Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ode to a total badass

On our group ride Sunday, we started out as a group 7 riders and by the end we were down to 4. Along the way there was a bike crash and Teresa went down. She banged her arm, leg and hand pretty good. Ian (who from this day forward shall be known as MacGyver - I believe he was actually thinking about using some chewing gum to hold the spokes in place) managed to temporarily fix her broken spokes so she could ride home. That's right ladies and gentlemen, Teresa rode home. Wynn and Wingman rode ahead to get the truck to come back to pick her up, but we wound up making it back to almost a mile from the house when Wynn pulled up. They loaded up her bike and then the remaining 4 of us (me, Crazy Mark, 'MacGyver', and Joan) made it back to the house. Teresa showed some serious warrior spirit by riding home, so we awarded her the warrior hat for the group ride. MacGyver earned the other warrior hat for his ability to repair the spokes and then he and Joan rode in front to shield Teresa from the wind. Now here's a little insight into what makes Teresa a total badass (in case the ride home wasn't clue enough):

- Teresa doesn't mow her own lawn, she stands out there and dares it to grow
- Teresa counted to infinity - twice
- When Teresa does pushups, she doesn't push herself up, she pushes the world down
- Teresa once broke the land speed record on a bike that was missing a chain and the back tire
- Teresa can sneeze with her eyes open
- Teresa ordered a Big Mac at Burger King......and got one
- Rudolph has a red nose because Teresa kicked him
- Teresa doesn't run from tornados, tornados run from Teresa

I chatted with her yesterday and she is feeling better, which is always good news because I need my running partner on her feet!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mission: Impossible

This weekend I was supposed to do a 5k on Sunday, but the group said they were riding on Sunday and running Saturday. Itching to ride with a group (and Wingman on his new bike) I flipped my workout days. I toyed with a 4 miler in Patchogue or a 5k in Wantagh. Basically the orders came down from "The Boss" that I should do the 4 miler in Patchogue. Gotta do what "The Boss" says because she creates my workout schedules and she can make my life a living hell ;-)  And yes Jen, I did see next week's schedule and that slightly resembles hell.......but I digress.

My schedules are created in Training Peaks and it's setup to email me each morning two days worth of workouts. For example, on Saturday morning I will see Saturday and Sunday's schedule. And what's nicer is I get it on my Blackberry as well. Each morning I wake up and check my email for my instructions. It's kinda like "Mission: Impossible." It usually reads (and interprets) something like:

"Good morning, Wingnut. Today's workout for Saturday, March 27, 2010:
Race: Push Hard! No holding back!!! Gun it and hold on!
You're mission, should you decide to accept it, is to PR this race. 
Should you not attain this PR, 
the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
This message will self destruct in 5 seconds."

Then oddly enough, I hear this:

I made it down to Patchogue and signed up. I had my Garmin GPS with me, but I could not find my heart rate monitor strap. I figured I would use the GPS just to check my pace every now and then, but otherwise, I would stick to the 'mission'. The race was starting on Main Street just in front of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (I know, I know, I can't figure out why they do a parade 10 days after the fact). As I stood around waiting for the start, I could hear a sound that I thought the Geneva Convention protected me from:

I swear it's like listening to cats mating....and please don't ask me how I know that sound. I was now dying to start the race. I finally see the starter come out to line us up. Next thing I know the horn goes off and I am on my way. All I am consumed with right now is getting away from the bagpipes. I raced down the street and was finally away from that awful noise. I was following my orders to push hard. And push is what I did. In the first mile I was thinking that there was no way I could run 4 miles. I had a bad two weeks and didn't run as much as I would have liked. But now is not the time to worry about this. I have to gun it. So I continue on my way, leary about another run in with the pipes. But alas, that would not happen.

At the first mile marker, I do a quick inventory. I checked my pace and was doing OK. Not sure I can hold it for 4, but I'll do my best to try. I didn't even really think PR at this point. I would worry about this when I get to mile 3. But for now, I move through to mile 2. The legs are still moving and I am starting to feel that disconnect between my legs and the rest of my body. I haven't felt that in a long time. It's a feeling where my legs are going, but I don't really feel it. Almost like it's no effort to run. But my heart is telling me it's quite an effort. I can feel the pounding in my chest and my mind starts to drift a little. I start to wonder what it is looking like on an ECG (yes, I still have school on the brain). At least this occupies me for the next 1/2 mile. Next thing I know I roll into mile 2 and am still feeling good. Check my pace and see I didn't slow down much.

The next mile was the challenge. I tried to focus on the race in front of me, but now I started playing the math game. I look at the time I have run so far and what I have ahead of me. Can I make it in PR time? I start flirting with the idea. If I can keep my pace or if it slows a bit, I can make it.

I am a woman on a mission. I can feel my body rally now to complete the mission. I make it through mile 3 and look at the watch. I think I can make it. I've been gunning it and now I have to hold on.

