Making History at the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon

Posted on February 22, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


I made history on Sunday, February 17, 2013.

Well, maybe not earth-shattering, life-altering, textbook-worthy history, but my history.  I PRed at the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon.

My goal:  Under 2 hours.  My official chip time:  1:56:21.

It was an awesome race, but a much harder course than I remember.  Who put all those hills in the last 3 miles? Can we fire them?

I was–and remain–ecstatic, mentally if not physically.  For 2+ days my body felt like it had been beaten with a stick. My legs hurt, from the bruised tip of my left middle toe all the way up to my lower back. I don’t recall ever feeling like this after a race.

Regardless, I wouldn’t trade Sunday for anything, not even a barrel of Cadbury eggs. Which I LOVE, and which my boyfriend gave me as a post-race gift. (Not a barrel full. Just one. Perfect.)

Concord grapes

Every race is a learning experience. Here is what I learned from the Austin half:

1.      I need more hill training.

2.      A perfectly normal toe going into a half can look like a Concord grape coming out.

3.      Running buddies save the world (or at least your run).

I will write more about running buddies in a future post, but let me just say here that Katie from Houston was a God-send. We ran the first half together to keep each other on pace.  We didn’t talk much after mile 3, and we lost each other somewhere around mile 6, but sharing the beginning of a race with someone else makes or breaks it, in attitude and time.

4.      Gatorade is not my friend.beverages-caution_0

I never drink Gatorade and stopped drinking any sports drink a few years ago. I prefer water, plain and simple.  Most sports drinks contain too much sugar for me, particularly Gatorade, which has always made me nauseous.

Additionally, I learned recently that BVO, a synthetic chemical originally manufactured as a flame retardant, has been an ingredient in many sports drinks and sodas, including Gatorade, for years.  All the more reason for me to avoid it.

However, somewhere around mile 5 I cruise into a water stop, grab what I think is a full cup of water, and down it.  To my dismay, it’s Gatorade.  Almost instantly, I am nauseous.  And, since the BVO news broke, I am more than just a little upset.

For the next 8 miles I am having two simultaneous conversations with myself.  One is a rational discussion laying out all the reasons why I cannot take the time to stop and vomit until after I cross the finish line.  My stomach churns for the remainder of the race as small streams of lemon-lime shoot up the back of my throat.

I never do vomit, even though my stomach will not feel normal until sometime in the late afternoon.

The second conversation has to do with BVO.  Last week I mentioned the importance of mental distractions in seeing me through long runs. Usually, the distraction is music–not a real iPod, but the iPod on continuous loop in my head.  On a particularly good long run recently, Sugar Ray’s “I Just Want to Fly” helped me to.  On a particularly hard long run, Train’s “Calling All Angels” got stuck in the loop.

Sometimes movie scenes replay in my head, a little bit reworked.  Like during my 11 mile This Is Spinal Tap long run.  I envisioned my interview with Rob Reiner, who ran along beside me as we discussed the fact that every other runner might stop at 10, but not me.

ROB:  Why don’t you just make ten faster and make ten be the top number and make that a little faster?

ME:  [pausing and looking down at my legs] These go to 11.

The BVO distraction, unfortunately, was not as fun.  At least, I kept telling myself, if another meteor hits Earth and Austin explodes into a fireball, I’ll be safe.  Me and half the runners.  Austin may burn, but we’re flame retardant.

At least I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

And I got my PR.

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Standing in the Hall

Posted on November 30, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

standing in the hall

When I was a kid, my room was my sanctuary.  No boys allowed.  I drew pictures, posted signs, and did what I could to make that abundantly clear.  My brothers, occasional literalists, came close to observing the letter of the law, but never the spirit.

They stood just outside the door’s threshold and dipped their toe into my room.

I’m in. I’m out.

I’m in, I’m in, I’m in. I’m out.

When they got brave, they jumped in, whole bodies piercing the forbidden zone. And then quickly out.  And in again. And out.

It makes me laugh now, but it made me furious then.  When my brothers entered the room, it was only for a brief moment, yet it was enough to set me off.  Still, it’s not like they were all in.

For the past few months, I’ve been dipping my toe into my life’s rooms.  There are lots of exciting, promising, and fun spaces I have the opportunity to enter; and there are an equal number of spaces that pose some daunting challenges, some rearranging of furniture and even some disposal of junk.

Rather than walking through the door and owning the room, I’ve been jumping in and out.  I haven’t been all in.

I’m not sure what this means to my family, friends, colleagues. If anything.  I don’t know how I show up in the world, through their eyes. But I do know that living tentatively feels like standing in the hall.

I made the decision to pick a room and move in.  Including owning my training.   A couple of weeks ago, I said I made the decision to run the Austin half in February, but that I probably wouldn’t register for the race for another month or more.  That’s not really playing all in.  This week, training started.  And I registered.  I’m in.

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