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”.

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)?!

Sometimes it’s the races you don’t run…

Earlier this year HCRP and I registered for the St. Jude Half Marathon.
By “earlier this year” I mean I stalked the registration page and registered us the minute I saw registration was open.

The USAF Half was my first Half and I was running that one for me.
The USAF Half was his second and he was running to PR.
The St. Jude we were running for The Kids and we’d already decided we would run that one together at whatever pace worked for both of us and we’d cross the Finish Line hand-in-hand like we did last year’s 5K.

We registered as St. Jude Heroes which gave us an opportunity to both contribute more personally and raise additional funds through the support and generosity of family and friends.
We had a plan.
We trained together.
We would finish together.
And now we will not start, will not run, and will not finish. Together or separately.

It all started, for HCRP, with good old-fashioned shin splints the last week in October which led to him walking The Biggest Loser Run/Walk 5K while I ran the 15K.
For the record he won first place in his age group as a Walker! Go HCRP!

For my part I ran one of the ugliest races of my life!
Jackson, Mississippi has got to be one of the hilliest, least race-friendly cities on earth!
Okay that may not be a fair assesment.
Maybe it wasn’t the best course that could possibly have been chosen since most of the 15K was right slap along what must be one of the main thoroughfares in Jackson.
Maybe the Jackson PD isn’t as well-versed in traffic control along a course as Memphis PD are. I’ve never run, volunteered for, or heard of a race here where cars were pulling into gaps between between groups of runners. I was a cussin’ fool by about seven miles.
Maybe I’m just spoiled by Memphis Runners Track Club and the relationship they’ve built with MPD in putting on races.
Did I mention the hills?
Oh.
My.
Asics!
It was one after another all of them long, all of them steep, and not more than an intersection’s worth of a flat for recovery in between.
Anyway, that was Saturday, November 3rd and I haven’t run a step since.

Monday the 5th I woke up with a slight cough. No biggie. It would pass. And Monday was a short run day anyway so I’d be fine.
Until the end of the day when about an hour before I ran out of end-of-day I ran completely out of energy.
By Tuesday morning that ‘slight cough’ had turned into full-blown, barking, coughing fits that would take over everything.
Awesome!
I had The Crud.
The Crud is a viral, sinus/upper respiratory funk that is going around pretty much all of North America from what I see on Facebook, but is definitely laying siege to my beloved MidSouth.
And about four days after I started with the hacking, HCRP started and he never, ever gets sick! Not. Ever.
But every night we went to sleep thinking “Tomorrow I’ll/we’ll wake up feeling all better and I/we can start getting some miles in!”

Monday the 12th we broke down and went to the doctor since mine had started to feel suspiciously akin to Bronchitis and HCRP never gets sick and still was.
Nope.
No such luck.
White counts were within normal range so the Official Diagnosis: Sudafed, Cough Medicine, and Ride It Out.
And every night we went to sleep thinking “Tomorrow I’ll/we’ll wake up feeling all better and I/we can start getting some miles in!”

Early on I was advised by Tonia – my soul sister and running guru – that as long as whatever it is that’s sick about you is upper respiratory you lay off running.
And so.
We have.
Or rather haven’t. Run that is.
Even though every night we have gone to sleep thinking “Tomorrow I’ll/we’ll wake up feeling all better and I/we can start getting some miles in!”

Meanwhile the calendar has been ticking right along getting closer and closer to St. Jude Marathon Weekend with absolutely zero miles passing beneath our feet.
And we’d think that thought up there every night before going to sleep.
And we’d wake up every morning still coughing and hacking.
Which, to date, we still are.
To a lesser degree.
But still even an enthusiastic conversation or good hard laugh results in paroxysms of coughing.

But back to The St. Jude half.
Friday evening over dinner HCRP and I realized that trying to run any of the half marathon would be foolish given that even if we woke up miraculously and fully healed Saturday morning (hope springs eternal) we would get five, maybe six runs in between now and Race Day and that wouldn’t allow for building up any amount of mileage.
So there we’d be.
Barely recovered from an extended bout of upper respiratory Crud and an injury on his part.
Way undertrained.
We’d end up walking the entire thing.
Which there is nothing wrong with. Walking. Walking an entire half marathon.
So we decided: We’ll walk the Half!
People walk half marathons all the time!
Remember Robert? The guy who was walking the USAF Half? Hey! He was there and he was doing it and he was gonna cross the same finish line we did!
We can totally walk this.
Right?
Of course right!
After all, this one’s for The Kids!
We were good with this.

