Monday, June 13, 2011

Race Recap: SheROX!!!

   I don't care if you are a beginner runner/triathlete or a Olympian, when you get to race day in your head you have an idea of how you want to perform.  Maybe you have a specific time goal in mind, maybe you want to beat a previous record for the course, maybe you just want to finish and finish well.  And if the race doesn't go like you thought it would, it can lead to some disappointment.  As a Warning... That's kind of how I feel about my performance yesterday... So bare with me as I describe what happened!

   Last year, this was my first triathlon EVER!  I was BEYOND nervous and truly was just out to finish the race and see what happens.  This year, I went into the race thinking of it as a piece of cake since I am currently training for the Muncie, IN 1/2 Ironman race on July 9th! EEK!  I was feeling very confident, and actually wasn't that nervous (which is impressive since I get nervous before EVERY race).  I've been training hard for Muncie and Jose has been pushing me to do things I NEVER thought I'd be able to do - pull-ups for example! Dang those things are hard!  But in the back of my head I am very nervous about Muncie and wonder if I can do it.  I can do each of the three parts, but together... who knows!  Anyways, I was looking at yesterday's race as a decent way to gage how I am feeling about Muncie... if I was SUPER sore after this race then I have a problem, if I couldn't complete it, then I am SO NOT ready for Muncie.  I was also hoping that it would be a confidence booster for me, that it would calm my fears a little bit and I'd feel more confident about Muncie... that didn't happen!
    It's race morning and I am up bright and early, getting pumped up to go! Everything was laid out the night before, just had to get dressed, eat something, load my bike and away I go!  Mistake #1... I spent the night at my parent's because my Mom wanted to come with me to cheer me on.  I am VERY allergic to our dogs, and as a result they aren't even allowed in the room I sleep in... EVER!  So I took an allergy pill before I went to bed and when I woke up I could tell that I was wheezy! Ohhh great...  So we drove to the race and I went to set-up my transition.  I took my inhaler at this point because I knew I wasn't allowed back into transition until after I had done my swim.  Which means I took my inhaler 2 hours before I started exercising and it is ideal to take it 30 minutes before exercising... Mistake #2... My wave finally was allowed in the water and we are all getting pumped up like crazy!  And I had put my swim cap on and my goggles on top of my head... We were waiting for a while so when they finally blew the air horn, I just dove right in! Immediately realizing that I left my goggles on top of my head! CRAP!  So I had to stop and put them on!  And of course then I had water in them! Sheesh!

Can you see my waving and my goggles on my head?
       So I finished my Swim but felt very off,  very phlegmy (sorry to be graphic) but I booked it to my bike and threw on my shoes and took off!  My bike felt incredibly SLOW! I put my heart rate monitor on after the swim and my heartrate was 173!  I couldn't get it to drop below that the entire bike ride!  It felt so labored and like the longest ride of my life.  I thought maybe I should stop and take my inhaler because I was having issues breathing but chose to keep treking on... that was Mistake #3!  I finally finished the bike and saw my Mom right at the bike dismount and she asked how I was doing... I lied and said, "GREAT!"  I dropped my bike off and took off running... within a few minutes I had to walk, I could not catch my breath!  My heartrate was over 175 now! So I was hoping walking would make it drop down... Not a chance!  The first mile was brutal, a crappy combination of walking and running trying to regulate my breathing... I know, Stuipd that I didn't stop and take my inhaler for 2 seconds.  But the thought of a "rescue inhaler" makes me think I should only use it if I am having an asthma attack... and I wasn't... atleast not yet...  So I didn't take it, I just kept trekking along!  But now I was pissed! The race hadn't gone anything like I thought it would and I was frustrated!  So I sucked it up and started really running!  My last mile was by far my fastest!  About a 1/2 mile out I came up behind two of my Suburban Multisport teammates and shouted, "Let's go Suburban Multisport!" and then zipped past! I suppose I should have stayed back and finished with them, but I was on a mission! I had to redeem what I could of the race! So I finished:

I'm pretty pumped!

