Sunday, October 28, 2012

A little light in the loafers

Dapper Dan Strikes Again!

It's taken a bit of time, 2.5 years to be specific but I earned a super important badge over this past week. That, coupled with feeling like the most dashing of dapper gentlemen with the suit that used to be too small now fitting just right. Well, it makes me feel good.
Badges, maybe I do need those stinkin badges.

However, my great news doesn't stop there. I last wrote about how I didn't know if I would run The Great Pumpkin 5K or if I'd just cheer on Kathy. The game day decision was to run it and that if things hurt, that I'd walk more of it. I forgot to pack my GPS watch and my gymboss timer, so I couldn't do intervals. I figured I'd just run until I couldn't. I ended up running the first mile the whole way and thanks to people next to me found out that I did it in about 13 minutes. My 5K PR time was 44 mins, back in the day from the first time I did the Troy Turkey Trot. When I came around the corner for the finish line, the clock just turned 43:00 so I sprinted it. When I got my results, it was awesome. I had set a new PR for a 5K. 41:21. My goal was to have broken my 5K PR by the December run. I set a new bar. Run a 5K in under 40 minutes.
Great Pumpkin 5K
My foot hurt a bit after The Great Pumpkin 5K but I nursed it back to health and knew that I would be running another 5K at the end of the weekend. This one would be a challenge because I was sick Monday & Tuesday. Did I say sick, maybe I should rephrase it. I was medically exhausted. I woke up only for a total of 2 hours each day in order to eat. My lungs were heavy from the remnants of battling sickness & exhaustion. I was using my rescue inhaler and my steroid inhaler. I thought, great, this run is going to be awesome. I knew I'd see Jenika at the race and I was looking to break 40 minutes, so I knew I needed to keep a 13 minute pace to do so. She asked me if I'd like her to pace me and I said yes. She's tough as nails and knows too many ways to trick me into running harder. Never telling me my times, kind of telling me my distances left, pointing out people to "kill", making me have to catch her....all tricks of her trade. 

As we approached the finish line (which I had a negotiation of when to start running again [top of hill or flagpole]) I saw the clock and am pretty sure I dropped an F-Bomb. Jenika told me to gradually increase the speed to the finish and then told me to sprint it out and was shocked by my sprinting. I crossed the finish line, blowing away the 41:21 from the previous weekend. I actually was there when they started handing out awards. [I've never made it to an awards ceremony, I've always still been running]
Maddie' Mark 5K
On the Albany Running Exchange Facebook page, there was some debate on if the race course was actually 3.1 miles. Everyone's GPS came in short (2.7), including Jenika's. So there is this doubt within me, that I still had .4 miles left to run.  I've got the Turkey Trot and the Last Run in my schedule still and I may try to find a race to throw in Veteran's Day weekend. 

It's funny, because I went back and looked at my old journal to see when I started my serious lifestyle change. It was September 2009. My short term goal was to run 1 mile and my long term goal was to be able to run 3 miles. If I could only go back and tell that Hollie, that she would and could do all this. Perhaps, that's why I write these posts. So some other "Hollie" out there can see that it's possible. 

Sometimes, I do stop and look at how amazing it is. So Troy Turkey Trot, I'm coming at you. I'm gunning for as close to that 35 minutes as I can get, running the entire race. Then Albany's Last Run, I want to try and push it and break a new PR.

Friday, October 19, 2012

13 Days

You are supposed to take off one day for every mile after you run a big race. 13.1 miles = 13 days. Which is good because my doctor had said 2 weeks no running. I had a possible soft tissue injury and needed to keep impact to a minimum. So I attempted biking and some weights. I used to be so proficient biking on a recumbent machine. It's hard that I actually like mine over the fancy ones at the gym. Too bad it's permanent home is at my parents for now. (I don't have space for it, nor do I want to carry that beast up two flights of stairs)

Today Tiny Buddha hit me with three articles that struck right to the core of what I have been thinking and feeling lately.
Those 13 days spent "resting", were more like 13 days "just not running". Work has changed. I've become bolder, more confident in my skills, more honest with my intelligence. I gave a presentation to my whole building explaining what my team does and how it's a viable profession. I got a lot of positive feedback, not only on the content but on my presentation skills. I managed to bring a committee conversation that was getting off topic back to where it needed to be by politely shutting down a very difficult faculty member. The position I've been dreaming & scheming of being created here is potentially possible and I made it very clear that my intentions were to apply for it. The media lab I manage is expanding and I am in charge of some really big items now.

