You are a Runner

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

-Buddha

I didn’t fully comprehend last week’s race lesson until I was running with my friend Stan last night. I was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t PR (personal record), that I chose to walk during the race, that it just didn’t feel wonderful. We were discussing how we haven’t been excited about running in a while, which is ironic considering we were running in what I personally consider one of the most beautiful places in town, Wrightsville Beach. It was late evening, the temperature was 65 degrees, traffic was light (thank goodness it wasn’t summertime) and there was a heavy fog hanging in the air. The air was calm, and the horizon and the water color were monochromatic to each other. It was also the first time in weeks that we weren’t at the track, waylay-ed by ice storms, or snow, or general miserable weather. It was a perfect night for running. As we were talking I realized I needed to get out of my head and look. Look around Nancy, I thought to myself. People would kill to do what you’re doing right now, smelling the salt air, running with a friend, talking about life. Stan even said as much “some people would kill to be us right now” he remarked.

We have such expectations that are self imposed, we said to each other. We do two-thirds of an iron distance or half iron distance, and THEN RUN a marathon or half marathon and we therefore expect our next race to be a marked improvement. We don’t give ourselves credit for the 30 mile an hour winds that were gusting that morning, the fact that we had no tail wind, that the mile seven marker flag attacked us (Yes! I was attacked by a flag at mile seven. It caught me and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to get it off me. Thank goodness Paula was there. She grabbed that nasty flag and ran it back to the post). We think better, I could have done better. Why? Why are we so hard on ourselves? We get out there. We lace up our shoes and head out the door. It doesn’t matter if you run a 6:30 mile or a 12:30 mile. If you do it, you are a runner. Mile, 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, etc. you’re still a runner. Short, long, fast, hard, we’re all in it together folks. We head out the door and we get it done, but why shouldn’t we enjoy the process? Open your eyes, look around you. Talk to others. Thank volunteers. Love the run. Love the process. Be grateful. These are the words I need to remember. This needs to be my personal mantra.

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Kate, Stephanie, Me, Paula, and Jennifer. Missing is Tracy, our sherpa

I will say that I am so incredibly grateful for these women who ran with me this past weekend. Our tour guide, Paula, lived in Myrtle Beach for a while and directed us to the best food in town. “I’m eating a recovery meal” we’d say at every stop. That, coupled with the companionship, hot tub post run at the hotel, laughter, and flavored vodka mini bottles made for an excellent weekend. We’re already talking about next year, especially since we didn’t get to do the Skywheel, Jen’s only request. Sorry Jen! Next year, we promise.

This might have been our Saturday

Next is the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. A run, I promise to myself, that I will enjoy. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the run no matter what life throws at me.

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Beach2Battleship Race Report (but not really)

b2b imageConfession time. I hate other people’s race reports. Honestly, I don’t care how fast you were in T1, or how many watts you produced on your bike. What I like to hear about was your day, how cool your volunteers were, how you felt, so be forewarned, that is my race report.

Let me just start out by thanking Canada and the Gulf Stream for the lovely cold snap. Waking up to frost on one’s windshield on race morning is never pleasant. However, with cold air comes a beautiful sky of bright stars, so I took that as a good first impression. Still, 34 degrees on race morning is not a comforting forecast.

My folks came down Friday night to make sure I crossed the finish line in one piece since C and little C were in Winston Salem for a soccer tournament. It was wonderful to have them there. After trying not to wake them up, I was off.

What I loved about this day was the following. I loved the woman at the body marking who said to me “It’s so nice to see a familiar face!” and then she gave me a hug. It cracked me up but left me smiling the whole day. Did she recognize my thighs? My calf? Have I really done that many races? In any regard, it made me smile.

I loved seeing my friend Tracy at the swim start. She had problems getting to the start on her bike so she lied to the police and told them that she was heading home. She and I ran Thursday pm and that really helped center me. She and I go way back with races and our friendship and it was wonderful having her there.

I loved Gordon’s heated truck. Gordon is Paula’s husband. He was doing water support on the course, so while everyone else was freezing, we were nice and toasty warm. Thanks Gordon. That was awesome.

I loved the swim. Let me say that again. I loved the swim. The sun was shining and every breath I took I saw golden droplets. It was beautiful. It was thrilling to be in a pack (a first for me, a slow swimmer), and the water was the perfect temperature. I was sad to climb the ladder out.

I loved the hot showers after the swim. There is nothing better than getting salt water off your face.

What wasn’t optimal? The head wind. From the north at 10-15 mph, it slowed me down on the bike considerably. Once I realized that all dreams for a 6 hour time were over (realized it when I realized the current wasn’t optimal) I decided to settle in and just enjoy the day. I worked hard for my bike time, but had some tightness in the shoulders/back and couldn’t get super comfortable in the saddle. At transition 2, I was glad to be off the bike and thought that I’d be happy if I never saw it again.

