Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Ghosts of Christmas Future

It's not birthdays that make me feel like life is passing me by, it's Christmas

I know this isn't a Dickens Novel (that would be sweet), but indulge me for a minute in my Christmases Past.   The holiday experience has changed as I've gotten older.   I'm spending my first Christmas without my family.   I was thinking about how I've spent past holidays, and since I've got no races coming up (or really training to share...I'm running almost every day but the lack effort or speed would make Alberto Salazar cry), I figured  'tis the post old pictures of myself.

I have few early childhood memories of Christmas.  Mainly, I wondered why we couldn't have a real tree like normal families did.  I spent most of Christmas morning fighting with my brothers over the Whitman's Sampler.   Good lord those chocolate buttercream chocolates were delicious. 

I also distinctly remember the loss of my innocence (not that kind, ew..) in which my mom attempted to tell me there was no Santa Claus.  
As a true believer, I told her she was wrong, and that he was real.  

Of course, I was the true winner that Christmas.  Mom was forced to carry on the tradition by giving me a present from Santa to avoid breaking my believer heart. 

I was in high school.  My brothers left for college and when they came back for the holidays it was one big party for me.  I finally had someone to play fight with and sing along to guitar with again!  It was awesome, but Christmas as I knew it was in jeopardy.  They had their own lives at college and were talking about adult stuff like "jobs" and "interviews".  Borrinnggg. 

In the ultimate act of rebellion, I asked for cds with explicit lyrics for Christmas.  My mom refused.  Perhaps she was onto my secret plan to run away with this rock star....

Luckily, my dad ignored my affection for rock stars and instead pretended to be thrilled with being gifted nearly the same pack of socks and button-up we'd been giving him for the past 15 years.

My new found college freedom came crashing to an end each December.  The pure joy of sleeping 13 hours a day was cut short after a few days by requests to pick up my clothes and stop being a dang slob.

I met up with my high school friends to see how we'd changed and who had the most ridiculous college stories.  

I think the early and mid twenties are tough for most people.  Despite having a decent job, and a classy Christmas photo (see right), I had no freaking clue what I was doing and probably spent most years upset over something inconsequential.

My brothers got married, and I wasn't their number one girl anymore!  Worse yet, they had to do that "alternating Christmas" thing.

We spent some Christmas's visiting the hospital as well, as my father spent 80% of his last ones there.  Yes, it sucks to be sick on Christmas, but more so, it just sucks to be sick.

I remember his last Christmas, in 2009, he came downstairs unexpectedly to see me.  He told me he had a present for me, and slipped me $300 dollars.  "Don't Tell Mom", he said, and hobbled back upstairs.  Thinking back, I bet he had several grand stashed in that room for no particular reason.  Always prepared.

Things will never be the same again.  This Christmas, I won't be eating the Whitman's sampler as fast as I can or thinking that my Mom just doesn't understand.   We're not going to wake up and play all the new cds that we got and eat our weight in chocolate.

That's the thing about life, right?  It moves even if we're not ready for it to.  Of course, I'm sure there're awesome ghosts of Christmas future waiting for me too.  But as long as I'm going to be haunted, I'd prefer that my ghosts pick me up some candy for the journey....

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lucky. (Holiday Half Marathon Recap)

Just like this girl, this girl, this girl, this girl, and this girl, I ran the Holiday Half Marathon  on Sunday.

I drove up in my poor excuse for a car with Monica and Sarah.  Monica took pictures of me driving and Sarah played her 10th grade dance tunes.

We got to beautiful Pomona with an hour to spare and Danica showed us where bathrooms were without lines!  Well...ok...she showed Sarah and Monica where they were because I was frantically trying to find my race number.  My middle name is "prepared."   I also met Julie which was pretty sweet.

When it was about time to run, I literally jumped the fence to get in my "corral" and we got goin'.   

My fairly arbitrary goal was to keep up 7:20 miles for the race.  But...short of Fontana Days (most downhill course ever), I've never done this.   My expectations for keeping up a 7:20 on hillmageddon were slim to none.  

I tried to hold back in the first few miles.  I told myself that if miles 1-5 aren't easy, you're not running the race right.

