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The Week In Which I Cried A River, then Found Hope July 26, 2013

hip

These are my actual hips.

So it’s been a rough couple of months out here. I’ve basically been having nonstop right hip pain ever since the Oakland half marathon, and it’s been bumming me out big time. The hardest part has been not knowing for sure what was wrong – was it a muscle pull? Bursitis? For a month or so I thought it might be due to some pretty big fibroids I have. But although they are clinically classified as “huge,” they have not grown or changed in size since 2009. So my gynecologist was not ready to do anything drastic until I got a complete workup from an orthopedist.

I finally went and had that evaluation on Wednesday. First he did a physical exam. He said he was pretty sure that I did have hip arthritis, and also based on my symptoms, pretty sure I am going to need a total hip replacement.

Thud.

(that was my heart falling out of my body onto the floor)

I had been sort of bracing myself for this possibility. I tried to recover myself quickly and then I asked, “But what about running?” I think I had this picture in my head, like, as soon as I can just get FIXED, then I can carry on with all my usual stuff, that has, been by the way, on hold for a long time. He said, you know, people are going to do what they’re going to do, but we really do not recommend it. Especially for a young person, we want that new joint to last a long time, and the more you use it, the faster it will wear out.

And then I started crying. And pretty much didn’t stop for about eight hours, until I passed out from sobbing. I had to go to my Weight Watchers meeting. I drove past the site of See Jane Run and totally LOST MY SHIT.

I thought, that was my last race. Of my entire life. I thought, I was going to do that half marathon. And now I never will. I was choke-sobbing all the way to the parking lot of my WW center. I tried to pull myself together. A few of my observant members noticed that I looked like hell. They asked me if I was having a bad day. I really could not even talk about it for fear I would start hysterically wailing right there. I went and hid in a storage closet until the meeting was supposed to start, and miraculously I got through it more or less. It was frankly a relief to talk about SALADS for half an hour.

I got back in my car. The waterworks resumed. I had this image of coming into the house and seeing my beloved medal rack with all my race bling hanging there. I was wailing as if the world was over. Part of my world WAS over. I went home and crawled into bed. I felt like I was seventeen years old and the love of my life was breaking up with me. The love that I had never thought I’d have. Who ignored me my whole life and then finally turned their attention to me and said I was worthy.

Mr. McBody came in and held me as I carried on. I told him that he was not allowed to utter the words “swim” or “bike” until I deemed it acceptable. It was like when we lost our first child. People kept saying I would go on to have other wonderful children. Which turned out to be TRUE, but at that moment it was the last thing on earth I was able to hear. So, I might go on to have a wonderful biking or swimming life, but at that moment I needed to mourn the running.

Sometime during all this melee, I received a text from my dear friend Carla. She texted, Have you seen hiprunner.com? They have an e-Book….

my new community

my new community

I took a look at the site on Thursday, when my head was throbbing and my eyelids looked like giant waterbeds. I made some sort of wild noise of disbelief and joy as I read about other runners who had undergone hip replacements and who were… RUNNING! WHAT!?!?!?!?!? I immediately posted a comment of OMG OMG OMG are you kidding me?! I received a very warm welcome and an invitation to join the Hip Runners Club. Did I want to participate? HELL YES.

So. I have dried my tears. I am dusting myself off and looking toward the next whatever-it-is. I don’t know when this will actually happen because I need to find myself a new orthopedist (the one I saw this week is retiring) and I am going to find one who believes that some form of running post-op will be okay.

And I’m gonna order myself this T-shirt. Game on.

Bring it on.

Bring it on.

 

Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon March 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 1:07 pm
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IMG_1038It’s been a long time since I last posted, and so much has happened I’ve been wanting to blog about. But alas, lack of time. The biggest thing to happen recently was the culminating event for my last season of Team in Training – the Oakland Half Marathon.

I love the Oakland Running Festival. So far I have “race” in three out of the four years since it started. The first year I did the Marathon Team Relay, the next year I did the 5k, I skipped a year last year and this year I did the half marathon. I love this event so much. It brings me so much Oakland pride. The bling this year was so beautiful and yeah, someday I might join MizFitOnline in getting this image tattooed on my self.

I was happy because I was running this one “with” (I put in quotes because I knew they would finish way ahead of me) my beloved training buddy Lily, as well as with Junior. We went to the race expo the day before to pick up our packets and check out the gear. Always an exciting and fun time.

She IS.

She IS.

Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small... :-(

Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small… :-(

Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!

Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!

I also went to my TNT Inspiration lunch, where we got pumped up and remembered why were doing this. I raised over $1500 total for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. After the lunch, I went home and decorated my shirt with the names of my personal honorees.

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So this was my fourth half marathon. (!!!!!) And my second one this year! After coming in with a 3.04 finish time at the Tinkerbell Half, I set in my mind that I wanted to try to finish sub-three hours for this one.  I decided that I was going to try and keep up a good pace throughout and not stop at all (or much).

The half marathon had the latest start I’d ever had at a race – 9:15am. But we got there a lot earlier and were able to see both the start AND the finish of the 5k, and that was super fun. I got to cheer in my couch-t0-5k running buddy Mary, as well as Sofia and her brother James.

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We got to hang around and soak up the general excitement near the start/finish line, and that was cool. I just love the happy, excited energy and races.

ready to go!

ready to go!

