Late to the Party, Slow in my Pace

Has everyone seen the viral video of the tortoise chasing down the guy who interrupted his mating mamba?

I feel like that postcoital tortoise could beat me running.

You want a shot at the title?

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Yes, it’s an exaggeration, but (as I often want to say to my husband), reality isn’t the point.  The point is how I feel.

And I feel slow.

Coming back from injury is more difficult with advancing years.  In my thirties, the injuries I faced that forced me to take significant time off from running (IT band, plantar fasciitis, tissue trauma in my heel) were easier to fight back from…I regained pace within a few weeks each time.

This time has been different.  Age, fear, and 5-10 pounds of additional fat are holding me back, and I’ve been consistently running about 45 seconds below my previous pace per mile on my easy runs.  I know it’s all relative, and I know there are many people who would still love to run at my pace, and it’s just that I tend to focus on all the people who run faster paces.  But still, it’s frustrating to compete against a previous level of personal ability and consistently come up short.

And that’s not exactly motivating stuff to blog about.

But FINALLY I feel like I’ve broken through the wall, saddlebags and all.

No more crying, finally flying!

Not as slow, ready to go!

(Is it any wonder I don’t have many readers, when I write stupid stuff like that?)

In the past two weeks or so, I am back to running easy runs at about a 9:30-9:40 pace/mile with no problem, and my trusty Garmin is occasionally flashing those dips below the 9:00 mark during easy runs that I have missed like I am missing size small underpants.

Thank you, running gods.

And THANK YOU, Spotify, for finally entering my world.

Here is where I am late to the party.  I didn’t know until last week that if you have Spotify, you can play their playlists offline.  That was news to this old lady, but now I am hooked and listening to Spotify on all my runs! (I am currently on a free 30-day premium trial, and I’m not sure if you can also do this with their free version.)

So I am currently dazzling the neighborhood with speedier paces, fueled by Spotify playlists.  My current old lady favorite running playlists include 90s Slow Jamz and 80s Workout (Retro Hits.)  Check out this option for music if you are tired of your music library, and as Olivia Newton John say, Let’s Get Physical!

So if I wear a high-waisted leotard and tights with this headband, could I be the olive-skinned version of Olivia Newton John?

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Better yet, could Oscar?

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green…

Two of the three following statements are true…can you spot the fake?

  1. I’ve had Turkish coffee with Bedouins in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan.
  2. I told my eldest son this week that when I die he is allowed to put me in a drive-thru window for the funeral service as long as “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is looping the entire time on a loudspeaker.
  3. I’m doing really well with this whole not-running thing.

It’s been 15 days since I last laced up my Smurf shoes, and I feel like I’ve been through a bad breakup.  I’m over the initial shock of the loss of the NY Marathon, to be sure, but the fact that I can’t run at all has turned me into a raging bitch inside (it’s a short trip.)  It’s maudlin, really.  I keep humming “One Less Bell to Answer” in my head (I’m serious, and yes, knowing this song ages me!)…

I encourage you to check out the video of that song, not only because Marilyn McCoo has an amazing voice but because the second guy from the right has on a can’t-miss outfit!

One less egg to fry, people.

Checking the weather first thing in the morning to plan out my run and clothes for the day…Turning around my favorite running gear in the laundry so I can have my Athleta Presto shorts ready for the next run…Charging my Garmin and Outdoor Tech Adapt…

All out the window.  I wander around the house a bit aimlessly and sing Faith No More to myself…

You want it all but you can’t have it

It’s in your face but you can’t grab it

It’s a pity party, fo ‘sho, not because of the race but just because I can’t get out for any type of run.  It’s like not realizing how hot you thought your boyfriend was until you dump him…and then suddenly he’s the sexiest guy you’ve ever known and you’ve just got to have him back!

The fact that fall is my favorite time of the year to run is that extra kick in the ass…like the ex-boyfriend dropped twenty pounds after our breakup and reclaimed his mojo.

The fact that all I do now is drive by runners is like the ex-boyfriend just hit the scene with a gorgeous new girlfriend…it’s more than I can bear!  Runners in race t-shirts, runners with fuel belts, casual joggers, speed demons…they torment me everywhere I look.  I am very jealous…

I’ve already missed the Plaza 10k, which I LOVED racing in last year, and I will be missing the Kansas City Half Marathon as well next month.  I probably would have skipped the half with the NY training anyway, but missing the 10k hurt a bit, because it’s such a fun flat course.  Waaaaahhhh!

It’s not easy being green…

DISNEY MUPPETS

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Meanwhile, I am learning to make friends again with the Cybex Arc Trainer and will probably dump my butt onto a low bike this afternoon.  I love to row, and my gym recently added a Concept 2 rower, but I am afraid it might put too much pressure on the heel.

The pain has diminished substantially, though I do still limp sometimes, especially after golf.  I have set October 15th in my head as the first possible run day, no matter how good my foot feels, so I will try to stick to that date.  I need to use my off time wisely and make it productive…an opportunity to build some strength and work on different types of cardio.

I still wonder if the treadmill is the culprit behind my problems.  The mileage should not have been an issue, I didn’t add speed work or excessive hills to this training cycle, etc.–nothing was different except that I subbed the treadmill for about 30% of my long run miles due to the summer temperatures.  I also played a lot of golf this summer, which I did not do during my training for my first marathon, but I just can’t imagine that causing such problems.

Maybe it just wasn’t my time…no sense in looking back too long on it, right?  I will just remember that, as always, I HATE the treadmill and will not use it in the future!

