Monday, December 17, 2007

What Better Way?

My original plan this weekend was to run 10 miles with Greg D. and celebrate my personal "I'm back" moment with a cheeseburger and beer but after my horrible drive back from Toledo the night before I decided I wanted nothing to do with my car and my four nearly bald tires. The weather forecast for Sunday was anything but desirable but I kept hoping that the longer I waited the more palatable I would magically find the weather but as the clock neared 2 I knew it was either get out there or do 10 on the dreadmill which was far scarier than braving the elements.
I had also wanted to go to the grocery store but that would defeat my plan of not getting in my car so I mapped it out and decided that 2 of my 10 would be spent running to the grocery store for the handful of things I needed...I just strapped a backpack on and headed out into the storm. For the very few readers out there who don't live in Northeast Ohio let me just say this in regards to the weather-it was 14 degrees with the windchill, heavy blowing snow and winds were at 25mph when I got out there.

I got about halfway to the store and decided that it was just stupid to be out there. I made a plan to turn right instead of left at the corner and go back home to complete my miles on the treadmill. As I was heading back though I started to feel really let down...for fuck's sake, what better way to prepare myself for winter 50k than running in these conditions? Who knows what the weather will hold for January 26th so I might as well give myself a taste of horrible, right? Right. I turned back around and continued on my way to the store.

After making it to the store and back I dropped off my groceries and foraged on through the storm. Thank god I smothered my face with vaseline before I left because I think that's the only thing that saved me from getting a windburn on my exposed skin (I cannot stand wearing anything over my mouth hence my lack of scarf). You all know I hate droning on with boring details so I'll leave it at this...it was one of the hardest runs I've done but definitely one of the most fulfilling. Once I got home and my icicle laden hair thawed I realized that regardless of what the weather may bring in January I'm up for anything...as long as I get to keep putting one foot in front of the other I'm one happy girl.

Monday, December 10, 2007

This is PowerThirst on CRACK

To see what inspired this click here

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bad Idea

I'm doing this post for Rob...because as he pointed out in the comments of the previous post, I should really get going. ~smirk~

So...HERE I AM! Actually I've been good on getting back into things. Slowly, but nevertheless still building it back up, one mile at a time. I got the green light from my doctor a while back to train for the winter BT50k so that's where my focus has been as of late. That is, until I made the mistake of getting too close to my dear sweet little niece who had in fact NOT fully recovered from her stomach flu. I'll spare you the details of my woes this past week except for this tidbit: no one should throw up for days on end and then try to cram all their miles in within the last few days of the week.

Hence the title of this post... although the company was fantastic this morning. Along with Red and Debi whom I adore running with, E-Speed & her friend Amy joined us as well as Brett and two newer members of SARC-Bob and Denise. I've got to hand it to Red...she provides an essential service to area runners...always making them feel welcome, always making them feel capable.

We all had different mileage goals. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to be able to stick with them for their 13-18 miles but per my carefully constructed plan, I only had 8 or 9 on tap. The minute we stepped onto the trail it was apparent it was going to be a very slick, very dirty run...just the kind most of us love. The mud was bad but at least it served as a pretty decisive slash through the pristine white landscape. There's no mistaking where you should go when your feet have no other choice than to suction to what lays ahead of you.

I felt pretty good until about 30 minutes into the run and then the few stores of energy I had just seemed to ooze out of me and mix with the already muddled path. Putting one foot in front of the other was starting to seem like a Herculean effort. Nonetheless though, it was great to be out there and I was just so happy to not be kneeling at the mercy of my toilet at that point.

My halfway mark couldn't have come sooner, while everyone else looked to be comfortable as hell, I found that I was drenched in a cold sweat and the color had kinda drained from my face. Red shared a few of her fig newtons with me which I inhaled with the hopes of some renewed energy...alas, it did not happen. Thankfully Denise was willing to turn back and make the return trip with me. I've never run with her before but was so glad to have her with me today! She put up with my stopping and slow pace with the patience only my mother should have with me! We made it back and she graciously gave me a banana that she had in her car. I don't think I could have gotten home any faster than I did... a nice hot shower and an afternoon in bed was just what I needed.

So even though it wasn't the most ideal run, it was still so great to be out there. I love the group of people that I've met and I love how the trail always seems to welcome me back...regardless of how long we've been apart.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Return

I haven't blogged in a while for I haven't truly run in while. Well tonight that changed. I did 5 miles. 5 glorious, albeit slightly slower than usual, miles in the perfect autumn weather. Oh man, I think my sentimentality just made me puke a little in my mouth! Bottom line is, I've started my real journey back and it feels so fucking good.

I was in Chicago this past weekend and although I didn't do any running (I was busy having lots, and I mean L-O-T-S of non-running fun) I did take notice of the city itself and found myself wondering if the streets I was drunkenly wandering down were in fact part of the Chicago marathon course. Chicago Sam if you're reading this, man I loved your city! In my running heart of hearts (which happened to take a back seat to my Grey Goose lovin' heart of hearts this time) I know I'm going to do that marathon at some point.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Those three little words

I. CAN. RUN.

Well, it'll be more like jogging for the next few weeks but still...those were the sweet words I heard my doctor say this morning. It's going to be a slow process but a process I'm itching to get back into nonetheless!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Akron Marathon 2007

Although I didn't get to run this race I was still so happy to be a part of it!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quick Update

The edema on that metatarsal is still not very good but at least he took me out of that dam boot! I'm allowed to do the elliptical and spinning again but I have to "work slowly" back into it. I can also start lower body strength again but I can only use light weight or no weight. He *thinks* I'll be able to start light jogging in two weeks.
On a different note, good luck to everyone running the Akron Marathon! I'll be there cheering you all on!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Erase and Rewind

I quit smoking 7 years ago. The thing I remember most was the feeling that without the cigarettes I wasn't myself anymore. I would go to parties or out to the bar and I would feel like a different person. I wasn't as funny, or as confident or even as sharp as I felt I used to be. Just everything about me seemed...skewed. At the time I felt like I would never be the same again. I felt awkward and unsure and clearly directionless. I would sit at the bar and literally rip the labels on my beer bottles to shreds since I didn't know what else to do with my hands. I felt like everyone who looked at me saw how much I didn't belong in my own skin, in my own surroundings.

I'm 6 weeks into no running. Unlike cigarettes though, I have no desire to abstain from this addiction. But just like with smoking, a part of my persona feels sick and unbalanced. I haven't been working out AT ALL in the past three weeks except for going to the lab once a week. So on top of no running, I'm getting soft and fat...doesn't that sound great? I don't feel like myself and it's starting to truly drain me. I'm normally such a positive, optimistic (albeit sarcastic) person but when I don't have this outlet, I turn into that girl fumbling at the bar. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so much a drama queen that I think this is the worst that can happen-I'm not a fucking moron, I KNOW it could be worse. But for the time being, my outlook seems to have soured a bit and I'm anxiously awaiting the time when I can lace up my shoes, get outside and return to who I know I am.

My main concern is this (and the very experienced marathoners please feel free to chime in on this) : I will hopefully get the ok to start "light jogging"~insert my puke face here at that term~ in two weeks, that puts me at the beginning of October. My doctor (who I really do love dearly) is (in my mind) so conservative when it comes to building my base back up. I'm afraid he's going to tell me to start off by running something stupid, like a mile at a time. I want to build my base (if you can even call it that) to at least 16 miles a week by November 1st. How am I supposed to do that AND follow the 10% rule?? I'm looking to be able to train extremely hard for The Last Chance for Boston marathon in February. I normally like 16 week training plans so that's why I'm looking for my start date to be around November. Can someone help me with the logistics...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bootylicious

Rob and Inca, this boot's for you...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Fractured Fairy Tale

So it's been a while...I know. But forgive me, this blog is about running and I am, um, not running.

Here's a recap:

3 1/2 weeks ago:
  • Out for a 7 miler, around mile 3 felt alot of discomfort in my left foot, cut run to 6 miles
  • Took what I thought was going to be a few days off from running but continued to cross train
  • Scheduled 18 miler-could not do it so did 3 hours combined of elliptical/spinning/pool running
  • Tried so hard to talk myself out of what my gut was telling me-stress fracture
3 weeks ago:
  • E-mailed my doctor and let him know my suspicions-he told me to not run (like I already had been doing) and to make an appointment for a few weeks from then so it would be easier to see the new bone growth on the x-ray
2 weeks-1 week ago:
  • continued to cross train like a champ. I could not classify what I felt as pain. Just an over-awareness of what felt like the third metatarsal in my foot...what? Like you're not supposed to be able to pinpoint your bones from how they feel on the inside? Hhmm...that may be a bad sign
  • started noticing that at the end of the two hour sessions on the elliptical that my foot felt, um, Not.Good.
  • Thought it best I go to just pool running...odd, should water resistance really hurt? And why is it hurting in a new place along with the old? Odd. And mildly annoying.
  • Get x-rays-1 stress fracture confirmed, another one possibly in the cuneiform bone (the what? Yeah, I found out it's just another bone that connects to your metatarsals). MRI ordered.
  • Given the sexiest boot to wear...I think I pulled it off, really. I did.
And let me just interject here that I was handling this whole thing with grace and humor and flexibility. "oh, I might not be able to run Columbus? No big deal, I'll run Philly!" See how sane and logical?

