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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another 13.1

I am the kind of gal who needs some serious motivation to run....sometimes its an upcoming race and sometimes its the piece of pie waiting for me on the kitchen counter.  

When I hit my summer running rut in June I decided to find a local race to help get me back in the grove of running.  I found the Niantic Bay Half Marathon and 5k in September and decided to set my standards high and signed up for the Half marathon.  

Training was basically non existent.  I forced myself to get out there for a 2 miler here, a 3 miler there,  I even hit 6 miles one day out of the blue.  When August rolled around and I had not run in a few weeks, I talked to my friend Stacie who had been training regularly and also signed up for the Niantic Bay half as well.   She had just come back from her 8 mile run.  Welll.... if you did so should I- so I laced up my sneakers for an excruciatingly slow (11 minute miles) 8 mile run the following morning. 

The next weekend Stacie and I had another conversation about our training habits.  She had just conquered a hilly TEN mile run.  Once again I started to feel guilty, so I laced up my sneakers and hit the road.   

I didn't even get out there until 8, and I had not eaten since lunch.  I was amazed at how easy this run felt.  10 miles came faster than I thought.  Once I hit that beautiful double digit I knew I was back in the game.  This was my first double digit run since my Half Marathon in April :)

Finally it was Half Marathon Weekend.  Instead of staying in and resting, I went scuba diving with my dive buddy Tom in Rhode Island.  While we had a great dive, this made for some very tired legs on Sunday morning.  

I went to bed at about 8:30 Saturday night after eating my bowl of boxed pasta and cold sauce right out of the jar.  Sunday morning I had some toast and peanut butter, took the dog for a walk, and managed to get a lovely swelling bee sting on my right ankle.  Just what an under-trained runner needs to start off her race.  I  loaded up on antihistamines and met Stacie and Tracey at the start line.  

Stacie and I ran the first few miles together and kept a pretty good pace under 9 minute miles.  After a few miles we went out separate ways so we could spend the race running at our own comfortable paces.  The first 6 miles I kept under 9 minute miles and I was feeling good.  Miles 7, 8, 9, and 10 ranged from sub 9 to 9:30, even after attempting to stomach a chocolate mint flavored gu.  11, 12 and 13 reminded me that I would never be able to run a full marathon as this was the half way point and I felt like I was crawling.  I truly felt like I had nothing left and my lack of training was rearing its ugly head.  I originally went into the race with the goal of just finishing, but the day before I decided I wanted to run a sub 2 hour half marathon....

Which I missed by 54 seconds. 

Photo credit to Island Photography 

I was super bummed about missing my goal by 46 seconds (going by watch time), but I then remembered that my last half marathon time was 2:07 and I managed a PR without really training.  Imagine what I can do if I actually train. 

Next 13.1..... Ill get you!  I guess I am hooked......

Anyone else PR when you lease expected it? Or run their best race after being VERY under-trained?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

National Parks

Hiking is one of my favorite cross training activities and visiting all of the national parks has always been a dream of mine.   But boy is the list long......

When a boyfriend at the time (now married like the rest of them, yes you can call me the female version of good luck chuck..) invited me to go spend the week with him and his parents in Jackson Hole WY, I packed my bean boots and headed to the mid west.

Packing for a ski vacation is quite tedious... especially when it requires four planes and traveling up and down the country because your plane is broken.....

The week was a blast and I only endured one threat of being sent home.  I learned to ski moguls, cried on a black diamond off the gondola, snowmobiled in yellowstone, talked with some cowboys, had a great time with some great people, and even hit a tree skiing.  One of the highlights was checking off National park number 1 - Yellowstone Park.

When one of my good friends Courtney brought up the idea of hiking Acadia, I couldn't say no.

We picked a date in September, invited our boyfriends, and took the time off work.  When September rolled around..... the boyfriends bailed.  At 24 and 25 we decided we were independent enough to try and endure the 7 hour car ride and challenges of hiking and camping with just us girls (and our two annoying pooches).  It was a great experience to be banished to a world of no cell phone service, far away from family and friends, enjoying the beautiful scenery and learning to be self sufficient.

We packed up Thatcher's Subaru and at 5am Friday morning we were headed North.  A few stops and a lot of scanning on the radio (and 8 hours later) we finally made it to our campground (Acadia is still 3.5 hours past Portland, Maine.... its far).   We managed to set up camp and proceeded to head into Bar Harbor to spend some cash and walk the dogs

Beautiful Bar Harbor, ME

 After buying countless souvenirs and taking 200 pictures, we returned to camp to start a fire and cook up some dinner.  Now let me stop to say yes, we set up camp (tent!), started a fire, and made dinner all on our own.  No one got food poisoning or lit themselves on fire.

Night 1: Bubba Burgers and Garlic Potatoes
Night 2:  Chicken and Veggie skewers with a salad

We sat in the dark, writing out postcards by headlamps, and called it a night at 8:30.... when did camping get so boring?  I guess when its just two girls a tent and two dogs you have to make your own fun.

We even found these nifty plastic wine glasses

 We woke up early and spent the day hiking and navigating the AMAZINGNESS that is Acadia National Park and we only got lost once- it was a miracle.  Our navigational skills leave a lot to be desired and we ended up coming down the wrong trail.  We climbed two different peaks (1,000ft and 500ft) and took in the views.  The hiking was quite rough, not the nice dirt trails we are used to here.... we spent a lot of time scaling rocks and walking along an occasional ledge or two... not much fun when you are terrified of cliffs/heights.

