Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our Days Are Numbered Ladies

E-Speed and Daisy: Enjoy the oldest and most prestigious race in the US. And if you see Lance "Hands off!!! He is mine!!" ( I am not kiddin' Daisy :)

AS1 and (the hubby): Week after week you have reached new goals with your running. You have fought off the fatigue, the weather and the injuries. Every step you take will be worth that last one you cross the finish line with. (then get your ass over to the hoot-nanny for some moonshine and toosh-pushin')

To AS2: Busting your ass and training on those hills will carry you to a PR. And all those nerves....well those make the first 5 miles go by, just like that.

To MN: The most determined red-head I have ever met. You will rock the pig! Remember it is the courage to continue that counts. You WILL do WELL!!!! I know it.

Ahh Cleveland!!!

Starting with MT: Unfortunatley for you, it is ONLY 26.2 miles so don't forget to stop after 3.5-4 hours. They will post "FINISH" signs. Love ya.

Moving on to Daisy: If your "guns" are any indication of the mental training you have been doing there will be absolutely NO stopping you.

TriSaratops: Continuing on with the LL Cool J theme: "You're gonna rock this land, you're gonna take this itty bitty world by storm And you're just gettin' warm!!!

And the wrap up: E-speed again....funny how you're last and just like in a relay the last person is the fastest (strange coincidence). Burn up the course, burn it up!! However, please note: asphalt melts at 250 degrees F and there will be many other runners behind you ;-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Run For Your Life 5K

Geez, you'd think a bear was chasin' me with a title like that. Hmmm, not a bad idea. Maybe, I would run faster. Nahhh, I don't know of any bears that eat turtles so I am probably okay.

Anywhoo, this race was at the fairgrounds in Berea at 9:00am. I arrived at about 8:15am. The race usually drew about 200 participants and with it being a fundraiser for a school to win $5K I thought it could be even more crowded. I was shocked to see only about 20 or so cars when I arrived. Result: a decent parking spot for about 20 minutes or so I thought (I will explain in a minute).

I had not planned on racing today, but the Walrus had called and said he was on his death bed with a cold and was not going to race. I had planned to take pictures of him and the newest member of TEAM EVOTRI as he was looking to renew his runnig confidence after a somewhat less than average 5k (2) weeks prior and Trisaratops after being off the circuit for a year was back for her debut. I was still feeling a little whipped from that 30k. My legs had still not seemed to put in an appearance through the last 2 weeks of running and my dumbass had gone on a trail run with my running buddy and rolled my ankle on Thursday. This normally never bothers me, but it had felt a little tender for the past day or so. I believe it is the result of having a 30 year old body and not that of a 25 year old. So, yeah plan A was shot to hell.

Plan B.

Walked over to registration and signed myself up for the 5k! I was itching to see if I had recovered enough and could run a good race or if my anemia was flaring up and slowing my recovery. I had to know. I had always been a better than average athlete throughout my life and running last year had been like an isotonic contraction...the effort had been there, but no results. It had been a hard, frustrating pill to swallow.

The race was not chipped so I pinned my Bib on my racing jersey and made a mental note to NOT start in the back of the pack where I used to live.

Here is where I refer to the decent parking. I had pulled though the parking spot so someone could park behind me as I saw a row about 10 cars down making its way behind my truck, but some stupid people who couldn't walk from one row over had started parking in front of us too. Now, how the heck was I supposed to get my car out with people behind and in front of me. I have found the only cure for type A people like me that that get annoyed with dumbshit like this is running (biking and swimming). Well, I was running today. I had two choices...1) Wait until someone tried to park in front of me and tell them they were lazy and a dumbass for parking me in and that if they take their dumbass another row back they can use the extra distance as a warm-up or 2) back-up and take two parking spots so no one can park behind me. It was close but with the votes tallied I backed up. I was irritated, but I usually am on race day so I am just fufilling my self-efficacy.

As I was going out for my warm-up with about 30 minutes to start...did my eyes deceive me, was I dreaming, nope...a trisaratops sighting and she was dressed to race. Right away, I smiled and trotted over to say hi and give her a welcome back hug. We went out for a warm-up and chatted about everything, hit the potty and then went back to our cars to strip off our warm-ups. I whipped out the racing flats the walrus had finally talked me into getting and headed to the start.

