A Tale of Four Socks

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and it led to The Best Customer Service Experience Ever.

Let me ‘splain. No, there’s too much. Let me sum up.
Bonus Points to the first person – other than HCRP – who can name that movie reference without Googling. I hereby invoke The Official Online Interaction No-Googling Before Answering Clause/Oath.

Back to Socks.
It’s been a big week for me and socks.

Yesterday I got a by-name-mention on my favorite running blog. Which had to do with socks. (Click the link, I’ll wait for you to get back. Promise.)
See? Right here where I said I’d be.

Today my heavy weight Thorlo running socks (a link to which I can’t find) kept my feet warm standing around outside in 30 degree temperatures for four hours volunteering at a 5K/10K. Well those and my faux Uggs boots. But the socks were a pretty big factor too.

Then when we got home I had a package in the mail that made my day and restored my faith in corporate integrity and customer service.

In August 2012 I ordered a pair of orange Thorlo Experia running socks through an Amazon.com vendor. I specifically wanted a pair of orange because my BFF Lisa has MS and orange is The Official Color of MS Awareness. I decided not to wear them on training runs – I had a couple other pair of Thorlos for that – and to make them my Race Socks. Not that runners are superstitious about having a particular pair of socks for races or anything like that . . . I got the socks and wore them in maybe two races before I (was horrified when I) noticed a ‘run’ in one of them and a hole in the other. They were still wearable, but they weren’t in the pristine condition I’d insured they would be with meticulous care. And, not wanting them to fall completely apart, I ‘retired’ them.

Thorlo Experia socks are not inexpensive, therefore having this pair of ‘retired’, high dollar socks staring at me week after week really started grating on my nerves. So I did what anyone would do: I contacted the vendor from whom I’d purchased them.
Their reply was less than satisfactory.  Their name will remain undisclosed because I don’t need to have the socks sued off of me for libel.
Despite chronicling the meticulous care with which I had treated these socks down to the number of uses and laundering practices, they stated their ‘policy’ that after thirty days they are no longer responsible for replacement and wished me well and invited me to buy a new pair from their stock.
*blinks*
*blinks again*

Again, I did what any self-respecting consumer would do: I stashed the offending, apparently unrefundable, unreplaceable, $14.99 pair of socks deeper in the shelf where my winter weather running gear, bandanas, headbands, and other, in tact socks reside so as to escape their unraveling, orange, mocking stares and tried to forget about them.  Which worked for a couple months until one day when I was searching for a particular headband and they fell at my feet.

I’d recently bought a new pair and, for some inexplicable reason, still had the card they hang on racks by and there it was on my dresser with the mailing address for Thor-Lo, Inc. in Statesville, North Carolina right there on it. I tossed the traitor socks and the hanging-thing card in the bag I carry to work every day where they stayed for about a month.

Until the day I glanced down at the bag where the traitorous, ravelling socks were lying there mocking me and I decided to send them back from whence they came. But not alone. No, I sent them with an appeal to their maker to make good on what I knew to be the otherwise superior quality of their products by replacing this clearly inferior pair.
I shared my history with their fine products, including the touching tale of My First Thorlos and how they’d taken me from frightened, newbie runner to successful half-marathon finisher. I told them how I had successfully converted HCRP from being an “any sock will do” runner to wearing only their fine socks for both training runs and in races.
I used phrases like “otherwise fine quality of your products” and “absolutely do not represent your brand quality” in reference to Traitor Socks.
I sucked up.
Hard.
I wanted these socks replaced.  For free.  No other pair of this brand and style had ever come undone like this.  It was an aberration, an anomaly, a veritable anathema in the world of Thorlos!
And I didn’t want them replaced in any old color. I wanted orange.  Orange Thorlo Experia Running Socks. So I explained the significance of the orange socks and about Lisa and how wearing those socks reminds me that I’m also running for her (among many other friends whose mobility is limited by things they didn’t choose) in every race.  And I sent the socks and eloquently written letter off to Experia Land.  Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting a reply, let alone a replacement.  I was just tired of those mocking, orange stares but wasn’t about to throw away a pair of Thorlos!  I am not a monster, I am a human being!  (More movie reference bonus points.  No Googling Clause/Oath invoked.)

