Posts Tagged ‘Run the Bluegrass’

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Somewhere along the first 2 miles

My first run on pavement since the Thanksgiving 10k.  4.4 miles with the new training group.

January 1st dawned all gorgeous blue-sky-ey here. Cold – 25 degrees to start the day. But PRETTY!

A full month off of running outside and you start to forget it feels like. I hadn’t realized that – that I was starting to forget about it. But there it was. The sun in my eyes and on my skin, the fresh air burning up my lungs.  All those weird things you think about while you’re running – you don’t get the same kind of thinking on a treadmill.

Like how you wish you’d chosen different underwear and put on one less layer. And how all those people at the corner just saw you fix the underwear issue because it HAD TO BE DONE and that’s not easy through 2 layers of pants. Or how NO ONE looks sexy in Winter running layers. NO ONE.  Okay – some do. Just not me. Egads! – the clothes alone feel like they weigh 10lbs. But on the up-side, it’ll make me look like I lost 10lbs when all the clothes get shed for warmer Spring runs even though I’m eating just as much pasta.

Also, on the treadmill, you don’t get the thinking about starting lines and finish lines and wide open spaces of road in between. How you want to feel when you step up to the starting line. Your husband and your friends at the finish line. What it means to train for a race for 3-4 months and then see the last tenth of a mile come into view. What the route looks like. The picture above is off the RTB course, somewhere along mile 2.

The training group runs officially start on Saturday. Today’s run was just a runner thing – it’s nice to start off the year with a run. A kind of good luck run for the year ahead. It hadn’t dawned on me until I got home that the Run the Bluegrass training plan started today – d’oh! Pretty sure I’m s’posed to be on top of those things.  So ready or not, I started today. Time to put the game face on and get down to business. 3 months and the clock just started ticking.

Countdown to kicking ass, commence!

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First off, ya’ll – that’s not me in the picture*.

Drove up to Lexington over the weekend to see my Run the Bluegrass peeps and gather a bunch of inspiration up in the form of what I call “big sky” pictures. In my book, there is no better way to motivate for a race than to gather friends and actually get on the course. This past Saturday was the second of several training runs set up by RTB on the actual course (next one is Jan 11th – come!) Since I couldn’t join in for the run itself (injury), I did the next best thing and got the camera out. 

This is the home stretch folks. The last .1 you push down on your way to 13.1. Sometimes to focus on the beginning, you need to see the end – get a good look at where you’re going.

It’s time to get a plan in gear – decide on a running group for the year, get the plan down in writing and get my head on straight.  RTB has it’s own 12-week plan on the website put together by Shannon Florea, so I’ll be taking a look at that – and probably joining one of my local running groups as well. I signed on for the “Director’s Challenge” at RTB – so a PR is my only option. Last time I down-sized to the 7-miler at the expo because I just didn’t feel ready. That will not be happening this year.

This year it will be 13.1 and there will be a PR.

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*Photo is of Rachel Crabtree, the Assistant Race Director and Runner Experience Coordinator for RTB. No – we didn’t stage the shot. Rachel just kicks ass like that naturally.

It is last Wednesday. I was sore, basically from head to toe. I smelled very bad. And as I settled my tired, grumpy ass into a bar stool at the Mexican restaurant where I have met Eric, I ordered a SMALL Negro Modelo and the chicken tacos when what I really want is covered in melted cheese and salty sauce with loads of rice. I want a beer as big as my head to pair next to it.

I had just finished 6.7 miles of semi-rolling hills and pushed myself pretty damn hard through the entire route. I am proud of this run. I did my work. A pack I am normally behind, I had stayed in the midst of or even a block in front of for most of this run. But now I hurt. That deep bone, achy kind of hurt where my core is tense and my body tries to tell me I’m almost 40. I tell it “what-the-fuck-ever”. Because I’m grumpy. I cuss more when I’m grumpy. Did I mention that I’m sore?

*sigh*

“Change Day” has sucked.  It has been almost carb-less (except for the small beer & soft taco shells). It has tasted like salads without cheese or creamy dressing. Smaller portions. My stomach actually growled at one point because I was timing my meals. (First world problem, fo’ sho!) Ugh. Then, there was this run when all I wanted to do on getting home from work was sit on the couch. But nope – off to running group. Because the whole point of “Change Day” is not doing anything fun or yummy not doing the things that make me fat. It’s choosing chicken tacos instead of cheesy enchiladas and getting my ass out running instead of collapsing on the couch.

