Monday, April 21, 2008

Yup, Skydiving!

There's always something! I went skydiving this past weekend! That was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! I've always wanted to do it, and finally got the chance!

I was a little surprised that I didn't feel scared -- I kind of thought I'd have a little bit of fear in the back of my mind, but it just wasn't there! I think I've just been wanting to do this for so long, I was just antsy with excitement! I had some butterflies on the way up, but I think those were mostly the excitement. I couldn't wait for that door to open! I kept envisioning what that would feel like -- to be staring out the open door of an airplane, studying the quilt-patterns of farm fields and roads down below, knowing that I would be jumping out into the wide open air in just seconds.

It was even better than I'd imagined. Before I went, I didn't think I'd scream -- I figured I'd just smile and enjoy the ride. When the door opened, I put my hand out to feel the strength of the 80 mph wind, swung my right foot onto the step next to my tandem instructor's foot, bent my head down towards my knee, and before I knew it, I was leaning forward out the door. Then we sort of softly fell forward into the free, wide open sky... and down we went! I started to scream at the top of my lungs immediately leaving the plane, but they were uncontrollable shouts of enjoyment. It was SUCH an amazing feeling to just fall and have all that room to do it. I fell for about 30 wonderful seconds before I felt a little jerk when my tandem instructor pulled the chute cord, and then I just sat and things got really quiet. It was so peaceful when the parachute opened. It went from insane speed (120 mph falling), and the sound of wind rushing by my ears, to a split second and complete quiet.

So then we floated. My instructor grabbed the toggles and put them out for me to grab onto, and he let me steer a little bit. We did a few crazy-fun turns. That was really a cool feeling. When I'd pull one toggle way down by my hip, I could feel myself start to sort of turn in that direction, then all of a sudden it was like the wind caught the chute and just WHIPPED us around really fast. I got that "elevator stomach" feeling, and it was great! We did a few of those before we had to prepare to land. My tandem instructor was great, and talked me through the whole thing so I knew what was going on. We even landed on our feet!

What an absolutely amazing experience. I could talk about it for hours...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

1/2 Marathon Results

Well, I did it!

Here's a picture of me after finishing. I look like a mess, but really, I'm beaming!! :)

Goal #1 was to finish—did that. Goal #2 was to beat my time from 2003—did that, too. Goal #3 was to finish under 2:30:00—and I blew that out of the water! I did way better than I ever thought I could do. I ran the entire 13.1 miles... I thought for sure I'd have to walk some of it. I couldn't believe I had that in me!

It was raining/snowing sideways throughout the entire run. The cold rain/snow didn't bother me—that was actually kind of nice—it kept me nice and cool. The wind was pretty strong in places, though, and that was difficult to push against.

I was nervous in the beginning that my knees might not last. Between mile 1 and mile 2 my left knee started to get a twinge of pain, and I instantly recognized it as the "peg-leg" syndrome. I kept running while concentrating on my stride, quick footstrike, and rolling my feet heel to toe. It held up pretty well, and since I stretched it so much before I started running, I was hoping it would hold up. It didn't seem to get any worse after that. I did stop and stretch my IT band a few times on the route, as I promised myself. And I'm walking today with no stiff knees, so I'm glad I did that.

Adam came along and hopped up ahead of me on the route to take pictures and cheer me on. I gave him a map of the route along with a pace chart for a 2:30:00 finish time. When I'd see him, he'd point to his watch, then look up at me with a big smile and a thumbs-up. It was really cool. He was letting me know that I was whooping my pace time! I hit the 10K mark at about 55 minues, which meant I had plenty of time to walk if I needed to and still make my goal time. I walked through a water stop, drank my water, and realized that the walking wasn't making me feel any better, so I kept running.

Things started to stiffen up pretty bad around mile 10. My thighs were getting really tight and sore, and my knees weren't wanting to bend (but they weren't all that "sore"). I just pushed on. I new at this time, that I was actually close to finishing around 2 hours, so I tried to run just a little faster, but had to go back down to my steady pace that I'd kept up to that point. I talked to myself a little bit through the last 2 miles to keep it up... "we're almost done, Robin!"

