Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'm bad. Shamone.

Who's bad?
Sunday morning at 5:30 am, I emerged from a not-so-deep slumber on the couch (because I couldn't sleep the night before) and gathered my belongings for the Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon. The night before I had carefully placed my clothing out so I didn't have to think about anything in the pre-coffee fuzz: a special Rock and Roll Arizona visor purchased just for the occasion, sunglasses, my standard pink jog top and Capri pants (both Lulu Lemon of course), a new pair of compression socks, and my trusty running shoes that are about 50 miles short of flopping right off of my feet.

My race belt contained the following: race bib/number, 3 gels, some bio-freeze in case my muscles became completely worthless during the race, and some almond in case the need for salt arose. I felt like something between a pack mule and a belly dancer.

This winter I've felt slow, sore, and not particularly motivated. I had to run in the rain, around and around on a track, and inside on a treadmill. I endured loneliness because no one (except Erika) wants to train for a marathon in the wintertime. I guess that was kind of the point - if I could keep a basic training plan against all odds, and while eating too many cookies on Christmas, then I could motivate myself to do pretty much anything. (Jury on starting a real diet is still out.) Still, I felt like maybe I shouldn't be attempting a marathon in the winter when I should be resting, or hibernating.

Pish posh. The race went fine. After the last month or so of airing my grievances and stories of fatigue and muscle aches, endorphins and adrenaline kicked in when I needed them.

During the race, I didn't hold back much and went faster when it felt good to go faster, instead of holding back. I even ran a few sub-9 minute miles, which I wasn't planning to do. But, a few 8:50 miles put me in a good position to run 10:00 minute miles in the second half, and still be under 4 hours. I was prepared at mile 17 and 21 for the notorious "bonk" which is when your body turns against itself and starts to slow down, cramp, or otherwise wig out. Yes miles 21 to 25 were difficult but I convinced myself that it was only in my head and I was so close. . .

Just as Michael Jackson's "Bad" came on to my iPod, I saw my friend Christine at mile 25 who had finished the half marathon earlier. She joined the fray of weary runners, and we ran to the finish line while I belted out the only lines of the song I know. Namely, I'm (we're) bad, I'm (we're) bad, you know it! You know I'm (we're) bad, I'm (we're) bad. Shamone. blah blah blah Who's bad?

Fastest mile of the whole race.

Seriously. Endorphins and adrenaline are amazing. If people would just do endurance sports, they wouldn't do drugs. Yeah, you might have a bad trip every once in awhile, but you'll still go back for more of the "really good" stuff.

Now I'm going to have to do another marathon. Chicago maybe?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Deep thoughts during spin class

I tried a new spin class last night, and it was mega boring. It wasn't the motivational "You can do it! Let yourself go!" instructor who teaches on Monday nights and keeps things moving. It was a guy just leading a ride. He would give direction every couple of minutes but,what you did with your bike and your ride, was kind of up to you. Very difficult to stay motivated, especially since I'm tapering for the marathon this weekend.

In the middle of a moderate climb out of the saddle, I had deep thoughts. Brace yourself.

In college, I was about 5 units shy of a Philosophy minor, and suddenly I had flashbacks of one lecture in particular. How much of what we do is motivated by goodness, and how much is motivated by greed? And does it ultimately matter as long as we are doing good? (I'll spare you the id, ego, and super-ego terms because I'm fuzzy on them now.)

Let's put it this way. You sign up for an event with a group of friends or co-workers, and you are required to raise money for a non-profit organization. Your reason for getting involved could be:

1.) You or someone you know has ties to the organization, and you have a passion for what they do.
2.) You want to challenge yourself physically.
3.) You enjoy raising money for good causes.
4.) You want to spend time with friends and meet new people.
5.) Your friends convinced you to do it.
6.) You want to raise a lot of money so you can get rewards.
7.) You want to get into shape so you can fit into your skinny jeans.
8.) Your work asked you to get involved, so you decided it would look bad not to participate.

What I take away from all of this is that people are motivated by a fine mixture of selflessness and selfishness. There may be other reasons to get involved, but let's take this sample. There may be one person who's participation is 90% motivated by greed (#6) and 10% motivated by goodness (#1). Yet, there may be another who is 80% motivated by goodness, and 20% motivated by greed. Our motivations for good are, in my opinion, driven not only by what we think is good, but also what benefits us. If you are 100% driven by greed then you are a jerk. If you are 100% driven by goodness, then you are a liar.

The question is - Does it really freakin' matter where the motivation comes from?

On some level, no. It doesn't matter to the Susan G. Komen Foundation or Avon why you are raising $5,000 because every dollar counts. The bigger question is - does it matter to YOU?

Now back to the spin class. Why do people (including myself) take this class? Even more puzzling is the fact that this class had a bunch of empty bikes. But why? Is it because people need the motivational instructor in order to attend? Why does exercise have to be fun all the time!? Geez. Personally, I had to bail on another class with an instructor who kept telling everyone, "You are strong! You are beautiful!" Maybe some people need that, but I felt like she was patronizing me. Still a little encouragement goes a long way. That's probably why I write about what I do. I need other people to keep me going. I need people to know what I am doing, to tell me I'm doing a good job, to make comments on my blog! It makes me feel good. So, my exercise is partially motivated by greed.

