Friday, July 19, 2013

Close to my Heart

       Although I am a relative " newbie" to running, I know who Steve Prefontaine is. I used to share my office with 2 track and cross country coaches and there were "Pre" posters in our space.  Steve once said ""You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."  That very accurately sums up my Boilermaker.  I ran it for me.  Me alone.  There were 15000 people along side of me, and thousands more spectating,  but Sunday, July 14, 2013, I did something amazing for myself.  I succeed.  

     I can't even begin to explain everything wonderful that happened last Sunday, but from where I stood, the view was amazing!  I had no idea it would be all that it was. I was very worried about the heat, hydration, and my blistered feet, but standing in the crowd, listening to the national anthem getting ready to start, I forgot all my worries.  

    If you have never been at the start line of the Boilermaker, you are missing out.  Porta poties as far as the eye can see, runners getting ready, a prayer being said, announcements being made.  It felt like something special was about to happen.  It was in the air.  The wheelchair division got off first, and we cheered like crazy for Jason.  They we got in a huddle and gave ourselves a little send off.  Everyone of us like excited kids before Christmas.  

    It didn't take as long as I thought after the gun went off to start.  We walked up to the start line, and were trotting off up Culver.  The pack was incredible.  Shoulder to shoulder.  I was scared of this, but it wasn't crazy or pushy.  It felt safe.  I didn't get run over!  I am not a fan of Culver Ave.  It's a mile of gradual up hill.  One I used to have to walk up.  No walking today!  Right away it was clear this was like being in a parade.  There was so much to look at.  I know I wasn't "supposed" to have my headphones, but I use them to hear my splits and to give myself motivation.  I kept them mostly down around my neck because I was caught up in watching the people!  So many signs of encouragement, then entertainment on the International Mile, people calling out my name.  At one point Katie and I were running together, taking it all in.

    I easily finished off Culver and was heading up the parkway.  I ran on the side we usually do, and there weren't as many spectators, but there was shade.   Glorious shade!  The Parkway of course gave way to Valley View Road.  I grabbed water and ice and hit the hill.  I ran most of it except for a planned walk near the resevoir.  I regrouped when I met up with some girls from work.  15000 runners and I catch up to friends!  I
 chatted with them, then made my way to the golf course.  This is my mental breaking point.  This is where I somehow get into my head that I can finish the race. I ran up the hill.  Ran, not walked!  I looked back from the top and could see all the runners behind me.  Even though I was just trying to finish, it was nice to see people behind me.  At the top of Valley View, I was feeling like I was on top of the world.  I took off down the hill and knew I was on my favorite mile.  The down hill onto the parkway gives me a rebirth of sorts.  I feel accomplished and sure of myself.  There were many awesome ice stations along with water that helped keep me cool and hydrated.  I kept icing up my body and sipping the water.  Burrstone was blistering hot.  I walked part of Burrstone to cool down, but at the top of the hill, took back off again.  I coasted down Champlain, and headed for dreaded Whitesboro street.  It was with anticipation that I headed into this stretch.  My family was near the old Psych Center, and I wasn't sure what shape I would be in when I got to them.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and then there they were.  They were holding signs and cheering for me, and somehow, I was still running.  I was smiling and running.  I heard my cousin yell " You make this look easy."

     Coming down the final stretch I heard " Mommy, Mom! Mommy Dornburgh."  I looked over and there was my daughter.  She had run the 5K and was running down the sidewalk next to me.  She ran it in with me as far as she could go.  I thought I would never get to the finish line, but there it was.  This was my first time finishing the course, and  there it was.  In all it's greatness and welcoming all that would run under it, today it was welcoming me.  2 hours and 6 min after I started my foot reached the line.  9.3 miles.  At 42 years old, I finished my first 15K.  And I blew that baby a kiss! WooHoo!

        I got my finisher's pin, and it was like someone handed me an Olympic medal.  I know it's some cheap thing made in China, but what it meant to me was dedication, perseverance  and the fact that I kept a promise I made to myself.  I trained hard, and I finished.  I put the pin on later ( after I got done getting sick, I true sign I am really a runner), and I wore it all day.  I slept with it on that night, close to my heart.

