We run. We learn. We suffer Ignominity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Momma said there’d be runs like this

I had forty-leven excuses not to run tonight.
Okay I had maybe three.  But how often do you get to use the number forty-leven!

I was feeling slightly queasy.  Queasy isn’t good for running.
My throat was still a little sore/scratchy from allergies.
And I had just sought medical care.  For my shoulder.  Which is fine.
I just didn’t feel like running.
Today was what the Running Meme calls “A busted can of biscuits” day.
(Click the link.  You’ll thank me.  You’re welcome.)
Busted can of biscuits days never make me feel much of anything with the exception of a desire for (and this is too exquisitely ironic not to share) an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s straight out of the tub, hunched over on my corner of the couch like Smeegel in a cave with his Precious.

Week One, Day Two and I’m already “not feelin’ it”.
This does not bode well for the next 30 weeks.
Momma said there’d be runs like this.
The ones you do, not because all you could think about all day was lacing up and hitting the streets and leaving It all on the pavement, but the ones you do because a training log says “3.0 Miles”.  And it doesn’t blink.
So you go home and leave your excuses not to in the hamper with your day job clothes and put on the running tank you got in New Orleans because . . . well . . . because you feel maybe a little bit less like that can of biscuits in that one.
And you head out and start running.
And it suuuuuccckksssss…ssss…ssssssss….
That hissing sound at the end?  That’s the air that doesn’t seem to be able to get in your lungs quite right which has you getting to the walking intervals consistently 30 seconds  before Endomondo Lady gets to the walking intervals.
But you keep running (most of) those five minute intervals until you get in those three, cursed, non-blinking miles.

And in the end you feel, well, you feel kinda crappy to be honest.
The IT band on the right leg is tight, the right knee is protesting a bit, the lungs are still seriously uncooperative (thank you over-achieving pollenating plants of the Mid-South), and  in general you know you just did a run that was a “Because I have to” run.
And that feels pretty darn good!
Which suddenly started boding better for Weeks 2 through 30.
Thanks Mom!

On running and being a runner

Unlike other times when I’ve gone days/weeks without writing, I actually have been running. 

Friday night we were part of a group run put on by my favorite running store to honor the victims, victors, participants, and what Mr. Rogers called The Helpers (be they spectators and runners who ran towards the danger or the First Responders).  We honored them with our run and we celebrated the Strength of Boston afterwards.

Saturday morning we ran in a 5K that supports a local “children’s home” (for lack of a better term) that provides intensive in-home treatment, residential treatment, foster care, adoption, transitional living, and crisis services for local area families and youth.  It’s a great race (on a hilly course) for an even better cause.
For me it marked a PR of special significance: It is the slowest time I have ever logged in a 5K.  Some race has to be the Slowest Race.  This one had damn well better be mine!

Sunday we volunteered with our local running club to work the big Earth Day 5K in our area.  Based on my assignment as ‘Chute Monitor’ I would like to go on record with the following request:
If you – like me – run with earbuds in and music playing, please keep the volume at a level that allows you to hear the instructions from the people (in our case Volunteers) working the Finish Line and Finish Chute.
Okay?
Thanks!

Monday the ‘Nother Running Store dedicated their regular Monday Night Running Group’s Run to a community-wide run to honor those in and impacted by The Boston Marathon bombing.
We were due to get in a few miles, so there was no reason not to join in that show of support.  Besides, we wouldn’t have missed the opportunity for anything.

So most of our weekend was dedicated to running.
And doing that thing that runners do best: Running for others.
Yet another reason I love running and being a runner.

Note To Readers: Both events were largely put on to raise funds on a local level to go to The One Fund to assist victims of the bombing.
You, too, can click on that link and make a donation.
Thanks!

You know you’re a runner when . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

On running and Running a race

Where it comes to 5Ks there’s more than one way to run one.

