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!
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!
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.
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..
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Thank you all for inspiring me so much over the years.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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 halfmarathon 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?
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!
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?
Mt. Baker - 10,781' - North Cascades, Washington
July 5-8, 2018
The last scheduled training for the VetEx women's Denali team is in the books, and we are now down to six team members. We started with 12 and now we are six. Myself, Amy, Candice (team leader), Harmony (co-team leader), Shanna, and Stephanie. With each training, we've really been able to dial in the skills that they've taught us and I'm finally beginning to feel a lot more comfortable with everything. Except for carrying a really heavy pack on a steep trail. My weakness in that area was painfully apparent on this trip.
Happy July 4th! Me, Amy, and Stephanie
Wednesday, July 4th, myself, Amy, and Stephanie headed to Seattle on the same Southwest flight out of Denver. It was nice to fly with the two of them because I typically fly alone. There may have been some pre-flight shots involved... When we got to Seattle, we were picked up by "Coach" Nate and taken to Lake Union where they knew someone that had rented an AirBnB house-boat! We were able to hang out on the boat, have some beers and snacks, and then sit on the rooftop to see the best fireworks show I've ever seen! Later that night, we all crashed at Nate's Aunt and Uncle's house and got up early the next morning to head to the trail-head.
The house-boat was super sweet with a great view of downtown Seattle
It was an incredible show and those are the best fireworks pics I've ever been able to take!
We stopped for breakfast (where I crushed some yummy biscuits and gravy!) and also shopped for our food for the next three days. Some of those food items where: salami and prosciutto, canned chicken, mac 'n cheese, brie, oatmeal, deli meat and cheese, crackers, trail and nut mix, hot chocolate, and Mexican rice. We also each had two Mountain House freeze-dried meals; I picked chicken and dumplings and biscuits and gravy, naturally. One final stop before we reached the trail-head was at a ranger station to pick up poop bags. These bags were just small blue plastic ones with a twisty-tie in them.
We got to the trail-head and divvied out the group gear and food. By the time I squeezed everything into and on my pack, I feel that it weighted at LEAST 45 pounds. Here's list of most of what was in my pack:
Clothing: top/bottom base layers (x2), top/bottom shells, puffy jacket, several pairs of thick socks, underwear, and bras; beanie, headband, Buff (x2), hat
Personal Gear: Sleeping bag, mat, and pad; ice ax, crampons, trekking poles, helmet, headlamp, rope, harness, seven carabiners, three full 1L Nalgene bottles, and toiletry bag
Group Gear: kitchen tent (with pole and stakes), three WhisperLite International cook stoves, one metal MSR fuel bottle, bag of six rolls of toilet paper, hand sanitizer
Group/Personal Food: two Mountain House meals, oatmeal packets, hot chocolate packets, trail/nut mix bags (x3), and bag of personal snacks (four Snickers bars, Skratch, Cliff Shot bloks, jerky, bag of corn nuts, and a couple protein bars)
Wow, after typing it out...that is a lot of shit! We all had pretty equal amounts of group gear/food. I had to sit down on the ground to get my pack on and then grab someone's hand to help me up! One detail about this that worried me from the beginning was having to hike to our base camp in our mountaineering boots. I rented the same La Sportiva boots (you mutherfukcers) that I used when we hiked Mt. Shavano and I knew this wasn't going to turn out well. I hadn't realized we'd be hiking the initial, non-snow covered miles in those boots. I haven't bought any mountaineering boots yet because I don't want to be stuck with something that is going to chew my feet up.
It was a beautiful forest hike, but I unfortunately didn't get to enjoy it because I was dying. As per the usual for these training, I was bringing up the rear. I thought I'd see some improvement with all of the mountain running I've been doing, but nope. Not one fucking bit. I've learned that all the mountain running in the world doesn't compare anything to carrying a heavy pack on your back.
Heavy pack + mountaineering boots + 2260' elevation gain over 4 miles = SUCK. I had thin sock liners and thick hiking socks on and the freaking thicker socks kept going down into my boots. Ugh. By the time we got to the top, I was feeling like I had blisters on my heels. Luckily, they just turned out to be hot spots.
We set up camp, two tents with three of us in each, and took turns digging out our kitchen tent. We didn't camp on the snow this time, but was still able to find a deep enough spot to dig out our kitchen. We had a beautiful view of Mt. Baker and the surrounding North Cascade mountains. We were expecting some bad weather Friday and Saturday and knew we'd just have to wait out a window for a summit attempt. I slept pretty well Thursday night.
LOVE this pic
The ice is blue but you can't tell from this pic
Friday, we practiced running belay in each position of the rope (front, middle, and back). Each position has their own responsibilities so it's important to know and practice them all. I was on a rope team with Candice and Stephanie, and I was put in the middle for the weekend. We also practiced self arrest with our ice axes and crevasse rescue. They found a shallow one by our camp and had us practice there. We repelled down into it and then used the Texas Kick rope method to get ourselves out. It's a pretty cool and highly effective technique!
I tossed around most of the night because the wind picked up a bit and rattled the tent. I was the first to get out Saturday morning so I thought I'd start melting some snow so that we could have coffee. This was the first time I started the WhisperLite stove all by myself and I was so proud! I didn't burn down the tent! I even had the water boiling already when the first person came in
We didn't have much of a plan for the day because we were hoping to get a weather report. We did, which said it would clear up halfway through the day and would also be clear all day Sunday.
We had a decision to make:
Leave for the summit Saturday morning and try to get back before dark; have the night to rest up and then hike out on Sunday.