     Back on April 1st when WKTV called me to tell me I was part of Go the Distance, I panicked.  I could barely run 1 mile.  How was I ever going to run 9.3.  Joe told me if we gave him 36 runs, we would complete the Boilermaker.  Everything he told me was true.  This program is the best thing I have done for myself, and all the people involved, like my finisher's pin, will always be close to my heart.

    I have to go to bed.  We're going to meet up tomorrow and run some more!  Falling Leaves here we come.......

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Final Countdown

    Today I officially completed my training for the Boilermaker. Week 12 has arrived.   According to My running app says I have gone 180 miles since April. I have gone from barely making 1 mile to making 8 miles.  I have lost weight, and gained friends.  Mostly, I have proven to myself that I can become a runner.
    I wrote in my GTD essay that I have tried 3 times to do this and failed.  From injury to just rookie mistakes I have not been able to work up to more than 3 miles.  With the help and support of this awesome group, at 42 out of shape and overweight years old, I can now run distance.  I have some great insight to the race, and tips from many past participants.  One of the best things about GTD is that anyone can run with the group. With the support of water stops and bike patrol many runners benefit from this, and they should. Running is a community, and although its an individual sport, most runners are humble good people who want to help each other. No divas here!  
    I recently was running on the country roads near my house.  On my loop back, there was a man now in his driveway getting ready for a run.  He said to me " You guilted me into running." Me.  I inspired someone to run. Remember me? 12 weeks ago I couldn't make it around the block.  Now 3 days to the race, I know I'm going to finish.  I also know next year I'm going to meet up with the GTD group like many before me continue to do, and I'm going to keep on trucking! Here's to the next 180 miles. With wind at my back and friends at my side, I've got more finish lines to cross.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Week 10 and 10!

    I haven't written in a couple weeks because I have been busy. I have actually been busy running. I have the blisters to prove it, but even better I have some personal victories. 
    Three weeks ago we started running far enough to include Valley View Hill. The first time we ran it, I walked it. It was hot, it was horrible, I thought the thing was Everest. I thought I would be a VVH walker. The past 3 times I have conquered that beast. I'm nor sure if my pace on the hill is actually considered running, but I am getting my 42 year old body up that hill.  This was a huge personal victory for me. That hill seemed undoable just a few weeks ago. Heck, running the 3 miles to get there used to be questionable. 
    Last week we ran most of the BM course. It was hot and humid, and I thought for sure I would never finish. It took everything I had, but on June 25, my birthday, I made it from the start line to utica converters, the 8 mile mark. The worse of the course. On my 42nd birthday, I ran 8 miles. It's hard to believe. This is 5 miles farther than I have ever run and it took me 2 hours. My body was able to run for 2 hours. 
    This morning I achieved 2 new personal records, I ran my first mile in 10 min. I have never achieved this. It was mostly uphill and I wasn't even pushing. I'm not sure how I did this other than I am more in shape. My overall pace was 12.12 on 5.5 miles. My best pace to date. My calf was sore and I had to tape up my blisters but I had a good run. 
    Monday we do the entire course. I kind of don't want to because I want to save the specialness for the big day. I'm not going to think too deeply about it because in reality, it's huge. My best fitness accomplishment to date! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Up, Up, and Away