All of this however has been taking it's toll on me. I'm on the verge of getting the sickness everyone else had last week. I'm "living on a latte and a prayer" (that whole song is really how I feel currently) . I'm fighting my inner demons left and right. Fighting the fear that success is something I can't handle.

All through training I knew what my priorities were. Run, eat healthy, stay hydrated. My social life struggled, my theater world put on hold, work was a necessary evil. I like that life. It is hard to admit that. Now that I have to start to bring things & friendships back into my life, it's just fucking hard.

This is my November:

This is my schedule and I haven't even put all of the rehearsals in for the show I'm stage managing and if I get into a show I'm auditioning for in November, well that somehow has to fit on the calendar too. Plus, I'm preparing to teach this January term (so it's reading the chapters and looking at the assignments in advance)

I had to run from work to a read through rehearsal last night. I had 20 minutes to get food and eat it. Like an addict to its dealer, I went right to McDonald's. I always talked to my running friends about a theater lifestyle, how different they are. Now, I'm facing trying to have all three things at the same time. My healthy life choices, success at work, and a vivid theater life. It is terrifying. Its also doing all this and trying to reach out to my core group of friends, instead of depending on just one or two people. I'm exhausted and I don't have a break until next Thursday evening.

I'll run a 5K tomorrow. Tomorrow marks the 13th day. I know it's not the smartest way to come back but it's my favorite local race. I might be even slower than usual, or I might have to walk more of it than I want but that's what happens when you are coming back into the fold. It's also Kathy's first 5K, so I'm super excited for her. It's nice to have that perspective.

As my friend told me. Deep Breath, PB & J, Letterman, repeat. I'm throwing in Chocolate Milk in there for good measure too. I guess I'm training for Life now. Boy, I thought a half marathon was tough.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My first half marathon

So many options
I had laid out and packed all of my stuff for the race the night before. Jenika was picking me up at 7am the next morning to bring me to the start line. I had gotten up, checked email and checked Facebook. I got the nicest and most unexpected Facebook message from Keri F., it made me smile and started my day off well.

Everything I did yesterday was as by the book from my training as it could be. 20oz of water upon awaking. Almond butter on my pumpkin spice waffles. Vaseline all over my feet. I got ready and bit by bit it started to shape together. I put my orange bandana on and looked at myself in the mirror and said "this is what a half marathoner looks like."

I waited for Jenika to pick me up out on the street. I had in showtunes on my little ipod so I could try and have my nerves calm down. We parked at the start line and as crossing the street I hear Mary Wit. shout from her car hello at me. It was chilly out, which was great for the race but sucked for the waiting around. For a bit it was just Jenika and I waiting around. All around us "running gangs" started to form. So many runners know each other and it was more than evident as the day went along. Soon, Colleen, Mary W, Nooch, and Kim (Mrs. Nooch) found their way to us and our own little running gang was formed. Ed and Kate and Kate's parents were all around too. (I'm waiting for the official running gang photo to come so I can put it on my work desk)

They were all really good about my hugging rule, they let me come in for the hugs. It was a hug-a-palooza.

I couldn't help but compare emotions to the half starting line to the boilermaker starting line. it's really different. The half, while longer and harder for different reasons was full of nerves. The boilermaker, is still nerves but it's more logistics that I'm always worried about.

It was eerie quiet during the Star Spangled Banner and we walked up to the start, almost all of us pressing our watches, and then started off running. I had a plan. Break the race down into 4 mile long races. Officially, I didn't have a time goal. Unofficially, I knew what I wanted to beat was at least 3:30:00. I started out with my fleece on since Jenika said she'd be a few miles down to grab things from everyone. I told myself I HAD to stick to my intervals. HAD TO. I did for the most part, there was never a time where I walked both intervals, but there were a few times when I ran 7:30 instead of 3 mins run, 1:30 walk, 3 mins run.
The Handoff (the chatty ladies in the background)

Once I got onto the actual bike path, I knew I'd be a lot better. I remember the tunnels would be there, I could think back to the training day we ran the first 2 miles on the start of the half route. There were these two ladies who were in front of me. I knew that I would collect those "kills". I had just passed them as I came up upon the spot where Jenika was hanging out. She started to cheer spell my name. Quite embarrassing but quite lovely at the same time. I handed off my fleece and then quickly stated I wanted to stay in front of these two ladies because they would not shut up on the course.I kept running and was approaching the last tunnel. There was this car over the top of it that was honking. Then I saw that damn orange cap from out the window and I just laughed and waved and kept running.

