Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Long time, no blog...

Has it really been almost 2 months since my last blog?  I'm surprised, but I'm not.  The past two months have been crazy-busy in all aspects of my life EXCEPT for running/training, and since this blog is about my life as an athlete, it makes sense that I haven't had anything to really talk about.

My plan after my first half-Ironman was to take off a couple of weeks entirely, and then ease my way back into working out.  I lasted 13 days.  Not too bad, LOL!  I ended my race recap blog with this: "I have a vision of my fall/winter/spring training going something like this:  swimming a few days a week (maybe with a Master’s team), cycling a couple of days a week and getting some great intervals in on the trainer, running a few days a week with my friends just for fun (nothing longer than 4-5 miles on weekdays and 8-9 miles on weekends)."

And, for the most part, this has been what I've been doing. I actually did join a Master's team.  The Columbus Sharks swims on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 5:45 AM, and on Saturdays at 7 AM.  What is ideal about this team is that they train at St. Charles High School, which is located 5 minutes away from the school where I teach!  Talk about perfect!  I wish the practices started a bit earlier.  I am able to swim for 45 minutes before I have to get out, shower in the very nice locker rooms, and head over to work by 6:50.  I have been a bit bad about going there twice a week--it seems like a run always sneaks its way into my schedule instead (e.g. birthday run, donut run, etc.).  The practices are hard but fun, and not at all boring.  I honestly like the challenge of swimming with a team again and pushing myself to keep up with others.  

I haven't been biking much at all... every couple of Saturdays I am able to fit in 15-20 miles with friends, but that's about it.  I miss it a ton, but the time that it takes to actually go on a good ride, plus the fact that I refuse to bike before the sun is up, makes it very difficult to bike at all during the week... and the weekends have been packed with kids' activities.  I still have my friend Mike's trainer, and I am contemplating setting it up to get some miles in.  

Running-wise, I try to run Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays or Sundays.  As I mentioned, an occasional Thursday slips in (in which case I run on Sunday--never more than two days in a row!).  My pace ranges from 8:40-9:30, and miles range from 3-5 on weekdays, depending on who I'm running with, and right now I'm good with that. I like not having to follow anything specific, especially after training so hard this past summer.  I've built up to 8 miles for my long run, and I don't plan on going much higher than that for now.  I have the Hot Chocolate 15K (which is 9.3 miles) next month, where I am pacing the 9:00/mile group, so that is my goal right now--to be comfortable running 9 miles at that pace.  I will have to carry a pacing sign as well as motivate my group.  

This past weekend was the Columbus Marathon.  One of my favorite training partners, Tamara, ran in her 4th marathon in the past 12 months.  She had attempted to BQ at Glass City in April (she did, but not by enough to actually get in to Boston), Erie in September (she blew up at mile 19ish and ended up not PR-ing), so this would be her 3rd try.  When she decided after Erie that she would give it another try at Columbus, I offered to join her at mile 19-20 and run with her for the final 10K of the race (when things typically go south for her).  She agreed that this sounded like a fantastic plan, so I got a bib from a friend's sister who wasn't able to do the race, and after volunteering at the start of the race from 5-8 AM, I drove out to mile 20 to wait for her.  The race has great runner tracking and I knew that she was absolutely flying and probably wouldn't even need me, but I planned on 5 miles that day and figured I'd jump in regardless.  

Tamara's comment as I hopped in next to her was "I hope you ate your Wheaties this morning!"  She really was going at a fantastic pace, and just needed to keep it steady for the next 6 miles.  Our first two miles together were my fastest since my injury back in April (8:10 and 8;12).  I have to admit, I was a bit worried--my heart rate was pretty high, it was unseasonably warm out, and I wondered how long I could keep this pace AND keep up a happy chatter in order to keep Tamara's mind off of the race (my #1 job).  Fortunately for me (but not so much for her), the proverbial "wall" came along at around mile 22, and she had to walk a few times.  My job became especially important at this point--to get her going again!  Our splits were still in the 8:30-8:40 range, even with those few short walking stints.  I stayed with her for 5.2 miles, and then hopped out and started to walk towards the finish. I didn't want to wait til the end, as it technically isn't legal to use another person's bib in a race, and I didn't want to be accused of cheating or anything.  I figured it'd be best to drop out well before the finish line.

Probably my new favorite running picture of all time

I broke into happy tears when I got the notification that Tamara had crossed the finish line in a 3:35:21, which was exactly what her goal was (five minutes under her qualifying time--more than enough to get into Boston for 2018!).  Having trained with her for her April race, and knowing how hard she'd trained for Erie... and how DONE she was after another 5 weeks of training for Columbus... I knew how much this meant to her. I was also proud that I had at least a small role in helping her obtain her dream. The tears happened again when I found her in the finishers' area.  One of the first things she said to me was, "Now it's your turn."  

I knew exactly what she meant.  We have always wanted to go to Boston together.  When Tamara didn't make it in for the 2017 race (her time was about a minute slower than the cut-off), we both immediately entertained the thought that maybe, just maybe, her racing in Boston just wasn't meant to be... YET.  Even though she'd BQ'ed at Glass City, perhaps not actually getting in meant that 2017 wasn't supposed to be her year to run in Boston.  Her Columbus time of 3:35 will allow her to run in Boston in 2018.  The qualifying period is from now until mid-September 2017.  That's a good 11 months from now.  I'm not going to say anything else about this right now... other than... things that make you go hmmmm.