     I'm a country girl to the core.  I love the beautiful country side and the hills of the north country where I live.  Lately, I have gotten up close and personal with a few of them.  Perhaps closer than I ever though necessary!
     We have been training on the hills of SUNY IT and it's a great place to run.  The college kids are gone, very few cars, and rolling hills a plenty.  This past Wednesday, we set out on what Joe promised to be a 4.8 mile run.  I was thinking it would be a easy night.  We jogged up a hill, but then ran down a long lovely hill.  It was then that I realized the way back was up this no longer lovely hill.  It was a hard run, and I had to run intervals on the big hill on the way back, but I turned in a decent time.  Surprisingly, I wasn't sore the next day.
     Today I set out to run 5 miles and include a hill, on purpose!   I ran up what I call high school hill in HP. The bottom if it is about .4 miles of nothing but hill.   Then my plan was to keep running 2.5 miles then turn around and go back down.  I thought the only hill was high school hill.  In my mind, the rest of the road seemed flat.  Boy, was I wrong.  The hill kept increasing slowly, and after I ran it I looked at my GPS.  It was a 2.5 mile, uphill, 400ft in elevation increase climb!   Talk about a work out. The 2.5 downhill was sure fun.  There were the beautiful rolling hills I like to look at. I felt the wind, and my canine companion was humming along next to me, happy as well we were done being mountain goats.
      7 weeks ago I could barely finish a mile. The street I live on used to be my workout, now it's my warm up. Today, I ran up a hill, a big one, and only walked a bit at the top.  I have lost 8 pounds, and am gaining muscle, but those are just good side effects from running.  I am arriving at the point where I know I will survive the run and am starting to enjoy it.  I can run one full hour.  I sleep better, look better, and am challenging myself to do something I have never done before.  I am soaring to new heights and today, sailing down that hill after I pushed myself up it, I felt like I was flying.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Amazing Race

     Well, I have to admit it.  Out loud.  This running thing is really addicting!  I went to Albany this weekend to run the Freihofer's Race for Women.  My cousin and best friend have previously run this race and I knew it was a good one.  It's an all women event, where about 5000 of us took off yesterday to race through the streets of the Capital, and beautiful Washington Park.  There were some stellar "elite" women there including last year's female Boilermaker winner and Emily Chebet from Kenya who came back to win again. To be even starting a race in the presence of women like that I was inspired.
      The race activities began the night before with a packet pick up at the Convention Center and health expo!  I wasn't into having my fat analyzed, but I bought some nice running goodies!  A really cool head band/sweat catcher from a small business called "Hippe Runner", and also a little running fanny pack of sorts to put my phone, a key, and to hang my bib from.  Since I chafed my arm up with my arm band phone holder, this was genius! And a shout out to the Lara Bar people for all the free samples.
    We streatched well the morning of and took a walk to get warmed up, but the day had already started to heat up on it's own.  My weather app said it was going to be near 90.  We were sweaty just walking.  After a light breakfast of Lara bars, and some water, we headed out for down town Albany.  Security was strict as we made our way down to the course and lined up by times.  I was purple, in a field of runners allegedly my pace.  Being OCD, I lined up early, but was pushed and shoved by rude people trying to get near the front of my pack.  I planted my feet and stood my ground.  It was a sea of runners for sure.  I saw runners of all body types and didn't feel so self aware of my own body type.
      I knew we wouldn't be running at first, but I anticipated a jog by the time we got up the hill and thinned out.  We walked the first 800 yards or so just trying to weed out, but I was quickly frustrated by the people that clearly had no intention of running, they were walking from the start, even when we thinned out.  We were still running shoulder to shoulder when we entered Washington Park, and there were spectators everywhere.  By the first mile, it was clear this was a scorcher.  The first water table ran out of water and I had to wait a bit for some, but I knew I needed it.  I already saw people down on the ground with heat issues.  There were many walking by mile marker one and many that just walked the whole thing, so it was hard to get a good pace/time going because I had to navigate around all the walkers. It was kind of a good feeling though.  I was the one still running!  I ran till mile 2, got my water, then we left the park and hit open hot city blacktop.  I almost couldn't breath and knew I needed to walk so I could finish decent.  I walked about a block, then got back to work!  My cousin had told me the lay of the land and I knew we were cruising into a downhill finish.  Between the hill, the crowd, the person with the " Random Girl You are a Rock Star" sign, I was pumped up to finish.  I was also dying of heat and wanted to get it over.
          I cruised down the hill into the finish area and was elated to be passing so may people with green bibs.  They were people with better race times that started in front of me.  Go me! Slow and steady finishes the race.  I skipped the fire truck cool down ( really, a blast of water if you wanted it), to go find my daughter.  I was worried about her in the heat.  I found her struggling on the sidewalk, slightly dehydrated.  She said she threw up but finished!  That's my girl.  Even in the heat, throwing up, she finished in 30 min, behind 1200 people but ahead of 3000 other women! We all finished well, and I am proud of us.  It was horribly hot and packed.  Hard to get a personal best, but a great race none the less.  There was a party like atmosphere on the concourse, by the water fountains. We were treated to some nice healthy after race food and just enjoyed hanging out with 5000 other women who really just wanted what we wanted.  To run, to have fun, and to just finish.  It was an amazing race.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