My intervals made it really close for the chatty ladies to catch back up to me. The one woman (the pregnant one) asking if I went to Mount Holyoke. I assured her I didn't. Then she stated they were just going to follow my lead, that I would be their pacer. I didn't say anything because I was saved by a run interval. They were looking for a porta potty. I knew there was one coming soon. We were out of the first 4 miles and I saw one, on the side of the road, at the beginning of the city 4 miles. It was all downhill, I knew they would stop, I knew it was my chance to screw the intervals and keep running to put some distance between us. The volunteers at this stop were having a competition on who was going to give away more things. I remember the one girl saying "but it would make me feel better" - it was just really poor logic on her part. At the bottom of the hill I had my first surprise. My mom, dad, brother and Krystal were at the bottom of the hill. My dad put a water bottle in my pack for me and I kept running.

Before the race, while looking at the route, I thought the 4 miles on the city roads were going to be the most difficult for me. It was the reverse, it was my favorite part of the race really. Kathy & James were on the side of the road and I picked up a gatorade from them. The traffic and the intersection were an odd and interesting challenge. One car blew right past a cop telling them to stop, it was great when he was turning my direction. Another guy at a gas station played the I can pull out faster than you can run game with me. But at 6.5 miles the volunteer holding traffic said, you are half way finished. I shouted "IS THIS 6.5 MILES?" and she said "YEAH"

Splits from the half
The whole time I knew that I would need to keep a 16:01 average pace in order to finish before 3:30. At each mile my runkeeper went off telling me my pace & total time. I was astonished when I hit mile seven. I was doing really well with my pace. A few nights before the race I looked at my old 12 mile training run. My splits were all over the place. So I knew I needed to keep up the pace the entire race. Joel had sent me a nice note over email that said, "if you reach the point where you just want to walk, say fuck that and keep your arms pumping."So I just kept doing that. I didn't think about my feet, I just thought about my arms.

I saw my family once again at the 7 or 7.5 mark and when my brother said "you're halfway there!" I shouted back "MORE than HALF!" Mile 8 started back into the bike path and the Kinderhook Running Club housed the water station just prior, they were great sports. Mile 8 to 9 was just pretty, I really think it's the only time on the course that I actually looked around. Just prior to hitting the 8 mile mark, the motorcycle leading the first marathon leader passed me. The rest of the race it was just a lot of men passing me, then a few ladies, then I lost count.

Miles 9.5 to 11 were hard.  I was passed by power walkers, who didn't know to get out of the way for marathoners and stayed two abreast the entire time. I knew I'd see USAFit coach Jennie at the Team in Training water stop which was around mile 11, I think. I heard Cheryl shout out first and then I couldn't help but smile. Dude with the wig and mickey mouse hands, thank you for the high five.

Jennie, Cheryl and Jeff all gave me big high fives and shouted me through the water stop. It was awesome, and just what I needed at that moment. All of the signs at the water stop started to make me cry. It made me think about the organization itself and what they do and they people they do it for. It also made me think of Team in Training Brooklyn, so Rachel & Joel - you were there in spirit with me!

There is just something about Orange
It was all about the arm pumping to get to mile twelve. My achilles was killing me, there was a bit of tension right at the back of my right heel. Mile twelve to thirteen was a dedicated mile for me. I planned on only having one mile be dedicated. Both Joel and Jenika helped talk me through a lot of hard things during my half marathon training. A lot of technical things and a lot of personal things. When I got to mile marker 12, I knew the next mile was for both of them.

The only prescription is a little more cowbell

During that mile, I ran into Jula. There was a sweet pink kids bmx bike next to her and I asked her if it was her ride. She walked besides me and sang the Rocky theme song. I was getting closer to the finish line. I HEARD COWBELLS! I saw Mary Wit. and Kerry shouting for me. I was all big smiles.

At this point in the half you are like "ok, where the hell is the finish line?" You know it's close but you can't see it. I had people all around shouting out "Looking good 2601" (All I could hear was 24601 and think am I Jean Valjean?)

Running right at you Jenika

The finish shute is lined with spectators. I focused on the finish and then all of a sudden, I see a person step out. It's a white fleece and an ORANGE HAT! Then I was like, who the hell just stepped in front of Jenika, then in my head I was like that's Kathleen & Nik! I saw Carla and Chad, and Kathy, James, & Collette and my family. They all stepped back and I just ran straight at Jenika. She was taking pictures. I asked her as I passed "Where the hell is the finish line?' and she just pointed. The clock said something around 2:23:30. I was freaking out. The announcer said my name and I put both my hands in the air. I finished and I blew my goal time away.

