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.

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 not running . . .

. . . and I miss it!
My running friends are running and posting about runs and yeah, I’m a little jealous.  
I’m healing from the surgery, but I’m not quite ready to take The New and Improved Twins out for a run just yet.  Going over speed bumps in parking lots is still a little painful, so I’m taking that as my cue that it’s not quite time to take them out for a run just yet.

HCRP and I were all set to move our gym membership after we got home from Christmas, but now he’s being sent out of town for work pretty much the first ten days of January, so we’ll make that switch when he gets home.  Between now and then I’m going to be using what our current gym has to offer and cleaning up our diet.  He’ll be using the fitness center at the hotel he’ll be staying in.  I’ll be nagging him to make sure he does.  He’ll be nagging me back.  We’re all sympatico like that me and HCRP.

Back in the Spring we got in touch with our Inner Cavepeople and to be honest we both felt better and our bodies responded to that healthier way of eating by releasing excess weight.  That has to keep happening.  It requires more planning and thinking ahead and mindfulness than just “eating whatever” but once we get back in the practice it will come much easier.

I’m also taking part in a 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge.  It isn’t one of those “all smoothies all the time” things – it’s one smoothie a day that I think can be really beneficial for helping me to kickstart cleaner eating.
I’ve also been going back and forth about the benefits of using a heavy duty blender or an actual juicer.  I have one of those Montel Williams HealthMaster blenders on loan from a friend, but had been thinking that what I really needed was a true juicer.  In fact, I had pretty much decided to return the blender and buy a Breville Juicer like Joe used in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  This evening I ran across an article that indicated that in blending you keep more of the fiber in fruits and vegetables, so for the time being I’m going to stick with blendering smoothies.  I may eventually add a juicer to my repertoire of kitchen appliances, but for now I’m going to work with what I have.
Whatever I do, we have to clean up our diet because we have big goals for the coming year and we just won’t be able to meet them with inadequately fueled machines!

The Big Running Goal for 2013 for both of us is completing our first Marathon.
I’ll be doing this in December.  I want the St. Jude Marathon to be my first.  I might find one other Big Race to do mid-year after that, but everything in me wants that one to be my first.

I’ve been going back and forth between Galloway’s and Higdon’s Marathon Training programs and have finally decided to use Higdon’s.  I’m going to have to tinker with it a bit since I’m a big believer in Sunday as a “Day of Rest” in every way and he has that as a Cross Training day.

And there is That Little Voice in the back of my brain that keeps screaming “Are you CRAZY?!  You can’t run a MARATHON!  You are forty-seven years old and you have ONLY been running what?  A year and a half?!  You.  Are.  Going.  To.  Die!  Or at the very least hurt yourself beyond repair!  You have middle-aged feet, middle-aged knees, and did we mention that ‘Going. To. Die!’ part?!  Yeah.  You’re stupid.  And delusional.  And crazy.”  She sounds a lot like the eighth grade pretty much every P.E. teacher/tyrant who told me I was hopeless at sports and to just stay in the back and try not to hurt ‘the good athletes’ in class.  So I’m learning to ignore her.
Most of the time.
I prefer to listen to people like HCRP and Tonia and Emily and TLC who tell me “You can TOTALLY do this and in WAY less than your six hour goal time!”  I like them better than the P.E. tyrants…

I also, after tremendous consideration (and discussion with HCRP), set up an anonymous blog about my reduction surgery.  I have had so many women tell me that they are “watching me” to see how this goes for me before deciding to have this surgery themselves.  So I finally decided to share my experience here on Ye Olde Worlde Widee Webe in the interests of serving as a resource for them.
No I will not be posting a link to that blog here since I’m pretty much not anonymous here, and  I will be posting pictures there that [Look away Mother!] Oh Hayul No! I would never post here, purely in the interests of being that resource. (They won’t be showing my face.  Not even my chin.)
Before my surgery I searched for Before and After pictures that weren’t on a plastic surgeon’s website.  I looked for other women’s “stories”.  There aren’t a lot of them out there and most of them are nightmare stories.  Thus far, mine isn’t one of them so I’d like to be able to use this experience to help and encourage other women who need to have this done.

So there’s where things are for me.
No running.
Lots of healing.
Even more planning and looking ahead.

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?!