Jack Rabbit Starts and Turtle Finishes

Running is a funny thing.
It’s a competitive sport and a personal endeavor.
It’s the journey and the destination.
It’s the starts and the finishes.
And it is everything in between.

But today I find myself thinking about those starts and finishes.

When I first started running I instinctively started slow and easy.  I was new at it so the tentativeness was natural.  And at the beginning I started every run wondering if this was going to be The One where The Truth that I really couldn’t run and really didn’t have any business even trying was going to bring me to some painful, screeching halt once and for all.
That never happened.
Just like my first fall wasn’t as bad as the fear of the fall.
Just like neither of the legless beasts I’ve encountered on the trail have struck or strangled me.  (With or without Samuel L. Jackson…)
Just like there have been no dead bodies along the trail.  (Rational or not, it’s my irrational fear.  Don’t judge me.)

And so I ran.  And and kept running.  And wrote about running.  And ran some runs just for the sake of having a run to write about.
Eventually (last month) all that running led me to doing something that hadn’t ever been on my radar ever anywhere in the history of my radar – I ran a Half Marathon!
And it felt great!
So much so that part of me was a little afraid to run again for fear of never feeling That Good about a run ever again anywhere in the future of my running or my radar.

But I ran anyway.
And on that first run a full week after the Half I took off like I’d been shot out of a cannon!  My first mile was a full 32 seconds faster (per mile) than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.  I. Was. Gettin’. It!
And it felt great!
Until it didn’t felt so great around mile three which I finished almost a full minute slower than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.
*le sigh*

So the next run I started all the happy self-talk reminding myself that slow and steady wins the race and that I run with endurance – not speed – the race set before me and that it’s better to start slow and finish strong and every other running ‘ism about starts and finishes known to running mankind.
And I took off like I’d been shot out of another cannon!
And I jack rabbited that first mile and turtled, if not the last one at least one towards the end.

In case you think I’m beating the whole “Tortoise and The Hare” fairy tale to death, let me share something with you.  Below is how Endomondo (best running program I’ve found for smartphones by the way) gives race splits.

See? Rabbit.  Turtle.

See the result of that jack rabbit start?  Turtle finish.  Not fun.

From a running perspective I need to get that under control.
After all nobody – and I mean not one running body – wants to finish a race walking across a finish line because you left everything in the first mile.  That is an especially bad strategy for longer races.  Like my upcoming St. Jude Half Marathon.  And it sure ain’t gonna work for doing the St. Jude Full next year!
Incidentally I’m running as a St. Jude Hero and if you’d like to help me raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital go here and thank you!

It’s also notsomuch a great strategy for life.
And says a lot about how I’ve gone through life and why this is the first time in my life I’ve done something physical that lasted more than three months.
Well other than pregnancy.  That was certainly physical and certainly lasted longer than three months!

How you start a thing determines how you finish it.
And that turtle didn’t start that race even trying to keep pace with that rabbit and look how that worked out for him!

It’s still a PR! Right?!

We ran a 10K this morning, HCRP and I.  Well technically it was HCRP, me, and about 600 other people.  This was a first time 5K/10K for a local organization I have a world of respect and gratitude for.  In the early years of my life here in Memphis CHC was my Primary Care Physician.  I worked for either small businesses that couldn’t afford to offer health insurance; or for wages that didn’t allow for my portion of the premium.  So when either my son or I were sick that was where we went.
The first affordable health insurance coverage I was ever offered was their MEMPHIS Plan which I believe is a model for other communities and their medical communities!
/Steps off Soapbox . . .

My first 10K was back in June and I beat my stated goal time of 1:15:00 by 29 seconds.
My stated goal time for today’s race was 1:10:00 and I missed it by 54 seconds.

But I still beat my last time so that makes it a PR and I’ll take it!
It is still a PR even if it’s only your second race of a particular distance.  Right?  Of course right!

We’ve been running, building up miles towards December’s St. Jude Half Marathon.
Last Sunday we ran one of our local greenway trails.  “Greenway” translates to “There are probably snakes out here!” and there were.  Right around a mile into our seven mile (utterly craptabulous from Step One) run there was one of THESE right smack dab in the middle of the trail.  (WARNING: It’s a wikipedia page about the Nerodia Rhombifer.)
And of course Samuel L. Jackson was nowhere to be found with his mighty powers of snake defying profanity.  (WARNING: There’s a lot of Samuel L. cursing at that link.  Mom, I warned you.)  Thanks Sam.  I’ll keep this in mind the next time you need running advice or a home-cooked meal or pretty much anything else.  This is twice man.  Twice.  Not.  Cool.
Given Samuel L’s betrayal . . . err . . . absence HCRP came to my rescue by going around the snake first, creating a distraction so that I could pass unnoticed by the legless beast.
(I am not a fan of snakes.  In case you haven’t picked up on that particular vibe.)

Update on Project AwesomeBoobs
(Name suggested by one of my uber-cool online friends)
Got home from work yesterday to find a letter from my insurance provider informing me that they have APPROVED my “Reduction Mammography”.  I am approved for 0 (as in zero) Visits and 2 Procedures.  I’m guessing that’s one for each side or something.  It struck me as funny anyway.

So this afternoon following my PR setting 10K I could think of no better way to celebrate than to switch out my Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter wardrobes.  And since I was pulling every stitch of clothing out of the closet I figured I’d go ahead and divest myself of the things that no longer fit.  Which is most of my Spring/Summer shorts, skirts, and everything from the waist down.
I started last summer in a size 16 and am now wearing a 10 in jeans and a 12 in slimmer cut skirts, etc.  That’s from the waist down.  Waist up I’m still a 16.
Anyway, as I was going through Le Wardrobe I started looking at my Spring/Summer tops and blouses and realized that next year I will be swimming in them!

This really is going to be a substantial change in every area of my life.
Last weekend HCRP and I were strolling through Macy’s and it hit me that for the first time in . . . well . . . ever I am going to be able to wear button-up blouses without using dress tape or safety pins.  I very nearly cried standing there looking at a really cute, size 10 blouse.

A friend – a couple of them actually – had suggested that I see a therapist between now and when I have this done next February.

Oh.  And yeah.  My target date is Tuesday, February 26th.  I’ll be calling Dr. Awesome Boobs’ office on Monday to get that on his schedule.

And speaking of “between now and then” I’ve also been advised by other women who’ve had this done that if I have any more weight I want to lose I need to try and do that before the surgery.  I happen to have a few pounds I’d like to go forward without, so I’ll be beginning that effort next week.
Several months ago I came across the documentary Fat Sick & Nearly Dead on Netflix and I was absolutely riveted by it.  I watched it three times in as many days then made HCRP watch it with me one afternoon.  I’ve decided to kick off my efforts by following Joe’s Reboot Your Life program.
Before you jump me about ‘extreme diets’ and ‘boomerang effect’ and ‘fads’ go the the Reboot Your Life link up there and click the link to watch the film free on Hulu.  THAT – if nothing else – is how I know this guy is for real.  He has put his entire film (that he otherwise sells on DVD) out there For Free to get the message out.  AND the plans and a ton of recipes are available For Free on that site as well.
I’ve researched and considered this for several weeks and I think the two week reboot is going to be good for me.

So now my Running Blog has become a Running and Breast Reduction Blog and Pre-Breast Reduction Weight Loss.
Who saw that coming?!

When I said “Running changed my life” I really had very little idea exactly what all that was going to entail.

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.