Friday, February 14, 2020

Sunrise, Sunset

So, here's a little known "Rae fact" - back in the days or yore (is that really a thing?  It sounds lovely) I used to be quite the thespian (quiet your teenaged boy.  That's ACTOR, people).  Starting at the young age of 12, I participated in the local theatre guild and my school musicals/drama club until I graduated form high school.  My range of talents include tap dancing orphan (Annie), a singing, jigging rabbit (Peter Pan), pure royalty (Princess and the Pea...oh, the irony!), and a maven of Jewish culture and rebellion (Fiddler on the Roof).

Eventually, the town and the school realized I can't really sing, I aged out of being adorable (yikes), so that season has passed for me.  But my typecast of Hodel in "Fiddler on the Roof" still remains one of my favorites, if only for the spirited dancing and spirited music selection.

As I went for my daily run yesterday morning, I forewent the usually poppy crap I listen to and tuned into my surroundings.  There's a good reason for this.  Amidst all of my random musings on 2020 and being overwhelmed, one of the main reasons is this:

You got it.  As a final holdover of 2019 and my crazy, jump off a cliff year, we put our home up for sale.  Long story short, Greg and I found a wonderful house in Webster, a town about 10 miles away - its close to the lake, the home of my dreams, and in the town I grew up in - which has a ton of activities for the kids and a great school system.  We sold our home back in December and close on the new house today - tomorrow will be a whirlwind of moving, and we will say goodbye to our first home.

It's been a crazy process, but even with the roller coaster of ups and downs, I know we have made the right decision.  It hasn't always been easy (as I type this at 4am, the morning of closing, with a sick kid throwing up next to me, a cracked tooth, and a house that is 90% packed) but like most things worth doing, the tough parts keep my eyes focused on the end goal.

I can't wait to share our new house with you....but today, for me, is all about the journey we've had on Sunrise Drive.  This was our first home ten years ago, as a newlywed couple.  We had no idea what we were doing.  We pulled into the driveway with a little U Haul full of all of our apartment college style possessions, and Greg carried me over the threshold to begin our new life together.

Over the last decade, the house purchase became a home.  I trained for, and completed my first Ironman while running and riding these roads (as a matter of fact, I got so lost on my first training run I ran 10 miles instead of 5....whoops!).  We hosted several holidays a year for family and friends. On a walk through the neighborhood in 2012, I told Greg we were going to have our first child.  We brought both kids home from the hospital to this home - and through many sleepless nights, baby snuggles, bumps and bruises, laughs, and priceless moments - watched both kids grow from infancy, baby stages, toddlerhood and off to their first days of school.

The playground in the backyard and the "sledding hill" have seen so much love.  The driveway tells the tale of hopscotch games, road races, and first bike adventures. There have been so many memorable nights of hosting parties (and a few too many drinks suring some where the memories have a few holes!)  The creation of a new friends group that are now like family.  School events, community events, breakfasts with Santa, dance classes, birthday parties and swim lessons.  This past ten years have been so full of life and love, and this home has seen it all- it saw the beginning of a marriage and has now resulted in a full family, complete with two crazy cats running around - chaos, unity, laughter, heartache, achievements, and everything in between.

On my 6 mile loop yesterday, I ran my favorite neighborhoods, and thought about all of the wonderful memories we have seen on Sunrise Dr. and in Gananda. (Otherwise known as the "fighting duck" run!)

  I chuckled as I tackled the hills of Gananda and remembered how, years ago, I could not make it up several of the long ones without walking - and as I glanced at my watch, I was easily maintaining an 8 minute mile.  Oh how far everything has come in ten years.  I teared up when I passed my best friends home, and smiled as I passed our sitter's home, who has become family to us.  I marveled at the "mountain views" we have at the top of the hill and relished the memories the local farm held of Rob and Biz's first ice cream and corn maze.  Rounding out the final mile, I passed the school where both my kids were in attendance....and welled up with emotion at the span of everything the last ten years has brought.  I finished the run on Sunset Drive, which, as our neighboring street, was a great cool down walk and also the perfect representation of our time at Gananda, which had come full cirlcle.  As I walked the street toward my home, I thought about Tevye's song long ago from "Fiddler on the Roof" that was sympatico with my mix of emotions.

Sunrise, Sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

It's been an amazing mix of seasons in Gananda....laden with so much that we have experienced through the years.  I'm going to miss the house that was our first home, the growing and learning that we have done, and all of the beautiful memories.  Walking up my driveway, I noticed the footprints of both my kids in the snow that they had left when they boarded the bus that morning, of my husband as he got in the car to go to work, and mine as I headed out to run.  And it was such a beautiful mish mosh of "The Glaser Fam" that I know will follow to our new home and all of the adventures that await us there. 

I paused and had a "Mom moment", and remembered the wise words of my 6 year old, every time I ask him to stop growing. His response...."But Mom, that's what people do!  They grow!".  Yes they do, buddy.  They grow and move on to the next adventure, the next beautiful moment that will become an amazing memory, like all of the ones that we have had on Sunrise. And they smile at those memories for the happiness they brought, live in the moment, and make each day a beautiful experience in this dance of life.

Wise kid.  I came in from the cold, brewed a cup of coffee, and sat at the kitchen table for a moment, enjoying one of my last sunrises on Sunrise Dr.  And then got up and moving.  On to the next adventure we go!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Keep Going

So....I'm still here.  In case you were worried...  I did not, in fact, pack it all up and move to Tahiti after my last post.  I thought about it though.  Not gonna lie.  The drama of January continued right until it's sorry end yesterday, when thankfully we closed the door on that miserable month and can now properly begin 2020.  Whew.  It seems, in fact, there was some sort of full moon for the entire damned month - there is not a single person I know who didn't look at January and go "What the f*ck was THAT??"

