You guessed it, life’s been a little rollercoaster-y over here with ups and downs and more ups and downs. I’m doing my darndest to throw my hands up in the air and enjoy the ride, but I’m a girl who likes her peace. My mantra for this week should be: “Change is good.” It’s certainly not easy for me, but I need to learn to embrace the possibilities that come with it.
Anyhow, onto the good stuff…
Last night, Jared surprised me with tickets to see Sarah McLachlan in concert. I’ve been a fan of hers since my freshman year of high school and I feel pretty confident (and smug) in saying I know all of her published work. I certainly knew every song she sang last night and the concert, by far, surpassed all of my expectations. It was absolutely perfect. I was surprised to find myself so unbelievably emotional before, during and after her concert, but she’s just such a beautiful person with a beautiful soul and her music has carried me through some indescribably dark times in life. To this day, her songs soothe my soul like no other artist and before I fall further down this well of melodramatic awe, I’ll sum up by saying (and it probably goes without say) that the concert rocked my socks off, despite the fact that I was paralyzed in my chair because I didn’t want to start bawling like a baby. Again, it was perfect and I’m infinitely thankful to have a hubby who just gets it.
|We weren’t allowed to take photos during the concert… but here’s the stage!|
|Waiting for the concert to begin!|
Last fall, I determined that Sunday, February 6th, 2011 was destined to be the gosh darn BEST day of our lives, man! We signed up to run the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, then planned to watch our teams go head-to-head in the Super Bowl (his team: Chicago Bears versus my team: Pittsburgh Steelers). I was convinced it’d be the Steelers’ seventh Super Bowl win, since it was supposed to be my seventh marathon; HOWEVER, destiny had a different plan. I got injured during my fifth marathon (Long Beach on 10/17/2010), hobbled through the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas half instead of the full and when my physical therapist repeatedly demanded: “NO RUNNING!” I threw my hands up in the air and downgraded from the Surf City full to the half (compromise, right?).
So it wouldn’t be my seventh marathon (or my sixth, for that matter), but the Steelers were on their black-and-yellow way to the Super Bowl and I was still jazzed for a Heath Miller-hail-mary-last-second-of-the-game-winning-touchdown. Again, Ms. Sassy-Pants-Destiny has a mind of her own…
I’ve run over two dozen races in the past year and a half and I’ve never had the #7 on any of my race bibs–no joke! My Surf City number was 19229–still, no #7. And still, no #7 for my Steelers. Darn cheeseheads… Oh well.
|Surf City Expo in Huntington Beach|
|J’s bib said “Monkey” – too bad it was so small…|
|Hey, hey! A chick named Chuck!|
|Buying a Spibelt. Jared took pics because it took me forever and a day to decide which one I wanted.|
|February in So Cal|
|We swung by Maggiano’s in Costa Mesa on our drive home.|
|Despite my happy face, I really picked the wrong time to do a vegan cleanse…|
Moving along to my Surf City Race Report:
Huntington Beach is 80 miles north of San Diego, so Jared and I were up at 3:30am on Sunday morning. I am NOT a morning person and I’m usually extremely slow to get out of bed (my snooze button gets A LOT of action), but race mornings are an exception… well, I was up after one five minute snooze instead of ten. I got dressed (in black and yellow, of course) and scurried around the house, gathering a change of clothes for the ride home, and packing pre and post-race snacks. Sully was a wimpery, confused mess. Jared was probably singing (he’s always singing).
|Check out all that black and yellow!|
The website warned that the (free) parking lots would be full by 6:30am, so we took off at 4:15am and arrived at 6:04am. By golly, I think we were the first ones there. Jared reclined his seat and took a nap, while I ate my oatmeal, made nine billion pee pee trips to the public beach restrooms (WAY awesome compared to traditional race’s port-ew-potties) and quite literally watched the sun come up.
We decided to hoof it to the starting line since an absurdly long line had formed for the shuttle. We ended up walking 1.5 miles to the start and arrived at 7:45am as the race announcer was sending the wheelchair racers on their way, so we quickly checked our jackets at the gear tent and headed for the corrals. We ducked in with the 2:10 pacers and just shy of 8:00am, we were off!
