Archive for October, 2008

“Go ahead, save yourself,” the fallen one called, struggling to  breathe through the pain.

“But we’re a team; we live together or we die together,” he encourages, looking back with concern in his compassionate green eyes.

“No, you must, please,” the fallen one pleads with desperation.  “Leave me; do it!”

With one last moment of hesitation he does as he is asked; he leaves the fallen one behind and focuses on the challenge ahead-he will forge on without the fallen one and hope that, in the end, he will not regret it.”

Sound like the scene from a Turner Classic movie,right?  How about a scene from this morning’s Run for Read 8K?  Wow, were my eyes opened as to how different running everyday on a flat surface or a treadmill differs from a “trail” run.  Not that we knew it was going to be a trail run when I signed us up for this one.  The website described the trail, but why would I have bothered to read it before hand?  That sounds too reasonable-and those of you who know me know I am anything but reasonable.

So there we were, ready to begin the 8K under a drizzling grey sky.  The race would begin at 9:00, leaving the historic Tredegar Iron Works Civil War Museum, follow the Canal Walk, cross over onto Brown’s Island and then  to the Southside of the James River.

I was feeling good about the whole thing and my husband and I had talked about the fact that he would help me keep pace during the race.  What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the change in terrain and how it would  mess with my head.  The running surface went from brick to concrete to aggregate to dirt to weeded path to steel steps to graveled footpath to precarious path along train tracks to floodwall to cinder to woods to blacktop to dirt to wet leaves to bridge ramp to concrete path ….. you get the picture.

In addition to the various running surfaces, the route itself included more inclines than I had ever tried to run and in no stretch of my imagination did I ever think to include metal steps in my neighborhood runs.

Somewhere around mile 2 I told my trainer partner husband to go on without me; the steps and incline had created a stitch in my side that I needed to walk out and I felt really bad about holding him back.  He didn’t want to do it, but I kept waving him on and I think he sensed my frustration so he did as I asked.  After we separated I settled into a pace that would allow my breathing to return to a more steady rate and, fortunately, the stitch soon eased up. I came upon a couple running together that was keeping a pace I could deal with so I settled in behind them, focusing on the man’s heels and blocking out my surroundings so that I could “zone”.

The 4th mile was upon me before I knew it-I was going to make it after all! That’s when I saw it-the concrete ramp up the bridge-to me it seemed as if it led straight up into the clouds.  What the —-?  Was this a joke?  I had mentally settled in for the last mile and suddenly I was forced to realize that it wasn’t over yet.  I tried to maintain a running jogging pace as I started up the wet concrete incline but my shins weren’t very happy with me so I reverted to a speed walk until I reached a flat surface where I picked it up to a jog.  Coming down the other side of the bridge was the decline, seemingly easier but pretty slippery so I still had to keep it in low gear for fear of falling down-that would suck!

When I reached the bottom of the bridge and rounded the corner I saw  the couple that I had been drafting for pacing purposes and something inside me finally came alive.  Call it stupidity, call it determination, call it competitiveness-whatever it was, I poured it on and blew past them at a flat out haulin’  a– pace.  I was approaching the finish line and could see my partner’s orange shirt on the sideline, cheering me on.  There was a man in front of me and he must have heard my lightning pace behind him because he sped up.  That really fired me up so I kicked it up one more notch and we were nose to nose to the finish line.

I will have to wait to see how I did.  My husband said that he was so involved with cheering me on that he forgot to hit “stop” on the Garmin.  The race was too low budget for chips-so they had volunteers at the finish line writing down your race number and your time.  I guess they will eventually get around to posting the times for everyone but for now I am just glad I SURVIVED!


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After last Saturday’s 5K I definitely “rode the high” all week and it was a good thing, too, because it helped me get through a rather difficult week. It was a tough one for me from professional standpoint-lots of after school meetings and then spending every evening after dinner going over material and writing lesson plans in preparation for teaching for UVA on Friday night and Saturday.  I was the quintessential workaholic. On top of that I made a midweek trip to the hospital in a panic when I got a call that my eldest son (suffering from anxiety attacks and depression) was being taken there by a friend. I had just settled in to watch my stepdaughter play tennis (I hadn’t made a match all year!) when my phone rang and I got the news. Not knowing the extent of his condition, I hustled out of the match and headed over to the hospital with my hubby. Several hours later I was able to talk to the counselor on duty and he was released. They had changed his medicine and felt like he was having a reaction which was later confirmed by his regular doctor and he was taken off of that medication and put on Abilify. He has an appointment on Monday for medication maintenance so we will see what they have to say.

