Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's Getting Better All The Time

So to get the full effect you have to read that title with the tune of the Beatles song in your head. I'm not sure how many people know this, but in middle and high school I listened to everything by, and read just about everything about, the Beatles. To call me a fan is putting it mildly. I was obsessed. If I had been alive during Beatlemania I would have been the most manic of them all, a hair-pulling, teeth gnashing, hormone-ridden shrieking sobbing teenage fanatic. I've mellowed out in my old age (ha!) and while I'm still an ardent fan of their music (and can probably sing AT LEAST 95% of their songs word for word from memory), I'm not the same Beatle-knowledge-obsessed girl that I used to be. Times change. (On a side-note, my dad's 64th birthday was yesterday and can you guess what song was running through my head all day? Of course you can...but I digress.)

Back to speaking of times changing and things getting better all the time...I ran the Salt Lake City Half Marathon today and, boy oh boy, did my time ever change! Two weeks ago I ran a solid PR of 1:26:07 on an honest course in Ogden. I was surprised by that performance because my running volume has been relatively low so far and I haven't done any high intensity work (other than races, that is). It got me thinking that if I could let go of any preconceived notions of what a "sensible" pace might be and just run by feel, that I just might be ready for a real breakthrough at Salt Lake. And I was not disappointed! Thanks to perfect weather, a nice clean start in the first corral, and by adapting a strategy of completely ignoring my watch, today I was able to knock another minute and forty-three seconds off my time from a fortnight ago for a new PR of 1:24:24. Yes, that's right folks. I'm tooting my own horn! It's just part of the gig of being a professional athlete, however insignificant your sport may be in the grand scheme of things. Stand aside while I inject a little personality here!

In all seriousness, this run was a huge step forward for me and it's taken years of hard work to get here. I had some success in the running arena when I was younger but then my body changed, I stopped running, and swimming became my sole focus for a time. When I discovered triathlon and started running again in my later college years, I could get by in shorter triathlons with a stronger swim and a decent bike, then still manage to hold off a lot people during the run despite lumbering around with a stereotypical swimmer's top-heavy build. Eventually I realized that you can run up a hill faster when you're carrying less weight around, and over the past couple of years Albert and I have made some significant (but not drastic) changes to our nutrition that have helped me pare down to more of a runner's shape. That, along with consistency in training and a renewed joy for the sport, has really been a huge piece of the puzzle. My ultimate goal is to be the best, most well-balanced triathlete that I can be; running has perennially been my Achilles' heel but I think it's safe to say that the gap has been whittled down some. There is certainly still work to do, but today's result tells me that I'm headed in the right direction.

A huge shout out to all the friends, acquaintances, and random spectators who were out there cheering today. Your support really did give me wings! It was a wonderful feeling to see so many familiar and friendly faces along the course, to have my name pronounced correctly 9 times out of 10, and to catch up with long-time friends at the finish line. There really are some priceless joys in doing a "hometown" race. Thanks to the police officers, race staff, and volunteers who helped keep everyone safe; this event could not have happened without you. Thanks also to my sponsors who help make this lifestyle possible for me; I am particularly grateful this day to Charlie at REV3 for believing in me, Pearl Izumi for the fast shoes & race kit, PowerBar for giving me the power to push, and to Recovery Pump for keeping my legs fresh. Congratulations to the winners, and to all the participants across the board who overcame their own personal challenges to get to the starting line today.

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