Friday, September 18, 2015

Too Stubborn? Too Stupid?

Quick update as the summer comes to a close.  As you have probably noticed, my blog, which was born to follow my racing adventures, has been on life-support for the last couple of years due to weirdo illness. 

Lexi & me on the couch on a beautiful summer day last due to sicky ickies. 
                                   Lot of hours on the couch in 2014.

Then after mounting a quasi-comeback and racing in May, the curtain of silence again fell.  Unfortunately it wasn't due to a descent into a serious pain cave of training and getting in amazeballs shape.  Instead, I was dealing with a couple of major injuries.

Quick recap:
⭐︎Illness and injury battles from July 2013-September 2015 (YUCK).

⭐︎September 2015 the "training" resumes with walking and run/walk intervals.

⭐︎November 2015 actual training resumes and I realize I am facing a mountain of work to even think about qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials (which is my ultimate goal).

⭐︎January 2015 pull a calf muscle; out for 8 weeks (seriously, if my calves weren't so big, it wouldn't have taken so long to heal).
             On what was supposed to be a training trip to AZ in January 2015, 
            instead I can only do a moderate amount of hiking due to calf injury.

⭐︎March, April, May start training basically from scratch again.

⭐︎May race Dam to Dam Half Marathon and run a respectable 1:19 considering the circumstances.

⭐︎June, just as I feel I'm starting to make gains and get geared up for Grandma's (officially Gary Bjorklund) Half Marathon, I seriously pull a hamstring racing in a little tune-up 5k. FML, pardon my french.

⭐︎August resume training from what feels like scratch AGAIN.  This is where I start to wonder if I'm stubborn or just stupid.  But, as I say, "can't stop, won't stop."

⭐︎September finally dip my toe back in the racing pool with the local Labor Day Victory Races.  I opt for the 10k, 5k back-to-back challenge, because why not?  I end up running a 36:24 10k and 45 minutes later an 18:30 5k.  Considering what I know I'm capable of (33:00ish 10k and 16:00 5k), this feels like a disappointment.  Then reflecting on what I've been though and the amount of training I've put in, I realize it's a time to celebrate and should be marked in "W" column.
                  Victory 10k-5k, not exactly 1:11 half marathon shape, but it's a start.

Now, I find myself racing the clock (literally) to qualify for the Trials.  I have until January 17 to run a qualifying time (which for the marathon is 2:43).  In the past, I qualified by running a marathon because well, that's the race at hand.  But because of what I've been though and the amount of time I've had to train (or lack thereof), my goal is to qualify using the half marathon race standard (which is 1:15).  Considering I ran a 1:19 in May and then sat on the bench for 5 weeks and could only muster a 36:00 10k a few weeks again, I feel like I'm stepping into the ring against Ivan Drago.  But I KNOW a 1:11 is in me, so getting a 1:15 is more than possible.  It's going to require total commitment to jumping in the hurt locker and embracing the discomfort, but I'm ready and willing to accept that fate.  It's also going to take a little bit of luck to not get injured or sick again...fingers crossed.

I would love to be in 1:11 shape and talking about being a real contender for Rio, but that's not the cards that were dealt to me.  Instead, I'm holding on to a thin thread of hope that I can and will qualify and simply get to bask in the accomplishment of making it to the start line at the Trails in LA in February.

Wish me luck!
                                                Mustaches are fun!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Better Late than Never - Dam to Dam 2015

Hey friends!

It's been a long while since I last posted about my running, but there's finally some news to report.

A few weeks ago (May 30), I actually raced! Yippee! I had the awesome opportunity to jump in the field of invited athletes for the 2015 Dam to Dam Half Marathon down in beautiful Des Moines, IA.  Big shout out to race director Ben Tilus for keeping me on the radar despite my recent disappearance from the scene.

So it was with nervous excitement that I trucked down to Iowa to toe the line for my first real racing action since January 2014.  After some decent workout efforts leading up to the race, but acknowledging I'm a long way from where I was when I left the scene, I was hoping to run a 1:20.  Not anywhere near my PR of 1:11, but a solid, respectable effort.

The morning of the race was overcast and misty; my kind of weather.  And I had the absolute pleasure of riding the bus next to a gregarious, local young runner named Obsie Birru.  After sharing a few laughs and talking shop, we realized we both were shooting for the 1:20 mark and decided to try help one another reach our goals.  This might be something most competitive runners think is nuts, but it's something I love about the sport.  When I'm going for time, I'll take everyone and anyone's help to get there.  I wasn't thinking about my place in the field and certainly wasn't expecting to be near a podium finish, I just wanted to give what I thought would be my best performance.

My pace buddy Obsie (pictured on the right).  I tried to tell her she should do more core work because clearly she's lacking in the abs department.  Pffffft.

The gun goes off and crap... I find myself in the lead pack, but with Obsie.  The first two miles or so have a lot of downhill so I didn't feel like my pace was too aggressive.  Unfortunately as soon as the course flattened out, I realized I was running with a group of gals who were, "above my pay grade."  So it was, around mile 4 that Katie McGregor cruised by and the lead pack went with her (including my POC, partner-in-crime, Obsie).  I was disappointed for sure, but I stayed behind settling into my own race knowing I wasn't ready to roll with the big dogs.

Within a mile, Obsie had dropped back from leaders and settled in alongside me.  The next 3-4 miles were awesome as we each had moments of weakness and strength which the other compensated for.  When I found myself dropping back, Obsie encouraged me and I closed the gap and picked her up again. When Obsie started falling off the pace, I encouraged her to come with me and she did.  It worked great until about mile 9 went we crested a hill and I lost my great pace buddy.

Fortunately another young little whippersnapper by the name of Lauren Versweyveld (recent winner of Nashville Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon) went shooting by me like a tiny little fluorescent pink rocket (she was wearing a pink jersey).  It was at that moment that I was pumped to realize my old racing instincts hadn't completely died, and she and I worked our way to the finish in a great back-and-forth fashion with me coming in ahead by the slimmest of margins.

You can see the Pink Rocket aka Lauren Versweyveld photo-bombing like a champ in this shot.  Notice my abs do NOT look like Obsie's...weird. Props to Jolesch Enterprises whom I' have clearly borrowed this image from.  ;)

1:19:17 for a final time in 6th place.  My worst Dam to Dam performance to date, but arguable my most satisfying experience considering where I've been (physically) and the amount of training that has been put in.
Fun photo leaderboard from the race.