National Running Day

Who knew?!
No. Seriously. Who knew? Before like Sunday when it started popping up all over Facebook I didn’t know that The First Wednesday in June is National Running Day.
And because I didn’t know that The First Wednesday in June is National Running Day I had accepted an invitation (and tickets) for HCRP and I to attend a local charity event.

I woke up this morning thinking “Ooh! 89 degrees will make for a great run this evening!” I even had the presence of mind to check my gym bag to be sure I had everything together for a run. And then it hit me (when it was too late to get a run in before work): There are simply not enough hours in the day for me to work, run, attend the charity event, be a good pet owner, eat, sleep . . .
And let the guilt cycling begin!
How am I not going to run on National Running Day?!
How am I not going to attend this event we’ve been so generously hosted at?!
How am I going to do everything that’s expected of me by my running friends and my job and my non-runner friends and the cats and the dog and – oh yeah – a girl’s gotta eat!
I finally said, out loud, and in So Many Words “There just aren’t enough hours to make everybody happy!”

And then I got to work.
I fired up my computer, and my desktop background started cycling through the 30+ ‘motivational/inspirational’ images I’ve collected from Ye Olde Interwebs and lo and behold I get patted on the shoulder by this one:

281972_439898836052990_1821223776_n“You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”

Not my running friends.
Not my non-running friends.
Not anyone.
Not. Any. One.

So no, I will not in fact be running on National Running Day.
I will be going to work.
I will be supporting my fellow runners as they log their miles today.
I will be honoring the graciousness of the person hosting us at the event we are attending tonight.
I will be taking care of my household.
I will not be running.
Not today.
I will run tomorrow.
And that’s okay.
And I will set a reminder on my calendar for next year that The First Wednesday in June is National Running Day.

Oh and P.S. the pain that’s plagued the ball of my right foot for the past five weeks? I saw a (really freakin’ awesome) Podiatrist yesterday and the verdict is: inflammation of second metatarsal. Have an orthotic to offset pressure on the ball of the foot. Double dose of Aleve twice a day for 2 weeks. And I’m good to go to “get back out there running”.

Week One: And so it begins!

This is Week One of our Marathon Training Program to complete The Memphis St. Jude Marathon.
The Full Marathon.
26.2 miles.
All in the same day.
This is, arguably, the single biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life!
Yes, that counts childbirth and motherhood.
I always expected to have a child and be a mother.
Running a marathon?!  Not ever in my wildest dreams (until sometime late last year) would I have ever seen myself running a marathon.
And the thing of it is, running the marathon itself isn’t really The Thing of It.
Oh, the marathon is big.  Huge!
The marathon is The Prize.
The Victory Lap.
The cherry on top.
The point and purpose to be sure, but not really The Thing of It.
The training is The Thing of It.
Or so I’m told.
Right now the marathon seems like complete insanity.
But I haven’t finished a 20 mile training run yet.

We’re following Hal Higdon’s Novice Supreme, 30 Week program.
We’re implementing upper body strength training, yoga, elliptical cross-training, and various interval running training . . .  ummm . . . running training things.
We mutually agreed on the overall training program.  And we have a spreadsheet.
HCRP is in charge of the interval running training things seeing as how he ran cross country in high school and knows what pyramids and 400s and 800s and other such things actually are.
I’m in charge of diet and nutrition.  And yoga.  I’m mostly in charge of sharing what I learn from my Personal Yogi with HCRP.
We are mutually in charge of keeping each other from freaking out.
The rest of you are in charge of keeping us from chickening out.
Just so you know.

Tonight was our first Short Run and it called for 1.5 miles.
On one hand that seemed like a really short distance given that nine days ago we did a 10K race.
On the other hand we truly are Supreme Marathon Novices so it has been decided that we will follow this plan To The Letter.
So we ran 1.5 miles.
They weren’t fun miles.  My sinuses and allergies have been giving me fits so I felt like I had no lung capacity and the sore throat that set in late this afternoon made the breathing less than comfortable.
But it will get better.

In addition to training to and running the Marathon, HCRP and I are registered for The St. Jude as St. Jude Heroes which means we have each committed to raising funds for St. Jude and the incredible, miraculous work they do there. If you are interested in assisting us in our efforts to support St. Jude, below are links to our individual fundraising pages.
And thank you for any amount you are able to contribute.  Every dollar helps.

My St. Jude Marathon fundraising page.

HCRP’s St. Jude Marathon fundraising page.

