Realizing My Crew

27 06 2011



So – where was I?

When I have done races where I bring non-racing yet friends, I usually worry about them. Just don’t like to feel abandonned. I didn’t mean to lose Trapper at the event, but I did – kinda. If you knew how impressive losing Trapper is, you would wonder how I did it. Trap is about 6’2″, dressed mostly in black, doesn’t handle heat well, and weighs someplace in the mid-300’s. I lost track of him anyway. I knew my adoptive kid brother would be fine.

He planted himself right at the finish line and watched “the crazy fast” runners finish 15 minutes after the start of the race. “WOW! There is nothing to them. Just skin! ” He had met Michael Blanchard earlier in the morning, and saw Mike blow on up to the finish. “He couldn’t be second! Even the guy next to me showing his kid said he was the first racewalker.” Well – that’s what happens with a monitored race where the monitors aren’t deep into the course or at the end.

When I was finishing, I knew the weakest links in my chain were my lungs, shins, and the heat. I didn’t feel dizzy, so I know the Hammer Endrolytes will be a permanent part of my routine.

I had finishing problems and kept it together thinking of friends.  Awesome Runner & Friend Heather Urata was using this race as her comeback after an injury pulled her out of her last Marathon. I looked up and there was heather and some of her friends doing a cool down lap. Hand slap and a little positive energy transmitted. I was almost done.  I also looked for who I thought was Elna Caine monitoring – I thought I saw her as I was going out, but maybe it was a hallucination.

I came up the exit hill and there was Trapper! He met me at the finish line. I checked in with the timer like we racewalkers were told to do during starting instructions. I wasn’t confident she cared at all, especially since she made a disparaging comment.

I do love my sport, but didn’t realize I was willing to fight a bit until I felt like we were being more discounted than usual.

I made my inquiries and it wasn’t like I was pushing for first place finishing, I didn’t put in a race performance I was really proud of, but I just don’t like the continued second class treatment of the sport.

Runners who have any understanding of the sport know it is truly a sport but general public and some sportscasters don’t think it is any harder than their mother’s power walking. Yeah I do get passed by power walkers, but that will change.

Trapper had my bag. I was not used to having a friend there, especially one who had an ice chest in his trunk and who remembered my water bottle filled with chocolate almond milk
for post-race. I enjoyed slurping this between hacks,  so it is another “permanent” part of racing for me.

I really give the announcer serious kudos for his explaining competitive racewalking as being different from regular walking and that we were going for awards. When things got clustered up and bad information was becoming rampant, this same announcer explained to me how our times were in with runners, but racewalk was teased out for awards. When I had a pissed off walker tell me that there were no walk awards, I felt confident this race representative would give me the straight dope. He did. I give him even more serious kudos for playfully & respectfully explaining racewalking before awards.

The Awards were a little confusing with the money race and probably me asking questions. They start with walk awards then move to running age groups.

When I won the race my first year (yeah again no fast women with Bob Carlson monitoring), Michael was the one to tell me I won for women, I was proud of my performance and won a nice leather notebook and a certificate to a local steak house. I still use the notebook. They had the Broncos mascot Miles there and I danced with the horse! People were just so calm and not having enough fun.

The next year, I cheered fast racewalk friends, and the walk awards were presented quietly and “dignified.”

I already knew I had won with a lousy time, so time to shake things up and have fun! Women’s awards first. If the gal who picked up the second place award wasn’t picking up the award for a friend like I would be for for Michael Blanchard …. well all I will say is she took advantage of no deep course monitoring as she ran around me with her stroller until I wanted just wanted no strollers in front of me.

First Place Women’s Walk – Elisabeth Shepard! Time for an energy blast on a sunny day. I didn’t tell folks I’d won, so they had fun too. The $25 gift certificate to Bolder Running Company is nice & finding out I won pre-season Broncos tickets on stage was super cool since I love football but can never afford tickets. However, truth be told, these were just flowers on the cake. The best thing for me was the loud cheers from running friends on the green, Heather & Crew from the beer garden, & the Huff & Puffers when I racewalked up to play with the folks on stage. I got Broncos pre-season tickets and the announcer and Anne Trajillo (Channel 7 Denver) laughed that the team better do a practice or something so I could watch. I laughed at the announcer because I was a bit a pest trying to make sure racewalk got in there. Friends around know my energy and enjoyed the show.

When I picked up Michael’s 2nd place award Ms. Trajillo laughed “Here she comes again! She has so much energy!”

Part of why I have so much energy is the good will from friends but also my having enough faith in myself two years ago not to give up and give chiropractic a second go.

I collected things and walked to the covered expo area to the Pyramid Chiropractic booth. Doc and I have probably a truly special relationship. He is chronologically another kid brother but professionally Doc (and his partner Jared Ottenger ) is a cornerstone to Team Shep.