This week:
  • MRI = not good news
  • the stress fracture started in the metatarsal and splintered upwards towards the joint area before the cuneiform bone which explains why there was more than 1 sensitive spot on my foot
  • the bone/area was still at this point extremely inflamed and swollen and not even close to where it should be in the healing process. No new bone had been laid down. My dearest doctor informed me on a scale of 1-10 of severity it was a 9. Now, see, I call bullshit because the "pain" is NOT a 9. In fact, I refuse to classify it as "pain" at all because it is merely discomfort.
  • Unfortunately, my doctor is not overly impressed with my "logic"
  • The heavy cross training done directly after the injury has not helped (although in my defense I thought I was being smart. I thought all I needed to do for a quick recovery was to simply take running out of the rotation for a few weeks while making sure I kept my cardio and strength levels up and I'd be A-OK). This, however, is apparently not the case for me.
  • I have problems. More directly, my bones have problems. I'm not going to go into too much detail but let me say this (if for nothing else, women, use it as a warning):
hard training
+
no period(hence low levels of estrogen)
+
low intake of calcium
=
weak bones
  • I'm back on crutches for a week or two with NO cross training except for pool running and upper body strength workouts. Then I'll have another x-ray to see if I'm actually producing new bone and if it is sufficient (for my doctor of course, not me), then I can graduate to just wearing the boot again for another couple weeks and then the doc will consider what cross training I can introduce.
So, long story short (sorry 'bout that) is that I won't be running Columbus, I won't be running Philly and per dear old doc, I won't be allowed to start "training hard" for a total of two months. He made it a point to reassure me that I will be able to do some light jogging in a month though... aw, how sweet, some light jogging-just what I love! So I'm thinking maybe the Vegas marathon in December? Or If it takes a while for me to train hard enough to get back to hopefully qualifying I might get stuck doing the Last Chance for Boston marathon in February...anyone done it?

Do you think that 3rd metatarsal sticks out at all? That's all the surrounding edema!
*here's "My Left Foot".... please don't confuse me with Daniel Day Lewis

Monday, August 13, 2007

What the fuck?

I'm not dead, nor have I been abducted ( I know, not like you've been worried, but still). I'm just lazy and not full of very many pleasant words lately...consider my silence as a gift to you. So I'll catch up in a bit... I promise.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

SSDD

Wake up, work out, eat, sleep...repeat a hundred fuckin times.

Yeah, take a wild guess at what I've been up to...bingo, T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G...you're all so damn smart.

More running, more lifting, nothing especially noteworthy or even interesting. Maybe my 16 miler this weekend will have something worth talking about.

On a side note though, I'm volunteering at the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. Many friends and fellow bloggers are running and I wish them all the best of luck...I'll see you guys at mile 65 & mile 95.8-kick some ASS!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Disjointed

I only had 10 on tap for today so I opted to stay around my neck of the woods and forgo running with the group. I wanted to be out there by 6:30 this morning but I guess I can't expect much rigidity from myself when the only person waiting on me is, well, me. I woke up at 5 and realized I was out of oatmeal so I scavenged around and decided on a piece of banana bread...eh, it'll do. George had to work this morning so he was in the bathroom getting ready-I inhaled my pre-run fuel and stupidly laid back down in bed while waiting for him to finish up in the shower. I fell asleep and woke up at 7:15. So much for being out there by 6:30. I then went through the debate I seem to have whenever I'm running a longer run by myself. Back and forth I told myself I should just go...no I shouldn't go...yes you should go, you'll be mad if you don't....no, I've been feeling run down (total lame, not very true excuse), I should lay back down...oh for the love of christ, just go, GO, you fucking baby.

At this point I slammed around the house getting ready like I was being forced by someone other than myself to do this stupid run. God damn it...my bodyglide's outside in the car (at this point, please read these sentences with the clawing, annoying tone of a whiny four year old...cuz that's exactly how I was acting, um... in my house... all by myself). I scraped my feet along out to the car and grabbed my bodyglide and realized that it was dangerously close to being gone-figures. Welp, cross my fingers and hope to god that there's enough to cover all the numerous places that rub; yeah, no dice-I only had enough for my thighs so I knew I'd end up with a bloody sportsbra by the end of the run. It's not my nipples that bleed like most people experience, it's underneath my tits...just as uncomfortable, and just as icky. But whatever, I don't care...I'll be lucky if I even successfully GET to the park. Oh, and I don't have a spare GU anywhere...again, it just figures.

I got there and ran. If it's possible, I'd have to say that the humidity today was actually offensive...it offended my every sense. But despite it's attempts to make me turn around and find nicer company within air conditioned walls, I did all 10 miles and smiled at each and every one of the other people who were brave enough to be active in this sweat inducing atmosphere. I finished in 1:26:54 which breaks down to an average of 8:41 splits. Not bad considering what this morning could have ended up as if I had given in to the comfort of my bed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My Ass Is My Nemesis

Nothing but childbirth and broken limbs should hurt as bad as my ass and legs hurt right now. Okay, maybe 3rd degree burns can be added to that list but this is what I'm trying to get at: the entire lower half of my body has rebelled. It's out to get me. It is, in fact, my nemesis. Simple tasks such as walking and sitting are proving to be a torture that I can only barely tolerate.

Red took me to "The Lab" with her Monday night (yes, I realize it's fucking Wednesday and I'm still complaining but seriously...if you went through it, you'd understand) and I got to witness first hand the type of sessions she goes through with her trainer. I'm still a little chubby in places but I'd like to consider myself pretty strong, pretty tough. It's not that I doubted what Red had told me about Sean, it's just that I thought I'd be able to handle it better. I lift weights three times a week and run a gazillion miles for fucks sake...why on god's green earth should I think I wouldn't be able to handle this? Oh, that's right...cuz I didn't figure in the sadistic whims of dear ol' Satan Sean.

Ok, while I'm just kidding about how horrible the experience was, I'm not when it comes to the soreness. But it's one of those things that hurts so bad it feels kinda good (and yeah, guys, lets not go for the obvious sexual tie in that only a moron would miss, ok? I'm talking strictly in the working out sense, ya pervs). I give huge props to Red cuz although she did her cute little whiny voice to him, she did every single thing that task master put before her. Impressed isn't a strong enough term for what I feel. Besides the joy of self inflicted torture, I got to meet one of Red's friends who is like the poster child for kick ass. She was tossing those weights around like they were mere toys. So I'm thinking that Sean was a large part of what got her to that point...which means I can hopefully attain that level of ass kickin' someday.

I still managed to stick with the rest of my workouts so far this week but I must admit...everything was done with a slight wince, an unintended limp or a slow as molasses speed. It'll all be worth it when I qualify for Boston though, right? Jesus if I don't then someone owes me something...I don't know who but god damn it, someone'll pay...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

BT50k Race Report

Prelude to a Race

Ok, before I go into the race report, I have to set the surrounding scene for you (just bear with me, I'll try to make it quick).

My veins have always been pretty close to the surface of my skin so you can usually see the road map that is my circulatory system fairly easily. One vein in particular sticks out more than the rest-it's on the inside of my right calf. Over time I've noticed a slight lump/bulge in it but since it's never given me a problem, I've never addressed it. A week before the race I was sitting outside with my mom and she mentioned that it was larger than she'd seen it before-I, in turn, assured her that it was nothing except mildly ugly.

Fast forward to the Wednesday before the race.

I was sitting at my desk at work and got up for a cup of coffee. This horrible burning, pulling stinging feeling radiated up my leg and at the epicenter of the pain was that god damn bulging vein (if you look closely at the picture you can see it). I sat down quickly and hoped it was just a temporary thing. Curiosity took over and I stood after resting for just a few seconds and sure enough, not only did my leg hurt but it was painful to walk on it. I tried not to overreact but this was all too familiar (Cleveland Marathon, fractured bone, two weeks before...you get the picture).

I called my sports doctor and tried like hell to get an appointment that day but he must have been busy cuz he didn't even get a chance to call me back until after 5. I described what happened and he thought it might be a superficial clot so he instructed me put warm compresses on it and then to come and see him the next afternoon.

We are now into Thursday late afternoon and yes, the race is on Saturday.

