Friday, September 23, 2011

Kristi Yamaguchi I am not...

So I thought I'd take up ice skating. It sounded like fun and my friend Lauren had started taking lessons a couple years ago and absolutely loved them. I'd been debating for a while and then my friend Nicole asked me to join her in tennis lessons. I guess that opened the flood gates - if I could take the plunge into tennis lessons, I can take ice skating lessons too! (Look for a tennis blog in about 6 weeks after our first lesson.)

The first thing I did was contact the rink and make sure that they had adult classes. I really didn't want to be the only adult in a class of 6 yr olds. They assured me that the classes were separated by age groups: 3-5, 6-18, and adult. Whew! Massive embarrassment averted.

I was very excited....until the day of. Then I got VERY nervous. I drove to the rink and the first person I see in the parking lot was my neighbor who I forgot drove the zamboni. Great! That means someone I know will watch me fall on my rumph (and yes, I purposely added the "h").

So I go to the registration table (surrounded by 54 million little kids) and told the woman there that I was there for the adult beginner class. "Oh Janice, we're glad you're here!" Wait? How do you know my name? Then the light bulb went off and I asked, "If you know my name, does that mean....?" Before I could finish, she finished the sentence for me "Yes, you're the only adult". Guess it's become a private lesson.

Private lessons may sound cool at first, but let me point out that my class shares the ice with 4-5 other classes of sub-10 yr olds. Cute little 5 yr old boys that want to play hockey and Michelle Kwan wannabes that had moms following them around with competition outfits. Wonderful! Well, TECHNICALLY my class is only for just occurs 0.5 inches away from the other classes.

Next they told me that my class didn't really start at 6:15. It started at 6:45 with a half hour of practice time first. Practice? Practice what? The last time I had skates on my feet was about 25 years ago. But practice I did. I skated at about 0.05 miles per hour, inching my way around the edge of the rink. I felt like a pedophile skating back and forth, holding the wall, as all these little kids skated around, jumped, did flips, pyramids (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little) around me. I wonder if I could sneak out without anyone noticing? Dang, my neighbor already knew I was here and was watching me. No anonymous sneaking out.

After 30 minutes of absolute agony, it was time to meet my instructor. She's actually really nice and very patient. The first thing she taught me was how to fall (pretty sure I had that one mastered already) and then told me how during the last session, she couldn't demonstrate the falling lesson because she was pregnant at the time. Wait, you did this while you were pregnant? Are you crazy? And after you answer that, tell me why I'm here exactly.

The lesson was less than exciting - basically just drills back and forth across the ice as the Michelle Kwans did flips and turns around me. Surprisingly, after 30 minutes I was much more comfortable on the ice. I can now skate forwards and backwards (not fast or pretty, but I can go backwards). I can make big loops with my legs back and forth (I forget the technical name), and I know how to stop. Not bad for 30 minutes in 25 years!

Kristi Yamaguchi I am not, but it was indeed fun and I'm looking forward to next week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A tough race can only mean the next one will be better, right?

Ouch! I haven't said that about a half marathon in a while, but yesterday's Capital City River Run really only has one word that adequately describes it. OUCH!

I was feeling great starting out. It was a great morning - sunny, but cool. Perfect weather for a race. I ran the first 0.15 miles at a pretty good pace - it was so comfortable that I continued to run longer than I typically do before starting my walk sequence. When I started to walk, it still felt good....until about 1/2 mile in and then BAM! Massive pain in my right calf that wrapped around the back of my leg and ended at the back of my ankle. I started going slower and slower and did little better than hobbled for the next 4 miles. By the time I hit mile 1, I was already the last person....not only last, but I could see the second to last person no closer than 1/4 mile ahead of me (and had she not had a bright pink shirt on, I probably wouldn't have seen her at all). Usually I enjoy joking around or thanking the volunteers as they cheer. However, with such pain in my leg, their cheers of "looking good" and "keep it up" seemed so patronizing. Each time I passed one of the kids from DeWitt's cross country team that were making sure no one drove out of a street or parking lot along Michigan avenue (and there were a lot of those kids), I had an urge to punch them in the face.

I thought about my Mom's well wishes the night before - "Have happy dancing feet tomorrow" and I wanted to cry. I also remembered the person from Ingham Regional Medical who wished everyone luck from the podium before the race started. She said that as sponsors of the race, they had a medical tent at the finish line if they needed it. I could count on one hand the number of times I've stopped at a med tent on a course (and with one exception, it's always just for Vaseline or Tylenol), but I was praying for one now.....but did her comment about having a med tent at the finish line mean there was nothing on the course? I tried to think back to the other times I've done this race and couldn't remember if there had been med tents or not. Ugh!

