Ebb and Flow

Standard

IMG_3835 IMG_1385

When we moved up to Newport a few years ago Jim and I expanded our watersport activities when we bought some stand up paddleboards. We learned to surf our boards and on flat days we enjoy the water with a nice long paddle. Paddling is our recreational and leisurely activity.

 

 

Last Sunday I changed that by entering the Providence Paddle Battle. I opted for the 3-mile course along the scenic Providence skyline. There was a 9-mile course but I learned a lot from my first half marathon and decided to ease into paddle racing.

IMG_3908

Race day was a beautiful day in Providence. Before we started the wind was low and the temperature was cool. The start was delayed because the course needed to be set and Mother Nature decided to change the conditions. We did a paddle out and return. The way out was perfect, and easy, a little too easy.

IMG_3927 IMG_3925

We paid the price on the return to the finish. The light wind turned into a constant head wind and it was low tide so we were going against the current. Not exactly ideal conditions.

 

What I discovered in running, a marathon and a half-marathon are two different beasts. I found out last Sunday a paddle race is a completely new species. After the race I discovered muscles that have never been documented in Gray’s Anatomy.

 

Paddling requires every body part. At the end of the race when I was exhausted I was ready to stop and walk but there is not walking and resting when you are paddling, especially when mother nature is pushing you away from the finish.

 

As I neared the finish and my body was spent, I had to find something to keep me going forward. My distance running instincts kicked in and I relied on sheer will power to get me to the finish. At some point I adopted a mantra and used it with each stroke. “Fuck you, fuck you.” Don’t ask me why I picked those words, but when the brain takes over because the body wants to quit you don’t argue with the one thing that motivates you to finish what you start.

 

I got smoked by most of the other racers. When you run your shoes don’t give you a major advantage or disadvantage. However, when you paddle your vessel is a major factor in how swiftly you cut through the water. I was on a board designed for surf and most everyone else was on a board designed for speed.

IMG_3929

It was discouraging seeing everyone’s backs but somehow I managed to keep the race in perspective. At the end of the day I say it was a success. I finished my first SUP race and even got second place in my division (there was a surfboard division.) I’m not convinced SUP racing is my thing but it was a great experience.

IMG_3930

See you in the water!

IMG_3910

The view from the front

Standard

 

RNR PVD 2

It’s December, Christmas is right around the corner with a New Year waiting right behind it. For me running is a distant memory. The last race I ran was several months ago, back when we were wearing shorts and t-shirts for running instead of dressing up like the brother from “A Christmas Story” before heading out.


As I sit in my current condition I get a chance to reflect on quite a few things. One being that last race. Instead of running the 13.1 my friend Lisa and I opted to do the relay of the Rock n Roll Marathon in Providence. The course was split between the 5-mile hilly portion and the 8-mile flat part of the course. Lisa chose the first leg.

DSCN2986

Looking back now I realize that was quite a special gift for me. As much as I love running I know I am a middle to back of the pack gal. I have no aspirations of trying to really increase my speed and with my knee the way it is my only aspiration right now is to be able to start running again.

 

My race pace relegates me to starting in one of the corrals that crosses the start line a few minutes after the gun goes off. I don’t get to see what things look like in the front; I don’t get to see how beautiful and graceful those runners are. This race was different.

DSCN2987

The relay runners waited at the transition, we were sipping coffee, checking our gear, and making last minute bathroom stops while we waited. The race started about five minutes late, and we looked at our watches and started doing calculations in our head figuring out the pace our partner would run and matching it to the new time so we would know when we needed to be ready to run.

DSCN2989

 

At almost 25 minutes after the start time, we saw the first runner go by. Yes, I have seen elite runners on television and it is spectacular. But seeing it in person is almost indescribable. This man came screaming by, holding a pace that would leave me breathless in a matter of minutes. His shoulders and face have a determined relaxation. It is as if he is both enjoying being out for a run and calculating just how fast he needs to go to finish the final 8 miles.

DSCN2990

A few minutes after he passed the lead woman darted past us. She had two male runners in front of her. She had a look of peace as she eyed the male runner a few hundred yards in front of her. There was such grace and beauty in her stride.

DSCN2992

Shortly after the lead runners came by, the rest of the racers passed the transition station. As the minutes on clock ticked by the runners began to look less like the lead runners and more like the runners I am familiar with. Runners with much less grace in their stride but with an unyielding determination to finish the race, runners like me.