So after examining me, he wasn't sure if it was a clot or possibly a tear in the fascia or maybe even Compartment Syndrome which I had only read about once or twice. To be sure he wanted to do an ultrasound but of course, it was now close to 6:00pm and the lab wasn't open. I was instructed to call the lab in the morning and try to get fit in somewhere. My doctor's parting words to me were "if you have any shortness of breath or increased heart rate...get to the emergency room." Yeah, that's just what I wanted to hear two days before my first attempt at an ultramarathon. And my parting words to my doctor were "if I were you, I'd wear a cup to work tomorrow cuz if you have to tell me AGAIN that I can't run the race I've been training for, I'm gonna kick you in the nads and I'm gonna kick you hard." Thank god he understands the subtle form of communication I have.

Friday's a new day though.

I go for the ultrasound and the clot issue is ruled out. We still don't know exactly what's wrong but since the pain was subsiding he gave me the green light to run but informed me to pay attention to my legs and if I felt any cramping then I should stop...um, yeah, it's a 31 mile, 7 or 8 hour race, over technical terrain...I assured him that I was pretty sure that at some point, somewhere along the line I most definitely would feel cramping-how I was to tell the difference between "normal" cramping and "bad" cramping I'll never know... but at that point all I heard from him was blah, blah, blah, you can run, blah, blah, blah.

Sooooooooooooo..............................

Buckeye Trail 50k Race Report

Thankfully the heavy humid weather broke just in time for the race. In fact, it was chilly to start. The alarm had gone off at 4:00 am and I dragged myself into the kitchen to make my ritual oatmeal with brown sugar before the race. Surprisingly George got up with me instead of sleeping a little later. I wake up that early cuz I'm paranoid about eating before running-it has to be at least 2-3 hours before I start otherwise the fear of a stomach uprising would ruin my whole time. So anyway, George was up and at 'em and made me some really good coffee and started going over the plan of where and when he'd meet me. I can't tell you how much it means to have him involved. I don't think this race would be as fun and as meaningful if I didn't have him to share it with. At the risk of sounding stupid and sappy I'll just say this...I love him. A lot.

After bodygliding the hell out of pretty much every inch of my body, I got dressed and filled the cooler and my waist pack with what I needed. We hopped in the car and surprise, George made me a CD to listen to on our 40 minute drive. For some reason this song (Slow Show by The National) and Clara Bow by 50 Foot Wave really stood out to me so I just kept replaying them over and over and over. Little did I know that both those songs would replay in my head a few hundred more times when I was by myself for the last 16 miles of the race. So again, I thank my husband for having such good taste in music (and if you don't agree then go fuck yourself...it's what helped me get through).

As soon as we pulled up I saw Trail Goddess Kim directing traffic. I leaned over George and introduced myself excitedly~in just a few seconds of talking to her I could easily understand what all the hype was about...now if only I could set up a time to actually run with her! Then right after we saw Kim, we saw Sara and her husband Kevin which made me happy cuz she has been a really nice addition to our "back of the pack" group. Once we got ourselves situated, Red, Kurt & Jim pulled up and joined the mass of runners who were eagerly congregating in the now full lot. We talked to a bunch of people from bloggerland (E-Speed, Brett and Bill Bailey to name a few). And then Red & I got caught talking about the hot young Josh who is running us all into the ground with his fantastic accomplishments...thanks alot Rob for blowing our cover as the cool, collected older ladies of the trails!

So it's nearing the start time and Vince from Vertical Runner so eloquently states that everybody needed to get their ass to the starting line. We all gladly oblige and before you know it, the race has officially begun. I gave George a quick kiss and hug goodbye and started down the drive that would be welcoming me back in 7 or 8 hours. Red took off a ways ahead of Debi, Sara and myself. We let her go for a little bit but then reminded her that we had a long way to go. She gets really keyed up with race day energy and for any other race I would embrace that but since this was our first ultra, I wanted all of us to run it like we had trained it.

Here's where the story gets a little boring...at least on my part...because surprisingly, the first half of the race was more than enjoyable. Besides having the fantastic company of my immediate running group, I had run 16 miles and I wasn't feeling a bit of discomfort. I thought I saw Jim struggling a little but he was still leading our pack for a good portion of the run. Red & I joked that we needed to reign the rhino in. That's just one of our pet names for Jim... he has a few others but we'll just keep those to ourselves.

My plan all along was to run the whole first half very comfortably and then hand any extra shit along with my camera and waist pack to George at mile 16 and take off and run my own race from there on out. Between him and the volunteers, every need I had was met during that race. I can't even tell you how much I looked forward to seeing him. I think I surprised him by being in a continual good state of mind...that's rare for me during races but again, to me that's the beauty of this first attempt-I just wanted to finish, that was my only goal. So at each stop he'd ask how I was doing and I'd happily reply that I couldn't be better, that I felt good but was still cautious and didn't want to jinx myself.

After leaving the half way point I slowly increased the gap between myself and Red & Jim. And by mile 20 it was just me & George celebrating at the aid station. I asked him to stick around and wait because I wanted to make sure Jim got a few S!caps (electrolyte replacement tablets) in him before continuing on. Little did I know that it was just about too late for Jim, he unfortunately cramped so bad at mile 20 that he was forced to make the smart decision to pull out of the race.

I said goodbye to George one more time and went on my way-mile 20 was the last stop I'd see him at before the finish. Very slowly I started passing a few people. I thought of Kim because as she puts it, I "chicked" a few guys and I can't lie...I smiled a little as I did it. I got to the Snowville Rd. aid station just in time because my water supply was running low. The one thing I regret is that I didn't practice eating during my training runs so the spread that was at the aid stop was lost on me. But I can tell you this, I've never seen a wider array of candy and chips and variety of beverage than I saw here. But being the pussy I am, I was so afraid to try anything new in fear of getting sick. I looked at one of the volunteers and asked how many miles I had to go and they said 6. Just a 10k?? No problem...I got this, I totally got this. Maybe ten minutes after that epiphany is when my legs started threatening to cramp up. Nice, the trail gods had heard me and they obviously wanted to make me their bitch.

First it was my quads...I had been taking the S!caps every hour leading up to this point but then I started popping them like they were candy. Then my calves started feeling extremely tight and all I could think of was that god damn Dr. Figler telling me about Compartment Syndrome. I would run for a little then squat down to stretch my legs without ever fully giving in to the dreaded siren call of sitting down. I kept thinking that if someone were to pass me they'd think I was taking a shit right there on the trail but I couldn't help it...if squatting was what felt good then that's what I'd do. Those songs that George had put on my CD were the only things I could wrap my brain around then. The one line in the first song goes "I'm gonna hurry home to you"...and it kept going through my mind and I found that concentrating on getting back to him is what helped me through those last miles. By this time the hills were a mixed blessing. I looked forward to them because it gave my quads a rest-I would really lean into them and let my ass do most of the work but at the same time those hills left me sucking air like I was drowning. So I started breaking the hills into small sections: "okay, just get to that small tree and you're golden". Made it. "okay, see that root up there? Just make it to that and you're golden". Made it.

And so on and so forth for the next three miles until thank the lord, a clearing in the woods. It was that first bathroom stop and I knew two very important things about this place-1) there's a drinking fountain by the pavilion which is good cuz I was completely out of water and 2) there's only about 2 miles to go until the end. That's 2 miles until I've FINISHED MY FIRST ULTRA MARATHON! The cramping subsided for the most part and I made my way around the last of the deceptive curves and finally saw the finish line off in the distance. I made it. I did it. Besides George being there of course, my sister and my parents were there cheering me on. Jim was there too and it threw me off since I didn't know he had dropped out of the race and all I could think for a split second was that the fucker had somehow passed me! E-Speed and her friend MT were so nice to stick around and see everyone finish. I crossed the finish line in 7 hours, 23 minutes and 37 seconds. My goal had been 8 hours so I was definitely flying high.

Once I completed the race and quickly stuffed my face with cookies and pretzels I turned my attention to my friends who would be coming around the bend any minute. Sara was the first to appear and let me say this now-she is one tough woman...I found out later that she had taken a really bad fall and split her eyebrow open along with getting a nice size goose egg above her eye but she kept running! That's balls baby.

Next came Red and she ended the race within just a few minutes of her projected goal. I can't imagine running this race without her. She's the main reason I was drawn to our running group and she continues to entertain me and support me and all in all be a fantastic friend and running companion. I know she battled problems with her IT bands for a good portion of the race so my hat goes off to her for pursuing in spite of the pain.

Debi's crossing was just as exciting. Here's a woman who doesn't always get her training runs in during the week yet always showed up for the long runs and kicked ass and took names. On top of it, I'm sorry to say, she's a little prone to falling so for her to still fearlessly tackle this very technical trail says so much about her character and her drive and determination.

So when's the next one? I need an excuse to inhale another large pizza like I did when I got home from the race...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hello?

