Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Blog Post Longer Than the Race It's About

As is her custom, Emilie has blogged expertly about this event already (and much more succinctly), so first (or instead!) you may want to read her post here

What she didn't tell you is that I was a pile of raw nerves, keyed up and twitchy all day long.  Having to go to work (not to mention worry about the next day's Administrative Professionals Day event that I organized for my IAAP chapter) is not really something I would recommend doing on the day of your first ever road race, or any other race for that matter.  I guess that's why most of them take place on weekend mornings.

As with many exciting events, much of this one seems to be a blur now, but here are some of the things that stand out for me:

Repeated trips to the bathroom all afternoon, partly because I was dutifully drinking water, partly because I also slammed a cokelet (that's an 8oz coca-cola--about the closest I get to any unhealthy sort of high), but mostly because my stomach was doing flip-flops for several hours straight.  Fortunately, everything settled down by the time I got dressed and ready to stretch.

Jenn calling me at work twice to say how proud she was of me and that she was definitely coming and running with us.

That crazy Maine weather being, well, crazy! Between surprisingly successful attempts to accomplish work-like things at work, I was frequently distracted by the view out my big gorgeous windows. First: Sun and warmth on raceday morning!  But later: Rain pouring down in sheets! But then: Sunny again! And oddly: Sunny AND raining at the same time!  But, as if the ether was just having sympathetic intestinal issues, it, too, eventually settled down to perfect breezy race weather.

Emilie showing up and being all complimentary and supportive with the double stroller full of tragically bored children even though she got off a plane from Salt Lake City, what? 10 hours earlier or something ridiculous like that?  And then ran the course "just for fun"!  Who does that?!?  Oh, yeah, Emilie does that.  She rocks.

Alan, looking and behaving all calm and cool before and after (I really didn't see him during...).  He reminded me to stretch and breathe and get my tunes ready and told me to put my jacket in my locker because I wouldn't need it (so true!) and used his height advantage to spot people we knew in the throng of be-sneakered co-eds.  And he let me be the center of attention because he's done this sort of thing before [25 years ealier, Alan reminds me], but he also ran a great race and had a great time and was proud just to have (barely) beaten Emilie and her 80+ pounds of cargo to the finish.

Everyone just surging forward at the silent start (we couldn't actually hear anything but I guess someone said "go!").  You know that feeling when you're in a car at a red light and the car next to you starts moving forward and it feels like you're moving backward when you're really just standing still?  Well I was moving forward, but everyone else was going so much faster that I still felt like I was going backward.  I had ABBA's the Name of the Game on my mp3 and I just ran in time to the music 'cause I know that's my pace and I told myself that a bunch of those people sprinting down Rangely Road were going to get winded soon and I just might pass them Tortoise-and-Hare style. 

The little boy bolting past me who couldn't have been much more than three and me starting to question my previous smugness.

Lapping the dwindling toddler and a few other people and feeling a teensy bit justified.

Feeling good on Park Street, waving to family and friends on our lawn, hearing my kids cheering for me, and Mum saying something unintelligible, but I guess it didn't matter.  And then thinking I had to at least keep running past the corner while they could still see me.

Restarting the Name of the Game until I couldn't stand it anymore and finally fumbling around for the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack.
Total strangers (including frat boys) enthusiastically cheering for me at random points along the way when I was pretty much by myself so I know it was me and not someone else.

Starting to suck wind a ways down College Ave and finally giving in to walk a little bit now and then.  But I revved it up for the hill by Alfond (where the preponderance of paper cups indicated that many others stopped for water and walked the hill, the wusses) and managed to get halfway across the parking lot before giving in again. 

Remebering at the last minute to sprint up the hill at the very end and finding it easy with the people I love cheering me on.
End result: I was number 308 (out of over 400 we think) to cross the finish and did it in about 37 minutes. 
Alan was #283 and about 32 minutes.
I don't even know where Jenn landed (waaaay ahead of us both).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Catching Up: Easter

Here are a mess o' pix from Easter, including the egg hunt and Mr. Bunny himself at church, enjoying Easter toys in the van (yes, those are mini Rock'em Sock'em Robots) and the big family dinner at home.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Confidence and Control

One of the appealing things for me about this whole running adventure has been the ability to take control of something, and something big and meaningul at that.  I do very well at being organized, motivated, and on top of a controlled setting.  I have not achieved that "controlled setting" at my house.  I have hope that I will get there, eventually, one messy corner at a time.  Or rather, that we will get there as a family.  But meanwhile, running is a sort of sub-set of my life that I've been able to keep manageable.  I make it a priority (Alan has helped a lot with that), I'm obsessive about reading and research and tracking my progress, and I'm enjoying all my little achievements along the way. 

Given all this, I was kind of freaking out about how soon my first road race is coming up.  The original plan was to do a 6K in mid-May, so I had to scramble a bit to prepare for a 5K a month earlier.
But Monday's run was really good.  I had done 2.8 miles outdoors on Saturday, but I walked several sections of it and generally felt overwhelmed.  It was only my third time running outside and I'm still learning to negotiate traffic and terrain and cool air in my lungs and wind in my face.  My training schedule said I needed to run 3 miles on Monday, so I hit the track after work determined to go the distance and to run as much of it as possible.  Being inside the beautiful rec center probably helped me, as did the coke I had in the afternoon, but I think the biggest difference was my mp3 player.  I had found earlier in my training that I could only handle music if the beat perfectly matched my running (and breathing) tempo; otherwise it was way too distracting and fiddling around trying to find a good song was near impossible while I was still trying to remind myself to breathe.  This time around I did land on a couple songs that happened to match my pace, but I was also able to keep my pace when the music didn't match, as long as it was upbeat and fun.  So I listened to ABBA the whole time and the laps sailed on by!  In the end I decided I could do 3 miles AND the extra bit to make it a 5K, but I also got a little giddy and temporarily forgot how many miles that is, so I did 3.2!  My time was 38:33 which is pretty much exactly my usual 12 minute mile.  I felt really proud of myself and did a little happy dance in the locker room when no one was looking.  I'm still nervous that I will fall apart on race day when I am a) outdoors and b) over-excited, but I do know for certain that I am capable of running the entire distance (plus a tenth!).  So my plan is to set my pace, stick to it, and constantly remind myself Obama-style that YES I CAN!  I should download "Confidence" from the Sound of Music.  Ooh! another milestone: I'm thinking about a running playlist!!

On a related note, I recently read a wonderful and simple definition of how we gain self-esteem:

"Self esteem expands when we accomplish things that take effort and have value for us."

Not only does this explain why 3.2 makes me dance in the locker room, but I think this will be great insight for raising happy, capable children, particularly as Madeline launches into that dreaded pre-teen girl territory.

Getting back to next week's race, though, I have much more immediate concern:
What to wear?!?  I also desperately need a haircut [I'm serious, Alan: get out the clippers!] and I have a nail appointment on Saturday.  I'm thinkin' Flo-Jo... for the fingers, though, not the wardrobe!

Any thoughts??