My husband and friend tried to kill me

The Chicago Tri is 13 days away and I had my first group, open water swim this past Saturday.  And by group I mean I swam with Brian and my friend Nicole.  Nicole competed in Ironman last year and is an EXTREMELY strong swimmer.  So it was nice to get in the water with her to get some tips and pointers.  I had wanted to get in the water with more people than just Brian for some time, but it’s so hard to coordinate schedules.  But I had wanted to do it because I wanted to get a more realistic feel for swimming in a group – and while two people doesn’t necessarily constitute a group, trust me, I got the full “group swim” experience thanks to those two.

Let’s just say my first group swim was terrifying. I hated every single minute of it, but it’s what I needed to prepare for the triathlon.  Nicole, unlike Brian, who’s my husband and who can’t tell me what to do unless he wants “the look” that all wives are capable of when their husbands piss them off, kicked my butt.  Nicole, being the friend she is – the one who calls me on my shit – was the perfect one to do a group swim with because she wouldn’t let me off the hook.

First, she said I had to take the lead swimming and that I was going to be responsible for sighting, which typically doesn’t happen when I swim with Brian.  And when I say it doesn’t typically happen with Brian, I mean it’s NEVER happened with Brian.  I let him take the lead and sight.  I figure I have enough to worry about just trying to swim, I don’t need the extra pressure of trying to sight too.  I always make Brian swim to my right so I can see him and then when I can no longer see him, I stop – pop out of the water – realize I swam off course and then readjust.  So this time Nicole was making me take the lead.  Let’s just say we did not hit the mark I was given.  But I did practice sighting.  But I really shouldn’t call it sighting as much as I should call it, stopping all momentum as I pick my whole body out of the water to look around and then completely readjust where I am swimming.  As I explained to Brian and Nicole at one point when they were asking me, what landmark I was going to use to keep me on course and I said, “the dock”… but I told them part of my problem with sighting is…. I can “see” the dock from here and from over there and from way over there – so while I’m seeing it and sighting it, I’m still swimming off course, because I can still “see it”.  I just take a really curvy way to get there.  But I was not too concerned about not being able to sight well  because I soon realized sighting was the least of my concerns.

Besides having to do my own sighting, I was also supposed to do my best to treat the swim as the real thing, that included reacting or not reacting to “other swimmers”.

The first time Nicole came up from behind me and bumped into me while swimming, I stopped, panicked and looked at her like “what the fuck!?” (I may actually have said it too – I can’t truly remember).  She said, that I need to get used to it because that’s going to happen.  And then I panicked some more.  She asked me what I’m going to do if that happens on race day and I said, I’ll stop and let everyone go around me or get away from me!  Well, apparently that’s not a real plan.  I thought so, but Brian and Nicole did not.  So when Nicole told me I had to deal with it because it was going to happen on race day, I truly wanted to quit.  And while I fought back the vomit, a tear or two may have escaped.  I was truly panicking on the inside and wasn’t doing too good of a job hiding it on the outside either.  Let’s not forget that I’ve only been swimming for two months!  Having people bump into me while swimming is such a fear inducing act, it’s almost indescribable.

But if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen so I had to keep swimming.

Long story short, I spent the entire 1/2 mile swim having Nicole and Brian throw everything at me.  They swam right next to me so I couldn’t complete my stroke, they bumped me, they cut in front of me, they swam right behind me so I’d kick them, they kicked water at me, they swam in front and then promptly stopped in front of me so I’d have to swim around them, etc.  I’m not going to lie, it was HORRIBLE.  And besides feeling panicked, I was also just so pissed.  I wanted to just be able to swim and not have to deal with all of this.  Swimming (and now sighting) is hard enough for me, why couldn’t they just let me be and let me swim????

But I know why, because on race day, the other swimmers aren’t going to just “let me be”!

