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I know I blogged yesterday but believe it or not I’m back today too. *waves smelling salts in front of blog reading buddies*
First I’d like to point out that I’ve changed the ticker on the right sidebar to my next big race. As promised, I’m invading HZ’s hometown (I know, I know, there goes the neighborhood).
Secondly, I’d like to show you my newest purchase:
It’s a medal hanger. Yes, I still have grand plans for my Christmas tree of running medal awesomeness but I still need something to hold my bling for the rest of the year.
(um… those aren’t my medals either I’m just showing you what it will look like full).
Several of these medals (including the Iron Girl medals on your left) are from triathlons. I don’t own a bike and wearing a wetsuit causes me to break out it hives (that’s not a fat joke I’m seriously allergic to neoprene) so I won’t be adding to my athletic challenges. I’m a one-sport wonder.
But seriously how cool is this hanger!
You’d think this would be perfect in light of my recent MCM experience right? Probably. But the first thing I thought of when I saw this hanger wasn’t the marathon. The first thing I thought of when I saw this hanger was a 5K.
When we started this blog in 2008 I’d never done a 5K. The 5K distance of 3.1 miles scared the hell out of me. Then I did the half marathon and the 13.1 distance still scared the hell out of me. For an entire year I thought “I’m insane what the hell is wrong with me” each of the 3 times I paid to do a half marathon. Now I’m working my butt off to finish the marathon.
As for me, that is my new personal motto.
“What the hell was I thinking?” didn’t look good on t-shirts anyway.
As for the hanger it’s from Allied Steel
Funny people, runners. No matter where they start they always want more. Even the slow ones like me. For half marathoners it’s the marathon. For marathoners it’s a BQ. For BQers it’s another BQ or an ultra. And somewhere in the middle of all that are the people who decide one sport isn’t enough and sign up for Duathlons and Triathlons.
The thing I find most interesting is the types of runners I meet.
I find I gravitate toward the people who say “Go for it! Give it a shot!”
And I get very very frustrated with people who are quick with cautionary tales. Don’t do X! they say in horrified tones. Then they offer themselves or the failings of others as an example.
You know what? Keep it to yourself.
If someone wants to give me a tip I’m always willing to listen. I prefer, of course, to ask rather then suddenly find myself facing down a barrage of unsolicited advice but hey, whatever works. Feel free to talk but don’t EVER tell me what not to do.
I am not reckless and I am not foolish.
What I am is determined.
What is it that Henry Ford once said?
“Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right.”
I’m tired of dire warnings cloaked in worry and affection.
We’re all adults. Yes we get pissy and crazy and do stupid things to ourselves and each other. But in the end we are all responsible for our own actions.
If I had followed the “smart” path I would have bailed on the first race I registered for on a dare. I would have stayed on my low carb diet until I lost the weight I’ve been obsessing over and then I would have registered for a nice safe local 5K when I reached 135 pounds.
I’m not 135 pounds and I didn’t register for a 5K until I’d registered for 7 half marathons.
Even then I only did it because I wanted the medal.
And you know what? Don’t tell me to be smart because I’m not smart every time I go out for a run with all the pounds I’m carrying above 135. You can keep your “don’t” because I’m going to. I’m going to run. I’m going to walk. I’m going to drag my sorry behind over 3 marathon finishlines so I can qualify for the Maniacs. And I’m doing it because I can.
If for some reason I am physically unable to do this then I won’t but I’ll know that until that point I gave my very best effort.
There are people in this country who sit on the couch 18 hours a day. Their lives can be measured only in the number of shows they have seen.
There are women in the world who live in fear, who hide themselves and cover their bodies, not because they choose to, but because they are terrified of the consequences of what will happen if they don’t. What would they pay, I wonder, for the opportunity to lace up a pair of running shoes and race through the streets of their neighborhoods with no worry for safety. Would they pause to worry about getting a blister?
I am grateful to have been born in this nation, at this time, with these opportunities. And these are the things I think about when I go out to do the miles. Funny how when I do that the blisters seem less painful, and the distance seems shorter.
Maybe if you stopped fixating on the dimples in the road of life you’d find the distance shorter too.
Running a race is a lot like a final exam. You can’t just show up and expect to pass unless you’ve put in some kind of effort.
Some people prepare for months and sleep deeply at night secure in their efforts.
Others realize 24 hours beforehand that 80% of their overall grade is riding on this sucker and panic commences. This can include all night cram sessions. Cheat sheets. Sleep for these people is rare if not impossible the night before their big event.
While I fit in neither of these categories, I do take some time the night before every race to set out my gear, pack some snacks and generally prepare myself.
It’s a little hard to do that when all you can hear is
Particularly when your drive home from your race expo involved a lot of
As much as I’d like to pretend I could stick out an entire half marathon in those kinds of weather conditions there is just no way. Maybe if I was a full scale runner. Maybe if I wasn’t a total wimp. Maybe if hell froze over.
