Thursday, March 31, 2011

Futbol

I woke up Sunday and literally stumbled out of bed. I tried cleaning our apartment with Josh but it took me a while to move around. So I sat on a stool at the sink doing dishes. I had sore legs. Such sore legs. But I had a soccer game to play in that afternoon. Yeah right.

The game was for a team that I've newly joined this season. My friend Julie, a superstar (and new blogger) who I played soccer with in High School, invited me to join. It originated as her company team but is no longer. It is co-ed with far more men than women (8 men and 3 women on the field at a time). It is full field, 11 v. 11. So it is serious business and much more intense than the fun 7 v. 7 I've been playing with Touchstone for so many seasons.

All this and it was my first game with the team and I could barely walk. Whenever playing with new people, especially really experienced players that are male and better than me, it is really important to me that I play well and prove that I am good at this sport. I want a team to see value in me and to want me on the field with them. I want to set a good reputation. In the state my legs were in, though, I didn't see much promise for that reputation being set on Sunday. People knew I had run the half but that didn't change much. They still wanted to win and if I screwed anything up, they wouldn't be happy about it. Maybe I should have considered sitting out. But I had done that the week before in fear of making my knee worse. So I downed two advil, put on my cleats and shin guards and I played. I only played about 25 minutes in each half but 50 minutes of running was a lot given the circumstances. Surprisingly, once I started playing, my legs loosened up and I was alright. I didn't do much in the first half but didn't screw anything up either. It was nice to touch a soccer ball for the first time in months and it was even better to do so on a smooth turf field. In the second half, I got a little more comfortable and played pretty well. I had a good play in which I swooped in and stole the ball from a (probably 200 lb) guy being passed to by another guy. I dribbled for a few seconds and passed to Kevin who took a challenging shot and scored our second goal of the game. My confidence was boosted, even more so as my teammates asked my name and commended me for the play. I continued to run and get some good touches on the ball and I continued to feel good. I also continued to tire out and was ready for the end of the game. But I was proud of my ability to overcome the pain of tight muscles, I was grateful for the invitation to join this team, and I was reminded once again of how much I truly love soccer. I get distracted by my latest exercise obsessions, which I really enjoy and am happy about, but my heart will always be with soccer. Before I was a runner or a cyclist or a skier, I was a soccer player. It was always my identity and maybe it still is.

And now that my legs aren't in so much pain, I can intensify my life and start biking to and from my games in Northeast Washington DC.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

13.1

Finally the half is over and maybe you bike blog readers will be spared of so much running talk. But, before I go, here's a play by play of the wonderful morning that was Saturday, March 26, 2011.

