Friday, April 27, 2012

How do you measure, measure a year?

It's late April, nearly May.  That means it's time for Oklahoma.  Last year at this time, I waxed poetically about how much different my experience at the OKC marathon was going to be versus the year before.  Little did I know how true those words would be:
We don't know what race day will bring. We won't know until we get there, until we toe the line in six days.  But we do know that we will be together at the beginning. And we will be together at the end, waiting for each other at the finish, with laughter and hugs and maybe tears (happy tears - NO MORE CRYING IN RACES, DAMMIT!). 
Really, we had NO idea.So, here it is again, time to run the Race to Remember. And where are we now?    And what's in store for us this time?

Well.... of the group of White Rock Lake Girls that ran last year, only two of us are making the return trip this weekend.  Life has happened, as it is wont to do, in the intervening months since we posed for that pic above, since we sat under an awning in the pouring rain.

Kris had a baby a few weeks ago, the most chewable little bundle of Snackpacks we could imagine, and even though we tried to convince her this is precisely why Baby Bjorns and Jog strollers were invented, she opted out of the fun this time. Mel has been racing and training on her own over on the east side of town, and we don't get to see her much anymore, but she got super fast, and got bit by the triathlon bug, because she doesn't already make the most of every hour in the day!! Fiona totally conquered her first trail 50k in November, and followed up with a marathon PR at White Rock in rain (flashback much, Fi?) rivaling last year's conditions. Then she got to be super sherpa/crew to her husband as he hit 100 miles in under 24 hours. It's tough to be a ninja.  Bojana moved to New York last summer, to start a new life and new adventures.  She's racing and running, and will be toeing the line at Big Sur Marathon this weekend, fresh off a crazy 5K PR a few weeks ago.

Marci is running the full again, on her own. But not alone. Not at all.  She will carry us in her heart, and she will be cheered along the way by some more amazing friends That Pink Girl and Drum, and Team Kennemer too, when they finish their half, too.  And from afar by our other Frunners who are racing their own events that day and can't be with us in body as she goes back to Oklahoma and takes what is hers. She smashed her marathon PR in Chicago last fall, and I fully expect her to run a strong, hard and JOYFUL run this year.  She's not the same person that she was last May. She has spent the last year preparing, and training like a beast, and getting stronger and wiser and more confident. And I can't wait to finish the half, and haul my burnt-orange-clad bottom (yes, I'm wearing a Texas shirt to race in Oklahoma.  Act surprised.) to get to Mile 23 when she comes through.

Once again, we don't really know what we will get on race day.  We can refresh until we crash the site, we can do all that we know to do to prepare for that day, mentally and physically, but we won't know what will happen until it actually comes to pass. But one thing I do know, is that once again, no matter the time on the clock this race is a day when we will be surrounded and measured not by qualifying times or PRs, but measured in love.

Go getcha some, Marci!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day by Day

was talking to a friend today.  She was having a little bit of a rough day, so I echoed some advice she's given me in times before when I've been out on a metaphorical ledge, ready to jump.  I told her to take things one hour at a time, one day at a time, and not to get ahead of herself.  It's sound advice, really.  When things seem like too much to handle, when you think, "I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE," all you have to do is just take things one hour at a time, and if that's too much, then you just look the next five minutes in the face and do what you can in that moment.

I thought it was rather splendid advice.  I know it worked for me before. And I thought later on during the day that it is actually quite appropriate for where I am in my training and in my life right now.  I feel like I"m just now emerging from a web of doubt and uncertainty regarding my running and my abilities and my motivation.  With all that is going on in my real life, I purposefully disassociated myself from some social networking, and withdrew from friends both on FB and in real life. I was feeling very overwhelmed.  And I didn't want to talk to anyone about my running and my training and my progress, or lack thereof.

