Kinda Sorta Not and Yet Totally About Running

This past Wednesday I had a consultation with a surgeon regarding what is commonly referred to as “Reduction Mammoplasty”.
Yes.
You read that right.
I am having The Girls (as they say) “cut down to size”.

This isn’t exactly one of those ‘elective, corrective surgeries’ that can be done ” under the radar”.It is going to be noticeable.
I mean, have you met me?!
And if you have ‘met’ me . . . well . . . Why are we even having this conversation?!

All that aside, let’s just get to the nut cu…  err… the rat killin’ of the whole thing.  Shall we?

My Goal Date for this whole ‘Procedjah‘ is Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

I’m scheduling it that far in advance because there are two races I intend to run between now and then:
The St. Jude Half Marathon on December 2nd, 2012; and
The New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon on February 24th, 2013.

I’ll have the surgery the 26th of February which will give me ample time to recover and train to run the St. Jude Full Marathon (my first 26.2) in December 2013.

So.
That’s what I have coming up in the next year and a few weeks.

I’m sharing this here to ask for your prayers and positive thoughts as I prepare mentally and physically for this surgery.

My intention is to be so completely prepared – on every level – that the surgery and recovery go like a hot knife through butter.
Literally and physically.

Oh, and if you have any question about the “necessity” of this surgery, let’s just say that the doctor said (and I quote): Oh we have got to do something about this.  And that was before I told him I was a runner!

So there you have it.
The biggest personal decision I have never been able to hide.
Because what am I gonna say come February 27, 2013: I have NO IDEA where they went!  I just woke up and they were GONE!! ???

Not sure why . . .

I have plenty of thoughts on my first Half Marathon.

Starting, of course, with: I DID IT!!  I FREAKIN’ DID IT!!

And I have come here several times to share them all.

But for some reason I just couldn’t put the words down.

No matter how much I wanted to come here and talk about so many things about the race.
To talk about how the entire first mile was spent getting my legs and lungs to remember that they have, in fact, worked well together.
To talk about The World’s Best Total Stranger Running Buddy Ever.  Erin.  Who understood when, after ‘warning’ her before we started that “I’m not a talker when I run”, I suddenly became a Chatty Cathy with my string pulled during every walking interval after about Mile 5.
To share my admiration for Robert, the easily 400 pound man we met at the start of the race, who was planning to walk the Half in 4:00:00 as part of his ongoing fitness efforts to insure that he’ll be around and able to keep up with his ten month old daughter.
To marvel at the completely barefoot Marathoner who whizzed past Erin and me at about our Mile 12 which was like his Mile 25.
To feel pretty dang good about the fact that I wasn’t the woman who ended up flat on her back with her legs cramping, screaming in pain because she never stopped at any water stops and wasn’t carrying her own water at about the same Mile 12.  I felt bad for her, but was so grateful I wasn’t her.
To tell you about the 80-something year old man wearing the singlet that said “I’m running on a donated heart valve.”
And the people running with shirts screen-printed with the pictures of family members who had served our country in the same United States Air Force as my father and husband.
To share the pictures of the Finisher’s Medal, my bib number that had my name on it, of me and Erin with our FMs.
To express my gratitude to Erin for keeping me going those couple times when I wanted to just stop and walk the rest of the way.  Even if a tiny little bit of that did come from my ego commanding “We will not let this twenty-something year old girl see us quit!”
To brag on HCRP for beating his own Goal Time!

To say “Thank You!” to every runner who has given me counsel, advice, slowed up their own pace to run with me, encouraged me when they saw me struggling along the trail.  And especially to Terri Lee, DJ, Marian, and Donnie.  They know why.
To give a shout-out to my dear friend Tonia who sent me a message via The Endomondo Lady encouraging me at Mile 10 JUST when she knew I’d need it!
To thank my dear friend Tina who came down to be there at the Finish Line to cheer for me whether I heard her or not and who didn’t mind the sweaty-runner post-race hug one bit!

