Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Miami Half Marathon...

I have looked forward to this race for weeks. I have trained and stayed focus. My nutrition has been good and I have really been working on making sure my body is hydrated.

With that said...sometime you just wake up race morning and KNOW it's going to be a tough day. That was today.

430am....ugh...I hit the alarm and then made sure that my running partner, Rick was up and not sleeping in. I really don't want to do this today without at least having one friend at the start. This race was very popular last year with our circle of running buddies as we took a cruise after the race. It was a half marathon BY the ship you are about to board and scream at the top of your lungs..."Fix me a margarita...Ill be there in a few hours..." It was a blast.

But this year, Rick and I crammed this race in between a lot of different life events. His girlfriend had surgery (nothing life threatening...thank you Lord) 5 days ago, his girlfriend's birthday party Friday night, my in laws will be arriving next week, AND Team in Training had their kick off meeting on Saturday morning which meant..we had to drive down to the race Saturday afternoon and return Sunday right after. Not EXACTLY a relaxing weekend with a race included.

I laid in bed thinking how wonderful it would be to sleep a few more hours. I thought about how the medal looks JUST LIKE LAST YEAR'S MEDAL...I could just wear the old one (NOT!!). I thought about hot coffee and a Sunday paper and maybe a visit to the Spa....but the course was calling so I made it to my feet and got ready and out the door of our Downtown Miami hotel at 530AM.

The race start was PACKED with over 18,000 runners but we made our way to our corral and before we knew it, the fireworks were going off and we were on the run. The run heads over a large causeway in the first mile so I ran just a little bit before slowing to a walk up the causeway.

Im a Florida girl and fully believe that HILLS were made for skiing, hiking and enjoying from the balcony of a beautiful hotel room in the Rocky or Smokey Mountains. I don't run hills...even if they are man made. Im learning..slowly...but for now..I walked that hill with gusto and ran carefully down the other side.

I was feeling pretty good in the first 5 miles. I had found a pacing partner named Allan from South Florida that was walk/running the race as I was. We made our way for the first 5 miles until he decided to walk the rest of the race and I kept going.

At mile six, we were on South Beach where we were greeted and cheered on by some of the most incredible Drag Queens you have ever seen. At first, I was stunned...then amused. The things you will see when you run a Half Marathon.

At mile eight, I started to have trouble with my feet but I couldn't figure out why. I had not changed my shoes or socks..they were the same model of shoe and normal socks I always wear but something was not right. My fear of falling behind got the best of my good instead of stopping. I kept going.

By mile 11, I was really hurting but I am blessed to have that endorphin rush that some athletes talk about so I had difficulty pin pointing WHERE exactly I hurt. I knew my feet were the issue but I didn't know where...

I crossed the finish line 17 minutes slower than my best time. Definitely not the day I was hoping for. I had stuck to my run/walk plan until mile 10 where things kinda went to was a solid effort. I kept walking through the finish line and my feet began to pound with pain. I could hardly walk. What in the world have I done?

I made it to the front of the hotel where Rick was waiting, dressed and showered to help me to my hotel room. He had already finished, cleaned up and checked out. Someday, I want to be that fast.

As he helped me into my room, he removed my a gasp and a shocked look on his face. "Missey, how in the world did you run like this??" I had 3 blisters on the left foot...but the right foot was pretty bad!!

To my horror, I had a blister...but not your standard blister. This bad boy was 5 inches long 3 inches wide and FULL of blood. It stuck out 2 inches from my right foot and looked like it would burst at any moment. We iced it immediately and then put all of my in an ice bath.

I called Hector and my friend and former Coach Beth for advice. I have had blister before but NOTHING like this guy. He had his own zip code. We put Preparation H on it (if you have never heard of using that stuff on blisters, you gotta try really works) and wrapped my foot in a large bandage. I was able to get another pair of shoes on but I gotta tell ya, I am happier right now not having a shoe on that foot.

I was disappointed with my race but better to learn about my shoe issue (those shoes went into the trash) than to be dealing with this in an Ironman or Half Ironman race. These half marathons are really tune ups to help my running. Triathlon is the passion and the goal. I can tell some small improvements have occurred but I need to drop a bit more weight and work a little harder to get that PR. It was a solid and fun race even with all the difficulties!!!

