The Big Push

2013 is here. Another year of training and races has begun. I realized I have quite a lofty list of activities I have committed to or will commit to as soon as I can. It amazes me, because two years ago none of this was even a thought.

To date I have signed up for the following races:

Wisconsin 1/2 Marathon
Warrior Dash Mud Run
Run For Your Lives Zombie Run

What I am planning on doing but have yet to open my wallet:

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle
Esprit de She Triathlon
Venus de Miles Bike Ride
Wauconda Triathlon
North Shore Turkey Trot
Santa Hustle

What I am on the fence about:

Chicago Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon
Hot Chocolate 15K
Memorial Day Bike Ride to Woodstock - 50 miles

I look at this list and think I must have lot my mind! But there is a team of people "pushing" me through all the road hazards.

Here is my pushing team:

Pilates class at Core Martial Arts
Training to Tri group at the Mundelein Park District
Personal Training by Justin Lindal
Winter run group at Golden Legs Running in Mundelein

To keep my from physically falling apart I have physical support:

My chiropractor Dr. Ryan
My acupuncturist Vel

And to keep my soul in tact, I have the following:

My wonderful husband Ken
My adorable son Yoshi
My supportive mom
My crazy friends

And when all else fails:

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I've gotten a lot of wonderful feedback about my journey over the past two years. And while I have done the physical part, as you can see, I could not have done it all by myself. We all push. Push ourselves. Push others. Push each other's buttons...

But I would rather be pushed forward than left behind.


Hot Chocolate: Bittersweet the Second Time Around

So the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K was a few weeks ago. For those of you who have never heard of the Hot Chocolate, it is a race sponsored by RAM Racing in downtown Chicago. They have a 5K and a 15K distance. After you finish you get a cup of cocoa, some chocolate fondue, and tasty dippers.

Last year I ran the 5K with my good friend/pusher Tracy Trovato. I averaged 10:30 min miles, and had a blast! After this past year of a mud run and a Triathlon, I decided to do the 15K (9.3 miles). Dummy! :)

So, a month before the race, my knees started giving me all kinds of trouble. I could barely run 3 miles. How was I going to do over 9?

I wanted to downgrade, but I missed the deadline. Then I got hives! Oh what a miserable week. So that was it. I was going to skip the race. I was going to get my packet and sweatshirt, and be done.

But then I went to packet pickup, and all the excitement drew me back in! RAM sucks at packet organization, but they know how to throw a party and build excitement. The race was on!

Now, I have done no training in two weeks. I still had hives. And my knee was still wonky, but I really wanted to run!

Then I found my Tri group on Facebook! It was all over then! Five of them were running too. So we all met downtown and ran the race!

The first 3 miles was a breeze. I had a great start. The race split to finish the 5K or to continue the 15K. Boy did I wish I could just be done, but I was already in the thick of it.

Things were going great until I hit mile 4. My knee started to give. This was not good. I started to walk, which ticked me off. I have yet to walk in a race. I did not want to start now. But there I was limping and gimping along. It sucked. I walked a mile. My pace was shot. I might as well just quit. I tried to jog, but it hurt so bad. I figured I'd just find an aid station, get the medic, and ride to the finish. I was mad.

Funny thing about aid stations. They are never there when you need them. So, I had two choices: 1. Walk to the finish, taking 3 hours. 2: Stretch, suck it up, and start running. I sucked it up.

Somehow I got my knee in alignment. I started to jog. I reset my play list. And I was off! Mile 5. Still going. Mile 6. Still going. Mile 7. Mile 8! Almost there! Battery dies on my watch and music player! Suck!!!!

So the last mile + I was left to my own thoughts, good and bad. There were a bunch of people cheering along the way. I was doing it! I pictured Ken and Yoshi cheering me on. They did not make it in person this time. I was tired and I wanted to stop, but it was so close, I could taste the fondue!

Then I saw the finish line! I have never been so happy! I made it in under 2 hours. Not too bad, considering I wasted 20 minutes walking. I missed reuniting with a chunk of my group. Their waves started way earlier. But it didn't matter. My carpooler, Rebecca, and I enjoyed the spoils, popped some ibuprofen, and went home.

It was a tough race. I was ill prepared. And I was not having the best time running it. But I completed my goal. Had fun with friends. Met some cool people. Ate some chocolate.

My knee was a swollen mess for a few days. My quads burned. I hobbled around like a hobbit. Then one of the pushers in my Tri class, Karen, asked when I was going to do my first half marathon! Say what!?! I can't even walk! Is she for real? I'm dying!

