Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Beginning to run....


Beginning Running…



I was there once, a beginning runner.  So, I know.  Beginning to run is the hardest thing. Getting to the point to run 30-35 minutes without stopping is the hardest part of running.  EVER.  It is so hard.

That is the time you see others running and it looks so beautiful and effortless and inspiring.  Key is to know that the person you see looking this way doesn’t necessarily FEEL THIS WAY AT ALL!!!

I’ve now been running for 25 years.  When I began, it was the hardest thing.  I tried to do it in the dark because it was so embarrassing to me to be looking this way on public roads, like I was near death, needing an ambulance.  The funny thing is, 25 years later, I have numerous runs where I feel the same way, where I feel like I must be dragging cement blocks behind me.  I’ve run marathons and raced well, but I still sometimes go out and feel like literally…. I don’t even know if what I’m doing is considered “running”!!  It is barely faster than a walker!  It really doesn’t even feel good some days, and I have learned to just carry on, step by step.  That in the end, every step DOES MATTER! And you can ALWAYS DO THE NEXT STEP!  It doesn’t need to LOOK GOOD.  And it shouldn’t always FEEL GOOD.  Sometimes it will, and those are the days that sustain you through some of the other drudgery workouts.  It is so easy to judge ourselves and others- to judge that others are somehow just better at running, that they are feeling a sense of ease on their runs, so “what is wrong with me” that I want to stop, that I struggle to keep going.  There is nothing wrong, it is not an easy thing physically to run, and the mental challenge to will yourself to continue is what makes the difference.

So……what does that mean?

It means day by day.  Go out.  Get it DONE. 

It means if your goal is 10 minutes, do 10 minutes.  Not 1 minute less.  Mentally, don’t let yourself physically stop.

It means if you have built up and you are doing 30 minutes and your next week goal is 34 minutes.  Plan for it, prepare, mentally and physically, and be relentless…..  get it done.  Do NOT CONSIDER stopping early.

It means the long runs/ builds are maybe the most important run of the week, however…. All the supporting runs are what allows the other to happen. That is the funny thing—each run you do is what allows the others to be successful.  Even the days that you just run for 10 minutes.  Even the training runs that feel terrible make you better, sometimes those are the most important ones.   The days that require you to be your grittiest, fiercest self to will yourself those extra 3 minutes are the reason why you will finish your goal race.  Don’t doubt that every single step you take makes a difference. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Maintaining Motivation through Corona-times


MOTIVATION IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS



1. Step aside, surrender control - allow change. Feel frustration, let yourself have time to feel the loss of your original plan.  And then be willing to move along.  If we get stuck in the wallowing, it just drags on. Allow yourself to be flexible with races that may or may not happen, and think further.  Be aware that this is an opportunity to practice following the flow of life.

2. Alter your timeline of goals, giving you a BONUS!  You just bought yourself some time!  You can still have the big goal that you had, but it is now moved back (make sure to schedule another goal for late summer or fall?)  Sooo… that means--- what are the things you had in the back of your mind that you KNEW you were not doing FULLY?  Were you not rolling?  WRITE IT DOWN.  Rolling is your new DAILY THING that you WILL make a habit this month.  Was your nutrition off and you know you need to buckle down.  Make it happen.  If it truly is a goal, you will do it.  TAKE CONTROL of the things that you CAN control!!  YOU can control if you get in DAILY ABS.  You CAN CONTROL your daily nutrition (if you make the choice that it is important enough to you). Change 180 degrees from what you WERE doing.  Maybe change course/go backwards/ add additional base training if that is needed and a change for you.  OR if you were building up, take a few weeks of short and fun, speed training, working different energy systems.  Since you are looking at a timeline pushed way back- why not also come up with a rough 5 year plan for yourself!  Any big goals out there?  5 year race goals?  Bucket list races?  How can this current year actually help you get there?

3.  CONTINUE TO LOG/ KEEP TRACK of what you are doing!  (and send results/your log to your coach!!)  Just because your stage in training has changed, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter what you are doing.  The amount you are doing matters (not just for the now, but for the big picture- future plan, etc). 

4. What to do with any extra time you may have!  Ahhhhhh- WOW:  here is a list!

*research future possible races that you may like to do!

*listen to podcasts on fitness, motivation, nutrition, other interests while you are working from home, when appropriate of course!

