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Things Just Got Real -Marathon Training Week 1, Day 1

It’s Monday. All that can be written has already been written about how much Mondays suck. Wanna know how to make a Monday better without taking a vacation day? How about a training plan? Hope you can read it. After I was finally able to run the Virginia 10 Miler course last week, I started thinking about adding some structure to my running life. Running 10 miles was a requirement that I gave myself before I would even THINK about training. Here we are… I didn’t sign up for anything…yet. I’m just getting prepared for a December marathon. I may have one or two in mind. I’m kinda sorta going back to my roots for this one and using the Advanced 1 plan by Hal Higdon (my first ever marathon used Hal’s novice plan). It’s a nice mix of easy miles with some hills/ speedwork/tempos. The long runs are to be run SLOWLY. Hal doesn’t leave room for cross-training and that is where we split up. I’m going to keep on hitting those kettlebells 2 days a week. I’m either going to skip some Mon/Wed runs or I’ll see if I have what it takes to do both. The peak week is 55 miles. I think I can handle that. I’ll have to look back through the history books to know what my longest week ever is. I’m guessing 55 will be it. I ain’t scared. If anyone wants to know more about training plans and what some of this stuff means, let me know. I can talk training plans ALL DAY. I’m starting to ramble a bit. I just want to say how happy I am that I’ve gotten to this point and I’m looking forward to getting my butt back at it. Let’s do this!!!

RunEatRalph

RunEatRalph

 

July in Review

July 2018 in review Total mileage for the month:  290.5 (in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232).  In July 2017 I ran 275 miles, and I was pleasantly surprised to be higher this year - I thought I was running less due to my Grandma's Marathon recovery phase. June 25-July 1:  58.1 July 2-8:  58.7 July 9-15:  64.1 July 16-22:  67.8 July 23-29: 67.2 (vacation week and definitely the most volume I've ever run while on vacation, although I wish I'd had 70+!) July 30-August 5:  projected at 72 After an extremely humid run Races: July 7:  Shuffle for the Shelter long 5K in 19:40 for 1st overall person.  The week before I ran a short 5K, and this one was long, so I guess it evens out, right?  I won a free massage so that mostly made up for the course being long.  I really called it in on the second half of the race, so this race/workout was really something like 1 mile at 10K pace, 1 mile at half marathon pace, 1 mile at marathon pace [face palm]. July 10:  Fleet Feet Track Meet 2 mile in 12:15 (1st female), 1 mile on the DMR in 5:59 (1st team), and a leg on the 4 x 100 m probably at half marathon pace also (2nd team no thanks to me).  This was a fun way to get in a sauna session track workout! July 21:  Girls Just Wanna Run short 5K in 16:17/18:17 for 1st overall.  Maybe someday I will run an accurate 5K, but not in July 2018!  The lead cyclist cut 4 block off of this course.  I finished in 16:17, but they adjusted my time to account for the cut course by adding 2:00.  This was my final short summer race (whew!). Workouts: I don't start back to full workouts until August, but I had a bit of faster stuff this month. July 4:  9 miles with 3 fast finish miles in 6:22, 6:26, 6:11 (the first 6 miles were progressive-ish as well, and my average for all 9 was 7:00 on the nose).  I was going to run a Firecracker 5K, but the logistics didn't work out, so I did the 3 mile fast finish on my mileage for the day "for fun" instead...and based on how I felt on those 3 miles, I was sure glad I hadn't raced a 5K!  I ended up running a 3 mile cool down, so this was a 12 mile medium long run. July 10:  The Fleet Feet Track Meet 2 mile (6:07, 6:08) counts as my season opener tiny tempo!  Somehow I will work up to 10 miles at that pace over this season...which will definitely require it not being one million degrees. The 1 mile I ran after (5:59) counts as *bonus*! July 21:  I was scheduled to do 3 miles progressive fast finish on the tail end of 10 miles, so I ran the Girls Just Want to Run race as a progression.  I was aiming for 6:20, 6:15, 6:10 (then sprint in), and my splits were 6:19, 6:16, 6:01so I was very close to my goal, especially considering that the final split wasn't for a full mile (meaning I started off closer to 6:10 and then sprinted in once I saw the finish line). July 24:  4 mile fartlek of 3' on/3' off (2.3 warm up, 2.4 cool down).  I ran this on vacation, and I love running on vacation but running fast while traveling is always a challenge for me, especially in unknown areas!  My push paces were: 5:50, 5:46, 5:43, 5:50, 5:54, and I was more than happy with that, because I don't think I'd have really run any faster at home. July 28:  13.1 miles with 5 x 0.15 presses.  Technically I was scheduled to run 12 miles, but I also ran this on vacation and got back to my hotel at 12.8 so made it a half marathon.  The pick-ups were at the beginning of miles 7-11, and my paces on them were 5:59, 5:48, 5:58, 5:45, 5:48 (I was trying to keep them sub-6:00).  My average pace for the whole run was 7:17, and I was happy enough with that on the tail end of an exhilarating but exhausting trip. July 30:  I had a mini-speed session during my second run, including 2 miles of 1'/1' fartlek (1.5 warm up, 1 cool down).  This was my first time having a little "work" within my second run of a double.  I ran 9.3 relaxed miles starting at 5:30 a.m. that morning, and then ran this workout at lunch starting at about 1:00 p.m.  My push paces were all over the place - ranging from 5:01-6:05 - making me suspect that my Garmin wasn't accurate when measuring pace for only 1:00 (I also ran under two underpasses, twice for each one, so I imagine that didn't help).  But the effort was there, and it was fun to do a little workout in my second run for the first time ever. Doubles on July 10 (Fleet Feet track meet), 16, 19, and 30.  I did not run any doubles as I eased back into mileage at the beginning of the month or during our vacation week, but in August I'll have 2 a week again. Strides on July 26, and before races and most workouts. Full body strength workouts on July 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, and 29, and 5-10 minutes of core work most days.  I didn't do full strength sessions on July 21 or 25 as scheduled due to traveling, but I did 10-20 minutes of strength work creatively here and there (before and after runs, while waiting on everyone at rest stops, while waiting on everyone to go to dinner, etc.) and ended up with 100 minutes total for the week, which is just a little less than I average, so I felt like it was a victory. Favorite workout:  I'll say the fartlek on July 24, mainly because I felt good running sub-6:00 pace and it was much better than the failed farleks that began my Grandma's build.  CIM 2018, I'm coming for you! " Long" Runs/Medium Long Runs: I think it's clear why "long" is in quotations this month, but I ran a lot of 10-12 milers. July 1:  11 miles (7:20) for my first straight double digit run since Grandma's Marathon (I ran 10.4 miles on June 30, but it was split a bit into warm up, 5K, cool down).  I didn't have a structured training plan for the week that ended on this day, so when my friend Casey asked me to run while she was in town I told her I'd run whatever distance she wanted.  She said 8 miles, and she picked a course that was "about 8 miles", but I ended up at 10.6 miles when I got back to my house so tacked on a little more to get to 11...in retrospect I should have gone 12. July 4:  12 miles, as described above in workouts. July 7:  11 miles total with the Shuffle for the Shelter race in the middle. July 12:  12 miles (7:23).  This was supposed to be 10 miles, and as per my season goals I ran a new route, which I was completely sure was going to be 10.2 miles.  It was actually 11.2 miles, and when I realized it was going to be long I doubled back to tell Rebecca (who I'd dragged on this new route with me) about my error, and when I got back to my car I was at 11.6 so just made it a 12!  I felt terrible because Rebecca had to text her boss that she was going to be late to work since we ran farther than planned, but she kept telling me it was not a big deal. July 14:  12.4 miles (7:08), throwing in a MGP final mile (6:21).  I ran that final mile by feel (did not allow myself to look at my watch), trying to zero in on 6:17 effort and I was close!  This was a very hot, humid, and hilly long run.  We had 6 people start with our running group, but everyone was doing different distances.  I had company for about 8 miles.  Anytime someone said something about how oppressive the weather was or complained about the second loop that I took them on (which has some ridiculous climbs), I said, "That'll help your marathon".  I was the annoying person who felt good on this sauna-esque run.  Then I laughed really hard that I finished this run with a faster final mile than I ran at Shuffle for the Shelter race the week before. July 18:  12 hilly miles (7:29).  This was another accidental 12 on a 10 mile day, as I was again exploring a new course (I am doing well on that season goal!) .  The route looked simple on a map because I just had to follow one road (which I knew how to get to) until I hit a highway (that I am also familiar with), which I would cross and then loop around on other roads that I was familiar with.  The one road I had to follow was very rural, curvy, and hilly, and at one fork in the road the street sign was bent over so was therefore no help at all.  I guessed which way my correct road went, and I guessed wrong, so I ended up running on the shoulder of a highway for 1.5 miles (not ideal!) to avoid making the route 15+ miles.  I got back to my house at 11.8 instead of 10.X, so I just went to 12 again. July 21 - 10.6 miles with the Girls Just Wanna Run "5K" in the middle. July 23 - 11.2 miles (7:28) in Florence, Kentucky.  It appeared that I'd have nice running options from our hotel, with a paved recreational trail just across the street, but, alas, it was less than a mile long.  I strung it together with some sidewalks for a 2.6 mile loop, then ran around a golf course cart path for a 1.4ish mile loop.  I then ran both of those loops in the opposite direction as I had the first time, and added a bunch of parking lot loops to get my distance in.  It was a hilly run (891 feet of elevation gain), and after finishing it I felt confident that I could run from about anywhere if I had to. July 25 - 10.5 miles (7:38) in Niagara Falls, New York.  I ran from our hotel towards Lake Niagara hoping to find a running trail, and I did!  It was pretty and the distance I had scheduled took me just to the edge of Niagara Falls State Park.  I only saw 3 other people running the whole time I was on the path, which made me wonder if it was dangerous or something, because when I've run on paths like that in other cities they've been much more populated.  I carried my phone on all of my vacation runs just in case, and I never felt unsafe even if I should have. July 26 - 10 miles (7:22) plus strides, for 10.8 total.  I drove 1.8 miles from my hotel to the running trail I'd found the day before so I could run farther on the trail, and was rewarded with a rainbow over Niagara Falls!  We'd walked all around the area in Niagara State Park, but running it was even better. The line between medium long runs and "what I run every day" has again become non-existent, so I won't note these next month, especially because I had a lot of 9 milers this month that will doubtlessly be 10 milers soon.  #doubledigitseveryday July 28:  13.1 miles, as described above in workouts. Favorite long run:  The July 14 12.4 miler was the one that felt most effortless, but it's pretty hard to beat seeing a waterfall over Niagara Falls on July 26! Breathtaking Highlights/thoughts/randomness: I received a sub-elite entry into the California International Marathon on December 2!  This is the same category of entry I received in 2017.  Since the race is the USATF National Marathon Championships again, an elite entry requires a 2:46:00 or faster marathon (or 1:18:00 or faster half), but as I learned last year, the elites and sub-elites share a starting corral, with separate corrals for men and women.  This is a really nice perk when every second counts, gun time!  I do not get to place bottles on the course like I did at Grandma's, so I will be back to stuffing 4 gels into my shorts while I attempt to get from Folsom to Sacramento 2:15 faster than I did last year. I received an elite entry into the Indy Women's Half Marathon on September 29.  This is also the same entry I received there in 2017.  I figure this will be a nice checkpoint in my build to compare where I'm at to 2017...although at the same time I think I need to stop comparing everything to that season! I ran two runs in Kansas City this month while there for work, and they were both pancake flat; I did not know flatness existed there but it's nice to know I no longer have to coordinate that work trip around workouts like I have been doing since that division opened 3+ years ago! I have run every day since January 27, so I am still streaking. I found this photo I'd never seen from July 2016 when looking for online photos from a recent 5K.  Just keeping up my double- chin racing form!  I also folded that bib number up like mad for some reason, haha! I got to meet up with Jessi for a run in KC Life events: 4th of July...Albani is more interested in setting things on fire than I'd like!  I missed out on most of the fun due to work; Jon and Albani went to Kansas for 3 days without me.  Truth be told, I went to bed at 8:00 p.m. and thanks to white noise slept through all fireworks! We did several fun local weekend activities:  blueberry picking, the Christian County fair, farmer's markets...along with our usual weekend church, groceries, and library routines. Albani spent a week at my parents' house, mostly being spoiled. Summer vacation #2 happened (details and photos here). Jon kept gardening, and I kept cooking and eating (you can find many food pics here)! She did half of these on July 3 Black and Blue Berry Farm (we are growing both; Jon wanted tips/secrets) Her favorite part of the blueberry patch   Ducks at the fair It doesn't get much cuter than a baby goat! A tame & tolerant rabbit Albani saw this with my mom; Jon & I watched it while she was away Grandparent activities are exhausting     At a YMCA waterpark   Kansas Cosmosphere Cosmosphere  

