29 October 2008

Living Your Dreams

When I was a little kid, my parents told me that I could do anything or be anything that I wanted to. I'm pretty sure that most parents tell their kids this, but my parents took it a step further. My parents encouraged me to write down my dreams and here's the key... Then, they helped me write down a list of goals that would help me achieve my dreams.

As I grew up, my parents continued to encourage and foster this behavior. They even helped me out when I needed experience or support or even money. Sometimes, I wasn't able to achieve my dreams, but because I worked on goals and "lived" my dreams, I was able to accept the disappointment, maybe because the journey to the goal is more important and valuable than the actual dream.

Because of this experience, along with some reflection, I've learned that one of my core values is this idea of living your dreams. It is a part of who I am and is also something I feel very passionate about. In fact, I get very frustrated when I'm around people who either have no dreams or who dream big, but never take any steps to achieve their dreams.

As a professor, I have the opportunity to impact my students' lives. While the content of the courses I teach is important, there are many other lessons I hope that my students take away. I want my students to know that they should live their dreams. I want them to know that the pathway to those dreams requires hard work. I want them to know that it's not the actual dream that really matters, but that the decision to dream and then start taking steps toward achieving that dream will completely and totally change their lives.

One of my triathlon mentors said something to me that seems to fit along with this theme and idea of living your dreams
. He said, "You will learn that it's the journey, not the race that transforms you as a person, the race confirms it all. And when you have a great race, that confirmation runs deeper." This was in a discussion about Ironman triathlons, but I think the statement applies to so much more. The journey to your dreams will absolutely change your life, and the achievement of that dream will confirm those changes.

I'm very grateful to my parents for teaching me to dream big, for teaching me how to go about achieving and living my dreams, and for always believing in and supporting me. I hope to instill this idea in my students and that they will go after their dreams. Personally, I have some pretty lofty dreams floating out there, but while I know they'll be very difficult to achieve, I believe that it may be the journey to those dreams that becomes most valuable.

28 October 2008

Getting the Ending Right

Over the past several months, I've been following a blog written by a man named Elden Nelson, aka "Fatty". He's an avid cyclist and has shared lots of his cycling insight and knowledge. More importantly, he has shared his wife Susan's battle with breast cancer. This morning I opened his blog to see the following entry:

His story has brought tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart. I have been thinking alot about the idea of getting the ending right and while I'm not sure I have any particular insight to share, I will say that when we live our lives to the fullest, when we are surrounded by those who love and support us, and when we strive to win, we will definitely get the ending right.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Nelson family at this difficult time. I know that they will absolutely get the ending right.

27 October 2008

Me and Oscar

I've been hoping to find a picture somewhere that might show how much I enjoyed riding Oscar this summer and I finally came across one. Apparently, there were pictures from The Great Illini 1/2 IM and I found this one.

More 2008 Races

As of today, I've got 3 more races left in 2008. After the St. George Marathon, I was planning on a couple of 5ks, but I keep adding the races, because...well, because I love to race. So, I thought I'd throw them out there on my schedule.

October 31 - Race the Dead 5k
November 27 - Miller Park Turkey Trot 5k
November 29 - Alton Great River Road Run (10 miler)

I think this will be all of my races for the year, but you never know...perhaps I'll find some sort of a Christmas race.

20 October 2008

Illinois State Homecoming Town & Gown 5k Race Report

Last year, I signed up for this race and it was the first 5k that I had ever run. I ended up coming in 2nd place in my age group. It's a good race and the timing is nice, so I decided to sign up again. I was looking forward to this race because it would be my first "short" race since March (I think). So, on Saturday morning, while I was struggling to wake up, I remembered that I was racing and was able to bounce out of bed with a smile on my face.

I knew that it was supposed to be chilly, so I wore my running capris, a long-sleeve dri-fit shirt, and a midlayer pullover, as well as some gloves. I left my house at 6:42am and drove over to the university. I checked in, picked up my packet, and then bumped into my friend Robyn from tri-camp. We chatted for a few minutes and then it was time to start. It seemed like there were more people running it this year. Mitch, the race director, was giving us directions, which was an exercise in futility since no one could hear him. The gun went off, and the race began.

The first mile was fairly uneventful and a good warm-up. I picked out a few people that I wanted to beat and watched my heart rate. My time goal for this race was 30 minutes, so when I saw that my first split was 9:46, I was very happy. The next mile was also sort of boring, although I did pick up the pace. I'm not sure how that happened although it was alot of downhill and flat. My split for mile 2 was 9:28, which was a pleasant surpirse. At some point, my heart rate started going up and I was starting to notice that I was getting close to puke pace, which is kind of sad since I certainly wasn't running very fast. The last mile was on the uphill stretch and there were alot of people walking. I had passed the people I wanted to beat, and I was watching my heart rate, which was right around 184. When I turned the corner, I picked up the pace and still got passed by a couple of people, but I also passed a couple as well. My last mile and then tenth was 10:43, so I guess I slowed down, but my final time, according to my watch, was 29:59:88, so I barely made my time goal.