Leave late that night and get up to the summit just after sunrise (our best chance at a successful summit) on Sunday morning. When we got back, we'd have to pack up camp and hike out. We were worried about our drivers not getting any sleep, but still having to drive us back to Seattle.
Can't even see the top!
My initial vote was to complete the summit on Saturday. I just didn't like the idea of having to summit on no sleep, get back to camp and pack up, then head back to Seattle in the same day. However, when I learned that Option 2 would be our best bet, I was down. We all agreed on Option 2 so we decided to take it easy all day Saturday. We practiced knot tying in our tents and then took a nap from 2-4; I only slept about 30 minutes. We made and ate dinner, then tried to sleep more; we'd be getting up at 10pm and needed to leave by 11pm. I think I might have slept two hours, as I couldn't get my mind to shut down.
The view at 10pm
Even though I had my pack ready to go before we napped, it still took me forever to get situated when 11pm rolled around - that is something I definitely need to work on. No one else around base camp was stirring around their tents so we were the first ones to take off up the mountain. Shortly after takeoff, one of the ladies shouts out, "Look! Paw prints!" We later heard from some of the other climbers that we must have been the "boisterous group" that started around midnight. Oops! Starting the climb in the dark was a little scary, simply because we couldn't see everything around us, i.e. crevasses. Also, I hadn't thought to change the batteries in my headlamp, so I could barely see. I brought extras but only three - it needed four. I didn't realize how dim it was until we started climbing.
Our first stop was about two miles up the mountain. I was getting pretty warm and wanted to shed a layer. I had on a t-shirt, base layer, and my waterproof, light shell jacket. I hadn't thought to unzip the sides of the jacket, and when I removed it, I was SOAKED. You could see how wet the jacket was on the inside and my base layer was completed soaked. Not good. Luckily, I had another base layer to change into and William's light puffy jacket to put on. Saved! We were all relatively quiet because we needed to be able to listen out for warnings. "Crevasse on the right!" "Crevasse step-over!" We each had to relay those warnings to the person behind us.
Each position on the rope team has their own difficulties. The front has to make sure to keep a pace that isn't too fast for everyone else, and will sometimes get pulled by those behind them. The middle has to make sure not to go too fast so that the rope doesn't trip the front person. Then they also can get pulled from the front and the rear members. Being in the middle, that got really frustrating at times. You have to be focused and alert at all times. The rear has to keep the pace set by the other two and also not let the rope trip up the middle person. Do you know how hard it is to keep three people going the same pace while climbing a mountain?! Sheesh! Our team kicked some serious ass though. Go team!
For a majority of the climb, we had steps to use from previous days before. When someone steps through the snow when the snow is soft, then it freezes over, it makes a nice step. However, some parts were really hard and you really had to dig your boots/crampons into the ice. My ankles were getting really sore from constantly turning them in some of the rough patches. The hardest parts where when we had to really dig our boots in or place our feet sideways where it was really steep. At one point, Nate and Scott had to put in pickets so that we could start a running belay. The intent with pickets (anchors) is to have a place to stop you if you were to start falling, rather than fall all the way down the mountain. Once you get to a picket, you clip in (or out). If you are in the middle, you must first clip in the ascending side of the rope, then unclip the descending side so that you are never completely unclipped. "Chris anchor!" "Chris clear!" I feel like I have the hang of that pretty well.
About a half a mile from the summit, and on the Roman Wall, I felt like my calves were at muscle failure. Just when I thought I couldn't go any further, I gritted my teeth and kept pushing. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and I knew I couldn't break down. I was feeling too stubborn to ask Candice to slow down a bit, but luckily Stephanie shouted at us to slow down. Whew! We finally reached the plateau at the top and could finally relax a bit! We had to go about a quarter mile across the plateau to get to the actual summit. It was gorgeous at the top! You could see jagged mountains for miles and the sun and clouds were beautiful. We were the first team to make it to the top, but we had another one behind us that we could finally see once we reached the summit. We took some pictures, but tried not to take too long so that we could give the small summit hill to the next team.
The summit hill
We didn't spend much time at the top before we headed back down. Traditional mountaineering etiquette says that those descending should give right of way to those ascending. When we reached the end of the plateau and started to descend, we could see the conga line of folks coming up. That's when we really realized what a good call we'd all made to start the climb early. Parts of the Roman Wall, we had to get off to the side and wait for others to pass us going up. Honestly, it was a nice rest break for me. I knew my feet were not going to like the decent in those boots. I typically have issues with my toes always jamming in the tips of shoes when going downhill - this was no different. The snow was still too hard to really dig our heels into so my toes were taking a beating.
Glad we weren't stuck in that!
We were definitely getting looks by others as we were coming down. Some of those looks appeared to be...
Wow! They are coming down already?
Are they all women?
Those are the girls that were making all that racket last night.
Can you NOT say hi to me? This sucks.
Look at those bad-ass women!
I'm sure there were others, but those were the obvious ones. All of the other ladies that we passed were loving us! Most of them seemed super excited to say hi. I'm not saying that we were special but we kinda were. Most of the people we passed were men. When we did pass women, they would be the only one on their rope team of 4-5. We didn't see a single other all-women rope team that day, and you certainly didn't see any leading the rope teams. There were lots of guided groups, and teams with REALLY poor/dangerous rope practices. We did pass one family that had the dad in the front, two teenage kids (boy and girl) in the middle, and the mom in the back. The mom had a ton of slack in her rope which made me nervous.
Check out that snow cave!