Here are a few articles on stress fractures that might prove helpful to runners:

http://www.drpribut.com/sports/stress_fracture.html

http://runnersconnect.net/running-injury-prevention/runners-guide-to-stress-fractures/

I will have to rebound and then put a new race on the calendar so I can have something to look forward to!  My last race was the Ward Parkway Four on the Fourth 4-mile race, which was great because I placed in my age group with a 32:41 (average 8:10 pace.)

While I waited for my age group award (ooh, a sticker and a water bottle…score!), I took some artsy fartsy pictures for you…

See?  Artsy…

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Fartsy!

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Happy running, readers, and enjoy every mile!

What I’m Running To:  Nothing (want me to complain again?), but I plan on knocking out an amazing low-impact workout later to “What’s the Difference?” by Dr. Dre this afternoon!

A Lark Became a Dream…

And the dream of running the 2014 NYC marathon died when my bone scan lit up like a Christmas tree.

It looked like I’d gone through an airport body scanner with round bags of drugs shoved into the heel of my shoe and the front of my tibia.  Such was the “uptake” of activity in those bones.

I knew the odds were not ever in my favor when the tech took the initial blood flow pictures (before the injection) and remarked, “Wow!  Look at that.  That’s a very intense area of blood flow going into your heel and tibia.”  She cautioned me that things were not looking promising, then sent me on my radioactive way for a few hours.

The bone pictures didn’t look any better.  Two big bright circles in my heel and at the base of my tibia.  She said it was up to the radiologist and my podiatrist to interpret, but I understood.  Me smart!

I still ran 8 miles that night (last Thursday), keeping to my training plan until I heard from my doctor’s nurse.

Then she called, and she said that the doctor didn’t get a full copy to look at, only the radiologist’s report, but that he/she reported “stress reaction changes” in both areas.  My doctor wanted to see me ASAP.

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Of course I asked what that meant and if I should keep to my plan of running 4 miles that afternoon, 8 on Sunday and 17 on Monday.  She said that it was my call, given that my doctor hadn’t seen the actual images herself, but that if I attempted it I would have to stop when I felt any pain.

Well, that meant not running at all.  So I shut things down, and met with my doctor yesterday with a disc copy of the scan.

And the fat lady is singing.

If not fractured, both the heel (calcaneus) and lower tibia are stressed to the point of fracture.  Since I came in relatively early with the pain, the bone scan is only showing early stages.  Later scans or x-rays would show the line of the break better as it heals.  Of course, that made me feel like maybe I would be a quitter to stop…like a better person/runner would keep going.

But I know that’s not true.  I am making a choice to stop, but that choice doesn’t categorize me as weak or uncommitted.  I know I could continue, and I could live with the pain.  I just don’t want to make that mistake.  The peak of my training is still ahead–it’s not like I’m even into the taper phase yet.

I don’t define myself by one race, and I will not run myself into the ground/a boot/a cast/no exercise for 3-4 months.  I risk fracturing both bones clear through by continuing, and if I do that, I will be sidelined from running far longer than if I rest now and let my body heal.

So I am done and out for this year’s NYC marathon, and I am resting my foot and leg for at least 4 weeks.  I guess there isn’t much more to say.  I will add another post in the next few days with some great links I’ve found and want to share along with more of a description of how this injury feels compared to plantar fasciitis–in other words, how I knew this injury was different.  Maybe the info could be helpful to other runners…

But for now, I’m sulking a bit.  This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of my life, and I am keeping it in perspective, but I am allowing myself a day or two to be pissy, because this SHOULD NOT have happened.

I have been a runner for over a decade.  I log regular weeks of 20+miles, and I build mileage properly.  I can’t help but wonder what caused this injury, because it shouldn’t have happened, and though I know random injuries do arise, I have my blaming eyes squarely set on the one thing I’ve done differently during this training cycle compared to previous race training (one marathon, and too many half marathons and other races to count)…

THE FUCKING DREADMILL.

Looks like I picked the…

wrongweek

Happy running, peeps!  Enjoy your ability to get out there today…now that I can’t run, all I do is see runners (isn’t that the way?)!  I will be here at home, gorging myself on Game of Thrones books and cross stitching (almost done with my niece’s birthday present…a Paris scene)!

LaurenParis

 

 

Spitting the Bit: The Summer of My Discontent

It’s been so long…I’ve neglected to post and basically abandoned the blogosphere for months, including following the blogs of so many readers. I apologize and hope all has been well and that everyone is smashing PRs. I just needed a break.

Though writing is easy for me in general (if not quality assured), writing about running can at times be a bit tedious. There are only so many ways to describe a Wednesday morning run, right? Plus, by the time I write about my run and then read the blogs of thirty other people describing their morning run, then go out for another run myself, the world can end up looking pretty small.

What’s more, writing burnout has coincided with running burnout.  No surprise, huh?  I have been mentally and physically fried.

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I talk about how running is a gift, and though I’m snarky as hell, I hope that my overall message is a positive one.  I love to run.  I appreciate the gift of good health and am grateful for each day that I am able to lace up my bright Smurf shoes with the custom orthotics and head out the door to kick some ass.

Still, the summer running has done a number on my attitude and my running times, and so I haven’t wanted to write much because it would have been 90% bitching, and who wants to read that?  I’ll try to condense my whining in this post yet keep it real as I describe what I’ve been up to this summer (assuming anyone will still take the time to read…and if you do, bless you!)

I’ll start with the running and then move on to some personal summer bits and bobs in the next post for those of you who love all of this very special flower and not just my running petals.

NYC Marathon Training

(Quick summary:  FML.)

If you’ll recall, I got into the NYC Marathon on the lottery drawing.  I did not expect to make it, but when I did, I (like many others) freaked out with excitement.  If I can make it there, well, you know…I can make it anywhere!

Here’s the problem.  I am a complete lazy bitch princess when it comes to summer running.  I fucking hate it.  What’s more, it doesn’t like me one bit either.