 

As a participant I won’t be able to see the beauty of the lead runners. Instead I will see the beauty of the middle and back of the packers. The beauty of people who are not afraid to start a race and who aren’t afraid to finish. But it is a great gift getting a chance to see the view from the front.

RnR PVD

My New Life

Standard

Crutches

The past two weeks I’ve had a chance to really take stock of things. While my knee injury is pretty benign, as it has been healing up I realized something, I think my knee is going to hurt me for the rest of my life. While walking doesn’t hurt, I occasionally find myself twisting or turning and all of a sudden, crap, I get a really nice sharp Tourette’s intensity pain.

 

DSCN3426

I know I won’t be satisfied sitting on the sidelines. This weekend I watched surfers charge head high waves, I wanted to grab my board. This morning Jim and I watched the NYC Marathon, I was ready to put on tights and shoes and log a few miles.

 

Thousands Run In New York MarathonTomorrow I see the doctor to find out my fate. I am afraid I will hear that my knee will hurt when I run or play other sports. I already suffer that with my ankle because I seemed to have misplaced the cartilage in the joint.  (At least two weeks of rest made the swelling and pain in my ankle stop). Welcome to your life,either accept it or don’t.

Now that is Dopey!

Standard

dopey challenge

Run Disney announced a new race, the Dopey Challenge. This is a spin off from the Goofy and a half challenge that Run Disney currently holds during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. The Goofy Challenge requires you to complete a half marathon on Saturday and Sunday you complete the full marathon. Yes it is goofy and yes I have done it.

DSC05965

Many of the Goofy runners were also entering the 5k and self-proclaiming it as the “Dopey.” Disney decided to capitalize on this insanity and created an official Dopey challenge. And to top it off, Disney added a new distance, the 10k. To officially complete the challenge a Dopey runner needs to run a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. Yes it is Dopey, and after the race was announced I really wanted to sign up and do it. Thankfully for me the announcement of the race and the sign up were several weeks apart.

My family is an important part of my running. They support me, they travel with me, and they watch me eat enough food to feed a small country the week prior to the race. Because my family is so encouraging I am able to compete in as many events as I do.

DSC09203

My family was integral in my goal of completing the first 5 Princess Marathons. I have to applaud my family and thank them for all the support. It was not an easy five years, but we made it. It wasn’t so bad when we lived in Florida, but after a move to Rhode Island it was not easy managing the schedules of my husband a full time college student and my daughter a full time high school student. Thanks to their support and the help of my parents I was able to attend each race and become a Perfect Princess.

This year while I was at the race a thought occurred to me; maybe I should stick with the race until I do 10, maybe 20. But at some point the race would consume me and it would be so selfish. Running would become all about me, when the reality is I need everyone around me so I can keep going to races and enjoying the sport.

And as I considered the Dopey, I was reminded of the things we are trying to accomplish here at home. Pay off bills is a big one. We are trying to get prepared for me to retire from the military. Finishing 20 years in the military is an accomplishment in itself. And one of the things we need to do is make sure we are financially healthy.

I recognized jut how selfish it would be if I opted to run. If I have learned anything about running it is about generosity of spirit. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NYC marathoners ran through the city giving bottles of water and other items to the victims of the storm. After two bombs exploded at the finish of the Boston Marathon runners ran straight to blood banks to donate blood for those in need.

DSC01270

After witnessing all of these other generous runners, how could I be selfish? It contradicts what running is about. As the clock to the sign up of the Dopey counted down, I made peace with myself; I was not going to run the Dopey. It was not the right time. If I did, it would have been for all of the wrong reasons. Yes it is the inaugural running of the Dopey, but it wasn’t reason enough to go.

As I read updates on Facebook and twitter seeing the race was almost full, my heart ached with longing. I admit, I really wanted to sign up. But I couldn’t. It was not the right thing to do. Running a race because it is something that I want to do and not considering how it would impact the people in my life, that is Dopey. DSC09786

Courage

Standard

156493_10200089365375506_772516476_n

Over the past few years I have done quite a few distance races. At each race at a minimum I get a new race shirt. I browse the expanse of vendor booths set up at the expo and might pick up a few more things. From when I started running to now, I’ve had to develop a new strategy for shopping at the expo. When first started running, I wanted everything and my shopping reflected that. I would pick up far more than what I needed. The result, my dresser drawers are bursting with shirts, shorts, and other running gear. Now I go into an expo knowing what I need to pick up and quickly breeze by the other booths on my way to the necessary stops like packet pick up. It’s been a pretty successful strategy.