We took a long break towards the bottom so that we could eat some food. The snow was pretty hard to walk on at that point because so many people had come through, creating foot holes everywhere. I can't tell you how many times I turned my ankles or stumbled. When we got to Heliotrope Ridge, it was WARM. We were all dying in our layers but just wanted to be done. I had on a heavy, black base layer and I was roasting. This was another one of those points where I just had to keep pushing even though I wanted to stop and just lay in the snow.
We finally got to our camp and it felt like the bottoms of both of my feet were just a big blister. Somehow, I didn't have a single blister but had lots of hot spots. We got back to camp around 10am, making it almost an 11 hour round trip. We hadn't slept much, hadn't eaten a real meal, and now it was time to pack up camp and hike back out. Fuuuuuuuuuck. That was the last thing any of us wanted to do, but no one complained. No one ever really complains excepts for maybe under their breath. I've definitely had points of complaining but it would just be out loud to myself - lots of groans and grunts but never any protest or resistance.
I couldn't imagine hiking the four miles back to the trail-head, on tired feet and in those mountaineering boots, but I managed to do it anyway. Just when I think something is impossible, I am able to do it anyway. I told everyone that I'd have to take it at my own pace and that I'd be slow, but I finished it. I wanted to enjoy the sunshine and gorgeous trail, especially the waterfall we walked by, but I couldn't. I couldn't stop thinking about how much my feet hurt, how badly I wanted to be done, and how heavy the pack was on my already bruised hips. I definitely cried a little bit, but I think my dark sunglasses covered it. At one point Amy asked if I was ok, and I just nodded as I was sobbing.
We made it back to the trail-head (which I think took about 3 hours!), packed up all our gear, and headed out. We stopped to eat pizza and have some beer, then headed out for the 2.5 hours back to Seattle. My long, tired legs being cramped up in a backseat for that long was treacherous. When we got back to Nate's aunt and uncle's house, we had to unload all the gear and separate everything out. We were all wiped the fuck out and it felt like the tasks would never end.
I finally got a shower and crashed on the couch. I didn't feel like eating anything else so I didn't. I think I fell asleep around 10pm but then had to wake up at 3:45am to catch a Lyft to the airport for our 5:55am flight. WOWZER.
It is now almost a week since the trip, and I am STILL sore. My quads and calves have been really tender and I've just been doing what I can to recover. I used some NormaTec booties at the gym on Wednesday morning, and did a shakeout 2.5 miles with Scott Jurek at my local running store (LRS) Wednesday evening. He and Jenny were at the store for a book signing! Woohoo!
I have a lot of thoughts and reflections about this trip, and about being on this team, but I've decided to make that into another blog. Stay tuned...
Thanks for reading,
“I knee and pride is it hurts.”
The two women who had stopped to check on me just stared blankly.
“It’s pride, OK just the knee.”
Now they looked at each other, then back at me with an expression of growing concern.
I bent down to pick up my water bottle and snuck a quick glance at my knee. I expected the blood, but not the flash of pearl white in the middle of the crimson flow. That rattled me, so I took a deep breath and tried to make the words right one more time.
“I’m fine, think my pride is hurt worse than the knee.”
With that lie I forced myself to get running again. The whole thing, from feeling my foot catch the lip of the concrete slab to hitting the deck to picking up my water bottle and getting moving again had taken maybe 3 seconds. Not even long enough to stop my Garmin. But you can learn a lot in 3 seconds.
I cursed my stupidity as I forced myself back into my normal gait, despite the searing pain. It was true that I was embarrassed by the fall, but the pain radiating from my knee was far worse. There had been a lot of blood really quickly. And that bright white thing sticking out… well I didn’t even want to go there. But I was running, so it couldn’t really be that bad. Could it? I briefly recalled a hockey player a few years back who broke his leg in a playoff game and tried to keep playing, which wasn’t helpful so I immediately tried to banish it from my train of thought. Afraid of what I might see if I looked down, I continued on fueled by denial and willful ignorance. As I ran I checked the faces of the walkers, bikers, and runners coming from the opposite direction to see if they reacted. Most of the runners and bikers were in their own heads and paid no attention. The walkers, though, they did double takes. Shit, I thought, that’s probably a bad sign.
I tried to assess the pain to see if I could figure out if it was just a flesh wound or if there was going to be a real injury here. I clearly felt the sting of dirt and sweat rubbed into torn flesh. I also felt the warmth and tightness that accompanies a swollen joint, which I took as a bad sign. But when I checked my pace and gait, both were still normal. And the pain was constant, not really exacerbated by any particular motion or impact. Convinced I wasn’t going to look down and see a tibia sticking out or my kneecap flapping loosely around I decided to stop and take a look at the loop trail’s turn around point.
The streams of blood running down my shin looked like a river delta spilling into my now bright red sock. I forced my eyes to where I had seen the shock of white in the sanguine pool. It was still there. I tentatively moved my hand towards it to see what it was and for the first time noticed blood dripping from some road rash on my palm. This had an unexpected calming effect as I now realized what the white object was and carefully removed the stone from where it had embedded itself in my leg. It was roughly the size of a small kernel of corn, and had gouged out a nice little gash which continued to weep blood down the front of my leg. There was definitely some swelling, but after rinsing the knee with my water bottle and doing a “well I have that bump on both knees” comparison I decided to try and finish the last 3 miles I had on the schedule.