 

This afternoon when we got home there was a small plastic mailing pouch with something squishy inside from a return address I didn’t remember ordering anything from. I did a quick mental run-through of recent Amazon purchases and nothing came back that fit “squishy thing in small plastic mailing pouch”.
So I opened it.
And lo and behold I saw this:
IMG_0960I’d like to draw your attention to two little details on the ‘invoice’ that accompanied those neon orange socks.  And I have no clue why the second image is sideways OR how to fix that.  Sorry.

No. Charge.

No. Charge.

This was their message to me: Enjoy!

This was their message to me: Enjoy!

Now that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what I call Customer Service with a big ol’ heapin’ spoonful of integrity and standing behind one’s product.

Dear Thor-Lo, Inc.:
I may have mentioned my Running Blog in my letter requesting a replacement for that rogue, raveling pair of traitorous socks. I have literally several followers who hang on my every word about running and running paraphernalia. Especially bras and socks.
Please know that henceforth and forevermore your Thorlo Experia Running Socks will be The Official Running Socks of my little corner of the World Wide Web, and of my feet in every mile I run.
Sincerely,
One Very Happy, Vocal, Blogging Customer

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’…

Amby Burfoot saved my marathon!

A couple weeks ago I ordered this book:

 

Its home is in the basket in our Reading Room.  You know, the bathroom.  C’mon everybody reads in there and you can admit it here, we’re all friends and this is a safe place.
This morning I picked it up and started reading.  It opens with such promise with the words “Anyone can run a marathon.”  This is exactly what I want to hear/read.  I’m “anyone”!  I can run a marathon!  And I gleefully continued reading the Introduction, About the Runner’s World Challenge, About the Authors, then on to Training which also has a very promising start.  “Running 13.1 or 26.2 miles is no small task, to be sure.  But anyone who has done it will tell you that getting to the finish line isn’t the tough part – getting to the starting line is.”  Having run that 13.1 I can attest to that.  The race itself was really almost a denouement after the weeks and months of training and anticipation.  But it was still one of the coolest freakin’ experiences of my life!
So I kept reading and everything is peachie groovy until I get to this: Build a base. As long as you’ve been running at least four times a week for about 6 months and you’re in the habit of exercising regularly, you should be able to complete a marathon or half-marathon training program without a problem. . . . If you’ve been running only sporadically and have to give your weekly routine an extreme makeover to start training, it’s going to be tough to stick with it.  Plus, you’re bound to end up with any variety of overuse injuries that come from doing too much too soon, . . .”
And that, my friends, was not exactly what I wanted to read/hear.  It wasn’t even in the same zip code as what I wanted to read/hear.  I’m not 100% certain it was even on the same continent.  Because let’s face facts: Being out of running for ten weeks doesn’t exactly qualify as “running at least four times a week for about six months” and was definitely much more akin to “running only sporadically and have to give your weekly routine an extreme makeover to start training”.  So there I sat numb-butted and heartsunk.
Great!  Just freakin’ great!  I have told everyone I know and a fair number of complete strangers “I’m going to run my first full marathon this year!”  And now I am presented with pretty irrefutable evidence that I’m not even ready to start training for said event, let alone successfully and without injury completing the training for said said event, let alone getting through said said said event without some part of my body being irrevocably damaged or falling off completely.
The next section was titled (ominiously at this point) Time it right.  Awesome!  Exactly what I have failed to do!  I began reading.  Okay I began skimming the words because really, who cares anymore?  Clearly this isn’t in the cards for me.  And as I flip to page 4 (doesn’t take much to dash my dreams now does it?) I glance at the bottom of the page and there’s a pen and ink drawing of none other than one of My Running Heroes, and author of my favorite book on Running Philosophy, Mr. Amby Burfoot staring at me from one of those little sidebar boxes you sometimes see on the sides or bottoms of pages of books.  And what are the first words Amby has to contribute to this Marathon Training Bible?  Let me share with you.  Amby’s opening salvo was this: Most experts think you should work up to marathons and half-marathons slowly and gradually.  Not helping me here Amby old buddy old pal . . .  blah, blah a few 5Ks… blah, blah what I think you should do, too.  Except for this difference: I’m willing to acknowledge the power of the marathon and half-marathon to “grab” runners and motivate them to jump into the unknown.  So if it grabs you hard, I say: What the heck, go for it! But remember this: You have to be very realistic about your expectations.  I’m realistic about my expectations!  I am very realistic about my expectations!  Unless you’re young and fit (I’m middle-aged and kinda fit!), you’ll have to do most of your training on a run-walk pattern. I do all my training – heck all my races – on a run-walk pattern!  I am back in the game now baby!  Thank you Amby Burfoot wherever you are!
So I’m not giving up the dream.
I have four months to get back in condition, and after today’s four miler I can safely say I am soooo not in condition, but I have four months to get back to there before we begin Hal Higdon’s thirty week training program that is based on a run-walk pattern.