I suppose that should be comfort.

It really wasn't.  But, thankfully, its over.  And while 2020 did not have the most auspicious start, I'm confident that it still will be a damned fabulous year.  Let's do this.

I also think I figured out the problem - a hangover from 2019, in fact.

This.  Spot on.  In 2020, it seems that the issues have come fast and furious from so many different areas.  That can't be helped.  Sometimes people get sick, work sucks, the kids have school issues, your training isn't going well, and friends and family members are not the supportive loving units you hope.

I can't control that.  What I can control is what I decide to battle over.  And I led swinging into so many battles in January it not only completely defeated me, it robbed me of any joy, inertia, or the desire to do anything really.  I was defeated.  And it totally sucked.  And unlike 2019, I think the combo of the January funk, the moods of the people around me, and general life malaise just sapped any energy I had to feel any better about anything.

Yesterday, as fate would have it, I snapped.  One too many things went wrong with my world, and the one piece that I had left - my escape hatch - my training - crapped the bed.  I wasn't injured.  I wasn't physically hurt.  My mental state had so far gone that the simplest things - actually remembering what ride I was supposed to do (and having to stop mid way because I'm an idiot and can't read time properly) - or the fact that I could not, in fact, breathe underwater - completely escaped me.  It. sucked.

So first, keep in mind, right now most of my problems right now are admittedly first world - but they are the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.  Nothing is "easy" these days.  I know that in life, there will always be things above the "line of suck" - places we excel at.  I also know that there will inevitably be things that fall below the line and well....suck.  So if you are having a kick ass time at work and with your kids.....your marriage might be going through a rough time and you have no time to workout or eat well.  Life happens.  The trick is.....not to let too much fall below the line of suck...or the same things for too long.  It's ok to immerse yourself in work for a big project and then pick back up on running later.  It's also ok to train for an ultra and let a few things slide for a time.  But it's MOST important to not let the big things fall below the line for too long - family, friends, and your health.  I'm glad to say that I never let it get too far - but there were times when those hovered below the line....too far below the line.  And lately, it was mostly my health taking a toll - my emotional and mental health hit a new low this past month - and with the help of simple carbs and other shitty junk food, my physical health was going with it.  Yikes.  That stuff adds up.

I have no magic bullet to fix any of these things. But, as always, I am somehow damned lucky enough to have amazing people in my life that step in just when I need them the most.    Luckily, this time around, I was able to get back on my own two feet with a few things - a hefty swing up from  wonderful friends and a new mindset.

Yesterday, when I hit rock bottom, one of my buddies patiently listened as I bawled to him about all of my life "problems"...without a word, he just sat and listened as I vented.  I heard none of "this too shall pass" crap, or any life advice (he really is a good egg, despite all the shit I give him).  At the end of it, he took a deep breath and said "'re're in the middle of an ironman.  Right now, this is an intense spot in your life and it's the part when it's not if something's going to go will.  You are not out of the woods yet.  You haven't even hit the marathon.  You're on the bike.  You're spinning out.  Keep your head in the game, your heart in the game, push through that marathon, and as always, you will come out the other side stronger.".  Damn.  All the feels there.  And he's right.  I hit the dark spot that every athlete hits at some point during the Ironman - and relying on my strategy of mental fixes was what was going to get me out.  But how do I do that?  Last year - the "Big Scary" year - reminded me that shit can be frightening, but I can do it.  I'm past that year.  And my self proclaimed mantra of "Clear Vision" was not only the hallmark shtick card of 2020, it didn't fit.  How was I going to get where I needed to??

I should know better to answer that one alone.  While my one buddy gave me an arm up to find the answers, another one actually gave me the answer, they just didn't know it.  As always, in the course of inside jokes, nicknames, and anything worth holding onto, the 2020 mantra came out of pure happenstance.  It's simply put.  Keep Going.

When you want to to quit.  When it seems hard.  When it's 5am and time to swim.  When you got no sleep and are surviving a presentation on 3 cups of coffee and sheer will.  When the school calls you for the millionth time that week.  When you get into a giant fight with your co-worker and have to keep the tears out of your voice so you don't seem weak.  When you let go of a relationship that you've held onto for too long because it isn't healthy anymore.

You. Just. Keep. Going.

And while this particular mantra was passed off in the most casual, joking, random way, I woke up this morning with it right behind my eyes, ready.  I got on my bike, which has been extremely aggressive and power based lately - its my kryptonite in the multi sport world, so under the guidance of my coach, we are fixing it.  Today's ride featured four 8 minute segments and near full power, with 4 speed bursts in each set at 200% power.  I had slept for 4 hours.  I ate like shit last night.  My anxiety woke me up in a cold sweat at 3am, and I had not been back to sleep since.  I looked the workout dead in the eyes and got on my bike (snacks by the wayside to toss at kids, since I was on parenting duty).  And I kept going.

Every time it got hard, I would repeat the words "Keep Going.  Keep Going. Keep Going".  It wasn't an option.  There was no calling a halt.  No bailing.  No words to indicate "stop" in my vocab.  None of that shit.  Just. keep. going.
And I totally did.  

I climbed off the bike with a grin on my face and for the first time in a long time, a smile in my heart.  It's not the end of the Ironman - I still have ways to go before my life will calm down.  But I have the the will to move forward.  A shift in mindset.  A deep breath.

And, of course, with a song.  Who actually knew something simple would be a song?

 You'll keep going on, cause it's what you've always done.  

Damned right I will.  2020 - Keep Going.  No bailouts.  
It's time to take a deep breath, stare it right in the eyes, and keep going.
And with that - Happy New Year to everyone.  It's gonna be a FANTASTIC YEAR. 
I'm ready to tackle this year - let's do this!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Runaway Train

Welcome 2020!  And now, get the hell out. Or go to therapy, at least.  Stop being so damned dramatic.  Sheesh.