Tot trot over, cool temperatures to make the unshaven hair on your legs stand up and rain/hail...CHECK...ready to now start the 5k. Trisaratops and I started about 1-2 rows back as we new we would still be faster than most. She said she was using this as a tempo run and it was a little slower than my last 5k pace so the plan was to hold onto me for as long as she could, unless of course I ran +8:00 pace, which did cross my mind. "Don't be negative dumbass." I told myself. I did recognize a few fast people and some members of the former TGR right away. So much for a slow race. I swear I am like honey attracting bees. Every race I go to the speedsters show up.

Trisaratops and I wished each other luck and at "GO," my Garmin and I were off. It was a very, very fast start. There were a lot of guys and a lot of young people. I was unavoidably sucked in. We made it out of the fairgrounds and over a quarter mile with people still jockeying for position and running hard. I was sucking a little more air than I would have liked so I immediately gave myself a mental slap trying to gain control and run my race. There were a few very small rollers through the first mile that seemed to help me gain ground on those around me. There was a little girl about 14 I ran down about .5m out. Then there were these 2 girls from a cross country team that were behind me, then in front of me, then behind me. They were erratically running and the one girl it seemed was trying to draft off her friend from 10 feet behind (silly girl) and in doing so instead of taking the inside corner of a turn nearly ran into me by trying to go wide to follow her friend. I refused to budge and go wide. There was a perfectly open hole on the inside and when I run corners I run tangentially as every second counts. I forced her to the inside and she easily caught her friend and although she may have been annoyed with me I did her a favor. After that I broke away. Mile 1 and the timer calls out 6:43. I nearly stopped dead in my tracks. I had not run a 6:00 pace since high school. I felt really strong and I was elated. I was genuinely shocked and then I remember Trisaratops...oh no! I vocally said "I am sorry S." Hoping somewhere behind me she was not planning on how to kill me. I had gone out way faster than planned. I was saved when my Garmin beeped down the road a few minutes later...7:09. That was better.

I have been reading "Men of Oregon" by Kenny Moore and in his book he describes how Bill Bowerman would instruct his runners to float down the backside of the track during the 400m. I figured I would try it. I told myself to just relax run at a 7/8 and float through this mile. Bowerman also discusses the importance keeping the hips thrust forward to increase the efficiency of lifting the knees during the step over run and of a forceful exhale to remove as much CO2 as possible, so even though I was not short of breath, I was breathing like horse in the Kentucky Derby.

Now during this mile of "floating" two different women, these ones in their 40's had run me down. They passed me but I hung with them only about 10 feet back. Another girl who seemed overdressed in a hoodie and aerobic tights bounded my all three of us seemingly weightless. Needless to say we lost sight of her and she finished well ahead of us. I opted to skip the water stop as not to lose the two ladies and it was only a 5k. Again, every second counts. The timer at mile 2 called 14:02 (7:19). I had faded. My garmin again beeped farther down the road at 7:22.

At that point, I knew another PR was there for the taking so I began doing the calculations to complete the last mile. It goes something like this....

You have 1.1 miles to go, probably less as you talk to yourself while covering ground. At the start of the race when you hit Adams St. you were at 3:16 on your Garmin so anywhere from .25-.5 miles from the finish. When you hit the turn back to Adam's Street now your going to have to pick it up and at the fairground entrance you need to be moving pretty much all out. Stay on those ladies in front of you by the way. Don't lose them. They don't seem to be pulling away from you.