I'm waiting, Maria...are you there??? Post it!!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Different Breed

Yesterday was the Muddy Paws 10 mile trail race at Kendall Hills. First off, let me just say that the course was beautiful, the company (Red, Debi, Jim & Kurt) was superb, and the weather was just about perfect. This is a race to help raise funds for the local Humane Society so people were out there with their four legged companions as well. It's a good cause and I'd be lying if I said that after it I didn't want to run to the shelter and adopt every unwanted pet there. But as I've promised my husband, once we actually sell our house and move to a bigger one we WILL be getting a dog (hopefully one that will run with me cuz I'd love to have some protection on my early morning runs) so hopefully at that time I'll be able to find a dog that fits my needs; my cat, however, is hoping that this idea never comes to fruition. That cat only loves George anyway...screw her! Besides, she would make a really lousy running partner...

Anyway, back to the race itself. I've been running for around 4 years and all the "races" I've ever done have been road races (minus the Towpath marathon but come on, that's still as tame and flat as a road race just better cushioned since it's all limestone) yet I've "run" on plenty of trails over the years. Until yesterday, I hadn't ever "raced" on a trail. My best 5 mile road race was 38 minutes, my best 10K race-47 minutes, and of course my best 10 mile time was 1:24 so naturally going into this I tried to predict what my finishing time should be, which in hindsight seems so naive and well, almost endearing. I figured I could add a minute or so per mile and hope for a 9 minute pace. The funny thing in this is that I've run trails...did I think that some race magic was going to make it easier? Did I think that the name "Kendall Hills" was just an ironic coincidence and what lay ahead of me was really just a nice flat winding path through the woods? Aw, how cute, my optimism feels almost comical now.

Once I realized that my strategy needed tweaked I thoroughly enjoyed this race. I decided to run comfortably the whole time and it paid off since I felt great all the way until the end. I met a really nice woman named Holly who went on to win first place in her age group. She was extremely good natured and easy to run with. She lost me at the last water stop since I got distracted by the girl with the infamous screwed ankle. And once again, it was rubbing her bloody from the inside out...that makes my innards hurt just looking at it! I got moving again and felt pretty strong but then in the last quarter mile a woman in my age group who I knew was behind me (thanks to a little inquiry I did with Holly since she had been running with her previously) passed me, putting me into third place for my age group. That's okay though, cuz she looked to be a really talented, strong runner so it wasn't a huge surprise. I think her name was Marta and she definitely kicked ass!

Waiting at the finish line were Jim, who blitzed through the course in a way that still astonishes me, and Debi who opted for the 5 mile race. George hasn't been able to make it to my last couple races so it was so nice that I still had a cheering section even in his absence. I don't know what it is but the sight of Debi always, ALWAYS makes me happy. Whether it be before a training run or at the end of a race, her smile is just contagious and so naturally I caught it and smiled all the way through the finishing chute. Holly was also standing there yelling for me which I thought was nice. I was seconds behind Marta but still felt thrilled and was happy to slap a congratulatory high five with her before stumbling off to find a banana and water. I joined the group and cheered Red on who was only a couple minutes behind me.

I got my only dose of relaxation for the afternoon by sitting in the grass and bullshitting with my friends since I had to fly home after the race and clean the house and do the yard work in preparation for today's open house. Which by the way, does anyone want to buy my house? Anyone? Please?

Monday, July 2, 2007

You'll run as fast as KENYANS

If you don't think this shit is funny then I don't want to be your friend.

Just Don't Look Up

Yesterday was the last long run before The Buckeye Trail 50k. Our previous training run was 16 miles on the trail and to be honest with you, I'd never felt better than after that so I had high hopes going into this 23 miler. But I gotta tell you, 16 is very different than 23. Very, very different.

The group that amassed was large including all the really fast runners (which I am not). But thankfully I've taken on this challenge of a race with the normal Sunday running group (Kurt, Jim, Red & Debi...Roger too but he couldn't make it to this training run) so I never even have the chance to feel intimidated since I'm always surrounded by my friends. As Red, Debi and I were waiting around for the run to start, a woman came up to us and introduced herself-her name is Sarah and she has just recently become solo in her quest for this 50k. Her running partner decided that this just wasn't the race for her and bailed out leaving poor Sarah all alone in conquering the BT50k. It turns out she likes to run our back of the pack pace as well so we welcomed her with open arms. I wish I could have spent more time talking with her but unfortunately I had a family brunch engagement that I really wanted to go to so I picked up my pace for a good portion of this run. But she was in good hands. Red & Debi could have made a one legged blind person feel at ease on that trail...that's just how nice they are and how instantly at ease you feel when in their company.

Big Jim and I ran together the whole time and I gotta tell you, for a 220 pound, 6 foot somethin' guy, he can really move! In the beginning he and I would pull up in front of the group and I kept asking him "Jim are we being stupid? Shouldn't we be conserving our energy?" so we'd stop and rejoin the group but then inevitably we'd get ahead again...which isn't a bad thing if you're not running 23 miles on some of the hilliest terrain I've ever seen. But still, those first 12 miles felt pretty damn good. We made it to Boston Store (the halfway point) in about three hours. Now this is what I need nonrunners to understand-normally, on routes that don't involve trails I can run 12 miles in about 1 hour and 40 minutes... so that's how much impact trails have on pacing.

Jim and I would have waited and rejoined the group but I really did want to make it to that brunch so thankfully (stupidly?) we really picked up our pace on the way back. We were going along pretty good until about mile 15 or 16 and then things kinda deteriorated; not horribly but enough where we were exchanging more complaints than conversation. Neither of us felt dehydrated or out of breath which is a good thing but our legs were just really starting to hurt. What once were agile quick steps had now turned into more of a shuffle mixed with periodic hops over roots and rocks. It's what I like to call "messy feet". At one point Jim's foot caught a small undetected stump in the middle of the trail and he went down. Really it was more acrobatic than anything. As he fell his water bottles flew in two different directions and he just let out a few choice words before getting up and dusting himself off.

So onward and upward we went. Oh yeah...upwards. At this time in the run whenever we reached the bottom of a hill we'd just mutter a "motherfucker" under our breath and remind each other to just not look up cuz it was too daunting to see what lay ahead. On any other run the call of a horrible uphill is always answered with the relief of a downhill but by then the downhills were just as painful as their counterparts. Going downhill on quads that wanted to burst is not a good feeling. You end up feeling out of control, both on form and pace. Cross your fingers and hope for the best cuz that's all one can muster at that point.

Oh thank the sweet baby jesus, there's a clearing in the woods. We were close to the end but any sense of distance and or time was gone by then. At this stop there's a drinking fountain which currently had two runners that had passed us a while ago. Hhmm..imagine that, for once we weren't the last ones on these trail training runs. The two guys that were there were really nice but their motivation and comfort level pretty much matched ours. Jim and I got water but then realized the grave danger in taking a break with these guys-if we stopped I couldn't even imagine trying to get started again so after exchanging a little bit of small talk we continued on our way but not before hearing the fantastic words of "there's only about 1.75 miles left". I swear, something in me burst like a dam and my willpower and drive went flooding through my spirit. So close, so so close.

I felt bolstered by this news but Jim was still having trouble with pain in his legs so we split for just a few minutes but then I panicked at being alone and trying to navigate my way back to the starting point so I turned around and ran the little way back to Jim so he could officially finish out his job as escort to me. It was probably the last .25 miles that felt the hardest. Where was the goddamn starting spot? Where was it? Oh and what are my quads doing? I internally starting praying to the quad god for pity. Please oh please oh please don't let them cramp. I could feel how close they were to abandoning me... they felt like hands on the verge of balling into fists. Ok again, where the hell is that spot?

Relief and happiness beckoned me from around the last curve. We made it. And not only did we make it back, we made it back in just under 2 .5 hours! Jim and I kicked ass! I was especially proud of him because this was the longest distance he's ever done-having only done half marathons up to this point. I layed down in the grass and felt impressed with our efforts and impressed with how fantastic the grass felt beneath my weary legs. This race is going to be hard but as I get ready for work this morning and feel the slight aching reminder of yesterday's run, I 'm still walking taller and prouder than I was before so just imagine how fantastic we'll all feel once we've conquered the full 50k.

And I made it to the brunch and I ate with reckless abandon.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday to me!

My birthday was 5 days ago and I thought I was done receiving gifts but low and behold, I had one more in store. I stepped on the scale this morning and it flashed that I was 2.5 pounds heavier than I was when I last weighed myself (which, since I'm on a pity party streak, was technically when I was 30 and not this older state of 31). I'm really not that pleased with this development. In fact, it makes me want to go down to my basement and excise my own fat.