So why didn’t I just throw in the towel last night?
Because my friend Joan posted her 2009 medals not too long ago and I was a little jealous.
And then yesterday my friends Stephanie and Greg posted a picture of their Christmas tree.
How awesome is that tree!
And now you see why I was unwilling to give up on today’s race.
Darkness wasn’t going to stop me.
Rain wasn’t going to stop me.
Not even Frodo himself was going to stop me from my quest for shiny objects.
So driving past Angel’s stadium in the dark didn’t faze me.
And arriving to wet pavement didn’t faze me.
Neither did stormy skies.
But then there was a miracle! By the time I reached the starting line the skies has cleared up and I was greeted with:
I know, I know but I’m recommending another article. This one is about an elite competitor at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. An Ironman by definition is the male winner of a triathlon consisting of a 2.4 miles (3.86 km) swim, a 112 miles (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26 miles 385 yards, 42.195 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. (Female winners are appropriately called IronWomen).
I cannot begin to conceive of what it takes to compete at this level and though I have no interest in doing this myself a friend of mine told me about this article and I wanted to give this guy a hug.
Just as a technical note an “age-grouper” is a competitor who is not competing at the professional open level.
Read the whole article HERE.
CarbKiller note: I was going to call this “how not to look like an idiot or maim yourself permanently on race day” but the title was too long. I would like to take a moment to give a ginormous THANK YOU to our very own HobbitGrrl she has done fantastic things for my piece of mind…except for that butt crack comment that still freaks me out a bit. You’ll have to read the post to see what I mean. You rock H! SERIOUSLY!
What to expect on your first race….. From one nube to another….
First of all, understand that there are two kinds of races. REALLY REALLY big races with tons of entrants and usually high mileage routes, and really really small races, which are usually small town, local yocal 5Ks, 8Ks, or 10Ks. Big races seem intimidating but there is a certain amount of anonymity with them that the really really small races lack. In a small race, if you are the last one, everyone knows it, and the local police are likely following you, which is really embarrassing after a few miles – not that I know. In a big race, you will most likely not be the last one. There are usually enough people less prepared or worse off than you to keep your ego in check.
Second, do not fret. Whether you feel you are completely and totally prepared for your selected race, or if you feel, like most of us do, that we could have done just a little more, or in my case, a lot more to be ready, the fact is, you are part of 0.00015% of the population that has even attempted to try. Which you should be very PROUD of!!!! You can do it. You won’t win, hopefully you won’t be last, and you will hurt a lot. But, you will pass the finish line. Everything is going to be alright.
With this in mind, try to take care of the details you can control:
-Know your race, know your route. Look up the race, look at where all the mile markers are and where landmarks match up, get to know where the aid stations are. If you are anal-retentive like me, this makes the time go faster and helps you plot out your own course of action. IE. Where you are going to take a potty break, when you will take the Gatorade, and when you will take the water, etc. NOTE: Make sure that your race allows for personal music devices. Some don’t and they have been cracking down lately and disqualifying runners after the race if they were seen wearing one.
- Lube. If you are going over 6 miles, I STRONGLY suggest you lube all the bits that rub together. Trust me you will NOT be sorry and everyone does it so don’t be shy. Get your heels, between your toes, under arms, and where your arms rub your shirt. For ladies: where your sports bra digs in under your dirty pillows. For guys: vaseline on your nipples will prevent really sore chafing and bleeding. And DO NOT forget your butt crack!!!!
- Gear. Decide what gear you are going to need to get ready or have with you and have it all ready and all in one place at least the day before the race. Here is a quick checklist for you to consider:
-Ponytail holders/hair band
-Race day clothing
-Race bib already pinned to shirt
-Shoes with timing chip already clipped on
-Fully charged iPod with Playlist ready
-And any other related accessories you plan to have on your person during and before the race. Nothing is worse than running around looking for your iPod sleeve when you should be on your way, it can really mess with your mental focus.
Water & Peeing. Assuming you drink adequate amounts of water throughout each day, 16 oz. over a couple hours before the race will be sufficient. When you get to the race, get in line at the port-o-johns, and when you finish, get in line again. Repeat until you absolutely have to get in your corral before the start. Along the route, water intake can be tricky. Take too much and you will be in a world of hurt, take to little, and, well, same thing. My advice, rotate between water and Gatorade and take a cup whenever it is offered. You don’t have to drink the whole thing but at least swish it around your mouth because it will get dry, and spit it out if you have to. Listen to your body, it will tell you when hydration is necessary.