*take an online zoom strength class (WITH ME!!)  or yoga!  Or take an online zoom class from somewhere that you cannot usually get to (long distance, etc!!!)

*find new routes that are socially distant!

*read books that motivate you:   *”Lure of Long Distances” was a really good read and left me craving epic runs and the personal transformation that comes with change.  “Practicing the Power of Now” is a simplified book of the full Power of Now book and has take home messages that are understandable to remind us of the importance of being present in our lives (very timely).

5.  STRENGTH:  you can literally do some strength every day, in various forms (yoga included).  I can guarantee you 10000% results will transfer if you keep yourself doing focused strength workouts.  It does not take long.  HUGE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK.  I could go on and on here.  Or if you are already really cranking along with your strength workouts- what is the SMALL OVERLOOKED stuff.  There are always things that we just simply don’t have time for.  Are your shoulders tight? Leaving you to not get a good full extension in the pool, but you typically just can’t fit in a 10 min shoulder/lat/chest stretch series?  Do it now.

6.  Do NEW!  Do things you would never usually consider.  Do a “virtual race.”  Find out about strava even if you are not interested in the least in comparing/competing virtually with others!  Research a ride you have never done, a century, a trail.   If you are not on social media, maybe get an Instagram account and search some races, be inspired by some awesome training scenery, etc.

7.  REST.   This is a definite chance to look critically at what our bodies need, and most of us do need some REPAIRING!  Normalize our nervous system with some low impact hikes, yin yoga classes to restore ourselves before diving back in to our revised goals!  Allow this PAUSE.

8.  Take care of EQUIPMENT.  This includes researching options so when your bike shoes need replacing, you have some ideas.  Clean your bike well!  Check out the tires.  Look at your run shoes, research if you need to make a change, make sure you have fast laces for races this summer; make sure you have a fuel belt that you really love.  If not, research it.  Are you using your Garmin or sports watch/GPS and all of it’s features?  If not, learn something new today! 

9.  Do your workouts for the INTRINSIC VALUE of what the workout gives to you- the internal value of checking off a day’s goal, hitting a 2 mile run time trial on the treadmill that you have been aiming for, challenging yourself to do the new thing, the home workout that you had NO IDEA would kick your butt!  Enjoy the scenery on your runs, walks, bike rides, etc.  Enjoy the FEELING of being strong, working core, doing new things.  Every workout should be full of JOY and appreciation!

10. Keep a routine, despite chaos.  If you like to take a day off of exercise every week, continue to do that.  Even if your days look completely different, keep a commitment to daily exercise.  If you used to have to get up at 4:30AM to get your workout in and now you don’t need to, make sure that you don’t end up skipping it altogether.  Sometimes it ends up being harder to commit to your workout when you have more flexibility!  Keep a routine, even if the workouts themselves are different than what they used to look like!  If you were using weekends to get some long workouts in, maybe change your routine so that you can now enjoy a weekend day off, but make it an intentional knowing change, a routine to count on, not just a missed workout!

BE CORONA-FIT!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Our collective PAUSE.....


LEARNING TO PAUSE.

Coronavirus 2020.

It’s been obviously out of this world.

I hate part of it.  But I also love part of it and am so thankful.

I am embarrassed that I sometimes think God sent it to us not to harm our health, but to get us to pause.  I am trying to pause.  I am pausing.

Pausing freaks the SHIT out of me, but I’m actually doing it.

Growing up….

*I don’t know what was wrong with me.  I was born this way.  I only knew hard work.  I don’t know what circulated in my blood differently, but I was different and I knew it.  I didn’t want other things.  I wanted work.  Even when I was young, I was focused on waking up early and getting a “head start.”

*The only thing that ever mattered to me from age 6-16 was gymnastics.  I probably had an inkling I would be limited in my success, but with this, I had an inner vow to myself.  I would never waste a day. I would frankly never waste an hour.  It was great.  It was also disastrous and just fed the monster.  My monster was perfection, obsession and self-criticism.  It was unending.  It was also exhilarating. I was so addicted to it, and it fed my heart and soul.  I had some success, but I also created my own success channels by imprinting on my heart that I would always be the hardest worker.  I may never get to the Olympics, but there would be no one that could work harder.  There would be no one who could accept more intensity, who would be willing to be so laser focused. 

