Wow. Another year gone by. This year was not like the others. Let's go back in time (...time, time, time.....)
...to New Year's Eve 2010 when someone (not mentioning any names or pointing any fingers or taking any responsibility) decided we should take on the ultimate (for us) challegne. White Lake 70.3.
And that is how 2011 got started.
There was no time to waste. We hit the ground running, biking and swimming. I was working part time so I had all the time in the world to train. I would do about 3 hours 6 days a week, sometimes 7 days a week. Eventually I came to realize and accept that I was training too much, swimming was not a rest day, even though I enjoyed it. I came to love my swims. It was my favorite workout. I went from swimming 500m to 3500m and loving it over the course of 6 months. I joined Master's swim and found myself improving and even realizing I was a natural swimmer....I have always felt like a fish out of water.
Anyway, from Jan to May my life was consumed by 70.3 training. I learned that spin class 3 or 4 times a week does not translate to road biking. Excellent workout, but it's just not the same. I showed up for my Half Ironman feeling confident I would survive but there were many unknowns. What would it feel like to swim 1.2 miles in open water? How about 56 miles on a bike? I can do 13.1....right? Wrong!!!! The lessons I learned in stumbling through my first half iron were priceless. I learned that rest days are necessary, absolutely no excuses. Road biking is a must and fast at that, not piddling around just hanging out like we did for most of our long rides. And lastly, respect the 13.1. Yes, I had run 12 half marathons before but nothing could have prepared me for the way my bootie was handed to me by that last 13.1 of a 70.3. To successfully train for a half iron one must do bricks (i.e. bike to run transitions). That was the longest 13.1 of. my. life. But I crossed the finish line and completed one of the hardest physically challenging events of my life. Behind Portland Marathon, 2010.
Being in North Carolina during the full 2011 year I came to realize that this is a triathlon-happy state. I feel like Washington is a run-happy state (among other things). But in NC the triathlon scene is fun and just different than the running scene here. So after completing the 70.3 I was hooked and could not wait to get another tri under my belt. As a matter of fact as I type this I am already thinking ahead to the 2012 tri season....
I did a few road races here to include my first NC half marathon on my birthday weekend in March. I have signed up to do this one again in 2012. That race was followed by a trip to Oklahoma in April for the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon where I was searching and hoping for the running high I had during the 2010 full marathon. Boy did I NOT find it this year. Instead I found freezing rain, wind and a bitter cold I was not prepared to deal with. I came home and in June showed up for the Army 10 miler in 98% humidity and 90 degrees outside. I felt really good about that race and my performance. I found that I really enjoy the 10 mile race distance but there just aren't many of them around.
In the end of June I headed to Seattle for the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon. I had signed up for DetermiNation to fund raise and ended up raising over $1500! I was so proud of my efforts. On race day I was not prepared for the emotion I felt while meeting with others who were a part of the DetermiNation team. So many people willing to raise money to support the fight against cancer, so many people affected by this horrible, disgusting disease. I did this in honor of my Dad. I wanted to go out and run the Seattle RnR 1/2 marathon (which it holds my current 13.1 PR from 2010) and smash it, kill it, annihilate it, own it! I wanted to do it for my dad, in his honor. I don't know what happened during this race, it could have been a combination of many factors (fatigue from being on a 10 vacation, diet, lack of sleep, emotionally drained, too much pressure on myself, HILLS) but I feel like I went out and choked. My time was still a respectable 2:03 but not the PR I had dreamed of accomplishing for my dad. I had a great time running with Mel-Tall Mom and Jess Blonde PonyTail. They stuck with me even though I was running a good min/mile (or more) slower than they could have gone. They stayed by my side and shared this race with me, with my dad. For that I was thankful but I cannot deny the disappointment in myself.