And then.
Well then there was this past weekend.
I got slammed with the mother of all stomach bugs.

TMI Warning: WARNING THERE’S TMI COMING!
I was puking from the time I woke up around 6am Saturday until a little before I went (back) to bed at 9pm I couldn’t hold down so much as a sip of Ginger Ale, and could barely stand to hold my head up without it feeling like it was going to split into about three distinctly separate parts.
And of course my lower GI tract had to get in on the fun too.

Of course the funny thing was that for the first time in my life when having a stomach bug my thought wasn’t “Hey, at least I’m losing some weight!” it was “Good God I am going to be so dehydrated when this is over!”
And I was.
It’s Monday evening and I’m only just now starting to get rehydrated after spending all day Sunday and today sucking down fluids like it was my job. 
And I’m feeling somewhat normal, if lacking a little bit of trust in my stomach. But that’s kinda mutual right now. It doesn’t trust me much either.

And The Crud is still extending its departure. Which means The Cough is too.
The Cough means no running.
For both of us.
Less coughing for me than him, but after my bout with The ‘Nother Bug the playing field is pretty well leveled. HCRP’s shin splints are still causing him enough discomfort that running is contraindicated.
*sighs*
*coughs*
*sighs again*

And then came The Email.
Last night we got an email from the Volunteer Coordinator of our local running club seeking volunteers for the various events surrounding St. Jude Marathon Weekend. After a relatively brief discussion, and for as difficult as the decision was, it was pretty much a no-brainer.
So on Saturday, December 1st we’ll still be at that Finish Line inside Auto Zone Park. But instead of crossing it we’ll be ‘select timers’.
I’m not 100% certain what that entails, but we’ll find out that morning.
And volunteering feels a whole lot less useless than walking or pulling out of the race altogether.

And before anyone asks, no we won’t be “selling” or “transferring” our race bibs.
Both St. Jude AND MRTC (our running club) strongly discourage that practice for this race. And by “strongly discourage” I mean they say “Don’t do it!”

/Begin PSA
Unless an event specifically provides a process for selling or transferring bibs seriously: Don’t. Do. it.
It’s a Race Director’s nightmare on many levels.
It is actually hazardous to your – yes you, the runner’s – health. If you’re wearing someone else’s bib with their identity and health information on it and (God forbid) something happens to you and they don’t know that you have oh . . . say . . . a life-threatening latex allergy because Ferd Klodfelder whose bib you are wearing does not happen to have said life-threatening latex allergy and Mr./Ms. EMS First Responder tries to clear your airway with his/her latex-encased finger…
Well I think we can see where this scenario could go all kinds of sideways.

/End PSA

So.
Sometimes you ‘win’ the race by running.
And sometimes you ‘win’ the race by being part of the run in a different kind of way.
It’ll probably take me awhile to be able to justify wearing my singlet or the race shirt.
Then again, I did raise money and I am participating. Just not the way I’d originally intended.

Interestingly enough, the disappointment of this ‘runnintus interruptus’ is far less than what I went through in March when I had to pull out of my first Half Marathon attempt.  It has nothing to do with how important one race is over another.  I think it’s part of the learning curve of running.  learning that “sometimes you ‘win’ by running, sometimes you ‘win’ by being part of it in a different way” lesson.
And knowing now what I didn’t know then: That this is a setback, it’s a slow down, but it’s not a full stop.  The only ‘full stop’ happens between the ears, not under the laces.

Oh, and with my surgery (yes, That Surgery) scheduled for December 6th that will make The Biggest Loser 5K my last race until sometime well after the first of the year.
My doctor predicts that I’ll be able/ready to start running again about 30 days post-op. I’ll be listening to my body on that one.
But being optimistic and believing he knows what he’s talking about that’ll have me lacing back up and hitting the pavement sometime a week after New Year’s Day.
There’s a Valentine’s Day 5K here I think I’ll go ahead and register us for.
We can cross that Finish Line hand-in-hand.
I mean seriously, how cute would that be?

So yeah for the next few weeks this running blog is going to be more about staying in some semblance of cardio condition while recuperating from breast reduction surgery.
Then the whole ‘getting my run back’ once I’m fully recovered from that.
Who saw that coming?!