In college, particularly because I had to transfer to the school I wanted to go to, UVA, I was terrified that I didn’t belong and again, hyper vigilant on my work.  I don’t mean I studied hard.  I mean, it was really compulsive and obsessive.  There was always more for me to do, I would switch from subject to subject, underlining, memorizing.  My internal motto was that I would learn it well enough to be able to “teach it.”  I would know it like the back of my hand.  It was awesome.  Awesomely dangerous and bad.  I didn’t know how to stop.  My life was a whirling cycle of reaching further…  And I LOVED IT.  I was exhilarated by it, I loved learning everything so fully and it fueled my hard work.  Halfway through undergrad, I got my first A- and cried myself silly.  I had ruined my perfect A college streak.  So I worked harder so it would never happen again.

I could go on and on, to grad school, beginning my full time career, starting my own business, and then the final whirling of our families adoption journey, that maybe was the epitome of my lifetime of work.  I worked and worked and could never really stop.  Until everything came crashing and our adoption ended, and I worried so intensely that my kids would never heal.  I didn’t know if I would either.  I remember taking breaths and wondering if somehow that would be my last one.  It sounds obviously strange, but I didn’t know if my devastation and fear would physically allow me to take the next breath. 

This was my first pause.  It has been 5 years.  I committed then to slowing down.  And I did.  I sat on my porch.  I sat in my house and just let myself feel SAFE.  And breathed.  I found dead silence in my house and I Honestly just listened to it, aware of how odd I was to be literally listening to my house silent and my body breathing.  And I literally listened to my breath and reminded myself that I didn’t have to doubt that the next one would come.  I sat on the porch again.  I let myself sit at the swimming pool.  I let myself say no to work.  I let myself stop obsessing over being the one who never stopped working.  I let myself read books.  Actual books with stories (not just how to parent better, training studies, anatomy and yoga books, but actual fiction stories!).  I let myself struggle with the guilt of being still, and tried to work through that guilt. 

I’m renewing that pause now. But now, I’m focusing on the pause and stillness WITHOUT GUILT.  I am not feeling bad about just “being” because there are others out there now also that are “just being.”  It is easier to feel less guilt, that I’m not getting behind, since this is affecting us all.  I am focusing on the silver lining of being able to sleep in a few days now each week.  My body was so over fatigued, I knew I was so far down in a sleep hole, but there wasn’t any way to get out of it, basically except this “opportunity” of having my life upended, and here it is.  Of course, none of this is good for anyone’s financial “fitness”, but at this point, I am choosing to see the opportunities that are arising from the situation.  Letting my health be taken care of and getting more sleep has been a huge blessing.

I am always keeping aligned with my goals and what makes me feel good.  Fitness makes me feel happy, and with this coronavirus shutdown, I do truly believe that anyone out there that has a goal of fitness has literally no excuse to not make that happen.  Easy for me to say though, because I enjoy fitness.  So I also have told myself that if I want to do things that aren’t as easy for me, now is the time to open myself up to those priorities.  Keeping my house clean is not super high on my list, but now is a time that I am actually committing to daily doing “family 15” where we all contribute 15 minutes, and maybe little by little, we will notice a difference.

There are silver linings everywhere.  What are yours?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

here is your opportunity....


EVERYTHING IS AN OPPORTUNITY…. Even corona.

Sometimes life gives us lemons. Sometimes we get a freaking BOWL of lemons. Sometimes we just have one lemon so so so strong and sour it about kills us.

Regardless, it is our attitude that will get us through.  Believe me, this is not my natural go to.  I don’t usually get a lemon, and immediately begin appreciating it.  An injury before a race?  Nope, I’m MAD for a bit.  I am.  Things not going as I dreamed and the way I worked for?  I don’t immediately see the silver lining.  However, we can pretty much always self -talk ourselves into seeing the opportunities that lie before us even in the hardest times.

Here we are- living in the unknown. We surely feel like things are stacked against us in all angles.  And.. of course.. HERE I am!!  😊 😊😊 to give you the OPPORTUNITY… in FITNESS!!!!

So, here is the truth:  there is SOME THING….. that we each have in our heads and hearts, that we would like to improve upon in our fitness.  We may need to spend more time doing strength, we may need to commit to 30 minutes a day of cardio, we may need to take 5 minutes/day to focus on the stretches and little exercises that aren’t the BIG things, but are the things that keep us going, healthy and injury free.

