Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(Half) Ironwoman

The Camino is part I of 2014 adventures in turning 30. 

Part II is the Eagleman 70.3, better known as a half ironman.  The full ironman is a ridiculously challenging triathlon distance; I am dipping my toe into the shallow end of that pool, swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles, and rounding the day out with a brisk half marathon (13.1 miles), for an overall total distance of....as you may have guessed, 70.3 miles.

I have toyed with the idea of a half IM for a few years now, but never really committed or made it a priority.  In early October, Morgan, one of my close friends from Denver, said she was eager to do an east coast Half IM and asked if I would be interested.   After exploring a few races together, we settled for one on the eastern shore of Maryland; the Eagleman 70.3.

Me and Mo!

So once I paid my race fee (and my credit card stopped weeping), I started thinking about training.  It is wonderfully easy to think about a race when it is still a safe 9 months away.  You think of all the wonderful runs you will have and how much you enjoy being on your bike all over the city.  And then you actually start training.

In my case, I got a coach.  Katie and I have been friends since we were little and then again when we were somewhat bigger and both living in northern Virginia.  She is the reason I started running and I am the reason she started swimming.  Soon, triathlons lit her on fire and she got a coach to help her train without getting injured.  When she said she got a coach, in all honesty I thought "a coach?  like in high school?  really?" but I was happy for her and watched her dramatically improve.  Eventually she turned a passion into a profession and a new way of life and began to coach as well.  So when it came time for me to actually start training, I went to her. 

This was all in late October.  I thought, oh I'll just begin in January and that will give me 5 months.  Katie had different plans for me.  Within a day, I was training with her, building up my heart and lung strength and getting my generally out of shape body parts to start moving again.  My first week, I couldn't hold a plank or run a mile.  But slowly, over the fall, I got stronger.  And just slightly less pudgy.

It's not easy.  And I'm still not nearly as dedicated as I should be.  And there are many days where I want to stay in the warmth of my covers (and some days, I do).  And when you see your Sunday workout includes 5,200 yards in the pool, you whimper softly to yourself while putting on your suit.  Many times, especially during this horribly cold January, I have questioned "Why am I doing this?"  Why.  I don't have to.  I can quit anytime I want.  There is no one forcing me to do this.  Somewhere deep down, my Scottish stubbornness is yelling "GET OUT OF BED and just DO IT"  And at the end of a long run or strong swim or strong lifting workout, I know why I am doing this.  It's scary.  And I'm only at the tip of the massive amounts of training to come and sometimes, I'm still a big failure at fitting everything in.  But the strength and pride that you feel after doing something you weren't able to do even a month ago, its irreplaceable.   I can plank, heck, I can SIDE plank with minimal falling.  My fear of the weight room has been replaced with swagger.  I can run all the way to Virginia from my house. 

And its worth it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Buen Camino

Every year, I try to do something new; something big; something that terrifies me just a little bit.  I like these goals or events to also be something I've always wanted to do, and just never done.  It's part pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and part just wanting to not live with regrets for not having taken the time to do the things I want to do.  My only regret from college (apart from any ill-advised decisions made over a few beers) was that I never studied abroad.  It just never occurred to me until it was too late, and after playing Major-switching Roulette, I just simply ran out of time.

My first year, it was the Philly Tri.  I raced it with my then-roommate Lauren, my parents came as spectators and it was a great day!  We raced home (no pun intended), celebrated her birthday out with friends that night, then woke up and helped our friend Beth move the next morning.  Still one of my favorite weekends.

Triathlon finishers!

The next year, it was moving to Denver (and starting this blog, actually).  In 2011, I ran my first half marathon.  In 2012, I moved back to DC and generally didn't pick one particular event, but in 2013, I bought a house and took a solo trip to Belize to kayak around the ocean for a bit.  It was wonderfully relaxing, beautiful, and filled with so much laughter.