If you've read my blog for any length of time (and I'm so sorry) you know that I have a habit of almost never posting on January 1.  I decided long ago that any intentions I set for the new year (don't get me started on the term resolution.  Ugh).  should not be set until January 2.  As a matter of fact, in a fit of good intentions, I actually started this blog on January 2, 2011 (how has it been 9 years???).  Oh man, side note - the 2011 me was pretty ridiculous.  Oh wait.  Still am.  Moving on.

So, I had put a lot of thought into this first post of 2020.  With 2019 being the absolute crazy, life changing, awesome, scary, dramatic year that it was, I truly walked away from it with the feeling that I had 100% done what I set out to do - I took the parts of my life that I had been resting my laurels on and CHANGED them.  Some changes are still in progress, some have come to fruition, and some are still in the planning stage, waiting for execution.  They all had one thing in common - there was not one single thing I regretted from 2019.  I lived each day fully, made a shit ton of mistakes, and jumped off so many cliffs with my eyes wide open.

It was wild.  It was so much damned fun.  It was invigorating.  It was also, at times, way too dramatic.

So, with 2020 approaching, I knew what I wanted to do.   I wanted to take all of the awesome progress of 2019 and refine it.  To look at all of the steps I took, the successes, and the gaffes, and decide what I really wanted to hang on to and what I needed to go where I wanted, to eliminate stress, and to really define who I was.
I wanted clarity.  Yep, you can stop rolling your eyes.  I made a 2020 pun.  I get it.  But what a year to discard all the crap that comes along with life and really to focus on what your end goals are!  Who do I want to be?  What type of person am I?  And how do I strip all the drama that followed me (and admittedly, in some areas, that I was actively a part of) to really focus on the true "eyes on the prize"?

There were a few steps I needed to take.
1.  Define those goals.
2.  Take a good look at what the "distractions" (for lack of a better word) are, and
3.  Assert the path that leads me there.

I crack myself up sometimes.  What I forgot in the process of my brilliant map for the new year was that life has its own plan.  And that 2020, in all of its infinite adolescent bullshit, would test me right out of the gate and throw drama at me in every. single. facet. of. my life.

In the past 8 days, I've had three of my close friends come to me with huge life dramas (which, to be honest, I am glad I'm not going through what they are) but being the empath that I am, I've taken in some of their stress.  My husband and I both had huge issues our first day back at work, respectively,  that we are still working through.  I've had two family members get some really bad news that affects them horribly, both in terms of emotional and physical health, and today I got two phone calls that were enough to spike my anxiety through the roof (one child related and one personal). Note: It's not my intent to vague blog - more of protecting those around me.  The point is, slow your roll, world! This, of course, is my own little existence on our planet, but add in the global issues of our conflict with Iran, the Australian wildfires, and the seems 2020 is a raging teenager with a case of hormones that seriously needs to listen to some angry emo and eat a chocolate bar.

I'll tell ya, there is nothing like good ole life to derail your cute little intentions, am I right??

You might not know this about me, but I am a total introvert.  Most people shake their heads when they hear that and assume I have no idea what the hell that word means. I do, trust me.  I love the hell out of people - out of hanging out with my friends, throwing a party, or even giving a presentation to 500 professionals.  But it drains the shit out of me.  I need time to get away from people and to be with the person whose company I truly prefer the most - my own.  If that sounds narcissistic, it really isn't intended that way.  I just find natural energy being by myself - I think, reflect, and generate ideas when I have time by myself to process my surroundings and any current issues I am grappling with.  It would come as no shock to any of you that most endurance athletes are also introverts - in my little family of four, three of us are hardcore introverts, and sometimes its a damned miracle that we can even surface to hang out.  Of course, most of our hanging out involves racing alone, and then doing the people thing, which makes perfect sense.
I think if I tell one more person that throws crap my way this year "Hang on, I need to process" they might exile me to a deserted island and never let me come back.

That sounds divine.

The bottom line is, one week in and I have no clear vision.  No goals to actively chase.  And plenty of drama and bullshit that smacks me in the face each day.

But I do have one thing.  I have the intent.  The desire to frame this year.  I just need a little bit of time to breathe, to step back, and to get some things in perspective.

Hang on, 2020.  You might have started out like a train wreck (hey, I recognize that analogy, that's me!) but with 358 days left, I am confident we can fix you, one day at a time.

But for now, I need a little time to process.  Please, world, can you take five?  I'd like to refund  my ticket for this runaway train and go somewhere better this year.  Thanks ✌😀

Monday, December 30, 2019

May I Offer You a Suggestion? (2019 Lessons)

And, here we are.  The final few days of 2019.  As it always is post holiday, the week between Christmas and New Year's is a week devoid of any real structure or life purpose - What day is it?  Who knows.  What are we having for breakfast?  Leftover sausage pie.  Mmm, so good.  Why the hell won't these kids stop fighting?  (Good luck with that.  Two weeks off for Christmas is evil.  What do you expect me to do, parent?  Yes....that was in pink font (sarcasm)).

Aside from the trials and tribulations of a first world mom (I own it), it's also a great time to take stock of the year and figure out what went well, what did not, and where you want to go in 2020.

This year, I find myself in the odd position of 100% feeling like I finally lived my 2019 resolution fully from January 2 to December 31 (have a little faith, guys.  I promise I'll live out tomorrow!).  To do the big, scary things. I know its not everyone's favorite, but I stick by the mantra -  I've spent the whole year in a state of pushing myself to the limit, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. And most of it....guys....was scary shit.  Leaping off a building scary stuff that I had no clue if I would fail at or not. It hasn't always been easy.  As a matter of fact, it rarely was. But the take-aways have been astounding.
But....maybe that's my experience.  It's interesting how your intents really shape what you do...but might not always be how others perceive you. During a recent round of drinking with friends, one of my  buddies made a comment about how he perceived me as a person- using the term "highly suggestible".  I'm not sure why, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I sat and thought about it
for awhile, considering what being highly suggestible means  - was that me?  Was that the person I wanted to be? Did I need to re-think things for 2020?