Speaking of today’s four miler, it wasn’t the prettiest run ever, but it was definitely one of the most heartfelt.  I felt my heart pounding in my chest nearly every running step I was taking.  And I’m almost certain part of the 3.5 pounds the doctor removed might possibly have included one of my lungs because there was a definite loss in air capacity going on.  I ended up finishing the four miles in 53:19 and maintained an average pace of 13:11 minutes per mile.  Interestingly enough the first mile was my jackrabbit mile and we were running straight into a good 10 mph headwind.  Which might be part of why it was my fastest mile.  I get a little ‘deadset and bygod determined’ when going into a headwind.
And I had to keep reminding myself (during and after) that I haven’t run in ten weeks and in the middle of all that not running I had surgery and my body is still recovering from that surgery.  Just because things are no longer shades of black and blue and feeling more bruised than they look doesn’t mean I’m back to 100%.  I’m still healing.  Healing requires energy and my body is going to appropriate energy for that before anything else.

But getting back to that marathon training thing.  Thursday evening, with the input/advice of a couple of fitness trainer friends, I finalized our training program which we are following effective immediately.
Sunday: Rest Day 
Monday: Short run & upper body strength training
Tuesday: Yoga (which will help with core strengthening)
Wednesday: Mid-length run
Thursday: Short run & upper body strength training
Friday: Yoga (again with the core thing)
Saturday: Long run
Yesterday my running mentor/buddy Tonia came up to my work and we did a 45 minute yoga session focusing on poses that target core strengthening.  Can I just say two things about said Yoga workout?
#1 If you think Yoga “isn’t a real workout” you are doing it wrong!
#2 If you think Yoga has nothing to do with core strengthening you are really doing it wrong!
Yoga is about nothing but core work. That’s where the balance comes from.
You also have to breathe.  If you hold your breath or forget to focus on pulling your navel towards your spine you will fall over.  I promise!
Today every muscle that’s supposed to be around the middle of my body is letting me know that I was, in fact, doing it right.  And I need to continue doing it right until it no longer hurts (as much).
I have a feeling that’s going to go for marathon training in general.

Last night HCRP was looking for a picture on his computer and came across some “Before” pictures he took of me in August 2011 about a month after I started running.
Not.  Pretty.
I got all cute and decided that I wanted to stage “After” pictures wearing the same shorts.  So this evening we did.
I have to say I’m a little underwhelmed at the overall changes in my body.  I’m nearly twenty pounds lighter, but other than the obvious pre- and post-op differences in my chest I just don’t see as much of a change as I know has taken place.
I’m down two full jeans sizes, my butt is (or was before my ‘sabbatical’) ‘higher and tighter’, my arms are a lot leaner and stronger.  (Who knew you developed guns from running?)  But I have to say I’m just not seeing all the differences.
I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth fifteen in my head about posting the pictures here or not, and I’ve finally decided “What the heck, go for it!”  I mean if Amby can say that about training to run a marathon, what’s a couple less-than-flattering pictures between friends?
B&A Front B&A Side

They say running is as much a mental sport as a physical one, so I’m going to adopt that same philosophy towards changes in one’s body.  I know they took place so I’m to trust in that and know that the work I’m putting in now will result in even more – and more visible – changes in the coming months.
When you speak of this, and you will speak of this, be kind.