I thought about posting a pic of my foot but I think it would gross you out!! Better to just post the race start photo!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Treadmill Territory

So my last few weeks of training have been focused on running. Needless to say, running is my weakest event so Hector and I are determined to get some speed out of me. Today, however, I marked a milestone; I ran faster on a treadmill than I have ever done in all the years of training for triathlon.

For most people, it would probably be an average pace but for me it was amazing. At first, I watched Hector move the number higher and higher and I shook my head. He told me..."Melissa...your inability to do this is all in your head." "We're gonna run this pace for 30 seconds with 15 seconds recovery and we're gonna do it 5 times."

I was terrified.

It sounds dramatic but all I could envision was flying off the back of the treadmill like they do on the Biggest Loser. With just a few days prior to the Miami Half Marathon, I didn't want to fall and lose my chance to run. Fear fear fear. It just stands for : False Evidence Appearing Real.

"You can do this Melissa." Hector kept saying. "Relax, lean forward a bit and just kick back with your legs."

I was standing on the siderails of the treadmill watching the belt move and finally, I jumped on.....and to my absolute shock, it really wasn't that hard. The 30 seconds came and went faster than I could imagine and it really wasn't until the final rep that I felt that things got difficult but I believe that is mostly mental at that point.

We ended up doing two more sets of this and one final rep of 1 minute at my top speed. I was tired, winded but I got off the machine, looked at Hector and said "Are we going to do that again tomorrow???"

I love a challenge. I guess that is why I am in love with Ironman. The common man can push himself (or herself) to the limits of their physical and mental being. Today I did some pushing of my own.

The running world would find the speed that I attained today laughable but for me, it was a HUGE step forward. Im starting to believe more and more in my ability.

99 days until the Gulf Coast Half Ironman and 27 pounds left to lose. I have now lost 13 pounds since January 1.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Square Peg in a Round Hole...

Ive determined that life is too short to be depressed. Most of the time I am a very upbeat person with a fiery temper (Im working on that!) Im passionate about life and goals and dreams. Being sad, depressed or offended just doesn't fit into this world of mine.

But lately, I have been kinda down. I feel right now that I am adrift and not as happy as I would like to be. I don't think I could say Im depressed....I guess I could say that I lack direction and am losing focus.

Everyone tells me that I should be excited about a 12 pound weight loss in 3 weeks...but I am not happy with it. I am so tired of being the biggest girl in the room at workouts and being the slowest on the road. I know I am racing against my watch and myself but there are moment that I wish I could really run or bike with a group. I meet up with a group on the weekends but I can't keep pace with them. Everyone is always nice and waits for me to finish...but just once in my life, I wish I would achieve the speed and talent it takes to just be...well...average.

I know. This sounds like a "oh poor is me" post and I really don't want to be like that. I belong to a Tri Club at our YMCA where almost every single woman is lean and strong. I feel like that square peg in a round hole...I just don't fit.

Im not going to quit...thats just not me...but I guess I wonder when I will finally fit in this lean and strong sport that has become my passion....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lessons from the Port-a-Potty (and it's not what you think)

I love the weekends. Most normal people sleep in and have coffee cuddled upon their couch while reading the newspaper or watching TV. They might venture to the farmer's market or take a stroll down the hometown street for coffee at Starbucks.

I have NEVER been "normal".

The alarm went off at 600am (I have a brand new alarm clock thanks to Santa) and I proceeded to hit the snooze button. I rolled over and went back to dreams of Lord only knows what. The next thing I heard was my phone ring that I had a text message. My friend Beth sent a simple text that she was "on the road." On the the 5k race we were Winter Park (that is about 10 minutes from my house).....that starts at 730am. Local time: 635am!!


I jumped out of bed, let the dog out, put on my running clothes, grabbed a hat and a race belt for my phone and car key and flew out the door to my car. My Golden Retriever looked perplexed...and hungry. "Sorry're gonna have to wait for breakfast!" and I was gone.