We got all lined up and took off. I didn’t really see much of Lily & Junior during the race because, as I said, they are both a lot faster than me. But it was okay. I was pretty happy just running through my city.

Miles 1-8 were, as I had expected, pretty steady and not too hard. But by the time we got to 8-9 (my usual Achilles heel) I was starting to flag a bit, and wondering if I might get some much needed support. Here I got caught by the official race photographers, digging out my phone to text my friend Lisa Marie. I knew she lived nearby and I was hoping to get a glimpse of her for some much needed energy.

calling for help

calling for help


The next stretch was along the Mandela Parkway. It’s a long, potentially lonely stretch and luckily there was some good stuff to pick me up along the way. First, I was out of my mind happy to see Lisa Marie! She was standing on a corner and gave me a quick hug and an encouraging cheer. I SOOOO needed that!

Next, some cool stuff. A fire-shooting Trojan horse thing. It was blasting flames about 20 feet into the sky. I was pretty impressed by that, and had to stop a second to take a picture.

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IMG_1017Then, some cool spectators on this super nifty bicycle umbrella thingie. I don’t know what the heck it was, but what a great vantage point, huh?

THEN a wonderful neighbor lady with a bucket full of orange wedges. OH that made my day! I was very grateful.

IMG_1019Around mile 10 I was passed by my awesome racewalking coach Carolyn. “Is that Susan Ito?” she said, as she sped on by. Dude. I was “running.” She was “walking.” I tried to keep up with her. I tried to catch her. I just could not. DAMN. She’s good.

She was so fast I couldn’t even snap a picture of her swiveling little butt.

Finally we came up upon the lake, which I have run so many times. I thought about how I had had such a tough time on this stretch during the 2010 marathon relay. Lo and behold, I started feeling the same darn tingling in my hands, the same almost-nausea, the utter fatigue. The wall was starting to come up in my face. I had been pretty much running with the same group of people in this last part, and we started giving each other verbal encouragement. We were all going at the same pace and pretty much all gritting it out.

It was hard. Damn it was hard. But I had my eye on my watch and I really wanted to get there under my three hours. I just kept going.

I knew the final tenth of a mile was going to be up a little but not insigificant hill. WHYYYYYY? How cruel is that. You run 26 or 13 miles and then at the end, you have to chug up a hill to get to the finish.

Luckily for me, Junior was sitting on that hill (having finished about an hour ago!). She jumped up when she saw me and ran next to me. You got this mama! I started getting all crumbly and emotional. I am pretty sure I was crying. She held my hand. She might have even pulled me up the hill. When we got to the very final flat spot before the finish, I broke off and SPRINTED in. I was feeling so… RAWR. See?

finish lineThen it was over. I had a tiny little episode of almost-asthma. I was all wheezy for a minute. Then I got myself together and got my medal and found my peoples and found a bathroom (um, with NO TP. BOOOOO. So I had to run outside and find a copy of the Wall Street Journal, which I used instead. Haha) and then collapsed on the ground with our beautiful medals.

IMG_1021Then I found my buddy Estelle who had just completed her leg of the relay. How cool to see her there!

IMG_1027Then I saw my coach Al from Team in Training (“I knew you could do it!” he said) and I got some chocolate milk and my 13.1 Finishers’ Pin from the team manager at the TNT table.

IMG_1032 IMG_1033By then I was in a pretty jovial mood. I figured out that I had beat my PR by a whole bunch. My last PR was 3:04, and I finished this one in 2:49. Fifteen minutes! Woo hoooooo! Time to celebrate!

IMG_1036We gathered up our friends and family and headed over to Barney’s Burgers. I haven’t had a milkshake, in like, YEARS, but I was ready and felt very deserving. Lily and I split a Turkish coffee shake and enjoyed every last drop.

IMG_1042Junior, Josh (our housemate from last year who was back for a visit) and Juniorette enjoyed their Oreo coffee shake as well.

IMG_1044It was happy times. I was really happy to be doing this event surrounded by so many people I loved, in the city I love. I felt really happy with my time. I know that my struggle at the end had everything to do with how hard I pushed it.

After lunch, we headed back home. I took a much needed shower and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed with a gel pack on my butt/hip. Naptime.

IMG_1058I felt really proud of this one. Even though it was hard, I struggled a lot less than I did for the relay, half that distance, three years ago. I am definitely getting better.

My next half marathon is in June – the See Jane Run race which I will be doing with my friend Shannon. My goal for that one is to not break any speed records but instead to support her, to have FUN and to feel happy crossing that finish line. It doesn’t always have to be about pace. I am happy that I proved to myself I could break that three-hour mark. But next time, I’m in it for fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Recap: 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon January 22, 2013

IMG_0308I know that I’m wayyy behind on my blogging. I still want to post about my New Year’s Day 10k race, and my 4th Healthaversary. But while things are still fresh in my head I want to do my race recap for my 3rd half marathon and 2nd Tinker Bell race.

This race was really a do-over for Junior and me. Last year, she and I and Juniorette came down to Disneyland for the Inaugural Tinkerbell race, but she got really sick and in the end, only Juniorette and I got to run the race. So I promised her we’d come back and do it together this year.

The nice thing about doing the same race multiple times, is that you learn things the first time that either work or don’t. We learned that we most definitely wanted to repeat staying at the hotel which is basically a few hundred feet away from the Start AND the Finish lines. That works. Yay!