The more I ran, the better it felt and the tense single-mindedness of damage assessment faded. I again cursed my stupidity. I had run this path dozens of times, ticking off hundreds of miles on these trails and knew every rock, ditch, root, and mud puddle. I thought back to what had been going through my head before I’d so carelessly tripped. My mind hadn’t been on the trail. I had been thinking about the nagging tenderness in my other shin and knee which I had apparently injured during yet another night of excessive drinking. I had been telling myself how disciplined I would have to be going forward and how I had to get my shit together if I wanted to hit the goals I’d set. And I was so focused on berating myself I didn’t pay attention to the extra inch or two of erosion that the recent rains had caused in front of the small concrete slab that spans the narrow drainage ditch. That was all it took, a momentary lapse of focus and an inch or so of erosion to nearly ruin everything. Sure, I’m still young and healthy and can try again next year or whenever whatever injury I’d caused had healed. But when you set big goals and invest four months of your life into them, not even making it to the start line isn’t an acceptable outcome. I realized there was a lesson here: take nothing for granted. It’s easy to get complacent with the familiar. But the bigger the goals, the more the details matter. So pay attention.
Thinking of the other knee, I realized I hadn’t noticed it one bit since the fall. And even now, when I was actively thinking about it, I felt no pain. I didn’t know if the pain had actually gone away, if it was all just psychosomatic and I now had something else to distract me, or if the new pain was just drowning out the old. Whatever the case, there was a lesson here too: whatever your biggest worry is in one moment may seem insignificant the next. A sore hamstring is a lot less worrisome when you feel your plantar getting tight. Debating the need to do the last rest interval before your cool down seems foolish in the middle of your next tempo run. Traffic on the way into work is forgotten when you get in and check your emails. The emails seem don’t really matter anymore at the end of the day when your car won’t start. And even that is put on the backburner when you get home and find out your kid is in trouble at school or your fridge died and all your foiled spoiled. Something new will always come up. Priorities can change in an instant, and to succeed in running or in life, you better be flexible.
Feeling quite profound, I pressed on and noticed my stride picking up and the pain dissipating. Garmin signaled my tenth mile was complete, and I noted it was the fastest of the day. So I just kept running. The Wife watched me streak past her in the parking lot, hands upturned in a prayer for understanding of my insanity, shaking her head disapprovingly. I made it another third of a mile before I remembered I’m starting marathon training and shouldn’t be mucking up the plan no matter how great I suddenly felt. This was my last lesson of the day: don’t give in. I went from worrying I had shards of bone sticking out of my leg and fearing a marathon derailing injury to wanting to run all the miles. Now, is it wise to keep running when you think a bone may be sticking out of your leg? Probably not. But if I had stopped, who knows what would have happened. Maybe the knee would have swelled up and gotten tight and I would have been sidelined until it felt better. Or maybe not, who the hell knows, I’m not a frigging doctor. But if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t have known I was OK. Stopping may have been the smart, safe move. But people who always play it smart and safe rarely accomplish great things. We face adversity every day in all that we do. Don’t give in.
When I got back to the car The Wife had abandoned the disapproval and now looked more amused than anything else.
“How was your run?” she asked. She thinks she’s funny like that.
My shoe was starting to get squishy from the water I’d squirted on my leg to try and wash off the dirt and gravel and with each step pink bubbles were getting squeezed up through the mesh toe box. People were staring. The Wife noticed.
“C’mon, let’s get out of here before someone calls the cops or something.”
While toweling off the mix of dried salt and perspiration and mopping up the rivulets still running down my leg I couldn’t help thinking about the old “blood, sweat, and tears” idiom.
“You want onions in your omelette?” I asked The Wife. I think I’m funny sometimes too.
I've successfully stayed out of the deep, dark pit of despair with Louie the Jerk knee. (that's a thing now) I'm terming it as "successful" because over the weekend I finally felt a noticeable reduction in pain and a slight reduction in swelling, as well as an increase in range of motion with this troublemaker. Been sort of penciling in a call to the doc early this week out of frustration. Shouldn't I be feeling better by now? A little ice a couple of times. A little pressure on the outer fold of the envelop of flexion and extension. Three one mile walk/jogs (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Those all seemed to have a positive effect and I'm going to stay the course for the present.
Going to stay with a mile at a time with a rest day in between again this week. I've been using the sleeve for the runs but have stopped wearing it the rest of the time. Baby steps.
The weekend before the Fourth we tripped up to Toronto for a rare international vacation. We did mostly touristy stuff, plus caught a couple of baseball games, since the Tigers were in town. We'd planned one of those and sprang for good seats. The other was a last minute thing, and we just bought the cheapest ones. Tigers lost one and won the other. I'll dump some pics at the end.
Painted Connor's old room, then painted the old dresser and nightstand that were in there. They never matched each other or the room before anyway, so it seemed like a good idea. Apparently there is a lot of painting in my near future. Gotta do something instead of running, I guess.
I think not running has effected my writing mojo. Not that I've posting anything especially creative in a long time anyway. But just getting a bloop into the system has been quite a chore, the longer this knee has dragged on. This is my longest injury-caused layoff since 2008-09. That's when I hurt my knee playing basketball for the last time. That's also when I decided the marathon wasn't going to wait any longer. Also, when I joined the Loop.
Took from March until July to get up to my first 10 miler, and a 20+ mile week.
Anyway. After Toronto, I spent most of the holiday week in training classes. Mrs. Dave worked on Independence Day while I spent it quietly at home.
