Mommy Wants a Timeout

In which I contemplate absurd moments in parenthood, occasionally attempt to refer to myself as a “triathlete” while keeping a straight face, and maybe post some random pictures of stuff I’m knitting

Archive for the tag “goals”

Whew…Thank Goodness THAT’S Over!

I did it! I finished my first Oly tri! With a smile on my face, no less…and in spite of yucky weather and a major crisis of confidence the week before.

If you want to read my detailed race report with times and everything, look here.

Here’s a more emotional, long-winded summary:

After a night of fitful sleep, I got up, got dressed, and forced some breakfast and coffee down. I packed up my bike and headed to Cathedral Park, which is less than 20 minutes from my house. (Finally! A race I don’t have to drive an hour for!)

I'll be swimming under this, then running over it!

I’ll be swimming under this, then running over it!

Since we weren’t supposed to park IN the park, I found street parking approximately 17 miles away, unloaded my stuff, pumped up my tires, and plodded to the transition area. On the way I ran into a couple ladies I’d done a training swim with, and we swapped hellos and well-wishes for the race before parting ways at the body-marking area. Since it was chilly and windy out, this race required our arms to be marked, instead of just the legs like I’m used to. I held up the line for a minute while I struggled out of multiple layers of clothes, got marked, then headed over to transition to set up.

The weather forecast had called for rain, so I had brought along a couple large plastic bags to place my socks, shoes, and jacket in to keep them dry while I was swimming. As it turned out, it didn’t rain much during the race, but it was a good thing that my shoes were pinning down my bags, because the wind was blowing…hard!

After pretending to listen to the pre-race briefing while putting on my wetsuit, I headed down to the boat ramp. I had a pair of throw-away flip-flops on, which meant I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the dagger-like texture of the pavement underfoot. I debated whether or not to even warm up in the water, since my wave wasn’t scheduled to start for 18 minutes after the race started. I did the smart thing and got in, got used to the water temp, then got out and shivered for what felt like forever until they announced my wave. I kicked my sandals off to the side near the boat ramp and tried to find a promising-looking area to start. It was a big wave, though…At least 60 people, and we were all sort of crowded together like cattle.

Needless to say, when the swim started, it was a madhouse. It took forever to make any forward progress, and I was struggling to find any place where I wasn’t swimming over or into another body for at least a hundred yards. After we rounded the first buoy, it started to thin out, and I found a rhythm of sorts. It was pretty windy, and the water was choppy, but I concentrated on keeping my breathing and my stroke as even as possible. It seemed to take forever to get to the turnaround, but it seemed a little easier on the way back. (The race directors had said to expect the opposite, due to an incoming tide, but maybe the wind direction had something to do with it.) I eventually made it back to the boat ramp, and climbed out of the water feeling like I’d done pretty well. I glanced at my watch and was surprised and a little disappointed to be about 3 minutes slower than what I’d expected, but I was soon distracted by the tiny knives of pavement that were trying to shred my feet on my way up the hill. Running wasn’t an option; I just sort of tiptoed, saying “Ow, ow, ow,” until we were on soft grass again.

When I got back to my bike I did a pretty good job of shedding my wetsuit, but could not for the life of me figure out why my helmet wouldn’t go on my head right. I took it off, looked at it, put it back on, took it off again, and finally realized my ponytail was too high and the helmet wouldn’t fit over it. Obviously the cold water had slowed my thought processes. I adjusted my hair, jammed my helmet on, and headed out for the ride.

The bike is by far my weakest event. I rode as fast as I could comfortably, and as usual was passed by a multitude of people of all shapes and sizes. I was able to pass a few myself, but they were almost exclusively on mountain bikes wearing running shoes. On the positive side, I was able to eat a few energy chews and drink lots of Gatorade, so I felt well-prepared for the run. Besides that, I was able to tolerate the ride pretty well, without too much “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” running through my head (though there was some, to be sure!) There was a mean headwind for most of the ride, which seems impossible, but I swear, the wind shifted about halfway through, and I was riding into it all the way out, and most of the way back.

My second transition went smooth enough, then I steeled myself for the run. It should be my strongest leg, but I wasn’t sure how my legs would hold up after a long ride. Also, the run course had a long, steep uphill climb pretty near the beginning, which is just not fair. (Seriously, it was about a quarter of a mile of around 18% grade. Cruel.) This is the only place I walked during the run leg, and it was only about 15 steps, to keep me from crying. But when I hit mile marker 1, my pace was near 9 minutes/mile, which was way faster than I’d expected! I contemplated slowing down to conserve energy, but my legs felt okay, and I wasn’t huffing and puffing, so I decided to roll with it for a while. I started noticing the spectators along the course, and had enough breath to compliment them on their signs. (My favorite one said, “Hey! Where’s everybody going?”) I also chatted a little with some of the runners I passed and who passed me. The course stayed flat for the next couple of miles, and my pace stayed strong. Then it was time to climb over the St. John’s bridge. I was demoralized for a little while at how tired the climb made me, and I almost lost my hat in the wind. I thought about taking a walk break before telling myself I didn’t need it, I wasn’t that tired, I was strong, etc. etc. The positive self-talk worked, and pretty soon I was crossing back over the bridge and heading downhill again.