Mile -7: Wake up at 4:30 am. Get dressed. Eat Oatmeal. Take lots of Advil.
Mile -5: Pick up Nikki and Eric and rock the pump up music.
Mile -3: Hit lots of car traffic. Bitch about the metro opening at 6 am and the poor guidance of traffic to the stadium.
Mile -2: Runners start to abandon their cars and make their way to the start line on foot. Should we do the same?
Mile -1.1: Nikki, Eric, and I abandon Josh in the car to run/walk to the start line. We have 30 minutes till start time.
Mile 0: We get to the stadium with 15 minutes to spare. We check our bags, go pee, and head to the hoards of people. We get to the starting line just before 7 and start on time.
Mile .5: Nikki and I split from Eric. We both keep thinking we see him run up beside us for the rest of the race.
Mile 1: Done!
Mile 2: Was that really two miles? It felt more like two minutes. Smooth sailing!
Mile 2.5: Run by Josh, cheering and acting as our personal photographer.
Mile 2.8: Josh bikes by us calling our names and cheering.
Mile 3: We see a clock. We're on track to run this in under two hours. We discuss how awesome it would be if we could do that.
Mile 4: I abandon my gloves. What a beautiful morning this has turned out to be!
Mile 4.8: We aren't running by Nikki's building :( But we can kind of see it from afar :)
Mile 5: Water re-fuel tastes very good as we run uphill on eighteenth street.
Mile 6: Run under Dupont Circle. So cool. Nikki and I hoot and holler in the tunnel but are a little disappointed at the lack of response. There's Josh again, standing over the rail above the tunnel taking our picture! And there's Ben, as we come out of the tunnel, cheering out front of Cosi!
Mile 6.1: Steepest hill of the day. Done!
Mile 6.5: TONS of madness and cheering in Adams Morgan. Signs for "Naked Cheerleaders Ahead".
Mile 6.7: I get a really bad stomach cramp. I DON'T STOP running.
Mile 7: Run by Nikki's apartment! Have we really run 7 miles?! No problem.
Mile 7.2: Betsy and Sandy cheering at the corner of 16th and Harvard :)
Mile 7.4: Two guys handing out cups of beer. We each take a swig.
Mile 7.43: My cramp is back. Shouldn't have drunk beer. Still, i DON'T STOP running.
Mile 8: Steep hill. Also really pretty part of town that I don't know.
Mile 8.5: Howard University. Cute kids playing music and cheering on the side of the road.
Mile 9.1: Turn south onto North Capitol Street. Long downhill view of the Capital Building. Still smooth sailing.
Mile 10.4: Turn east onto K street. We're no longer running downhill. I realize that I had gotten used to the downhill and running is suddenly so much harder than it has been the last 10 miles.
Mile 10.6: Run under a Marc train just behind Union Station. I tell Nikki that I don't think I can do it under two. My goal was to finish without walking and if I push myself too hard, that may not be possible. I don't want to hold her back so she should go ahead.
Mile 10.8: Nikki and I split up. Run Nikki Run!!
Mile 10.9: I see Josh for the fourth time! He's taking pictures and cheering me on. It is a huge pick me up but I know I'm struggling big time.
Mile 11: Running on H Street. It's really cool and the sun is beaming. People are passing me. I am so worn. But I won't walk. One foot in front of the other. Over and over and over. For two more miles. Just keep running. DON'T STOP.
Mile 11.5: I think about how I should have trained better. Every step I take, I'm running further than I ever have before. It's a cool idea but it's no fun at the moment.
Mile 12: My legs have been burning for a few hundred yards. That has never happened to me while running before. It's like I'm running on stubs, I can't really feel my feet. The slightest uphill really gets to me. Physically, I'm beat but I know how mental it is. There was a mental hurdle before this all started and now that it's happening, my mind must be strong. I will not walk. I will keep running. But oh my god this sucks right now. It's so pretty in these Northeast DC neighborhoods but I don't care about anything else. Just DON'T STOP running Carrie.
Mile 12.5: I can see the stadium. That keeps me going.
Mile 12.7: I pass 17th street and I know that I'm running to 22nd. That is five blocks and I know I will make it. I hope I will make it. I WILL make it.
Mile 13: So close I can see the finish line. But it's uphill and around a curve. I'm not sure if I'm going to cry or how I'm going to feel when I stop running. There are so many people lining the fences on either side of me but I don't even feel like turning my head to look for Josh or my mom or Nikki.
Mile 13.1: My headphones are blaring and I'm looking at the finish line as I approach. I cross it and slow to a stop. It has been 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 46 seconds since I started running. I am wheezing and I wonder how long I have been breathing that way. I pass the people handing out medals because I don't know they're there. I see Nikki and she hands me a water bottle then goes to the fences to see Eric cross the finish line. I see my mom and sneak out a fence to talk to her. I have already finished the water bottle. I shouldn't have snuck out the fence because I miss  the food tent. I am able to go back for a medal but not for food. I get my medal and then I see Josh. He missed me at the finish line somehow. He had biked there and gotten mixed up and maybe been a few seconds too late. We finally find Nikki and Erik and get all my checked stuff. It feels twenty degrees colder than it did while we were running. I am so jealous of everyone's arm-loads of bagels, bars, bananas, yogurt, smoothies, etc. Next year, I will not miss that food tent. We stand by the giant sign and take pictures. What a weird sense of exhaustion and elation. We ran through history. We ran 13.1 miles.

