My official net time was 3:22:53, 10 people were (behind) eaten by zombies before me. 

Superhero's always smile
I got my superhero cape a.k.a emergency space blanket and the woman placed my medal around my neck saying congratulations Hollie. It was at this point that I literally didn't know what the hell to do next. I hoped people would come and find me because I literally could not think for myself. Jula handed me a water, Jenika gave me my coat and I reapplied the space blanket. I saw Marey at the results table and she gave me a big ol hug and was so excited for me. 

Everyone did find me and I gave hugs all around. I kept looking at Jenika saying, I don't know what I am supposed to do. After I said all my goodbyes to friends and family, we made the walk back to the car. I wanted to walk because I didn't want my legs to be super stiff, as I knew I had stairs to conquer back at my apartment. 

I can't explain everything that happened at the race (even though this is a long post) and I'm not sure I want to explain everything that happened. It was hard work and it was just awesome.
I cannot say thank you enough.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tracker Jacker

If you want to track me on my race on Sunday you can go to the activities tab at my runkeeper profile. The race starts at 8:30am and I'll finish somewhere between 11-12.

Tomorrow I'll go over and pick up my race bib and then lay out every possible clothing choice I'll have to make on game day Sunday. It's gone from 70%, to 50%, to now 30% chance of rain on Sunday, so this threw a few wrenches in my race gear.

So I've got to lay out a rain race outfit, a cold race no rain outfit, and an average normal temperature run outfit. While I know I'm glad I'm not doing this race in like July, this whole rain, fog, low barometric pressure junk is a whole other beast. 

Am I excited? At this point I'm not sure. I know I will be on race day. I'm telling myself after mile 7 to just enjoy the run because I'm half way through.

My shin has been tight the past two weeks so my foam roller & ball and I have been in an exclusive relationship with each other the past few nights. I've been gradually increasing my carbohydrate consumption during the week so I didn't have to eat a huge thing of pasta the evening before. I can now understand why I try to limit this normally, because it makes me want to eat anything and everything. I'm just going to get raspberry pancakes & potatoes on Saturday morning and then just eat a normal dinner.

I have this calm feeling about everything.  I'm still nervous but I can't do anything to change my readiness for the race. If anything, I know to just keep moving my arms and my feet will follow.

If you plan on being at the race to cheer me on you can use the tracker above to let you know when I'm approaching where you are at. If you don't plan on being at the race, maybe you'll be around when I have my celebratory cheeseburger. I plan on eating every one of the 2015 calories estimated that I'll burn. 

Now Hollie, all you need to remember are all the other rules of Zombieland and pretend that you are in a horror movie or the hunger games.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

32 Discordant Metronomes

Science fact; If you put metronomes together on a moveable surface, they will eventually sync up and all be at the same tempo.

When I first started to run without music, I hated it. I disliked the silence that was always surrounding me while I ran. I could hear everything. Sometimes I still run with ear buds in my ear playing a good selection of music. Sometimes I make playlists for races to keep me in the right beats/steps per minute.

As I've continued to run this season, I've gone without music more often. Mostly as a way to recognize my pace without the use of a GPS watch. I started to notice how my breathing matched my footfalls and where my arm swing landed when taking a breath. I could hear my feet slap heavily when my body would reach the point of exhaustion.

I make a slight noise when I am running at a quicker pace, or if I'm focusing on my running. I vocally push forward my exhale. My exhale and footfalls create a metronome like state. I can focus in and get completely lost but if I am running with other people or within a race, I hear their rhythm. It will throw off my pace slightly, same with if I'm friendly and say hello. It makes me nervous for the half. I don't want to spend all my gas at the beginning, matching everyone else's rhythm. It also makes me nervous for when the super fast and fast marathoner's will start to pass me. I don't want to speed up to their tempo because I am hearing it all around me. I needed something to focus me.

These past few runs I have gone back and "beat" things that were difficult to me when I started running. I "beat" the "hills" in Saratoga Springs State Park, that I often was intimidated by. Last year I made it up one little hill (because more seasoned runners would call these small hills, I call them big hills - but not BOF hills) That one hill has a short downhill and then another hill. When I ran it on Saturday I wasn't afraid of it, I was excited for the challenge and I left my intervals behind and used the time to run up the hills.

