Monthly Archives: October 2013

Post-Race Euphoria

“When you’ve had the perfect run, you’ve cleared your soul.”

– Pat Monahan

This was posted on Fit for 365’s Blog and I just had to share it, especially after Saturday’s run.  It was the best description of the run that day that I could ever come up with myself.  I had the perfect run.

This was right when I started running Saturday.  I never lost that good feeling.

This was right when I started running Saturday. I never lost that good feeling. Not even two days later.

So today, I’m “suffering” from a bout of runner’s euphoria.  I loved that run.  I wanted that run.  I needed that run more than anything.  After being out of serious marathon training for a month, after having so much pain when running, after deciding to defer the Houston Marathon, I just needed that perfect run.  And now I have…the affliction…. post-race runner’s euphoria.

Post-Race Euphoria –  The feeling a runner gets after racing, whether the race is considered “successful” or not, that said runner can run all the races he/she wants whenever he/she wants without burnout, injury, excessive fatigue or realizing it was probably not a good idea. This condition is especially serious when said runner has an exceptionally good, fun, or fast race, OR has been a spectator at an iron distance race.  Runners credit cards should be quietly removed from wallet/purse and computer/social media should be removed and a five-seven day moratorium for race entry should be immediately instilled.

Have you ever had post- race euphoria before?  The first time I had it, I had just run a sub-4:00 marathon after being sick at the Lincoln Marathon in May of 2011, my second attempt at a BQ.  The next day, I went looking for other races and immediately signed up for a 1/2 marathon two weeks away.  I thank God  the marathon I really wanted to sign up for was too far away.  I can only chalk it up to post-race euphoria.  I ended up running that 1/2 marathon two weeks later and I HATED it.  I resented every boring stupid step, the dumb volunteers handing me WATER (I know, right? How dare they?!), CHEERING, and the stupid boring course filled with nothing but dead grass and a dumb levy.  So, from then on, I imposed a one-week moratorium – NO SIGNING UP FOR RACES FOR ONE WEEK AFTER RUNNING A RACE. If it’s really a good idea the day after a race, it will still be a good idea one week later.  After that incident, I’ve never made it past a week and still wanted to sign up for a race.  Well done, moratorium, well done.

My thoughts at the time were, "*^&$% race, why the HELL am I doing this?!"  And isn't the scenery just gorgeous??? Not.

My thoughts at the time were, “*^&$% race, why the HELL am I doing this?!” And isn’t the scenery just gorgeous??? Not.

So what’s the purpose of telling you all of this?

1)  Start a one week moratorium after a race.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT sign up for a race in the first week after a race.  Post-race euphoria is very dangerous!!! Especially for your wallet 🙂

2)  Don’t look directly at your medal…. it’s tricky prowess will get to you to ignore #1 above and sign up for ALL THE RACES.

3) Enjoy your races.  Enjoy the good moments.  Learn from the bad moments.  But when you have the perfect run, etch it into your permanent memory and relive it.  Revel in it.  Love it.  Replay that moment when you are having a bad run.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing for years to come.  B2B, I’ll always love you…..

And I have to admit…. I’m running the Battleship 1/2 Marathon in Wilmington on Sunday!!!! .  This was completely unexpected BUT!!!  I am not a hypocrite!!!  No, I am not.  Technically, this is the EIGHTH day after the race, I haven’t signed up yet (I will at the expo on Saturday which is the SEVENTH DAY), and well, I’m not going for a PR on this one.  This is pure enjoyment, all fun.  I was asked to run the 1/2 with a fellow Without Limits runner, a friend Anthony, who has run ONE HUNDRED ONE 1/2 MARATHONS.  Yes, 101!!!  This will be his 102nd.  I’m going to be talking to him while we run and I’m really excited to hear all his stories about the races he has done across the world.  Stay tuned as that story will be coming next week.

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Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, running, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hells Belles Do B2B

Yesterday, I ran 1/2 marathon as a part of the Hells Belles relay team in the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 iron distance race.  It was amazing beyond belief.  Because there were so many facets to yesterday, it’s hard to even know where to start, so I’ll just start at the beginning.

First thing Friday morning, I had a nice 30 minute shake-out run while my swimmer, Randee, tried out her wetsuit and unexpected cold temps.  While I was THRILLED at  the colder air, she was facing swimming in an environment she wasn’t used to, which isn’t something you usually want to do on race day.  Let’s say she wasn’t thrilled about the temps.  The B2B expo was next.  We picked up our packets, went to the mandatory meeting and walked around the expo.  I ended up buying an outfit I can wear swimming and in triathlons.  If I wasn’t already planning to do the B2B 1/2 next year, there’s no way I could come out of that expo NOT wanting to do one, that’s for sure.  I was humbled by the people there and what they were preparing to put themselves through.  Me, I was “just” running a 1/2 marathon!!

We were ready to go.

We were ready to go.