Some of the best runs belong to other runners

Today HCRP and I had the unique experience . . . correction . . . we had the unique honor of playing Support Team to a couple we are privileged to count as both friends and fellow runners.

Our friends or (as I called them in several Facebook picture tags) Team Action Jackson were running in today’s St. Jude Country Music Marathon.
Mrs. Action Jackson has run several marathons, this was Mr. Action Jackson’s first.
They’ve spent the past sixteen weeks dedicating their lives to training for this event.
I can’t count the number of (cold, winter) mornings I’ve stumbled out of bed at 5am to be greeted by the Endomondo/Facebook cross-post “Mr. AJ tracked a run . . . ” that had started an hour before any part of me was anywhere close to tracking the path from the bed to the toilet, let alone a run!
Mrs. AJ (who loathes cold weather like ice cubes loathe sunny beaches) went out on countless weekday runs in overcast, sub-freezing temperatures.  And did I mention her getting both spin instructor and lifeguard certified during this time period?  Yeah.  That too.
Which says nothing of their Saturday Long Runs, many of which took place on cold, overcast, rainy days.  Thus are the perils of springtime marathon runners.
But they did it.
Week after week.
Run after bone-chilling, pre-dawn, I’d-rather-be-post-swim/spin-napping run.

Today was The Payoff.
The End of The Rainbow.
The Victory Lap.
And the weather?  Sucked!
All week we – Mr. and Mrs. AJ, HCRP, me, and 25,000 other runners and their respective cheering sections/support teams – have been staring down Ye Olde Weathere Reporte and never once did it blink.
A high percentage chance of rain and temperatures that would have been ideal on a sunny day, but didn’t bode well with all those higher-than-the-temperature-chance-of-rain percentages.

We were all awake and headed to The Venue well before the sun had even considered its position above or below the yardarm. The sun had, by all appearances, entered the Solar System Warming Device Protection Program and the sky was weeping its absence.
All.
Morning.
Long.
The temperatures joined the sky in its doldrums and stayed as low as the earth’s tilt on its axis would allow.
Awesome!
(NOTE: Both of the above linked-to-definition words are Maritime Terms.  That’s how much it was raining.  Without thinking I used Maritime Terms in writing this post.  I didn’t even know they were Maritime Terms until I Googled them to link to the meanings for clarification.  And to be cute.  But still, there was that much rain.)

But who were we (the non-runners of this race) to complain in the face of The Runners’ excitement and all that adrenaline oozing out of their every pore?!
Did I mention Cousin AJ?
Oh. My. Starz!
Cute as a button.  Clearly a cheerleader or coach or cheerleading coach to the core (all meant in the best, most admiration soaked possible ways).  She was there to run with The AJs.  She’s one of those Running Dynamos who, when asked “How many marathons have you run?” actually has to stop and think and may (or may not) recall the actual numbers because really they’re all just fun runs for her!
And you simply can not hate her.
In fact, you like her all the more!
Seriously.
I adore this girl after having spent maybe 45 entire minutes in her presence in my nearly 50 years of life!

We get to The Venue, deposit them at their Corral and headed to the Starting Line so we could enjoy The Energy of the race and get a picture of them as they started.
We absorbed enough energy to power the Eastern Seaboard for a week.
We missed getting their starting line picture because they moved up two corrals and we didn’t know.
Fortunately, we did get to see them as they passed our position about twenty feet past the Start.  We cheered, high-fived, were happy for, wished well, and then headed back to the car to head to our First Meeting Point: Mile Ten.

Here’s the “Advice Portion” of this post:
If you are ever fortunate enough to play Support Team for friends taking part in a marathon in a city you know abso-freakin-lutely nothing about I highly recommend researching three things ahead of time:
1) Your Meeting Points;
2) The Race Course;
3) Road Closures that might impact your travel from meeting point to meeting point with road closures taken into account.
Just for fun.
You got GPS?  GPS don’t care about no Road Closures.
GPS is a Honey Badger!  Honey Badger don’t care about no Road Closure because of Race Course!  (Seriously, click on that Honey Badger link.  Be Warned: They use ‘ugly words’.  You’ve been warned.  But seriously: Fuuuuuunnnyyyy!!!!)

