Monday, May 24, 2010

More Flags, more fun!!

So, this weekend I decided to take it easy and take a break from running. I went to Six Flags with some friends to celebrate my birthday and "be a kid again". It was AWESOME!!! We left my house around 8am Saturday morning and drove all the way to the middle of nowhere in western Massachusetts. Along the way we enjoyed some awesome 80s flashback tunes and organic lollipops to start the day off and go back in time and maturity for the day. We got to Six Flags right when the park opened and hit all the major thrill rides right away. Started off slow with the Tomahawk ride and then moved on to bigger and better rides like Flashback and Bizarro (redesigned Superman), then Batman and Minderaser. The Superman/Bizarro ride is still my favorite. Although the last time I went to six flags it was a totally different experience. I was too wide to fit comfortably in most of the rides and the safety harnesses were kinda painful. This time was awesome, I had lots of wiggle room and my butt fit in the seats just fine. I'm a little bummed that for some reason when we rode the Bizarro ride the cameras weren't working and we didn't get a picture because that one would have been AMAZING! But we did get this pretty great photo of all three of us on the Batman ride (I'm the one in the yellow T-shirt with my hands up):

Now THAT's how you should celebrate getting old, act WAY younger than you really are and just have FUN!

After we ate lunch in the parking lot tailgate style, we headed back into the park for some slower paced rides like the merry go round (to really feel like a kid again) and then a few other fun thrill rides. The last ride we went on Pandamonium, probably would have been fun, but the line was wicked long and the entire time we were waiting we were stuck behind this ridiculously annoying old woman. She was complaining about the teenagers in the line being loud, but she was louder than them! We made every attempt to turn our backs to her and ignore her, but she continued to talk to us and scream "Ladies!! Ladies!! I asked you a question...." By the time we got on the ride and finished it, we were all pretty much spent. We stopped at the Coldstone Creamery on the way out and got some yummy ice cream to finish off the day.

Sunday, I got up and ate breakfast (waffles with fresh berries and whipped cream) and ran into the Lowell for the Lowell Firefighters 5K. It started a little over a mile from my house so running there was a good warm-up. The clouds hung around for most of the race, but it still felt pretty hot and steamy (and for once, I'm not talking about the firemen). I ran the race in a respectable 26:03 and finished 8th out of 52 in my age group. Stuck around after the race for some free lunch and socialized with some fellow runners. Then ran back home and hopped on my bike for a nice 23 mile cooldown. Perfect way to end my birthday week. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Flat Tires SUCK!

This morning I totally got up on the wrong side of the bed. I woke up an hour before my alarm clock went off, but forced myself to fall back asleep and I was so successful that when my alarm did go off I felt like I only got an hour of sleep total (instead of the 8+ hours I really did get) and didn't want to get out of bed. I managed to drag myself out of bed, throw on my bike gear, pack my bag and scramble out the door. My whole body was resisting waking up at this point and pedaling was pretty difficult. I questioned my decision to ride my bike to work, but then the sun started to come up and I felt a little better. THEN I got a flat tire! Not a total catastrophe, but it's the 4th one I've had in two weeks! And it was on the back tire which is way more of a pain in the butt to change than the front tire.

Luckily I had a spare tube and I was able to swap it out relatively quick, but as I was re-inflating it I noticed the tire itself looked a little funny. It is not fitting properly into the rim and it looks slightly deformed and it's totally time for a new tire. I'm pretty sure I have one, but it's at home not in my backpack! So I wrestled with the tire and was able to re-inflate it and get to work, but who knows if I'll make it home. Not a great way to start the day.

As I'm venting my frustration with my flat tire fiasco, I just had a thought. The flat tire can be a pretty good metaphor for how my fundraising has been recently. I was going along great. Got up over some tough hills and slowed down a few times, but picked up the pace flying down the other side after an update email or cheesecake fundraiser. Overall, my average pace was very impressive, almost $2000 a month since December. Then the "flat tire", my post race push to try and get a little bit more is not really working and my fundraising has slowed down to a stop and it's really bumming me out that I'm so close to my goal (only need about $1000 more) and I just can't get there. BUT on the bright side, I hope that like my flat tire this morning, with a little creative thinking, a positive attitude and maybe even a little forceful persuasion, I can fix it and get back on the road again and reach my destination.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What an awesome birthday!