I typically run spring races for longer distances and take most of the summer off to rest my body and just do maintenance running.  It gives me a mental and physical reset.  I have run one marathon (Spring 2013), and I chose it specifically for those winter training months (Viva la Winter Running!)

Unfortunately, the NYC Marathon doesn’t set its calendar based on my training whims, and so I’m stuck with summer training for the first time ever (I will run fall half marathons, but those are much easier to train for.)

Now, I’m all full of admiration for those of you who knock out the lengthy summer runs with nary a complaint, especially you Texas folk, as I lived in Houston for 12 years and still remember the weather.  Some of you get up at 4 or 5 am to power through long miles and then go to church, work, etc.–

but as for me on a Sunday morning?  I love my king-size bed and the chance to sleep in.  So does HH (Handsome Hubby for new readers), and I hate to wake him up.

I’ve been getting up far too late (no one to blame but myself) and heading out the door too late in the morning to escape the heat.  In fact, the one morning I did get up at 6am and get out the door, I came in dying around Mile 9 only to have HH ask me if I’d checked the forecast and noticed that cooler weather was going to blow in around noon that day.

Such has been my luck, and boy have I paid the price.

I now know my sweat patterns and can time their appearance down to the half mile (do you know yours?).  The first running river of sweat always trails off the inside of my right elbow starting at the end of Mile 1, followed by the river trailing down the front of my tank followed by buckets of sweat dripping into my eyes and burning my corneas from Mile 2.5 on.  I have tried bringing a towel (tucked into the band of my SpiBelt) to wipe or at least hopefully redirect the flow, but by Mile 6-7 the towel smells so bad I can’t bear to bring it to my face.

I read once that more experienced runners might in fact sweat more (source), and I think that’s true.  I didn’t used to be a heavy sweater, but in the decade-plus that I’ve been a runner, I have turned into a SWEAT MONSTER.  I don’t just glow with sweat, I open a faucet somewhere in my pores and MAKE IT RAIN!

Just don’t come near me.  It’s gross, and what’s more, I’m flicking beads of it off my ponytail.  Be warned if you are running behind me.

All this sweat distracts me and makes it hard to relax and just get into the zone–not that I could anyway because my heart rate is elevated and I feel like I’m running through a sweat-flavored milkshake.  Humidity and I are not friends, and it makes 10 miles seem like an ultra.  Suck it up, right?  I know…but I’m just being honest.

To complicate matters, my plantar fasciitis in my left foot is as bad as it’s ever been, to the point where I am hobbled after runs and can barely limp for most of the day after a run.  Given that I run 5 days a week, this means that I am walking around like an invalid the majority of the time, which means that if I am not running, I am gimped out.  Fun stuff!

I think this is mostly due to to the plan I am using this time around.  I am a Hal Higdon devotee, and for my first marathon I used his Novice 1 plan.  This time I decided to step it up to the Intermediate 2 plan.

That lasted a few weeks until I recognized that I was cutting too many corners for other obligations/laziness/time issues/injury and leaving off too many miles.  So I dropped down to Intermediate 1, which has the same basic problem as Intermediate 2–a required medium-length run the day before the long run.  Hal says the medium length run the day before will ensure that you are tired so that you run the long run at an appropriate pace.  I say that Hal, you are the damn devil, and why not just trust me?  To quote Tommy Boy,

“I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take a butcher’s word for it!”

For example, on Sunday I ran 7 miles at goal pace, which ended up around 9:30/mile, followed by 14 yesterday (I’ve adjusted the schedule so that my long runs are on Monday, and I will adjust back a few weeks before the Sunday marathon.)  It was just too much for my foot (the total for the week was 36, which isn’t so bad.)  Usually my PF only hurts in the morning and after runs, never during, since running loosens up the fascia.  Right now, though, it’s intense pain through the whole run, plus I’ve got pain shooting up both sides of my ankle, which I think is tendon pain from not landing on the foot right and from limping around when not running trying not to put weight on it.  I am icing tons and applying my special compound cream, but the pain and inflammation is winning.  I made an appointment with my podiatrist for next week.  She loves seeing injured runners limp in and insist that backing off miles is not an option.

If it were any other marathon, I would bail right now, but I can’t.  It’s New York!

So I hang by a thread, bitch and moan a lot, rub my cream, ask my kids to fetch me stuff, and run with a bad attitude, because I am running with pain, mentally am not in my happy place and further have nothing to prove, which was a huge motivation for my when training for my first marathon.  I wanted to show myself that I could do it, I was raising money for my sister’s disease, and in a strange way I think I felt like I was running those miles as an apology..a penance for being healthy while she suffered.  I had mental motivation and strength out the wazoo.

This time I feel like I have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else but plenty of things I ‘d rather be doing other than spending quite so many painful hours on the hot asphalt, and I am struggling to find the desire to run the training miles, which is is the REAL marathon as most of us would agree–not the race itself with the support of family, friends and strangers and the medal and perhaps the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter bragfest, but the lonely miles, 20-40-60+ each week, known only to you and spent in your own way, one minute, one mile and one sweat drop/river at a time.

I am not giving up, just searching for some healing in my foot and some mental motivation.  It’s been a fantastic summer, just not where running is concerned.

What I’m running to: I’m Not the Only One by Sam Smith, Pusher Love Girl by Justin Timberlake

Coming in my next post…what I’ve been up to this summer and a description of Penis Thumb!

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The Going Ups and the Coming Downs

Anybody know that song by Gladys Knight and the Pips?  It’s one of my favorites.  

Here in MaybeMarathoner world, the temps are rising, the base miles are building, and the speed is slowing in inverse proportion to the humidity (and not that anyone cares, but my hair is looking like total frizzy shit.)

