Three Things Thursday

1. My best friend Marie gets here tomorrow. I really cant contain myself. I haven’t seen her since last October when we watch the Badgers smack the Gophers all over the field. I have no idea how I am going to get any work done today or tomorrow. She was my random roommate freshman year of college and we lived together all four years. She is like my sister. I assume insanity will ensue this weekend. There also might be beer consumed.

2. The Tour de France starts this weekend. This is another thing I am super pumped for. I love watching the tour. I have been watching it for as long as I can remember. I come from a cycling family so it makes sense. Also, each year, my mom likes to pick one of the riders she thinks I should marry. Can’t wait to see who it is this year.

3. Insurance – get it, for everything. As someone who has had to make claims on both my renters insurance and my car insurance in the last six months, it is worth it.

Me and Marie at Homecoming 2010
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Rest Days

Rest days are sometimes loathed and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel (tough week). There are days I am so glad it is a rest day or wish it was a rest day and then there are days like today, I want to run. I really want to run. I really, really want to run. It is a nice day out and my legs are feeling good (mind you I have been sitting at a desk all day), but sigh, today is a rest day. And at this point in my life I know that the rest days are just as important as the workout days.

Stella is clearly trying to steal my wine.

I know my body needs to recover and I know I have harder workouts coming up this week. I mean, it is only Tuesday, but somehow my mind goes into two year old mode and I keep hearing “but I wanna” in a whiny tone. Thankfully there is this stupid rational part of my brain that says “no”. I might go for a bike ride though, that’s not running.

So rest days? Good idea/bad idea? (I know they are good, please don’t try to lecture me. I just want to run today.) Do you look forward to rest days or do you dread them? or does it just depend upon the day?

Maybe related: I am so freaking excited for my best friend to visit this weekend that I can barely concentrate on anything. I want to play, now!

I guess I will just have to sit on the couch and drink wine with the cat, only if I can wrestle it from her first.

Competition

Are you competitive?

I sure am. Not with others. I am incredibly competitive with myself. I will never win races, but that doesn’t bother me. I have never been the best. I wasn’t the best swimmer as a kid. I wasn’t the fastest runner in high school track. I wasn’t a start swimmer in high school. But none of this ever stopped me. I love competition. Lots of people hate races and meets and get super nervous. I get excited and thrive in those environments. It is time to see where I am at. Have I gotten faster? Have I gotten stronger?

I started competitively swimmer at age 9. I have always felt natural in the water. My mom said I was like a fish as a kid. I was on what was probably the best club team in the state, but was not one of the top swimmers. The coaches expected a lot out of us and pushed us a lot. No idea how I had that in me at that age, but I did. Maybe it was this that helped create my competitive nature. I even got to swim at the state swim meet a few times, in a relay, not the A or B relay, maybe the D relay. I didn’t care. I was going to swim my little heart out and boy did I.

Skip ahead a lot of years (there were some college years in Madison, I enjoyed them) when a friend talked my into my first triathlon the summer after my Junior year of college. Wow, had I forgotten how much fun it was to compete. I swam across that lake as fast as I could. My parents and my friend’s parents said not only did I beat most of my entire wave out of the water I passed most of the wave in front of me as well. I LOVED it, every moment. Now I did get passed by some people on the bike and lots of people on the run (this was years before I was a runner), but I had a blast. I knew I could do better and convinced my dad to do another tri with me later that summer. My competition bug was back! And I haven’t stopped since. More tris, a half marathon, a marathon, and now countless races.

These days I realized I cannot get a PR every time I race, but I have to have some sort of goal. I always want to do better. I always expect a lot out of myself. Someone told me this wasn’t competitiveness because it was with myself. I disagree 100%. Just because I’m not competing to win doesn’t mean I’m not competing. I mean, come on, how many of us actually have a chance to win races?And unless they are smaller races, how many of us are going to win our age group? If you have ever seen me finish a race, you would know that I am competing. I have a finish line kick like no other. I have no idea where I pull it out of, I think it is all adrenaline, but I am leaving nothing out on the course (of course this may be why all my finish line photos look the same-see photo right). I want to knock off as many people as I can in the last tenth to quarter mile of a race. Is this isn’t competitiveness I don’t know what is.

What about all of you? What does competition or competitiveness mean to you? Are you competitive?

Motivation…

Motivation.

What motivates you? What does motivation mean to you?

I am pretty sure it means something different to all of us and we all find our motivation from different places. My motivation comes from different places at different times. Sometimes it is a big goal race, sometimes it is needing stress relief, and sometimes I just know I will feel better if I go for a run. And sometimes I have no idea where my motivation goes.