There is SOMETHING that we would be so proud in 4 or 8 weeks to make happen.  To know that we committed to daily.  To know that we DID SOMETHING.  We can be where we are in 8 weeks… or we can be further.  (*and I’m not saying I think this will be over in 4 or 8 weeks, I’m just putting numbers out there).

OR, we might need to think BIGGER—a race.  Our first 5K, our first ½ marathon.  Sometimes bigger IS better because then it is something so big that we MUST COMMIT.

WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY.

I know some of you are both working full time still either from an office or from home, as well as taking over some homeschooling of your kids.  And: THIS CAN STILL BE DONE--- as can anything, when you set y our schedule to DO IT.  When the kids are doing their outdoor/active/exercise/sport time, YOU can do yours!  Or, if this is your time to BE ALONE, then there is your 30 minutes of ESCAPE time!

You do not need a gym to be fit.

You do not need hours to be fit.

What you DO NEED:

1.       A Goal that makes you HAPPY/INSPIRED/A bit scared, anxious, curious, can you do it?! YES.

2.       Then:  Daily Commitment

3.      Plan- Take action.  Unquestionable.  Day by day.

Here we are guys--- let’s do it—it is an opportunity.  There is not one of us that doesn’t want to be more fit or better at some aspect in the next 8 weeks.  Let’s ALL use this time😊



And there is also this…

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
"And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
"And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."
~Kitty O'Meara  




Monday, March 9, 2020

Taking care of appointments...


So, I hate going to the dentist.  I haven’t been in awhile.  I am trying to take good care of me, so I went yesterday.



I met Perky Perkheimer, my new dental hygienist.  She was SO excited to meet me. (?) Like really way too happy, it is okay though.  I get happy to meet new people also, so I tried to be happy also.

She walked me into the new office space they have, and with her mask covering her face except her eyes, turned to me and asked, super excitedly, if I had ever been to this new office space.  (I haven’t… I try to not go to the dentist). She continued to try to WOW me with all of the new snazzy things, including the AWESME new way to do xrays, where you don’t even leave the room, where they just have this little tool that does it, hardly any radiation, etc.  I thought, there is definitely a note in my file that I have resisted xrays before.  I don’t know why, I just don’t lke to get them.  If I get myself TO the dentist, I feel like that is really enough.  If I’m not feeling pain, I just don’t quite get why I need to look for problems.  Last time, I swear I needed a lawyer to sign off on not getting x rays.  Anyway, she asked if I wanted xrays today… I said, “no… I’m probably okay,” hoping that was enough.

Perky continued to talk to me through her mask, but added on these ant like eye glasses with the light bulb shining at me. She looked at my chart then to see that last time they had mentioned I should get a night guard since they thought I was grinding my teeth.  I had gone to check out and that was where I was supposed to ask for it and inquire how much it would be with my insurance.  Who wants to wear a night guard, right? But I had figured, aww, well, if it is like $15, maybe I should be an adult and do this.  I asked. $370.  Yep, no.  No night guard for me.

This time, Perky asked how the night guard was working out.  I told her I decided to not get it.  She told me that many people “in my situation” decide to go for Invisalign.  Would I be interested in seeing an orthodontist?  Ummmmm… NO????  WHO Says yes???!!!  Really, WHO.

I mean, this visit was getting already HILARIOUS. I wished I had been on video so I could look at the camera and just roll my eyes and giggle. 

So, then the real visit begins, I am told to put these sunglasses on which I kind of like because I think if I need to roll my eyes, she cannot see.  The good news was they have a tv on the ceiling that has TRIVIA, which was honestly the highlight of the visit.  There was honestly really interesting stuff up there and it was so random that it really was keeping my attention.

That being said Perky went back to excitedly asking about my flossing habits.  I said I use Glide.  I love glide.  Anyway, she almost jumped out of her hygienist chair asking me if I have heard of water picks.  I thought those may be the little pick things that the kids used to use to floss with.  She said NOOO…. Better- these things apparently spray water between your teeth.  I tried to not make a grose face because that sounds terrible to me.  One of the worst parts of the visit is when water gets sprayed into your math, 2nd only to when the air suction device gets put in your mouth and even though you know it is coming, when you close your mouth it nearly takes your esophagus up.  Anyway, so she continues to go on about the forceful nature of this water sprayer for flossing and how it is so powerful and she apparently loves it and has spaces between her teeth that it works really well for.  I have no idea because I am just thinking no way. HOWEVER, I am also thinking- this is really this lady’s “thing.”  And I kind of get that.  I myself get so excited talking about fitness related things, and suggesting people do this or that, or telling them how a balance disc is so helpful for them and I realize.  I AM PERKY.  People think this about ME when I go on about my devices that they only see as tortuous.  So, I try my very best to act interested as she goes on about how the office sells them only at cost, same with amazon.  I didn’t want to dare ask how much, because I was afraid I’d get signed up and have to hear more, but gave that info anyway, it is like $80.  Oh my gosh.  80.  To floss.  I was excited that she was so happy about it, but I am sitting tight with Glide still.