SIbbetson

SIbbetson

39.3 Miles of Maine Coast Birthday Fun!

Long overdue race report, as usual. Lots of pictures, as usual. Waaaaay back in mid-May, I traveled north for the second annual “Caitlin’s Birthday Mother-Daughter Race Weekend.” Last year’s inaugural event was the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon, where my Mom ran her very first half- marathon and I ran my 13thmarathon. This year we were keeping it in New England but heading north to Maine, where Mom would run her third half- marathon (she’s a total pro now) and I’d run my 12thhalf- marathon AND my 17thmarathon, because why run one race when you can run two??   I got home to Massachusetts from DC on Thursday, and Mom and I hit the road for Maine on Friday morning. But first, an important stop for apple cider doughnuts, because New England. We hit the expo at the University of New England in Biddeford, ME and picked up our packets, then had a tasty early dinner at a cute little Italian place in Saco, where we were staying. I got Flat Caitlin ready for Saturday’s half- marathon (race #1), and we called it an early night. Saturday morning dawned cool and crisp (sunny and 50 degrees!), which felt amazing to me since DC was already in the throes of its hot, humid summer weather. Mom and I drove over to the start/finish area at the University of New England (about 20 minutes from where we were staying; it seemed like everywhere we needed to be over the weekend was about 20 minutes away from each other…) and parked the car, then headed inside the nice warm student center to wait for the race to start. Lots of other runners slowly trickled in, and I kept an eye out for the yellow bibs that indicated another crazy person who was doing the 39.3 mile challenge. It was so awesome to have a comfortable place to wait indoors and to have real bathrooms to use prior to the race! With about 10 minutes to go, Mom and I walked the little ways over to the start line in a nearby parking lot. I was in the first wave, so I lined up in my corral and chatted with a couple of other runners while we waited for the race director to blow the official starter conch shell. At 8am sharp, the conch was blown and we were off! Given that I had a marathon to run the next day, my plan was to take the half- marathon nice and easy. This turned out to be a fantastic race to just run for fun, because the course was so beautiful! Almost all of it was right along the coast and I had so much fun soaking up the ocean views and marveling at the gorgeous beach mansions in the quiet neighborhoods that we ran through. The race seemed to fly by, and before I knew it I was coming into the finish back at the university campus! I was really happy with how consistent I kept my pace throughout the race, and how comfortable it felt. I collected my medal and commemorative water bottle (way to be both green and fun, Maine Coast Marathon!), went to the car to grab my warm layers, and then camped out at the finish to cheer on runners and wait for Mom to come in. I met two super cute and very good dogs waiting for their person to finish the race as well, so that was fun. And cheering at the finish line is ALWAYS a great time! Mom came flying in so much sooner than she’d expected – she finished in 2:54:xx, breaking three hours for the first time and getting a ridiculous 14-minute PR!   After enjoying a post-race Shipyard beer in the beer garden, Mom and I got cleaned up and then headed into Freeport, because it was only about half an hour away and I was desperate to visit the HUGE L.L. Bean flagship store! It didn’t disappoint! The rest of Freeport was super cute and we had fun walking around and window shopping (and maybe doing some actual shopping too!). We stumbled upon the Wicked Whoopie store, which was SO exciting because they always come to the Big E (basically a New England state fair that’s held the next town over from my parents) and are a family favorite! Look at the size of this whoopie pie!! That is 5 entire pounds of sugar and fat. A little much even for my huge sweet tooth.  I did get a few regular-sized whoopie pies though, including a chocolate-dipped one! Mmmmmm….  After walking around Freeport for a while, Mom and I had dinner and some beer flights at a really cool brew pub over in Portland: Liquid Riot Brewing. It was so delicious! Then we went back to our hotel, I got the marathon version of Flat Caitlin ready, and I hit the hay. I got up nice and early to have my pre-race breakfast and coffee, and Mom and I drove the 20ish minutes to the Marathon start at Kennebunk High School. Yet again, we had a nice warm indoor space to wait and real bathrooms! Maine Coast Marathon FTW! There was a bit of confusion after we moved out to the start line. The race director made an announcement that there was an emergency with the volunteer crew that was setting up the aid stations, and that there would be no hydration stations for the first 8 miles of the race. They would also be delaying the start by another 15 minutes to allow the volunteers to get the aid stations set up for the remaining miles of the race. We never found out what happened with the volunteers, and while I wasn’t super thrilled about extra time standing out in the chilly morning, I’d much rather do without water for the FIRST 8 miles of a marathon rather than the last 8! (as I sit here in August in DC thinking about 8 miles without water, I shudder a bit, but it was only in the 40s that morning!) Finally we were off! I had zero plans for this marathon other than to take it easy, have fun, and try to run fairly consistent splits, which meant starting off at a really easy effort. The course itself was mostly really enjoyable. We wound through Kennebunkport, which was such a cute little town! And there were more breathtaking ocean views and gorgeous beach houses to look at. There was a stretch along the shoulder of a highway that was less than ideal, and it’s also where pretty much all the uphill was. So that was a little unpleasant, but I got through it and the last few miles were back to scenic ocean views. I started with gloves and tube sock arm-warmers because it was so chilly! Oh to feel cold again… The volunteers were great, and by the time I came through Mile 6 or so, they’d gotten a makeshift water station set up. I honestly didn’t notice the lack of water for the first several miles, though I was thankful to have it once it was available again. Hopefully that issue didn’t mess up anyone else’s race too dramatically!
  It’s been a little while, so I don’t remember as many specifics about the race as I might have immediately afterwards. But I remember just genuinely enjoying running it, and kind of marveling at how fresh I felt given that I’d just run a half the day before. In the couple of place where there was an out-and-back that allowed us to see the runners ahead of and behind us, all of the people with the yellow 39.3 Challenge bibs cheered for each other, which was really cool! Before I knew it, I reached the final few miles. There was a photographer right at the 26-mile mark, which I thought was both hilarious and a little bit mean, so I had to cheese for him a bit. Mile 26: I made the final turn and heard my mom cheering before I spotted her. I crossed the finish in 3:54:53, which combined with my 1:54:40 half- marathon the day before, gave me a 6th place finish among the women doing the 39.3 Challenge! I was so happy with how I’d paced the marathon, and I was thrilled to have gone sub-2:00/sub-4:00 for the race weekend, since even though I didn’t officially have any goals, doing that was my not-so-secret goal. I picked up my marathon medal and Challenge medal, and borrowed Mom’s half- marathon medal (which she wore to the marathon finish line because why not?) for a photo shoot! So much bling!             It was still cool enough at the finish for me to rock the Challenge jacket, so that was great! Mom and I hung around in the finish line beer garden for a while, and met up with Amber and her DH, which was great! Mom had packed up the car and checked out of our hotel while I was running, so everything was ready for our road trip back to Massachusetts. But we made a slight detour on our way out of Maine to see the famous Portland Head Lighthouse: After getting back to MA, I enjoyed a super relaxing week at home to recover, hang out at the stables, and celebrate my 32nd birthday! Next up: more catch-up bloops about summer training, crazy 5Ks, and chasing big goals!    
 

A Race I Can’t Win – Me vs. Last Year Me

This guy is the source of my misery. I think I hate him. Hello and happy hump day to you! My July running results are in and I finished with 96 miles, down 1 mile from June. Why didn’t I run 4 more and get an even 100?! I started August off with a 6 mile run that included 4 pretty fast miles. The splits were 7:21, 7:13. 7:19 and 7:17. I’m happy with those times, but a little unhappy with just how hard I had to work to get them. Back in November, I was dropping 10 mile tempos at slightly better paces than today’s and with relative ease. Yes, the weather was substantially better, but still. I know this is crying over spilled milk (or torn Achilles tendons), but it’s really hard not to have negative feelings about losing what I’d worked so hard to gain. I’m progressing and I know that. I have great friends that are encouraging me and pushing me to get back. I want to race and I don’t want to race. I know there’s joy to be found in just showing up and experiencing races, but that’s not how I’ve been wired. I need to compete. I compete with other runners. I compete with myself. I PR or blow up trying. I can’t compete with last year Randy right now and it frustrates me. I’m hoping that some of you can relate and maybe you’ll know what to say. For now, I’ll keep grinding. I’ll keep waking up before 5am and swimming through the swampfest that is summertime. I’m sure a time will come when I don’t have to work so hard for a fast pace. I haven’t lost hope yet. Thanks for letting me whine and complain. It’s good to have a place to do that. Maybe I can compare myself to 6 months ago me instead. I’m WAY faster than that guy! Do you even run, Bro?

RunEatRalph

RunEatRalph

 

Well. Hello, Monday.

More writing about not running. Bleh. Figured with my return to the ortho, I'd let things settle down as much as possible. Then he'd know what was really happening. He did. The good news: the meniscus repair is all in good shape. The pain I'm feeling now is inflammation in the medial collateral ligament. Bad news: I have inflammation in the medial collateral ligament. What to do? He gave me a cortisone shot and prescribed another week of rest and then some cold ointment until it all settles down the rest of the way. Also, more PT if I feel like it. So I rested over the weekend, and it hurt a bunch yesterday and today, more than when I was running a couple of miles on it. Dermatologist appointment went fine. Scraped off the area on my right leg but had to excise (translation: dig out with a scalpel) a one inch diameter hole a quarter inch deep in the left. Didn't hurt thanks to the lidocaine, but it's pretty ugly. Anyway, he thinks he got all of it. Should find out this week for sure. Colonoscopy also went well. There were three polyps, all benign. Finding three of them, though, puts me on the three-year plan now, so I have to go back in 2021. Sure hope I have a marathon to schedule around by then.

Dave

Dave

 

The Second Half of the July Diaries

7-18-18 A few (maybe more?) years ago, I was on the interwebs and stumbled across the Georgia Death Race. At the time, it seemed unfathomable to “run” something so difficult. Who in the world would ever be able to do such a thing? And here I am signed up for this race. There is a correlation in the time I read a piece by Lisa Jhung. She carelessly tossed around “hilly 16 miler” like it was a walk down the street and I was in awe that someone could do such a thing and still go about their day like a normal person. This was obviously well before I signed up for my first marathon. But I remember it distinctly because I wanted to know what it felt like to be able to do something so awesome with ease. And I’ll admit that over the years the long runs, marathons, and ultras seemed to just become more flippant. Not that I wasn’t working hard to maintain a certain level of fitness. I always respected the distance. But I did start to see marathons as just stepping stones in the process of completing more ultras. After finishing that first 26.2 though, I never have really had much doubt about completing a distance. Sure, I’ve had thoughts in the moment about continuing the race. But I’ve never actually felt like I signed up for something that I wasn’t sure of finishing. Even the first 24 hour/100 miler. There was a bit of fear of the unknown after the 100K mark. I knew things were going to get tough and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect both mentally and physically. But I think I always knew that I was capable of doing it. Which is what led me to thinking after this last 24-hour race that I really needed to just get myself out of going after the “easy” stuff. I put a true 100-mile race on my goal list along with a fast marathon. Both really were not unachievable, especially considering 2016 & 2017. When I was first injured back in February, I started seeking out the gnarliest races possible. Crazy elevation and distances. Seemed totally reasonable to be in a boot and dreaming about 40,000’ of gain. There is this weird line of wanting to do things that are really hard and knowing what your body is capable of. I think I’ve always waiting until I was beyond ready to go after a goal. So, I felt the need to jostle it up a bit. But now I kind of find myself back at square one. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to get my fitness and endurance back up, but I do know it will probably be months even in the best conditions to feel somewhat normal again.   7-19-18 I’m getting wordy now. It happens. If I can’t run, at least I can write. Running arguably leaves me feeling much better, but writing seems to be relatively injury-free. <Insert carpal tunnel foreboding thought here> I should be creatively thinking about other things, but my brain is kind of tapped out at the moment. There is a lot bubbling up there right now. Excitement about the boot removal, fear of effing myself up again, how to manage pain, how to know what is normal, how to know what is detrimental, etc., etc. I know there will be good days and bad. I know I will likely feel something that makes me say ohshitohshitohshit. I know I will do something really stupid. I know that I will back off even when I don’t need to. I was thinking this morning as I walked into the bathroom half-awake that I missed 2016 Carissa. I had pulled a glass out of the cabinet last night to enjoy an IPA that a coworker brought back from Indiana. I chose a glass from the last 50 miler I did which was in Indiana. It was more of a last-minute whim that I decided to race. Man, what I would give to be in jumps-into-50-milers shape right now. Mind you, it took a few years of consistent work to get to that point. I felt good because I interspersed the racing and big goals with fun running. But then I got greedy and wanted more, MORE, MORE! This will be the hard. I still want more. It’s going to be tough to run just to run. For the last 5ish years, I’ve been jumping from race to race without any real down time. There was something always near on the horizon. I would say I learned my lesson, but I don’t want to live cautiously forever. I mean, I don’t want to live in the boot forever either. What’s a girl to do? It seems like advice comes out of the woodwork when things are not peachy keen. I’ve decided at age 36 that I’m disagreeable to getting advised. Maybe that makes me a stubborn jerkface. Oh well. It’s kind of a liberating feeling when you stop worrying about what other people think. I can still be kind and thoughtful, but I don’t have to pretend. I’ve never been a good liar. You will likely know if I like you or not. I digress. Back to running. I have my little “plan” set up for next week and let’s be honest, the weeks following until NYC. But I have no idea what it truly will look like from week to week. In some regards I wish I had a coach to just keep me from hurting myself, but that kind of goes against my whole disagreeable-to-getting-advised. And would I actually be honest with him/her? I dunno. I feel like I have a few people that I talk to about my running that I can be 100% honest about how I feel/what I want and they aren’t trying to give me advice with every conversation. Oh, and I can freely bitch in my running log. Even if the pain is microscopic, I can complain. And I do want it noted because I actually see where I started feeling tibial pain this last go ‘round.   7-23-18 The boot is off. It should be followed by an exclamation point, but I don’t know that I feel it is worthy of that until I have my first pain-free run. And I need to get to the point that I am doing pain-free walking first. I think I had felt mostly better when I got out of the boot the last time. Like, I wasn’t super worried about going for a run because I wasn’t still nursing the injury. But this time my FF hurts and the FT seems to be mostly okay. I hate waiting and my heart is so ready to run, but I am really trying to not be stupid. So I’m still sitting at work. I’ve got the metatarsal pad back on. I will take it one day at a time when it comes to weight-bearing exercise. I’m waiting for the day that I wake up and things are not in pain. Saturday, I had a lot of FF pain. It was really bothering me and I took each step from the parking garage to the stadium with ease. I sat during most of the concert save for the last hour or so when it finally seemed to be a little less painful. Paired with a summer cold leaving me with laryngitis, the inability to shout, the heat of the day, and the tiny chairs crammed in together, I was not having a great time TBH. Plus, I was super conscious of the balance of staying hydrated enough to pass out, but not hydrated enough to stand in line for the bathroom all evening. Very annoying when I was trying to flush out a cold. I had spent most of the day Saturday just laying around. It made me feel a teeny bit guilty that I didn’t do much, but I also knew it was going to be a long night. Sunday, I slept in really late. My FF actually felt pretty good all day, but I didn’t want to press my luck. I decided to just do an arm Tabata workout and part of a core workout. I stood for a few of the arm exercises that are more awkward sitting, but also made sure that I didn’t do too many of them standing. I piddled around the house cooking, doing laundry, etc. and was on my feet for a bit, but I barely had over 3,000 steps for the day. I’m not really sure if being barefoot or having shoes on is better at this point. The pressure of the shoe on the top of my foot is pretty annoying sometimes, but I think the support of a harder soled shoe is better. Seems like every other day is a different feeling. It made me think about Boston when my foot was killing me the day of the expo, but then I actually felt pretty good the day I ran? Of course, I miss running a lot, but I also just miss being able to do my daily activities without pain. Even just walking around like a normal person is something that I haven’t been able to do for quite some time.   7-24-18 Oh. Em. Gee. There might be light at the end of the tunnel?? I don’t want to get too excited, but let’s face it, I am too excited. Today marks the first day in quite a long time that my foot and leg did not seems to be bothering me AND I can walk like a normal person. I was almost thinking that I was never going to know what that felt like again. Dramatic for someone who ran paced someone for 30 miles in May and ran the Boston Marathon in April. I know. But I haven’t felt good about anything related to my running in about 8 weeks so excusemewhileIenjoythis. I really want to just go run right now. But I think I need to wait at least another day before attempting. I know it is going to be a pretty awful and amazing experience. Awful because I’m going to be ridiculously out of shape. Amazing because, well, running! I am going to head to the gym tonight to get muh HR up a bit on some torturous cardio machine. It seems like my willpower to withstand them gets tinier by the day. But maybe if my body is actually feeling decent, it might suck less? I dunno, I don’t want to do anything to hamper my first run experience, so I’m tempted to just try to keep it as easy as possible (famous last words).   7-26-18 I used the arc trainer for 45 minutes (plus a 5-minute cool down) on Tuesday and my FF seemed to be a bit agitated about the situation. It was feeling tender afterwards through my strength workout, so I maintained the sitting position through my reps. Yesterday, I wore the metatarsal pad all day and sneakers to work. It’s not like I walk around much at all, but my foot was feeling achy and I couldn’t shake the feeling that is was swollen. It wasn’t, but the pad makes my foot feel stuffed in my shoe even with the laces loosened. Anyway, I took the pad off yesterday on my commute home. I ran into Target quickly and it seemed to feel better. So, I went for a walk at the rec center at a pace best described as leisurely, but not lazy. It actually seemed to feel okay about 10 minutes into the walk but then felt-better-than-before-but-worse-than-in-the-middle afterwards. I kind of thought about going for a 10 second jog in the middle of the walk. But geez, I’m so afraid of effing something up that I just had to tell myself NO! The timeline is not tight, and I only stand to lose at this point. Today, the FF seems to be more cooperative. I was actually supposed to get my boot off Tuesday and in my original plans, I hoped to do a bit of running by Friday. But the doc wanted me to just walk around for 2 weeks. I’m torn between getting a better cardio workout and adhering to the doctor’s orders versus getting the chance to run! Like, when I think about it, what idiot actually wants to be running? *Raises hand like the biggest brown-noser in the class* But I’m anxious to try even a little bit. This waiting stuff is for the birds.   7-27-18 I ran. For 23 minutes & 35 glorious seconds. It was super slow. It was a mere 2 miles. But it felt so good to just fall into the rhythm of running. Gosh, I knew I missed it, but I couldn’t wipe the shit-eating grin off my face for the first 5 minutes. Things felt mostly good through the run. FF was a little sore, but not really noticeable. FT was a little more noticeable, or so I thought. I realized afterwards that it wasn’t the same spot that I was feeling, but rather the outside of my shin which is likely due to um, not using it for almost 2 months. Feeling no worse for the wear and having the happy endorphins of running coursing through my body made me very well, content. I was kind of relieved that everything went off rather unremarkably and that stupid Alanis song Hand in my Pocket was playing as I made the short drive from the rec center home. Everything’s going to be fine, fine, fine. But then Adam gave me the face when I got home. It’s the most annoying and best thing about marriage is that your person knows you. They know your faults, they know your weaknesses, and they for better or worse, care about you. I think about when I used to nag him all the time about his smoking and he would just trying to weasel out of the conversation by changing the subject. I immediately felt the flight upon seeing his face and practically bolted upstairs to do an arm workout. Eventually, I had to face the music though. When we headed out to dinner, I fought the flight and started to fight when he broached the subject. He knew the doctor wanted me to wait until I was seen again to start running. And he knew that I knew it was reckless for me to running. I tried to negotiate at first. With him, with myself. There’s no gym equipment that gives me the same feeling as running. It’s like pacifying a cigarette smoker with bubble gum. I’m not sure where my emotions left off. We are in the point of marriage where even the dicey stuff comes to halt rather quickly as I think it’s easier to remember that stewing gets you nowhere. He kind of left it with letting his feelings be known and me acknowledging that I was not happy about his grievances, but I was taking them to heart. And my decision about running for the next 10 days? TBD. On one hand, I feel like I have it out of my system for at least a few days. And while it wasn’t fast or long, the fluidity and motions of running felt as good as they always did. I didn’t struggle with breathing. My heart felt happy. My legs and arms remembered what to do. So, will it buy me at least 10 more days of bench time? Probably not, if I’m being honest with myself. But maybe it will give me every 2-3 days and I can ‘fess up my crime with only minimal infractions. I’m halfway tempted to call the doctor to see if they can get me in sooner. In the meantime, at least I feel a little better about getting on those godforsaken cardio machines with the knowledge that running will be in the near future. And I probably can get a better workout on them simply because I shouldn’t be pushing myself with the load-bearing stuff anyway. And walking is good, so I can at least incorporate that into my life. Funny how you don’t appreciate a good walk until you can’t do it. After dinner, Adam told me that he has days that he feels good and that he could do a little bit of walking. But that he has days that things still feel pretty blah. So, I was trying to pry out of him whether he wanted me to ask him about going for a walk or let him figure it out on his. I think we both know that left to his own devices, he is likely not going to do it by himself. It’s just not a habit for him. I’d like to think that could change, but I also don’t want to get too hopeful. It’s so easy that we get stuck in our ways (hello running girl!) and find it impossible to navigate the new normal. So, while I’m doing a bit of recovery myself, I will be attempting to see if he can start walking again. It would be really great if he could go back to the BAA 5K and finished what he started. But I also don’t want to push my own agenda on him – easier said than done. 7-27-18 prose I chose my dirtiest, most worn shoes. They look like they should have been tossed out 500 miles ago and are almost over-the-top in their state of deterioration. But a friend suggested I would crave the comfort of the ones that have served me well over the year. The caked-on dirt full of memories had to be shaken out once before I even started running. The interior sides both ripped behind the big hole were not a deterrent, even on the sandy trail. I laced them up like I had done thousands of times before, standing at the crossroads of before and after. It was only a big deal to me. But I made myself walk to my favorite section of flat trail that heads due west for about 50 meters. Then I picked up my shoulders like I was sighing heavily and dropped into a run. I expected it to feel sloppy or difficult. My breathing might feel labored or I would want to stop shortly after I started. But instead, I felt relief. Relief that it felt good. Relief that it felt natural. Relief that I want to just keep going for a really long time. It seems funny that we have these barriers put upon us, but I suppose that is what made it felt good. Like I knew I was breaking the rules. I’m sure I would have changed my mind after 4 miles about wanting to run for a really long time. It just seemed like it was such an easy pace that I could hold it forever. Like when I started at Hinson and it felt so painfully easy that I was nearly bored out of my mind. But then it slowly became harder and the easy pace became my hard pace. Given my feelings over the last 6 months, it seems like that was a different person. But as I climbed the tiny hill in the back section of the rec center loop, I thought about GDR and the training I would need to put in this winter to feel prepared. And instead of it scaring me, I felt so overwhelmingly excited. I wanted to climb those hills to exhaustion. To keep taking the curve of the forest service roads and wondering when they would end. I thought about goals and the feeling of satisfaction no matter how long it took given the place I was at now. And maybe that’s what I needed in my running. To know that even on the worst of days that it still was a joy to be able to move my body in that way. 7-30-18 I haven’t run again since last Thursday. 90% I would attribute to Adam talking some sense into me. 10% because my FF hasn’t felt quite right. Maybe I’m in denial, but it isn’t really pain. It’s more like it is just not quite right. I’m not sure if that makes any sense except to me. The FT seems to be healed, so perhaps I am focusing all my crazy energy on my foot? I can’t tell if I am just being hyperaware of my body because of what has transpired over the last 6 months or if there is actually something going on. What a strange feeling that it doesn’t definitively hurt, but it also doesn’t feel 100% either. I know the doctor said that it could take up to a year to heal so I’m holding onto the possibility that it is just going through that process. On the other hand, I live in fear of screwing it up again and being forced to take another break from running. I’m not certain I can intelligently make these decisions by myself because I’m always going to angle for a way to keep running. I think this is called addiction? I actually did okay with the break this second go ‘round for the first couple of weeks. But then as the weeks wore on and I started to get further away from those last runs, I missed it more and more. And now that the boot is off, I feel even more raring to let it rip, but this constant fear is harping on me. Before I went through this process, I would read stories of other people’s injuries and never felt a connection. Sure, I had niggles of pain here and there and often took a few days off to rest something that seemed to be giving me trouble. But I couldn’t relate to the weeks, months, seasons that runners would miss. Now I get it. And while the benching is hard enough, I’m going to say getting back into it has been harder for me. I’m aware that I have no chill when it comes to this. And having no running makes me even more neurotic. A solid 20 miler is a good way to help exhaust me.