We got to town in plenty of time to go to the Expo. That was a great thing, because last year I got in late and didn’t get to go. I kind of love race expos.

I got to meet the awesome Jeff Galloway and buy his book. He’s so encouraging and inspiring. I figured I’d better read it, since I’m already more than halfway to 100 years old. ;-)

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IMG_0225We looked around at tons of sparkly skirts and wings and stuff, but nothing really grabbed us as THE perfect outfit for Tinkerbell. So in the end we decided we liked the official race shirt enough to make that our race outfit. After the Expo we went to downtown Disney to find something for dinner. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to eat. The classic “carb loading” pasta dinner didn’t feel really like what I wanted. So we ended up with tilapia, Brussells sprouts (with bacon!) and a soft egg.  It was insanely yummy but not too filling.

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Then we found a few carbs for dessert :-)

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We set our alarms for 3:30am. (o boy!) Amazingly, we were able to fall asleep pretty quickly – before 10:00pm anyway -and the wakeup call came early enough. It was not really all that painful to wake up and get dressed. We were pretty excited.

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I had brought a ton of warm clothes to wear to the start line, but in the end we just decided to go with our race shirts. We went downstairs and right in front of the hotel, there was the start line. PERFECT LOCATION.

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I gave Junior a hug and she took off for Corral B (the fast people) and I headed back to E. (the END!) It wasn’t quite as cold as I remembered last year being, or nearly as cold as the New Year’s day 10k.

Back in the End, we could see the fireworks going off. That was exciting. But then we waited. And waited. We could sense the D, C and B groups taking off. FINALLY it was our turn – probably after 5:30am. We’d been out there for almost an hour.

First, we wound through Disney California and Disneyland Parks. It was pretty cool. The “Mickey Wheel” and the water-light show was all lit up and beautiful.

IMG_0270One of the things I loved about going through the parks was seeing all the Disney employees out there cheering us on. They were awesome, and so encouraging and enthusiastic. Big Mickey hands everywhere!

IMG_0323I’d say that the first five miles went pretty well. I didn’t feel super springy and awesome, but I didn’t feel bad either. It just felt pretty easy and relaxed. It was exciting to be going through Disneyland and seeing all the sights. I didn’t stand in any lines to get photos with any of the characters. I got pretty excited when I saw Mary Poppins though.

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Running through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle as the sun was coming up, and past the holiday lights of It’s a Small World were pretty great.

So. Around Mile 7, the front of my left ankle (tibialis anterior tendon, which has plagued me in the past) started hurting. And my stomach was feeling kind of bad. In fact, I was hungry. SUPER hungry. I had had some oatmeal at 4:30am, but that felt like an eon ago. I suddenly got it in my head, I have almost halfway to go. In other words, I have to do what I JUST DID. It seemed kind of impossible. I was feeling a little down. I pulled out my Mickey Mouse pretzels (saltzed pretzels is one of my “must haves” during a race, and I forgot to bring my own from home this time).

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I ate some of them, but I think they had been in the hotel gift shop for a long time. They weren’t stellar. I was still hungry. Or something. I remembered that my buddies Ayala and Becky, from my TNT Triathlon Team, were running too. I wondered if they were anywhere near me. I pulled out my phone and texted Ayala. Where are u? I am between mile 7-8.

I really needed something at that moment. I was feeling pretty bleak. Not HOPELESS, but not awesome. I think my actual physical discomfort was in the 3-out-of-10 range, but my mental distress was about at an 8. I was freaking out a little bit inside. I was worried, what if it gets worse? How am I going to deal with 5-6 more miles of THIS? I was starting to unravel a little.

After the mile 8 marker, it was Gu time! Volunteers were handing out packets of Vanilla and Mocha. I really needed that blast of energy. I felt a little bit better.  Around mile 9, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Ayala! and Becky! I almost cried from joy. Ayala had been my buddy at the Wildflower Triathlon and she is truly one of the sweetest, most encouraging people I know. She kept me going during so many of the tough trainings last year.

We ran together for a while and by the time I was ready to take off again, I was feeling like a new person. I perked up and started paying more attention to the people around me. I saw this guy up ahead running in a suit. I wondered, is that for real? Why a suit? What kind of costume is that?? And then I caught up with him and… it was Walt Disney! Hahaha. Great.

"Cryogenics does wonders!" he said.

“Cryogenics does wonders!” he said.

A little bit further up, I saw a lovely trio. Peter Pan and Tinker Bell were taking turns pushing Captain Hook in a wheelchair. They all looked super chipper and glad to be together. I loved them. Captain Hook grinned and said, “Arr!” when I took their picture.

IMG_0319I had told Ayala and Becky that I wanted to take a picture together with them at the 10 mile mark, but when I got there suddenly I was feeling perkier than I had the whole race. I felt like I just couldn’t stop. I also knew that if I stopped or slowed down I might not be able to start up again.

Around this time I got a couple of worried text messages from Mr. McBody and Junior. He had been tracking my progress online. Apparently my 5k time was realllllly slow, and then for some reason my 10k marker didn’t show up. So like 2 hours had gone by and they’d heard nothing from me. (I heard all about this yesterday) I hadn’t heard their texting coming through my earbuds because I had decided to go the no-music route. (partly because the course was so entertaining I didn’t need it, and partly because I wanted to save my phone battery)

I sent them this picture as reassurance.