Thankfully, HCRP is The King of Navigating Unfamiliar Territories.  This is why he will be the one doing all the driving when the two of us take part in The Amazing Race.
One other bit of advice: If the weather forecast calls for any sort of ‘extreme’ weather anticipate The Worst of said ‘extreme’.
If it’s supposed to “rain” assume it will monsoon.  Dollar Store ponchos will not suffice!
Have extra dry clothes that are easily changed into in your vehicle.
Large umbrellas.  Can not stress the importance of a large umbrella (actually in your vehicle, not at home in your garage) enough.
Dress in layers in case the weather ‘breaks’ and the cold monsoon becomes a tropical sauna.
If rain turns to shine, have extra dry socks and shoes to change into mid-weather change.
If rain remains rain, have extra dry socks and shoes to change into when all is run and done.
Trust me.
You’ll thank me.

The Mile Ten Meeting
We arrived at (or as near as we could get to) Mile Ten and started waiting for them to arrive.  Fortunately Mr. AJ and I are Endomondo Friends so I could follow their progress as often as the app updated.  We knew we’d arrived at Mile Ten plenty early because we saw the Pace Vehicle and Elite Runners come through while we were figuring out if this was the best place to be.
A lot of rain, a (thank you nice Lobby Monitor Guy) potty break, and a whole lot of runners later we saw The AJs and Cousin Awesome coming down the hill to where we’d stationed ourselves.
I fully expected them to want to change into the dry shoes we had for them.  *I* wanted to change into dry shoes!  They got to Mile Ten literally jumping up and down, hugging, happy, and genuinely doing great.  Rain and soaked shoes notwithstanding.
We parted ways, us winding our way to Mile Seventeen, and them gleefully running on.

The Seventeen Mile Meeting
This meeting was notsomuch fun to be at for any of us.
By this time the front that had brought the onslaught of rain had moved through, the wind had picked up, and the temperature hadn’t necessarily dropped, but the wind certainly made it feel colder.
The AJs and Cousin Awesome arrived at this meeting place having just crossed The Cumberland River which (I am assuming) meant running the arc of a bridge, and being buffeted by the wind on that bridge pretty hard.
By this point we’d been out in the wind and the cold and the rain for a fair amount of time.  Walking.  In and out of cover.  A good hour of that time in our vehicle driving.  And our feet were soaked.  And we were cold.  And tired.  Our friends, on the other hand (or foot, as the case may be), had been out in all those things the entire time.  Non-stop.  And running.
Dear God!
If they were ready to quit the instant they saw us I would have totally understood!  Hell (sorry Mom) I was damn near ready to try and talk them into it!  I mean running a marathon is an admirable goal and all, but this was just ridiculous!
And then we saw them!
I bellowed out Mrs. AJ’s name because I knew she’d hear me.
They came over to where we were standing.
Still excited.
Wetter (if that was possible).
Colder (which was certain).
Tireder (well duh!).
But still enjoying the race (if not the weather) and determined to FINISH!
We gave them hugs, told them they were doing great, took a picture (Facebook!), and sent them on their way.

The next thing we did I’m still carrying a bit of shame about, but we ducked into Shoney’s (truly the only food-bearing option anywhere around) and ate.  We sat in a heated restaurant and ate hot food while our friends ran on through the wind and the cold and the rain.
*hangs head*
We finished our meal-of-shame and headed to . . .

The Finish Line
Marathon Finish Lines are a lot like Maternity Ward Waiting Rooms.
Everyone outside the fences is there for the same reason, and we all know it.  There’s no reason to exchange pleasantries because really, we’re all just waiting on The Other Guy to see his/her baby so they can get the hell out of our way so we can get our first look (and picture) of our baby!
“Great!  Your spouse/child/co-worker/BFF/neighbor finished!  Yay!  Now MOVE IT buddy, you’re blocking my view/shot!”
Nobody actually says it, but we’re all thinking it and we all know it.
We stood there.
And stood there.
And stood there.
And.
Truth be told.
I shed tears for more than a few complete stranger spouses, children, co-workers, BFFs, and neighbors in whose faces I saw the same thing: Oh my God!  I did it!  I finished!

There are those who finish a marathon like they’ve just finished their grocery list at Kroger’s.  Seriously.  I saw them today.  They’re rare.  Like seeing a Bald Eagle.  I don’t think they breathe the same air the rest of us do.

Then there are The Rest of Us.
The First Time Marathoners.
The Finally Back In It Marathoners.
The I Beat The Odds Marathoners.
The I Ran This For ________________ Marathoners.
Whatever the reason or purpose, you can see it in their faces about twenty feet after the actual Finish Line.
And it’s like seeing that baby (whose father or grandparent you’ve been standing there trying not to elbow out of your own way) open its eyes for the very first time.
Know them or not, you know what it is for them.

