Thought #4,365

There are a bajillion thoughts that go through your head while you are tapering for a marathon.
Most of them are the result of a little known condition commonly known as “Marathonirritationitis“.
Until you are in the grips of it you are apt to think something like “Oh, it can’t be that bad!”  And, until you are in the grips of it, you would be WRONG!
WRONG Mister!  Just WRONG!
W-R-O-N-G!
The opposite of right.
Everything that is not ‘correct’.  That would be you.  Y-O-U.  But not me. Never me.

So…  Yeah… I’ve been around.
And I’ve been running/training.
And I haven’t written here in a ridiculously long amount of time.

I spent some (Read: Way Too Much) time trying to figure out Why exactly I wasn’t writing about this whole Marathon Training thing I’ve been doing.
Writing is my ‘thing’.  It’s how I process – and by ‘process’ I mean ‘deal with’ – life.  It’s what I do.
Yet I have avoided that very ‘thing’ that ‘process’, my ‘deal with’ about what is arguably one of the single most significant events of my life.
And you want to know why?
Let me tell you.
One word: Fear.

Everything was going ‘too good’.
The Really Long Training Runs went good – mostly – and even the bad ones weren’t horrible. They were merely challenging.  And the week after The Really Hard Ones would come a Really Long Training Run that went so much better than I would have ever imagined on the whole, let alone in light of the previous Long Training Run.
So I stopped writing about ‘it’.
And ‘it’ became ‘them’ and before you knew it a superstition was born!
If you write about it, it will fail!

Yet here I am, less than four days from The Day – Marathon Day.
Ummm….
Yeah.
Here I am Less Than Four Days from Marathon Day.
And I started this post with a thought in mind.  Thought #4,365 to be precise.
Which was . . .
Ummm…
No clue.
None.
And this is what happens The Week Before A Marathon.
Your brain gets eaten.
You develop the attention span of a gnat on crack for anything that isn’t directly relate to Race Day.
Or The Weather on Race Day.
Or What You’re Going to Wear on Race Day based on The Race Day Weather Forecast.

In short: You become self-absorbed and single-minded and boring.
So “Thought #4,365″ essentially becomes about The Marathon.
Your Marathon.
Your First Marathon.
MY First Marathon.

Holy Crap!
I’m running A Marathon!!

The Cherry on Top. WAY on top!

That’s what a marathon is.
I’ve already decided that’s what it is and it’s still four months and six days before the Starting Line is even set up.
It’s the cherry on top of the sundae that is made of dedicating months of your life to a single thing: Training for The Marathon.
It’s the justification for all the Friday night get togethers you skipped because you had to be up at the BCOD (Butt Crack Of Dawn) Saturday morning to get in your long training run.

And maybe it’s a little bit of vindication thrown in for all the people who couldn’t understand that you Made A Commitment to The Marathon that is just this side of taking vows.
The sprinkles are the exclamation points at the end of every time you answered “Is that all you do is run?” with a resounding “Yes, yes it is!”  (Except when you’re cross-training, eating, sleeping, and washing running clothes.  Oh, and working the day job that pays for the race registrations. And new shoes. And Glide. And Gu. And Other Runner Stuff.)

We are finally, HCRP and I, getting into The Meat of The Training Miles.
Earlier today I was staring at the calendar above my desk that holds all those miles in its memory for me, and seeing the mid-week and Saturday numbers steadily moving further and further away from ‘3’ and ‘4’.

We have a five mile race Saturday morning after which we have to run another three to get in our eight.
Two weeks from Saturday we have a 5K we have to supplement with seven miles to get our ten.
In August.
In Memphis.
Just another scoop of rich, creamy, sweet/sweat/salty, running goodness in the bowl that will make that cherry sit just a little higher.

Speaking of heights . . .
Last Saturday we were in Omaha for my thirty year high school reunion and we had to get a run in.  One of my former classmates took up running a few months before I did and we’ve enjoyed sharing our experiences as middle-aged, newbie runners via Facebook posts and commentversations.  As the reunion drew closer our discussions turned to getting together for the Saturday Long Run HCRP and I would be getting in.  Because I wasn’t athletic in high school I really wanted to begin and end our run in front of good ol’ CHS which is right smack in downtown Omaha (incredibly hilly!).  Bob’s kids go to our alma mater and are active in sports (unlike us back in the day – we were choir geeks) so he gets a lot of his runs in while he’s waiting on their practices.
During one of our chats he mentioned the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge which spans the Missouri River between Omaha and Council Bluffs.  I looked it up online and about fell over just looking at the website!
Here’s the thing: I am petrified of heights.
I get up high (defined as my feet more than a foot off of terra firma) and my entire equilibrium shifts and I feel like I am sliding/hurtling over the nearest edge towards sudden death.
Bridges really tweak this fear/sensation. Particularly bridges over water.
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a bridge over water.
The very thought of running the 3,000 feet across that bridge (and back) was enough to make me dizzy.  And queasy.  And scared half crapless.
And so.
I had to do it.
It was a mandate.

If running has taught me nothing else it has taught me this: I can, in fact, do things I never thought I could.
I can run – not walk, run – a 5K.
I can run a 10K.
I can run a Half Marathon.
Therefore, I could run The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge during our trip to Omaha!

I started putting this intention “out there” back in March.
And I kept putting it “out there”.
I did this for a couple reasons.
First: So I couldn’t chicken out.  You can’t chicken out when it’s “Out There”.
Second: To convince myself that I actually wanted to do this. Theoretically, I did.  In practice?  There was some wiggle room.
By last Saturday morning, I was convinced.
If not “convinced” I was committed.  Or needed to be committed.  Jury’s still out on that…

HCRP and I met Bob at the high school and off we went!
The first couple miles getting from CHS to the foot of the bridge were nothing more than a warm-up/necessary evil for me, and I wasn’t even thinking about the rest of the distance we were set to run.  I had one, and only one, thought in my head: Getting across that godforsaken structure, then coming back across so that I could say “I.  Did.  It!”

We got to the foot of The Bridge during a walking interval and I paused to take a picture before we headed up.

