I’m Not Walking – I’m Just Running Very Slowly

Saturday was the kind of day that makes you smile.

Dale and I woke up early to participate in a 5k fundraiser for Tripp Halstead, a local child who was severely injured last October when a tree branch fell on him.

We got up around 6:30 AM to begin getting ready. Those of you who know me already know that I am NOT a morning person, and 6:30 comes quickly when you normally go to bed around 1 AM.

Dale gulped some coffee. I shoved a pack of chocolate chip Little Bites muffins down my belly and we headed out the door.

Since I had my stitches out from my Melanoma back in March, my doctor had told me to take it easy on the running because I could still damage my scar for up to a year after surgery. I have been walking on the “dreadmill” and through the neighborhood when I haven’t been worried about melting, but I only got the okay from my doctor to start running again about three weeks ago.

I have competed in nine triathlons and numerous 5k races, but I was about to find out how not being able to run for three months had taken a toll on my body…and my ego.

I knew I would probably be a slow runner so I went to the back of the crowd and waited for the race to start.

The whistle blew. People started moving. Some people were walking, some were jogging. My headset started spitting out my favorite 80’s tunes and I slowly started to run. IMG_6531

Mile one came and went. I looked down at my pedometer. I was running at a pace of 13 minutes per mile. So far, so good.

Mile two came and I noticed that my legs were really getting heavy. Did I somehow contract polio this morning?

What the heck??

Was I carrying $50 in change in my pockets or something? It was getting harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other.

I checked my pedometer again.

Good. At least I was getting close to three miles.

And that’s when it happened.

A rush of people came up from behind me and blew right past me like I was standing still. Two moms were pushing strollers…one with TWINS in it. They were chatting away like they were sitting at a coffee shop while I was gasping for breath and sort of making choking and gurgling sounds. My face was so hot I thought I might spontaneously combust at any moment.

Suddenly, up ahead, I saw it. It was as if the heavens opened up and the sun started to shine down.

It was the golden arch of the finish line.

I picked up the pace. Woo-hoo!!! I was back to being a runner. It took everything I had not to punch myself in the shoulder in a “way to go” fashion. I was so proud of myself!

That is, until a seven-year-old girl with pigtails and pink “Hello Kitty” sneakers flew past me like the finish line was an ice cream truck and she had some dollars to spend.

Yep.

I have some serious training to do.

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I Look Great But You’re Losing Your Hair

I started participating triathlons after a very bad relationship breakup…the kind of relationship where I thought “Woo-Hoo!! I’m gonna marry this guy” and I started scribbling my name with his last name like a high school kid.

Annnnnd then it didn’t happen. Not only did it not happen, but I found myself completely opposite of where I pictured myself. I found myself alone. Not married, but completely ALONE.

So after a month long diet of wine, cookies, wine, ice-cream, wine and pasta, I decided to give up the carbs and get in really good shape. I thought, “That’ll show him. When we bump into each other in the future, he’s going to go “DAMNNNN. I screwed up.” At least that’s what I had hoped he’d be saying. So instead of just joining a gym, I went the extreme route…I signed up for the IronGirl triathlon, and so my training began.

Before I signed up, I don’t think I had really considered the distance that is involved in a triathlon. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I would have to swim 600 yards, then bike 18 miles, then run a 5k. Much too late, I realized that 600 yards is the equivalent to 6 football fields. 18 miles is equal to 72 times around a high school track, and a 5k would be like hiking up, down and back up Stone Mountain. And I was going to have to do this not in just a day, but in less than 2 hours.

Let’s be serious. I’m 43 years old. I’m never going to win a medal in the Olympics so I truly don’t care about my time. I’m not going to break any records except for possibly having the highest number of last place finishes in history. Immediately following the race, many of my friends will run to the timing sheets and anxiously scan their race numbers to find their time. Me? What do I care? It’s not like I’m going to put my race finish time on FaceBook. Can’t you see my status: “Finished my triathlon – came in 600th place, out of 600!!!”

My first triathlon 2007

With each race my primary goal is to not drown during the swim, not hit a pothole with my bike and end up with a massive head injury, and not to have a heart attack during the run portion. Instead I just want to finish the race and get my t-shirt confirming that I have participated in and lived through a triathlon.

Skip forward a few IronGirl tri’s and local sprint competitions, in which I didn’t come in last place by the way. I realized that it wasn’t important for me to get in shape and do these tri’s to impress someone else. It was for me. I was having a great time, getting in fantastic shape, meeting new people and finding out that I was much stronger than I ever imagined that I could be. And you know what else I found out? Having confidence can be very attractive!

And you know what I’ll say if ever I run into that old ex-boyfriend who inspired me to kick start the inner athletic goddess in me?

“Eat your heart out…and by the way, you’re losing your hair.”

My most recent triathlon 2012