Thursday, February 21, 2008

"It'll work itself out fine. All we need is just a little patience, " Guns N Roses

This is the longest I have stared at a blank screen trying to make out all the words in my head.
The Frozen Ass 50K was this Monday, the race went as I had planned, I held back until 30k then I started to pick up the pace feeling strong just to finish 3rd as predicted, wait that was my dream the night before, what really happened was completely different.

The race itself started long before Monday, my kids where gone so I had the chance to just stay home and try and make sense of how I was going to attack this beast. My sister who is the most spiritual person I know offer great advice, “You have done the job, now you have to prepare mentally. pray, visualize yourself finishing strong in third place, taste the air, smell the sweat of people around you, you need to make it as real as possible, tell as many people you know what you want to accomplish, that will help you push though the last leg because you are not going to want to disappoint them"

I had decided to try and place 3rd for this race, after looking at last years results, I realized third place finished 4:55:50, I could do that, so I planned and practice for a 4:55 finish. Nadia and I chatted several times and she walked me though the race, " be patient, do not attack until after 30K, if you go to fast to soon you will just fade to the back, if you exercise self control, then you are only racing the last 10K in pain, you are prepared to do that" sounds reasonable.

Shane offered to support me, it was only a 50k race but he said he was coming anyway so I might as well put him to work. Ride to and from? Check. The night before I paced up and down several times, I decided to try and find a song that was going to motivate me when things got though, I pour over my song list, Alanis? Too angry. Keith? Too lonely, then I found the perfect song, Daughtry, Hopeful, that was me.

Race day was just unbelievable, the weather fantastic 9c and it was a full race, with the weather so mild nobody stayed home, there were about 200 people, some who where there for the half only. Just before the start Shane pointed to my race number " three, that is an omen" he grinned, then he handed me tiny little boxing gloves, " just in case" and he smiled some more. At 9 am we started, my legs where happy to be running again, the excitement around me made me run faster than I needed, a fellow runner alerted me I was going to fast by yelling after he notice in my race number I was doing the full" I slowed to my maximum speed allowed. the path was icy, and bumpy, running on it made it very tricky and painful since it was an uneven surface. Shane was waiting on aid stations and I handed him layers as I warm up. I was running light using only aid stations for water and food.

At the turn around point that is where I could fully see how many women where ahead of me and how far. three I counted, first and second too fast for me to catch as I had predicted but third was close enough for me to catch, the word patience lost it's meaning once I turned and got a clearer picture of who was I really racing against, everybody in front of me was now a competitor. I caught and passed third after 20 minutes and left her behind, I could hear her trying to catch up to me, I was now running faster that I was suppose to, "is ok" I told myself, once she is far behind me I'll slow down. Shane was screaming in excitement every time I came to an aid station. I started to go over all the things my sister told me, 40K and I was still third, I was hurting but the outcome matched the effort I was putting. I was not going to look back so I decided not to slow down; make sure 4th was way behind me. "It works" I told myself, "the secret thing my sister talks about all the time, it works, I am going to read it when I get home, heck I am going to write one when I get home".

Then out of nowhere, a lady in a funny hat passed me like I was standing still. third I though, I was beaten, I slowed way down enough to fight the tears, then 4rth and 5th passed me, two sisters with matching Boston Marathon jackets " the Barbie twins as Shane called them. It didn't matter any more, I try picking up the pace but my legs refuse to go faster, it felt so good to walk, it was like asking your mouth to stop eating after a bite of your favorite dessert, finally they got going but not at the same speed. I saw Shane around the next corner” you can catch the Barbie twins, I saw them walking, they are hurting" what exactly he thinks we all being doing and feeling" I thought not in such a nice way though. "8 more k to go" announce the guy in the aid station, "6 you mean" I replied, no 8 is 52K not 50," sick people, calling it the Frozen Ass 50K, why not called it the Frozen Ass 52K.