Miles 1-5 weren't too bad.  I felt like I was trying, but not dying.  Miles 6-10 were...the time that I needed to concentrate and focus.  They were hilly, but I actually think this worked to my advantage.  I am at my worst as a runner when I'm bored, and this up and down, twisty, beautiful course definitely didn't allow for settling into a pace, cruising, and getting comfortable.

I ate a couple honey stingers at mile 6 and a Gu at mile 9.  Around this time, the SRLA kids (who had started about 15 minutes behind me) started passing me.
Holy cow, some of them are FAST!  

For the last bit of the race, I told myself to step lightly and quickly.  This was for two purposes:
1) To not waste energy and keep a quick stride
2) To try to avoid getting a stomach cramp
(It sorta worked - I only cramped up at the very end.)

At mile 12, I was still feeling good, and something amazing happened.  People started yelling at me stuff like "you're in 6th, go get the girl in front of you!".
Granted, they were counting incorrectly because I was in 10th, but, this was so cool.  
I've always wanted to be far up enough in a race so that people cheer you on as a competitor.  A contender.  I know it's silly, but in that moment, I felt like a freaking rock star.

You know what else made me feel like a rock star?
Running a time that I never truly thought I'd be capable of running.  Here are my Garmin splits:

My chip time was 1:35:50.  7:19 pace, 10th woman overall.

I finished, accidentally high-fived some guy who was really trying to high-five the person behind me, and cheered on Monica and Sarah.   We hung out, complained about the hills, and I stole sips off Sarah's delicious beer, because I forgot my dang ID.  (I'm almost 30!).  

Final Thoughts On The Race
Hold up y'all, I'm abouts to over-dramatize my hobby.  

This race was one of those magical races when I'm so happy to be a runner.  I ran this race at a pace that I never thought would be possible for me.  But...that's not all....I got to be passed by a bunch of talented high schoolers that hopefully are the future of the sport.  I got to hang out with two awesome girls who I'd never have known if I'd never read running blogs.  And I got to run in freaking Southern California in perfect weather to the backdrop of gorgeous mountains.  I am....ridiculously lucky.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Real World, Road Rules (Runner Style)

All this reading about the Rock and Roll Las Vegas crappy logistics made me think that the world needs a lesson in Running and Biking Etiquette...ok's not just the RNR logistics that make me want to write this post.

It's every danged time I ride my bike.  Or run on a crowded course.  Some people get road rage in their car.  I get it in my Mizunos.  Pretty much the same, yes?  ;-)

Rule #1.  Let's start with the golden rule of running.  Or riding the escalator, for that matter.  Or generally functioning in society.  Unless you're in the UK:

Not the middle.  Not the left.  On a bike, it's dangerous not to follow this rule.  On a run, it's also dangerous because you might get hit by a bike.    And in a race, if you're stopping and not on the right, you're just ticking everyone else off.

Rule #2.  Your corral is your friend.  Stay in it.  No one cares if you started first.  Only thing that matters is if you finish first (unless you're an elite so I've heard).  Plus, it's demoralizing to get passed for the first couple miles so you may as well start with people close to your speed.

Rule #3.   Run MAX two abreast.  Just one if you're really fat.
*Credit OUAL for this one.
Rule #4.  Walking 5 tiny dogs on a busy path?  Cool, but keep the dogs on a close leash.  

Rule #5.  Teach kids basic running / biking etiquette.  There is nothing scarier than almost running into a 5 year old trying to learn how to ride a bike and swerving all over the dang place.
Neighborhoods > Really Busy Bike Paths.

Rule #6.  Yer Gu.  No one wants to step in it.  So no throwing it where other people are running.  If you're racing and need to throw it on the ground, throw it away from the path.

Rule #7.  I know giant packs of bikers are annoying but they have a right to be on the path / road.  Big Packs of Bikers:  Try to be as unannoying as possible and stay to the right. 

Rule #8.  Warn People if you're passing on your bike.   Yelling "On Your Left" or "Good Morning" is all ya need.

Rule #9.  I believe Lauren mentioned this previously, and I have never actually witnessed this in real life, but for God's sake, Don't Cross The Finish Line Twice. 

I know I'm missing some rules (and may be entirely unaware of some) so anything to add?