Since I like to try to be logical with the way that I think, I turned to the most reliable source of information at my (Dammit, maybe I am a millennial).  According to good ole Wikipedia, Suggestibility is "the quality of being inclined to accept and act on the suggestions of others".  Hmmm, I thought.  Well, whats wrong with that?  I suppose that's me.  At least, the me of 2019.  You see, one of my hallmarks to change my life and my outlook on life this year was to do things I had never done before - which means being open to suggestion.   It doesn't mean I necessarily adopt all the suggestions...I accept them as possibilities to perhaps change something I don't currently like for the better. I then act on them, and afterwards decide if they work for me or not. Sometimes they don't work, and I discard them.  And sometimes...they really do.  But if I wasn't "suggestible" I might have closed my mind off to not even try them.

So, as I sit here an navel gaze on 2019, I have come to realize a few pivotal things.  They aren't earth shattering, but armed with the multitude of life lessons 2019 has brought me, these will carry me to 2020.....

1.  Everyone has something to teach you.  This was probably the biggest  one for me.  As a person that is in charge of a lot of things at work, at home, and in family life, I have a very Type A way of carrying myself.  I've had to figure it out in so many ways on my own for my whole life, and I really had decided that I was a strong, independent woman that really didn't need anyone but myself to succeed.  This was proven 100% false right out of the gate in 2019, so I decided to adopt the stance of realizing that everyone I came in contact with could, in fact, teach me something that might have the potential to make me better as a person in one form or another.  This was not easy.  It took a lot of trying new things that didn't make sense, hearing things about the way that I did things that might not have been the best way, and a lot of mental undressing for what I perceived to be truths I had held for years.  It also was one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced, and I am so very grateful to have had some of the best "teachers" there are come into my life.

2.  ....But take their advice with a big grain of salt.  I have the sense that humanity as a whole, are good people.  When people teach you something or give you advice, its generally meant with all the goodwill and their desire to help you out.  Its also usually gleaned from something that they have either experienced that worked for them, or something that they have seen/heard of/read that made sense to them.  It's important to realize that even though their nuggets of wisdom are meant with all the good intentions, that it may or may not work for you.  And if it doesn't, its ok to explore a different option. Sometimes learning what "not to do" through failure can have just as much of an impact as learning what does work!

3.  Open up your mind to different possibilities.  Man.  I sound old.  But as someone that's been "adulting" reasonably successfully for the past 15 plus years, I have my own way of doing things.  On a day to day basis with home, work, friendships, relationships, family, and hobbies.  But if there's any area of your life you want to change, you need to get past your comfort zone and start breaking through barriers to make it happen.  And that only happens when you open up your mind to approaching things differently and trying new things to accomplish your goals. Change is not easy.  But sometimes that piece of discomfort really brings you exactly where you want to be.  And before you know've got a new "norm" that you've adapted that isn't quite so scary.

4.  ....But trust your gut.  I approached this year with as much of a blank slate as I reasonably could.  Some of the things I tried had absolutely no rhyme or reason, and they worked.  Some were totally not for me at all.  I learned that it was most important to trust my gut for what was a good decision or not.  My head was too logical - biking hill repeats during rush hour on a 4 lane road sounds logistically horrible, but it worked.  My heart, it turns out, was also not to be trusted - it was too emotional.  There were a few missteps this year where I lead with my heart and they were total disasters and did not make sense in the long run.  Luckily, I have a few soft places to land.  (See #6)

5.  Don't be afraid to fail.  As I said above, some things I have learned in 2019 really did work.  Some were complete and epic failures.  I blogged a little bit about some of the lost feelings this year...and some of the failures.  Some were kept private for a good reason.  But I routinely made an ass of myself this year, whether it be crashing spectacularly coming into transition for my first half ironman of the year (thank god that was caught on film),  running a full marathon with a busted foot, or opening my mouth/acting without thinking, I made some terrible life decisions.  Luckily, none of them were mistakes that couldn't be fixed....but it took some work to correct my mistakes in 2019.

6.  But know who is there to catch you.  This was HUGE for me this year.  One thing I am not great at is failing - who is??? While some of the big scary things I did were about leaping....the scariest things were about leaping and not landing on my feet.  I learned, without a doubt, that not everyone wants you to succeed.  Which was a hard lesson.  I learned who was there to judge me.  Who was there to say "I told you so".  And who was there to listen.  To help me back on my feet and nudge me in the right direction.  Who was there with a big hug when I needed it and who was there to give me a much needed kick in the ass when I was being a moron.  And the most interesting part was....I really wasn't who I thought it would be.  I let go of some long lasting relationships this year.  And some of the people I am now closest to....I didn't even know last year at this time.  Funny how life works, isn't it?

7.   Enjoy the Ride of Life.  This is, without a doubt, the most important lesson I learned this year.  To enjoy as much of life as you can.  While on a recent run with a buddy of mine, we got into a chat about 2019 and what a crazy year it's been (we had a similar year, and went through quite a bit together, so it was fitting).  As grown adults, we laughed about the things we went through that we never expected to, and how, even though it didn't seem that way at the time, that they all had a rhyme and reason and brought us to where we needed to be.  We likened 2019 to that summer before college....when all the crazy shit happens to your crew, and you come out of it, looking back, going....WTF just happened...and wow, that was one hell of a ride!  And that was it for me.  A year full of ups and downs, of twists and turns, of unexpected plot changers, and here we are.  At the end of the year.  Man that was crazy.  Man, that was fun.  Man, I lived that.  And I don't regret any of it.