It’s about telling yourself to stop being lazy. Making easy, lazy choices. It’s day one of your kick-in-the-fat-pants realization that you’ve been slacking, a rut is looming and that if you don’t snap out of it, you’re going to get stuck in it.

“Change Day” is all Susannah’s fault.

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This face – not so innocent as it looks!

Susannah is one of my fellow ambassadors – and it’s her that I was out running with when I realized a Change Day REALLY NEEDED TO HAPPEN. As part of the weekend in Lexington, and for the fun of watching us groan with hangovers, Eric & Rachel have organized a run the morning AFTER our distillery tours. The plan laid out in front of us is 7-miles on the Run the Bluegrass course. Unfortunately, my hangover says 4-miles is a better choice.

Or at least I wish it was just my hangover. That’s easy enough to fix.

After going out a little too fast on the first 3/4 miles (@10:10), Susannah & I slow it down together and decide to let the rest of the pack move along ahead of us.  It’s a good chance to get to know her. If I’m being perfectly honest, when we first got settled into our little group, I wasn’t so sure about her. You see, Susannah is Southern. And though I’m raised Ohio nice, I was born Chicago badass. Everyone born in Chicago secretly feels like they’ve got a little Capone in their veins. It’s why we have a reputation for taking no crap. However, a little secret about Chicago badass DNA – the only thing that scares the hell out of it…Southern women. Shhhh! A Southern woman walks into a room and we want to jump up on a stool and shriek like we just saw a mouse. We have no idea what to do with y’all.  Exactly how does one respond to “Kiss my grits!”?

No really, I need to know. I always thought that was just some made up thing on a TV show, but they really do say that! I heard it!

So Susannah, I’m trying to figure her out and getting a whole lot of nowhere. Are we going to be friends? Are we going to be stinky-side-eye-ers? It’s unclear. It’s not until drinks on the tour bus are being passed and I watch Susannah keep passing them right on past her that my head really cocks to one side and I get even more confused. Does she not drink? ‘Cause I’m okay with that if she doesn’t – but then where are all the solo cups going? All those other people seem to have cups and yet, I’m still passing cups of booze* to her…she is like the black hole of yellow solo cups. Then, IT comes out. Double-insulated with a big orange ‘T’ for Tennessee Volunteers – Susannah brought her own cup on the tour party bus – her own REALLY BIG cup! It’s then that I know.

She and I – we’re gonna get along just fine.

What I still don’t know – where all the solo cups went. Seriously Susannah, where did all the cups go?!

It’s over getting to know Susannah on this run, talking horses and scenery and injuries and life,  that it becomes apparent to me that I haven’t been doing my work. I feel fat and sluggish. That is NOT easy to fix. And of course because Susannah is running with me when I figure this out, it’s all her fault. Running Rule #1:  Run is sucking? It’s  your running buddy’s fault.

Wait, what? That’s not your rule #1. Hmmm. You should try it. It’s a good rule.

The route is just as hard as I remember it. I end up introducing Susannah to 3:1 Galloways.  We finish around 5.5 miles because I didn’t pay attention when I reset my watch for the intervals, but the overage justified walking a gratuitous portion at the end and I feel like I’ve been beaten up. Susannah must have been pounding on me a little when I wasn’t looking. You know how those Southern women are.

Friends, it has been a REALLY FUN Summer. In that way that fun means lots of beers and ballpark food, grill outs, the patio at Oakley Pub. I have been eating like crap! I’ve been skipping runs to go do other fun things.  When I have been running, I’ve been chilling out – enjoying it – hanging back. Nothing wrong with that at all except that I’ve let go of most of the speed gains I worked so hard for last year. I’ve been putting in my work sporadically and then wondering why I’ve got niggling aches and pains and things aren’t going the way I want to during harder routes.

The Run the Bluegrass route is a reality check. It’s time to get a plan. The eating needs cleaned up. There will be no kissing any cheesy grits. The weight-training, it must come back. My body loves it even if it feels like a punishment to my soul sometimes. I do like being able to do a solid set of push-ups. There need to be working runs in addition to fun runs – speedwork, hill repeats. Consistent work with the trainer and at the boxing studio to anchor in the heavy core work. And Yoga, of course. There is always time for yoga.