And to tell you what I told my dad before the race:
The first 6.5 miles were for my father who served from 1959 through 1979.
The second 6.5 miles were for my husband who served from 1989 through 2009.
But that last 0.1? That right there, that was for me!
And that’s how I ran it!

It’s probably the same reason I haven’t felt overly pushed to get a run in any evening this week – despite the Oh My Starz! perfect running weather we’ve had all week for the first time in forever.
I think part of me is still enjoying The Magic of running that race exactly the way I’d pictured it.
Successful.
Feeling really pretty damn good at the end.
Feeling zero pain from either of The Knees or any of my 2,000 other parts.
Dancin’ with the ones that brung me: Pace and Intervals.
Feeling the triumph of the fruition All Those Miles put in training.
All that precautionary icing of the aforementioned knees.
The runs I cut short “just in case”.
The wisdom of listening to my body (finally got that little lesson).

I ran – successfully and enjoying (just about) every step of every mile – a freakin’ Half Marathon!
And I’m more excited about running the next one on December 2nd.
And.  I am really beginning to think I’m going to be able to run twice that far in December 2013.

I’ll be back in a day or two to provide the review of SnuggBuds Headsets that I was asked to write here on my blog!
Spoiler Alert: It will not be a bad review…

What’s short today was once really long

Not my hair.
Although that’s true too.

No.
I’m talking distance.

Tonight HCRP and I ran “a quick five miles” A) because it was time to run; and B) because I went to bed last night wanting to get a run in tonight.  That second part is a little new to me.  I mean I’m good with days I know I “have to” run to stay in shape or continue training/conditioning.  But this is the first time I’ve actually looked forward to a running day the night before.

Another bit of Running Newness for me was having the run start feeling good just past the half mile mark.
Normally I’m a good mile-and-a-half in before I hit what I call my Sweet Spot.  It’s that point in the run when it really almost doesn’t feel like effort.  Everything is working perfectly and in sync.  The lungs feel great, the legs feel awesome, the feet are very nearly not even touching the pavement, even the sweating feels refreshing and (dare I say?) athletic, and nothing twinges or hurts or otherwise doesn’t do its job.
But tonight just after the half mile marker I realized I Was There.  And it lasted until about mile 4.25 when some invisible force filled my legs with lead.  Oh and the gale force (okay 7 mph according to my Weatherbug App but still) headwind that came not only from out of nowhere but from due east.  But until then it was a really great run!

And somewhere around mile three I realized that this time last year running five miles was not only not a “short run” but was a distance I couldn’t ever have imagined myself running. And tonight it was “just a quick, short run”.
That felt good.

Between going out of town for my dad’s birthday Saturday (they live in a pretty small town that isn’t very running/distance running friendly), and the weather potentially heading our way courtesy of Isaac, we’re putting off this weekend’s Long Run until Monday.
Eleven Miles.
Then we begin our taper before the Half Marathon on September 15th.

That’s right.  Right?
Saturday, September 1st: 3 miles.
Monday, September 3rd: 11 miles.

Wednesday, September 5th: 5 miles.
Saturday, September 8th: 6 – 8 miles.
Monday, September 10th: 3 miles Coaching Run.
Wednesday, September 12th: 3 – 4 miles.
Saturday, September 15th: Race Day!
Yeah, that’s right.

Holy Crap Batman!
That’s right!

And now you get to step inside my head while I talk to myself . . .
Just remember Julianne: Tonight’s Short Run was last year’s “I’ll never run that far”.  You’ve got this.  You have totally got this!

Now, where was I?

I was running . . .

I fell . . .

I got up . . .

I kept running . . .

I showed off boo-boos . . .

Dang! Fifteen days since my last post? I would have sworn I’d written at least three brilliant, funny, epic posts about my recent runs. Oh. Wait. I left those on the trail.

Funny thing about that fall.
I showed my battered, bruised, swollen, and scabbed up elbow to non-runner friends and they winced and said “Oh no! That must really hurt!” (It did!)
I showed my battered, bruised, swollen, and scabbed up elbow to runner friends and they said “Nice!” while high-fiving me.
I really, really enjoyed those high-fives!