And this is what I have an issue with.  As I was talking to them about it later, I don’t understand why swimming into other people is acceptable.  I mean, I don’t run into other people.  When running, even in the most crowded spaces, runners do everything they can to NOT run into another person.  And we certainly don’t bang into each other, rub tires or throw another biker off course.  Why isn’t it the same with swimming?  Brian and Nicole said it’s because you can’t see while swimming.  But I can see!!!  I saw them in front of me, I saw them alongside of me.  I could see!!!

So, while I hated every single, fricken stroke of the swim – I’m so unbelievably happy that I experienced it.  I’m going swimming with Nicole again later this week, and while the thought of having her run me over while swimming makes me a bit sick to my stomach, I know in the long run – I’ll be better off because of it.  It’s just definitely not something I could ever look forward to.  But it is good practice.  Which makes me think, that all coaches and blogs talk about making sure that triathletes get out of the pool and do enough open water swims to prepare for race day.  And while that’s true I think the biggest miscue by the experts is not making people do group swims.  And I don’t mean group swims where everyone spreads out nicely and goes about their business, I mean group swims where your husband and friend deliberately try to scare and drown you!  Okay, maybe they weren’t trying to drown me, but it felt like it at the time.

So to any newbies out there that may be reading this blog, make sure you have a spouse and friend that love you enough to try to drown you!  You’ll thank them for it!

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)







From the depths of hell, otherwise known as, my weekend training runs

Well, I ran two long training runs this past weekend and I lived to tell about it!  Barely!

The two words that best sum up my 5.5 hour training run on Saturday, “fucking brutal!” And no, I’m not being dramatic, actually if there was a level of agony below fucking brutal, that is the level I was running at for over half of my long run.  The humidity, heat and sun were the daggers to my mental and physical capabilities.

Here is a quick recap of the highlights, or low lights as they should be called.