Oh, but you say, "I just want to be healthy." Oh that's all? Why do you want to be healthy? It it really to perpetuate your life or is it just to look really good. I don't blame you for wanting to be really, really, ridiculously good looking. People who look good get treated better, and apparently they get paid more too. Oh so your healthy ambition isn't just a teensy weensy bit greedy?

So, I asked myself during an easy spin in the saddle, "Can you think of a time when a workout was completely selfless? Like a time I wasn't thinking about what to write about during a workout, or wasn't trying to show what I could do to those in front (or behind) me, or show off the latest race t-shirt?

Yes. I think so, or they were at least 90% goodness. I think those have been some of the greatest moments ever, and the moments that transcend all of the materialistic, greedy bullshit in this world. The times when I'm probably the most alone but the most myself and the most happy. No one is there to witness it, but I don't care. I maybe running like the wind, or just calmly swimming at my snail-like pace, and that doesn't matter either.

It's very zen. This must be what all of those yogis have been talking about. Maybe they are not crazy after all!

I believe that ever person's motivation for the goodness they put forth is different. It doesn't really matter where the goodness comes from (pure goodness or some greed), but when you really mean it is when it means the most.

If you completely lost me there, don't worry. Just think yourself really, really,  ridiculously good looking.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Still not ready to rock.

It's January 10th. I'm tired.

On the bright side, I had a Project Marathon epiphany at the gym on Monday. Of course, it was the first full work week of the year, and the gym was ridiculously full of revolutioners (or whatever you want to call them). Entering the underground parking garage, I definitely noticed more cars. Upon walking in, the gym was much busier than usual: lots of people, less locker room space, more membership representatives giving tours, and definitely no chance of getting into a spin class 10 minutes prior to start. Oh well.

My club tends to keep memberships low enough so people don't have to wait in line, a la 24 Hour Fitness - that place was a nightmare at 5pm. This is the first gym I've attended where the treadmill doesn't have some kind of a sticker warning like, "Keep use to 30 minutes while others are waiting." Plenty of equipment. No one waiting. I can run on the mill for hours if I elect to. This is why I pay the big bucks, folks.

Arriving into the locker room, I catch a glance at a woman letting out an enormous sigh while unzipping her pink gym bag and extracting the contents on to the bench. I smiled at her slightly, knowing exactly what her sigh was about. "Back to it after the holidays. Ugh. I've been home in Ireland for weeks just eating and drinking like mad," she remarked.

"I know what you mean." I said.

I realized I was actually lying to this nice woman - at least about this year. This was probably overall the healthiest, albeit most physically and motivationally challenging winter of my life. In fact, while other people are gearing up and killing themselves at the gym this week - it's my taper week. Which means, I'm actually supposed to be doing less.

So, I recanted. "I should say, I did things a little differently this year. I trained for a marathon that's in two weeks. So, this is actually an easy workout day for me."

She kind of looked at me in disgust at first, but then smiled and said, "Wow! Good for you!" That made me feel pretty good. I later saw her out on the fitness floor working with a trainer while I ran an easy 2-miler on the treadmill and headed out to my car in the now overly crowded parking garage. During the 10 minutes I was stuck in the garage, I thought to myself:

This has been a good winter. Yes, I don't enjoy running 20 miles. I am in a slight bit of pain in a few joints and I am not confident about running a marathon in 2 weeks. But, I am not starting over from scratch. I've done that before, and it totally sucks. This is the first year I'm starting out on the right foot. The right, blistered, sore foot that cramps after mile 17.

Life is good. I can rock this spring.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Oh stop smiling, you big, purple idiot. 
Project Marathon makes me grimace. Not Grimace, the purple friend of Ronald McDonald. I wish. French fries sound really delicious right now.

My body is sore almost every day. I'm not sure how a two hour run could possibly hurt more than a two hour bike ride followed by an hour run - but it does. I've tried many things including eating potassium-rich bananas (supposed to help cramping), taking nutritional and recovery supplements, taking Ibuprofen, drinking plenty of water, Epsom salt baths, and Arnica gel.

Then there is being sick. I have been feeling under the weather pretty much since the week before Christmas. I just can't shake it, man. I've been keeping up on training though - just trying to get into warmth before the cold and rain soak into my bones.

Exercise shouldn't hurt this much. I'm three weeks out. I can't just quit. I knew this was going to be hard. That was the whole point.

Only one more 20 mile run to go. *sigh*

Right now I think this might be my last marathon ever. It's just too much running. It's very different from a half Ironman distance because your body does the same repetitive motion for 4 . . . or 5. . . (maybe longer) hours. Ugh. Maybe it's just the weather and the winter blahs transforming themselves into muscle cramps and shooting leg pains. No matter what, I just can't make myself feel awesome in the winter time. Spring can not come fast enough.

