To Race Or Not To Race…

That is the (cliched and trite) question.

Post-CLICO race in January, with tacky race hat and watermelon

I am in a bit of a quandary.  There’s a race going on this Saturday and I have been procrastinating like crazy about signing up.  I should have signed up this weekend, but didn’t feel like heading to the mall to sign up (many races here have you sign up at one of the chain sports stores.)  Then on Monday, I took too long buying fabric and reasoned that I’d miss my chance to get a good swim in if I went to sign up.  Today, I didn’t want to tack on the trip to a routine outing, and traffic looked crazy, so….

Excuses, excuses.  I know that the problem isn’t my general distaste for sitting in traffic to go to the mall.  The problem is that, for the first time since I started racing almost a year ago, I’m not sure I want to sign up for a race.

And a race at 2:45 pm?  In the 94 F, full-blaze sun and heat of Trinidad?  You get the picture.

So, instead of making myself nutty and muttering to myself/the Husband/the dog about how I’m going back and forth on signing up, I though I’d come up with some pros and cons–and put the question to you, my informed peeps!

Pros of racing this Saturday:

  • I haven’t raced since January.  It’s been too long since I’ve witnessed a good soca-music pre-race warmup, felt the jittery race excitement, and felt like a celebrity while the Husband snaps away and acts like my personal paparazzi.
  • Because I haven’t raced in a while, my tacky race T-shirt collection is sadly stalled at the moment.
  • After races, we always hit up a great local pub for big greasy burgers and plenty of ice-cold beer, and the food never tastes as great as it does after a race.
  • I ran a 3 pm race back  in September with a touch of a stomach bug, and it was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life.  I’m dying to prove to myself that THAT awful race was a fluke and that I’ve become a much more finely-tuned (and better  hydrated) runner since then.
  • I best get my Trinidad 5K on–because the next scheduled one at the moment isn’t going down until mid-September.

Cons of Saturday’s race:

  • The heat. The heat. The heat.
  • The smog and traffic and pollution of a 2:45 pm race–I’m not sure I want to spend a week hacking up the finest of T and T’s dust and diesel.
  • I don’t need another tacky race T-shirt just yet, as I snagged an election T-shirt last weekend and it is quite possibly the coolest/tackiest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on.
  • I’m getting over a stomach bug, so I don’t feel my strongest, and I’m ridiculously scared of reliving THAT race (3 pm Newsday race death-on-the-road) again.
  • I don’t see why I need to prove to myself that I can do something as uncomfortable as raise my heart rate to 180 bpm for 30 minutes in that heat.  It’s a bit silly, frankly, when I think about it–if it sucks, I don’t see why I need to do it.
  • There are quite a few races in Buffalo during the weeks that I’ll be home.  So, though the next T and T race isn’t for months, I’ll get plenty of chances to race in the comparatively cool and breezy Buffalo summer.

As you can see, there’s plenty of basis (silly or not) for my indecision.  So tell me, guru-peeps, what would you do? And have you ever felt similarly about a race or sporting event?

____________

In the sphere of things that I decisively did today….

I ran a pretty nice three miles.  I had really wanted to run four miles, but I set off a bit nervous about the echoes of the stomach bug. So I told myself that I’d feel better for at least trying (and promised myself that I would not think myself the World’s Biggest Wimp if I decided to walk–it’s not that I think that walking is wimpy, but if I’m going to get up at 6 am it’s going to be for a run, not for a walk that I can do later in the day).  Well, the stomach was absolutely fine until mile 2.75, at which point it complained a bit.  I decided I’d rather walk away happy after three miles than miserable after four, so three were run and one was walked.  It felt great not to self-flagellate, I tell you.

I wore clothes, but they were a step up from pajamas.  I wore what was technically a beach/house dress, but as it’s a bit on the skimpy side on top, there’s no picture (sorry, but nope!)  I have to say, after a day in what amounted to pajamas with a zipper, I felt pretty rank.  I need clothes and all the attendant glamour of , um, wearing mascara, so I showered at 7 and started fresh, mascara and all.  I felt infinitely better.  Lesson learned.  Proper clothing (and mascara) will be de rigeur from now on.

The sole food picture of the day today comes courtesy of my lunch–fried eggs with bruschetta on the side:

I know that bruschetta belongs on proper Italian bread, but it’s either sandwich bread or nothing at all here, so I suspend all my food snobbiness for bruschetta.  And you know what?  It was pretty awesome, and will definitely be happening more often.

Night y’all!

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Big Race Announcement (Times Two)!

After the excitement of last Friday’s post (where I announced that I will be quitting my office job at the end of the month and finally confessed to having been working two jobs since January), I can finally start to look forward to life post-office work–and, now that notice has been given and I’ve come clean about work, I can finally make yet another exciting announcement:

In June, I will be participating in the Susan Komen Race for the Cure 5K Run and the 20 mile Ride for Roswell Park Cancer Institute Bike Ride!!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new Cancer Research Fundraising Queen.