Before and The Beginning of After

So my surgery was a week ago Thursday.
Yes,THAT Surgery.
The Reduction Mammoplasty.
The Reverse Boob Job.
My great, courageous (so a couple people have told me it was) act of “Getting Proportional”.  (Kudos to a dear friend for that reference.)

Before I go any further and really start rambling, here are the obligatory Before and After Images.  (Unfortunately I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a true “Before” picture in something I am willing to share here on Ye Olde Worlde Wide Webe.  I mean, I like you and all, but no you don’t get to see pictures of me in my bra.  Or less.  So this is what you get.)

IMG_0404

Before: September 2012

December 9, 2012All buttons.  No safety pins.

December 9, 2012
All buttons. No safety pins.

Yeah. Tell me about it.

I’m still in the healing phase, and healing nicely.
This is not only my opinion but my surgeon’s opinion at my post-op visit.
There hasn’t been any horridly excruciating pain.  Of course the first couple days when there might have been I was doped up on Demerol and probably wouldn’t have felt it if someone had come in and lopped off one of my other appendages.  I mostly feel, and have mostly only felt, really bruised.

So far the worst parts have been: A) Having to sleep on my back; and B) The itching where the stitches are healing.  Fortunately both these issues are resolved by the same solution: Benadryl!  Oh sweet little hot pink elixirs of relief and rest!

The weirdest part was the first week when – for the first time in my life at forty-seven – I had to line my bra with maxi-pads (to protect the incisions and absorb any ‘drainage’). I actually found that quite hilarious on Friday morning when my mom and my BFF helped me change from the padding I’d left the surgery center with to the first set of maxi-pads. I am reasonably certain the Demerol weighed in on the hilarity factor of that experience.

The waterproof surgical tape he put back over the stitched up incisions (which will dissolve rather than having to be removed) comes off a week from Monday.  Christmas Eve morning. (The jokes on that one really do write themselves.  I’ll not insult your intelligence or sense of humor by overstating the obvious . . . )

In the couple weeks leading to the “Procedjah” people kept asking me “Aren’t you nervous?!” and I would pause, do one of those mental ‘system checks’, and answer (in all honesty) “No.  I’m really not.”  By the day before the Procedjah my answer had become “At this point I feel like I’m ten months pregnant and I’m just ready to have this baby!”  (Having gone 1/3 of the way to ten months pregnant twenty-four years ago, that’s an analogy I was quite comfortable making.) During the pre-op prep they checked my blood pressure.  111/74 (before they had given me any ‘calming agents’ via IV).  Seriously.  So it would appear that “nervous” was the last thing I was.  Which I think was pretty cool!

Friday morning I woke up and could already feel a difference in my shoulders.  The constant muscle tension and ‘pull’ I was used to was just GONE!  Saturday morning once I was showered and wearing something other than pajamas my first thought was “I can’t wait to take these puppies out for a run!”  Really.  I called them “puppies” in my head.

All told the doctor removed three pounds of excess ’tissue’.  Not fat.  Actual whatever-it-is tissue that boobs are made of.  The Mammogram Lady told me I had “dense tissue, not fat”.  I’m not sure why I feel the need to clarify that, but I do.  I digress . . .