Remember that 18% uphill? Well, the course came back down that same hill. A runner I’d been exchanging leads and jokes with since mile 2 finally blew by me for good at that time, and I told her to go crush it. But my quads (and my nerves) can’t handle a downhill sprint, so I took it a little slower. Good thing, because I still had almost a mile of trail along the river and through the grass of the park before I was in the finishing chute. I passed a young woman who looked like she was struggling a bit, told her to push hard and finish strong, and then ran hard the last 50 yards to the finish. I’d run the best 10K time of my short career, and I knew it! I also couldn’t bend over to take off my timing chip without falling down; thank goodness for kind race volunteers. I traded my chip for a medal and a slice of watermelon, and wandered aimlessly in a post-race stupor…”Must text husband…Need water…Call mom…Where’s phone?…Hey, chocolate-chip cookies!” I ate some of the post-race food and eventually packed up my stuff and headed out as the gusts of wind started lifting up tents and knocking over fences. I walked the 17 miles UPHILL to my car (Seriously, not cool…) on tired legs, and headed back over the bridge just as a torrential downpour opened up. Whew…Thank goodness THAT waited until after the race!

Notice how that tree is blowing sideways? It was seriously windy!

Notice how that tree is blowing sideways? It was seriously windy!

So now it’s time for some rest and recovery. I know this was no Ironman race, but it did require a significant amount of training time, especially in the last couple months, and I’m a little burned out. I’ve got a few body parts (hip, back) that are begging for some time to heal, and frankly, some long-neglected housework to attend to. In time, I’ll set some race goals for the winter and next year, but right now I’m just going to enjoy having nothing to train for!

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10 Reasons Why…

10 Reasons Why I Can’t Run My First Olympic Triathlon Tomorrow:

1. My back has been aching like crazy for over a week.
2. I’m afraid of drowning in the Willamette River
3. The water will be cold.
4. The weather will be terrible.
5. I’m afraid I won’t be able to take in enough calories without feeling sick to have the energy to complete the 10K run.
6. What if I fall off my bike in the transition area?
7. Speaking of bikes, what if I get a flat tire? I’ve still never changed one entirely on my own…My husband has always been there to tell me what I’m doing wrong, and take over when I get frustrated.
8. Speaking of husbands, mine has to work that day, so he won’t even be there to cheer me on.
9. Did I mention it will be raining, with a possibility of thunder? Seriously, who schedules a triathlon at the end of September, anyway? (A bunch of Oregonians, that’s who!)
10. I’m burned out from all the training I’ve been doing, and VERY ready to veg in front of the TV for a while.

10 Reasons Why I WILL Run My Olympic Triathlon Tomorrow:

1. I’ve swam in cold water before and it didn’t kill me.
2. For that matter, I’ve swam in the Willamette River before and it didn’t kill me (though I might be growing some mutant parts…)
3. I’m an Oregonian…I don’t let a little inclement weather spoil my plans.
4. Gatorade, Shot Blox, gummy fruit snacks…They’ve all sat well enough during my training, and no one ever starved in 3 and a half hours, so even if I don’t eat much, I’ll probably live through it.
5. I paid a lot of money for this race…And there are no refunds. (I’m a total cheapskate.)
6. I’ll earn a cool finishers’ medal to put on my wall.
7. Swimming under my favorite bridge in Portland and then running over it should be pretty awesome!
8. Lots of people have supported me in my training so far: my mom and dad have babysat my son while my husband worked so I could fit in a group swim; my friend brought her kayak out to the river to paddle alongside me while I swam; and countless other friends and strangers have given me words of encouragement and support. I can’t let them all down!
9. As a coach said to me last weekend, “You’re as strong as you want to be.” And I want to be just strong enough to finish this race with a smile on my face.
10. I’ll feel SOOOOOO much less guilty about spending 90% of the next week sitting around and doing nothing if I can tell people “I’m taking it easy for the week…I just did my first Oly tri!”

Yep, unless circumstances beyond my control intervene (like a cancellation due to thunderstorms) tomorrow at 7:48 a.m. I will be running into the Willamette River. I hope I will be tough enough to deal with whatever comes after that, but I know at least that I am tough enough to get to the starting line!