The day started out sort of ho-hum, I rode my bike into work. I got a wicked awesome card from my friend Gillian that had Homer Simpson screaming about the fire on the cake and then singing a funny song "When the fire starts to burn there's a lesson you must learn, something, something, then you'll see, you'll avoid catastrophe. DOH!" It was hysterical! Then my friend Ann brought me homemade apple coffee cake. It was delicious.

Work kinda sucked. They announced they will be doing about 300 layoffs at the Pfizer site I work at. In the grand scheme of things, Andover is actually expanding and there will be a lot of really great opportunities, but it still sucks that 300 people will lose their jobs. I just hope I'm not one of them. I want one of the really great opportunities that will happen as a result of all the changes they are making. Only time will tell which path I get to travel down.

After work, I rode my bike home and made it in record time. Ate some dinner and more of my yummy apple coffee cake. Then headed over to the Good Times Series 5K race that starts half a mile from my house. I was wearing my DFMC training shirt and a back bib that said "Today is my birthday and all I want is donations to Dana Farber" and it had my website listed. Plus, I passed around a collection can after the race. I'm a little disappointed that I wasn't able to collect a little more from the crowd of ~200 runners, but I did get another $30 for cancer research and every dollar counts!

I have to admit before the race I wasn't feelin that great. My goal was to try and break my PR for my birthday. The only problem was my PR for the Good Times Series was over 2yrs old and I still think it was a fluke timing error because it was about a minute and a half faster than my typical 5K pace. BUT lately I've been on a role and creeping closer and closer to that mythical PR time. So, I thought, "Why not? I can totally do this." It was cold and rainy, my ideal running conditions; as if Mother Nature was giving me her own little gift for the night. I started off a little fast, but I figured it's all or nothing. I had to go all out and go for that PR with everything I had in me. If I could just hold onto that pace long enough to make it across the finish line before the clock said 25:30 I would have my birthday wish.

I made it to the second mile marker and I was still on target to hit my PR or come very close. The night's theme was Xmas in May and I had already passed a few friends dressed as elves and was able to sing a few lines of jingle bells as I ran past them so I knew I wasn't pushing as hard as I could. With about 3/4 of a mile left to go I passed the water stop, my usual spot to pick up the pace and start picking people off and take off with a little finishing kick. I didn't know if I had it in me. I started to doubt myself and I was struggling, breathing really hard, muscles burning, stomach saying "why did you have to have TWO pieces of cake?", and then I saw a girl I KNOW typically runs much faster than my PR pace and she was right in front of me and I was about to pass her. So, I looked down at my watch and sure enough I was still well under my PR time and closing in on the finish line. Two tenths of a mile left and I got passed by Buddy the Elf, so I kicked a little harder and tried to catch him (I was unsuccessful). I could see the finish clock and it had just ticked past 24:59 to 25:00 and it was still going and I sprinted as hard as I possibly could. I DID IT!!!!! I crossed the finish line at 25:15! And got myself a new PR for my birthday. The best present I've ever gotten.
Here's the medal to prove it:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting SO Close

Donations are definitely slowing down, but I'm not! I'm so close to my new goal. I KNOW I can do it. I have two more checks to mail in today for $100 each and about $500 in outstanding company matches that haven't hit my website yet. Plus, my birthday is next week and I hope I get some birthday "gifts" to my page. It would be such an amazing accomplishment to raise double what I had originally thought would be impossible to raise. My starting goal of $5000 seemed so unattainable back in November and now I'm closing in on $10,000. It's just incredible. Just like I never thought I would run the Boston Marathon, I never thought I could raise $10K for cancer research and I finished the Boston Marathon so now I want to finish this fundraising too. I really hope I make it.

On the training front, I'm ramping up my mileage slowly for the Run to Remember half marathon in the end of the month and then the summer will be jam packed with long runs for the Portland Maine Marathon in October and some fun shorter races sprinkled in to keep things interesting. Here's the elevation profile for the Maine marathon.

It looks challenging, but not too bad. I'm not too excited about the fact that it's one giant out and back course, but it will be cool to run through the neighborhood I grew up in and finish near the soccer field I ran on in high school and hated every minute of it. Who would have thought that several years later I would grow to LOVE running and become addicted to long distance running. Not me! Well, surprise, surprise, look at me now. When I cross the finish line in Portland I will have completed 6 marathons in 2yrs!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shadow box, wall o' Medals, and mother's day brunch

So, a few entries back I mentioned that I put my medal in a shadow box. Here it is.

It is hanging on a wall with all my other Boston stuff:

Next to my Wall O'Medals, finisher medals and bibs from all the races I have run in the last 2-3yrs:

I think I need a bigger wall.

