Saturday, November 13, 2010

#4 Half Marathon - November 13, 2010

I did it! My first half marathon! It was the most fun I've ever had in a race. Yes, that's right, I said it...FUN. When I was with my ex, I swore I'd never run a race with the word "marathon" in it. In keeping with the spirit of the bucket list, I wanted to test my limits and see if I could reach this previously unfathomable goal. Not only did I reach it but...I enjoyed it?! So I guess long distance running goes on the list of things I tried out that I ended up liking.

Here's my top 10 list of best moments during the race:
1. The tree-lined residential streets that let me take in the beauty of the gorgeous, vibrant yellow and orange fall leaves. If I wasn't focusing so hard on breathing, I would've let out a happy sigh. :-)
2. The guy who let one of the runners into his home to use his bathroom while the speakers on his porch blasted Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"
3. The girl who couldn't be more than 9-10 yrs old cheering near The Diamond shouting, "You're rockstars! Go runners!"
4. Spectators all along the course who cheered for me thanks to my name ironed on the front of my shirt.
5. Runners on the course reading the back of my shirt with words of encouragement or acknowledgment that it was their first half marathon too.
6. Third favorite sign: "Run Like Snot"
7. Second favorite sign: "Because 13.2 miles would be crazy"
8. Most favorite sign: "You're sooo getting laid tonite"
9. Santa's helpers theme at mile marker 10 including people on stationary bikes acting as reindeer for Santa's sleigh.
10. Downhill sprint to the FINISH!!!

Oh, the finish. It felt so good. And the best part? I wasn't dying! I had maintained a steady stride and good pace throughout the entire race with enough juice at the end to sprint the last 1/3 mile. My goal time and pace: 2 1/2 hrs or 11-11:30 pace. My actual: 2:20:24 for about a 10:42 pace. So I check off #4, half marathon, with great pride but am now considering adding a new item in its place...a full marathon. God help me. :-) I was so thankful to have my brother and mom at the finish...reminding me that for those big moments, you can always rely on your family. Click here for pictures.

Thanks, ex-boyfriend, for getting me into running...I remember that first 0.5 mile run last September like it was yesterday. Here I am making great strides on my own (haha, gotta love a good pun). I started running as a common interest in my last relationship but now I do it for me, push my limits for me, take on new distances and get faster FOR ME. I used to hesitate admitting to this but no longer: I, Kathy, am a runner. Bring on the next race :-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

#2 Hang Gliding - completed August 29, 2010

Hang gliding. Where do I even start? First, let's clarify that I did not jump off a cliff - I got towed up by a small plane. Also I did not do it by myself but flew in tandem with someone who know what he was doing. I credit this second item on my bucket list to my friend and colleague Jean who has gone to a place in Ridgely, MD that she wanted to take me to. That was the original plan (for August 15) but we got rained out. When my cousin Christine told me she really wanted to go, I worked it into my NY/NJ plans late August and found a place in Middletown, NY: Hangar 3. Took some great pictures!

So what was it like? AWESOME!!! Exhilarating, beautiful, intense yet meditative. I was surprised at how smooth the take-off and landing were though you wouldn't know it from the video below. Being that I can never stop teeth got cold! And my mouth got dry so you can see me having a Mr Ed moment with my mouth in the video. Shout-out to my brother Francis: I totally pulled out the Superman pose! I reached about 2500 ft (about half a mile) and now want to go to Ridgely, MD so I can go even higher.

It's been such a great topic of conversation and piques the interest of many. Recently I was at a friend's birthday party and in an enthusiastic conversation about my hang gliding experience and the bucket list with a new acquaintance (thanks, Carlos!), he said "sounds like the break up could be the best thing that ever happened to you". Hm. Maybe...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dear Nicky, #5 is for you

Though I have a few months before I'll look to accomplishing #5 on the list - learn to snowboard - today has prompted a blog post. It is the first anniversary of my cousin's passing...a day I have dreaded since the break up. Missing him so much that I'm hoping the letter below will help me get through the night.

Dear Nicky,

Yeah yeah, you go by Nick now. Whatever lil cuz, you will eternally be 8 yrs old in my eyes. But I guess now I'll always remember you as 21, the age at which you left us. Today's been rough, dude. I've been dreading it for the past year but especially since the break up. Have you seen the break up bucket list? Did you check out #5? You'd better watch over me when I start learning to snowboard to make sure I stay safe, though most likely you'll be laughing at me when I fall repeatedly on a sore butt. I wish I had tried to learn sooner so I could've taken you up on those invites to hit the slopes together. I still hate what happened to you and hope we'll see justice one day soon. We lost you just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I still can't get past how senseless and stupid it was, damn street racers.

