Monday, September 23, 2013

Air Force Half Marathon Recap

Up until last Wed, I was having serious doubts in how well Saturday's US Air Force Half Marathon was going to go. All summer I was kicking out awesome average paces until I caught a stupid flu on the airplane from Hawaii. I had 3 weeks after Hawaii to get over the cold and get back to my usual racing strength....and my chances looked pretty bleak with each exhausted and pathetic run leading up to the race. I was a good 15 seconds off where I'd like to be for my pace and I had to go down 1 for resistance for the elliptical. I could feel the icy cold fingers of dread wrapping themselves around my heart.

But then, after a fantastic run on Wednesday, my spirits soared and I was on to new worries like whether or not they'd cancel the race due to they had cancelled the 5k the evening before. Worrying should be a sport, I'd clean up!

Silly us, thinking we'd be standing in the rain for hours pre-race....

Saturday dawned with a little drizzle, and everything went smoothly with getting all of my family going, bins pinned, shoes tied....until we got into the crazy traffic. We'd been told that security would be a little tighter this year because of the Boston Marathon bombings, but this was crazy! Turned out, one of the gates onto the base was coned off and about 80% of the racers were forced to have to funnel into only 2 gates.

7:00...  My twitching begins. The 10K/Marathon was to start in 30 minutes...and we'd barely gone a mile, with a mile to go. It was going to be impossible for us to make it to the parking lot and walk the mile to the start in time for my family's race.

7:30... stuck in our cars, we watched mournfully as we could see the 10k/Marathon racers go by as they headed onto their 2nd mile. I felt terrible for my family, especially my niece and nephew, thinking there was no way they'd get to race, even with chips!

7:40: That does it, I have to pee like the Dickens and at least one of us should be able to make it to their race! So, despite swearing I would only do 13.1 this year, I got out of the car, saluted my family, and jogged the 2 remaining miles straight to the porta potty line at the start.

7:55: Wracked with guilt that I was at the start and I had no idea if my brother would make it in time for the Half, or if my family would get to do the 10k at all, I waited in the drizzle with the runners for the gun.

Mile 1: Feeling good, had to dodge some people at first but slowly found my usual bubble. I must have some powerfully stinky sweat since every race I always end up in a bubble by myself. Fine by me!

Mile 2: Damn, this is the longest mile EVER. Where the hell is that Mile 3 sign? Uh-Oh....Garmin says 3.5 miles.. PLEASE tell me this is NOT happening again!

Mile 3-5: Going smooth, feeling good. A little down pour felt awesome and wished it would have stayed! Signage for where each race should go is amazing. There is NO way you could go the wrong way this year!

Mile 6: Crrraaaaaap.. Side stitch. Make that 2. Please, please, pleeeeeease go away! Had to slow down to a 7:30 pace for a mile til it went away. Almost considered walking it off but my good old stubbornness held on. Yes!

Mile 7-8: The hills begin. Dammit.

Mile 9: Caught up to a 10 year old. Yes, a 10 year old had been ahead of me all this time. And the only reason I caught up to him was because he needed to take a moment to use his inhaler.

Mile 10-12: Ok, I'm about ready for this to be over. Why 13? Who came up with this crazy number anyway?

Approaching the final stretch

Mile 13: I start into the dreaded U toward the Finish. I swear every year this stretch gets longer and longer. I spot the Turtle taking my pic and blow him a kiss. After seeing the smile on his face I knew things had to have worked out somewhat well with the traffic and I immediately felt relief. The ground of the final stretch was so slippery I couldn't sprint and they were cautioning people to slow down!

Final Time: 1:36:48!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's a 7:22/mile! Not bad for only 1 really good run in the last 3 weeks and taking a week off for vacation!

The results were posted yesterday and that's when my mouth really dropped. I came in 4th in my division, 20th woman overall (out of 2,884) and 134th in the WHOLE race (5,275). HOLY COW!!!!! I never even think about placing in any of the big races I enter. I know I'm fast locally, but that's only because the races are so small! It's easy to be fast when there's only 10 of you! But, competing in the Air Force Half? With thousands from not only all over the country, but the world? Wow! I still can't get over it!

And my family? They all made it and did their races too. My brother did great with his Half, and the rest of my family got to do their 10k, (starting over an hour late!) and all more than beat their times from last year. It all turned out way better than I could have ever hoped for!