Needless to say I’m beyond exited for both races.  The Susan Komen Race for the Cure will be my first summer race ever in Buffalo.  It goes through beautiful Delaware Park–the best place to be on a June morning in Buffalo–and, of course, it benefits breast cancer research.  My grandmother is a feisty, fabulous, and sweet breast cancer survivor and I ran my first 5K race (for breast cancer research as well) for her, so I’ll be doing it again with extra pizzazz in my step–AND a 30 minute 5k race time to smack down.

As for the 20-mile ride… Oooh, cue chills and nerves and giddiness.  I will be riding as part of Team Papa’s Pedallers with my sisters and a bunch of friends, all of whom have been affected by cancer in some way.  So we are racing for those we’ve lost (my dad, Linz’s dad, John’s grandpa) and for those who’ve given the disease ten shades of what-all and are here to tell the tale (my fabulous Linz, my ridiculously funny and kind uncle Lali, and Alli’s dad, among others).  AND I don’t own a bike.  AND I haven’t been on one since last year.  AND I can’t ride in a straight line.  But I’m sure between now and then, I’ll figure it all out.  Or just lose my fear of scabs and scrapes.

Once I hit the register button, though, I had a bit of a shock that had nothing to do with the actual race training I’ll need to do.

I realized that I would have to raise money for TWO races–eeeek!  Though they are both for excellent causes and I can honestly say that both causes are equally important to me, I’m still conscious of the fact that I’ll be hitting up all my nearest, dearest and known for some fundraising love, and doing it twice.

But I’m making myself a Cancer Research Fundraising Queen crown (from leftover red carnival feathers, because I need to use them up) and, over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on some very devious schemes interesting ideas for fund-raising for both races.  Hint:  there may be giveaways…. and more.

_____________

Now that I’ve given my notice, I feel I have an extra spring in my step–quite literally.  So, despite sleeping terribly last night (word to the wise:  maybe getting engrossed in a drama about a serial killer before I go to sleep isn’t such a great idea–hello, Dexter nightmares) I still hit the pavement this morning with a special zing to my booty.

Four miles were on the agenda and four miles I did.  I felt light and speedy, and I must have been, too–I actually beat my best 5k time by a minute and change, without even trying!  29:04, holla at me… And 4 miles in 40 isn’t too shabby for me, either.  I could have sworn I felt like death during that last mile, but I know now that I was being a total drama queen, as I’m wont to do when the sun is in my eyes and I smell sewery nastiness at 7:15 am on the extra mile loop.

And, since tomorrow is a national holiday here in Trinidad and Tobago (it’s Spiritual Baptist Day, or Shouter Baptist Day in more common parlance), I knew that a good swim had to happen given that the pool would be closed tomorrow and I need that swim to keep me limber between run days.  So, hair still wet from the morning’s shower, I hit the pool at lunch for 36 minutes of blinding sun and sweet whooshings before going back to work with the biggest smile on my face.

Needless to say, I can watch ALL the Dexter I want tonight–I’m going to sleep like the dead after today’s quest for bootiliciousness.  I hope the Spiritual Baptists don’t take to my street in the early am, though, or I may turn into a Shouter Laura right back at them.

_______

Today’s style snippet, brought to you once again by my fall 2008 trip to Puerto Rico:

Not so close, for full effect...

Closer...

Closest--the trim deserves admiration, no?

The skirt is Marshall’s boutique, the blouse is from Kress.  I was able to wear that blouse for about two months after I bought it, and then I couldn’t wear it without popping buttons.  It’s nice and loose now.  This realization will keep me from devouring all the remaining lemon bars in my fridge.

And, speaking of food…

Today’s lunchtime salad of chipotle and garlic chicken on green salad with tomatoes, green onion, and peppers, with salsa for dressing had its portrait deleted (a shame too, because it was most delicious), so I’ll give you a shot of the Tibetan burritos instead:

Another odd but tasty concoction, courtesy of the Moosewood Restaurant peeps–these have a soy mince, onion, carrot, and cabbage filling sauteed in soy sauce, ginger and garlic, and topped with a fresh tomato salsa of tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and mint (if you have it–I don’t).  Fusion Mexican-Tibetan food served on a Trinidad table by a Puerto Rican girl, how very fitting!

Run? Swim? Both, Please–Because A Girl Can Dream

I am about to explode with excitement!  I have successfully done a double-duty run-and-swim day.  My legs are still attached and happy, I did not fizzle in the water, and I think I can allow myself to dream big now.

The details:

This morning, I questioned going on my scheduled four mile run (love the sound of “scheduled four mile run”–it makes me feel so official and hardcore).  My stomach had been displeased with me the day before, and I had the slightest hint of headache, and the room was hot already at 6 am despite the AC being on high….  You know, garden-variety excuses.

But I strapped on all necessary equipment anyway–knee sleeve, heart rate monitor and chest strap, band-aids in case new sneaks rubbed, i-pod, nike+, ipod holder, safety pins to attach the keys to myself–and headed out the door, not expecting much.