I ate the same sort of foods I would in preparation for a full marathon, just not as much.  The issue was that my stomach was being a little grumpy.  It’s not normal for me to feel like that before races, and I’ve done plenty of them, so I knew something else was going on and that I needed to be extra careful.  I had dinner with my teammate, Wendy, and we were both tired but really excited for the events Saturday.  After I got home from eating, I got all my race stuff together, set my alarm, said goodnight to my family, and went to sleep.  Well, I did after the stupid song I had in my head all day left my brain.  I was teasing my son by singing and acting along to the song “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips like the friends do in the movie Bridesmaids, so it circled for a while.  Annoying.

I got up pretty early to the text, “Wakey wakey” from Randee.  I silenced my phone and went back to sleep for another hour.  When I did get up at 6:30, I knew I was in for it.  My stomach was pissed.  I’ve never had a GI problem during a race, and I certainly didn’t want to make this the first time, so I stayed home and just followed my eating plan. It’s a good thing I didn’t have an early morning race, that’s for sure.  Why am I including this little “TMI” segment?  Well, because this is a blog about running and runners talk about stuff like this.

I was pacing when the race started for Randee.  I waited and waited and then tried to track her progress.  Nothing.  What happened?  Where is she? WHAT IS GOING ON?????  I found the live cam from the swim finish and watched and watched for her.  Then it quit streaming.  I waited a little longer and texted her husband to see if she was done.  She was.  Wendy, our biker, was on her way to me.  I had three hours to get ready to run.  Butterflies!!

We didn’t know exactly where we were going for the exchange point and we didn’t know what the traffic/parking situation would be like, so we headed to downtown Wilmington early.  I’d much rather be there early than to be scrambling around and late.  Thankfully, my stomach settled down, and I had a feeling I needed to eat more.  I kept my coach’s words in my head, “Be sure to eat enough so you won’t want to eat other runners, but not enough that you’ll shit yourself”.  Good advice, Kristen, good advice.  My go-to pre-race meal emerged a few years ago before a marathon, so we stopped at Burger King and I picked up a double hamburger, of all things.  But when you find something that works, you do it if it feels right.    We got there in plenty of time, had no trouble parking right by transition 2, and found our way to the relay transition point.  Randee showed up after showering up after her swim, and we saw some fellow teammates from our mutual training group, Without Limits.  We cheered, we waited, and at the time that would have been Wendy’s best finish time, I got ready to go.

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

I waited in the transition area for about 30 minutes.  Five minutes before that, I got butterflies.  I got nerves.  I thought, “Wow, I don’t feel like I’m going to run 13.1 miles in just a few minutes.”  Maybe it was because my mind was ready.  Maybe because I didn’t have a huge amount of pressure on me – my only goal was to finish in under 2 hours.  I don’t know what it was, but when Wendy came into view, I was ready to go.

IMG_1278

I yelled, “STELLLAAAAAA!!!”

 I gave Wendy a hug, got the timing chip around my ankle, started my watch, and took off.  Boy, did I feel good.  I didn’t look at my watch for a little bit, and when I did, I was shocked to find out that I was going at about a 7:30 minute mile.  I knew I’d crash pretty quickly if I kept that pace up, so I slowed down.  But I felt soooo goooood!!!  My pace was even, my steps were quick, and my breathing was slow and steady.  I slowed up to an 8:15 minute mile, which was 45 seconds a mile faster than my plan.  I honestly tried to slow down.  I really did.  I knew that I could end up crashing.  But I wanted to go for my best time, because I knew “that” feeling, that wonderful “this is awesome” feeling, and I was having it right then.  I also didn’t want to derail at mile 6, so I had to be smart about it.  I knew I would end up feeling uncomfortable, and I knew I was comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It was time to act like a runner.

After being out of speed work, hill work, and tempo running for a full month because of my severe shin splints and calf tightness, I was expecting my leg to start hurting.  Yes, I felt some discomfort, slight pain, and I shoved it aside.  I was elated to be running to my potential without pain, the first time in a very long time.  Finally!!  In a race too!! The crowds along the first two or so miles were amazing.  There was music, there were Without Limits people yelling at their teammates, there were strangers yelling, “You’re looking strong, keep it up!” and “Go Hells Belles!!!”.  I was running my first big race without my iPod, so I didn’t know what to expect after the crowds thinned out and I was alone.

About a mile into the race.

About a mile into the race.

The course was out and back, so I was able to see runners as they were on their way back towards the finish.  So inspiring!!!  I kept passing runners and honestly, I felt bad since I knew they were the ones who had swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles already.  I had an “R” on my calf, so at least I knew they could see that, know I was part of a relay team, and know why I had so much energy.  My pace stayed steady between 8:10 and 8:20.  At about mile 6, I noticed that my watch stopped beeping when I passed the mile marker.  Hmmmm.  I’ve run in races where my watch shows I’ve run less distance, but not a course with such tight corners and basically no margin of error.  Did they measure the course wrong?  The first time, my watch showed I was .10 miles off.  Then it was .2 miles off at the next mile marker, then .3 miles.  I thought that it would be pretty crappy to be a marathon runner and find out the course is measured incorrectly.  But other than that, I was floored at how much I DIDN’T miss my iPod.  Sure, it would’ve been nice, because the course was quiet.  Besides the water stations and beginning/end, it was extremely quiet.  But I didn’t care.  I listened to my breathing, I listened to my steps, I heard the rustling leaves, I heard other runners.  I was in my own world, my zone, my happy place, my happy pace.