Last night I went back to the crossings. I knew I had a 30 minute easy run scheduled. I knew keeping my pace, I should be able to get two miles in. About two loops of the yellow trail. I knew I run a 15 minute mile. I wondered if I could run it, not walk/run but run the full 15 minutes. I know. I'm not supposed to do anything different, I'm not supposed to change anything. Still I have to do things to shut up my own doubts. So I ran the first loop, ran the whole thing. Then I walked the backside of the Ciccotti Center to catch my breath and continued to run.

Why was this important to me? Last year at this time of year, I couldn't run the entire yellow trail. I could only run/walk it. I would be happy when a walk interval came at the bottom of the "hills" on the yellow trail. On one of our timed 5K's with BeRunning, Mary was right at the top of those hills shouting encouraging words to me. Every time I run those little hills, I think of her right at the top. This time, I did it and was smiling the whole time, mentally high fiving Mary.

On the second time around, I was faced with faster people on the trail throwing me off, or the largest congregation of dogs with friendly owners saying hello. My brain started thinking I couldn't run the half. I knew I needed to get rid of that thought. I started in with my metronome adding the words "I.CAN.DO.THIS" I kept going. After saying it a few times, I realized how easy it would be to change can to can't during the race. So I changed it. I started chanting inside "I.WILL.DO.THIS." It started on the back part of the yellow trail, the part a little bit before the post, near the gazebo close to the bathrooms. I kept going until I finished.

It felt nice. Not to just believe I am in better shape than last year but to actually experience it. Others can say it, can tell me I am ready. I just needed Saturday's run and last night's run to prove it to myself. Thursday's run will be my last before the race, I just want that run to be pretty (if it's possible) and relaxing.

Race day will come and I will line up and I will do this.

Monday, October 1, 2012

to remain selfless, cold and composed

Anxiety: A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease.

Visually, every time I think about anxiety and being anxious I think of the Alvin and The Chipmunks episode 30b Court Action. See, Alvin's plagiarized his paper and he's got a big basketball game coming up. Theodore is the judge in the student court trial of Alvin. Simon, keeps telling him to do what is right. Theodore has a crazy dream performance of Pat Benatar's song Anxiety. In my mind, I'm running down a floating keyboard and my head is indeed a basketball. 

Why am I anxious? The Hudson Mohawk Half Marathon is this coming Sunday. I've got three small training runs left on my schedule. Now, I'm playing a purely mental game. I went out for my long run on Saturday, tackling 5 miles. The first 3.1 of that run felt like crap. My shin was tight, my legs were heavy, my desire to run was not particularly strong but the last few miles of my run felt good. Every time I run in the Saratoga Spa State Park, I think about where I was last year. How I was fearful and avoided the hills on East West road and the Picnic Loop. Now, I go up them slowly but I run up. It's the small things that have me feeling accomplished.

I am no stranger to this feeling, it's similar to stage fright. I am hardly ever vocal about performance anxiety. You can't "see" that I am scared, I just get quiet. Though I've put in the time, I'm always fearful of forgetting a line of a song, or a cue line. It's happened before and I'm pretty decent in figuring out how to get out of a jam. Still, that feeling of worry because you don't know what will happen is one of the worst feelings alive.

I've tried visualization about the race. Imagining the route, watching the video, I've even driven the rate route (well the main roads of it) I've got my hydration plan down, I'll need to fill my pack possibly two times, and I'll have three gels in my bag. Take in a gel every 4 - 4.5 miles (which is about an 1:15 for me) Get cups of water at mile 4, fill pack at mile 6.5, cups of water at mile 13. Plus extra hydration may come from friends along the road, but that's my basic plan. I'm breaking the race down in 4 mile increments. First 4 are on the bike path, next 4 are through the city, last 4 on the bike path. Last 1.1 miles, just take it all in.  I have no doubt that my body will handle the distance. Still, inside there is doubt. It's part of who I am struggling with, part of the "changing the foundation, changes the house".  It feels unnatural to be confident and sure of yourself. So, I'm at odds with it. People can be all sorts of confident for me, but I'm the one who is running.

It's funny because in theater, the week before the performance you ramp up, you have just gone through tech week. You might have gotten a dark day of rest but it's unlikely. Running, you taper, you perform less, you save yourself for race day. My heart feels like every day this week will be full of stage fright. I'm staying occupied with cooking something new tonight and maybe squeezing a run in today if I get dinner prepared quickly (then I'll eat it later). I'm trying to watch movies that are comforting, or listen to techno house music. (the beat goes as fast as my thought process does)

It's just six days. Six days til race, seven days until the next adventure sets sail.