At the finish line, I turned in my bib, and headed back into the building to grab my race packet and then walked back to my car, since I had 45 minutes to get ready for the parade. I arrived back home at 7:42am, so I was back home in an hour which was awesome!

I didn't really have time to celebrate the race since it was a busy morning, but I'm fine with that. My pace was 9:40 min/mile which definitely makes me happy, especially since I've really been struggling with my running lately. I actually was able to run the race at the pace I wanted to and I was able to stay focused, which was quite a small victory for me. I was also able to run painfree which was nice. As a sidenote, I saw several of my students out running which was cool to see. So, I have one more race this year (I think) and it's another 5k. Perhaps, I'll be able to increase my speed and run a little faster, but we'll see how it goes.

09 October 2008

Scuba Sam

I mentioned in my race report that a very strange and exciting thing happened at my parents home while they were away and because it's such a great story, I feel like I really need to share it. My parents asked my brothers if they would house sit and watch the dogs while they were in St. George. This is not an unusual occurrence and was really no big deal.

On Saturday, after the race, my dad got a phone call from Travis asking him if he had asked anyone else to stay at the house and my dad said, "No, why?" Apparently, there was someone in the shower and Travis thought it might be Karen (his sister-in-law). So, he called Eric and Karen to see if they were there, but they were at home. I should also mention that when Travis came in the house, the lights and radio were on, the microwave was open, the washer and dryer were running and the french doors were open. Travis decided to call the police and here is where the story starts to get good.

When Eric and Karen arrived, Karen marched into the bathroom, noticed the big huge jetted tub was running, the lights were off, and there was a man in the shower. She told him to get out of the shower and that he wasn't supposed to be in the house. He said something like, "You get out. This is my house." Karen got all of his laundry out of the washer and dryer and told him that he needed to get dressed and get out.

At this point, the police arrived. They came inside, told the guy to get out of the shower or they were going to taze (sp?) him, and that he needed to get on the floor. Did I mention that when he got out of the shower he had a headlamp on? Yes...he actually had a headlamp on in the shower. Go ahead and laugh. I am... They had a difficult time getting him handcuffed because he followed their instructions too well. For example, they told him to get on his stomach and he said he couldn't because they told him not to move.

Well, they finally got him dressed and started talking to him. They asked him why he was wearing a headlamp in the shower and he told them it was because he was scuba diving. Yes...apparently, he was scuba diving in my parents bathroom, which is so awesome! Who knew?!? He spent the night in their house. He told the police that he was training the dogs. He ate their food and left the honey in the fridge. He used their washer and dryer. He ran the big huge jetted tub and drenched the entire bathroom, including the remote for the bathroom tv. (Yes, my parents have a tv in the bathroom...which gives a whole new meaning to spending time on the throne.) H used their computer to print off coupons and recipes. He ate a cantaloupe like an apple, including the peel and left the core (do cantaloupes have cores?) in the sink. He also left a fingerprint in the butter.

The good news is that there was no damage. He left all of the guns alone, even though the gun safe was wide open. (Nice one Eric!) He didn't steal anything; although, there is a headlamp missing. The dogs were a little weirded out, but survived and proved that they are certainly not very good guard dogs.

So, the story behind this man is something like this... Apparently, his name is Sam and he has schizophrenia and is also bipolar. He was off his meds and had "escaped" from his parents' home. He has done this before and so he gets to spend some time in the psych ward, as well as three months in the state mental hospital. My mom was totally freaked out. My dad and I thought the whole thing was hysterical and couldn't wait to tell the story. In fact, we got to tell the story a couple of times that day. Nothing was hurt and mostly we all just feel very sad for this poor man who is struggling in his battle with mental illness. is incredibly funny to think of a man showering with a headlamp on who thought he was scuba diving. In fact, I'm totally giggling about it right now as I type this. I guess this means that Scuba Sam has just become a family legend.

07 October 2008

St. George Marathon Race Report

I am having a hard time writing this race report and I'm not really sure why. This was definitely the hardest marathon I've ever run and since it was #7, I feel like I can say that. I guess I should star at the beginning, which kind of makes sense. After I ran my first marathon, my grandma started asking me when I was going to do the St. George marathon. I finally agreed to sign up for it this year, along with my my mom and my friend, Sherry. I knew the race would be in October and I knew it wasn't an "A" race, but I didn't count on the training issues I had, so I was actually dreading the race.

