Friday, June 27, 2008

Summertime. The Livin' Really is Easy

Remember when summer seemed to last forever? I distinctly recall when the final bell of the school year would ring and as a mess of kids exited the building, the sense of anticipation for the months ahead to do with whatever you pleased was palpable. That's precisely how I felt when I bolted from my apartment in DC, now six weeks ago.

Really, I had every intention of finding a full-time job in New York and saving the world in my spare time, all within three months. I'm not sure how it's possible that the Fourth of July has already passed and my biggest accomplishment so far has been updating my blog exactly twice.

To be completely honest, I haven't felt so relaxed and healthy in years. I have no complaints--whatever it is that I am meant to do, wherever it leads me, it will happen in its time. I believe my job right now is to take full advantage of a situation that may never happen again: responsible for nobody but myself, living in a gorgeous home on a lake, enjoying the copious time I'm getting with my friends and family, going into the city (often) to run and play, writing to my heart's content, and training my face off for my next big race. In a way, I really do feel like a kid on summer vacation. Although I had been awake and working for hours, I actually answered the door in my pajamas at 11:30 a.m. today.

Even the pressure of triathlon training--something that tends to overwhelm me when I'm in the thick of it--was alleviated this year. There was no way to prepare properly for any races this season while I was moving--and I vowed to focus on my running this year anyway--so I turned my Tupper Lake Tinman half ironman race into a relay. I did the swim and run legs, while my teammate, Bill, completed the bike.

While the weekend was a blast, the race itself was an odd experience and I'm not sure how I'd even go about writing a race report for it if I wanted to. I had a dreadful swim--probably the worst I've done in 30 years of swimming. That's a lot of swimming, countless races, and a bold statement. But it's 100-percent true. Coming off a great winter of swim practices, I was derailed by my move and didn't take full advantage of the body of water right outside my door after I settled here. Also, my weekly running mileage is gradually building to a level I've never done before, so the motivation to also get swim workouts in during the week dwindled. Lesson learned: you can't race a swim you haven't trained for...and it also helps to stay on the course instead of zig-zagging across the lake countless times (I'm estimating I swam at least 2 miles, instead of the 1.2-mile course!).

So, as I trotted into transition, Bill was pacing, wondering where I was.

"I was getting worried!" he said.

Yeah, you and me both, buddy.

Off he went on his 56-mile ride. It was Bill's first race experience on his bike, leaving me with a few hours to kill before I had to run the half marathon. So, I met up with Josh, who was there supporting everybody, and we strolled across the street for coffee, I made a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and we cheered in our teammates who were finishing the sprint race. It was the oddest transition I've ever had. After about three hours had passed, I meandered over to my car to exchange my flip-flops for my running shoes, get my race bib, and head over to our transition area. I chatted with others waiting for their teammates and passed some time with other friends who had already finished their sprint races.

Another hour passed, the sun came out, the temperature soared, and it was my turn to wonder what had happened to Bill. He had been out there longer than I knew it should take him. I was hoping nothing bad had happened and was selfishly starting to get worried that I'd actually end up being the last runner on the course. Soon Bill showed up all in one piece, mumbling about a flat or something as I headed out onto the course for a 13-mile run.

I've never actually worried that I'd get lost in a race before, but I had to stop in the beginning to ask if I was going the right way -- on the way out, I passed the finish line, where a lot of people were now wrapping up their races. Depressing. Thankfully, the loneliness didn't last long as I took one mile at a time and saw teammates out there ahead of me on the out-and-back portions of the course. I kept the pace just comfortable in the heat--there was no need to treat it as anything but a training run. My idea of success was to get the miles in, not tax myself, and feel like I could have run farther when I was finished.

All of those goals were accomplished and I feel great about where my running is right now, as well as excited about what's to come. I didn't break any personal records (by a very long shot), but that wasn't my goal either. I feel strong and energized. More importantly, I wake up in the mornings looking forward to the day's run. This hasn't happened in years and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Speaking of which, seven miles await me out there this afternoon, so I better get moving. It's summertime and all is well.



Bill Risch said...

I think if you and I ever do a relay again we should name the team "Bad Karma sucks" cause apparently it bit me square in the behind on the bike course. I even got worried where I was after about 3 hours when I was just breaking mile 40. The next time I'm out on a half-ironman course though, will probably be me doing an actual half-ironman. But we'll see about that - I need to be able to swim 800 yards at the NYC tri before I declare myself eligible for half-ironman training. Still waiting for my swim coach to move to NYC to get my behind in gear in the pool.

christine said...

Great report Erin! I can't wait to run with you again soon!