Anyway, all was well.  I got out without having x rays, despite basically signing my commitment to PROMISE to have x rays the next time.  The lady (Perky- hygienist) then walked me up to the desk and I’m thinking, she is going to STAND THERE and make sure I MAKE the appointment!!  But she let me go, and I told the office lady that I would call to make my next appointment😊  Saved.

Monday, February 24, 2020

22 years of journey



There has to be joy in the journey, right?  And there has been so much for the past 21 years.  I did my first triathlon in 1998.  I think so much has happened over the years in life overall that I forget the progression of just one aspect of life.  


This year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to downsize the amount of photo prints I have in storage boxes.  Remember early 2000’s when I think we still had film cameras and had to just develop the entire roll?  Ha! I knew I had plenty of junk shots that needed to just be discarded of instead of holding space in boxes, so I’ve been going through a box of photos each week this year.

This past week, I went through a box that apparently was a big place that I deposited race pictures, and it reminded me of so many races that I haven’t even thought of recently.  I started off back in 1998-around 2003/4ish doing maybe 8-10 triathlons a season!  I just loved it so much and life was different then.  I could first just plan my own schedule around no one else’s and I would get up in the middle of the night all alone and just drive myself to races in places that I’ve never been before.  I remember bringing AAA Trip tik’s!  Remember those?!  Yea, we are talking the days of film and trip-tiks!  There was no cellphone, and looking back, I don’t even know how I made it to all of my races on some of the backroads and printed maps.  I was in grad school, so I know I packed everything- I had zero money to buy anything other than the race itself- so I packed water and food and everything I needed!  It was low key and honestly a BLAST!  Then I met Ryan and he started coming to races.  Ohhhh, poor guy had no idea what he was getting into!  What fun days he probably had watching as the races grew longer and longer up to the Ironman in 2003.   ???


Anyway.  The point is, it was incredible to look back at so many races and see how much background, experience and memories they have all brought.  I really think any race you do, whether you view it as a success or not, is WORTH IT!  You are ALWAYS MORE FIT from doing a race, it is just a great workout that you often cannot force yourself to do on your own.  But you also just learn so much.  You have different swim experiences in each race, different crowds, currents, starts, etc.  I’ve done swims that have felt blissful and ones where I tread water for a minute or two in TEARS. (not joking).  I’ve hyperventilated, had my goggles kicked into my eyeball, swam over, swam through grose lake grass in the middle of the lake for like ½ mile, swam with debris in the Potomac in DC, swam down the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, swam in Lake Erie 3 days after it was unswimmable due to high levels of feces.  I swam in a lake in central Florida, apparently with alligators.  Not being from there, I figured there was some sort of de-alligator process that USAT would go through.  Nope.


I’ve biked on pancake flat courses (Eagleman), hilly as all hilly courses through mountains and seen people crash in front of me, received a penalty when I shouldn’t have, probably missed a penalty when I did deserve it, had people swear at me (2 races, this made me so sad), I’ve gotten frustrated very frustrated at people not staying right and not knowing the rules, I’ve gotten pushed off the road by a farm truck that took up the road and we had to literally get into a ditch.  I’ve had my chain drop, I’ve had my hip lock up.  I’ve pushed too hard, I’ve dropped a water bottle.  I’ve learned so much.


I’ve run through so many experiences as well.  I’ve bonked and walked, fueled well and ran “like my heels were on fire” to my first sub 5 hr ½ Ironman, I’ve had a port a pot nearly tip over on me, I’ve had to go in the woods!!  I’ve helped someone who passed out, I’ve gotten encouragement from others, I’ve given so much as well.  I’ve been exhilarated by my finishes, and I’ve faced such disappointing days as well. 


