December 24, 2012

2012 Running and Triathlon Recap

I don't usually do those end-of-the-year running/racing recaps that sprout up on blogs this time of year, but I saw one on Miss Zippy's blog that I couldn't resist copying.  So without further ado, my year in racing (modified from her original post):

Best race experience: This is hard....I did 5 half marathons, 2 triathlons, my first 10k and a few 5ks this year.  All were enjoyable for various reasons...but if I had to choose the BEST race experience it would have to be SuperFrog.  This was my first half-Ironman triathlon, and while there were parts of the race where I thought I would drown (the swim), get blown away by wind (the bike) or just collapse and never get up (the run), training for and completing this race was hands-down the proudest (personal) moment of my year.  I never thought I would be able to do 70.3 miles, and I did it. A little over 8 hours of swimming, biking, running, and now I can call myself a half-Ironman, a title that no one can ever take away from me.

Best run: Fortunately, I had many great runs, mostly in training. But 2 runs in particular stand out:  the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon, where I finally met my goal of running a half marathon in under 2:30, and the Portland Half Marathon, which I ran a week after SuperFrog and was amazed at how well my body held up after just completing 70.3 miles.  And both races themselves were very fun and like a big party.

Best bike: I would have to say one of my training rides for SuperFrog.  I did 60 miles, which was my longest ride to date, and I was in the zone---clipped in, using my aerobars, fueling right.  It made me think (correctly) that maybe I could complete the bike portion of SuperFrog in under 4 hours.

Best swim: One great swim that stands out in my mind was an open water practice in the ocean with my friend Steve in preparation for SuperFrog. I think Andrea and a few other friends were also along with us. It felt so good to finally get the hang of getting through waves (up to that point, all my open water swims had been in the bay). And once through the waves, it was fun to swim in the ocean.

Worst run/bike/swim:  I can't think of any awful swims or bike rides (although I can think of plenty of hard ones, especially on the bike!) but I can recall a couple of runs where my sciatic nerve pain and/or plantar fasciitis was so bad that I was in pain the whole time.  One run in particular was so horrible that I was limping after and went to Urgent Care the next day to see if it my foot was fractured (it wasn't).  After some time off of running, I was fine again, but that was not fun. At all.

Worst injury: I threw my back out in July, leaving me unable to properly train for my half-Ironman for about 3 weeks.

Worst race experience: None! I'm happy to say that each of my races this year was great, all for different reasons (new distance, new PR, new locations, being with friends, etc).

Best new piece of gear: I love my aerobars I got on my bike this summer. It really helped during SuperFrog, which was all flat.  I also got a new iPod Shuffle earlier in the year, which I use all the time.

Best piece of running advice you received:  This was the year I learned to change my run to strike mid-foot.  Another gem of wisdom was about racing: all that matters is finishing. It doesn't matter if you come in first or long as you train and do your best, that's what matters.  Run your own race (which applies to life as well).

If you could sum up your (fitness) year in a couple of words, what would they be? Mind blowing. I can't believe I achieved two major goals---running a sub-2:30 half marathon and completing a half-Ironman. And I had made it a goal to run more than I did in 2011 (which had been 600 miles).  With one more week left to run, I've already run 635 miles.

What I've learned this year: That I can do anything I set my mind to.  Next year I will do the things that scare me: run a trail race, bike 100 miles, and swim 2.4 miles.  I know I can do it all because of what I accomplished this year.

December 21, 2012

Jingle Bell 5k Race Recap

Last weekend I ran the Jingle Bell 5k with my best friend.  He had written on his bucket list that he wanted to run a 5k, and while he did the Color Run with me last month, that didn't really count since so much of the Color Run is walking and actually stopping (to get doused in color).  We wanted to dress up a bit, so we decided to go as reindeer. I picked up some reindeer headbands from the dollar bin at Target, and he picked up some light-up red noses.  Add some jingle bells to our shoes, and we were ready!

When race morning came, I wasn't too into going.  The horrific school shooting had just happened the day before, and my heart was heavy was sadness.  And while I knew a run would clear my mind (and I actually had to run 8 miles, so I planned on running 5 more after the race) it was a cold and rainy morning.  With both my mind and my body not into it, I got dressed anyway and headed down to Balboa Park, windshield wipers madly working the whole way.

Once there, I connected with D, my best friend.  We then found my friends Andrea and Angi.  Angi, her mom and her dog had dressed up like Cindy Lou Who and Max from the Grinch. Even their dog stroller was decked out. It was so creative. We even ran into Monika, running her first race post-radiation and chemo. It was SO good to see her out and running and looking fabulous!

Luckily around this time the rain let up, just in time to start running.  The course was down 6th Avenue and in Balboa Park a bit.  I had so much fun in this race, for two reasons.  First, it was amazing to run with my best friend.  We kept a nice an easy pace (none of that fast running I did in the Shelter Island 5k last month) and talked the whole way.  At the end he even told me how much fun he had, and thanked me for gently easing him into racing (he's thinking about a 10k now!) Amazingly our red noses stayed on (although mine never did light up like it was supposed to) but somewhere along the course I lost my reindeer ears headband. Oh well.

The second reason this race was so fun was all the costumes!  Aside from my friends, so many other people were decked out in holiday costumes.  We saw lots of Santa hats, reindeer, and snowflakes.  The one of the best I saw was a group of people dressed like reindeer---in full costumes, not just ears--tethered together with Rudolph in the front and someone dressed like Santa in the back. How they ran in formation like that I have no clue, but it was awesome to see!

After crossing the finish line, we got our medals (so rare for a 5k) and hung out for a bit. I ran into my friend Ingrid, who ran the race with her son---his first-ever 5k. After saying goodbye to all my friends, I went off to do another 5 miles.

This is definitely a fun race, one I would consider doing next year with my own son.  Happy holidays, everyone!

December 15, 2012

Shaken to the Core

Like every other mother in the world, like every other parent, like every other human heart is hurting right now.  It literally hurts. When I think about the horrific events of yesterday, my heart hurts so badly that if I didn't know better I'd think I was having a heart attack.  I have cried so many tears, but when I think I'm all cried out, suddenly I start crying again.

Much has been, and will be, written about the tragedy, and I don't have it in me to write much, or even anything new to add....but I will say this.  Although I have always been a very grateful person, and have honestly cherished every moment with my children, this has shaken me to the core. This tragedy will make me a better mother, an even more present and appreciative person, and a kinder human being.

My heart is in Connecticut......