WazUPwidis?!

This weekend I participated in one of the craziest race events I’d ever heard of: WazUPwidis, an urban race/stair challenge in downtown Roanoke. It combined a 2.5-ish mile run with jaunts up and down the steps and ramps in parking garages, traversing over railroad tracks at the Transportation Museum, and a grueling slog up, up, up twenty stories to the top of the Wells Fargo tower.

The best part of the race? Definitely the twists and turns at the Transportation Museum, curving around trains and tractors and old cars and dashing by museum workers dressed in conductor garb.

The worst part? Do you even have to ask? The tower. The TOWER. The tallest building in Roanoke’s skyline. The seemingly endless flights of stairs, up up up and up. And then… right back down when you’re still delirious from the climb up.

Other highlights included a speedy hug fro my awesome friend Liz, who was a volunteer course marshal at the MLK bridge; unexpected direction from my hubby, who had come to cheer me on and ended up as an impromptu volunteer course marshal near the end of the race; and the great realization, which a fellow runner graciously pointed out, that the time of 41 minutes showing when I crossed the finish line wasn’t my actual time since I had started in the third wave, meaning I could chop 4 minutes off that time.

So, the results. I was #200 out of 246 runners and #10 out of 17 in my age group (gals 30-34). My performance wasn’t stellar in terms of the competition, I admit. But I also know that there were a lot of people who didn’t consider themselves fit enough to compete, and people who wouldn’t even think to even begin to try to participate in such an event. So even though I was in the bottom of the pile of participants, in the grand scheme of things, I still feel on top.

Because, you know, just for a second, I was.

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Getting back in the swing of it….

The past two months have been pretty much run-free. I started a new job on October 1st, and my schedule changed drastically. Instead of getting off work at 4 and hitting the gym, I now get off work at 5 and don’t get home til almost 6. About three weeks into the new job, I got a pretty severe chest cold with a cough that wouldn’t quit. When I finally got over the cold, I still couldn’t manage to get myself to the gym during the work week. I have a race coming up next weekend and a friend who is a new runner, in my age group, and catching up to my average time at an alarming rate, so I’ve started running on my old treadmill– the big guy who helped me lose about 50 lbs a few years ago. It’s tough, though- my treadmill’s a beast, but I feel like I’m shaking the whole house when I run at a speed above about 6.2, and a home gym just doesn’t have the same spark about it that an actual gym does. I definitely feel the endorphins flowing- they’re just a little restricted. And the thing is… I love running, but I probably wouldn’t be making such an effort to get it back into my life if I didn’t have this new competition to worry about. See, I’m not a competitive person because my self esteem isn’t that great. I’m sort of a perfectionist, but only in the sense that I always want to do the best that I can possibly do- I don’t generally compare my bests to other people’s bests. I compete with myself and only with myself because the second I start comparing myself to other people is the second I start mentally kicking myself and wearing myself down. When I compete against myself, I can’t help but win because I’m my only competition. But throw in a newly competitive runner whose PR’s are getting better and better and… yeah, I should probably go get on the treadmill.

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PR!

Saturday I ran the Fired Up for a Cure 5k at the Roanoke Civic Center. I ran with my pals Liz and Ryan (with whom I ran the Sundown Classic and the Johnny CASA 5-miler), and my hubby was there to cheer me on (and by “cheer me on,” I mean “rush me because he had a rugby match in Harrisonburg and wanted to get on the road like, five minutes ago”). 😉 Liz, Ryan, and I had made team t-shirts the night before, so although I looked a little ridiculous (ahem, cupcakes strategically placed on my shirt), I felt great and was super excited to be racing with my friends again.

The race was scheduled to start at 9, and it sort of did… the kids’ fun run started at 9… followed by the 10k… and finally the 5k. My hubby was visibly slightly annoyed, so I knew I had to book it in order to help us get on the road with the quickness.

I felt super-strong during the race. The course was great- some hills, a smidgen of trail, downtown streets.It was twisty and turny enough to be interesting, not hilly enough to be torturous, and reasonably visually appealing. I ran at a pretty quick clip, and I passed several people running up the first little hill. I kept a good pace the whole race,sometimes stopping to walk but always starting back strong. I knew my time was going to be decent, so when I finally got within sight of the clock and saw THIRTY-THREE minutes, I was like…

Wait. What?

Thirty-three minutes? Definitely not my fastest time. Not even fast for me, at all, especially not with the pace I felt like I’d had. I was disappointed, I was bummed, I was frustrated. I took out my frustrations on the cute, fit blonde who was right in front of me. I sprinted, passing her a fraction of a second before the finish line.