So yeah, I had My First Fall. And since then I’ve logged just under twenty miles. Not especially impressive for someone staring down her first Half Marathon in only twenty-six days. However I have actual reasons and even a note from my Doctor.  Well, a note from my Licensed Massage Therapist aka The Exorcist.

I was referred to said ‘practitioner’ (she’s not practicing anything – she has perfected this) by one of my Running Friends/Gurus/Mentors who also happens to be one of the funniest bloggers I know. (Check’s in the mail, right TLC??)
I am, with my dear friend Terri Lee, the proud owner of a whole collection of little blue balls. I have one in my gym bag, one in the trunk of the car, one in the messenger bag I carry to and from work, and one floating around somewhere so that I always have access to one.
And yes, I’m using it.
And yes, it’s helping.

I learned a couple things.
First: My grasp of muscular anatomy isn’t quite what I thought it was.
Second: My problem was not, in fact, my Tensor Fasciae Latae, my problem was my Gluteus Medius.
So much for a mid-life career switch to medicine.

Another bit of newness for me is that three times in the past week I have had Thoroughly Craptabulous Days and rather than wanting to go home and either drown my stresses in a frosty adult beverage(s) or faceplant into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack (thank you Jimmy Fallon wherever you are), I wanted to lace up my running shoes and just pound it out on the trail.
And.
I felt better after I did.
Huh. Who knew?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were still frosty adult beverages – after all beer is a great recovery beverage – and yes there has been ice cream. Just not an entire pint of it all at once hunched in my corner of the couch like Gollum with a gold ring hissing at anyone who came within hissing distance. (My name is Julianne and I am a stress/comfort eater…)

But this whole “running as stress relief” thing is still new to me.

Of course when a tight/painful/limiting butt muscle is the source of your stress . . . well that’s when you just hobble along the trail letting the angry tears flow hoping and praying you don’t run into anyone you know because they’ll be honor-bound to stop and ask if you’re okay and then you’ll fall completely to pieces on them and while it is acceptable to sweat all over people after a run snotting on someone’s favorite tech shirt is just so not cool.

And you tell yourself that this is not, in fact, the end of your fledgling running career.
And you tell yourself that cutting your nine mile run short to 8.21 miles really is the Smart Thing To Do.
And you tell yourself that finishing that abbreviated run walking the last mile of that 8.21 miles is better than not being able to start Monday night’s short run.
And you laugh at the irony of Billy Joel’s I Go To Extremes coming on your shuffled playlist at Just That Moment.
And you finish the run walking and remind yourself that you got further than you would have on the couch with Ben and Jerry and Jimmy Fallon.

And!
AND!!
I can’t believe I almost forgot this part . . .
We had run the same trail where I had My Epic First Faceplant twice since said EFF and both times I opted to take the ‘other leg’ of the trail rather than running the boardwalk that was my little Waterloo. I rationalized the decision as erring on the side of caution. After all, I’m a month out from my First Half Marathon and really didn’t want to chance another uneven board causing another fall.
I was scared.
Who wouldn’t be?
I mean seriously. Trip me once shame on you, trip me twice shame on me and I’m notsomuch a fan of shame.
Yesterday even before we got to The Split in the trail where it was Boardwalk or No Boardwalk HCRP asked “Are we taking the Boardwalk or th…” and I cut him off with a (possibly more hostile than necessary) “BLEEP NO! I have a Half to run in less than a month! I’m not chancing it.” and we took The Other Trail.

We got to the turnaround and headed back and the closer we got to the other end of The Split the madder I got at The Boardwalk and at my own fear of The Boardwalk. And when we got there I pointed right and said to HCRP “Screw this! I’m making this thing my bitch today!” and I got to the end of it and let out my little war whoop and yelled back over my shoulder “Take that Boardwalk!”
I despise being limited by fear. So there’s one less fear causing me to (quite literally) alter my course.