First 5K Foul-ups, Bleeps, and Blunders

         This past Sunday, I did something that I have wanted to do for a long time.  I completed a 5K.  A real 5K.  In public, with an actual timer going.  Not to disrespect the last runner in, but it wasn't me.  I ran it, I finished it, and I now have a personal best.
          I have to say I was pretty nervous that morning.  I couldn't sleep and was up at 4:30am.  The day dawned rather cool and I was happy I could wear my running capris.  Utica is NOT ready for me in shorts, in fact, nobody is!  So warmer running wear on, everything ready, I grabbed a handful of dry cheerios and just a bit of coffee, and my daughter and I were off.
          As we lined up on the starting line, there wasn't a big field of runners.  Great, I thought, I am sure to be dead last and hold everyone up.  Kim pulled me to the front of the pack and we joked about this being the only time I would get front row billing.  As they read the rules, my nerves seemed to subside.  This kind of felt like my group runs.  A pack of people, headphones on, ready to just run.  I can do this!
          We were off!  I always learn something on each run I do and this one was no different.  Right away I learned that you can't put your visor on over your braid.  The wind will blow it off.  I didn't go back for it, and didn't let this issue distract me.  I got into my groove and headed up the on ramp onto North Genesee St.  For a first race, outside of this ramp right off the bat, this wasn't a bad course.  Up Genessee street, to the canal, down the trail.  I was ok until I smelled Denny's.  Greasy, Sunday morning Denny's.  My stomach churned.  As we ran down the canal trail, I felt like I was going to be sick.  I walked just a little to work through it.  I walked one other time, briefly before we hit the hill back up the ramp, then ran all the way home.
       I didn't feel like I was racing anybody except myself, which was my goal.  Only when I crested the ramp and saw the timer did I feel like it was a race.  I looked at my time and realized I was going to reach my secret goal.  My "out loud" goal was to finish.  I wanted to finish in less than 40 min.  The board said 38.13 when I ran under it.  I didn't realize they would say my name and hometown out loud!  I felt kind of accomplished at this point, even if I was 8th from last.  I grabbed my water and walked around a bit before going back to talk to the people I knew.  At this race were my fellow weekly running crew, past students, teachers from work, and my best friend.  We finished a few min apart, but 10 years ago, if you saw either of us as younger moms busy with life, out of shape, and no time to ourselves, you would have NEVER bet on us to finish a race!  WE did!  I have proof! And.......I'm going to run some more.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm Gumby Darn It!

     Week 4 has me showing my age with a reference to the iconic flexible green man from the 1980's........ good old Gumby!  I never thought he would have anything to do with running, so I guess it shows how much I didn't know 4 weeks ago.
     Our Monday night training run was going to be 4 miles this past  Monday.  I'm on to the trainers now, I already knew this would be more than 4.  I was actually looking forward to it all day, in seeing if I could do it and just getting out for some physical activity.  What I wasn't looking forward to was the wind.  I was dodging branches in  my driveway, I could only imagine what I'd be dodging on my run.
      After our words of wisdom we headed out.  I fell into my groove and noticed Joe jogging up beside me. I think the entire running community knows Joe.  36 out of 36 Boilermakers under his belt is no small feat.  Joe helps with training and seems to just want to help people become runners.  He loves the sport and wants to share that passion with newbies like me.  I figured Joe was just popping in for a chat and would run on by.  He started talking to me about the Boilermaker, giving me tips, and then giving me tips on my running.  He told me the wind was hard, but that I could do it.  He told me indeed we had some hills, but he had some surprises for me.  Culver Ave was the run, and the hill is long and gradual, and running into the wind was like running through frozen molasses.  I wouldn't recommend it.  Joe told me he was going to tell me how to run the hills.  I was just focused on survival.  I could barely answer him, and I was really hoping he was going to run along.  No such luck.  He watched me run the first hill, and told me we would stop and get water and run all the way back.  I was thinking he may be the Boilermaker guru, but this man was nuts if he thought I could run 4 miles.  Actually 4.14 to be exact.
     Joe told me to look down at the hill, not to look up at it.  To pump my arms, and adjust my pace.  Somehow I made it to the top and was now sprinting down.  He told me to drop my arms, just drop them to my side.  He said I would notice the difference right away.  And I did!  My shoulders and neck felt better.  My breathing got under control.  Suddenly I could talk and wasn't struggling.  He told me there were 25 elite runners and the rest were average Joes, no pun intended.  The elite runners will keep pumping their arms down hill, but I needed to recover to be able to make it back up more hills.  I needed to be Gumby.  To relax, to be that flexible green guy.  I used this tip on the rest of the run and true enough, I made it back without stopping.  I actually made it back!  We had run from the start line to MVCC and back.
        I am gearing up to run my first 5K this weekend.  Armed with the things this group has already taught me, I think I am ready.  My goal is just to finish. I am racing against myself only, and I am excited to show myself what I can do.  Go Gumby!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May Day May Day!