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We’d been chatting along as we ran, but when we headed up the curly-cue ramp that led to the actual off-the-ground part of the bridge I told the guys (something like) “I can’t talk to you while I do this.  I’m turning up my music and not stopping until I’m on the other side.”
And off we went.

The liars at Wikipedia say it is 52’ above the Missouri River.
I say nay, nay!
It has got to be further up than that.
Whatever, Wikidiots. Wikiliars.  Wikiceivers.
I know the truth.
Somewhere in the middle of the (really freakin’ high up) bridge is a line that says you’ve crossed from Nebraska into Iowa (and vice versa on the return).
I vaguely heard Bob say something about it.
At that point I was focused on breathing rather than hyperventilating and keeping my feet pointed forward since everything inside me felt like the bridge was tilting from side to side and I was about to go hurtling off the side to certain death in the torrential rapids of the river below.  (I’m pretty sure, although not 100% because I wasn’t looking, that the bridge didn’t move and the river was flowing along smooth as glass.)
One of the reasons I “couldn’t talk” to Bob or HCRP was because I was exercising my freedom of speech by uttering every profane word in the known English language in what I consider to be some fairly creative combinations.

It is at this point in the narrative that I have to pay special homage to fate, karma, kismet, or whatever you happen to call it when The Exact Right Song comes on your randomized playlist at The Exact Moment when you need it most.
In anticipation of The Bridge Run – what this particular seven miles will always be in my mind – I had set up a very specific playlist.  I’ve been listening to it on every run for the past two months getting my mental game set.  There is No Fear in these songs.  They move me, motivate me, and make it impossible to feel weak or unable.
One of my favorite songs on that list?  Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl.
And guess what song came on just as my feet hit the Nebraska end of The Bridge?
You got it!
My Girl Gwen!
Okay, technically she’s HCRP’s Secret Girlfriend, but for purposes of that song on that playlist, she is all mine! 

We made it to the bottom of the Iowa end of the bridge at the start of a walking interval and paused, in part, so I could take a picture from that end.
For the record: All intervals were OFF during The Bridge portion of the run.  If I so much as slowed to a walk all bets were off and I was going to be on my hands and knees.  So it was “run or stop and wither” on The Bridge.

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HCRP and I hit our Gu, hydrated, I took a deep breath, backed back up to my girl Gwen, and we headed back across because . . .  well . . .  all my crap was in a hotel room on the other side for one thing.  And we still had four miles to finish for another.  (There was a reason I put The Bridge in the middle of the run.)

The picture below is me (I think) at the Iowa/Nebraska Line mark.

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Not fainting.
Not puking.
Not crawling on my hands and knees sobbing.
Running.
And damn well Doing It!

Because that’s another thing running does.
It shows you there’s nothing to fear but the fear of a thing.
Face-planting on a run?  Everybody does it once.
Finishing dead last?  Somebody has to.
Crossing a raging river ridiculously high above it on a reeling unsturdy thread of cement?
Easy freakin’ peasy!
Just keep breathing.  Keep your feet moving.  Think about The Run.
And it’s all over but the high five and (look away Mother) “I fucking did it!” at the end!

And that, My Minions, is likely going to end up being the biggest, best, creamiest, tastiest scoop of running goodness under that cherry on top of this whole thing.

(Betcha wondered how I was gonna get back to that whole ice cream sundae metaphor.  Din’tcha?  See?  I did that too!)

It’s only Algebra if you let it be

After my last post I received a text from a very dear friend that brought me up a little short and forced me to realign my thinking.  She started with “Just read your blog, as usual I loved it.” because she is my friend and she loves me.  And then she stopped preachin’ and started meddlin’.  I love having friends who do that for me.

Among the points she brought to my attention was that if I exercise only one hour a day that is only 4% of my day.  I did the math and she’s right!  Whether you divide 1 by 24 or 60 by 1440 (then multiply the result by 100) it still comes out to 4.  And if something that’s important to me doesn’t deserve 4% of my own time, I’m not 100% certain what does.
Since we began our marathon training program right at a month ago I have found it all too easy to allow Other Things to come between me and our scheduled runs.  Tiredness, busyness, doing-other-thingsness.
You name it, I’ve skipped runs for it.
I even stalled on seeing a doctor for a nagging pain I allowed to go on for a month.
Me, who “learned my lesson” with Ye Olde Knee over a year ago.

It has been all too easy to say “It’s ‘only’ a couple miles.  Missing that won’t make that big a difference at this point in the training.”  Which, from a strictly physical perspective, is true.  I mean heck, I ran a 10K virtually ‘untrained’ back at the beginning of May.  I certainly hadn’t built up to running 6 miles, but I did that race and finished in decent time and without any injuries to show for it.  I have developed enough basic fitness about myself and I’ve learned enough about running, pacing, and my body that I pulled it off.  Not the smartest thing, but crazier things have been done by runners other than me.
But how far I can (or can’t) run on a given day wasn’t the point.  And I knew it.

But getting back to my friend’s point – which was spot on – even I had noticed that it seemed way too easy for me to let “other things” come between me and the miles.  I’d actually been a little puzzled by it given that I truly do love running.  Her point (and I knew it and she knew I knew it but she still spelled it out for me in Just So Many Words because she knew I needed that) was this: YOU deserve that time.  To me it’s like a spiritual practice and a must do every day.  I love you and feel like you struggle with doing for yourself.  Just do what makes your heart sing.

And then it hit me:
I had made running my Algebra.
Let me explain . . .

Math is, simply put, not my forte.
I’m not talking in that ‘Math Is Hard’ Barbie kind of way.
Obviously I can do math – I did it up there with that whole 4% of the day thing up there!

I mean in that This Is My Strength and Brings Me Fulfillment/Accomplishment and Makes My Heart Sing way.
Writing is my Thing.
Cooking is my Thing.
Laundry is my Thing.
Singing is my Thing.
Math is notsomuch my Thing.
I can do it.  Like I can clean a toilet and clip my toenails.
Because it has to be done.
But there is no joy in my personal little Mudville or music in my heart from having done it.