the last refuge of a scoundrel

Well, it's like this. I killed off Facebook and Twitter because of their political implications. I'm wrestling with Instagram, but I don't know how I could rationalize it. I have a blog that has been overtaken by a guy from Estonia. And yet, I need to write. Always, I need to write. So here I am. I have entered the third act of life. I'm still working, but out of a small sweatshop being run out of our spare bedroom, so I never have to wear pants, which is a bit distressing for Mr. Pants. I'm growing a Letterman beard and forcing the cat to stay awake for a second hour of the day. But basically I never leave the apartment these days, except to bask in the glory of the SCC track. So that's what I've been doing. I got in an even 20 miles this week, which is the distance I always tell my oncologist I'm running, except now I wouldn't be lying. Except I have no oncologist visits scheduled in the near future, forcing him to bill someone else so he can afford his exotic mountain bike equipment. Mo has grown suspicious of my track obsession. I just walk, after all. What difference does it make? I don't know. It's just the feeling of the place. Some people love trails, some roads. Me? I'm at home in Lane 9. We've been talking about moving to Flagstaff. Does she pitch the mountains, the trails, the leftist vibe? No. "You know they have a really great track," she says. Mo is wise. It's been 150 degrees or so here lately, so mostly I have the place to myself. But today there were football guys and burrowing owls. There's been a long snapper working out here forever. He takes a big trash can, counts off 8 yards or so, and smashes a football into it over and over and over and over and over. I have thought a lot about how it would be more efficient to have a second guy. Yes, that's what I think about when I think about running, Mr. Murakami. Today, HE HAD A SECOND GUY! They took turns, one snapping to the other, then turning around, then going the other way, then back again, until they both pass out. This seems terribly boring to me, but then I'm walking in circles at a 14:50 pace. So ... The OTHER thing that drives me nuts is wondering who these people are. This track has everyone from Olympic gold medalists to ummm, me, so I'm always curious, but too shy to ask. AND THEN! The second guy today had his backpack on the bench, which gave just enough info for an intrepid journalist to uncover. He's the starting long snapper for the University of Utah. Sophomore, apparently quite good. Now if I can find out who the wide receiver with the white gloves is, I can sleep tonight. Or maybe hard apple cider. Yeah, that second one. Being a recluse makes the daily outing a huge deal. I'm pretty excited about the future. Miles is miles, yeah? I hope to get up to a decent weekly mileage and hope my body gives in and starts to speed up a bit. If not, that's OK. It's good to be alive on a sunny day.  And so I will write inaccurate headlines, go out for a daily jaunt, and file here on a daily basis. Yes, you can ignore me. I just need a place to write without fear of Estonian retribution. It's what the late Dave Schultz would have wanted. It's good to get back on track ... my work posse. no, they’re not talking to me. yet. 
 

2nd Funniest Moment of Running In the Media?

Right after college, I got a job with the Daily News Tribune as a newspaper reporter. Except for the pay (I could read want-ads for motel maids that offered more money), it was a dream come true. Eventually, I found out that about a year before I got there the Daily News Tribune had been responsible for what may still be the second funniest thing I've ever seen in the media in regards to the sport of running. The Editor was a great guy, and loved to run. It was only a couple years after the publication of "The Complete Book of Running," by Jim Fixx, so running as a pastime was still a bit new to the general public (In fact, it was this 10K that first gave me the bug to maybe one day run a race). The Daily News Tribune came up with a great idea: let's sponsor a 10K race. It was new and exciting and well attended. The Daily News Tribune was very proud of its first Daily News Tribune 10K, held in the city of Fullerton. Except, when it came to news for the next day's coverage, there had also been a gas leak the very same day in another part of town that actually caused many people to be evacuated for their safety. Big news. So, across the entire front page, in dramatically big type at the top, was the headline: Gas Leak; Thousands Evacuate. And to the far right, was one column below the headline that told the story of the gas leak. However, the Daily News Tribune was very proud of its 10K race. For a long time, they had been picturing this front page, with the 10K prominently featured. They were so happy to put a photo above the fold that was three or four columns across, and 10 inches or more deep. Huge. It showed off the big crowd of runners in flight, with a caption below it about the success of the race. Only the editors of the Daily News Tribune saw the front page as a sensible presentation of the previous day's news. The rest of the world saw the headline, "Gas Leak; Thousands Evacuate" above a big photo of hundreds of people running through the streets of Fullerton. It looked like the fastest and best mass public evacuation in history. And everyone had the good sense to change into their running clothes in order to evacuate as rapidly as possible! It took well over a year before local newspaper people stopped laughing about it. Well, like me, they're probably laughing about it still.

Clem

Clem

Listen to your Heart (Rate) -Running by More Than a Feeling

Good morning and Happy Sunday! This week’s post title has not one but TWO song references. Who can tell me what they are? I’ll warn you now, THIS POST IS FOR RUNNING NERDS. Yesterday, I decided it was time to take the plunge and try a double digit run. I hadn’t run double digits since I hobbled through the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 2nd of last year. Wow, that’s a long time ago. Of course, my first thought was that I better choose someplace flat, but that would just make too much sense now wouldn’t it? That is NOT flat. I chose the Virginia 10 miler course. As you can see, it’s pretty much the opposite of someplace flat. For this run, my goal was just to finish. Spoiler alert: I FINISHED! So happy to be back to using all of my fingers. #mimeschool I had no pace in mind other than not to go too fast that I would have to walk (or “hike”, as the trail runners say). Usually, I would run by “feel” and use what is known as perceived effort to determine whether I was going to fast or not. If it starts to feel like a struggle, just slow down a little. I’ve been paying more and more attention to heart rate these days. I really think it’s an excellent indicator of improvements in fitness, signs of overtraining/fatigue and level of effort on a run. I’m a running nerd to the core, so this all makes total sense. Sidenote: There’s an extension on Google Chrome called StravistiX that I highly recommend if you want to analyze your workouts in great detail. I decided to manage yesterday’s run by really paying attention to heart rate. I won’t do this all the time because micromanaging a run isn’t fun and adds stress, but it was good for where I am in trying to come back from a torn achilles. Lots of little ups and downs in HR where I tried to keep it controlled. Early in the run, I got anxious and my heart rate started to go nuts. I steadied my breathing and told myself to relax. Believe it or not, that worked! Throughout the run (especially climbing), my heart rate would creep up to Zone 5 (I won’t get into the Zone stuff but it’s an easy google search to find an explanation better than I can give) so I would take my foot off the gas pedal a little and try to relax. The other cool thing is that late in the run, I started to tire mentally and started to worry that I wasn’t going to make it. I’d look at my heart rate and see that it wasn’t elevated. This led me to believe that I wasn’t working as hard as I thought and that I still had something left to give. That mentality got me to finish strong and trust my body. Running buddy Jeremy took a pic of me finishing up the last climb and looking happy doing it! There’s something to this heart rate stuff….Anybody else run by heart rate?
 