The last mile hurt a bit. I could feel my legs start to burn and my sedentary week was catching up with me. I check the GPS again and I have .4 miles to go. I check the time and realize that unless I stop and walk the rest of the way, there was nothing stopping me from my PR. Feet don't fail me now!! I can see the finish line clock ahead and begin a new race against the clock. I tried to summon up every fast-twitch fiber in my body, but it was hard to do. But I finished in fine fashion. I ran this race 1:44 faster than the 4 miler I did 2 weeks ago. Not too shabby seeing as how this was a stressful month with exams. I'm excited to see that my running times have been coming down. No time to celebrate, I had to get back to work. I found my way to the car and got out of there. I called Wingman and told him of my race. I told him I opened a can of this:

He currently owns the 4 mile record in the house, but now he hears me coming up behind him. I have it in my sights. I have another 4 mile race I want to do in April. Mark my words, I will work hard the next few weeks and make that race not only a PR, but a house record. Hmm, another Mission: Impossible?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

What a wild swing this weekend. First, we had a huge improvement in the weather. And unfortunately with that comes a migraine. Friday around lunchtime I felt it coming on. I took something, but it seemed to take a long time to have any effect. I had a massage appointment that I thought about bailing on, but knew it might help me to relax. So I got there and told Tammy I wasn't feeling well. I laid down and let her do her magic. I was still for the entire hour. When she was done I was feeling better. Or so I thought. I had one last errand to run prior to going home. I had to hit Trader Joe's. When I got to the mall, I had to pull over and take a nap. I slept in the car for ~25 minutes and woke up feeling a little better. I went to the store, got my things and made my way home. Unfortunately my stomach had different ideas. I won't go into details, but I know where I can stop on the expressway so I have a large shoulder to pull onto so I can open the door and hang my head out. Very sad, I know. I finally got home and hit the couch. Wingman took care of me when he got home. I recovered just in time for our race on Saturday.

Saturday morning came along and we made our way out to Greenlawn. This was our first race of the year. I don't count the marathon in January as a 2010 race because it was on my 2009 training schedule and closed out that season. The race Saturday opened up the season. I had no idea what to expect. I had a rough idea of what I thought I would do. The course was not quite flat. It had some nice rollers to it. I wore my HRM/GPS so I could collect data about my race. When we got there it seemed real cold and windy. I didn't bring a jacket because I thought it would be warmer. I was wearing just a long sleeve shirt and running tights. It was a little too chilly for my taste to run without another top layer. So I wore my hooded sweatshirt. I knew during the race I would get a little warm, but I figured it was only 4 miles so I didn't worry. I also borrowed Wingman's gloves to keep my hands warm.

There was quite a turnout. There were ~500 people at the race. We made our way to the starting line and with all the people standing around, it seemed like there was no wind. Finally the gun goes off and I am on my way. I quickly notice there is a slight uphill to start. What sick bastard does that to me?! But I know "what goes up must come down" (OK, so I'm about to break out into "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears). And there it was, my beloved downhill. It's still early in the race and the course is a little tight. I like to look down around here so I can see people's feet so I don't trip. I start to notice the street getting darker. Hmm, looks wet. Oh no, is that rock salt? Oh crikey!! Ice on the road!! So I walk through this section because deep down inside I am an 85 year old woman that fears breaking her hip. But I digress.

I get through the icy section without an incident and continue. I didn't look down at my Garmin GPS because I was trying to focus on running by feel. As long as I felt OK, the pace was fine. I didn't want to get caught up in the numbers. When I got to mile marker 1, there was a person there calling out times. Normally I don't like to know, but this time I listened. When they called out the time I thought "Zoinks!! I'm going a little faster than I thought (about 40 seconds faster)". I tried to focus on feeling good and keeping the feet moving. The course had some nice gently rolling hills to it. At this point I ran with my head up. I could see what was coming. I seemed to handle the course well, but as the race went on, I could feel my heart rate pin waaaaaay up in the red zone on the hills. I was hoping that the end was near. And I mean the race, not my life, though there are some days............. again, I digress.

The last mile was rough. You had to pass the school where the race started and I really wanted to cheat and cut back into the parking lot. But I knew I had to gut it out. I certainly did slow down the last mile a bit. At this point I started playing the math game. This is where you are looking at the GPS to see how much more you have to run and what time you think you can do it in. If could maintain a certain pace, I could finish under a certain time. It now became a race against the clock.

The school was in sight. Look at the watch. Get to the corner to cross to the school. Look at the watch. Feet don't fail me now. Look at the small incline to the school parking lot. Look at the watch. Now I am on flat land and my eyes are fixed on the official time. Can I make it? Legs are pumping and I'm almost doing the Paula Radcliffe head bob. It's a stare down of the race clock. Can I make it? Who will reign supreme? Heart is pumping, ready to explode. Legs are trying to carry me. I almost feel like I am running in quicksand. The line is getting closer. I finally make it across the line. 12 seconds under the specific time I plotted during the last half mile. Overall, I ran it about 1:30 faster than I thought I would.

I waited for Wingman to come through. After he was done, we made our way over to the post race food. My stomach was grumbling and I wanted a banana. I grabbed one and couldn't find the Wingman. He was on the soup line. Wait a minute?! There's soup here? And it was good soup. Chicken rice with potato and carrots. Mmmmm, hot soup is really tasty after a race in the cold.

Overall I have to say I am pleased with the race. Nothing like a good race to bring back my running mojo. Next race up is in Kings Park. It's a 15k (9.3 miles) that is described as challenging and hilly. I've run parts of the course with Teresa so I have an idea of what is there. It's a beast and I'm being called a Masochist for running it. I hope I live to tell that tale..........