The miles ticked down, and I got closer to the finish.  My lips were dry.  I was getting tired, breathing harder.  My coach saw me along in there somewhere and yelled, “KELLI YOU’RE AWESOME!!!”  I kept at it.  I repeated to myself, “You are uncomfortable.  Get over it.”  I wanted my chapstick.  Three miles to go, two miles to go…. crowds were starting to form again.  I was close.  I heard the music, the crowds thickened, the atmosphere….awesome.

I was exhilarated while also trying not to trip on the uneven bricks.  Tricky when you're tired.

I was exhilarated while also trying not to trip on the uneven bricks. Tricky when you’re tired. And no, I didn’t hold my arms up the entire race.

I tried as hard as I could to finish strong.  I saw the finish line.  Wow.  I know I hadn’t done the entire 1/2 iron distance, but really, any finish line is emotional.  I found my two teammates, who joined me so we could finish together.

The Hells Belles

The Hells Belles

Once we crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch.  Holy shit.  1:44:08.  An unofficial PR by 7 seconds.  Granted, my watch showed less than 13 miles, but I had to give that up to the Garmin gods.  I did it.  I had an absolutely amazing race.  Randee swam it.  Wendy biked it. I ran it.  PR or not, official or unofficial, I ran my best race, it felt AWESOME, and I had fun.  I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Me, Wendy, and Randee

Me, Wendy, and Randee

After the race, we collected our awesome medals, pajama pants, and food.  My husband (Sherpa) and I sat down and had a beer while listening to the post-race music, then headed to our favorite hangout to watch runners go by and hang with the other Belles.

I appreciate the lady taking this picture of us since if I'd taken it myself, it'd be of my hand.

I appreciate the lady taking this picture of us since if I’d taken it myself, it’d be of my hand.

I’m intimidated by completing a 1/2 iron distance next year, which is exactly the reason that I plan to sign up and do it.  Two huge boxes checked off a life goal list in 2014?? Boston Marathon in April, check.  B2B in October, check.  Heck yeah, why not??!!

How can I describe yesterday?  Awesome? Amazing? Inspiring? Yes, yes, and yes.  And as I watched the full iron distance runners continuing to run after being at it for over 10 hours at that point, I thought, “Well, maybe that’ll be me some day.”  And today, as I think about it, I know it will be.

A runner finishing their first half of the marathon in the full iron distance.  Can you say INSPIRE?

A runner finishing their first half of the marathon in the full iron distance. Can you say INSPIRE?

Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Let’s Go, It’s Race Time

The Beach 2 Battleship Full and Half Iron Distance Triathlon in Wilmington, NC, is on Saturday.  I’m lucky enough to be racing the 1/2 marathon part of the triathlon relay as the runner for the Hells Belles team, consisting of my sister, Randee The Swimmer, and a friend, Wendy The Biker, and me, Kelli The Runner.

I'm pumped to be a part of this race!

I’m pumped to be a part of this race!

This is the first time I’ve really raced in several months.  Sure, I did the 15k a month ago, but that pretty much served to shake the race dust off my legs.  This race is bigger.  Much bigger.  I’m pretty nervous about it for a few reasons.

1) It’s a relay, so I want to do my best, not only for me, but for my Hells Belles,

2) It’s a relay so I really don’t know when my start time will be,

3) I can’t use my iPod (Ahhhhhhh, Noooooooo!!!),

4) I will start my leg of the relay after noon so will be new for nutrition and I’ve never raced after 9 am, and

4) I’m not physically ready since I’ve had to take so much time off running.

I think that’s one of the most frustrating parts is that I had a PR goal for this race, the weather appears that it will cooperate, and I’m just not going to be able to rise to that PR challenge. Races certainly won’t go away, so I’ll get to that some other time.  But I’ll be damned if I go one second slower than what I can.

Our team is ready too.  Wendy The Biker has a bike named “Stella”, so I’ll be calling her in when they get to our exchange point.  I can’t help it. 

Anyone who’s seen Seinfeld can relate to me on that one.

The one thing that I have going for me is that I’m mentally ready.  I’ve got this.  My mantra for the week is “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.  It’s going to be hard, it’s going to hurt, and I simply will NOT take it easy.  I normally visualize before just marathons, but I’m already getting into that mode for this half marathon, which I’ve never done before. I have a plan of action, and it will require me to be patient with my pace (which I’ve had trouble with in the past), and it will require me to just get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I haven’t run more than 9.3 miles this training cycle, so my body will be telling me to slow the hell down, but I know that

Hells to the no, I will NOT slow down! It’s time to get going, to push myself really hard, which I rarely do.  Sure I have before, many times actually, but part of it is to prove to myself that I can indeed push past the limit that I normally do.  So many of the other athletes will be doing just that on Saturday, so I may as well join in and do it too.  No one is jumping off bridges (docks don’t count), so I’m good.  Pushing myself is not to be confused with being a total train wreck either, and de-railing at mile ten. That’s not my intention.  My intention is to race smart.