NEW! Flashback Fridays! 1st Edition

Y’all probably remember the short heads up that we got when The Loop was being shut down. Well, I decided to try to download ALL of the blogs I’d written on there! I think I got most of them (including the Ass Chaffing one FYI)! I had written some great stuff, including all of my race reports. I’m not a great writer but I always like to document things. I thought it would be fun to start a series of Flashback Fridays where I post an old blog that I wrote! It will also be a great trip down memory lane for me and great motivation to keep pushing. I’ll likely skip around with the content but I assure you it will be good stuff! Let’s get started! This installment is from May 2011 and my first marathon! The Country Music Marathon in Nashville. One of my best friends, Erin, and I took a road trip there from NC where we met up with her mom and sister who came in from Wisconsin. Now, I must warn you that I was (ok, still am) very silly, so just go with it… Country Music Marathon Race Report- Part 1: Road Trip to Nashville I am a procrastinator, thru and thru, and I’m pretty sure it’s never going to change. I waited, like usual, to pack everything the day before (and even the morning of). When I finally got to sleep, I slept well. I was raring to go the next morning and ready to start the 8-9 hour road trip with Erin. Our first stop was actually in my hometown and we picked up a couple sugar-free Redbulls. Sitting in a picnic table outside the gas station was a guy wearing a “I heart to fart” t-shirt. Erin and I were laughing hysterically in the car and I thought, Yep, that’s my hometown for ya! We got to Knoxville and I had a hankering for TCBY (frozen yogurt, remember those places?). Erin typed in into her GPS and it said there was one right off the road ahead. So we get to where it is supposed to be and it was not there. We drive around a little and even asked someone. No luck. So we go to the next one which was supposed to be about 4 miles down the road. We got stuck in back road traffic for about 20 mins and finally get to where this one was SUPPOSED to be. Instead of TCBY there is some little wrinky dink ice cream place. Inside is a tall goofy stoner kid behind the counter who then tries to make small talk with us. From the looks of the place we should have known the ice cream wouldn’t be good. We both got some cookie dough on cones and left (after taking about 15 mins in there). We both take a couple bites and kinda look at each other with sad faces. For one, it wasn’t the FroYo that we wanted and second, it tasted like a$$. The cookie dough was crumbly and that’s just all sorts of wrong! We pulled over to a trash can and I dumped them. Right after we started down the road to get back on the freeway, there it was….Frozen Yogurt!! “There! There’s some! Let’s GO!” Erin whips the car around and we headed for the frozen yogurt. We pull up to the store and it had a big “Coming Soon” sign in the window. AHH!!!! That is when we both started laughing so hard we almost peed. Erin calls her husband and can barely get out any words. He thought something was terribly wrong because it sounded like she was crying, which she was, but in a good way! I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. We spent an hour looking for frozen yogurt within a 5 mile radius! Needless to say, we didn’t get any yogurt. Our trip took about 2 hours longer due to the yogurt and traffic. We made it to our cute little B&B and met up with Erin’s mom and sister. The place was gorgeous and super cute!

  The first night Erin’s mom found this SWEET hat in her closet and then found a couple more. What did we do? What anyone would do. DRESS UP! There were only 3 hats so we had to come up with another one. Erin found a basket and then put it on her head. The owner of the B&B was very sweet and happened to be a triathlete! She left us tasty pastries and had organic everything for us. She even left us a little note the day before the marathon wishing us luck! Country Music Marathon Race Report – Part 2:  Marathon Day! 5/4/2011 I forced my procrastinating self to get everything ready way beforehand and I actually did! I decided to run the thing in just my sports bra and shorts so I pinned my number to my bra. It worked out well actually. Sports bras are super handy; I stuffed a mini Cliff bar on each side. I had a pocket in the back of my short where I put some sport beans. I was carrying a hand-held water bottle that had a pocket where I was able to put another pack of sport beans, a GU and 2 salt tabs. I had things stuffed everywhere! I slept very well the night before as I normally do. I usually don’t get nervous until the morning of and usually give myself a tummy ache. When I woke up, I was wide awake and ready to go. I wasn’t really thinking about what was ahead and was just focused on not forgetting anything and getting out the door. It was a little chilly so I put on a light jacket that I could take off and put in my drop bag. We left the B&B at 4:20ish and got to LP field with no traffic. We got over to the start line when it was still dark and had a lot of waiting around to do. I was surprised that they had food tents (bagels, muffins, etc.) at the start. I’d never seen that before. We went over to the Parthenon and took some pics. What a great building! What I did forget was a throw away t-shirt to wear from the time I dropped my bag until the start. So I was left standing in my sports bra and tiny shorts. Brrr!! Erin brought her shirt but didn’t want me to be the half naked loner so she joined me in the chilliness. What a friend, eh?! I was standing in corral 13 and it still didn’t register in my mind that I was actually about to run 26.2 miles. I still wasn’t nervous because it just seemed so surreal. The first gun went off right at 7. There was a lot of people so you just saw blobs of people running over the first hill. When it was time to go, I took off. I wanted to start conservatively and that’s what I did. I was hoping to run a sub-4 and knew I’d have to keep it around 9:05 to do so. I kept my eyes on the 4:00 pace group sign and wanted to make sure I was behind it for a little while. There were so many awesome spectators and I was overwhelmed by it. I was just amazed that so many were there cheering us on and it was highly motivating. The whole race was kind of a blur so I won’t be able to break it down mile for mile. At mile 4, I got the urge to pee. I noticed a line at the port o’ potties at every aid station and thought, when will I ever get to go? I’m not waiting in line! So I held it. I held it until mile 8 when I saw a row of potties with no line! I ran over and ran right in one. I didn’t even lose a minute and I felt way better afterwards. It didn’t take long to catch back up to the 4:00 pacers. It was very frustrating having to weave around the crowds of people. Starting all of us together was just not a good idea. A lot of energy was used doing all of that maneuvering. I was feeling really good until about mile 10ish when my hips started to get tight. Already?! It wasn’t painful, just annoying. I came up on this group of three and they had SO MUCH energy! They kept chanting things and toying with each other. They were only running the halfso I yelled over “Can you throw some of that energy this way?!” A girl asked me my name and then the three of them shouted and clapped, “Chris! Chris! She’s our man! If she can’t do it, no one can!” I LOVED IT! That definitely pepped me up and I was thankful for their energy. Myself, Erin, and her mom I was drinking and eating well and was having no tummy issues. My knees weren’t bothering me at all and I just kept going. Things were getting tighter but not causing any issues. I was playing leap frog with the 4:00 pacers and just wished I could stay ahead of them. At 2:15 I took my first salt tab. I hadn’t used them during my training runs and honestly didn’t know how they’d work out. I used them for adventure races but never while running. I hit a mental wall at mile 20. I thought, I have a 10K to go! Holy @#$! My legs just didn’t want to go anymore. I had to chant to myself: You can do it. Only a 10K to go. That’s a cake walk! Just remember that the pain is temporary and you won’t even feel this in a couple days. All you have to do is finish. At 3:15, I took my last salt tab. I had already taken several very short walk breaks and took more after mile 21. At that point we were entering a park and would be coming back out at mile 24. We were able to see the 24 mile mark at mile 21 and that was a mental shot to the head. Those 3 miles were very long and I never thought I’d get out of the park. It was very beautiful and I hated that I couldn’t enjoy it.
I knew I was going to have more than 26.2 miles in and wasn’t sure I was going to finish sub 4. I had been ahead of the 4 hour pace group for several miles and thought I had it. The last couple miles were extremely hard. Everything from my lower back down was so tight and didn’t want to move. At mile 25, there were two people having a conversation right beside me. I thought, if you can talk like that, why the hell are you back here? So I picked it up to get ahead of them. Coming down the road to the end, the street was lined with people cheering. When my Garmin said 26.2 miles the time was 3:58 but I still had farther to go. @#$%*! When I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin it said exactly 4:00. I didn’t know what my official time was until they posted it. 4:00:23.
In the finishing chute I was grabbing everything. I took my pile over to the side and sat down. I was eating a bagel but it was making me sick so I just sipped on some Cytomax. When I could stand, without puking, I exited the chute and sat on the curb to wait for the rest of my group. Country Music Marathon Race Report – Part 3: Aftermath and Reflections I felt like crap when I finished. It took me forever to finally get comfortable. My legs were very restless and I was just achy everywhere. It was funny (but not) to see everyone hobbling around afterwards. Erin, her mom and sis, and I went back to the B&B, showered and headed out for some BBQ! After eating we headed back for some rest before it was time to go to the FREE Montgomery Gentry (RIP Gentry…) concert that was put on by the race and after the awards ceremony. Before the concert, we stopped for some ice cream. I got a big cup of red velvet and devoured it ALL! Surprised? It was cool to see the awards ceremony and I was just imagining myself up on stage : ) Maybe someday…. The concert was GREAT! Those guys sound awesome live and put on a great show. Everyone was still hobbling around at the concert and out in town and we’d just give each other the, you ran too, huh? nod. After the concert, we were all hungry…. AGAIN. So we ordered a big pizza and bread sticks! PIZZZZAAAA! Oh and here were my stats:
Reflections: With this being my first official marathon, I really didn’t know what to expect; it had been 3 years since I’d ran the distance. I ran a very conservative race which I am very happy about. I did want to get a sub 4 just because of my competitiveness with myself, but am happy with what I got. Although, technically, I did hit 26.2 mile at 3:58 on my Garmin. I pushed harder than I’ve ever pushed before and had nothing left when I finished. I would have been disappointed in myself if it were any other way. I had the determination to finish and I did. This was a huge accomplishment for me and I can’t wait to do it again! Pain is only temporary. Victory lasts forever!

NCAthlete

NCAthlete

 

Helloooooooo

:O   I'm blooping! (Is it even still called blooping?)   It's only been five days and I already have no idea what I did before the jogging stroller. Thanks again to ALL OF YOU and especially fivestarks for organizing such a generous gift. I was a little scared to start - is her head stable? are the parts secure? is it put together right? WHAT IF IT FALLS APART?! - so I made DH do most of the pushing the first time on Saturday. Nobody was hurt in a dramatic stroller accident and L fell asleep so that's her vote of approval, I guess. Sunday I ran for the first time in almost a year. DH had to go twiddle his thumbs at the auto shop so I thought hey, why not try? My plan was to NOT wear my Garminso it would stay more of an exercise-y walk/run in my head. What it ended up being was a 4.5 mile run with a few hills that I walked and some water breaks.  I've had my fair share of comeback runs and mostly they really just are terrible. Feeling out of shape, wobbly, sucking wind and getting cramps in my shoulders. Why shoulders? Who knows. This one... was glorious. I WAS RUNNING. NO ONE COULD SEE POST BABY BELLY BEHIND THE STROLLER. I DIDN'T FEEL TERRIBLE. And perhaps most importantly... ANOTHER RUNNER WAVED AT MEEEEEEE!!! Sidenote: I didn't think through how the post-run was going to be... I'm used to being able to cool down a bit, take some fun pictures to put on Loopville, drink some water and take a nice long shower. Yeaaaahhh hahaha. No.  Even my PF-y foot got in on the action and quieted down after the run. I haven't heard a peep out of it since. I guess it got a good stretching. My lower core muscles were a different story and I spent the next two days grimacing every time I had to lift a leg with DH giving me the you started out too fast/far again look. I'm used to that look. I don't care. But then I felt better and ran the same route again on Wednesday and it was equally as glorious and amazing. A tiny bit farther (I don't trust this Apple Watch for GPS) and a tiny bit faster (probably because of the warped distance) but still I'm taking it woohooo!! Here's L's second run face: "ok mommy, is this going to be a regular thing?" Honestly I just want to have something to do that eats up some time during the day and if that lets me get back into shape and enjoy running again, it's a huge bonus. And so I'll label this as cautiously optimistic for me getting back into it. It'll be different and difficult, but when I heard L cooing and giggling and waving Bill the monkey rattle around as I huffed and puffed behind her at mile 3... sososo worth it.

tinkbot

tinkbot

 

racing but not running

Big race for the summer was whitewater canoe Nationals, https://opencanoe2018.com/, here in CO on the Arkansas river. As usual all my training plans went to heck, various family and work issues stopped play. So came the day and I had not been in my solo boat yet this year.. oops. 

We had warmed up with a 3 day wilderness trip on the Rio Chama in New Mexico. The takeout of this trip is near Ghost Ranch where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and worked for many years. My older son cracked wise, "so if you feel a bout of American modernism coming on.. just yield to it !" He was off gallivanting in Maine and PA with his girlfriend. She took him to Rehoboth Beach and I thought of the Loop.. 

Here's younger son and I at the bottom of Aragon Rapid.  We'd camped the night before just above the rapid. Over the ridge a small fire was burning, started by lightning some time before. We had paddled into camp watching the plume of smoke and wondering how close to camp it would be.. right over the hill in fact. We had good rains so chanced it and camped anyway. Several times in the night I woke up smelling smoke, had to go out and check if we needed to hide in the river. Luckily not. 

DW and I had color-coordinated our wardrobes for the trip.. not. 

It's a gorgeous trip, highly recommended. 

After all that, drive six hours back to Denver, unpack, repack, and head out to Buena Vista. DW and son stayed home for a couple of days, but I had volunteered to help with course setup etc for the race. 

The fiendish ingenuity of the course designer created the most difficult slalom course I've ever paddled, way harder than the other two Nationals I have raced at. Eventually I figured out the first twelve gates but after that there was a sequence of downstream gates which beat me. Coming out of gate 12 was like going into a bad horror movie - terrible things keep happening faster than I can react to them for no good reason and I can't stop them.. This culminated in gate 16, dubbed "the suicide move", had to paddle straight at a rock in fast current and drop in behind it with a quick paddle stroke at the last split second. I did not manage this so usually just bounced off the rock and battled to stay upright. 

No pictures of me racing, though DW did get a couple of me and #2 son racing in the Citizen tandem class. We won this by virtue of being the only entrants in the class.. ha. We still did have to run at least some of the gates and stay upright, which was not a given on this course. #2 son asked, "so is this one of those medals for participation I keep hearing about ?" 

I had hopefully packed some running shoes, in case I could get in a run or two, but the days ran from 6am until 8 or 9pm, what with volunteer work etc. Also, note the high rocky banks - carrying a 65lb canoe up and down those banks was exhausting and it sure wore me out.  I'm going to start a new fitness program, CanoeFit: Functional strength from lifting and carrying canoes up hills and over cactus on rocky trails.. 

doug in co

doug in co

 

Fashionably Late and Sweetly Short Buffalo Marathon RR. And Moving- Or Not- Ahead....

