If it isn’t one thing, it’s an organ…

This will be a short post.
It’s late (for me – it’s past 9pm).
I’m tired (I slept for crap last night).
And I’m under the influence of half-of-a-pain-pill.

Remember back in October when I wound up in the ER and then went to the GI Doctor and then he sent me for an ultrasound and then told me I had gallstones and he was all “We need to remove your gallbladder.” and I was all “Can it wait ’til after 2pm on December 7th?” and he was all “What the whaaaaa?!” and I was all “I have a marathon to finish!” and he was all “Okay as long as you’re careful what you eat and don’t have any more major flare-ups.” and I was all “I will totally make that happen!”?
And I did!
?  (The gallbladder keeping part, not the marathon.  Mother Nature had other plans for that.)
Sure you do!
Because you hang on every moment of my life.

Well, in the parlance of my boys when they were teenagers (aka about ten years ago – Holy Crap!  TEN years ago?!  That can’t be right.  No, wait.  It was.  Damn.  Sorry for the cuss word Mother.  I digress…) “Wha’ ha’ happen wuz….”  The ticker ran down on my gallbladder and it’s time to suck it up and get this thing out from under my skin (and liver) so I can move forward with marathon training.
And life.
But mostly marathon training.
Did I mention we’ve registered for The Country Music Marathon in Nashville on April 26th to get our marathon under our collective/respective belts?
No.
Oh.
Well…
We registered for The Country Music Marathon in Nashville on April 26th to get our marathon under our collective/respective belts.

Anyway…
Ye Olde Bladder of Gall hadn’t been bothering me since a couple weeks after my ER visit when I got stupid, and in a hurry, and ate convenient instead of healthy/smart.
Until last Friday.
I didn’t eat anything ‘bad’ (Read: High fat, fried, otherwise unhealthy) but by the time I got home from work I was fully expecting to wind up at the ER before sunrise Saturday morning.
That (thankfully) didn’t happen.
But the overall discomfort hasn’t ever gone completely away and since yesterday morning the inflammation has been significant enough that it is visibly more ‘swollen’ on the right side than the left.
Two days worth of phone calls to several different doctors offices later and I have an appointment Friday morning for a consultation with a surgeon.

I am hoping to have the surgery scheduled and completed before the end of this year.  Honestly, I’m hoping to have it done before Christmas.
Because of the holidays?
Ummm…
No.
So I can be recuperated sufficiently to be in full Marathon Training Mode by January 1st.
Because I do have my priorities…
*rolls eyes*
Runners.

My First MaraNot

By now I’m pretty sure everyone who knows me on any semblance of a personal level –  and most people who follow charity marathon events – knows that The Memphis St. Jude Marathon was cancelled.
My/Our First Marathon.
Cancelled.
When I got the email – which, frankly, I’d been anticipating all day – I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut.
I wasn’t surprised.
Just felt the full weight of a disappointment I’d been anticipating for hours.

Memphis got hit by an unseasonably early ice storm.
Ice storms, for those of you who’ve never had the privilege of experiencing one, are nothing to be trifled with.
There’s black ice.
There’s ice on trees.
There’s ice on power lines.
There’s just ice.
The overall accumulation in any given area might not look like much, but when you take into account the overall impact on a major (or semi-major) metropolitan area you have to take into account The Greater Good/Need when there’s something like a marathon involving 20,000 participants, (roughly) 3,000 volunteers, who-knows-how-many First Responders, and even more who-knows-how-many spectators/supporters over a 26.2 mile course involved. (Not to mention the entire rest of the metropolitan area who – believe it or not – have no stake in The Marathon but might have a stake in first responders’ availability and medical personnel.)
Oh and the Finish Line which had become, basically, a potential skating rink.
Not sure about anyone else, but I don’t run in ice skates nor do I carry an extra set of strap-on blades.
In short: The Race Director and other Race/City Officials made The Right Call.