2012, The Year in Review: My Identity Crisis

Since my injury last spring effectively ruined my summer identity as a wannabe triathlete, I spent the year considering some alternate identities to hold me over until I’m back on the race circuit.

I tried for “fashionista.” Unfortunately, the summer’s cute dresses and skinny cropped pants looked a little funny with the clunky running shoes I keep my custom orthotics in, so that idea never really got off the ground.

I flirted briefly with being “SuperMom,” but again, the foot injury interfered with my ability to chase the child around the park and backyard for hours, which seems to be the kiddo’s idea of what SuperMom should be doing. (I will stubbornly cling to my identity of “Pretty Good Mom,” however; I think the hours spent doing craft projects and teaching him to love veggies has earned me that much.)

So finally, after much deliberation, I settled on being “Suzy Homemaker,” at least until I’m back to my former triathlete-ish self.

Here is the substantiating evidence to support my self-ordained title:

See how my garden grows? Lots of healthy organic veggies!

Just a bit of this summer’s homegrown produce.

Homemade jam…Made from berries the kiddo and I picked together.

I'm sporting just one of around 8 sweaters I managed to knit over the year.

I’m sporting just one of around 8 sweaters I managed to knit over the year.

The downside to the massive amount of time spent knitting while I waited for my foot to heal…was a horrible case of wrist tendonitis, which put me on the knitting DL for a while. Who knew you could get injured sitting on the couch recovering from injury?

Fortunately, the foot is mostly healed, and the rest of the body is gradually remembering what it’s like to run 6 or 7 miles at a time. Swimming is going, well, swimmingly, and cycling…Okay, pending better weather and a saddle that doesn’t leave bruises where bruises shouldn’t be, this WILL be the year I establish a good relationship with my bike!

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of gal, so I won’t set any hard and fast goals for the upcoming year. Still, I have high hopes for finishing an Olympic distance tri, improving my 10K time, and getting some quality open-water swims in. On the parenting side, I’m hoping that consistent discipline paired with lots of love and affection will help us navigate us through this current rough patch of defiance and into calmer waters by the time kindergarten starts in the fall. And if he just grows out of it on his own, well, I have every intention of taking all the credit as a self-proclaimed “Pretty Good Mom.”

Here’s what WordPress had to say about my blog over the past year, if you’re interested:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

How To Win An Age-Group Award

I’m not an overly competitive person. Sometimes, during a race, I’ll see someone running a few yards ahead of me, and contemplate passing them. I’ll even accelerate a little. Then, when my legs start to burn and I’m breathing a little fast, I’ll think, “Nah, not worth it.” I’m just missing that killer instinct that the great competitive runners have. Also, the speed. I’m definitely missing the speed.

I’m not particularly concerned with where I finish in the standings most of the time, either, as long as I gave the race my best effort. I like to see improvement in my times, but I don’t care too much for my ranking. I have, however, lucked into a few age-group awards, which were a nice ego boost for me…There’s something about a colorful ribbon that is satisfying in a different way than seeing a new PR on the race results sheet. When people congratulate me on an age-group placing, though, I usually feel obligated to explain why I didn’t really deserve it…or try to convince them that they, too, could win one without necessarily being super fast. So I’ll share them with you, too: my tips for taking home an age group award.

1. Pick a race with a small field. I avoid the mega-races, and it’s not because I won’t place in them; huge throngs of people just freak me out a little. Plus, it’s hard to find parking. I prefer a race with 150 or 200 people, which feels more friendly and personal to me. And it definitely improves the odds.

2. Pick a race that’s called a Fun Run, or even better, a Run/Walk. If it’s a Fun Run, you can hope most people aren’t taking it too seriously…Put your game face on, and you might beat some of the more casual runners. If it’s a Run/Walk, and you run it, you’re pretty much guaranteed to finish ahead of a big part the field, drastically improving your chances of placing!

3. Pick a race where they give age-group awards 6 deep. The race’s website usually mentions this, since people really like taking home awards! (Pretty ribbons…I want more pretty ribbons!) Races sponsored by local running clubs are great for this…And the entry fees are usually pretty affordable, too.

4. If all else fails, be really old. Or really young. In my most recent 5K, there was one runner in the 80+ category. He won first place. There were two in the 75-79. Even the last-place guy could claim a top-2 finish! Also, the 10-14 year-old category tends to be sparsely populated. (Though if you’re reading this blog, good luck getting there again! Better to just stick with your running program, and know that when you hit 70, your competition will thin out considerably.)