After watching dozens and dozens of other people’s marathon stories both unfold and finish before me we finally saw Our Runners round the final turn and head towards Their Finish Line.
We – and by “we” I mean “I” – started screaming Mrs. AJ’s name and she bee-lined it over to me, grabbed me over the fencing, and burst into tears of “I did it!”.
This was Mr. AJ’s First Marathon.
This was Mrs. AJ’s Back In It Marathon.
And we were immeasurably proud of and for them!  They DID IT!!!

Cousin Awesome?  She was basically just there for them!  (See?  How do you not love her?!)
We met them at the end of the Runners’ Only Area, exchanged hugs and offered more “Congratulations”, then had to take off to get to a family event a couple hours away.
It was just such an incredible experience, and one I am deeply grateful to have been allowed to be a part of.

I started the day with more than a little bit of fear and trepidation.
I was afraid that seeing “what the run did to them” along the miles was going to prove to me that I had absolutely no business even considering running a marathon.
I was afraid that I would stand at that Finish Line and see myself in another late-40s woman who crossed the finish line either hobbled beyond movement, or who collapsed and had to be carried off on a stretcher.
I have a really vivid imagination and (obviously) entirely too much time on my hands to spend thinking about such things!

Instead I came away knowing that I can totally do this thing!
I have ample time to train.
I have a great training plan to follow.
I have runner friends – like Mrs. AJ – who have been where I’m going and are more than willing to share the wisdom of their experiences.
I have HCRP and he has me – like Mr. and Mrs. AJ had each other – and doing the training together and running the race together will be our strength.
All this from a race run by others.
And shared with me.

Some things you never really lose

The blog.
My blog is still here.

I also still have legs and lungs.
And they still work well together.
At least for three and four mile stretches.

I had every reason not to run in November – I was sick with an upper respiratory crud that just Would Not Go Away.
I had every reason not to run in December (okay two reasons) – I had surgery that required time for stitches to heal.  Six weeks worth of time.
I got back to running (and writing) in mid-January.
I continued running(ish) (and writing) through February and into mid-March.

And then.
Well then I got busy with the run-up to the 5K for which I am Race Director.  The race went well.  Thanks for asking.  It went well despite our local weathermen calling for freezing rain and sleet and snow the week leading up to the race, and cold (40s) temperatures and rain the day of.  (I know a guy who knows a guy and those weathermen won’t be a problem for next year…)

And then.
Well then was The Week After and I was that heady combination of overwhelmed and exhausted and tired of thinking about shirts and safety pins and water cups and packet pick-ups and all things race related.  And HCRP and I were getting ready to go to Big Texas City where Young Female Progeny (YFP) goes to college (freshman) for Easter Weekend.

And then.
Well then, some cook or server or busboy or barback or someone, at one of the many places we ate during the roadtrip and visit failed to wash his or her hands after he or she ‘did their business’ in the men’s or ladies’ room and yours truly ended up with Norovirus.
Norovirus, for the uninitiated (and non-link clickers), is (and I quote) “transmitted by fecally-contaminated food or water; by person-to-person contact; and via aerosolization of the virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces”.  You do not want me to explain ‘aerosolization’.
Wash.  Your.  Hands.

There were a lot of excuses to skip runs, and we took them and . . . well . . . and didn’t run with them.  Earlier this week I started trying to beat myself up about it, but I realized that sometimes a break – intentional or not – is precisely what is required to renew our drive for something.
Yeah, I’m sticking with that.

So this week we got back to running.
Three miles Monday night, four tonight.
Not pretty miles, but miles (mostly) run.
I also spent a fair number (some would say too many) hours plotting our 30 week marathon training plan on a spreadsheet in conjunction with races we choose to run and races we choose to volunteer for.

2013 is going to be Our Running Year.
And I’m good with that.
For us running is about more than just pounding feet on the pavement.
We have become part of a community of runners and it’s as much about the races we do in support of particular causes as it is the races we volunteer to ‘work’ to support the runners who are racing to support those particular causes.
Just like running is about more than the miles, being part of our running community is about more than the races.