And that’s where I was and where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Lessons From The Fall

Lessons not “Legends”.
If you’ve come here looking for ruminations on the 1994 Brad Pitt Epic “tale of three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of 1900s USA and how their lives are affected by nature, history, war, and love.” you are going to be sorely disappointed.

No, this is all about the lessons I learned tonight when my Worst Fear About Running became A Reality.  I fell.  Not some cute little “Oopsie doodle!” mis-step that had me losing a step or two.  No.  This was a full-body, Superman sprawl of a fall.  To my credit although I did go straight, flat-forward down I didn’t actually “face” plant.  It was more of a knee/elbow plant.  I’m fine.  My elbow looks rough, but thankfully Ye Olde Knee shows no signs of being any the worse for the wear.  Thank You Lord for that!

Back to my post title.  I came away from this little experience slightly worse, but far wiser for the wear. Here are my Lessons From The Fall:

  1. It isn’t the fall, it’s the fear of the fall that’ll getcha!
    As previously stated: Falling has been my Worst Fear since I started running last summer.  Okay, maybe my second Worst Fear behind snakes on the trail and finding a dead body.  Technically that dead-body-finding thing doesn’t count since it isn’t technically running related, it’s a lifelong fear with absolutely zero basis in experience.  And totally not germane to the point.

    But the Snakes On The Trail thing? Yeah, that’s real and definitely running related since most of the trails we run on are in an urban park and go through wooded areas that are “in their natural state”.  And really if I do run into a snake on the trail what are the chances that Samuel L. Jackson is going to show up to kill it with the force of his profanity?  See?  This is a real fear.
    Back to falling.  Falling is also a real, running related fear.  I hate falling.  It is: A) Embarrassing; B) Painful; and C) Potentially running career ending.  And tonight it became: D) A Reality.  And in so doing I learned that – in all truth – the fear of a thing actually is worse than the thing happening itself.
    Oh, it wasn’t fun!  And I will do everything in my power to avoid it happening again. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up to being in my brain.
    It was also divine providence that it wasn’t any worse than it was.  I was on a boardwalk rather than pavement; there were no other runners (HCRP notwithstanding) around to witness my humiliation; and most of all there were no cyclists coming up fast behind us because when I Supermanned it I sprawled myself out in fabulous fashion all across the middle of the trail that had no shoulder for anyone to dive off onto to avoid plowing over me.
  2. You never know what you’re going to do until you’ve done it!
    The instant the toe of my right shoe caught on the uneven board I knew I was going down.  It was unavoidable because gravity isn’t just a good idea, it’s The Law.  I managed to land sprawled face down with neither my face nor my forehead making contact with the boards.  Once I was down and realized the falling part was over my first impulse was to hop back up and keep running.  As I was rolling over to a sitting position I realized “Holy Crap!  I just fell!”  Of course my first ‘rational’ thought was to make sure I hadn’t shattered my phone that was tucked in the armband.  (I didn’t.)
    HCRP helped me to my feet and at first, again, I started to turn back in the direction we’d been heading and take off.  HCRP, in his infinite wisdom and good sense, stopped me and suggested I do a ‘damage assessment’ which sounded like a good idea so I did.  that was when I discovered that my left elbow had likely taken much of the brunt and of all the moving parts was going to be the worst for the wear.  We walked along while I caught my breath, determined that all 2,000 parts were in working order, and then we started jogging again.  That’s when it hit me that: A) I freakin’ FELL; and B) I got up and kept on running.  Of course that “I freakin FELL” think came out of my mouth with a slightly more colorful descriptor, but still.  Instead of crying or quitting or crying and quitting I kept going.
    HCRP’s assessment of this reaction was “Well, you’re really a distance runner now, you’re a masochist!”
  3. Adrenalin is over-rated.
    And, in (more of) HCRP’s inimitable and insightful words: Adrenalin can be an asset in a race, but this isn’t exactly the best way to get it.  Personally, I found it to be more hindrance than help since it was the adrenalin rush that had me wanting to pop right back up and keep running.
  4. Timing is, as they say, everything!
    If I were going to have ‘scheduled’ this it couldn’t have come on a better night since I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning to address my ongoing TFL tightness/soreness that just happens with no identifiable cause.
    It doesn’t always happen during a run, or after a run, or even before a run.  It just happens and hurts.
    It isn’t on both sides, just the left.
    It isn’t a pull.  It feels more bruised than any other sensation.  I haven’t pulled anything.
    Yes, I’ve been using my foam roller.  Religiously.  Okay except tonight because I can’t use my left hand to support my weight.
    So I’m going to see a doctor in my PCP’s office who is a runner to get her input and possibly a referral to a physical therapist.  And praying she doesn’t say the dreaded word: R-E-S-T.  I have 40 days til my first Half Marathon and I am finally beginning to see myself doing this thing.  I really don’t want to have that taken away from me.  Again.