I'm so insanely jealous of the people out there who can have the attitude of just "fuel yourself to run" but I can't seem to completely embrace that. It's such a fine line you have to walk between making sure you're eating enough to run well and being able to drop a few extra pounds. I have yet to find that balance. It's got to be there somewhere but the inner fat girl keeps tossing snickers on the scale and throws it all out of whack.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

You Creep Me Out

I try really hard not to judge people. Honestly, I really do try. But to the dude who skulks around the park like a weirdo-in-waiting...I don't like you. You make me uneasy. Your mere presence speeds my pace in a way that only imagined harm can do, so for that and that alone, I thank you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I hate bugs

I won't be able to get any running in this weekend due to a string of previously scheduled booze filled engagements so I was forced to double up two of my shorter runs this morning. I woke up way too freakin' early just so I could fit it in before work. The silence and darkness of the park met me at the ungodly hour of 5 am. Suprisingly the fear I had wasn't for the would be deranged rapists waiting in the woods but for the creatures that always seem to be lurking in that pre-dawn hour. As I ran I saw the glow of little eyes and realized that maybe this wasn't the best idea in the world but I was there and those 12 miles had to get done sometime and I gotta tell you-Cleveland's afternoon humidity isn't something I really feel like fucking around with so this morning was the most viable answer.

Surprisingly though, the run was great... except for the ton of bugs that ended up either in my mouth or in my eyes or stuck somewhere on my sweat soaked skin. And all I could keep thinking over and over again was "Bug in Mouth Disease". That phrase rolled off my tongue unlike the little fuckers that kept getting stuck on it. I couldn't remember where I had heard that and it bothered me all day. But then it popped into my head-it's from one of my favorite websites so here, I always get a kick outta this...hopefully you'll enjoy it too. "Bug In Mouth Disease"

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Expectation meets reality

This weekend is full of running. I don't normally run back to back days but per the rest of the group, the 10k race scheduled today in the valley was a must so I decided to suck it up and run both Saturday and Sunday. I've failed to mention along the way here that I recently decided to try my first "ultra" distance race...a 50k (31. sumthin' miles) and I'm really excited by it. It's all on trails so hopefully the wear and tear on my body will be a little less intense than a regular road race. Anyway, knowing that I have a 16 mile trail training run on tap for tomorrow I really didn't want to run this 10k at a breakneck speed (ha, like I have that capability in the first place) so I went to this event with one thing in mind-just enjoy it. And that's exactly what I did.

The weather couldn't have been better even though the temperature was already starting to climb as I pulled into the huge field used for parking. I found Red who was eagerly cheering her daughter on as she ran the kids fun run. To see all those little kids out there is actually very inspiring. It's refreshing to look at their tiny faces and know that what's driving them isn't that gnarled ugly beast that resides in so many adult athletes...they're running cuz it's fun, cuz it feels good and cuz nothing is as carefree as getting away from your parents for a little bit. Once the kids finished their portion of the race, the adults all anxiously toed the line...very few exhibiting the same carefree spirit as the kids-it's more a mixture of self doubt and over inflated egos, nervous laughter and inane chit chat. But nonetheless, this mostly unknown mass of people are my peers and as different a vibe there is between us and the kids, we all at least know what are purpose is.

I told myself from the beginning that I was just here to enjoy my friends company, and the beautiful course and obviously to log that 6 miles I needed to...and that's just what I did. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy myself but I felt strong the whole way though in both mind and body. My time was not my greatest but it wasn't my worst either. Let's just hope that my conservative running today helps keep me strong for tomorrow's run. It really does help to know that Red, Debi & Kurt will be there-after running alone for so many miles over the years it's still so refreshing to have people that I can share these ups and downs with.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tag, I'm It

I'm guessing this is the equivalent of an "all about you" e-mail. I got tagged so...

“Each player of this game starts with 6 weird things about himself or herself. People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own as well as state the rule clearly. In the end, you need to tag 6 people as well and list their names. Don’t forget to let them know they’ve been tagged!”

I thought about it for a few minutes.... and realized I didn't know what the hell to write so here, meet fat rolls 1-5...I'm guessing you didn't know just how fat I really was. Consider yourself enlightened.
Oh and number 6... I hate shit like this. If you send me a chain letter I will not forward it. If you send me inspirational e-mails that instruct me to reply back to you in some fashion, I won't do it. And god forbid, you send me some crap that says something like "true friends are hard to find, send this to everyone and their fucking sister and something great will happen", trust me when I tell you, I will error on the side of inviting disaster.

No disrespect to those that started it-I still love y'alls.

And you guessed right, I'm sitting on my hands, I've taken my ball and gone home, I will not be tagging anyone. Smooches!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Controlled

I feel very thwarted lately in terms of the things I can't control in my life. I wouldn't venture so far as to say I'm a control freak but I definitely have issue with the parts of life that I can't bend to my will. Maybe that's why today's run felt so good.

It was just Roger, Red and I running "Hell's Green Corridor" (as Red so lovingly dubbed parts of the Towpath). The first contender in the battle of control was the weather. For the first part of our 13 miles it was so humid that my sweat was sweating for fucks sake! Everyone is used to dripping a bit from the normal expected areas of your body but when your wrists and ears and other odd parts start sweating you just KNOW it's going to be a messy, slightly uncomfortable, electrolyte depleting run. By the time we reached Old Carriage Trail right off the Towpath, Red was mentioning how she just might have to take off her shirt and run in just her sportsbra. That both intrigued and unnerved me and I'll tell you why. I have never run in just my sportbra. The mere thought of it scares the everloving shit outta me. Even at my thinnest (which I am not at right now) I couldn't pull off baring my midriff. I don't have kids so I don't even really have an excuse for having such a mis-shapen abdomen. Without a doubt it has to do with the fact that at one point I was as big if not bigger than a full term pregnant woman but still, that's not the only culprit...make way for problem #2 that is out of my control-genetics. I am for the most part built like my father which for a guy that would be great, probably even downright desirable but for a short woman it's not so good sometimes. I could literally starve myself and I will always have a thick waist. And I will also always store body fat there. Don't get me wrong though, there are some things I got from my dad that help a figure tremendously but on a woman, no matter which way you roll the argument around in your mouth, there is nothing sexy or good about a pudgy fat stomach. But nevertheless I joined in with Red and hesitantly pulled my shirt off for this stretch of hopefully deserted trail. After being so frickin hot it was a welcome feel to have the breeze on my skin...too bad that breeze couldn't make me feel comfortable in my own skin because I wasn't. At all. 3 miles later my shirt was back on and any discomfort I was feeling was quickly washed away with the downpour that met us for the next part of our run... I guess that really could fall into the category of "out of my control" problem #1.

Besides the weather and my overly abundant belly, there are other things that are happening that feel out of my control but they're just too boring to go in to. Selling my house, aspects of my husbands job, my ridiculous new haircut...blah, blah, blah I've already lost interest in my own problems. But I will say this-during my run this morning everything that I can't control bounced around my head with a force that should have given me a concussion yet I felt that the one thing I could control at that moment was how I put one foot in front of the other. I ran strong and I ran with purpose...even if it was only to try to escape the out of control demon who has taken up residence in my life. I'm hoping I can draw that kind of control comfort from my runs in the future.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Redemption Rising

Last weekend's race was a hard pill for me to swallow. I felt like an impostor. The time itself has had less of an effect on me than the feeling that seeped in to every nook and cranny of my willpower. Questioning my goals as far as running goes has felt a little foreign to me. I look back over my running log for the past years and I really do wonder if I struggled as much mentally with it as I do now. But who knows...I'm really sick of examining the autopsy of my drive and determination. Shit, if it feels that way then what am I saying? Is it dead and I'm just the grieving widow who refuses to accept the passing of such an important part of life? Fuck it. I honestly don't care at this moment.

I logged a whopping 15 miles this week. Today's run that was supposed to be 13 (in order to flush the bad aftertaste of last week out of my mouth) turned out to be just 5. I ran with my sister which was nice.

Hopefully my motivation is only mostly dead...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Vegas and the Joys of Body Glide!

Ahhhh! The Vegas Strip! I've been there a few times before. I don't go to gamble. I don't know how and I get too bored sitting at the slots. Anyway, I went West for a small trip with my daughter. In the months during the planning stages, it was imperative that, wherever we stayed, I would have to have a treadmill...I have miles to accumulate! Well, all the major resorts have workout facilities/spas, including Planet Hollywood, where we ended up staying.



But now I must digress....Have you ever walked the strip?? "Just one hotel over", "right passed the Mirage", "...cross the street and go down a block..." is pretty much the normal direction one gets when one asks "How do I get to..." Well, every resort/hotel is not "just one hotel over" and "right passed the Mirage" is actually much farther away when you put foot to sidewalk and "go down a block"???? Ugh!! One of the others we were with wore a pedometer. On day one we logged 12,456 steps. Day two was less, as we took an off-road tour to the Grand Canyon (truly magnificent, by the way) with 9,024 steps. Day three...woohoooo!! 15,218!!!! Day four, we were down to 13,877!! Ahh, lets go back to day three....



