Saturday, August 27, 2011

I ran today

The pace matters not, nor the distance. My physical self matters not, either, my weight or my size or my shape. Because running, and everything that goes with it - pain, joy, dedication, reward, camaraderie - is not in my body. It's in my soul. And if you can't see that when you see me, meet me, know me, blow by me in a race, well, then, friends and neighbors, you are blind. My body is broken right now and my soul is bruised for a bit but that matters not. I am a runner.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: The So..... Edition

  1. I know that Twitter and Blogger and Daily Mile are amazing sources of inspiration, support, and encouragement. But, the level of that in response to my last post? Just knocked me over. Truly. I may or may not have spent the last few days re-reading all those comments and repeating to myself that I can get through this, and I will get through this. I'm even starting to believe it.
  2. By the same account, my friends, my frunners?  Best freaking people on the planet. By far, no question, no doubt. My email, phone & Twitter DM just completely blew up with sincere thoughts and wishes. My close friends knew some of my struggles and frustrations, but maybe not the extent. And once they knew, they jumped to my side, virtually and literally, to reinforce that I am doing the right things, and that I can take as much time as needed to fix my head, and when I'm ready, they will be there, ready to welcome me back. That right there? Amazing. Gratifying. Makes me feel completely unworthy. But, worthy or not, I'll take it!
  3. Sending mucho love and mojo to Drum and Ninja this weekend. They're doing their first 50 milers up at Lean Horse. As much as we kid about the Drum-Ninja showdown, these two do an awesome job preparing mentally and physically for every challenge they take on, and they push each other to be their best. They're fairly awesome. Also, much credit & kudos to Erin, who is keeping them in line and making sure Drum doesn't forget her shoes (again)!
  4. I haven't done anything workout-related since the failed TM run on Saturday. And yet the sun keeps rising and setting, and the world keeps spinning. Imagine that. 
  5. I've thought about running. Briefly. But that's all it's been.  Thoughts. And that's okay.  For now. 
  6. Palo Duro Trail Race is off the calendar for sure. I know I said I wouldn't make any decisions until after Labor Day but I changed my mind. Or I lied. Changing my mind makes me seem like less of a bitch. In any case, when I do this race, I want to do the 50k and I won't be ready, so I am not doing it this year. I'm okay with that. Mostly. 
  7. There are a whole lot more things you have time for in your life when you're not spending 7-10 hours a week running or pretending to swim/flail or riding a bicycle. Like reading a book. Hanging out with your kids. Actually folding the laundry when the dryer dings. Stuff like that. Kinda cool (except the laundry part). Who knew?! 
  8. On that note, I have gotten 3/4 of the way through a new Stephen King book in less than a week. Typically I read about 2 pages each night in bed before passing out with the book on the floor. I feel so smart these days! (Okay, maybe not smart - not like I'm reading and understanding the theory of relativity or anything, it's just schlocky Uncle Stevie books. But GOOD schlocky Uncle Stevie!!)
  9. I still need to learn to swim. I've thought about going to the pool just to kick around, practice the shark fin and slutty ankles like Sarah taught me out at the lake. But, I'm kinda taking this whole "rest" thing for serious this week. There is time. 
  10. I have tried very hard not to look at my training schedule, training logs, or Daily Mile this week, lest I start to feel the pressure of falling even further behind my mileage goals for the week/month/year. I will not say the degree of success I have had with that.
  11. Except to say that Daily Mile is depressing, with that big zero in the corner. Not that I've logged in to look at it or anything... 
  12. It is getting light later in the morning and dark earlier. That surely must mean that these 100+ degree days will be coming to an end soon, right? RIGHT?! Please, please, please come to an end by Labor Day. Yeah, right...
  13. Part of me thinks I'm ready to come back to my Come Back after just a few days away and even though I haven't gone back for the follow-up with the endocrinologist.  That part of me was just smacked back into submission by the rest of me. I tend to get overexcited and rush into things - that may or may not have led me to the current state of affairs, I'm not admitting anything, just an observation - so I am going to take another few days of nothing. Just to see if I can. 
Drum. Ninja. Adding to their beastliness this weekend. #TeamFirst50

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weighing on my Mind...

Something is wrong with me.