As I sit here and write this post, my Facebook memories popped up and I saw that one year ago, I went for a little swim at the Y.  And one of the guys that was so pivotal to my 2019 race season decided to introduce me to two of his buddies sharing his swim lane.  Two days before the end of 2018, I was swimming broken 150's with three collegiate swimmers that fully brought a random rookie with a sarcasm problem into their fold.

One year later, those guys are some of my best friends.  Funny who walks into your life when you least expect it and how it changes your world. And while that's just one example of what happened when I decided to throw caution to the wind, its a perfect example of what being highly suggestible can bring.

So, yeah, I'll keep being suggestible.  It's served me well in 2019....
and with a few refinements, will continue to my 2020 goals.

Stay tuned.'s gonna be epic. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Reindeer Run 5k: Walking on a Dream

Hey everyone!  I'm still alive, I promise.  The past six weeks have been a complete whirlwind as I close out "Scary Goals 2019" (more on this later....Greg and I did a thing to close the year out, and no, it's not a 9 month thing).  Needless to say, between the thing and the holidays, my life has been at full tilt lately and I am completely and totally exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally.  I also have never felt my life heading so much in the right direction as I have this year....but we can save that one for another post (get the feels ready).  Today is not about me.

It's about passing the torch on.  A few months ago, I met one of the most amazing, funny, sweet and genuine women I know.  She's always ready with a quick joke, virtual hug (darn you for living so far away!) and an ear to listen.  She also happens to be interesting in "learning to run"  (ahh, this is such a funny joke, as I fully expect her to beat the pants off me soon).  We met through a totally random event neither one of us were supposed to be at and bonded, as usual, over alcohol and the things that seem hilarious when drinking.  The friendship has turned into daily conversations about kids, life, goals, significant others, and ourselves....we are such similar people we have been dubbed "Two Peas" and its totally accurate.

Well, my Pea came to me 8 weeks ago looking to run her first 5k.  I offered to coach her through it if she wanted, and she was game to try my uhhh.....very limited coaching experience techniques.  Turns out, I was the lucky one, as Pea is a coaches dream.  She hit the paces for every workout, rested when I told her to, recovery ran at the paces I prescribed, and most importantly, had a blast doing it.  We set our goals on the Reindeer 5k, a local race to me that boasts a flat course, reindeer antlers, a cute medal, and a fun shirt.  We enlisted my fellow tri guys to join us (it was such a struggle) and made a weekend of the race.

Two Peas!
Race morning dawned....well, it didn't.  It was wet, cold and miserable.  My kids were signed up to run and we wisely left them with Gramma and headed downtown to RACE!  Pea was so cute....she was amped, ready to go, and of course, nervous as hell!!  Back in the beginning of the plan, her goal was to break 28.  I thought we could break 26, but that pace scared her, so I told her I would pace her and we could start  out slow  She bought us matching penguin socks and I added a tutu so we didn't take life so seriously....we were there to race but also HAVE FUN!
Pre race I logged a warm up with my fellow tri fam guys - The Boy and The Outlaw - seemed fitting that the two guys that helped me began my season at Running of the Green were there to end it!  Of course, they are much speedier and oh so serious about it (would it kill them to give me a piggy back ride one of these times??  No?)  They both had designs to break 20 (they did) and the Outlaw wanted to break 19 (He did and came in 4th.  Next year, it's on, Outlaw.  HAH)
Me, unsuccessfully trying to get run magic off the Outlaw.  
Pre race, Pea and I lined up with Greg and waited for the gun - I tried to calm her nerves by singing Def Leppard (it did not work.  And I think a few racers might have scootched away from us, which was actually good.  Bad shower voice FTW!).  Before we knew it, we were off!!

I told Pea we would start off at an 8:30 pace and see how we felt.  After the first few minutes of dodging people to find our stride, we hit pace perfectly.  I told her jokes to make her smile, stories to make her laugh, and we had a great time keeping the first mile easy at 8:29.  For mile 2, we picked it up a touch, and hit the water stop just as Pea was getting thirsty.  We saw the fast boys at the turnaround, and before we knew it, we were heading back, clocking mile 2 in a handy 8:19.  Pea asked about pace and I smiled and told her we were doing well (I so knew a 25:xx was possible).  

We decided to pick it up at 2.5, and came across two women running in Christmas tights.  I told Pea we should hang out behind them and the women laughed, so I complimented their Christmas butts.  That led to a fun exchange, and reaffirmed what I had told Pea about runners being crazy, but super fun!  She told me the pace felt great, and should we stick with it?  I smiled, looked at my watch and let her know we were holding a sub 8 minute mile.  "NO WAY!"  she yelled.

With a quarter mile to go, I told her to stop talking and run FAST!  As we turned the corner to head back, I made a joke for her to sprint to the finish line like there was a hot guy waiting for her in nothing but whipped cream.  We both busted out laughing as we saw the Boy and The Outlaw then, who yelled at us to STOP LAUGHING and sprint!  So we did.  I told Pea I was gonna chase her and she dropped below a 7 minute mile for the final stretch, and we finished in 24:36 - the last mile a 7:35! pace!!!!
WHAT A RACE.  I knew Pea had talent, but I can't even believe what she just did!  For reference, she came in 8th out of 64 in her AG - and missed placing by 56 seconds (next year!) I ended up 5th out of 70 in my AG, which was pretty awesome too!

Post race we grabbed some water, posed with our friendos (Greg took the pic) and I headed out for a 2 mile cool down with the boys.  We stuck around for the Boy (2nd AG) and Outlaw (1st AG) to get their awards, and then headed out to celebrate!!