Thursday, March 24, 2011

Positive

The half marathon is less than 48 hours away and I am in a constant state of butterfly stomach. But I'm also really excited and feeling so loved by the many friends and family who have listened to me talk and cry as I mentally prepare for this thing. Because at this point I feel like it's all mental. It's too late to do any more training, to pull or heal any more muscles, to stretch or ice away any discomfort. I'm so in my head and I believe that the mental battle is just part of the process, as Hadley, my other newbie half marathon runner in our group, is feeling the same angst that I am. As Ingrid has advised, I "need to get my head in the right place and start saying positive affirmations". I'll do that but I'll still be nervous. But I also know in my heart that I will be fine. I will probably finish and, if I don't, I'll still be fine. It's really not that big of a deal and I am doing it more for fun than anything else. So I'll have fun, try not to pee my pants, and hope that some unbelievable adrenaline will get me through.

And I'll also continue to feel loved and supported as so many people come out to cheer us on. I know how much fun cheering is because Hadley, Sarah, Lindsey and I did it last year for Nikki and Eric. And it truly was one of the best mornings. But I also know how hard it is to get up so early for a minute-long glimpse of your friends running by, especially on a day as cold as Saturday is predicted to be. Here is where we'll be running for any curious souls:



I will run those 13.1 miles of white dots on Saturday morning. I will not pee my pants in anticipation. I might get rained on but, as Nikki reminded me, I have run in rain, snow, and ice, so I will survive. I will have fun and I will laugh and I will sweat. And I'll be so glad to have done it all. Now I am positively affirmed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

shadowbox

This is what my life is like as I try to keep my body in shape five days before the half without running at all. I'm happy to have a lazy boyfriend to lie on the floor encouraging me to punch harder and plank longer. I was unhappy to have him video taping me but now I think it's funny.

video

Thanks to Ingrid for inspiring this creative cardio "shadowboxing"!

LOVE CITY BIKING

It's funny how I thought that moving so close to work would mean an end to bike commuting and would necessitate many more planned long rides. I was so wrong. I have opted for bike transportation at least half the weekend days that I've lived in this new apartment. Nearly everywhere I go, I consider biking first. I even planned on biking to stadium armory at 6am on a Saturday for the half marathon. I have since decided against this, as everyone I've told tells me how crazy I am and reminds me that the very last thing I'll want to do after running thirteen miles is get on a bike and ride another eight. Those people are right. But all other times, biking is the first thing I want to do. I've said it before but riding these city streets is just the best feeling. It is rejuvenating, it is efficient, it is healthy, and it gives me a powerful feeling of independence and control. It also makes the city feel so small. Like yesterday, biking to the Newseum, I rode right by Ingrid and her friend going for a run. And today, biking .7 miles south to rock creek park to meet so many friends who could walk and bike there themselves for our weekly frisbee game (which I had to watch from the sidelines in my crippled state).

When I lived in Paris for a summer, I walked nearly everywhere, no matter how far, in spite of the fact that I had a free unlimited metro pass. I just hated the feeling of going underground and popping up somewhere completely different with no sense of the direction I'd taken to get there. I walked to learn the city and to feel at home in it. Now, I don't need to get to know dc in the way that I did Paris but I bike around for the same reason. Because I don't want to disappear underground. I want to see things (like my best friend running) above ground and I want to feel healthy, efficient and empowered. And I really do feel at home here.



Side note: Josh and I walked to Adams Morgan last night for the first time and it took only 20 minutes! Just another pro for city living and support of the fact that this place can feel small and homey.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Summer In Winter Picnic Fundraiser!

As I mentioned in my first post about the half, I am running as a "sole mate" and raising money for an organization called girls on the run. Nikki is doing the same and she's the one who inspired me to do it. To get the word out about girls on the run and to help us reach our goals, we planned a fundraising dinner for Saturday, February 26th. The plan was to cook lots of food, invite our friends to come eat it with us and raise money from them. We rescheduled the dinner for march 12, as few were free on the 26th. After a lot of recipe researching, food shopping, and cooking, we were at Nikki and Eric's in our summer dresses ready to serve our summer barbeque-themed meal. We filled the room with gingham tablecloths, strings of lights, lemonade, and flowers and it felt like July. Then we filled the room with our friends and it felt like a great time. We got many of compliments on the food and everyone seemed to have lots of fun! Here are some event photos by Joshua.





















