Friday, February 29, 2008

Competition. It Has Awakened.

Greg has decided he wants to do the Tri for Joe in May. That means we're both doing it. That means we're competing. Did I just make a big leap there?

It's a friendly competition. I mean, even though I probably only have a 10% - 25% chance of beating him, that doesn't mean I'm going to put a nail in his bike tire or hire a guy off the street to trip him. Just ideas. I'm not executing any of them. ;)

Seriously though, I am very surprised at how much this friendly competition has motivated me. It all started with Greg saying, after he had decided he would do the race, "you'll kick my butt". And me saying, "yeah right!" And then thinking...hmmmm, and saying "Maybe I can kick your butt". And Greg laughing it off (not in a mean way, just an oh whatever i don't really care if you do or don't way). It may sound like the competitiveness is one-sided, but I guarantee you if I pass Greg on the bike, not only will it surprise the heck out of him, he'll wanna go catch me!

I am thinking about my training in a completely different way. Everyone knows I'm competitive by nature, (Pictionary anyone?) but I can not be competitive in road races when I'm so slow. Some "real" runners wouldn't even say I'm a runner.

I don't run to compete, I run because I like doing it. However, when I'm at the starting line of a race, there is always something missing for me, like I'm not participating in the fullest ability. It is a race, after all, and trotting in around 30 minutes doesn't accomplish much except a donation of my entry fee to Race Director's charity of choice. While I am thankful that I can even move my body in a run-like manner at all, toeing the line at a local 5K is honestly not much different from going out for any other run... except I had to pay to do it.

But duathlon is different. It brings out the kid in me – the feeling of racing Marvin to the sandbox, or racing down the driveway on our bikes, or seeing who could jump up on the well cap with one leg, or who could climb the highest in the willow tree (always Marvin), or any other random spontaneous burst of competition we thought of.

Of course the goal here really isn't to beat Greg. It's to get in the best shape of my life, to finally feel the thrill of being a competitor, and to have fun. I finished nearly dead last at my first duathlon. Finishing last didn't upset me – it was the lack of fun that was disappointing. It's not very fun to go through the course all by yourself. I could do that on any Saturday or Sunday! And sure, I had fun that day because it was my first duathlon and I made it. But now I've done my first...and second duathlons. I know what to expect and I know how to train a little better. And if I don't train, I will again be where I was that day – in the other competitors' dust right off the starting line thinking, well there goes everybody. It's me on a run all by myself. Whoop-tee-doo.

So I'm glad Greg is doing the race and humoring all of my smack talk. Again, the point isn't to beat him, it's just to finally have fun because I've trained seriously. And I hope Greg has a lot of fun too. I'm sure he will have fun and will do very well at the race. But I'm not going to live vicariously through his good skills. I'm going to come up with some of my own.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dexter is Going to School!

"I'm going where?"

I've enrolled Dexter in the Cincinnati Canine Companion Center that is just around the corner from my studio in Loveland. Our neighbor, Rick, is also going to be in the same class with his rescued Skye terrier, Brenny. We start March 10th and the sessions last for 8 weeks- every Monday night at 6:00.

I'm looking forward to it! We're on the path to a trained beagle with good manners who won't drink your beer when you're not looking!

Friday, February 15, 2008


I've decided it's time to start putting hillwork into my training. They are much safer than speedwork and give you tons of strength quickly. Today was not only my first run with hills, but my first run since last Saturday! Ug.

Loveland is chock full of hills. I guess that's what you get really close to a river. I ran from the studio and found a good longish not so steep hill just past Loveland's Kroger. That took me about 2 mintues. Then after cresting that, a very long gentle downhill, which means a long gentle uphill as well, since I turned around at the end of the sidewalk. The uphill was 3 minutes. Back at the crest, there is a street that goes what I'd call severely up hill. That one was short, only taking 1 minute, but very very steep.

So I've found a great variety of hills to do repeats on, and I know of some more also. It felt so good to move again. After 2 consecutive weeks of 8-13 hour days, I needed some exercise and fresh air!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Running with Others

Our neighbor, Jeff, mentioned to me one time he might want to go running some time. He hasn't ran in about 4 years, and with his newer desk job, feels he is starting to pack on some pounds. I asked him to go one time, but it was too cold out. Today, however, it's a breezy 52º, so I asked again. This time he wanted to go!

It was a nice relief, as I wasn't looking forward to going. I wish I could run nearly every run with someone, but I think the pool of potential running partners is a lot smaller at my slow pace. We went on a 2-mile route from our houses. I think he was a little shocked at the slow pace at first, but we had to stop before we made it a mile.

As with all runs I've done with people, we talked the entire time about random subjects that seem to only come up while you are panting and plodding along on the road. We chatted about how hard it is to run after you haven't done it for a while, formation running in the army, our thoughts on new houses verses old houses, water skiing, and Jeff's new job. It was great! We were out there about 29 minutes– our breaks were long so it didn't surprise me.

It is very interesting to me how conversations are so effortlessly carried on while running with another person. Erin posted a little bit about this on our training blog after we ran 5 miles together, listing the various subjects we talked about. Until that run with her, I hadn't run with another person in about a year. I had certainly missed the unique companionship of running with someone– the conversation as well as not fretting over the distance as you knock off the miles. But the listing of all of the subjects we talked about along with today's talking has really made me wonder more about why the act of running causes such a positive stir in our conversation skills. Is it the fact that there is nothing else to do except move forward? There are no other distractions? Maybe the exercise clears our heads making our thoughts much more interesting? You usually even take turns in the conversation, each weighing in on the subject. (That could be because both people need a break for breathing!) And it is often in a story-telling style. I don't know what it is about running that brings this out in us, but I truly enjoy the peace and refreshment it brings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Such a Tease

60º weather in February? Let's not get excited.

Yesterday it rained all day, but it was warm– steamy, for February! I couldn't resist a run outside in the rain. There was a light sprinkle the entire 30 minutes I was out, which kept me cool in my t-shirt and shorts. Unbelievable. Today's widget forecast appears to be calling for the same, but I'm sore. I think in the excitement of being outside in warm weather, I unknowingly picked up the pace a bit.

Now, if on the day of the Pig we don't have at least 60º weather, even if it's a downpour, I'm going to be upset, thinking back to this warm day in February. If it can be 60 in February, it can be 60 in May...right? Oh wait, this is Ohio.