And my personal favorite thing is the volunteer coaching we’ll be doing again this year with our local running club’s women’s running training program.  There are no words for how much having this opportunity to bring running into a meaningful place in another woman’s life means to me.
I don’t know how many women have participated in this event in it’s 20+ year history here in our fair, hot, Southern, consistently ranked fattest/unhealthiest city.  I’m willing to wager that number could easily populate one of the many smaller towns in and around here.
What I do know is that in 2011 it changed my life.
I know that it led me to continue running and to become a Race Director (twice!).
I know that in 2012 I was privileged to witness it changing the life of a mother and her two daughters who are now running/racing machines!  And seeing that galvanized in me a desire to do more of that witnessing it thing.
I know that in 2013 it will change another woman’s life, many womens’ lives.  And being even a small part of that will further change me and my life.

As much as my mother/daughters running machine team thrilled – and continue to thrill and inspire – me; as much as I love the friendship that has grown out of those ten weeks spent sweating our rear ends off on a long, flat stretch of asphalt; it is another woman – one whose name I have never known – who is the reason I’ll be returning as a volunteer coach with the Beginning Runners again this year.

Every year WRWM is kicked off with an Expo.
For the Walkers and Beginning Runners it is their first ever Running Expo, I know it was mine, and for as simple as it was it was a heady experience.  Truth be told, anything more would have been Too Much!
Last year I was standing around with the other Beginning Runners Volunteer Coaches waiting to answer questions from nervous, scared, “Oh my starz! What have I got myself into?!” Beginning Runners when a woman I estimate to have been in her mid-to-late 50s walked up to me and more or less stood there like she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be saying to me.  Truth be told I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be saying to her either so I led with the obvious “Is this your first time doing this?” and the answer I got was far from the “Well DUH!” I was expecting.
She looked at the floor as if I’d caught her with her hand in the cookie jar, looked back up at me, smiled a little, and said “This is the first thing I’ve ever done in my life that is just for me.”
What I wanted to do was burst into tears and hug her.  I also didn’t want to scare the crap out of her, so what I did do was pat her on the shoulder, smile back the tears and say “Well good for you!  You’re gonna love this!”
I meant that first part in all sincerity.

I kinda hoped she’d forget that second part the following Monday when it was 100 degrees in the shade and we were out running in the full sun of a mid-July late Memphis afternoon.
That following Monday she made a bee-line for me and was grinning from ear-to-ear and telling everyone around us “This is the first thing I’ve ever done in my life that is just for me!” and we hadn’t even run the first step yet.  And week after week – rain or shine, heat and more heat – she came back always with that smile long after many younger, fitter-looking women had quit the program.

So that’s our year.
Lots of running.  A few races.  And even more reasons for all of it.

Oh.
And writing.
Always writing!

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!

We have The Plan

I nearly titled this We have seen The Plan, and it is ours! but I wasn’t sure what kind of copyright infringement issues I might come up against.  All that aside . . .

Monday evening, while watching The Biggest Loser, we got serious about planning our race calendar for the year as well as deciding on a Marathon Training Program and then plotting that against the date of next this year’s  St. Jude Marathon.

My surgery recovery is coming along nicely.  It no longer hurts going over speed bumps in parking lots, which was my barometer for when I was “good to go” (medical term my doctor used) for running.  Sooo . . . I’m going to give running a shot this weekend.
Of course first I’ll be picking up a new, new-size running bra.  I’m going to stick with the Moving Comfort Juno.  At least to begin with.  It stuck with me and provided the support I needed with Big Girls, I have every confidence it will do right by me now that I’m more proportional.  So, barring any unanticipated ‘issues’ (Read: PAIN!) I’ll be back to running effective Saturday!

The First Step in The Plan is just to get back in condition.
I shudder to think just exactly how out of condition my heart and lungs are after eight weeks off.  I’m also pretty certain the loss of muscle tone that had me thinking I was being followed by my own ass last week is going to be a factor.  But I also have every assurance from several Runner Friends that things will come back quicker than I expect.

The Second Step in The Plan is to establish a new routine.
We’ve decided to use Hal Higdon’s Novice Supreme training program.  Its a 30 week program that allows both ample time to work up to the miles required to finish a Marathon, and opportunity to work on performance in shorter distances.  (As in: Finishing a 5K in 30 minutes which is one of those “competing with myself” goals.)  One thing we have failed to be consistent with is Cross Training.  So we’re fixing that.