  • I had strategically parked my car, and developed a route in a strategic way that I was able to crew for myself for the whole run and I didn’t need Brian.  But about one hour into my run, my support crew (AKA Brian) showed up on the route with cowbell in hand.  I would soon find out how damn glad I was that he was out on the route with me.
  • Forty-five minutes into my run I stopped at a gas station and chatted briefly with two elderly gentlemen who were walking but stopped at the station for coffee.  When they asked what I was doing for the day and after I told them I was running for 5.5 hours, they were a bit concerned.  But I reassured them I was being safe.  There concern was sweet.
  • These gentlemen weren’t my only support from strangers, a woman who I ran past on the sidewalk smiled and clapped for me.  I found that endearing and yet odd.  She had no idea how long or how far I was running.  For all she knew I was out for a 2-mile jog.  Would she have clapped for me if I was only running for 2 miles compared to 5.5 hours?
  • As I mentioned earlier that I had my car positioned so I could run a few different out-n-backs and refuel when I got back to the car.  Well, thankfully Brian was out on the route as I needed much, much more support than anticipated.
  • I froze wet wash cloths and towels and used them about every hour to cool off.  They were small, cool gifts from god and I thank my co-worker Laura for the idea.
  • I was putting ice cubes in my water bottles but they didn’t last very long,  Melted in less than a minute.
  • Did pretty well as far as fuel goes.  I used energy gels, rice wraps and even managed to throw in a handful of Doritos into the mix.  I told you guys that I was going to find a way to eat Doritos on the run!
  • Listened to an audiobook and that helped time tick away.  You really have to pay attention to what you are listening to or you’ll miss too much and you’ll be lost.  Between having to re-listen to a few chapters twice and not listening to the book the last 2 hours, I still managed to get through almost 20 chapters of the book.  I’d be curious to see if I could actually get through an entire book in one long run.  Okay, maybe I don’t want to find that out, that could be really depressing if I could.
  • As I was running early, before the sun got too high in sky and before the humidity really got nasty, I was trying to rank how I felt.  On a scale of 1-10, I was at a 5.  I figured that was pretty good with all things considered.
  • And then that 5 started falling.
  • Falling fast.
  • The heat, oh god, the heat.
  • I had fallen to a 2 when I stopped under a tiny tree to try to get a bit of shade.  I was doubled over huffing and puffing.  All I wanted to do was stop.  Just stop running.  “I can’t make it”, ran through my head more than once.
  • Then those words past my lips.  The dreaded and never spoken, “I can’t do this” was muttered.  Once my thoughts actually turn into words… that’s scary.
  • I sat there, doubled over with exhaustion, with A LOT more to run and I didn’t know what to do.  I knew I had to stop.  I couldn’t go any farther.
  • And that’s when I started running once again, once again going “just a bit farther”.
  • I questioned my ability to not only finish this training run, but to finish the Fall 50.  If I couldn’t even get through 5.5 hours, how the hell was I going to get through a run that could take me 14-15 hours to complete?
  • I contemplated this while I ran.
  • And then I stopped again.  And this is when my “2”, became a “1”.  I couldn’t even make it 2 minutes without stopping.  I was so so so overheated.
  • Oh yeah, did I mention I had also hyperventilated twice?  I was on the side of the road, under a tree, with my husband watching and hyperventilating as the cars whizzed past.
  • This was just as good of a time as any to start crying.  Yep, on top of everything else, I was now crying.  I’m not sure if Brian knew I was crying because the tears mixed so well with the constant sweat dripping down my face that you really couldn’t tell what was tears and what was sweat.
  • So let’s picture this, I had over 1.5 hours yet to run, it was only getting hotter, and more humid, shade was basically nonexistent, I’m hyperventilating and crying on the side of the road…. not exactly the picture of someone doing something epic.
  • At this point, I tried to think about my options.  I knew I HAD TO STOP RUNNING, I knew I could not go on because I would not make it.
  • And then I started running again.
  • I managed to pull myself together a bit and ticked off another 45 minutes of running.
  • I only had 45 minutes left, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a lifetime of running when all you want to do is stop. And it’s this time when I see a cute, tiny, peppy girl running, who was probably only running 3 miles total and sure as hell didn’t have 4 hours and 45 minutes under belt, came towards us and with all her perkiness said, “hi”.  WTF?!!  How dare she?!  She might as well have called me a whore and spit on me because her perky “hi” was about to get her beat down.  If I wasn’t so tired I would have tackled her and beat the cheer right out of her.  And I pretty much said this to Brian, which I think were the first words I said to Brian in hours of running together.  And in Brian’s words…. “that’s my girl”.  That’s when he knew I was going to finish my long run… if I still  had enough in me to hate this total stranger, I still had enough “grit” in me to finish.
  • And my total and utter hatred for this peppy girl, should be a warning for anyone who’s going to come out and support me during the Fall 50… don’t offer happy, cheery support.  Don’t do it.  I beg of you, don’t. Just ask Brian.  He stood there silent as I cried and hyperventilated on the side of the road.  And that was EXACTLY what I needed.  There was nothing he could have said that would have been acceptable at that moment, nothing.  Silence was exactly what I needed and he knew it.  And that’s why I love him!
  • I ended up running 27.25 miles and 5.5 hours.  Granted it took me almost 7 hours to run 5.5 hours (don’t ask) but I did it.  It was one of the toughest runs – if not the toughest – run I’ve ever run (San Diego is still right up there, but I think this run may have dethroned San Diego as the worst run ever).

I had a 2.5 hour run on Sunday, but the shorter distance, and much-needed shade provided by the route I ran, basically makes Sunday’s run forgettable in my mind.  What wasn’t forgettable was my crew.  And by crew, I once again mean Brian.  Not only did I wake him up at 4:45am so we could drive to Door County for my run, but he sacrificed his own workout to bike alongside of me and offer support.  I never in a million years imagined I’d need as much support during my training runs as I do.  I thought it would be like any other year when I ran on my own (albeit a lot longer distances), that I’d be pretty self-sufficient, but it’s not the case.  This training is kicking my ass and I really needed Brian this week both for physical support as well as mental and emotional support too.

