Friday, February 25, 2011

A Series of Misunderstandings

With over a week off from work and my husband in Italy I decided to venture out of my 20 mile radius comfort zone and head to Boston to catch up with some friends.  Before leaving Williston I did my 14 mile run and returned home to a ringing phone.  It was my father who invited me for coffee before I left.  We planned to meet at Starbucks so I scrambled to shower, pack and find a last minute chicken sitter.  After  arriving at Starbucks and waiting in line, I was greeted with a smiling face that knows me well, thus no need to even speak my order, just my fathers.

With the work goers coffee rush happening drinks were flying behind the counter.  They handed me a drink that had the name "Erika" on it and say that it was a mistake and it is my drink.  They also hand me another large drink as they tell me it was an extra.  Hence I now have two large decaf Americanos (misunderstanding number one).  I sit  with my father and we enjoy our time together as I down one of my two drinks and I saved the second for my drive out of state.

My plan was to take back roads to NH so I could stop and do some outlet shopping in NH before heading to MA.  I have driven the route many times and found myself rocking out as I was cruising up and over mountains and through small towns. As I made my way down Lake Tarleton road and then enter Warren, NH there was not another soul on the road.  Suddenly I am joined by flashing lights and realized that I was going way to fast.  Having been pulled over in this same spot before years ago I know that it is a one cop town, but I also know that he takes his job very seriously.  Knowing that I am in the wrong I pull out my license, registration and auto insurance and plan on not even mustering up a complaint or tear.

This is a portion of what happened:

(COP) "Ma'am do you know why I pulled you over?"
(ME) "Yes sir I know that I was speeding, but there is something wrong with me, I don't know what is going on.  My heart is racing, I feel like my heart is going to explode out of my chest!"
(COP) "Ma'am put your hands on the wheel"
            "Ma'am are you on drugs?"
(ME) "Yes sir"
(COP) "Ma'am step out of the vehicle"
(ME) "Oh no sir, I thought you meant..." (misunderstanding number two)
(COP) "Out of the vehicle"

The situation only gets worse as he decides to call for backup and search my car.  As he is searching I realized that my problem is caffeine related, I drank two large Americacanos that were suppose to be decaf, but all signs were pointing to otherwise.  This is what was going on in my head as my heart was beating excessively, my hands were shaking and I couldn't stay still.  "Lets see, 2 cups x 4 shots of espresso in each equals 8!"  Eight shots of espresso on an empty stomach that doesn't do caffeine in a matter of 2 hours.   As I am finding the time to do this math he is finding the time to discover white powder substances packed in baggies in my car (misunderstanding number three).

Long story short I eventually get released and told not to speed again.

Some interesting facts about Warren, NH.  The population of this small town is just below a thousand, but they still deserve to have people abide by the posted speed limits.   The first American shot into space was Alan Shepard who was born in NH, but not Warren.  On the Warren green they have a model of the Redstone missile which was used to launch Shepard aboard Freedom 7 into space.  My advice to you is if you see the missile you will probably soon see "the cop" so slow your speed.  Also remember that not everyone realizes that people pack things such as drink mix in individual small baggies. The concept of "fueling" while running is something far fetched to some (I didn't even try to explain the recovery drink mix).  I certainly learned a lot by leaving my 20 mile radius and that was even before arriving at my destination.


Sunday, February 20, 2011


Some days you have it all, and other days you don't.  Today was a struggle in many ways; a struggle to get dressed, a struggle to get out the door, a struggle to find a rhythm and most importantly a struggle to find a solid mindset.

With "10 Miles Easy" on the docket, I dressed extra warm for the sub zero temperatures hoping that I could stay true and run easy.  The first 3/4 of a mile was absolutely brutal with a headwind that quickly instigated a massive ice cream headache.  My watched beeped and the first mile was in the books in 7:28.  I told myself just 9 more and knew that if I already had to coax myself it really wasn't my day.  The next mile contained the steepest climb of the day and helped slow the pace.  Once cresting and heading downhill my pace fell to sub 7.  Now five miles down and the pace felt fine, no pounding heart, no shortness of breath, no tired legs...just no focus.  I continued to think how I wanted it to be over and this thought soon turned into how I needed it to be over.  My legs continued to feel fine as the miles ticked away and just shy of 9 miles the loop was complete.  On a typical day there is no question that I will tack on the remaining distance, but today I knew I would be content with what I had accomplished.  As I continued to be absent-minded I found myself off and running up a hill to get all my steps in.  

