You are too kind

Thank you all for your kind words on Monday’s post.  It was just something that I needed to get out there, maybe more for myself than for anyone else.  Either way, it felt good to have it said and now I’m back to thinking I’m awesome.

Well, actually right now, I’m sick.  AGAIN.  I know a lot of people get sick right after a big race, but I seem to be getting sick around a week after a big race.  Does that make sense?  Either way, I actually sucked it up and went to the doctor and basically, I have a viral sore throat.  No strep, so no need for antibiotics.  I’m just supposed to rest, drink lots of fluids, and take Advil.  I’m actually okay with this, but I’m ready to get back on the training wagon.  Apparently, a ten mile run doesn’t qualify as rest though.

I’m going a bit stir crazy, to be honest.  I’ve been teleworking so as to not spread this illness to my coworkers, and I’m completely disappointed to be missing Take Your Children to Work Day.  Kids love me.  We’re on the same wavelength.  But while we like to send kids home with souvenirs, perhaps a virus isn’t the best souvenir to share.

Anyone have any great sore throat remedies?  Someone suggested Jack Daniels and honey.  That sounds pretty strong, but I might try it just the same.  It might be delicious, after all!

A brain dump about pace and time and inferiority

I’ve been playing around with this post for nearly a week now, not exactly sure what I’m writing or where it’s going.  So I’m just going to do a brain dump and leave it at that.

I’ve had a pretty good trend with my running as of late.  I’ve had some major improvements and some amazing races.  Last weekend, I had a blast running with Betsy during the Cherry Blossom Almost Ten Miler and we kept up a really solid pace.

But emotionally, my slow pace is just getting to me.  I’ve gotten so much faster over the past few months thanks to a coach who is pushing me just the right amount, but the harder I work, the more I notice that I’m still one of the slow ones, and it bothers me.  It doesn’t make me want to quit, but it’s not been good for my motivation either.

This is tough to put out there because I am such a big fan of the slower runners and the slower triathletes.  I have friends who are faster than me and I have friends who are slower than me, and I couldn’t care less about their finish times.  I’m so proud of everyone who gets out there.  Your finish time doesn’t matter.  It shouldn’t matter.  And yet suddenly, I’m finding that my finish times do matter to me.

I’m not sure what it is.  I am a proud Galloway runner.  I run/walk.  And yet so many times, I hear “Come on, stop walking!”  Or “With time, you’ll end up running longer and longer intervals and won’t need to walk anymore.”  As if there’s something wrong with my run/walk.  It’s gotten a lot of people out there, and honestly, I wouldn’t be able to run if I weren’t running intervals.

I was chatting with someone from a local triathlon group at the Cherry Blossom expo, and I asked about the time limit.  “Oh, you’ll be fine.  No one ever gets cut, and if they do, they deserved it.”  As I chatted with this guy more, I realized how down he was on the slower triathletes.  Another woman walked up to chat with us and commented that she was an Athena, and felt the need to say “I’m faster than I look.”  As if there’s something wrong with being a larger woman in triathlon.  (Note, this woman was not what I would call large.  She was tall with broad shoulders that made her look like a scary good swimmer though.)

As I was dumping this all on my coach, she made a good point.  I do have a physical limitation that will always keep me slower, and it’s tough because that limitation is invisible.  I always downplay my heart rate issues, because they’re not that big of a deal in the whole scheme of things.  I can still do everything I want to do, just maybe not at the level I want to.  In short, my heart rate likes to skyrocket when I workout.  If I push too hard during that one minute run interval, my heart rate easily reaches over 185.  I do my best to keep it under 185, and have my Garmin set to alert me when it hits that point.  I usually try to keep my heart rate in the upper 170’s.

(Note that the common equation for recommended heart rate during exercise puts me at under 160.  So this is still a higher heart rate than many people are working at.)

The problem is that when my (or your) heart rate gets too high, your heart isn’t pumping efficiently.  I’m not an expert in biology by any means, but from what I understand, the chambers don’t have time to fill completely.  Ultimately, this just means that my body won’t be able to keep up the pace I’ve set and I will naturally slow down.  But if I push this limit too much, I feel awful after my run.  It can’t be good for me.  Before I was diagnosed, I caught a stomach bug and just couldn’t bounce back.  I was exhausted all the time and really not in a good place physically.  I think it was all related to completely running down my body.  I never want to be in that position again.

But just writing this out makes it feel like an excuse.  Like I have to explain why I’m so slow.  It shouldn’t matter to me or anyone!  Maybe it’s just frustration because I am working so hard and I’m realizing that I will never be fast.  My fastest 10 mile race was around a 1:50.  Pretty slow.  And I remember feeling awful afterwards.  But I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to that.

You know what?  It sucks.  It sucks to have this limitation.  It sucks to know that no matter how hard I work, I will never be fast.  It sucks to hear people saying “Oh, a 5:30 marathon?  That’s nothing to brag about,” and knowing that I will never run a 5:30 marathon.  Yes, I’m getting faster, but physically, there’s a limit for me.  And I don’t like it.

I guess I don’t have to like it though.  I just have to accept it.

Of course, I’m glad to know why I was feeling so wrecked after my races.  Who knows what kind of damage I would have done to my body if I had kept it up.  More likely, I would have given up completely.  I would have never even thought about doing triathlons.

Admittedly, I’m in pretty good shape right now thanks to all my training.  My legs look fabulous, to the point where I’m actually excited to show them off in cute summer skirts.  And while I haven’t taken measurements or gotten on the scale, I feel pretty confident in how I look. My body is far from perfect, but right now, I just don’t care.  So not only am I seeing improvement in my running, but my self confidence has increased and my legs look amazing.