IMG_0282I remember a lot of the mile 10-13.1 from my other (two!) half marathons. During my first, the Las Vegas Half, I was pretty much dying at mile 11. I mean dying. I was in AWFUL pain and not sure I would make it. And at last year’s Tinkerbell, the last couple miles were the hardest.

This is the first half marathon where the last couple of miles felt the strongest and best. After I passed the ten mile mark, I knew I could do it. I relaxed. I stopped freaking out.

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After mile 12, I was definitely on a mission. I wanted to get as close to the 3 hour mark as I could. My last year’s time had been 3:16 and I just wanted to shave as much time off of that as possible. Normally, my run pace for long races (and even for short races) is what most people would call ambling along.

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But when I knew I just had a mile and a handful to go, I suddenly got determine. I started RUNNING.

game face!

game face!

Pretty soon the finish line was in sight (although – not happy! they moved it about 200 yards further from last year. Psych!). I saw Junior standing by the fence waving. And then I was through and I had my medal.

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I found Junior. She had finished over an hour ahead of me (2 hours 45 seconds, my little rockstar!) and had had a great race.

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Pretty soon I found Ayala and Becky. I was so happy to see them! They had really contributed to my big turning point near mile 9.

IMG_0309Junior and I decided to wait in the long line for the free massage tent. It turned out to be utterly and completely worth it!

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We were pretty pumped full of endorphins at that point, feeling good, and hungry.

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Junior was craving fajitas so we went to a Mexican restaurant in downtown Disney and enjoyed mass quantities of guacamole.

IMG_0313THEN it was time for a nice long nap.

IMG_0315We had bought all-day Park Hopper tickets, but in all honesty, there was no way we felt like hopping any parks. Happily, I was able to sell the tickets to a friend who is returning for the Disney Marathon in September. Whew.

So we went to the pool and soaked in the hot tub and lay in the SUN (wow! how awesome!).

IMG_0322All in all, it was a sweeeet race and a sweet weekend. I loved spending it with my girl. We had a great time and I was overall really pleased with how it went. Now I’m feeling pretty excited for the Oakland Half Marathon coming up in March, and…. looks like I will be doing the See Jane Run half with my dear Shannon in June!

 

Day 12 #NHBPM: My Favorite App(s) November 13, 2012

It’s a good thing that we get two “get out of jail free” days from NHBPM. It looks like I just took mine this weekend. I got SLAMMED, scheduled wise. On Saturday I drove four hours (ack!) for a Weight Watchers training (it was good, but more sitting! I paced a lot) and then four hours home.  I was FRIED when I got home. NO blogging Saturday.

Then, Sunday was filled with fun but time-eating social events: a clutterbusting gathering at a friend’s house (how great is that -a small group of us cleared out and organized a pantry, cupboard AND a big entry shelf/drawer thing) in the morning, then a very cool baby shower (books for baby! to build her library! I LOVE THIS IDEA) in the afternoon and then dinner and visit with Junior in the evening. That was my weekend. But no more slacking for me! I’m in it till the end.

Day 12 – Monday, Nov. 12

Call BS on something. What’s something that is just ridiculous? OR “My favorite health app / device / game is…” and review it

OK. I will admit I am not in the mood to “call BS” on anything because I’m just not in the mood for controversy right now. But I could definitely do that in a few cases. I’m going to take the easier route (and more positive!) of discussing my favorite health app/device(s).

Everyone knows I am a big fan of movement devices. I’m loving my Weight Watchers ActiveLink, which is pretty much a WW linked device that is the same as the DirectLife activity monitor. Very similar. They work great.

I was looking at my phone and trying to figure out which app(s) I use and like the most. I think the one I use the most (other than SleepTime, which I already wrote about) is RunKeeper. I’ve been using it a few  years now and anticipate I’ll be using it a lot more now that I am on RUN TEAM (YAYY!).

I love Runkeeper. I love that you can GPS your route, measure time and pace, sync your music and also have audio reminders at time and/or distance markers (every 5 or 10 minutes, every half or quarter mile). It keeps me going to know that I am running an X minute mile. I love being able to link it to FB and Twitter. It’s a great and motivating app and I know I’m going to be using it a lot more.

So that was Day 12! Almost halfway through the month!!

 

Workout Clothes? For meeee??? (and you!) October 24, 2012

When I was at Fitbloggin’ I got to meet the cool people at PVbody. They were giving away some pretty nifty fitness duds, including this top which looked kinda silly on me…especially over my pajama top.

me and the best, goofiest roomie ever

but pretty awesome on Junior.

that’s my girl

Anyway, they have a great deal going, which reminds me of getting a weekly delivery of CSA veggies-in-a-box. You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s pretty awesome to be surprised. Instead, they send a beautifully wrapped package of workout clothes each month, for not much $$. You know how expensive workout duds can get, right?

I got my first box yesterday. I was jumping up and down. All pretty, wrapped in tissue paper, like a present.

Is it my birthday?

I open it up and it’s a beautiful top! And some pants that looked, possibly, frighteningly too small. Oh well, it’s free returns/exchanges. These are seriously high-quality workout duds.

The V-neck top is made by ALO (Air Land Ocean) and is super comfy and flattering.

I love the cut of this top.

The bottoms are made by Nux. They are all scrunchy at the bottom (ruching?) and I feel a little dubious.

scrunchie-bottomed pants

But I put them on, and …. woweee! They fit!

