Thursday, January 14, 2016

Too Young, Good-Bye Message


Jodi (1974 - 2014) 

Jodi,

I'm in disbelief finding out about this. Words can't describe my feelings, my heart feels broken and my eyes are filled with sadness. I'm sorry for not finding out this sooner and especially for not being there. You will always hold a special place when I think back to childhood memories. You were and will always be Princess Leia to me, we must have played those roles a thousand times growing up. While I try to take this all in and fight through the tears, it reminds me of the pain you once caused Ryan that time you clocked him in the face with a golf club on your back-swing! To this day, I'm not sure how you survived that, he was so pissed! Life is too short, at times unfair, this only proves that. I'm so glad that we were able to reconnect and catch up some. Thank you for being my friend and the closest thing to my childhood sister. Miss you and think of you often. RIP

Ace

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Redemption



New Year, brings a new start. No resolutions this time around. No official goals that I'll speak of. I'm going to let the title of this blog entry define what this year is going to be about though. Redemption! Two years ago, this disaster happened. I think you can see where this is going.

Luckily, there have been far fewer bad runs than good ones. Probably one of the only reasons to keep going, but those bad ones tend to stick in the memory banks. This one specifically, I remember how badly I wanted to quit, yet was in the middle of the damn woods with only one way out. That's probably the only reason that prevented me from quitting. It's a bad race when texting in the middle of it, and that's what I remember most from it.

Even though this is labeled redemption, I can't honestly say that I trained hard ensuring I'd do better. My lack of training prompted signing up for this race again. Since I needed a crazy month of running to pull off the prior entry (The 1600), figured it only made sense to sign up for something and this is one race that pained me to think about, hell it pained me physically for a solid month, but ultimately tormented me every time I see my time.

Prior to the start, get the typical looks for wearing shorts. A new one this time, a woman came up to tell me "I wanted to wear shorts, but my husband wouldn't let me". My response, "Ha, same for my wife, but in my case what she doesn't know, won't hurt her". Gave her something to think about for the rest of her race.

The gun sounded and people absolutely bolted, guess they have redemption on their minds as well. It was slippery as hell in the early parts. Even with trial shoes, it was icy enough in the early parking lot phase to prevent me from bolting and had me playing it careful. Once on the trail, it became obvious this wasn't going to be a cakewalk. While a good nine inches of less snow than last time, the trail was hardly clear. Instead what I thought would be a little bit of snow, turned out to be ruts of ice from the bikes and other foot traffic. A 25K with nothing but ankle busters, here we go.

The first couple miles, tried to stay very relaxed. The problems with trails, it's so damn hard to pass people. Always find myself content to stay with people provided nobody is pulling away, which is dumb because it's not it's possible to see more than a few people ahead. About four miles in, started passing a few before breaking away and catching the next clump of about six people.

In the back of my mind, there was certainly some fear as to what kind of shape I'd be at in the later miles, kept telling myself not to waste much energy here and save it for later if possible. This group did seem to going at a decent pace, well until about mile six and the first two broke away.

When the real hills of the course started, the original two who broke away were hell and gone. I was tailing two more who I assumed were a couple. The others had fallen back and were gone from what I could tell. Going uphill is never fun, but at least the footing felt more secure. On the downhill, caution took over and I eased back. It really felt like an accident waiting to happen. It pained me to see the couple pull ahead and out of eye sight, but at least I wasn't walking or texting either.

With about two or three miles to go the trail switched from the normal bike trail to a less used section of trail and it made a big difference. Gone were the ruts and it was much more like I had expected being a softer, better footing. What the? There's the woman half of what I thought was a couple running alone. Dammit! Clearly not a couple or he's going to hear about leaving her after for sure. Either way, I feel less guilty passing now. The question now is, do I have enough time to catch the guy in front of her? Turns out I didn't, damn close though. Had him insight for about the last half mile and had there been another quarter mile, would have had him.

In the end, it didn't matter. Didn't place and catching him wouldn't have changed that, but did cut thirty seven minutes off my previous time, and that is redemption! Hoping this theme continues.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The 1600



Three hundred sixty five days ago I came up with a number, sixteen-hundred. Could I run sixteen-hundred miles in a year? It wasn't a crazy high number, coming off a year where I had hit a little over fifteen-hundred, but still it's averaging 133 miles a month for a year is no easy task.

This decision was made on New Year's Eve, last minute, really just based on a tweet asking something along the lines of running goals for the New Year. Like every resolution, it was out of mind a few weeks into January. Fast forward eleven months.

