Monday, April 27, 2009

Who am I?

Do you know who you are? Do you know what you believe? What do you want in life? Are you afraid to voice it? Can you answer these honestly? I can, thankfully today I can.

I admit, there were times many years ago that I didn't know who I was. I was searching for something, I'm not sure what, but it was a long road. I made bad choices. Choices that at moments I regretted; wished I could change. Choices that effected me for the rest of my life, or so it seemed. I was vulnerable, easily influenced, and I couldn't stand up for myself. People who know me today probably find that hard to believe. Now, looking back, I wouldn't change a thing because that journey has made me who I am.

Today, I never apologize for who I am. If I'm wrong or harm someone, I will always apologize, but I never apologize for being me. Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone is going to agree with me. I just am who I am ... and to be honest, I like who I am.

I've been looked down upon for being a teenage Mom. I've been looked down upon for being divorced, more than once. I haven't always made the right decisions, but all of these things, all of these challenges have made me who I am today. Every time I see a mountain in front of me, I climb it. I don't turn around and look the other way. I know that whatever comes my way, I can handle it. (I give a lot of credit to my mom for that.) It may not be easy, but life never is.

When I find something about myself that I don't like, I change it. I don't change it for anyone else, I change it for me. One thing I have learned over the years is that you cannot change for another person, nor should you expect another person to change for you. It doesn't work. You have to do it for yourself ... no one else.

So, who I am? I am a 38 year old single, divorced female, mother of 2, grandmother of 1, successful business woman, grad student, talented athlete, and a great friend. Egotistical? Not a chance. I call it confidence. I know exactly who I am and I am proud of it.

I challenge you to find out who you are ...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boston 2009 Race Report

Boston Marathon 2009 ... 2nd Boston, 6th Marathon. Good intentions that never came to be. I thought twice about posting this because my splits were, well, almost embarrassing. Goal going in was approx 3:30, ~8 min pace. My 2nd Boston went something like this ...

Didn't sleep too bad. Was asleep by 9:30, tossed a little, but then woke up a 3 am and had a hard time going back to sleep. Finally got up at 4. My parents dropped me at Boston Common at 5:45, boarded one of the first buses and I was on my way. Arrived at the athlete's village and the temps were low 40s with a wind. I found a spot under a tent and sat down to relax. Nothing too major pre-race, everything went fine.

The start ... wave 1, corral 13. National Anthem, then the fly over ... that always gives me chills. It took about 8+ minutes to get to the starting line from my corral and then we were off and running. I felt good through the first half ...

Mile 1 - 8.21
Mile 2 - 7.58
Mile 3 - 7.57
Mile 4 - 7.52
Mile 5 - 8.05
Mile 6 - 8.00
Mile 7 - 8.02
Mile 8 - 8.01
Mile 9 - 7.55
Mile 10 - 8.03
Mile 11 - 8.05
Mile 12 - 7.56
Mile 13 - 7.57

Not too bad eh? I thought well, maybe this year will be different ... uh, nope. First, I had to stretch a cramp in the left hamstring during mile 14 then had to hit the porta potty at mile 15 - (necessary or I would have never stopped).

Mile 14 - 8.50
Mile 15 - 9.52
Mile 16 - 8.26 tried to come back but just wasn't the same after stopping ...

Then I hit the Newton Hills that rocked my world ... and not in a good way either.

Mile 17 - 9.28
Mile 18 - 10.13
Mile 19 - 10.14
Mile 20 - 10.11
Mile 21 - 10.33

I really tried to rally at this point now that the hills were over; but honestly, my legs had taken a beating at this point and were starting to really hurt.

Mile 22 -9.10
Mile 23 - 9.30
Mile 24 - 9.16
Mile 25 - 9.51 (not real sure what happened here)
Mile 26.2 - 10.57 ( which is 9.07 pace)

So I rallied slightly and brought the pace back down a minute per mile, but not enough. Final time 3.50.51. 8.49 pace. 2nd time I've ran Boston and 2nd time I failed to re-qualify.

Now, this is Boston and I find it an honor to run. I am happy that I have completed the 26.2 mile trek again, but not happy with the result. This is definitely not my last Boston. I will learn how to run the course.

Next up ... Polar Bear Tri on 5/2, Bedford Rotary 12K on 5/16. Bad races only motivate me. It's going to be a fun season ...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

confessions of my rituals ...

we all have them, those little things that we do before every big event. routines, superstitions, idiosyncrasies, rituals ... whatever you call them and for whatever reason you do them, they are there. i remember early on in my basketball career i established a routine that i went through before every free throw. step to line, look at the basket, three dribbles, roll the ball in my hands, bounce at the knees for a 3 count and swish (well, most of the time it went swish). did it contribute to my high free throw percentage? i have no idea. all i know is that i just didn't feel right if i didn't go through the ritual. i have another every time i tee off in golf. as an athlete, we learn that the mental aspect is just as important, if not more, than the physical. we can train all we want but if we are not in the right space mentally, we will never realize our full potential. we will never get where we want to be.

that being said, i am confessing a few of my own ...