Day three I woke up and knew I had to hit it!! Out to the spa for some milage. As I was getting, dressed, though, I kept going to the window, looking down on the strip. Looks pretty quiet at 6:56 in the morning. Hey! I see a runner! Hey!! I see another!! That's it...who needs a treadmill? I have some great, flashy scenery waiting for me, so off I went. The day was warm already, just over 80 degrees, but no humidity. Streets were relatively quiet, but lots of runners and walkers. I could tell the midwest runners from the coast runners, by the way....we all smiled at each other and said "good morning" or "hi". The others wouldn't dare to make eye contact!
<----------Yes, I've used this pic before...still haunted by steps!
When you run or walk the strip, to cross the major roads you can take the escalator, or the steps. I took the steps whether I was walking or running. While I was running, I ascended or descended 16 sets of stairs. Does anyone know how translate that into miles?? My run was only a 3.24 mile run, based on mapping it. But, boy! I'd love to work those steps in! When I was running up the stairs in front of Caesar's Palace, a worker was on the escaltor, wiping down the glass and handrails. He didn't seem to friendly looking, but when we made eye contact I blurted out with a grin..."too many steps in this city!" He grinned back. It was a warm, friendly grin. He spoke out, "Don't give up! You can do it!" Well, that was certainly enough for me!! I didn't give up and did it!! Encouragement can come when you least expect it and I ALWAYS welcome it!!!

So...lets go to the math of day three....3.24 miles running + 15,218 steps = well, it equals blisters! lol!! But I loved earning every single blister that day!

Speaking of blisters, I must now sing the praises of "Body Glide", which protected my skin during the Cleveland 10k.....
La La La La Laaaaaaa! I love Body Glide!!!! La La La La Laaaaaaa! It makes my skin not fried!!!! La La La La BODY GLIIIIIIIIIIDE!!!!

I think if you are a runner, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about!! ; )

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sugar Coated Disappointment

I planned accordingly. I went to great lengths to ensure a personal record (PR) for the Cleveland Half Marathon. But in all honesty, when push came to shove...I tipped over. I laid down. I gave in too easily. I could try and come up with a myriad of reasons for why I failed at my attempt at a 1 hour 48 minute finish. Fuck, I could make you graphs and outlines on why my engine simply idled instead of gunning. But to do so only scrapes the scab off of this failure. It makes for a very long race when you hit mile marker 3 and realize you got nuthin. That makes for a long remainder 10 miles. Those miles stretched into light years and illuminated my personal sense of defeat.

I know what others will say...in fact I've been hit with the barrage of well intentioned, "you'll get 'em next time kiddo" or "hey, at least you finished" or my personal favorite "you can't expect to PR every race" enough in the last two days to mistakenly inflate my sense of accomplishment. But as much as I truly do love the people who are attempting to assuage my self inflicted punishment, I'd like them to stop. Every time you look at me with those earnest, doe eyes and rainbow covered antidotes you are in fact insulting what I am about.

I know that sounds harsh and I know the particular people who will read this and take offense so let me be really clear... I love you all and I appreciate that your intent is to make me feel better. If I had truly tried my absolute 110% best then I would welcome your comments, shit I think I'd lavish in them but since I feel a sense of let down to myself, I can't help but feel a little nauseous every time someone tries to make me feel better because I don't think I deserve that for this race. I could not embrace the concept of gutting through this race. And the fact that I just typed that sentence knowing full well that in order to "gut" something out you essentially should be in some sort of pain, some sort of panic inducing state~which I was not in. I wasn't hurting, I was just weak in drive and determination. I'm not taking away the fact that I completed this race; for that fact alone I'm proud of myself. I'm not as delusional as some of you may want to believe I am. So many (yeah like I have that many readers) will read this and assume that running isn't fun for me, that I've taken the joy out of it. But it's just the opposite. I'm an extremist in every sense of the word...my highs reach the clouds and my lows threaten to pull me under and drown me. But I like this part of me. It makes me feel eternally honest with myself. I sucked some major ass with this race-plain and simple. High expectations are the key to everything and unfortunately I had put mine to bed around mile marker 3.

Way to go to all my friends who ran their hardest. There's honor in that fact. There are still some highlights that George and my mom captured. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's a Thin Line

I'm so fickle about the weather. When it's cold, I find complaints. When it's hot, my complaints get huffy and full of hot air. Today was the warmest it's been for one of my runs in well over a year-you figure I hurt myself in May of last year so I was spared the hell of running in hell inspired temperatures (although that part of it was kind of unappreciated at the time). Anyway, the degrees on the thermometer seemed to rise in sync with my ever mounting intimidation of the half marathon this weekend. I know I can cover the distance but I keep vacillating between just going to run my best or to focus on getting a PR. I've been having this conversation with friends and I always sprinkle this topic with a smile and a nod to the fact that "I'll just be happy to finish" even though on the inside that little girl who is craving competition and recognition (albeit from the small circle of people who make up my life) is kicking so hard against that lowered expectation of myself. So you see, I'm not sure where Dr. Jekyll ends and Mr. Hyde begins.

Fast forward to now...as I sit at my computer, completely finished with my inferno run from earlier. Nothing is as inspiring as a finished mile (or 2 or 4 or 500...you just pick your poison). I'm not religious nor would I even consider myself spiritual so sometimes that inspired feeling creeps up on me, takes me by surprise and makes me wonder if I'm going soft. After a run is when you should make your move, make your plans...because nothing is as scary once you've conquered the first battle of the war. I'm determined to progress back to where I was when I got hurt. I'll run this half marathon and compete solely against myself. And come hell or high water, I will run Boston in the next two years...the idea is so infectious...I found this video and I had to put it in-if you're not a runner I'm very sorry if it's boring to you...feel free not to watch it for fear of being bitten by the bug that has now wormed its way into so many parts of my life.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Disdain, Party of 1...Your table is ready

It was days like today that made me never want to run again. How in god's name did I ever run 26.2 miles? Chalk this up to another bad run for the week. I guess I can only get a two week reprieve from bad workouts at a time. It should have been good-my sister, my dad and Pier were all there running too. George even came along to snap some pictures. But to no avail. Now I know my friends think I'm too hard on myself when it comes to expectations but that's honestly not what's going on here. Let me say this first-I had 10 miles to log and I did it. End of story. Oh, aren't I proud?

So when I rant and rave, don't take it as anything other than my pure disdain for the reality of what actually occurred during this particular workout. I thought I'd be smart and take my speedwork out in the sun instead of being stuck on the little torture device in my basement that most people refer to as a treadmill. Pier had to get in a few miles and lives close to the track so she decided to go as well. My sister also wanted to run 5 miles so she opted for a change of scenery and came along too. And my dad, being the giver that he is, sacrificed a full run so he could time my splits for the speedwork portion of my run. During my recovery periods he jogged with me...all the while ignoring the f bombs that were exploding out of my mouth at every turn of the track. I know very well that I probably shouldn't swear so much in front of my parents but after knowing me for all my 31 years, I think they both have settled on the fact that those words are as much a part of my personality as my drive and determination are. The flip side of passion unfortunately can be ugly and rash and not always appropriate.

After 5 miles on the track, I just couldn't take it any longer. Misery had it's noose around my neck and was threatening to kick the chair away so I opted to finish out my last 5 miles at the park-which was also awful but that was just par for the course I guess. Once I got home and showered I called my dad to let him know what the outcome of the last part of my workout was. Right before I got off the phone with him I asked if I was too bitchy earlier. He just chuckled and said "No you weren't TOO bitchy, you were just bitchy."

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Broken Down

I had no expectations and I surely had no specific hopes for this run. Well, except that I always hope to not be miserable. Besides the fact that I had a lovely amount of dental work done this morning and my jaw was still feeling as though someone had sucker punched me, I just wanted this to be an easy 6 miles that I could record. As I started running one of two things either happened. 1. one of my enemies successfully put together a voodoo doll of me and decided at that moment to stick as many pins as they could into my legs or 2. someone was running an inverted dog collar with the spikes dipped in burning acid up and down my lower extremities. Whichever it was, it hurt like hell and I wasn't pleased.

As I reached mile marker three I realized that my legs no longer had the sharp, stabbing, burning pain in them which was a plus however, it was at this point that I realized everything on my lower half was just kinda numb. Hhmm, maybe my waistband that had been threatening me earlier had in fact, finally cut off the circulation to my legs. My breathing was fine, I wasn't working overly hard but my legs just felt, well, not totally into it. Think of those hookers you see in movies. No, not the cute likable ones like Julia Roberts. The ones that have too many miles on them. The ones who stand before their last john of the night with flattened bed head hair, a cigarette hanging outta their mouth and a cold sore the size of Asia perched unceremoniously on their lower lip all the while reassuring the forlorn, over sexed, underutilized guy that sure, they want it. She'll go through the motions, hell, she'll even finish him off but that's all it is...a robotic, auto pilot series of unglamorous moves. That's how my run felt. My legs were moving, my feet were carrying me one step at a time but there was nothing sexy or poetic about it. In fact, my legs just felt dead. That run was as fast as that hooker would be wet.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Weekend Full of Women

For the few men who read my blog, don't get excited...is wasn't full of women in "that" way.