In high school (and a-freakin’-gain) in college, Algebra Had To Be Done.
Not like Breathing Has To Be Done.  I could have simply Not Done the Algebra.  But it was a necessary, nay mandatory, step in accomplishing the goal of achieving the accomplishment of graduation.
And so I did it.
I slogged through every “Solve for X” and found every “Y” with varying degrees of success.  But I did it.  And at the end of both experiences I got to The Finish Line and was handed the less shiny “Finisher’s Medal” of a diploma with all the honors, rights, privileges thereunto appertaining.  And the student loans.
When I look back on the experiences of high school and college I can’t tell you who sat next to me in study hall while I beat my head against the Algebra, and I don’t remember the answers to any of those test questions.  Because, for me, Algebra was the necessary evil.  The foe to be conquered.  The thing done because it had to be in order to get what I wanted.

It did not make my heart sing.

What I do remember are the choir concerts and who I stood beside and what part I sang.
What I do remember are the works of literature I read and the short story that got published in the high school’s literary publication and the essay that made gave the professor “that Emily Dickinson top of my head just came off” feeling.
I remember sitting in the church sanctuary or my parents’ basement playing Beethoven over and over again for nobody but me.
I remember cooking dinner for my family and having it pronounced “Delicious!”
Those things made my heart sing.
I loved the doing of the things.
I loved the time spent with others.
I loved that something I did touched or inspired someone else.
I loved that even if nobody else got anything out of it, ultimately I did it for the joy I got from it.

Here I am, thirty years after high school and almost twenty-five years after college with another Big, Long-Term Goal ahead of me: Finishing A Marathon.
And there are the “have to” aspects of it. Cross-training on an elliptical.  Possibly even getting on a bicycle and riding.  Because I know it will make me a better runner and benefit my body.  Not because I particularly enjoy ellipticalling or cycling.
Another Algebra.
I will do them, with varying degrees of success, but in all likelihood there will never be any heart singing in it for me, and they won’t be what I remember when I look back on this marathon years from now.
And I’m okay with that.
But the running itself, now that makes my heart sing.
Because I never thought I ‘could’ run.  Like I never thought I could hit a high C.
Even the runs I start out “not feeling” end up being some of the best, not unlike being handed A Tale of Two Cities sophomore year (which is now one of my favorite books).
But somewhere in the past few weeks I had begun to see the training runs not as “time spent doing something I love” but as some sort of big, long algebra equation to be slogged through to find the ‘X’ of Finishing the Marathon instead of focusing on the joy of doing the runs for their own sake.
Just like all the hours spent in practice rooms, and the time poring over words (my own and those of the masters) were done with the joy of my heart singing, and at the exclusion of other activities and distractions because they made me happy; so shall be my commitment to The Practice of my running.
And that’s really what it is: A Practice.
Like going through Salvation over and over for the sheer joy of hearing the notes coming from my mouth.
Like reading Dickens’ opening hyperbole of adjective knowing it will eventually lead to a far, far better thing.
Like knowing that seventh grade home-ec’s Tomato Cheeseburger Pie will eventually become to Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon.

Like prayer and meditation.
I do it for me.
Oh I am doing it for the Finish Line and that big, heavy medal around my neck!  Make no mistake about that.
But every run between now and then, and all the ones that will come after, those are for me because I do deserve those moments of a singing heart that comes somewhere between start and finish.
I’m done with Algebra, it’s time to run!

We run. We learn. We suffer Ignominity.

In the one year and roughly ten months since I laced up my theretofore walking shoes and set out on my first outing as a runner I have learned many things.

  1. That I can, in fact, run!  Not just run “because zombies/people with big guns/IRS agents/Student Loan collectors are chasing me”, but run because I want to and I actually enjoy doing it.
  2. That falling on a run is generally never as bad as we imagine it will be before we’ve done it.
  3. That sometimes when one adopts a major lifestyle change, other people aren’t so much fans of it.  And that’s okay.  They don’t have to be.
  4. That if you push yourself past one “I’ve never/I could never” boundary you start looking for others to barrel over.
    I started running saying “I’ll only ever want to run 5Ks.  I have no need to ever run A Marathon!”  I currently have several 5Ks, three 10Ks, and a Half under my laces, and now those laces are with me as I train for what? A Marathon.
  5. That once you open yourself up to One Big, New Thing other Bigger, Newer Things follow quickly in its wake and your life becomes the Biggest, Newest Thing of them all.
  6. Tonight I learned that I can, in fact, stay on an elliptical for more than 1.5 miles and it will not kill me.
    And by “stay on” I don’t mean just stand there texting and flirting with the weight lifters (seen it!).  I mean “stay on” as in actually moving the foot sleds in an appropriate rotational motion over and over and over and over again for all of 3.0 miles!  And I didn’t quit.  Not even when my quads were screaming in two part harmony “Get thee to a treadmill woman!”  (They didn’t say “woman” but Mother will be sorely disappointed if I repeat their little potty-mouthed commentaries.)

Like many other runners I’ve come to love reading about running.  Amby Burfoot, Christopher McDougall, Hal Higdon, and George Sheehan are my new Jodi Picoult and Alice Hoffman.  Runner’s World has replaced O and Real Simple.
Most of my “Liked” pages on Facebook have to do with running.
And our social life revolves around races, either running them or volunteering with our running club because that’s another running is: A community.

But I’m digressing a bit here . . .
Back to the reading about running . . .

