Archive for October, 2014

Pounding the pavement at The Showdown Half Marathon

Posted on October 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

After a long hiatus, it was time.  Time to lace up my running shoes and pound that pavement once again.  The race I chose?  The Showdown Half Marathon in Fairview, Texas (October 11, 2014).  It is put on by the same race director from the New Year’s Double I did last year, so I knew it was going to be awesome!  Libby had so many perks for this race including free child care for runners and a free race photo!  The idea behind the Showdown Half is the annual football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, also known as the Red River Showdown.  Racers are given a bib, race t shirt, and a medal in the colors of the team they choose to support.  This is fantastic!  I only had one problem – Texas A&M wasn’t a choice.  So what do you do when the team you support isn’t playing in the Red River Showdown?  You can go with the “neutral” option and get your race goodies in a color that is not associated with either school.  This year, the neutral color was plum purple.  I decided to go neutral and I would sport some Aggie gear so that they, too would have a presence at the race.  I even personalized my bib with “Gig ’em Aggies!”

My training leading up to this race was splotchy and sporadic to say the least.  The hardware still needs to be removed from my ankle which means I do the complete opposite of “pushing myself”.  I do not train as often (or as hard) as I should.  Basically my goal is to get through the race without my ankle hollering at me.

When I volunteered to help set up tables and unbox boxes for packet pick up, I met Libby, the race director.  I’ve heard so many people say that she is as awesome as the races she puts on.  They are right.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and seeing a little of the “behind the scenes” of a race.

As race day approached, the temperature and humidity were high.  I was more than slightly nervous.  There is a reason that I did not venture down the running road until we had moved to Calgary.  I learned at the Stampede race in Calgary that the humidity has more of an effect on me than temperature, but when they are both high, it takes a miracle (and a lot of water over the head) to finish.  The racing gods took pity on me (or Libby has super powers and can control the weather).  Either way, a storm came through the region Friday night.  That left Saturday morning cool and breezy.  The humidity was higher than I would have liked, but we aren’t in Calgary anymore…

My five year old was signed up for the Kids’ Dash and thankfully it was before the half.  I LOVE this small detail.  As a runner that likes to get her registration money’s worth (read between the lines:  I’m slow), I often do not get to watch my little one run.  We showed up with chilly temps and enough mist to almost be called light rain.  Start time for the kids’ race was 7am.  “The sun’s not up yet.  I get to run IN THE DARK?!”  He was a little more than excited at the prospect of running a predawn race.  The race official said “GO!” and off they went!  I watched my guy as he crossed the finish line and received his dog tags with a huge smile on his face.  He broke out in his “happy dance” because he won.  I don’t know where he got this idea that he ALWAYS wins first place.  It might be the fact that he gets a finisher medal or trophy when he crosses the line.  It might be that I look at every finish as a win – let’s face it, I will not be stepping on the podium anytime soon.  It might be a combination of the two or something else completely different.  Whatever it is, I love it.  I love how he looks at every finish as a win and not a “I didn’t come in first. *pouty face*”  My hope is that he holds onto that feeling.  That it is a win to cross the line regardless how many people cross before you.  That the only competitor you have to worry about beating is yourself.

With the kids’ race finished, it was time for me to switch from a spectator to a runner.  I met up with a few of the Half Fanatics and chatted with them before it was time to line up.  I had a “civilized” conversation with one about the color choice she made.

No worries – no Texas fan was harmed in the making of this picture.

Photo Credit: Showdown Half Marathon

The mist had lightened up as we lined up to start.  I had time to look around twice and then it was go time.  Libby wasn’t kidding when she told me the races start on time.  You can imagine my surprise when I saw Thor and Captain America racing.  I knew a certain little super hero that was going to be jealous when he found out that mommy got to run with them!  When I realized that I was AHEAD of them (at least for a little while), I was on Cloud 9.   I soon settled in a nice 30:30 and did my thing.  I was surprised that I kept pace with the 3 hour pace group for so long (they were doing 4:1).  I took it easy, walked through aid stations, walked when I had my gels, and took an extra break when needed.  The course took us through the rolling hills of Fairview.  The hills here are not like what you would see in the Texas Hill Country or in the foothills of the Rockies, but there were inclines and I’m not too proud to say that a few of them hurt.