We soon made the turn back on to Adams Street. I was still with those two ladies and a few guys. My roommate had given me some advice the week before about breaking away from someone. She had said the chances of them runnning you down after you pass them and beating you at the finish are very small. I knew I had to breakaway. I picked up the pace and caught the dynamic duo. The one breathlessly said "good job" to me. I thanked her and said you too. I pushed on and pulled ahead, but they stayed with me, one on each shoulder. I could hear their breathing so close. I was hurting and I couldn't shake them. "C'mon, " I told myself. "Break them, pull away, open your stride." And with that I very painfully pulled away. We were so very close to the park entrace, but I had pushed too hard too soon. I was about to crash. After what seemed like an eternity I made it to the park entrance. I could see a guy and a girl ahead of me. I forced myself to forget about what was coming behind me and focus on running them down. I made up some ground on them, but only cause they had not started kicking yet. I was unable pick up my pace further. I could only hold on and even that was about to come to an abrupt stop. I could see the clock and it read 21:?? I was pumped. My lungs were on fire. My body felt like it was moving through quick sand, but it only took 1 second to decided make it or not I was gonna try for sub-22. As I got closer I could see 21:46, :47, :48. Could I throw myself across the finish line in time? Apparently, not. I had good eyes. I could see from miles away. I was too far out. I crossed the finsih right behind the two people I had been focusing on ahead of me. They had beaten me by 1 and 2 seconds. Official time 22:09! Another PR.

I had manage to hold off those two women by a few seconds. I was relieved. My legs were back. My body was healthy. I sent up a small "thank you" prayer. I was okay. I had run my best race thus far in my super fast new shoes and there was no more hail.

After catching enough breath I headed back passed the finish to cheer for trisaratops. She ran under her tempo time and did exceptionally well. She was pumped. She was back and she was racin.' YAY! JayZ would be super-duper proud of his mommy.

We did a short cool-down and changed into some warmer clothes as the hail had ceased, but a steady cold rain wasacomin'down. The race had lots of post-race goodies, so I opted for my coffee and key-lime yogurt while we hung around for the raffle, awards and $5K winners. She gave me some inside info on the good, the bad and the ugly of an ironman while we hung around. I managed to pull off 2nd in my AG as first was a 21:59. Unfortuanately, T and I did not win any raffle prizes, but her school was in the top 3 it looked like to win the money and this birdie mascot was crushin' on us. I didn't have the heart to tell him we were both taken. I was elated another good day of running had befallen me.

So often I think back to the way things were and the runner I WAS and compare them to the runner I AM. I think about how things could change again so quickly, but today was one of those ups when I felt unstoppable (well, almost unstoppable). I don't know how long things will be like this but I don't want to worry or dawdle on it as I seem so often to do, so with that I am going to hide my fears in a box under my bed, accept the fact that I am coming into my own with running and make it official. No more maybe, no more we will see. It may suck and I may fail, but my decision is made. I am now accountable. I am no longer the runner that hopes to try for Boston some day. I will be that runner that tries for Boston at the Cleveland Marathon on May 18th and everybody that thinks I am too slow can KISS MY ASS!! And that my friends, will only be the beginning.....

Friday, April 11, 2008

The 5th Floor....

I woke up at 7:45am this morning after a night filled with employment nightmares. Today was my interview for my "dream job." I took a quick shower and managed to get my hair right on the first try. I put on my expensive new suit that I had desperately searched for with the help of every salesperson at the store yesterday and was out the door in less than an hour. The only incident occured when I took a step back in my new high heels and it went right through the vent in the floor. It was stuck and it took me a minute to wrench it out.

The drive was about 40 minutes and I found the building just as "so & so" had described. I headed straight to the bathroom as I was getting more nervous by the minute. I checked my make-up and did my best to gather my wits about me. Ready as I would ever be I went up to the 5th floor.

My interview was at 10:00am. It was 9:50am. I was "on-time." I have heard 10:00am was not considered on time. It was considered late. I checked in with the receptionist and took a seat. I did not wait long before a nice gentleman a few years older than myself with very bright blue eyes came out to greet me. This was "so & so". He held out a hand for me and I shook it firmly and smiled. We then began our tour of the facility. I noted the information center for patients, the fitness facility, the stress testing area and the administrative offices. I was doing well making mental notes, smiling and feeling comfortable. He was very open and friendly.

After the tour, we headed to his office for the most important part which of course is the uncomfortable part for me...the interview itself. It started with questions such as ....

"What does service mean to me?"
"Why do you want to work for us?"
"Tell me about your past experience."
"How do you feel about change?"
"What don't you like about a job?"