As I’ve read about running I’ve come to the conclusion that there certain Inevitable Ignominious Interludes in the life of every runner.  After Sunday’s run I’ve knocked two off the list. It was actually during Sunday’s run (which was supposed to be Saturday’s run but got put off due to circumstances beyond our control) that this list came to me.  So here I will share:

The Runner’s List of (mostly) Inevitable Ignominious Interludes

  1. Falling.  Otherwise known as face-planting.
    Been there, done that.  Got the high fives from other runners!
  2. Eating a bug.  Covered this one on Sunday.  Okay, kindasorta covered it…
    There I was running along and feeling pretty good given that Sunday was “Suddenly Summer Day” here in our fair metrolopolis when *ack* *cough* *gag* I felt the distinctive sensation of a bug hitting the roof of my mouth.  Thank God my lightening quick “I don’t want to choke to death alone on this trail” reflex kicked in and I managed to trap it between my tongue and the roof of my mouth and spit it out before I ended up curled up on the trail praying for a Heimlich Certified ‘nother runner to come along before I gasped my last gasp.
  3. Spitting/Being Spat Upon
    Much like everyone poops (the cute children’s book, not the runner version – I’m getting to that) every runner spits.
    I learned to spit.
    Unlike my little sister and her childhood BFF Angie I did not hone my spitting skills at a young age.  I was blessed to have a Southern Grandmother who instilled in me a strong sense of what Young Ladies do and do not do.  Spitting ranked high on that list.  Little Sister had the same Southern Grandmother, she just didn’t care about The List.
    However, once you become a runner many otherwise socially unacceptable behaviors become necessities.  Spitting is high on that list.  It didn’t take me too many runs to learn that swallowing too much water while running would more than likely lead to ignominity #5 or #6, so my ever-patient HCRP worked with me on the vital skill of “Swish and Spit”.
    But with great power comes great responsibility and in the case of spitting one must learn to look left, look right, look right again, then spit.  To the right.  I have yet to spit on another runner and, thankfully, I have yet to be spat upon.  My days are, obviously, numbered.
  4. Snot Rockets.
    I’m reasonably certain I just lost every single non-runner who’s ever stumbled across this blog with those two little words.  But runners know the nose knows and sometimes you just got to blow.

    I actually saw Kara Goucher blow a snot rocket at the Starting Line of the New Orleans Half this year and was shocked when I found myself respecting her style instead of being utterly disgusted. Another “I’m A Real Runner Now!” moment.
  5. Puking.
    There are a host of reasons why puking happens in running: Nerves, fueling too close to your run, changing what you eat to fuel before a run the day of a race (never, ever, ever do this!), consuming too much water or sports beverages during a run (hence the importance of mastering the Swish and Spit), and heat (a big one down here in Dixie).  And the one that I think maybe about 10% of us ever really do: Leaving absolutely everything on the course and having nothing but the waning contents of your stomach to leave at the Finish Line.
  6. Peeing.
    As in down one’s own leg, not just in general.
    Again, a number of factors can lead to this, but it generally comes down to either skipping a port-o-john or being so intent to PR or win that you honestly don’t care about anything else and stopping is not an option!  (I can assure you this one will likely never happen to me. If I have to choose between peeing anywhere but down my own leg or pretty much anything else, the “anything else” is out the window.)
  7. Remember: Everybody Poops
    And sometimes runners poop . . .  well . . . on the run.
    This is one that easily 99% of us will never, ever experience because we don’t run that far or that hard.  But it does happen.  To the Extreme Runners.  And from what I gather, they really don’t give a crap!  Okay, they do but not the way most of the rest of us would.  They’re too busy being awesome and superhuman to care about such.  In fact, at that level, I’m pretty certain it’s almost a badge of honor.
    However, if you’re concerned about preventing this in your own running experience I had a little time Sunday during The Longest 2.75 Mile Run Ever to come up with my personal list of Things That (might) Make You Go Poo:
    Changing your pre-run/race fueling foods. This is not the time to change partners in mid-dance people!  Replacing peanut butter with almond butter is probably perfectly safe, just not right before running.  Tummies are funny things.
    Switching sports drinks.  If you’re a Gatorade drinker switching to Powerade is probably best done on a rest day just in case there really is a substantive difference in their chemical composition.  (This is a lesson I learned from personal experience, thankfully not during a run or race.)
    Deciding that the night before a race (or run) is the perfect time to try “Thai Hot” for the very first time.  It isn’t.  It never will be.

I am certain, because I’m still a Running Newbie, that I’ve either missed or completely mis-conceived something in this list.  But if you’re Running Newbier than me I’m probably not too far from right.

You know you’re a runner when . . .

  1. You have occasion to utter the phrase “My butt has had as much ice as it can take” and it’s something you can tell your mother about.
  2. You spend 1.5 miles wondering what the proper pluralization of piriformis is.  Piriformii?  Piriformises?  Piriformeece?  Should there be three S’s in that second option?
  3. You are actually somewhat pleased at needing to know the plural of piriformis since it could indicate that you’re running with balanced effort on both sides.
  4. At the end of a day fraught with moment of stress and frustration after moment of stress and frustration all you can think is: I want to run my ass off!  (Sorry for the cuss Mom…)

So yeah, on tonight’s run both of my piriformii were twinging equally and in perfect harmony with one another.  Which, at first, was a little disconcerting.  I’m accustomed to something twinging on one side or the other but never equally and on both sides.  I choose to believe it’s because I was (for one of the few times in my life) well balanced.  At least my feet and legs were operating in a well balanced manner.

There will be no getting worked over by my personal Yogi as TJ is finishing up her Lifeguard certification tomorrow.  That’s okay though.  I can look up Yoga for Piriformis (See how I did that right there? Toldja so!) and after a few Sun Salutations go through that series of poses to work things out a bit.  Besides by mid-morning I’m sure I’ll be in the mood to spend a few minutes away from my desk and working some things out on my mat.

5K planning is doing what it always does in the ten days before the race: Going somewhere between the speed of sound and batcrap crazy!  Things plod along for months and months and then, suddenly, in the last ten days everything happens!  It’s both exciting and a little scary, but it always has a way of working out.

There’s really not much to see here.
I mostly posted this one for my own entertainment.
And for the entertainment of anyone else who obsesses over plural forms of odd nouns.
And to write that thing about my butt and ice somewhere in public.

Oh and to the woman walking her dogs going the wrong direction on the Greenline: Don’t DO that!  What part of you are the ONLY person going that direction on that side didn’t get through your obviously well-padded sense of the obvious?!
There.
Got that out of my system!

Vini. Vidi. Badissi.

No, I’m not calling myself a badass.  Badissi is one of the ‘uncommon’ Latin translations of the verb “run” or “ran”.
As in: Vini. Vidi. Vici?
Only instead of “I came.  I saw.  I conquered.” it’s “I came.  I saw.  I ran.”
But not ‘away’.  I did not run away.  Either with or from anything.  I just ran.