Top of one of the peaks 

Top of Cadillac Mountain

We decided to go to bed even earlier this night ( I think it was like 7:30 we crawled into our tent after a failed attempt to find boys to drink with us- when did camping become an old persons hobby?) 
so we could wake up early to watch the sunrise over Cadillac Mountain.  5am we grabbed the dogs,  champagne, OJ, cameras, and sleeping bag and watched the sun pop over the skyline at 6:15, enjoying our last hours in Maine and catching a buzz before 7am.

The drive home was slightly torturous, and holy cow does Maine like their bible thumping music (never set your radio on scan in Maine, just buy an Ipod connector thing).   On our way to Mt Desert we drove up Rte 1 and avoided the highway.  DEFINITELY the way to go.  Taking the highway back was a mistake that no amount of redbull could mend.  We made a pit stop in Portland ME because I was not leaving Maine without a lobster roll in my belly.  After some intensive research on the best lobster roll in Portland we settled for Portland Lobster CO where I had the most disappointing lobster roll of my life after a 40 minute wait.  Oh well bad lobster rolls are better than on lobster rolls.....and Dogfish Pumpkin beer can wash down just about anything.

We made it home around 5 and I immediately showered off the 3 days of grime.  I refused to unpack and sat on the couch for 2 minutes before my ADD kicked in and I decided to bake an apple pie and soak in the last bits of my weekend. 

 Why am I so weird ?  Who starts dicing apples after a long weekend and spending 7 hours in the car?

All in all....Acadia was breathtaking, the hiking was a challenge, I have a pie, and I am so excited to cross another national park off my list  (and I really need to go for a run...) 

Where is next?  
 I am thinking Badlands National Park ...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Lesson in Losing

My blogging is always as sporadic as my running efforts.... Almost...

A lot has happened since I last posted in this blog and is partially the reason I have been neglecting it.  In the middle of July I lost the best thing that had ever happened to me.  I lost a little 15'3 hand pinto someone called John bought for his two daughters (ages 12 and 13).  This little black and white nameless horse soon adopted the name Cow and at age 4 knew even less than his owners.  After 12 amazing years and many victories, those little girls, not so little anymore at 24 and 25, had to say goodbye.  After 2 intestinal twists, and two colic surgeries, our only choice was to say goodbye when his third twist came along a year after the second.  The first surgery was hard, the second surgery was a week of struggle, heartache and hope, and the third just wasn't an option.

The love for a horse is just as complicated as the love for another human being...if you never love a horse, you will never understand.

It's amazing what losing him taught me.  It put any breakup I ever had into perspective.  I thought I was upset then but this was a whole new lesson on heartache, losing, and putting yourself back together.  Seeing something you love in so much pain rips your heart out of your chest and leaves it in a million tiny pieces on the floor.   Making the decision to put him down was the hardest decision I have ever made yet it was the only decision I could have made that night.

Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls. They give us hope!   Toni Robinson

I spent the next day in bed, wallowing and mourning,  with my puffy eyes basically swollen shut, accepting condolences from friends, family, riders, and trainers all over the East Coast.  To say Cow was a legend would be an understatement.  We had become very well known in the Children/Adult Jumper Circuit for his character and his speed.  His death affected so many different people and it makes me smile to know how loved he truly was.  I was appalled at all of the nice comments from different folks in the horse world my favorite being that "You and Cow made everyone fall in love with you too..."  And that we did.

All horses deserve, at least once in their lives,
                                                                  to be loved by a little girl.

I miss him more than I can put into words, but time has helped.  I start to break down less and less and I am learning that life has to go on with or without my spotted companion.  Now that I am horseless I have been riding more than ever (ironic?).  I have even adopted my sisters 17'3 warmblood ( for those of you not horse educated that is a huge horse ) and I have started showing him and learning to ride all over again.

When I got Cow he was four, and I was 12.  I didn't know how to ride, and he didn't know a whole lot about being ridden.  He was what we call "green" (very inexperienced) and so was I.. and as many horse people joke.. Green and Green does not make blue.   But Cow was an amazing exception, and we taught each other everything we knew with the help of our trainer.  While I fell off many many times, he was always trusting, loving, and loyal.  I knew when I was on his back sailing over 4 foot fences, he was going to do everything in his power to take care of us.

We achieved so much in our 12 years together, making it to the Marshall and Sterling National Finals, winning countless classsics and even a brief debut in a mini prix.  Cow is an inspiration to many and proves that you don't need a $100,000 warmblood to be successful.  A $2,000 black and white pinto with a big heart will do just fine.  Our success stemmed from the trust between horse and rider, and our companionship and need to take care of each other.  I trusted that horse more than I trust most people.  I don't know if I will ever find a teammate like Cow, but I am lucky to have found something so perfect.  How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good bye so hard.

You and your horse. His strength and beauty. Your knowledge and patience and determination and understanding and love. That's what fuses the two of you onto this marvelous partnership that makes you wonder, "What can heaven offer any better then what I have here on earth?".  Monica Dickens

 Whether it be running or riding, when you fall off, you learn to get back in the saddle.  And that is exactly what I am trying to do now. Rest In Peace Cow and know you will always be missed by this little girl <3 

When your horse follows you without being asked, when he rubs his head on yours, and when you look at him and feel a tingle down your know you are loved.
John Lyons 

Want to hear more about Cow?  Check out our article published in the Chronicle of the Horse.