Monday, February 17, 2014

IMS Arizona Relay Marathon

Yesterday was the IMS Arizona Relay Marathon, and I was one of four people on the "House Headz" team.  The marathon started out in Buckeye and traveled through Avondale and Glendale, finishing at Westgate.  

There were four "legs" to the race:
1st runner: 7.1 miles (Jeff)
2nd runner: 6.1 miles (Abby)
3rd runner: 8.3 miles (Laura)
4th runner: 4.7 miles (Christi)
Total mileage: 26.2 miles

The thought was for us to all cross the finish line together at the end, so I planned to run the final stretch in addition to my six mile leg.  I figured that waiting until meeting up at mile 25 would be too long of a rest period in between, so I might as well just run the last one. No big deal.

But of course, as luck would have it, my work and school schedule made prepping for this race a challenge. I was able to get to the grocery store and prep a bunch of food, but I ended up working really late on Saturday night (about 1 am) which meant I did not get to eat said food, and I only ended up with about 4 hours of sleep before the race! 

I do not recommend this.

Saturday night, I also realized I was starting to get sick, and was feeling a bit run down.  This was not helping me feel better about Sunday.  When I got up at 5:40, I was feeling pretty tired but quickly ate and drank some coconut water to try and revive myself.  For the most part, it worked.  (Or maybe it was the adrenaline, who knows).  We rushed around like crazy to find the spot where we were supposed to meet Jeff, so he could pass the timing chip to me and I could continue on.  The race wasn't clearly marked and was a bit unorganized.  The chaos at least gave us a good laugh.  It was a bit chilly but otherwise a gorgeous morning.    

Up bright and early for the race! We were leisurely taking pictures until we realized we were in the wrong spot and needed to dash to the correct one!

My leg of the race was actually really beautiful. The sun was up, but it was still cool, and I ran through the golf course community in Avondale.  It was really quiet and serene and actually really pretty.  I got cheered on by a lot of retirees in golf carts passing by.  Physically, I did pretty well.  It was my fastest 6.1 miles and the longest I have ever run by myself.  I finished in 1:00:49, average pace of 9:58 per mile.  I felt really good with this considering all the underlying factors. I was also pleased with my self-pacing, since I have never run that distance solo and am used to having someone next to me to talk to and gauge my speed.  Mentally, it was a bit of a challenge, but nothing I couldn't push past.  For one, that portion of the race wasn't very crowded, so I literally was running alone in some parts.  I was also running with marathoners who were used to the distance and were all passing me.  I didn't pass anyone at any point, which was a little tough on the psyche.  (PF Changs I passed a LOT of people in the course, which makes a difference).  I had to remind myself it wasn't about them and to just run, and my six miles went relatively fast.  When I hit the 3 mile mark, I was actually surprised at how fast it had seemed, so I knew then that the 6 miles wouldn't be a problem.  I was still pretty happy when I hit mile 13 and saw Laura waiting about a half a mile a way, ready to take the timing chip from me. :)

Feeling good, I decided that I would continue with the original plan to run the final leg with Christi.  I ate a banana and some pecans and tried to keep my legs moving for the hour break.  I don't think it mattered though, because the minute I started running the final leg, I regretted it.  My legs had cooled too much and I was too tired to begin with, and every single step of the 4.7 miles was heavy and exhausting.  This got in my head a bit.  Christi had the timing chip so I was trying to keep on her pace, since it was her portion.  I decided if she stopped, slowed down, or went faster, I would do the same.  I couldn't stop, because I was in the middle of nowhere and had no way to get to the finish line.  But I was also worried I was holding her back.  I didn't have to worry about that, because we kept a pretty speedy pace at the beginning (9:20) and finished in 43:50, an average 10:06 pace. I couldn't have run faster if I tried! Laura didn't end up running the last leg with us because the 8 mile portion was unexpectedly hilly and brutal.  She found us during mile 26 and we crossed the finish line together.  Her timing was impeccable; she met us right after we climbed a huge, daunting hill that kicked out ass.  We were out of steam but finding her meant it was almost over!  When I finished, I literally almost started crying, that's how hard that leg was for me.  I think it would have been easier to just run straight through for the 10.8 miles, instead of having the break in between. I'm not sure I would want to do that again without specifically training for it.

In the end, our team finished in 10th place out of 30, Total time: 4:07:52! Hell yes! Considering we weren't training as a team and weren't even competitive about it (although we got competitive around the end), and considering all the various factors for the day that had been a challenge, I think we did really awesome! 
I couldn't get the full sheet in the picture

The relay was a bit hectic, but was a really fun experience that I would do again in a heart beat.  I decided that I need to get all races for the year on the calendar ASAP so I can get my time off for work.  I cannot continue working the night before a race; it's just way too hard. Not to mention, I'm on my feet for 8 hours the night I should be resting them.  Physically, I can push through, but it makes for a tougher recovery.  I'm feeling pretty beat today.

We were missing our 4th at the finish so we should probably Photoshop him in.

This was a huge test for me...I feel proud of what I accomplished.  The night before, I was feeling a little distraught about the thought of getting up in four hours to run over 10 miles.  Jay's words: "Your stronger than that."  I kept remembering those words while I was running and it helped.  I am stronger than that.  But in the end, regardless of the misery at the finish, I am thankful for the experience.  I needed this to push myself both physically and mentally.  Things are not always easy and there is always going to be a voice in my head that will scream at me to stop and curl up and eat a brownie.  I needed this to prove that I was capable and am glad that I didn't bow out at the last minute.  I would have been sad to have been missing in the picture above.  