      I then waited at the finish line for my teammates to run in and cheer them across the finish line!  I'm pretty sure my Mom was very confused why I didn't come over to her right away!  So they crossed and there were hugs all around!  It was very fun!

Susan and I after finishing!
    So, once I walked over to my Mom, just from talking to her she could tell that I was having issues breathing and made me take my inhaler immediately!  My heartrate finally started to drop and I could breathe better! So Memo to Self: The second you think you should/might need to take your inhaler, Do it! DO NOT WAIT!  I am disappointed for a few reasons:  My race didn't go as planned, my bike and run sucked, I wanted to beat last year's time and I didn't.
   But I am going to think of the positive things, such as:
  •  I placed 16th in my Age Group
  •  I took 235 overall out of 1468 (which I think is pretty good, considering!)
  • The run course was different this year (I'm convinced it was longer) and the first place finisher finished in 1:10, I was only about 20 minutes behind that, where as last year I was 30mins behind 1st place.
  • My mom was there to support me and now wants to try it herself!
  • I had a great time visiting and celebrating with my teammates!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Dangers of Marathons... Do you agree?

   As you all know, I am a HUGE fan of endurance sports, specifically Marathons, 1/2 Marathons and Triathlons.  I feel like I have truly accomplished something when I complete one of these races.  But in the back of my head are the horror stories of people who collapse on the course and die.  Just a week or two ago a 22 year old died while running a 1/2 marathon in Chicago!  My heart goes out to his family and friends, who were probably waiting at the finish line for him to celebrate his victory over 13.1 grueling miles, never suspecting that they'd end their day in the hospital.  How terrifying! 
   My Dad and I constantly email articles back and forth about running, different races we want to run and even our own personal race goals.  We are each others running partners and when I run with my Dad it is never about beating each other (although he does like to brag that he has beaten me ina few races due to my knee issues).  So today I opened up my email to see an article from him about Marathon Running and how it leads to an increased risk of heart failure.  Oh great... Is this him sending me a subtle message?  But I read the article and would like to know what you think!

Here's the link: Healthier Talk

   So I want to know...
  1. Do you agree with the article?
  2. Does it change your mind about running these long distances?
  3. Will you continue to run Marathons, 1/2 Marathons, Ultramarathons?
  4. How far is too far?
I'm just very interested to see what you think about this.  It was an eye opener for me in many ways and is certainly something to think about and consider!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weekend Recharge

     I don't know about all of you, but life has been so busy lately that I have had almost NO down time.  Normally, I like to be busy, but lately I've been so busy that I am feeling very overwhelmed!  Hence the problem with suddenly having a fork in the road and not knowing what to do!  This past weekend, was my last weekend without something going on from now until the end of August!  And let me tell you... Man did I take advantage of it!
     I apologize if it sounds like a boring weekend, but it was much needed!  Friday night, one of my co-workers and good friend had an Art Show in Downtown Palatine.  She is unbelievably creative and talented and has started her own small company on the side called Empty Canvas Art and Design, check out her work!  So a co-worker and I went to support her and then went a drink with her afterwards, it was so nice to relax and just hang out with my friends!

