Monday, December 14, 2009

2010 Goals

So. This past summer I came up with some running goals, but they were pretty elusive, mushy gushy goals like "have fun with running!" These were definitely goals that I needed to have at the time because I was not having fun and I just wanted to find the joy of running again. That pleasure has resurfaced mainly due to the Charlotte Running Club members and due toTheoden Janes' awesome blog. Keeping that in mind, I'm going on the assumption that the fun will naturally continue in 2010, so it does not need to be listed as a goal.

(Keep in mind that the Club has a social committee now with Charlotte's own Rebecca Thomason as the lead....what more could I ask for?!)

When I looked back on my races, I did not really have a way to guage my success of meeting my goals in the fall because I did not make any concrete goals that were specific and measurable. Nor were these goals long term. For this reason, I have developed some more tangible goals for the next upcoming year, which you can see listed below.

I'm looking to peak for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, which works out perfectly since the majority of my running buddies will be trying to peak for Boston a couple of weeks later. I'm hoping all you people out there can help hold me accountable! :o)

2010 Running Goals

Sub 17:10 5k
Sub 22:50 4 Miler
Sub 29:30 8k
Sub 36:40 10k
Sub 1:00:00 at Cherry Blossom, Top 30 Women, Win Team Competition
Sub 1:20:00 Half Marathon
Run 1st Marathon sub 2:52
$1500 total race earnings

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pacing into a New Perspective

In Charlottte's local Thunder Road Marathon on Saturday, I got to see a lot of amazing things - not from the perspective of a racer, but from a perspective of a pacer. Admittedly, I was quite nervous about pacing Théoden. I was self-conscious about whether or not I would have any entertaining stories, of whether I would stay on pace, of whether I would be motivational enough for him to keep going at a steady clip if he hit the wall, of whether I would see him in the crowd of runners....Of course, I had plenty of time to ponder all of these things while I waited for Théoden at the stadium because I had arrived over 20 minutes early – after all, I didn’t want to miss him in the masses or anything like that.

During my wait, I became a sociologist by taking in all of my surroundings and observing the behavior of both the spectators as well as the race participants. My favorite fan was a man wearing an awesome curly haired wig, dancing wildly around as he banged on his cowbell. Actually, his beat was pretty catchy and several of the runners took the extra breath to tell him so. Of course, people familiar with the SNL skit from 2000 featuring Will Ferrell would yell to him “MORE COWBELL!” and I am fairly certain that all the runners who got the joke picked up the pace for that 50 meters.

After hearing the cowbell player having produced beats incessantly for ten minutes straight, I was startled when I didn’t hear it anymore and turned my gaze away from the oncoming runners, back to him. The reason why he had stopped playing was because a marathoner had stopped running the race to ask him a question. The conversation ensued as such:

Runner: Hey – do you have a cell phone I could borrow?
Cowbell Player (digs cell phone out of pocket): Sure thing!
Runner (dialing): Thanks – hey man – I really dig the Cowbell.
Runner (in voicemail to his wife): Hey honey, it’s me….Just wanted to let you know that I would be at the finish a little later than I had expected…I have a little bit of a hamstring cramp, so it’s gonna slow me up a little bit. Don’t worry about me though, I’m fine! See you soon!!
Runner (to cowbell player): Awesome – had to make sure the wife would know where I was on the course!

…And then he jumped back into the street to attack the last ten miles of the course with a cramped hamstring.

Hearing this man leave a voicemail for his wife opened my eyes into a whole different world of running. It honestly has never crossed my mind to call my boyfriend in the middle of the race to tell him I wouldn't be there when I expected. Did this make him any less of a runner than me? Of course not. Was I a bit surprised? Of course. Had I ever seen this happen before? Definitely not. Made me wonder if I should re-post one of my earlier blogs that proclaimed that runners in the front of the pack don't miss out on anything...After Saturday's experience, I am slightly inclined to differ. Seriously, the winner of the men's marathon didn't even get to run through the imitation brick wall in NODA because it wasn't up yet.