In Olympic Watching news, I woke up at 4:50 am this morning to watch The Women’s Marathon and was absolutely dumbfounded by these women!  Somewhere in the instant before my right toe caught and all those lessons started being learned I think in my brain I was one of them for about half a second.
Oscar Pistorius absolutely humbles and inspires me.  I watched him in his semi-final run as I was pecking away at this post and was in tears as he ran with nothing but the pure joy and triumph of being where he was doing what he was doing.
Kirani James doubled those tears when he asked to trade name tags.  That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what The Olympics are about.

And now it’s late and I’m tired and it’s time for bed.
Thanks for slogging through all this.  I’ll likely read this in the morning and wonder what I was thinking.
But for now, I’m okay with it all.

Learning what matters

Two weeks ago HCRP and I ran a new-to-us running trail here in our fair little hamlet. It’s another of our city’s greenway running/biking trails (okay walkers can use them too).

/Sidebar
Given:
A) That we boast one of the country’s biggest running clubs and their Award Winning Women’s Running Training Program;
B) The number of running/biking venues;, and
C) The fact that getting a date for a 5K is getting dangerously close to requiring a sudden death cage match between Race Directors;
it simply astounds me that my hometown consistently ranks among America’s Fattest/Least Fit Cities.

Who are they talking to when they do these surveys?!
Certainly nobody I know or spend time around!
/End Sidebar

The trail we ran two weeks ago has a fair number of short, sharp inclines which I was surprised to find myself reveling in. The interesting thing is that you run up the inclines going one direction and don’t end up running back down until you’ve turned around to come back. Since running short, sharp inclines is new to me (Read: That was the first time I’d ever done it!) I made the rookie mistake of running back down said short, sharp inclines (hereafter known as The SSI) rather than pulling back and walking. It didn’t take too many of those before The Other Knee – close friend and cohort of Ye Olde Knee and hereafter referred to as TOK – began expressing its displeasure with that particular modality of handling The SSI. I wound up (Southernism for “had to”) walking most of the last two of my seven mile run. I was not a happy camper, especially since we had joined one of the Half-Marathon/Marathon Training Groups for that particular run and I got to be seen WALKING back to the meeting point. Walking?! Seriously?! Despite the understanding I received since I was limping and all, I was still utterly humiliated. And hurting. So I R.I.C.E.D.ed it all afternoon and evening and got my plan in place for taking care of the strain – not injury – of a learning experience.

I headed for Vegas the next day which meant a lot of time spent pacing around in airports (six hours more than I’d planned for, but that’s another story for another blog) and sitting in cramped (even for my 5’4″ frame) airplane seats. So I wore my ‘big brace‘ and opted not to run on Monday. I got in a short (four mile) run while I was on vacation in Vegas, and it went well. TOK was talking to me a bit, but I attributed that to the stairs I had to climb crossing streets on The Strip. Owing to airline travel induced dehydration when I got home I didn’t get a second run in that week and set out to run eight miles on Saturday. That got cut short when TOK was full-on screaming at me at Mile Three and I ended up walking the entire last three miles.

HCRP and I got in a short (just under three miles) run Tuesday morning, but again no mid-length run before this morning’s Long Run. There were no reasons, only excuses. “I’m tired” being the leading one I used to roll over and hit the snooze Thursday morning and “Well now it’s just too hot!” being the go-to Thursday evening. Okay, maybe that was less ‘excuse’ than ‘legitimate caution’, but still I didn’t get that mid-length run in.

