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!

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’…

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!

Jillian Michaels: Pace Buster!

Wherein our intrepid heroine chooses an audiobook by her favorite motivational celebriwriter instead of her tried and true Running Pace Playlist and learns a thing or two . . .

HCRP and I have been really bad runners the past couple weeks.
We haven’t really been getting our miles in.

We haven’t really been very consistent with our runs.
This is pretty risky behavior for two people who are only about seven weeks out from a half marathon.
Oh sure, we just finished one last month but those are hardly laurels one can rest on for 13.1 miles two and a half months later.

HCRP, for his part, has been having some tightness in his sartorius muscle.
I know this not because of my extensive studies of human anatomy or my secret, night school medical diploma.  I know this because today he saw The Exorcist.  She made famous by the equally famous Terri Lee in her groundbreaking blog about running, a dog, a cat, and life in general.
Anyway, he has had a reasonable reason to cut back on his running.  In fact, he was grounded from running by Le Exorciste.  Which is what led to yours truly – the aforementioned Intrepid Heroine – running sans the RP portion of HCRP.

For whatever crazy reason I decided to run listening to one of my many audiobooks.  I say “crazy reason” because I rely on my running play list to keep me on my trusty 12:00 min/mile running pace.
Yes, I said “rely” and I do.  I’m weak.
And a huge fan of music on my runs.
One of these days I’ll become one of Those Runners who just lace up their Asics, head out the door, and pound out the miles.  But for now there’s this whole ‘gearing up’ thing I go through with the industrial strength running bra, strap pads (see previous link), water belt, and since I’ve done All That why not go ahead and take the iPhone and ear buds?  Because really, what’s a run without technology?  (And there’s that whole Safety Issue to having one’s phone with one on a run in case one falls and can’t get up…)  However, I digress…

Crap!
Where was I?
iPhone for safety…
running bra/strap pads…
Those Runners…
Oh!  Now I remember!  Running with Jillian Michaels!

So I fire up Jillian’s (I call her ‘Jillian’ because we’re tight like that me and Jillian) Unlimited and get to running!
And everything feels great from Step One!  I’m talkin’ Tony The Tiger on a Saturday Morning commercial in the middle of Scooby Doo They’re Grrrrrrrrrreat!” great!
After the first five minute running interval The Endomondo Lady pipes up and says “Two Minutes – Low Intensity” so I slow to a brisk walk, take a sip of water, and wait (a little more impatiently than usual) for her to say “Five Minutes.  Medium Intensity”.
Somewhere along the way it registers in my brain that rather than getting to the “Two Minutes.  Low Intensity” interval before the half mile marker on the trail, I got to that interval after the half mile marker which can only mean one thing: I must be running quicker than my regular pace.  And it felt Tony The Tiger Grrrrrrrrrreat!
Endomondo Lady pipes back up, we run for five minutes – just me, Jillian, and Endomondo lady – and again are past the one mile marker before reaching the next “Two Minutes.    Low Intensity” cue.  This really can mean only one thing: I really am running – comfortably and completely on my own – faster than a twelve minute mile!  FOR an entire mile!

And this isn’t one of those Jillian Michaels Biggest Loser Screaming Trainer type books I’m listening to.  She is, dare I say, downright sedate and soothing in (most of) her delivery in Unlimited.  It’s a “Love your life and live a life you love” book, not a “Get off your fat ass (sorry mom) and run until you vomit!” book.  And (we now pause for a word from our non-sponsor) it’s really a good book.  At least I think so.  So does my “I’m not a fan of Jillian” friend/running buddy-mentor Tonia.

At the end of the run I did 4.40 miles in 50:42 and averaged 11:32 min/mile.
Which can mean only one thing, two things really:
#1: I can reduce my time and run faster!
#2: I really need to listen to Jillian Michaels when I’m running in races!

What’s short today was once really long

Not my hair.
Although that’s true too.

No.
I’m talking distance.

Tonight HCRP and I ran “a quick five miles” A) because it was time to run; and B) because I went to bed last night wanting to get a run in tonight.  That second part is a little new to me.  I mean I’m good with days I know I “have to” run to stay in shape or continue training/conditioning.  But this is the first time I’ve actually looked forward to a running day the night before.

Another bit of Running Newness for me was having the run start feeling good just past the half mile mark.
Normally I’m a good mile-and-a-half in before I hit what I call my Sweet Spot.  It’s that point in the run when it really almost doesn’t feel like effort.  Everything is working perfectly and in sync.  The lungs feel great, the legs feel awesome, the feet are very nearly not even touching the pavement, even the sweating feels refreshing and (dare I say?) athletic, and nothing twinges or hurts or otherwise doesn’t do its job.
But tonight just after the half mile marker I realized I Was There.  And it lasted until about mile 4.25 when some invisible force filled my legs with lead.  Oh and the gale force (okay 7 mph according to my Weatherbug App but still) headwind that came not only from out of nowhere but from due east.  But until then it was a really great run!

And somewhere around mile three I realized that this time last year running five miles was not only not a “short run” but was a distance I couldn’t ever have imagined myself running. And tonight it was “just a quick, short run”.
That felt good.