When I was younger I never seemed to care about having female friends. Whether it was because of my own insecurities or my one track mind that always happened to evolve around the current guy I was dating, I never made time to get to know others who swam in the same superior gender pool as myself. Over time it's become painfully clear that to impress and get along with other women means way more than doing so to our counterparts. No offense guys, I appreciate you for your limited capabilities but to the women in my life, well, I salute you. My existence would probably be lacking if I didn't have my girlfriends.

On Saturday my friend Kelly from PA came to town and we ran on the Buckeye Trail. The weather wasn't as cooperative as I would have liked but she didn't bat an eye at the cold drizzle that welcomed us onto to the path. This was her first time running this trail (she just ran a half marathon last month). I met her on the Weight Watcher message boards so I was nervous about meeting her face to face for the first time but once I met her I realized I had nothing to worry about-she's as funny and cool in real life as she is in invisiland. It's a shame she doesn't live closer because I would love to run with her on a more consistent basis. It's so nice when you're in someone's presence that puts you so instantly at ease. We chatted the whole 8 miles so the time flew by! I was kinda sad to see the run end cuz I felt like we could have just gone on forever. Afterwards we went to the Winking Lizard for lunch and a very well deserved beer. I swear, that beer tasted so fucking good for some reason...as did the food but that's not such a surprise coming from the fat girl that still resides in my head.

Then today I met up with Red & Debi along with the rest of the group for 13 miles. Contrary to yesterday's weather, this morning was screaming perfection from the minute I stepped outside. The air still had a light chill in it but the coolness felt good against my bare, shorts clad legs. As I drove the route to Lock 29 something came over me, something that seemed to put every nerve in my body on notice-this run was going to be good. Descending into the valley, the fog of early morning was slowly taking it's time in burning off but the effect it created was spectacular. The filtered sun welcomed me like a playful child, begging me to run and find out what lay beneath the fog. I met the group in the parking lot and we set out for what promised to be an enjoyable trip. Feeling strong while running is always like getting an unexpected gift-doesn't really matter what's inside the box, just the fact that someone was thinking of you is enough to make you smile-that's what I feel like when my body obeys the wishes of my head. Just like with Kelly, I feel instantly at ease with these women I ran with today (with the men too but talking about that defeats the purpose of this post, so I digress). This was only my second time running with them but their ease of manor and personality makes me feel as though this was a ritual I'd been doing for years with them.

So to sum it up, the women in my life are priceless. I'm lucky-I have an abundance of smart, beautiful, witty females that grace me with their presence. It turns out they're my unexpected gift.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Race to Remember



First, the morning was spectacular! Bright. Blue. Cloudless. Just a tinge of cool in the air. My friend and "running task-master" Maria, and I headed downtown with positive attitudes and our usual silliness. I was very glad that Maria joined me for this race. She knows the cause, AD, is near and dear to my heart. It made the race all the more worth running when I had someone to share it with.

The race was to start at 9 and we had plenty of time to grab our bibs and racing chips, then slip back into the car as the "tinge of cool in the air" was cooler down by the river! Me, not realizing it was just a few minutes to 9, and Maria, thinking the race started at 9:30, had a quick run to the pack, as it was about to start without us! We laughed the whole way over!

With a "tater" and a "Have a good race!" we were off! Maria was doing the 10k, while I opted for the 5k. She broke away, as she is much faster than I, while I trotted at my turtle-like pace. With every step I took, I thought of my dad. In his younger, healthier years, Pop was fast. He played baseball on a farm team for the Indians many decades ago and could cover the whole outfield if they wanted him to! I, as humorously exhibited in my running, did not get my Dad's speed. Come to think of it, I didn't get anyone's speed, so if you have any to spare, please send it along!


The course was beautiful, and runs along the Cuyahoga River, not far from where my dad spent most of his youth and young adult life. There are hills to face, which is the second reason they call it a Race to Remember. Ugh!! Everyone has their hurdles. Hills are mine!

I finished the race with a minute shaved off from my last race. Maria had an outstanding run, especially if you consider she was just doing this to get some "easy" miles completed. She told me the last mile she thought of my dad. It brought tears to my eyes, even though that was not her intent.


This is the second of many races Maria and I will run together in friendship and camaraderie. Thanks Maria, you have no idea how glad I was to have you there for support on all levels!


The cause, the course, my friend, truly made this a Race to Remember!

It's Just Pier, Myself & Time

Last week was a very good week in terms of working out. Just easy runs were scheduled and my strength routine didn't seem as daunting as it usually does. My eating on the other hand was dismal. The sun rose and fell on my nonstop piehole stuffage. So when Saturday night rolled around, my faith in the ease of Sunday's race had all but disappeared. The connection between eating bad and poor performance is curiously strong for me; not saying that in every instance bad eating has affected me adversely but it does trippy things to my mental status...it's almost as if to say "nice try sister but we both know that weakness breeds weakness and I'm just gonna have to try to teach you that lesson again". I'm making it seem more internally ominous than it really is but these are just the thoughts that float through my head...nothing permanent or debilitating, just a reality of how my brain works. Anyhow, I turned to George Saturday night and informed him that this race tomorrow morning just might suck my ass. We laughed about it and I said out loud "this race isn't even really a race. This isn't about time. I'm scheduled for an easy 6 miles anyway so I'm just going to go and enjoy myself". And as I speak, I look directly at him, seemingly to the unpaying audience in my head, to be addressing him-yet my heart and spirit know full well that the comment was made on their behalf.

Besides the mental tug of war going on inside my brain I knew one thing for sure: this race (A Race to Remember) was special, it was different and I'll tell you why. Over the years I've run alot of races-I can't tell you if or what any of them benefited because whatever it was (although this sounds harsh I truly don't mean it to be) didn't have any bearing on my mind one way or another-I go to races primarily to challenge myself, compete against myself...hence the normal selfish preoccupation being, well, ME. But the cause for this race has become pretty prominent to me-a fact that I wish wasn't the case yet the reality is that my dear, dear friend Pier's father is battling Alzheimer's and she in turn has become a pillar of strength for her family and an astounding picture of what I can only describe as incredible. The only experience I've now had with this terrifying disease is through her struggles as caregiver, cheerleader and general captain of her family's ship, plowing through wave upon wave of uncharted, often times dark waters. I feel helpless to her anguish-as her friend all I really want to do is scoop her into my arms to protect her from this hurt and promise her that it's all going to be okay. Since I'm not able to click my heels three times and magically send her and her family to a pain free place , I'll do the best I can-which is to support and listen and provide either a shoulder to cry on, or a sounding board for her anger, or an uncontrollable laughing jag or in the current case, a donation in the form of race dues that will hopefully go towards finding a cure.

The dawn of Sunday morning promised to be a beautiful day. Pier picked me up and I quickly noticed that she was all jacked up on caffeine. I love when she's like this-her already infectious happy attitude gets stronger when combined with coffee. As we make our way downtown, my concerns for whether this race will be one of my best vanishes and I realize how lucky I am to have a friend like her.

We get our bib numbers and saunter back to the car. Although the sun is shining the temp hasn't really warmed up and my corpse like hands need to be thawed before the start of the race. We sit there for a little while and then I look at her and tell her that I really should pee before the race starts so we get out of the car and turn to make a b-line for the bathroom. Out of the corner of my eye I see everybody lined up and it puzzles the hell out of me. I turn to Pier and say something like "what the fuck is everybody lining up so early for?" Which I follow up quickly with "Doesn't the race start at 9:30?" And in true Pier fashion she mocks me slightly and says in her best Homer Simpson voice "Doh! It starts at 9!" Looking quickly at my watch it confirms that yes, my bladder will have a workout as well since it's 8:57 and the race is about to start. We laugh as we make our way to the mass of runners lined up who are obviously not as time-tarded as I seem to have become.

The race commences and Pier and I bump fists, say a quick good luck to each other and we're off! As I approach mile marker #1 the monotone voice of the soon to be bored volunteer confirms that my first mile split is as deliberately slow as I had hoped it to be. All I kept repeating to myself was "run comfortable"...and so, I did. My legs felt strong and my breathing clued me in on what type of effort I was exerting which was a step below the challenging level on my pain-o-meter. By mile two I was well on my way to just enjoying the sunshine and by mile three since there was a lack of suffering on my part, there was little to concentrate on except how surprisingly long three more miles suddenly seemed. As I hit mile four though I realized how nice it'd been to disregard the mile splits, how relieved I was to not have had to feed the inner demon that normally took my focus from enjoyment and perverted it into a masochistic dissection of all the things I could have done better. I hit mile five and happened to hear the guy shouting out times say something like 39:mumble mumble (see, I told you, I wasn't really paying attention at that point). But the second I heard 39 I started trying to do the math for a projected finish time and splits which was unsuccessful since for some reason when I'm running I lose all ability to do simple addition and multiplication. It was in this last mile that I thought the most about Pier's dad. Without even knowing he was doing so, he helped carry me towards the finish.