When I found my hubby, I told him I couldn’t believe it had taken me 33 minutes, and that I felt like I was so much faster. He said, There’s no way that was 33 minutes. I was timing you and it must have been more like 28. I thought about it, and I knew he was right- that time was the 10kers’ time, and they had started about five minutes before us.

Later that day the results were posted, and Liz texted me to let me know that my time was 28:06. A PR! 9:04 per mile– almost unheard of for me. I was SO stoked! What a great day– got to hang out with my friends, ran a beautiful race, achieved a PR… AND we made it to the rugby match in plenty of time! 😉

 

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I. Love. Races.

Last weekend I ran a 5-miler at Smith Mountain Lake: The Johnny CASA 5 miler/5k walk. It was pretty awesome. My friends Liz and Ryan do it every year, so I signed up. I haven’t been running a ton lately so I wasn’t sure how I’d do with five miles. I gave myself a VERY lofty goal of 50 minutes, knowing that I really had no hope in the world of actually reaching that goal. So I said, I would also be really happy with anything under 54 or 55 minutes. MUCH more doable goal.

The course was beautiful; rolling hills, trees, the lake, big pretty lake homes. I definitely walked up some hills and even on some of the flat areas, but I made up some good time running swiftly on the downhills and running at a good clip on most of the flat. The finish line is uphill, which is pretty hateful of the course designers if you ask me. 🙂 As I neared the finish, I could see that the time was at 51 and some change, so I blasted Hells Bells into my headphones and charged toward the finish, ending up with a time right around 52 minutes. (I can’t find the race results posted anywhere, so I’m really not sure what I truly clocked.) I was STOKED with this time and even won second place in my age group– which I am honestly just as proud of as I was before I knew there were only three people in my age group. 🙂 Here’s a pic of me and my new friends with our medals!

Now, as awesome as the 5-miler was, I’m not sure that it tops what I did yesterday: The Marine Corps Mud Run at Green Hill Park in Salem, VA. I was on a team with my husband, Jeremy (the Grizz), and a few of our friends, Mark (PigBoy), Danielle (Honey Badger), and Brian (Bull). We made awesome t-shirts for the big day, flaunting our team name, the Filthy Ninjas, and our nicknames (mine was Heffalump).

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Knowing the race was (obviously) a mud run and was going to have some obstacles, I wasn’t fretting too much over what our time would be- I just wanted to have an awesome time with my team. It turned out the obstacles weren’t too scary– just a cool jaunt through the river and a little mountain-climbing up a trail. It was actually a super-enjoyable race. I still can’t decide what my favorite part was- wading through the river (the water was at mid-butt level, which is about the most awkward water level possible); climbing the trail; running through fields (I LOVE LOVE LOVE running in grass!!); or the SPECTACULAR mountain view runners were treated to while running downhill through a field (ok that one’s probably the winner since it includes both gorgeous view and running on grass).

The worst part- and I think most people would agree with me on this- was definitely, definitely the mud pit. Now obviously it’s a mud run so you know there’s going to be mud, and a lot of it. But geez Louise was I totally not prepared to dunk my entire self into a big ol’ vat of nasty. When it was all said and done, I had a stick in my shirt, bugs in my hair, and mud covering nearly every inch of my body (I wear contacts so I tried really hard to not get it in my eyes). Here’s a pic of me and my booty-kickin’ ninja team after the run!

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And the awesome continues– even though for some reason our time didn’t register (I think it had something to do with the fact that we are ninjas), I know that we crossed the finish line somewhere around 41 minutes and some change. I was definitely not expecting to do that well, what with obstacles and mud and traipsing through a river. I can only attribute our success to one thing:

My team totally, completely, 100% friggin’ rocked my neon-pink knee-high socks.

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Upcoming Races

I have three races coming up in the near future (within the next two months). A 5-miler in (yipes) two weeks, a mud run in three weeks, and a 4-mile night race at the end of October. I’m super excited because all three races are unique- none of them is your average 5k. I’ve never done a 5-mile race, a mud run, or a night race before, so it’s going to be two months of totally new experiences for me.

It’s been 4 months since I ran the Blue Ridge Half Marathon, so my training routine has dropped off pretty drastically. I have been getting myself back into running gradually. I did a 32-something-minute 5k on the treadmill earlier this week, and a 31:15 5k on the treadmill yesterday, so I’m sort of in my normal time range (although those almost killed me so reaching a 27-minute 5k at this point seems like a humongous challenge).

