Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trot 2008

I’m thankful for 23:45!

OK, totally self-centered, but I’ll get into what I’m truly grateful for in a second! I’m also not going to do an actual race report for this one, because the day was about more than just a race.

For my second annual Mesa Mi Amigo’s Turkey Trot 2 Miler, I had to go it alone, because Lilac was having her first Thanksgiving at her house today. Since Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, and has she has a family of 2 million, I decided to not give her grief for not following through on our life long plans to run every turkey trot until we can no longer run. There’s always next year.

I had checked that the race would be on rain or shine, since it was definitely raining today, and sure enough, it was, so I got ready to end my season with a beautiful run in the rain! (For Arizonans, a rainy race is a real treat, and something that we cherish during the blistering hot summer races).

I had a fairly good run on Sunday, and I was convinced that I could go 27 minutes (a 3 min PR)… until I had a truly horrendous run on Tuesday, which made me hope I could just get through it today. I got to the event, just in time, and enjoyed people watching all the extended families with kids and grandparents who run this race. It’s such a cool experience on a holiday morning to watch families getting out there and running together. Our collective main goal, as a field, was to run hard, and then eat hard. At least that was my goal!

Race gun went off, and I ran to the turn, walked to the light, ran to the turn around walked a bit, ran to the light, walked to the park, and ran it in. 23:45 – a 6 min 15 second PR, and it felt really easy! I felt like I was trotting along easily, except for the first time ever I was passing people even who were running, and no one passed me walking while I was runnig! I know the field maybe wasn’t the most athletic, but it felt pretty cool to pass other people running, I must say.

I grinned from ear to ear, called my entire family, and then went home to settle in to let J cook for me.

Except I could tell that he wasn’t really feeling like cooking, so I took over the reigns and made the meal (for those of you who don’t know, my cooking skill prior to today centered around making cereal and toast. I also make a mean dry pb and j sandwich, but that’s about all.)

And so for the litany –

I am thankful that the turkey, red mashed potatoes, yams, and gravy all came out ok – in fact, even pretty good!

I am thankful that I have a job, a home, and money in the bank.

I am thankful for J, for the easy camaraderie we share, the love that continues to grow between us, and for the ability to spend a nice quiet Thanksgiving together (my first one at home in a decade).

I am thankful that I have my brother in town, and that I got a chance to see Dad this year for a beautiful weekend.

I’m thankful that my relationship with my mom continues to grow.

I’m thankful for Lilac, and everything we get to share together. She’s my rock, and she rocks.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my words and thoughts with others, and get to learn about other people who train, and tri, and experience life through the blog world. You are all awesome!

And I’m thankful for a 6:15 PR, because it means that the 85 hours, and 291 miles that I’ve run since Tri for the Cure have actually paid off!

Woo hoo!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I’ll see you in 2012

So I’m not a huge fan of the standard 5 year plan. I get way too anxious for that kind of thing. Reigning myself into a standard 1 year plan is hard enough. However, this weekend I volunteered at the Ironman Arizona, and after watching athletes of all shapes and sizes, of all ages, from around the globe, I had a driving need to put something down on paper. I’m officially inspired!

I’ve said all along that one of the things that I love about triathlon is that you can slowly grow with it. I’ve also said that I wanted to enjoy every distance before pounding myself through the next distance, so this is the way I laid out my plan, retroactive to April 2008. obviously there will be other races, but this is the skeleton of my year selection.

- Sprint finish
- Sprint enjoy
- Run a 10K

- Sprint compete
- Olympic finish
- Olympic enjoy
- Run a ½ marathon

- Olympic compete
- Half Ironman finish
- Run a ½ marathon in the spring, another in the fall

- Half Ironman enjoy
- Half Ironman compete
- Run a full marathon in the summer

- Finish an Ironman

Now the only place I have to determine is where. I’m totally convinced that if I’m going to train for something like this, then I’m damn sure I’m going to go someplace outside of the US for it. For me, that’s a requirement. I’ve spent the morning looking, and here is my shortlist –

Goto, Nagasaki, Japan – This one got nixed because it’s Nagasaki. Sorry, I think nuclear bombs when I think of Nagasaki. Maybe it’s just me.

Haikou, Hainan, China – I nixed this one because I’m not swimming in the water in China. I’ve seen that water in person.