I like the scrunchies!

O boy! I like these clothes.

Mr. McBody came through after I tried them on and said, “O boy! What are you wearing?!?” Needless to say, he approved. :-)

They are comfy. They are nifty. I’m all excited! And I get another box next month??

So, this is the deal. You, too, can get a box of awesome workout clothes every month. I can vouch for the super high quality. They are worth about $150 per box, but you pay less than $40. ANNNNNND… as a friend/blog reader of yours truly, you can get an extra 20% off. How cool is that. You fill out a little quiz where you indicate your size, the kind of sport(s) you like to do (running/yoga/cycle etc), your favorite colors and styles. Then voila, they put together a box for you, and when it arrives at your house it’s like your birthday. But every month. If something doesn’t fit, it gets returned super easy and free. I was sure those pants were not going to fit me, but I was wrong.

Click here for the special Foodie McBody deal!

 

Race Recap: The Muddy Buddy! October 2, 2012

I really worked hard for this bling.

One of the things I have loved the most in this past year has been bringing people along on their first official race. Mary joined me in her first 5k at See Jane Run; Sofia joined me in the Color Run (and went on to do her first half marathon and is now training for her first full marathon — WOOHOO!) and this past weekend, my friend Ericka threw her fears to the wind and joined me in the wackiest race of all – the Muddy Buddy. I don’t even remember how this happened; but I think it was via a Facebook post when I thought she was joking about joining me. Ericka has been my workout buddy with our beloved trainer DJ for several years now – we have sweated together plenty, but she has always declared herself “not a runner” and she was content to cheer me on from afar.  I actually have no idea what came over her, but I was so psyched!!

DJ really helped us get our butts in gear for this one.

Ericka and I have both had our health battles recently. We celebrated our 50th birthdays, and then I got diabetes and she was hit with Graves disease. Our combined age is 105 (!!!) which put us squarely in the “Women Masters” category for this race. I reminded her that we are in a tiny percentage of 50-year old women with chronic diseases who are participating in athletic events at this level.

I have done a few “fun runs” of 5ks recently, and they truly have been fun for me. But I knew this one was going to be tougher – including off road biking on a mountain bike, likely hills, and those crazy obstacles. If there’s one thing I don’t feel super confident about, it’s my upper arm strength. However, I told Ericka that our aim was to FINISH, and to finish was to win. I really believed that.

We are both writers, and we needed a team name. She came up with “Dirty Wordsters” (haha). I made us matching team shirts (thanks to watching my daughters make dozens of them for their crew team in the past 6 years) and she decorated the bike with dirty words like “filth” and “slime.” We so clever!

pencils on the move!

“dirty words” – hahaha

Mr. McBody and I picked up Ericka at 5:30am and we drove down to San Jose to this park. Lily’s husband, who grew up there, had already warned me it was “pretty hilly.” Since he was a varsity triathlete at Cal, this was something I took very seriously. Ack. HILLS. Not my favorite.

We got there, jumped around to warm up, visited the PortaPotty, and tried to relax. But I was hecka nervous. I heard the race announcer say that the first mile was “straight uphill.” NICE!

We were in the last wave to start, the “Women Masters.” (ie, the old ladies) I was relieved to see other women our age. It’s not often you go up to other women and ask, “How old are you?” but I did just that and when the other women said “53″ I jumped up and gave them high-fives. Yeah baby, we rock. I was feeling pretty fierce and ready.

Rawr!! Dirty Wordsters!

We moved on up and saw the other waves taking off. We saw some people walking their bikes right from the Start line. I kept saying, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna walk, but then when I was at the Start and I saw everyone on their bikes, shame took hold of me and I was like, well, I’ll ride, until I can’t. I’m actually glad I did.

At the starting line: pretty nervous

The starting horn went off and I got on the bike. I was glad to make it up a few hundred yards before it just got TOO steep. At that point I’d say 90% of the participants were walking, pushing their bikes. Damn that bike was HEAVY. Pretty soon the “runners” were overtaking us (bike members went first, then runners). But they weren’t really running either. Like I said, it was hecka steep. And it went on. And on. I felt like I was eating dust, just heaving for every breath. It went on for a full mile. Just up. And up. And up. It felt pretty darn grim.

At the top of the hill was our first obstacle, and time for me to leave the bike in the “Bike Drop” for my buddy. Of course she had passed me by, walking! We climbed on this spiderwebby thing, up and over. I got a tad bit freaked at the very top, but managed it OK.

Then it was more rolling hills, run, bike, obstacle. Each of us had 3 bike parts and 3 running parts. I was jealous that her first bike was this gorgeous downhill section! But then I got to run that as well.

What can I say? It felt long. It felt really, really hot. We were out in open fields with NOTHING out there but for a dirt trail. But it was okay. There were lots of other people around us – ie, we weren’t being left in the dust – including what seemed to be many younger people (what???). We kept passing the same folks off and on.

The obstacles, which I had been nervous about, weren’t too bad at all. There was a mud tunnel, which I have to say we were very prepared for. We do a lot of low crawling and walking in our trainer workouts. The high things were not so bad. Until the very end (I’ll get to that).

The entire course took us about an hour and a half (OK, exactly an hour and a half)! Which had been my optimistic estimate. I’d looked at other race results and saw that many women our age were coming in between 1:30 and 2:00. So I was hoping for 1:30 at best, and well, whatever it took, as long as we finished.

