Tuesday, March 29, 2011
In the blink of an eye.....tick.....a fingersnap......tick.....a breath.....tick...a life saved...tick....an accident averted.....tick.....a foot strike....
Life happens a second at a time. I know it can be broken down into even smaller increments, but for this second, that is smallest I need to go.
Have you ever watched a track race on TV? Perhaps the 100 metre race. The finishers are separated in 1/100 of a second to determine their placement. Fractions of time that are like splinters deciding who gets a first place gold and who goes home with a nothing 4th, 5th or lesser. Perhaps not even qualifying for the next level of competition.
On Sunday, I returned to the same Half Marathon course I started 2010 with, Liverpool. The conditions were perfect, overcast skies, 40sF, very slight wind. It was a crowded and now very popular race with 7,000 entries. Perhaps it's place on the running calendar of only a month from the London Marathon spiked attendance by over 2,000 more than last year!
The course is good with a mix of uphills, road running, scenic parks, and the 3 mile finish along the River Mersey to where the race started. I was apprehensive about this race, as I am with just about every one I do. I hadn't run a half for 5 months and my last race was the Philadelphia Marathon. I had been keeping my training to plan, but could I perform as I was hoping, could I run the speed I wanted, and could I do a new Personal Best? Questions that filled my mind as hubs and I drove the hour south.
All the usual pre race rituals were carried out and I kissed hubs and wished him a great race as I made one last wait in the porta-loo line and left him to finish his own preparations. I told him I would see him at the finish!
It took me nearly 14 minutes to cross the start line and once underway the familiarity of the route came rushing back. The first mile was a quick out to the main road and the long flat towards the long uphill towards the first park. All was going well until nearing mile 2 I felt my left Quad muscle start to ache! Mile TWO and this is happening??!! Not a good sign as this kind of stuff if it is going to happen occurs during a marathon at about mile 18, not in a half at two miles!!
I was NOT going to panic, I decided that I would take a short walk to relieve the ache as I approached the top of the hill. I resumed running and kept a good pace.
It was around mile 5 that the ache started again. Ok..short quick walk for no more than 2 minutes.. and then off again.
Through the streets, down some hills, up some hills, and the next park...walk breaks of no more than 1-2 minutes and then run. I could see the faster racers going in the opposite direction towards the park exit.. the 1hr 50 min group...the guy who was in the car opposite hubs and I while we were getting ready....running club vests that I recognized went racing past.
My quad was holding together, my breathing was good, my watch showed my time to be on target. I took energy gels at 4 miles and then again at 8 miles. I had been counting down the miles and with less to run then I had completed something happened...I started passing people and they weren't catching back up to me even during my walk breaks. At nine miles I went speeding passed people half my age walking and not having the energy to run at all.
I now was approaching the edge of the last park and the lane to the River Mersey riverside walk. I remembered the previous year's headwinds and how it held me back. This year...with my 5 minute running bursts followed by 1-2 min walks to ease my quad I kept passing other participants. No headwind, no excessive fatigue...just a continual surge with each footstrike. I marked runners ahead of me to catch up to and then pass. Mile 10, mile 11...mile 12....the cobbles, the weaving around townhouses and riverfront buildings until at last the final stretch appeared.
I had saved up enough energy to push passed additional runners....I could see those who had finished proudly wearing their medals and heard their encouraging "almost there!!"through my concentration on the finish line just less than 1/4 mile away.
I caught sight of my husband, camera in hand, to my left! He shouted to me and urged me onward. Mile 13....and I could see the blue FINISH banner over the road! Passing two more women I increased my speed one last time and with a smile finally on my face my foot touched the timing mat...and tick...my race was completed.
I took a few more steps and then turned off my watch, thanked the finish line marshall for a great race, collected my medal, my water, my T shirt and then my goodie bag. Hubs was there to take more photos and we exchanged race stories.
He had finished in a fantastic time of 1:31:24! I wasn't sure exactly of my time as I knew I was out a couple of seconds. I would wait until the official results were posted on the website.
It wasn't until later that night that hubs found out that he had won his age group! Top of the table of 63 in his group! So proud of him! My time???? a new personal best of 2:42:54....that was ONE second quicker than my previous best in 2007 at Blackpool.....tick...just ONE second....faster! The time of a fingersnap.....a blink of an eye...or a footstrike!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
One might think that the title of my blog has something to do with American Football. You know...First down, nine yards to go. But nope, not about that and not referring to the times on a clock. It's about races.
