Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Take Your Skirt Off, Cancel Your Manicure, and HTFU

Not only am I not running, I am also not swimming, and not biking.

I am, however, doing copious amounts of dips:

and when I say "copious," I mean, well, 10. OK, 15, now up to 20.


It's cold outside.

I quit my gym.

I have a bike trainer, but it's broken.

My favorite running trail looks like this most days:

and my other favorite trail looks like this:

How did I manage in prior years?? Did I just HTFU?

As to swimming ... um, I have no excuse as to why I'm not swimming.

After my sad half-mary, I took 14 days off to recover. I am quite sure this is not a recommended recovery plan.

But just yesterday, I kicked my own ass and ran 3 miles, after 21st C. Mom strongly suggested it. Which is good, because, let's not forget, I have yet another half-mary scheduled for Jan. 30 in the great state of Runner Susan.

And not only that, did I mention that in all the commotion of last fall, somehow, someway I managed to sign up for this??

Eagleman Half-Ironman. 1.2 miles of swimming fun, 56 miles of biking fun (that part might actually BE fun) and 13.1 miles of running fun)

Which is June 30 (165 short days from today).

I'm just not into it.

I mean really. Not. Into. It.

I want to take up knitting. Or reading. Or baking. Needlepoint! Raising orchids. Raising guppies. Something that doesn't require, you know, sweating.

This is how I'm feeling at the moment.

My current ennui might be in part due to the fact that I'm not training with anyone. I'm not in any group. I've been training alone since September. It turns out? That is not so much fun.

So, I've once again signed up for the Montgomery County Road Runners Speed Development Program. That was a great motivator last year, even though it wasn't the most welcoming group of people. It still got me all kinds of PRs. So hope springs eternal.

And I'm trying to decide what to do about training for this insane 70.3 distance.

I adore D.C. Tri Club, as you know. And they even have a half-iron training program. But...really, there's no one who is at my speed in that group. And that gets discouraging after a while. There's another, way pricier group here in D.C., Team Z, that has a lot of success with folks like me. (I'm not sure why, but some people seem hesitant to recommend these guys, even though everyone I know who has trained with them just LOVES them.) It's about $80/month, and I'm quite sure they will help me get the job done.

So why am I hesitating??

Because I am not all in for Eagleman.

I'm just not.

I'm wavering.

I could still cancel.

I don't even know if I'd get my money back.

I just don't know if I can commit to the kind of training I'll need to do.

I need a bike trainer that works.

I need to feel more comfortable riding outside on my own.

I need to get better at swimming.

Right...but why am I hesitating??

What to do??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 Blue Gray Half-Marathon Race Report

Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 13, 2009, age 52
02:42:10 12:22 min./mile

You placed 526 of 557 runners, 236 of 258 Female runners and 19 of 19 in the Women's 50-54 division.

It was the worst of times...it was yeah, the worst of times.

Race day dawned with temps hovering around 35F, the kind of raw cold, gray day with a steady nonstop rain that there is just no escaping and that seeps deep into the bones. Not an invigorating cold, no. More like a pull-the-covers-up-and-put-pillow-over-head-cold.

Well, it could have been worse (it can always be worse). It could have been windy.

I wore my usual Emma Peel outfit: black tights, black turtleneck, blue vest, and then ruined the whole thing by topping it with a yellow rain jacket. I hate running in a rain jacket. I overheat, I hate the way it feels, and I hate the swishy noise it makes. But turns out it was a wise choice since it rained nonstop for the 2 1/2+ hours it took me to finish this bad boy.

Ms. Emma Peel of the Avengers

The race starts with a two-mile fairly rapid descent, followed by a flat mile, followed by a slight uphill, followed by sort of flat until mile 6 where it's another uphill, run around an athletic field and retrace. That nice rapid descent turns into a motherf$#@$^r uphill that if I knew anything about hill grading, I could tell you what it's graded at, but I don't, so I'll just say if I were riding a bike, I would have had to get off and walk.

The hill starts at mile 11 and ends around mile 12 1/2. Did I mention it's a motherf$#@$^r??

I spent the night at the lovely Susie and David's (Susie was one of the original bloggers from the Running Blog Family (for those of you who are new to this sport (I mean the sport of blogging); you should totally go read her archives):

Susie, David, Beau

I drove to Fredericksburg late Saturday afternoon, after a loooong day of swimming, boozing, and general girls-gone-wildness at the off-season triathlon, which quite possibly may not be the best preparation for a half-marathon.

And since we seem to have drifted into the EXCUSE portion of this broadcast, let's carry on, and add as another possibly-less-than-optimal pre-race strategy: not sleeping.