Oh, happy ending to the cracked/slashed/whatever tire episode. We paid for a new one at the Firestone store, but when I got home and went to add the receipt to the car warranty file, I discovered that we had paid for road hazard insurance when we bought the car. Trouble was, the instructions on the warranty were to call their 800 number BEFORE authorizing the replacement. By that time the manager had gone home and there was no way to reach him until Friday (this was Wednesday and we were going to be in Canada by then). Would they let us do it? We called from the middle of Ontario and the manager agreed to call and see what could be done. I'd spent the previous two days beating myself up over the $200 (AND the $800 I'd spent on the warranty!), so it was a little stressful until he called us back and let us know the warranty company had agreed to cover it. Win!
Big Mac came through yesterday and spent the day with us. She's here with a couple of friends to visit Cedar Point for some serious roller coaster-ing. So great to see her (she's my favorite, after all).
Anyway, here's some images from the trip.
The CN Tower is sort of a requirement.
Friday night in the nosebleed seats.
Saturday at Casa Loma. This was one man's expensive home project.
Sunday in the second row.
Here's hoping for continued progress with Louie the Jerk knee, and some real running soon.
Total mileage for the month: 231.9 (in comparison: January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355). My marathontaper and recovery stole some June miles, but that's the nature of marathoning!
May 28-June 3: 73.2
June 4-10: 61.7
June 11-17: 57 (race week)
June 18-24: 37 (recovery/vacation week)
June 25-July 1: 58.1 (unstructured training, and I was surprised to end up with this many)
June 16: Grandma's Marathon in 2:49:08 (6:27 average pace). I was pleased to dip into the 2:40s off of this training cycle, and proud of how I executed the race. This was my second ever fastest marathon, and my third time in the 2:40s on course less fast than the other courses I’ve broken 2:50 on. Of course, 2:45:00 is still my Big Dream Goal, but I really believe I got the best 26.2 miles out of myself that I could have on this day, and that was a great feeling! You can read more about my race here.
June 30: Sertoma Duck Waddle 5K in 18:11, but probably more like 18:26-18:31 and 5:58ish average pace. This was a for-fun local race that I've now run 3 years in a row, and that I had no expectations for not only because I was 2 weeks post-marathon, but also because we were in a heat advisory on race morning. I was plenty happy with how it ended up. The course was not certified, and I believe it was a tad short, so my official time of 18:11 wasn't legit, unfortunately!
Final stretch at Grandma's
June 2: 10 x 0.5 mile repeats (0.25 recoveries, 2.1 warm up, 1.8 cool down) in 2:55, 2:57, 2:58, 2:56, 2:59, 2:56, 3:03, 3:01, 3:04, 2:52 - average of 2:58 which is like a 2:56 800 m. This was supposed to be 10 x 800 m on the track (a.k.a. Yasso 800s), but we arrived at the track to find it under construction. The day before I'd told my coach that if he wanted to change my workout to something like 10 miles at marathon pace I wouldn't be mad, and the torn up track situation made me further feel like the universe was begging me not to run this workout, but I, alas, I made it through. My average was pretty much the same as I ran for this workout before CIM (which was very unsatisfactory to me at that time!), but I was happy with it for this one because it was 78 degrees with dew point of 73 degrees, i.e., terrible weather conditions for running performance. Also I historically bomb every Yasso workout I ever run, so I've stopped worrying about how they translate to my marathons. It IS possible for me to run 2:47-2:49 marathons off of 2:55-2:56 Yasso averages, and I figured heat/humidity-graded this one was more like 2:52 (dew points at this level = "expect pace to suffer greatly"), so it seemed like winning to me! My coach ran the same workout so I had someone to chase, and his super speedy wife ran 4 repeats with us as part of her workout, and she was kind enough to slow down on the last one to help me finish strong...that's how I got the 2:52 when I was clearly dying, you know, just running with the 8th female in the 2018 Boston Marathon. All in all, this was just another data point for me indicating that 2:56 Yassos = 2:49 marathon.
June 6: 20 x 400 m repeats (200 m recoveries between reps, 400 m recoveries between sets of 4, 2.3 warm up, 2 cool down). My goal was to run faster each set, aiming for 89, 88, 87, 86, 85 on the sets of 4 reps. This workout is interesting due to the pace control it takes and the sheer volume of repeats. As far as speed workouts go, it is more suited to my strengths because I am good at negative splitting and volume (I am not good with raw speed). But it is a lot of 400s and a long time to be on the track, especially alone! My splits were: 89, 88, 89, 89 / 87, 88, 88, 87 / 87, 86, 88, 86 / 87, 87, 87, 86 / 86, 86, ??, 85 (average 87). I missed my watch on rep 19 and it took me a bit to notice it, but I suspect it was 85-86. I was either exactly on my target times or 1 second off for every rep, so I accomplished the exercise in pacing and leg turn-over. This was not the fastest I've ever run this workout (I have averaged 85-86), but it actually was the fastest 400s I'd run in 2018, which was humorous since it was double the reps of the other 400 workouts I'd done. I didn't exactly set the bar very high in my other 400 repeats this year, but I always say that I can't go any faster but I can keep going, and this workout proved that! This workout also really illustrated where one of my weaknesses is with speed work, and that is getting going. I never came through my first 200 any faster than 44, and on most of the reps I came through at 45, meaning that when I was running 86 I was splitting them 45/41. I've told my coach that I'm flummoxed that I can finish a halfmarathon with a 5:52-6:02 mile, but I struggle with dropping into the high-5:00's on speed work, and he said it's probably because I have a hard time getting going but once I'm running I can ramp it up, and after this workout I realized he is 100% right on that. Just another reason I'm better at longer races!