Saturday was another race under my belt.
I finished 257th out of 291 and dead last in my age group.
Freakin’.  Awesome!

And yes, I know, I know, I know what you’re itching to tell me.
I know all the platitudes about how many miles I was ahead of the people on the couches and that hey at least I did it and that it doesn’t matter if you finish last as long as you finish and all the other pablum we spew at late/last finishers when we’re working Finish Lines and as Course Monitors.
The truth is that none of that means a hill of beans until we are saying it to ourselves.
And meaning it.
Which I don’t just quite yet.
But back to Saturday’s race . . .

Truth be told I had no business running a 10K Saturday.
I hadn’t run in over ten days and that last run had been only two miles.
After some discussion with Tonia – my running buddy/mentor/yoga nazi – and HCRP I settled on a plan: Run the first three miles, walk miles four and five, run the last 1.2 miles.  And at all costs to myself and others: Finish.  Running!

HCRP stayed with me the first couple miles to make sure I wasn’t going to have any dizzy spells (I didn’t).  I ran my 5:2 intervals the first 3 miles then slowed to a brisk walking pace.

Walking mile 3 to mile 4 wasn’t bad.
Oh don’t get me wrong, the more people who passed me the higher my “I don’t want to finish last” anxiety crept, but I kept it at bay with a mantra of “Plan the run – run the plan!” and reminders of last year’s two month ‘break’ courtesy of Runner’s Knee courtesy of adding too many miles too quickly.

Walking mile 4 to mile 5 . . .
Well.
It sucked!
I kept looking over my shoulder to be certain there was someone behind me that wasn’t the “Bringing Up The Rear” Police escort or (even worse) the Running Club’s truck picking up the cones that marked the course.
And somewhere between the mile 4 marker and the (I am certain someone moved it) mile 5 marker the following conversation took place in my head.

Bad Voice: This sucks!  This is stupid.  Just start running.
Good Voice: No.  Plan the run – run the plan.
BV: Bullsh*t!  Look!  Everyone is passing you!  The Tutu Girls have pasesd you!
GV: So?  We’ll pass them back once we start running at 5.
BV: There is no ‘5’.  They forgot to put the marker out.
GV: No they didn’t!
BV: Someone moved it.  We have gone way further than a mile since we saw ‘4’.
GV: No we haven’t.  I don’t think.  Let me check Endomondo.
(Checks phone which is inconclusive since I was using the interval training program and not the straight run tracker.)
BV: Well?
GV: It wasn’t moved.
BV: You have no business being out here.  You are completely undertrained for this.  You’re making a fool of yourself!
GV: Hey!  I’m out here aren’t I?!  Besides between being sick and surgery recovery I was out of commission for training for ten weeks!
BV: Excuses!
GV: Reasons.
BV: And what about the last two weeks?!  What about those?  People run DRUNK!  You could have run with a few little dizzy spells.
GV: Hey!  Everyone I talked to said running with that dizzy thing going on was ill-advised at best.
BV: Excuse.
GV: Reason.
BV: How much further?
GV: I don’t know!
BV: You suck at this running thing.  You are inconsistent at best and you really think you can train for a marathon with your track record?!  Track record!  I crack me up!
GV: Shut up.
BV: Excuses!
GV: Reasons.
This went on for quite some time until, mercifully, the Mile 5 marker did show up and I switched from the audiobook I was (mostly) listening to back to my running playlist, hit ‘shuffle’, and Gwen Stefani came roaring to the rescue of my attitude.
Do you know how impossible it is to beat yourself up with Hollaback Girl rockin’ in your brain?  Now that I think of it, Good Voice sounds an awful lot like Gwen!

So I finished the race.
I finished it running.
I wasn’t last.
There was neither a Police car nor the cone truck behind me either.
There were 34 other actual human people behind me.
Including The Tutu Girls.
For some reason early on in the run I’d seen the two girls wearing net tutus and decided as long as I was ahead of them (they didn’t look to be very experienced runners) I was doing good.
We all do that.
We find the Other Runner we pace ourselves by.  Sometimes from in front and other times from behind.

And with having run a grand total of only sixteen miles since January 14th my time (6.2 in 1:20:52) was actually pretty respectable.
So maybe I am a little bit of a badass after all.
I badissied the b-a-n-a-n-a-s out of that race!

Cyndi Lauper had it wrong!

Before I get all deep and philosophical I want to make sure we’re all on the same mental soundtrack page. To whit I would like to fit you with the appropriate earwig for this post. Go ahead, give it a listen, I’ll wait til you get back.

See?
Early 80s pop makes the world a better place.
Now, where was I?
Cyndi Lauper . . .
deep and philosophical . . .
changing everyth . .
Ah! That’s it!
Changing everything!

One of my absolute favorite pages on Facebook is Queen of Your Own Life. It isn’t your typical fist pumping, man bashing, Gurrrl Powerrr, type page. It is by turns gentle, loving, and supportive; while offering occasional thumps between the eyes that often leave a nearly visible, lasting mark all delivered via “Memes” that are easily shared and quite memorable.
They also have a website and a book, but since I’m not getting a commission from them you can find all that stuff yourself.
So there!
Aaaaaand I digress . . .

So this morning’s Thumpspiration came in the form of this little goodie:
549210_10151406045787567_1959635268_n

I saw it early on, liked it (both personally and in that Facebook kinda way), thought about ‘Sharing’ (in that Facebook kinda way), thought “Nah”, then got another nudge and clicked “Share” and just tossed it out there.

A couple hours later a young woman I have known forever but have never met face-to-face (isn’t the internet a wonderful place?) commented on the post and we had a discussion about the post itself that culminated in me commenting “Isn’t it amazing how running changes your life?”
And then, I started thinking.

