Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 in Review

Sometimes I look back at a year and I wonder how I should quantify it. A year ago I was pleased and proud of myself... this year, right now, I'm more negative, though I truly have just as much to be pleased/proud of/grateful for.

So I think I'll start off by assessing how I did on my goals... For 2008, my goals, as stated in this blog, and my performances were:

1. Complete my first 10K race. Check - did 2.
2. Complete my first Half Marathon. Check - did 2.
3. Complete my first Sprint Triathlon. Check - did 2.

1. Lose those last 5 pounds. (But only healthily - if my body wishes to keep those 5 pounds, then the resolution becomes maintaining my weight.) Check - maintained. On January 2, 2008, I weighed 131.0. This morning I weighed 131.4. For much of the year I was 128ish - holidays are hard on me - but maintain I did, and I'm counting it as a goal accomplished.
2. Run at least 520 miles. Check - we're at 725.75 with one run to go.
3. Bike at least 520 miles. Check - 717.
4. 52 swimming miles this year. Check - 71 miles (125,000 yards).

Athletically, I accomplished my goals, really beyond my wildest dreams.

Humanly, I've had a harder time. I got back on The Pill, which was a huge mistake. I realized that, and got back off it, but it has really caused some depression issues for me (again). Note to self: It will NEVER be *different* this time. Run away screaming.

Career-wise, I got a promotion to a more high-profile, high-responsibility position. I love and hate my new job, and while I am certain I made the right decision, I did not achieve the sense of satisfaction that I had hoped for. I've been wrestling with the knowledge that several higher positions that I am interested in are open or opening, and which one(s) should I apply for? Many days I think that I'd like the lower profile position (that also pays less than at least one other option) because I don't like being stressed about work. And I'm stressed a lot. This has been a very difficult conclusion to draw, though, because I've always been ambitious, and I'm pretty much choosing to glass ceiling myself for awhile. I do think that ultimately it is a better decision for my mental health, but it isn't without its drawbacks, the primary one being the people I'd be working with... (I'm going to go off this tangent now, because I could go on forever.)

I am grateful for my husband, my kitties, my family, my friends, my job (isn't so terrible to stress about which path upwards you want to take when many people are being laid off!), my home, and my runner-self. I am grateful for this year. I am grateful for the willpower and the desire to get out of bed each morning, stumble into the cold, and to continue to improve me. I did improve in 2008. I will improve more in 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lakes of Williams Ranch 30K Race Report

I'll jump right in here: The first couple miles were fine. I was actually pretty proud of myself - I didn't want to run any sub-10 minute miles for this race. My goal was to go slow at the beginning and not feel like crap at the end. (I achieved exactly half of this goal - the slow part!!)
I made the turn and started the first loop and caught my first glimpse of Preston! My heart
rate strap had never synched with my Garmin (and yes, I turned it on when I was far away
from people, so it is just on the fritz), so I took it off and handed it to him - no reason
to chafe if I can't even get data out of it!

After that, it was basically just 3 hellish loops. As I was coming in on the first loop I
yelled to Preston that I couldn't believe I still had 2 to go - that's how crappy I felt.
One good thing did come out of the race, though. The aid stations were set up every 2nd
mile, which corresponded to a loop turn-around. The first and second aid stations I took
Gatorade. The 3rd, 5th, and 7th I took a Honey Stinger gel with water, and the 4th, 6th,
and 8th I took an Endurolyte pill with Gatorade. The end result was zero leg cramps at the
end, and no GI distress. So, I think I may have finally found my magic marathon nutrition

Back to the race: I stayed sub-11 miles until I was through 13, walking only the aid
stations. At 13 I was struggling, so I started walking once per mile, and my miles started
getting slower and slower. I'd be all proud of myself, that I was still running, and I'd
look down at my pace and see 12:30 when my body really felt like it was doing 10:30! It was
mentally a very tough last 5 miles. Very tough. At 16 I was really hurting. Physically
hurting. I made a new deal with myself that I could walk every half a mile. I wasn't
comforted that everyone left out there with me looked to be struggling as mightily as I was.
And it was HOT by then. When I got into my car, which had been parked in the shade in a
garage after the race, it read 76 degrees. UGH! Preston said a lot of people were
complaining. I passed a guy within a few 100 yards of the finish line who said something
about the pain almost being over. This is the first race I've run where I really actually
was in pain. Wow - I don't have any words for that.