June 9: 10 miles with 2 fast finish at marathon goal pace-ish (pick up miles in 6:17 and 6:09; 6:52 for all 10). I started this run feeling sluggish and blah, but finished it feeling great. I always have a time period during my taper when I feel awful, and this run was the turning point to feeling better again. The fast finish miles felt more like halfmarathon effort, probably because they were.
June 12: Final tiny tune-up workout of 2 miles at dream marathon goal pace: 6:21, 6:14 for an average of exactly 6:17 (2 warm up, 2.5 cool down). Like always, this workout inspired NO confidence that I could maintain this pace for much farther than 2 miles. It was rainy for this run, and at the time the Grandma's race day forecast included heavy rain and a 80% chance for it (that forecast actually didn't change until race morning!).
Double on June 7...this list is very sad.
Strides on June 14 and 15, 27, and at least a few before all workouts and the 5K.
Full body strength workouts on June 2, 6, 9 (abbreviated), 27 (abbreviated), 30, and 5-10 minutes of core work most days, with the exception of a 7-day span right before and right after the marathon.
Favorite workout: Err...the choice is really between two speed workouts, so...I choose the marathon, haha!
If it's on the Internet it must be true
God telling me not to run a track workout
June 3: 15.3 miles (7:05). This was the first run in weeks that I finished with some of my clothing still dry! It was in the high 60s and the dew point was 57*, in sharp contrast to the heavy humidity we'd been experiencing (plus I did not over-dress, which clearly helped!). I could feel the previous day's 10 x half mile repeats and strength workout on my legs, but the shorter distance and nicer weather evened it all out! Rebecca ran the first 10 with me and then I was nearly finished!
June 9: 10 miles (6:52), described above and really not long.
Favorite long run: Well, there was really only one, which makes me even more sad than the list of my doubles above. Again, I choose the marathon!
My running streak lives on - my last day off was January 26. I didn't take the week after Grandma's off because I love running on vacation, and also because I didn't want to! My last days off were after Houston, when I was feeling burned out both physically and mentally, and I wasn't afraid to do that again, but I didn't want it this time and was excited for my short recovery runs. After CIM I ran on vacation in the same manner. I don't plan to streak long-term, because I'll take the time when I need it, but it's been fun to count since I've started running 7 days a week in June 2017 -- within the 13 months since then, I've taken 5 days off, all after Houston.
This arrived (I'd completely forgotten it was coming)!
Albani has been losing teeth like crazy! She is onto us about the non-existence of the Tooth Fairy, but still gladly accepts her dollars.
Albani was in her school district's newsletter, reading.
We vacationed after Grandma's Marathon, in Grand Marais, Minnesota, Grand Portage, Minnesota, and in Thunder Bay Canada. You can read more about our vacation here.
2 teeth lost within 10 minutes!
Half of my department at our ABA BBQ
Photo from the district newsletter
Good morning! I hope you all had an excellent 4th of July, whether you were celebrating Independence Day or not. Last week, I decided that I was ready to give racing a try and signed up for the local Percival’s Island 5 miler. It’s flat, fast and fun.
If you’re just now tuning in, I ruptured my Achilles tendon way back in December and worked long and hard to get to this point. I got back to running at around 16 weeks and made up my mind that I was just going to ENJOY running instead of being so damn goal oriented. I’ve mainly been a social runner and taking it easy, but the more I’ve been running, the more natural it’s starting to feel and the more I feel myself wanting to pick the pace up a little. I really miss racing for the competition and the camaraderie too, so combine that with feeling good and there you have it.
I haven’t been doing much running while holding anything close to race paces, so I felt like I needed to “feel it out” with a fast run a couple of days before the race. Public Runemy #1 Robbie was a willing partner to help me out. We ran 2 hard miles sandwiched between 2 easy miles. They were around a 7:00 mile pace and to be honest they felt harder than I remember them feeling. The tricky part is that it’s HOT (you may have heard). It’s hard to tell if the struggle is how out of shape I am or how miserably swampy the weather is. I think it’s both, really.
I was so nervous the night before the race. I had so much doubt and even some fear. It’s hard to forget the complete shock of a ruptured Achilles. The thought that one wrong move can cause such damage is tough to shake. Sure, the injury was a freak accident in a way, but there was a clear path to set it up to fail.
The morning of the race, I felt better. Friends help. People told me what I needed to hear. Seeing and chatting with other runners got me relaxed. I remembered that there’s no pressure at all for me to do well. I’m doing well just by running again.
Off we went in the sweltering, suffocating heat. I started out a bit too fast (surprise!) but got settled in after a quarter mile. I felt alive! For 2 miles, I held a 7:00 pace. Then came reality. Mile 3 was over 30 seconds slower, but felt no easier. The wheels were falling off. My unreasonable optimism sometimes causes me trouble. How could I think that after struggling through 8 miles last Saturday at an easy pace I’d be able to get through 5 miles at race pace?! Dummy.
Once I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to sustain what I’d started, I lost the drive to push through. I slowed down. I walked. I got passed by several runners that knew how to pace properly. Crap. Mile 4: 8:31
Definitely some pain in that face.
With less then a mile to go, I got passed by two more guys that looked about my age. I finally drew a line and decided not to let them beat me. I picked up quite a bit the last half mile and left those two guys behind me with a 7:46 mile 5, finishing strongly back at my 7:00 pace that I started with. I ended up finishing 33rd overall and 4th (I hate that) in my age group.