I did really well for the most part until mile 9.  The 30:30 ratio was working well and I felt good.  The only consistent problem I had was with the humidity.  The temperature felt great and as long as the breeze was blowing, I was fine.  There were a few instances when the air was still, that I got lightheaded.  It happens in high humidity, but I’ve learned not to panic.  I just slow down and focus on breathing.  When I feel better, I pick it back Showdown Halfup.  The mile 6 aid station was packing up as I arrived and for a brief moment I thought that the course had closed.  Good news was that the course was open – bad news was they were out of water.  At mile 9, my ankle started talking to me.  I knew my pace was slowing down, but I kept going.  I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of a PR, but began doing the math in my head.  Maybe – just maybe – I could pull it off and get one.  Maybe… if my ankle holds and there are no more hil – oh look, a hill.  A long hill that is just steep enough to be steep to me.  I put the notion of a PR out of my mind.  I kept moving and around mile 12, my right calf threatened to seize up when I ran.  I ran when I could and walked when I needed to.

When I could see the finish, I ran it in.  My ankle was expressing unhappiness, but I was determined to cross the line running.  I prayed that my calf would hold out and not seize up.  If it did, the photographer would get some great pictures of me crawling across the line.  I was able to finish upright (always a good thing) and looking at the race clock I realized that I just PR’d.  I couldn’t believe it… after all the time spent chasing a PR, I finally got one!  My excitement took a momentary back seat when I realized that my leg muscles decided at that point in time to go on strike.  I begin to think that I was going to be the last person there, glued to that spot unable to move.  At the finish volunteers passed out medals, mini bundt cakes, water, and the Active Joe series medals (if you ran more than one of Libby’s races this year).  I slowly and painfully made my way through all the goodies to the line for complimentary stretching.  A very much appreciated perk without which I don’t know I could have made it to the truck.  I will definitely be doing this one again – someone’s gotta sport the maroon, right?

The aftermath of any race is physically painful.  I’m still dealing with some lingering tendonitis issues from the race so once again training has been put on hold.  Even though my relationship with ice and Aleve has gotten deeper since raceday, I’m still basking in the glow of a PR.  I managed to cut over 2.5 minutes off my time.  For a lot of people 2.5 minutes isn’t much in the grand scheme of life – just a blink of an eye.  To me, it’s something more.  It is an accomplishment that I had pretty much written off.  I choose to look at those 2.5 minutes and see more than just the number of seconds.  I choose to see the strength it took to overcome pain and other health issues, the determination to finish, the courage to tell the nagging inner voice to hush, and the proof that I am getting better.  I usually feel like I’m pushing a boulder up a muddy hill given all the “pains” I’ve had.  Now I know that I am improving and can continue to improve… just as soon as I can get out there and pound the pavement.

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He’s finally something his big brother is not – a triathlete!

Posted on October 4, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

2011

2012

My younger son first crossed a finish line with me in 2011 when he was 2.5 years old.  I was competing in the Strathmore Women’s Sprint Triathlon and kids were allowed to run the last few yards with their moms and celebrate crossing that finish line with them.  This was my first triathlon and both my boys were there to celebrate and cross the line with me.  It was a very joyous occasion full of smiles and tears of happiness.  I did the same race the following year and once again my little one crossed the line with me.  He was ahead of me and totally thought he won and wanted to know why he didn’t get the medal. The racing bug had taken hold and wasn’t going to let go.  He competed in a few kids’ foot races over the next few years and all that did was whet his appetite.  At the age of four, he asked me if I would teach him “how to do one of those races where you swim, ride your bike, and then run really fast”.  I was so excited that he was wanting to jump into this world with me.

