Saturday, October 20, 2012

Three Times The Loop = Confidence

I can't say I was feeling all that confident in the middle of loop #3 but a few minutes after finishing I felt great.

Before I give you the details I have to send a big THANK YOU to my running buddy John T. John arrived this morning planning on 12. I told him my plan when he asked which route I was taking. "Ok. I'll run two loops with you ..." and he kind of trailed off after that. I admit to hoping he was considering sticking with me for the three but I didn't want to ask nor did I want to get my hopes up so I just didn't think about it. I had mentioned that I was doing 2 in the clockwise direction and the final one counterclockwise figuring that by then I'd need some distraction/change of scenery. So as we descended the hill at the end of loop #2 :

John: So you want to go the opposite direction for loop #3?
Me: Really? You want to do it with me?
John: Sure, why not.
Me: *GRIN*

Now back to the start. Today it was about 20 degrees warmer than last Saturday. The skies were solid blue and gorgeous once the sun came up. Actually they were pretty on the ride to the park as well with all the stars. I debated long sleeve vs short sleeve and brought both but wore the short sleeve with my sleeveless jacket on top. The jacket was more for the pockets really. I've been using my camelback since my belt gave up the ghost and although it has a small pocket in the back it is difficult to get to.

Loop #1 was uneventful. I had to chase thoughts of what I was trying to do a few times and focus on staying in the moment. If I was going to think about miles I wanted to think about the ones I had finished not the ones - or the hills - I had left. We had some awesome scenes on loop #1. The fog was still lifting off the fields and the sun shining on it was spectacular. I didn't have my camera but it wouldn't have done them justice. Before I knew it we were passing the chapel. Steady 3 minutes running/1minute walking all the way. I thought ok this is good.

Loop #2 down the hill across County Line Road and up the hill around the visitor's center. This is where we had done some hill workouts earlier in the season and it didn't feel any better now than it did then (except that it was cooler). Still we didn't balk. 3 and 1's all the way. At the top and on the far side of the visitor center as we joined the main part of the loop again I commented that that was the hardest part so far. To which John replied with "Yes the hills get longer and steeper the second time around." So true! Yet, I really feel like we sailed through the second loop. My watch beeped off the miles one at a time and I felt good. I reminded myself to think about how much was finished not what was left and also focused on keeping my pace steady on the downhills - not letting myself go too fast. A couple times I felt bad for John. He is taller and (I hope) heavier than me so he has more momentum on the downhills but I could tell he was holding back as well and it was likely harder for him than me. The fog was all gone by loop #2 so now we admired the beauty of the trees. It won't be long before they peak. Today they were on the cusp. The maples were turned but the rest were still changing. I assessed how I was feeling as we came to the chapel for the second time. I was impressed. I really did feel good. I had been taking water at every walk break and chomps at mile 3 and 6 and we were just approaching mile 9 where I would take another. I took an electrolyte at the end of the first loop and would again after the second.

Loop #3 We didn't go all the way down the hill to County Line Road before turning around. This resulted in our total being just under 15 miles but if you know the hill you understand. Still it got me. I balked and we walked to the top of it. That got into my head for a little bit but not enough to destroy the run. I just reminded myself that it WAS a significant hill and I just done TWO loops - just shy of 10 miles - of hills. However, it is amazing how fast one's mood can change! I'm grateful that John didn't seem to need to talk a lot. First, we run together enough - including twice this week - that there wasn't much new to chat about and I'm not one for talking just to talk. Plus I, personally, tend to get very quiet on longer runs. Maybe it would help my state of mind if I talked more but it's always been that way. I'm proud of the fact that - after that initial balk up the hill - we only strayed from 3 and 1's twice. Both times we were approaching the top of a hill and had about 10-15 seconds left on the run and added it to the walk. Only twice! :)

Some memories of loop #3 - not necessarily in order of happening

As we came down the 'hill-that-everyone-hates-going-up' we passed a group of cylists going up. One guy in a rather holier than thou tone of voice says "It's harder going up". He's lucky I was tired. My thoughts back to him were not friendly but I kept them to myself. And thinking back he was likely less commenting on our going downhill and more on his struggle to go uphill. I'm glad I kept quiet.