You see, like me, she was largely sedentary throughout her youth and early 20s and about a year or so ago she decided to change that and began running.
Unlike me she didn’t wait until she was nearly fifty years old to do it! Wise beyond her years is that one.
Like me she was terrified of every possible terror a newly minted runner can face: “looking foolish”, falling, failing, quitting/giving up (yet again).
But she did it anyway.
She laced up and ran. And I’m pretty certain that first run, like mine, both sucked and was awesome all in the same panted breaths.
She’s had good runs, bad runs, first starting and finish lines; struggled with the age old question “Which shoe is really right for me?!”, and slogged through all the unsolicited advice about socks, Glide, and every-other-running-thing.
And, like me, it has changed her life in one seminal way: Fear is, if not ‘no longer a factor’, at least much less a factor every single day of her life.

Because that’s what running does.
It takes you past that “I could never run THAT far!” distance to the “I just ran THIS far!” further distance.
It takes you from “Oh really, I just want to run races of THIS distance!” to “I can totally train for THAT race of that-longer-distance!”
Once you’ve done one thing you “have never/could never do” that pretty much takes every other “have never/could never” right off the table!
Once you have chosen to do one thing, to take one action, that gives you greater control over improving your body and your life experience, you realize that every other thing that falls under that general heading is totally within your grasp to do.
No matter what it is.
Relationships. Jobs/Careers. The State of Your Surroundings. You name it – it’s just another race of a different distance.

So, my dear Ms. Lauper, I’m certain you will understand when I respectfully disagree with the premise of your groundbreaking earwig hit and posit that while money may buy a really great pair of running shoes and some uber cute running skirts, it is the running that changes everything. Not the money.
Money just makes it easier to look cute while the changes take place!

First Run with my . . .

. . . new goal of running a marathon this year.

. . . fear of heights as a factor.

. . . apparent need for therapy to overcome Mean Girl trauma from high school still in play.

. . . staying consistently hydrated clearly out of play.

. . . New.  Boobs.

Admit it, you totally expected me to lead with that last one.  Didn’t you?  But let’s take them in order, shall we?  And I promise I’ll get to the boobs.

But tonight was my First Run both in a long time and since my surgery.
And yes, I’ve been putting it off.
When we got home I realized that the reason I’d been putting it off was fear.  Fear of several things, and I’ll get to those.  But yeah, I’ve been caving to fear.  And I just hate doing that!

Now on to that list up there…
The New Running a Marathon Goal:
I have the better part of a year – like nearly 50 weeks’ worth part of the year – to train for My Marathon.  I have selected a 30 week training program that is guaranteed to work if adhered to.  Thousands of people, many who have fewer miles under their laces than me, have followed it and crossed their Marathon Finish Lines vertical, breathing, and ready to at least continue running if not actually do it again.

And I have been questioning for the entire ten-and-a-half weeks since I last ran (November 3rd) whether or not I would be able to get back into running sufficiently to be able to train to be ready by December 7th.
So tonight I set out on the shortest run I have set out to do in a long, long time.  And I was, between you and me, scared to the core of my being.
I was afraid The Twins weren’t going to be as ready-to-run as I thought and that there would either be: A) pain; B) incisions coming undone; or C) things falling off altogether.
I was afraid my legs (the bending part in the middle in particular) would completely fail me.
I was afraid I would finish ‘just two miles’ a sweaty, gasping, heaving (like actually vomiting), mess collapsed on the side of the track and mocked by those going ’round and ’round past me over and over again.
That didn’t happen.
There was sweating and a little bit of gasping.  And the overwhelming paint odor had me a little queasy, but nothing hurt, popped open, or full-on fell off.  Not even the butt that’s been following me around the past three or four weeks since Muscle Tone finally gave up the ghost.
Next…

Fear of Heights as A Factor:
I am, and always have been, afraid of heights.  “heights” being defined as my feet more than about a foot above the firmest terra firma/lowest possible place to stand in my vicinity.  The indoor track at our (probable) new gym is an elevated track which hangs (precariously and flipping gravity the bird) a good fifteen feet above the (incredibly hard, painful to fall fifteen feet onto) basketball court(s) floor way too far below it.
Walkers get to walk on the outside (much safer), closer to the wall lane of the track.
Runners get to take their laps right on the edge of the precipice.  Oh there’s a railing, but it is entirely too low for my comfort and they failed to install a safety net (like you see under trapeze artists) because that would make entirely too much sense.
But it was 30 degrees outside and the specter of cold weather lung burn outweighed the specter of hurtling over the railing and ending up a broken, contorted, former runner in the middle of horrified, traumatized ballaz and shot callaz.
So I just kept moving.

My apparent need for therapy to overcome Mean Girl trauma from high school still in play:
As posted on Facebook: I just have to say that no matter how old you are, or how pleased you are with where you are in your life and in your skin, when you hear teenage Mean Girls in a locker room verbally slicing and dicing someone who isn’t even there you will TOTALLY go into the toilet stall to change into your workout clothes rather than risk being the NEXT person they criticize and make fun of.
And yes, I actually changed in the toilet stall.  *hangs head in shame at my own shame*

I got a huge amount of support from other women – of all ages – on Facebook. And I could well become responsible for inspiring a “Flash mob of real women. Stretch marks, preggo belly, and saggy boobs. I may even go hairy legged.” as suggested by one of my running buddies.  The fact that she is a running machine and is cute as a button really only served to make me feel that much better about myself!
Of course I had about half a second where I was tempted to do one of two things:
Go ahead and change “in full view” and freak the little Teenie Meanies completely out since my scars are still fairly visible and probably very scary looking to a group of obsessed-with-perfect-bodies Swim Team Mean Girls.
Or
Light into them for being the Mean Girls they are and inform them that while this may make them the top of the food chain now, in about twenty years it isn’t going to serve them well and that if they don’t keep up with the swimming those tight little buns were going to scare the hell out of them in a mirror reflection one day.
Thankfully my Higher Self piped up right about then and reminded me that behind all the meanness were scared, insecure little girls whose only defense was to find fault with and belittle others and, unless something changes dramatically in their lives, that would likely continue to be their only defense.  So I said nothing.

Staying consistently hydrated clearly out of play:
Yeah.
It was a side-cramp-a-palooza after only 1.5 miles.  The only excuse for that – given my 13:00 minute per mile pace – was lack of hydration.  I gotta get better at that.