I have one week until my next half marathon. I'm running the Liverpool Half again. This year I am so hoping that I don't experience a finishing head wind for 3 miles along the Mersey River. When I ran this last year it was my slowest half but it was my first race of the year and got me warmed up.
This also marks NINE weeks until the Edinburgh Marathon. I have also run there before and in fact that is where I became a marathoner! My very first marathon back in 2006 was a hot June 11. I didn't know what to expect as I got into the later miles and what running in that city would be like.
Edinburgh is a fantastic, historic, wonderful place that my hubs and I looking forward to seeing again. The course will be flatter that what we ran, and much larger. The distance of course will be the same, the sites will be same, but I will be a bit more experienced, as it will be my 9th marathon (my hubs 11th).
My training has now stepped up in miles and I've crossed the 40 mile mark this past week. I have kept up with my twice a week boxing and strength training. I'm focusing on one day at a time and putting one foot infront of another till race day.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Earlier today I feel like I got hit by a one-two punch. A right jab and then a left upper cut! OUCH! I am still reeling from it and a bit dazed and numb. I made a phone call to a client which resulted in a very unexpected outcome.
Later in a phone conversation with my husband he reminded me of my new found cross training....boxing.. and painted an analogy for me. He told me to keep moving, diving and weaving. I countered with how I need to keep on my toes, to move and avoid getting knocked out.
Life WILL punch back, it WILL do the body slams, it WILL put me in a corner and want to beat the daylights out of me and watch me crumble and give up the 10 count! But to avoid that from happening I remember my boxing training.
Make a window with my gloves....protect my face...by being prepared and alert. Think ahead and be ready.
Keep my feet moving...stay on my toes and watch my surroundings. Don't let the other side get the best of me. Dance, dance dance.....
Find my stance before returning the punch.....be anchored in what I am doing and then move forward.... don't swing blindly...act with purpose.
Don't stop until the round is over..... it's not over until the bell sounds....stopping before could cost me the match!
So yes, today's event brought tears, fear, disappointment, annoyance, frustration, and knocked me down for an 8 count...but I am still here. I'm back upright and standing with my gloves still on. My stance might have been shaken up, but i'm still dancing, and diving, and weaving....till I hear that bell!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Sometimes life tries to squeeze the life out of life....to steal away the tranquility, the serentiy, the peace that brings joy. Comfort can be hard to find when everything is zipping by like it's on a high speed conveyor belt. Where do you go to slow things down? Where is that place that brings the space back to life?
I found such a place, a place that when I go there I can't help but feel better. A place that only takes 5 minutes to get to but when I am there, I feel miles away.
Actually I can see for miles when I'm there, I can see out to the Irish Sea, 26 miles away, the mountains of far away Wales, the tips of the hills in the Lake District, and even out to the Yorkshire Dales. There's the wind farm off to the opposite side and then I'm back full circle facing west towards the sea.
My place is the top of the Moor up the hill from my village. When I'm there my mind escapes, my hair is russled with the wind and my lungs, heart and mind are refreshed. I am sure many other people have found this place as well, but to me that is my stress-relief, feel better place. A place I remember first finding 7 years ago. A place I showed to my youngest son when he came to visit. A place of memories of walking a beloved now gone dog.
Places like my hilltop Moore are necessary to me. I feel release, I feel rebuilding, I feel for a moment that time melted away and it's just me and answers come. Resolutions take shape and wholeness is restored. Where do YOU go?
Saturday, January 22, 2011
...and you will be successful!
I've heard that saying a number of years ago and am going to apply it to something I have recently discovered.
I enjoy boxing! Bet you wondered why the photo, and that's the reason.
My gym has a box-fit class and I've gone twice and am getting hooked! (no pun intended)
With the very cold days and icy underfoot conditions, I've been at the gym more this month than I have in ages. Saturday mornings I am usually out on the road, but it's between marathons and I have the time to try some other exercises.
I'm really glad as I have found something that I can keep up with here at home as well as at the gym. I can do that because today I bought myself my own gloves, pads, and wrist tape! YEP, I'm hooked!....or maybe it's a jab!
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