So, while I hit a low of  “1” during my run on Saturday, I was able to crawl through that dark hole and I eventually came out the other side.  I’m not sure what next week’s 6.5 run will hold for me or any of the training runs after that, and I sure don’t know what the Fall 50 holds for me.  But what I do know is I fought like hell to finish that run and I couldn’t be more proud that I did.

I was too stubborn to quit and I did something epic!

Until next time,

Gotta run

#toostubborntoquit #doepicshit

13.1 miles of sights, sounds and “signs”

Anyone that knows me or has followed me for some time knows that I had a HUGE problem running on my own.  I typically do most training runs and almost all races with either my husband or friends.  Last summer I started training by myself and I surprised myself and made it through okay.  And in 2010, I started doing one race a year on my own.  Yesterday I finished the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon on my own even though I had a lot of friends running it that I could have tagged along with and could have had fun with running as a group.  But it’s a different experience running a race alone.  I’m not fast, so I’m not actually competing but running on my own allows me to run my race and experience things that I may otherwise miss if I was talking to a friend the whole 13.1 miles.

Here’s the race as I experienced it:

I got to the start early so I had plenty of time to see nervous first-timers.  I saw anxious runners scrambling to find the starting line, relay teams ribbing team members on who’s going to be the slowest among them, kids kissing their moms and dads good-bye and wishing them luck and the parents promising to see them at the finish line.  I actually listened, probably for the first time, to the sound track the marathon had playing for the runners and spectators to enjoy while mingling around.  I took all the start sights and sounds in and I really enjoyed it because I not only didn’t have the nerves I normally have for a big run, but I was completely alone and was really able to be in the moment.

And as the starting gun went off and we started running, I purposely kept my music off.  I instead listened to the runners around me and I heard everything from people giving each other advice, to people joking and in general a lot of exciting banter.  But what I didn’t expect to hear was the footsteps of 8,000+ runners hitting the pavement. I had never ever noticed the sound of all of our collective feet running as a group before and it was pretty damn cool.  It’s even more cool to realize I was just a tiny part of that sound and realized – that what I once learned in school was really true – that the sum is really greater than the parts!

As I was running it was great to just be able to take in all sights and sounds.  I always have been a person who looked around and read the signs that strangers hold on the side of the road but running by yourself really lets you take even more in.  I got to see the group of 5 friends who were trying to spot their runner and when one finally saw her coming she yelled, “here she comes” and all the friends started jumping up and down, waving and cheering for their friend.  The excitement they had for spotting their friend was contagious, I couldn’t help but smile.

I saw how happy the little kids got when they got high-fives from total strangers that ran past them.  I tried to high-five as many as I could and each and every one was so excited and that gave them the extra encouragement they needed to keep their little arms out stretched no matter how tired they got.

Running by myself gave me the opportunity to chit-chat with other runners that I knew.  It’s amazing how many people I can spot that I knew in a crowd of thousands.  It was fun being able to talk to them for some time until one of us decided it was time to say “good-bye and good luck” and pick up the pace and move on.

There were a few places on the course that had a wall of spectators on both sides of the road and as we ran past it was like running through a tunnel full of cheers. I got goosebumps listening to it and thinking ahead to running New York in fall and anticipating what millions of people will sound like compared to the hundreds in Green Bay.

I was getting pretty warm during the run and a few families who lived along the route were nice enough to put sprinklers and hoses out for us to run through.  And I ran through them all.  It’s probably one of the few times, as an adult, you can run through a sprinkler and get away with it (sans being a parent and doing it with your own kids).  I think I ran an extra half a mile from zig zagging all over the road to get to the sprinklers.  But it was totally worth it.