Meanwhile, I managed to run 4 miles on Monday, strength train on Tuesday, run 5 miles on Wednesday and strength train, run 4 miles on Thursday, strength train of Friday and then finish the week with a 7.13 run today! The run today was a bit tricky as the wind was quite gusty and the temperature was cooler than it had been in a long while. My husband friend trainer agreed to share the first part of his run with me, slowing down to my speed and helping me keep pace. I was feeling pretty good and when he started taking me on some detours from our regular route, I went with the flow without much comment. After a while I lost track of how far we had gone and I actually found that I liked it that way. I would much prefer to be kept in the dark and have my destination sneak up on me. Before I knew it, we made our way back to the house and when he dropped me off I had completed 7.13 miles in 1:10:15, an average pace of 9:52. I actually had enough energy left over to do some basic housecleaning, pick up a truck load of topsoil, help unload it and then work in my garden for most of the afternoon. It was an awesome ending to a not so great week!

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Crossing the Finish Line

Crossing the Finish Line

Now there’s something I would have never thought that I would spend any brain power on but, after Saturday, I have a new obsession (like I need another one!).  What is up with this:

Saturday morning was my 5K reintroduction into the world of running and I was jazzed.  My goal was to do it in less than 30 minutes and my husband loaned me his birthday Garmin to help me pace myself.  I was accompanied by my huge group of extended family and friends (my 19 year old son, Aaron) and had my I pod ready to jam the three miles away (oops, was I supposed to make sure it was charged?).  I look around and don’t see anyone else from my school’s “team” so I am resigned to do this thing alone, with my dead I pod and the intimidating electronic gadget knows the world over as “The Garmin”.  Who could stop my now?

Just as we are lining up to start I spot a teacher from my school and she spots me. 

 “Oh, I’m so glad someone else from school came!” she says happily and I agree. 

“So, what kind of pace do you keep?” I ask, hoping to find some company since my I pod deserted me in my hour of need.

“I haven’t run in a while, so I think I will stick to a 10 minute pace.” she replies, and before I could respond the gun goes off and 296 of us begin.

I run with her, happy to have found someone to run with but wait….10 minute mile-she is full of crap!  I look down and see the Garmin registering an 8:00 pace.  I knew that I couldn’t maintain that pace throughout the 3.1 miles so I drop back and back and back until the Garmin says 9:31.  Now that more like it for now.  I can vaguely see her blonde pony tail way up in front of me and I decided to forget about her and concentrate on pace-which was easy to do since I didn’t have any music to concentrate on. 

I have to admit, the Garmin was pretty awesome.  It kept my overall time, running pace, and how far I had gone.  I stopped at two watering stations long enough to down a Dixie size cup of H2O (Hal Higdon says that you should stop and walk while you drink it and then start running again) so that’s what I did.  I was feeling pretty good when I looked down and notice that mymy husband’s Garmin says 3.1 miles-but there is no finish line in sight.  How could that be? I look around in a panic, thinking that while I was happily checking the Garmin readout every 10 seconds maybe I had strayed off course, but no, there were other runners still around me. 

When I finally cross the finish line I stop the Garmin and look down-it says I have gone 3.42 miles.  That’s more than a 5K.  What is up with that?  My time reads 32:01 minutes and it says that I kept a 9:21 pace, which is better than I had hoped for and I was happy to have my son at the finish line, cheering me on.

Later in the day I checked the website for race results and, to my dismay, they are reporting a pace and finish time different from the one my Garmin reported.  The chip reports a time of 31:49 and which places me 4th in my age group for women, 17th in my age group for men and women, and 42 overall. My “oh, about a 10 minute pace” friend wins her age group (20-29 I might add!) and has placed in the top 25 overall.  Somebody wasn’t being honest with me, were they?

So now, what do I believe?  My high dollar Garmin who says I ran a 9:21 pace or the chip which says I ran over a 10 minute pace?

For now, I am going with the Garmin.  It makes me feel better about myself and that’s what this is all about for me, feeling better about myself!  Okay, who am I trying to kid-it isn’t all about that.  My mind is already focused on finishing faster, faster, faster so I can show up the teacher who is half my age!

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You know you are in trouble when your life starts running you and you find yourself being reactive instead of proactive.  I can’t quite put my finger on the exact date or event, but somewhere over the last few weeks that is exactly what happened to me.  I don’t know about you, but once I start down that slippery slope its hard to get my footing back.  Although my training didn’t suffer (it was the one thing that I was able to be consistent about) most other things in my life did.  I had several episodes of “anxiety attacks” on the way to work or even just preparing dinner or doing the legwork in preparation for the extra class I am teaching each month.  These anxiety attacks can sometimes put me into a state of “melancholy” and before you know it, I am crying for no reason and feeling like my life sucks.  The reality is, it doesn’t suck-far from it; when you are in a “blue” moment…oh heck, I’ll just say it…when you are depressed  it skews the way you see the world.

Tomorrow is a big day for me-I will be running a 5K with an actual pace in mind instead of just “surviving” it.  The race benefits the Children’s Hospital of Virginia and begins at 9:15.  My husband coach trainer running buddy friend had been working with me and my pace has been around 9:40 for my last two runs.  I don’t know if I will be that consistent tomorrow because he won’t be there with me (son has a soccer game and he’s the coach) but I have asked my 19 year old to go with me and wait at the finish line to cheer me on. 

Wish me luck!

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