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 . . .

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.

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.

Pick Your Own Title

I started writing this late Saturday night after we got home from the 5K we ran.

Blame Tonia
Or
Why Run? / Why Running?
Or
Julianne, you think too much
Or (my personal favorite)
What’s Run Got To Do With It?

I mostly like that last one because this happens to be one of my absolute, all-time favorite songs ever.
But.
I digress. (Don’t play like that, you were warned long ago.)

Tonight I ran in my first 5K Race since December before The Decline and Fall of Ye Olde Knee which has seen me sitting out two 5Ks and one Half-Marathon. My personal performance and results of tonight’s race are (for purposes of this post) inconsequential; however, I promise a complete synopsis – and pictures – at a later date.

I also owe (really, seriously, I quite happily Owe this one) an entry as a result of having been nominated for an Inspiring Blog Award. I’m still fully digesting that one, as well as coming up with the requisite “seven personal revelations about myself that would not ordinarily appear on my blog” that actually gives me a fair amount of leeway given that I pretty much stay focued on my (arguably questionable and possibly insane) thoughts on and during runs. I mean there’s that Obscure Food Allergy, The Near Phobia, and Food Hoarding thing.
Again with the digressing.
There really is no stopping me.

Wait, why am I writing again?
Scrolls up . . .
Inspiring Blog . . .
First 5K in six months . . .
Tina Turner’s hit machine Private Dancer album . . . (I don’t link to everything – do your own Googling!)
Oh!
I remember.

So tonight after the 5K HCRP and I get home and he proceeds to ice his knotted up calf muscle (again, another post for another time), following the icing with a soak in the tub with epsom salts to ease the pain and tightness. As he was finishing, I decided a soak wouldn’t hurt me and so I settled into my own soak and started reading my latest Kindle Borrow: Amby Burfoot‘s “The Runner’s Guide to The Meaning of Life” (I generally link to Amazon.com for books, but in this case you can get an autographed copy direct from the author and I would much rather promote that option.) This book was recommended to me by a dear friend and fellow runner who also happens to be one of my personal Running Mentors, the above-mentioned “Tonia” you can blame for this post.

As I was reading I came across the following: “Runners don’t quit. We fade, we ‘hit the wall’, we’re sometimes reduced to a walk. But we keep on.” and I was stopped in my reading tracks.
Since I took up, and got hooked on, running right about ten months ago I have been asked no small number of variations of the question “Why running?”. I started to follow that with several “Or” alternative takes on the stated question; but really they all come down to the same thing – whether the question had to do with my choice of this particular sport, my choosing a sport at all given that I have never been especially athletically inclined, my decision to embrace athleticism at this particular age (I was 46 when I started – I’m 47 now because really, that is so very much older and wiser), or whatever the mechanics of the question – it always comes down to “Why running?!” And until tonight my answer depended on how out of the blue the inquiry happened to have hit me.

The truth is there were several reasons I began the running training program I did a little over a year ago that started this whole little odyssey.

I wanted to learn to enjoy running.
Because my husband did.
Because I always envied runners I would see out there looking all zen and In The Zone.
But mostly because when I saw What Women Want and it got to the faux Nike ad I bawled like I did when ET died PLUS during the part after Shelby’s funeral in Steel Magnolias PLUS when Johnny Castle rescued Baby from The Corner all rolled into one.  Yeah, it was THAT kind of cry!

It was something I had done (by force) and failed miserably at (in gym class) and was (as we Southerners are wont to say) deadset and bygod determined to finally do and do well. Or at least do right. At least once.

And why lie
I wanted to lose weight
Yeah, I’ll admit it, I was seeking The Happy Side Effect. I think the consequence of that is that coming slower than I’d have liked and honestly becoming less and less The Point all the time. The Numbers I’m chasing now are on timing clocks more often than my bathroom scale.

But it was mostly that What Women Want faux Nike ad thing. At first.

Tonight when I read the quote from Amby Burfoot it suddenly came to me that running is the only sport that could ever have been a fit for me. Because I may hit walls, I may slow to a walk, but I never quit. And that’s what I love most about running. And why I love The Road.

She said: Don’t give up

Okay, she didn’t “say” it, she wrote it.
More accurately, she blogged it.
Don’t give up written by my second favorite Running Blogger in the entire Blogosphere.