My legs finally started doing its thing again, I keep my place 6th, the twins keep looking back to make sure I was not going to attacked, I was close enough to see the logo of the Boston marathon on their jackets. I was flatter but I was beaten, I hurt all over, all I could think was " this is only half the distance of my next race" then I could see the finish line, Nadia and Shane where there, they could see the disappointment in my face, at that very moment, like a twisted joke, Daughtry's song started playing in my ipod, "shut up" was all I could think, somehow the Rocky theme doesn't have the same effect if Rocky is not standing on top of the stars victorious, mid way sucking wind and the music playing doesn't have the same dramatic effect.

(Congratulations you are 5th. 6th you mean, no 5th the lady in the funny hat was a relay, the twins where 3rd and 4th.)
The next 24 hours where not a walk in the park, my body was hurting but not as bad as my morale, I had forgotten everything I had learned, I didn't race my own race, my watch read 4:47:48, I had beaten the time I was set out to do, but I was too angry to enjoy it,. I avoided the phone as it rang and rang, "me and my stupid mouth, how many people did I talk to the last two days?” I screened calls that evening, I was feeling terrible and cried most of the afternoon and didn't feel better until I picked up my kids that evening, I offer my Ex husband to drive half way so he didn't come all the way just to turn right around. there standing in a gas station in the middle of nowhere is where I found peace, it was my youngest arms around my neck that felt good, I know it was his arms and not his words because the first words he spoke to me where " what happened to your hair? you look like a poodle" after the race I had no strength to straightened my hair, there I was looking like Bon Jovi with the 80's hair with two tiny arms around my neck, my oldest didn't hug me until we got home, somehow, 70k away from the city was to close to your friends, you never know, you might be seeing hugging your mom. I spend the evening watching TV with my kids, I was quiet but they are used to see me sad when they leave for a few days to see their dad, I have build my life around them, they are the pillars of my existence and when they leave, well, the foundation is a bit shaky. Jerry the subway guy's commercial came on TV, he was standing on a stage and everybody was clapping because he had lost 240lb," maybe I should do that instead, I should put a lot of weight and then loose it all" I thought to my self. I wanted to be standing there on a stage holding a big pair of pants and have everybody clapping.

I never told my kids anything about what happened. I had showed the worst possible display of spormanship. I did congratulate everybody at the finish line, but I had not smiled when I did that. I asked Shane to drive me home without mingling with the other runners. Of course I couldn't avoid returning calls for ever, before the suicide watch team came knocking I picked up. Everybody try to make me feel better, there were the funny “what, too many cookies on the weekend?” the poetic “The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self improvement, about being better than you were the day before." which it made me even more angry, after all I am still top 10 after a year of training, The best came from a friend of mine who said something true, although it made me even angrier when I heard it." it will all make sense later" it's funny how everybody had a story about the time that they almost made it to the podium, Clayton from the office was half a second from making it to the Commonwealth games a few years ago" stupid goggles" he said, the emotion was so vivid that he went back to the pool the next day after our conversation, the last time he had set foot on a pool was three years ago, he is starting a triathlon relay team at the office.

That evening things somehow started to make sense, Greg called to see how I was making up, he is only person that except from my family really knows who I am, he is use to me calling frantically because I got a B on Business Law while I attended SAIT with a work load of 9 classes a semester that make the school counselor shiver every time he saw me down the halls, I had always gotten A's in Business Law. Greg listen patiently to me, how I realized this is a lot more about me that it is about Karl, Hans and the CNIB, how I truly believe I have chance at winning this thing, this is not about the race but about me, about this crazy dream of completing a series so difficult only a handful of people who enter at most will finish, if I can set my goals so high and truly believe I can accomplish them, then the sky is the limit, I couldn’t believe how much it matter to me to finish." you are different now" " I have never seen you this cocky" he said, is almost like you are a different person" he added, it made me smile, I did feel different, not in a bad sense but in a stronger person way. He then help me form the next plan for the next race as he walked me thought the next steps to make sure I didn't make the same mistakes.