There was just so much to love about Buffalo… except the 26.2 miles themselves. The city is small enough to be welcoming, big enough to be an adventure. Packet pickup and expo was organized, there were plenty of porta-potties, the marathon jacket was sweet, the medal was big enough to eat a small entrée off it, the spectators were fabulous with their garden hoses, buckets of ice and orange slices. And the course was pleasantly diverse without being too challenging. But Memorial Day weekend, 2018, was the first scorcher of the year, coming on the heels of the coldest, snowiest winter on record and a chilly spring that ended, well, the week before Memorial Day. Erie had just come within an inch of the most snowfall in any city in any one winter (with Buffalo, ironically, still holding the record), and I had trained through that winter. The Sunday before the marathon, I'd run in tights and a long-sleeve shirt. The morning of the marathon, I got up to 85% humidity and temps that were already nearing 70* at 5:00am. My body was even more ill-adjusted to the climate than my mind. The first 10 miles were not bad. I stayed on a nice 7:55-8:10 pace. The sun was behind a partial cloud cover and there were some miles along the river where the cooling breezes helped offset the humidity. But then the clouds passed and the sun came out it in full force. Temps rose to 80 and more, the air was shimmering with the humid haze, and my heart rate was escalating at an alarming rate. By mile 14 my legs were heavy and my breathing ragged. By 15, I contemplated quitting and by 16, I was experiencing cramping and what seemed to be mild heat exhaustion. The last 10 miles were a death march of walk/running. Yes, I said 10 miles. I discovered that none of my training runs quite prepared for the grim reality of 10 MORE MILES when you have run 16 and feel like utter poop. Like so.     Aaaaand glaring at the sadistic photographer who dared to ask me to smile.... Around the Mile 20 water stop, I pulled off to the side and started taking my bib off. A lady from the stop asked me, sympathetically, if I was calling it quits. I started saying I was, then stopped. What I wanted to say was “Yeah, I’m done. I trained through a brutal winter and through some crazy work schedules between my husband and I and through some personal life/identity crisis upheavals that felt like my world turning upside-down and through a period of life and training burnout and I trained my butt off for a BQ and I've been trying for 5 freaking years but you know, here I am sweating like a pig and dehydrating and cramping and looking at finishing with my slowest time ever, and I am so, so tired of marathon training and I am in excruciating pain right now and I sure as heck don’t want to run 6 more miles. So you know what? I'M DONE. I'M DONE WITH ALL OF THIS!!" But I didn't and suddenly decided I HADN'T done all the above to just end here in another DNF. I fought back tears that suddenly threatened to break loose and said quietly, “No, ma’am, I’m just taking a moment.” I scooped another handful of ice into my sport bra (absolutely a lifesaver on a hot day) grabbed an orange slice, and trudged on. 6 of the longest and most painful miles I’ve ever run later, I crossed the finish line, a whole lot broken and a little out of sorts, but you know what? I didn’t quit on a day when everything was against me so there is that. Wait. The was ONE Balm in Gilead. Mile 24. Oh, man, I'll never forget Mile 24.  When a group of 6-8 college-aged boys were hollering from the sidelines that they have a cooler full of beer. Everyone in front of me was plodding past them, peering at them dully from beneath their heat-blasted eyelids, thinking only of finishing and getting out of this hell on earth. I decided my marathon was in the crapper anyway and at that moment, a cold beer sounded like the answer to all my current problems (don’t all cold beers seem to promise that?). I swung over and held out my hand in answer to raucous cheers and appreciative applause. A shirtless, tanned kid 10 years my junior shoved an ice-cold LaBlatt Blue in my hands, dramatically cracking it open first. I raised it to my lips as 4 or 5 more boys, equally shirtless, fit, and tanned, circled me and started chanting “chug, chug, chug, chug….” I met the eyes of one over the top of the can and blushed a little as he winked mischievously and shouted, “a girl who likes beer, let’s get her number!”  Making it to about halfway through the can until my stomach said “UH, WE GOOD”, I handed back the beer with my brightest smile and profuse thanks. The boys screamed and cheered me on as I trotted back down the street, fist-bumping a few pleased spectators who got a chuckle out of the whole thing. Now THAT was the highlight of the Buffalo Marathon. It didn’t salvage my time (a personal worst by 14 minutes at 4:10) whatsoever, but it numbed the pain and gave me just enough sugar and adrenaline to make it through. A tiny smile? I was just so darn relieved that the ordeal was OVER. And there's the marathon version of Kayla Maroney face.... Unlike a lot of other bad races that fueled my desire for more, Buffalo seemed to have broken me a little. I came home quietly, not wanting to talk about it much, not wanting to relive it, and till now, not wanting to blog about it. Granted, there were factors beyond just running that had affected the whole training cycle and race, and it was a lesson for me to remember that when life is throwing you some curve balls, maybe you gotta readjust your goals.  I think I stayed broken for awhile. Recovery was slow and agonizing. I didn’t feel like my legs came back to me for about a month, the damage done by 10 miles on cramping legs taking its sweet time to heal. And mentally, it was much more so. I’ve never experienced such a complete loss of motivation and sometimes, a downright distaste for running. If I was going on an easy run with a friend, I was fine. But any solo runs, any speedwork, any long runs. They all seemed like misery, drudgery, pain. In not-running news, my husband's younger sister got married during the marathon recovery downtime. I got to be dolled up and be a bridesmaid. It was a fun wedding, one of the highlights of summer.       At this perfect venue... an old restored barn... Juliet was flower girl... And provided me with quite possibly my favorite father/daughter picture ever (that's my husband with Jules on the dance floor)...   Back to running. I’m not running Erie, because I didn’t train for it. Thus, BOS2019 is not a possibility. I will register, with the same quiet resignation of probably at least 5,000 other runners who qualified but will not have enough cushion to actually get in. A minute and 50 seconds. Back when I first started dreaming Boston, that would have gotten me in. I try not to think about that. Of course, there's that tiny little sliver of hope that maybe this year is a fluke, the margin won't be several minutes, but I try to brace myself for the rejection email I already know I'm getting. Maybe I'm okay with that. Maybe I'm not. I’m not sure how to proceed. I've never felt so conflicted about my relationship with running. I either was running and loved it or I was injured and aching to run again. What is this weird stuff I'm feeling... this apathy. It scares me. Regardless, I’m starting training once again, with my eyes set on possibly running Harrisburg in 15 weeks. Wineglass is in late September, but I will be running that at an easy pace just for fun. You know what I want, for a change? I want to run a marathon with no pressure, no expectations. I want to run 26.2 miles and actually enjoy it regardless of the time and pace. I want to experience it. I want to RUN IT, not race it. So I’m going to. Because it’s just running and I can do what I want with running. Sometimes I’m almost weary of the Boston dream. It’s been 6 years. I’ve been way off, and I’ve actually qualified with a so-close but not close enough, and everything inbetween. DNSs, DNFs. Each close call and way off call  and not-even-gotten-there has its own lessons but it's also natural that each attempt drives the dagger in just a little deeper. The one that asks “Am I good enough? Why do I keep falling short? Do I want it enough? How does it seem so easy and attainable for some and so difficult for me? What is wrong with me? “ And I know those are the wrong questions, but they still press down on me. Especially when I am tired. Tired of running, tired of training, tired of failing. I have a 5k this weekend, on Friday night. I’m pacing my RB Clark, and hoping not to get beat by his naturally fast-twitch sprinting ability. My sweet daughter Juliet is running it ALL BY HERSELF. She hasn’t been training a lot but she has played soccer this summer, so we’ll see what happens. Her only request was that she be allowed to run it alone. I did ask- and was granted- to run the homestretch with her, the final .30 or so of the downhill finish. All the local running folks will be there, so there is lots of camaraderie and fun. There is pizza and watermelon at the finish and my friend Karen hosts a post-race party/bonfire in her backyard for her running friends afterward. Then I have a half marathon in September, again one that I’m pacing Clark for- his first half (I’m the stamina queen, so I have no intention of being bested there). I keep hoping that pacing with no pressure, while surrounding myself with fellow runners, will bring back the hunger and the love. If not, I might ditch marathon training in 2019 and train for an Ironman instead. Yep, you heard me. Stay tuned.

PegLeg

PegLeg

Gold Coast ‘18 race report…and proof I’m no Iron Man

After missing last year’s race I returned to the Gold Coast ready to get back to my 2016 form which saw a 3:31 here (and later that year my 3:29 PB at a very windy Melbourne event). This was my longest base build due to surgery 12 months ago and the ensuing forced down time (both on doctor’s orders and well…it flattened me a lot more than I expected). So back half of 2017 was spent running 2-4 days a week getting my strength back and finding time to do other stuff in life I’d been neglecting. By Christmas I was hitting 21k as my LR & feeling ready to plan my next race. I caught up with my cousin & we decided it was time to re-do Gold Coast. After flirting with Pfitz last year for Canberra, the Hanson bros kindly forgave me so I dug out my 16 week 65-80 plan from 2016 & massaged it down to a 6 day week. It kicked off with the running of the 2018 Snowbuster (in 30c heat!) which suggested my long build & summer runs had me in good stead. Unfortunately the first half of the cycle I was plagued with pretty much most of my usual niggles all at the same time (Achilles/groin/shin). None of them quite got to the point of seeing the physio but was constantly questioning myself & having to minimise hills, trails and the amount of strength training. I was able to keep to my training load (though had a very light week prior to back to back races for Puffing Billy & Wings for Life). As Gold Coast got closer, bit by bit the niggles slowly started to dissipate & was able to enjoy my training more rather than constantly wondering if was I injured. All up I covered about 1,000 miles (bang on plan) and nailed pretty much each run (including my nemesis the progressions!). The taper on this plan is pretty short and sharp but I didn’t feel my usual sluggishness. Looking at my training log I was feeling very confident. Most stats eg pace & effort/ HR were at least on par with 2016 or better (except for sleep…hmm). Race week was busy with work & visitors (love you mum!) so by the time I caught my flight I was ready for a nice nap on the way north. Saturday was spent checking in for packet pick up then relaxing at my cousin’s place & catching up. I like to have my movements (and meals) all planned for race weekend so there’s definitely ups & downs to staying at someone’s house. Staying in a nice house, relatively close to the event whilst being chauffeured to & from is definitely a big plus! By 9:30pm flat Phil was ready to go, I chugged down my last drink & caught some zzz’s. I slept well (munching down my PB bagel around 4) and by 5:45am was up and at ‘em ready to jump in the car. This year we had a bonus, my cousin’s wife is working for a firm whose office is across the road from the start area so premium parking and toilet stop! Forecast hadn’t been ideal and as we arrived the car told us it was ~15c (59f). Not terrible but it’s usually more like 10-12c. It was overcast so that should offset slightly higher temps but noticed it had rained overnight so humidity was high. Last time here I discovered there’s an advantage to putting 3:29 on your application as they rope off the first (non-preferred) area so you can literally walk in to the back of this section about 15 mins before the start, such a luxury. My plan was to settle with the back 3:30 pacer to halfway & go from there. Speeches, anthem, wheelchairs & then bang we are off. This was the 40th anniversary race and first time sellout for the full so it’s more crowded than usual. Seems to be more slower runners up front too but I’m getting much better at sticking at slightly slower pace early & not trying to overtake until it thins out. First couple of k’s click by and I settle into my pace, both pacers have moved ahead but I’m just staying relaxed & trying to focus on my form. By the 3rd km I’m aware of how sticky it is (more so than usual) and my HR has clicked over 170. WTH! OK just take it easy. I’m good shape it must be just one of those garmin things due to the stickiness. Just up ahead I spot wonder woman! Ah ok that Caitlin I’m sure is a good pacer just sit back, relax & breathe. Over the next few km’s I feel like it’s getting a little easier though my HR is generally only just dipping to mid 160’s. My mind just says stay relaxed, don’t push you’ve got this. The course follows the coast and heads south for about 15k. By the turnaround I’m still struggling to get my HR lower and I’m starting to feel some minor fatigue. Not great. I again try to ease back but I’m battling the urge to just “hang” with my 5 minute pace until at least half way. Don’t remember exactly where this was but we passed a band belting out “Thunderstuck”…it would be un-Australian not to salute this Aussie classic. By the time 21.1 arrives that fatigue has really set in & I take my first walk break through drinks. My quads are really fatiguing (which is unusual) and I can feel my calves getting pre-cramp twitches. In all my marathons to date my hammies have cramped, usually around 35-37k. I now carry my home-made “hotshot” mix so I wet my tongue with it for the first of many. The course passes the start/finish around 31k which is mentally tough but it’s the first time I debated how I would feel if I stopped. You’re not injured…suck it up princess! The walk breaks get more frequent ( garmin suggests 26 all up) and it’s become a real sufferfest. Trying to set myself distance goals before the next walk break & tasting my hotshot mix becomes more frequent. I keep doing the maths in my head about what time I can salvage (or how bad can it get – could it be a PW?). In the end I just try to soak up the crowd, forget the time & run as much as I can muster. “Nice shoes” I hear someone yell through the crowd in the last half km. Thumbs up! Finally I’m crossing the line, no salute, no double Bangle, not even too worried about pressing the Garmin, just relief.   3:47…not my worst…that was here on my first marathon which ended with me completely cramping literally on the finish line & being taken away in a wheelchair. I didn’t actually cramp today for the first time so that was a real positive. Obviously my “hotshot” mix is working for me, at least in a temporary way. I am absolutely spent, more so than any race I remember (maybe the beauty of age is we forget these things??). After a post race dip in the water we head home & I make the most of a few hours socialising whilst impersonating a sloth before heading off to catch my flight. The next few days I’m much more sore than usual & I spend my spare hours trying to analyse “what just happened” or “did I completely misread where I was at or the conditions?” Part of this was charting all my stats from previous races & studying my training stats to find some gold. In hindsight there were definitely things I should have done as the race went on plus I should have realised that it was always going to be a tougher day with the temps & 100% humidity but that should not have impacted until the back half of the race. ·         Once my HR hit 170 so early I should have backed right off to get it down into the 150’s. Thinking back I’m pretty sure in my mind I would see numbers dropping to 165-166 range & think I was getting on the right track but my av from 4-21k was ~168 so clearly I didn’t read it properly (or didn’t want to). ·         My cadence dropped fairly quickly. Averaged ~171 for the 4-21k period. When I googled “sore quads after marathon” overstriding came up. For me I was about 3-4 steps lower than normal through first half. D’oh. I have cadence on my main screen when I run. WHY DID I NOT READ IT?? By the end of the week I went to the GP to get some tests done. I really expected to wake up on the Monday or Tuesday with a heavy cold but nothing. Also got my skin checked & another minor issue which required ultrasound. Pathology came back and I’m low in iron. Ferritin is well below minimum and haemoglobin/RBC is barely above minimum. Pretty good news really & relatively easy to address. So it wasn’t all in my head or due to poor racing on my part though how much an impact I really don’t know. Probably a bit of everything. I’ve since been doing a lot of reading on this & planning changes to my diet but would be really interested in hearing from anyone else who’s had this issue. It’s obviously not as common for males and despite having a pretty good diet generally there were simple things that I wasn’t aware & need to address (eg in terms of absorption “blockers” & “assisters”). The only reference I found in my running books was in Pfitz (sorry for flirting) which suggested endurance runners produce more blood volume so iron levels will often show at a lower % but low levels can sneak up on runners because, well, we’re always tired & run down! Last couple of weeks have seen me back to running & whilst I’m not yet feeling peaky (winter has really set in) I’m going ok. I do have a small hernia which I’ll find out tomorrow when I see the urologist how urgent it is. That may put a spoke in my Sydney/Melb double later in the year but it’s a much better scenario than when I saw him last year! If you got through my whole blog congrats (and I hope I didn’t wallow too much) but I’d be interested in any feedback or similar experience. Happy running!

ChocTop

ChocTop

 

Ups and downs. 3 miles and some hurt. Other stuff.