First you run the races.
Throw on the Thorlos.
Lace up the Asics.
And run.
Some you run faster than others.
Always there’s something to prove.  If only to yourself.
You prove the worth of your training.
You prove you’ve still got your running mojo.
You prove that finishing is more important than finish time.
You prove a lot out there on the road.
Step by step.  Mile by mile.
It only ever really matters to the runner in the mirror.

And then you Run the races.
You ask The Question.
The one that goes something like this: Why hasn’t anyone ever done a 5K for Cause?  The only (ever) answer to which is “Well Runner Girl!  Why don’t you just do that?!”
And just like that, with nary a puff of smoke, black or white, you my friend are A Race Director of your Very Own 5K!  (That one’s mine.  Get your own!)
And as Race Director you learn everything you ever wanted to know about port-o-john rental, city permits, certificates of insurance, purchasing safety pins in bulk, logo image resolution, and how to stalk your entire community one registrant at a time without having restraining orders taken out against you but were afraid to ask.

You also learn what it means to have a woman place third in her age group in your race which was the very first 5K she ever took part in as a runner.
You learn how much support means to non-profits.
You learn how many other people care enough about a thing to devote several weeks of their not-so-copious free time to helping you pull the whole thing off.
You learn that all those lessons about life that came from pounding out all those miles training for other Race Directors’ 5Ks (and 10Ks, and half marathons) apply to this kind of running of a race too.
You learn that no matter how many sleepless nights and miles of pacing floors and stressing over Things that turn out to be noThings you may go through – when it comes time to do it all again next year you can’t wait to get started!

So that’s me right now running and Running.
And occasionally having ice cream for dinner.

Next up: Cleaning up the diet and Marathon Training!
*eep*

Stress + Not Running = Crankiness / Creativity

I was having a less-than-stellar day today.
There was nothing inherently ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ going on in my life or with my job.  *I* was just feeling stressed.  Like wanting to scream uncontrollably and throw things against walls for no real reason stressed.
And out of nowhere, in the midst of all the “I’m going to scream/break something/slap someone” angst and uproar in my brain I had the thought “I am going for a run after work!”

Today’s high was a beautiful, sunny, dare-I-say Springlike mid-60s. After last week’s overcast and cold-enough-for-snow only no snow ever came it just rained if it did anything and just generally *blech* weather it was a definite relief.

Of course I had nobody to blame but myself for the dearth of running in the past eight days of my life.
I could have run.
I should have run.
I didn’t run.
I would get to the end of every day not really even wanting to run after spending all day every day to-the-bone cold regardless how many sweaters on top of sweaters I wore and exhausted from shivering and fighting the cold.
So I didn’t run.
No ‘reasons’.
No excuses.
I just didn’t.
Could have.
Didn’t.

And today it caught up with me in over-reacting to minor, day-to-day dippies of life and work and . . . well . . . I needed a run.
So I posted a demi-rant status on Facebook that went something like: I will not stress or scream or cry, pitch either hissy or conniption fits, lose my religion or otherwise handle the day-to-day dippies of life in an unproductive or self destructive manner. Instead I will go home, change into my running clothes, lace up my Asics, and leave it all a good couple miles behind me on the streets of our subdivision. If whatever-it-is still bothers me after that I might have one very small, quite proportional tantrum.
And some ice cream.
Okay it went exactly like that.

And then I got creative with it and came up with this.

Runners Stress Creed

Then we came home.  We changed clothes.  And we ran.
It was a quick couple miles.
No records were shattered.
No major milestones reached.
But at the end of those couple miles the world was just a little bit nicer place to be me in.
And that, my several of followers, is all I’ve got for today.

P.S. Feel free to share that little homemade running meme.  And yes, I want credit!

What’s that you say Mr. Piriformis?!