2015 goes down as a tough year. Running requires heart and mine felt heavy and broken for most of it. Towards the end of the year, not much motivation remained. Failed at my attempt of getting older, yet faster. Never even attempted the one prize I really wanted. Watched my consecutive streak of months over triple digits end. Depressing.

Late November, I happened to remember the resolution I had set for myself. Half expected it to be ridiculously out of my grasp based on how the year played out. Surprisingly when I looked, it was still in reach and only one-hundred seventy miles away. With thirty-one days to go, could I average six miles a day and still pull this off?

It took EVERY day to pull off the 1600! From New Year's Eve to New Year's Eve, but it happened. Going from the past couple months of not even making it to a hundred miles a month, to almost doubling my total in December to pull off this silly number, took everything I had. It wasn't until the last few days, did it even seem in grasp. The weather really saved me, had it turned miserable, not sure the story would have been the same.

2015 was a battle every step of the way, at least it ended on a positive, with The 1600.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Salesman



Never will be a salesman, just not built with the level of BS needed to be successful at it. With that said though, it is possible, on occasion, for my charm to con somebody into doing something they don't want to do. With great charm, comes great responsibility!

A few months ago, that charm was responsible for getting my cousin, Dimmy, to commit and finish her first half marathon. Would it work again? A couple of the Superstars wanted to give the Mackinaw Island Half Marathon another try as an end to the running season. Dimmy lives a cat's swing (inside joke with the Superstars, I'd never swing a cat) away from the island, so it only seemed natural to talk (and don't mean that at all, I mean con) Dimmy into running with us. She treated me with such care growing up. In fact she almost seemed pleased to tell me how she and her brother crashed the tandem bike they were riding on Mackinaw Island with me in the bike seat as a baby! With  family like this, it's surprising I'm still here. But I am, and this cousin (me) believes in revenge! When I think back to how my legs burned after running this race the first time, the hills, I couldn't resist convincing Dimmy to do it with us. Sure, to some, this probably could be viewed as heartless, but deep down I know she can do it, but loved the idea of her cursing my name around mile eight or nine! Payback! Muhahaha!

The problem with revenge, sometimes it doesn't exactly go as planned.  No sooner did I get her to sign up for the race, then she offered for all of us to stay at her house. Beautiful house, an even better view, then she pulls out some serious Martha Stewart with a gourmet meal. Who is this? Wait a minute, is this poisoned? Is the conman getting conned? Starting to *almost* feel bad now.

Since I'm a little too big to get dumped from a tandem bike, my punishment in the form of karma seems like it's almost a guarantee it's going to rain. The boat ride over, the sky teased that it was going to clear and end up turning into a pretty good race day, but deep down, I knew the storm was coming.

Lining up, the group huddled together to stay warm. I was really unsure how I'd feel today, racing hard last week battling a cold this week. Part said just stick with CT and have fun. Another part of me said give it a shot and could always meet up with CT if not feeling it. The indecision, started me much further back that I would if being serious, bring on some crowd fighting.

Crack, goes the gun! A mob of people on a small road to begin with, then add the giant puddles. I started eased and relaxed, but before log there goes CT darting around people, here we go. Soon it's a game of Frogger, before too long, it becomes an early trail race resorting to passing people on the shoulder. Yup, definitely started too far back to race this.

By mile two, most people were passed and things opened up. Still constantly amazed at the number of people who run horrible lines. As I was smiling about this, that's about the time the drizzle started. It actually felt good. Maybe, rain isn't a bad thing.

Soon after mile three, the trail starts and so did the downpour. I watched the woman in front of me gingerly step around a couple patches of mud. The first of the hills started, so I was in conservation mode and wasn't willing to sacrifice energy to verbalize free advice, but I really wanted to tell her don't waste energy dodging, it's a sure thing we are ALL getting dirty today. The more we climbed the worse the rain came down. First official race in the rain and it officially became a sloppy mess, which was fun, especially since I decided against breaking in my new shoes today.

Mile six, I was glad to be done with the climb for a bit. My shirt was a second skin and really debated dumping it, but couldn't because it's a favorite, that's what I get for wearing my hometown race shirt, the nipples will hate me later.

Miles seven to ten are some of prettiest, but most difficult. The rain stopped, but the rolling hills didn't. Somewhere in this section, I knew that I wasn't going to PR this course. It felt good to pass the local wearing the viking helmet. While staying at a consistent pace, it wasn't possible to give any more and it was all about maintaining at this point. It helped by continuing to catch and pass people. Even though fatigue was setting in and part of me wanted to ease up, gaining ground on the next person ahead helped stay motivated.  Soon thoughts drifted to just have to get out of these trails and back to the road where it's nice and flat and knowing things will get easier. Used car salesmen?