For the final leg, Ericka was on bike and I was on foot. She had to wait for me for a while because we were supposed to do the final 3 obstacles, including the Mud Pit, together.

waiting on the road for her buddy

Eventually I showed up. We were both pretty tired, but stoked that it was almost over. The first obstacle was a some sort of giant ladder climbing thing. (I think) Not bad. The second one was a rope climb over this blue wooden wall. It didn’t LOOK that bad. I grabbed the rope. Then started to walk up. Hahahaha. The wall was covered in something very slippery — lard? butter? soap?? In any case, we tried and tried and after a few minutes just looked at each other and said, “Uh-uh.” We walked around it.

thwarted by the soapy, slippery wall! This picture makes me laugh and laugh.

Then it was time for the infamous MUD PIT. Ooooh boy!! I will say that the cold wet mud felt REALLY GOOD after all that dry dusty heat. We crawled under the flag ropes like a couple of mud puppies. Laughing.

Then we had a little female mud-wrestling moment.

Then clambered out. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the word “clamber” until then.

It helps to get a helping hand from one’s buddy.

Then we ran through the finish holding hands. Then we got our medals. We were PSYCHED!

I thought they were cups of water, and was very excited to find Oreos inside

Then it was shower (aka garden hose) time. Boy did we need that.

Ayeeeee!

To say that we were filthy was an understatement. But that was the point, right? It was darn hard. It was challenging. We really, really pushed. But in the end I am proud to say that we came in with 43 other teams behind us, most of them younger than we are. That made me feel really good. Not bad for 52 and 53, huh?

So many people asked me, “WHY on earth would you voluntarily sign up for something like that?” And looked even more incredulous when I answered, “Because I’d never done one.” Ha ha, I know, most people haven’t, and have no desire to. But for me, it’s about changing it up, finding new things to do to stay active and most importantly to have fun.

Special shout-out to Mr McBody, star medic, bike tech support and paparazzi. Love!

What’s the wackiest, craziest or most fun race you’ve ever done?

 

Race Recap: My first Duathlon! Mermaid Duathlon, Alameda June 9, 2012

they had such a cute photobooth there!

Well, it’s been quite a time for spontaneity around here. I had such a good time at See Jane Run last weekend that I was all excited to do See Jane Tri in the fall. But lo and behold, it’s the same weekend as Fitbloggin’ 2012. BIG conflict! No way I am missing Fitbloggin’ so I was all bummed out about that. Then Pubsgal told me about the Mermaid Tri/Du that was happening – in like 4 days. GULP.

I went through SO many mental contortions this week leading up to the race. First, I thought I’d like to do the duathlon (my first) because I just didn’t have time to get a practice swim in. It was in the Bay, and could be sort of choppy and salty, and who knows how that would go, especially given my not-stellar swim performance at Wildflower. So I was thinking, cool, I’ll just bike and swim.

I have never done a duathlon before. I think I was pretty unclear on the concept. The website had course descriptions for “Duathlon First Run” and “Duathlon Second Run.” I thought… we got to choose which one to do. Hahahahahha! But no. The first run is in place of the swim. Then you bike and run again. OOHHHHH.

I didn’t figure this out until Thursday night, when I proceeded to have some kind of weird tantrum meltdown. I didn’t wannnnt to run twice! Even if it was only 1.5 and 2.5 miles!  So then I started contemplating changing my registration to the tri. I went to race packet pickup on Friday afternoon and they told me I could change even at the Very Last Minute on Saturday morning. I decided to go over and check out the swim course. I saw a bunch of VERY gnarly looking waves and I decided right there, NO WAY.

I was very happy to get up this morning (at 5:00am) and know I was only going to bike and swim. Mr. McBody was feeling kind of low because of a recent bug he’d had, so I told him to stay home and rest. (famous last words) Last night I had packed my little gym bag with all my stuff, but then this morning I thought, I have a tri bag. Maybe I should bring my tri bag. (“But you’re not doing a tri, isn’t that overkill?”) and on and on. I transferred the stuff into the tri bag, put the bike in the car and took off.

I was about halfway to the course when some synapses smashed together and I remembered the little tiny manila envelope with my RACE CHIP in it. Which I did not remember putting into my tri bag. AGHH. I pulled over to the side of the road and frantically pawed through my bag. NO ENVELOPE. I called Mr McBody who was enjoying his rest, and started caterwauling about not having my race chip and that he HAD TO BRING IT TO ME RIGHT AWAY. My friend Christine happened to be working as a registration volunteer at Mermaid, so I also frantically called her and she said they would not give me a replacement chip, that it was coded to me, and I needed mine. So poor Mr McBody got in the car after locating the little envelope in the gym bag.

I was a bit of a basket case when I got to the course. The parking lot was filled up at that point, so I had to park several blocks away. This was ALSO one of the first local races I was doing all by myself with no support crew or person to drop me off. Of course at that point I was infinitely grateful that 1) I had a tri bag; and 2) I had practiced biking with it on at Wildflower. Yay! I very comfortably strapped it on and rode the few blocks to the transition area. I racked my bike and got my stuff all set up and then went to the intersection to wait for Mr. McBody. He got there about 15 minutes before the start and then went back home to rest for real.