Ah, but I digress.

After hearing the voicemail, I immediately turned my gaze back to the incoming runners because I had this sick fear that if I ever turned away from them that I would miss Théoden and have to sprint him down in frenzy and I definitely didn't want to be doing any sprinting.

However, I had plenty of cushion time and relaxed back into observing everything going on around me. In the next ten minutes, I saw friends pacing other friends, I heard people shout !Go Charlotte Running Club! to me, saw Boriana running a marathon for a “long” run (!!!!), and families cheering on their loved ones.

And, eventually, I saw Théoden.

At that moment, my insecurities were pushed aside once I saw him running towards me around mile 16.5 near the stadium. I raised my hands, let out a welcome howl that no one heard but myself, and ran towards him. I immediately pointed out the man dancing wildly and pounding the cowbell. Within the first ten steps, Théoden was already moving to the right side so that he could greet his family and show his love and appreciation for their continued support.

In the next ten miles, I was amazed at the amount of conversation that Théoden participated in. I was impressed at Théoden’s ability to raise a hand and say “Thank you” to literally every single police officer we passed along the way, even at mile 25. I was awed at how obvious it was that Théoden appreciated every second his family braved the cold to support him in an activity that has potentially taken precious minutes away from time spent with them.

I walked away from my pacing experience having seen things I never would have imagined occurred in a race. I learned some new things about pacing: get out of the way when people want to slap the hands of the actual racer. I was mad at myself for taking away some of the hands that Théoden could have slapped. I also was disappointed that I didn’t start counting all the people we had passed until the last mile. In the end, I was elated to have taken part in pacing a man who has worked so hard in the past year to beat his previous PR. I was happy to see Théoden accomplish this task without even hitting the wall, while partaking in conversation, and with a studly last mile at a full minute ahead of the pace he had been carrying over the other 25 miles.

Most of all, I realized that running truly is something that brings friends and family together in a magnificently healthy and fun way.

---Great job to everyone out there on Saturday---The common theme for the day was PR, as I have seen those two letters stamped all over blogs on facebook.----

Friday, December 11, 2009

Diversity Matters!

I'm a huge fan of diversity. Until this picture of a birthday party I attended when I was younger resurfaced, I had almost forgotten about my childhood. I forgot about how when you are a little kid, you like anyone who is nice or who shares or who plays with you. Color, background, financial status, and everything else in between doesn't even cross your mind. At what point in our lives do the stereotypes begin to creep into our mind and prevent us from potentially meeting someone who could be fabulously wonderful because we deemed they weren't rich enough based on the ripped jeans or that they weren't open-minded enough because they were wearing pink J-Crew pants with the ugly whales imprinted on them?
I've always kind of prided myself on the fact that I tend to have a pretty open mind, and also tend to be accepting of people no matter what their background may be. When it really comes down to it though, I am still fall victim to making preconceived notions about a person based on their appearance - albeit not often. However, in those few times, I feel like in some part I have failed the people I grew up with or my parents, who both shared a true and deep passion to teach their children the principles of equality - and really giving everyone an equal chance. I'm not saying that I don't treat people equally, but I am saying that I definitely could have prevented myself from meeting some pretty cool people in college because I made some assumptions based on their preppy clothes.
It is good to look into the world from the lens you looked through as child to gain back that perspective and realize sometimes adults need to go back to the basics and stop worrying about the mundane.
All in all, this resurfaced picture makes me appreciate Unity Point School for the diversity and open mindedness it offered to its students. It makes me appreciate Carbondale, the college town and home of the Southern Illinois Salukis, for the international student body it attracted. In high school, all I wanted was to get out of that town and did not see the beauty in everything it had to offer. While I still do not want to move back, I can still look back on it's redeeming qualities and smile to myself - knowing that it played a huge role in who I have become today.