From there I came home from Seattle and started my full-time job. This was another turning point for me. I knew I had it good, no GREAT and AWESOME, with my part-time gig but it couldn't last. Once I started work life/training changed. I continued to do what I could to train but my trips to the pool stopped, my spin class hasn't seen me since June, my bike was pulled out for races only. I'm still trying to figure out how to juggle it all. With a one hour commute one way to work there just isn't time like there used to be. I know people make it work and I am confident with the will to do so, I can find a way to train for multi sport while working full-time. During the summer months I continued to race triathlon, competing in three more races through July and August.
In July I also began following the 4 Hour Body diet. It was rough but I managed to stick to it and watched my weight drop from 163 to155 and then by September to 149. Cutting sugar, breads, pasta seemed to be working. I got my carbs from beans, ate truck loads of veggies and meat. I am currently on a modified version of the diet and am happy with the way I feel and pleased overall.
Mid July I amped up my marathon training with my eye set on OBX in November. I was hanging on but getting my runs in was a challegne. I attempted different plans like Run Less, Run Faster. It worked for a few weeks but getting the key workouts in was stressful and I missed the simplicity of just running. I settled in with trusty Hal Higdon for the remainder of my training. I got my 18 miler in with Natalie, who was in town visiting from WA. She and I shared over 45 miles together in three short weeks and she even did a 14 miler with me a few days after finding out she was prego! What what!!? Hard core! I was hitting my long runs, yet struggling with my shorter weekly runs. The marathon was hanging in the balance. September rolled around and near the end of September I was summoned home to OK. My dad wasn't doing well. My already weakened spirit was about to take the ultimate blow.
I traveled home in September to see my dad. That was hard. Harder than Portland Marathon 2010, harder than OKC half 2011, harder than my 70.3. All those were physically hard. They may have helped me with some mental strength somewhere along the lines but they did not prepare me for my dad's race of life to end. I was not ready for that. Saying goodbye to someone is hard. It is harder when you know it is a true, honest to goodness goodbye from this earth. My father passed away in the night of Oct. 5. I have been struggling to find my motivation since. I pretty much tossed my running shoes in the closet and shut the door. OBX 26.2 was struck from the calendar. I contemplated attempting it but I knew better. I gave up on the hope of making it to the starting line and knew that even if I did start chances were high that I would not see the finish line. I felt defeated, discouraged, angry at myself, and disappointed....
All of October and November seem to be a haze. If you asked me to recall any specific details I would have a hard time doing so. I was functioning on auto pilot and just going through the motions. Finally, in December I saw a race advertised. A 10k. I wanted to do it. The desire to run the race caught me by surprise. It had been so long since I felt an urge to run, to race, to get out there and enjoy life. So I registered. I went solo to race. One of my friends texted me about 30 min before the race start and said he was on his way, he was coming to run with me. We toed the line, I put my iPod on and told him I was just going to turn it up. They said GO and I ran the fastest race/pace I have run in my adult running career and an obvious 10k PR.
Two weeks following that 10k was a 5k I had done in 2010. I again registered and showed up, this time with a bit more of a crew, but I raced solo. I was unsure if I could push myself alone, if I had the guts, backbone, or motivation to go hard or fast without someone pushing me. But I proved myself strong and ran my way to another race PR.
During 2011 I have faced many challenges, many of which never found their way to pages of my blog. Not that I don't want to share them with you all, but it is actually quite the contrary, it was more that I didn't even have the words to express what I wanted to say. I have found myself, in the past month, slowly coming out of my dark place and finding joy in the simple things in life again. My desire to run is returning, my pleasure in racing has shown up again, and I am looking for an opportunity to excel, to push myself, and to make my dad proud(er. He always was so proud of me and my running. He always asked how it was going, what I "was up to now").
It is clear to me that the things I endured in 2011 were softened, if even the slightest bit, by the lessons learned in 2010 and the confidence and strength I gained previously. The things we learn out there on the road do cross over into our every day lives. They make us strong, resilient, confident, and capable. Without a doubt running has given me the strength, so many times, to push on and put one foot in front of the other....whether it be the last few miles of a race, or in the face of tragedy and heart ache, I know I can put one foot in front of the other......
Because I run.