As we passed the Von Stuben statue area (for the third time) a double running stroller was still there off in the growth.

Me: If we make it back to the Visitor Center I'm going to stop in and tell the ranger. That's been there a long time. It might be nothing but I feel like we should tell them.
John: Ok (pause) What do you mean IF we get back? We got this.

A little later I said: This really did feel like a good idea a few days ago
John: It's fine. In less than an hour we are going to feel awesome.

Running (or any workout) buddies are priceless folks. If you don't have one....get one! :)

Despite my crankiness on loop #3, My legs were good on the straightaways and smaller hills. The steeper ones were killing me and getting into my head. I even debated going through the Arch instead of around but only for a moment. I really wanted to be able to say I did the whole thing.

And we did! :)

It's about 4 hours later and I feel good. Accomplished and good. My legs are not killing me either. I did a lot of walking around and stretching while we waited for one of our running group to complete her 23 miles (her longest to date). She set out to do 21 and ended up at 23. She looked great and seemed happy! I'm really happy for her too. Her first marathon is Philly on November 18.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Hill of a Ride.

I went for a bike ride today. My first venture north of home where the hills go endlessly up, down and around. I'm embarassed to say how long it to me to complete 13.5 miles. But you can see for yourself.

I knew before I started that I was likely going to walk some of these hills. That in itself is part of the problem. Sefl-fulfilling prophecy and all that. And the obvious thing of course is that I need more hillwork on the bike. I need more confidence as well so doing this route again and again will be helpful. I should have taken advantage of speed on the downhills to gain momentum on the ups but there are very few straight lines on this route (or anywhere in Upper Providence for that matter**) and I was nervous with the traffic on Providene Road and 252. Even the park roads had a decent number of cars because it was such a nice day! I also need to get used to when to shift efficiently. Again practice is a big part of both of those issues.

Today's ride is a baseline, I guess. It can't get any baser..... there is only one way to go from here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Date With Bob Potts

Ok not really. After all I'm married and he's dead. But I will be running the marathon on May 26, 2013 afterall. Awhile back I blogged about some reasons why.

I've been spending way too much of my spare time obsessing about whether I can or should do it. The RW Quote of the Day to day was this.

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." -Dale Carnegie, author and lecturer
That was enough to get me off the fence. I registered this evening .
This will be my 5th full marathon. The first (Philly 2008) was all about finishing. I did that and I will always be proud of it. Still, it was a first and it left lots of room for improvement. Even though I went into to it thinking it was going to be "one and done" I can't let it go at that.
#2 was day two of the Goofy Challenge. The race was mostly about running with friends and lots of family support.
#3 was Philly 2010. This was about conquering that event. I didn't. I was 10 minutes slower than the first time and still bonked. I was undertrained for a variety of reasons but mosty it boils down to my inability to make time for certain runs.
#4 was Gettysburg May 2011. I trained much better but not enough. My first marathon is still my best.
Despite all that, or maybe because of it, I need to do it again and try to get it right. Success will be measured in large part by not bonking; by keeping it together physically and mentally. If I train right and still miss the mark... well let's not go there. I have to believe I can do this. That's half the battle.
Training for this marathon starts the week of December 10. I'd like to promise that I won't dump my training highs and lows on you but that's not a promise I can keep. I use this blog to keep msyelf honest and motivated. so I hope you'll stick around and tell me what you think - good, bad or indifferent - as I do it... but I'll understand if you don't.
Before starting marathon training I have the Philly Half in November. 12 mile training run tomorrow. Stay tuned :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bike MS 2013

I'm now officially registered for the MS 2013 ride. There was a $20 registration fee up to yesterday, October 4. I figured $20 is not a huge budget buster if I don't make it. Yet it's enough to make me feel committed. Plus now I'll get emails and stuff which will keep the ride on my radar.

It's (appropriately) Helen's fault. She sent me a FB email yesterday telling me about the low registration and the deadline. Maggi sent me an email too but I saw Helen's message first. Here is why I think this is appropriately her fault...