I’ve raced all over Virginia, Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Lake Placid, Buffalo and Penn Yan, NY, Boston, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, Vermont, Oregon, California, now a run race in Turks and Caicos as well😊


They haven’t all been complete goal reachers, but I have learned from every single single single one of these races.  I truly feel that I have had so much joy from all of my experiences; my heart and soul are so much more complete and ME from making this all happen.  It would have been so easy to skip out on half of these races, but I SIGNED UP.  I TRAINED.  I DID THEM.  I learned.   I’ve crossed the finish line THRILLED, but also really really dejected.  But, I also have never given up.

It reminded me, I have so much more to come!  My hip currently is a bit of an obstacle.  However, it isn’t an all out road block.  I’m back in a healed place where I can jog and bike.  I cannot go at the intensity that I may CHOOSE, but it still brings me GREAT JOY to be out in the world, looking for the next opportunity and place to spend time on the roads.   I love having things on my docket, tangible reasons WHY… I’m currently loving just moving.  I may be slow, but honestly, if I can shuffle without too much pain, I’ll TAKE IT!!


I have learned to love swimming over the years- it isn’t my favorite, but I do LOVE what it provides.  I love the feeling of coming out of the water and whole body is spent.  I will never be “a swimmer” because I don’t have the pure skill from having grown up as a swimmer and I don’t see myself making the time investment in the pool at the sacrifice of my other sports, but I love it (not every time and not in the first 90 seconds when I’m cold of course).


I love biking and although it scares me sometimes, I love feeling my legs being strong like clockwork and seeing the beautiful country roads by way of bike.  Running just gives me a huge sense of freedom by going where my feet can take me. I have a different perspective right now, but I hope 20 more years from now, I have some pictures of some really cool new race experiences that I don’t even know of right now.  The journey is not always under our control, but it IS under our control if we are in the arena, if we are ON our journey fully.  Even if you are someone who doesn’t want to do a triathlon, there is so much to be experienced by running 5K’s, or working towards a new biking goal.  There is so much available to us.  It is sometimes scary to think big, scary to commit, but it is always worth it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Turks and Caicos and... not the marathon...


Turks and Caicos marathon to half😊

I cannot believe it has been nearly a month since I was in paradise and I haven’t written about my experience- I really want to remember as much as I can!



Race morning- race started at 5, the bus was supposed to come at 4 that would pick up at the place I was staying and take to race start location.  Ummmm, so, when do you even wake up when you need to leave your room by 3:50?  Weird.  I think I may have woken up in the 2:00 hour!  So strange, but I strangely appreciated this early race time because when I have taken these trips on my own, I like to be back at the end of the day by dark since I’m trying to be as safe as possible while traveling alone.  So, it is nice to have a few days of living by the light of the earth and slowing down when the earth goes dark for nighttime!  It makes getting up in the 2:00 hour easier!!

I was worried I’d be the only one standing around waiting for the bus to race, but I got down a minute or two before 4:00 (I knew the bus wouldn’t be there until after because we were the last stop).  There were probably already 10 people… 10 characters, haha! Down there waiting!  It was a definite learning experience for me into the world of the inter-continental running club!  Many of them had matching jerseys/singlets on and I quickly learned they all had documented finish times for marathons in all sorts of countries.  I think some guy was over 100 countries.  I am thinking, ummmm, of course he is retired, but that is a lot of MONEY to get to all these places!!  Anyway, it was interesting.  I felt like I was a total newbie athlete!  And, in the back of my mind, I definitely knew I wasn’t “all in” to this race. 

I was unsure if I’d be able to do the marathon with my limited last 5-6 weeks (lack of) training because of my hip. However,  I still wanted to see what was possible and enjoy the experience.

We were waiting for the bus and a few of the people decided they were going to walk to the race start.  A guy mentioned he wasn’t going to since the bus knew there were those of us waiting at this stop, and he’d be making the way and not able to find us.  I agreed with that and so I waited also, just to be polite, even though of course I’m itching to get to race site and have a few tries at the port a pot to try to make sure I’m all EMPTY before race!  So, we wait.  We wait until probably 4:20 and no bus, so we start walking.  As we are walking down the road, a minivan pulls over to us and lets us know that he can bring us.  We realized then it was a good thing that not everyone had waited, because it was no bus, it was a minivan, so definitely limited seating!  We continued to walk and got to race site at approximately 4:35.  This is so new to me – arriving at race site with only a little over 20 minutes to go!  I would have been freaking out if I had big goals for this event! I hit a port a pot, there is no lock on the door, so that is odd, but workable.  Also, there are like 30 people at the race site.  Hmmm, not sure where everyone is???  I’m starting to get worried this may be a LONELY RACE!!!  I asked a woman at a table if I could leave my backpack there during race as  I was super concerned about this issue. I wasn’t intending on going back to the room I was staying after the race because it was in the opposite direction of where I was hoping to walk to for the day.  My focus was really on BEACH TIME!  Luckily, she said she’d keep an eye on my bag for me and I could keep it there!  It had my swimsuit, water for the day, food for the day, etc.