It will be difficult for me to run without music, as I will actually go faster when one of my “pump it up” songs comes on.  For any race, I have the playlist choreographed so my favorite race songs come on at just the right times.  It may seem silly, but music DOES make a difference to me.  I decided that I’m going to just have to block everything out except for the crowds and run like

It will be a new experience for my team, and I don’t think any one of us has lost sight on one of the most important parts of racing either: Having Fun.  What’s the point of it if you make it all about PR’s and making your times and zoning, but you leave out the part that probably got you starting racing in the first place?  I will say “thank you” to volunteers, I will sing along to any music I can hear, I will take in the sights, I will read the signs that spectators hold and mock the ones I don’t like, and I will high-five those little hands that reach up to mine.  I’m really looking forward to seeing my running group teammates finish the half iron distance and the others finish the full iron distance.  I see the half in my future for next year.  It’s scary, but I think I’m just crazy enough to take it on.

So to all of you who are racing this weekend, good luck, do your best, and don’t forget to have fun!!

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, open water swimming, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Six Months to Boston!!!!

Today, I saw a post from The Boston Marathon’s Facebook page that caught my attention.

In case you didn't do the math...

In case you didn’t do the math, the marathon is in six months.

The race will be exactly six months from today!!!  While this brings on a HUGE amount of excitement to me, it also brings on some anxiety.  Will my leg heal from this nagging injury so I can run my best race?  Will I get another injury?  Will I be able to PR? Make it up the hills? Make it down the hills without shredding my legs?  I think of all this stuff that could happen or may happen or might happen, which is really not unusual for me, then I think, STOP IT.  Shut the hell up.  Just enjoy the freaking moment, relish in the joy that I am able, and let myself at least get training started before starting to worry about all of it.  Then don’t worry about it!!!  I will remind myself, as much as I need to, to enjoy the journey as much as I know I’ll enjoy the destination.

So then I listen to a song that I played at the half marathon point of all the marathons where I tried to qualify for Boston.  This song reminds me what I’m doing all the extra hard work, why I’m doing this, and it pumps me up.  Plus, it’s just a good song.

This is the song that I played for my kids to tell them that I got into the Boston Marathon.  This is the song we have our funny hand movements and dances to.  This song makes me happy.  And I’m not going to let any worrying get in the way of celebrating what I will be doing six months from today.

It also doesn’t hurt that the Boston Red Sox are in the World Series.

Boston, Baby, here I come!  Go Sox!

Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, marathon, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ode to My Medals

Medals, medals, oh how you shine,

I ran those races and you became mine.

I cherish the memories attached to your race,

Even when I sucked and couldn’t show my face.

Don’t get too comfortable, as I know I’ll add more,

 Crossing that line I always quest for!

IMG_1255

Each medal has it’s own unique story.

I finally found a place to put my medals “only” two months after moving into my new house.  I remember taking them off the wall in my Texas house, and I thought about packing them in the car so I knew they wouldn’t be lost.  Those medals represent such a huge part of my running life and they each have a specific memory attached. Some are amazing, some are not, and some were a reward for a hard run race.  Some just remind me of having fun with friends (like N’Orleans).  I carefully hung them up and had a little run down memory lane.

I know I’ve finished several races without getting a medal, and many of the finishers shared the same opinion about that, “What?! No medal? That sucks!”.  I understand they are expensive and require additional volunteers to give them to finishers, but sometimes, you just want that piece of the race to remember it by.  One race where I finished second overall women, I was lucky enough to get a rock painted green Blarney Stone. It’s cool but a little hard to display.

My St. Patty's Day Race Award.  I know you're jealous.

My St. Patty’s Day Race Award. I know you’re jealous.

Not all memories attached to medals are good.  Take this one:

What should have been the 2010 Lincoln Marathon

The Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, D’OH! Medal

First of all, this dumb medal is an insult to itself.  The neck strap is huge and the dinky medal is teeny tiny.  If you’re running a half marathon, at least the medal could look a little nicer or the strap could be half the size.  Maybe I’m a little bitter?  This race was the 2010 Lincoln Marathon Half-Marathon.  I was trained for and planned to qualify for Boston at this race.  Buuuutttt, as dumb, and I mean DUMB luck would have it, I bonked at mile six and had to stop at the half instead of finishing the full.  Yes, mile six.  I shutter to remember what I ate the day before.  I’m too embarrassed to even repeat it.  From that day on, I make sure my eating is where it needs to be for me, and I also listen to myself more than I rely on what a book says regarding pre-race eating.  Oh, and I am fully aware of what eating simple carbs (That’s the D’OH!!! part) instead of complex carbs will do to your race.  That medal is proof.  I have to thank my husband for keeping this medal from ending up in the garbage can, which is where I put it after that race.  Well, I threw it more than put it, but I was angry and the medal was just, well, stupid.  He kept it for me and now it just shows that you can’t always have a good race.