As we get closer to Oklahoma City Marathon, the race that was supposed to be my big goal race for the spring, I realize that I needed a little bit of down time this spring. I made the right decision when I called off my full for this year. There is no way that I could have completed a marathon training cycle during the past few months without jumping off that ledge.  There were days in the past few months where it was all I could do to roll out of bed and trudge the twenty feet to my office for work.  Thankfully I have cleaning people that swing by and pick up the house, and that my boys are mostly self-sufficient, and that my husband is both extraordinarily understanding and extremely patient. Because, y'all? I kinda sorta lost my mind here this spring.  The idea of putting on my shoes to go for even a 5k run/walk/jog/slog around to the park was not my idea of fun for the last few weeks months.  I used to love running. And I do still.  But for a while in there, as I dealt with selling my childhood home, and writing proposals for work into the late hours, and shuttling kids around to their activities, and oh, hey, you know how your dad died last year?, running was the very last thing I wanted to do.  I would literally go outside, run half a block down the street and then come to a dead stop and turn around and walk home.  I tried. I did. It just wasn't there.

So following a training plan for a full marathon would have been a nightmare. Instead of running being a release, a stress-reliever, a joy of movement and energy, running would have been one more thing on my never-ending task list.  Even when I wasn't following a formal training plan I still felt guilty that I wasn't running.  I dreaded it almost. So I didn't do it unless I felt like it.  I ran trails, slowly, and leisurely, when the weather was good and I found myself with an open Sunday morning.  I walked some. I've run a few races, slowly, and I traipsed across Texas in a van with friends.  I paced my cousin to a hot and emotionally wrenching half-marathon.  I tried yoga, somewhat unsuccessfully, as the studio schedules fit into my schedule even less than a solo run. But mostly, I've spent the last few months on the couch in the evenings, watching Sasquatch and zombie shows with my hubby and the eleven-year-old.  I've spent the last few months sleeping in a little longer, snuggling with my husband for just five more minutes after the teenager is up and in the shower, before the house erupts into the cacophony of a weekday pre-school morning.  I've spent the weekends taking naps that weren't necessarily earned by hard long runs, but rather by months of emotional exhaustion. And I've slowly, with the support and love and caring of my family and friends, come out the other side.

And guess what?  I am not running a full marathon this Sunday in Oklahoma City.  And yet the world keeps turning.  Imagine that. Instead, I'm doing the half (just a half, she sez.... HA!) and then hightailing it over to Mile 23 to support my sister-who-I-choose as she comes back to finish what she started last year.  It's a slightly different crew of folks we'll have out there this year than last (a lot happens in a year - ask Miss Karis Nicole Daniels, who didn't even exist last year), but the support and the love and the acceptance is there just the same.  And it's going to be a great race.

We're coming back for you, OKC! 
And my training?  After a spectacularly hideous race at Big D half-marathon last weekend, in which I very unceremoniously had my ass handed to me on a silver platter, I have started a 10k training plan, culminating in a goal 10k on Fourth of July.  Yes, a 10k. 6.2 miles.  That's the next goal race. I miss my 2:09 half PR. and I am only going to get that back by training for shorter, faster distances for a while.  So, a 10k. Yeah, buddy! I've successfully completed the first week of the workouts, and I did better than I thought I would. I didn't give myself enough credit.  It's going to be harder as the weeks go on, I know that. So I will have to just take it day by day, and not freak out about the workouts further down the plan, but just look at each day and get that one workout done today.

And then, in the heat of the summer, the training transitions into a half training plan, for a goal half on my birthday, at Texas Motor Speedway.  It's an aggressive training plan, for sure, as I referenced a few entries back.  It is going to be intense, and it's going to be hard when that kicks in.  But I'm ready for that.  And by not jumping right back into full marathon training after this extended hiatus, I'm recognizing my limits.  And I'm not getting ahead of myself.  Instead, I'm just taking things one day at a time, one workout at a time.  Just doing what has to get done today, and not worrying too much more about what comes next.  It's what I have to do for now, for a little longer. Day by day.

With luck, I might find time to blog regularly again!!  But let's not get ahead of ourselves!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Thursday Thirteen: The TIR Photo Edition

So, I ran the Texas Independence Relay last weekend with the team "Queens of the Road."  We each had a "Queen" nickname, and I think mine was one of the first to be chosen.  I was the Camera Queen (although my shirt says "Picture Queen" because we ran out of glittery "A" and "C" letters in the pack). I know you're shocked by this. I always have a camera in my hand at races, and am known for forcing my picture-taking ways on people I run into. 98 percent of the time, my philosophy is that if there isn't a photograph to prove it, it didn't happen.

