Some things you never really lose

The blog.
My blog is still here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh.
And writing.
Always writing!

You know you’re a runner when . . .

  1. You have occasion to utter the phrase “My butt has had as much ice as it can take” and it’s something you can tell your mother about.
  2. You spend 1.5 miles wondering what the proper pluralization of piriformis is.  Piriformii?  Piriformises?  Piriformeece?  Should there be three S’s in that second option?
  3. You are actually somewhat pleased at needing to know the plural of piriformis since it could indicate that you’re running with balanced effort on both sides.
  4. At the end of a day fraught with moment of stress and frustration after moment of stress and frustration all you can think is: I want to run my ass off!  (Sorry for the cuss Mom…)

So yeah, on tonight’s run both of my piriformii were twinging equally and in perfect harmony with one another.  Which, at first, was a little disconcerting.  I’m accustomed to something twinging on one side or the other but never equally and on both sides.  I choose to believe it’s because I was (for one of the few times in my life) well balanced.  At least my feet and legs were operating in a well balanced manner.

There will be no getting worked over by my personal Yogi as TJ is finishing up her Lifeguard certification tomorrow.  That’s okay though.  I can look up Yoga for Piriformis (See how I did that right there? Toldja so!) and after a few Sun Salutations go through that series of poses to work things out a bit.  Besides by mid-morning I’m sure I’ll be in the mood to spend a few minutes away from my desk and working some things out on my mat.

5K planning is doing what it always does in the ten days before the race: Going somewhere between the speed of sound and batcrap crazy!  Things plod along for months and months and then, suddenly, in the last ten days everything happens!  It’s both exciting and a little scary, but it always has a way of working out.

There’s really not much to see here.
I mostly posted this one for my own entertainment.
And for the entertainment of anyone else who obsesses over plural forms of odd nouns.
And to write that thing about my butt and ice somewhere in public.

Oh and to the woman walking her dogs going the wrong direction on the Greenline: Don’t DO that!  What part of you are the ONLY person going that direction on that side didn’t get through your obviously well-padded sense of the obvious?!
There.
Got that out of my system!

On running and Running a race

Where it comes to 5Ks there’s more than one way to run one.

First you run the races.
Throw on the Thorlos.
Lace up the Asics.
And run.
Some you run faster than others.
Always there’s something to prove.  If only to yourself.
You prove the worth of your training.
You prove you’ve still got your running mojo.
You prove that finishing is more important than finish time.
You prove a lot out there on the road.
Step by step.  Mile by mile.
It only ever really matters to the runner in the mirror.

And then you Run the races.
You ask The Question.
The one that goes something like this: Why hasn’t anyone ever done a 5K for Cause?  The only (ever) answer to which is “Well Runner Girl!  Why don’t you just do that?!”
And just like that, with nary a puff of smoke, black or white, you my friend are A Race Director of your Very Own 5K!  (That one’s mine.  Get your own!)
And as Race Director you learn everything you ever wanted to know about port-o-john rental, city permits, certificates of insurance, purchasing safety pins in bulk, logo image resolution, and how to stalk your entire community one registrant at a time without having restraining orders taken out against you but were afraid to ask.

You also learn what it means to have a woman place third in her age group in your race which was the very first 5K she ever took part in as a runner.
You learn how much support means to non-profits.
You learn how many other people care enough about a thing to devote several weeks of their not-so-copious free time to helping you pull the whole thing off.
You learn that all those lessons about life that came from pounding out all those miles training for other Race Directors’ 5Ks (and 10Ks, and half marathons) apply to this kind of running of a race too.
You learn that no matter how many sleepless nights and miles of pacing floors and stressing over Things that turn out to be noThings you may go through – when it comes time to do it all again next year you can’t wait to get started!

So that’s me right now running and Running.
And occasionally having ice cream for dinner.

Next up: Cleaning up the diet and Marathon Training!
*eep*

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!

Week One of The Cave People

In two words: Went. Well.
In two other words: Got. Results.

Neither of us did any running.
I had a reason.  See Previous Entry.
HCRP . . .  He can start his own blog.