Was I happy?
No.  When I got the email that preceded the Official Announcement (because HCRP and I were assisting with the Race Planning Committee) I burst into tears.  And my BFF who’d come to town for the express purpose of seeing us run/finish Our First Marathon, and one of my Running BFFs/Mentors grabbed me and hugged me and let me cry.  (HCRP had stepped away from where we were to get with the captain of our marathon training team.)
Then I cussed.
Pretty much all the cusses I know.
Then BFF and Running BFF swept me away to grab a beer from the beer table at the celebratory banquet we were at.
Then the CEO of ALSAC (St. Jude’s fundraising organization) took the podium and explained the multi-faceted reasons behind the cancellation.

And then he shared with us how much we – The St. Jude Heroes – had raised for the hospital: $8.2 million!
And then he shared Sam’s Story.
And then he introduced us to Hillary, who spoke so beautifully and from the heart and for every child who has ever crossed the threshold of that place.
And suddenly the fact that I wouldn’t be running tomorrow (which is now today) Just Didn’t Matter quite so much.

Oh I was still disappointed.  I’m not gonna lie.  We’ve been training for SIX MONTHS!
But I gave myself 24 hours to pout about it after which it was time to Move On!

I have a 5K to plan for March 22!
And, I still have a marathon to run!
So HCRP and I will be re-beginning our marathon training come Monday morning.
We’ll be running the St. Jude Country Music Marathon in Nashville in April.  Possibly as Heroes.  The jury’s still out on that.  (Most likely, we will.  I mean, why not take advantage of the opportunity to raise more money for the hospital and its mission?!)

We spent the morning at the Finish Line venue helping to break things down and pack things up.
We spent the morning finishing what we started as our part of the Race Planning Committee.
We spent the morning with good running friends.
We spent the morning doing what we love.
Being involved.
Being engaged.
And come Monday, it will be Training Time again!

I commented to my BFF who’d come down to see us finish this race that, as I see it, we’ve spent the past six months “training to train for a marathon”.
We’ve made mistakes.
We’ve skipped runs.
We weren’t exactly diligent about cross-training.
Which means we have room for improvement.
And finishing even stronger in April than we expected to today.

So, yeah, our First MaraTHON ended up being a MaraNOT.
And that’s okay.
Because, like everything in running, it’s all part of The Process.
And The Process is The Thing of It.

Did you mean WordPress Dot Com?

That’s what my browser asked me when I clicked on the shortcut to my blog dashboard.
Has it really been so long since I came here that even my browser doubts my intentions?
*le sigh*

Marathon Training is rocking right along.
Three weeks ago we ran nine miles about seven miles into which I had reached the obviously inescapable conclusion that there was no way I was ever going to complete a marathon.  Ever.  I was delusional and this was stupid and I was just fooling myself.
Evidently my whining and self-doubt was toxic enough that HCRP couldn’t take it anymore as he (probably wisely) went on without me while I walked (and whined) through what was supposed to be a running interval.  I considered, briefly, just walking the whole thing in but then I got to the intersection of a major thoroughfare and realized there was a good chance someone I knew would see me walking and so I started running again.  Then I walked the appropriate two minutes, then I ran five, then I walked two, and I finished the nine miles running.
Not because I particularly felt like running.  But because I’d have been damned if I was going to be seen by all the other people in our running group finishing the run walking!
So I finished running.
Dripping wet from the What do you mean it’s not raining yet?! percent humidity.
But running.
Still doubting my ability to complete a marathon e-v-e-r.
But running.
The Good Book teaches us that pride goeth before a fall.
Sometimes pride goeth before a finish!

Two weeks ago we broke our ten mile run up into two runs.
There was a 5K we were committed to running in honor of the son of a dear friend who lives with the condition this 5K is put on in support of.  So we ran that then got the other seven in a couple hours later.  Thankfully this was during the Unseasonably Cool portion of The Summer of 2013, otherwise running seven miles at Noon in Memphis could have ended very badly.
Sunday was another 5K we were determined to take part in for a couple reasons.
#1 because it was put on by our favorite local running store; and
#2 because it supported St. Jude and clearly there’s just something about St. that makes us want to run.
Plus it was a great race with a kick-butt after party!
Sundays are our Rest Days.  As in the “Remember the Rest Day and keep it holy” Rest Days.  We didn’t keep it holy.
For a good cause!
For a great time!
And we paid for it the entire rest of the week!
We were wiped out all week!
It was worth it!
But I have a whole new respect for The Rest Day.