I've known it for a long time, but I didn't do anything about it. Not really. Made half-hearted efforts here and there, but when I saw no results, I backed off. Because I was too busy to take care of it, and because it didn't keep me from doing what I wanted to do in life. Did it keep me from doing it well? Probably. But I wasn't ever going to win at this anyway, unless by winning you mean finishing, and I was finishing races just fine, left and right, all over town. So I didn't do anything to fix it. "It" of course, is my weight. I've struggled with it for pretty much my whole adult life. I was able to keep it in check and be relatively healthy if not ideal for the past 6 years, when I started serious distance running.

Oh, I tried. I went to see a nutritionist last summer, knowing that if I was going to perform at my best for the NYC Marathon that I needed to drop weight. And I was pleased with my results, as they were. In 3 1/2 months working with her, having every meal, snack and post-run recovery spelled out, while I was running upwards of 150 miles a month, I did see results. I could see muscles in my legs for the first time in forever. I felt stronger, and I got faster. And my weight? Showed a whopping 3 pounds lost. In 3 months. Yeah. Wheee. I know the scale is not the only measure, and my clothes were fitting better and I was able to fit into some things that I hadn't been able to button previously. So there were non-scale victories for sure.

But, they were small victories, and they were dearly paid for. I had to be so stringent and pay so much attention to what I ate and when. I measured and weighed EVERYTHING that went into my mouth. I missed ONE workout in 4 months. And at the end of all that, when you figured out the cost-benefit ratio, I had very few "results" to speak of. My stomach still pooched over the waistband of my jeans. I still couldn't button my favorite jacket, even though it fit right on the rest of my body. But I finished New York City, no thanks to my knee. And my finishers' pics show someone with a medal around her neck who is clearly a marathoner, but otherwise still didn't fit the image of an athlete.

Even at the fittest I've been in my adult life I was still  categorized as "obese." Yay.

Day before NYCM. Jeans still too tight around tummy. 

So I soldiered on, because that's what I do. I am willful and stubborn and what I can't do with natural talent or ability, I bulldoze through with sheer force of will and tenacity. And despite unexpected gall bladder surgery, I went on and did my first 2 trail 50ks and 3 other marathons (1 trail, 2 road marathons) in the next six months. I was in a constant cycle from January through May of race, recover, long run, taper, race... Rinse and repeat. All spring. During that time, I barely took a week off, and maintained long runs of 16-18 miles on the weekends I wasn't racing. I was having fun, for sure, but I wasn't training with the same intensity I did in the previous summer. I ate well, though, but again, I didn't watch what I ate with the same intensity as when I was working with the nutritionist. But I kept the principles in play, probably at about 85 percent. As much as I enjoy the greatness of Smashburger and sweet potato fries, I only allowed myself to indulge after a marathon. And over that time, five months or so, I put on about 10 pounds. It was imperceptible at first, more noticeable later on, as certain clothes didn't quite fit so comfortably. A lot of it was a result of the gall bladder surgery, but some of it was because I just wasnt' keeping up the intensity I had earlier in the summer. It wasn't affecting anything, though, really, except for my self-esteem as I posted things like this about my race pictures, and in the mornings when I had to dress in something other than running clothes, when I went through four changes of outfits before I found something I didn't hate. But it was wearing on me, for sure, and being an emotional eater, well that doesn't help. I ran through this scenario many times during this part of the year: "I can't lose weight. I'm so fat. It makes me sad. I'm sad. Oh, cookies - yummy! Eating crap makes me feel better. Sugar high wears off. Not really, too late. Hey, look, I gained MORE weight. F me."