Okay, so far so good. I took all that in and answered as honestly as I could. I felt I did well and then the hard part really hit me. He began quizzing me on BP, glucose, cholesterol standards and I only hoped he was satisfied with my answers. He did not seem displeased with any of my answers and then he said, "I want you to take a look at the EKGs for me and tell me everything you can about them."

Oh, God. This was one of those few things in college that I had had to work at and unfortunately not being up on them or having refreshed my memory I was unable to answer them. I was so mad at myself for not reviewing them the night before. I had decided the chances he would ask me would be slim to none. Well, slim showed up. He said it was not a big deal. If you don't continually familiarize yourself with them you forget them. I knew he was trying to make me feel better. I apologized, but he said it was okay. He did inform me that it was necessary for the positon. The interview continued on for about 10 more minutes before wrapping up. He validated my parking and thanked me for coming in. I in turn shook his hand and thanked him for his time. I did ask him when a good time to follow up with him would be, but he informed me that I was the last of his first round interviews and he would be contacting those he wanted back for a second interview. It was done. I had showed him my best hand. I could only hope that he truly believed I was an intelligent and dedicated person underneath that EKG ignorance. I walked out feeling relieved I had made it through, but nervous that those other candidates may be getting "my phone call."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hope for the Best; Prepare for the Worst

About 2 weeks ago I found this website with "my dream job" on it. The job was here, at the mistake on the lake. It had been posted 18 days and I was worried that it was no longer open and the poster had forgotten to remove the position. However; just in case hell was freezing over and pigs were flying I uploaded my resume and cover letter to the company. I received an email thanking me for my resume would be reviewed...don't call us will call call in 30 days, well it is obvious...they don't want me.

Fast forward to today: I had pretty much given up any chance of getting an interview. I was already considering when I wanted to sit down and send out my resume to my 2nd, 3rd, 4th and maybe 50th choices of available jobs. I wasn't depressed, but a bit frustrated. I wanted a big person job. I was tired of waiting tables. I had spent my tens of thousands of dollars on my education. I was 30. I wanted to devote my 40 hours to something I loved and waiting on "cheap" guests was not getting it done. I need a change. Well, at exactly 1:32pm today that change came. I received a phone call from a number I did not recognize and followed my normal pattern of behavior by not answering the phone, but wondering who it could be. The voicemail beeped and I called in.

"Yes, hi Elizabeth. This is so & so calling from my "dream job" company. I received your resume and cover letter and would like to set-up a time for you to come in." Holy Moly!!! I was so excited. I could hardly breathe. I called my mom to tell her the good news. She was pumped. Geez, we were acting like I had already gotten the job :) I called the number back and chatted with so & so for 6 minutes and 2 seconds. He was very amicable and I immediately liked him. We had a really cheerful conversation and I hoped my excitement to work for him showed. I set up my interview for Friday at 10:00am. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all day. Tomorrow I am going in search of a new "spring" suit and some snappy heels. I also want to drive to the building in the next few days so I know where I am going as to insure my timely arrival. I am even going so far as to brush up on my research of do's and do not's for an interview. Yep, I am a worrier, but I am an excited worrier.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

888 is Great!!! Part 2

"It was on like Donkey Kong"(I love that silly saying). I passed by the finish line and out to the road for loop number 1. There is a small climb and then down hill and flat for about 1.5 miles and some great scenery, not that I paid much attention as I found myself in a highly intellectual conversation with none other than myself and I was mesmerized...

Me 1: "How are you feeling?"

Me 2: "Ok, I am fine."

Me 1: "Do you think you should slow down? You don't want to blow yourself up."

Me 2: "Yea, but I am having a hard time, what else can I focus on?"

Me 1: "Well, have you checked your breathing? Are your arms relaxed? Hey, there is a an unused tampon on the road!!"

Me 2: "Really?!? Weird Dude."

Me 1: "So, how are you feeling?"

Me 2: "Fine, shut the hell up and let me focus on running!!!"

Me 1: "Hey look there are some rolling hills ahead!"

Me 2: "Great, here we go, now shut up I have to foucs."

And that was the first 4 miles of the first loop for me. I couldn't help but smile at the insanity of the "self-talk" and wondered if other runners do the same. The 5th mile was flat and fast. I came through the first loop in 42:43. I was happy with that time, but I was definately wondering if negative splits were in my future as I was running faster than planned.