It's been so hard today and made harder by recent shocking, hurtful news and awkward social circumstances. Today was the ultimate test of my strength and I survived. Thanks for not letting me walk into the dinner party alone; I felt you with me. I've been so scared to deal with this anniversary and kept thinking about what amazing support I had from him last year at this time. If someone had told me then how different things would be in just a year's time, I'd call them crazy. Whose chest was I going to sob into now? Who was going to put their arms around me and make me feel things would be ok? My friends have been amazing, even the ones that I've only gotten closer to recently. But who was going to be the one person I could depend on? You. Ironically, you are the one who's helping me deal with missing you. I asked for your help to get through my day, particularly my evening, and when the hardest part had passed, I thanked you because I knew you were there, like my invisible buffer. And when I get sad about that guy in my life who helped me get through the wake, funeral and regular bouts of weeping for months and months thereafter but now can't be there for me anymore, I hear you say, "you don't need him. You got me; I'm right here."

Sometimes I forget that you're gone. Then I remember the reality and it gets hard again. So promise me you'll still keep reminding me that you're right here with me and we'll be all good. Love you, Nick. I know there's a lot of us all wanting you to stay beside us but if there's one person who could handle being there for all his friends and family as much as possible, it's you.

Your Big Cuz

Sunday, August 8, 2010

First Triathlon! Super Sprint in Manassas, VA

Yes, I completed my first triathlon. No, I do not consider myself a triathlete by any means. I was pretty nervous the night before but thankfully had my friend Laura to distract me on the drive out to Manassas and to help me get set up in the transition area. I also befriended the participants behind me (shoutout to #373-375: Roger, Ardemis and Pat!). I struggled in the swim and had to switch from a freestyle to backstroke to finish (but hey, I finished!). I fell so behind that I rushed through my transitions - no rest for the weary! When I first came out of the pool to my bike, I felt pretty disoriented and underestimated how sunny it would be. Fatigue, heat...overall discomfort started to plague my ride. Thankfully my zen moment came on the bike about 6 miles into the course. I was riding down a long straight, the sun beating down on me, my legs getting tired but pushing through the I took a deep breath and realized, "oh my God, I'm really doing this." I relaxed a little, my legs still spinning, but looked around at the grass and buildings around me on the GMU campus and focused on the sounds of the birds and insects with no one directly ahead of me or behind me...and just enjoyed the ride.

I've been pretty disciplined with my 5 am Pacers fun runs and swimming on an almost daily basis. Training has given me something to focus on that also makes me feel good and look great - I've lost 10 lbs! The past month and a half has been really hard for me emotionally and everyone keeps saying how things will get better with time. Unfortunately time has been moving like molasses but the training has been a great way to pass some of it. Today the training took on a new meaning as more than just a time-killer. As I struggled to keep my energy up on the bike and get my legs loose again on the run, I focused on the finish...I looked forward to the moment I could say "I've done it, my first triathlon." It didn't matter how short the distances, I just wanted that sense of accomplishment. Finally at the finish line, I breathed a sigh of relief and relished the moment.

I'll never forget that moment on the bike. Running races and triathlons are the epitome of individual sports which I always thought as isolating but in that one moment whizzing past the scenery and in my own zone, I realized, "it's all you, Kath. You've got this. You're gonna be ok." For the race. And in life.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My First Triathlon and Call for Volunteers!

As previously posted, #3 on my list is to do a sprint triathlon (Lake Anna, Oct 3). But before this list was ever created (and before the break up ever happened), my coworkers sent me info on a super sprint triathlon in Manassas, VA on August 8 with a pool swim. So I signed up thinking I would do this with my colleagues and then ended up as the only one doing it. So here I am 2 days away from my first triathlon and still terrified of the pool swim. I didn't seek out friend support thinking, "oh it's such a little tiny triathlon, it's no big deal...not worth dragging people all the way out to an hour outside of DC." But with multiple emails desperately seeking volunteers (if you're free Sunday morning, please click on the previous hyperlink!) to help make the race safe for participants, particularly targeting friends and relatives of the participants, it was then that I realized how helpful it would be to have some support - too bad I realized this so late! There's a balance between wanting to do things for yourself and still having people in your life share those moments with you. I used to think it had to be with that special someone but just having a friend (thanks, Laura!) is still a special someone. Thanks to everyone who has wished me good wishes for the race these last couple days!

Updated training schedule! I apparently underestimated the super sprint tri distance and started to put mileage in for my runs so that by mid-August I'll be overlapping with my 10-week training program for the Army Ten Miler (Oct 24). **phew** Exhausted just looking at it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Registered! Richmond Half Marathon - Nov 13, 2010

After the Run2Register 10k in Quantico this past March when I finally got under a 10 min mile pace, my ex and I made this bet: if I could go sub 9 min in a 10k race by the end of 2010, we would go away for a long weekend, destination of my choice. If I didn't get under a 9 min mile, he would choose a half marathon for me to run. I was much happier to work on speed vs distance. But now that bet is void and I had never wanted to run any race with "marathon" in it...only races ending in "K", thank you very much. So how did running a half marathon make it to the bucket list?