This was my first time pacing anyone for a race, and it was a BLAST.  Pea is now officially hooked and wants me to coach her for her first half in 2020 (she is such a natural runner - I can't wait for it!) Along with the running bug, she also caught the love of running, and I am so damned happy to share that with her. The whole race...hell, the whole weekend, was summed up perfectly by Empire of the Sun:

Walking on a dream
How can I explain
Talking to myself
Will I see again
We are always running for the thrill of it thrill of it
Always pushing up the hill searching for the thrill of it
On and on and on we are calling out and out again
Never looking down I'm just in awe of what's in front of me

To my Pea - thank you for the amazing race, my twin/sister/friend - I can't wait to do it again, and once again, a new experience for 2019 that I never would have found if not on this amazing path I have taken in my life - I am so lucky to have found you and am totally "Walking on a Dream" with you!!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

7 Days Without Running Makes One Weak

So, I'll admit right off the bat two major things about this post.

1.  I sort of stole the title for it. The inspo for most of my posts comes from songs, but since the whole brainchild behind documenting this past week in blog form was my coaches, it makes sense that I keep the momentum going by "borrowing" the title for it from his blog.  (Note: He gave me permission to do so.  Also Note:  I took seven days off.  He took eight.  He likely could have filtched a popular Beatles song to accomplish his post title, but since he's already blogged about the Beatles and doesn't take direction well, we can leave that one alone and move on.)

2.  Seven Days without running really doesn't make you weak.  It, for sure, was mentally and emotionally weakening for someone that loves it as much as I do - I not only use a run as a good workout but also as a mental and emotional stress relief.  While it's been a tough go on that end to take a break from running, I have no doubt the physical break will, in the long run, make me stronger.  So, for all intents and purposes of the title, two outta three ain't bad.  (See, you knew I had a song title in there!)

Alright, fine.  I'll back up.  So, post 2019 Tri season, you all saw the slow fall to me accepting that I probably should take an off season (Finally, she CAN be taught!).  I started out the way any normal triathlete with an exercise problem human being would - by resisting, bargaining, igoring, and finally accepting the fact that if I wanted to move forward in 2020, I needed to step back and let my body heal a bit before starting spring marathon training and Ironman training. Funny how logic works, isn't it?
Except....flip it.  I hate the damned coach.  COUCH.  I MEANT COUCH!

This past week I have tolerated embraced the idea of a true off season and taken off running and biking totally.   I haven't taken a week off from running and biking  Yep, I even  biked and ran through both pregnancies and post delivery.  You got that right.  Yikes.  While my emotional and mental state are spot on for training (god I love this stuff), my body definitely needed the break.

So, in order to walk you through a week in the life, I've posted a daily recollection of my reactions to each day that formerly only existed in my Training Peaks notes. I, being a good athlete, (snorts) like to give my coach feedback about every effort that I make.  Poor guy.  During this particular week, I was given a lack of structure with specific parameters (NO RUNNING OR BIKING FOR 7 DAYS) that were worse than any Ironman peak building I've ever been through.  (AKA, I am the world's worst recoverer.  Ever.  I know.  You are all shocked).  So, in order to deflect my dissatisfaction with my whole run predicament, I reacted with bad humor that let my coach know that I was 1.  Being compliant, 2.  Not happy about it, and 3.  Trying to be a good sport.  Aside from the many eye rolls and head shaking I'm sure my training notes elicited, I have it on good authority that there were at least a few chuckles, which was my whole goal.  By Day 4, it was suggested to turn this whole week into a blog post.  I'm not sure if that was a subtle hint to leave him the hell alone or a thought that  this might be somewhat useful comical to the rest of you.  I suspect it's the former.  I'm gonna go with the latter.

So, how does one fare without an entire week of running or biking?  Well, read on for the unfiltered truth....

Sunday, November 3: Day One of no running captivity: (Workout: 1x3800ish yard swim in the pool). Legs are sore so a swim sounds good.  I know I'll never get the chance to do long pointless distances during the season, so why not.  This was either 3700 or 3800 not 4000....I lost track and my Garmin was annoyed that we weren't running so it rebelled like a teenager.  Legs appreciated the lack of work and the swim was zen and chill.  Two thumbs up. (Note:  My coach, who is a swimmer, does not condone any swim set above 200 yds continuous swimming.  This is brand new to me and is admittedly a big reason for my huge swim improvement).

Monday, November 4: Day 2 of no running captivity: (Workout: Kickboxing Class) The day starts with 3 hour budget review.  Sometimes I love my is NOT one of those days.  I stare longingly at my running shoes and curse under my breath.  Must. Take. Off. Season.  I decide to blow off steam with a lunch kickboxing class.  Decide halfway through this probably wasn't what my coach had in mind but it felt great to work some new muscles and definitely helped my emotional and mental state.  Don't mess with the chick in pink gloves. (Also this was a legit core and leg workout.  Woof). ðŸĪŠ

Tuesday, November 5: Day 3 of no running captivity: (Workout: 3000 yard swim).   It's raining.  I sort of even don't want to run.  Who am I??  Arms are sore from punching a bag yesterday, but I have meetings downtown so a swim seemed wise.  Low key easy work with flip turn focus.... too bad my coach wasn't there to watch the  comedy (I look like a drunk Monkey doing these).  Swim was relaxed and easy....I feel slightly guilty about the obviously non coach approved lack of structure to my swims but counter that they are emotionally and mentally relaxing and physically a form of active recovery while resting my legs.  Does he buy it?  Likely not, but he's probably amused by my feedback on the effort in my Training Peak notes.  My work here is done.