I knew my hormones were a mess from the fibroids I'd been dealing with. So took care of that issue and had the hysterectomy, sacrificing the Minneapolis Marathon in the process. Between Oklahoma City and when I went in for surgery, I gained another 10 pounds. In 6 weeks. And as a bonus, I earned ANOTHER 6 weeks of lowered activity level during recovery. Yay! Just what my body needs - less calorie burn. No worries, I kept walking, hiking, started swimming, borrowed a bicycle, so I'm still active. I watched what I ate, logged it all in dailyplate, counted f'ng almonds for my mid-morning snack (13 almonds = good, 14 almonds = too many). And the net result at my 4-week post-surgery checkup? My weight was 2 pounds higher than pre-op. Yay! Well, no worries, right? As soon as I ramp up the training again, dial in the nutrition even tighter, and the hormones are handled now, well, hell, the weight will just melt off now, right? Um, no.  Even jumping right back in with 20 miles in my first week back, 32 miles the second week, and 33 miles the following, plus adding swimming and cycling into the mix, my weight results were: EXACTLY THE F'NG SAME! Well, hey, maybe you've just gained muscle, right, muscle is smaller than fat, that's what's happened, right? Um, no. I took measurements and despite showing an initial promising loss of an inch in the first 2 days, at the end of the 2 weeks, my measurements are EXACTLY THE F'NG SAME. So, wait, I just busted my ass, working out 9+ hours a week, not counting the time needed to get to and from the pool, or the time to get the bicycle to and from the park paths, and I get a big zero change in body composition to show for it?  Sweetness.

Compression tights = muffin top. 

End of January, 2 months after gall-bladder surgery. 

Mid-March. Rockin' chupa shirt barely fits. 

Early April. Fit enough for 50k but fuel belt isn't doing me any favors.

Post OKC, pre-hysterectomy. We blamed it on the uterus.

4 weeks post-hysterectomy.  Tutu can't hide much.
 But it's not all about the measurements, right? There are other benefits, like increased speed, and this whole running thing gets easier the more you do it right?  Or not... It could feel harder and tougher than ever before... And the tangible results, tested by an all-out puke threshold 5k race? Well, that shows that I'm a full minute per mile off my PR pace. Woot and squee! And the half? That was a freakin' death march, hard when we started and only got harder as we went on. And even though that was a 9 minute course PR, it is a full 40 minutes off my half PR from New Year's Day. So, while I can go on all day about this being the new me, and that we aren't comparing to my old self, and it's a new beginning, it's just talk. Unless I believe it. And right now, friends and neighbors, I don't believe it. I'm not buying into it, as much as I know that it's the right thing to do. As much as I know that all I'm doing when I compare myself to myself is beating myself up, I can't help it. It's frustrating and maddening and depressing. And it makes me worried for the races that I've already signed up for, and the commitments that I've already made for the rest of the year. And that pressure is building.

I had 18 miles scheduled on Saturday. Shouldn't have been a problem since I did the half last weekend. Yes, it's kind of a big jump in mileage, but overall, for the week, the mileage was within the 10% threshold for increasing mileage safely. So, no worries. Easy-peasy, right? No. I slept in late, a conscious decision because this was the first Saturday in a long time and for a long while that we had ZERO things to do. I had planned to do trails on Sunday so I knew Sunday was going to be an early wake-up and with school starting, 5:30 is the normal wake-up from now until May. So I was savoring and needing a break. And I took it. Then I spent the rest of the day putting off the run. Until late in the day when I went to the gym, all set for 18 miles on the treadmill. I figured I would set the pace per McMillan and just run. But I couldn't. It was all I could do to stay on that thing for 3 miles. I wanted to get off at 1.5. It wasn't that I couldn't do it. My legs were fine. My body was fine. My head? Not in the game. At all. My iPod flipped out on me in a big bad way, zooming through all my songs like the Chipmunks. So no music and no playlist. Well, hell, fine watch TV. Yeah, no, nothing good on the TVs at the gym on a Saturday night. Gah. Fine, I'll just run. But I couldn't do it. Mentally, I just could not go one step further than 3.00 miles. If I didn't think I'd freak out the four other people in the gym I would have let loose a primal scream right there. I waited until I got to the parking lot. I called in my support system, and realized I was putting too much pressure on myself. So I would just go to the trails the next day and have fun and rediscover the love. Nothing like some trail magic with great frunners to restore my love of the run. So I tried to shake it off, went to bed early, and got set for some trails the next morning.

