Monday, December 29, 2008

Going Out With a Bang in 2008!

Much thanks to my friend Wess for agreeing to do a 1/2 marathon with me only 2 days after Christmas!

A couple of weeks ago, I got the crazy idea to compete in a ½ marathon to end 2008 after only 3 weeks of training coming off a season-ending break. To my surprise, my coach ok’ed the idea to see where my fitness was at at this point and it was “game on” for the Florida Half Marathon in Clermont, Florida.

I had no idea what to expect for the turnout with the race being only 2 days after Christmas and was pleasantly surprised that there were enough entrants that I was able to run with someone throughout the race. I’d planned on starting out conservatively at 6:30’s and building as the race went on, but was unable to stick to that plan because of the way the course was designed. The entire course was rolling hills (which Clermont has become famous for) and the majority of the downhill section came at the front end of the race. I hit halfway at a little over 40 minutes, but knew what I’d be up against coming back on the out and back course. I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:05:20 and then started the major uphill section of the course. Needless to say, it took me almost 23 minutes to run/jog/power walk the last 5k of the race and I finished in 1:28:10. I finished as the first overall female and it was about a 15 minute drop from the last time I ran a ½ my senior year of high school!

Although this was a tough course, I enjoyed every minute of it. The only running I’d done outside the past couple of weeks had been the sprinting from my car to the inside of the gym or wherever else I was going in Michigan/Illinois while I was up north visiting family for the holidays… I will take 80 degrees and humidity over -9 + wind any day!!! Hope everyone is having a great holiday season!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In Loving Memory of Harris Armstrong

I know most posts on my blog usually pertain to triathlon or some other aspect of my life but this is a special case. This is one story I feel I had to share with the rest of the world. To give some background information, I never actually met Harris Armstrong. However, I feel connected to him just the same.

His grandmother, a former student of my grandfather and friend of my family, contacted me my sophomore year of college at Florida State University after learning that I lived in Tallahassee. The first time I arranged to meet her, she baked me homemade chocolate chip cookies, a lasagna dish (my favorite), and brought me a gift bag of stationery and other assorted goodies. She recounted to me stories of how much my grandfather was loved as a professor and how much she adored my entire family. Also, when she found out that I was a student-athlete, she shared with me how much her grandson (Harris) loved athletics and what a great golfer he was becoming at such a young age. She gave me her contact information in case I was ever in a bind or just needed someone to talk to and became like a second mother to me in Tallahassee, always dropping by to bring me baked goods and check and see that I was doing ok with school and life in general.

Her grandson, Harris Armstrong, passed away last week after more than a year-long battle with cancer in his spinal cord. But by no means was his life wasted. It can be argued that he accomplished just as much in his 12 short years on this earth as some do in an entire lifetime. When he was only in 5th grade, he qualified to be on the high school golf team. Further, he was twice a runner-up in the Golf Channel's Drive, Chip and Putt National Championship.

But his athletic accomplishments or the fact that he met some of golf’s all-time greats along his journey (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus) is not what needs to be highlighted here. Rather, the way he represented himself both as a person and an athlete. Harris exuded qualities that represent the essence of any sport: respect, character, sportsmanship, camaraderie with competitors, and most importantly, a genuine love for the game. And, he had an unwavering faith. When he first discovered that he had cancer, he did not stress- instead he prayed. Harris had a strong faith in God and took a particular liking to Romans 12:12. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. It was Harris' faith that kept him strong until the end.

I can only hope that I am able to impact as many people in my lifetime as this little ray of light did in only 12 years. I send my deepest condolences to the Armstrong family in this time of grieving. The memory of Harris will always be in our hearts.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let it SNOW!

I created a new sport today. Yes, you read that right. You may have heard of walking, power-walking, even snowshoeing, but I bet you’ve never heard of power-sloshing. You might be wondering what exactly power-sloshing is? Power-sloshing is what I was doing today when I was supposed to be running. However, because of the 2 feet of snow on the ground, I ended up running for about 15 seconds or so, hurdling a pile of snow that hadn’t been shoveled (and was in my way), and occasionally sloshing my way through some ice/snow bits on the road/sidewalk. I repeated this process for about an hour and decided when I got back that the effort put forth was more equivalent to a marathon than that of an hour training run. So, if you’re looking for a holiday weight-loss plan, forget Jenny Craig, South Beach Diet, and all of the other dieting plans. Just go power-sloshing!

After a couple of weeks off to recharge my batteries, I’m starting to get back into the swing of things with regards to training. I will be building up my volume for the next couple of weeks so that I will have a good aerobic base built when the “killer” workouts start back up. I can’t wait! :)