Friday, May 27, 2011

Calm & Storm

Throughout my day, week, whatever, I will have these phrases pop into my head. Maybe I've heard them before. Maybe I've made them up. I have no idea. 

Seemingly at random, these phrases come to me. Over the last 2 days, at various times of the day, without meaning, I would start repeating calm & storm, calm & storm.

The week was very hard on me.

For those of you who do not know the story, 5 months ago my aunt was given 3-6 months to live. She had been diagnosed with a very advanced melanoma. She has gone through many surgeries and experimental treatment.

The cancer had progressed into her brain where there were 4 very large lesions and many smaller lesions. The neuro-surgeon advised that brain surgery was not an option.

She was given 2-3 weeks to live.

People die from massive heart attacks. It's shocking. There's no time for closure. 

Something like cancer is different. Family is an active part of the dying process. Last requests, wishes.....

Even when you are given a timeframe of 3-6 months, it doesn't seem real.

In the end, the option that the family chose was to move her back home with in home care.

On one of those days, I left to go for a short swim. 

My emotions were pent up all week. I would cry for no reason. I would cry because I couldn't get the door unlocked. I cried because I couldn't comprehend some legal documents I was supposed to sign. 

I just couldn't stop crying.

Then I hit a void. I knew it was time to do something, so I went swimming. as many of you know, swimming is incredibly meditative for me because it comes naturally to me. I don't have to think about it. I just do it.

The day I showed up at the pool, I stuck my foot in the water, and it was cold as ice. I sat on the edge of the pool with my feet dangling in the cold water. I sat there for 10 minutes when I decided to skip the swim. I went over to the hot tub and got in.

That's when I noticed that there was a woman in the pool. I've talked to her before, but I was completely drawing a blank as to how I know her or what her name was.

She said, "Something must be up. I've never seen you turn down a good swim before. You've swam in much colder water than that."

I nodded as the tears welled up again. 

She looked at me and looked away and said, "Let's go swim." She came over and took my hand and we walked over to the pool.

She jumped in and let out a squeal and smiled at me. Without thinking, I jumped right in.

At some point during the swim, she got out of the pool. She didn't say anything to me. She just got out quietly, somehow knowing that I needed that time to be myself and process the emotions and thoughts that had been simmering below.

As I swam, I thought of something Mr. Tea had said to me before. He said, "When you swim, it looks so smooth and effortless. there's no splashing. No noise. but I know beneath the surface is where all the power is."

Calm & Storm

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What you can accomplish with really cool socks.


As I write this, I feel like I've been hit by a truck.

I'm pretty sure, that's a good thing.

This weekend was a big test for me in prep for Ironman Boulder. At coach's recommendation, I did a 48.2 mile bike Saturday evening and ran a half marathon on Sunday morning. (the workouts weren't even 12 hours apart.) Ok, coach didn't SAY ride the evening before. 

That's just how my schedule worked out. 

My goals for the weekend consisted of:
1.) NO Bonking
2.) No wimping out
3.) No quitting because "wahhhhhh, my legs hurt".
5.) Don't feel like you've been hit by a truck until the half marathon is over. Because, well, it's a real bummer when you have total body breakdown at mile 10.

This whole weekend was planned around finding out how close I am to my goal for IM boulder 70.3.

Saturday, I felt so good on the bike....that, well, I went faster than plan. No big deal, 10 hours is PLENTY of time to rest before the half marathon, right? Sure, yeah.

SUNDAY morning I get up BEFORE the buttcrack of dawn. 2:30.


What's pre-buttcrack anyway? I probably shouldn't even have gone to bed.

Anyway, race start temp is mid 30's with race/snow. I pack up my BIG BLACK LEAF BAG, put on BRIGHT PINK DIRTY GIRL shoe gators and head out. 

It didn't occur to me how I must have looked. I will do my best to describe my masterpiece outfit. I have black trail shoes with bright pink shoe gators. black tights, black garbage back and bright pink long sleeved shirt with hood, which of course you could only see my bright pink arms because I'm wearing a black trash bag.  

Other than the garbage bag, I looked ADORABLE.

But, you probably want to know how the race went....

I am under STRICT instructions to run 5/5/5. 5 miles in zone 2, 5 miles in zone 3, and 5k in whatever I can pull out of my butt.

STRICT instructions. I've never been good with instructions. Nevertheless, I set my garmin (with a little bit of attitude mind you) to BEEP at me whenever I went out of my zone. 

Oh yea, trust me. I almost flung the garmin across the street a few times. 

It was THAT kind of race. 

Coach says "Don't worry about people passing you."



that's easy. 

Hey, I'm not *racing*. This is a *training* run following a 48.2 mile bike ride. I didn't taper for this race. 

Of course, no one else knows that.

So, as I'm standing in the corral ready to start, a woman strikes up a conversation (which by the way happened alot during the race. I guess, the garbage bag, pink socks is really a conversation starter....just fyi for all my single friends out there.) 

We talk and find out that we are both triathletes, blah blah (what's your race schedule, what's your projected time today, all that boring crap that we talk about in order to keep our minds off the tiny bits of icicles hitting our faces). She says "I took off Friday and Sat to rest up for the race. What did you do?"