2013 Houston Marathon

2013 Houston Marathon

The Houston Marathon medal is one of my favorites, of course, because this is the race where I qualified for Boston and PR’d by 13 minutes.  I will never let rain or wind factor into my mindset before the race, because I know that all you can do is run your best race, as I did in Houston.  You just never know how it will end up, so always keep positive!!

Some races are just meant for fun.  My husband and I ran these 4 mile obstacle/mud races in Winnie, Texas, and were even four beers deep before running one of them.  It was fun.  A lot of fun.  The people who manage the WWIII.5 races are wonderful people too, so I would recommend this race to anyone.  And check out their web page because I can actually say that I’m on the website!!  I’m the one climbing out of a car on the right side of the page.   I decided to keep the medals as-is instead of cleaning them off before I hung them up to make it more true-to-life.  I may even have some dirt left in my ear too…..

Winnie Wars

Winnie Wars

The second marathon I ever ran was the Disney Marathon in 2001.  I decided, on a whim of course, to join Team in Training and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  My grandma was a survivor and she had passed away from other causes the year before, so it seemed appropriate, and I was able to raise over $3,000 for the cause.  I ran this one using the “run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute” method with a friend, which seemed to work well for us as we could walk the next day.  This is one of my favorite medals as well, because who doesn’t like Disney?

The Disney Marathon

The Disney Marathon

2012 Turkey Dash

2012 Turkey Dash

This is the medal I got for finishing first in my 35-39 age group at the last Thanksgiving Day race.  I’ve always wanted to run a race on turkey day but we either were traveling that day or there wasn’t a race to run.  Last year was the first opportunity to do one, so I signed up for the 10k, plus it was a good training run.  It was a beautiful day, humid but sunny, and I wanted to go as fast as possible.  I was amazed to finish the 10k in a 3 minute PR of 47:22.  That was the first taste of “don’t underestimate yourself” I had last year, and it was a good lesson that I carry with me today and pass along to my kids.

As much as I cherish my race medals, I have to admit that the memories attached to them mean more to me than the actual medal.  But I’ll be happy to keep collecting both the memories and the medals as long as they’ll give them out!

Do you have a favorite race medal?

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

With a Little Help From My… Um, Friends?

I must note that this is a story that mingles animals and running.  What do animals have to do with running?  Amazingly so, they’re an essential ingredient in the formula that will take me to Boston.

I am an animal lover, plain and true. I grew up on 30 acres in the middle of Adams County, Iowa, with a variety of cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, pigs, and horses.  My sister and I would frequently run around the farm to explore the creeks, pond, woods, and fields. One time we even found an old water pump in the middle of the pasture that spewed out a field mouse when pumped, so we put an old mason jar under the pump and caught the mouse. Little did we know he was too smart for us and figured out how to get out of a hamster cage by twisting off the closure caps.

When my oldest son was a few years old, I started fostering kittens for a rescue near Mooresville, NC.  When we lived back in Iowa, I got involved with a no-kill cat rescue. I  started a fundraising campaign called “Running for a Paws”  for this rescue that netted about $3,000.  I ran races to collect donations and pledges, and had initially planned to run the local 1/2 marathon as the final race for this fundraiser, the Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon. Because I had collected pledges based on the number of race miles I did, I figured I could jack up the fundraising pot a few hundred bucks by doing the FULL marathon, which was my fourth full marathon. I figured it would be my last marathon. (My husband rolls his eyes at this as he knew better.)  I didn’t follow a training plan, didn’t do speed work, tempo runs, and I pretty much ran when I wanted to.  Yes, I got my miles in, but it was more for the accomplishment than anything else. I call that “old school” style.  Race day was nice and COLD, and I flew to the finish in 4:12.  And that was just the beginning.

After the race, with my rescue partner, Beth, and my mini support crew.

After the race, with my rescue partner, Beth, and my mini support crew.

I remember sitting in my mom and dad’s back yard with a Miller Lite after the race, and out of the blue, I wondered what time I was need to qualify for the elusive Boston Marathon, the race I’d heard of but really didn’t know anything else about.  I googled what it was at that time, before it was lowered by five minutes. This was the race that I thought was just for elites and extremely fast people, not for regulars like me.   “Hmmmm, if I can finish a marathon that I didn’t really train for in 4:12, I bet I can finish in 3:45 if I really give it a try.”  And often times, when I get something in my head, I will try and try until I succeed or get distracted and move on to something else.  Three marathons later, here I am, a 2014 Boston Marathon Registrant.  And all because of that one marathon that I ran to raise money for the animals.

Isn’t it funny how one decision can lead to so many other things? My desire to help this rescue led to my return to long distance running. It also led me to have some furry “helpers”, but I love them and know that if it wasn’t for me, three of the four probably would not even be alive today.  Because I currently do not have a job outside the house and we recently moved here from Texas, I don’t exactly have a bunch of friends beating my door down for coffee talks and fun excursions that were frequent before the move. I haven’t been able to run with my group for the last several weeks because of my injury either.  I’m a social person, so I do find myself fairly lonely.  But with a little help from my furry friends, I am never alone. I think that, at this particular point, they’re as grateful for me as I am for them.