Rock the park triThe search for a kids’ triathlon got put on the back burner because we were facing an international move.  Once we got settled in our new place, I started my search again for kids’ tris that went as young as 5.  Found one!  I signed him up for the Rock the Park Kids’ Tri in Keller, Texas (September 27, 2014). For his age group it would be a 25m swim, 1 mile bike, and a 1/3 mile run.  I told him about it expecting a lot of excited shouting and dancing around.  What I got was more along the lines of “Oh, why did you do that?  Cancel my registration and get your money back.  I don’t want to do it.”  I tried not to let my disappointment show as I calmly said that I couldn’t cancel his registration and he needed to at least try.

To help him get ready for the tri and learn what all happens during transition, we staged a mini-tri at the house.  I don’t even know what the distances were.  He swam two lengths of the pool and then we went around to the front to his transition area. We went over the rules and went through the motions.  He was soon on his bike and gone.  After a few laps around the cul-de-sac, he was back at transition getting ready for the run.  Off he went at “maximum cheetah speed!”  When he got done, he was all smiles and laughs saying that he wanted to do it again (except not the swim because that was cold).  So he did multiple bike/run bricks and loved every second of it.

Batman’s T1

In the days approaching his first tri, the excitement level depended on what minute of the day it was.   He would be so excited, and then not want to go.  His dad and I stayed positive and didn’t make a huge deal out of the race.  On race morning we got up at 5-something in the morning and hit the road to Keller.  We got there with no problems and had plenty of spots to choose from in transition.  I was amazed at the size of transition.  He basically had a parking spot to himself.  After getting his body marked, we traced the steps that he would take – from the pool to his transition spot to the mount line and then which direction to go for the run.

He was in the younger group so they got to go before the bigger kids.  As he waited for his heat to start the swim, my husband expressed concern about the lack of a life jacket.  He only had to go 25m in the water, but that pool was quite a bit bigger than the one at our house.  I had brought his life jacket incase he would be more comfortable with it on, but he was adamant about not wearing it.  So my husband and I waited, not knowing what to expect.  For the younger kids, there is only one child/lane and there is a volunteer that swims with them should something go awry.  His heat is called.  He gets ready. He goes!  His swim stroke is the ever efficient doggy paddle, but he was across the pool in no time and second out of the water.  My husband was waiting for him on deck and off they went to transition.

One parent is allowed in transition to help and this time it was my husband.  I was on photography duty.  T1 went smooth and he quickly walked his bike to the mount line. I witnessed several kids that wiped out or would stop and needed help getting started again. The only help my kiddo required was to hold him steady while he started on the bike. His dad had planned on running along the bike course so that he could help if needed.  I don’t think he expected to get left in the dust.  The kid was gone.  Next thing I know he’s coming back and is stopped at the dismount line.  Back into transition to leave the helmet and the bike and he’s off on the run.

Once again, my husband intended to run this part of the race with my son.  Once again, my husband got left in the dust.  I watched my little one fly past people as he raced down the path.  He was around the bend and out of sight long before his dad arrived.  When I finally saw him again, I couldn’t believe it. He was still running!  I fully expected him to have pooped out by now.  He kept going until he crossed the finish line and got his finisher’s trophy.  Not quite understanding the concept of a “finisher award”, he excitedly told me he won first place and proudly showed me his trophy.

I asked him what he thought and he responded with a huge grin, big thumbs up, and an “I loved it!”.  I am over the moon and on Cloud 9!  I knew he would enjoy it once he got going.  My husband and I are both amazed at how well he did.  He was fast on the swim, super fast on the bike, and “maximum cheetah speed” fast on the run.  It was like he was able to just spread his wings and fly at this race.  While walking to the car, I told him that he is finally something his teenage brother is not.  “What’s that?”  “A triathlete, kiddo.  You are now a triathlete, and your brother cannot say the same.”  His eyes got wide as this information was processed in his brain.  At last, here was an occasion where he beat his brother.  When he showed his brother the body markings and trophy while telling his race story, there was a definite hint of smugness.

His second tri is coming up and we are back to the minute-by-minute fickleness.  I know that once he gets there he’s gonna love it.  Once again he’ll go “maximum cheetah speed” fast.  And once again, he will finish the race with a smile splashed across his face as his love for the sport grows a little more.  Oh, and the teenage brother still will not be able to call himself a “triathlete”.

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