The first mile dragged a bit and, because I knew I had taken it too easy, I thought I’d make myself wait past a mile and a half for my usual walk break, until mile 2 rolled around and I realized I had yet to take a walk break–woot woot!  So I thumbs-upped myself and took a short walk break, and then ran the other half fairly incident- (and walk-) free.

Unlike my last four mile run, once I hit mile three my feet didn’t instantly hurt, nor did my stomach wobble, nor did I start thinking of how great it would be stop.  I actually thought of how great it would be to keep going , if only because I would feel majorly kick-ass and smugly entitled for the rest of the day, both of which are number one reasons for doing stuff as far as I’m concerned.

So, in the end, I ran four miles in 40 minutes, with only two walk breaks.  No mean dogs or dodgy men were spotted, and I lapped twice around the morning garbage truck (take that, Mr. Staring BubbleBelly Driver) and twice around a crew of workers pretending to dig at some plumbing near my street. By the time I got home, I felt like the Queen of My Domain (For Shizzle).

As I was also hip-and-knee-twinge-free and aware that I would not be able to swim on Thursday during lunch (doctor’s appointment), I decided that the day called for a double–that easy swim I didn’t do yesterday was in the cards indeed.

So, armed with my foxy new swimming bikini and a shot glass’s worth of SPF 85 sunblock, I dove into the pool for an easy 20-lap swim.  Which turned into 25 because the water was so nice, and the sunblock so effective, and I felt so shockingly OK after the run and the first twenty laps.

Which makes me think that my semi-secret goals of doing a half-marathon and a triathlon in the coming year may not be so unattainable after all.

The half-marathon “tease” goal has been on my mind since my visit to Puerto Rico.  You see, I have a wonderful jolly uncle:

That's my tio in the rooster mask!

He recently walked a VERY fast 10K race.  Not a big deal for many, but this wonderful uncle of mine has a tracheotomy from a bout of throat cancer he fought through about twelve years ago, and has lost about 100 pounds in the last year after a serious lifestyle overhaul resulting from a diabetes-hospitalization scare, AND did all of this after having dealt for years with excruciating back pain from a very badass motorcycle accident in his early twenties.

Said wonderful uncle of my heart just had laparoscopic surgery on his knee for a meniscus-related injury, but I caught him coming off the 10K race high last week.  He told me excitedly that, if his knee allows, he will be walking (or walking-running) the NY Half-Marathon in April 2011.  I was floored.  I tried to pretend I wasn’t teary so I wouldn’t appear wimpy in the presence of the uncle who was about to give me some VERY good, big-girl-style whisky–and then I vowed to him that, if he could get himself and his knees to NYC for it, so would I.  We shook on it and had a glass of the aforementioned whisky to seal the deal.

So that’s my secret half-marathon teaser goal.  I REALLY hope he can do it, and I’m petrified of training for it if we end up going for it. But fear not, my friends.  I’ll do it, even if my knee falls off afterwards and I end up confined to my couch (with bonbons and Maury Povich, for weeks afterwards) because I’d do anything for this crazy uncle of mine, and because my dad would have wanted us to do a crazy thing like this, and because I’m guaranteed a great glass of whisky at the finish line and a slammin’ night out in NYC with him afterwards.

Let’s just cross our fingers the Family Knee Issues are resolved so we can both get our NYC glory….

In other news, this time of a sartorial nature, I brought back the yellow:

Apologies for dark shots--it was dark by the time I got home and around to taking these

Ditto

Which is now shockingly close to my year-and-a-half-in-Trinidad skin tone.  If only I could get cosmetics labeled “mustard” rather than olive, no?  Whatever–I take great pride in my ability to be described in terms of condiments.

As for food round these parts, I had the standard banana oatmeal (with coconut today–how very daring, eh? not) for breakfast, as well as an aloo pie (fried dough with spiced potatoes and topped with pepper sauce, curried chickpeas, and mango chutney) which was given to me at a meeting.  I seem to lack all feminine genetics when it comes to ice cream and chocolate (as in, I could swear them off for life without caring less), but when it comes to hot, spicy, tangy, fried stuff…  All I can say is I hope I come back as a sumo wrestler in my next life so I can eat these to my heart’s content, but since a sumo wrestler next life isn’t a sure thing, I’ll indulge wherever possible in this  one (and I’ll do it so greedily I’ll forget to take a picture, too).

For lunch, I had the second batch of my black bean, lettuce, tomato, green peppers, cucumber, and green onion salad, topped with homemade mango dressing.  The light was awful for pictures when I ate, but you can check out yesterday’s version if you want to see the real deal at its best.

As for dinner, the late afternoon errand of picking up The Smurf from the straightener (where they removed all the horrid scratches, bumps, and dents!) made for a hurried dinner-time.  What would have been lentil soup and pita pizzas turned into pasta with bottled sauce courtesy of Matouk, topped with baked breaded eggplant and fresh basil:

My peeps, the workouts have totally squashed my energy level.  I have crashed.  I will crash (into my bed).  I’ll be back tomorrow!