This is all for fun, by the way. Except for an elite few who have the God-given talent to be really fast, most of us should be focused on our personal goals, not beating other people. But it’s really hard to get your nonrunner friends excited about the fact you just beat your 5K PR by 10 seconds…Better to just show them a pretty ribbon. Take a picture, post it on Facebook, and wait for the congratulations to start rolling in!

I am an ATHLETE!!! (Just don’t ask me to climb a flight of stairs.)

Ouch…That’s about all I have to say right now.

Ha, ha…Just kidding. This is my blog, and my race report, so I definitely have a few things to say. But now that I am a half-marathon finisher survivor, the biggest thing on my mind is, “Wow. I hurt a lot more the day after than I thought I would.”

If you read my earlier angst-filled post, you already heard me whine about my injured foot, and knew that it was no sure thing I would run Sunday. But dammit, I paid the entry fee, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s the idea of paying for a race and then denying myself the pain and suffering of participating.

So before the crack of dawn Sunday morning, I strapped on my motion-control shoes, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and headed to downtown Portland for the Heartbreaker Half. It was a brisk 34 degrees outside, but luckily I had many blocks to walk from where I had to park the car to get myself warmed up. And I managed to time things just about right…Enough time to get through the porta-potty line and line up for my race without too many extra minutes to freeze and/or freak myself out.

Not that it mattered…A combination of nerves and the Gatorade I slurped down as I left my car gave me a horribly queasy stomach for the first 5 or 6 miles of the race. But I kept my breakfast down, and kept telling myself the nausea would pass eventually, and on the bright side, my foot didn’t hurt yet! But although they were flat and unchallenging, those first miles were the worst part of the race for me.

Just before mile 6, the course started climbing up hill, eventually getting pretty steep. I learned later that the course climbs about 500 feet betweeen miles 6 and 10. (Glad I didn’t know that ahead of time!) Ironically, this was when I started relaxing a little and chatting with the other runners. Misery loves company, right? Something about running hard and still only achieving an 11:30 mile just makes you comfortable striking up a conversation/complaint with a stranger. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, I know I’m not fast, so I might as well be a cheerleader for others!

After this grueling uphill section, we ended up running on a bike path bordering a beautiful wooded park…Still pretty hilly, but with enough twists and turns you couldn’t really see what was coming next. All the better, in my opinion. My legs were getting pretty tired, but I’d only felt a few twinges in my foot, (Seriously, my Brooks shoes are like a walking cast!) so I was beginning to feel like I might actually be able to finish this thing. And the nausea was gone by now, so I was able to eat an energy chew every couple miles, which kept me from burning out altogether. Interestingly, throughout this section of the race, I traded leads several times with a racewalker who was maintaining a pace that was so steady I could have set my watch by it. Yep, I’m not even ashamed to say it… I was averaging about the same speed as a walker. But hey, what normal person walks at and 11-min. mile? She really was amazing, and I told her so.

Eventually we left the park and began to head downhill, back to the city center and the finish line. With around 3 miles to go, I was now pretty sure I would be able to finish, and man, I couldn’t finish soon enough. I picked up the pace, finally said “see ya” for good to my race-walking buddy, and did my best to ignore my rubbery legs and twinging ankle.

In the last couple miles, I mentioned to another runner that this was my first half-marathon…She congratulated me, then pulled ahead…But just as we passed the 12-mile mark, she turned, jogged back towards me, and said, “Sometimes the last mile is the hardest.” “You want to keep me company?” I asked, and we ran the last mile together, sharing her stories about running all over the world, and mine about being a beginner triathlete. The last mile flew by, (at least in part because I ran it about 2 minutes faster than my average for the previous 12!) and pretty soon we were coming up on the finish. Sharon, my new friend, told me she was going to back off so I could have the finish to myself, and I made it across the line in 2:23:39…21 seconds faster than my projected time.

Finishing was awesome, the strawberry shortcake they served was awesome, I’m told that they announced my name when I crossed the finish line, which would have been awesome if I’d been paying attention…The only part that wasn’t so awesome was not seeing my husband and son cheering for me at the finish. Apparently DH got mixed up and ended up along the 10K course finish, which came in from the other direction. Poor guy had been waiting there for half an hour with camera at the ready. If he hadn’t heard my name over the loudspeaker, he might never have realized his mistake! So no finish line photos, but that’s just fine.

As for the recovery, my muscles were so sore the next day that walking down stairs was nearly impossible. Tensing my quadriceps sent waves of pain throughout me. And I was reduced to waddling around the house in the posture of a geriatric duck. Oh, and my foot hurts too. Time for a few days off from running, I guess. And maybe a trip to the podiatrist.

So I can check it off my list: half-marathon, complete. Building an endurance base to help me through an Olympic distance triathlon: complete. Plans for another half-marathon? Not anytime soon, that’s for sure!

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