Friday, September 12, 2008

Becoming a Princess

For the last few months, I have been thinking about my continued training, and what my semi-long term goals are - i.e., beyond the Mission Bay Sprint Triathlon, and the Run for Congo Women 10K, which are my current training goals. They both occur in October, and I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go from there. I’m thoroughly enjoying both running and tri-ing, and as my training plan progresses, I’m starting to move to higher distances. The question is really what I want to focus on next.

I’m all about slow and steady progression. I don’t make outrageous goals, and train like crazy to get there – because all that I’ve gotten out of that path is injury and frustration. Rather, I try to see where I will be if I continue with my current training plans, and see what might be an option at some point in the future. I want to still be running and tri-ing when I’m 80 – so why should I rush to run a marathon this year? I want to enjoy the process that comes from training for each level, and enjoy the success of completing each level – without saying “well it’s only a sprint” or “it’s only a 10K”. Each one of those milestones is a big deal – and I want to celebrate each of the successes.

From a triathlon perspective, the Mission Bay Tri will be my fourth sprint distance. Although it seems like most people move from the sprint to Olympic distance within a season, I feel like I still have a lot of opportunity for improvement here. I specifically want to improve my cycling speed which is atrociously bad (and becoming unafraid of my bike would be a good start). I’d also like to do a bigger race, maybe tackle Tempe Town Lake, and participate with my tri club in a club race. I don’t really want to move up in distance until I feel like I can get through the sprint and it’s a piece of cake. My training has me very confident for the Mission Bay Tri, because I’m doing longer distances than the event is basically every day, including stringing all the events together on Saturdays. The bike thing is a problem though – something I’ll probably be blogging about at some point soon.

Since I’m running 6 miles on my “long” runs now, I’m fairly confident about the Run for Congo Women event as well. I have complete confidence that I’ll be able to finish the race and feel good about it….which is probably part of the reason that I’m starting to look beyond the race to think about where I want to go from there. We all know what the next step is – the half marathon, but it’s a big leap, and in order to prepare myself for taking that leap, I’ve thought a lot about when I think I’ll be nearing that point in my training and what would inspire me to keep growing my distance.

My first thought was the P.F. Chang’s 1/2. I mean, if you’re going to get out there, it helps to have a zillion other slow runners, bands at every mile, and cheerleaders pushing you forward. However, the race is in January, and I think it would be too much of a stretch physically. According to my calculations, I’ll only be at about 8.5 miles for my “long” runs. Because I know myself, that will make me panic, and I’ll start pushing the mileage buildup, and will wind up injured.

If I couldn’t do P.F.Chang’s, I wanted to get involved in a charitable organization that meant something to me, and would give me the incentive to train for a ½ marathon that would be out of town. I knew that programs like Team in Training come with HUGE price tags, and although I wanted to support a charity, I did not want to go door to door to beg for money, and I certainly did not want to put a credit card number down for $3,000 - $5,000. I was thinking that I wanted to personally donate somewhere between $200 - $500, and feel good about why I was running the event. What I found was that even local charities have four digit fundraising requirements. I was pretty shocked by it. You’d think non-profits would be looking for money wherever they could find it… but apparently that’s not the case. I have a lot of respect for anyone who is willing to do fundraising for something they are passionate about – I just haven’t felt strongly enough about an organization to make that kind of commitment.

And then I found Team Tiara.

Team Tiara is actually the fundraising leg for Girls on the Run. I found out about them during my coaches training last Saturday. 80% of donations goes directly the the Maricopa County chapter, which is great. Even better, their minimum donation is $262, with incentives for raising higher dollar figures – which means I can do it out of pocket, and actually SEE the results directly. My company has a matching incentive program, so even with the minimum donation I’d be able to help 5 girls join the program on full scholarship next season. They also do not have an official race, so you can participate in ANY event for them – any distance, anywhere, on any date. I like that kind of flexibility. It took me about 12 seconds to decide that this was going to be my charity. The only thing to find was the right race.

I got home from the coaches training just buzzing about this opportunity. I was telling J all about the training, the lessons, and Team Tiara as I started mindlessly flipping through the new Runners World that had come in the mail – and within the first 5 pages, without even looking for it, I found my race: The Inaugural Disney Princess ½ Marathon. Is there are better event for Team Tiara?

Although I’m not really a big Disney fan (I don’t dislike them, I just also do not particularly identify myself with Snow White, or Tinkerbell), this ½ is perfect for several reasons:
- It’s a women’s only race
- It’s a perfect event for Girls on the Run and Team Tiara, and getting in the spirit of why I’m running the race
- It’s in March, at which point I’ll be consistently around the 10 mile mark (knocking on wood), which I think is close enough to push through the end on that day, without stressing too much beforehand
- My step-daughter, Little Tova, lives in Florida, and we’ve wanted to take her to Disney forever – she’s all about Disney Princesses!
- There’s a kids race where she’ll get a t-shirt and a medal for a 200 yard dash
- It would be good for her to see women celebrating their activity and healthy lifestyle

If all goes well with the Run for Congo Women, I’m going to sign up for this race. And when I finish it, I’m going to feel great about the accomplishment of stringing 13 miles together, of being a good role model for my step-daughter, and of making a difference for girls in AZ who could benefit from Girls on the Run. Oh, and for becoming a Princess!

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