Ooh, just when my hopes run high
And I think I’ve got it made
Hey, hey, along comes a rainy day
To rain on my parade, hey, hey, hey

There have been some good times, like last night when we went to a friend’s house for dinner and played a short game of Cards Against Humanity.  I am proud to call myself the winner.  It isn’t hard to win when you get genius cards, like when the black card was a Pick Two (where you use two cards from your hand) and the prompt was something along the lines of, “(Blank) leads to (Blank).”

I was fortunate enough to have “an erection lasting longer than four hours” AND “lockjaw” in my hand.

#WINNING!

They contemplated awarding me an extra point just for being so damn good.

There have been some bad times, too, and I’m not going to go all Tears of a Clown on you, because everything’s fine, but I’ve had a few good stress-relieving runs this week that I’ve sorely needed.  One was a tempo workout on the treadmill, which was actually hellish.  Why is a certain pace so easy to maintain on the road but then so torturously fast on the treadmill?  I hate you, conveyor belt from hell, and I am on the fence about whether tempo runs and I really do go together.

One minute you’re warm and lovin’
The next your hearts grown cold
The way you keep me guessin’
Is killin’ my soul

The kids are out of school, summer is here, and I leave you with one pic, shared by that last half marathon I ran a few weeks ago.  This popped up on Facebook, and I laughed my ass off.  This pic was apparently taken at Aid Station 4, and I stick out like a sore thumb for several reasons.

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Bitch that I am, my first thought seeing this pic was anger that that many people were still close to me and trying to steal my rightful place in line (yes, I think that way.  Don’t you?)  Screw you, people–you can’t have it!

Second, the bright pink tank and my placement in the photo, I feel, make me stand out.  I look at my a-cups in this photo and cackle.  My sister has already asked me to pick up one of that kind of bra for her and said that it looks like I’ve had a boob job.  I have not.  If you are interested, I am wearing the medium support Lululemon yoga bra, and yes it had slight removable cups in it to prevent bullet nips, but DAMN!

Third, and best of all, THE. LOOK. ON. MY. FACE.  I should hold a Caption Me contest.  The munchkin gal next to me looks so happy to be running and receiving water, and I look like I always do in race pics.  Confused, mentally challenged, like I thought I was running a 5k and wandered into an ultra marathon…WTF?

Did I smell cow manure?  Was I already trying to scope out a finish line?  Looking for hills up ahead?  Picking a suffering runner to chase down?  One of these days, as the good Lahd is my witness, I will take a good race pic (which of course I would trade in a heartbeat for a sub 1:50 half marathon, as I do have my priorities in line.)

Do you have a good caption for this photo?  Is the heat and humidity taking a toll on your speed?  Do share!  Happy running!

 

Outdoor Tech Adapt Review (and Final Half Marathon Prep)

My eagerly awaited shipment of wine Gap pants Penguin Drop Cap series hardcovers the Outdoor Tech Adapt came in the mail on Monday, readers, and I was thrilled to take it out for its first spin this morning.

But first, yesterday was our older son’s 15th birthday…which he spent sick, unfortunately.  Boo.  He rallied in time for evening birthday cake, but we spared him pictures since he was unshowered and wearing his Globogym Purple Cobras t-shirt.

I hate birthdays.  I spent half the day reflecting on mortality, motherhood and all that he has meant to me, and the other half just wishing time would freeze.  He’s fifteen now…only three more years until he marches off to college.  How that can be, I have no idea, but it’s what the numbers indicate, and numbers don’t lie.  Some of the most important years of his life are hurtling toward him, but those upcoming milestones occur without us, once he’s gone and out of the house.  I am excited for him and each new year, but I also want to hold him close and cherish each moment more than is possible.

Time is short.  He is hilarious and wonderful and unique, he and his brother truly the greatest source of joy and pride in my life.  I am ever thankful that God not only allowed me to be a mom, but his mom, the guardian of his precious soul.

Birthdays are the worst.  He is the best.

Moving on…

Here is my discount pink Outdoor Tech Adapt, modeled on my twig wrist with my Garmin 220 so you can see the size, because size matters, and I was worried that the boobalicious model in my pic from the last post might lead you to think that the Adapt was smaller than it actually is.  It’s the perfect size…small enough to fit anywhere easily, but big enough that the buttons are easy to push.

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Though my wrist be but small, my middle physique is looking a lot like that monkey man in the picture, and he has my lowrider El Camino ass.  Note to self before commencing marathon training: ease up on the white devils.  They are no substitute for love, and you are not running 40 miles per week yet.

Another pic with my Yurbuds Focus for Women earphones, which I am still crushing on…

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The clip is sturdy…I don’t think it will snap off easily.  Though I had read one review that complained about the device being difficult to pair, my iPhone made the magic happen in about two seconds.  Draw whatever comparison you like…just don’t make it about teenage boys, because I have one of those and have now decided that all males before the age of 30 are celibate, asexual or just not interested in ladies.

Don’t rain on my parade.

Anyhoo, I stashed my iPhone in my Spibelt, attached the Adapt to the headphones, clipped it to the belt and sauntered out for a 3-miler (I love that sassy word.)  

My initial reaction?  Not good.  For the first minute or two, the connection kept breaking up, so there would be tiny blips in the music (the signal being lost for just a second or so each time.)  Totally annoying, BUT the one good thing I could say was that at least when the sound came back, the music hadn’t stopped (obviously), so it was like the beat kept going, just with intermittent gaps.  It just wasn’t what I was hoping for, and I wondered, ignorant non-techie that I am, how Bluetooth works and what was happening. 

Oddly enough, it soon stopped, and then I just ran on for the three miles, able to adjust volume and skip tracks with the easy-to-use buttons.  Once I stopped running, though, the interruptions in sound started again.