Last Saturday we were staring down 11 miles and the start of 6am runs rather than 7am runs.
This was the first time I’d run 11 in just about a year and between the humidity (93% at 6am), the course (through a lot of neighborhoods that made it somehow feel like a really long way), the hills, and mostly the way I’d felt doing the 9 miles just two weeks before I wasn’t particularly excited about the run.
I leaned – hard – on my new “This can never be harder than chemo for a kid” mantra and off we went.
And I did it!
It was long.  It was humid.  And by “humid” I mean my clothes come out of the washing machine dryer than they were at the end of that run.  But it wasn’t anywhere close to as bad as I’d been afraid of it being.

Until Monday morning.
I woke up Monday morning feeling like someone had driven, and was continuing to drive, an ice pick into my left thigh just above the knee.
It wasn’t Runner’s Knee.  Been there, done that.
All I could think was “Stress.  Fracture.”
I was working very hard at not freaking out.
Really hard.
A stress fracture at this point would knock me out of the marathon.
I reached out to one of my Running Mentors who has had a stress fracture.
Based on her experience it didn’t sound like that’s what I was dealing with.
She reached out to some PTs she sees at work every day.
Their sight unseen diagnosis: Quadricep Tendonitis.
The ‘prescription’?  R.I.C.E.
They also assured her to assure me that stress fractures don’t generally occur in the middle of a large muscle mass like the quads.
So I did the R.I.C.E. thing Monday and Tuesday.
And the pain that was excruciating and distracting all day Monday dulled by Tuesday and was gone by Wednesday.
I’d already decided that if I was still in pain Wednesday I’d be getting an appointment with Dr. Awesome Sauce the Official Unofficial Chiropractor of Choice of Runners around here.
As fun as he his to see I was just as glad not to have to make that appointment.

We ran three on Wednesday and everything went well.
We ran six on Thursday and everything went swimmingly!
By which I mean we looked like we’d swum six miles by the end of the run.
If you ever wonder whether it’s The Heat or The Humidity let me assure you that it is most certainly The Humidity.

None of which excuses the absence of my presence here.
But between the running and the cross-training and the eating I sit down and the sleeping takes over and I’m not especially good at writing in my sleep.

We’ve also perfected our pre-long-run eating strategy: Steak and Baked Potatoes.
We’ve done it every Friday night for a month and it really seems to give us what we need to get through those long runs.
Which are only going to get longer.
Which secretly makes me more than a little excited!

Week One: And so it begins!

This is Week One of our Marathon Training Program to complete The Memphis St. Jude Marathon.
The Full Marathon.
26.2 miles.
All in the same day.
This is, arguably, the single biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life!
Yes, that counts childbirth and motherhood.
I always expected to have a child and be a mother.
Running a marathon?!  Not ever in my wildest dreams (until sometime late last year) would I have ever seen myself running a marathon.
And the thing of it is, running the marathon itself isn’t really The Thing of It.
Oh, the marathon is big.  Huge!
The marathon is The Prize.
The Victory Lap.
The cherry on top.
The point and purpose to be sure, but not really The Thing of It.
The training is The Thing of It.
Or so I’m told.
Right now the marathon seems like complete insanity.
But I haven’t finished a 20 mile training run yet.

We’re following Hal Higdon’s Novice Supreme, 30 Week program.
We’re implementing upper body strength training, yoga, elliptical cross-training, and various interval running training . . .  ummm . . . running training things.
We mutually agreed on the overall training program.  And we have a spreadsheet.
HCRP is in charge of the interval running training things seeing as how he ran cross country in high school and knows what pyramids and 400s and 800s and other such things actually are.
I’m in charge of diet and nutrition.  And yoga.  I’m mostly in charge of sharing what I learn from my Personal Yogi with HCRP.
We are mutually in charge of keeping each other from freaking out.
The rest of you are in charge of keeping us from chickening out.
Just so you know.

Tonight was our first Short Run and it called for 1.5 miles.
On one hand that seemed like a really short distance given that nine days ago we did a 10K race.
On the other hand we truly are Supreme Marathon Novices so it has been decided that we will follow this plan To The Letter.
So we ran 1.5 miles.
They weren’t fun miles.  My sinuses and allergies have been giving me fits so I felt like I had no lung capacity and the sore throat that set in late this afternoon made the breathing less than comfortable.
But it will get better.

