Saturday, May 21, 2011

Personal Best

I love racing. I'm not a fast runner and I don't compete with anyone other than myself but the energy I get from a race is addicting. I've been participating in local races for almost a year. My first was a 5K last June. Since then I've ran a total of eight 5K's, two 10K's, a four miler and one half marathon. Today I ran number eight. My excitement for today's race has been building over the last few days. I've been feeling really good and yesterday I was sure I was going to run a personal best today. My goal was to finish the race in 35 minutes or less. My husband, being the coach that he is, challenged me to run it in 34 minutes. I decided to really push for my goal this time. I figured out my goal pace and when I need to hit each mile. I wrote those times on my hand so I could see if I was on pace. I had everything planned out. When the horn blow for the start of the race I felt confident and ready to go. The run was harder than I had anticipated. I stretched before the race but I didn't really warm up. That was stupid. The first half mile was really hard and I felt like crap. An other mistake I made was lining up for the start closer to the start line than I normally do. I like to line up in the back so I don't feel the push to start out too fast but that's exactly what happened today. In addition to not warming up and starting out too fast, the first half mile and last 1.1 mile were on the levee which is a loose gravel surface. I haven't ran on the levee in years and the feeling of pebbles moving under my feet kept me from running as fast as I wanted to. Even with all of these setbacks I managed to enjoy the race and I found my groove just over a mile in. I hit all of the mile markers ahead of schedule and that gave me the boast I needed to keep up my pace. I love the feeling I get when I start to run all out. my legs stretch out far in from and behind me and my arms start to pump smoothly. It feels like stretching after being in the car for a long time. Good and refreshing. Back on the levee, with just over a mile left till the finish, I started to get a camp in my side. I walked a little more than the 30 second split that was my race plan to slow my breathing. I could see the tent for the race workers at the finish and my family waiting for me up ahead. I ran, ignoring the cramp in my side and my intense thirst (I chose not to run with my water this time). My kids ran me in next to the course (until my son fell knee deep in a whole) and my husband was at the finish taking pictures. When I crossed the finish and checked my watch I was shocked to see that I had killed my goal and my husband's challenge. My finial time was 33:05, my fasted race ever! Makes me wounder what it could have been if I hadn't made the mistakes I did in the start of the race. After the race I was on cloud nine. What makes my victory even more sweet was the fact the my husband was there to be apart of it. Because of his work schedule he rarely get to come out and cheer me on. The first race he came to was my worst race time ever. It makes me very happy that he could be there for my best race time to date.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Goals

I've been thinking a lot about goals this week. I find this interesting because in the past I didn't want to have any goals. If I didn't have any goals then I wouldn't have to fail at meeting them. I think this is a very common attitude today but it's no longer the way I want to live so, I've changed. I have many goals and I believe I can achieve all of them. Maybe not on the first or even second try, but eventually I will. I know I will run a full marathon. I would love to do it in about four hours but even if it takes six it'll still be a goal that has been met. I want to finish a triathlon as well. I'm not a strong swimmer and I don't even own a bike but I will accomplish it and as long as I'm not dead last I will meet my goal. Another big goal for me is to earn my BA in Child Development. I think this goal will be the most challenging. Going back to school is a big decision and I have already gotten that far but it's not the right time. Right now I work 60 hours work weeks, my husband works full time as well and is a full time on-line student. In addition to that we have two children and they are my top priority. Not just providing for them but spending time with them as an active parent. I also need to make sure that I take care of myself. I've worked very hard to get to the healthy state I'm in today and a college degree is not worth being this physically active and healthy. I need my workout time and quality sleep and I refuse to give either of those needs up. Even for school. I asked myself, how am I going to find the time to go back to school and achieve this goal? My husband is going to school now so I wont start till after he's finished. He is also up for a promotion right now as an assistant store director for his company. The next step up from there is to get his own store and be a store director. When that happens I will enroll as a junior in our local state university. It will be the perfect time. I wont have to work full time, if at all and our kids will be much older. Until then, I'll take any outstanding prerequisite classes I may be lacking. And I definitely need to bone up on my math and English skills. Okay, so my new educational goal is to graduate with my BA by the time I'm 40 (I'm 31 now). Wow, that seems a little old to be getting my BA but at least I'll have it. I got married and had children very young so I've put off some of the goals I wanted for myself in order to be the kind parent I wanted to be. I did go to school when my kids were babies and earned my AA years ago. I decided then to wait until I could be a full time student before going back for my BA. I could never afford to be a part time student for another five or six years at a university. If everything goes according to my plan my kids and I can go homework together in the evenings and we might even graduate around the same time. Me from college and them from high school.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I used to be "normal", now I'm a runner