Strange coincidence?  I have no idea, but even if the problem continues, I will use the device.  The Focus earbuds are the perfect headphones for me,  but I also really want the mic and easy-access controls.  I will keep you posted with any new observations on future runs, but I give the Tech Adapt a B- for now and plan on using it for Saturday’s half marathon, Running With the Cows.

I can’t describe how much I am looking forward to ending this Heartland 39.3 Challenge.  Though I will be super proud (that’s a technical term) to collect my medal for three half marathons in five weeks, right now I would wager that I will never do this series again, simply because I have hated the weeks in between each race.  Since running the disastrous Rock the Parkway half marathon on April 12, it has been four straight weeks of running limbo…recovering from a half marathon and taking it easy while trying to keep enough energy to run another race.  Four weeks of easy 3-4 mile runs every other day, along with taking 2-3 days off after each race, has left me feeling like I’m not running at all.  Couple that with reduced mileage long runs on the weekend (I only ran 5 on Saturday because I had Oscar with me and he about overheated and died), and I feel like a sloth.  It’s like living in a holding pattern, and I’m running out of patience.

Breakfast conversations with HH have included many a complaint from me: “I feel like I’m hardly running!” (complete with major whine).  “Um, didn’t you just run a half marathon last week?” “Yes, but other than that, I’m hardly running!”

“I just keep treading water…I’m not running hard.  How will I be ready to run another race?” “Um, didn’t you just run hard for 13 miles just over a week ago?” “Yes, but other than that–you know what I mean!”

I feel unprepared for this last half, yet running more isn’t the answer, as I know my legs are not 100%.  My 3-miler on Monday was a slugfest.  My ankles both ached in the front, like where the shin curves into the top of the foot, and the entire run hurt like the devil.  It felt like my tendons were leaking lactic acid, and every step was a challenge.  I knew I wasn’t injured, since the feeling was identical in both feet (a surefire sign that I was dealing with fatigue or overuse/training rather than an acute injury).  It just hurt with every step, much like a new runner might feel while adjusting to the impact of running.  Though I’d set out for 4 miles, I downgraded to 3 and walked the rest of the way home in disgust.

Today, the pain was better, but I still felt a bit tired at the end of 3 miles, which shakes my confidence.  I just want to get the race over with, at whatever the pace, so I can get back to real running without holding back.  I’ve got the NYC marathon in my sights, and I really want to start some significant cross-training plus go all Ace of Base on my mileage before launching into the actual training program.

Happy running!

 

For Your Viewing Pleasure: My Race Pics

The race pics are in, and though there are no pics of me touching my fingers together in the midst of my out-of-body experience, there is still plenty to laugh at!  So, for your Friday amusement, I now present my last half marathon summed up in three short pics…

First, HH…running strong at the end of Mile 9 (the wheels on the bus were still going round and round at that point, he said, but fell off shortly thereafter)–

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I would give anything for his skinny thighs and ass…it’s not easy being married to a man whose butt is smaller than yours.  These are my problems.  Feel for me, people, feel for me.

And here I was, a few minutes earlier at the same spot…half delirious, but somehow rocking an 8:55 mile (not great, but acceptable given my state.)  Hey, Mr./Ms. Photographer, where were you at Mile 4 when I pulled that 8:10 mile out of my ass?  My stride would have photographed beautifully!

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And now I would like to demonstrate the power of two photos, taken just a second apart, to demonstrate both the agony of defeat and how a slightly different angle and snapshot in time can look so different.

Photo 1: I appear to be moving, which is good considering that I was in the middle of a damn race.  My eyes are closed in an expression that is part what-the-hell-am-I doing, part I-am-headed-to-the-medical-tent-can-anyone-give-me-a-ride, part I’ll-be-damned-if-I’m-not-going-to-finish.  I am moving the fingers on my left hand, because I had lost sensation in them.  Was I trying to snap?  Who the hell knows?  At least I don’t look that fat…I look like me when I look in the mirror.  This is what I see in myself…and I’m okay with it…

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Photo 2:  NOT OKAY!  I have highlighted the areas of my discontent.  HH and I laughed for at least ten minutes over this photo last night, but secretly I am just glad that I have a well-worn sense of humor and can laugh at myself; otherwise, I might cry.  Who is this dumpy speed walker and what is she doing with my race bib on?

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I hope this pic gave your your laugh for the day…it is certainly giving me motivation for next weekend’s redemptive half marathon!  Happy running, readers!

Close is a Lingerie Store Without a Front Window: Rock the Parkway Race Recap*

*Alternate title A: Boy, did I Suck

*Alternate title B: I Laid Off Booze for This?

*Alternate title C: At Least I Didn’t Have to Shit Myself

Let me set the tone for my race recap with this telling statement:  I only made it to the finish line because I knew that’s where the medical tent was…and that’s not a lie.

I am frustrated and fired up over yesterday’s disappointing performance.  Did I meet any of my three tiered goals (sub 1:55, a PR if under 1:52, a piss-myself-with-joy balls-to-the-wall-HeavyT-style pipe dream of sub 1:50?)  Yes.

The lowest one.  

Boo.  I finished at 1:54:12, 850 out of 4931 (top 17% overall), 31 of 469 for a top 7% finish in my age group of 40-44 year old gorgeous shebeasts (and as HH pointed out, still a respectable top 17% in my Heavy T age group of men 40-44).  I should take some solace from those numbers, because it’s a damn miracle that there isn’t a DNF by my name.

I hydrated to the gills.  I ingested so much salt to try to get my blood pressure up for the race.  I STAYED AWAY FROM WINE ALL WEEK.