I had a lot of motivational issues this year with my running. It has been hard for me after last year. I had a great first eight months of the year: PRs in almost every race distance, high fitness levels, and a lot of belief in my own ability. But then it all went bad quickly. I had extreme pain in what I thought was my right quad, which was misdiagnosed as a strain in my quad. It turns out that I had a stress fracture in my right femur. I did not run for almost 4 months. I had to pull out of the Chicago Marathon. I watched all my friends run their fall marathons and I just didn’t know what was next. I wanted it to be easy and fun again, but starting from nothing is not easy or fun.

Thankfully when I finally started running again in January my leg was not in pain. I was slow and had almost no fitness, but at least I was running. I was motivated by the fact that I could run again. I was motivated by wanting to do well at the National Half Marathon in March. I somehow had enough motivation to run through the crappy cold winter in Wisconsin. I ended up having a great race in March, not a PR, but a course PR and I felt great afterwards. Somehow that wonderful feeling of accomplishment did not last very long and April and May were sporadic months of running. I even pulled out of the Madison Half Marathon. At this point I am just pretending May didn’t happen.

Right now I am using all my upcoming races as motivation. I don’t want to have to back out of any others. I want to run PRs in both the half marathon and ten mile distance this fall. I just hope my motivation sticks this time. My other big goal this year was for running to become fun again and that thankfully has happened. I don’t view it as a chore or something I have to check off my to do list.

What do you use for motivation? How do you stay motivated?

Fat Tire Tour of Milwaukee

Let’s just say I had no idea what I was getting into.  People said it would be fun, people warned me to pace myself, but nothing prepared me for the 2011 Fat Tire Tour of Milwaukee.

Pabst Brewery

I met up with my dad at the old Pabst Brewery and the party was already started. People were decked out in Pee-Wee Herman garb, the PBR was flowing and the polka music was blasting. We met up with some of our friends who knew more people doing the ride.

Best Place

This was basically a bar crawl on wheels. The first stop was Sobelmans and then we biked over to West Allis. The bar was so crazy-crowded that we went to a Mexican restaurant down the street and got food and margaritas. Thank god we got food there. After food it was decided to head straight to the Lakefront Brewery since free beer started at 2:30. (Note to self: Free alcohol is always a bad idea. Repeat, free alcohol is bad). It was an absolutely beautiful day to hang out in the sun by the river. Things started getting a lot more crazy here. Here are a few select shots from the craziness.

Me and Dad
Me and my new friend Tish
Me, Dad, Ariel, Eric

All in all a fun day. I am pretty sure my dad enjoyed it as well. And for the second time this year I have learned I am too old to drink all day. No more bar crawls.

2011 Race Calendar

Yeah, I know it is June and halfway through 2011, but I don’t really care. The first six months of 2011 didn’t really go as I had planned. 1) I wasn’t supposed to be in Wisconsin. I was supposed to be in DC. 2) I wasn’t supposed to get injured AGAIN (stupid hamstring, I hate you) and 3) I lost my motivation sometime in April and didn’t really find it until the end of May.

Completed 2011 Races

I ran a tiny 5K in January. I think it was called the Frosty 5K. It was something like 8 degrees out, maybe 10 (apparently I acclimated back to Wisconsin winter pretty quickly). I won my age group with no problem and was the second woman overall. Let’s not go back and look at the numbers of how  many people this is out of, I was just coming back from the stress fracture in my femur and not running for four months. It was a nice little booster when I needed it.

In March I flew back to DC to run the National Half. I was so excited to go back to DC and race in my city, plus it was a course I had run before. Several of my friends were running it and more were volunteering at the aid station at mile 7. This year the race was the week after my birthday (last year it was on my birthday) so the trip was one big party for me. I got to see my friends, have a nice pasta dinner, race, brunch, and birthday celebration. I wasn’t going for a PR because I knew I didn’t have all my fitness back. I ended up running a course PR and having a blast. If you are interested the full race recap is on DailyMile.

I was supposed to run the Madison Half Marathon Memorial Day weekend, but backed out of it due to May. I’m just pretending that month didn’t happen at this point. I did not regret that decision one bit. I needed a weekend to relax. Too much travel between work and person trips. And I needed to rest up for Ragnar. Instead of racing I enjoyed wine in the backyard and a trail run.

June was Ragnar Chicago. You can go back one post and see my awesome adventure.

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