Runner's ( not all, but some) see the world a little differently than other, non-running-obsessed people. For example, if someone found an extra $10 in their jacket what are some things they would do with that cash? My husband would buy a book (or candy), my sister would treat herself to an extra cup or two of her favorite Starbucks. Some other people I know might just add it to their weekly groceries. Me on the other hand, would make a mad dash to my favorite running store for a pair of my beloved Balega socks. In my defence, most people who have hobbies (or obsessions) prioritize parts of their life like this, right? Shopping in general has changed for me. I used to browse the cute and trendy clothes before I looked at anything else. But now I seem to be pulled to the fitness section of any store where clothing is sold by an invisible cord. I didn't notice this change in my shopping habits until I went shopping with my sister. We were trying to find a deal at the clearance rack when I was distracted by some bright colors across the isle. (yes, I'm aware that fish and birds are also distracted my bright colors.) I wondered over there to get a better look. What caught my eye was a variety of brightly colored sport bras. I was checking for my size and the price when I hear: "what do you think you are doing?You have seven perfectly fine sports bras but the one regular bra you have is falling apart! Get out of the fitness section right now!" I guess my sister had a point... Time is something we all struggle with. There's never enough time in the day to do everything on my list but I slip in workouts whenever possible. Many moms I know set the family dinner time to be before and/or after kids' activities, meetings, and other out of the house events. Our dinnertime is usually around 6:00. Luckily for my family that happens to fall during a time of day when we are either done or in between activities. The real reason behind the 6:00 dinnertime? If we eat around 6:00 then I will be ready for an evening run or cross training workout by 7:00. In the spring and summer that gives me a good hour of daylight to get in a run and I'll be done a couple of hours before I need to hit the sack. My vocabulary has changed since I became a runner too. Long runs, tempo run, speed work, hill work, pace work, minute/mile pace, those words didn't mean anything to me before. Now that I read, talk about and, of course, run these workouts they mean a lot. Most people I talk to don't know or care about these things but they patiently listen to me. Some times I catch their eyes glazing over but that's okay. That happens to me when my husband starts talking World of Warcraft. I have totally become a running nerd. I read Runner's World magazine cover to cover, I read books by runners, I even follow some elite runners on Twitter. When I'm out on a run I find myself planning my next run. Running is the last thing I think about before I fall asleep at night and the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning. I want to run all the time. I'm currently registered for two races and I ran a half marathon a just over a week ago. Most weekends on my calendar I have notes about local 5 and 10K's. Some of them I run and others I just think about running. I would love to run all of them but I would need to be independently wealthy in order to afford all of them. About half a dozen of those races I plan on running including another half marathon and, at the end of the year, a full marathon. (Please pray for me) I volunteered at at half marathon a few ago and that was a great experience. It was so much fun handing out water and electrolytes to the participants and cheering them on. I gained an all new kind of motivation. Every runner and walker should volunteer at least once or twice a year. Now I wonder, have I become the runner I am today? Or, have I finally embraced who I always was but was too out of shape be? I guess it doesn't really matter. The bottom line is,I am a runner. I am strong. I am healthy. Someone asked me recently when I knew I had become a runner. I told them it was on a cold and rainy Saturday. I had a long run scheduled that day and skipping it due to the weather never even entered my mind. On my run my legs were stinging from the cold rain slapping against my skin, the wind was freezing and I was wet everywhere. Any reasonable person would have been miserable and turned back after five minutes. Not me, I caught myself smiling during the run and I truly enjoyed every step and every mile of that workout. When I got home I was still smiling and I felt the change in me. That's when I knew I was a runner, an no longer "normal".