27 October 2013

I Accidentally Sort-Of PR'd Today

Remember how I said I wasn't going to try to PR this fall, that I was going to run for fun and not focus on the clock? Well, I ran for fun and I PR'd anyway! Sort of.

Today was my first race (finally!) in my Oiselle Team Volée Race Kit! OTVRK! The Run Scared 5k was the perfect mix of down-homey and pro. I arrived at Seward Park after an 8-minute jog from my house. That's a first; I was crazy excited to be able to get to a race using my feet instead of my car. I got there way too early (I'm a neurotic early bird, haha get it, bird? Keep up.) and felt stupid standing around by myself. Most of the runners were in costume, but I dressed up as a sponsored runner in my Oiselle race kit.


After walking around the park for 45 minutes or so,  bonking my head (hard) on the roof of a pavilion, and peeing 46 times, it was time to warm up. A mile and another pit-stop later, it was time to line up. Actually everyone else was already lined up; for once I was not early. Chronically early runner, late to line up! Everybody MOOOOOVE!

I really loved this race because the timing was pro. They had TWO timing mats, one at the start and another at the finish! Race directors, listen up. This is how you do it. Is it just on the East Coast that they just do finish-line-only mats? That's annoying. This race also had a civilized, well thought out line-up with lots of pace signs and clear places for walkers, dogs, and strollers to line up. (To the people with the black labs who lined up right near me in the 8:00-9:00 pace area and then almost tripped me with their leashes in the first 20 yards of the race, you suck. You are not welcome back.)

Countdown, air horn, and we were off. The course is great - there is one decent-sized hill (300' or so) in the first mile, but the rest of the course is downhill or flat. (Most of my previous 5k attempts were run on an annoying course in annoying Massachusetts with an annoying hill in the 2nd mile that just messed with my head.) I focused on having fun, not dying, and avoiding the walkers who flooded the course around mile 1.5 and didn't understand that they should stay to the right. Whatever, the hill was behind me! I got to walk to the race! I was in a good mood for once.

Before the race, I kept going back and forth about whether I wanted to try to stick to a certain pace, or whether I should avoid the Garmin. I sort of did both. I basically tried to stay around 8:00-8:20 on the flat parts of the course, and I avoided the Garmin while running uphill. This seemed to work for me; I didn't get pissed off once. You know what I mean, when you look down and Garmin says 10:30 (or whatever your "I suck" pace is) and you just deflate like a front yard Santa on 12/26.

I finished in 25:17, which is one second (!) faster than the fastest 5k race I've ever run, but I didn't initially think it was a PR because, okay this is a long story. Last year I ran the evil 2nd-mile-hill 5k in 25:18. Then in March of this year, I ran this little rinky dink 5k where they sent us the wrong way on the course and we ended up running 3.5 miles. This was maddening because I knew I'd run a fast race (for me, duh) but I didn't have an actual 5k time to show for it. So I just took the 5k PR that my Garmin said I'd run as part of the race, and called that my PR. I asked twitter  today if they thought that was a PR or if my official race today was a PR, and no one responded because they were too busy yelling WHACK JOB at their smartphones and unfollowing me. Well then Sean got home and convinced me that since this was the fastest I'd ever officially run a 5k (since college anyway), that it was a PR. So I kinda sorta PR'd by one second.

After the race, I learned that I'd placed 3rd in my age group, so I waited around for the awards ceremony just in case. The last (and only other) time I got an AG award, I missed the awards ceremony and didn't get my coupon for plastic surgery discounts (or something similarly useless; I'm determined to age gracefully, whatever), so this time I was determined not to miss out. Sadly, they only did 1st place awards for age groupers (we are not old fish by the way) so I just stood in the cold rain to watch other people get their awards, which was fun too.

Next month I'm running the Mustache Dache. It's even flatter and I am determined to run even faster, unless my legs fall off before then. But I will focus on having fun too, which I also did today. I keep saying I want to PR in the 5k but then I also want to run a marathon and a road mile and a half marathon and what do you know, I don't really improve too much at any distance because I am too busy running all of them. So for the rest of 2013, 5k's only!

Did anyone else race today? How was it? Are you training for something? Tell me about it! Have you ever run a race where they messed up the timing or the course? Does it count for anything?

22 October 2013

I Am a Snoozefest

I've been trying to write a new post for over an hour. It's not working. Nothing terrible is happening, I'm just not very exciting right now. I'll try again later when I'm not such a snoozefest.

14 October 2013

Sound Mind, Sound Body

First things first. In my last post, I made my ultrarunning husband sound like kind of an ass:
"The blindness came on suddenly, around 3:30am one morning when I woke up to drive Sean to the start of his first ultra. I suddenly couldn't see out of my right eye, and I had to drive him and Maple about 10 miles in the dark on winding country roads in Vermont, and then back to our hotel." 
I didn't remember that exactly right. Sean drove us to the race and I drove Maple and I back to the hotel. In fact, I had to talk Sean into doing the race. He wanted to DNS since I was like, going blind. At any rate, he is not a monster. Just wanted to clear that up.

I'm feeling better and better and I'm excited to talk about not-autoimmune-disease things. Last week I ran a whopping 16 miles and by the last run I felt pretty good. My feets are not numb anymore. Yay!

When I'm mid-relapse (I know, I said I wouldn't talk about it anymore, I'm almost done), it's hard to focus on anything but not-panicking, but as soon as I start feeling better, I get inspired to Do Things Right, Once and For All. So it was with great hopefulness that I whipped out Nicole's 15-Step Bullshit-Free Goal Setting Formula last weekend and gave some serious thought to how I want to conduct myself over the next six months.