I made a point of not looking at my watch while I was running because I figured I wasn’t going to do well (because of the heat and the fact I was on my feet the past 2 days working the expo) and I didn’t want to bum myself out by seeing poor mile splits.  But late in the run I thought to myself… “I wonder how I’m doing, I think I’m actually having an okay run.”  So it wasn’t until mile 12 that I snuck a peek at my mile split.  And I was thrilled!!  It was about a full 60 seconds faster than I had run in training.  So, even though I was on the verge of overheating, I gave myself the green light to “go for it” in the last mile.  I ran and I ran hard and it felt good.  Okay, I lied.  It felt HORRIBLE then, but now it feels good.

Running by myself gave me the freedom to run as fast or as slow as I wanted and I didn’t have to apologize to anyone for holding them back or wish I could go faster if I was with someone a bit slower than I wished to run.  I had freedom and it was fun.  I pushed through to the end and was rewarded by the sound of people yelling my name.  About 10 feet before the finish line I saw a bunch of friends (my fellow Operations Team buddies) along the fence all screaming my name.  While I was so damn tired and I couldn’t actually acknowledge them as I ran past, I was smiling from ear to ear on the inside.

Once I crossed the finish line, I soon saw my husband who is the Director in charge of the finish line so he was busy working.  But he was able to break away and hug me and congratulate me.  He said he was proud of my time, because unbeknownst to me, he was getting updates on my progress and my pace from the rest of the Ops Team that was tracking me along the way.  He too knew my time was way beyond anything I thought I could run.

I had a hard time recovering from the heat and my effort but once I did, and I left the finisher’s chute to go out to the runner reunite area I heard the post-party band playing.  I couldn’t instantly make out the song but after I listened a few more seconds I realized they were playing “Let it Be”, a song that has very special and significant meaning to me.  And I got pretty teary eyed.  Not just because of the song, but because of the entire day.  I have read a lot lately on how people need to pay more attention to the “signs” that the universe puts in front of them.  And I am desperately trying to pay attention to any sign given to me.  And Let it Be, was definitely a sign.  I’m not sure what it means just yet but hopefully I will soon.

So, as I wrap up my Half Marathon recap and I start to prepare both mentally and logistically for the marathon I am running this Sunday, I will leave you with this thought.  Running, truly is a spectator sport.  It may not be an obvious spectator sport like football or basketball but I think it’s actually more inspiring to watch than either of those two.  The human spirit you will witness is crazy… all you have to do is know how to read the signs as they pass you by.

Until next time,

Gotta run.

Heat + 16 miles + me = Not good

What the fuck is going on with the weather in this county?  Seriously, I ask you… what the fuck?  I don’t think I have enough F-words to properly convey how much I hate running in the heat.  If you’ve followed my blog over the years you know I overheat easily and my ideal running temperature is 45 degrees.  Well, then you can just about guess that 90, 92 and 95 and humid is NOT what I call ideal.  Good lord, I may just explode.  And Saturday’s long training run in heat made for one of the toughest runs I’ve had since I hyperventilated twice in last year’s marathon.

Saturday morning I had set out to run a 16-miler in the heat.  I had tried my best to avoid the heat by running at 6:30am but by mile 1 I was a sweaty mess.  I have a gas station I use at  mile 1 as a bathroom and water stop.  I had full-blown sweat literally dripping from me and I learned I should never look in the mirror again while I’m running.  It didn’t just run down my face, it dropped off in big puddles.  And this was mile ONE!!!  Or lord, this did not bode well for the next 15 miles.

As not to bore you with the mile by mile sweat tabulations, let’s just say it was not good and I’ll give you the highlights.