Most importantly, though, we were able to answer questions about what we're doing and who we're raising money for. Those are good questions that I feel increasingly qualified to answer as I learn more about this organization myself. In studying their website and joining the solemates team, I've learned enough to know what a great thing they do. I know that their services are needed and I know that they need and value my support, in dc especially, where the local council is made up of only two paid staff. I believe that girls need help preparing for a lifetime of good health, both mental and physical. It feels so good to help the girl scouts build girls of courage, confidence and character every day but i am happy to learn of other ways in which local girls are being taught to thrive. I am looking into volunteering as a coach next season and helping make a difference first hand. Thank you for reading and thank you to all who supported Nikki and I this weekend!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I am sitting here on my parents couch, happy to have just learned that Florida is a number two seed in the tournament, losing feeling in my leg as I rest my knee on a frozen bag of trader joe's peas. It's been a long road to this day, less than two weeks before the half and I am scared and upset.

I am tracing it back to last Sunday, when I bought a new pair of running shoes for the first time in 20 months. I had been wearing LeeRoy since July 09 but was rarely running before October so didn't think it was a big deal. I did, however, think I should have a fresh new pair of kicks before the half. I bought pink asics, putting aside their ugliness for the more important fact that they were the most comfortable in the store and one of the two best shoes for long distance running based on Josh's iphone research on runnersworld.com.

I ran 5 in them on Monday and 5 Tuesday. Me knee hurt a little bit on Wednesday at work but no big deal, right? Wrong. I didn't have time to run again during the week, postponing my discovery of their ineptitude. I ran a quick 3 yesterday and was fine. But today, I left Josh alone to drive to our weekly Sunday dinner at the "Shaw Pad" (you can find it on foursquare) and I ran here. My knee hurt about a mile and a half in but it was ok and I pushed on. It went away and came back a few times but in the last mile (of six), it got pretty bad. I had a long steep hill to run up and it was really bothering me. Still, I kept running. I was less than half a mile away, in their neighborhood, running up another, much shorter, steep hill and there was some sharp shooting pain that made me stop. I just couldn't run. I kind of limped a little and whimpered to the top of the hill. Then I ran really slowly, awkwardly, and painfully the rest of the way because I refuse to accept that I couldn't physically run six miles. I was whimpering in pain the whole way and on the verge of tears in such utter frustration. I got to the house within a minute of Josh and started crying with him and my parents. I was so afraid that, after all this training and excitement, I won't be able to run 13.1 miles thirteen days from now. I have calmed down but I'm still nervous and frustrated. I don't know if I should blame the shoes but I can't think of any other explanation. It wasn't smart for me to wait three weeks before the race to buy new shoes. I am going to take four aleve a day, as prescribed by doctor Betsy, wear something on my knee, and switch back to my old shoes for the next two weeks. I am going to try not to complain or fret too much but I know how immensely disappointed I will be if I cannot succesfully complete this run. I ran ten and I know I am capable of running three more. Please just let my body cooperate.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things I've done

Life and times are crazy right now. It's hard to find time to run or walk, let alone take a bike ride. Since my 904 calorie run, I have:

•biked all over the city doing things with Ingrid
•purchased a presta valve adapter for josh's bike
•seen 127 hours and liked it but less than the book
•bike commuted to multiple friends' apartments with Joshua
•run
•run more
•fretted about running
•bought new running shoes
•driven to Pennsylvania and back for one wild night and day
•played ultimate frisbee for the first time in months and won
•looked at a puny ski slope out my car window- and missed Colorado dearly
•joined two soccer tes for the upcoming spring/summer season
•contemplated the many things I might want to eat after the half. And told Josh to expect to be waiting on me hand and foot
•danced till 3am in a remote cabin
•taken a long uphill first walk to something sweet for froyo and cupcakes-and started a tradition
•drunkenly reminisced with Ben about ragbrai

This list could go on and I will call that accomplishment in the midst of all the craziness. The craziness is work-related and not something anyone cares to read about. It will calm down soon and I'll have more time to be me.