3 weeks until the Towpath Half Marathon! Yippee!!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I can't remember if I shared, but back at the end of May, I sent my portfolio to Disney Fine Art. I had been spamming their facebook and email with pictures of my paintings so much that they finally gave in and asked me to send my physical portfolio.

Annnnnnd, that's the last I've heard of that.

So, I thought to myself. How do I get through to them!? How do I get my paintings in front of them? I don't even know if they even got my portfolio!

If there's somethin' strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call.....Ellen DeGeneres!

I love Ellen, she's hilarious, kind-hearted and way more down to earth than Oprah (though don't come between me and the OWN channel!). Not only has she helped so many people when they've written to ask for her help, she also has ties with Disney as the voice of Dory in Finding Nemo and the soon to be made, Finding Nemo sequel. So, I decided to paint Dory and send it to Ellen, with a letter begging for her help to get me into Disney!

Here's how it turned out:

I was pretty nervous about being able to paint Dory exactly not twice, not three times but four times. I started by sketching her on a piece of cardboard so I could trace her in the 4 squares and have her shape come out pretty much the same. I noticed the bottom right Dory wasn't tilted after I took this picture and felt my heart drop when I knew I had to erase and try again. It is sooo hard to get even a half-clean erase on a canvas. Which is why I put it off until I painted all 3 other squares, naturally... Its un-tilted body taunting me from its bottom right corner home.

So, now's when I'm thinking, "Oh sure, the first one was so easy. Now, I have to make sure I paint all the rest in just the same way. Greeeeeat."

Sweaty palms and shortness of breath, commence! I'm starting to think painting might not be so good for my health...

3 down, 1 to go!
And finally............

18" x 24" original acrylic painting on canvas

Alright, Dory done and now all I gotta do is ship it out, right? Noooo, turns out, Ellen only lists a Po Box for an address, and FedEx/UPS doesn't ship to Po Boxes. Crap. So, instead, I've emailed, tweeted and snail-mailed my letter and a picture of the painting to Ellen. Hopefully, one of her minions will get it over to her and somehow she'll see Dory and help me! If you can, send some thoughts and prayers my way, this is my dream!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vacation Recovery


I'm back from my vacation to Hawaii and just now starting to get back to the normal swing of things. After a lovely week in my favorite state...



And an epic trip home that rivalled Frodo's quest to Mordor...filled with deplaning, changing gates, missed connections, switched airports and rental cars with flat tires at midnight....

Teddy bear as body pillow...the new airplane pillow

I caught a major bug. My first run back from vacation is always filled with nerves as I wonder how much stamina and speed I've lost. Labor Day morning, the run went as expected: it wasn't my best, it wasn't my worst. And then the hammer fell. I woke up Tuesday last week completely wiped out. I was just exhausted in that flu-like way,  my throat was sore and I just knew what was coming. As the day wore on, I got more and more beat. There was no getting around it. I was sick.

Wednesday, I was completely useless. I laid around on the couch and I think I scared the Turtle when I was nodding off during E! News at 7pm. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd already napped for 2 hours, besides sleeping in since I'd called off from work. He said he'd never seen me so tired.

And all I could think of was, I have a race in 3 weeks! I need to run!

By the end of the week I started feeling better, and I got back to the gym on Friday and had an awesome elliptical run. I've run 2 more times since then, but my average pace for my run Monday morning was 7:31, a good 16 seconds from where I'd like it to be. At first, I was incredibly disappointed with the number, especially since I really felt like I was pushing it through the pretty miserable run. But, as my mom and I talked it out, we decided that despite the 50 degree temps it was humid out, and that my cold, which is now steadily dripping out of my nose, is still wearing me out.

And, I'm really really trying to think healthfully and put it in perspective. I ran a 7:31 average pace for 9 miles. So what if it was 16 seconds off my PR for a training run? Who cares? Only me. It really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It doesn't make me a better or worse person. It's just a running pace. There are way more important things in this world.

Now, I just have to keep repeating this mantra til I truly believe it and give myself a break! I really do put too much pressure on myself. And bit by teeny, tiny bit, I'm trying to relax my mind's strangle-hold on ridiculous, unrealistic, only-achievable-if-I-don't-have-a-life goals. PR's are dangerous things. Once I hit them, I thin I have to hit them each time once I know their achievable. Its a slippery slope I'm trying to get off of!

Phew! Ok, enough confessing. I told you I was OCD! I've got a ton of paintings in the works. I am soooo busy my head is spinning! I'll post the latest one later this week!

Does anyone else beat themselves up over bad runs?