I made it to Winter Park by 655am and found a parking spot about a mile away from the start. I met up with Beth and some other friends as I made my way to the staging area. My next obstacle? I had not picked up my race packet yet. I found my number, got in line and watched as people start heading for the start line. I got my packet, put on my number, Beth helped me with my timing chip and we got to the start just as they start singing the National Anthem....ahhh...I can relax.

Well...not exactly.

It hits me...all of a sudden...that I really needed to find a portapotty. I thought to myself "Its 3.1 miles..I can deal with it". The gun went off..and off we went...and that's when I knew...I COULDN'T deal with it. I went off the road and directly to a port a potty. I toilet paper. I check the next, and the next and the next...finally the 6th one was stocked. I took care of matters and headed back for the road....6:30 minutes after I went across the start line!!!

I came out to the road to find myself basically alone. I always joked that someone had to be's not a joke now. I thought about abandoning the race. I thought about cutting the course. I thought about a lot of different options but the only one that appeared to be the right option was to GO...and catch up!!

So there I was, running down beautiful Park Avenue in Winter Park Florida...alone..and determined. For a brief moment, my mind imagined a dark road and an Ironman mile marker saying Mile 23. What would I do then?? I broke into a faster run...and made my way down the avenue and around the corner. I could see the end of the race with casual walkers making their way. I was determined to catch them...and I did.

Once into the group, I started to set my sights on catching people ahead of me. I would focus on their jacket, or backpack or design on their shirt and pick them off one by one. Before I knew it, a mile was gone and I was still in the back but I was definitely far from last.

Mile 2 arrived and we were in the heart of the million dollar neighborhoods of Winter Park. I grew up riding around these streets on my bike as a kid imagining owning such a beautiful home. The owners were now out on the road cheering us all on.

I continued to pick off people and make my way. Finally we made the turn back to the start and I felt great. "It's just a 5k..I thought to myself.." but I see so much in this little race.

I came down the road with the finish in site. My friends were at the line cheering for me and wondering what in the world must of happened to me...but you do what you have to do. I crossed the line with a P.R....if you remove the time I was in the portapotty.

We can learn so much from such small things in this world. It is in these times that I know I had amazing parents that taught me right and wrong. It would have been easy to turn and head home when I didn't start with the group. It would have been easy to just cut the course and make my way up to my friends...but neither of these options would have been the RIGHT choice..the just choice. I learned a lot about myself as I made small goals and achieved each one as I past another person. So should ALL things be in life...achieving the small goals leads to the greater things we all dream of.

No big finish...but today's lessons are just as precious as a ribbon and medal around my neck.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Returning from the Land of Home Renovations

Its the 22nd of January and here I am...Finally....back in blog land. Boy have I missed writing.

Where have I been?? Well...the week after Christmas, I decided that it would be an OUTSTANDING IDEA to renovate my ugly and outdated home office. I had had the same old desk and hutch for 15 years and an office closet that hadn't been cleaning out in about that we cleared it out to the bare walls.

The process should have taken about 10 days..instead it took a month. The gentleman who installed the carpet cut it wrong and it had to be redone. The desk I ordered from Pottery Barn was shipped promptly but the UPS truck had an accident and that delayed its arrival for about 7 days. I decided to replace the baseboards and put in new bypass doors on the closet..that took another 5 days. They always say..the best laid plans...

But finally...after cleaning out a cluttered office closet and 15 years of junk, I have a beautiful new office that is gray, black and white and absolutely serene. It is now the perfect place to work and write and basically communicate and have fun.

We still have the finishing touches to do...custom shutters to install on the windows (they take 6 weeks to construct), shelves to affix to the walls and certificates to hang....but for now...I have gone from working on a card table to working in a peaceful place. Its all good!!

Since January 1, I have lost 12 pounds. I would be voted off the Biggest Loser with those kinds of numbers but for now I am very proud of my loss. I am training with Hector 3 days a week and focusing on my running. I can actually see the progress in my form and speed. I have been consistent and focused.