It was extremely gray and foggy, so although we were running along Pacific Coast Highway, the ocean views were pretty minimal. We cruised along with the 2:08 pacers and hit Mile 3 at 28:18 (averaging a 9:26/mile), which was both surprising and exciting. Two weeks ago, I ran the Carlsbad half in 2:09:53, so I was hoping for another sub-2:10. Jared and I got separated during a water station and I briefly pulled to the side to look for him, but couldn’t spot his yellow t-shirt, so I continued on, shooting him infinite love and gratitude. Just short of Mile 4, he caught up to me just to say he loved me (Reason #6,237,590,294 why I’m the luckiest girl in the world) and after encouraging him to enjoy the run, practice his meditation and smile for the entire last mile, we parted ways. I’d caught up to the 2:06 pacers and was already gunning for 2:04.
At Mile 6, I grabbed a cup of water and a cup of Sharkies (energy chews) and struggled to choke two of them down as I ran. These are very stick-to-your-teeth chewy, though I think they’d be perfect pre-run or if you take breaks mid-training run.
I cruised through miles 7 and 8, ambitiously thinking: “I wonder if I can break 2-hours today?” As I crossed a split mat at 8.2 miles at 1:13:30 (averaging an 8:58/mile pace), I realized I was pushing awfully hard for having another 5 miles to go and started to feel like I couldn’t hold it.
But I did my best. I’d caught up to the 2:04 pacers and while I desperately wanted to hunt down the next group (2:02, I suppose), I couldn’t muster enough umph to push past the 2:04s, nor could I even see the next group ahead. At mile 10, I was feeling totally beat. I could feel that phantom twinge in my right knee, alerting me to a looming IT Band temper tantrum, but I wasn’t about to throw in the towel! I focused on running with a strong core and proper form, aiming to land mid-foot with each stride. This helped for about 39 seconds.
I was tired. And I really, really, really wanted to slow down, but I also really wanted to do better than I did in Carlsbad. So I hung onto the 2:04 pace group, which consisted of three female pacers leading what looked to be just one runner. And that one runner, bless her heart, was really having a tough time of it. She was hunched over, sucking wind, her eyes glued to the ground in front of her. So I focused on looking livelier than her. One of the pacers ran next to her shouting: “Keep your eyes up! Do. Not. Look. Down.”
And so I kept my eyes up, but I still felt grumpy and angry and frustrated and discouraged. I was struggling. I knew how important it was to stay positive because as soon as you let that negative just-give-up voice take over in your mind, you’re finished. I did not want him to poo on my parade, so while I couldn’t seem to locate my positive you-can-do-it voice, I knew Jared would share his. And so I thought about what Jared would say if he were physically by my side. He would say he believed in me and that I amaze him and that I can do anything I put my mind to–optimistic, positive, lovey-dovey junk like that. And it worked. I held pace.
I walked through my last water station just shy of Mile 12, gagged on a couple more Sharkies, then ran on with Jared’s voice in my head and a big stupid grin on my face (or at least in my heart, because my race photos are atrocious…) and I crossed the finish line with 2:14-and-some-change on the clock. I hit the stop button on my Garmin and stared at my time in disbelief: 1:59:54.
Officially, I finished in 1:59:52 with a pace of 9:09/mile and although it felt like a major effort in those final 3 miles, it gives me hope that I can come back quickly and hit my sub-4:00 marathon goal soon. Very soon. I scooped up my surfboard-shaped medal and huddled by the curb until I spotted Jared coming through the finish line chute, then scurried over so we could hug, kiss and congratulate each other, muttering our usual exclamations: “We did! We did it!”
|Stopped by the medical tent to have a bag of ice saran wrapped to my right knee/IT band|
This was my tenth and his ninth half-marathons and it never gets old. It never ceases to be awesome and amazing and completely exhilarating. I actually teared up a bit on the drive home as I realized we don’t have any half or full marathons in the very near future (we have the La Jolla Half on 4/17 and the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon on 6/5… so dreadfully far faaaaar away, sigh…), so that’s when I shifted my focus to Super Bowl Sunday… and we all know how that turned out…
Oh well, I guess it was my day to win and not theirs! Sorry, Steelers.