I am never alone. Ever.

Even when I’m alone I’m not really alone.

At first, I was upset that I had to pull out of the Houston Marathon in January.  Then I think about the opportunities that may follow because of that decision.  What will I do after running the Boston Marathon? Where will my next marathon be? Will I be ready for the 1/2 iron distance triathlon next October?  It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities ahead.  For now, I’m just going to get through the 1/2 marathon on October 26th the absolute fastest I can, then in November, concentrate on strength building so I can heal whatever it is that’s hurting me. But I’m still excited.  Along the way, I know I have people here to train with, to cross train with, and to just be there for me.  And my furry little friends will never…EVER…let me be truly alone.

Squiffy watching me do crunches.

Squiffy watching me do crunches.

Tuna helping me roll out my shins.

Daytona helping me roll out my shins.

Goldie is making sure I ice my shin splints long enough.

Goldie is making sure I ice my shin splints long enough.

Because there’s ALWAY fur to clean up, always litter to clean, always food dishes to be filled, and always fresh water from the tap to be run so they can drink out of the faucet because “why would a sophisticated cat drink out of a bowl”, I like to take goofy pictures of my cats and share them in order to prove who really is boss. Yes, I know they really are the boss, no matter how much I think that I am.

Mother Purrresa

Mother Purrresa

IIII cccaaannnn'tttt reeeeaaach it!

IIII cccaaannnn’tttt reeeeaaach it!

daytona2

Say AHHHHHH!

Don’t let his cuteness fool you. He’s pulling you into his vortex so he can then bite you.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Workouts: Good vs Bad, or is it?

Since I’m taking as much time off running as possible without ruining my chances at a sub 2:00 1/2 marathon in just two weeks, I’ve been swimming a lot. I’m getting used to it and am getting “better”, but it’s still really difficult for me.  People have always told me that swimming is a great workout and I have to say that I totally get why people have been saying that! While it’s difficult for me to do something at such a beginner stage and admit that, well, I really suck at it, I have to see it as a challenge and a pathway to my next goal of completing a triathlon.

My swim workout last Wednesday was a little over a mile total. It took me a long time to complete it, but I felt pretty strong and that progress had been made from the last session. Then I swam again Friday. Oy. The planned workout was 1500 meters with some drills and speed work. Let’s just say that I got the distance done. It was ugly! After ONE MEASLY 25 meter lap, my heart was pounding and I had to breathe every stroke. Yes, every stroke. I’ve been working on breathing every other, but on Friday, I preferred to not inhale the pool water, so every stroke it was. As I did drills, all I could think about was just getting to the end. Fast laps? That was a joke. My sister and I were sharing a lane and she didn’t feel the most energetic about her swim either, but something shifted in the middle of our hellish workout. We knew we have bad workouts in there, but we knew we had to do it. So we did it. We completed what we needed to do. Was it pretty? Oh, hell no, it was terrible.  But we did it.

So I wondered, was it REALLY a bad workout then, if we actually completed it, was simply not as good as we wanted it or as it should have been?  I figured that no, it wasn’t bad, because we did not quit.  We finished it.  I have had so many “bad” running workouts that were just miserable to complete, especially in the middle of summer humidity. But they were completed. I got my miles in and it strengthened me in some way, whether purely mental or both mental and physical.

I flipped my perspective around and thought that really, we should all be looking at “those” workouts as maybe less-than-stellar, but certainly not bad at all. We need to remember that we’re training, we’re supposed to be tired, we’re working, we’re building, we’re growing. Not every workout is going to be this wonderful feeling of endorphins and happiness, and not every workout is intended to be so. But just stick with it and do it. You’ll be all the better for it.

This brings me to SATURDAY’S workout of 6 easy miles. I have to laugh as I think about it.  I was a little nervous because I didn’t want my leg to hurt but I needed some miles for that pesky 1/2 marathon in a few weeks. So I jogged as slow as I could.  I don’t even know if my heart rate increased enough to call it an aerobic workout, but I’m sure somewhere in there, a little training was done.  People walking their dogs were passing me. Little toddlers on their bikes with training wheels were passing me. The frogs in the water retention areas were keeping pace with me as they easily swam along. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed to do it.  It’s all for the greater goal and I can’t let one run trip that top domino and ruin the other ones for me. I know I’m going to have to stay slow until the race and I know I’m going to have to take time off after the race too, and that’s ok. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself! My leg felt ok, minimal discomfort during and especially after, which is more important to me.  Progress?

I got the workout done, so for that, it was good.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shin Splints are A-Holes

In the last few posts, I’ve made reference to my “achy leg”, or my “leg that hurts”, or my “stupid shin splints” (that’s the technical term, you know).  Because hindsight is always 20/20, or at least 20/30 in my case, I really should have taken time off when I started to get THAT feeling.  I’ve had them before, but never this early in training and never this, well, for a lack of better words, painful.  I know that at the time,  I was so worried and paranoid about being able to get into Boston, it didn’t matter and I was going to work through any pain so I could run my best race in January in Houston so I could re-qualify for Boston at an even faster pace so then I wouldn’t have to worry about actually getting in to run Boston.  It’s a very bad spiral of crazy, my friends.