Two years ago this very race, I met Doc. I was faster that year, but in pain – mental and physical – as well as unable to breathe. He has tried to learn the sport, given me the Evil Eye when I do stupid things, and been behind me in both the good & not-so-good races. He has listened and both partners have been hugely supportive of my changing to become a personal trainer.

Everything started with getting me out of the daily pain that wasn’t resolved with my last chiropractor.  He got me to one point, but the Boys took me further.

We are a team. They know I am going to do whatever they suggest and admit to when I get lazy. They know that when I have a nasty problem, it takes a lot for me to admit it.

Although I didn’t finish this race in easy style and was hacking up science experiments, I have an amazing crew of friends and professionals who love (or at least are entertained) by my energy.

Somehow after a lot of setbacks, I am realizing I have a great energy and attracting an awesome crew I can learn from. We aren’t threatened by each other, but learning from one another and being supportive.

So, to all those who think winning incorporates cheating or ignoring the rules of the game – have fun with your delusion.  Hard work, having fun, and a really good team who knows you might be slow, but would never resort to cutting a course or running while in a walk category is worth more than gold. It is the clear peace of mind knowing that everything is built strong!

Learning Experience – but First Place anyway

27 06 2011



When Susan Randall called me last night after her 1:42:24 personal record 20K, I thanked her for pushing me into the Stadium Stampede. A 42:50 is far from a PB for me. In fact, it is slower than my training walks around the park. Also, I felt like I was passed by absolutely the entire field of runners. And there were no fast racewalk women there.

“Lis! First mean FIRST! Who care time??” Admonished a laughing Susan.

Yeah, I guess you are right. And it was ugly!

This was the first year the Stampede was a money race for the USATF, so instead of a little race for locals to help St.  Joseph’s Hospital that has a great group of lung challenged folks who come out for the Huff & Puff mile race, there were fast runners and minor confusion.

Trapper Shaw came to see his first race. He watched Susan train, so he knew what racewalking was. When awards came through, he couldn’t understand why Michael Blanchard was second because he was the first racewalker he saw – and as an avid video game player, Trap was able to tease out what he was looking for in a sea of runners. He still thinks we are crazy, but he had a great time!

I forgot my watch, and we went back for it. Knew I forgot to lay something out.  I also didn’t wear the cooling neckerchief that I wear in long races to keep me cool. I didn’t think I needed it.

I ran into a lot of folks. This is my first race back and it was a kick to see folks. I realized that no matter what I did, I am coming back.

I tucked myself behind Michael in tie sea of runners. They started us with them instead of lining up as the separation line between runners and walkers. The announcer explained the difference between walking and competitive racewalking.

I am still a follower, and that is why I tucked behind Michael. I asked him where the fast racewalk women were. He hadn’t seen anyone.

Race started and guess who started out entirely too fast up the hill around Bronco Stadium. More disturbing was realizing that my mouth felt so dry that I felt like I had been sucking on cotton – not spending my morning hydrating!

Yeah, Denver has been stupid hot. I have never handled heat well. This October Baby likes Spring and Autumn/Fall. I have to get used to it. I table grabbed a bottle of water from the finish line and sipped it through the entire race.

I couldn’t breathe. I told myself to let the entire field go because I was there for my own reasons. I needed to see where I stand.

It was good to get heavily passed. I pulled my head back to the business at hand – breathing! My lungs hurt and I was starting to cough up science experiments – and I wasn’t even a kilometer down!

The course switched last year, and it was actually better for me. The long front side downhill became a back side uphill, but the cracks in the sidewalk weren’t going to get me! The problem for me, however, was more elemental: heat and breathing.

I was trying something new – using a bandana for sweat collection and not wearing a hat. Michelle Evans (my hair goddess) cut my hair to the shortest length since I was in kindergarten in an effort to keep me cool and not look like a complete post-race mess!  It worked, but I was really surprised how the heat kept sapping me.

My legs and back felt pretty good. Legs were probably bored at plodding along so slowly, but when breathing is a problem and hacking fits hit about every 400 meters maximum,  you have to deal with the weakest link in the chain!

I never stopped hacking. I yakked at 4km. I was hacking up to the point and couldn’t stop. I stepped off course and tried to get the crap out of my throat and lungs. I would have to say I spent at least three minutes off course hacking. Who cares? The only time that counts is the official time.

My feet weren’t rolling along as easily as I would have liked,  but I already know there are a lot of weaknesses that will take time to strengthen. I am most concerned about not being able to breathe and the mucus overload. Just have to work with that. I did have focus issues, but when you have stop-and-start little kids, oblivious people under headphones, and stroller pushing people, you do have to keep defensive – especially when things aren’t right in your own race.

Where do I stand? I know I have a lot of work to do and I am thankful for friends reminding me I am still in the first steps of coming back.

First means first, Lizzy
And you know you were legal the whole way!