Almost to the road, caught and passed a younger kid. I think I caught him by surprise because he startled a bit and almost slipped in the mud. Told him, "you're too close to the finish now to be THAT GUY covered in mud, so be careful". Next up, a woman. As I passed her, I gave her the complementary, "good job, doing great". She came back with she's the fifth woman overall. About this time we reached the road. My earlier runner's thought of the easy part is here, were quickly smashed back to reality as the gust of wind made it feel as if standing still. So much for that idea! Easy come and easy go, the hills were gone, but the wind was the next hurdle.

It's going to be a fight this whole last few miles into the wind, then something clicked. The salesman died and the nice guy came back. Looking over my shoulder, 5th girl wasn't too far back. I told her get up on me, I'll block the wind as much as I can, draft off of me, lets go get 4th girl! Honestly, I wasn't sure how long I had left in me running hard into the wind, but figured what the hell, lets see what happens. We did catch and pass a few more runners, unfortunately none of them female. My favorite pass was a horse and carriage, for some reason I decided to taunted and trash talked the horse going by. Okay, he/she was pulling a carriage, but hey, it will probably be the first and last time this ever happens! In the end, never even caught sight of the 4th girl, but crossing the line, 5th thanked me for helping her and she PR'd. Not sure if I really helped with any part of that, but I do know the last few miles were faster than when I caught her, so I'm taking a little credit for that!

Ran back for CT, found her at a wedding ceremony, fitting. She was tired, immediately worried about her time because she ran "naked" (without her watch). Of course in her mind she was doing awful, but in the real world she was right at the time she expected. Didn't even get to see Dimmy finish. She did so well, that I missed her finishing being a baby staying inside out of the rain. Didn't expect her in so soon after tricking her into those hills. As if like a boss, she was smiling when I did see her. There's no way she could have known, but her not wanting to kill me after, almost sadden me. So much for my dirty joke! Further proof, I'll never be a salesman.





   

Sunday, October 18, 2015

For You, Pink Means Fight!



Four months ago, I had high hopes and big dreams for today. Today is here, but those thoughts are nothing but a distant memory. So many things have changed.  This week alone in addition to all kinds of work stress, add a funeral to that, and then even more saddening news of a friend being diagnosed with breast cancer four days ago, it's starting to feel like the down dog getting kicked, again.

The GR Marathon is a close race, but it didn't feel that way driving to it this morning. All prior times, the car is filled with chatter of close friends. Today, time stands still on this dark, quiet, morning as my car is empty. I am alone and it feels that way. On a day that I wanted some magic to happen for myself, all I can think about is how cancer changed the course of today's plan, not once, but twice. F*ck you cancer!

Today, is about dedicating a run to my friend. Her fight is just starting, it's going to be way more difficult than any marathon, half marathon, any race I've ever bitched about here in this blog. I don't feel trained to go out and crush a race, but prior to lining up, I told myself at any point during the race when I felt like quitting, heard the voices to easing up, I couldn't. She is going to have to fight hard and can't quit, so either can I on this day.

I've rolled up to races with Superman under my top layer, for moral support. I've gone without any layers to intimidate. As the top layer comes off today, it's pink, so show support for my friend. This one's for you today, because trust me, it's not my color (not to mention the cut is all funny)!

Ready, Fiiiiight! Goes the gun. The first two miles were fast and relaxed. Miles three and four were quicker with the crowd support downtown. At around six, I could begin to feel this summer's training kick in, not in a good way either. Trained by running way to fast this whole summer and it took it's toll on me. By nine, the fight was here. The voices started, "ease up", "relax", "slow down". Way too early for this shit! Fight! Ten, eleven, twelve, were all the same way. It's unfair my fight only had to last thirteen on this day, not even a close representation of her fight, but those last miles were a struggle to argue and prevent my body taking the easy way out. Doesn't even begin to compare to my friend's looming struggle, but every time that voice started, I thought of her and that awful "c" word. F*ck you cancer!

In the end, didn't pull off some miracle time like I would have wanted to. But all things considered, everything that happened this past week, not sure how I pulled off the time that I did. One of the very few times when I can say I put everything I had out there on this day. Crossing the line was emotional. There have been plenty of races where I wanted to cry, from the pain, suffering, or placement, but today was different. On this day, it was a hand gesture trying to form the symbol of the pink ribbon over my heart and lets just say I was an emotional mess.

This is a special message from me to you cancer, you picked the wrong girl to mess with. You are going to lose, she BQ in her first marathon (on a nightmare course) for Pete's sake, you've got NO chance! In fact, you'd be best to stay away from ALL the girls in my group! Each one of them is tougher than anything you have and you WILL to lose EVERY time! Fuuuuuuuck you cancer!