So, I try to get into port a pot one more time, no success really, and I am thinking, this race is going to be on “carribean time” I just know it… but I was on my way back to start line and realize, they are lining up, someone is talking to those at the start line, and I boogey over and someone says, “ready, go”!  I almost missed the start!  Then I realized:  there were probably only about 50 people!  Seriously.

And that was for both ½ and full marathon.  I had no idea who was doing what.  (I had no idea what I was really doing either since I just had to see).

Anyway, so I began and felt fine fitness wise.  First 4 miles, it was pitch black but luckily there were lights on the roads we were running on at that point that really kept it visible.  I had decided to not wear my lights because people had convinced me they weren’t going to, and that I really didn’t need to.  If I was going to do the full marathon, the last thing I wanted was lights dangling around my body, being excess.  (for this race, I was already carrying excess: in terms of WEIGHT since I hadn’t been running… 5-6 lbs makes a huge difference and I wasn’t committed to complete perfect eating around holidays.  Also, I was carrying my phone in a ziplock baggy because I was too nervous to leave the phone with my backpack in case it got stolen.  And a credit card.  And of course water and gels.  So anyway, I was like my own Sherpa which I didn’t love so I went with no lights).

The first mile I had the first experience of barely seeing the person in front of me, but could at least see in the dark enough to him that I saw he went way off the side of the road and I realized he was veering off to the side of a road covered in flooded rainwater!  This happened a few times through the race!

We got to mile 3 where there was supposed to be a bathroom, but it wasn’t there that I could see.  I was still ok but kind of wanted to go because I knew the morning had been kind of rushed and quick and I didn’t know when I’d have a chance again until maybe I got back to that spot and they put it out.  Anyway, I was fine so kept going.  Went around a corner and ROAD LIGHTS did not exist anymore.  It was DARK.  Pitch black.  I’m thinking crap.  I should never have trusted someone else with telling me what to do.  I should have brought lights.  NO lights at all, and I’m losing sight of the guy in front of me.  Luckily, I was so thankful for the volunteers that were at turns.  I kept thanking them, inside thinking that I better be plenty appreciative so that they REMAINED THERE on the way back so I knew where to turn since there was such a sparse amount of runners.  I get to mile 5 and….. immediately…… GI system starts freaking SPINNING and piercing me with pain and I know I have to find a way to go to the bathroom.  Sorry to say, but the runners were sparse and I honestly dodged behind some very short little palm tree that wasn’t really tree it was like a palm bush?? I don’t know, but… I did and it was like 25 seconds and I’m off again.  Phew- embarrassing, but I was kind of proud of my efficiency.  It was definitely starting to feel like a really humid morning.   But, I’m happy thinking, ohhhhh it is going to be so lovely and hot during the rest of the day on the beach!  We go through this dark housing development street and there is something I spot in the middle of the road.  Honestly, I think it is like a dinosaur/dragon/relic from the past that is out to get me. It was weird the way it was so still and the shadow was laying on the ground, but it was like a dog shape almost, and the “body” curled upward very smooth and almost like it had a beak in the front. I just keep running thinking, this cannot be, I must be hallucinating, I think I’m with like ancient reptiles now, come on Sharon.  So, I veer as far to edge of road as I can and keep my eyes to the right to watch for sudden movement.  Nothing.  I get right parallel with it and see that it is this huge like “palm frond” that has fallen from a palm tree that was in the median strip and it was just waiting/ on its edge/ to be picked up for the trash!!! 

The turnaround was near the ferry to go to another island, wasn’t sure if we would go right to the beach at that area but I never saw it.  There were volunteers there that were telling us of the turnaround, but no cone, so I didn’t know if I had to run around them, high 5 them, if I was missing something! And no one was right there in front of me for me to copy, so I’m asking them, where is turnaround, and they are yelling back at me,  “anywhere”!! And I’m like, anywhere?  So, I just turn around.  Hmmmmmm… I ddin’t love that.  I kind of like an “exact” race course!