Go ahead.
Read her post.
You’ll thank me.
I’ll wait right here ’til you get back.

See?
I told you so.
You’re welcome. 

I needed to read what she wrote about keeping some piece of running.
I needed to read what she wrote about achieving a running goal.
I needed to read what she wrote about giving ourselves time and space.
I needed to read “DON’T GIVE UP” and “but don’t quit”.

I needed to read these words because after Sunday’s five mile run – out of town where there was every reason not to run that I didn’t use any of – my knee was screaming. Not the sharp, shooting, debilitating scream I’ve heard before (The Scream that is my deepest fear at the start of every run) but screaming nonetheless.

Monday the knee was still stiff and whiny and the thighs were whimpering in sympathy. For the record: Sitting in a bucket-seated vehicle for seven hours after a five mile run isn’t necessarily the best post-run plan.

Tuesday was supposed to be a run day. Monday night I couldn’t sleep. Tuesday the knee was still stiff and the thighs were only speaking to me in angry, sore-muscle tones.  Tuesday there was no running.  I pretended not to care.  I pretended I wasn’t relieved that I wasn’t going to have to worry about feeling The Scream.

And this morning I woke up thinking “Maybe running really isn’t your thing. Maybe you are ‘too old’ to have started this. Maybe it’s time to just go back to walking and forget about half-marathons and PRs and all the rest of it.” and I re-set my alarm and slept past The Time For Running. But in my head I was ticking through the weeks between now and September 15th – My Second First Half Marathon – figuring the smallest increments of distance I can add week to week and still be up to twelve miles by August 25th in time to get at least two runs in at that distance and still have a taper week before The Half.

Then I read these words: “I wanted 2011 to be the year I ran. No goals, just run.” and I flashed back to last summer when I started this whole crazy “I’m going to become a runner” adventure.
I didn’t set out to run a Half.
I didn’t set out to PR anything.
I just wanted to run. And enjoy running.
I didn’t care if “all” I ran in a given interval was one minute or one hundred minutes.
I wanted to, as Terri Lee so simply and eloquently put it, “just run”.
That was it.

Which is precisely what I intend to do tomorrow.
Just run.
At my comfortable, workable, enjoyable pace.
And I’ll walk when I need to walk to recover my breath and recenter my intention.
No pressure.
No guilt.
No worries about whether or how long it takes to finish that Half in September.
Just run.
Run until I hit that sweet spot. And then run a little further in it.

And my knee?
It’ll be just fine.
Like the run.

Miles 2 – Pain 0 – No More Treadmills!

Ran two miles tonight.
Ran it in 1/4 mile intervals.
Finished with no knee pain.

Rewind to Saturday afternoon when there was substantial pain after not even a 1.5 mile run on a treadmill and I was afraid running any further wasn’t going to happen.  Again.  Ever.
Upon consultation with a runner friend who is also a trainer I learned that (often) when one has become accustomed to road running (ING not ER) switching back to treadmill running can exacerbate things like oh . . . say . . . RUNNER’S KNEE!

So I spent the weekend back with my friendly Mueller knee band, spent Monday and Tuesday laid out with some god-awful, streppish-stomach-bug-mutation virus that’s going around down here in Dixie, and after work today – and no twinges, pings, dings, or otherwise negative indicators from Ye Olde Knee – headed to our favorite running trail to do  two miles in quarter mile intervals at the end of which everything was A-Okay!

My reason for being on a treadmill Saturday morning was well-founded.  I’m working with my BFF in her desire to start running.  We’re following the same training program that got me started running last summer.  It’s slow, gradual, and fool-proof.
If starting out on a treadmill is what’s best for her I’ll just have to avoid the temptation to ‘bust a move’ and stick to walking beside her instead of running.  Then again, with her long-term goal being finishing a 5K she may want to go ahead and transition to road running sooner rather than later.  Heat/Temperature is a consideration for her, so we’ll have to see what works best.

Meanwhile back at the trail . . . I got my two in today!
Saturday’s goal is three and I might just expand one of those intervals to a full half mile.

It just feels so freakin’ good to be running again!
It feels good to think that my half-marathon in September is actually going to happen! 