This was a smallish race, so things were not one hundred percent clear. I wasn’t quite sure where the Du run was supposed to start, but I followed what looked like a semi crowd and got to the inflatable start thing. I was a little concerned that there was no timing mat underneath it. I still don’t quite get how that works. A bunch of women all crowded together under the thing on a very narrow path that fit about 4 across. I was in the “over 40″ start. Then they counted down and the air horn went off, and… there we went.

The first run was actually pretty pleasant. I was going at a nice pace and nothing hurt. It wasn’t bad at all. Sometimes I have a lot of pain in the first mile and I was worried that might be the case, but it was pretty comfortable. I got back to transition and got ready to get on the bike. I knew that my transition was going to be longer than some peoples’ because I was changing from running shoes to bike shoes. Now that I’m used to wearing clips, I’m pretty attached to them (no pun) and didn’t want to risk getting my dumb shoelaces caught, which has happened to me more times than I can count. So I sat on the ground and changed shoes. Changed headgear. Found my gloves. ARGH. They were inside out from the last time (Mt. Diablo?) and all knotted up and I probably wasted two minutes untangling them and getting them on my hands. (NOTE TO SELF!!!!!! Put the gloves right side out before the race!!!!!!!!!!!) I saw Christine cheering for me as I ran toward the bike mount area.

Got on the bike. The route was two loops of absolutely flat road. Which sounds lovely on one hand (it kind of was) but also, flat courses means no downhill and less chance to rest. (my butt) I remembered doing this EXACT course when I was training for the first tri, and it was really, really hard. I remember having the hardest time stopping, starting and turning. I got really tired. It was super hard. I may have almost cried. And I almost cried again this time because I could see how very far I’ve come in less than a year. That was pretty awesome.

The bike ride was good. I enjoyed it. AND I got to utter three words that I have NEVER ONCE SPOKEN during a bike race, ever: “On your left.” Yeah, I passed people! Sure, a ton of people (more than I can count) passed me, too, but people, I have NEVER passed a SINGLE PERSON on a bike. Ever. Until today. So imagine my shock and thrill when I realized I was going to actually do so, maybe a dozen times. It was exhilarating! Woo hoo!

I rode into transition and saw my buddy Lily with her sweetie and sweetie dog, jumping up and down and screaming my name. That was so awesome. Then I changed shoes and headgear AGAIN and went to do the second run. OMG. I had to pee so bad! SO BAD. I knew I wasn’t going to make it but a few hundred yards. Thank goodness for portapotties. But that was a minute or two. Then I got on the path and started running for real. OH the pain! I mean pain! My feet and calves were cramping up and just felt like they were saying “oh hell no you don’t!”

The 1.25 mile out before the turnaround were really, really uncomfortable. I was hobbling, walking, running like a penguin, just trying to find any kind of comfortable position. I just knew I had to run it out and let things loosen up. I stopped and stretched out my Achilles against a light pole. I took more walk breaks than I wanted to. But damn. Then I got to the turnaround and I was like, Come ON, just a mile more, you can DO this. I fiddled around with my iPhone and tried to find the most uplifting, motivating music I could find.  Found the song “Safe and Sound” that had been the soundtrack to the video I did with Big Blue Test last year. I think of this as my “Lily” music. I knew she would be at the finish line with Ed and Mosely.

It wasn’t until I was almost at the finish chute that I started feeling good, I mean without pain. I felt like I was going to be able to bring it in strong. So when I got to the last 100 yards I just poured it out. I finished under 2 hours, which seemed like a good thing. Better under than over, right?

Instead of a medal, they gave out cute little necklaces. I like! Very much!

adorable finishers’ necklace

So that was it, my first duathlon. I’d say it was pretty good! It was definitely a heck of a lot more challenging than last week’s 5k. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t killer. And it made me think about what people have said, that there are truly no “easy” races. The faster you get, the more challenging it is because then you’re wanting to place (I do not see this in my future). But no matter what, you’re always pushing yourself to do your own personal best. I put my best out there today, I had fun for the most part (except for a few unfun moments) and I was really glad I’d done it. Another first, done!

Have you had any recent firsts lately? Tell me all about it!

 

Do Race Results Matter? June 5, 2012

Today I saw the official race results for the See Jane Run 5k I did this weekend. They made me happy.  Overall, I came in #681 out of 1,475 runners in the 5k. That was in the top 50%!

I mentioned this to the family and stated that it felt better than my results for Wildflower, where I came in 776 out of 786. That’s right, I was tenth from dead last. While people can say all they want that I was miles or millions ahead of all the people who didn’t do a triathlon at all – still, it feels psychologically different. I know I’ll never WIN a race, and part of me certainly does believe that “finishing is winning” – but damn, I don’t really ever want to come in last. And I don’t like being that close to last, either. I like feeling like I am in the middle of the pack, and if I am just a smidge toward the front, then all the better.

These things are all so silly and arbitrary but at the same time, they DO mean something. Otherwise people wouldn’t be so hot to see their results, and they wouldn’t use computer chips and all kinds of fancy technology to track it all. It does matter to someone. It matters to me.

During (and after) I ran this “little” 5k on Sunday, I felt strong. I felt capable. I felt proud of myself. When I’m struggling with all my might and I’m so close to the end of the pack, it’s just that… a struggle. I have to talk myself into feeling proud. I’m physically beat and NOT feeling strong.