Aside: Nicole is amazing and she runs for Oiselle.

My husband and I have lovingly nicknamed the Goal-Setting Formula "The Packet". Mostly because it is a little thick when you print out all the worksheets and staple them together, and I used to carry it around the house like a security blanket. Also it needs a radical moniker, and "The Holy Bible" was taken. The Packet helps you get very clear on your big life goals and then figure out how to make shit happen. The last time I used it, my "Obsessive Goal" was to move my family to the west coast within six months, and it only took three. That shit really works.

This time around, my theme is "Sound Mind, Sound Body", and my Obsessive Goal is related to getting healthy in um, my mind and body. This will include some combination of dietary experimentation, meditation, thought-provoking reading, journaling, and exercise. One shocking thing for me was that running is not my obsessive goal, as I thought it would be after moving out west. I love running and I'm going to keep running and racing, but overall I'd say my health is slightly more important. Having an autoimmune disease and a stressful 2013 means I need to really focus on being healthy, so I can hopefully get to the point where I can be truly obsessed with running again.

This week I'm planning another 20 or so miles of easy running, while I start to figure out this being-healthy thing. I've been doing a gluten-free no-sugar-or-dairy thing for about a week and I have been uncharacteristically un-bloated. That's been fun. I'm also tracking what I eat and how I feel in what my friend Caroline calls a "food mood poop" journal. Caroline, like Nicole, is what my husband refers to as a power mama. I went to elementary school with her, and we reconnected earlier this year. Lo and behold she's a health coach, yoga teacher, and athlete! I attended her recent Delicious Detox Dinner Party phone call, which was inspiring and fun and a great reminder of why you should treat yourself well with good food and good habits. Cause you know, science!

Are you trying to clean up your diet? How's it going? Anyone have any healthy suggestions for me? Ever tried a "food mood poop" journal?

08 October 2013

That Other Time I DNS'd

Well this is embarrassing. It's been way too long. I have excuses, good ones even! I moved again, I had no internet, I had another MS relapse, and I was overwhelmed. Like, massively. But as of today I have internet again, I am healthy again, and the boxes are mostly unpacked. I finally feel almost settled. Life is good. If I'd written last week it would have been all whiny. Now I can just sound all tough and shit.

Two weekends ago, I was supposed to run my first trail race. It wasn't exactly my first trail race, it was kind of my first-second trail race. My second-first trail race? Let me explain. Two years ago, about six months after I started running, I registered for my first trail race, a half marathon in Massachusetts. About a month before the race, I got injured -- the original posterior tib tendon injury that I ran through for so long that I did permanent damage and the stupid thing is still weak to this day, but I digress. On the heels of that injury I had a little mini MS relapse, which was my first experience going partially blind. That was a trip. Whenever I have a relapse I always tell myself that it will go away, that I will heal, and I really do my best to believe that and not to freak out, but it's pretty hard to believe that things will miraculously go back to normal in a few weeks when you can't see or walk or breathe normally. Or count to ten, that was a fun one. Good times!

It was funny actually; the blindness came on suddenly, around 3:30am one morning when I woke up to drive Sean to the start of his first ultra. I suddenly couldn't see out of my right eye, and I had to drive him and Maple about 10 miles in the dark on winding country roads in Vermont, and then back to our hotel. That sounds badass right? I'm so tough. Actually I'm pretty sure there was a fair amount of blubbering and panicking that I was going to go completely blind while driving and kill all of us, but yeah, I didn't.

The relapse didn't get worse, and a few weeks later I could see almost normally again. To this day when I look at a white wall, it looks grey on the right side, but it's not that big of a deal really, I'm just complaining cause it's my blog and I can do that. So I DNS'd my first trail race two years ago when it sounded like a stupid idea to race while half blind and exhausted with MS fatigue. I'm such a wimp.

Fast forward two years and I was all excited to run my first-second (second-first) trail race. It was just a local 5k, but I was excited to live up to my idea of myself as a real trail-running badass, even though the trails were well groomed and it was only three measly miles. But come on, I have tattoos! I shaved my head once! Right? And then I woke up the morning before the race with half-numb feet. MS can affect sensations in your body, especially your extremities, so I wasn't really shocked by these symptoms. I've been so so SO stressed out over this move, and the new job, and the new house, and stress is not really a friend of MS. Another little relapse was not surprising. I'm just lucky the relapses are little! Major relapses don't really go with my outfit. Anyway, by 5 a.m. on race day my feet were more like completely-numb, and I started thinking it was a stupid idea to go run a trail race on them, no matter how short it was or how well-groomed the trails were. Even though I tweeted this the night before:

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 7.27.13 PM

Right after I tweeted this, some very nice person tweeted back that I was an inspiration, and I thought, that's really sweet but no, I'm not an inspiration. I'm a fucking moron. I need to rest. And so I did. As it turns out, I am not a badass, because I DNS'd. Did Not Start. ed. But I did lay in bed (and okay I unpacked a little) and thought about how much cooler it would be if I took care of myself and ate well and didn't spend all my waking hours in a stress-induced shit fit over my brand new house (hello, first world problems!).

Ever since then I've been planning for my future life as a healthy person. I've been meditating, eating better, resting more, and running less. It sucks to be (once again) building back up to 10 miles a week, but it's better than being you know, sick or dead or something. I am feeling much MUCH fucking better. My feet are normal again and even better, I might just have my priorities in order. I might not run a half marathon this fall, or if I do run it, it will be more "for fun" and less "for a PR". In fact I think I'm going to do a whole bunch of races for fun instead of PRs. I am going to celebrate the fact that I can run at all, and forget about the almighty clock for a while.

It's a good idea, right?