A vast majority of the time my pace/effort is very consistent, but today it was sporadic and I never settled so the entire time my objective was simply to get it done. In all honesty during the run I felt like doing nothing more than throwing an all out temper tantrum in the middle of the dirt road.  I even went so far to envision the meltdown in my mind.  It would involve stomping my feet, throwing my shoes/gloves and then refusing to move (boy would I get cold fast).  I did manage to get the run done without acting out the fit that I concocted in my mind, thus the running is over, but questions still remain.  My goal for the remainder of the day is to blissfully do nothing, as I don't have to always be accomplishing something.  I do know that for today my biggest and most important accomplishment will be letting my mind, body and soul simply enjoy living.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


For once I don't actually have an elevated body temperature which indicates illness or injury, but rather I find myself already plagued with race fever. I've already been lured into thinking about racing as facebook status updates are inundated with race updates, reports, training runs, race lotteries, etc. The FB posts, blogs and word of mouth keep my mind active as it all streams through my day... 
Yes I do admit that the race bug has found its way into my head and it is permeating within. I am just five weeks into my Western States training, but already have the urge to gauge where I am.  How is my turn over, lung capability, strength?   My first intended race will not be until the end of April, rather than last years January start. Bandera, Rocky Racoon, Orcas Island and many other races have come and gone as I continue to plug away one day at a time on my training.

For me it can be difficult to not get sucked into the cycle of over racing.  This year my intention is that every race will have a purpose. I am trying to be conscientious that some races will be building blocks, some will be goal races, while others will be a bucket list item.  My hope is that patience will equate to different types of success, and yes this year I will be working to evaluate how I define the concept. For now I need to figure out how to suppress the racing bug inside of me as I do not benefit from loading on miles and/or dealing with the demands of races close in schedule.  I think the answer is to quell and not squash the bug, but how?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Number 8011173

International Code?

UTMB, CCC, TDS, PTL is this all code for some sort of international pain and suffering? Under further investigation and previous knowledge it becomes apparent that these are just abbreviations for names of races that are put on in France.  The four race event that is headlined by the NorthFace is described as "A great epic in a magical environment".  The UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc) is deemed the "queen of the races" while the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix) is referred to as "the way in".  If you ask me, I think this all could be made into an ultrarunning Disney movie. 

Have I lost my marbles? 
I ask have I lost my marbles while others may question if I ever had them.  When the idea of me running the CCC or the UTMB was discussed my automatic response was:

       'Heck yeah! (insert sarcastic tone before reading) I am not afraid of Lizzie Hawker'. 

Running either of these races seemed so far fetched that it was easy to say yes.  It was also easy to say yes because all the components of this race from the atmosphere to the spectators are like an ultrarunning fairytale in my mind.  Just looking at the photo above you can see that there is something special about this event.  

Fairy Tale or Flop?
I've determined for myself that the fairy tale does exist, although so does travel, commitment, and sacrifices that come along with fulling that dream.  I am a very deliberate person and out of habit I try to control and predict the uncontrollable. I realize there are a vast amount of unpredictable factors involved.  As deadlines encroached I was again asked about entering.  I knew that if I was going to commit to do either race I wanted to toe the line for the UTMB.  There was no hesitation with making the decision between the two races, but I still was proceeding with caution.  Internally my passion for running screamed YES, but could my yes overpower my fear and need for control?

One Chapter at a Time...
All I can say is it will be a process and I have taken the first step.  According to the higher powers in France I have enough points to qualify, thus  I have a slot and have been assigned the race bib number 8011173.  All I can do is try and each step I take will teach me something new.  As I sit here and look at the list of international runners who will be attending along with the American runners who will be heading to France to challenge themselves at this venue, I am in awe.  Limits are going to be tested, pushed, and then redefined.  There is going to be something special that comes out of this fairytale, whether it is for me or others.