In addition to training to and running the Marathon, HCRP and I are registered for The St. Jude as St. Jude Heroes which means we have each committed to raising funds for St. Jude and the incredible, miraculous work they do there. If you are interested in assisting us in our efforts to support St. Jude, below are links to our individual fundraising pages.
And thank you for any amount you are able to contribute.  Every dollar helps.

My St. Jude Marathon fundraising page.

HCRP’s St. Jude Marathon fundraising page.

Some 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!

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*

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.

First Run with my . . .

. . . new goal of running a marathon this year.

. . . fear of heights as a factor.

. . . apparent need for therapy to overcome Mean Girl trauma from high school still in play.

. . . staying consistently hydrated clearly out of play.

. . . New.  Boobs.

Admit it, you totally expected me to lead with that last one.  Didn’t you?  But let’s take them in order, shall we?  And I promise I’ll get to the boobs.

But tonight was my First Run both in a long time and since my surgery.
And yes, I’ve been putting it off.
When we got home I realized that the reason I’d been putting it off was fear.  Fear of several things, and I’ll get to those.  But yeah, I’ve been caving to fear.  And I just hate doing that!

Now on to that list up there…
The New Running a Marathon Goal:
I have the better part of a year – like nearly 50 weeks’ worth part of the year – to train for My Marathon.  I have selected a 30 week training program that is guaranteed to work if adhered to.  Thousands of people, many who have fewer miles under their laces than me, have followed it and crossed their Marathon Finish Lines vertical, breathing, and ready to at least continue running if not actually do it again.

And I have been questioning for the entire ten-and-a-half weeks since I last ran (November 3rd) whether or not I would be able to get back into running sufficiently to be able to train to be ready by December 7th.
So tonight I set out on the shortest run I have set out to do in a long, long time.  And I was, between you and me, scared to the core of my being.
I was afraid The Twins weren’t going to be as ready-to-run as I thought and that there would either be: A) pain; B) incisions coming undone; or C) things falling off altogether.
I was afraid my legs (the bending part in the middle in particular) would completely fail me.
I was afraid I would finish ‘just two miles’ a sweaty, gasping, heaving (like actually vomiting), mess collapsed on the side of the track and mocked by those going ’round and ’round past me over and over again.
That didn’t happen.
There was sweating and a little bit of gasping.  And the overwhelming paint odor had me a little queasy, but nothing hurt, popped open, or full-on fell off.  Not even the butt that’s been following me around the past three or four weeks since Muscle Tone finally gave up the ghost.
Next…

Fear of Heights as A Factor:
I am, and always have been, afraid of heights.  “heights” being defined as my feet more than about a foot above the firmest terra firma/lowest possible place to stand in my vicinity.  The indoor track at our (probable) new gym is an elevated track which hangs (precariously and flipping gravity the bird) a good fifteen feet above the (incredibly hard, painful to fall fifteen feet onto) basketball court(s) floor way too far below it.
Walkers get to walk on the outside (much safer), closer to the wall lane of the track.
Runners get to take their laps right on the edge of the precipice.  Oh there’s a railing, but it is entirely too low for my comfort and they failed to install a safety net (like you see under trapeze artists) because that would make entirely too much sense.
But it was 30 degrees outside and the specter of cold weather lung burn outweighed the specter of hurtling over the railing and ending up a broken, contorted, former runner in the middle of horrified, traumatized ballaz and shot callaz.
So I just kept moving.

My apparent need for therapy to overcome Mean Girl trauma from high school still in play:
As posted on Facebook: I just have to say that no matter how old you are, or how pleased you are with where you are in your life and in your skin, when you hear teenage Mean Girls in a locker room verbally slicing and dicing someone who isn’t even there you will TOTALLY go into the toilet stall to change into your workout clothes rather than risk being the NEXT person they criticize and make fun of.
And yes, I actually changed in the toilet stall.  *hangs head in shame at my own shame*

