Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Masquerade Marathoner (a race report)

This past weekend was the Vermont City Marathon.  If you remember, I still felt “hungry” after Boston so decided to try my hand at VCM about 5 weeks later.  I was a little nervous, but mostly intrigued with the possibilities of how my body would perform.  I’ve done the typical Spring/Fall marathon circuit for a number of years now, so this would be a different test of my physical and my mental abilities.

Pre-Race Masquerade
Marathon weekend kicked off with a Masquerade party.  How fun!  Knowing we were heading out bright and early on Saturday morning for Vermont, we made a pact to leave early. 

Although I had been smart about my eating/drinking all week, a few bad choices Friday night (delicious, but not conducive to my stomach apparently) lead to a rough Friday night and an even rougher Saturday.  Let’s just say that my dietary choices created a perfectly dehydrated body by Saturday.  Ruh roh….

So I drank...powerade.  I drank powerade like it was my job.  And I forced myself to eat lunch.  I later forced myself to eat dinner.  All the while, drinking more powerade.  Between the dehydration headache and the fear of my body not being able to run on Sunday, I was getting nervous.  After a late day nap, I felt a twinge of improvement.  I’m pretty sure I was asleep for the night by 8:00pm.

Race Day!
I woke up not quite 100%, but a lot better than Saturday.  Continue Project Hydration!  Scott and I drove down early to the Lake Champlain waterfront and got a primo parking spot at the Finish.  I had my own private Port-o-let with no lines.  Perfect.  I choked down my bagel with hard boiled egg white and crossed my fingers.  Stomach, don’t fail me now….
Calm before the race along Lake Champlain
One of my most favorite moments occurred in the start corral.  Scott and I were a few minutes from starting and just behind the rope that separated the “preferred” corral from the masses.  We struck up a conversation with a couple of women nearby, when one of them said to me, “You look like you belong in that (preferred) corral!”.  I was so flattered!  I was slightly uncomfortable being so close to the front, but with all of the preferred/faster runners officially segregated, I knew my placement at the start would afford me the ability to find my pace early without darting around other runners.  Finding my pace became an interesting adventure….

Here’s a glance at my first 5 miles.  Note:  Mile 5 at Boston 2012 felt like mile 17.  VCM was a very different day….

Inner dialog went something like this:

    Lisa:   I don’t belong here!
    Lisa2: But you feel OK; just run how you feel
    Lisa:   OK, but….
    Lisa2: You’re fine

OK, not bad, but then…..

This spurred on a rather argumentative exchange with myself:

    Lisa:   Knock this sh*t off!!
    Lisa2: Why?  You’re fine
    Lisa:   I know, it feels OK, but I have the hardest miles ahead of me!
    Lisa2: You’re fine

As the 3:45 pace group passed by me, my inner dialog changed to:

    Lisa:   Uh oh, I’ve been ahead of them all of this time? 
    Lisa2: You’re fine
    Lisa:   I don’t belong in 3:45 pace world
    Lisa2: I’ll give you that, but you’re fine

My faster, earlier miles combined with the heat ensured my pace adjusted accordingly –

And then the real race began –

It got hot.  I got dizzy.  I walked (as proven by mile 23).  One of my 4 coworkers cheering on the runners yelled out to me “GO LISA!” on the bike path at mile 24 and that gave me such a lift.  I also saw 3 of my coworkers over the 26.2 miles (sometimes more than once), heard one of them, and hugged one of them.  I offered to dry clean her top, but she insisted the hug was most welcomed J.  I reminded myself that I could do 2+ miles in my sleep.  Then at the 1.5 mile mark, the memory of my warm up run just the day before reminded me that I only had to keep my feet moving and let gravity take me on this gentle decline into the…..

Were my first 14 miles my best race strategy?  Maybe not.  Did I expect to PR after feeling so terrible the day before?  No way.  But once I started running and let go of everything that was the day before, I found my mojo.  It was a great opportunity to see what I had and I was lucky to have rehydrated in time for the race.  I was well trained to cover the miles and had recently even felt a little speediness during my shorter training runs.  I felt mentally strong enough to get through the rough spots and finish with a little bit of a kick. 

Early on, I remember feeling like I was still wearing my mask at the Masquerade party – why did I think I could run with the 3:45 pace group and why did I think I could maintain an unfamiliar marathon pace for a little over half of the course?  Because I believed I could. 