I ran the "Disney on Ice" Half Marathon two weeks ago. 28 degree temperature at race start + sleet + snow makes for some seriously miserable race conditions. I am a native Floridian and I don't do the cold well. I had an asthma attack at mile 10 but had my inhaler at the ready. I time was terrible..but we made history. I don't think we will see another Disney Marathon Weekend in the snow for many years to come.

Although I ran Disney, my goal half marathon is Miami next weekend. My primary goal is to get a P.R. but if that doesn't happen I would like to get within 5 minutes of my best time. When I ran my P.R. in Philadelphia several years ago, the weather was a cool 50 degrees, no wind and no hills. Miami will definitely be a bit warmer and includes some causeways. I would just like to see my time be close.

Ironman is always on my mind and in my heart. I am making some steps (although small) towards that weight loss goal in May. I believe I will be down the 40 pounds by May and then we can decide whether Ironman is in the cards for 2010. For now, I am enjoying focusing on better running form and speed, weight loss...and a pretty house.

Last night I was installing a new wall shelf in my office. I followed the directions, used a level to make sure the shelf was straight, took great care in drilling the holes for the bracket and installing the dry wall anchors. I got a little cocky thinking "Hey...Im pretty good at this...". I lifted the shelf up to slip it on to the bracket and realized that I had not measured correctly and the shelf was off center by 7 inches. That meant I had to unscrew the entire bracket, remeasure, redrill holes etc. I looked up at the wall and reminded me of Ironman ...

You train and follow the plan. You take care of your bike, your body and your mind and prepare as prescribed. You arrive at Race Day and think "Im ready..." and then you find're not and you gotta do it all over again...

I rehung the shelf...I took the time to do it right and it looks gorgeous. Did I wanna do the task twice?? Heck no....but Im glad I did. Just like with Ironman....Im gonna get it done...Im gonna do it right...and when the finish line will be beautiful!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And so it begins..

(NOTE: I have been very delinquent in my blogging but I'm getting back in the groove. Here is the post from early Jan. 2010 that I just forgot to edit and publish. Watch for more up to date postings as my office and home computer are back together)

2010 started with an incredible evening of fun, glamor, quick changes and great surprises. My husband and I first headed to a friend's house for an early dinner and to hang out with a few friends until 845pm. We then ran home, switch out of our jeans and t shirts into a tuxedo and gown and head to the "James Bond Dressed to Kill" New Year's Eve party with our friends Rick and Lisa who looked AMAZINGLY like characters from the film.

Now the flyer for this party promised a costume party that never occurred but we still have a good time sipping on martinis (shaken not stirred of course) and seeing the other costumes. The party was so packed that we never made it into the area with the dance floor and stage. We ended up deciding to leave about 1100pm with no particular plan.

As we started the drive home, my friend Lisa suggested we find head to our local cafe for a quiet midnight celebration. As we approached the cafe, it was closed up tight. Oh dear. What do we do now?? Do we just go home?? Do we try another restaurant?

We drove by our favorite Greek restaurant and the music was blaring!! PERFECT, I thought to myself. This could be a fun cultural New Years celebration. We walked in the door of the restaurant and realized that it was a wedding party...complete with broken dishes on the floor, Ouzo flowing freely. Hmmm...don't think this will work either!!!

We walked across the street to Gargi's Italian Restaurant which is right next to our workout site for Boot Camp. I have seen the restaurant 3 mornings a week for 7 years but have never had dinner there. We step through the door and the owner was thrilled to see us. The kitchen was closed but he welcomed us in to what seemed to be a private family gathering but they were so kind we couldn't help but get caught up in the music , the balloons and the fun!!

They offered us a beautiful table on the patio facing the lake and next to the dance floor. The music was Cuban of all things (in an Italian Restaurant...what a shock) and we ordered a bottle of champagne. Just as the popped the cork, the fireworks display started across the lake at a local private club. It was the perfect vantage point for a great display and a wonderful way to ring in the New Year.

We counted the seconds down and toasted the New Year in. My husband I enjoyed every second as it has been a number of years since we have been together on New Years. We danced, hugged and kissed...a beautiful beginning to 2010...

I have great hopes for 2010...I hope you do too.