Wednesday, November 6: Day 4 of no running captivity: (Workout: Workout DVD)....This sucks.  It's gorgeous out.  My running shoes stare at me from the corner and dare me to break protocol.  It's tempting, but not worth the risks.  I pop in a Jillian Michael's Shred DVD that hasn't been opened since 2009 and do a stupid workout.  Starting to miss my bike.  Who am I???  Workout went fine, some plyometrics, kickboxing and ab work.  Uninspired.  Whatever. 🙃

Thursday, November 7: Day 5 of no running captivity: (Workout: Strength/Cardio at the Y)  I hate the elliptical.  It's stupid.  I hate rowing.  See two sentences earlier.  I might in fact be losing my will to live (Sarcasm or no?  You decide). It's pretty out.  My legs hurt.  They should be running.  At this point, I'd even ride my bike.  In aero.  Outside. In the 30 degree weather. Wtf. Lifting was actually good in case you (my coach) wanted something useful here.  I went lighter weights as it's been awhile and higher reps.  Did the full body circuit minus abs. I still would rather be running.

Running shoes without tights/shorts.  That's what's wrong with this picture
Friday, November 8: (Workout: 3 mile walk/2300 yds in the pool). Day 6 of no run captivity: I have recorded. A. Fucking. Walk.  What is wrong with me???  My running shoes sit in a corner, confused by what they did to cause me to abandon them. I try to feed them a Reese's peanut butter cup to show them I still love them.  It doesn't work.  Disgusted, I eat it and then curse about the counterproductive nature of such a move.  At least I got to swim today.  (Which was actually decent, as I focused on 100s instead of 1000s.  I might be coming around on that short distance thing). 40 hours until workout, I grouse about my grounded state and my buddy helpfully mentions he saw my running shoes on ebay, looking for a mate.  The auction ends in 39 hours and he put a bid on them.  I never liked him anyways.

Saturday, November 9: Day 7 of no running captivity: I decide on one more pointless swim before I'm restricted to 200/yd or less at a go.  20 minutes in I finally acquiesce and coach is right.  Long swims are dumb.  My watch agrees and craps out after 1600 yards.  I debate stopping but still have that magical idea  that in order to count, all workouts must be 45 minutes or more. (Again, I'm not that bright).  I work on flip turns....uh....most of the time.
Post Swim, I line up my run gear for tomorrow much like a kid leaving out milk and cookies for santa on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow's the big day!!! 😆😆

Sunday, November 10th.  

Friday, November 1, 2019

EVL Half Marathon 2019 - I'm a (snot) Rocket Man

Just when you thought perhaps I might have ended this crazy season, I do another dumb thing.  Yeah, you read that right.  After ending the triathlon season with a bang at Barrelman, I did a "non race" 5k the weekend after.  (Which was a total disaster, save for kiddo cuteness, if you didn't read the recap). 

After that nonsense, I took a week off (well, to my standards) then began the dance of trying to figure out if I had any more racing in me in 2019. Part of the problem with your season ender being such a success is you want to race ALL the races.  2019 exceeded my expectations beyond any dream, so I wanted to keep it going!

I debated signing up for a marathon.  I got my coach to write me a plan for Philly on November 24th, against his better judgment.  Why?  I don't know.  My party line was "fun run in another state" which seemed legit, except we all knew I was debating a lame BQ attempt.  I stuck with that for a few weeks then was talked off the ledge, thank god.  The runs were all fun but after ten months of structure, all I really wanted to do was play....NOT run 5 miles at a 7:15 pace (that was a fun failed workout!).  I then decided that since my buddy Ryan was gonna do a fall half marathon, why not jump on that bandwagon?  Let's play! We narrowed it down to a few races and settled in on the EVL Half in Ellicotville, NY on October 26,  a race I've always wanted to do because of the fun Halloween theme.

Except I got sick two weeks before the race, and it never quite let up.  I suffered through runs where I felt fine legs wise, but couldn't really breathe, took four days off at my coach's urging (god knows why that man puts up with me, he's a saint) and then decided the Monday before the race I was gonna do it....and actually signed up the day before the race.

Spoiler alert here - this year, on the ole bloggy, you are used to seeing "Holy Shit I PRed the hell out of that race and how did that happen?" nonsense.  This is not that kind of race report.  I will say that logically, I totally should have ended my season with Barrelman.   But much like a drunken text message to an old hookup at 2am,  this was one of those "it seemed like a good idea at the time" followed by "WTF did I just do" things...I have been, through one means or another, susceptible to terrible life decisions this year!! (Stop.  I really didn't text him. This is all race related, people).

You've been warned.  With that being said, I actually don't regret this race at all.  It's sort of odd to write a race report from the perspective of "what not to do".  So, in case you actually wanted to, ya know, hear about the race.....let's talk about the EVL half!!

Going into the race, as I said, I wasn't feeling so spiffy.  My legs had felt awesome with 90% of my runs, but I had a lot of issues with light headedness and with my nose and sinuses completely blocked, taking a full breath was a challenge (refer to the two paragraphs above, remember, I'm not that bright).  I knew that a PR was totally unlikely, but with the help of some buddies of mine, devised a plan to go out at about a 7:45, reassess at 5k in, and see how I felt.  I needed a 7:35ish pace to hit a sub 1:40, which was totally out of my expectation, but hey, I'm not afraid to try something and fail (as we have seen all year!)  The course looked to be pretty flat, save for some elevation gain between miles 5-8 (uh, no.  But we will get to that).  Plan B - hang on for a 1:45-1:50 finish (closer to that 1:45, hopefully).

This race was a little bit odd in the fact that it started at 11am, so fueling was a little weird.  I usually do a bagel 2 hours pre race, then applesauce and a banana 30 minutes prior, all while drinking Gatorade or tailwind (about 600 calories total, which fuels me well until I do my standard mid race fueling).  The nice part of a late morning start was that I was able to leave my house about 7am - the race was run near my friend Lauren's house, so about a 2 hour trip.  I planned to eat my bagel about 830, then do the applesauce and banana thing about 10:15-10:30 to top off my stores.  The trip to Eillicotville was uneventful except for the fact that apparently there are no bathrooms in Allegany or Cattaraugus county at the time I arrived at Lauren's I was about ready to bust!  I took care of business then loaded up to drive to the race (Lauren, you rock!).  We got there about 10am, enough to do packet pick up and prep for an easy warm up.