So at this point I’m in something of a ‘holding pattern’ while the incisions heal, the bruising abates (there’s actually quite a rainbow of bruise coloration going on), and the stitches dissolve. I can’t run.  I can’t lift anything heavier than a pound.  I can’t run. Bending over causes discomfort. I can’t run.  Yet.  The doctor’s (somewhat flip) answer when I asked “How long after surgery until I can run?”  was “Around 30 days.  Basically it’s up to your pain levels.”  I was expecting to hear something more along the lines of “Eight to twelve weeks” so this was a relief!  A shocking relief, but a relief nonetheless.

Right now I’m still adjusting to what really is a whole new body.
Seriously there are days when I see myself in the mirror and am overwhelmed with not just the change, but the realization of the number of years I was identified – in my mind and other people’s – by one (okay technically two) disproportionate body part(s).
I can wear button front blouses without buying them two sizes bigger than necessary and still having to safety pin between the buttons.
I can wear pretty much any kind of v-neck t-shirt, sweater, or whatever else without worrying if the cleavage is going to be inappropriate or offensive.
I will – once the healing is complete and I no longer have to wear a bra 24/7 – be able to throw on a t-shirt or tank top sans brassiere and run to the store without worrying about scarring the psyches of small children or fast-tracking some unsuspecting male tween through puberty!
And.  And!  AND!  I will be able to not only wear cute running bras (and cute little strappy running tops), but I will be able to wear those cute running bras without additional padding on the straps or moleskin applied under the band to prevent wearing holes in my hide!

If you want to get a sense of the “Before” and “After” effect of this surgery, pick up a three pound bag of potatoes, divide them into two mostly equal amounts, wear them around your neck. (I suggest a king size pillow case. You’ll have to sew the open end up somehow.)  Pick your favorite shirt and wear it over them – have fun with those buttons on those blouses.  Do this all day, every day for a week or two.  Now multiply that by a good couple (or three) decades.  Have fun with that math!  I know I always did.
[I say “or three” parenthetically because I have it on good authority from one of my lifelong best friends that my ‘disproportionate proportions’ were there in high school even though it didn’t seem like it to me at the time.  But I trust her judgment.]

Monday HCRP and I are going to get back in the gym.
He can do whatever he wants.  I’ll be limited to a recumbent bike for cardio *rolls eyes* and lower body strength training.  But it’s better than nothing at all.  While we’re at my in-laws for Christmas I’m going to do Yoga as much as I can without pain.  Once we get back home we’re changing gyms to one that has a pool and both an indoor and lighted outdoor track.
We both realize the absolute requirement of cross training – strength training in particular.  The lighted outdoor track is a huge plus because of shorter winter days combined with the fact that our regular running trails close at sunset and our subdivision lacks streetlights  (like at all) and consistent sidewalks.

So that’s where things are in my middle-aged, post-op, currently not running life.

In Running News I’m weighing the pros and cons of Jeff Galloway’s and Hal Higdon’s respective Marathon Training programs and starting to plan next year’s running goals.
Running. Goals.
No more of this just running willy nilly for the sake of it for me!  I have G-O-A-L-S.
I’m notsomuch looking to break any particular times.  Okay that’s kind of a lie.
I would like to get my 5K finish time down to 30 minutes.  Less would be good too, but I’ll be good with a consistent 30 minute finish time.  Which will of course make for a nice, clean, well-rounded 60 minute 10K finish time.
I’m good with a 3 hour half-marathon time.  That allows for enjoying the venue as well as the run itself.
My first Full will be next year’s St. Jude Marathon in December.  I could be ready to do one sooner, but I don’t intend to make marathons a regular ‘thing’ so I’m reserving them for St. Jude and Ronald McDonald House supporting events.

So that’s how things are and where I’ve been.
How’s things with you?

We are what we say we are

A couple weeks ago I was looking for something to watch on Netflix during my Sunday afternoon ‘Kitchen Therapy’. I’ve not ever watched Lost and figured with six seasons of episodes it ought to keep me entertained for quite awhile. And I am hooked – just like people kept telling me I would be back in 2004.

HCRP and I carpool to work which means I get dropped off about an hour early most mornings which gives me a little bit of time to entertain myself. Yesterday on my lunch hour I’d got almost through an episode titled The 23rd Psalm that focuses on the character of Mr. Eko.