Today was the day I was going to write up all about my first 3 mile run and how great it was and that I'm back in business with my running and I'm ready to start planning out some mileage increases and target a loose schedule for the next marathon, which could be as early as this winter since after all I've only done one southern state so far. As usual I was up early on Saturday. I consider this one of the best things about nearing my 60s. I can lay in bed and feel all, "It's so nice to wake up slowly and have as much time as I want to doze some more or get up - my choice," and after doing that for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour, it's still only 6:00 AM and I have a bucket load of the day still available to do things. Sleeping in until noon is fine, but then the day is half over. Silly. With a full day of day in the forecast I decided to get my run done first thing. I haven't been timing my little one and two milers that I've been doing to break in the knee, so Hal's been stashed in an old backpack (from the 2011 Philly Marathon), along with my fuel belt and a half dozen uneaten Hammer Gels. I hooked him up to the charger and had a couple of scrambled eggs for breakfast while he filled up to about 30% - plenty for as far as I was going. Outside there was some water falling, but not enough to deter me, and 69 felt a lot better than the high 80's I'd been running in the past couple of weeks. I have to remind myself that even though the knee feels OK at the start of the run, I'm still horribly out of shape. Have to take it real easy on both counts. No pushing. This road is a long, slow one. I ran a mile, then walked for a minute, ran another, walked for two minutes, ran the third and last one. Louie was quiet the whole time. Good boy. Funny the things you remember. I knew I was going to post this run on Strava, and that Strava always measures my runs .01 shorter than Garmin, so I finished at 3.01 so it would show up on Strava as a full 3 miles. Funny the things you do. Don't ask me why I thing Strava needs to show me a full 3.0. Got rained on. Didn't care. Spent the rest of Saturday painting. Finished the stairway, front entry, hall and kitchen. Ran out of paint five feet short of the corner of the family room. Was too tired to go get more and finish; that'll be a job for this week. Also this week is a dermatology appointment to remove the two areas of basal cell on my lower legs, an optometry appointment for new glasses, and my five year colonoscopy. Sort of tired of seeing doctors this year. And T-Rex comes home for a month from school on break tonight. She's survived the semester and we feel like she's actually made progress. Not perfect - too much sleeping, skipping assignments at the end of semester, too much help doing a few assignments, migraines - but her best work so far. One day at a time. Louie has been seriously cranky since we cooled down Saturday, though, so I'm no happy camper today. Pain. Stiffness. Puffiness. Called the ortho's office and left a message, asking for advice. I'm I still messed up or just a little behind schedule in my comeback? Should I abandon my personal efforts and sign up for a few weeks of professional PT? Does he need to see me again? Am I overreacting? Stay tuned.

Dave

Dave

 

RR - Donate Life 5K

This blog entry is about my experience in the Donate Life 5K in Fullerton, CA, last April. It's a bit of a long story, with a slow time logged for the race. Still, I had to consider it a victory. I've been a lurker for a couple of years, and I learned 80% of what I know technically about running from The Loop. I owe you all some sharing of my experiences, but I felt I was only just beginning to become a real runner when I was diagnosed with neck cancer the summer of 2017. My petscan on January 12, 2018, showed no remaining cancer, so my treatment worked. Thank you all for sharing your experiences and insights. I got motivated and remotivated and remotivated....from reading Loop entries. I was working on a half- marathon program in the summer of 2017, and running six days a week, up to 10 miles, when I was diagnosed. I actually think all the running helped keep me relatively calm. There's a lot of fairly dramatic thoughts you can get when you get diagnosed with cancer, and I had a few of those. But, I tended to drift back to my athletic experience. I would just get up for the big game. I'd execute everything the doctors told me to the best of my ability. No moaning or groaning. Just play to win. As I was sitting around with cancer, and waiting for treatment to begin, I decided to get one last race into the books. I ran a 10K along the beach, and got into 52 minutes, which was my longtime dream goal. It's not blazing speed, but I was given an award for my age group. I had gas in the tank all the way, which makes it real fun. There were about 350 participants in the Tiki Beach 10K, and I finished in the top 15%. For old runners, I have to say frankly there's great pleasure in watching all those in their 40s, 30s and 20s finish behind me. However, I do find it funny to get the Age Group medal. I outran a bunch of old men in their 60s...how hard can that be for anyone?!?!  But, as you all know, there are some fast oldsters out there. I've always enjoyed it when Loopsters describe a badass moment. It sorta felt that way in the Tiki 10K, when I was outrunning a lot of folks, knowing I had Stage IV cancer. I felt great. It was one of those magical moments when the training program had worked its voodoo, and I could summon sources of energy I never experienced before. A young woman came up to me at about Mile 5 and said, "I've been trying to catch you for the last two miles." We talked a bit. Then, I had my first glimpse of the finish line. I flipped the switch, and was pretty amazed to find I had some jets. Left her far behind. Great day running. I got through chemo pretty good (three sessions). Just some fatigue. No nauseousness, really. Radiation for neck cancer requires that they create a mask so they can secure it over your face to bolt your head to the table in order to make sure they are radiating with great precision your areas of cancer. I had it at the base of my tongue, and a lymph node or two on both sides of my neck. I got a feeding tube in preparation for the time when I couldn't eat normally due to the pain (If you ever get in this predicament, a feeding tube is no big deal). I had 33 blasts of radiation...every weekday for over six weeks. Fortunately, I maintained my ability to swallow. Although treatment was finished on October 20, 2017, you still allow for more 'burning' to take place for another week or two. Sitting around, wondering what to do next during the beginning of recovery, I just naturally thought, "I wonder when I can start running again?" Five weeks after treatment ended, I went to the local high school track and logged a quarter-mile jog just to see if I could do it. Yep. Got it done. I didn't want to push things too much, too fast, though. So, I walked. The week after my lap around the track, I walked 18 miles, two to four miles at a time. I kept it up through the beginning of January. Then, I got my petscan results saying the treatment had worked, and there was no remaining signs of cancer. That's a good day. A second shot at life. Wow. The next week, I tried to start all over again when it came to running...Couch 2 5K. For some reason, my adductor muscles were very tight and I had to stop my first day of the program. I didn't even know what these muscles were called. I had to look them up. I have no idea what the problem was. I waited a week, did some stretching, then started again. It worked. I was very slow, but I was able to keep up the program. I shaved my stomach and taped the feeding tube in place so it wasn't a problem. The treatment knocked out my saliva glands, so I have pretty severe dry mouth. I strap on a hydropack now for my runs. The treatment left me with peripheral neuropathy, so my feet are half frozen, but what the heck....beats having cancer. I wasn't quite ready to run the Donate Life 5K in April, a terrific event on behalf of organ donors. A flat course, except for one small hill, and 529 participants. My children have a friend who died young in a car crash, but her organs essentially saved the lives of several people. So, we participate in the event in honor of her. I run the 5K with my daughter. I didn't want to skip it. I was pretty sure I'd get a junk time, so that dampened my enthusiasm for the race. I planned to Galloway the race, walking for 60 seconds every half mile. Also, I figured I'd need about 220 yards of walking at about mile 2. I actually held up pretty good. The excitement of running with everybody brought me energy. I stuck to my plan, even though I was feeling pretty good at Mile 2. At the moment I crossed the finish line, I just had the feeling of getting it done. I knew my time would be bad (It ended up being 34:37. 320 overall finish. 28 out of 39 Age Group finish.). I did think that running with a feeding tube on half-frozen feet with no saliva might count as a badass moment. Then, about 30 yards past the finish line, it dawned on me: I didn't know if I'd ever run one of these ever again. This thought had never occurred to me. I didn't see it coming. I teared up, and was overtaken with a lot of emotion. Shit, man, it was so awesome just to be here again, never mind the time! I'm up to 5 miles now in my long runs. Still slow and labored. In my head, I'm the runner I was in 2017, so it's frustrating. I may be the runner I was in 2016 (when I ran my first race ever), but maybe even 2015. People regularly express their amazement that I'm out there running every day after some pretty gnarly cancer treatment. Here, in The Loop, I can't imagine any of you would have had a different response. JFR. Thank you all for inspiring me so much over the years.

Clem

Clem

 

Into a New Unknown

Do I know what I’m getting myself into? Probably not, but that’s the excitement and challenge of it all. Last month at the corporate challenge race, which is more like a party with a little running/exercise mixed in, I ran into a guy I met at last year’s Finger Lakes 50’s. We’ve been getting together a few times since then to talk about running. He’s still the only person outside the Loop I talk about anything running. On this occasion after discussing this year’s race plans, we both kind of mentioned that it would be neat to run a 100 miler someday, and he seemed like he’d want to train for it with me, but we just left it at that. I didn’t sleep much that night, which is highly unusual for me. Partly because of the evening run, which I never do, had me wired. But mostly it was the thoughts whizzing through my brain about what I kind of just agreed to do. Can I do that? There will be bumps in the road, but how far south do I let training go before shutting down? How do I approach Mrs NavEng about this? What’s it going to cost? Is this just me getting more selfish with the money and time spent on running? Anyway, this called for a serious sit-down meeting with running buddy and a fine IPA. Maybe I just dreamed the interaction at the corporate challenge. We met, and we established that we’re both “all-in”. We agreed on the Beast of Burden Winter 2020. If you get bored easily, this one is not for you. You’re staring at the frozen Erie Canal for the duration. Zero elevation change. We discussed the many things that need to be considered, including our race buildup plan. Not only did he want to train with me, but also talked about how to run it together. I don’t want to force him to do that, because he’s 10 years younger and LOTS faster than me. We established that there will be no time goals, just the 30 hr limit. And we discussed ways of running together without the need to be side-by-side and jibber jabber with the same dude nonstop. My #1 message to him that day is that the preparation will have to be 100% complete. I will treat it like a project with a start, finish, and milestones. If an injury or several failed key runs or races delay progress, we cancel and start over. I left that meeting with a little more clarity. Next step is the talk with the wife. Keeping her reassured that I’m not going to die is one of the top goals for this. I really believe she thinks I will die every time I put on my running shoes. Rule #1 is that she is not allowed to crew. I’ll update her with texts, but it's guaranteed she’d try to convince me to quit at the first sign of discomfort. Not a good quality in a crew member. I guess that’s because she loves me so much. Maybe this is a good thing to help me respect the race and do everything smart. So I had the wife meeting, and after I was assured no major heart attacks were happening after the 100 word was uttered, I went straight to the most assuring arguments I have: Running Buddy has his PhD in Kinesiology and is a professor at the local college. I ordered him to keep me from doing anything stupid. His wife is an ER nurse. She’ll be there to make sure that if I succeed in doing something stupid, she knows what to do. As I discussed with RB, plans will be scrapped and we’ll re-evaluate if anything goes wrong in the next 18 months.  One of my promises I made when I started running 10 years ago, that I not take away from family time, will be kept. Long runs will still be on weekends while everyone is still sleeping. I think she’s ok now. I then went to create a 7-page Excel workbook to start the planning. Things may start getting geeky.   The ego will take a hit It will suck. Many times.

NavEng

NavEng

 

Tell Me What you Want, What you Really Really Want

Hello and good morning! I didn’t plan on posting anything today, but I have stuff on the brain and I need advice. My post title song will probably be in my head (and your heads) all day now. I hope I don’t sing it where I can be heard. The reason for today’s title is related to where I am with my Achilles recovery and my relationship with running. I’m having good days and I’m having bad ones. I have runs where I feel almost normal and there’s pep in my step and no limit to how many miles I feel like I can run. I also have runs where I look down at my watch and say, “that can’t be right.” Fortunately, none of the runs involve any pain associated with my injury. Last week, after one of those “good” runs, I started to think seriously about a training plan. A marathon training plan at that. Sounds good Randy, just skip over those silly half marathons and get right to it. Sink or swim, baby. So this morning I had one of those “not so good” runs. I felt like I was giving plenty of effort. My heart rate was up nice and high. My watch told me otherwise. The idea of working on a training plan didn’t seem quite so exciting anymore. I know for a fact that I’m caught up in the excitement of so many of the plans of my runner friends. People are signing up for their goal races and excitedly making plans. I’ve been there. It’s a great place to be. I want to be there, badly. I think maybe I want to be there so much that I’ll ignore any reasons not to be there. Once I start a training plan, I won’t quit it and I’ll rarely deviate. No matter what. Is that what I want? Is that what I really, really want?
 

For a Moment

Today started out like any other day. That is, with morning, which I absolutely hate. Plus it’s Monday, and Monday mornings rate just below Godfather III and Pizza Hut on my list of things that never should have happened. The Wife had to work late, so I had planned to run in the morning so she could take the morning shift walking The Dog and I would be free for the evening walk. But we spent half the night up with The Dog who was panicked by the thunderstorms passing through, so the lack of sleep plus my hatred of morning conspired against me. So I decided to try and squeeze my easy 6 in at lunch, put on a second pot of coffee and dove into the workday. Well, to be fair, not so much dove into as “was dragged into kicking and screaming”.  My first call was from a client who told me they did something we advised them not to do and it didn’t go well so they were suing us for not telling them not to do the thing we told them not to do. If you’re confused, don’t feel bad, so are their lawyers. Those discussions were at least interesting in an absurd Dadaist way, but things went downhill from there. It got to the point that I realized the run was going to have to wait, so when it came time for (first) lunch instead of working through it, I decided to actually take a few minutes to eat like a human being and turned on the TV for some background noise. The news was on. There was a press conference. I quickly lost my appetite.  The day wore on and I planned to shift the run to right after I fed The Dog so that I could knock out the miles while she was digesting and still get in the evening walk. Then the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in, and my priority once again was calming The Dog from her anxious frenzy and making sure she didn’t hurt herself or the carpet or furniture or drywall. As it got later in the afternoon and The Wife was further delayed and the weather maps showed more storms on their way and the sating effects of second lunch and afternoon snacks wore off, I began to doubt I was going to be able to get my run in. Then, I got a break. The Wife had her final interview cancel at the last minute and told me she was on her way and would walk The Dog, right as I was about to concede the run and make dinner. I scrounged for a third afternoon snack to hold off the hunger and the instant The Wife walked in the door I tagged her in for thunder duty and hit the roads. I desperately needed some mind clearing miles after the events of the day, and tried to focus my thoughts on the lack of focus that comes when your priorities are whittled down to putting one foot in front of the other and breathing. I craved a simpler thought narrative, if only for the brief mental break that had thus far eluded me. There had been a break in the storms and the clouds had partly cleared. The last light of day brilliantly illuminated the mix of straggling clouds and blue sky and created the kind of vision of the heavens that inspires poets and painters. And sometimes angsty runners. I made my way south on Peachtree into Midtown just as the streetlights began coming on, and the way they broke up the first faint shadows of the evening gave a familiar hint of some coming joy in the night, but I couldn’t immediately put my finger on what was being recalled. It took a minute of searching the stored memories of sensual stimuli, but it eventually came to me. The mix of natural and artificial light, neither strong enough to wash out the other, on a summer night reminded me of the flood lights of the church and county fairs we used to attend as kids. Or the religious feasts or block parties or the North Brunswick Italian Festival. They always came alive as the lights came on and the air, at last free of the oppressive summer sun, finally cooled. For a moment, I could taste the sausage and pepper hero and smell the funnel cake.  As I ran on another memory popped up. Growing up the summer always meant time with dad, as his work schedule was typically lighter in those months and he’d be home for after dinner games of catch or trips to Dairy Queen. As I looked up at the evening sky I remembered the distinct shade of blue I saw from another summer activity. I had watched hundreds of golf balls disappear into that same sky as my dad would give me pointers for my next swing. Of all the after dinner summer activities, the driving range was always our favorite. Over countless summer nights at Legends, the rundown range on Rt 18, with the promise of Dairy Queen on the way home my dad taught my brothers and I how to play golf. He taught us the mechanics of the swing and how to hit different types of shots with different clubs. But he also taught us to be quiet and respectful of the others on the range. And to share the bucket of balls and stay back out of harm’s way when it wasn’t our turn. He taught us the rules of golf and how you’re responsible for knowing those rules out on the course and calling penalties on yourself. He taught us that we keep our own score and need to be honest in doing so. I thought about those things my dad taught me, and lamented so many people in this world never seem to have had those lessons.  The nostalgia for simpler times had its hoped for effect and for a moment, running as it so often does had brought me peace. But as I made the turn around and looked at what was before me, my heart and mood sank. The blue sky and crimson hued clouds were gone, replaced by a view straight out of Twister. I had been running away from it on the way out, but now I was headed right back into the approaching storm. As I got closer to home I kept looking at the monolith of pitch black cloud, devoid of shape or light or life, and my mind was again flooded with anxiety over all the things that were waiting for me. My phone would be full of email and voicemail and text messages, blinking its incessant LED notifications. Cable news likely wouldn’t have been abolished yet and its content wasn’t likely to have improved. I would soon enough feel helpless and heartbroken once again at being unable to comfort The Dog through yet another round of storms. I felt ashamed at my naivete. I hadn’t solved any of these problems, I was merely running away from them. Of course life was simpler and happier when you were a kid with no real commitments or responsibilities. Funnel cake causes diabetes. And for the love of God people cheat in golf all the time, the environmental impact of golf courses is enormously negative, and the sport and its clubs have excluded women and minorities for the entirety of its history. All I needed to top this off was to find out that my dad was the Zodiac Killer.  My legs suddenly felt heavy and my pace down Cardiac Hill wasn’t any faster than it had been going up. I finished my 6 miles and walked the cool down block to my apartment. The rain started. I felt guilty and immature for needing my escape, like I was shirking all of life’s responsibilities. Walking past the park next to my apartment I saw a couple of guys getting out of a Jeep with the top off. It had only just started to sprinkle so I assumed they hadn’t noticed and decided to be a good Samaritan and flag them down to tell them about it.  “We know” they said. Puzzled I looked at the Jeep, then back at them. “It’s ok, it’ll dry.” And with that, they made their way to the tennis courts.  I thought about this as I walked on. We train our bodies through repeated stress and recovery, and through this they get stronger. Shouldn't this apply to the mind as well? Or must we constantly fret over what more often that not are merely passing showers? I pondered this over a shower beer while the last of the guilt washed down the drain and the beer made me forget about that nagging tender hip. Tomorrow will bring a new act in the theater of the absurd. Like the 600s on the schedule. I hate 600s. They make no sense and screw up the math. But I’ll get through them. And in the process, for a moment, I just might wonder how the world would be different if my dad had been a golf pro.
 