Taupo, New Zealand – This one is appealing because New Zealand is beautiful, and the population is small. However, I’ve been to New Zealand, and there are other places I think I’d rather go.

Florianopolis Island, Brazil – This one has serious possibilities. My only concern is learning to say “ice water” in Portuguese but I’m pretty sure I could manage it. It’s a serious contender.

Port Macquerie, NSW, Australia, or Busselton, Western Australia – If I was leaning in one direction, it would probably be on the Port Macquerie side, since it’s close to Sydney. However, the Western Australia one is in December, and I may need that time.

Now, I know that my “been there, done that” message from China and New Zealand should apply here, but to be honest, I really really loved the sportive and personality aspects of Australia when I was there, and there’s a part of me that would love to do an Ironman there – and feel the embodiment of the freedom that the Aussies represent to me. Actually, being completely honest with myself, I’d really love to do the Geelong 70.3. It’s in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, which is near Melbourne, and I just loved all of Victoria when I went to visit.

So really, from an Ironman perspective it’s basically Australia or Brazil for me. I won’t mention that I also looked at the state and national flowers for all of the locations, already envisioning my IM tattoo. Brazil’s water lily is the best. Yes, I get that detailed when I daydream.

If I could do Geelong in February 2011, then I could do Brazil in at the end of May 2012, and be totally happy. My wallet might not be, but who knows what will happen. Right now if I had to pick one, I’m picking Port Macquerie, NSW, Australia - April 8th, 2012.

See you then!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Change is the Essence of Life

Well, due to some family issues, which because of privacy concerns I will not be disclosing, it looks like the trip to Orlando in March has been cancelled. See that big red CANCELLED stamp on my ½ marathon dreams? I sure felt it when the stamp came slamming down, but I think it’s the right decision for our collective sanity, and sometimes you have to take one for the team. At least I hadn’t submitted my registration fee yet, since I’d really be upset if I had already sent Disney my non-refundable $150.

I’m not willing to give up my ½ plans yet, though nothing else perfectly fits my planning the same way. When I initially decided to try a ½, my selection requirements were:
- Make it a big race, so you’re not alone the whole time (see – Run for Congo)
- It’s got to be either a women’s only race, OR a rock n’ roll. A women’s only rock n’ roll would be ideal, but someone hasn’t decided to put that race on yet. Trust me, it would be a great time.

My first thought was San Diego, but they only do the full marathon. I’m never ever running in LA – I might wear the wrong color and be shot at. San Jose, San Antonio, and Virginia Beach just don’t call to me. Seattle is definitely an option, but it’s at the end of June. I’d love to do the Nike Women's ½, but it’s not until October, and it’s already sold out. Eugene would be awesome and beautiful, but it’s a little intimidating to go to Tracktown for your first ½. That leaves our own P.F. Chang’s ½, on January 18th, 2009.

By the way, that is less than 9 weeks away.

My initial thought was NO!!!!!!! I had previously done the math, and had planned on being at about 8 miles of weekly long run two weeks before the race. I did not think it was realistic to pound out an extra 5+ miles on race day, which is why I started looking at March races. However, a combination of a little bit more speed than I planned, and a really successful and injury free year has meant that I’m a little bit ahead of schedule.

I had also shunned the idea of doing a “1/2 marathon training plan” primarily because every training plan I’ve followed has gotten me nothing but injuries, and I feel like the plan I’ve developed myself - the slow and steady plan – has kept me healthy, and for most part it has kept me focused and engaged. So I looked at my plan again after the Cancellation Stamp slammed down, to see if there was any wiggle room.

After some thought, I’ve decided to:
- Up just my long run days by 10 mins per week instead of 5 (keeping to the ABC formula, except that I’d go A,B,C,recovery, D,E,F,recovery, versus my current A,B,C,recovery, repeat C,D,E,recovery.
- To compensate for the added stress that I’ll be putting on my body on long run days, I’m going to keep my other training days to 100 mins or under.
- I will use swimming time from now until February 1 as recovery and efficiency of stroke practice only!
- I will really really really do a better job with my stretching.
- I will do NO running for at least 1 week after the race.

Putting this together should have me at 10.5 – 11 miles for a long run with 2 weeks out. I feel confident that if I can run 10 or 11 miles, I can add that 5K on at the end.

