But I won’t do that, no I won’t do that

TITLE NOTE:  This blog post has nothing to do with love or marriage or Meatloaf.  (Sorry?)  The only other semi-appropriate lyric from today’s title song “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” is “I’d run right into hell and back.”  But I wouldn’t.

A lot of people think I’m crazy.  In a typical week I run four times, box twice, and lose play a game or two of soccer in a co-ed rec league.  When I can, I sneak in a lazy yoga class, which isn’t very often.  My running friends can’t believe I hit people, my boxing friends think I’m insane to pound so much pavement, and my entire soccer team shakes their heads in disbelief as I run my pre- and post-game laps around the field.  Yoga peeps don’t seem to judge me, at least not out loud, but my high school students (and colleagues!) are very vocal about my sweatiness.  Most conversations start with “Why…??” and end with a look that screams, “My teacher is cray cray!”

I train a lot (too much lately, apparently).  I’ve run marathons, ultra marathons, and one lonely triathlon, but many of my sweaty friends have wayyyyyy fewer marbles than I, and based on recent experiences, I’ve decided that there two things I will not do.  Read on.

Run 100 miles

When you run trails there seems to be a lot of pressure to leg up and race ultra marathons.  I myself have run two 50Ks – Run for Regis and the Buckeye Trail 50K, and I’m planning to add another to my race schedule this winter.  Next year you might even see me bibbing it up at a 50 miler (gasp!).  HOWEVER, this girl finds 100 miles to be certifiably sick.  Four marathons?  Back to back?  Non merci.

I crewed at the Burning River 100 for one of the most dynamic, energetic people I know.  Although I had a blast following him around for 29 hours, shoving Ramen noodles down his throat, and pacing him in the dark woods without a headlamp, I witnessed first-hand the destruction your body – and mind – experiences on such a journey.  I saw a lot of brokenness where I usually look for strength, and it shook me to the core.  The atmosphere of support at the finish line and the runners’ final push to the end brought a steady flow of tears to my eyes, and words cannot adequately describe how I felt watching Kevin cross the finish line – confident, strong, and beaming – after fearing a DNF for hours and thinking he had absolutely nothing left.

I am in awe of my 100-miler friends.  You are infinitely more badass than I, and you do the work every day…HOWEVER I am not ready to hop on the 8-missing-toenails train.  I do, however, love to make signs, skip ahead of zombie runners, and drink coffee while acting a fool.  So if you are in need of a crew, call me.  I’ll even smile every time you say, “Oh, you run 50Ks?  That’s cute.”

Do an Ironman

Normally my mantra is “Make time, not excuses.”  The background of my phone reads, “Someone busier than you is running right now.”  No matter how full your day, I wholeheartedly believe that you can find the time to add a little sweatiness into your life.  You might have to get up before dawn, run on your lunch, or drag the kids along with you, but it’s possible.  It’s a choice you make and a committment you keep, just as you would an allergist appointment…or the season finale of Breaking Bad.

This weekend I travelled to America’s Roller Coast and spent Sunday morning dragging unwilling, frightened children on all my favorite rides at Cedar Point, then headed over to the run course of the Rev3 Ironman.  From a grassy corner not far from the lake, a few friends and I – armed with clever signs and sporting puffy-painted shirts – cheered until our throats were raw.  We were technically there to support/crew for our friend Matt, but the course had so many switchbacks (and was two loops) that we saw each athlete about six times and became everyone’s biggest fans.  We gave people nicknames, complimented outfits, kept them running, offered roast beef sandwiches, and flirted with every man in spandex that ran/shuffled/stumbled by.  And some of the women.  It was a long day, and towards the end our cheering skills were getting sloppy.  Kat, who enjoyed cheering on the Ironmen while lying on the grass – accidentally called to a guy, “You might look like ass, but you feel great!”  Kelly and I got slaphappy and came up with ridiculous sayings for our next signs, and I lamented the absence of tutus and my lack of gymnastics/cheerleading skills while shoving handfuls of pretzel M&Ms in my mouth…even though I found them disgusting.  When Kelly headed off to run Matt’s last miles with him, Kat and I commandeered her Orangemobile and continued screaming motivational cheesiness from the open windows on our way back to the park.

The finish line was overwhelming.  It was getting dark, and the rain fell intermittently as runners trudged through the last point six of their 140.6.  Their names were announced as they crossed the finish line, and many had friends and family join them for the last final push.  I got emotional watching strangers familiar faces accomplish such an enormous goal, and as always I was amazed and proud of the atypical athletes – people whose shapes and sizes may not scream “Ironman” to the rest of the world and who stand as proof of the power of a focused mind, a dream decided, and a registration click.