I wish I could tell you that the moment it all came to me, was the moment I talked to my friends that it was among friends where I found the true meaning of why I was there in the first place, but it wasn't, it was the moment Greg mention the word " what is your plan for the next race on the series" that moment came later at home as I check the results for the Ultra Series, 4th in line, only 3 points behind the twins. I was so caught up in the results that I forgot this is not just a race but a stage of this thing call the Alberta Ultra Series. I called Nadia to get the training schedule for Boston, my next race " I didn't think you where going to race that one" she said surprised, " are you kidding, I want the jacket" I said, I want to be wearing the jacked when I cross the finish line at the Blackfoot Ultra, I want people to yell," Look at the triplets" when I come around.

To be continued.....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. " Mahadma Gandhi

This was a hard week, not from the physical aspect of it but the emotional. I am tired at the end of the day, this is my second week of being back at my 11 miles a day plan and I feel great if a little fatigue. Somewhere, somehow, the emotional test seems to be a bit harder to ignore than just my tired sore legs.

Everywhere I turned I heard the same comment over and over, "maybe that is a bit too much" my race schedule is decided and it looks a bit ambitious but in my head not imposible. The total mileage for my racing season is 583K and if I do register on the Swiss Jura marathon it will be 948K. Crazy maybe but it is over 8 months, not impossible, also my training is tailored for endurance and quick recovery not necessary speed. Even one friend of mine suggested I should stop running, he is a CEO of a company and we met for tea,"nobody will take you seriously if they hear you run two hours a day" I was mad. I was still mad when I met my friend Nadia later. she laughed about it " he thinks that stops people from taking you seriously" then we looked at each other, there I was standing with stilletos, long hair, black eyeliner and a suit that takes a serious meaning of "power suit" " you know because the first immpresion I get when I see you is , 'high IQ"

I emailed my friend Peter Lubbers, there are people that I reach for when I am feeling like what I am about to take is maybe out of my reach.He is an accomplished ultrarunner, very respected by the runner community, he is always kind to answer my questions, you might want to check his blog to take his quad challenge, I was feeling pretty good about myself, 2:30 then Hans beat me by 30 seconds, now a secretly practice in my bedroom just to take him again on the quad challenge

At night I usually read articles of people that inpired me, like Andrew Skurka Adventure magazine's adventurer of the year, his story is a facinating, he hiked for 7 months and 6,874 miles with no support crew just himself. He hiked what he calls the Great Western Loop, everything about his story appeal to me, even the 7 months he spend alone, sleepin under the stars didn't scare me, it seem almost romantic. until I got to the part of his food, his daily food consists of power bars and candy bars, pringels, mixed nuts, and for dinner he had instant mash potatoes rolled in a tortilla. that I couldn't do, I love food, real food. But by far the person that inpires me the most is Amy Palmiero- Winters her story is an amazing story of courage and determination, she is an amputee, welder,single mother of two that can run a marathon in 3:04 and is now trying to qualify for the olympic trials competing against fully able athletes among other things she also hold recors in triathlons and is Runners World 2007 people's choice Hero award recepient. I read her story and all the doubts about being able to finish my races vanish.

I have my first race of the year soon, I am feeling excited like a child wating for summer holidays. I have been running 11miles/day for a couple of weeks now and my body is doing OK. I am going to go down in mileage and up in intensity by next week just before my race. I have eliminated coffee now and I understand the attraction of caffeine in hollywood, I am so hungry all the time, all I think is about my next meal, but that is a better way for me to get my energy and also by eliminating coffee now it will be more effective when I need it for my longer races, I only introduced it early to get my stomach used to the acids,I haven't felt that awake in a long time and I was never very hungry.

My favourite thing this week is Wyclef Jean's song " the sweetest thing" that will be the song I will play when I take my first step in the Frozen Ass 50K in Feb 18th, I am looking forward to wearing that t-shirt to my next board meeting while humming away Wynclef Jean's song, take that CEO's of the world, you haven't seen anything yet