My detox from Klonapin is still going on (nope, not off it yet), and one of the less pleasant side effects is insomnia. If I manage to fall asleep, like clockwork I am bolt upright an hour later. I was wide awake by 3 a.m. the morning of the race, and it wasn't from nerves, cuz I wasn't nervous. (I did have a fascinating dream starring Thomas the Rubbish Marathoner, involving my underwear and...well nevermind. He's a married man! But it was pretty funny.)

Some other fun side effects: dizziness, feeling off-balance, legs feel detached. It really does kind of blow.

And still another factor is heart-rate training, which I started doing this fall. But this race is only the sixth time I've run with a heart-rate monitor, ever, so I'm guessing the training part of heart-rate training has not really had time to kick in.

I knew going into this race, given my long-run times, that it would not be a PR. I really didn't think it would be such a PW. I mean, this was slower than my slowest half-mary ever, which I practically walked and skipped through.

So, I told myself to treat it like a training run, and as such, was prepared to try to stay in Z2. To refresh:

Z2: 149-158 (basic endurance)
Z3: 159-169 (stay out of)
Z4: 170-180 (lactate threshold, pace you can hold for 60-75min)

I knew by mile 3 it wasn't going to be a good day. Even the downhill was hard, I couldn't get into a groove, I couldn't see (rain and fogged up glasses), and I was cranky and unsettled. I couldn't stay in Z2 but couldn't get into Z4. Dehydration? Detox? Desleep? You decide.

1: 10:45 (HR 150)
2: 10:33 (HR 159)
3: 11:14 (HR 167)
4: 11:48 (HR 164)
5: 12:20 (HR 165)
6: 12:30 (HR 165)
7: 13:03 (HR 168)
8: 12:00 (HR 168)
9: 12:18 (HR 172)
10: 13:29 (HR 168) (2:00:05)
11: 12:44 (HR 172)
12: 15:07 (HR 172)
13: 12:37 (HR 179)
.1: 2:10 (HR 180)

I was in the stupid zone the entire way. Lots of effort, no payoff. Not recommended!

I was a block of ice at the end. I'm still cold. I skipped whatever "festivities" there were at the finish, and just grabbed a cup of hot tomato soup (instead of a victory beer, like last year). Susan and David hustled me into their nice warm car, which I proceed to drench. I shivered my way into their house, jumped into a burning hot shower where I watched my body turn various shades of red, and then we all shuffled off to the thing that kept me going when I really wanted to quit: french toast at Amy's of Fredericksburg. And then drove the 60 miles back to d.c. where I sat in a boiling hot tub for a few more hours.

Why do I do these things again????

For you history buffs:

5. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 15, 2008, age 51
2:28:43 11:21 min./mile (10/10) Victoire!

4. National Half, March 29, 2008 age 51
2:31:57 11:36 min./mile (48/53)

3. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 9, 2007 age 50
2:34:26 11:47/min (8/9)

2. Philadelphia Distance Run, September 16, 2007 age 50
2:38:06 12:04 min./mile (221/303)

1. Parks Half Marathon, September 24, 2006 age 49
2:38:15 12:05 min./mile (55/64)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Annual Off-Season Triathlon: Not for the Faint of Heart

I forgot to mention, in my last post, that I have an event in between now and Sunday's half-mary.

It's not for the weak of heart.

It's the


The event begins at 9:00 am with a marathon swim session at the Wilson Pool where workouts will be provided depending on how long you want to swim...T1 is a quick change in the Wilson Locker Room and a caravan down the block...workout #2 involves brunch at Cafe Ole (http://www.cafeoledc.com/) ...T2 will be heading up the block to Envy Nails for workout #3: $30 mani/pedi's (or just one of the 2.)
Your friends in Spandex,
Julia and Karen
AKA, Your Local Organizing Committee
Fine print:
For planning purposes: this is all really close to the Tenleytown Metro stop.
The distance between the pool and brunch is 1 mile. You can probably walk if the weather is ok, or you can move your car. We won't judge you. The distance between the restaurant and nail salon is .4 miles. If you try to drive that distance, then we're all making fun of you. Especially if you are an Ironman.

(Oh, my ass they won't judge!)

How fun is this?? Do I know the most fun people on the planet, or what??

But I must offer one critique: Only three events? That's sissy talk.

I'm going iron.