I stumbled thru Mile 2 and looked at my Garmin to determine how much longer until I had 2 full miles behind me.....only to notice that somewhere around Mile 1, I must have bumped my watch and turned off the GPS. Crap! So I turned it back on and once I got to Mile 2, glanced and noticed that my watch was now reading 1.49, so it had been off for about a 1/2 mile. Now I'll have to mentally remember to add a 1/2 mile each time to determine how far I've gone. Sounds simple, but it does play with your brain, although much better than the alternative (I've done too many races when my GPS reads farther than it should and I think I should have been done a half mile before).

As I got thru the 5k mark (3.1 miles), I knew we were about to enter the "River Run" portion of the race and there would definitely not be a chance to turn around. At least going down Michigan, there was a cop on his bike following me (btw - if you want to be humbled, be the last person in a race with the police on motorcycle, bicycle, or car behind you - I've been there many times and it's not a fun experience). As soon as I hit the River Walk, there would be no such person to help me out if I decide to throw in the towel. Then I remembered hearing about a guy who broke his foot around mile 4 of the Disneyland Half Marathon a couple weeks ago. He finished the remaining 9 miles. If he could do that, I can do this with some calf pain, right? Onto the River Walk I went.

As I rounded the cloverleaf from campus to the start of the River Walk, a volunteer was cheering me on saying "you've passed 4 and you're doing great". Wow! I didn't want to punch him in the face! Wow! I just realized my pain was nearly gone, so I hollered back to him (as I started jogging) "More important than Mile 4, I've passed my shin splints too!"

Now my favorite part of the run started. The water stations along the River Walk are fun. My favorite is always the group that turns their assigned stretch into a luau. I don't know what school it is, but you can hear them from a good 100 yds away. As soon as they get a hint that someone is coming close (remember, the second to last person was WAY in front of me), they start banging on drums and hooting and hollering. It was just the pick-me-up that I needed.

I'm not going to bore you with in depth details of the rest of the race, but there were definitely some highlights. The last 2/3 of the race was much better than the first 1/3.
  • A water stop around the half way mark had bananas which I eagerly snatched up (my lack of eating bananas the week prior to the race is part of my excuse for the leg pain). I don't know who the kid in the red hoodie was that gave me the banana or what school he was from, but he's my new hero!
  • Entering Hawk Island, there's a small part that I call a "Lollipop" where there's two-way traffic (the stick) before and after you hit the loop around the park - it was in that two way traffic that I saw someone wearing this year's Cowtown race shirt. Seeing someone in Michigan wearing a race shirt from one of my favorite Texas races was pretty cool, so I shouted out some encouragement to her as we passed each other.
  • By the time we'd left Hawk Island, I had passed several people - usually on hills (I love running hills!)
  • By mile 12, I had passed the 14 min/mile pacer, although in her defense, I think she was purposely going slow to show encouragement to the person she was walking with that looked like they were having a rough time.
  • The end of the race was different than previous years. Usually there's a steep hill and some meandering around downtown before ending up in the park. This time we came from the opposite direction, over a bridge and into the park. No steep hill, no meandering (the first year I did this race, I got lost in the meandering and actually crossed the finish line going in the opposite direction!) I LOVE the new finish. So much better.
  • By the end, my spirits were definitely back to where they typically are. I could hear the finish line across the river, so I looked at a volunteer, pointed, and said "Is that the finish?" He confirmed that it was, but told me that I can't swim there. I joked back that I was being really bad about my tri training lately and kept going straight toward the bridge.
  • When I finally crossed - it was at exactly 3 hours 40 minutes. Much slower than I had hoped, but several miles of 18 minute miles will do that to you. I'm just glad I was able to make up time, averaging a16:48 mile. I lost count of how many people I had passed after I passed the 14 minute pacer (she was #10), but according to the online results, 15 people crossed after me. Much better than I thought it was going to be the way things started out.
  • I treated myself to the Lion King 3D after the race which was AWE-SOME!
So today - 1 day post race? My lower back and right side of my ribs are a bit tight. I think I was compensating for my bum leg early on in the race. My legs are a bit tender (I don't feel guilty using the elevator at work today). Other than that, I feel pretty good.

I'm anxious for my next race in 2 weeks - a night race at Walt Disney World. The only race to combine 3 of my favorite things - Run Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon! I was using this race as a practice for Wine & Dine. I knew that no matter how slow/fast I was at the Capital City River Run, I will be faster at Wine & Dine because I'm faster at big races than small races (it's hard to be motivated when you can't see the person in front of you). With a 3 1/2 hour time limit at Wine & Dine, I know that I'll have no problems (assuming no unexpected pain/injury).

Now if only I could find a race that also includes livestock! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not so sure about blogging....

Well, I don't have much free time and don't think that my life is all that interesting, but I've set up this account. It may or may not get any future posts, but thanks for visiting in the meantime.