So there’s a video of the finish, which is pretty cool. My finish is tainted somewhat by the guy PUKING AT THE FINISH LINE, just before I come in. I wish I’d given that much effort. I’d feel better about myself.
I was pretty drained after the race…so I hydrated with some of the red, white and blue ribbon.
This race was good for me. I now know my current limits and I know that I don’t like them. I will change them.
Anybody else race yesterday? How’d it go?
This is a late post, the run was a few weeks ago on June 18.
This is the third year in a row I did the Mt. Washington hill run. For those that don't know of it, it's an auto road, 7.6 miles, that goes to the top of Mt Washington. It's average grade is 12%, there are no flat spots.
Well, I planned, I trained, I made it to the top, but it was from what I hoped for.
Thursday night I had a family / personal crisis that is going to take months, probably some court dates, and a lot more pain to resolve. I did't get to sleep until after 3am. Then silly us, two friends who ran it with us came over last night and we stayed up late chatting, got about 6 hours of sleep. Woke up still a mess from Thursday, still now, will be with me for a while. I'm not going to share more about it here, it's too troubling right now.
The weather at the base this morning was perfect, probably low 60's. I stood in the front today for the start, just behind the elite guys. I didn't run nearly as fast, and also feel I didn't get in their way, but it was cool to be in the front.
I "ran" the first half, no walk breaks. There is a timer at the halfway point, I was at 1:03. Not what I was hoping for, I walked the rest.
It was a very windy day. The treeline goes about halfway up the mountain, then quickly thins to nothing. Once I cleared the trees, the wind really picked up. About 20mph for the rest of the run, 90% of it a headwind. It was brutal. This years winner finished about 10 minutes slower than last years (who also ran today). It was also pretty cold at the top, I heard low 40's. I had a cycling jersey and running shorts.
I don't have an official time, but the race clock and my Garmin both said 2:10. Same as last year. Very disappointed. I trained hard for this. Even though I've been a lifelong couch potato, overweight most of my life, the past 5 or so years have been a big change foe me, I really expected under 2 hours this year.
I finished well before my friends. The last few hundred yards are 22%, that's kinda tough at the end of a 7.6 mile run at 12%. I went to the bottom of that part of the run and waited for my friends. I forgot my bag of warm clothes at the bottom, so a lot of shivering was involved. I saw the guy friend come up first, he seemed OK, so I just high fived him. He actually was pretty dehydrated and felt sick for a couple of hours after.
Next I saw a women a little wobbly, I was yelling some encouraging words. Her hat blew off (remember, 20mph winds). I yelled, loudly, a couple of times, I'll get it, just keep going). I think she was delirious and didn't hear me. She bent over to pick it up and face planted. She stayed down for a bit, didn't appear seriously hurt (probably broke her nose), so a few of us picked her up. She wanted to continue. So me and another guy grabbed her under each arm and ran the 22% with her. We got her across the line and we brought her right to the EMTs. This was the coolest part of my day.
I went back down the 22% part, saw my girl friend and she was having a tough time. I took her under her arm and got her near the finish line, then she completed it on her own. Also pretty cool
Back down I went, saw the wife. She was doing OK, I ran next to her, and she didn't need any help, so I let her cross on her own.
I hate making excuses, but the personal issues are weighing heavily on me. It was horribly windy. It was not the race I hoped for.
I finished, I will do it again next year, I will train harder. My coach is awesome, he did a fantastic job getting me as ready as I could be. The failures are all on me. I needed to lose 15 pounds that I didn't, I needed to get my head into the race today, I couldn't.
Here's a pic with me, George (98 years old and a 2018 finisher) and my wife.
Me finishing (yellow cap)
My (and some stranger) helping (some other stranger).
“So are these guys like college buddies or something?”
“Well, we all met in high school” I responded to Young Female Coworker. “I’ve known them almost 23 years.”
Her face dropped and her eyes widened a little bit. “I’m 23.”
“I guess I just didn’t realize you were that old.”
Goddamned kids. It was my last day in the office before heading out to the Outer Banks for a week for our annual shindig. As we’ve all moved on in life and a few of us moved away from New Jersey we’ve made it a point to pick at least a long weekend every year to all get together in one place and engage in shenanigans both old and new. Four of the six of us have had additions to their families in the past year, so we decided a beach house where we had easy access to not only surf and sand but also cribs and bottles was a good idea. I suspected The Wives also hoped that the mellow setting would keep our usual late cigar and brown liquor fueled evenings in check. My hunch was confirmed when we arrived on Sunday and began unloading the car. I had offered to pick up a supply of adult beverages before hitting the islands since I didn’t have to fit a pack ‘n play in my trunk and no one wanted to pay the premium prices island locales command. As The Guys and I set up the bar, we noticed The Wives huddled in the corner and gesturing in our direction while conferring in hushed tones.
“Everything OK over there?” I asked, knowing full well we were about to be lectured like teenagers heading off to prom weekend.
“Seems like overkill, doesn’t it?”
“Well, I just wanted to make sure we had a selection. Don’t worry, we’re not planning on finishing all this or anything.”
The Wife made eye contact with me and smirked as the rest of The Wives dispersed, seemingly satisfied. She is in the unique position of having known The Guys since high school, and of being an eyewitness to most of the “OHMYGOD you remember that time…” stories. I won’t bore you (further) with the details, but we had to make our first run to the liquor store on Tuesday, and made daily trips the rest of the week. Our average per day was 2.5 cases of beer, a bottle of liquor which varied based on the theme of that day’s cocktail hour, and a bottle of whisk(e)y for the evenings. Plus wine with dinner, naturally, but that doesn’t really count. We’re not savages, after all.
