Monday, July 12, 2010

Big news!

I have some big news!

I've sadly decided not to continue with my current Team in Training campaign for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. Please don't hate me. I'm so so so so so dedicated to the cause, and I'm still going to fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as the team captain of Team Mom for the LLS's Light the Night campaign this year (4th year! Woohoo!). But, I just can't dedicate myself to raising the $3,900 for the Nike Women's between now and October. Life has gotten a little rough in the last few months, and I'm trying to remove as many stressors as possible at the moment. Unfortunately, I can't give up law school, which is the stressor I really want to eliminate!

Check out my fam at Light the Night two years ago. Darn, we're cute!

This absolutely does not mean that I'm going to stop training! In fact, there's a trail marathon here in Georgia (the North Face Endurance Challenge) on the same day as the Nike Women's, and I've already gone ahead and registered. I might even do a road marathon a month before that (The Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio). I'll keep you posted on my developing racing plans!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The bike race that wasn't

On Saturday, my roommate Jessica, our friend Paul and I headed up to north Georgia for the Georgia Games.

As you can see in the banner above, it's sort of Georgia's version of the Olympics. Jess, Paul and I were there for the Road Cycling Championships. Jess and I were riding in Women's Category 4, which was a 38-mile course, and Paul was in Men's Category 4, which was a 53-mile course.

Paul has a truck, so he picked up our bikes at 6:00 AM, and Jess and I rode up there separately in Jess's car so we wouldn't all have to squish into the cab.

We had NO IDEA what we were getting into! When we got there, we realized that we were all way out of our league--Jess and I moreso than Paul. We walked into a parking lot full of expensive bikes, pro racers, and frantic coaches.

We were tragically unmatched. Paul at least had appropriate apparel and shoes; Jess and I were wearing our running shoes and brought CamelBaks! We stuck out like sore thumbs as soon as we exited our vehicles. Even better yet, Jess doesn't have a road bike; she has a hybrid! We practically got laughed off the course before it even started.

Here we are getting ready to roll:

Most of the bikers competing were professionals. We were nearly the only bikers who weren't on teams, and we were probably the only bikers who hadn't been training constantly for months.

Result? Jess and I were dropped from the race in MILE 2. Yep, you read that right. Mile 2. Jess didn't clear the first hill with the main field, and when I told the support vehicles that I was going to slow down and wait for her to catch up, they went ahead and passed me.

Did we let it stop us? HELL NO. Jess and I finished the full 38 miles, not stopping once, and we finished strong. What do I mean when I say we "finished strong"? I mean that we finished the best that we could, and we were hella proud. We raced against ourselves, and, in the end, we still won that thing. 38 miles is a distance record for both Jess and I, and we ended up averaging a few miles-per-hour faster than we usually ride.

We showed up, and we did it. That's more than most people can say! (Thanks to Kristin for reminding us of that!)

Top-5 Lessons I Learned:
  • You cannot be daunted by people just because they have better equipment. Anyone with money can buy a fancy bike; it doesn't mean they can use it. Could I have kept up with the main field of pro racers, with their fancy bikes, wheelsets, and shoes? Certainly not for the whole 38 miles, but I could have given them a run, even in my running shoes and toe clips. I have strength, and I have heart. Take that, schmucks who made fun of me!

  • You absolutely cannot let people tell you what you can and cannot do. Only you know how much you're capable of, and you're probably capable of twice that much if you really want it. A friend of ours told Jess she wouldn't be able to do 38 miles at all on her hybrid bike. Not only did she do it, but she kicked ass, too.

  • You have to push yourself a little to know what you're made of. How will you know how far you can go if you don't try to find that limit? I knew it was probably silly to sign up for a cycling race for a distance I had never done in training. How did I know that I'd be able to race 38 miles? I totally didn't! But I really needed to know if I could, and I knew I'd never find out until I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

  • You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em... You've also got to know what legitimate reasons for folding are. When I didn't see Jess come over the top of the first climb right behind me, I had a choice. I could hold back and wait for her, or I could catch up with the main field and trust that she'd catch up soon. I knew where my priorities were, though. Jess and I hadn't shown up to race the main field and sprint for first at the end--we'd shown up to finish the race. Riding with Jess was much more important.

  • You have to own your victories. Yes, you may think that Jess's and my performance at the Georgia Games was embarrassing. Sure, we were dropped in mile 2. Sure, we were repeatedly made fun of by other racers and some of the volunteers and staff. But, Jess and I got up Saturday morning, drove to north Georgia, and finished a 38-mile cycling race. You can't take that away from us.

My unofficial 6th lesson is: Stick to running! Ha! At least for now.

Have you ever shown up to a race and found yourself tragically unmatched with the competition? What did you do?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The news up till now

Please don't hate me for being so negligent about blogging! I'm terribly sorry!