I'm throwing in a wax.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Guess I Should Write Something Now About Running*

*Or, (title courtesy the lovely Coach Michele Buckley):
"How to Pass Out Naked in Your Office"

Next up, our intrepid heroine tackles the Blue-Gray Half Marathon, Sunday, Dec. 13, 7:30 a.m., departing from the now defunct (the blog not the person) Finally Running Susan's and David's lovely house.

OK, maybe it's technically true I have run a few half-marathons before. Technically.

I think Sunday will be my 7th half. And the question that remains is: WHY?? WHY DO I TORMENT MYSELF LIKE THIS?


My last long run was Saturday, 11 miles. I started out at 7:30 in the cold and rain, having left my rain jacket home. I realized the minute I got in the car that a) it was raining, and b) my rain jacket was upstairs. How is it possible to be lazy when you're about to run 11 miles? I have no idea, but I was too lazy to stop the car and go back upstairs to get my rain jacket, so I ran the first 5.5 miles in the increasingly heavy rain. I was C-O-L-D, but cold usually works for me and this was no exception. I made some decent time, but more important, I was able to stay in the lovely zone two of my heart rate training without a lot of walking.

After the turnaround, it got cold. Maybe high 30s. I was wet and cold and heading into the wind.

And then all of a sudden, someone shook the snow globe and I was running in a winter wonderland.

And just like that, I didn't hate running anymore.

If only I knew which switch to flip so that I could control this process!

I finished my run in 2:10 (the previous week I did 10 miles in 2:07), staggered into my office and tried to change my wet clothes. My fingers were completely numb. They absolutely would not cooperate. Somehow I managed to struggle out of my running bra and wet turtleneck, and then sat in front of my space heater AT MY DESK shivering when all of a sudden the room started spinning..and yep, down I went.

Imagine coming in early Saturday to catch up on a spot of work only to be greeted by that scene??

Have mercy.

In light of The Troubles, my goal for Sunday is to finish (bar too high?? ya think??) I don't think a PR is realistic this go-round, but that's ok. Frankly, I will be thrilled if I cross the finish line anywhere close to 2:30.

(A huge thank you to all of you for your support. You guys are too much.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


"We are all nervous to try because we are all afraid we might fail."

I wrote these very words last week in an e-mail to a friend; I was trying to diagnose her stuck-ness. (In my other career apparently I'm a psychiatrist.) And, being extremely well acquainted with stuck-ness, and all 'round aimlessness, and its cousins procrastination and insecurity, I took a wild-ass guess at what might be lurking behind the scenes: Fear.

It's the thing we're all afraid of!

Is the whole world wandering around in a state of fear?

How did we get like this?? OK, how did I get like this?

And what exactly am I afraid of?

The usual things, I guess. Success. Failure. Pain. Ridicule. Not measuring up. Conflict.

But it all boils down to rejection. I'm afraid that I'm not lovable. Period. END OF STORY.

Which is kind of stupid (also afraid of looking stupid).

Because really.

Most people are kind. Most people are not out to get other people, right? (RIGHT??!) Most people are too busy worrying about their own insecurities. It helps to remember this. It helps me remember that the important part of life is (to paraphrase St. Francis) not so much making sure you are loved, as making sure you remember to love.

Sigh. St. Francis. I know where to set the bar!

Some of you know I have HAD a little problem with anxiety, for which I take this:

I've spent my life being afraid, but I have also spent my life doing things in spite of my fears. It's a bold and brave way to live. It's really the only way to live.

I'm faced with some new things at the moment, and they are kind of scary. I find myself thinking more often about my own and others' mortality. I figure, if I'm lucky (or unlucky, depends on your perspective), maybe I have another 40 years here on earth. And I don't intend to spend them living in fear.

So, I'm tapering off Klonopin. I've been doing this for months, and I can tell you it's no picnic. After I decided to quit, I learned that Klonopin is highly addictive. So, yes, it turns out I'm an addict.

I'm experiencing, and have been experiencing, a lot of side effects from tapering, including racing thoughts, insomnia, impaired vision, obsessions, and this weird-ass thing where I can't quite feel my legs when I run—I think they call it depersonalization? I dunno. I also often feel like I'm looking at myself as an observer (don't I sound fun to be with??!)

(I'll add the usual disclaimer here that I am not suggesting that I have any idea what is right for anyone else when it comes to psychotropic drugs. I don't.)

I'm ready to experience the discomfort of fear and anxiety full-on. I know I'm a stronger person now, a much happier person now, than I was when I started taking this stuff.

All I can tell you is that this is one of the hardest things I've ever had to face. But, on the up side, I'm confident I can get through it, and I'm willing to take the time I need to get through it.

I'm ready to face life without a shield.

I'll let you know how it goes.