    Have you ever seen a movie where a plane is crashing? All the lights are flashing, things are buzzing, the pilot is struggling with the wheel and they are dumping gas and baggage to stay in the air? That's what I sometimes feel like each time I run. Each week we are going farther than I have ever been and its a struggle just to know where to go, to stay running, and finish upright. " May Day May Day I'm going down" echos through my head. Where's the co pilot? My daughter noticed I was keeping track of my food intake. I told her I was dumping weight so I could run faster, just like that plane going down. I'm focused on dropping a few pounds to be kinder to my knees and ankles. I'm finding will power I never knew I had. When I work so hard to complete a run, there is no way I'm going to undo what I did with bad food choices! I've been wine free since Easter. Since I enjoy a glass of wine on Fridays, this was no small feat!

     We ran downtown Utica last Monday, Boilermaker finish line, out a few miles and back. The sun was shining and my car told me it was 80 degrees. I had on spandex capris, a tshirt and hat. About a mile in I realized I was way over dressed. I really wanted to strip off my clothes, but figured I'd get arrested for indecent exposure. The run was a struggle, I had to walk a couple times and I was dying. Every time I run I learn something new. This day I learned less is more. I had a lot of water at the water stop, was encouraged by the cheering section of folks at the corner of York and Court street who actually told me they'd see me at the Boilermaker. I looked around to see who they were talking to. Me. They were cheering for me. They don't even know me. I fought to finish the run and looked up in time to see the Boilermaker finish line sign. I ran under its greatness. Something in my thought process shifted. I'm training. Wine free. Working hard. I am going to finish this race in July. Those people knew that.
     I dropped more cargo and weight this weekend. A visor to replace the full hat, compression shorts and a paper thin shirt. New headphones that won't fall off my ears were a bonus! I met up with the group today to run at SUNY It. Lighter and inspired I didn't feel like I was on a crash course and dropped 3 min from my time! A hill I walked last Saturday I ran up today. I didn't feel sick at the end either. Progress. Radio the tower, I'm back on course and flying high. Joe said we're doing hills next Saturday. Real hills. Buckle up baby, we're going to do this!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In her Shadow

Heading into week two I was a little scared. Our run would be 2.5 miles and include some hills. Real hills. My only hill in Holland Patent on my village run is the middle school bus circle. I think I'd be more honest calling it a rise. It's not a hill. So I laced up, got a windbreaker to combat rain and was off. We ran Culver Ave which has a long gradual hill. I was told it was 1 of 2 hills on this particular run. Because I'm being honest, it was kicking my butt!