If I had wanted to do a triathlon or run a marathon when I was in the relationship, it would've made my ex ecstatic. Even if it was my own decision, I knew it would make him happy too. Sure, we all try out new interests to have something in common to share with our partner (that's how I got into running), and there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's balanced between both parties. But deciding to do these races now after the relationship has ended is truly because I want to, so I can push myself to new limits. That is so much more motivating than making someone else happy. For the past month, I've known I have to focus on myself. I picked the right individualistic sports to do so.

So why the Richmond half marathon? A couple months ago, my ex also coerced me into signing up for the Army Ten Miler based on the reassurance that if I wasn't ready by Oct 24, he'd pay for my registration. I knew this was his tricky plot to get me running a half marathon one day and I resisted at first but caved and signed up. Now here I am, registered for my longest race to date. With the help of very empathetic running buddies, I think I've got a chance of being ready. Assuming I get through the 10 miler successfully, I would have 3 weeks to train and add another 5k to that distance for the Richmond half marathon (there is also an 8k and full marathon that morning if anyone's interested!). My parents, brother and a couple longtime friends live in the Richmond area so I'm banking on their support that day. I even met new friends this weekend (also running their first half marathon) that have offered a place to crash within walking distance to the race!

Maybe the scary part isn't the training but rather, what if I like it? Could there be more half marathons in my future? We'll see. One day at a time. One race at a time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Go Ahead, Tri Me

With my belay certification behind me (and future climbing ahead of me if my friends and colleagues have anything to say about it), I look to #3 on the list: the sprint triathlon at Lake Anna in Bumpass, VA...and yes, that is a real town. Even better it's a heated lake, or rather, a reservoir of water coolant for the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station. Intrigued? Don't you wanna go check it out...say October 3? While I pimp myself out for any support I can get that day, I have also found and tweaked an 8-week training program that will hopefully lessen my anxiety about the race from paralyzing terror to manageable nervousness. I have a week and a half to build up my swim to 30 min...that's my major weakness. Why didn't I just sign up for a duathlon? Meh.

(click on table to enlarge)

Monday, July 19, 2010

#1 Belay Certification - completed July 19, 2010

Introductory Climbing Classes: $75
Climbing Harness: $50
Chalk Bag and Chalk Sock: $26
Carabiners and Belay Device: $25
Climbing Shoes: $90

Passing belay certification and achieving the very first goal of your break up bucket list: PRICELESS

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Break Up Bucket List

So how did the list start? My *ahem* ex (sorry, still getting used to calling him that) had a list of his own...things he wanted to do in an undefined amount of time. I was happy to support him through all the accomplishments and achievements - those moments are so much better when shared. But here I am, newly single. I was on the phone with my aunt recently and she asked, "well, what's on YOUR list?" I said, "I don't have settled I am in life now and the experiences I've had so far is exactly where I want to be". I thought about what I've been saying I've been meaning to do: belay certification to start climbing, learn to snowboard, go hang gliding. Then I thought about things I told myself I could never see myself doing (triathlon, half marathon - or any race with the word marathon in it). So I put those on the list too, to test my own limits and capabilities. Next thing I know, I've got a list!

1. Belay certification to go climbing
2. Hang gliding
3. Sprint triathlon
4. Run a half marathon
5. Learn to snowboard
6. Buy a condo in DC
7. Learn to sail
8. Scuba certification
9. Obtain a pilot's license
10. Get a Master's degree in Public Health (MPH)

Some of these goals can be accomplished in the next few months and some will take a few years. Pacing is key. People do crazy things to make themselves over after a break up - drastic new haircut or hair color. Me? I sign up for a sprint triathlon and half marathon! Look out world, a new and improved me is a' comin'.

The Break Up

June 22 & June 30, 2010

In one word: awful. Worst days of my life, second only to the days I found out about my 21 yr old cousin's tragic car accident and subsequent passing after a 5-month coma.

We had just gotten back from Hawaii only 2 weeks prior and had an amazing trip together. The end came suddenly and unexpectedly. No prolonging the agony, no phasing out of the relationship, no fake attempts at friendship. Just the end. It's hard to walk away when you both still love each other and ultimately wish it could work out in the end. So I got dumped. Or as my friend and colleague puts it, we had "differing opinions on the status of the relationship". That's a lot of fluff for 'I got dumped' but I'll take it. :-)

I look back on the relationship and appreciate it for all the great memories and experiences it provided me. Everyone's waiting for me to get to the angry, resentful phase but it's hard to find something to hate. Just frustrated at the situation and things I can't control. So I just appreciate it for what it was and accept it for what it wasn't...much like I did with him as a person. Now all I can focus on me. Welcome to my journey.