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.

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!

Still not running . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

I should NEVER have started running

This was the start of a conversation – and by ‘conversation’ I mean monologue/diatribe by me – last night in the car as we were running an errand of mercy for/to my son. (Said son is, for the record, going to be 24 years old next Wednesday, is 6’5″ tall, and like a good Southern Boy still calls me “Momma”. Awww . . . )

Back to my diatribe . . . Which went a lot like this:
Me: I should NEVER have started running.

HCRP: Why?

Me: Because now I can’t just ‘quit’.

HCRP: Why?

Me: Because that’s just not how it’s done! You don’t start something like running and then just quit. Especially when you’ve Put It Out There that you’re going to run a Full Marathon next year! I mean to ‘just quit’ – which by the way I have the perfect opportunity to do what with the being too sick to run for a month and now the month ‘off’ after my surgery next week – at this point makes me look like a big ol’ [STOP READING MOM!] pussy.

HCRP: (Keeps driving and looking straight ahead. He is wise beyond his years that one.)

Me: But this is just stupid!

HCRP: What is?

Me: Running!
(Is he paying no attention to anything I’m saying?!)

HCRP: (Keeps driving and looking straight ahead.  Again.  Genius!)

Me: I mean seriously. I run and I run and I run all these *expletive deleted* miles and where do I get?  Nowhere.  Okay, generally back to the car, but still! It’s not like I’m going from Portland (Oregon, I realize there’s also one in Maine) to Boston with all this *expletive deleted* running!

HCRP: We could.

Me: Could what?

HCRP: Run from Portand to Boston.

Me: (Singes him with a blistering glare.)

HCRP: (Regains his senses and keeps driving and looking straight ahead.)

Me: This is just stupid. It’s a stupid sport.  And now that I’ve started it I can’t ‘Just Quit’. There’s no end to it. It’s not like I’ve suffered some permanent injury that would force me to stop so I’m stuck with this *expletive deleted*.

HCRP: Well what else would you do?

Me: For what?

HCRP: For fitness?

Me: I would eat! And sleep! A lot of eating and sleeping.  And hang out with friends in bars.

HCRP: That wouldn’t be very healthy.

Me: (Singes him . . .  You know the rest.) That is entirely beside the point.

HCRP: Which is? (Sometimes he’s not very bright… Really.)

Me: That I really can’t *expletive deleted* quit running!

HCRP: Why not?

Me: You didn’t hear that whole ‘If I quit now I’ll look like a big ol’ weenie’ (edited for inappropriate content for my mom’s sake) part before?! Besides, if I quit now what was the point of the entire last almost year and a half of my life? And all those shoes and socks and clothes and those freakin’ high dollar, industrial strength, double-reinforced running bras I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on?!  Huh?  What about all that?!
So.
*expletive deleted* it. I may as well keep running.
[Insert especially creative uses of ordinarily run-of-the-mill profanity.]

Of course what prompted all of this was having spent the morning sitting at a Finish Line I had originally intended to be running across.
Which wasn’t altogether bad.

Actually.

It was pretty cool.
It was inspiring watching the Elite Runners cross in times I will never, ever hope to make.  And they were, I might add, barely breathing heavy or sweating.  Much.
It was fun watching the non-runners who would stop a few feet before the Finish Line to pose their Finish Line photos.  (Costing themselves valuable seconds towards PRs… Who does that?!)
It choked me up seeing the people who – you could tell by the “I did it! Wait, I did it?!” looks on their faces – were finishing their First Ever 5Ks and Half Marathons.
Then there was the mom who had written in Sharpie on her arms and legs: My son couldn’t train for cancer.  I was full-on snot-slingin’ squawlin’ when I saw that.
Really being a part – any part – of an event that raised $5.8 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Well, how can you have a ‘bad’ time doing that?!

So I end 2012 with the following statistics under my laces:
1) I suffered from, rehabbed, and overcame my first ever sports injury.  Me!  *I* had a “sports injury”!
2) I was a coach for other women who were setting out on their own journeys as Runners.
3) I ran a Half Marathon! AND finished under my stated goal time.
4) And at the end of all that diatribe and deleted expletives up there – I’m going to keep on running. Because really, who wants to look like a big ol’ weenie (edited for inappropriate content)?!

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!

Jack Rabbit Starts and Turtle Finishes

Running is a funny thing.
It’s a competitive sport and a personal endeavor.
It’s the journey and the destination.
It’s the starts and the finishes.
And it is everything in between.

But today I find myself thinking about those starts and finishes.

When I first started running I instinctively started slow and easy.  I was new at it so the tentativeness was natural.  And at the beginning I started every run wondering if this was going to be The One where The Truth that I really couldn’t run and really didn’t have any business even trying was going to bring me to some painful, screeching halt once and for all.
That never happened.
Just like my first fall wasn’t as bad as the fear of the fall.
Just like neither of the legless beasts I’ve encountered on the trail have struck or strangled me.  (With or without Samuel L. Jackson…)
Just like there have been no dead bodies along the trail.  (Rational or not, it’s my irrational fear.  Don’t judge me.)

And so I ran.  And and kept running.  And wrote about running.  And ran some runs just for the sake of having a run to write about.
Eventually (last month) all that running led me to doing something that hadn’t ever been on my radar ever anywhere in the history of my radar – I ran a Half Marathon!
And it felt great!
So much so that part of me was a little afraid to run again for fear of never feeling That Good about a run ever again anywhere in the future of my running or my radar.

But I ran anyway.
And on that first run a full week after the Half I took off like I’d been shot out of a cannon!  My first mile was a full 32 seconds faster (per mile) than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.  I. Was. Gettin’. It!
And it felt great!
Until it didn’t felt so great around mile three which I finished almost a full minute slower than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.
*le sigh*

So the next run I started all the happy self-talk reminding myself that slow and steady wins the race and that I run with endurance – not speed – the race set before me and that it’s better to start slow and finish strong and every other running ‘ism about starts and finishes known to running mankind.
And I took off like I’d been shot out of another cannon!
And I jack rabbited that first mile and turtled, if not the last one at least one towards the end.

In case you think I’m beating the whole “Tortoise and The Hare” fairy tale to death, let me share something with you.  Below is how Endomondo (best running program I’ve found for smartphones by the way) gives race splits.

See? Rabbit.  Turtle.

See the result of that jack rabbit start?  Turtle finish.  Not fun.

From a running perspective I need to get that under control.
After all nobody – and I mean not one running body – wants to finish a race walking across a finish line because you left everything in the first mile.  That is an especially bad strategy for longer races.  Like my upcoming St. Jude Half Marathon.  And it sure ain’t gonna work for doing the St. Jude Full next year!
Incidentally I’m running as a St. Jude Hero and if you’d like to help me raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital go here and thank you!

It’s also notsomuch a great strategy for life.
And says a lot about how I’ve gone through life and why this is the first time in my life I’ve done something physical that lasted more than three months.
Well other than pregnancy.  That was certainly physical and certainly lasted longer than three months!

How you start a thing determines how you finish it.
And that turtle didn’t start that race even trying to keep pace with that rabbit and look how that worked out for him!