And now, finally, the bullet point you’ve been waiting for:
My First Run with My New Boobs:
In short: It was A Whole New (running) World! (You’re welcome for the earworm.)
About halfway through our second lap (12 laps = 1 mile) HCRP asked “Well?  Is it different?” and all I could say was “There’s no bouncing.  There’s nothing bouncing up and down.” and I had to stop thinking and talking about it because history has taught me that I am physically incapable of three things: peeing up a wall; circular breathing; and running while crying.  There was movement – gravity is still, after all, the law and not just a good idea – but there wasn’t MOVEMENT going on right under my chin.

A little further in I realized I was – or at least seemed to be – running a little faster than usual.  I checked in with HCRP and he confirmed that I was “keeping a pretty good pace”.  Of course this was still in the first mile and didn’t last forever, but it wasn’t half bad.  I do believe that aerodynamics were also a casualty of my previous endowment.

The third thing was actually something someone else had said to me before I even had the surgery.  They had suggested that after surgery I would be able to breathe easier without “all that weight on your chest”.  Admittedly my first thought was “It isn’t like they’re pressing in on my lungs!” and so I kindasorta dismissed the idea.  But yawannaknowsomething?  They were absolutely right!  Breathing was easier.  I’ll be damned.  (Sorry Mom.)

It also occurred to me that I will no longer have the chafing on the inside of my upper arms from the constant rubbing against the sides of my breasts where they were wider than my ribcage.
Dear Glide,
While I’m not exactly ‘breaking up’ with you, I think it’s time we took it back a notch in our relationship. It’ll be just you and the blister prone spots on my feet from now on.
Sincerely,
Happy to be
Less of me

On our drive home it occurred to me how much less energy and effort is going to be required on my runs  with that 3.5 pounds – and not just pounds in general, but in a fairly concentrated area – eliminated.
How much less strain on my entire body.

How much less jarring up and down and up and down.
How much less wind resistance.
How much more just fun running is going to be!
Once I get my lungs back.
And once that happens that 30 minute 5K is mine!
As is that marathon in December…

Still not running . . .

. . . and I miss it!
My running friends are running and posting about runs and yeah, I’m a little jealous.  
I’m healing from the surgery, but I’m not quite ready to take The New and Improved Twins out for a run just yet.  Going over speed bumps in parking lots is still a little painful, so I’m taking that as my cue that it’s not quite time to take them out for a run just yet.

HCRP and I were all set to move our gym membership after we got home from Christmas, but now he’s being sent out of town for work pretty much the first ten days of January, so we’ll make that switch when he gets home.  Between now and then I’m going to be using what our current gym has to offer and cleaning up our diet.  He’ll be using the fitness center at the hotel he’ll be staying in.  I’ll be nagging him to make sure he does.  He’ll be nagging me back.  We’re all sympatico like that me and HCRP.

Back in the Spring we got in touch with our Inner Cavepeople and to be honest we both felt better and our bodies responded to that healthier way of eating by releasing excess weight.  That has to keep happening.  It requires more planning and thinking ahead and mindfulness than just “eating whatever” but once we get back in the practice it will come much easier.

I’m also taking part in a 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge.  It isn’t one of those “all smoothies all the time” things – it’s one smoothie a day that I think can be really beneficial for helping me to kickstart cleaner eating.
I’ve also been going back and forth about the benefits of using a heavy duty blender or an actual juicer.  I have one of those Montel Williams HealthMaster blenders on loan from a friend, but had been thinking that what I really needed was a true juicer.  In fact, I had pretty much decided to return the blender and buy a Breville Juicer like Joe used in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  This evening I ran across an article that indicated that in blending you keep more of the fiber in fruits and vegetables, so for the time being I’m going to stick with blendering smoothies.  I may eventually add a juicer to my repertoire of kitchen appliances, but for now I’m going to work with what I have.
Whatever I do, we have to clean up our diet because we have big goals for the coming year and we just won’t be able to meet them with inadequately fueled machines!

The Big Running Goal for 2013 for both of us is completing our first Marathon.
I’ll be doing this in December.  I want the St. Jude Marathon to be my first.  I might find one other Big Race to do mid-year after that, but everything in me wants that one to be my first.

I’ve been going back and forth between Galloway’s and Higdon’s Marathon Training programs and have finally decided to use Higdon’s.  I’m going to have to tinker with it a bit since I’m a big believer in Sunday as a “Day of Rest” in every way and he has that as a Cross Training day.

And there is That Little Voice in the back of my brain that keeps screaming “Are you CRAZY?!  You can’t run a MARATHON!  You are forty-seven years old and you have ONLY been running what?  A year and a half?!  You.  Are.  Going.  To.  Die!  Or at the very least hurt yourself beyond repair!  You have middle-aged feet, middle-aged knees, and did we mention that ‘Going. To. Die!’ part?!  Yeah.  You’re stupid.  And delusional.  And crazy.”  She sounds a lot like the eighth grade pretty much every P.E. teacher/tyrant who told me I was hopeless at sports and to just stay in the back and try not to hurt ‘the good athletes’ in class.  So I’m learning to ignore her.
Most of the time.
I prefer to listen to people like HCRP and Tonia and Emily and TLC who tell me “You can TOTALLY do this and in WAY less than your six hour goal time!”  I like them better than the P.E. tyrants…

I also, after tremendous consideration (and discussion with HCRP), set up an anonymous blog about my reduction surgery.  I have had so many women tell me that they are “watching me” to see how this goes for me before deciding to have this surgery themselves.  So I finally decided to share my experience here on Ye Olde Worlde Widee Webe in the interests of serving as a resource for them.
No I will not be posting a link to that blog here since I’m pretty much not anonymous here, and  I will be posting pictures there that [Look away Mother!] Oh Hayul No! I would never post here, purely in the interests of being that resource. (They won’t be showing my face.  Not even my chin.)
Before my surgery I searched for Before and After pictures that weren’t on a plastic surgeon’s website.  I looked for other women’s “stories”.  There aren’t a lot of them out there and most of them are nightmare stories.  Thus far, mine isn’t one of them so I’d like to be able to use this experience to help and encourage other women who need to have this done.