I tried to simplify it and told myself when my watch said 45 minutes I should try to start hauling ass. So that's what I did. With an overflowing reserve in the tank (or maybe it was really just my near bursting bladder I was feeling) I picked up my pace and before I knew it, I had the finish line in my sight. I sprinted the last little bit and crossed the line with an official time 47:54 (splits were 7:44).

Pier and I reconnected at the finish line and decided that the free breakfast buffet was just way too crowded so we left and stopped at Presti's bakery in Little Italy instead. We sat at a small, sun drenched cafe table and enjoyed our lattes and pastries the way all good little italian girls should. The warmth of the sun was almost cool in comparison to the warmth in my heart. And for that glorious morning I felt anything was possible. I felt everything was possible. And I felt like her Papa was holding our hands the entire time.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sensational Run with Sensationally Red

These past couple weeks have been kinda hard for me in terms of running. I've joked with my friends that running is like my difficult, sometimes unwieldy lover. And let me tell you, over my last few workouts he's kinda jilted me, left me for someone who's obviously more enthralled with him. I try not to become desperate over his absence, I try and busy myself with other hobbies that are apparently more into me at this time but it's that damn Mr. Running that keeps floating through my thoughts and daydreams, so when one bad jaunt turns into three or four in row, I start questioning my relationship as any love struck woman would... "honey, is it ME??"

I bargained with myself, if my next long run didn't find me in higher spirits and better running form then I was going to flirt with Running's younger brother...Walking. But you see, I don't really Like Walking-he doesn't challenge me, and I know I could bend him to my will...how fun is that, really? So then I made myself another deal, maybe I could chum up with one of the girls that Running is fond of-maybe if I got in good with her I'd be able to catch Running's eye again. Now it's no surprise he's smitten with this woman-fiery red hair, a laid back personality and killer wit on top of it all. Her name...Sensationally Red-and I assure you, she is exactly that. I got Running to notice me, hell he was begging for my attention but alas, my focus was on her.

Ok, you get the point-I loved, loved, LOVED running with Red. It's just what my mojo needed. Reading her blog over the past couple a months has endeared me to her even before I met her in real life. The people that she talks about in her blog are lucky to have her as a friend...and yes, I CAN tell that from just one run with her. She insightful and knowledgeable without being pushy. She's full of life and it radiates off of her. And on top of it she's an extremely talented runner. I was lucky enough to tag along with her and her normal running partners-all of whom mirror her laid back, accepting personality. Since I run alone so much I sometimes forget how nice it is to have other people around for long runs. We did 12.5 miles and I swear, I felt like I could have gone forever since I was enjoying the company so much. Besides Red there was Debbie, Kurt and Roger. Kurt was planning on running 75 miles (see, running must be his bitch). I can barely stomach the thought of driving 75 miles let alone think about slogging them out on foot. Roger was slated for 20 miles so it was the three vixens of the group who stuck to the 12.5 miles. The banter between them was so comforting to hear-does that make sense? There are some people in this world whose voices just automatically put me at ease-my mother is one as well as my husband's and now I can add Red to that list. I'm very hopeful that I can run with them again-I know my next run might not be as magical as this one but with Red and her group by my side for those long runs I'm feeling as though anything is possible.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

For the Love of Addiction

I'm addicted to food. My husband's addicted to nicotine gum. And we're both addicted to each other. Minor surgery put him home this past week. So rarely do I get to play caretaker to him; he hates the idea of me being put out in any way. It's ridiculous really if you tally up all the times he's cared for me-but anyway, I digress. With him home and my new found role as nurse, my training ended up drifting into a sort of vegetative state. Out of 23 miles that were on tap, only 8 have been run. I did manage to fit in a few strength workouts but any good those did for my physique were surely thwarted by the copious amounts of food that I might as well have just mainlined. George didn't feel well, I was home for three days straight, what other choice did I have than to try to medicate him with food??? That's one of the ways I show love. Never mind the fact that he wasn't even up to eating some of the stuff I made...well, more for me then, right? Riiiiiiiggghhhht... I couldn't be wasteful!

I'd wake up and make him coffee, get his breakfast and then wile away the tedious hours he ended up having to spend in bed with games, colorful commentary to some of his favorite movies, Lego's and playdough. Oh and a great little game involving shooting a stuffed monkey with a Nerf gun. Childish? Yes....and priceless to boot. Alot of this time reminded me of when we met-both of us had lost our jobs due to the scandalous affair that was in fact "us" so we scraped together some cash and got an apartment together. We had nothing-no t.v., no furniture (except for a bed and a kitchen table that had legs as wobbly as Bambi's) and no other focus except for each other. 11 years later the hours still seem to pass as quickly as minutes... I layed down and started talking to him at 8 in the morning and I SWORE to myself that I'd get up in a little bit to run but when I look at the clock it's already 1 and I should really fix us some lunch so the workout will have to be put off just a little longer...and I tell myself that over and over. Doped up on Darvocet and starved for nicotine (oh yeah, did I mention he also gave up the gum during his recovery) and he is still the best person to be around. I love running, don't get me wrong...but nothing in the world feeds my soul the way George does. Call me crazy but I'm hoping that my runs of the next week draw strength from this unplanned, unglamorous respite that I had with him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

T minus Tempo

That's how I felt all day. The day started with me counting down the hours until my tempo run...it slowly dwindled down to mere minutes and I knew it was time to face my torturous hour head on.

Let me back track a bit. I'm not the greatest runner who ever lived, shit, I'm barely in the running for my age group as it is, BUT I still think of myself as a fairly good accomplished runner. I've run fast 5k & 10k's. I've run a marathon (nearly two in fact). I've trained myself into injury as well as many a PR. You wouldn't think that years into this journey of putting one foot in front of the other I'd still get freaked out at the thought of certain training runs...but I do. To me, tempo runs are like the evil stepchild in an otherwise beautiful functioning family. They need attention, they need constant reassurance, they need every ounce of my focus for an extended period of time and I'm really starting to resent it. Long slow runs can actually be interspersed with enjoyment-the scenery, the conversational pace etc.,etc. And speedwork has a certain je ne sais quoi as well...definite start/stop times which push you hard enough but only for short bursts of hell on earth with an ever loving recovery following each of those-see THAT I can handle. Give me small sips of the poison and I can somehow immunize myself to it. It's really quite a shame that Lucifer himself has somehow managed to get his hands around the marionette strings of my tempo runs. I'm well aware that I'm supposed to be uncomfortable during them but you see, that's the problem. I'm not out of control uncomfortable so I'm with it enough to be my own worst critic during these said times. I'm acutely aware of how much I'm hating it, how much I'm sucking at it, how much I cannot do it. I'm probably not explaining it right-I'm at as much a loss for words with this part of training as I am desire.

Anyway, it was supposed to go down like this: 1 mile warm up, 5 miles at tempo pace, 1 mile cool down (all on the treadmill so as to be able to be anal about getting the precise split times). I ran my first warm up mile and didn't feel that great but pressed on to start the increased pace. Then after that I stopped. I gave in to the voice in my head that said "there's no fucking way you can sustain this for another 4 miles". I layed down on the treadmill...I waited to cave to my inferior feelings. Then I got pissed-pissed at myself for giving up so easily and pissed at the treadmill since it was OBVIOUSLY the real reason for my woes. So I figured that if I had already done 1 mile at tempo that I could just go to the park and run like hell and finish out my other 4 tempo miles. Surely the park is where I would catch my groove. So off I went, juiced up on anger and intimidation-great combo, very soothing to soul, I tell ya. I got to the one mile mark and wanted to quit. I rationalized that I could just do three miles in addition to the two I did at home and count it as my easy run for the week. I huffed and puffed and thought of a myriad of reasons for my failure and an equal number of reasons to just give up and put off the inevitable until my next day of running. I reached my car and looked at my watch-well whatya know, my splits were about what I needed my tempo pace to be. So that means the 1 mile warm up + the 1 tempo mile I did at home + the 3 I just did at the park meant I had a measly 1 mile left of that horrific pace left to do and my 1 mile of cool down. I hopped in the car and sped home, hoping that nothing happened upon my peripheral of delayed dedication. Once I got home, I ran down to the basement, put my CD player on shuffle and dialed the volumed up to 10. I shit you not, as I started the treadmill, "Push the Tempo" by FatboySlim blared out in retaliation of my dreadful, nearly concluded workout. I can't believe I almost let it beat me.