Progress, of a sort.

Many thanks for the good thoughts and the encouragement. Getting kudos for being patient is not generally a thing for me. Not sure I deserve it, either. The fact is, Louie continues to be a serious pain in my knee. Some days, not gearing up for a summer of marathon training eats me up inside. I try my best not to think about it. The first half of 2018 has had all sorts of suck to it, if I'm being honest. The knee, of course. T-Rex's continuing struggles with school. My mom's unexpected passing. No marathons (I mentioned the knee, didn't I?). Best boss I've had since 1990 left the company. Three days in the hospital stemming from a cancer scare and resulting biopsy with prostatitis. Now that I look at it, that's only five things I can point to that have not been good. Never mind. On the plus side, Mrs. Dave and I had a fun weekend in Toronto. I upgraded my church assignment from working with the old men to teaching 7 year-olds. Bought my dream lawnmower. I was able to see Mom for a few days a month before she left us. Read some great books. So, there's five quick good things. I guess it all evens out, more or less. The come back trail is a bit bumpier this time around than from previous injuries. Normally, I get hurt, take time off, then start running again until I get back in shape and can start racing. There's often a few weeks of phantom pain. This time it seems to be more a couple of steps forward and one or two back, and that's after a long and very slow period of restricted range of motion and lingering fluid at the knee. After two weeks of jogging (no way to call this running yet)/walking a mile three times a week, plus some light PT on the off days, I ventured out for two on Saturday. There was a stoplight pause at a half mile and another at one and a half, plus I walked some steps at one mile. No pain. That's good, right? Start to finish took me about 21 minutes. Not going to bring Prince Henry out until it seems worth the effort to charge him up and strap him on, so I just started the stopwatch on my phone as I left the house and stopped it when I came back. Yesterday I figured to press the outer edge of the envelop a little more and do two miles again. This time there were no lights, so it was non-stop to a mile where I walked maybe 20-30 steps, then back. Again, no pain. Feeling very positive after that. Until today when it's kind of sore when I walk, especially after sitting. Someone tell me this is a normal part of the healing process and not a thing I'll be dealing with forever. You'd think as long as I've been running, and as many of the normal sorts of injuries I've had I would know. This is a surgery, though, and that's something I haven't been through before, so I guess that's a big difference. Anyway, PT today. Two weeks ago I vacuumed the house with Big Mac and a couple of her friends coming into town, and there was a nasty, almost sewer-ish smell from the machine. I changed the bag, thinking perhaps we'd sucked up some ickiness that was causing it. After I finished, it was still bad. I had to spray the house with Febreeze to get rid of the odor. I've never seen a vacuum smell like that. So when the guests were gone I disassembled the head, hose and attachments and found all kinds of guck clinging to the insides. Cleaned those out (holding my nose much of the time), scrubbed them with Mr. Clean, soaked the hose overnight with a bleach solution, then let it all air out for a couple of days. The nasty smell was gone so I put it back together and we seem to be back to normal. We have a couple of plastic 50 gallon drums we use to store water for emergencies. Learned the other day that even with a touch of bleach to keep it from breeding green stuff, it should be refreshed every few years. It's been at least ten since we filled them. Emptied and re-filled them yesterday. Mrs. Dave has a hard time watching movies, especially at home. Two reasons. She is constantly distracted with her phone - not social media, but with texts and calls from family and friends. She also falls asleep. Doesn't help that she mostly lays on the couch when we try to watch. Anyways, with the new Bond coming next year, she decided that she wanted to re-watch all the Daniel Craig films. So we've been working our way through Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre the last few weeks. It took us three nights to get through Spectre. First, she fell asleep about half way through the Rome car chase. Sunday night the power went out just after Blowfeld drills into Bond's head. So, we finally finished it last night. We may have to do this again next fall. Good thing I like 007 movies. This week I'll start painting the rest of the house inside. Thankfully the style where every room has to be a different color is out right now and I can use the nice dusty gray we used in the living and dining rooms. And there's the life of Dave right now. Thanks for reading.

Dave

Dave

 

July Ramblings

7-12-18 There is an ebb and flow in this injury. I’ve rallied to feel optimistic about the outlook. To be out of the boot faster. To feel like bones have stopped hurting. To get a sense of a timeline going into the other half of the year. I’ve got plans. But it seems like my body is trying to halt me. At times, I think I’m being overly paranoid, like I should just buck up and accept the pain. It’s not like I can’t run or I can’t walk. But then I realize the stupidity of my thought process when I realize that I can feel the pain when I am just sitting. It is worse at night. Even on the days that it seems like I’ve only walked from my car to my cube and back. Maybe I need another hiatus from exercise? But I know how much better I feel when I get my heartrate up. I like pushing myself to the point that I feel sweat dripping off my nose. It’s like, it hurts so good. I realize that this sounds a bit wacky if you aren’t into running or exercise. The week off was good for a bit of mental clarity. I knew it was good to realize that running doesn’t define me. But gosh, I miss it. NYC (early November), in theory, should be easier to manage than Boston given the amount of time I will have. But I’ve really just been going through the motions of exercising here and there, biding my time to run again. I haven’t been putting hours of cardio in at the gym or at home. I’ve been putting in enough to offset the containers of Ben & Jerry’s just enough to keep from buying new pants.   After NYC, there is Rehoboth (early December). And what is a really-bad-idea-because-I-fear-a-repeat, I have the opportunity to run in the JAX (mid-December) marathon again. The reality is that I don’t have to do any of these things. But I really want to. Like when someone brings in cake to work, I don’t have to take a piece. But I really want to. The past 6 months have been riddled with FOMO. I feel guilty at times for even thinking that way as I hope to continue (albeit more slowly) my running and have this drift into the past. But I want to be exhausted from high mileage, taking trips into the mountains every weekend, complaining about the heat, and becoming a few dollars poorer every time I visit Ultrasignup. I did put my name into the hat for GDR after unsuccessfully biding myself as an elite entry. It’s next March if I get in. If not, well, I guess I need to figure something else out for a WS entry. Seems a bit unreasonable when I look at my miserable training log of 2018, but a girl’s gotta dream?  Speaking of dreams, I finally got the green light from HR about Everest next year. I just need to put my deposit down to make it officially official. I’ll admit that I would be a lot more excited about it if I didn’t have a darn boot on my leg. So I’m waiting until I actually am walking without any attachments before I plunk down a lot of money. It’s good to have these things to look forward to even if I am nervous about getting my body in shape to complete them all. Mentally, I feel 100% ready to tackle it all. In fact, I would argue that is what is going to be the hardest part of getting back to it. There are so many races and so many adventures and I feel like I’ve been missing out. Abiding by a healthy timeline is going to be hard. But necessary. I really don’t want to be back in the situation again. Even going for a short walk without pain is something I feel like I don’t remember how to do. I’m not spiritual, but if I were, I could imagine shaking my fists at the sky seething, “what else you got?” And then shaking my head when I am handed a painful skin condition while I’m in the boot. Look, I’m not dying, I have a roof over my head, a good job, lots of great friends, a close family, and am generally happy. I hate to complain because perfection doesn’t exist. I just hope that I have a greater appreciation for when my body decides to cooperate once again. I had just come from the podiatrist who told me 2 more weeks in the boot and thought I would give the surgeon’s office another call. My general physician needed to send a referral and apparently this process was very painful for both parties. I had already been through 10 days of antibiotics and they were demanding I was infection-free before coming for a consultation appointment. So, I need to go back to my doctor for them to tell you that I don’t have an infection for the thing that I might need to have surgery on? Let’s just say that I was near the end of my rope. After working in customer service for so long, I try to not let people get under my skin, but I had been chasing down people for 2 weeks now over this very painful issue. I asked her what her name was in that very-bitchy-I’m-telling-on-you way. In the midst of calling my general physician back, she called me back in a much different tone and offered to make an appointment because she said she had spoken with the nurse.   Weird, but okay….I just hope that the doctor is not like his office staff. Or maybe she was having a couple of bad days every time I talked to her. I go to the surgeon’s office today and the person greeting me is like, oh yeah, we all know you when I tell her my name. I’m seething inside, but channel my inner Michelle Obama and choose to go high when they go low. This is second time I’ve ever had a referral for anything in my life and yeah, I’m kind of pissy because I’m in pain. And I’ve been in pain for weeks and no one seems to want to return a phone call or give me a straight answer. So, excuse me while I sit over in this uncomfortable chair and sulk about it. The surgeon tells me I could have it removed and it would be a relatively quick and easy procedure. But he also tells me it is very likely to come back. And I can’t have it removed until it is really, really quieted down. So basically, when I’ve forgotten about it? Yeah, I know…it’s not ideal, but we cannot risk surgery with it being potentially infected. I definitely understand unfortunately. And it does seem to be less angry now. I don’t know if I will have the surgery just knowing that it could come back. And if it lies dormant most of the year and flares up every 12-18 months, I now know to just go get some antibiotics. Also, I’m suuuuuupppper aware that I am way more sensitive about it now because of my boot. Because I can’t even run to try to kabash my pissy emotions. 7-17-18 I had intentions of working out on our family vacation to Kansas. If I were running, it would be a no-brainer to slip out the door in the early hours of the morning and crank out the miles before anyone wakes up. Vacation and morning running seem to oddly agree with me. But I just didn’t feel like working out. I slept, I chased my nephew around the playground in 100°+ weather, I held my niece so my sister could take a shower, and I just didn’t worry about it. I went back and forth about wearing my boot and ultimately only didn’t wear it for a 20-minute jaunt to Wal-Mart for picnic supplies. Otherwise, I wore that sucker pretty much any time I was weight-bearing. I am going to an outdoor concert on Saturday and plan to go bootless. And then I intend to go into the next week seeing how I feel without it. The doc wants me to walk around for 2 weeks and then get another x-ray to see how things look. I’m waiting for the day that I can walk around without remembering that something hurts. Let’s hope that day comes quickly so I feel confident to start running. I got picked for GDR in March 2019! Which also means that I need to find a 50K in between now and February to run. The timing is kind of crappy with fall/winter marathons on the calendar, but really, I need some more mileage by early next year anyway. So maybe January? I hate this feeling of being all wishy-washy with races. I used to be wishy-washy because I didn’t know if I had the weekend off to race. Now I’m wishy-washy because my bones suck. I don’t like being wishy-washy. Silver linings, though? I think 12 weeks in the boot this year will give me all the mental fuel I will need to make the next chapter so, so good. The goal for the second half of 2018? STAYOUTOFTHEBOOT

I have gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back.