Corrals. For high mileage races, when you submit your registration they ask when you think you will be finishing. Then they assign you to a corral according to how fast you run. Your race bib should have the corral you are assigned to on it. With 15,000 runners this can seem chaotic, but it really isn’t that big a deal. It is really just to keep us lesser mortals out of the way of the Kenyans.
Stretching. Assuming you plan to get to the start with a couple hours to spare, do familiar stretches as much as you can while you are waiting. Rotate between stretching and bouncing or running in place to get your muscles nice and limber and warm. It will make the first few miles that much easier. I promise.
Checking stuff. Most races have a way for you to check items to be picked up once you cross the finish line. If yours does, bring some warm fleece to snuggle into after the fact in case you need it. Your body will be over-warm from running and once you stop, your body heat plummets even in fairly decent weather. If not, see if you can arrange for a friend or relative to meet you at the finish line area to give you something warm. Also, have some Aleve or other pain reliever ready and take it as soon as possible after you cross the finish line.
Getting through the race:
Pace yourself. It is exciting to start out, but if you go too fast at the beginning you will have nothing left at the end. And that is the most important part!
Find a person at your pace and strike up a conversation if they are willing. I met this lady named Tigres and we got to talking and the next thing I knew I had passed mile 10. Awesome!
The first 3 miles and the last mile are the worst. Deal with it and move on.
If you start to feel like you are floundering or doubt yourself, and you will, start counting your foot strikes up to 100 and then backwards to 1. This is a technique I learned from Runner’s World, it works to distract your negative-nelly mind to get over the hump. Other techniques: count your breaths or focus on a point in the distance, imagine you are Rocky, recall a funny, happy, or entertaining memory from your childhood, think of all the things you would do if you won a million dollars in a lottery, tell yourself a story about unicorns, etc. You get the picture. Just don’t allow your mind to dwell on the horrible pain.
Remember what you are doing. Remember how rare and wonderful a person you are. Savor the moment. Smell the smells of the course, see the sights, soak up the atmosphere.
Racing is mental more than anything else. Remember that we are all crazy together.
If nothing else works, just remind yourself that you can have whatever you want after you are done, including ice cream, desserts and beer. Yay! Beer!
A little bit on etiquette:
Slow runner and walkers should stay to either side, not in the middle of the course. If you are with friends and are trying to stay together, walk or run no more than two across and stay as tight as you can. It is awful and unsafe when big groups of walkers are all walking together across the road and runners have to work that much harder to get around them.
Pay attention when aid stations are coming up and slowly ease your way over to a side. They usually are on both sides, and will have tons of volunteers from local groups with cups held at shoulder level. Just grab a cup, take as much as you need, and throw the cup to the side (try not to hit anyone). This is expected, the volunteers clean it all up.
At first, this process seems a little bit like the trepidation of your first time getting on the ski lift. You get used to it. Use your aid break to slow down for a minute.
Don’t stop willie-nillie. Plan when you slow down or stop and make sure you are not “braking” in front of someone or cutting someone off. It is a lot like traffic. Be courteous!
The finish line:
This will be the most amazing sight of your life. Whether you are running a 5K or 26.2, the finish line is a sweet sight. Relish that last half or quarter mile, give it everything you’ve got, and make sure you look up, note your time, and smile for the camera!
If you are a 10Ker or a half-marathoner, that is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself!!! Bask in the glow of your accomplishment for a little while. Stay around the finish line and cheer the other runners and marathoners on. Not only will they need it, but it is really fun and inspiring to see them coming to the finish. If you are a marathoner, try not to hate on the halfers. I once considered getting a shirt that said, “I Eat Half-Marathoners for Breakfast.” But I’m now in a much better place emotionally.
Lastly, go eat a big huge dinner and drink yourself a big ol pint of your favoritest ale. Wear your finisher’s medal and tell everyone you see that day that you just ran a race. It’s OK. You’ve earned it!!!J
Submitted by: HobbitGrrl
Hey everyone I hope you had a fantastic evening. Mine turned out a little unexpected, what was supposed to be a fun party turned into me hanging out at a friend’s house with her strange relatives. It is always nice however to be reminded that everyone has strange relatives.
As for 2009, it got off to an awesome start. I took the dog I am sitting (a golden retriever/great dane mix – pictures soon) out for a hike and an hour later my muscles were aching, but I felt like I had accomplished something! My friend Sabrina, who is joining me in our oath to be not so fat this year, found an awesome website that I’ve bookmarked CaloriesPerHour.com
Its a great reminder for those of us who think we are only burning calories if we are running. It was fun to go through the Activity Calculator and see how many calories I can burn using my actual weight and duration to calculate.
My favorite was bailing hay at 798 calories per hour, which assumes of course that someone that weighs as much as I do could actually bail hay for an hour without falling over.
The calories you burn while on the computer, playing musical instruments, and generally going about your daily life can be found here as well. See, I just burned 25 calories typing this post!