a challenge that I like to overcome again and again.  It never gets old".  But upon deeper dissection, this is what I came up with:

Running gives me freedom, cycling gives me strength and swimming gives me humility.

I can put on my running shoes anywhere and take myself on an adventure that costs nothing but sweat and time.  No one has their thumb on me when I'm running.  I'm like a little girl with ribbons undone and I can't help but smile.  It is a gift.  I think the more appropriate question is "why wouldn't I run?"

Cycling.  It is the next best thing to skydiving.  If I had to boil it down to one thing, I'd have to say, my favorite part is the speed.  The best part of a ride is always the descent coupled with the effort it took to get to the top of the hill.  Flying down a hill, hearing nothing but the wind in my ears is something I will never get tired of. I feel like a dog with my head out the window of a car.  It is my reward.  The experience of riding in a pack of people, the buzz of combined energy and effort all moving in the same direction is a close second.  Directed chaos.

Swimming is a soothing yet frustrating experience.  There are days when the pool spits me out like a sour grape, leaving me shriveled and defeated.  And there are days when I have a glimpse of something greater, a better swimmer inside myself, struggling to get out.  So, I continue to immerse myself in that chlorinated bath, week after week, in the hopes that I'll have less bad days and more good.  And when I stand at the shore , waiting for the gun to go off, I feel confident that although I'm not the fastest swimmer (far from it), I am far from the weakest.  I am six feet tall, and 200lbs, in that water and I can hold my own.

Although it takes help from my coach to know what to do, understanding from my children that my time is divided as well as the willingness of friends/training partners to lend an ear to talk over a bad race or training day...ultimately, it is me, and me alone who delivers myself safely to that finish line.  And that is why I do it.  The opportunity to prove to myself, over and over again that I am strong, independent and gutsy.  Not to mention, to prove to the people who at one time or another, who have told me "you can't".  Watch me.

Watch this video, think about it and ask yourself "why?" and maybe for some of you, you need to ask yourself "why not"?  Find the reason why, white knuckle it and enjoy the ride.  I promise, you won't regret it.  Empower yourself.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Another quarter flew by and the boys and I are now officially on Spring break.  My life has felt like a grand parade on fast foward, these past few months. In the middle of the mach 10 parade, I took a jaunt over to New Jersey for Timex camp.  I know this post is a little delayed, considering camp was in mid-February but gimme a break.  I moved on February 1st (I do not recommend this to any single mothers in the middle of a quarter with nightclass on top of it-UGH).  I think there is an entire collection of items (including the propane tank for my grill?) that are lost.  I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere along the 9 blocks between the old house and the new house, these things fell out the back of my Subaru and are clustered on the side of the road, like kids waiting at a bus stop.  If you find a propane tank (and it's in good shape) it's mine :)

So, Timex camp.  I had a perma-grin lacquered across my face, the entire weekend.  It was held at the New York Giants Training Facility in NJ and the whole weekend was a jaw dropping, delightful experience.

I felt like the lady on a game show who wins but is completely oblivious that her boobs are flying everywhere while she jumps up and down, screaming and cheering for herself.  Ya, that was me, all weekend long (sans the boobs).  Below is a picture of our entire team.  I'm up front with the perma-grin.  Told you.  I sat there, waiting for the shutter to click before someone said "who's the girl in the front? can we get the groupie out of the shot?".  To be amongst these athletes, and to call them my team mates is such an honor.  I feel like I accidentally wandered into a board meeting at a gazillion dollar corporation and they slid a big ol' leather chair under my ass, handed me a name plate (with my name spelled correctly on it) and a gold pen worth more than my car. YA!!
The weekend was action packed...filled with the making our own "commercials" (to be aired sometime soon on youtube), meeting some of the Giants Players, "playing" football in the Giants indoor stadium (I didn't catch one ball but was knocked to the ground, in a chest-bump-gone-wrong), taking on Medieval Times as an entire team as well as hitting the streets of NY city together.  Oh, and I had to include the below photo of my locker with my name above it, in the Giants Locker room.  It's blurry not because of my Blackberry camera but because I was shaking, I was so excited.  That backpack had my name tag on it as well and was filled to the brim with a plethora of beautiful red, black and white TIMEX gear.  Mine is in the middle.

 But by far, the most exciting moment of the whole weekend, was the surprise arrival and distribution of the Timex Global Trainer (GPS) to each member of the team.  Since I have returned from camp, it has accompanied me on every run.  I'm in love.  How did I ever get along without this magical watch??  I've been able to tweak my training to now incorporate pace along with heart rate on the run which has been incredibly helpful, especially considering I'm coming off of an injury and my training zones are still a little wacky (wacky sounds better than slow).  The more information I have, the better.  And this baby has every bit of information a girl could ask for.  And it's extremely accurate! Not to mention, being the technically inept girl I am, it's very easy for even me, to operate.

Below is rare documentation of our team being very still.  I am at the bottom of the "I", notice I'm the only one who had to put my arms above my head to count for a whole "normal sized" person.

Timex also provided us with Vo2 max testing while at camp.  For those of you who haven't had this done on a treadmill, it's a treat :/  You want to allow yourself to get to that point that you just can't go anymore (I believe it's called "failure"), while on a treadmill without killing yourself--flying off the back.  Thankfully, someone (Keith?) shot this photo of me before I got to that point.

I was also recently notified that I made it onto PowerBar Team Elite.  This is extremely exciting, considering I have been a die-hard PowerBar consumer since I got into this crazy sport. I've been jumping up and down outside their window for years now.  I'm thrilled that they finally let me in!

As far as school, another quarter is in the books, as they say.  It went well, although it was hectic.  I'm moving forward, keeping my eye on the prize--the one that seems so far away, I'm squinting to see it.  At times, I feel so guilty as a mother; not being able to give to the boys the daily, undivided attention I once offered.  But they are so encouraging and understanding.  My little men.  I don't know who's holding who's hand, and from day to day, I think it changes. But I love the feeling of those little sweaty fingers intertwined with mine and I'm so grateful for their belief in me. 

Here's to all your Spring goals, whatever they may be.  Summer is upon us.  Get'er done!