I started the 2nd loop feeling a little more confident. I was warmed up and knowing the course that lay ahead added to my ease. It was in this loop that I met my nemesis. There was a lady that passed me on the backside and immediately began pulling away. I let her go, but did overhear her say hi to someone and tell them she was getting ready for Boston. That clinched it for me. I was not going to be able to beat her, so I resorted to my own thoughts again. As I came around to the end of my 2nd loop I heard people shouting "Go Achilles!" and "888 is Great!" I was psyched. I wanted to break 2:40:00 today so I knew I had to come through sub-2:00:00. My second 5-mile split was 42:06. I was in the negative. I came through at 1:56:12 and my garmin said 14 miles! The course was long, but I was still on pace to break 2:40:00 and as an added bonus I saw that woman was right in front of me.

I had planned on running the last 4.6 miles with everything I had left in the tank. I changed my mind and decided it was now or never. I used the energy from the crowd to push me forward. I passed the woman easily and pushed myself up the hill. I was feeling great. I knew I could blow up and lose it at any second, but I was not the same hesitant, too tired and can barely make it to the finish runner that I had been last year. I was strong and kept telling myself "I was a machine, I would feel NO pain. I would not stop. I would not give up!!!" I surged forward and continued to put as much space as possible between me and that girl in hopes of breaking her from thinking she could run me down and beat me.

I made it to the back side with about 2.5-3.0 miles to go when it happened. My pace had been 8:00-8:10 for the last loop and my quad had known that. It seized up suddenly and I felt a sharp pain!! OUCH and F*CK!!! No, no, no, not again. I had seized up at Akron too a few years ago because I had not taken enough aid and was exhausted. I immediately grabbed a PowerGel and sucked it down. I cut my stride to short choppy steps and could feel my pace slow. There was a moment during that time when I could feel a sort of desperate need for the finish to be around the corner, or a second wind anything, hell even a tailwind, but at 3 miles from the finish there was no help. I slowed a little more. I was calm but angry. I was trying to talk myself back up into relaxing and giving the gel a minute to work. I would be okay and I would finsih this race. But I was mad and that anger was growing. I had trained for this. I wasn't going to let a cramp take me down...not on this day. I could hear that ladies footsteps coming from behind me to my dismay. She was going to catch me after all. I tried to tell myself this is a "B" race and it's okay, but in my heart every race I do is an "A" race and I always want to do my best. The next 2 miles were 8:36 & 8:28. I had slowed, but not as much as I had thought. Renewed with hope I pushed onward. I made the turn for the last straight-a-way. I picked up my pace and opened my stride as best I could. Every step was uncomfortable and the fluidity in my stride was gone. My breathing was ragged and my airway was closing as my asthma and reverse airway issue was acting up. I could see the finish banner and I hammered it home hoping to hold off the woman I could hear oh, so close coming up on me like a bat out of hell. I would have let her beat me if it had been over a mile out, but no one is gonna run me down at the finish without killing themselves! I hit the finsih in 2:38:15. Final split was 42:03, I had negative split every frickin' 5-mile loop just as planned. I was exhausted, but I refused to portray it. I smiled threw my head back and laughed while pumping my fist in victory.

I grabbed some food and water along with my finisher's medal before heading to the car to drop off my stuff and head back out for a "walking/slow jog" cool down and to cheer MN into the finish. I was elated to see she looked strong coming into the finish and was easily going to break her goal time. YAY, for her!! Way to GO!!!

I know we as runners get so caught up in comparing ourselves to others and the time on the clock, but in my heart of hearts I know that's not what counts and I believe Churchill sums up my true reason for running with this quote....

"Succes is not Final, Failure is not Fatal: It is the Courage to Continue that Counts"

And to all my running buddies: Don't be afraid you have that courage, as I have learned it from so many of you :)

I had broken my goal time for the year by 35 seconds, won my age group and as a bonus I held off that girl, who finished just 3 seconds behind me. Hell yeah!! Just like I said in the beginning..."it's on like Donkey Kong!!"