Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bad mango tree - parte due (part 2 maybe it means that not actually sure)

Last year I wrote a post about my horrible allergic reaction to the sap on our mango tree.

It turns out that I'm allergic to almost everything about this ridiculous tree. I can eat the fruit but I am getting to the point where I have so much angst against it that I may boycott the stupid fruit on principal.

I have known for a few years that I am allergic to the blooming mango trees. There was a singular mango tree near our house in the grove and I would sneeze when I ran by it. After about 1000 incidents of this I figured out it wasn't a coincidence. But a sneeze here and there isn't a big deal actually.
This is our offending mango blooming tree. My neighbor has about 12 in her yard and there are at least 2 other clusters of about 15-20 trees within a 3-4 block radius.

Fast forward about 7 years I move to Pinecrest which I think was possibly one giant mango farm about 50 years ago. The trees are all over. Plus I'm further from the ocean (by about a mile) and so the ocean breeze which usually keeps the pollen low in Miami isn't really strong enough here to help. I knew the suburbs were inherently bad.

I feel like crap. 3-4 weeks ago I had so much pressure in my head I was dizzy. I thought I had a cold and went to the doctor who gave me antibiotics but also suggested trying zyrtec or claritin. I realized it was the zyrted making a big difference and slowly (I'm dense) I realized it might not be a cold but an allergy.

In my little run loop I noticed that the mango trees were starting to bloom and I realized that could be the problem. My body not accustomed to this tropical tree interprets it's pollen as an attack of poison and produces mucous to flush it out. Oh boy do I wish it didn't.

How do I know it's allergies and not a cold. Well I guess I don't but I thin it is because of a few things. One it never ends. This would be a really long time to have a head cold. Two I am sneezing like a maniac. Three my eyes are red and itchy. Four ... did I not include the picture of the 20 foot tall wall of yellow pollen known as just one stupid mango tree? :-)

My son is also a giant snot ball. There are other trees blooming, oak trees, and lots of other things. There is so much pollen flying around that the cars are covered in a light yellow dust. But interestingly my husband (Mr. Allergy) and my daughter (who is clearly perfect) are fine.

Also random point of interest to me and me alone: I had been avoiding swimming because of the heavy head feeling and dizzyness but Monday when I swam I felt better. I'm swimming again today so we'll see if it's helpful again. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

One month to maratona di Roma

One month to go. I guess I'm ready. 

I ran 16 miles on Saturday which was a long run. It was made longer by my running partner being injured so I ran alone.

All alone. For 16 miles. There was definitely a mental part of that for sure. My teammates met me at the end for a quick open water "swim." The quotes are there because I just did a quick dunk while they swam. Swimming after a long run is a recipe for leg cramps so I didn't do that.

I also really swam once. I was supposed to swim twice but scheduling didn't work out for the second swim. Oops.

And I did 2 bike sessions. Including the Sunday ride.

It was a full week of workouts. 

Sort of right after this marathon I'm signed up for a massive swim. It's a little freaking me out so there should be a lot more swimming coming up pretty quick.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Iron perspective

I am seven months post-Ironman and about 7 months away from my next Ironman event.
me finishing Ironman France

Earlier last week one of my kids asked me to do something active and I declined only to be met with the sassy retort, "come on you did an Ironman." Which is true but unrelated to me wanting or not wanting to play basketball while simultaneously making dinner. I was literally hands on the pan on the stove.
The next Ironman

But yesterday on my run I was thinking about how now a few months out completing the Ironman has adjusted not only my perspective but also the perspective of those around me.

The Iron-conversation
My husband loves to tell people who are outside of the "active circle" about my doing the Ironman. It gets a sort of awed response. Especially if they don't know what it is then you have to explain it including the distances and they just think it's nuts. But for me I know that while it's certainly an extreme day it's not nuts. Also I know that while I enjoy being active I'm actually nothing special.

My kids think running 16 or 20 miles is a totally normal weekend activity for mom. The same as a gymnastics tournament or swim meet for them. Running a 5k is a totally normal family Saturday morning for my group. Biking shark valley ... a treat because it takes a little planning but still normal. 

The corporate mantra of Ironman is "Anything is Possible." Which is a wonderfully inspiring non-truth that I love to believe in. Of course not anything ... I can't fly, or breathe underwater or deflect bullets. But if I work hard I can train and complete an ironman. That also won't always be true. At some point when I'm much older I'll be unable to do this active thing that I love.

But I am about 5 weeks away from running a marathon and I'm totally calm about it. This is the first time ever that's happened. Normally this would be when marathon dreams would hit.

This is I think the start of the Rome Marathon ... it's going to be a great day.
I'm going to hopefully run it faster than I've ever run a marathon (that's always the hope, right) and I'm still totally calm. I think this is because of my new post-Iron Perspective. If I can run a marathon after all that of course I can run one by itself. Of course I have to do the training and I am I've got 2 20-milers down and one more to go. But I know I can do it.