I’m not going to even attempt to go through a season and a half’s worth of episodes, let alone several years of the character’s backstory, to explain every little detail because . . . well . . . this is a blog, not Homer’s Odyssey. But there is a scene in the episode where another character asks Mr. Eko “So, are you a priest or aren’t you?” and the camera focuses in on Eko’s face and you see this Moment, this instant of choice, and he answers the question simply “Yes. I am.” And in watching that Moment of his I had one of my own when I had the realization expressed in this post’s title: We are what we say we are.

As if that Moment in that episode of a television show wasn’t enough for me, my Inbox decided to hammer the point home with emails from two completely unrelated sources.

The first was a quote from a daily email newsletter I’ve subscribed to for a couple years now called The Daily Love. This morning’s missive contained the following quote: “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” Antoine de Saint Exupery
As I shared on Facebook that event was lacing up a pair of Asics and running 1 minute, walking 1 minute over and over for 20 minutes then doing that two more times that week. And the ‘stranger’ I met that day was Julianne The Runner.

It took me a long time to really, fully embrace the concept of myself as A Runner (capital R). I mean, I ran. Well, I ran/walked. The chances of me ever full-bore running even so much as an entire 5K are pretty slim. For one thing, I don’t necessarily feel the need. For another, that’s not how I train and as every runner knows – you race the way you train. So I will be a run/walk girl no matter the distance!
I’m not going to win, place, or likely even ever ‘show’ from a winning a medal standpoint. At least not until I’m in that 70+ age division and even then I sure won’t if Tonia or Terri Lee are running the same race! And I’m okay with that. I run to finish.

But back to Mr. Eko up there.
In his seminal moment of self-definition I realized the truth that we really are what we say we are!
Runner.
Writer.
Trainer.
Coach.
Motivator.
Even The Good Book tells us “What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways.”
Well I’m ready to stand in that shining light and say I am A Runner and going forward I will be a Trainer and a Coach and a Motivator for others so that they, too, can lace up their running shoes and meet that stranger lurking deep down inside who is their Runner or Writer or Trainer or whoever it is they say they are!

Oh, and that second quote I mentioned hitting my Inbox this morning?
That one came from the blog of none other than Jeff Galloway, the Patron Saint of Run/Walkers everywhere.
Question: My friends think that walking is “less important” and that if you don’t run the entire way, you didn’t do it right. How do you deal with it?
Jeff: In every area of life there are individuals who will tell you that the only way to do something is the way that they do it. According to an original source, all of the marathoners in the first marathon race in Athens (1896 Olympics) walked significant portions of the race. By nature, running is a self empowering activity and each of us can choose how fast, how far and how many walk breaks we use on each run. If anyone says that run/walk/run is not doing it right, ask for the rule book that excludes walk breaks. They cannot, because each of us makes our own rule book.
Thank you Mr. Galloway wherever you are!

Absolutely one of the best posts I’ve read in a long, long time. Of course I happen to think this writer is utterly brilliant in every way anyhow and I am honored to know her IRL and have her as a personal mentor in many, many things.

P.S. Terri Lee, I consider you a mentor. In case I forgot to mention that… 🙂

Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

My mother has always told me that my first word was “Why?”  I’m not positive it was the absolutely first word, it seems mama or dahdah might have been more likely, but it was at least said often enough, early enough and clearly enough that it has stuck in her head ever since.

Yesterday the B’ster was here.  He was watching Cat in the Hat and I was blowing my hair dry.

“Moggie.  What are you doing?”

“Drying my hair.”

“Why?”

“It’s wet, so I need to dry it.”

“Why?”

“Because I took a shower.”

“Why?”

“Because I take a shower every morning.”

“Why?” …

How about those Cardinals, huh, B’ster?

I’m revisiting my favorite spiritual writer.  I’ve purchased a clean copy of his book since the other is completely underlined, outlined and written upon and I’ll just be distracted by the commercials in the margins and not pay attention…

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