But some things are just beyond control, and that’s the joy and pain of racing.  You spend 12-16 weeks training and hoping for your best day, and it doesn’t always happen.  The stars don’t always align.

Sometimes you show up in bright Smurf shoes and you just don’t get it done.

I have to say that it was so fun having HH with me in the morning.  He had tweaked his back on Friday and spent much of the evening on ice.  I was so worried about him running, but he just laughed it off and said he hoped not to have to be pulled off the course on a stretcher.  I filled out his emergency info on the back of his bib just in case.

I had my usual pre-race breakfast of scrambled eggs and a banana and also sipped some Nuun.  We laughed all the way to the course and repeated our mottos.  Don’t shoot out of the gate like a freak.  Power and poise!  Don’t you go dying on me!

I freaked when we got out of the car and I realized that my bottle of Nuun was leaking.  I had to leave it at the car.  I knew that could be a problem, because I really count on the electrolytes and salt to keep my blood pressure up.

Prerace selfie…we are so going to own this race!  Heavy T wore a pink headband so people would know she is a woman…

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It was so hot.  Tuesday was the first spring run where I was able to head out in shorts and a tank, and there we were at the starting line in 65-degree sunny humid weather.  Not good at all.

Still, can I admit that I was so excited and confident?  I knew I was at least up for a PR.  I lined up just behind the 1:50 pacers.  And we were off…and it was great.

I hung with the pacers and enjoyed the first several miles.  My splits were 8:48, 8:39, 8:38 and 8:10 for the first four.  The hills didn’t feel that bad, but the temperature was uncomfortable.  I ate a few Honey Stingers at around the 35-minute mark and planned on eating another bunch at around 1:20.  That didn’t end up happening, as I was in the throes of a major physical episode (major foreshadowing.) 

I ran Mile 5 at an 8:13.  And the wheels started to come off midway through that mile.  What’s weird is that I never felt like it was lactic acid.  My muscles never burned, and I never felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.  What hit me was just an onslaught of nausea, chills and shaking.  I was trembling, and my body just felt so tired, so suddenly.  I let the pacers move on ahead and prayed that it was just a temporary issue.  I can catch them, I thought.  Fucking positive thinking.  

Two or three minutes later, I took my first walk break, something I’ve never done in a half.  It was walk or puke.  I walked for ten seconds. The feeling passed a bit, and I ran again.

I took six walk breaks from that point on, and debated quitting about a thousand times.  Many others were walking too–more than I expected to see, given that we were all runners from the 1:59 and under wave.  I wanted to cry.

I grabbed Gatorade at the next several water stations and cursed my leaking Nuun bottle sitting back at the parking lot.  My entire body was in a fog, and I just rode the waves of holding in vomit/shaking/chilling while trying to keep moving forward and maintain consciousness.  I was in real danger of fainting.

My splits for Miles 6-8 were 8:20, 8:23, and 9:11.  Obviously, Mile 8 was a difficult one.  I can look at those splits now with the perspective of being a day removed and take a little pride in the fact that I managed two sub 8:30 miles while fighting death or a hypoglycemic coma (ha! the drama!), but there was no pride to be had in my heart at that time, only anger and disappointment in myself and my ability.

Splits for Miles 9-11 were horrid at 8:55, 8:57 and 9:21.  Not the negative split I was hoping for, but then I never could have anticipated that I would be coaxing myself through such a spectacular flameout.  Heavy T was hurting, folks!

I convinced myself to finish only because I knew that’s where I could get some medical attention.  I have never thought that in my life!  Talk about pathetic!  My only consolation was that the 1:55 pacers hadn’t swept me yet, although they had been a solid two minutes behind me at the start.  If they had, I might have summoned my last bit of strength to steal their stick and shove it up their asses.

I never saw HH, who had lined up behind me.  I didn’t even care if he passed me.  All I could think for him was, “Be okay.”  I saw a woman off to the side around Mile 11, cradled by bystanders who were pouring water into her mouth.  Her eyes were glazed.  No one was home.  Hell, neither was I.

Jesus, I was in a war zone 🙂

I was cold, but I couldn’t really feel my fingers.  I touched them together at one point to see if I could feel them.  I had no real sensation, but I could feel that they were super hot, which was so strange because other parts of my body were so cold.

I hope there’s a race pic of me hobbling along touching my fingers together…that would be hysterical in a shoot-me-now kind of way.

I ran by some chick sitting on her ass yelling, “One mile to go!” and almost kicked her in the face.  Must have been the testosterone, but bitch was lying and I knew it.  Don’t fake us out!

I got up to a downright miraculous 9:11 for Mile 12, as visions of IVs and paramedics danced through my head.  Then, by something more like desperation but which I shall call mental fortitude, I zipped it up to an 8:27 for Mile 13 (all downhill.)  Mama needs either a drip or a gun to the head…whatever will make the fog lift.  I did not want to puke.  I have my standards.

I am proud to say that I kicked ass on the last 1/10th of a mile with a 7:52 sprint.

And that’s a race!  Disappointed and frankly pissed, I approached the medal holders and picked a kid that I thought had Down’s Syndrome to take my medal from.  As I got closer, I realized that he did NOT have it…just had a bad haircut.  See what I mean?  I wasn’t right in the head (I mean worse than usual, of course.)

I got my chip cut off, and decided to walk for a minute to see if I could pull myself together or if it was tent time.

I am proud to say that after a few minutes, I was better.  

HH crossed the finish line in 1:59:09, hobbled but proud.  His back gave him trouble, but he ran a smart race and had a great time before his wheels fell off around Mile 9.  He met his goal of coming in sub 2:00.

And I met my lowest goal.  I did laugh when I looked at my Garmin stats and saw that at one point, I briefly hit a 6:43 pace.  When the hell did that happen?