Most importantly, my head has got to get back in the game. I’ve been mentally lolly-gagging. Time to re-focus. While I work on getting the plan details worked out, there’s Change Day. Good choices do not need to wait on a solid plan. You just start making them. This is last Wednesday –  the day that all the crap going in my mouth and all the crappy excuses coming out of my mouth STOP. The day 6.7 miles of HARD work gets done. And the day that kicks off my doing better, working harder.

Thank you Susannah.

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*sometimes not booze. I swear she’s not a lush.

This is what Rachel says to me. “You’ve been quiet this whole time and then BOOM! I like that idea a lot.” She is throwing me a look along with it that is slightly surprised, but not at all surprised in the same expression. She leans over and taps Eric ( a different Eric, not my regular Eric) on the shoulder and tells him ‘Listen to this. Tell him what you just said to me.’

It’s almost the end of the weekend in Lexington and an impromptu brainstorming session has broken out – something that quickly energizes and sparks passionate discussion in our group though we’re all a bit exhausted at this point from the whirlwind of fun we’ve been having. I am sitting around a table with several other runners talking to Eric Marr and Rachel Crabtree. Eric is the Race Director and general idea man behind Run the Bluegrass Half-Marathon, as well as the Founder of Lexenomics. Rachel Crabtree, in addition to having her own business as founder of Wellfed Meals, has the official sounding title of  “Runner’s Experience Coordinator” though if this weekend is any indication, she should add “whirlwind organizer”, “cat herder” and “force to be reckoned with” in bold print on that business card as well.

These two are idea people and despite being tired, they are quietly listening to all of this passion being thrown at them by the handful. Taking it in. I can see the wheels turning in each of them – already trying to run with the logistics on some of what we’re coming up with because, and maybe more important than being ‘idea people’, they are also ‘action people’.  Both entrepreneurs, they know ideas without action behind them are just good talk.

Friends, I do – and I don’t – know how I ended up sitting at this table.  It started with my race recap from this past Spring, then there was a tweet, followed by an emailed idea, some more communications and then BOOM! There it is:

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To someone who only began to describe herself as an athlete MAYBE two years ago – never feeling secure about that despite all the running and yoga and kickboxing that has occupied my last 2 decades because I wasn’t fast enough or tough enough or…just generally enough…

To someone who just recently began to own being enough – THIS WAS TERRIFYING. Run the Bluegrass was starting a Run Ambassador program for the first time and thought I would be a good fit. My mind immediately went to the oh-crap-they’re-going-to-expect-me-to-run-fast-and-I’m-still-struggling-with-10:30s place and I almost shut it down, except that then instead I decided to ask what being an ambassador means and the answer I got still makes me tear up a little if I think about it too hard.

In a nutshell, what I got back from Eric was ‘Just be you.’  That they liked my words and my photos and my ideas. You know, those things that are really close to my heart. Things that are the most ‘me’ of all the things I do.  That from my 3-part race recap, they could tell I was obviously passionate about the race.

“Passionate” is nice Southern speak for saying, ‘you won’t shut up about it and we’re glad for that’.

Essentially, they made me an Ambassador of Not Shutting-Up. I might be struggling with a 10:30 pace, but not shutting-up – that I got that down!

Also, if there’s an Ambassadorship of Not Shutting-Up, there are a few other places that should’ve called me a long time ago. Just sayin’. (Gordo’s, OPG I’m looking at you.) And okay, so maybe the U.N. didn’t call me (yet), BUT – the U.N. has Good Will Ambassadors, and running is a sport that’s all about spreading good will. So, it’s not unfathomable that they might call me. You know, should Angelina Jolie ever get bored with the gig and they need to fill the position. Consider me in line.  I digress…

That was how I ended up in Lexington. A meeting of the Ambassador minds and to do a little previewing of what this amazing run wants to offer next Spring.  So that with that information, I can use my not shutting-up skills. They intend to put on a REALLY COOL EVENT!  and in doing so, give me a lot to write about and take photos of and get inspired over so that I can’t help but share it with you. Not because they asked me to do those things, but because I’m so excited about them that I can’t shut up about them.

If this past weekend was any indication, people – this is going to be one heckuva ride. And you’re coming with. First and foremost because if I’m going to do this run again, and do the full 13.1, I’m going to need to get my training in gear. So there’s that to talk about.  Also, because I took about 300 photos over the weekend which I want to show you.  Then, there were these awesome people I met – who I should introduce you to.  As the race starts to release details, you’ll get the inside scoop.

Peeps, I got stories. And – just being me and all –  I’m going to tell them.