Going forward (meaning starting Sunday) our weeks will look a lot like this:
Sunday: Rest Day.
This gives me Sunday afternoon to focus on food/meal prep for the coming week (more on dietary changes later).
Monday: Short Run.
This will be the week’s “warm up” run.  No tricks or funky stuff just a good, easy run.
Tuesday: Cross Training.
Wednesday: Mid-Distance Run.
Thursday: Short(ish) Run.
This distance will vary from Monday’s distance some weeks, and this is when we’ll do any speed work. Bring on the Fartleks!
Friday: Cross Training.
This is also my Yoga Day with my Running Buddy/Mentor Tonia.
Saturday: Long Runs/Races

We’ve plotted everything out (on a spreadsheet because we’re techno-fabulous like that) and for the thirty weeks of the training program to time out with The St. Jude we begin following the program’s distances on May 18th.
Between now and then – and all things being equal/going well for me on Saturday’s ‘Maiden Voyage’ run – we’ll be establishing the pattern of the week and getting a few races in.

Starting with the New Orleans Half Marathon at the end of next month.  We’ve decided to do that one as a relay with HCRP taking the 7.5 miles and me running the shorter 5.5 mile leg.  This is our weekend getaway for my birthday weekend, and we’re going with a couple we’re friends with from church who are also runners.  We’re taking Amtrak from here to New Orleans which will be half the fun of the trip!

My intention is to (finally) run the Germantown Half Marathon in mid March, the (overly ambitious) training for which led to last year’s Runner’s Knee Adventure. This year I’m a stronger, more experienced, and about twenty pounds lighter version of the runner I was then, so I don’t anticipate any major issues.  Besides, I’ve proven that I can finish a Half, this year there isn’t the sense of urgency I had last year that (I am certain) led to my injury.

AND!  Because I have absolutely nothing else to do, I’m also in the midst of planning the Second Annual Bad Dog 5K!
Oh, if you’d like to help support our very worthy cause – The Ronald McDonald House of Memphis which serves families of kids receiving treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – but you’re not from around here we’re offering a “Ghost Runner” registration that will allow you to help us help The Kids at The House AND you’ll score one of our snazzy race shirts!
C’mon, you know you wanna . . .

Okay, time to get my morning started.
Happy Running!

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.

Before and The Beginning of After

So my surgery was a week ago Thursday.
Yes,THAT Surgery.
The Reduction Mammoplasty.
The Reverse Boob Job.
My great, courageous (so a couple people have told me it was) act of “Getting Proportional”.  (Kudos to a dear friend for that reference.)

Before I go any further and really start rambling, here are the obligatory Before and After Images.  (Unfortunately I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a true “Before” picture in something I am willing to share here on Ye Olde Worlde Wide Webe.  I mean, I like you and all, but no you don’t get to see pictures of me in my bra.  Or less.  So this is what you get.)

IMG_0404

Before: September 2012

December 9, 2012All buttons.  No safety pins.

December 9, 2012
All buttons. No safety pins.

Yeah. Tell me about it.

I’m still in the healing phase, and healing nicely.
This is not only my opinion but my surgeon’s opinion at my post-op visit.
There hasn’t been any horridly excruciating pain.  Of course the first couple days when there might have been I was doped up on Demerol and probably wouldn’t have felt it if someone had come in and lopped off one of my other appendages.  I mostly feel, and have mostly only felt, really bruised.

So far the worst parts have been: A) Having to sleep on my back; and B) The itching where the stitches are healing.  Fortunately both these issues are resolved by the same solution: Benadryl!  Oh sweet little hot pink elixirs of relief and rest!

The weirdest part was the first week when – for the first time in my life at forty-seven – I had to line my bra with maxi-pads (to protect the incisions and absorb any ‘drainage’). I actually found that quite hilarious on Friday morning when my mom and my BFF helped me change from the padding I’d left the surgery center with to the first set of maxi-pads. I am reasonably certain the Demerol weighed in on the hilarity factor of that experience.

The waterproof surgical tape he put back over the stitched up incisions (which will dissolve rather than having to be removed) comes off a week from Monday.  Christmas Eve morning. (The jokes on that one really do write themselves.  I’ll not insult your intelligence or sense of humor by overstating the obvious . . . )

In the couple weeks leading to the “Procedjah” people kept asking me “Aren’t you nervous?!” and I would pause, do one of those mental ‘system checks’, and answer (in all honesty) “No.  I’m really not.”  By the day before the Procedjah my answer had become “At this point I feel like I’m ten months pregnant and I’m just ready to have this baby!”  (Having gone 1/3 of the way to ten months pregnant twenty-four years ago, that’s an analogy I was quite comfortable making.) During the pre-op prep they checked my blood pressure.  111/74 (before they had given me any ‘calming agents’ via IV).  Seriously.  So it would appear that “nervous” was the last thing I was.  Which I think was pretty cool!

