Friday, February 25, 2011

Dead Runner Walking

Oh, boy. What have I gotten myself into and why won't I back down? Challenge, my friends, challenge.

I'm blogging (or avoiding doing homework) from the glory that is St. Petersburg, Florida. I'm visiting with my good friend Kylie Matthews and journeying into my potentail runner death this weekend. It's called the Gasparilla Distance Classic and it may be either my worst failure or greatest triumpth.

I'm participating in the Michelob Ultra Gasparilla Challenge. God and my right knee willing, I will run the Publix 15K which is followed by a 5K. That's two races in one morning. I can do that. 15K = 9 miles, 5K=3 miles. SO that's 12(ish) miles in one day. I can do that. I did the 15K last year in 90 minutes and have since beat that time in several other races. I remember crossing the 15K mark of the Diva's Half Marathon at 85minutes.
With time to stretch and rehydrate, another 3 miles isn't so bad. Even with a minimal amount of training I've been able to get in this winter, I'm not worried about tomorrow.

It's Sunday where things are getting scary. Because I'm not sane and because I want a HUGE medal and because I, apparently, love pain, I'll be participating in the second part of the challenge-- a half marathon (#8, whatwhat!) followed by a 5+ 3K.

2011 Half Marathon Logo 2011 5+3K Logo

I have no idea what a 5 + 3K is but rumor has it that it's about 4 miles. So, thats 13.1 miles + 4 miles = 17 miles. So, for the math whizzes out there- that is 12 Saturday miles + 17 Sunday miles = 29 miles. In two days. In non-math terms, that's just CRAZY.

I feel unprepared. While I've run seven half marathons and other races, I've never run more than 15 miles. I'm trying to harness the power of positive thinking and tell myself how awesome I am and that I CAN DO THIS! But, I keep flashing to the horror that was the last three miles of the Atlanta Half Marathon.

Does that look like someone who had fun running 13.1 miles? No.

I'm trying to remember the good races like Diva's and Rutgers. I'm trying to give myself credit for having found time to get ANY running in between a nonstop/full time life. I am accepting the fact that THIS IS GOING TO HURT.

Luckily, I'll have a running buddy on Sunday for the first part. Kylie will be running her first half marathon and since my legs are going to be tired from the previous day's 12 miles, I'm running with her as she dominates those 13.1 miles like they're Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwhiches. She's going to rock it. She rocked the 15K last year. I'm excited to run with her as she experiences the half marathon distance.

Kylie and I after the 2010 Gasparilla 15K

Going slowly, conserving energy and not burning out are my goals for the half. I worry about the 'runover' and my knees and shins. I worry about puking or passing out or how I'm going to get through this race without my headphones. I worry about dropping and getting the first DNF. Essentailly, I'm worried about failure. I need and I want this win but I have doubts. Is there anything more annoying than self doubt?

I had the option to only register for the half. Or only do the 15K, 5K and Half. But no, I wanted to do the complete challenge. And I will. And it's not gonna be pretty and there is a lot that can go wrong. But a lot can go right. And hopefully, by Sunday afternoon- I'll be watching the Phillies beat the Yankees in a preseaon exhibition game after having run 29 miles in one weekend and having amazed myself in the process.

Go Phils!

Spring Training 2010

Monday, February 21, 2011

Running in Circles

Tomorrow morning, I'll report to the exact same desk where I started my career. Almost five years ago, a very nervous 23 y/o girl with very little professional experience and a mom-like hairstyle wobbled into the lobby of the ETS Operations Center in New Jersey and hoped for best. She had gotten stuck in traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike twice during the 60-mile commute from her parent's house in Chester County and was already an hour late. The AC also wasn't working in her beat-up red Cavalier and thought it wasn't hot outside, she definitely perspired more on the stressful commute than one would like on the first day of a new job.

She clutches her fancy leather portfolio full of newspaper clippings and freshly printed resumes, and watches the fancy business people hustle in and out of the lobby. Soon, a beautiful, gregarious woman comes out to greet the nervous girl. A big smile and warm laugh lets this girl know things will be okay. Minna leads this girl to a small office with a pile of Post-It Notes, an uncomfortable chair and a pretty blond coworker named Kristen. They liked my purse.

I ended up working at the Operations Center for close to four years. I turned 24 shortly after that nervous day and am now staring at 29. I made friends. I made mistakes. I learned a lot. I got to know those "fancy" business people and inadvertently became one. That lobby I waited for Minna in once served as a foyer for a second home, with a second family.

A lot has happened in the five years since I first sat at Z-xxx. I'm not a temp.I don't live with my parents anymore. My hair is a lot longer, my style is a lot better. About a  year ago, I left the Ops Center, or Z Building, when I accepted a position with a different department. It's been a rough year as is expected whenever there is a job change. One of the many lessons of the past five years is that a desk is a desk and your performance is what matters.  But I still can not help but sigh and shake my head at the irony of it.

I'll walk confidently into that lobby tomorrow, carrying a hefty box of work and a good amount of stress, and a very full briefcase of readings for the final classes of Master's Degree. I'll say hi and how are yous to the fancy business people. It's a full circle, yes, but it's one of those kind that spiral upwards.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Would Rather be Running....

Between a full-time career, full-time graduate school, an active social calender, karate and trying to run 20-25 miles a week, my life is often a study in time management and planning ahead.

One thing I'm learning, or trying to learn, or becoming aware that I need to learn, is to not expect perfection is all of these areas all at once. There will be weeks when I'm too tired or overwhelmed to go to the grocery store to stock up on healthy foods and will survive via Wawa. There will be weekends when I'm too exhausted to get off my couch. There will be days at work when I can toil away at school work without my inbox suffering and then there will be days when I'm stuck in meetings or have deadlines and my homework won't get done. There will be nights when my brain only wants to watch The Daily Show and not write an article summary. There will be times when I will leave a chapter unread in order to get a beer with friends. There will be mornings when I will manage to get out of bed for a run. And there will be nights when I have enough energy to hit a treadmill at 9 or 9:30. And there will mornings when I didn't get to bed until 2am and a 5am run would just make for a miserable day.

It's always a balance of what you want to do and what you have to do. I am driven by an irrational fear of failure so many times my decisions are based on the lesser of two evils effect. I want to go to the gym and run but I need to do the course reading. I do not want to get fat or out of shape. But more than that- I don't want to be called on in class and not know what's going on or fail an exam. So, I rationalize that I can work out more on the weekends or that 2-5lbs can be lost. The $3,000 I'm paying for that class can only be spent once.

Running has, unfortunately, taken a back seat in all of this. Nothing makes me more upset or conflicted than the gym v. work debate. Things would be a lot easier if the ground wasn't covered in a foot of snow and topped with a sheet of ice and if the shoulders of roads weren't buried under mounds of white mess. It's simply not safe to run outside in the Northeast right now. (That is another blog post for another time.) School work v work work is easy enough to rationalize. School work v chores or socializing is another easy win. However, school v treadmill gets me every time. As I sit here with a document design book on my lap, I'm silently freaking out that I've only run 6 miles this week. How will life as I've known it for two years continue if I can't have time to run? Insert world ending noises!!

It will. Hopefully, by time this quarter is over-not only will I have figured out what I need to do to get above a B in tech writing, but also how to give myself some credit for handling a pretty packed schedule and not beat myself up for a few missed miles or gained pounds.