Monday, April 30, 2012

Mother's Day Came Early for me

I was busy emptying lunchboxes, making snacks, wiping crumbs off the floor and filing through piles of papers handed to me at the end of the school week. I was avoiding the envelope that I received in the mail with the return address Oxford county District Court. Jury Duty. Perfect. One month left of the school year and I get to waste my days listening to people talk about other people's crimes.  Super. I took deep breaths as I wondered how, how I could possibly continue to balance all the things I'm trying to balance.  I'm no longer just a stay home Mom. Ha.. I say just with a tone there... Stay home Moms work their tails off. And, so do working Moms. That's not what this is about. This is about something else.  Over the past several years I've added a new element to my kid's lives. I now run a business. From home.  It's perfect and yet it's a major major challenge. They are not used to having me be pulled in another other direction other than towards them. I struggle sometimes.. I struggle to make it all work smoothly. There aren't many days that end with me feeling like I succeeded at everything.  And usually, its' my kids that I worry I am letting down. Did I play with them enough? Or, at all? Did I speak too harshly when I was angry about finding yet another wet towel on the floor? Or when one boy clobbered another boy ( ok, they don't clobber but they do whack...) in the midst of another Another silly argument over who gets to play around on the giant ball? Did I take the time to read with Nick? I question myself all day long. Every day. I  only get one go around with these little people that I cherish. I want nothing more, than to be a good Mom to them. I write about triathlon here all the time. That is what this blog is about after all. But there is nothing, not a thing in this world more important to me than my family at home.  So, I interrupt this Tri blog to tell you a brief story about one of my boys.  

Back to Friday afternoon. I was rushing around with the boys after school.  The phone rang.  It was for me. The town newspaper called me with some news that made me stop in my tracks.  Tears welled instantly in my eyes.  
Tommy, my 10 year old, had won a contest. It was a contest I didn't even know was happening.  His grade at school had been given an assignment. They were writing Pursuasive essays.  Tommy's essay won 2nd prize. The paper was calling to have the two of us come in for a photo.  The topic?
"Why my Mom is the best."

Thank you Tommy. I love you. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Now or Never

Tri Season kicks off next weekend.  I ended last season with a long hot battle on the lava fields of Kailua-Kona and will start this season with temps that are likely in the  40s or 50s while sprinting my tail off on the tree lined roads of Brunswick, Maine!! I like to mix things up I guess!!! 

I'm 42. Let's face it, I'm not a pup anymore. To be honest, this confuses Why?

Here's the thing.  My birthday a few months ago confirmed that I am, in fact, 42 years old. 42?! Yes... I have said it 3 times in four sentences now. You get the point. 
According to 'them', whoever 'they' are, I am no  longer at my prime. Of course, you can find different opinions on this topic.  As you can with anything. 

From one source:

"There are certain immutable truths concerning the performance of the  human body as it ages, particulary as the athlete reaches age 40.  The physical peak for most humans, in most sports, is between 25 adn 35 years of age: during this peak period, the well-conditioned athlete can create a confluence of muscular strength, peak cardiovascular and oxygen transport, speed and reaction time, and mental capabilities ( including the ability to deal wiht competitive pressures) all bound together by a desire to succeed. 

The heart, as with every other human muscle, will gradually lose efficiency and power over time.

However,(I like this part) for sports in which strength ( both muscular strength and bone density) , oxygen uptake, and  cardiovascular efficiency are vital to success, the aging process may be slowed, though never halted or reversed, .........  From this peak of ability, runners will continue to perform at levels close to their personal best into their late 30s and early 40s; performance then declines at a rate of approximately 2% per year through age 80." 

Ok... so we get older. And for a while we can do our best to fight it.  But eventually, we must accept it.

Therefore, I guess it's now or never. 

Last year was my fastest year in the sport.  I had PR in my first sprint Tri in May and I had two huge PRs in my Ironman races.  I nearly won an Ironman ( otherwise known as 2nd place) , I placed top 10 in my age group in Kona and ranked #6 in my age for the year by USAT.  I'm pretty darned pleased with that. I really am. Was it my best year?? I loved it. But I have been lucky to have a lot of 'bests' along the way.

Let's see... One of my all time favorite moments was my first ever Triathlon win. The WildBear sprint in Poland Maine... only 5 months post- surgery for a wrecked rotator cuff. I won. It blew my mind.

My best rally was in 2008. I was caught in the current of an ocean river and stuck Under the buoy. It was terrifying. Truly. Heartstopping. I got free, continued on, and only ~ 5 miles into the bike flipped head first over my bars. I landed on my head and trashed the left side of my body. After laying on the road, having a pity party and deciding to Quit all things Triathlon, I realized nobody had caught me yet so I got back on my bike. The rest of the race was fantastic. I rocked. Came in 5th overall and 2 of the women in front of me were Pros. And then... I headed to the med tent to deal with some Serious pain and injury. 
 If you look closely, you can see my beat up arm. And possibly the pain in my expression. I was holding it in....

Mooseman Half Ironman  2009--I can't pinpoint this one. But I felt like superwoman from start to finish.  It was a race I'll always remember. Even the song that was stuck in my head when I raced.

post-race 'ice bath' with my brother Jeff.