It’s now the Wednesday after we got back, and it’s the first day since we got home that I didn’t wake up feeling like I was on an alien planet breathing a toxic atmosphere. It’s also the first time I ran since a slow, hungover 10 miles on Saturday. Next week starts training for the NYC Marathon. Most people in my shoes would be taking things easy or at least making sure they were getting to the start of training healthy and well rested. Instead, I’m in the final stages of a 3+ day hangover, am nursing a badly bruised knee/shin I don’t remember bruising, and am somehow 9 pounds heavier than before I left. On the plus side though, I now have a totally bitchin’ tan. As I was enjoying a post run shower beer today and thinking about all of this I had one of those moments of clarity where some deep personal truth is revealed to you through intense meditation, prayer, endorphins, or chemical enhancement.
I was thinking about how stupid it was to spend a week trashing my body right before I planned to push it harder and ask more of it than I ever have. I took a long pull on the beer and stared at the can for a moment as I set it on the towel rack-cum-beer stand. I thought back to countless 5Ks and 10Ks I had raced hungover or with stomach issues caused by choices like gas station sushi or spicy kimchi cheesesteaks. But as I watched the mix of condensation and shower spray drip down the side of the can I realized it’s not just running where I make these choices. I wear a giant unruly beard to work in an uptight corporate office. I never do my mandatory training or administrative reports on time. I antagonize every single figure of authority in my life. I always renew the registration on my car a week late and almost never floss. This is where the epiphany came.
On some level, we’re all a little broken. Some of us in serious ways, some superficial. Some physically, some emotionally or psychologically. We cope by going to therapy, doing yoga or meditating, or with pharmaceuticals (prescribed or otherwise). Some of us run. I’m broken in many ways, but I’d never quite realized the depth of this self-sabotaging fracture. As I stood there watching to see how long the drop of shampoo lather could cling to the bottom of the beer, I ran through all the times I’ve blown myself up and suddenly understood the source of this all wasn’t a lack of hugs from my mother or a longing for daddy’s approval or the effects of sitting too close to the TV. It was fear. Fear of taking a chance, of laying it all out on the line. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being happy. Fear of rejection. I realized I stayed deep in this fissure of my psyche because it was small and cozy and safe down there. If I set myself up for failure before I even started something it removed some of the fear of foundering because I’d given myself a convenient excuse. And if I succeeded despite the artificial handicaps, well then it was just a more impressive accomplishment and a better story. In a few short months I’m going to be chasing the biggest running goal I’ve ever set for myself, and I know I’ve been a little intimidated by it. I wondered if I was already so scared of it that I was subconsciously sowing the seeds of catastrophe. I committed to myself that I would buckle down and start rationing the beer while training like an animal for NYC. Instead of feeling motivation or a sense of purpose though, I felt hollow. Something was missing.
Despite my penchant for hara-kari making the path here twice as long, I’m in a pretty good position in life. I have a well-paying job with quality, affordable healthcare and live in a nice neighborhood in a bustling city. I don’t have to mine coal or handle toxic waste or give root canals to lions. And although I’ve at times had to lie about where the rent check is, all the bills are now on autopay. I’ve worked my ass off to get here, but I also know I’ve had every opportunity available for the taking and wasted plenty of them. Reaching this point while I’m still young and healthy enough to think I’m invincible is what’s allowed me to say yes to the marathons and travel and literal and metaphoric mountains I’ve climbed in the past couple of years. But because of this perfect little slice of the venn diagram of money, time, and health I’m currently in these aren’t really risks or real avenues for self-improvement I’ve been saying yes to. They’re just a life that I’m finally living. I may be heading down a better path, but I can still see the parking lot from where I’m standing. So how do I do something with this epiphany I’ve had?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Patti Smith lately. I was rolling the lyrics of Pissfactory around my head for the roughly 5,432 time and wondering what to do with my newfound psychological awareness as I worked on a post-shower beer and a half-written blog. The train of thought was stalled due to signal problems, so I took a sip of beer and tried to let the bubbles clear my head, hoping one might float an idea to the surface. And just as the effervescence stung the back of my throat, Patti sang:
I got something to hide here
And I will get out of here
I put the song on repeat and listened again. I may not be in a sweatshop doing hard manual labor, and I’m not looking to escape to the big city to be a big star. But I am tired of the monotony, of a place that chews people up and shits them out. We laid off a guy in our group this past year. He did good work and was well-liked, we just realized we could offer a junior person a promotion to fill part of his workload at ⅔ the cost and the rest of the senior managers could split up the big clients and grow our own revenue streams. I had my best year ever because of it, and the partners are looking for another sacrificial lamb.
I saved my biggest client a ton of tax money as part of a recent project, not long after which I learned they fund PACs lobbying to remove legal provisions protecting the healthcare of people with preexisting conditions. My father’s a cancer survivor.
I may be living a comfortable life, but the cost is sickening. I’ve known this, and I’ve long had the desire to change it. But I’ve been hiding it deep in the back of my mind, buried in that chasm of fear. It’s time to let it out.
So I’m going to be taking some chances. Throwing everything I can think of at the wall to see what sticks. Doing more of this networking thing the kids are always talking about, maybe taking a class or two and exploring career options to atone for the sins of my past. And I’m going to try and write something. Don’t know what it will be yet, most likely nothing more than pseudo-intellectual masturbation, but who knows what’ll stick. My first training run for NYC is Thursday. I think I’ll write about it.