It was a great way to spend a beautiful morning in Arizona. :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.

When I did this mass re-org of my life, my biggest fears were that when I was finished, I would no longer have the relationships (i.e. boyfriend and close friends) I had worked so hard to find. As everything has progressed, I'm constantly finding reassurance that things will be okay.  I am surrounded by so many people who love and support me and I truly believe that if these relationships were meant to be, then everyone will still be there when I am done in five years.  Sure, some of my relationships may change, and some of us may grow slightly apart, but I have learned to accept it and have decided to cross those bridges when I come to them.  I am constantly reassured by my supportive boyfriend that everything is and will be okay, and I believe him.  I'm releasing some of those insecurities that have been taunting me in the back of my head.

As everything has been going at full force, I've actually realized what my biggest fear is: losing myself.  It's funny, I have made such a huge change in order to build a new and better life for myself, one that involves having a fulfilling career instead of one that just pays the bills.  Part of me didn't want to complain about how stressed out I was or how much I hate waiting tables, because I recognize that I made this decision for myself and to complain about it seemed petty and stupid.  But the fact of the matter is, I hate this part of it.  I hate working nights and weekends and have never appreciated the Monday-Friday, 8-5 salaried position I used to have more.  But deep down inside, I always knew I wasn't happy with that and this is something I am going to have to do until I am in a position that can afford not too.  But, since I have been so stressed and strapped for cash, every dollar counts and every bad tip affects me in a way I wouldn't want it to.  I was starting to hate who I was becoming and was crushed when my own boyfriend told me that he missed my smile.  I don't want to be miserable for five years, I would have to learn how to balance things better.

I was losing the person I have always been and was becoming one of those people who was always tired, always stressed, never happy.  I lost my smile because the stress of making ends meet and trying to juggle this crazy balancing act was running me down.  Time to revamp and sort out my priorities.

Working two jobs and going to school full time is asinine.  If I need to request a loan from the bank or sell my body on the street to do it (kidding), I'm going to stop thinking that this is a schedule I can handle.  Doubles and triples scheduled each day are horrific and I was pretty much the walking dead by the end of the week.  So, job #1 has been cut: my last day there is Friday.  I left on good terms, am welcome to stay, and have been told that if they have a need for it and I'm looking for work during the summer, that I should give them a call.

This small change, releasing three shifts from the week, did something wonderful for me.  This freed up time for many things!

  • Homework and studying.  If I'm going to quit my job and go back to school, it makes no sense to not have any time to dedicate to studying for the courses that are trying to kick my ass. If I'm going to fail these classes then this was all for nothing.  I need every A I can get and I need to stay focused on this priority.
  • Time for PT Observation! I now have enough time to do 4-6 hours per week, depending on how I'm feeling.  More than likely I'll cap it at 4.  I'm currently observing at an orthopedic clinic just behind my house.  They treat me more like an intern than a lurker, so I actually get to learn things! It's very exciting and I'm hoping one day I can use this to secure a PT Tech position in the field while I finish school.  I also need a ton of hours before I can even apply (at the end of the year), so this really needs to be a large priority.
  • Time to work out.  Since I ran PFC, my activity level has severely halted.  It's not for lack of motivation, it's for the sheer fact that I have been so swamped and so exhausted that there literally has not been time for a run or to go to the gym.  This is not okay to me.  Not only have I had no release for the tension in my neck and shoulders, but my psyche has been severely affected. I truly need this release and I deserve the time to get to have it.  Between work, school, studying, a giant sewing pile and the other million directions I'm being pulled in, this is currently my only release (besides a bottle of wine, ha!).
  • Time to cook food at home, and to eat an occasional meal with my boyfriend.  Having Monday and Wednesday evenings off means I get to work out both nights and then we get to make dinner together when we both get home.  We are making use of the small amounts of time we have together, and it makes a world of difference.  Getting home from work at 11pm and then up again at 6:30, isn't very conducive to many home-cooked meals.  This helps me prep for the next day as well as cook healthy balanced meals for myself.
  • Time for a little more sleep in the mornings at least 2 days a week. Don't think I even need to elaborate on how happy that makes me. 
As for running, this is going to stay a large priority in my life.  I'm working out more ways to integrate it into my week, but for now I'm a little limited.  Going to make the best of it in the way that I can.  Trying to get some dates on the calendar to stay focused and keep my mileage up.  Here's what I'm thinking for this year:
  • I am part of a 4 person team at the Arizona IMS Marathon on February 16th.  I am running the 7 mile stretch on my own and then joining the team (hopefully) for the 4 mile finish. This will be the longest I have ever run on my own, and while I am excited about it, I am happy about the mental challenge.
  • Trying to find a 10k and a 15k between now and the fall.
  • Fall: Would like to do a half marathon around November, race TBD.
  • Would really like to do the Arizona Half Marathon in March of 2015 (this will keep us active during the holidays but allow us to begin "training" again after the 1st of the year).
I found this and it perfectly summed up how I am feeling this evening.  
Life is good, I am healthy and in love and moving forward with my life.