We have different reasons for adopting this new eating style he and I.
Mine is to basically ‘clean up’ my vegetarian diet by eliminating grains, legumes, (limited) dairy, and (what few) sugars I consume. In reality the legumes and brown rice have been the biggest challenge since, like most vegetarians, I have replaced much of my meat consumption with the legume/grain combination as a protein source.
Oh, and I miss my Greek Yogurt.
And cheese. Not that I ate a lot of it, but I do miss my cheesy little boyfriend Colby Jack.
*le sigh*

HCRP’s is to kickstart his weight loss which seemed to have stalled out even during his half-marathon training regimen. That and I essentially told him “HCRP, we’re going to do this Paleo Diet thing. By the book for at least one month to see what kind of results we get.”
He weighed in Monday morning to establish his baseline weight. Tuesday is our Official Weigh-In Day and we each weighed in with visible results. (More on mine in a minute…)

This morning as I was showering I heard the telltale *beeep* of the scale firing up and thought it a tad odd for him to be weighing in between Tuesdays (he generally doesn’t) but didn’t say anything about it.
We’re taking part in a class at our church that meets on Saturday mornings. At the start of each class we go around the group and share the good that has gone on in our lives in the past week. We went around the group and when it came HCRP’s turn nobody was more surprised than me when he spoke. This past week, with zero running/working out (don’t judge him – I’ve kept him busy assisting me with final plans for My 5K) he lost four pounds!
I didn’t say much at the time, but a few minutes ago I sauntered into the living room and asked if he was convinced that this Paleo Diet was going to work. He agreed that yes, it was.

Score One for The Cave Woman!
And her Cave Man. 


The only – and I mean o-n-l-y – way to succeed on this particular Eating Plan is best summed up in the word “Plan”. As in Meal/Menu Planning. Which is how I’ve spent my afternoon.

Sunday Dinner is kind of a big deal around here, and with tomorrow being Easter Sunday I’m pulling out all the stops. Our menu for tomorrow is:
Grilled Lemon, Dill Salmon
Grilled Lemon Garlic Asparagus (brushed with coconut oil)
Roasted Orange Ginger Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Carrots with honey, paprika & a dash of cayenne
Strawberry, Walnut & Spinach Salad with Avocado Dressing
It should be yummy.
And as soon as I figure out how I’m doing all of it I am more than happy to share recipes. Actually the only thing to “figure out” is the Avocado Dressing. The rest if it is just sprinkling spices and drizzling either olive or coconut oil.


Le Knee has been Le Pain Free for a good couple Le Days, so I am hopeful that Monday after work I’ll get in a good, one mile run. My Plan Of Action is to walk 1/4 mile, run (slow and easy) 1/4 mile, walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile.

My 5K is next Saturday.
This time next week it will be All Over but The Dust Settling and cutting the check to The Ronald McDonald House.
Until May 1st when we begin planning for next year’s event.
I’m already planning to expand the event to include a 10K.
Never rest on your laurels, especially when you don’t even have them yet.

Oh, speaking of Unrested On Laurels checthis out!

This is Your Intrepid Middle-Aged Woman Blogger wearing a Size 12 Dress that has languished in a box marked “Skinny Dresses” in the eight (that’s ‘8’ in number years) years since YIM-AWB was last able to fit into it.
YIM-AWB  loves This Dress.
YIM-AWB  has missed wearing This Dress.
YIM-AWB  is very happy to be back in this dress.
YIM-AWB, before actually seeing herself zipped into This Dress was just certain she was still “too fat for” one of the “Skinny Dresses”.  She was, apparently, quite inaccurate in her assessment of her own size and shape.
YIM-AWB is, in a break from long-held custom, quite happy to have been proven
wrong mistaken.

YIM-AWB would also like to point out to One And All the flat, well-cushioned, supportive footwear at the bottom of This Dress.
Yes, she has Learned Her Lesson. 

The Velveteen Runner

In Margery Williams’ classic The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real the following discussion takes place between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse:
“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”


For some time now I have struggled with fully embracing the idea that *I* am A Real Runner. Never moreso than in the past several weeks while I haven’t been able to run. Oh I’ve put forth the rhetoric of “Well, I must be a real runner because I have a runner’s injury!” But that’s felt forced and hollow at best.

Last night Rich and I were on our way to a meeting with the Race Planning Team for what I affectionately refer to as “My 5K” and as we were driving through a particularly beautiful subdivision, rather than commenting on the (ridiculously early blooming) Azaleas and landscaping and whether or not I would have chosen that color to paint the shutters and trim on the house, I heard the following statement fall out of my face: This street would be a pisser of a run! in reference to the rolling hills we were driving up and down.
After a beat of stunned silence I said “Well dang. I must be a runner now!”
Rich?
He laughed.
I giggled a little bit. Kinda the way newly-minted thirteen year old girls giggle the first time they’re asked their age and get to say “I’m thirteen!”  But even with that it wasn’t Real for me.