Every single year I have so many amazing new memories added.  I wish I could tell you about one favorite race with my boys screaming on the sidelines. But I can't. Because they are there all the time.  My parents are usually with them and of course, Mark.  I have the best supporters. I have posters ( thanks to my dear friend Marisa) and notes and cards of good luck from my family filling my drawers. They are always there.... that is my best for every race.

look at this poster-- out on the run course in LP.  Happiest Mom around... And can you read the one Nick is holding? " You are gunu  win this thing. love nick go go go"  almost babe, almost. 

I can't begin to talk about all my favorite and best moments. This trip has been so rewarding for me. 

And yet... here I sit... heading into 2012....

I'm older and wiser. I'm experienced and I'm still full of drive.  Last year was so incredible for me, performance-wise.  It all came together in so many ways. The thing that I need to point out is that this didn't happen over night.  I have, in some ways, been working towards my big 'wins' last year, my whole life. 
Here I am now. Arguably in better shape than I ever have been in my life.  I am ready for this season. I am able and willing to do my best again.  New races and new adventures are on my plan. 

All I need is to keep the faith. Some days I have it. I feel it and I know, deep down, that I still have what it takes. After all, it was only 6 months ago that I had the most amazing day out in Hawaii.  It was only 9 months ago that I smashed my old Ironman PR and nearly took home the gold. Me? It still makes me How did that happen? I'm old! Right?
I honestly do 'double takes' with myself at times. I start to think about my goals and what I want to achieve. I get fired up when I read about other performances and I decide, oh yea! I can do that! Yes!! If She can, I Can! And then I stop... and I realize..wait.  She is only 34 or 37 or 29.   I,  am not. Who do you think you are Ange? You are done! You are joking yourself!! You had your year... that's it! It was just lucky that last year was that good. You have reached your potential! You are past your prime and dont' fight it!  Take what you did and be proud and move on...."

Um... who was that? Where does that mean soyouthinkit'stimetothrowinthetowel voice come from?

I am not ready to throw in the towel! If I was faster last year, why can't I be faster this year? Right?

I believe in myself. I do. I know I still have it. Sure, some days I feel old and creaky. And yet, other days, this firey animal comes alive and I crush workouts like they were written for my kids. Ha! Take that! I am not ready to sit down and accept the science of aging. Not me.

I believe in me.... And I think that is all it takes. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Danbury Half Marathon - Race Report

I decided today that this is the Hardest time of year.  For those of us in the Northeast, winter has officially ended. On the calendar that is!!! Three weeks ago we had temps in the 80s! A fluke, yes. But also SUCH a tease!!!!!  We rode bikes in shorts & tanks, got sun on our faces, ran without enough fluids and opened all the windows!
Ya....well now it's back to 30s and 40s. It's windy.  Very very windy.  I am trying oh so hard not to whine about it. But I am sick and tired of going 13 mph DOWN hills and being bundled so much that I can't bend my arms. 
Spring is a tease. We've been inside on trainers, running on sometimes dark and snowy roads, training for months and months without any 'fun.' Now, Tri season kicks off in a few weeks, there are daffodils starting to pop up, buds are on the trees, the street sweepers are around a bit ( not enough...), and yet, it's Still SO cold here in Maine!

How to survive??? RACE!!!

I convinced my husband to run a Half Marathon with me! It would be his first!! But you may remember if you read my race report from the Cape 10 miler back in Feb, the dude can run. He can run fast. He can run fast without any significant training. I am not kidding. I stopped letting it bother me years ago. He just has talent and that is that. He clearly has strong hearty lungs and  high VO2 max I'm guessing as well.  If you saw his training log ( that doesn't exist - just my mental notes) you would flip. It's silly.

Last weekend we had a nice mellow Saturday then left town around 1:00. Mark flew us down to CT and his sister picked us up.  We had a nice day with my boys playing with their big cousin Kalia while we caught up with Mark's sister and her husband at their house. It was relaxing and low key.  I must say, a bit different than the day before triathlons. Road racing is a nice change of pace!!

The race plan---->
run like hell.

Seriously. That was about it. I had nothing to lose. The only person I knew in the race was Mark. There were no familar competitors. There were no qualifying spots. Just me and the road and 13.1 miles to cover as fast as possible.

Alright.. the pre race stuff is boring. I'm skipping it.

10:25 a.m. --- Go!

I never ever ever wear my HR monitor when I race. Ever. It just doesnt' matter to me. But that day, I wore it.  Why? I was just curious to look at the data After. I did not have the screen showing HR during the race. After all....time to just run. ( Later, I sat to look at the graph. And, NO graph on training peaks?? where is it? Long story short, I had to hook up new software to get my data. HR SHOT way up from ~ 1/4-1/2 mile into the race. There is stayed. Ave HR 182. My max is in the 190s. See...told ya I was just going to run like hell.) 