I couldn't see the finish line until the very very end, so it felt like it would never come.
I just kept shuffling along in some kind of loop-continuum. But it did finally come, my
Gramin reading 18.78 miles. I got my medal and my (lame) cotton T-shirt, but couldn't find
the water. I do hope the race director rethinks the set-up of the finish line amenities,
which were nice, but confusing! (And it isn't like most of us have just tons of brainpower
when we've been running for 3.5 hours!!)

I'm not sure I'll do the warm-up series again... I mean, I would, if I were training on my
own for sure - supported long runs and all of that. But for training with a
group, the schedules didn't always mesh well, and the first two were on the terrible hills
(though I will do the Houston Half again - medal and really nice tech singlet), and the last
two shorted finishers either a medal (25K) or a tech T (30K), both of which I'm coming to
expect for my money and for races that long... to be fair, I won't be doing San Antonio
again either, til they cough up a tech T.

This turned out to be my last long run before the marathon. I'll elaborate in a later post
on that...

So, 18.6 miles in 3:29:03. I'm sorry this post feels so fragmented. My feelings about the whole race are rather fragmented. I ran it, it was long, I struggled, I finished, and that's pretty much all I've got, other than the nutrition goodness that came out of it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Super-Late Turkey Trot Race Report

The Dallas Turkey Trot is an 8 mile race (the distance around White Rock Lake, where it was originally held) that takes place on Thanksgiving morning in downtown Dallas.

We stayed at the Fairmont downtown (less than $100 per night - great runner's rate - and a nice hotel), and walked the mile or so to the start. It was a blustery morning, but nice.

What was not nice was the lack of organization between the 3 mile run/walkers and the 8 milers. The 8 mile race was supposed to start 15 minutes before the 3 mile fun thing, but when the gun went off, some 3 milers started, a lot stood in the middle of the start corral blocking the way, and a large portion slowly started wandering off on their 3 mile stroll. Now, please don't misinterpret: I am ALL FOR going on a healthy 3 mile walk with your entire family and dog and stroller on Thanksgiving morning. I am ALL FOR that 3 mile walk being an official Turkey Trot. But please, please listen to directions!!! If they tell you to talk to the side so faster people can go around, please do that!! If they tell you not to start, don't start, GAH!!!

Here is a good one. At the turn for the 3 milers, there was a sign, 3 MILE TURN LEFT HERE, with a giant arrow in the MIDDLE of the road. About 100 yards farther on, there was another GIANT sign saying, If you are a 3 miler, turn around, you have missed the turn. I actually heard a 3 mile lady say to her friend, "Do you think they mean it?" And then they kept going!!! GAH!!!

Anyways, other than all that, it was a nice little race. I like these sub-10 mile distances right now!! I wanted to go it at a sub-10 pace, too, but I didn't want to burn out for the 18 miler I had coming up that Saturday. But for the hilly viaduct, I would have had my time.

On the viaduct, that was actually pretty cool. My dad told me ahead of time that my Granny Alice had been stuck on the Houston viaduct during the tornado of 1957(?). My imagination took me away and I thought of my family as I ran along.

It was Viaduct Mountain on the way back in that wasn't much my friend, so I tried to tell myself that I was on Allen Parkway in the last 10k of the marathon in January, and just power myself up that bitch. It worked.

On the downside of the mountain I saw a runner down. He already had about 30 people around him, so I didn't stop, but I heard the most wonderful thing as I ran by, one of his people yelled for a medic. Then I heard behind me, in stages, going farther and farther back, the cry of "Medic". There is something both inspiring and comforting in that.

And thus I finished, 24 seconds slower than I'd have liked, and 800 calories in debt on a big-eating day (which I more than made up with 3, count them 3!!, slices of mom's most excellent chocolate cake).