Anyway, yesterday was Mother's Day and I haven't had a great relationship with my mom over the past 10yrs or so, but through the magic of DFMC we were reunited yesterday for a lovely brunch at my house of homemade waffles (with stone ground whole wheat flour) and fresh organic berries and whipped cream. It was very nice.

So good that I might have to make waffles for dinner tonight.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Photocard mailing

I sent these out today with hand written notes on the backs of them to everyone in my address book. Unfortunately, I don't have the mailing addresses for a lot of people anymore, only emails. I hope that everyone that gets one sends me a donation and tells their friends. If I can just get everyone that has already donated to give $5 more and ask 2 friends to give $5 I can easily reach my new goal of raising $10K.

On the training front, even though Boston is over, I'm still addicted to running so I finally picked a fall event to train for. I will be running the Portland, ME marathon in early October. I can still recover for a few weeks before I actually start increasing my mileage again. So, now I know what I'll be doing all summer. YAY! Then I will most likely do Goofy again and hopefully Boston for DFMC 2011.

And so the journey continues......

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Birthday wish

May 18th is my birthday and all I want is Dana Farber donations. I'm running a 5K that day with my DFMC singlet and I plan to wear a back bib that says "It's my birthday give a gift to Dana Farber for me" or something like that. I REALLY want to try and get to 10K. I'm only $1900 away and there are a bunch of outstanding company matches still and I'm doing some other fundraisers. It would just be such a huge accomplishment to raise double what my original goal was. I hope I make it.

If I can just convince some of the people that haven't donated yet to give just $5, if 10 people give $5 that's $50 and it adds up really fast. I don't think people realize that such a small donation can make a huge impact if a lot of people give that small donation.

Oh and the other day I was out running a short easy run and I remembered a funny moment from the marathon that I have to share. My iPod shuffle definitely has a sense of humor or just really freaky weird timing. Along the race course it played certain songs with incredible timing. For example, when I approached Wellesley I turned it off and took out my ear buds because I wanted to get the full experience and although I did not participate in any of the "free kiss" offers, just after I passed the college and put my ear buds back in and hit play, the iPood played Katy Perry's "I kissed a girl". Then later in the race as I was struggling down Beacon St. towards Kenmore Square, just as I crossed the the intersection with the sign that says Welcome to Boston "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N Roses came on. I forget what some of the other funny songs were, but those were the most memorable.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's Next?????

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks already since I ran the Boston Marathon. The high is wearing off and I’m left to wonder, “What’s next?” Everyone asks me what I plan to do now and what is my next big race, but how can I top the Boston Marathon? That’s impossible!

I feel like I’m in a weird state of limbo and it’s unfamiliar territory for me. I have been training for one thing or another for the past 3 years and now I don’t know what to do. I promised myself that I wouldn’t sign up for any races until AFTER Boston so that I could focus on training for it and really enjoy the experience of running it and celebrate it afterwards without jumping right back into training for something else. But now that it’s over and I don’t have anything else to train for specifically, I feel a little lost.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, this weekend it was kind of nice to relax and do some yard work and not think about how many miles I needed to run or what was on my training schedule. At the same time though, I wanted to do a long run or something, but I knew even though I feel really good, it’s still too soon to jump right back into the high mileage. I need to allow my body time to recover.

So, I’ve been looking at fall events and trying to pick one to do. The Marine Corps Marathon sold out, so I can’t run that one again. The Bay State Marathon starts half a mile from my house so it would be easy logistically to do because I wouldn’t have to worry about the added cost of a hotel and place ticket. The Portland Maine Marathon would be cool because it’s the city I grew up in and part of the course runs right through my old neighborhood. I’ve also been toying with the idea of doing a half ironman. There’s a really cool one in Maine in September, but I’m also doing the Disneyland Half marathon and Reach the Beach Relay in September so that might be a little too much.

I just can’t decide which race to do.

Plus, I’m still trying to raise more money for Dana Farber before the summer starts and people get busy. It’s going ok. I decided to do another cheesecake opportunity drawing and I’m selling CDs of the songs I listened to while I was running Boston and I have some magnets with “I’m supporting DFMC Runner Alicia Leeman” on them that I’m selling too. So, far that has raised about another $100 and I’m getting photo cards of me finishing to send out to people to try and get more donations. I really hope I can hit the $10,000 mark. I’m pretty close, I have just over $8000 now. I just need to get a few more donations and have a successful cheesecake drawing and I could do it.