That said, there are a few rare occasions, though, when I am camera-less and even iPhone-less, and am without a way to capture a special moment. Those times, I just pause and take it in mentally, and those frames in my mind sometimes end up being the most special, because I keep them for myself. Other times I consciously choose to go camera-less, because I am actually RACING instead of just participating and enjoying the atmosphere and the camaraderie (aaaand, competitive runners just twitched themselves to death - no, I do not RACE every race I enter, have you NOT met me?!). I'm pretty sure I could cut 5-10 minutes off my race times if I put the camera down and just ran. But where's the fun in that?

The other thing is that my photography is kind of like my running. Despite doing it an awful lot, I'm not all that great at it. I certainly have learned a lot about both, but I am far from excelling at either. I just very much enjoy both. I recently got a very nice Nikon D5100 that I absolutely love for its super fast shutter speed (4 frames per second, yo!) and ridiculously high ISO, two features that make taking a technically sound photograph relatively failproof. But, even the best tool in the world isn't going to produce a good photo if the eye behind the shutter isn't aware of things like composition and framing. And as I've learned, you can frame a group of Frunners perfectly and then when you hand the camera to someone else so you can join the shot, they will inevitably back up two feet before taking the picture. I try not to twitch when they do that, and just take the camera back, thanking them profusely while making a mental note to crop it later.

All that said, there was some spectacular scenery over the two days of TIR that really showcased our great state, and I wanted to highlight my favorite landscape shots in a special entry. Because when your teammates post pictures of you sprawled alongside a country road taking pictures, you have to show the payoff! Otherwise, you just look like a crazy person!! So here you go, my Top Thirteen Favorite TIR Photographs (in chronological order, not ranked):


Monday, April 02, 2012

Texas Independence Relay 2012

I spent last week driving south-north across (most of) Texas, and then jumped into a van with other Queens of the Road teammates for a West-to-East tour of this great state. I loved what we did last year at TIR and had to come back for more. There's about 203 miles of blog entries I could write about this experience, but for now, I leave you with the Top 17 Things I Want to Remember About TIR2012:

17. Falling out of the van. I predicted I would. I was right.  

Guess who sat in this window seat?? 
16. Meeting the fabulous StephHahnTX live and in person.
Their team smoked by us about 4 AM! 
15. Running my first leg uphill through the state park, amidst charred remains from last year's forest fires. 
Devastating to see the ruins, but it's coming back, slowly.
14. Kristi and I attacking the bag of salt and pepper kettle chips. And the mint M&Ms. Both of those things are made with crack. Have to be. 
We found a way to keep the Pringles from rolling around! 
13Elaine's tiny tiara in her hair. The WHOLE way! 
Elaine sporting tiara AND sparkly glasses!
12Lesley jumping out of the van to take on an extra leg after Dana's fall & injury. TEAM PLAYER all the way!
She only THOUGHT she was done!
And that was after taking on an extra leg already!
11Our driver Jon stopping randomly so I could take pics of wildflowers along the side of the road. 
Saturday's scenery was so, well, scenic! 
10Elizabeth taking on two legs in a row in the heat of the day, like a champ. 
10 miles, midday heat. Done. LIKE A BOSS!
9Fi and Kristi tag-teaming the final leg in matching purple sparkle skirts, pulling sub-10 miles! 

Last little stretch before the monument. Nice job, girls!
8Hanging out in the shade in Flatonia, Borden, and Weimar, waiting on runners to come in. 
Barely could enjoy the porch before it was time to move on! 
7Seeing Julie for literally two minutes at 4 AM off the side of the highway. NINE MILES! 
6My little plastic lizard friend on the hotel sink. Thanks, Alicia! 
She might have needed to get some sleep by then!! Silly girl!
5Boob ice!!
Sometimes, you just need ice in your sportsbra. Trust us. 
4Falling out of the van. A second time. Act surprised.  
Our chariot for the weekend. Apologies to whoever rents it next... 
3Longhorn cattle. Big daddy longhorn cattle. In the same field as baby koos! Hells yeah! 

Looks oddly familiar... 
2. Bluebonnets. BILLIONS of bluebonnets. Swoon. 
God blessed Texas! 
1. Meeting new friends, getting to know others more closely, and seeing the great state of Texas up close & personal in all her hot, humid glory!! 

Queens of the Road. DONE!