My response: next Spring.


Sportsmanship Trumps Winning

Races bring out the best and worst in people. I saw both today at the Diamond Dash 5K and kid's fun run.

First the good. Yoshi wasn't going to run in the kid's run, but once he saw all the kids lining up, he wanted to run. So, we got him in at the last second. He was about halfway through the course, when the daughter of his Kindergarten teacher stopped running and began crying. I think she realized how far away she was from mom. No one really noticed at first. All the kids kept running, except one. Yoshi stopped and consoled her until her mom came to get her. Yoshi didn't finish the race, but he won in my eyes! And he couldn't have cared less.

Then there was the bad. The course of the 5K was a semi out and back. There were some key turns, where if you missed them, you would run extra. Well, there were two spots that weren't marked well, and people ran the wrong way. I made it through OK, but others did not. One man was so mad about it that he chewed out the race chair the minute he crossed the finish line. I've had three races this year with confusing markings. I got lost in two of them. It happens. They were for fun. I wasn't qualifying for Kona or anything. Which is what made this man's reaction so ridiculous. It was a FUN run for cripe's sake! Apparently, the soon-to-be eight year old got it.


10K is A-okay

Today I ran my first 10K. That's 6.2 miles for the non-metric. I have to admit I felt ill-prepared. I had not run beyond 3 miles in a long time. My knee has been giving me trouble. But this race was only $10, and I already posted that I would do it. And if I was serious about the 15K I was signed up to do in the fall, I better not puss out.

So, I wrapped my knee, got it together, and joined the other 12 people (yes I said 12) at the start line. The race was two laps of a 5K course, and I rocked the first loop. And by rocked, I mean I ran a minute faster than I usually do. But by the time the second 5K came around, my knee began to ache. At least it had some protection from popping, but it was in the back of my mind. My pace slowed to a minute or two slower than usual. I was frustrated, but I kept going.

I finished 5th in the ladies division. There weren't any divisions, really. I just made it up for me. I ran the whole thing. I will make the 15K in fall. And I will continue too see the chiropractor until I can get this knee thing under control. One of my trainer's was there (yes I have more than one), and she was amazed at the progress I had made over the summer. So, not too bad for a Sunday morning in Mundelein!


Don't Stop Believing

So yesterday I had to buy new jeans. My old ones had saggy butt. Not a bad problem to have, mind you. It's the payoff for all the hard work I have done. What was amazing to me was that I was 12 sizes smaller from where I began! 12 freaking sizes smaller! That is dumbfounding to me. When I began this journey, I never imagined I would arrive here. It has been said it's not the destination, but the journey. What a journey it has been!


Do or do not. There is no Tri. Well, actually there was!

This is the year of doing. For some insane reason I decided to do a sprint Triathlon. A sprint Tri is usually 1/2 mile swim, 14 mike bike, and 5k run (give or take, depending on the venue). And actually, I know the reason, and her name is Tracy Trovato.

Ever since I started getting fit, Tracy has been this little, no scratch that, giant Macaw on my shoulder for me to start swimming. I guess misery loves company since Tracy never fully explained the glamour of swallowing copious amount of pool and lake water.

In the end she bugged me enough that I signed up for a Tri training class at the Mundelein park district. I figured I would take the class, learn some techniques, and then train on my own to do a Tri, that BTW, Tracy never signed up for, jerk! Something about a birthday and/or wedding anniversary.

What I did not expect was that I would meet a great group of people who each had an amazing story. These same people would carry me through the tough days when I swear I was crying more than swimming. They were the ones, just as scared as me when we lined up for the start at the Naperville SheRox Tri on June 10th. They were also the ones, along with my family, cheering me as I crossed the finish line. I like the group so much that I have been meeting with them every Monday since March, and I don't see an end in sight.

It's amazing what a little company can do to squash fears and lift spirits. I highly recommend joining a group of some sort to achieve your fitness goals. And then encourage (or caw) at you to make new ones. 2 years from now, I expect to be doing a half Ironman. Never would have thought that, sitting on my couch 2 years ago!


This house is clean!

Eleven days, 5 pounds, and 12" combined. My cleanse is done! I have a new appreciation for those who fast for assorted reasons. I was actually able to eat, and I struggled at times.

I feel energized. My senses are heightened. I can smell sound I think. Yet another goal to check off the never-ending list. It is amazing. Once you start achieving what you used to think was impossible, nothing seems impossible anymore. I expect the second half of this year to be full of personal surprises and successes.