"Uh, I rode almost 50 miles last night"

*blink* *blink* "ok, well have fun with hitting that time goal"

Yea. That's pretty much what I was thinking. Why not add in "Have fun when everyone is passing your ass because you're doing some 5/5/5 run plan."

Cranky much? 

No, not really. Only when I have to get up at 2:30 to run a half marathon in freezing rain a few hours after riding my bike, wearing.....well, I've already covered that.

The race starts everyone starts running.

except me.

cuz, I'm not running ONE STEP MORE THAN I HAVE TO and until I cross the start line, I DON'T HAVE TO.

As soon, as I start running, I realize how much my butt hurts.

Not at mile 10, not at mile 8, not at mile 5, but crossing the starting line.

I haven't even started running, and I'm already in pain.

Then, my garmin beep.

Then,  Everyone started passing me.

I speed up a bit.

My garmin starts beeping like an alarm clock on steroids.

OH COME ON. I HAVEN'T even gone a quarter of a mile!

But, I slow down to what feels like some horrible crawl. 

tutu lady passes me.

tatoo guy passes me.

guy in the walker passes me.

It's gonna be a long day on the half marathon course people.

at this point, I pretty much have 12.9 miles to go. I think it's time for a pep talk. It went soemthing like this.

"Yo Bitch."

"Yea. what?"

"I understand your ass hurts, people are passing you, you're wearing some ridiculous outfit and you're trying to stick with a run plan."

"thank you for that, but you left out that I have 12.8 miles left and feel like I've already run 12.8"

"Here's the deal cookie. You know you already hurt. It's not going to get better, but it might not get worse"

"YOU obviously haven't been running very long. OF COURSE IT IS GOING TO HURT"

"shaddup and listen. I'm not hear to offer a bargaining agreement. I'm laying down the rules.
1.) You hurt. Get over it. You're going to hurt during IM. Right now, it's a matter of putting the pain *behind* you. hahaha, behind, get it? Your butt hurts. Oh, good stuff. 
2.) You WILL follow the run plan no matter what. coach is bigger, stronger, faster and overall a better person than you.
3.) Cold rain never killed anyone.

"well now, I can't really argue with that. well, I could but I don't have the energy."

Miles 1-5, EVERYONE is passing me. Even the guy with his little girl on his back, pushing a stroller, filming his wife as she went running by.

By mile 5, i realized that people were starting to walk. some people were walking earlier, but these were people who i found I had been running with for awhile. 

"GO BAG LADY" the crowd cheers. Bag lady? Who's bag lady?

Now, I'm in zone 3 and I realized that about 5 people were using me to yo-yo. I would keep running. They would run past me, stop and walk until I caught them then they would run past me again.

We turn a corner "BAG LADY BAG LADY! GO !"  Who is this bag lady? Where is she? I'm looking around trying to find bag lady.

we head through the fire station. The fire fighters yell "Bag Lady You look great!"

that's when I realized when everyone else was shedding their garbage bags, I kept mine on. My bib number and name is covered by my garbage bag. 


What was I to do but embrace my new identity?

I kept running. my 5 person team entourage keeps doing the yo you thing. I don't stop to walk (except through aid stations), I just keep plugging. slowing down when garmin beeps at me and speeding up when I feel a slight downhill.

From my left, I hear "Bag Lady!"

I turn to see a homeless man waving at me. He yells "I love your purple socks!"

I high five him and keep going. 

Coming up on mile 10, I realize that my legs really aren't hurting anymore that they did when I started. I feel good. I've got the Sisterhood of the Travelling Yo-Yo-ers with me, and I'm getting ready to heading into my last 5k....

the point where I'm supposed to give everything I can.

Do I have anything left to give? My pace has almost been consistent.

Team yo-yo passes me again.

That's it.

Mile 10, team yo-yo didn't count on the Bag Lady holding back for 10 miles.

Garmin Beeps MILE 10, and I start picking up the pace. I've never really done this before. I usually blow up, go out too hard. That's when I realized....


I start running between a 10:30-11:00 pace.

team yo-you has NOTHING on the Bag Lady.  I imagine each one of them with a target on their backs. One by one, I start passing them.

They never pass me again.

I focus in on a man and woman running about 30 meters ahead of me. I am getting tired, but I think "Just stay with them. Don't lose them. Stay with them. Focus on them. You can hold this."

Mile 12

why does the last mile You'd think it would be easy because you just have ONE mile left.

But it is sheer hell.

we round the corner. i can see the finish. .2 miles to go. Just then, the first place woman marathoner goes flying past me.

then I realized that i never checked my garmin for my splits. I was so focused on heartrate that I have no idea how fast I was running overall. I really wanted to come in between 2:42-and 2:45.  As I cross the finish line, I glance at my garmin: 2:42.


No taper, long ride, training run in the cold rain (with some rather sensitive chafing thankyewverymuch).....

And Ironman boulder is still 11 weeks away.

I almost started crying.

No.kidding, but I'm sort of a baby like that.

After I crossed the finish line, I had about 10 people come up to me and say "Bag Lady: I was pacing off you for the longest time. I love your socks."

somewhere along the line, volunteers were handing out mylar blankets, but I missed them. Once I stopped running, I realized how cold it was and how wet I was. I grabbed a bottle of water, gave away my beer coupon and head to my car with a stupid grin plastered to my face.

It wasn't a pr day. It wasn't meant to be. 

It simply showed me what I could be.