Tag Archives: Sports

Back on the training treadmill

I don’t normally compete in July and August. For one thing, it’s stupid insane hot here.

And I have time to get caught up on other things, like doctor appointments, writing and maybe some real rest time.

But as that famous blonde singer once warbled, “Oops, I did it again.”

I signed up for another half-marathon. It’s not until next March, but ten months goes by faster than you want it to. One month you’re a lane lizard in the pool or strolling on beach sand like a tourist without a timetable, and the next thing you know, it’s time to pick up the race packet and goodie bag.

I have other events before March: a few swim meets, road races and three triathlons. Those need care, feeding and training, too. But the half-marathon was an event I swore I’d never do again after I did the Daytona Speedway-to-The-Beach-And-Back half a few years ago. It was a nice race (if you ignore the 3:30 a.m. wake up time to be parked by 4:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. start thing, along with the 38-degree temperatures), but I figured by then, my distance days ought to be over. I was hurting so much at the end of that race, The Husband’s hope for a photo of me at the top of the track’s 31-degree banked Turrunsn 1 was just that – a hope.

Why do another half? A small desire for redemption mixed with a decent dose of insanity plus a need to defy the onslaught of age. I want to do a better job on the finishing time. And all of us who run are at least a little left or right of the center line of normal anyway. It’s not that age is showing or catching up. But little things are noticeable – injuries take longer to heal than they used to, and while I don’t require more rest, I seem to benefit from more of it.

I look at some of my friends, a few my age and some a little older, who are becoming burdened with the ailments of oncoming years. I don’t want life to get like that. I’m all for taking advantage of medical specialists, both Western and non-traditional practitioners, but I want to make the decision to do so because I am maintaining good health, not because I am fundamentally hurting.

Training has started, or in my case, just kicked up to a slightly higher level. I bow to all those who improbably and insanely choose to go back on their word and try something again, just one more time. I am one of you now. The Never Say Never Brigade.



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Filed under athletic competition, Exercise, Running, Swimming, thought, Triathlons

I missed the hardware (this time)

Good news and bad news about the 5K I ran today.

Good news: it was my first 5K of the year, after doing 10Ks, swim meets and triathlons to start the year.

Really good news: I finally broke my old personal best time and set a new one.

Sort of bad news: no medal this time. I finished fourth in my age group, forty seconds behind third place. No medal for fourth, which is disappointing, as this particular race had especially nice hardware.

But I’m happy with the new PR time, as that old one was from two age groups ago, and set on a flat course (today’s race had three small hills and a persistent headwind). Also old for this race: my current running shoes, which are retired from regular use as of today. I’ve been saving for a new pair, and got the money together yesterday, even though I have still not found full-time employment.

Being out of work has made me healthier, because I force myself to get up and move around more often. I’m not sedentary for eight hours a day. The weekly track workouts, with the bleacher climbs and sprints, have helped as well. And competition has kept me focused on not getting depressed and caught up in the frustration of not having a job just yet. It’s also something of a social outlet, after sitting in front of my home computer working on the job search, or freelance writing, or both.

I plan to keep competing, though not spending hog-wild on it at this point. I realize this is not the ideal time to be spending money on these endeavors. But I consider regular racing, whether it be running, swimming or triathlons, a reasonable investment in my health and my sanity. At this point, it’s hard to tell whether I am chasing what’s left of my mental marbles, or they are rolling behind me, trying to catch up. Either way, the personal race should be at least as interesting as my next event.Motivational-quotes (1)And a note to my friend Steve, who suggested that I “throw a little chocolate into every day”: my friend, I know you meant that literally, because you know how I feel about chocolate. But I’m going to consider your advice in the figurative sense as well. I’ll consider a good competition day to like a piece of the best chocolate: sweet, satisfying and a tonic for the senses.

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, mental health, Running, Swimming, thought, triathlon gear, unemployment

What first place feels like

This was the wettest race I’ve ever done, other than a race in a pool. And I’ve seen rainstorms before. This was epic, however. Short in duration (about a half-hour), but epic. Blinding sideways rain that left you wondering if your next step was a safe one, and howling wind that brought down tree limbs. The kind of weather that makes people not show up, or quit after a mile.

And I have to admit, that’s how I got my first place division win at a 10K this morning. My competition showed up, and was ahead of me, but the rain annoyed them enough to DNF.