I'm not sure I can hit my time goal but I am sure I can finish the run with a smile.

I'm not sure how the travel will affect me but I am sure I can finish the run with a smile.

Just do-it
Also the other day a training mate had a 4-hour ride and I said I'd go too. I haven't been biking much but I know she goes easy. So I agreed to go. My perspective has shifted. I know that if I need to I can go out and do a 7-hour ride tomorrow. I won't need to and It wouldn't be pretty but if I need to I can get it done.

It's shifted in my mind from the impossible to a slightly different ... what do I need to do to get that done?

In my mommy circle I am considered an exercise crazy. But yesterday I heard while watching the olympics that a downhill skier spends 3 hours in the weight room and 4 hours skiing every day. I cannot imagine 3 hours lifting weights. Not even with my post-iron perspective.

Ironman isn't the biggest race out there
The Ironman is my longest distance event. But once you get into that ultra circle you learn that it's far from the longest distance that people participate in. People run ultra marathons of 50 and 100 miles and more all on foot. Plus people do double and triple Ironman distances even deca and triple deca. Not me. One is enough but I did a double take when I realized that I know somebody doing a double in Tampa in a week and also 3 separate people doing Ultraman in 2 weeks.

Completing an Ironman has changed my perspective. Strangely this has caught me by surprise because right after the actual event it seemed surreal like I didn't actually do it.

That elusive question ... why?
This snuck up on me but I think I also know why I went ahead and did the first race and perhaps why I'm going on to do it again. Other than the obvious answer that I think it's fun.

About a year before I did Ironman France. Maybe more. We watched the Ironman Championship in Hawaii on television. My daughter said to me, mom you couldn't do that. I don't remember if I actually thought about it but that is perhaps why I went through and did it. I said to her then (a bit indignantly) that yes of course I could if I trained for it. Maybe that's why I did the first one to show her that yes I could. And hopefully that she can do what she wants if she works hard. That is the message I hope to model for my kids that if they want something and they work hard and plan well for it they can probably do it.

Don't misunderstand me here. There are tons of ways to show your kids this message including the basic get up and go to work every day, pay the bills and be there for them as much as you can. I do understand that nobody needs to do an Ironman to teach their family this lesson.

Am I nuts?
That last part is hard to calculate. Do my kids watch what I do and make the connection that they can do what they put their minds to? I sure hope so. Do they make the connection that my Ironman distance race equals whatever their dream or passion might be? Will they connect that what seems impossible is really most likely very possible? I hope so. I think so. I really do.

The same way if all the adults you know of go to college you have the perspective that going to college is just part of what you do I hope that my kids will see my actions and the actions of those around me being active and realize that it's totally normal. That a grown adult should be active enough that they don't fear food.

End of soapbox - 5 weeks to marathon day
I ran an easy 8 miles Saturday. The weather was nice. I felt good. I'm still not swimming as much as I should and I'm also not going to bed early enough on a regular basis. I blame the olympics.

It was chilly Sunday morning which meant ride to coffee drink said coffee and ride home. Brrrrrrr.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I have a Ragnover (ragnar +hangover) the Ragnar Report aka marathon monday

I was part of a team for Ragnar Florida Keys this weekend.

It has officially become my longest duration event because it took us 32 hours to finish. A team of 12 runners runs 36 different relay legs starting in Virginia Key (on Key Biscayne in Miami) and finishing on the beach in Key West for a total of 196 miles.

It is quite the production. There are 500 teams participating which means there are just under 6000 participants not including that each team has 3 volunteers somewhere on the course for another 1500 people milling around. As I was a first timer I didn't know exactly what to expect but a few of the folks we ran with had done it before. So it wasn't quite the blind leading the blind but kind of close.

The Vans
Each 12 person team has 2 vans. I rented one of the vans. This thing is giant. I drive a big car but this is huge. My kids loved it and think we should have one of our own.  
We rented 2-15 passenger vans. I picked one up and this is on the way to get one of our teammates to start the day.
 We had a very civilized start time in van 2 of 10:30. The first van started at 7:30. I was the first runner in van2 and I was picking up the baton from somebody I'd never actually met :-)

I took about 15 photos of us in the van. This is 5/6 of us we're waiting outside our 6th runners house getting ready to head to the start. Notice how we're all clean and peppy.
This is 5/6th of the way through our first leg. The only clean and peppy is the runner bottom right. She's about to run :-)
Here we're waiting for the van exchange at homestead speedway. It's about 5 o'clock and the last runner from van2 trades off to the first runner in van1. Then all of Van2 gets about a 5-6 hour break. 
During the break we actually came back to my house and rested, ate pizza and watched the olympics. What we should have done was nap. But I didn't know that then. At 9:30 we headed south to Tavernier in the Florida Keys to pick up the relay.