 Finisher Medal/Kicking it in a Belizian Hammock during a kayaking break

But now it's 2014.  For 2014, I have some big plans. 2014 is the year I turn 30.  I'm generally not one to fear aging and I'm excited for a new decade, but it just feels like a great time to mark the occasion with some major goals! 

So come June, I will be hiking the Camino de Santiago, or The Way.  A hike across northern Spain, the story goes that this path was the way of St. James, or the route taken by St. James after Jesus was crucified.  The Way has several different routes, but they all converge at the Tomb of St. James.  Hikers are referred to as pilgrims and seashells makers note the path, much like the white blazes along the Appalachian Trail.

  Santiago de Compostella Cathedral

People have asked why I am doing this and, truth be told, I don't know.  I just want to.  There is no deeper meaning or reason, unlike the pilgrim characters featured in The Way.  I'm not hiking to lose weight, or quit smoking, or work through some deep-seated mental anguish.  I just feel compelled to go. And, much to my mother's chagrin, I feel compelled to go alone.  I just feel the need to go and to see where the path takes me and not having a formal plan makes me pretty happy.   

So, the tickets are booked and the gear list is growing, as is the excitement.  Buen Camino!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's been awhile...

When I moved back to DC in July 2012, I remembered how busy the DC office is.  I was suddenly slammed with a new project (that would last until the following May) and other than trying new restaurants and hanging out with my friends, I didn't have a whole lot of interest going on, or time to blog.  So I didn't. 

So its been over a year. 15 months, to be exact.  And a lot has happened.  I was in two of my best friends' weddings and a bazillion more got engaged.  A few had babies and my weekends are now full of bridal showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, weddings and first birthday parties.  And me?  Well I bought a house. 

A small one, but a house nonetheless.  A condo, if we want to be technical.  I got the idea in March, had a realtor by April and was under contract in June.  As far as home buying goes in DC, it was pretty painless.  I closed in July and moved in late August and, despite the definite challenges, fall a little bit more in love with it each day.  At some point, I may even begin to fix the things that have been breaking.

I left my well-loved NW neighborhood of Logan Circle for the lesser-known SE Capitol Hill.  I'm not a 'Hill' person - I don't work for the legislative branch and, not only will I not be impressed who you work for, I probably won't have the faintest idea who they are.  Somehow, though, this neighborhood works for me. 

I am a mere three blocks from the Capitol Building, which means my weekly long runs take me up and down the National Mall - one of my favorite running spots.  Last week I ran clear across the Mall to Virginia, which while only 4 miles away, left me feeling quite accomplished. 

I'm also a ten minute walk from Nats Stadium, which in addition to hosting the Nationals, hosts great concerts (Mom and I saw Sir Paul last July!) as well as Truckeroo - a gathering of the District's food trucks on Fridays during the warmer months.  Adjacent to the stadium is the Navy Yard area of DC - putting up new buildings left and right and on the brink of being one of DC's hottest new neighborhoods.  Blue Jacket - DC's latest brewery addition - has already opened and Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and a new movie theater are all slated for the coming months and years.  I am very excited.

A few blocks to the east, along 7th and 8th streets are Eastern Market and Barracks Row.  The famed market burned down in 2007, but has been rebuilt and continues to be the premiere farmers market of DC.  Barracks Row, which includes a historic Marine Corps Barracks, contains a litany of shops and restaurants including my personal favorite, Ted's Bulletin.

But my neighborhood is not without downfalls.  The Navy Yard shooting and the high speed police chase at the Capitol Building were both within a half mile of my front door.  C
rime in SE is not great, but is usually contained to the southern side of the Anacostia.  And I am two blocks from the Capitol Powerplant - the power source for all things government, which is coal powered.  But while there is crime nearby, my street is also covered by three or more police departments at any given time and I have felt perfectly safe walking about. 

So, while the house has been the major accomplishment of the past year, I have a few exciting events planned for 2014 - the year I turn 30 - and I might just start blogging again!