On Friday afternoon, I flew out of Peoria on a direct flight to Las Vegas. I ended up eating my pre-race meal on the plane, which consisted of three slices of a turkey wrap, pringles, a Snickers bar and 3 bottles of water. I picked up my rental car and made the drive to St. George in time to pick up my race packet. This did involve some speeding, which I'm pretty sure was the only time I was doing any sort of fast movement. Actually, I didn't think I would make it in time to pick up my packet, but I did arrive at 8:53pm and rushed into the convention center. Of course, they didn't have my packet, so I walked over to the information booth. Apparently, I had registered as a Clydesdale (I don't remember doing this) and so I had to pick up my packet at a different place. After packet pickup, I headed up to the Sports Village to see my parents. We talked for a few minutes and then headed to bed. I should mention that the condo we stayed in smelled alot like really old people.

My bed had the old lady smell, so I struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep. I think I fell asleep around 12am and woke up bright and early at 4am. I got up and got ready to go and actually wasn't feeling nervous at all. I grabbed my Poptart and my mom and we were off. We picked up Sherry and headed to the race start and noticed that it was sprinkling. I wasn't too worried because it's St. George and it's the desert and it never rains there.
We parked the car and hopped on the bus and noticed that it had actually started to rain. Of course the bus was full of very chipper happy runners, which was kind of obnoxious. I prefer the quiet bus and if I were in charge, I would definitely have a quiet bus for racers like me. I ate my Poptart and kept thinking, "Please please let it stop raining." In case you didn't know, I HATE running in the rain.

Once we arrived at the start, it was off to the porta-potty lines. It was pouring down rain and I had my mylar blanket wrapped around me in an effort to stay dry and warm, which wasn't effective. Soon it was time to turn in the gear check bags and get ready for the start. My mom and I found the pace group we were looking for, stood around a burning fire that smelled glorious (really, it did!) and waited for the race to start.

I never heard the race gun start, but just followed the crowd as we started moving forward. I couldn't believe that it was still raining. Have I mentioned yet that I HATE running in the rain. Anyways, I kept my mylar blanket around me for a mile or two, but the rattling noise was driving me nuts, so I took it off and just ran. My mom and I were running along and complaining about the rain when the stomach issues began. It must have been around mile 3 and I had to find a pitstop. Little did I know this would become the pattern for the race. We got to mile 6 and looked off and saw the HUGE hill that is between mile 7-8. I stopped again at a porta-potty and managed to struggle up the hill. I think it may have been the toughest hill that I've ever run and I love running hills. Anyways, it was still raining and I was miserable. My body was holding up surprisingly well (Did I mention my longest training run was a 10 mile run 6 weeks before the race and that I thought I might have a stress fracture?) , except for the porta-potty stops at every mile. I actually ran back to a porta-potty at one point. My stomach felt awful!

At mile 19, it stopped raining for a bit, which was nice, but the wind was still blowing and it was cold. I did have a huge blister on the ball of my left foot and my shoes were completely squishy. Stopping at the porta-potties was frustrating because it is really hard to pull up wet spandex when your body is soaking wet. At mile 23, I sprinted to the porta-potty and barely made it before bad things started happening. My mom left me at this point and went on to beat me. For the rest of the race, I ended up doing 2 minute run/1 minute walk intervals and I was really worrying about making it to the finish line under the 6 hour limit. I was in pain and everytime I saw a shuttle go by (through the entire race), I really wanted to get in and be done. However, there was a part of me (actually a big part of me) that wanted to say that I ran a marathon in the rain.

Anyways, I finally crossed the finish line, heard my grandma and aunt cheering, went to the first aid tent and asked for an IV. The nurses told me no, they didn't have anymore and gave me some anti-nausea medicine. I wanted to say "Wrong end..." but I didn't. I took my shoes off because my feet were ANGRY and found my dad. I couldn't wait to get to gear check to get some dry clothes. I didn't find any food at the finish line and actually all I really wanted to do was get warm. I hugged my grandma and aunt and then it was off to the car to head home to the warm shower.

Nutrition for this race was Clif Shot Blocks, which apparently only work for me on the bike during a triathlon. I did eat sushi after the race which tasted awesome and sat well. Oh, and the Coke my dad picked up at the store tasted glorious. We had several friends over for lunch and my dad cooked his yummy cheesesteaks, which totally hit the spot. There was another event that occurred during all of this which provided some great conversation, but I'll have to save that for another post.

So, I finished a marathon in the rain. It sucked and I never ever want to do it again. What did I learn from this race? Well, I learned that I can actually suffer through quite a bit and continue to keep making forward progress. I think that I already knew this about myself to some degree, but this was a whole other level. I learned that sometimes it's worth doing things for other people. Oh, and I learned not to eat turkey wraps on a plane for a pre-race meal.