I believe the ‘mutterings’ coming from the area directly behind my front between my waist and my thigh on the right side of my body are bringing the following message:
Dear, Sweet, Delusional Julianne,
On behalf of the entire rest of your body we, the Piriformis and Upper IT Band, are here to mandate that you do the following before even attempting to train for a marathon (any marathon ever):
A) Yoga more than once a week.  We recommend you get back to that Tuesdays and Fridays thing that looked so good on paper a few weeks ago.
B) Strength training for the following muscles: Glutes (mini- and maxi- mus . . . mini- and maxi- mi?  we digress . . .); Hamstrings (which are, oddly enough, made of neither ham nor string); Abductors; and finally Adductors.
C) Is for CLEAN!  As in CLEAN UP your eating habits.  Consistently.  And with Commitment.  And no more exCuses.  Ocay?
Refusal to comply with the above listed mandates (not suggestions, not recommendations, not even ‘guidelines’, m-a-n-d-a-t-e-s) will result in two things: Injury and Failure.  Because we know how much you hate Injury and Failure we stand (and sit) willing to assure that you will experience both – individually and simultaneously, possibly repeatedly – should you disregard this evening’s little ‘warning shot’.
We further assure that you will not experience what it feels like to cross the Finish Line of the 2013 St. Jude Full Marathon.
We feel we have made our Terms and Conditions clear and understandable and trust that you will take appropriate measures to see to our mutual best interests.
Sincerely,
Piriformis and IT Band
United we (and you) stand, divided . . . well . . . you know the rest.

So.
I think we all see what I have to do.
Follow up on the Stated Intentions I stated several weeks ago.
All of them.
Consistently.

Moving on . . .

Last weekend HCRP and I went to New Orleans for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon/Half-Marathon with another runner couple we’re good friends with and had a blast!
The trip down and back on Amtrak was a laughapalooza!  If you ever have the opportunity to travel any distance via Amtrak I highly recommend spending the majority of your time in the observation car.  Not just for the scenery, but also for the people watching.  Totally worth it for the people watching.  The four of us had a great time just hanging together.  To make no mention of eating, drinking, and generally enjoying The Big Easy and each other’s company outside our usual environment.  HCRP and I relayed the Half and our friends each ran the full Half.
The NOLA Half was about eight weeks out from a Full Marathon they’re training for, so in many ways they approached this as ‘just another training run’.  For HCRP and I relaying was somewhat of a let down as we had originally planned to do the full Half, but what with me having to reschedule my reduction surgery from February 26th to December 6th and not able to get back to running til Mid January . . . well running the entire Half was pretty much contraindicated.  So we relayed it.  And in the end had a great time doing it!

I mean it isn’t every day that HCRP is going to be passed by (on opposite sides of the turnaround) someone like Mo Farah!
And it sure isn’t every day that I’m going to see Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan live and in person at the Starting Line and again when they blazed past me where I was waiting for HCRP at the relay hand-off point.
We ran with Olympians!
A fairly good distance
behind the Olympians, but still.  We were in the same race!
HOW freakin’ cool is that?!

But the best was yet to come!
Better than Mo, and Shalane, and Kara; better than not shoulder checking the rude tourist who walked right out into the middle of the race and nearly right into me; and even better than finishing the port-a-john deficient race without peeing down my own leg was this: I got to meet two people!
First was BBE who is a member of our local running club and A Running Machine!  The funniest part is that while we share several friends – not the least of whom is The Incredible TLC – we had yet to meet each other live and in person.  We had to go all the way to New Orleans to meet each other and we probably live less than five miles from each other and have likely run in several races together.  Meeting BBE brought no surprises.  She’s one of those genuine, “What you see is what you get!” kind of people I love best!
Second was The Blogosphere’s own Rebuilding Holly!  She and her family were in town playing tourists and they were gracious enough to make time to meet us and share coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde Monday morning.  And there were no big surprises in that meeting either.  She is every bit who and what she comes across as in her blog. Open and interested in everything and willing to share herself and her experiences along the journey.

So that’s what I’ve been – or not been – up to and what I have to get up to going forward.
Thus spoke Piriformisustra!