Maybe not the most strategic race I've ever run, but definitely one of my most satisfying.  I didn’t know I had that in me.  And now I do.  And after running his own 3:27 marathon, Scott was right there at the Finish Line to hug me, congratulate me, and steady me. 

Masquerader?  Nah.  Marathoner?  Yeah, that's right, marathoner.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A good day for a PR

Today was the Vermont City Marathon and the day I ran a new PR = 3:56:11!!!!!

Better yet, both my husband and I had a great race on another warm day.

More to come :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Who to believe?

I ran a 5K Thursday evening as part of a Corporate Challenge at work.  Not a fan of 5K’s – they hurt.  But this was a great way to participate with my VT coworkers, work on some speed, meet more new faces, and get a PR.  Sort of.

Here is one of those times where it’s hard to know who to believe.  Do I believe my lovely, devoted Garmin that reported this –

Or do I believe the official race results that report this –
I'm sure this is based on a true 5K/3.125M course

If I believe the 7:56 pace, then Thursday was not a PR.  Scott helped me obtain my 5K PR (7:46 pace) back in May 2010, which was good enough that day for 2nd in my age group.  But since I, of course, totally believe the Garmin, then I kicked some serious 5K butt!

I’m happy either way.  A good hard run (that I survive) always makes me smile.  And a Garmin that errs in my favor?  Priceless.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Practice makes perfect

I like to think I’m a good listener all the time, but I’m probably not.
I like to think I’m a good friend all the time, but I’m probably not.
I like to think I make a difference in the world, but I may not (or may not ever see the results).

The other day, a friend revealed something to me that was of concern to her.  She shared the details of this personal situation with me and I listened.  It wasn't something for me to solve or jump in with my opinion.  Toward the end of our conversation about that particular topic, she seemed surprised at herself, saying, “Wow, I haven’t shared that with anyone but my husband”.  I joked, “Well, I do bring that out in people”.  She said, “Apparently so”.

This was one of those times when –

I WAS a good listener
I WAS a good friend
I DID make a difference

It may not be all of the time, but what a gift to know there are times when I get it right. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Team Building….Amazing Race Style!

This week was spent traveling for business to Montreal.  It was my first visit, so I was pretty excited for the adventure – especially where I was going to have the opportunity to meet so many of my colleagues from all over US and Canada.  I had no idea I would be participating in the Amazing Race – literally and figuratively! 

Bus passengers asked us,
"Where are the cameras??"
We were well equipped with some company schwag, including a backpack, water bottle, notepad, and first aid kit.  As part of a team-building exercise for this group that was comprised of many new faces, the committee who organized this event employed an outfit that put on an Amazing Race-like event for groups
like ours.  Sounds cool right?  And it was…sort of.  So I need to break this into 2 parts:

Part I – The “planned” Amazing Race

19 teams poured out of a conference room at the hotel with our first clue – a mug.  We quickly determined that we had to run the mug under hot water to produce the clue that magically appeared on the mug's surface as a reaction to the hot water.  From there, we grabbed the Metro (subway) to our next challenge:  a puzzle.  This puzzle sucked the life out of most of the teams.  Many teams spent close to an hour trying to figure this out.  The Amazing Race peeps finally took pity, threw us our next clue, and moved us on our way.

Saint Joseph's Oratory of
From there, we found our way to a church.  Many of us anticipated that we’d have to reveal the number of steps we climbed, yet most of us still managed to get it wrong.  This meant we had to perform a second task; find our next clue within the church. With one pregnant team member and one injured team member, those steps were another huge obstacle in our progress.  (As a note, those 2 team members ultimately did not have to scale the steps)

Our next clue took us via city bus to a candy store.  By this time, our injured team member had hailed a cab back to the hotel.  This clue had us scooping candy into a bag to achieve a weight of between 96 and 100 grams.  We had 2 chances, failed both attempts, so received a 10 minute penalty where we had to wait to try again.  As if we needed anymore help in falling further behind...

The last clue found us tasting and identifying ice cream flavors in the underground Mall system.  We spent a significant amount of time here as well, trying to pick the right flavors and put them in some kind of order.  I’m a little vague on details here because by now, I was D-O-N-E!  The good part was that teams who were still out there (like our team) this late in the day helped each other so we could all just finish and get to dinner. 