Back to the race---
we took off and ran hard. There were a few women up in front. I could tell which ones were fast by the way they were dressed and where they placed themselves in line. I knew who would fly by me. Sure enough... they took off like gazelles. Near mile 2 our ave pace was 6:20. Possibly too fast to start. But it felt good and I was taking risks. My goal pace for the run was 6:48.
Mark was not convinced.  Whatever. Just run with me bud. Let's try...

Soon there were some hills. Nothing too daunting. Just bumps in the road. And yet, they went up and down and kept things honest.  Before mile 3 Mark, two steps behind me but going nowhere said, "Too fast! This pace is too fast!"  We were sitting at 6:23 at that point.

Okay....I guess he might be right.  I backed off 1/2 a notch.   I was having fun!

Then... he arrived. A man crossed behind me making a startling noise on the ground.  I thought he was about to fall! He stepped to my side and ran next to me. And then he did it again! And again? What is going on??  Every minute or so, he dragged Both his toes across the road twice! So... right foot left foot right foot left foot. Run run run run run run again.. drag toes... repeat. For miles!!!!!!!!!!!  It was making me crazy!!!!  When I first heard it, I tried to wave a signal to Mark so he'd see or to ask if he was hearing it, seeing it??? We had this back and forth between breaths and finally he did. Then another man ran up to us and exclaimed about it. The guy was just in front of us now and we could not shake him!!! Very strange. Finally he pulled away on a hill and I was happy to see him go.

Around Mile 4 Mark came up next to me and quietly said, "you are crazy."  What? He repeated, "This pace is crazy."  I just smiled. 

My sister in law is the best at finding her way around race courses to cheer.  The best!!! And that is saying a lot because I have some incredible race supporters in my family. ( Mom and Dad!!!!) But Leslie is a pro at jumping from one spot to the next like she's getting magically beamed there. I remember this from a sprint tri in Bethel, ME a few yrs ago. She knew the run course b/c it was on  XC ski trails that she used to train on. ( X-Olympic skier that Leslie...)  She was at Every corner of that run through the woods! On this past Sunday morning she drove us to the race wearing her running shoes and tights and navigated herself around those roads With my 3 boys to at least 5 or 6 spots. Pretty cool!  Thanks Les!!!

We saw them at mile 1.something then again at 1. something else :)  and then again just after 4? And maybe around 5? I wasn't looking at my watch so I don't know.

I do know this. Mile 5 came pretty fast. I gulped a gel. Pace was still lower than my goal. Around 6:40 I think? I was happy here since we'd had some hills. 10K was 41:18. I know this because someone was yelling splits at a 10K sign.
I felt so powerful that day. That sounds funny when talking about running. Kurt and I had chatted the night before. He told me to take inventory on how I felt as I ran.
powerful. that is how I felt. I kept having bursts where I felt like I couuld jsut propel forward.
I was Determined to run fast the entire race. I did not want to crash and burn or give up just because I was .. tired. Nope. Not me. I'd rest when I was done.

Alright... things changed now. My mind was still focused. I still felt good and yet... you can only do what you can do.
The road started going up. And Up. And up.
For about 3 miles. There were portions that were pretty steep. It was slow. I never once looked at my watch. I just kept my head down, took quick steps, used my arms and hung on. But damn... .I just knew my 6:40 pace was going away... shoot
It's ok. Make it up. I Finally got to the 11 mile mark and the road turned. We started going down. Now I peeked.  7:00. ARGH! I knew it! Ok go fast and knock it back down! GO GO GO!

The downhill part was kind of tough! I kind of felt like I might fall. But I moved along and kept running. I wanted to pick off some women. Yet none were around. Ok... men? There was a guy in Hot pink HOT shorts and hot pink gloves. Yup. I realllllllllly wanted to beat him.  Couldn't get him.
There was a guy who ran with us after foot dragger guy who snorted and gagged or something on Every single inhalation. It was gross. I had pulled away from him. Yay.  He was gross.  Otherwise, I was alone. I lost Mark around mile 8 he said. He had remained 2 steps behind me but holding on until then. I saw him start to fade but knew he'd be ok.

The last few miles are kind of a blur. I wanted it to end. I wasn't in a good place anymore. I had conquered the hills on the first 1/2 of the race and held my goal pace but that 3 mile doozie just got the best of me. I ran as hard as I could.  I saw my ave pace slowly go down to 6:57. I was out of real estate.
Bring it home and see what you can do Ange.....
1:32.00. That was the time on the clock. Ok. I'll take it. It's a PR. 
My watch said 6:57 pace at 13.2 miles. Mark's said the same and so did a few others. Splitting hairs at that point... but I was Just under 1:32 in my mind.  good enough.
top 10 women overall, 3rd in my age group. 

I'll take it! 

Mark rounded the corner looking a little bit broken down but came in at 1:33:30!!! Awesome!!! He felt very proud. And Sore. And the best part? Later that night, at home in our kitchen, he pulled me aside. He said this, I'm paraphrasing.... Thank you. There is no way I would have done my first half marathon at age 42 without you. I love what you are doing for us. You're keeping us all healthy. Today was awesome. 

Successful Race I'd say!!
Next up:

Polarbear Sprint!!!!!!!!!! Woo hooo Tri season kicks off in less than a month!!!!!!!!