On April 1st 2008, I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon. At the time of registration I had a vague idea that I could do it but no real plan for it. I figured signing up - and telling people I was going to do it - would keep me motivated and I'd have to find a way to make it happen.

Shortly after registering for the marathon, I began searching the Internet looking for training programs and I stumbled upon Helen's blog. She talked about her running group and included a link. I checked out the webpage and signed up. And I finished the Philadelphia Marathon for the first time in November 2008. Around mile 18 or so of the marathon, Helen passed me going the other way - on her back to Philly from Manuyunk. I was struggling. She stopped and ran with me for a few yards - in the opposite direction from where she was headed - giving me encouraging words. I don't remember what she said. It was her action that spoke volumes.

So here I am 5 years later jumping a little blindly into the unknown with a little push from a friend. A good luck omen, perhaps.

I'm still on the fence about registering for Bob Potts Marathon for May 2013. Yet I've gone ahead and committed to a 100 mile bike ride for September 2013?????????

Really? What could I be thinking?

I've finished 4 marathons. One would think that decision should be easier to make.

I've not done more than 20 miles on a bike and I'm leery of riding in packs. So yeah, go ahead sign up! Makes sense, right?

Maybe it's the unknown that gives me courage to sign up anyway? Ignorance is bliss?

Whatever it is, I'm in.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Everybody Loves a Parade

It's that time of year again. The time when I try to recruit folks to volunteer at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. I am particularly excited this year because I was invited to make application as a balloon captain. I'd love to be captain of a ballon with lots of my friends and family as balloon handlers.

If you want to join Dave and I in our 6th year with the parade click here to apply. Be sure to choose the team "Perkis People" so that we will be assigned together. BTW, the volunteers pulling the Turkey in the picture at the top of the application page is our group! :)

So what does being a balloon handler mean? What are the job requirements?

#1) Be able to walk the 1.8 mile parade route

#2) Be able to hold a rope

#3) Be able to smile, wave (not with the rope holding hand obviously) and say "Happy Thanksgiving" about a thousand times. Ok slight exaggeration... maybe

#4 Be willing to wear a
"one size does not fit all" jumpsuit
and a goofy hat. Note the many times over
rolled up cuffs and sleeves!

#5 Make people smile!
Ok the kid on the right probably
wanted to be home sleeping 
but the rest of his family was into it.

Really it doesn't take much more than that. There are some circumstantial issues though. If you are responsible for cooking the turkey for your family OR must travel a distance to eat the turkey you probably do not want to volunteer.

Volunteers must be at the start hotel (usually the Crowne Plaza around 18th and Market) at 6:00 a.m. Coffee, juice and breakfast finger foods are provided. Once the group has assembled everyone moves down to the street to assist with balloon inflation if needed and recieve last minute instructions.

This part of the day involves a lot of
standing or sitting around and waiting.

There is a lot of activity down on the street and if you are lucky you can get your photo taken withe a celebrity or two.

Once the parade starts you simply keep smling and keep moving until the end. Well, sort of anyway. The parade stops for commercials. What you see on TV is the whole parade. So during stoppage time balloon handlers throw candy to the crowd and - if time and space permit - spin the balloon. This is a real crowd pleaser.

One of my favorite things during  stoppage is to let a child hold the end of my rope. Their eyes bug out and they break into a huge smile. It's awesome.

Once the balloon passes the grandstands in front of the Art Museum (and the TV cameras) the handlers carry the balloon to the deflation area and help with that. Deflation often involves flopping on the balloon until all the air is out.

After that, buses take you back to another hotel - usually the Sheraton - wear you return your costume and take a boxed lunch which you can eat there or carry out with you.

Your finish time for the day can be as early as 10 AM or as late as 1 PM hence the warning about cooking and travel. It all depends on where in the parade your balloon is. It's a long day but sooooo much fun! The smiles on the kids faces - and the adults too for that matter - is awesome.

So if you are interested we'd love to work with you. Click here to apply and be sure to choose the team Perkis People. Let me know if you sign up!