I got a huge amount of support from other women – of all ages – on Facebook. And I could well become responsible for inspiring a “Flash mob of real women. Stretch marks, preggo belly, and saggy boobs. I may even go hairy legged.” as suggested by one of my running buddies.  The fact that she is a running machine and is cute as a button really only served to make me feel that much better about myself!
Of course I had about half a second where I was tempted to do one of two things:
Go ahead and change “in full view” and freak the little Teenie Meanies completely out since my scars are still fairly visible and probably very scary looking to a group of obsessed-with-perfect-bodies Swim Team Mean Girls.
Or
Light into them for being the Mean Girls they are and inform them that while this may make them the top of the food chain now, in about twenty years it isn’t going to serve them well and that if they don’t keep up with the swimming those tight little buns were going to scare the hell out of them in a mirror reflection one day.
Thankfully my Higher Self piped up right about then and reminded me that behind all the meanness were scared, insecure little girls whose only defense was to find fault with and belittle others and, unless something changes dramatically in their lives, that would likely continue to be their only defense.  So I said nothing.

Staying consistently hydrated clearly out of play:
Yeah.
It was a side-cramp-a-palooza after only 1.5 miles.  The only excuse for that – given my 13:00 minute per mile pace – was lack of hydration.  I gotta get better at that.

And now, finally, the bullet point you’ve been waiting for:
My First Run with My New Boobs:
In short: It was A Whole New (running) World! (You’re welcome for the earworm.)
About halfway through our second lap (12 laps = 1 mile) HCRP asked “Well?  Is it different?” and all I could say was “There’s no bouncing.  There’s nothing bouncing up and down.” and I had to stop thinking and talking about it because history has taught me that I am physically incapable of three things: peeing up a wall; circular breathing; and running while crying.  There was movement – gravity is still, after all, the law and not just a good idea – but there wasn’t MOVEMENT going on right under my chin.

A little further in I realized I was – or at least seemed to be – running a little faster than usual.  I checked in with HCRP and he confirmed that I was “keeping a pretty good pace”.  Of course this was still in the first mile and didn’t last forever, but it wasn’t half bad.  I do believe that aerodynamics were also a casualty of my previous endowment.

The third thing was actually something someone else had said to me before I even had the surgery.  They had suggested that after surgery I would be able to breathe easier without “all that weight on your chest”.  Admittedly my first thought was “It isn’t like they’re pressing in on my lungs!” and so I kindasorta dismissed the idea.  But yawannaknowsomething?  They were absolutely right!  Breathing was easier.  I’ll be damned.  (Sorry Mom.)

It also occurred to me that I will no longer have the chafing on the inside of my upper arms from the constant rubbing against the sides of my breasts where they were wider than my ribcage.
Dear Glide,
While I’m not exactly ‘breaking up’ with you, I think it’s time we took it back a notch in our relationship. It’ll be just you and the blister prone spots on my feet from now on.
Sincerely,
Happy to be
Less of me

On our drive home it occurred to me how much less energy and effort is going to be required on my runs  with that 3.5 pounds – and not just pounds in general, but in a fairly concentrated area – eliminated.
How much less strain on my entire body.

How much less jarring up and down and up and down.
How much less wind resistance.
How much more just fun running is going to be!
Once I get my lungs back.
And once that happens that 30 minute 5K is mine!
As is that marathon in December…

We have The Plan

I nearly titled this We have seen The Plan, and it is ours! but I wasn’t sure what kind of copyright infringement issues I might come up against.  All that aside . . .

Monday evening, while watching The Biggest Loser, we got serious about planning our race calendar for the year as well as deciding on a Marathon Training Program and then plotting that against the date of next this year’s  St. Jude Marathon.

My surgery recovery is coming along nicely.  It no longer hurts going over speed bumps in parking lots, which was my barometer for when I was “good to go” (medical term my doctor used) for running.  Sooo . . . I’m going to give running a shot this weekend.
Of course first I’ll be picking up a new, new-size running bra.  I’m going to stick with the Moving Comfort Juno.  At least to begin with.  It stuck with me and provided the support I needed with Big Girls, I have every confidence it will do right by me now that I’m more proportional.  So, barring any unanticipated ‘issues’ (Read: PAIN!) I’ll be back to running effective Saturday!