Great idea for a way to team-build, see a new city, and get ~5 miles of walking in (including 103 steps…twice!).  The reviews are mixed, but mostly because the fitness level and intensity were a bit mismatched.  I’m just glad I don’t get motion sickness with all the subway/bus riding!  I'm also glad our event wasn't one day later...

Montreal subway system closed?  That would've thrown a wrench in our
Amazing Race!

Part II – The “unplanned” Amazing Race

So, our trip to Montreal also had true business tied to it!  We had 2 days of meetings/presentations and it was a productive couple of days.  But let’s face it, when your VP says, “I’m going to break early knowing everyone has so much travel ahead of them”, we bolted to a cab!  Those of us traveling home to Massachusetts were all on the same 8:00 pm flight.  Because we were released early, we were all able to change our flights and get on the 6:05 pm flight.  I didn’t let Scott know, since I thought it would be a nice surprise to arrive home early.  Oh, what a surprise it was.

We happily boarded the 6:05 flight, which was delayed until almost 7:00 pm.  Fine, we were still earlier than originally planned.  We got out to the tarmac and sat for a bit, which of course is normal as a plane sometimes has to wait in line.  Next came the announcement that they were having trouble getting one of the engines going…..Back to the gate we went.  But not quickly, that’s for sure.  We seemed to take baby steps and pause, more baby steps and pause again.  Eventually, we reached the gate, de-boarded, and hustled to the new gate which was 7 gates away.  Interestingly, we were now going to try to get on the original 8:00 pm flight, which was being held for us.  Ironically, we had paid an additional $75 for the right to perform this gate dance.

All aboard, we stored our carry-on wherever it would fit and took deep, stale breaths, praying for the air to be turned on.  Next announcement, “Due to our weight distribution alert, we’ll need to change some passengers' seats….”  What?  This caused a most thunderous laughter; it was afterall just part of the outrageousity of our trip.  Who were they going to deem as too large for 14C?  It was also a little unnerving….I mean, how does a few hundred pounds here or there affect a large plane?

With all of that said, everyone made it home safe and sound.  Tired, but safe and sound.  I rolled into my driveway sometime after midnight.  Stomach growling a bit (Air Canada pretzels and a cereal bar were dinner since I wasn’t hungry at normal dinner time before the flight drama began), I just couldn’t wait to see Scott and Bella, and go to bed. 

No prizes for this Amazing Race participant, but I'll take the endless funny stories and many new friendships as my prize.  Our traveling group agreed that the most effective team-building actually occurred during the several hours of laughter between the first flight and the second flight.  Hands down.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

“Number 2” is #1

Dear Septic Tank,
You’ve been there for us like an old friend since I moved here, quietly and dependably doing your job. We even built a lovely wishing well around you to give you some privacy and some dressing up – afterall, you do rule our universe.  We’ve always respected you and have dutifully followed all of the necessary Septic Tank rules (safe TP, yearly pumpings) to give you a long, healthy life.

Yet here we are, at a sad cross road.  I’m afraid the diagnosis is terminal; your long life has come to an end.  We could fight it and try to lengthen your already long life by taking extreme measures.  But what would that really get either of us? 

Yes, that means we’ll be spending a lot of money to replace you name your successor.  Did I say “a lot”?  I meant A LOT.  But it’ll be worth it, because like I said, you do rule our universe.  We’ll also be doing an unplanned “hard” landscaping to allow for your honorable removal.  That means I’ll be quickly moving a few flowering shrubs that have flourished in the company of your grass-is-greener real estate before the scary backhoe/bulldozer/thingamajig digs everything up.  Oh, and don’t worry about the blue paint that suddenly tattoed our lawn.  That’s just a little thing called “Dig Safe” to make sure we don’t add insult to injury and blow you sky high or drown you because of a disrupted gas or water line.  That would just be mean.

I wish I could take you to dinner as a farewell gesture.  You know, like a Septic Tank version of the last supper.  Since that’s just not possible, I’ll simply bid you farewell by honoring you in this blog.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts bottoms for decades of exhausting and unrelenting 24x7 effort.

To toast you, I will prepare a special meal to celebrate your life:  ramen noodles.  Since that’s about all we’ll be able to afford for awhile…..

Adieu old friend,
Your Adoring Family