It has been almost a week since our Mt. Baker summit which left lots of things swirling around in my mind – about mountaineering, Mt. Denali, and being a part of this team. Respect I’ve been an athlete a long time and I understand the importance of respecting a sport. The sport itself, those who paved the way to make the sport what it is, and those who are experts or highly experienced/successful in that sport. I realize that I am not a mountaineer. Just because I’ve been learning lots of mountaineering skills, and making some pretty awesome climbs, does not make me a mountaineer. Mt. Denali is not a Colorado 14er. That mountain has taken many lives and will probably take many more in the future, so it deserves very much respect. I can ensure that I show this mountain and sport the respect that they deserve by being as well trained as I can be by next summer. I need to take all training seriously, listen to all the coaches and respect their decisions, and practice, practice, practice. Grateful Having the opportunity to be trained by actual mountaineers, Nick, Chris, and Nate, is such a privilege and honor. They have already taken so much time out of their lives to create this team and make it what it is today, and we still have almost a year to go. They aren’t getting paid to do this, and the only thing we’ve had to pay for is some personal gear and getting ourselves to each training. They’ve also made so much effort to get so much amazing sponsored gear for us. I am grateful to Veterans Expeditions and our many sponsors for making this trip happen. I am grateful to family and friends for their support as well. This truly feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I don’t want to take anything for granted. Fear and Self Doubt While we were hiking into base camp at Mt. Baker, I was really doubting myself and my ability to be on this team. It was the first time I really felt out of place and way over my head. I was upset that the training that I had been doing, wasn’t helping me at all. Then, our first night in camp, Nick had a talk with all of us. He went over one of the more recent cuts from the team, and told us all to really think about whether we wanted to be on the team and to climb Denali. At that time, I was thinking… Do I really want to keep putting myself through this? Parts of this just seem too hard and I don’t know if I can keep doing it. I feel like I should be having fun doing this. I am scared that I won’t be able to do this. I don’t want to let my team down. I should just bow out now. I don’t think extreme endurance sports are supposed to be fun 100% of the time. Actually, I think fun is only lightly sprinkled in, like a dash of cayenne to your favorite chili recipe. As an ultra-runner, this should already be imprinted on my brain. For some reason, I hadn’t allowed my brain to shift over to that mentality for mountaineering. Mountaineering is BY FAR much more challenging than ultra-running, mentally and physically. I never thought I’d find something that challenged me more than running 50 miles, but here it is. If you are the type of person that likes to push to your limits (and beyond what you think those limits are), it’s never all that fun until you are finished. These types of things are supposed to break you down, take you out of your comfort zone, piss you off, fuck you up, and then put you back together a much stronger person. You couldn’t accomplish that by just having fun all the time. The Team Being a part of this team and our (hopeful) summit of Mt. Denali, will no-doubt be the highlight of my athletic life. I feel so honored to be able to share this experience with so many amazing and inspiring women. I have deeply missed the camaraderie of being in the military, but I certainly get a lot of it out of this team. I still want to learn a lot more about each of these gals, and spend more time with them outside of training. Candice: She’s our fearless leader and has been doing an amazing job at leading this team. I’ve been lucky enough to have her as my rope team leader the past couple of trainings and she has done an amazing job. She’s the only one of the group that is still active duty (Marine Officer!), and has also been on Denali. I feel 100% confident that she can lead us to a safe and successful summit. Shanna: I already have a soft-spot for this woman. She is so amazing and inspiring in her daily life, and always has the right things to say at the right moment. She is also an ultra-runner. She always checks on me when I seem to be struggling and always tries to carry things for me. She was a big help on Mt. Shavano when I had my unsuccessful summit attempt, mentally and physically. Harmony: She brings lots of outdoor leadership experience and is also one of our rope team leaders. She always says things that makes me laugh and does an incredible job at helping to plan our trainings. She is already super strong on the trails and is certainly an inspiration. Don’t let that 5′ stance fool you! Stephanie:  Reminds me of a bad-ass shield maiden with all her tattoos and always kicking ass on the trail! My favorite tattoo, and one that I just noticed on this last trip, is a jalapeno holding a gun with a flag coming out of it that says, “Pew!” I love it! She is always very methodical and is such a great asset to the team. Go engineers! Amy: I’ve had talks with her about also struggling on the trails, but she never lets it show. I think her feet were more torn up than mine were after Mt. Baker but you never would have known. She is way more bad-ass than she thinks, and I know she will have no problem on the mountain. All of these ladies 100% deserve to be on this team, including myself, and I can’t wait to get to know them even more. I definitely see some life-time friendships being built. Accomplishment Each training that I complete with this amazing groups, leaves me feeling more and more accomplished. The struggle of climbing for 11 hours on no sleep, then packing up camp and hiking out for three more hours, on tired feet and a worn out body, is all part of being broken down to be built back stronger. All parts of these each training, not just climbing with a heavy pack, are going to make me better, mentally and physically. Each time I proudly look back and think, Wow! I did that! For Denali, we will be carrying everything on our own (backpacks and sleds), and making our own way up the mountain. We will be calling the shots and making decisions – as a group – that will get us to the top (with the help of weather reports from rangers on the mountain, of course!). I wouldn’t want to climb this mountain any other way. Moving Forward While I’m a runner at heart, and have a marathon in December, I really need to focus more on becoming a stronger climber. I haven’t taken nearly enough time to hike in the mountains now that the weather is nicer. It becomes increasingly more difficult to get to the mountains (no 4×4) when the weather is bad so I need to get on it. The only way I am going to get better is to put that pack on and go. I have accepted the fact that this is a little scary! It’s ok to not be 100% confident and it’s ok to have moments of self-doubt. I understand that Mt. Denali will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I still have time to prepare for that, mentally and physically. I’m not going to allow myself to have I’m not good enough for this team thoughts anymore, because I am good enough. I am a member of this team. I am excited that I have unlocked this new level of myself. I really had thought that I’d “been there, done that” plenty and that I didn’t need anything else to truly challenge me. I will be a changed person after Denali, and I will be a better runner. I just hope this doesn’t spark the feelings of wanting to try longer ultra-marathons again. I really think I’m ok without it…haha! Purpose (in my opinion) The purpose of this climb and our team is evolving, in my opinion. First and foremost, we want to encourage other women veterans to join in on trips with Veterans Expeditions. They offer so many trips and just don’t get that many women participants. I do think this will help get the word out more about the organization, and draw the attention of more women. Secondly, I think this will inspire women push their limits and try what they think might be impossible. You don’t have to be a seasoned mountaineer to climb Mt. Denali. With adequate and safe training, it is possible! You also don’t need for a man to guide you up the mountain, or lug around all your shit for you (but many props to those of you who do that for a living!). Lastly, there can never be too many role models in this world. The times are crazy and there is so much scary news out there. I don’t want younger generations to lose sight of the great things waiting for them out there. I want my nieces and nephews to be proud of me and excited to talk to me about this in the future. I have a “favorite bad-ass aunt” status to earn! Thanks for reading, Chris

NCAthlete

NCAthlete

 

This Week in Running – Go to a Happy Place

It was Friday when I wrote this and Monday when I posted it here. Totally different vibes. Good morning and Happy Friday! Something is seriously wrong with me. My family is out of town and I don’t have work today, yet I woke up just before 5am, felt pretty rested and couldn’t go back to sleep. Bleh. The title of this week’s post is from one of my favorite movies and is also a solid mantra. Happy learned how to putt. If I can’t sleep, I might as well write and listen to some bluegrass covers. I found a Spotify station of Bluegrass songs that many of you would actually know, like current song, a Bluegrass version of Hot in Herre by Nelly (profanity alert). You never know what the next song will be and it’s pretty fun. My week in running has me at a bit of a crossroads. I’ve had days where I feel great and am hungry for more. I started thinking about late fall/early winter marathons and training plans. What??? Yeah. I started thinking about getting back to the track and running some top speed intervals. Sounds fun, right? Definitely in a happy place here. Never leave. I’ve also had days that remind me of the 4 months that I couldn’t put in a single mile. I push hard on hot mornings only to look down at my watch and hope that the pace shown isn’t right (it is). I’ve had runs where I start out with my normal drive and enthusiasm, only to end up needing a walk break. All of these runs do have one thing in common. I’m happy to be running at all. Losing something can certainly help you appreciate it, so I’m finding joy in every mile. I even ran trails this week! I plan on getting back to those. They are beautiful, usually hilly (which I need), lower impact than the road and work a few extra muscles. It’s like cross-training, but not. 4.5 trail miles and I’m a mountain man, wrastlin bears and whatnot. Last week was 23.8 miles. This week will be about the same. A 10 mile long run is in my future. I might go for it on Sunday or I might not. No pressure. No pressure…someone should start a running group where there’s no pressure and people can run how and what they please. They could call it the No Pressure Running Group! That would never work. One other tidbit of awesomeness…I found new pairs of my favorite shoe ever! Altra made a shoe called “The One” a while back and I ran in the first version and loved them. Eventually they got to version 2.5 and I consider them the perfect shoe. I ran lots of miles and lots of races (including some PRs) before I finally had to retire them the day I ran my fastest half marathon ever. No, I didn’t bury them or cry. Of COURSE, the reviews of version 3 were not favorable. As we all know, shoe companies LOVE to make “improvements” to our favorite shoes. Luckily, I scored some 2.5s! Baby, you’re the one. We’re gonna run so fast. That’s it for this week. I’m heading out to have coffee with running buddies (maybe buddy?) but I’m skipping the run. Today feels like more of a cross-training day. How’s everybody else’s week been? Anybody have an old version of running shoe that they search the globe for?
 

I've Been Running

Life keeps going by. I'm running. Nothing too exciting. Apparently not enough to get me to want to write about it. But for weeks now I've been thinking maybe I should just update you good folks on this dying medium. Because feedback is always nice. I brought up streaking back in May I believe, and my streaking went pretty well! I made it to 55 straight days without missing a workout - crushing my previous record of 11. Toward the end I just felt tired all the time and a trip to Kentucky gave me the excuse I needed to take a few days off. But I was proud of the streak and I liked the incentive to get out there each day and keep it going. I still work out most days. The injuries come and go. My right butt/hamstring seemed to be better, but then an increase in mileage made it hurt again. It bothers me a little but I'm running through it. Also my left knee is starting to hurt, probably as some kind of compensation injury. Both of these hurt more after spending long shifts sitting in the car ubering. I guess I need to stretch more and stuff, but, whatever. Nothing is too bad yet. But I admit I'm a bit nervous since I need to ramp up to marathon training like now. I'm doing about 30 miles a week, with long runs of 11, so I have a decent base, but its time to get it up to 40 in August and 50 in September if possible. I'm also still doing speed work, because it's fun. And because the annual 1-mile track race is coming up in a few weeks. I'll take another shot at sub-6, but I'm not confident. Last week we did 4x250 and 8x400. The 400s were all around 90, and rests were short, but the thought of running 4 in a row at that pace sounds pretty hard. On July 4th I did our local 5K for the 16th time. I didn't have any big goals, just wanted to have fun, push myself and see how I'm doing. Hoped to break 21. Felt pretty good for 2 miles (6:52. 6:40) but then ran out of steam just when it was time to push and only managed 6:52 for mile 3 (downhill!). Managed a 21:13 which left me a bit dissatisfied. And therefore more motivated to work harder. But I did beat my coach again and got 4th in my AG and a 72% Age grade so I guess I'm doing OK. Here's some photos.   Life updates: We're back to being empty-nesters. Dear 24-year old son moved out some months ago and he now has roommates and is doing fine living independently finally. And the foster/adoption saga finally ran its course as Chloe moved out after a year with us.  A variety of factors were involved and I don't want to write a thousand words about it. But it has been tough on us and we are recovering. Probably won't try again since I know you're wondering. Not sure what the future holds but we are taking a little break right now. DW has the summer off and we are enjoying a peek at retirement life. We did a week in Kentucky visiting her family. Caught a Reds game and saw the musical "Once on this Island" which was fun. I also played two rounds of golf. Next week we are going to Las Vegas for 3 days, catching two shows and laying by the pool in 107 degree heat. There will be no running that weekend! We have two days booked for museum days here in LA. And of course we go to the beach a lot. Because it's right there. And I'm reading a lot. Later in August I will be visiting my parents in Western North Carolina for a week. Of course I have to plan my miles around all this. Long Beach Half on October 7th and New York City marathon November 4th are looming. And that's all I've got for now! See you on Facebook and Strava!    

BANGLE

BANGLE

Guitar, trails, ankles, PR, heat

Wow, it's been a while since I've written. I've been running, and it's even been a little more interesting than usual, but I've also been filling in for a coworker (but I'm hourly and not allowed to work overtime, so I've got to do more in the same amount of time) and I was doing streak of daily guitar practice that I ended on the 4th at 128 days that left me zero mental energy by the end of the day. I've also been mulling over starting a graduate degree in nutrition. I think I'll actually fill out the application this weekend. Do I have to do that now that I've said it publicly? I've actually started talking about it like I'm really going to do it. The expense and time commitment are the biggest concern. I think I can expand my mental energy to take a couple of classes.  I hope so! There are things I may have to drop, but running won't be one of them. I'll certainly have even less time to write here when I start that. (But you might get extra nutrition advice when I do! Or not, because that's so fraught with strong opinions if you're not looking for the advice) This picture is so huge...day 100 of guitar practice. I'm still bad at it. I play more classical style because I have short fingers and small hands and it's really hard to hit the chords. I'm working on it...       It's been super hot, but I've been working away. I started on my marathon plan for the Route 66 marathon in Tulsa OK this November. It actually meant a cutback in miles I was doing but soon I'll be back where I was and increasing from there. Running has mostly been good, but the trail running has been...challenging. There are the constant spiderwebs. I posted a picture of the trail to instagram and facebook with a caption about destroying the work of hundreds of spiders. It's not an exaggeration, and it's very unpleasant. I can just picture the streams of webs trailing from my body (and face!) with all the spiders hanging on for dear life as I try to wipe them away before immediately hitting another web. I've tried the stick waving method, but it doesn't help me be less clumsy and it doesn't work well. I'm not the most coordinated person, but running on sidewalks or roads I don't fall down much, make it at all technical and it's a whole new game. Besides the terrain I want to look around because running in the woods is beautiful and that never works out well. It's not a super easy trail (though I don't have pictures of the more challenging portions yet), but I've fallen and twisted/sprained my ankle twice already. I lose focus for a second and I step on something and fall down. This week a walnut took me out. Naturally, it was otherwise the smoothest, widest, flattest part of the trail. I'm cruising happily along and boom! I step on the darn walnut, my ankle rolls and I'm in the dirt. Somehow, when I fall it's my left side that hits the ground even though I stepped on the nut with my right foot. Easy parts of the trail. Close the where the walnut got me.  I had a chiropractor appointment already scheduled for that afternoon so I was able to have him look at it. He looked at it, felt around, moved my foot and concluded I hadn't wrecked myself too badly. Partly due to all the balance work and exercises he's been having me do. Turns out "Prehab" works. My body was able to pull itself somewhat out of the fall and I ended over correcting sort of and that's how I landed on my left side with a minor sprain, instead of continuing the ankle roll and probably having to hop out of the woods on one foot. Not sure how I'd have gotten home if I'd really hurt myself. My sister was out of town so I couldn't call her like I would if she was around. (This has never been necessary, hopefully it stays that way)               It's so hot it's hard to tell, but I think I'm getting faster. On the 4th I ran a 3k (yup I mean 3k). It started too late in the morning and it was BLAZING hot. Usually I'd warm up, but I felt like I'd be better off just trying to keep "cool" for as long as possible. I also decided to run hard, but not push it because it was already 90* and it's not like I was going to win the thing. I didn't want to feel terrible the rest of the day. However, based on my result I wish I'd have tried just a little harder...for the second time this year was 4th in my AG by less than 5 seconds. Grrr. Oh well. It's not like I need the little plastic trophy. But this one bugs me a bit more than the last because I feel like I had that 5 seconds in me for sure. I did not see the woman who beat me just in front of me, but if we'd gotten in a duel she might have beaten me anyway. But it would have been nice to know I'd tried. I'll never know if I could have beaten her. It was however a PR of about 10 seconds for the distance and the course. I was surprised by that.        This morning was another sweat fest, but I felt really good otherwise. My ankle thankfully didn't complain - I hadn't run since I fell on Wednesday, just some elliptical time yesterday. It was good to have my Team in Training group. I like running alone ok, but having other people to run with is nice when I can. I wouldn't want to do either 100% of the time.  Lotus blooming in Forest Park a couple weeks ago. Sunrise this morning, already 80*+, dewpoint over 75. Ick. When's fall? Teammates and I at the top of Art Hill. We don't look like it's hot out at all do we? Sorry friends if you stumble on this...I haven't added your names to it anyway. And 3 of the 4 of us took similar photos so it's ok right?

amarie2009

amarie2009

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