P.S. To any of my co-workers who are wondering what happened to that “I’m going home after work and going straight to bed!”  Well . . . Running happened.  That’s what.  NOW I’m going to bed!

And so it comes to this

Alternate Title: How cute, harmless looking little flats kept me from getting back to running.

I got my first pair of Real Heels the Christmas I was fourteen years old.
These weren’t glorified Mary Jane Slingbacks with a minuscule wedge ‘heel’.
These were Heels.  Black, pointy-toed, nearly-stiletto slim, three inch Heels.
And I.  Was.  Smitten.
In the years that followed I became a connoisseur of Heels.  By my early forties I had a veritable reputation and had attained Consultant/Rockstar Heel Wearing status among my peers.  People asked my opinion about Heels.  People gave me Heels they “couldn’t” wear.  I accepted their gifts  but not – at times – without a touch of pity as I took possession of My New Babies.
When my best friend was diagnosed with MS and realized her Heel Wearing Days were behind her it was me she called to come over and go through her shoes with her, and it was to me that she entrusted many pair of beautiful, slender-heeled pumps and sandals.  I was to be her Proxy Heel Wearer.  And I did so.  But there was always a trace of guilt when I’d wear a pair from my Lisa Collection.

And then, I took up running.
At first I believed I could strike a balance between My Two Lovahs.  If I only wore Real Heels on Sundays to church when I wasn’t really on my feet much, and maybe out to dinner with HCRP when I wasn’t really on my feet much, I could totally satisfy both of them: Fitness and Vanity.
That lasted about two weeks.
Then the Calf Cramps came to town. (Awesome garage band name isn’t it?  “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Calf Cramps!)   And The Heels – even the Lisa collection – Had. To. Go.  I sent them to a good home.  A dear, sweet, heel-loving, and not mid-forty year old newbie runner friend at church.  And with that
 I resigned myself to a future filled with cute flats, and little (I’m talking less than 2″) kitten-heeled slides and what-passes-for pumps.

Spring springs and it’s time to unpack the Spring/Summer clothes and shoes.  And everything is peachie-keen.  After all, as I’m putting on all those clothes that have been stored since last October things are too big, too bigger, and too biggest.  I’m talkin’ fall off without being unbuttoned/unzipped too big.  It’s awesome!
Until this past weekend.
Saturday night HCRP and I went out to grab dinner and go see a friend play and sing at a Songwriter’s Night at a local coffee house.  It was a beautiful, summer-like night so I broke out my favorite pair of summer sandals.  They’re flats – like nearly barefooted flats – and all cute and hippie-strappy, and I’ve had them forever and they just make me happy to wear.
Sunday I broke out my cute, pink, kitten-heeled slides to wear to Church after which we had to run a couple errands.  And by 1:30 My Left Knee was screaming.
Yes, that Left Knee.
The one I’ve been rehabbing from Runner’s Knee since February!
The one I’ve been following Chiropractor’s Orders about the care and rehabbing of.
The one that had, after two weeks of aerobic pace walking and strength training, been pain free for the entire two weeks.
Until Sunday it was pain free.  Sunday it went back to being un-pain free.
Monday it was more un-pain free.  Which meant no getting back to running.
Tuesday it was even more un-pain free.
And early on in all of this un-pain free-ness I knew exactly what had happened.  Cute little flats and low, kitten-heeled slides with zero cushion, shock absorption, or support.  Apparently this little knee of mine requires cushion and shock absorption lest it decide to get all tweaked and un-pain free.
And on Wednesday when I saw The Incredible, Amazing, Super-Genius Chiro Doc he agreed with my assessment of the cause of the un-pain free-ness.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

Remember when I said I gave away “all my heels”?
Well maybe I lied just a tiny bit.
I did keep one pair.
I kept these.
These are my Red Bandolino Pumps.
These are fairly representative of My Heels. High, sleek, sexy, and very powerful feeling.
I love and adore these shoes.  Moreover, my husband loves and adores these shoes.
I haven’t worn them in months, but I do reserve the right to wear them for a special night out and most assuredly one where I don’t walk further than ten feet at a time.


These are the cute little kitten-heeled slides that were the undoing of my knee Sunday.

These are what I walked out of Payless wearing and was deeply grateful to have found in my size.

For contrast, here are the three side by side by side.
I’m going to need a moment of silence to grieve.
And to accept my heel-free, well-cushioned future.