I'll do the Turkey Trot in Dallas again, probably in 2010, but I'll seed myself muuuuuch farther forward than the signage suggests. Happy late Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lots, Just Lots

I've got a lot to cover!

Turkey Trot Race Report is forthcoming, but here is a quick recap: I left on Sunday for my parents' house. I ran a 4 miler on hills on Monday, legs still feeling a little dead. Decided to cut the planned 4 miler on Tuesday because I realized I was scheduled to run 8 in the Turkey Trot, then 18 on Saturday. Figured 30 was enough for the week!! Tooled around with my rents, saw some friends, had Thanksgiving with family, saw some of Tut's stuff, then headed home on Friday.

Ok, so, about that 18 miler - I finished it! Woodlands Fit runs this one with Kingwood Fit. I had never been to Kingwood before, but it is quite a nice place. The first 9 weren't too exciting - through standard neighborhoods. I did hook up with a WFitter that I had never met before at about 5, and we would run the rest of the way together. I was glad, because despite the lovely nature trails and lakes of the second half, I was hurting after 15 pretty strongly, and any distraction was welcome. Anyways, 18.28 miles in 3:26. Not too bad for a training run! One of my coaches even emailed me to tell me I didn't look like I was struggling at the end - I may not have looked it, but I felt it! I told her, though, that for the first time I felt like maybe I could actually do this marathon thing. She said, "If you can do 18, then you can do 21, and if you can do 21, you can finish the marathon." Wow.

Beyond that, Preston started C25K on Monday!! I'm really excited. I think that he would really enjoy competing in the 5Ks in the Spring, and I'll really enjoy having him running instead of feeling guilty about dragging him around to all of these races.

I gained a few pounds in the past 2 weeks. I'm back up over 130, so I need to start dieting again, but it is the strangest thing - things just keep happening that seem to get in my way. I'm about ready to drop the hammer once and for all and get in 2 good weeks of healthy eating before x-mas, though... I feel rather like my body is craving a nice long hibernation. I'm storing fat, and each morning when I wake up it is everything I can do to drag myself out of bed, and sometimes I'm not even making it to my workouts. I suspect that this is why people program off-seasons into their plans. I haven't really taken any time off since I started almost 2 years ago, but it is difficult to justify and stomach time off when you use exercise as a method of weight control, mood control, etc. I've been trying to do less time each week in a sort of controlled off-season way instead. Focusing only on running and letting everything else slip so I'm putting in fewer hours. It may be working, but my head is so fuzzy from it that I can't really tell!! I'm sure that this, too, shall pass. I am really looking forward to some short stuff in the Spring, though!

I have just one more thing to really talk about. My work hired my replacement (finally - took them 10 months!). I was really ambivalent about the whole thing... but I really like her. She friended me on Facebook, and as a result I took a look at her blog. Now, here's the thing... I discovered from reading her blog that she is even cooler than I expected, which is great. But, I almost feel like I'm peeping through the window to her private thoughts. I shouldn't, I mean, she linked to her blog, so she must expect that people will follow the link and read it, and she must be intelligent enough to not friend people that she doesn't want reading it, but still, there is something almost wrong about it all. I started thinking about how very few people who know me know about my blog, and about how I like it that way. I never write these entries for anyone else, though I don't mind people reading (obviously). I never wanted to censor myself here, and I never have, with the exception of work stuff. Would I be weirded out if someone from work found my blog and then commented on it (without me telling them about it) - yes, indeed I would. I work with Librarians, y'all, and if they can do their jobs, I think they could find me... Just a lot of thoughts running around in my head regarding blogging and personal privacy and public access and the nature of knowing someone. Somehow a person's blog seems such an intimate thing (or at least, it can). It may only seem that way because of the way I think of my blog, but there it is. If you are reading an uncensored person, then you are really seeing into a part of their personality that they may keep hidden in the world of real life. And if that is the case, could it be true that one who reads your blog knows you better than the people you interact with on a daily basis?