I also kind of jacked up my knee yesterday… I had taken a walk break and when I ramped the treadmill back up to 7.0 my knee was like, HEY-OH! but I kept running anyway, and now going down stairs is pretty uncomfortable. Luckily or unluckily though, going up stairs doesn’t hurt at all so maybe the stair climber is in my near future. I’m also planning on going to yoga tomorrow, so we’ll see how all of those balance poses and knee-bend poses work out for me. :/

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Deep Thoughts

I’ve gained a few pounds recently (not training for a half marathon after several months of doing so will do that to a person) and it’s gotten me thinking about some things– how to take care of my body; how to eat to fuel myself rather than to feed my cravings; and how to avoid reverting to what I was a few short years ago.

Here’s the deal: I broke my leg about 5 years ago, and when I went to the emergency room they asked me this question. It was a question I knew the answer to very well, and it was an answer I didn’t even want to know myself, let alone share with strangers. The answer I gave was 210, but in truth it was closer to 215.

It was, obviously, my weight. A terrible diet and lack of exercise had ballooned me a solid 40 lbs over my comfortable weight. I had been 175 lbs since high school, but a desk job and a lifestyle of eating what I wanted when I wanted had wreaked havoc on my body. I was huge, I knew it, and the whole world saw it when I was forced to spend six weeks hauling my overweight self around on crutches.

Since then I’ve lost about 60 lbs, and over the past couple of months I’ve gained about 8 of it back. Now to most other humans I’m guessing 8 lbs isn’t a huge deal, but to me it’s alarming. It’s an air raid siren going off, screaming that I’m about to backslide straight into a pair of size 18 pants. I know that’s ridiculous, and the sane person in me says “You still look fine, no one probably even notices,” but the other 98% of me notices every bit of snugness in my shorts, every crease poked into my skin by an elastic waistband, and every outfit I put back in the closet because I don’t feel thin enough to wear it.

Let’s cut to the chase: I have an overwhelming fear of obesity. One of the most important people in the world to me suffers from what is trendily referred to as “diabesity,” but in real life is a horrific mix of swollen legs and feet, blindness, difficulty breathing, congestive heart failure, the list goes on and on. What I have is not fear of a jelly roll around my belly. I’m not afraid of jiggly arms or floppy thighs or a double chin. I’m afraid of death, of course, but even more so afraid of the kind of life that obesity causes. Constant doctor visits, chronic pain. The fear of never meeting your first biological grandchild.

I know when I mention that I’ve gained a few pounds, most people scoff at me. They don’t realize that to me a few pounds isn’t just a pair of snug jeans or a muffin top… it’s a debilitating fear of living my life trapped inside a body that’s working against me every second of every day.

I try to meet my crazy thoughts head-on and address them methodically and realistically. Instead of reacting drastically and unhealthily, I’ll go to the gym. I’ll have salads. I’ll only eat a tiny bowl of ice cream instead of gorge myself on it til I’m sick. Becoming obese doesn’t happen overnight, and every step that I take toward a healthy lifestyle now puts me a bigger step further away from my worst fear down the road.

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Third Time’s the Charm

I just signed up for the 2013 Foot Leveler’s Blue Ridge Half Marathon. It’s on April 20th, 2013. This will be my third time running this beastly 13.1.

Even though I trained hardcore for the 2012 race, it wrecked me physically more than my first half marathon. Last year I ran Mill Mountain about once a week to train (along with a few short runs every week, and cross-training, of course!); one day, I even climbed the mountain twice just because I thought I could. (And I did!) Needless to say, I knew I was ready for the half marathon, and I was. I beat my time from last year, but I was still worn down. Unfortunately, my husband and I had plans to head out of town immediately after the marathon, so only a couple of hours after struggling through 13.1 miles, I scrunched my 5’10” self into the passenger seat. It’s probably not surprising that after about an hour and a half of riding, I awoke from a nap with searing calf cramps. To this day I’m not sure if the pain woke me up, or if I woke myself up with my screams.

It was somewhere between mile 9 of the 2012 half marathon and waking up screaming in the car that I decided I was done with half marathons. 5k’s, the occasional 10k, maybe, but no more halfs. I’ve always had a very fickle personality, so I can’t believe all it took was one email– ONE EMAIL– to change my mind. I received an email about the marathon, something inside me clicked, and I registered for the 2013 Blue Ridge Half Marathon. It’s strange, because even though I know how much work goes into it, how much sweat and (yes) pain and (yes) blood and (sometimes, yes) tears go into it, it’s still going to be completely, totally, 100%, SO worth it.

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