I’d love to be able to come up with some great lesson here.  Something about not worrying about other people and just doing your thing.  And I guess that’s true.  But maybe this is also about how sometimes the doubts creep in and you just need to accept them sometimes and know that you don’t always have to be positive.  But you do have to keep going.

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth

So I sort of fell off the face of the earth after Monday’s race recap. I think I may have been social media-ed out after this weekend.

Actually, life just got insane.  Lots of extra stuff going on at work, trying to squeeze in training where I could.  It was busy.  I’m hoping for a nice, relaxing weekend.  With some nice, easy training.  I’m not complaining – it’s been an awesome week.  Lots of problem solving at the office (problems not of my making, so I come out of the situation looking gooooood).  But it’s all exhausting.

I actually do have a bigger blog post brewing after Coach had to talk me off the ledge last week.  But that’s going to take some time to get written up.  Maybe after I actually get some sleep.

Part of my plan last night was to sleep.  Around 3:00, I just wanted to put my head down at my desk and nap.  Sadly, not an option, plus I’d probably end up talking in my sleep and telling my coworkers my deepest, darkest secrets.  But I had swim practice.  I wasn’t going to go.  Then I was.  Then I wasn’t. But then I realized that I needed to go.  I have a triathlon in less than a month.  I also needed the workout.  I joked that I might just grab a raft and float down the lanes, but I knew I needed to show up.

And I’m glad I did.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a sprint workout, so it was lots of long, easy distance.  That’s great practice and good for a body and brain that are a little worn out.  So I just need to remember this feeling.  Sure, sleep would have felt good, but showing up felt even better.

Race Report – 2015 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

2015-04-12 07.10.32-1It was a gorgeous day for a race in DC.  Perfect weather.  Cherry blossoms in perfect bloom.  I heard a lot of runners say that the race hadn’t been this gorgeous with weather and flowers in over ten years.

I am so glad I was there, and this year was extra amazing since I was one of the social runners for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  I got to meet a lot of amazing people, both my fellow social media folks and so many people who reached out on Twitter and through the blog.  What a crazy experience.

I have been training like crazy for this race.  Lots of 12 mile runs.  But I didn’t prep as well as I should have in the days leading up to the race.  I was on my feet a lot at the expo (having a blast!) and I wasn’t well hydrated.  Worst of all, during Thursday night’s swim practice, I got a terrible cramp in my right calf and while I didn’t drown (and Kristin helped me get it to uncramp), my leg was sore for a few days.

Now, I’m not trying to make excuses for my race.  In fact, I had an awesome race!  But I knew that I wasn’t going to have a super fast amazing race.  So when we got started and Betsy and I seemed to be well paced, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to run together!  She had some time goals and I thought we could very possibly meet them.

Unfortunately, 90 minutes before the race start, there was an accident involving a pedestrian and the race had to be somewhat rerouted.  There wasn’t time to add distance, so somewhere between miles 4 and 6, we lost about half a mile.  (The race organizers are going to remeasure so that people know how long the race really was.)  I have to say though, the change was seamless.  I didn’t even notice until we were at mile 6 and my watch only said 5.5ish.

2015-04-12 09.13.54

I don’t know why so many people hate Hains Point.  I don’t mind it at all.  I guess it is long and boring, but when the blossoms are blooming, it’s beautiful.  On the way out, Betsy agreed with me.  By the time we reached the point, Betsy’s opinion was “Hains Point is dumb.”

Running a race with a 14 minute mile pace requirement is mentally challenging for me.  I know I’m fine within that time, but I was trained to really only run just under a 13 minute mile.  And when you’re an interval runner, this also means that in the beginning, you’re at the very back of the pack.  I knew we wouldn’t get swept, but that doesn’t make it a whole lot easier.

Of course, as per usual, the intervals paid off, and as I had promised Betsy, around the mid-point of the race, we started picking off runners.  I’d like to think this was motivating for Betsy, but mostly she just hated me for the last three miles of the race.  We appear to still be friends though, so that’s positive.

The hardest part of this race is the tiny uphill before the final downhill to the finish line.  Seriously, a hill at the end?  What’s wrong with you, DC races?  Honestly, it’s not a terrible hill, but it’s the last thing you want to see when you’re nearing a finish line.

We finished at right around 2:05, which is awesome!  Still not sure of the exact distance of the race, but I’d like to think that if we had pushed that final half mile, we would have gotten the sub-2:10.  We were flying by the end and I’m so proud of Betsy for gutting it out and not shoving me in the Tidal Basin.

2015-04-12 10.05.06Thanks again to everyone who made this race possible, from the amazing Race Directors to the support staff to the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers.  I had a great time!

Be sure to check out the official race blog and if you’ve written a recap post, make sure you add yours to the linkup!




Good luck, Cherry Blossom Runners!

cucblogoThe Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is just a few days away!  Good luck, runners!  As one of the social runners for the year, I’ve had such fun meeting so many of you.  I can’t wait to hear race recaps on Monday!

The expo opens today.  Be sure to check out the list of speakers today and tomorrow.  I’ll be there all day today tweeting and instagramming, so look for me!  You can’t miss my hair.

On race morning, I’ll be in what I’m calling the PartyPeoplePurple wave.  We may not be the fastest, but we’re out there doing our thing and having a great time doing it.  Don’t hesitate to say hi!

And most importantly, have fun.  You’ve done the work.  Now enjoy the rewards.