Week One: And so it begins!

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

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

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

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

My St. Jude Marathon fundraising page.

HCRP’s St. Jude Marathon fundraising page.

Some of the best runs belong to other runners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some things you never really lose

The blog.
My blog is still here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh.
And writing.
Always writing!

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!

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!

Vini. Vidi. Badissi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The long and winding – and apparently spinning – road.

I was back running again!
Running felt good.
Running felt AWESOME!
Last Monday HCRP was suffering from one of running’s inevitable yet always a little embarrassing sideliners (chafing) so we got home and I laced up and headed out for what had to be one of The Best Runs Ever.  From the first step out of the driveway through to the last one back across its imaginary Finish Line everything felt great!
The legs.
The lungs.
So much so that at the halfway point I contemplated turning right instead of turning around and extending the run.  But I didn’t.

Experience has taught me many things.
The proper places to apply Glide.
Which running bra fits and works best.
Never, ever, no matter what, ever change brands of running shoes in the middle of training for your first half marathon.  Ever.
And finally that I am, after all, somewhat more of a superstitious person than I’d ever considered myself.  Okay, maybe notsomuch ‘superstitious’ as a really, really, really big believer in certain rites and rituals.
One of which has become: Plan the run and run the plan.
I suspect some of that has to do with the whole mental component of running.
If I set out to run ‘X’ number of miles on ‘X’ course or trail that’s what my brain begins running long before I’ve even taken my gym bag out of the trunk of the car.  Changing that at the last minute is, in my experience, a recipe for disaster!

But back to Monday.
Oh how I want to go back to Monday when the birds were singing and the trees were treeing and the legs and lungs were functioning on an equal level and God was in His heaven and all was right on earth.

Oh Monday when I could stand up, sit down, look up, turn my head, roll over in bed, and otherwise directionally reorient my head without everything inside said head shifting and turning like I was on some kind of one-woman tilt-a-whirl that nobody else but me could see or feel.  Out of absolutely nowhere I started experiencing these intermittent, inexplicable dizzy spells.
Oh.
And in between dizzy spells I spent pretty much all day Wednesday, most of Thursday, and good portions of Friday feeling full-on, Jumbo Margarita drinking champion, drunk.  I had not in fact slammed a margarita of any size to begin my day so this feeling was completely unwarranted.

I chalked it all up to the weather induced sinus pressure I had going on and could actually feel pressing on my inner ears when laying down, and started taking Sudafed to ‘dry things up’.  Facebook – the modern day oracle of medical consultation – actually provided some credible advice from one of my Running Mentors TLC who recommended Dramamine at night to stop the whole being jolted awake by a “falling out of the bed” dizzy spell when I had the audacity to roll over in my sleep.  It worked.  TLC is a genius.

Of course never knowing when I was going to go from sober to ‘drunk’ to tilt-a-whirl made me a little hesitant to head out running Wednesday or Thursday and by Friday I was just exhausted from the constant sense of uncertainty and disconcertingness.
Friday I broke down and went to our Primary Care Physician’s office where, after a basic examination it was determined that there was irritation and pressure on the inner ears but absent an elevated white count, there was really nothing to do but treat symptoms.
He gave me a prescription for Antivert.  Antivert has proven utterly worthless during the day because it makes me feel stoned on top of drunk which might work well for certain celebrities but not for me.
He suggested I switch from Sudafed to Afrin.  I’m not even going to get started on the worthless piece of advice that turned out to be and the waste of plastic packaging I think Afrin is.

We put off Saturday’s run until Sunday.  Between the roller coaster my consult with a new (love him!) chiropractor had me on (stand up, lay down, sit up), and the fact that it was cold and if I don’t have to run in cold with an ‘inner ear infection’ diagnosis I am not going to run in cold, putting it off seemed prudent.  Sunday I was still being a Good Patient and taking the Antivert and Afrin which pretty much knocked me out of commission for running.

So today I’ve kissed and made up with Sudafed and for the most part I feel like a sane, sober human being.
Unless I stand up too fast.
Or sit down too fast.
Or look up from my computer screen or desk too fast.
Or just sit completely still not moving or changing the overall orientation of my head.
I actually did a little jog across the lobby where I work to test the “Will the bouncing up and down of running make me dizzy?” theory/question.  For at least 20 feet it doesn’t.
As I told one of my ‘nother Running Mentors on Facebook: I’m actually contemplating throwing caution to the wind and getting a couple miles in this evening just to cut the “I’m about ready to punch someone in the face” factor. I figure if Rich runs with me I can just stop and grab hold of him if a dizzy spell hits. I mean, people run drunk/buzzed all the time and since this isn’t alcohol induced I’m at least assured of not hurling!  (Of course by the end of the day it was cold and drizzly and I am erring on the side of inner ear care caution and staying out of that mess.)
The above was in response to her posting and tagging me in this picture.  And as she said change “worked out” to “run” and it should be our warning label!
544503_10151492695875477_1740940058_nI have an appointment Thursday with an ENT to rule out BPPV for which I could have written the “Signs and symptoms” section.  I’m hoping to hear (ironic, no?) that it’s that viral inner ear infection thing and will pass because honestly just reading about the treatments for this make me want to vomit.

So that’s where things are in As The Middle-Aged Woman Runs.
Or Doesn’t.

And I have NO CLUE what’s up with the font colors on this post.  They look write in the write/edit box, but not at all when I Preview.  Guess we’ll find out what happens when I click ‘Publish’…

First Run with my . . .

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

. . . fear of heights as a factor.

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

. . . staying consistently hydrated clearly out of play.

. . . New.  Boobs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have The Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STILL Still not running . . .

. . . but I am better.

Had my second follow-up appointment with The Surgeon and things seem to be progressing/healing well enough that he wants to use me as one of his Before/After ‘poster kids’.  He asked if I could come back in three months to have the final ‘After’ picture taken since at the moment the healing incisions/scars aren’t exactly ‘After’ picture worthy, and I’m good with that. (I’m still doing some *internal work* on that whole ‘having scars’ thing – I’ll get back with you on that)
ALL that aside, I am apparently healing nicely.  No complications.

Which means! It is basically up to “When I think it won’t hurt to do it” to determine when I’ll be running again.  At present I’m using the ‘If it still causes a twinge to go over a speed bump, I’m not ready yet’ school of thought/measure-of-readiness.

HCRP is currently out of town on a work related trip.  He’ll be back a week from tomorrow.
Which gives us that Saturday morning to do two things:
1) Go to one of our local Running Stores to get me a good, supportive, new-sized running bra; and
2) Switch our gym membership to the one that offers better cross-training options.  (Not the least of which is an indoor,heated pool and an indoor track. So we’ll have that going for us! 

Of course I will be ‘running’ at more of a jog until I’m comfortable that nothing’s going to be literally, physically ‘left on the track’..

so miss running!!
You have no idea how much you love it until it is taken away from you!
2013 is going to be My Best Running Year Ever!