Ryan and I pre race.  I went as a ladybug and he went as a fast runner. 
Clearly, his costume was superior to mine.
Ryan and I had totally different race expectations (he wanted to go under 1:30, which he totally did - once again, I find myself surrounded by fast dudes...I hope this rubs off some day!)  Regardless, I was fast enough to do an easy warm up with him and a few strides, which didn't feel too bad.  Success!!  After the warm up, I realized I hand't eaten half my breakfast and all my race nutrition was still with my sherpa,  and instead of going after it, hit up the bathrooms.  Fail.  I ended up scouring the crowd pre race without any luck and totally missed half my breakfast.   Terrible planning on my part, but one thing I've learned about racing is instead of beating yourself up for bad decisions, you just go with it.  Ryan and I lined up at the corrals five minutes prior to the start, and I seeded myself with the 1:45 pacer (hey, why not).  The anthem played, the gun sounded, and we were off!!

2 minutes into the race with no gum, music or GU, I found my angel Lauren and ran after my bag (poor girl thought I was going in for a hug and i yelled out something super sweet like "YOU HAVE MY FOOD!" as I lunged for the goods.  Love ya, Pea.  I'm sorry!)  I grabbed gum, GU and tunes and was off like a shot.  I decided since I was a good 300 calories short of where I should be that I would settle in and take my GU at mile 2-3 - usually I do them at mile 5 and mile 10 of a half, but I could only find one and my stomach was rumbling a half mile into the race.  Shit. This was not good.

Instead of focusing on my stomach, I tried to make the first 5k an even effort and to enjoy the gorgeous weather.  It was sunny out and absolutely perfect.  Pre race, Ryan and I had chatted with our buddy Bruce to determine race goals, and aside from time, decided fun was really in order.  Ryan and Bruce tend to chase Joy, but since I'm not into chicks, I decided to chase Max - Maximum fun, maximum speed (if I could) and basically anything that entailed.  The first 3 miles clocked off in 7:30, 7:38 and 7:58 - not Max anything, and I realized that even though my legs felt good, my breathing was kind of a mess (where have we heard this??) and that instead of gunning for sub 1:40, I should just enjoy the day.  I walked through the aid station at mile 3, slammed my gel and picked the pace back up.  

The next 5k was also pretty uneventful - I knew I wasn't adequately fueled but could only find water at aid stations, so I walked through them and finally found some Gatorade at mile 5 - score!  Hit the 10k mark at 47 minutes and did some mental math - I figured if I could run the next 7 miles at about an 8 minute mile, which felt good (mile 6 was my fastest mile at 7:26) that I could do a 1:42 or a 1:43, which was perfectly acceptable.  Sweet!

Then....there was a turn in the course, and all my dreams were quickly dashed.  The headwind kicked in fiercly, and I had to stop and walk to catch my breath.  The guy I was running with joked that we needed a tow rope...where had these winds come from???  Yikes.  The next 3 miles were a total struggle bus.  Mile 7 - 8:50.  Mile 8 - 9:08.  Mile 9- 9:51.  Between the winds and the fact that I was starving - my legs would just not work.  This may be as close to a "bonk" as I've ever had, and it was horrible.  I debated dropping out at mile 8 - not only was there no joy to this run, but at this point I WAS running off with Max - Maximum misery!  Yikes.  At mile 10 we mercifully got a break from the winds and I was able to slug some more Gatorade (apparently there were Gu's on this course, but I never found them).  Mile 10.5 we were back into the winds, but somehow I had found my rhythm and was clocking 8:30s.  I saw the 1:45 pacer at mile 10 and now was dealing with a sub 1:50.  It occurred to me at mile 12 that last year at this time I would have been absolutely thrilled with this time, as I had never broken 1:50.  Ever.  Funny how a year changes things, huh?

Brad, me and Ryan
At mile 12 I said screw it and ran it in with everything I had (note - VIC's "Wobble" is a pretty legit run song.  Ok, I'll show myself out).  I wobbled my way to the finish line in 1:48:38, good enough for who knows the hell what, but at least I was done.  And toast.  There are apparently running pics of my during the race where I am not, in fact smiling - and I burned them so there is no evidence.  Shhhh.

Post race I caught up with Ryan and Brad, Lauren's brother, who both killed it - they came in the top 10 of the half marathon and 5k, respectively.  Somehow, to my total shock, I came in 3rd out of 71 people in my age group and 19th woman out of 381.  Apparently this half marathon that I perceived as flat was, in fact, not - with 633 feet elevation gain it was more than double the elevation gain of  Flower City Half Marathon, which made me feel better!

Ryan and I stuck around to grab our age group awards (it was the first time either of us had ever placed in a half, yay!) and then called it a day.  Overall, a fun day racing (if you can call it that) with some lessons thrown in - if you want to run well, you have to eat (I know, I'm a genius), running with a head cold is stupid (once again, up for Darwin awards here), and last but not least....even if it sounds like a terrible life choice, it still can be fun. And it was.  I got to race with one of my favorites and see a few other new friends and have a great day (mostly) doing what I love best!

Highly recommend EVL for a late fall Marathon - the course is overall fair (though there ARE hlls on the back half!), fun (there were so many people in costume- I loved it!) and great race swag and post race food (zip up hoodie for an extra $ soup and OMG diet coke post race (yes, I know, diet coke makes no sense, but I love it.  Deal)).  

EVL, Ill be back in 2020.  This time with a bigger tutu and chasing Max Speed!