So there’s where things are for me.
No running.
Lots of healing.
Even more planning and looking ahead.

The not-so-dreadful mill

Tonight found our intrepid heroine venturing into territory she . . .  Forget it, I’m too tired to write in third person narrative…

HCRP has Shin Splints.
Wordpress is having font color issues, and it’s pissing me smooth off, but that’s not particularly 
germane to this post.  Annoying to me?  Yes.  Germane?  Notsomuch.  So I’ll get over that and move on.

HCRP has Shin Splints.
He suspected it during Sunday’s Long Run which he had to cut short and finish as a walk. That was a whole new experience for me – doing 3/4 of a long run by myself.  And it was a good experience.  First I had to get past the guilt of ‘leaving him behind’ when it became apparent that continuing to run was going to cause serious, possibly long-term damage.  That took a good half mile.  But once I got past the urge to turn around and go back and finish walking with him I had a really good run!

Despite his reasonable certainty that he had the aforementioned shin splints, we consulted with a couple other people not the least of whom is my Personal Trainer Buddy and future business partner Tonia.  Tonia was concerned, based on the location and occurrence of the pain, that he might have a stress fracture.  So on Tuesday he headed to see our Primary Care Physician thinking they could do an x-ray in the office and at least rule that out.
The doctor – after being rude, dismissive, insulting, and frankly damn lucky it was HCRP (habitual Nice Guy) and not me (habitual Raging B*tch in the face of rude, dismissive, insulting doctors) – essentially blew him off with a ‘referral’ to a local Orthopedic Clinic.  (For the record, we’re switching Primary Care Physicians and as soon as the switch has been made and our records securely transferred I’ll be writing a tersely worded letter to the head of the practice about his little associate dude.)
Ortho Clinic Doc – obviously a runner – was not rude, not dismissive, not insulting, and very assuring that the x-ray showed no indication of a stress fracture and that HCRP’s self-diagnosis was correct.  The Cure?  Time, non-impact (elliptical machine) exercise, icing the shins, and Aleve twice a day.

Which led us to Ye Olde Gyme tonight.
Because it’s getting darker earlier, and because we live in a subdivision with intermittent sidewalks and completely non-mittent streetlights, and because I don’t want to end up as either a Cautionary Runner’s Tale or a crime statistic I decided to make the best of HCRP’s elliptical prescription and get tonight’s run in on The Dreaded Treadmill!

If you’re not a runner . . .  Well first if you’re not a runner I can’t imagine why you’d be reading this blog, but hey who am I to judge?  I’m a potential borderline hoarder and read the blog of a minimalist living guru.  I digress . . .
If you’re not a runner let me explain something about runners – distance runners in particular – and treadmills: We.  Hate.  Them.  More often than not they are called ‘Dreadmills’. There are no number of Friends or Seinfeld reruns that can make anything more than about a mile on a treadmill tolerable.  Even my girl Jillian Michaels can’t make me love a treadmill run.  Which is why I haven’t done one in about eight or nine months.  I would rather run in the rain.  And I can’t imagine doing a really long run on one.

So tonight I was slated to run five.  I chose the “Hills” program hoping that would make things int… less boring.  And truth be told I had some nagging concerns about my knees.  The last time I ran on a treadmill it exacerbated my then budding young case of Runner’s Knee so I was fully prepared to bail at the first significant twinge.
At about half a mile it occurred to me that my last treadmill run also coincided with the brief tenure of The Wrong Shoes I had ill-advisedly (and briefly) switched to so that assuaged some of my concerns about Ye Olde Knee.
Mile One and things were going . . . okay!
Mile Two and I was thinking “I could do this!  Yeah.  This could get me through the winter!” (A mildly delusional thought given that I have not one but two half marathons to get and stay in condition for between now and Spring springing.)
Mile Three and I was starting to do two things: A) Picture where I would be if I were doing this run on the Greenline; and B) Nitpick Stephen Covey’s colloquial mispronunciations of words like “resonate” (resignate?!) and a couple others I’ve blocked from my memory so I can continue listening to his audiobook.
And right at Mile Four my knees and hamstrings were starting to make their unaccustomedness (if Covey can butcher ‘resonate’ I can make up ‘unaccustomedness’) to this running surface known so I hit the ‘Cool Down’ button, cooled down, and called it a run.

HCRP’s elliptical workout seemed to have gone well.  He wasn’t limping or cursing.
And the ‘mill wasn’t quite so dreadful.  At least not for four miles.  Anything further than that and all bets are off!

Saturday we’re taking part in a race in Jackson, Mississippi.  It’s part of The Biggest Loser RunWalk Series and I am just enough of a Biggest Loser Geek that yes, I signed us up the very minute I heard it was coming within a reasonable drive (3 hours) of Memphis.
Of course my entire motivation (fantasy) is that either Bob or Jillian would be there and I would accidentally-by-design ‘run into’ one or the other of them and get a chance to actually meet and talk to and point them to my blog and we would become fitness BFFs and exchange healthy holiday meal recipes and maybe even vacation togethe . . .  I’ll stop now before the restraining orders get filed.
In all seriousness, it thrills me to see TBL ‘taking it to the streets’ and putting on events like this to reach out to their fans in a way that gets people moving.

The race offers a 5K and a 15K option.  I originally registered us both for the 5K but I’ve found out I can ‘upgrade’ to the 15K at packet pick-up tomorrow evening and since 9 miles just happens to be the distance I’m supposed to run on Saturday that is precisely what I’m going to do.

There’s a little bit of weirdness in HCRP walking the 5 while I’m running the 15 – after all he’s the more experienced runner.  And it’s a little bit of a flip of what happened in March when I had to pull out of the half marathon.  But just like I had to do back then, he has to rest and rehab this minor injury or risk it becoming a major and run ending one.

Of course there will be pictures of the tech shirt and finisher’s medal!
And maybe, just maybe if I’m lucky, one of me and at the very least one of The Biggest Losers.
Or Bob.
Or Jillian.
Because treadmill runs give a person a lot of time to dream . . .