Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hetherington Fun Run 5ishK Race Report

I ran this race with Grasshopper, who already wrote her report.  There's a pic of her looking super perky and me looking suuuuuuuuper tired, too, for your viewing "pleasure".

This was an interesting experience for me.  Only my second, my SECOND(!!!) run in 2013, I knew I wasn't in for any land-speed records.  I was just hoping to get through unscathed and with no unkind words from my knee.  (Success!)

The race is run every year in conjunction with a professional conference, so I had run it before, and knew to expect that it would be 5kish, that it wouldn't be brilliantly marked, and that I'd see all kinds out there.  True, better than in the past, and true.

I also wasn't sure about running with Grasshopper.  She runs a LOT more than me right now.  She is training for her first 10K!  It turned out to be a day of lessons for me.

We started out too fast.  I was hauling ass next to Grasshopper thinking, "Shiiiiiiiit, I'm not gonna be able to hang!"  But as soon as we crossed the bridge she took her first walk break.  And I realized that she's an adrenaline junkie with a too fast start.  So I told her so.  I talked to her about the importance of slowing down to be able to run longer intervals.  The best example that I still have is from the first time I trained to run 10Ks and ended up with my 5K PR.  Basically, I took all of the energy that I would normally put into a 10K and decided to blow it in half the time, resulting in a 5K PR.  Going out too fast does the opposite of that. Heh.

I quickly noticed that the walk break was a little long.  Like... settling into the joy of walking long.  Uh oh!  Danger!  I talked her into running again.

The next time she walked, I formulated a plan.  I would use my tried and true landmark method.  We'll walk to that tree, and then start running until we get to the light pole past it.  And do you know, in the midst of goading her on, I forgot my own struggle?

Grasshopper has quite the mouth on her.  I talked about running.  I talked about random stuff.  I giggled at the things she was calling me because I knew she didn't mean it.  Because sometimes it hurts to learn.  And sometimes it hurts to run.  And as scared as I was about going out there and disappointing her, I realized she felt the same way about me.

And what do you know?  We got over that bridge on the way back and she left me in her freaking dust.  Turns out I had several somethings to learn!  I said this on Facebook, and I had really never thought of it this way before, but what is the point of running if it isn't to learn?  I've learned so much: about how to run, how to pace, how to push, how to trick my mind and empower my body, how to overcome, and how to be proud.  I never know what I'm going to learn when I set out, but I'm always glad I do.

It is time to start running again.

Monday, April 22, 2013

On Boston

This post is late for a reason, and the reason isn't my neglect of this blog.

The reason is how powerfully the Boston Marathon Bombing impacted me.  So much that every time I heard about it, which was usually on the radio to and from work, I ended up in tears.  Today, this morning, is the first time I've heard a news story about Boston that hasn't ended in weeping.

And so I believe I'm ready to talk about it now.

I had to truly examine myself for why Boston was so much more to me than any of the other tragic and terrible events that have occurred in the past decade or more.  I mean, honestly, for me, the emotional impact of Boston was greater than 9/11.  Now 9/11 changed the world.  It changed MY world, so please do not think that I am downplaying the horror or the importance.  But I didn't sit around crying about 9/11.  And I have about Boston.  The answer, I believe, lies in running.  Boston simply hit closer to home for me.  I am a runner.  And I may be a lurker in the online running/triathlon community, but I do consider myself a member of the community.  Through blogs and forums I've come to know and respect many in this community.  But also, I'm a marathoner.  I'm a runner.  And I love to run in races.  I do not know how many races I've run in which my husband and daughter have stood at the finish line waiting for me.  And I think that is why it hit so close to home.

I heard a commentary from Amby Burfoot in which he said that the very democratic nature of running is what prevents additional security measures from being implemented.  And he is right.  And the very definition of terrorism is using our freedom, our openness against us.  But I believe that the beauty of democracy, of openness, is in continuing despite it all.

Something that has been looping in my mind, though, is how is this happening?  I had a colleague who said he was surprised that there hasn't been more of this kind of bombing - stuff like that has been happening around the world for a long time.  I do not know why there hasn't, but I can't keep from postulating why it is beginning to.  You know, one of the things I was thinking as I looked at my Kid was that these guys were someone's kid.  All precious and innocent and beautiful.  And look what they turned into - monsters who stole life from the world.  How does that happen, and why?  I wonder if it has always happened, but communication around the world wasn't good enough for us to really be aware?  So it just seems like it is happening more?  Or has the digital revolution divorced us from engaging with other human beings to the extent that people like that are truly detected less, and therefore slip through a crack where they might have been noticed and gotten help, and so it is happening more?  Or has digitalization and the proliferation of news sources made it so that every cry for attention needs to be bigger and more tragic than the previous one?