But today.
Today The Realness of me Being A Runner hit me right smack between the slightly-tear-filled eyes.

On Sunday my husband is running his First Half Marathon!
And I am more excited for him than that one little exclamation point might indicate. I am like a bajillion exclamation points excited for him.
He’s been a runner for thirty years, and this is his First Half.
He’s playing his excitement pretty low-key, but I know it’s there.

I was typing up an entry for my online journal and when I got to the “Yeah, I’m really okay with not running this one with him and getting my own Finisher’s Medal because there’s the Air Force Half in September and The St. Jude in December” lie part I got completely choked up and had to stop writing there to come and write this here. And as I was closing one Wordpad document and opening another suddenly that whole “being Real” thing from The Velveteen Rabbit started running through my brain and it finally and fully hit me: I Am A Real Runner.

So, for all my fellow Velveteen Runners out there, let me tell you How You Know You’re Real: You know you’re A Real Runner when you feel the pain of the race you can’t run when you can’t run it.
At least that’s how it worked out for me.

P.S. Of course I’ll be posting Proud Wife pictures of Dearest HCRP at His First Half-Marathon Finish Line on Sunday! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! I wouldn’t let you miss that for the world!

Turn it up!

Another Thursday, another treadmill training run.

I upped my pace, running the first four sets at 5.0 mph; the fifth set at 5.3; and the last set in steadily increasing speeds beginning at 5.0 and ending at 6.5 for the last thirty seconds.  And it felt good!

Until I got to the adductor stretch when my previously strained groin muscle in my right leg made its presence known.

I don’t think it’s “strained” again so much as just reacting to being in the groove of consistently running.  So it’s good that tomorrow is a Rest Day.

In other running related news we had another meeting of the Planning Committee for ‘my’ 5K.

I call it ‘my 5K’ because really, the idea to put this race on was . . . well . . . mine.  (For reasons I don’t quite understand it’s a real stretch for me to embrace ownership of that.)

It’s a 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis.  Almost as important as that is that it is being run in honor of the memory of one of the single best human beings I have ever known or known of in my life.  John “Bad Dog” McCormack.  John was a native Memphian, and a local Radio ‘Personality’.  I say ‘Personality’ in quotes because that really doesn’t do him justice.  John was both bigger-than-life and one of the most humble, down-to-earth, unassuming people you could ever hope to meet.  For twenty years John worked with his on-air colleagues Bev and Tim putting on an annual fundraiser for The House (for them the Ronald McDonald House was simply The House) and in those years they must have raised literally millions of dollars.  

In October 2009 John received his own diagnosis of Leukemia and his first reaction was gratitude that now he could truly relate to what The Kids at The House went through every day of their young lives.  In February 2011 John summoned up every ounce of strength and courage he had in order to be there for the 20th annual fundraising event.  And shortly after that he lost his own battle.  Arguably one of the most touching tributes to John was written by his friend and fellow ‘Local Celebrity’ Joe Birch.

Because of John’s dedication to The House, the idea of doing a race benefiting The House was inseparable from doing something to honor his memory.  I have been honored to receive consent from the people in charge of Bad Dog’s trust, as well as having been put in touch with an amazing group of people – many of them lifelong friends and colleagues of John’s – who comprise my committee.

Because the race was my idea I am the defacto Race Director, and my committee has designated me their Chairman.  I’m still wrapping my brain around both of these ideas.

The reason I’m going on about my race is this: If I hadn’t taken up running last summer putting together a 5K would never have crossed my mind.  I studiously avoid things that claim “This will change your life!”  In fact, the quickest way to move me in the opposite direction of anything – be it a book, movie, seminar, vitamin supplement, what-have-you – is to tell me it’s going to change my life.  Based on that please take it in the spirit in which it is meant when I say:

RUNNING HAS CHANGED MY LIFE!

I can trace everything that has ‘opened up’ for me in recent moths to having taken up running last summer.  I’m still working through all the whys and wherefores of it all, but basically I think it comes down to the fact that I tried something I had always thought I would fail miserably at and I.  Didn’t.  Fail!  I started slow, I followed a carefully drafted program, I put in the work, and it worked!

And there’s just something about that level of success that makes you want to experience it in other areas of your life.

Like planning and executing a successful 5K.

So thank you running.

And runners.