Besides putting all that pressure on myself about Houston and re-qualifying and all this other crap, I also committed to running the third leg of the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 Iron Distance Relay Race with my sister and a friend.  Oh, I wasn’t just going to run it, I was going to PR, which puts me at a sub-8 minute mile. For me, that’s booking it.  On top of that, in August, we moved (with our two kids and FOUR cats) 1200 miles from our last home in Texas to North Carolina. Nothing like a bunch of changes and upheaval to start off training, right?

So last week, after my 15k race, I decided to take 10 days off running and concentrate on cross-training so I could let my leg heal. I have been getting physical therapy, which seemed to work….. until yesterday.

Let me describe shin splints: they’re like a crazy ex-girlfriend. One descriptive word I stole from Wayne’s World back in the day and still use now is “psycho hose beast”.  They make you insane. They start off as a tight muscle. Maybe a cramp.  Then when you start running, you’re like “What the hell??! Why does that hurt?”.  Then while you’re running, they want to show you they still love you so they stop hurting.  Then as soon as you’re done, BAM, like a bat on your shin, it hurts like hell. Then you stretch, foam roll, maybe ice it and don’t think about it as the pain (or as I now call it because I’m actually tired of hearing myself say it, discomfort) has gone away. Maybe you have a few more days of good running, and then you’re back at the pain discomfort again. It comes and goes, but then the times when it dissipates dissipates, and then you’re just left with that terrible feeling that nags and nags at you. Should I run, should I not, what should I do?  The physical therapist squeezes your bone and muscle with a vice-grip (that’s what it feels like – I really don’t know what they actually do as I’m sweating and gritting my teeth and trying not to cry at the time).

I felt very optimistic about recovering quickly. The discomfort was going away, I was doing my cross-training pain-free, and then.  It. Happened. The crampy feeling came back Monday, and I hadn’t had a run in over a week.  Was it the yard work? It remained Tuesday.  Tuesday was the day I was to return to running.  Should I? Should I not? I have a 1/2 marathon in just over two weeks.  Will this ruin it? Does it matter? Do I have time to still train for Houston? Is it too late?  The run was good, wonderful, long strong strides, fast, everything I needed it to be. But it hurt. And it hurt for the rest of the day.

I finally did something yesterday that I never wanted to do nor imagined that I would have to do. I realized that I need to quit training for my marathon. No, I didn’t quit training, as there’s always muscles to be strengthened, skills to be learned, miles to be swam, a bike to be ridden. I realized that I need to see the big picture. I DID get in to Boston. I WILL run in Boston in just a few months. I cannot and will not ruin that because I have a fantasy about beating my marathon PR in Houston in January. It’s simply not worth it. But why is it bothering me so much? Why did take so long for me to just STOP and realize that I’m doing no good to my body by pushing it through pain that simply isn’t going away?  (It’s funny to think about this particular question because, duh, we’re marathon runners and we just don’t give up easily, plain and simple!!)  Why am I torturing myself with making this decision?  Why is this so hard???  Then I realized the truth.

In all the chaos and drama of life, running is the constant in my life.

It’s the thing I rely on to calm my soul, to make me feel free, to bring me a sense of joy that nothing else can bring.

This is not to diminish what my husband means to me either. He is my one PERSON, the other constant in my life.  But there’s a big difference for what he can do for me and what running does for me.  So what do you do with a relationship that is hurting, an injury?  You nurture it.  You don’t keep beating it down until it becomes nothing but what the past was and what the future could be.  So I’m going to take time off running for now, which pains me to say, but I’m still doing the 1/2 marathon on October 26th.  After that, I’m just stopping. I cannot make this worse. I have to be smart about it and do the right thing. Will it work? Will I recover? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. But I’ll do whatever I need to do to make that happen.

It makes me sad to think of not running. But I know I have to let it go. I’ve had to do a lot of things these past few years that I did not want to do, so it’s just plain annoying to face yet another one. But that’s life, right? Just deal with it and move on. It doesn’t do anyone any good to whine and mope about it.

I’m lucky to have a support system in my husband, my sister, my coach Kristen.  She has been doing my training plan since August and has had to make so many adjustments, starting with my first “achy leg” comment several weeks ago. Kristen has been very supportive and has let me make my own decisions about what running I should do or not do, while giving me her honest opinion about those decisions.  My sister is teaching me how to swim well. I thank all of you for being there for me. I don’t know if you really understand why this is so difficult for me, but chances are, you do.

So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I feel very lucky. I get to run in Boston in April 2014. I can still train. Running will be there for me, but we’re just going to take a break from each other. Hopefully, we’ll come back even stronger. No fear.

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m 40 and I Really Don’t Give a Rats A$$

Forty. Four-tee.  Four-diddly-oh.  Oh shit I’m forty.  Four times ten.  Thirty plus ten.  Fifty minus ten (I admit I’m not ready for that one yet.)  Over the hill. Old. Ancient. Holy crap.  Forty is the new thirty. Twenty-nine again. Middle aged. Half way to eighty. Midlife.