So what was my official time? My Gun time was 2:02:32!!! I almost made it under 2 hours... but that didn't phase me. It would've been super cool to do that, but I was nowhere NEAR disappointment when I came across that finish line. I accomplished all 3 goals I set out to do. I was nearly in tears with excitement, relief, pride... all the feelings I crave when I pursue an adventure like this.

Mission accomplished! I'm so happy with how it all turned out. :)

Oh, boy... what next!?

Additional statistics from my run:
Gun time: 2:02:32
Chip time (chip strapped to my ankle marking when I cross the start and finish lines): 2:01:52
Average pace: 9:21
Overall place: 582 out of 1091
Athena Division (runners over 150 lbs): I placed 4th out of 34! Crazy!! :)
Women's division in my age range: 32 out of 81

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another Adventure: The 1/2 Marathon

This Saturday, April 12 at 8:00 a.m., to be exact, I will be attempting to run 13.1 miles in the Oshkosh Half Marathon.

I've never been much of a runner, but I try to be every once in a while. Back in 2003 I walk/ran the Fox Cities Half Marathon in 2:49:46. I also weighed about 40 pounds more than I do now. I'm not saying that means I'm going to fly through this at record speeds -- no way. In fact, I was better trained back then at 40 pounds heavier! I followed a very strict running program for months before the event. For this one, I've worked some interval training as part of my recent, simple "try to work out every day" regimen.

I decided, sort of last minute, to take this challenge on. Mostly, I would like to see how I do and go from there. I am concerned that being undertrained for a Half Marathon could be a critical mistake. I know that my legs can carry me 13.1 miles. I know my lungs can handle it. I know my mental toughness can help me accomplish just about anything I want to... but can my knees do it? If they lock up and stop moving, I might be done...

I ran 6 miles last Sunday to see how I'd do. I ran the entire 6 miles straight in about 55 minutes! I was thrilled! However, my left knee did not share my enthusiasm. It started to feel a little crampy at about mile 5. About an hour after I was done running it started to stiffen and hurt at the slightest movement. Going down the stairs was the worst. I smothered some Biofreeze on it and stretched, repeated for a few nights, and at the moment my left knee is pain-free. But I worry that this will happen in the middle of my run and I'll be "peg-leggin'" the last 6 miles and hobbling, possibly crawling across that finish line!

As long as I finish, that's really what matters... but I would prefer to cross that finish line with some dignity. Ideally, I'd like to sprint when I get there... hopefully my high hopes will carry me farther and keep me stronger.

Well, we'll see what happens, and I'll post an update as to how I do. I read that my pain is most likely caused by my IT band, which I've read about in the past. It runs from your hip, down the side of your leg, and underneath your knee. Mine's always been really tight, so I plan to stretch the living crap out of it before the race, stop at mile 6 for another stretch, then do some more pulling on it after the run. I hope that will cure the "peg-leg" problem this has caused me in the past. I'll have to share that story at a later time... it's a doozie!!

I was thinking about what sort of time I'd like to make on this run, and I guess I broke it down into a few different goals. Of course, goal #1 is to finish. Goal #2 is to beat my time from 2003. Goal #3 is to make it under 2:30:00. I don't know if I'll do that or not, but I'm certainly going to give it a fair shot!

Wish me luck!!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Revamping the "Our Hike" website

Left: old version -- Right: new version

This is a first post to test this new blog site. I'm working on revamping the "Our Hike" website, so watch for that. For now, link to the current one at

You will be able to link to this blog site from the new "Our Hike" website once it's done and live. I will be posting all kinds of stuff here. What I'm up to, what my mom's up to (if she's up for sharing -- ask her about Sasquatch!), and other stuff. It's going to be my main blog, so you might catch a rant here or there, or maybe a quick story about my latest hiking adventure. I figure it will be a nice way to keep on what's up with me -- if you're interested, anyway. :)

For now, keep checking back, because I will certainly be posting when the new site is ready to roll!

Thanks for visiting, and please come back!