Whatever it is, whatever is wrong, it is incumbent upon us as human beings to fix our own little corner of the world. 

You know how they used to say "it takes a village to raise a child"?  Well... I've been looking around since we had Z and wondering where my village is.  It seems like something has happened in our society to isolate little units of people.  And then even within our units I look at people on their phones at the dinner table, or in bed, and I think... what did we do to get here?  And how do we go back?

I don't know.  I don't know if I'm on the right track.  Maybe this would have happened if we were all still riding horses around.  I don't know.  But I do know that tragedies of this sort make me want to engage.  They make me want to go home and hug my kid.  And tell people I love them.

But that is the thing, isn't it?  Live your life like there is no tomorrow, because none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.  If you died right now, does everyone you love know you love them?  What would your last words to them be?  The last dinner you had with your family - was it in front of the TV? - was your phone in your hand?  Would you have any regrets?  Shouldn't this natural response to tragedy tell us something about how we live our daily lives?

It just seems to me that you can't go wrong with love, acceptance, peace, kindness.  And that slowing down, engaging the people around you with those positive emotions is both helpful and healing and soothing to your own soul as well as a pleasure and possibly more to theirs.  And if there was more of that in the world, well, who knows where we could go?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

On the Tat

I got asked recently if I ever did an Ironman, would I get the tattoo.

My answer was yes.  Yes, I would.  But I want to explain why.

Triathlon has changed the way I view my body.  My body is a machine.  My body is a tool that can be built, improved, honed.  That has translated to a sort of biomechanical concept in my head.  I once saw a biomechanical foot tattoo that I just thought was the coolest thing ever for a runner.  I saved it for reference, because it is that idea, that imagery dominates my thoughts when I think about the components of my body.

When I think of completing a triathlon, let alone an Ironman, I think of the journey.  Months of preparation, workouts, obstacles to overcome just to get to race day.  Then race morning, the nerves, even fear, before you even go into the water.  And the water, into the fray.  Arms flailing, getting kicked, beaten, and having to carve your own path through the fear and the chaos to come out the other side.  Then coming out, dizzy, trying to find your running legs, but just for a minute before you hop on the bike.  On the bike, for me, more fear.  More fear because I'm a total spazz and always in danger of a crash.  Fear to overcome.  The struggle to stay in my head and pedal my own race as everyone and their dog passes me.  Then finally to the run.  Body, legs weighted down by bricks.  Tired.  But out I go and start reeling people in.  Running is always a struggle for me.  Pace myself.  Try not to give in to the urge to walk.  And finally the finish.  I don't go out to participate in triathlons because they are easy.  I go out to prove to myself that I can.  Both physically, but more importantly, mentally.

For me, triathlon is about proving my strength.  It is obviously a physical test, but for me, it has always been more of a mental test.  I am not trying to prove anything to anyone else - I mean, I'm never going to win anything - I'm trying to prove something to my own self.  That I can train through adversity.  That I can perform.  That I can keep going when every cell in my body and mind is telling me to stop, because I know I can.  It is about trusting myself.  Trusting my training.  Trusting my body and mind.  And there is strength in that.

When I think of strength, I think of the spine.  I'm not sure why, but I think of a long, straight spine.  And in my head, I've always associated the metal iron with that.  "Iron spine" in my head is strength.

So, with all that said, if I ever complete an Ironman, if I ever become an Ironman, I will get the tattoo.  But it will be a biomechanical tattoo located on my upper back, and the m-dot will be just one component worked into the whole.  Because completing an Ironman would only be one piece, one evidence of my strength.  The tattoo would not be to tell the world about my Ironman.  Or my strength.  The tattoo would be a personal celebration of that journey, that strength.  A beautiful reminder every day of what my body and mind are capable of.  And sometimes, when my back is exposed, yes sometimes, maybe a story to tell people as well.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

The last of my recent cute pics you've missed posts!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


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Monday, April 8, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Valentino Balboni!!

First, a group shot.
Then he asked her name and how old she was.

And then they were best friends!