This weekend I vowed to mostly participate in races where I can have that strong feeling. Which means not getting in over my head, or going in undertrained or unprepared. I think it just does more harm than good. I really wish I could do See Jane Tri in September, but darn it, I just found out it’s the same weekend as Fitbloggin, which I can’t miss for anything. So.. maybe another time. And maybe another tri.

What do you think? Does it matter to you what your results are when you run a race, or are you truly just in it for fun? Do you even LOOK at your results?

 

Race Recap: See Jane Run 5k June 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 9:43 pm
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ImageThe See Jane Run 5k Race today was great for so many reasons. First, it was the very first race I’ve ever repeated. My first SJR was in 2009, and it was only my 2nd race ever. So it was cool to have a repeat experience.

It was also great because I decided to do it just about a week ago. It feels great to just be able to decide on the spur of the moment to do a 5k race, and to know that I am pretty much “race ready” any time. That. Is. Awesome.

Last weekend I went for a 5k run with the Team, and it just felt wonderful – effortless and pain free and just GOOD. So the next day when I saw that my friend Mary had posted on Facebook that she’d run 5k for the first time and was looking for a race to do, I quickly suggested See Jane Run. It’s so wonderful for a first race: flat, with beautiful views, all women, and ending with champagne and chocolate AND a medal. Can’t beat that, right? So she signed up and I was probably more excited about HER having this experience than myself.

In the back of my head I was thinking I probably would not be as fast as I was in 2009. I was lighter then, and focusing more on running than other stuff, and younger (heh). So I didn’t have huge expectations. I was just happy to be there and to support Mary.

As great as it was for her to be accomplishing this thing she thought she’d never do, it was so meaningful and emotional for me to know that  *I* had been her inspiration to start running in the first place. What! Me! She had come to my Healthaversary party in January, and there were so many people who were runners and triathletes, it got her thinking she wanted to start it up. We told her about the couch to 5k app, and she just went ahead and DID it without me knowing, and voila, last week she completed it! I was so impressed and proud of her.

One of the thing I love about See Jane Run is that it actually openly allows music and MP3 players. I think that makes a huge difference for me. I ran the race with my Runkeeper app, and every 5 minutes it told me my pace, time, distance, etc. I thought I wanted to be close to my last SJR time of 36-37 minutes. (OOPS I thought it was 39 until I just checked!) Anyway, I learned from last time. I didn’t start off with a rush near the front. We started toward the back of the pack and it was just relaxed. There were LOTS of runners! And walkers. And strollers.

The weather was gorgeous and perfect – starting out cool and foggy and then sunning up as time passed. It was just so comfortable. I went out slowly, and then as I warmed up I felt stronger and stronger. We got to the halfway turnaround before I knew it, then it was over. I wasn’t struggling at all. At the end, I sprinted with a burst and that just felt GOOOD. I was so happy!

Image

We celebrated with champagne and chocolate and hugs, then Mr McBody and Mr. Mary took us out for a great brunch. Then home for a nap. It felt so awesome to do this race for FUN. 

And, well, I didn’t beat my record but I matched it, and that was good enough for me. Yippee! More fun to come!

 

Race Recap: Rhodes Race 5k April 15, 2012

TNT race swag!

I almost forgot to write this race recap today – making me realize how “everyday” a 5k has become. Which is incredible, considering my humble beginnings and starting up, when a 5k was the ULTIMATE, the PINNACLE, the longest race I could ever imagine doing. And now I can just decide a day or two before, “Think I’ll do a 5k this weekend!”

Today’s race was very familiar and comforting in many ways – it was the perimeter of Lake Merritt, which I’ve run on dozens, maybe a hundred times. So I know the course like my own hand. And the race itself was organized by Team in Training folks as their way of fundraising for the cause – so it was also like a giant family reunion of hundreds of TNT people. I got to see friends from my prior triathlon team, and my hike team coach, and some of the running coaches that I know by sight. It was cozy and fun.

sporting our nifty team shirt

The race itself? Well it was all informal like, with people saying “line up by that sign over there” and then an airhorn went off, and boom! As ususal, I started out way too fast and pooped out very quickly. All that adrenaline! My Runkeeper told me that I was running about an 11 minute mile after 5 minutes. That is nowhere NEAR what I’ve been averaging lately, so I knew it was a bit much for me. Sure enough my feet started cramping up and my calf was also super tight so after about 10 minutes I was in full hobble mode and had to stop and do a good stretch.

I ended up running with a bunch of my teammates that I usually run with, and it was all friendly like for most of the race. We kept passing each other back and forth and it just felt… comfortable. Some of our teammates totally rocked it – Coach Nick won 2nd place in the 30-39 division and Lily and Holly loved it so much they doubled it up for a 10k!

coming through the finish a 2nd time!

The race was fun because they also had a “Canine Division” (so many happy dogs running!) and a “Stroller Division.” The winning kids and dogs even got prizes.

coach Mark, doggie Molly and Lily

It was all huge fun. Timewise, it turned out to be pretty much the slowest 5k race I’ve ever done. But you know what? I didn’t care. I felt happy to be out there on this beautiful day with a great group of people, and it was all good.

GO Team!!!!!!!

mini donuts at the finish!

so great to see prior tri teammate Katherine & hike coach Carolyn!

... and current teammates Ayala & Tori. Love them!

 

 
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