Monday, December 31, 2012

Sadness turns to dreams

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Einstein

In a year filled with so many highs and lows, I find it hard to reflect on the amazing things, when such an overwhelming sense of loss is there with them.

I spent the past week or so in my favorite place, with my family, but as much fun as we all had - I couldn't help but feel the empty hole in my heart.  There were times in this past week where I literally felt my mom here.  Albeit it her rolling her eyes as my dad poured me yet another birthday shot, or when I got a last minute email from my uncle (her baby brother) telling me he was heading into town.  She even came to me in my dreams (unfortunately not the best of dreams).  Non the less, she was here.  I can only hope that while she may have been rolling her eyes at our imbibing, she was also smiling high above as we all sat giggling together enjoying dinner, all at the same table…
And, at each beautiful sunset I thought of her knowing she was out there, up there, somewhere she was enjoying the beauty in all of the things she loved.  No pain, no sickness, just happy and weightless.

While my mom was with me this past week, I know without a doubt that she was with me all year long as I accomplished things I wasn't sure were possible.  I accomplished goals that I didn't even know I had.  

I ran my heart out in our Tri for the Cure Event and beat some of our most impressive local athletes completely shocking myself, just weeks after we lost her.  It was almost as if I weren't even in my own body.

I used my new motto of "never give up," and while I could have sworn the usual winner of my favorite race, Rocky Point Triathlon, was going to pass me at any minute… I just kept going.  I won my very first overall race, crossing the finish with tears in my eyes.

While there were many other days, and events where my mom was there - there was nothing like my big race of the year, Ironman Canada.  From miles 14 on I literally felt like the wind was at my back.  I know without a doubt that I had angel wings on me that day.  My fastest two miles of the day were the last 2, and my face hurt from smiling…. I have never, in my life had such a euphoric feeling as I did on that day.

As I crossed the finish line, for the first time in months I felt no pain.  I wasn't sad.  It's something that I can't describe.  While I never want to relive what I went through this past year, I can't help but bask in some of these amazing memories and moments.

As I start this new year with some uncertainty, I'm going to use my motto that carried me through the whole year.  Never give up, dream big.  
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  – Lao Tzu

I wish everyone a year of amazing things, a year of firsts, of bests, of everything you could ever want, imagine and dream…

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tuck and Roll

Yesterday was my last official race of the 2012 Season.  It was my third time doing the Tucson Half Marathon, and by far the most seamless, and enjoyable (minus the dig deep effort) run race I've ever experienced.

I actually didn't even plan on signing up for this race.  I've always had an urge to do a hometown half marathon, the Fiesta Bowl, but when the opportunity came up to join my buddy Andrew down in Tucson all inclusive with a pacer set to give us both huge PR's, I just couldn't resist.  So, I tagged along with them and before I knew it we were at the start line for the race.

It was an unbelievably beautiful day.  Super chilly to start, but with a few layers on and the sun quickly rising it made for absolutely PERFECT race conditions.  Since I've done this race a few times, I didn't really have to do any planning.  I knew the course, I knew the logistics. It was all about putting in the miles, having a strategy and getting it done.

I basically had 6 weeks to train after Soma, with a run focus.  Michelle actually had me running a day or 2 more than I would normally do, but she seems to have found a way to get me to believe that I'm a lot more durable than I've think I am, and so much stronger than my past.  I had some super easy aerobic runs, a few track race pace mile repeats and even a double run with the second one ending faster than race pace.  Best thing about having a coach.  NO thinking, no self doubt.  I just DO.  I read my schedule, I know the plan and I execute.  I don't second guess (although at times wonder where the hell she came up with this stuff and how much coffee she had when she wrote the plan).

The goal time was 1:35.  I don't even know why that number popped up.  It wasn't something I've always wanted to hit.  It wasn't a time that would qualify me for anything, and it wasn't a time that would put me in the running for an award.  It was just a time.  A time that was 2 minutes faster than my goal time for a half last year,that, at the time that would have qualified me for NYC marathon.  It was a time that would give me a 3.5  min PR and it was a time that I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined I would actually every accomplish.

"No dreamer is ever too small; no dream is ever too big." Anonymous 

The plan was to start out at 7:20's for a couple of miles to get our legs warmed up.  Settle in to race pace 7:15s until about mile 10 or so and then lay it all out there.  We nailed it.  Our 2 miles were  ~7:17 and while still cold and stiff it wasn't hard.  We slowly gained momentum and after about 20 minutes the miles were just clicking off one by one.  We played on the downhill sections and gained a second here or there.  We nailed each mile at the goal pace, or faster aside from mile 11-12 which is the only real elevation gain section.  And, let me tell you.  That section HURT.  That's where the pacer was key and her motivation and words were relentless and effective.  As soon as mile 12 was done I knew our goal was in the bag.  I picked it up a bit and left every single thing I had out there in the last 1.2 miles.  While I didn't have quite the 25yard sprint that Andrew did, I didn't fade.  1:34:41.  Just under 4min PR.

We both crossed the finish line with HUGE PRs and such an amazing sense of accomplishments.  I can't thank Andrew and our pacer Jeanine enough for being such amazing partners for the day.  It was painful yet so much fun.

This last race of the seasons ends a year that has been full of so much joy, sadness, ups and downs.  It has been a year where I have found a strength inside myself I never knew existed.  I've learned to dream, to believe, to never doubt.  While there are many things with my personal life that I would give everything I had to change, I know that everything does happen for a reason and if I can make anything out of the lemons that were given to me this year it's most certainly that the sky is the limit, and that no dream is too big.  With a side of lemondrop martini, of course.

I've managed to have a race season that started with run races in January, and instead of ending with the race of my life at Ironman Canada in August, I recovered and set out to break new personal goals and achievements.

I'm so happy for the support and belief that my amazing coach Michelle has given me for the past 2 years.  She's pushed me to do things I never in my wildest dreams thought I could do.  She helped me achieve PR's in nearly every single race this year, and PRs at every single distance from 5k to half marathon to sprint/olympic triathlons to marathon, to Ironman.

I can't wait to see what the future holds, and can't wait to start the new year with new dreams and new goals.