Friday morning I woke up and could already feel a difference in my shoulders.  The constant muscle tension and ‘pull’ I was used to was just GONE!  Saturday morning once I was showered and wearing something other than pajamas my first thought was “I can’t wait to take these puppies out for a run!”  Really.  I called them “puppies” in my head.

All told the doctor removed three pounds of excess ’tissue’.  Not fat.  Actual whatever-it-is tissue that boobs are made of.  The Mammogram Lady told me I had “dense tissue, not fat”.  I’m not sure why I feel the need to clarify that, but I do.  I digress . . .

So at this point I’m in something of a ‘holding pattern’ while the incisions heal, the bruising abates (there’s actually quite a rainbow of bruise coloration going on), and the stitches dissolve. I can’t run.  I can’t lift anything heavier than a pound.  I can’t run. Bending over causes discomfort. I can’t run.  Yet.  The doctor’s (somewhat flip) answer when I asked “How long after surgery until I can run?”  was “Around 30 days.  Basically it’s up to your pain levels.”  I was expecting to hear something more along the lines of “Eight to twelve weeks” so this was a relief!  A shocking relief, but a relief nonetheless.

Right now I’m still adjusting to what really is a whole new body.
Seriously there are days when I see myself in the mirror and am overwhelmed with not just the change, but the realization of the number of years I was identified – in my mind and other people’s – by one (okay technically two) disproportionate body part(s).
I can wear button front blouses without buying them two sizes bigger than necessary and still having to safety pin between the buttons.
I can wear pretty much any kind of v-neck t-shirt, sweater, or whatever else without worrying if the cleavage is going to be inappropriate or offensive.
I will – once the healing is complete and I no longer have to wear a bra 24/7 – be able to throw on a t-shirt or tank top sans brassiere and run to the store without worrying about scarring the psyches of small children or fast-tracking some unsuspecting male tween through puberty!
And.  And!  AND!  I will be able to not only wear cute running bras (and cute little strappy running tops), but I will be able to wear those cute running bras without additional padding on the straps or moleskin applied under the band to prevent wearing holes in my hide!

If you want to get a sense of the “Before” and “After” effect of this surgery, pick up a three pound bag of potatoes, divide them into two mostly equal amounts, wear them around your neck. (I suggest a king size pillow case. You’ll have to sew the open end up somehow.)  Pick your favorite shirt and wear it over them – have fun with those buttons on those blouses.  Do this all day, every day for a week or two.  Now multiply that by a good couple (or three) decades.  Have fun with that math!  I know I always did.
[I say “or three” parenthetically because I have it on good authority from one of my lifelong best friends that my ‘disproportionate proportions’ were there in high school even though it didn’t seem like it to me at the time.  But I trust her judgment.]

Monday HCRP and I are going to get back in the gym.
He can do whatever he wants.  I’ll be limited to a recumbent bike for cardio *rolls eyes* and lower body strength training.  But it’s better than nothing at all.  While we’re at my in-laws for Christmas I’m going to do Yoga as much as I can without pain.  Once we get back home we’re changing gyms to one that has a pool and both an indoor and lighted outdoor track.
We both realize the absolute requirement of cross training – strength training in particular.  The lighted outdoor track is a huge plus because of shorter winter days combined with the fact that our regular running trails close at sunset and our subdivision lacks streetlights  (like at all) and consistent sidewalks.

So that’s where things are in my middle-aged, post-op, currently not running life.

In Running News I’m weighing the pros and cons of Jeff Galloway’s and Hal Higdon’s respective Marathon Training programs and starting to plan next year’s running goals.
Running. Goals.
No more of this just running willy nilly for the sake of it for me!  I have G-O-A-L-S.
I’m notsomuch looking to break any particular times.  Okay that’s kind of a lie.
I would like to get my 5K finish time down to 30 minutes.  Less would be good too, but I’ll be good with a consistent 30 minute finish time.  Which will of course make for a nice, clean, well-rounded 60 minute 10K finish time.
I’m good with a 3 hour half-marathon time.  That allows for enjoying the venue as well as the run itself.
My first Full will be next year’s St. Jude Marathon in December.  I could be ready to do one sooner, but I don’t intend to make marathons a regular ‘thing’ so I’m reserving them for St. Jude and Ronald McDonald House supporting events.