The run was so much better than last year. The course directors removed the Bermuda Triangle (an extension of the course that went around three streets twice and formed a triangle) which was a huge improvement in terms of having a straight out and back course. Once I knew I reached mile 7, I knew I would be halfway done. What I didn’t know was that once you reached mile 7, you were entering Kona. The volunteers at this aid station (aid stations were every mile) had the whole area decked out in a Hawaiian theme. They even had a guy playing the bongos! The race director said that there were 1,500 volunteers for the race and I can honestly say that everyone I ran into was just amazing. It made me proud to call Wilmington my home.

Other highlights include seeing my mom and dad at the finish line. This is the second race they’ve seen me finish and it’s just so wonderful to have them there. Also seeing Tracy, Kate, Melinda, and so many other friends along the course was just wonderful. To say you feel like a rock start is an understatement.

After the race I went home, took a hot bath and then went back downtown to celebrate the full finishers. Two friends of mine and training partners, Stan and Lance, came in within minutes of each other to complete the full. I was in awe to watch them finish. After that I went to my friend Sara and Bruce’s house and a seed was planted. A friend of hers was talking through the logistics of doing a full Ironman and how long you would have to finish each segment. At dinner last night with Paula and Julie we started discussing upcoming races. The iphones came out and we started googling full Ironman race locations and dates. I have a nagging feeling that this is not the last time you hear me talk of a full Ironman.

In the near future I’ll continue training for the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. My goal is to break a sub 2 hour. It’s achievable, I just need to step it up a bit. And it’s another half, something which apparently I’m fond of. Little C is talking about doing another 10k and working his way up to a half marathon as well. Maybe this winter I’ll take him on some longer runs with me and see how he does. As long as he enjoys it.

Photo: We don't look nervous at all!

Pre-Race at packet pick up. Me, Paula, Julie. The Three Amigos.

Wrightsville Beach Triathlon aka Oh Sh*t It’s Raining

Can you tell that it's dark o clock and raining?

Can you tell that it’s dark o clock and raining?

Rain. That’s what I found when I opened my garage door Saturday am at 5:15. In the past I might have said “forget it”, closed the door, and headed back to bed. But not today. Today was a brick, another training day, and an opportunity to do the same swim course as the Beach to Battleship (minus some distance). Plus, my friend Jennifer was driving down from Topsail Beach for her first open water swim so I had to be there.

Luckily for me it wasn’t a cold rain. And in a way it was kind of nice because it seemed to keep some people away. Usually this is a big race and once you get to the swim start it’s hard to find people you know. Fellow triathletes congregate on this beautiful green lawn and usually it’s covered with people, but this year it wasn’t. Tracy and her husband Steve came over via boat and was able to spot us right away which was awesome. She’s done the race and is a regular swimmer so we talked tides, wind direction, and the best way to go. It’s a straight path and then a bend kind of swim, but if the tide is pushing you need to take that into account.

I’m happy to say that my sighting was good (for me anyway- I tend to zigzag), and I was able to line up where I wanted to, make the turn, and continue around the bend to the finish line ladders. Although super slow, I felt good, just plodding away. Made it into transition one (T1), tried to get the grass off my feet and off I went.

The bike was a lot of fun. I got into a pack and tried to see how many people I could pass without blowing out my legs. I got passed on the right once, which freaked me out and I saw a guy skid out on a turn right behind me. Wet roads + turns= slow down! Funniest thing about the bike must have been my wet road shoes. They were squishy! It was kind of gross.

The run was just a normal 5k. Saw Tracy and Steve again by a coffee shop. They were in the “breakfast burrito” division, according to her, which made me laugh.  She refused to give me a cup of coffee.

Made it to the finish in seven minutes faster than the previous year which made me very happy. Wanted to stick around and chat, but I had to get home in order to roll into Chris’ car to head to Myrtle Beach for little C’s soccer games. I threw my bike in the garage, hopped into his car, tri suit on and all, and changed en route to the game. I’m sure I smelled lovely and looked even better.

A huge shout out to my friend Jennifer, who not only completed her first open water tri, but did it after being in New Orleans for a full week and to the 11(!) year old local girl who did her first WB tri as well. Solo. All by herself. Freaking awesome. To her credit, her parents are huge triathletes/runners as well. I told this to little C and now he’s all hyped up to do a relay. The part he wants to do? The run. Of course. Legally, he has to be ten, but I might have to send out an email and just poke around a bit. Maybe there’s one he can do when he’s nine? Hmmm…..

We're so sexy

Jen and I. We’re so sexy

Five weeks until Beach 2 Battleship. If I don’t start running some longer distances I’m going to be toast. Motivation, where are you?? This cooler weather should help me get moving. It’s perfect running weather here in the southeast.