Let me tell you what's been going on up till now:
  • Everyday, I've continued my training, which is usually:
    • Monday: weight training & swimming (1.2 miles)
    • Tuesday: run (3 miles)
    • Wednesday: shorter bike ride (20ish miles)
    • Thursday: run (3 miles)
    • Friday: longer bike ride (30ish miles)
    • Saturday: rest/yoga/walk
    • Sunday: long run
  • July 1st: last summer exam!
  • July 3rd: 14-mile run!
  • July 4th: Peachtree Road Race 10K!
  • July 6th: last day of work at the library!

It's been crazy recently!

So, yes. I ran 14 miles on Saturday and then promptly ran another 6.2 at the Peachtree Road Race on Sunday. Am I insane? Why, yes! Yes, I am!

You see, I had to fit in a 14-miler this past weekend for my marathon training. First, I thought about getting up early and running 8 of the miles before the race started on Sunday, but I would have had to start running at 3:30 AM, which I just don't do. It's still far too dark at 3:30 AM for me to feel safe. Also, I wanted to be able to race the Peachtree (at least a little), so I didn't want to wear myself out with 8 miles beforehand. Then, I thought about putting in the extra 8 after the race. That plan just wasn't ideal either though because (a) it would be way too hot after the race, and (b) I wanted to relax at the post-race party afterwards! Lastly, I thought about splitting the 14 and doing 8 on Saturday and 6 on Sunday, but I wouldn't get the experience of the full 14.

Conclusion: Run 14 on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. I had to do it.

The 14-miler was good. It wasn't my best showing, and I wasn't begging for more after my Garmin beeped at 14, but I finished. I had a minor accomplishment along the way: I destroyed a hill that I thought would destroy me. We're talking a .5-mile-long, >1%-grade climb.

Can you see that mess?

Do talk to yourself (out loud or otherwise) while you're running? I totally talk to myself! All the time. I have a variety of mantras I chant to myself. Among my favorites for hills are:

  • You don't have to win, you just have to finish
  • Slow is smooth, smooth is fast
  • Pain is temporary, quitting is forever
  • I'm a warrior. I'm a WARRIOR!

I knew I'd hit the monster around the 10-mile mark, so I started psyching myself up around mile 9. I didn't know if any of my usual mantras were going to be enough to power me up the beast, so I started the pep talk early, hoping a new mantra would come to me. It did.

My pep talk started with me reminding myself about the "real" purpose of many competitions: Separating the men from the boys. Yes, it's sexist, but it worked. I had the following conversation with myself for about 5 minutes: "This hill is going to separate the men from the boys. Are you a man, or are you a boy? Are you going to be scared, or are you going to dominate? Are you a child? Are you no stronger than a child? No! I'm a man! I'M A MAN!" The whole way up the hill, I chanted to myself, "I'm a man! I'm a man! I'm a man!" Yes, the other runners and bikers moved to the other side of the path and probably thought I had lost my marbles, but it worked.

What do y'all say to yourselves to keep you going? Do you say it out loud, or just in your head?

Post-run, I iced and tried to take it easy. I was sore as all get-out, and I wanted to run some semblance of a decent race at the Peachtree. I ate all the carbs in the house! It was fantastic.

Sunday morning, I took the train up to the starting line, bright and early. I was greeted by a bevy of race photographers! Ack!

Surely someone could have told me that I had constructed the most poorly-matching, altogether-hideous running outfit ever? If you're wondering, "Did she get dressed in the dark?", the answer is yes. Of course, I did pack the day before...

Anyway, the Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10K in the country, and I ended up racing it with 55,000 of my closest buddies!

(photos from

It was the 41st running of the race, and it's become quite an Atlanta tradition! The whole 6.2 miles were lined with live music, spectators, and vendors. There were kids with water guns shooting us, and even the fire department was out there with their hoses! Everyone is cheering the whole time--it really helps ya keep going!

The first three miles weren't bad at all. They were mostly downhill, and I felt really good, despite waking up to sore legs from my Saturday run.

After those three downhill miles, it was pretty much three uphill miles. Ouch. I ran through almost all of it--only walking through the water stops--but I only ran so much because walking hurt more than running! Weird how that happens, eh? I tried to walk once on the hill Atlantans call "Cardiac Hill," but my calves started screaming, so I starting running again within a few seconds. By the end of the 10K, I was so ready to be done!

I crossed the line at 1:06:47. Also not my best showing, but I did it on sore legs! I'm an F-ing machine! I picked up my t-shirt and some grub, and then I wandered around looking for Jeff.

A lot of people run the Peachtree just for the t-shirt. There's a huge competition for the t-shirt design every year. This year, a chick from my alma mater (University of West Georgia) won! I think it's a pretty cool-looking shirt.

The t-shirts are coveted by Atlantans. They get you discounts and free things all over the city, and you can only get one by running and finishing. I used mine to get a free beer at Milltown Arms and a $4 burrito at Willy's. I wish I could have leveraged it for more, but...well...I wasn't walking so well. It sucked. I couldn't even go to the fireworks show I wanted to see! That's what I get for putting in 20 miles in 2 days, but I'd say it was worth it!

Coming up, I'm competing in the Georgia Games!

I'm doing a 32-mile road cycling race on Saturday with my friend Paul. It's going to be my first cycling race! I'm so excited!