Anyway so I making my way back.  This would take me back to the ½ way point for the  marathon and then to repeat the same out and back a second time, if I could do it to complete the full.   I can feel my legs starting to become a bit fatigued, not bad, but just in the effort.  Frankly.. just normal. BUT. I also felt my hip.  Right after this turnaround, maybe ½ mile, I took one step and this huge searing, sharp pain went through the center of the joint.  My brain panicked with fear for my next step and I’m just waiting, with bug-eyes, I am sure…. And.. it was ok.  Apparently it was just that one step of weird stabbing sharpness and then fine again!  But, it then started to get tender and talking to me and tightening.  And tightening more, and more tender.  I have to go to the bathroom again at mile 8ish. Shoot.  Same thing, no port o pot, I go behind another tree /shrub and…. Just went super quick, then I’m worrying because it is dark, was I too quick, what if I have like, something ON ME. GROSE. So, then I ran annoyed for a few miles thinking, I just want to shower!!?!!  And, the whole time also sensing my hip and asking myself silly questions, of what to do.  I was obsessively thinking, “half marathon or full”  what should I do.   

I realized my hip is progressively feeling pain more and more.

I realized I will definately be walking some.  Not just hip, but my legs are feeling heavy now also, the beginning of dead, and I feel that the fatigue is making things worse for my hip.   My unpreparedness fitness-wise for this race was going to play right into my weakest link, which was my hip.  And my big worry is not the immediate pain of the day, but the days after, and the weeks and potentially MONTHS of added recovery time I may be creating for myself. 

I realize if I am walking a lot of this race, I am going to be repeating this road.  So, basically in the middle of nothing.  And…. That could be a long walk.  Also, contributing to my indecision, I wasn’t sure if my stomach was going to be smooth and cooled off or still irritatingly prone to need to “go offroad”, ahem.  And… if I was walking, I was fine with that, but… I kinda would have preferred to walk on the beach, on the sand, seeing the gorgeous colors of the water.  I had a feeling I may regret the hours trudging along on sidewalks, (while wanting to take a shower) and made the decision to try to stay decent strong for the rest of the ½ and then be done with the race and get to the beach!

I was a little bit disappointed, but also knew in the long run, my body is just not quite working as I want it to, and in no way is allowing me to be in control when it wants to teach me a lesson or two. 

Once I had this decision pretty much made up, I think it allowed me to have a slight physical pity party for myself and I slowed down, and then slowed more and more and then it ended the last 3 miles feeling very difficult, basically confirming my decision that this was not a day for a marathon for me.  I was really glad to be done when I was on my last mile.

I crossed the finish line, literally kept going to the table where my backpack was, grabbed it, ran into a port a pot where I delicately changed into my swimsuit, put my grose clothes in a tightly tied bag (to burn haha) and literally walked out, over the walk to the sand, dropped my backpack and was in the ocean.  From finish line to ocean, was probably under 2 minutes!! And… it was honestly glorious.  It was one of my favorite mornings at the ocean of my trip! 

I got to finish line a little before 7 and I remember looking at my watch while in the ridiculous turquoise waters at 7AM!  I had been up for over 4 hours, ran a half marathon by 7am and was in the water!  I literally played in this spot for over an hour.  All by myself!  I could not believe people were not finishing the race and coming over to the water to get in!!!  Of course most people wanted to go home and take a proper shower, but not me, I carry all my stuff since I was staying away from the very main part of the area.  It was ridiculously heaven.  This was the sunniest, hottest morning--- the other days and mornings, it rained about every 15 minutes, and so looking back, I was so lucky to have this time of literally gleeful play.  I knew it when I was there, and it doesn’t bother me a bit, but everytime I was in the ocean, I was like all by myself!  There was never a crowd of people! I am in this ridiculous heaven all by myself- where are the people??! And I am literally looking around, left to right looking at the water that my body is IMMERSED in thinking, I’m INSIDE of this!  I would be one of those people standing in a picture of clear, gorgeous, seaglass- turquoise-heavenly water.  Little me… in this heaven…. I was there, I still cannot believe.  What a dream come true.

 (me above not happy w/tuna on crackers before race)- after race right