Now I reflect.

What happened?  Can you offer any advice?  Was it hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, or some combo (I know they are linked, and I get both sometimes, but I try so hard to put myself in the best possible position to overcome it.)?  Was it heat stress?

Or, dear God, was I just running beyond my ability?  That would be hard for me to accept, because I worked hard this training cycle AND because I just didn’t feel like the pace was beyond me until the nausea hit.  I was running comfortably and confidently…power and poise!

It reminded me of when the epidural didn’t work while delivering my second, and the pain was so bad that I was puking, and the nurse was yelling at me that I needed to stop puking so I could push, and I wished a painful and immediate death upon her and the members of her family.  It would have been great to just put the nausea aside and run faster, but sometimes it just ain’t that easy!

I welcome any advice.  I feel like I am never going to achieve my sub 1:50 goal if I don’t get a handle on what happened, and I am sad.  Am I just not fast enough or good enough?  Maybe it’s just not in the cards for me…

I maybe should have waited another day to post so I would be less emotional, but this is just how I am feeling.  Thanks for reading!  I should add that HH and I had a lovely afternoon talking over the shared experience, we had our first cookout of the season with the boys and had a great family night, complete with lots of time outside sipping rosé and enjoying the evening.  I think we both earned it, right?

I was just happy not to be prone in the medical tent here postrace…

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As an extra bonus, a pic of HH’s postrace blisters….let this be a lesson to you kids out there…blisters suck!

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The Ten Types of People Who Annoy Me During Races

Wanna know a secret?  I’m competitive.  Super competitive.  Like kick-my-own-child’s-ass-at-a-game-because-he-shouldn’t-win-unless-it’s-for-real competitive (I did make exceptions in the preschool years, so don’t get all judgy on me.  The boys have won plenty of Candyland games in their day, but now we’re on to poker, chess and Blokus, and the gloves are off.)

It’s like I’m one of the new Ben and Jerry’s core flavors, but instead of peanut butter fudge down the center, I’ve got a stubborn streak of dog-eat-dog.

This ruthless streak has nothing to do with ability.  I can know that I’m not going to do well at something, maybe even that I’m horrible at it, but my desire to compete rears its ugly head regardless of my chances, and I go all out.

I once strained a muscle outperforming my 10-year old niece on her new Dance Dance Revolution game for Wii.  Yes, I realize it wasn’t a competition.  No, I’m not proud.  I just had to have a high score.

Ain’t no shame

ladies do your thing

Just make sure

you’re ahead of the game

Is it any surprise that I turned to running in my thirties after having two kids and becoming a stay-at-home mom?  No, likely not.  Running fulfills that need for competition, that drive and goal orientation that marked my teens and twenties and is so missing in my SAHM life.  It brings my increasingly scattered mind to heel and then frees it in a way that the rest of my day can never do.

It gets me firing on all cylinders, and I love it.  I love random running, I love training and I love races.  I imagine that much of what I’m typing is here resonates with all my running readers.  I am not unique in that sense.

Would you be surprised to know that I run a little bitchy during races?  Yes, my snarkiness is directly proportional to my level of suffering, which is usually on high during races as I tend to go all out.  I’m never afraid to turn my physical/mental struggle into hatred toward other runners, and here is where I wonder if I differ from the running pack a bit.  I read a lot of runners’ stories about the great atmosphere of races and how amazing they are.  There is personal pain and agony, to be sure, but the overall theme of race recaps is so positive (I’ve written a few myself..my last half in October was a wonderful warm and fuzzy race for me, but it was an abberation.)  Where’s the nastiness?

Does anybody get as annoyed as I do by others during races?  Maybe I’ve been reading a little too much Angry Jogger (dear lord, I love that Irishman and his angry streak), but I’m letting it all out today…

Here is my list (perched on my throne of running perfection, of course) of the 10 types of runners who annoy the living shit out of me during races!

You people annoy me:

Type 1:  You can’t Fing line up in the right spot–You see those pacers?  Those flags they’re holding up with projected finish times?  They mean something, idiot.  If you’re expecting to run a 2:45 half marathon, DO NOT line up near the 1:55 pace group.  You deserve my size 9.5 foot and custom orthotic shoved straight up your ass.

Not knowing your projected time is not an excuse.  Take the time to make an educated guess.  If you aren’t even to that point with your running, then err on the side of starting further back in the line.  You cause real problems for other runners who have to work their way around you (often with a stampede of thousands of runners behind them, just waiting to crush the course!), and that screws with my potential PR and could lead to twisted ankles.  AND PLEASE, GOD FORBID, DO NOT LINE UP WAY AHEAD OF YOUR PROBABLE FINISH TIME IF YOU ARE TYPE 2!

Type 2:  You do jog/walk intervals–Hey, welcome to the race.  I mean it.  I know that intervals are how some people do their races, and I’m not trying to bag on the method.  I’m just saying that you annoy me when I’m behind you and you suddenly stop for your walk break.  Some of you try to be nice and look behind you before you do that or move to the side first, and bless you!  But some just suddenly come to a halt.  You deserve my size 9.5 foot and custom orthotic shoved straight up your ass.

Please, Type 2ers, line up further back.  Most of you tend to be slower runners anyway if you’re not up to running the whole race.  Just let the main throng pass, and then get out there and get after it!  Good luck to you!

Type 3:  You come to a stop in the middle of the course and then stroll sideways toward the aid station–Seriously?  Does anyone else see this sometimes?  What are these people thinking?  Do they want to kill the rest of us?  Oh, and their kissing cousin is the runner who grabs a drink then steps casually back out without looking first.  Just go away.  I am aching to shove my foot up your ass.