  • At one point I ran past a nice home with a sprinkler system and they were watering their lawn.  And yes, I used their sprinkler!  I tried the best I could to cool off in their sprinkler but stopped short of actually running or standing in it – but I did stick my head and legs in it.
  • I was running in a white dry fit shirt and it was 100% see through by the time I was done running. And not from me splashing water on myself, but instead from my sweat.  But I was so hot and disoriented that I didn’t really care at that point.  Right now, thinking back at it, I’m pretty horrified.
  • Around mile 8 I realized this was a really bad run and it would probably only get worse.  But I was 8 miles away from home so had no option but to continue on.
  • Around mile 10 I made a deal with myself that if I just crawled my way to mile 13, I could stop and walk the rest of the way home.
  • When I actually hit mile 13, I thought, “I haven’t stopped and walked before and I’m not about to start now”.  Onward!~
  • Even though I talked myself into continuing it was also a bit disheartening because it meant I had 3 more horrible miles to endure.  I kind of wanted to cry at this moment.
  • Shortly after I decided to keep running and not walk (I also decided not to find a shade tree and just sit there until the owner of the property asked me to leave) I saw my husband.  He had left the house about 15 minutes after me, did a 25 mile bike, an 8 mile run and still had time to worry about me not being home so he got in the car to come and look for me.  AND I STILL HAD 3 MILES TO GO – GOOD LORD! THIS WAS DEFINITELY A BAD RUN!
  • For the next 3 miles I had my very own cheering section and personal water stop captain kindly acted out by my husband.  He drove ahead of me and then would pull over and wait for me with water and a cold towel.  When I was done, he would go 1/2 to 1 mile in front and wait for me all over again.  He did this until I was done running and I was thrilled.  Especially because I had to ad lib a part of my route and this meant I finished my run 1 mile from home.  If he hadn’t waited for me I would have had to walk home but instead I drove home in the cool comfort of the AC!
  • When I finally finished – because of the struggle of this run and because I was so appreciative of my husband rocking the route for the last 3 miles that I was a bit emotional and I had to fight back tears.  That emotional state paired with the physical struggle of the run kicked my wheezing and hyperventilating into gear.  I fought it off for the most part and it was more wheezing than a full attack, but nonetheless, it was not a fun way to end the run.

So, there you have it – a look at the highlights, or perhaps they were the low lights, of my last long run.  There’s a heat advisory in effect for my town until the end of the week.  The extended forecast also shows nothing but heat and humidity.  So I’m guessing I will have more bad runs than good ones this summer.  I just hope running New York will be worth it.  What am I saying?  Of course it will.

Until next time,

Gotta run…. slow and in the shade!

I’m one sweaty chick

Well, I did it.  I got my 13.1 mile training run in this weekend.  I wasn’t looking forward to it for a few reason but mainly because I was going to be running it alone and I was going to be running it in the heat.  Neither of which I really enjoy.  I got up early on Sunday to try to get out the door before the weather became completely unbearable.  That meant I was running by 6:30am.  Yikes.  That’s not enjoyable for this non-morning person.  I was also concerned about staying hydrated on my run so I had my husband drop two bottles of Powerade Zero for me and I also had 3 gas stations along the route that I was going to use as water stops.  This worked really well for me.

I ran smart and stayed hydrated as best that I could.  But it was still a scorcher and the shade was hit or miss along the route.  But this you may find interesting.  I weighed myself before and after my run because I was curious about how much water weight I would sweat out.  I weighed the same after my run as I did before I left the house.  And you may be thinking, “huh, she really doesn’t sweat as much as she says she does”.  Oh yes I do!!  I had consumed over 96 ounces of fluid on my run.  Considering I took in that 96 ounces and yet weighed the same after I got home, I can only assume I sweated out some where in the neighborhood of 6 pounds of water weight.  I’m one sweaty chick.  And now I have proof.  Granted my husband would probably have said that he could have told me that prior to this test.

So, while I was completely sweaty and exhausted when it was done – I was pretty happy.  I was also very proud of myself for yet again, accomplishing something tough.  I’m learning to train on my own because my husband is doing his own training (my husband is now training for the Triathlon National Championships in Vermont in August – YAY hubby!) and I’m learning to run in the heat.  Two things that I have never been comfortable doing.  I’m glad to know that after 4 marathons, there are still things that can push me and that I can strive to overcome.

Until next time,

Gotta run