    Saturday, I had a very productive work-out day! After being at the gym for 3 hours or so, I figured it was time to go home and chill out.  So I showered and then got ready for Mass, after mass I headed to the redbox to pick-up a movie and then to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner.  I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and as I was walking into the store, I looked over my shoulder at my car, for whatever reason and realized that I had a flat tire!! CRAP!!!! Well... let me re-phrase that, not completely flat but certainly low...WAY lower than it should have been...It's always something isn't it?!  So I walked into the store and pulled out my phone to call my brother (He's a BMW technician and handles ALL of my car problems!), plus he works less than 5 minutes from my apartment. Naturally he didn't answer.  So I called my other brother Peter, who works as a Porter at the same place Tom the technician does.  He actually picked up! YES! But he was on his way to his friend's lake house and wasn't anywhere near me.  Since I said it wasn't that flat that I couldn't drive on it, he told me to drive home to my parent's house and switch cars.  Which probably would have meant our lovely 12 passenger van... HAHA... right... I don't think so!  So I told him I was just going to go home to my place, and that I thought I could drive home to my parent's the next morning and would probably be fine... hopefully!  Now you are probably asking why I didn't just put on my spare tire, which since I drive a Jeep Liberty is a Full spare tire anyway!  And yes, before you jump to any conclusions or stereotype me, I do know how to change a tire... In fact, the girls in my family were never allowed to even ask to get our license until we knew how to change a flat! Thank you Dad! But I was already driving on my spare, because the seal was bad on another tire and I had to switch them... so I had NO tire to switch too... awesome!  So I went home and made myself a fabulous pasta salad and brats for dinner and popped in the movie The Tourist.  Tom ended up calling me while I was making dinner and said that he'd try to stop by.  He called me a few hours later to say that he and my Dad would definitely be coming over.  I began to panic that maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought and they'd just laugh at me and say, "Em, you just need to fill your tires.." But sure enough they came over and they were shocked at how bad my tire actually was!  I managed to split the tire wall (I think that's what they called it...). My Dad was suddenly very concerned about me driving on it at all, convinced that it was going to blow out... great, even better!  So my relaxing night at home turned in to me going home and spending the night at my parent's with my Dad driving slowly behind me to make sure my tire didn't blow!  But don't you worry... I made sure I had a BIG BOWL of ice cream once I got there! Shh... Don't tell Jose!

   Sunday morning, I woke up and had breakfast with my family and then my Dad and I went over to NTB.  They said I needed two new tires! Thank goodness!  I was fully expecting to have to get 5 brand new tires! So my Dad and I walked home and then got ready to go for a bike ride.  I needed to get a longer training ride in and so I went for a ride with my mom first, 20 miles or so, then I came home dropped her off and picked up my Dad and went for another 20 miles!  Let me tell you... I am certainly rocking some sweet tan lines from my watch, tri-shorts and my bike gloves... thankfully they don't look as bad today... Then I got home and my car was ready!  I picked it up and then went to the pool to cool down and swim a few laps!  It was a great way to end the day!

  Life never seems to go like I have it planned in my head, so I am getting really good at rolling with the punches!  Not the relaxing weekend I envisioned but I am so grateful it happened this weekend, rather than a weekend where I have a bunch of things going on!

Special Shout out to my Little Brother and Baby of the family who turns 9 today!!! Happy Birthday Nick!!! I LOVE YOU!

Friday, June 3, 2011

There's a fork in the road...Don't Crash!

  Have you every experienced that moment in your life where you hit a fork in the road and you just come to a complete halt?  You look down both directions and you know that as soon as you set your foot down and start in a direction there is no turning back and your life is about to be forever changed.  And so you stand there with this internal battle going on inside your mind, left or right? Left or right? You can see that the fork that goes to the left has another fork down the road that is equally as important as the first decision to go left or right.  Then you look to the right and you see a straight path for as far as your eye can see, no variation, it's the "safe, comfortable" path, but it's also the path you have been on for a while that you hate.  What do you do?

   Well, I've hit that point in my life.  My sister likes to call it our quarter life crisis, which I'm ok with since that means I get to live to be 92, which is just fine by me!  But I have NO IDEA what to do, well take that back, I think I know but I am terrified of it.  As many of you know, I graduated in '09 with a degree in Interior and Environmental Design, probably one of the worst degrees to come out into the world with, considering the state of the economy.  But I was hopeful that I would find that AMAZING job I had dreamt up in my head.  Who wouldn't want to hire an energetic, skilled, enthusiastic and passionate Interior Designer?  Boy was I wrong!  My life became just like the Movie/Book Post Grad, well minus Mr. Rico Sauve living across the street and the really good guy friend that professes his love - still waiting for that guy, but I digress... Finally I landed the job that I have today, I was beyond excited!  Just a contract job with the strong possibility of being hired on if you impressed the boss.  I had many good indications and hints to becoming a "real" employee but to no avail.  It's ended up being nothing like I thought it would be, and I've pushed through 2 years, because there aren't design jobs out there.