Arizona Marathon DEmotivators

Lots of pavement is hard on the joints.

Forgetting my iPod and listening to 10 Christian Rock bands on the course. I'm sorry, but Christian Rock is terrible, and the lack of profanity does not make me perform at my very best. Once in awhile I like to convince myself that I am a bad a#$% f#$%ing runner, and lame rock just isn't doing it for me.

Worrying that someone is carrying a loaded gun during the run. It is legal there.

The PF Changs dragon. Thinking of fake Chinese food on the course might make me sick to my stomach.

People in costumes.

Arizona Marathon MOTIVATORS

It's a marathon, and just finishing a marathon is cool.

One of my favorite bloggers, Susan Lacke, will be there. I'm going to see if I can meet her.

The weather will likely be perfect for running.

My friend, Christine, will be in Arizona with me. We will encourage each other.

I've done some pretty tough trail runs this winter, and despite soreness and tiredness, I've done ok. I think it's the adrenaline, and I really hope this adrenaline kicks in on marathon race day too. Perhaps the crowds, the other runners, and the scenery will help.

People in costumes.

Anytime Resolutions

I thought I did pretty well with resolutions last year because I set new goals as it made sense, and didn't focus much on the January 1st start date. Last year, my friend EMK set 33 goals for herself, and accomplished 4. This strategy sounds good to me. I think 4 is pretty damned good, so here I will attempt to set as many goals for 2013 as possible and hope to accomplish a few.

These are in no particular order:

1.) Read more books.

2.) Go to more arts events and concerts.

3.) Work on my attention to detail.

4.) Floss.

5.) Get weight under 130 pounds again.

6.) Save more money. Put more money into retirement.

7.) Switch doctors to someone who doesn't say, "Don't you think you should consider having children soon?" Step off, biatch. I know how old I am.

8.) Take a CPR certification class.

9.) Bike more. 2,000 miles would be great. I biked around 1,400 this year.

10.) Work on swim stroke development more.

11.) Learn to blow snot rockets.

12.) Lift weights/TRX a couple times a week.

13.) Bike to work a couple times a month this summer.

14.) Get rock hard abs. (Yeah right.)

15.) Set a new half marathon personal record.

16.) Finally watch my Chi Running DVD before DVD players are obsolete.

17.) Get a consultation for Lasik eye surgery.

18.) Spend as much money on regular clothes as I do on workout clothes.

19.) Stop leaving sweaty running shoes in the bathroom.

20.) Make new friends and keep the old. (One is silver and the other's gold.)

21.) Stop overeating.

22.) Stretch more.

23.) Don't freak out in Lake Tahoe and keep swimming.

24.) Be closer to 6 hours for Barb's Race. Last year's time 6:21:15.

25.) Don't overwhelm self with possible events or training. i.e. Don't over book self.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Suck it, Christmas!

Disclaimer: The real Christmas is fine. The one where people put up trees, sing carols, go to church, and spend time with family and friends. It's the fake, commercial over-eating, over-spending, over-indulging Christmas that can suck it!

The day after Christmas I felt like crap. Christmas Day ended with over stuffing myself with gift tamales after eating and drinking most of the day. They were delicious until I woke up with a tummy ache. The next day, I got out and ran a few miles and felt much better.

"Christmas can suck it!" I thought.

Thankfully I didn't stuff myself into oblivion after that, and ran Brazen Racing's New Year's Eve half marathon trail run on the 29th. This run wasn't as brutal as Summit Rock, but there was a lot of mud due to recent rains. I feel like this race was more hard core than one of those sanctioned mud runs, and there was no one jumping into a mud pit on purpose. Good ole' natural, sticky, slidey, muddy goodness. Just the way God intended. My shoes have been drying out for days.

Project Marathon is going ok. I have yet to do a super long run that doesn't totally suck at the first mile. This weekend is my last ridiculously long training run - 20 to 23 miles. Yikes. At least the rain has stopped.

Overall, I managed to get through the holidays without overdosing too much on cheese, and maintained better than usual. I'm a little heavy, a lot tired, and pretty damned lazy, but I've been doing the minimum to get by.

So, now that Christmas is over I can focus. Here's what's on my event list for this year:

Arizona Rock & Roll Marathon - January 20
AKA possibly my last marathon ever.

Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon - February 3
If I can still move after Arizona.

HITS Napa Olympic Triathlon - April 14
Bring on the hilly bike course!

Wildflower Olympic Triathlon - May 4
New race for me.

Tour de Cure - June 9
Signed up for the 112k route. We'll see.

Trans Tahoe Relay  - July 20
Return of the Sass. Sass 2.0 will bring home a record finish.

Barb's Race - July 27
Can I break 6 hours?

Triathlon at Pacific Grove Sprint - September 15
Going short/sprint, then going home. Unless someone else decides to get married or have other wedding related activities this weekend. ;)

Scott Tinley's Triathlon - October 5
Another new race for me. Closing the season a little later this year.