Type 4:  You’re running in a group with matching t-shirts–Okay, so it’s not the shirt that’s the problem; it’s what it typically signifies.  You are likely jogging 5-6 wide, chatting about what a dicksmack so-and-so is and giggling as you amble along.  It’s often your first race, you’re in it together (girl power!), and you’re only as fast as your slowest runner.  Camaraderie rules, you usually line up too close to the front, and you’re often spotted running right up the middle of the street.  I can never get around you easily.

Move bitch

Get out the way

Get out the way bitch

Get out the way

Guess what?  I wish I had four more feet, because each of you deserves my foot shoved straight up your ass.  Best of luck once I get past you though!

Type 5:  You’re wearing a Camelbak, and it’s a 5k–This really is snarky, and I know it’s not anything I should care about.  I’m willing to admit that I’m a bitch.  Your hydration is your business.  I’m just being honest…it makes me laugh and yet somehow annoys me at the same time.

Type 6:  You’re wearing a singlet/tank, and you have copious amounts of shoulder and back hair–I get it, dude.  You’re bringing along a fur coat that the rest of us aren’t burdened with, and the shit gets hot!  Still, if I could run up behind you and fashion two Heidi braids from your shoulder hair, then I think I speak for all of us when I plead for a short-sleeve mesh tee or at least a tank with wide coverage across the shoulders.  Having said that, I should now apologize to anyone who ends up behind me and gets a detailed view of the stretch marks on the backs of my thighs.

Type 7:  You’re a real fit bitch–You’re often found racing in just your sports bra and teeny shorts.  Your thighs are the size of toned hot dogs, but with insane yet feminine amounts of muscle.  You don’t sweat, you just glow.  I often catch a glimpse of you as we run in the same pack (usually briefly, as you are always faster than me)…me with stray frizzy hair flying around my beet-red race, half-drooling and arms flailing, you gliding along like the beautiful talented runner that you are.

The foot and orthotic that I’d like to shove up your ass dwarf your entire body…except for your perfect boobs.  You probably pushed out two lovely kids with no drugs and don’t even pee when you sneeze.

Type 8:  You insist on running right up the pacer’s ass–I’ve only tried to run once with a pace group (last year’s marathon.)  I might have stuck with it longer, but one gal really annoyed me.  She would do anything to make sure that she stayed directly behind the pacer, literally on his left heel.  She was ruthless and infringed on people’s space many times.  As I was running at the back edge of the group, I saw it all and found it irksome and distracting.  I left the group at the Mile 9-10 aid station.

Type 9:  You’re a persistent spitter/belcher/snot rocket blower–At the side of the course is one thing, but right in the middle is rude, imho.  Boogers on my Brooks?  Not cool!  Anyone with me?

Type 10:  You can’t run in a Fing straight line or drastically change pace out of nowhere–Annoying as hell and takes me out of my zone.

Who annoys you during races?  Surely I’m not the only bitchy runner during these things!

I hope no one takes offense to this post…I was just trying to have fun, and I am far from perfect!

How to Taper For a Race I Haven’t Trained For: And a Strange Dream

Sitting here waiting to catch up on the phone with my Swiss bestie and watching Oscar the foot dog lounge at my feet while keeping an eye on the birds in the back yard…

ImageThe boys and I had a great time visiting my parents over the weekend (and HH enjoyed a lovely bacheloresque weekend gorging himself on college football and golf.)  Alex and my dad went fishing and caught 30 fish…

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I snatched up some Indian art at a local art fair…while my mom and aunt were checking out the serious stuff, I fell in love with the cartoonist Ricardo Cate and picked up this–

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Can you read it?  It says, “Now wait a minute.  Somebody here, I’m not gonna say who, has no rhythm whatsoever!”

 We had a great time, I squeezed in a productive 5-mile run on Saturday morning, and we got back in time to spend a good part of Sunday with HH.

Oh, and in other news, I had a dream last night that I was an actress and got cast in the new Princess Diana movie with Naomi Watts.  I was cast as Camilla Parker Bowles, and Tom Hanks was Prince Charles, and I had a fabulous screen test but was confused because I didn’t know why they would cast me since I had dark hair.  I am serious.  Interpretations, anyone?

Dream Weaver

I believe you can get me through the night

On to running…my half marathon is this weekend.  Oh, had you forgotten that I was doing that?  So had I!

I have never (not)trained like this.  I think I ran 9 miles at the most for a long run, and that was several weeks back.  Not only have I shorted my long runs, I’ve shorted my short runs!  In short, I’m short.

I have my reasons, like most people do when race time comes and they aren’t prepared.  It happens…it’s just never happened to me because I am typically anal obsessive freakish fixated psychotic dedicated when it comes to training programs.

So I am in a unique situation.  Do I bail, or do I thump my chest, give myself the ol’ I’m not a quitter speech and lace up?

I sort of feel like I need to show up and run as punishment—a “take your lumps” sort of deal.  Yet, the thing is, I will feel plenty mad anyway, even if I’m at home on my couch.  I will hate myself in either place.

Still, I think I might give it a go, with my phone nearby in case I need someone to come sweep me up off the side of the course at Mile 10.

I won’t sub-2:00, which will be like a giant kick in my nuts, were I to have any (what is the female equivalent?  Do share!)

I might not be able to finish.

Even if I do finish, I will crash at some point past the Mile 9 mark, and it will be spectacular.  Nobody turns to the Dark Side like I do during a race.

So how do I taper when I haven’t even trained?  I think I’ll do 4 miles today, a 30-minute tempo run tomorrow (tempo defined loosely as any pace between a fast walk and a sprint since I currently lack any stable tempo) and a 3-mile run on Thursday.  I’ll rest my undertrained muscles on Friday and then take my medicine come Saturday morning.

Happy running!