Monday, April 29, 2013

A New Chapter

In my five years of being a runner, I have been self coached.  I took advice from others, but ultimately it was me who dictated what I did.  Being self coached requires a great deal of discipline.  The only person you are accountable to is yourself, which can be both a blessing and a curse.  I think that worked out fairly well for me in the past.  I achieved some respectable PRs under my own guidance.

But, I want to become better.  I don't just want to be "average"...I want to be considered "good".  I don't think I can achieve this on my own, which is why I am going to start working with a running coach on Wednesday.  My coach "W" is a runner himself.  He actually coaches my best runner friend, who I have trained with for the past year.

The self-coaching door is shutting come Wednesday and the "getting coached" door is opening wide.  With it come all sorts of excitement, dreams, and goals that I hope to accomplish.  I realize my goals are ambitious, but W says that they are attainable.  This scares and excites me at the same time.  In the next six months, my goals are:

1.  Break 1:30 for a half marathon (sub 6:53 average pace)

2.  Break 20:00 for a 5k (sub 6:24 pace)

3.  Break 3:20 for a marathon (sub 7:38 pace)

And as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."  It will take work, but I believe my body and mind are capable of running these times.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bombs and Floods

In the past week, I have experienced a bomb and a flood.  I'm currently waiting for a tornado to happen to complete the trifecta.

Considering all things, I thought I handled the Boston Marathon bomb quite well.  This is mostly because I didn't hear it go off, and was 1/2 mile from the finish line.  Plus, my parents were in Boston with me.  They could handle the logistics of getting back to the hotel while I hobbled down the streets of Boston after them trying to find our way to the bus station.  Luckily, my mom and I flew back to Chicago on Tuesday before American had all of their problems.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted from the race and the chaotic aftermath, but dealt with it quite well.

Then, on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, we had torrential downpours in Chicagoland.  My school was cancelled on Thursday and Friday, which provided me with a nice break to regroup.  Although, I couldn't, because where I live was flooded.  Water was all over the floors, and I had to leave.  Luckily, I have some great friends that have helped me out.  But, after a while I personally feel like I am a burden.  Therefore, I stayed 2 nights in a hotel.  However, I couldn't take it anymore.  Tomorrow night I've decided to reside with friends again.

Unfortunately, I have not handled this event as well as the bombings.  On Saturday I cried 4 times.  On Monday I get to see my endocrinologist.  I think it is safe to assume I'll shed some tears in his office.

I realize that temporary living somewhere is not the end of the world.  But it is incredibly inconvenient and causes more stress in my life.  Right now, I need peace and not stress.

The good thing is that after this week, things can only get better.  Unless, of course, the tornado actually does come.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Marathon Race Recap

I got up at the early hour of 4 AM to get ready for the Boston Marathon.  After getting lots of glorious sleep on Friday and Saturday night, I didn't sleep much at all Sunday night.  All kinds of negative thoughts kept swirling around in my head, like how I wasn't in shape, would have to walk the final 3 miles to the finish, tripping during the race....Not the best thoughts pre-race, but especially pre-marathon.

Outfit I decided to wear.  I started the race with 2 pink gloves and not 1... I don't think I'm Michael Jackson.  

I decided what to wear that morning, got everything together, and got into a cab with my parents so we could go to the hotel to catch the CARA charter bus.  A friend that does track with me sat by me and in back of us was my friend that I would be running the race with and her boyfriend.  The bus left a few minutes late, but we made it to Hopkinton in plenty of time.

I was supposed to start the race in 2/4, but moved back to 2/7 to run with my friend.  We decided a few months ago that we were going to run the race for fun, and not race it.  Getting to Boston was the challenging part, so our goal was to enjoy every moment of the 26.2 miles.

My brother, who ran Boston 3 times, told me what to expect: 13 miles of gently rolling hills followed by 3 heartbreak hills and 5 miles of downhills.  This helped a lot, as most people say the first half is all downhill.  Really, the first hill is at mile 1.75.

We started running and I shed my throw-away gloves at mile 3 because I started to get warm.  By mile 6, I was hot.  I took off my arm warmers and my friend weaved them through my tank top.  They stayed there until mile 17, when we saw my parents.  We briefly stopped to talk to them.  I gave them my arm warmers and my mom gave me some GU packets.  We continued on our way, and then mile 19 happened.  I was already incredibly hot by this point, and went was taking a cup of water and pouring it down my back in the hope that it would cool me off.  However, that didn't work.  At mile 19 I got cramps in my legs, and it sucked.  My friend listed to me complain about them, especially knowing that THE Heartbreak Hill was rapidly approaching, knowing I wanted to walk.  "You'll regret it for the rest of your life, so I won't let you," she told me.

I listed to her, and I followed her up it, at a rather slow pace.  For the next few miles, my cramps would come and go.  By mile 21, I had to use the bathroom.  My friend and I did 99% of our long runs together, and as most runners know, talking about poop is not odd.  And although I really needed to use the bathroom, there was no way that my will would let me stop, nor would I poop my pants.  We talked about other things instead.  Rather, my friend did most of the talking this part of the race.

When we saw the 40k sign, I knew the end was close.  The crowds had been awesome the entire time, and although I was in pain, I didn't really want it to be done.  We concluded the marathon by running a 6:59 pace for the last 0.4 miles.  And just like that, 3 hours and 46 minutes after we started the journey in Hopkinton, the Boston Marathon was over.

This may have been my slowest marathon, but it is the one that I am the proudest of.  The course was the toughest.  My legs were just not feeling it.  But sharing the experience with one of my best friends will be something I will never forget.  Running by thousands of fans was amazing.  Boston definitely does live up to what everyone says about it.  I don't know when, but I'll be back to make another 26.2 mile journey here again.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon - First Thoughts

Over the past 5 days, I have felt such a wide array of emotions.  It was a weekend filled with excitement, nervousness, celebration, triumph, and tragedy.  However, after returning home to Chicago today, the emotion that resonates the most is that of love.  Luckily, I was already across the finish line and on my way to the family reunion area when the bombs went off.  I didn't know what was going on, which is probably for the best.  It wasn't until a man at the restaurant i was at told us about the finish line that I really realized what was happening.  But, I was by my parents, and my sister was texting me like mad.  Cell phone service was sketchy, and I would end up getting numerous text messages all at once and then not have service for the next 10 minutes.  Getting back to our hotel was another adventure, one that I felt scared during.  However, I am amazed of all of the love that was shown in Boston.

The love was shown in ways both big and small, by those that I know very well and those who I don't know at all.  From a guy in my running group making sure everyone from the group that was running was safe to my sister doing everything she could from the west coast to texts and messages and emails from friends and family.

This was a special weekend, one that was designed around a race.  But running the race was the least important detail in the end.  This weekend showed me the various ways that love manifests itself in the world today, especially in the wake of such a horrific act.