   My parents and I have really been discussing it lately and finally my Dad told me I have two options last night.  I value my parent's opinions ALOT, in fact sometimes my sister's think I value them a little too much, oh well... So the two options, hence the fork in the road for me.  If I go right, I stay at my current job and just make the best of it until the economy loosens up a little bit more and I can find the design job of my dreams. And, as my Dad put it, try to find fulfillment in other areas of my life.  Which I have done by being involved in: Triathlons/Triathlon Team, Archi-treasures, Culture of Life Board, PHD (Preservation of Human Dignity), World Youth Day, Book Club, etc.  Or... I can go left, left means a leap of faith.  Taking a huge risk and hoping for the best.  It also means, going back to school.  If I got left and start down that path, I am immediately faced with another fork in the road... Do I go for my Masters Degree in an Interior Design related field or do I completely switch career paths and major in something else?

   These are big decisions for me, and maybe you don't agree or it seems pretty clear to you what I should do.  If so let me know!  But until a decision is made, you can be sure that I am cranking out long runs to think through all the options in my head!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wait... I'm a runner? Are you sure?

     Growing up I never thought I would be a runner. In fact, I HATED running in High school.  The only exposure I had was in conditioning for Soccer, it was the section of the soccer season that I hated more than anything else.   I also, ran in gym class for the standard 1 mile, but certainly never pushed beyond that, maybe I would have run track in HS, since my long legs would have been pretty good for hurtles but we did not have a track team.
      Then I got to college and was suddenly afraid of becoming a fat ass, gaining the dreaded Freshmen 15lbs.  So I started running, even with the mileage I was putting in, I never thought I was actually a runner.  I even trained for my first marathon, getting my pace under a 9 minute pace per mile!  People would make comments about me being a runner, etc. but how could I possibly be a runner?  It wasn't until I was injured that I realized that I am in fact a runner!  It killed me to sit on the sidelines, not being able to run especially when the Doctors, MRIs and X-Rays all said that I was perfectly fine, but here take some pain killers and be on your way.

    Really and truly becoming a runner was a conscious decision on my part and I think it is for just about everyone.  You need to ask yourself, Am I willing to push through unknown amounts of pain and soreness?  Will I stick my running to achieve the goals that I've set for myself?  Am I willing to possibly have black toenails and burning through at least one pair of gym shoes a year?  Those all sound like tough brutal questions that make running sound unbearable but there are the positive questions you need to ask yourself too.  Am I willing to experience the indescribable joy at crossing the finish line?  Am I ready to be supported by people that I've never even met before in your life?  Am I ready to make great friends and reach for goals that I previously thought were unbelievably unattainable?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you my friend are a runner!

     What about you?  When did you realize that you are a runner?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bring on the Summer

Hello June!  I thought you would never come!  June is my favorite month for a few reasons, one being that it's my birthday month, and birthdays are the best!  The second reason is that school always got out in June and it meant the beginning of Summer.  Unfortunately, I'm not in school anymore which means I don't get that "typical break", but somehow it still feels like a break is in sight especially with warm weather and a tan right around the corner.
     Now, June marks the beginning of my race season and I couldn't be more excited!  I've worked hard in the "off season" to get stronger and get my knee strong to be able to handle the many miles I will be putting in this summer.  So here's what my summer looks like:
      1. Kick off triathlon of the season! WOOHOO!!!
      1. 10K race - I'm pumped to run this one because I always run it with my Dad, it was our very first race together and I look forward to it ever year now!
      2.  Muncie 1/2 Ironman! - I am super nervous about it but can't wait to see what I can do!
      3.  Xtreme 10 mile race - Last year my Dad and I were rained out, so I am hoping to actually get to run it this year.  It will be my first ever trail run and its near my home town, so I am looking forward to it!

     1. I get to go to Spain for 2 whole weeks! That means 2 whole weeks without work! WOAHHH... Can you tell I am looking forward to it?
     2. I might do the Chicago Triathlon as well once I get back from my trip.

     1. Probably doing the Lake Geneva Triathlon.

What about you?  What big events are going to be a part of your summer?