* shower - now to some that may seem silly. especially when heading to a triathlon to get in the water. doesn't matter. sometimes i even wash my hair.
* shaved legs - yes, the legs must be shaved either the night before or the morning of... no exception.
* painted toes - this is a must for every triathlon. big triathlons even constitute a trip to the nail salon for a full blown pedicure and a fancy paint job.
* splits - i have to write out my splits before hand. road race and triathlon alike, i have to know exactly where i want to be.
* meditation - i have to mentally picture myself during the race. i know i'm not alone in this one! all i need is a little time to put on my mp3 player and close my eyes and go through the race start to finish.
* music - we have the songs that mean something to us. i have songs for all occasions ... when i'm happy, when i'm sad, when i'm trying to cheer myself up, when i'm trying to pump myself up, when i'm trying to relax. my favorite pre-race song ever is up around the bend by CCR. something about the line "there's a place up ahead and i'm goin' just as fast as my feet can fly ..."
* go to phrase or song - i need something in my head to think about, repeat, or sing when it gets really tough. it changes from race to race but i do have some favorites. for big races i usually come up with something new. one year while racing my third big lake half marathon, i sang the abc song over and over to get through the 4 miles of really tough hills. crazy but it worked.
* hair ribbons - this is my newest and most off the wall yet. for some reason i decided that i needed ribbons in my hair for my first boston marathon and they had to match my singlet... blue and orange. i have no idea why or where this idea came from. There is something to be said about feeling better about yourself if you think you look good ... yes, back to the mental aspect. so, as i was preparing for boston marathon #2 i realized i needed another set of ribbons. yesterday i picked up my new singlet to check out the colors so i could get matching ribbons today. this time, blue and silver... and they sparkle!

do any of these things make me perform better? i have no idea but i don't think i'll change them ...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

3 days and counting ...

I'm having the normal jitters for Boston ... not ready, not ready, not ready. Actually I'm not. Or am I?

Felt really good up until New Bedford then something came apart a little. Mental or physical? Not sure. Doubt is creeping in. However, Wednesday night I was out for an easy run and started thinking I was slower than death so I clocked a mile split ... 7:19. Uh, yeah. Said to myself ... "Carlson, this is suppose to be an easy run ... rein it in!!!!"

One would think that heading into marathon #6 I would be better. Nope. Not a chance. Having flashbacks of my worst and most painful marathon ever ... yup, you guessed it, Boston.

One thing I have learned is to put the goal out there. You have to say it out loud so it is real. (I love that saying ... think I'll say it again ... you have to say it out loud so it is real. Believe it.) Okay, back to the goal ... started out at sub 3.25. Not going to happen. Not in a million years. Wait, it WILL happen but not on Monday. I felt as if I was in pretty good shape a month ago so probably just playing mental games with myself. Okay, how about an easy 3.40 ... yeah, okay slacker. Let's be serious. 3.30. 8 minute pace. Doable without killing myself. There it is, let's go with it ... goal is 3:30.

Counting down and getting ready ... stayed tuned for the race report...

Monday, April 13, 2009

where's the instruction manual?

All of life is such a learning process. Our parents guide us, but we still have to make our own mistakes and hopefully learn from them. I told my mother once that if we learn from our mistakes I should be a genius by now. So many times I have wished there was an instruction manual, a reference book, anything to help make the decisions in life that are just too hard. The saying that life must be lived forward but only understood backwards is oh so true. Many times we have no idea why things are the way they are, especially when you are right in the middle of it, but once you have moved out or moved on things suddenly make a little more sense. All the good times, all the tough times, all the mistakes ... they really do happen for a reason - even though I hate that phrase - it's true. Well I believe that most things do. Sometimes I wish things in life were different or that I could change something, but I realize all of that has made me who I am today. All the things I have experienced, the places I have been, the people I have met... it's all part of me. I will be facing another birthday in a week. Almost 38 years have gone by ... they have been pretty good and I'm looking forward to a few more.

Thought today... Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

true friends ...

reflecting today on how lucky i am to have a handful of true friends in my life that are always there for me ... no matter what.

that let me talk over and over about the same things ...
that drop everything to have coffee with me ...
that drop everything to have a beer with me ...
that let me call whenever needed ...
that will let me cry whenever needed ...
that are honest with me and tell me the truth, even when i don't want to hear it ...
that love me despite my faults ...
that will just be there even when i don't want to talk ...
that understand ...

thank you ...