Between going out of town for my dad’s birthday Saturday (they live in a pretty small town that isn’t very running/distance running friendly), and the weather potentially heading our way courtesy of Isaac, we’re putting off this weekend’s Long Run until Monday.
Eleven Miles.
Then we begin our taper before the Half Marathon on September 15th.

That’s right.  Right?
Saturday, September 1st: 3 miles.
Monday, September 3rd: 11 miles.

Wednesday, September 5th: 5 miles.
Saturday, September 8th: 6 – 8 miles.
Monday, September 10th: 3 miles Coaching Run.
Wednesday, September 12th: 3 – 4 miles.
Saturday, September 15th: Race Day!
Yeah, that’s right.

Holy Crap Batman!
That’s right!

And now you get to step inside my head while I talk to myself . . .
Just remember Julianne: Tonight’s Short Run was last year’s “I’ll never run that far”.  You’ve got this.  You have totally got this!

Now, where was I?

I was running . . .

I fell . . .

I got up . . .

I kept running . . .

I showed off boo-boos . . .

Dang! Fifteen days since my last post? I would have sworn I’d written at least three brilliant, funny, epic posts about my recent runs. Oh. Wait. I left those on the trail.

Funny thing about that fall.
I showed my battered, bruised, swollen, and scabbed up elbow to non-runner friends and they winced and said “Oh no! That must really hurt!” (It did!)
I showed my battered, bruised, swollen, and scabbed up elbow to runner friends and they said “Nice!” while high-fiving me.
I really, really enjoyed those high-fives!

So yeah, I had My First Fall. And since then I’ve logged just under twenty miles. Not especially impressive for someone staring down her first Half Marathon in only twenty-six days. However I have actual reasons and even a note from my Doctor.  Well, a note from my Licensed Massage Therapist aka The Exorcist.

I was referred to said ‘practitioner’ (she’s not practicing anything – she has perfected this) by one of my Running Friends/Gurus/Mentors who also happens to be one of the funniest bloggers I know. (Check’s in the mail, right TLC??)
I am, with my dear friend Terri Lee, the proud owner of a whole collection of little blue balls. I have one in my gym bag, one in the trunk of the car, one in the messenger bag I carry to and from work, and one floating around somewhere so that I always have access to one.
And yes, I’m using it.
And yes, it’s helping.

I learned a couple things.
First: My grasp of muscular anatomy isn’t quite what I thought it was.
Second: My problem was not, in fact, my Tensor Fasciae Latae, my problem was my Gluteus Medius.
So much for a mid-life career switch to medicine.

Another bit of newness for me is that three times in the past week I have had Thoroughly Craptabulous Days and rather than wanting to go home and either drown my stresses in a frosty adult beverage(s) or faceplant into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack (thank you Jimmy Fallon wherever you are), I wanted to lace up my running shoes and just pound it out on the trail.
And.
I felt better after I did.
Huh. Who knew?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were still frosty adult beverages – after all beer is a great recovery beverage – and yes there has been ice cream. Just not an entire pint of it all at once hunched in my corner of the couch like Gollum with a gold ring hissing at anyone who came within hissing distance. (My name is Julianne and I am a stress/comfort eater…)

But this whole “running as stress relief” thing is still new to me.

Of course when a tight/painful/limiting butt muscle is the source of your stress . . . well that’s when you just hobble along the trail letting the angry tears flow hoping and praying you don’t run into anyone you know because they’ll be honor-bound to stop and ask if you’re okay and then you’ll fall completely to pieces on them and while it is acceptable to sweat all over people after a run snotting on someone’s favorite tech shirt is just so not cool.

And you tell yourself that this is not, in fact, the end of your fledgling running career.
And you tell yourself that cutting your nine mile run short to 8.21 miles really is the Smart Thing To Do.
And you tell yourself that finishing that abbreviated run walking the last mile of that 8.21 miles is better than not being able to start Monday night’s short run.
And you laugh at the irony of Billy Joel’s I Go To Extremes coming on your shuffled playlist at Just That Moment.
And you finish the run walking and remind yourself that you got further than you would have on the couch with Ben and Jerry and Jimmy Fallon.

And!
AND!!
I can’t believe I almost forgot this part . . .
We had run the same trail where I had My Epic First Faceplant twice since said EFF and both times I opted to take the ‘other leg’ of the trail rather than running the boardwalk that was my little Waterloo. I rationalized the decision as erring on the side of caution. After all, I’m a month out from my First Half Marathon and really didn’t want to chance another uneven board causing another fall.
I was scared.
Who wouldn’t be?
I mean seriously. Trip me once shame on you, trip me twice shame on me and I’m notsomuch a fan of shame.
Yesterday even before we got to The Split in the trail where it was Boardwalk or No Boardwalk HCRP asked “Are we taking the Boardwalk or th…” and I cut him off with a (possibly more hostile than necessary) “BLEEP NO! I have a Half to run in less than a month! I’m not chancing it.” and we took The Other Trail.

We got to the turnaround and headed back and the closer we got to the other end of The Split the madder I got at The Boardwalk and at my own fear of The Boardwalk. And when we got there I pointed right and said to HCRP “Screw this! I’m making this thing my bitch today!” and I got to the end of it and let out my little war whoop and yelled back over my shoulder “Take that Boardwalk!”
I despise being limited by fear. So there’s one less fear causing me to (quite literally) alter my course.

And that’s where I was and where I’ve been and where I’m going.