My birthday was yesterday.  So what did I do to celebrate?  The first thing is that I had a really good run in the nice cool air. Oh wait, NO I DIDN’T.  I was banned from running, even on my 40th birthday, because of my stupid shin splints. So after I got lots of hugs and kisses from my kids and sent them on their merry way to school, I headed to the gym of all places, so I could be a good student to my coach and hop on the elliptical for 50 minutes.  Then I did whatever I wanted and ate whatever I wanted and bossed people around. It was awesome.  My husband doesn’t know what makes that different from any other day, but that’s not the point.

Tour of Historic Wilmington

Tour of Historic Wilmington

Yesterday, I turned 40.  Yup, the big FOUR-OH.  And I don’t care.  I really don’t. I think I’ve been anticipating this for over a year now, so I’m actually relieved that it’s finally here! I’ve heard that when you’re in your forties, you stop caring about those little things that don’t matter. I think I got a head start on that one.  I don’t have the perfect body, the perfect clean house, the perfect anything.  I swear. I get mad, I get happy, some days I’m both within five seconds.  But I don’t care. That’s just me.  It’s helped that we’ve been through a lot of crap the last few years. A lot of it hasn’t been good and has caused us a tremendous amount of stress (which caused the swearing to increase). But that’s really what life IS, isn’t it? I’m thankful for all my experiences, where they’ve led me and who I’ve gotten to know because of them. Many of my dreams have come true.  I have so many more that I want to pursue, too.  They’ll come when I can fit them in between following my other dreams and doing my duty as a mom, as long as it’s balanced with letting me be me.

I went to the beach. Because I could.

So what did I do to celebrate besides anything I wanted and running working out on the elliptical? I went to tour the historic part of my favorite city. I had a really good drink with a crab cake with lunch. I went to the beach. I read about a thousand “Happy Birthday” messages from friends and family on Facebook. I was called old.  (You all know who you are.) I was given the most thoughtful gifts from a friend and my family. I danced. I sang. I had fun. I drank beer. I toured more of historic down town and heard stories of people in the past. I drank more beer. It. Was. Perfect. Why would I care about turning 40 when I am happy? Isn’t it more about how you FEEL than how old you are?  Isn’t age just a number?  Or is that something that old people say to make ourselves feel better?   Hmmmm, I guess we’ll never know.

And you know what I did today? I had my first ever pool workout (remember because I have shin splints?) compliments and coached by my very own sister. I have to admit it was challenging and I did gag on the water. But I’m coming back and I look forward to learning a new sport. I’m hungry for it.

So what “words of wisdom” can I give for anyone, no matter where you are on the time-line of life?  Hmmmm, live. That’s it. Live your life. Do what you want, which is not to be confused with or switched with doing WHATEVER you want – there’s a big difference. Have goals. Have fun. LIVE your life.

40 – Old enough to know better.  Young enough to do it anyway.
IMG_1218
If this is 40, I’ll take it. I’m just getting started.
Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, swimming, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My New Pet

I have terrible shin splints so I’m not able to run.  It’s been several weeks since I’ve been able to run.  Oh wait, that’s only how it feels…. Actually, it’s been one full day.  It feels like twelve years.  An eon.  And I hate it.

I’ve been getting physical therapy for several weeks now, and I feel like we’re just now making progress. When I went to therapy last Wednesday, he centered in on the problem and I REALLY got up close and personal with myofascial release therapy. Oh boy did I. So when I went in today, I still had left over bruises from last week, so he was “easy on me”.  I was sort of looking forward to it because I know that it works and I know that I want to run.  Like now. Like yesterday.  I’m ready to go. But when he starts to put his needly fingers into my shin bone, I kinda want to kick him in the face. Accidentally of course.

I have to say that it was a little worse than last week, probably because it was slightly sore from last week, but it (the pain portion of the session) didn’t take as long. New bruises quickly emerged so I decided to give myself the Rorschach Test (you know, the Ink Blot Test) to see what I came up with.  Would it be a Boston “B”?  Would it be a race medal design? No.  It wasn’t.  Now we have a new cat in our house named BC Jones. What does BC Jones mean? It’s the name my son came up with, because BC = Bruise Cat and Jones is because Jones is cool.  **

Meet "Cat"

Meet “BC Jones”

 

I kind of like BC Jones. He won’t leave hair all over the place like my other cats do.  He won’t try and trip me when he can see the bottom of his food dish like my other cats do. He doesn’t require a litter box or vet visits.  He will slowly disappear and I will be able to run again.  Welcome to our house, BC Jones, but you are NOT welcome to stay!

 

** I wondered whether or not I should post a picture of a bruise. I mean, gross.  Then I thought about runners and I decided to hell with it. How many times have we whipped off our sock and said, “Hey, look at my missing toe nail!  Cool, huh?!”  or shown someone our swollen Achilles or puked at the end of a race or blown a snot rocket during a run? Yeah, bruises don’t matter.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, training for marathon, triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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