Which brings us to today’s eight mile run(ish).
I did make it eight miles.
I did not run all of it.
I also didn’t walk half of it.
This time I had A Strategy! (See? There’s strategy – I’ve learned!)

Having put some thought into things I decided to change up my run/walk intervals from 6:1 to 6:2.
The only reason I was running 6:1 intervals had to do with making a certain time for a given distance. And the truth of it is that for me it isn’t about “making time” or even setting/breaking a PR (Personal Record). For me it’s about the running and finishing the distance.
Including – and especially – my first half-marathon.
363 days after finishing my first 5K as a runner I will be participating in (not competing in) my first half-marathon.
Me!
The person who went into running saying “All I ever really want to run are 5Ks. Really, I’m good with that.”

Don’t get me wrong, 5Ks are fun! I love running them. Especially for causes. Doing a 5K is a great way to do more than just throw money at something. It’s about being physically present in support of that thing. Whether walking or running – you are there. You are part of it.

I just want to run further.
I like the feeling of knowing I’ve just gone further on a given course than I’ve ever been before. Further than *I* have ever gone before – even if only a few steps.

It is so easy to get caught up in PRs and finishing times/places. Heck, when I crossed the finish line of my first 10K my first question wasn’t “Where’s the water/bathroom?” it was “Am I last?!”
How ridiculous was that?
I had just finished My First 10K as A Runner.  Heck, At All!
I was vertical.
I was breathing.
I wanted to do another one! (We’re registered for one in October.)
And as I tell other women who are newer to running than me and come to me for advice (WTW are they thinking?!) I was miles ahead of all the people sitting on their couches at home!

Ya’ know, I was going to detail today’s run with a mile-by-mile breakdown of what happened when and where things went wrong, but in all truth that really isn’t important.
What is important is this: Today I ran a full mile further down the Greenline than I have ever gone before.
I ran over The Wolf River, under I-240, under White Station, Mendenhall, and Perkins, and I crossed Waring before I turned around and headed back.

And next Saturday I’ll go half a mile further than that before I turn around and head back.
And that, my friends, is what matters.

This is what Vegas does to people

It robs you.
Not of your money.

It robs you of your groove.
And hydration.

No matter how much Gatorade or water you drink while you’re there, no matter how closely you monitor your urine color – really I did this like it was my job – you arrive back home utterly and completely dehydrated.

Okay maybe it wasn’t just Vegas.
Maybe it was Vegas and airline travel.
But you arrive home utterly and completely dehydrated.
And you feel like hammered crap*.
And you miss your mid-length run on Thursday night because you are utterly exhausted from the dehydration.  And the delayed “last flight out of Atlanta to Memphis”.
Either way, you miss that Mid-Length Run that might have told you that your ‘Knother Knee was still a bit bothered from that sharp incline you ran down during your last Long Run – you who are unaccustomed to running down sharp inclines – so that you wouldn’t have come so completely unstrung when you had to cut Saturday’s nine mile run short when The ‘Knother Knee started screaming speaking loudly at the 2.5 mile mark.  Then making the (wise, prudent, forward-thinking) choice to turn around at three miles and walk – yes I said W-A-L-K – back the entire three miles.
And trust that your training for your first half-marathon (in 54 days from today) isn’t completely off track and that you will finish the race.

BUT!
To my credit, I did run while In Vegas and On Vacation.

I ran four miles.
Okay, I ran most of four miles.  I went up and down a lot of stairs.  I used them as my walking intervals.  There were a lot of walking intervals.
And I did not knock over any of the other tourists who were in my way on the sidewalks at 7:30 am.

But I have things to catch up with here.
Like my newest tattoo.  Herbert The Turtle.  And what he means to my running.

And I shall.
After tomorrow’s run as a Coach!

*Steel Magnolias reference.  Forward to 0:33 if you don’t want to watch the entire clip.