The First Step in The Plan is just to get back in condition.
I shudder to think just exactly how out of condition my heart and lungs are after eight weeks off.  I’m also pretty certain the loss of muscle tone that had me thinking I was being followed by my own ass last week is going to be a factor.  But I also have every assurance from several Runner Friends that things will come back quicker than I expect.

The Second Step in The Plan is to establish a new routine.
We’ve decided to use Hal Higdon’s Novice Supreme training program.  Its a 30 week program that allows both ample time to work up to the miles required to finish a Marathon, and opportunity to work on performance in shorter distances.  (As in: Finishing a 5K in 30 minutes which is one of those “competing with myself” goals.)  One thing we have failed to be consistent with is Cross Training.  So we’re fixing that.

Going forward (meaning starting Sunday) our weeks will look a lot like this:
Sunday: Rest Day.
This gives me Sunday afternoon to focus on food/meal prep for the coming week (more on dietary changes later).
Monday: Short Run.
This will be the week’s “warm up” run.  No tricks or funky stuff just a good, easy run.
Tuesday: Cross Training.
Wednesday: Mid-Distance Run.
Thursday: Short(ish) Run.
This distance will vary from Monday’s distance some weeks, and this is when we’ll do any speed work. Bring on the Fartleks!
Friday: Cross Training.
This is also my Yoga Day with my Running Buddy/Mentor Tonia.
Saturday: Long Runs/Races

We’ve plotted everything out (on a spreadsheet because we’re techno-fabulous like that) and for the thirty weeks of the training program to time out with The St. Jude we begin following the program’s distances on May 18th.
Between now and then – and all things being equal/going well for me on Saturday’s ‘Maiden Voyage’ run – we’ll be establishing the pattern of the week and getting a few races in.

Starting with the New Orleans Half Marathon at the end of next month.  We’ve decided to do that one as a relay with HCRP taking the 7.5 miles and me running the shorter 5.5 mile leg.  This is our weekend getaway for my birthday weekend, and we’re going with a couple we’re friends with from church who are also runners.  We’re taking Amtrak from here to New Orleans which will be half the fun of the trip!

My intention is to (finally) run the Germantown Half Marathon in mid March, the (overly ambitious) training for which led to last year’s Runner’s Knee Adventure. This year I’m a stronger, more experienced, and about twenty pounds lighter version of the runner I was then, so I don’t anticipate any major issues.  Besides, I’ve proven that I can finish a Half, this year there isn’t the sense of urgency I had last year that (I am certain) led to my injury.

AND!  Because I have absolutely nothing else to do, I’m also in the midst of planning the Second Annual Bad Dog 5K!
Oh, if you’d like to help support our very worthy cause – The Ronald McDonald House of Memphis which serves families of kids receiving treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – but you’re not from around here we’re offering a “Ghost Runner” registration that will allow you to help us help The Kids at The House AND you’ll score one of our snazzy race shirts!
C’mon, you know you wanna . . .

Okay, time to get my morning started.
Happy Running!

STILL Still not running . . .

. . . but I am better.

Had my second follow-up appointment with The Surgeon and things seem to be progressing/healing well enough that he wants to use me as one of his Before/After ‘poster kids’.  He asked if I could come back in three months to have the final ‘After’ picture taken since at the moment the healing incisions/scars aren’t exactly ‘After’ picture worthy, and I’m good with that. (I’m still doing some *internal work* on that whole ‘having scars’ thing – I’ll get back with you on that)
ALL that aside, I am apparently healing nicely.  No complications.

Which means! It is basically up to “When I think it won’t hurt to do it” to determine when I’ll be running again.  At present I’m using the ‘If it still causes a twinge to go over a speed bump, I’m not ready yet’ school of thought/measure-of-readiness.

HCRP is currently out of town on a work related trip.  He’ll be back a week from tomorrow.
Which gives us that Saturday morning to do two things:
1) Go to one of our local Running Stores to get me a good, supportive, new-sized running bra; and
2) Switch our gym membership to the one that offers better cross-training options.  (Not the least of which is an indoor,heated pool and an indoor track. So we’ll have that going for us! 

Of course I will be ‘running’ at more of a jog until I’m comfortable that nothing’s going to be literally, physically ‘left on the track’..

so miss running!!
You have no idea how much you love it until it is taken away from you!
2013 is going to be My Best Running Year Ever!