I decided it was better to just look down rather than ahead so I wouldn't get discouraged. I fell into pace behind another runner from go the distance, Katie. I was huffing and puffing but Katie seemed to be going along just fine. I was looking down, at our shoes when I remembered. I have only been getting to know my team mates, but I remembered Katie from the week before. Katie was running on a prosthetic leg. Running behind her you would never know. She is strong and runs with a nice pace. I stayed behind her up the hill and was thinking about all the challenges she must have faced getting to this point. Life is meant for the abled. The differently abled have to always adjust, plan ahead, and work harder. Katie's hips and other leg must have to work harder. I wanted to quit running up this hill. It was hard, my breathing was struggling and there was another hill coming. Only I stayed behind Katie and thought how if she could do it, I had no excuse. 2 feet to hit the pavement and a world without challenges, I could do this. I'm sure she didn't know I was running in her shadow, but I really appreciate her passion, her strength, and her perseverance. It got me up the hill. My entire team is pretty inspirational. We were waiting for our last runner to come in, no runner left behind, and Jason rolled out to meet her and ride her in. I was wondering in that moment why I hadn't found a group of people like this sooner. These are my kind of people! I ran again Saturday at SUNY IT. Rolling hills they call them, I still call them hard, but as I ran I again found my mind wandering to people who don't have it easy. The people from Boston who lost their lives, who lost limbs, part of who they were. I am so blessed to have my health. No excuses as I train my way to a 15K. 2 feet to hit the ground, clear mind, healthy body. Heading into week 3 to run 3 miles I vow to train as hard as I can. Hills, here I come. You don't scare me!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Going Public

I have to admit many, many things. The first is that I have never really run in public before. It's true that I run outside, in the village I live in, but I try to blend in. I run in the early morning, before people can see me. I like late at night except for the skunks on garbage night. I tend to run around the school campus where I live, and I wear a hat pulled down low to hide my true identity. I call it my lucky running hat, I'm lucky it hides my face! I have avoided people for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I have never been athletic a day in my life. I'm not sure what I look like when I run, but I'm sure it isn't pretty. My gear is old, my form must be bad, and do I have the right athletic bra on? So, I run in the dark, I run alone, and I do not make eye contact!

That all had to change on April 22. You see I wrote a little essay to WKTV about running the Boilermaker. I hit send and kind of forgot about it. Somehow, I was selected, and given the dubious honor of being runner #1. Runner #1 got to have her photo taken first, they asked me questions first, and I was ok with my top seeding until I got the running schedule. Runner #1 would be the first runner interviewed. They would follow me with a camera when I run, and it was going to happen week #1. Week #1. You know, the first time I laced up and hit the streets in public, in broad daylight, and in a populated area. Thank god for my lucky hat. I hit the stores for some real athletic wear. I thought maybe my 1989 sweatshirt ( no joke), and old sneakers were kind of embarassing to my daughters. After all, I was going to have to run in broad daylight. Believe it or not I bought the spandex I so feared. I was fitted for proper running shoes and found myself looking kind of athletic. I was feeling ready for something. Good, bad, or indifferent here I come! April 22 proved to be a nice day for a run. I was feeling confident that I could finish our first group run, 1.8 miles. What I wasn't so sure about was the camera following me! The group started out and I realized right away some things were different about running in public. First, the obvious, daylight. Nowhere to run to nowhere to hide. Second, people were trying to talk to me! Since just the running part is challenging, talking and running was like work! My answers were one word statements. Yes! No! Yup! I was a little intimidated that people were in shape enough to converse while they ran. I was doing pretty good until I kept noticing the paparazzi. Runner #1 wasn't feeling so lucky about the camera, but somehow there I was running in public. Not tripping, not embarassing myself, just running. Nobody staring, glaring, laughing, just running and giving me tips. My athletic bra seemed to be just right. Bonus. The last half a mile I was struggling a bit. I hadn't been keeping track of my pace. I stopped for water, and discovered water during a run makes me nauseous. Oh God, nothing between me and the finish line except the camera man and I think I'm going to throw up. I said a little prayer, pulled my lucky running hat down low just in case and finished strong. There were many before me, and some behind me, but the real win was going public. Call me crazy, but I can't wait for more of these runs! Happy trails.......

Friday, April 26, 2013

Welcome to the 2013 edition of Go The Distance.  Follow us every Monday on NEWSChannel 2 to meet our new team members for this year's Boilermaker and see our training tips and schedule.