On the one hand, a win is a win, right? On the other hand, I would have preferred to get this the right way, by beating my opponents outright. But there was no give up and go home for me. It was a long drive there and a long drive back. Too many miles to live with disappointment.

And compared to being laid off (which occurred two weeks ago, for the first time in my forty-plus years of working), running in a driving rain and howling wind isn’t that bad. It pushes you mentally and physically, especially when there are what we call “hills” down here (AKA the causeway drawbridges) to climb.

I’m still looking for work, but not panicking at this point. I have options and the word is out that I am available. Meanwhile, I have this accomplishment done and the medal is on the rack, not hanging with any others at the moment. It’s just on a hook by itself. I’d like to tell you that I plan to rest and enjoy this one, but there are more runs on the schedule. And training resumes as soon as my shoes dry out.


We saw a bit of blue sky, but not enough to call it a nice day today.


Filed under athletic competition, Exercise, Running, thought

First Race Done and in the (Digital) Books

Humans using a running gait. Note the "su...

Humans using a running gait. Note the “suspended phase” in which neither foot touches the ground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The road running racing season has started, and I got my first race for the year out of the way. Not a pretty race, but it’s over.


I chose a five-miler, because that’s a distance that does not come up often around here. And considering there isn’t much racing from June through September, it’s nice to get a long one out of the way first.


It was a big race, by my standards: about 1,600 runners, split very unevenly between the five-mile course and the five-kilometer course. Two elevation changes (a drawbridge out and back), but otherwise flat and fairly shady.


No crowd control at the end, so no breakfast left for the later runners. And the post-race beverage was just weird – an electrolyte water beverage no amount of chilling could help. The Husband tried what was left in the bottle, and remarked that it tasted like flat seltzer water.


No sense in waiting around for results, now that everything is digitized and computerized. Unless you know you are in the top three or an overall winner, you go home and check results online later, after a shower, a meal and a lot of fluids. I remember a time when race organizers had to make tons of copies, or you had to wait until the next day to see the results in the local newspaper. Now race results are as close as your favorite running app or the timing website. In my case, I get to find out faster how much slower I was than everyone else.



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Bike Shop Blues: You Didn’t Have To Be So Obvious

Why you should support your local bike shop

Why you should support your local bike shop (Photo credit: timmycorkery)

I stopped into a local bike shop today, to finally order my new bike. For those of you who don’t recall, I had a little accident last November. I was fine (eventually), but the bike was not. And I’ve wanted to move up to a nicer, more lightweight bike;  something I could hopefully use for triathlons after the eye surgery is done.

The good news: the bike is coming in next week, and I even get a choice of two colors (hey, it’s not a component bike; you don’t get a lot of cool stuff to pick from on a racing bike, unless you’re choosing the parts yourself and shelling out thousands).

The bad news: I didn’t rate a whole lot of respect at the bike shop. I’m thinking it has to do with the way I look. The disdain and the brush-off were fairly obvious from the salesperson, whom I happen to know from participation in another sport.

If you see me in person, your first thought isn’t going to be, “Looks like a triathlete to me.” I look more like a spectator. That I have a share of medals and ribbons for running and swimming (none for cycling) isn’t something you’d know about, unless you know me AND you’ve been in my house. The fact is, the size zero, rail-thin athletes among you might be very surprised to find out some interesting things about the rest of us:

  1. we may not look like you, but we still want to play like you.
  2. we’re not as good as you, but we’re pretty good at it.
  3. we’d like a shot at looking and dressing the part, even if it makes people point, laugh, hyperventilate or faint
  4. we’d prefer to be treated like any other customer. We may not look like a Tour de France rider, but our money’s just as green.

I should be used to this, since I’ve been teased and picked on from a very early age. Usually chosen last for any team game and left to play third string as a kid; harassed from cars while running and ignored everywhere from retail stores to restaurants. It’s a strange thing that while our society is getting heavier (and no, I don’t consider this a good thing, because of the attendant health issues), heavier people are being marginalized more. I cannot fix what society chooses to do. I can fight back and get respect, or I can withhold my patronage of any business that decides my looks mean I don’t belong there.

I do plan on going back and getting the bike, by the way. It’s a small shop, and I happen to like the owner. As it happens, she was not there today, but next week, I’ll be sure she is when I stop in. Will I have “the conversation” with her? Should I?