So that’s how things are and where I’ve been.
How’s things with you?

I should NEVER have started running

This was the start of a conversation – and by ‘conversation’ I mean monologue/diatribe by me – last night in the car as we were running an errand of mercy for/to my son. (Said son is, for the record, going to be 24 years old next Wednesday, is 6’5″ tall, and like a good Southern Boy still calls me “Momma”. Awww . . . )

Back to my diatribe . . . Which went a lot like this:
Me: I should NEVER have started running.

HCRP: Why?

Me: Because now I can’t just ‘quit’.

HCRP: Why?

Me: Because that’s just not how it’s done! You don’t start something like running and then just quit. Especially when you’ve Put It Out There that you’re going to run a Full Marathon next year! I mean to ‘just quit’ – which by the way I have the perfect opportunity to do what with the being too sick to run for a month and now the month ‘off’ after my surgery next week – at this point makes me look like a big ol’ [STOP READING MOM!] pussy.

HCRP: (Keeps driving and looking straight ahead. He is wise beyond his years that one.)

Me: But this is just stupid!

HCRP: What is?

Me: Running!
(Is he paying no attention to anything I’m saying?!)

HCRP: (Keeps driving and looking straight ahead.  Again.  Genius!)

Me: I mean seriously. I run and I run and I run all these *expletive deleted* miles and where do I get?  Nowhere.  Okay, generally back to the car, but still! It’s not like I’m going from Portland (Oregon, I realize there’s also one in Maine) to Boston with all this *expletive deleted* running!

HCRP: We could.

Me: Could what?

HCRP: Run from Portand to Boston.

Me: (Singes him with a blistering glare.)

HCRP: (Regains his senses and keeps driving and looking straight ahead.)

Me: This is just stupid. It’s a stupid sport.  And now that I’ve started it I can’t ‘Just Quit’. There’s no end to it. It’s not like I’ve suffered some permanent injury that would force me to stop so I’m stuck with this *expletive deleted*.

HCRP: Well what else would you do?

Me: For what?

HCRP: For fitness?

Me: I would eat! And sleep! A lot of eating and sleeping.  And hang out with friends in bars.

HCRP: That wouldn’t be very healthy.

Me: (Singes him . . .  You know the rest.) That is entirely beside the point.

HCRP: Which is? (Sometimes he’s not very bright… Really.)

Me: That I really can’t *expletive deleted* quit running!

HCRP: Why not?

Me: You didn’t hear that whole ‘If I quit now I’ll look like a big ol’ weenie’ (edited for inappropriate content for my mom’s sake) part before?! Besides, if I quit now what was the point of the entire last almost year and a half of my life? And all those shoes and socks and clothes and those freakin’ high dollar, industrial strength, double-reinforced running bras I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on?!  Huh?  What about all that?!
So.
*expletive deleted* it. I may as well keep running.
[Insert especially creative uses of ordinarily run-of-the-mill profanity.]

Of course what prompted all of this was having spent the morning sitting at a Finish Line I had originally intended to be running across.
Which wasn’t altogether bad.

Actually.

It was pretty cool.
It was inspiring watching the Elite Runners cross in times I will never, ever hope to make.  And they were, I might add, barely breathing heavy or sweating.  Much.
It was fun watching the non-runners who would stop a few feet before the Finish Line to pose their Finish Line photos.  (Costing themselves valuable seconds towards PRs… Who does that?!)
It choked me up seeing the people who – you could tell by the “I did it! Wait, I did it?!” looks on their faces – were finishing their First Ever 5Ks and Half Marathons.
Then there was the mom who had written in Sharpie on her arms and legs: My son couldn’t train for cancer.  I was full-on snot-slingin’ squawlin’ when I saw that.
Really being a part – any part – of an event that raised $5.8 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Well, how can you have a ‘bad’ time doing that?!

So I end 2012 with the following statistics under my laces:
1) I suffered from, rehabbed, and overcame my first ever sports injury.  Me!  *I* had a “sports injury”!
2) I was a coach for other women who were setting out on their own journeys as Runners.
3) I ran a Half Marathon! AND finished under my stated goal time.
4) And at the end of all that diatribe and deleted expletives up there – I’m going to keep on running. Because really, who wants to look like a big ol’ weenie (edited for inappropriate content)?!