Saturday, January 11, 2014

The End of an Era

Last month, almost 5 years to the day I played my first game in net, I played my last.

I suppose it's nice to go out on top, with a women's league championship, but if you know my passion for the position and how hard I worked in the early years to become even moderately adequate at the position, you can imagine how bittersweet it is.

There's not a lot of benefit to me getting into all the reasons, but it will have to suffice to say that it was taking more from me than it was giving and that, to me, is when it's time to walk away.

But there's no doubt that, through the years, goaltending gave me more than I ever expected. I met amazing people, I learned more about the position than I ever could without playing, I learned so much about myself (primarily the depths of my humility), and made friends for life with other goalies for whom I have so much respect and love. It really is a fraternity of folks who "get it" when nobody else does.

Since my last game, I feel like I've actually grown to appreciate the position more. I can watch goalies play with full appreciation for the skill set required, but when things go badly for them, my first thought is no longer, "Yeah, that happens to me, like, once a game. Ugh." In fact, just in general, I enjoy watching hockey more now because there is less "ugh"... I appreciate goals more because I'm not putting myself in the goalie's shoes all the time and feeling their pain.

It's hard to explain, but so far, no regrets. I do feel like I'm leaving a lot of hard-earned experience to waste, but I've come to grips with that aspect of it. Life is about evolution, right? It's time to emerge from my goalie cocoon and become the runner I want to be.

Best part: No hand-eye coordination required.

My beautiful mask sits on the credenza in my office now. One of these days, I'll send the back plate to Jessica's mom, but for now, it still means too much to me.

This week, I'll start selling my gear and spend the money on massages and race registrations. This prospect feels more like a catharsis than something sad, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

Say goodnight, Goalie Heather.

Goodnight, Goalie Heather.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

DRC Fridgid 10k 2014

This first club race of the year would normally just be a "go run, do your best, whatever" kind of race for me. Just burn some calories.

But because of the muscle activation work I had done last week, it carried more importance: The big test of all that work. Setting the baseline for the year. So, I raced the hell out of it and had a blast doing so.

So as not to bury the lead, my chip time was 1:03:35, which is about 10:25 minute/mile, but Runkeeper had the route at more like 6.5 miles, so I stopped it at 6.3 miles and got 9:58 minutes/mile. Really kinda makes me crazy how far off race routes are from the "advertised" mileage. Makes it hard to compare apples to apples, but whatever. I was 4th in the Athena division, because, of course, some tall, thin girl doesn't realize she can probably place in her age group with her 8:30 minute miles.

By comparison, the Saturday before, I did 6.2 at a 11:02 pace. So this work (plus race-day vroom) shaved a full minute off my pace. What's more, I had almost no hip or groin pain after. In the past, I would have been hobbling around with straight legs, unable to lift them without searing pain in my hips and groin muscles. Yesterday, I could tell I ran hard, but wasn't debilitated or cringing every time I stood up. My calves are sore, still today, but that wasn't an area we worked on. That might require another visit.

Anyway, as DRC races usually are, it was informal and pleasant. We did an out and back to the east, basically over the spillway and to the Boat House and back. My approach was to just reel in every girl I thought had any chance of competing as an Athena. And in the last half mile, I reeled in one who clearly wasn't, but I just wanted to beat her anyway.

Got a high five from a couple of guys I ran near most of the race. One was a guy in a Flower Mound Fire Dept. shirt, who apparently had been on my heels for most of the race. He approached me beyond the finish line while we were both winding down and catching our breath. Really felt special for him to compliment my race like that. Next to seeing my sub-10 pace, that was the highlight of my day.

The other was a guy pushing a stroller who I must have let pace me for 3 miles. Pretty heroic effort to be pushing a kid the whole time. Finally passed him on the spillway hill and didn't see him again. In fact, my fastest split was 9:50 for mile 5 where that hill was. Boom! Hill Crusher! :)

DRC training starts Saturday, and I'm looking forward to meeting my new group and, frankly, to slowing down my runs a bit. I've only run twice this past week, but they were hard runs. My calves are telling me I need to dial it back.