Filed under Exercise, Running

And In This Corner…Stands Another Race Trophy

OK, this one isn’t standing. Actually, it’s on a very nice pink-and-black ribbon, and it’s sitting on my desk, awaiting a frame.

I almost did not get this award. It’s for finishing third in my age category at the Mother’s Day five-mile road race I wrote about recently. Problem is, I left the event before the awards were presented. I thought I did so poorly there was no shot at a medal. Plus, I had other plans. Plus, it was hot.

Fortunately, a polite and apologetic email to the race organizers resulted in getting the medal sent to me, and they even refused my offer of postage. I did send a check for the race cause (pediatric cancer) and promised to run next year (all the while wondering when to start praying for better weather conditions for a year hence).

You’re probably wondering why a middle-aged woman would care about a bit of metal with a few words of commendation on it, suspended on a piece of fabric. It’s not that I missed athletic competition as a child. I played if I was picked for someone’s team. Mostly I sat on the stoop and watched. In school,  I played softball, volleyball and lacrosse, but I was purely third-string material.  Ribbons and medals didn’t figure into my life until I was close to fifty years of age, and then they were not awarded for team sports, but for endeavors I could pursue by pitting myself against a clock and other people (swimming and running).

I don’t resent the past. I would not care to go back and find those mean kids who would not play with me, poke them with a sharp stick and say, “See this trophy? I got it in spite of you!” But every ribbon and every top three finish means a lot to me. It puts those days sitting on the stoop farther in the past, and when I see a child in tears, sitting alone and watching the other kids play, I can relate. I can let them know it doesn’t have to be like this. They can find an endeavor they love, athletic or otherwise, and earn their own accolades and rewards. And those are important, whether they are the kind to be framed and admired, or simply remembered and enjoyed.

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Filed under Children, Exercise, Running, thought

Miles and Meters Deserve Pizza (Plus A Burger And Shrimp)

OK, fine, so I was hungry. Beat me for being a bad person. But I’ll warn you: it was a long, hard day, and I deserved every bite.

I decided to run a race in another county this morning – a five-miler in a town just over an hour away. We don’t get much in the way of distance races at this time of year, and the season is winding down anyway. A five-miler sounded like a good idea, or at least it did at the time I registered. As if that wasn’t enough, I’d go swim at a nearby pool after the race while I waited to meet a friend for lunch.

It was hotter than the Devil’s hometown during a heat wave this morning. No clouds and no breeze. The run did have a decent amount of shade, and water every mile, but eighty degrees at the start does not tend to get better as the morning goes on. My finish would have been awesome, if I’d had the sense to sign up for the 5K version of  the race. But why have any sense?

After finishing this event, I headed to the local pool for an hour of long-course swimming in a nicely chilled pool.


English: PIZZA BURGER (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then showered and tidy and gear stowed in my car, I walked a few blocks along the beach to lunch. By the time I arrived at the restaurant, hunger only slightly tamed by a small pre-race bowl of oatmeal and a few post-race sips of a protein shake,  I was ready to chew on the menu.

My friend was a bit late, so I tried the old “I’ll sip on a drink while I wait” trick. Unfortunately, I cannot fool brain and stomach, especially while sitting on one of those high-top seats. Famished and her BFF Dizzy tend to show up and deliver a punch when I am at my most unbalanced, which I am on those chairs. So I ordered coconut shrimp, a dangerous dish tempered  by the fact that there were just eight of them. I inhaled the shrimp and picked every bit of coconut off the shells.

Friend arrives, and I order a burger and fries. I did show some restraint by leaving most of the bun and the fries, but that was called for after the appetizer plus four iced teas. This evening’s meal was two slices of homemade pizza (sausage plus three cheeses). Again, I displayed some  discipline in leaving over some cheese and crust. But I still consumed enough calories to fill one-and-a-half of me.

Every now and then, it’s good to literally feed the beast. We spend a lot of time on diets, exercising and trying to look the way society thinks we should. Our friends and families say they want us just the way we are, but we keep working on and working out anyway, chasing the ideal. I espouse the idea of the “90-10” rule: 90% of the time, treat your body like a temple, with love and kindness and reverence. Ten percent of the time, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.

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Filed under Exercise, food, Relationships, Running, thought