HOWEVER (lots of howevers today), despite the awesome, motivational, and inspiring weekend I had at Rev3, I am not willing to sacrifice the time required to train for an Ironman.  Notice I didn’t say I can’t make the time; I said I am unwilling to do so.  The “easiest” (ha!) training plan I found called for EIGHTEEN HOURS of training in peak week, with scary demands like “1900 swim ladder” and a six hour bike ride.  Non merci.  A half ironman is totally within my sights, but I’m going to pass on the full.  Let me know when you’re doing one, though.  I’ll make some signs.  And wear a tutu this time.

**DISCLAIMER** At one point I remember saying that I would never run a marathon.  Or ANOTHER marathon.  Or an ultra.  Or ANOTHER ultra.  So…as Biebs (and now T. Swift) so poignantly states NEVER SAY NEVER.  (:

Random conclusion drawn from my crewing/spectating this year: I think TRAINING for an Ironman is more work, but RUNNING a 100-miler seems harder.  Thoughts?

She’s got legs, she knows how to use them

I saw ZZ Top at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions this year.  They inducted Freddie King and (in my GnR-apprehensive opinion) played entirely way too long.  I’m not a huge fan, but their song “Legs” (weirdest video ever, btw) is entirely too perfect to ignore for today’s post.

In case you didn’t get the memo, I totally rocked the hooves off of the Flying Pig on May 6.  However, everyone and their running BFF was registered for Cleveland this month.  I didn’t want to run it just to run it (my current PR streak makes me happy), so instead I decided to work on my spectating skills.

Sweaty Brian was on bike patrol for one of the wheelchair guys, so we drove down together (just like last year!) and once again scored VIP parking right next to Browns Stadium.  I planted my pink self right at the entrance, so before too long we rounded up most of the CIG.

Once all my running peeps scurried off to find their pace groups and BMO headed to the start, I wandered a couple blocks up, jingle bells and train whistle at the ready, to cheer on the massive, chaotic start.  Not surprisingly, I got lots of strange looks, was stopped for photo ops, and was film stalked by the Plain Dealer for about ten minutes.  (I actually made their website’s slideshow.  Check me out, I’m famous!)  Not only was I wearing a shirt of my own creation, a pink tutu and ridiculously amazingly bright soccer socks (yes, those are part of my game day attire), I was also carting THE LEG around.  In my backpack.

I huffed it to the Carnegie bridge just in time to meet up with the PD photographer Joshua Gunter again (I bet he was wearing Sauconys).  I set up shop around mile eleven and oohed and awed at the elite runners as they ignored me and zoomed by, dripping with sweat.  Oh, did I forget to mention it was freaking SWELTERING?  I saw several people collapse on the bridge – one girl needed the bike patrol to call an ambulance, and I poured my water over her head and tried to keep her calm as she literally rolled on the ground.  I heard ambulance sirens all day and saw many people stumble and fall.  It was not a day to PR, but a day to run smart, hydrate, and reapply Body Glide every 5 minutes.

After most of the field went by and I was hoarse from screaming and had quite the headache (from my own jingle bells), I tutu-ed my way to Subway for a snack and and fresh COLD water.  I really wanted to make it out to MLK, which is where I hit my wall last year around mile 18, but there was no way I could’ve gotten there in time after cheering on the runners all the way to the five hour pace group.  Instead I texted Sweaty Brian, who had finished his bike patrol duties, and we met up at mile 25 just as the 3:05 pace group was trucking by.  Most of our friends were planning on running under four hours, with a couple speedier folks shooting for 3:15-3:30.  So we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And cheered for strangers.

After finally getting to blow my train whistle at a couple familiar calves (and handing off the LEG  so she could finish her first marathon), I headed to the finish to tear up 20 times support friends and strangers as they finally finished a tough race on an even tougher day.  Needless to say, the heat and sun had an effect on nearly everyone.  It had been hot in Cincinnati a couple weeks before, but the Flying Pig wove its way through a lot of shaded residential areas with water stops every mile, impromptu aid stations, and lots of crowd support.  I was very content to NOT be running CLE, because that day the weather was in control of the race, not the runner.  It must be frustrating to do everything right in your training cycle only to be debilitated on race day by something completely out of your control.  So props to the 20,000 of you that sweated it out on race day, and special love to Erin, Jason, Marcus, Doug, Mike, Marlo, Kali, Zack, Joe, Brad, Linda, British Dave, the Brothers, and Inside Out Guy.  And to Michelle, who got her BQ, so proud.  But mostly jealous.  You rock my worlds.