Wednesday, November 30, 2011

13.1 is NOT as Easy as I Remember

So... it's been a little while, but I did my 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale on November 13. I drove to the race by myself, but had some difficulty finding the "correct" parking lot. But at 5:30 a.m. it's not too difficult to find a parking spot, even in downtown Ft. Lauderdale at a race. Next problem: couldn't find the port-a-potties. By the time I had walked to the starting line, I didn't have much time to search, so my bladder just had to wait.

I surprisingly connected with a co-worker at the start line. And had that awkward and unspoken "now am I committed to run with you?" moment. After having a conversation, I couldn't just walk away and lose him in the crowd. Not that I couldn't run with the guy... I'm just a loner. That's why I so enjoy the long run. I crave the time when it's just me, the pavement, my Ipod, and my Jesus. No offense, fellow runners.

Anyway, the start went fine (and I "lost" my co-worker pretty quickly). I had set my sights on a sub 2 hour race. Preferably a new PR (since that is always desirable), but given my training, I would be happy with sub 2. In order to hit that, I had to run just over a 9 min/mile pace. Very tough, especially considering that regarding the number of miles I had logged I was undertrained. I ran my first mile at 9:08. Ehhh... I thought, "This will either end really well, or really badly." I slowed a little, but still felt so good that I thought I might as well hold on and enjoy the ride. And enjoy, I did. Even when I turned the corner at mile 5ish, and was hit with a rather strong wind coming off the ocean. Yikes, but the view along the beach was spectacular! I hit some valleys-- I still am working on learning exactly when to fuel to avoid a mini-bonk. The final 3 miles were brutal. My quads were screaming; begging me to take a walk break. Fortunately, my brain didn't fail me. I figured it was quite ridiculous to put in 10 miles at just around a 9 min/mile pace and then take a walk break and let all those people pass me!  I kept telling myself that if I was interested in comfort, I would've stayed at home on the couch and ate donuts. I plunged ahead, not remembering a 13.1 hurting so badly and fearing the thought of the full 26.2 in January. I ran right to a finish of 1:57:50... not a PR, but a PR for me on that day, with that training.

And that's the key: enjoy the run. Don't set the bar too high. Don't settle for easy. Give everything you have; leave nothing behind. Breathe. Oh, and make sure to park near a Starbucks, so after the race you can reward yourself for a job well done!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

STRONG Women

"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." --Winston Churchill
Well, I've never been a fan of the feminists' "Girl Power" mentality. The idea that women can and should take over and rule the world to prove to men that we are not the weaker sex is a bunch of bunk, if you ask me. Right now I'm doing a study on the book of Esther-- a great example of a strong woman who was beautiful inside and out. What's interesting to me is that this is the one book of the Bible where God's name is not even mentioned. (Something to think about for those people who may believe God to be an egomaniac.) Esther's story is a story of courage, but what is striking me right now is a thought about timing. The evil Haman devised a plot to "destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews-- young and old, women and little children-- on a single day." The timing of this edict? It was delivered on the day of Passover. So, the Jewish families received news of their upcoming decimation, but then sat down and celebrated how God had preserved their nation. Part of the yearly celebration was a reading of the account of their deliverance out of slavery and threats of death and into freedom. Wow. Even as they knew their fate was uncertain, they were reminded of their ancestors who had faced the same threats. Passover was (and is) a time of remembering and celebrating God's faithfulness. So, even though it's not Passover, I thought I'd do some remembering and celebrating of my own.

Lately I've been awe-struck by the strength displayed in the women around me. Just a few days ago, a friend of mine became an Ironman! In 2005, after finishing her first triathlon, a dream began for her to complete an Ironman (that's a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run). As that dream was conceived, she had no idea that on her was to earning the title of Ironman, she would face the loss of her husband. Instead of melting under the devastation of becoming a widow, she pushed through the emotional pain and embraced the physical pain of the grueling training. Last year, after training for nine months, she was forced off the Ironman course after not making the cutoff time on the bike. Again, she didn't stay down; she fought through more months and long hours of training to achieve her dream. Tina, you are an Ironman!

Then there's my Mom. Faced with a teen pregnancy (me) at a time when she was forced to finish her education in night school, she didn't take the easy road and drop out, she finished her degree. She ignored the voices that would try to make her believe she was not able, not valuable, and not strong. Instead of becoming bitter, she worked hard and became a giving, loving person who finds time for everyone who needs her. (I'm still trying to get her to make time for herself!)

And my Mom-in-law, who battled and beat cancer herself, but then had to watch her husband of forty years lose his own valiant fight against it. She didn't fade into self-pity or crumble under the "why?" questions. She carries on. Walking every year in the local Relay for Life (often taking the middle of the night shifts that no one else wants). This year she was awarded for participating in more Relays than anyone else in town!

I could go on and on... my friend whose now 21 year old daughter was born with spina bifida. She has been through more health crises with her daughter than any Mom should; my student who's blind, but refuses to use her cane to navigate through the halls at school because her "I can" is bigger than her "I can't." So many women have inspired me. Remembering their refusal to give up and to push through some potentially devastating challenges encourages me to fight through any difficulty that I may face. I'm looking forward to running a 13.1 on Sunday, and I will be running it in honor of the strong women in my life.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emgv-VRtMEU&feature=related