I can do this. I have the confidence in myself. And there’s something to be said for doing your first ½ at home. I can eat the right things the night before. I can be totally mentally prepared. I can go home and sleep in my own bed afterward with my really comfy red velvet blanket that’s heavy enough to keep me dreaming safely.

If I can’t be a princess, I guess my next choice would be to run in a Chinese (food) race, right? I can wear my Xing Fu necklace for incentive too!

And so I leave you with the quote that I am going to embrace during this somewhat shortened training plan -

“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender who you are for who you could become.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Red Letter Week

It has been an amazing week. I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve had ups and downs, and it’s been a real week of learning about myself.

First, I promise I’m not getting political here, but as a bi-racial woman, I have to say that it was really cool to see Obama get elected. I don’t think I ever realized that there was a hidden ceiling in my mind about what I could accomplish, but if it was there, it crumpled on Tuesday night. I actually did stay up and watch it, and it was spectacular. I really wish that I had been in Chicago – I bet it would have been pretty remarkable to experience live. As it was, having MSNBC announce it at 9pm (my time) and then go straight to the crowds in Chicago, DC, and NYC, and see the celebration for 5 solid minutes with no voice-overs (yes I checked my watch) was pretty cool. We may never see that kind of joyous celebration of Acceptance again, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to see it – unedited.

It’s funny because Wednesday morning, for the first time in a LONG time, I felt a sense of rampant optimism flooding my veins, and feeling like maybe, just maybe, we had a shot again, and that things could eventually get better. I’m sure I flashed one too many smiles, but it wasn’t even about political feelings, it was a release of a feeling of oppression, and overwhelming negativity that I didn’t even realize was bogging me down.

From a training perspective, my struggle with focus has led me to actually try some new things. Trying new things is NOT in my lexicon, generally speaking. I took a test several years ago that told you your Chinese elemental profile. It was deceptively simple, but had profound thoughts on balancing yourself. It was supposed to tell you an element that you had an excess off (your main element) and an element that you were deficient in, to help you balance yourself out. Except, I was so metal (think strong, sharp, straight lined form, consistent, sparkling, penetrating, unbendable, unyielding, cold) that it just told me that I had an excess of metal twice. Apparently I’m deficient in everything else. The number one thing that the test suggested to balance myself was:

“Try something that you’re not good naturally good at. Take a yoga class, or try to cook something new. You need to be uncomfortable in order to grow.”

This has stuck with me since I took the test. I still park in the same parking spot, and I still do things in a particular order every day, and I still drive the same way, and I still prepare for the day the same way, but at least I know that I SHOULD be trying new things. It’s just really really hard for me to experiment, when I always want my end result to be successful. I know that my current path is successful, but who can say that the new one will be?? Failure can put me in a tailspin. So, putting the stationary bike on “Random” instead of “Manual” is a real challenge. This week though, I did it. I also mixed up my three event day, so I biked throughout rather than just doing them in order. I ran at the bike park, outside. I made a “chicken lettuce wrap” meal for dinner this week. I’ve been doing extra stretching, specifically plank pose and down-facing-dog sets. My iPod has been on random, rather than in order – although this is because of a software glitch, and I’ll admit is absolutely driving me crazy - but it’s refreshing to hear some songs I’ve forgotten about in a different order.

So far, none of these things has been a failure, and maybe it’s even added a little fun to my day, and allowed me to focus in a different way from the consistency that I’m used to.

No word on the job front, for either team. I did hear that Mr. Turkey Sandwich got an interview, and my initial reaction was to be completely and totally bitter about the fact that I’m going to get looked over for someone who has literally schedules his calls around Oprah. It’s a total slap in the face that I would be looked over for that clown. Of course I still don’t know if I’m going to get to interview or not, but this was just my initial reaction. I spent the evening stewing about all the work that I’ve done, and all of the Oprah I’ve missed out on.

This time, J exposed me to his wisdom, which was simple – who cares if I get a manager position or not? Really, will it define me? The truth is that it will not. If I don’t get one of the manager positions, I’ll simply get the opportunity to spend more time focusing on myself and my priorities. I can coach in the spring for GOTR, I can continue to focus on my health, I can not stress out about work, because I’ll still be a minion, and that will be ok with me. Success means more stress, more travel, a little more money, but a lot more crap. So I’ve come to grips with it either way. I will be at peace regardless, and I will be able to move in a positive direction regardless.

"Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas JOY arises from within" - Eckhart Tolle