Saturday, August 22, 2015

Race to a Wedding




The run I love to hate is here. This run is brutal to begin with, but it's been one hell of a long week, in fact I'll submit it for the worst week EVER. At this point, I actually almost look forward to the beating this thirteen miles will inflict, because it will feel like a massage compared to what this week has brought. To top off this challenge today, have to run this and jump in the car to race again attempting to catch a wedding avoiding the wrath of CT if missed.

Standing at the starting line, have no idea what today will bring. Missed so many miles this past week, emotions just seem drained, legs technically should be fresh. When the horn sounded, wasn't even sure if it wasn't just the pounding of my head. This race started odd, the first mile I was in the lead. Could feel footsteps close, but wasn't sure what they were waiting for, why they were pacing off of me. Three did eventually pass, but that's it.

Finishing a half marathon in fourth place, given the past week, I'll take it. When the hills started, it wasn't long before soon it was third. For the next few miles, occasionally caught glimpses of second through the trees.

As the trail climbed more hills around mile six, soon found myself in second. This is when it started. Instead of having a goal and something to chase, I was left alone with my thoughts. Maybe it was a combination of everything this week brought, but thinking about "things" instead of concentrating on the task at hand, was my undoing. Already drained mentally, suddenly it caught up to me physically and all ability seemed to disappear. About this same time the race merged with the full marathoners. This made it already confusing if not for already crashing, while I still thought there was a good chance I was still in second, it was impossible for me to tell anymore. Not that it really mattered because I had given up at this point.

With about a mile left, I attempted to pull it together. Running up the final hill, I watched a runner go up and over, when really they should have turned around and headed back down the hill. Reaching the top, I yelled down to the runner that they went the wrong way. As he climbed back up, couldn't help but notice he was wearing a half marathon bib. Shit! Couldn't bring myself to race down the hill to the finish to be ahead of him. Waited as he climbed back up and sent him on his way. Probably would regret this later, but here is my good deed for the day.

Not sure if it was a sign from above, especially since I thought I did the right thing, or the week and all the events catching up to me, but heading down the hill a sharp pain in my chest started. Seemed fitting to finish a crummy week, with a bad run, in pain, heart broken.

Feeling miserable and defeated, still got third overall and first in my age group by some miracle. Couldn't even stay for the award, had to bolt for the car and drive home. Officially made it to the wedding with an hour to spare, then CT hit me with an emergency suspender run back to the house for my efforts. Personally, think she wanted me to cut it closer than I had, so after this last adventure, with ten minutes to spare, wedding time.  








Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Ringer



Ringer - noun - an athlete or horse fraudulently substituted for another in competition or event.

Today, is the day CT and I both win our trophies in front of our parents. I've visualized this moment for the past year. In the snow, the blazing heat, climbing that awful hill, when the mind wanders to why the hell am I doing this to myself, this is the moment my mind drifts to. The excitement, the adrenaline, the glory.

It isn't suppose to be like this. Instead, I find myself alone, CT is not here. Pre-race jitters are replaced with uneasy feelings of maybe I shouldn't even be here either. Part of me knows I can't change a thing, maybe CT needs me more. Another part says The Ringer would want me to give it my all. The Ringer is CT's Dad and he's facing a challenge greater than any run. CT is right where she should be, at his side.

When I think of a ringer, it's a winner, somebody who shows up and is expected to win. It's odd, but it feels like that spirit is with me. On a day when I wanted to zone everything out prior to the race start and escape in my bubble, it's one of those races where people want to talk to me. It's probably my serious game face on the outside, when in reality is three million thoughts racing around in my head. One in particular is the guy who bested me by six seconds last year to claim my trophy. Seriously? Maybe today, I am the ringer, I mean by the actual definition.

Clang, clang, (a Double Ringer) goes the gun. The first mile is a blur. Faster than last year by five seconds. Told you, I thought about this race for a long time. The guy who got me last year, felt it necessary to point out that he was going to go out slower this year, yet he's ahead of me. Trying to psych out the ringer maybe? Early past the first mile, he opened the gap, but by mile two right on his heels. It's not easy running with a heavy heart. I set two goals for myself this past year, win my trophy and beat the guy who got me last year (even though in a new age group). For the last mile, he watched my back as the ringer pulled away.

Crossing the line, rushed to check my phone, only to find that The Ringer passed. Whatever heart I had left went out to CT. It just wasn't suppose to end this way. The Ringer will be missed and I hope I did the right thing.