 

This year at the Disney Princess Marathon expo, I knew the places I wanted to hit, Official Merchandise, Sweaty Bands, Packet Pick Up and we were going to done. As I was cruising past the vendor booths I spotted a shirt that jumped out at me. Jim had decided to check out sunglasses so I double backed to really check it out.

 

It was a Kelly green shirt with the word courage printed on the front. The back of the shirt was a definition of courage that really resonated with me because it read, “to persevere with humility” and “falling in love with the person you were meant to be”.

 

Courage was word in my vocabulary but it wasn’t that important to me until I started working with the Navy. I am Coast Guard, and about a year and a half ago I started working with the Navy at their Senior Enlisted Academy. The core values for the Navy are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. During each class we discuss what the core values mean to the students. Listening to the students definitions made me really explore what courage means to me.

 

In the military, the word courage is often synonymous with courage in battle. Showing bravery when the enemy is near. While that is an important facet of the word, for me courage is much more than physical courage.

 

My definition of courage is still evolving, but here is what I believe courage is. Courage is when you are not afraid to be vulnerable, totally exposed to criticism. Courage is putting it on the line, risking it all (especially when the outcome is uncertain). Courage is trying something new. Courage is doing something that others tell you it is stupid. Courage is staying true to you. Courage is looking for the truth, even when the truth isn’t pretty. Courage is doing what you believe is right and not about always being right. Courage is treating everyone with respect, even the people many others don’t want to see. Courage is standing up to bullies.

 

Fellow Flowers (http://fellowflowers.com) makes this shirt. Their story is just as inspiring as the t-shirts. In 2011 a group of women started training for a half marathon together. Over the course of their training, they discovered that running is much more than just running; it is a journey of mental and physical struggles. It is a journey where you face your own fears and adversity and hopefully in the end, when you cross the finish line you will have learned something that you can apply in other areas of your life.

 

My courage shirt is now one of my favorite shirts because it reminds me what courage means to me. But more importantly it reminds me to live my life in a courageous way. Now if Fellow Flowers would only make a shirt defining honor and commitment, then I would have a complete set of Navy core value shirts.

535569_10200089365855518_1291346849_n

Why am I Competing?

Standard

When was 5, I started playing team sports. My mom signed me up for soccer. I don’t think I was any good, but it was the start of my love affair with team sports and competition. I added basketball, volleyball, to my team sports repertoire and even tried softball once but never really took to it. I loved the camaraderie of being on a team. I also really liked competing and winning as part of a team.

nvc_2012_08_11_0093

Most of the teams I played on were competitive, but weren’t necessarily very good. It didn’t change the fact that as a team we wanted to win. The times we won we would celebrate and the times we lost we would commiserate and assess what we did wrong. The best way I can explain this is winning is fun and losing just sucks.

DSC01528     DSC01471

While I have a great appreciation for competition. There is a downside; it can spill over into other areas of your life. Competition does not work well in relationships, surfing, parenting, and some aspects of work. Of course I don’t think I was overly competitive in areas outside of sport, but I will leave that up for my family and friends to decide.

DCIM101GOPRO

Setting how competitive I was aside, I would rather focus on how I learned to curb my competitiveness (which has had a few drawbacks like not being as competitive as I would like in my volleyball league). I shifted my focus away from competition when I started running.

 

This might sound ironic because running a race is a competition. There is a clear winner. The first person to cross the line wins, and everyone else is put on a list so you can see just how you stacked up against the other racers.

 

I admit when I first started running I would size up my competition at the start line. There were a few things I learned. I am not very good at determining who is a fast or slow runner. Size, shape, and age don’t give many good clues to speed. The other thing I learned (and this was really reinforced when I moved to New England) is most other runners are much faster then me. It was rather humbling finding out I was just okay at running. I loved the running community and wanted to continue to participate in it so I had to reassess and shift my focus.

faye princess start

To be a runner it couldn’t be about being fast. Instead my focus was enjoying the sport. It wasn’t about competition it was about relieving stress and being in the moment. And one of my favorite things about running is sharing it with other people. There are few things I enjoy more than running with someone on their first race. I get so much enjoyment out of seeing someone achieve a goal of crossing the start and finish line of a run.

 

While I would really love to win a race (or at least my age group), if winning a race were my goal, I would have quit running a long time ago.