Communicating during the middle of the night between the vans is confusing and I was not sure exactly when she'd be arriving. I made a last minute pee break and she had to wait two minutes for me to get there - I felt bad about that. This was my longest run 9.9 miles starting at 1:00 am. I have the best van support they leapfrogged me about every mile the whole way so I never really felt alone. It was a good run. Perhaps I should do all my tempo runs at 1:00 am?
This is after my run. Look how totally spent I look. That is exactly how I felt.
I learned that Van 1 has a harder time getting meals. We had no trouble getting meals. But Van 2 has a harder time sleeping. Our first break was from 5-1:00 am. I should have forced myself to nap between like 10-12 but I didn't know. Our second break was 7:30 am - 12:30. Impossible to sleep it seemed.
When you run at night you have to wear this reflective vest and headlamp. This is just after Benji finished his leg and Carolyn started our final overnight run. I'm a little over peppy.
Overnight runs almost done. Van1 is taking over for the early morning segment. 
We in van2 thought showering was important. We showered between each van swap. Not so much van1. They were mighty stinky by the end. After this picture we exchanged the baton and went to breakfast. Then we headed to Sugarloaf Key where we showered and awaited our final legs and the last portion of the race.

It was daytime so while some slept I just rested. I'm a super light sleeper so this was tough for me. If I do it again making sleep a priority has to be part of the equation. I didn't know it but there is a dark/quiet room at this stop - I could have gone there and rested. I started my next leg at 12:30 and it was brutally hot. 4.4 miles. Sadly very slow. My mental mantra was, look around it's beautiful. Which is was. But that was immediately followed by holy crap it's blazing hot. I would say to myself okay just 4 miles pick up the pace but it didn't work. I also walked a teeny bit just to keep my temp down.
This is at the very close to end we had painted the windows of our van to track our progress. In those boxes my fellow runners put toilet paper for the girls and yup those are turd piles for the boys. The team name was We've got the Runs. Tasteless ... yes.
The whole team runs across the finish line together. It's fun.
It took us 32 hours to finish. I have no idea how that compares to other teams. I was so tired that shortly after this picture was taken when I checked into the hotel I had a hard time understanding the basic instructions the desk clerk was giving me. I was exhausted. We went to dinner and I was back to the hotel and in bed at 9:30. Now I've had 2 nights of good sleep and I'm feeling much more human.
Cleaning the van windows waiting for traffic to move.
Driving back it was just 2 of us in the van. Sadly there was a terrible accident that blocked the road for about 2 hours. But we made good use of the time getting lunch and I bought a totally overpriced bottle of windex so cleaned the windows while we waited. Which was good because since we were delayed I made it back to the car rental return with like a minute to spare.

It was a good weekend with some good friends and I made some new friends too. 

It is a little like a large running city moving down toward the keys. Ragnar has it's own sort of party culture and it's very fun. I can see why people do it over and over again. I would really love to be a part of a team again next year. 

Lessons learned: Overall I packed pretty well. I should have taken one more set of dry run clothes just as a change because of the wait while others run. Also an air mattress, and earplugs and eye cover to try and get some actual sleep during the event. Many teams run this in costume. I think that would be un-fun. But matching shirts would be good next time. Lastly, one thing that really worked in our favor was that all of our runners were very trained for the distance. We just put people in various spots without planning but you could really strategize for this putting your faster runners in longer runs. We had 2 very fast runners and in our van we didn't have them in the longest legs. I had the longest leg and while I ran quickly for me it's not very fast. If I do it again I'd like to start the planning trying to really have 14 committed people where one is the "driver" who could become a runner if somebody is injured.

I don't know if they publish the results. I think that there are some teams that are out to win it which would be fun. I have a friend who won in the masters- female group in 32 hours which is impressive.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I swam!

I swam today. Only 45 minutes but still I got into the pool.

Last week I avoided the pool because I have this head cold that came with a whacked case of occasional vertigo when I turned my head from side-to-side. But I will admit that during the entire week I felt a little bit like I was wimping out.

I committed that this week I would swim everyday. But then Sunday was the Super Bowl and also my head cold commanded that I go to the doctor. 

Yesterday I was still concentrating on breathing so no swimming. But today was swimming. 

After about 40 minutes I was feeling a little dizzy and I spent another minute or two trying to decide if it was my cold or just lack of swim fitness. Then I did one more 50 and at the turn I totally got turned around top to bottom and had a moment of freak out. 

And so I got out. And took a minute or 5 to settle down. And then I gave myself a pass for not coming last week because vertigo in the water is not fun - at all.