Sunday alarm came at 4:30, so I got up, got dressed, fueled, loaded the car and drove 45 minutes to the lake. Right before the entrance to the lake, I was filled with an awful sense of "I don't wanna." I pulled into the neighborhood and cried in the car for five minutes. The thought of even hiking that morning was too much to bear, much less running. I knew that it would be a struggle to lift my feet like I need to on the trails, or I would fall early and often. The thought of seeing all my friends, who I normally am excited to talk to and laugh with and be motivated by, was just too much. I was not in the right headspace for a morning on the trails or a morning with frunners. And that's what freaked me out. I love my frunners. I thrive for my runs with frunners. I am so jealous that I don't live closer to them (even if they live nearly in Oklahoma...) when I see that they run hills and track together on early weekday mornings. I love hanging out with them pre-race, post-run, any time I can. I get my energy and enthusiasm from them, and I love to cheer them on and celebrate their victories.  But on that morning, sitting in my car in the dark, seeing them was the last thing I felt like I could do. I felt I would be letting them down if I showed up in the mood I was in, with the current state of my psyche. So after five minutes, I texted 2 of them that I wouldn't be coming, and I turned the EBV around and headed home. Through tears I drove all the way, and thought about stopping at River Legacy and getting a loop in on my own, but dismissed that as even a more dismal prospect. In the end, I got home at 6:30, crawled back into bed and cried some more in my husband's arms. He reassured me that I am the only one who puts pressure on myself and let me sleep until it they left for hockey at 9 AM. I spent the rest of the day on the couch with the boy, working on photo books from vacation and catching up on iCarly and Good Luck Charlie on the DVR. I considered going for a ride later, but then when I went outside at 5 to go to the grocery store and almost instantly seared my brain with the heat, I decided that, no, I wasn't going to ride. Nope. And that was OK. I need a break.

When I can't even bring myself to run with these aweome guys? That's a problem. 
I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to fulfill these mileage goals and to meet this training plan that I put together to get ready for Wild Hare 50-miler. Who decides to do a 50-miler five months after major abdominal surgery?  Um, me... Who has been under constant physical stress, with the rigors of training for an A race since last June? Me... who has been through not one, but TWO surgeries in the last 8 months?  Me, who has also had a little bit of drama in my life for the past 18 months, with my husband's job loss/changes last summer, ramp-up for NYCM, surgery, losing my dad, worrying about my mom now, all kinds of stuff in that thing we call life. And I took on even more. Willingly. Of my own accord. Why? Why not. Because I was bored? Because 50ks aren't enough anymore? Or to prove something to someone? Who? Hell if I know. Probably myself. So where does that leave me?  Stressed out and without the joy of running that has brought me so many new and wonderful experiences and so many truly caring and wonderful friends. What the what?  As my little one was so fond of saying when something puzzled him, "that don't make no sense." So now what?

Well, for one, I went to an endocrinologist for an evaluation. She has ideas. Might be thyroid, might be insulin resistance, might be excess cortisol. Might be a combination of them. All I know is that I buried my father this summer because of complications from diabetes, and my mother had to go on injectable insulin this week. So do you think I'm feeling good about my genes and my predeliction for diabetes right now?  Yeah. So we're going to let the doctor run tests (had huge vials of blood drawn this morning) and next Friday I go back and we start to figure out why despite all my efforts I can't lose weight. This is more encouraging already than the last few times I've gone to the doctor, different doctors, who have advised me to walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week (before or after my Wednesday morning 8-miler??), or stop drinking sodas (don't touch them, diet or regular) or quit waking up in the middle of the night and stuffing myself (yes, I swear to all that I love a doctor told me that with a straight face). For the first time in a long time, I am hopeful.

No, I'm not doing weight training right now, I know that. But, honestly, with as much as I have to lose right now, that shouldn't be the deal breaker. With the old standard calories in/calories out formula, I should drop weight by eating less than I burn. Well I eat 1400-1500 calories a day and actively burn anywhere between 400-1600 a day, not counting what I burn just by existing. So what is going on? I am tired of guessing and I'm tired of experimenting and I'm tired of busting my ass for no results. I'm tired of working so hard and not having anything to show for it. I'm tired of swimming upstream. I am worn out of hearing people talk about how they started running 3 miles a day and lost 15 pounds in a month. Yay for you. It doesn't work for me. It hasn't worked for me. But mostly, I'm tired of running and working to stave off the diseases that have taken my father and threaten my mother and feeling like it isn't doing any good.  I'm not going to put my children through what I have gone through in the past four months. I'm NOT DOING THAT. So I'm going to let the doctor unravel this mystery. It will probably take time, so meanwhile, what does that do to my running, to my activity? What does that do to my goals and my race schedule?

For one, the open water tri I had on the books for September 11 is off. No way am I anywhere near ready to swim in open water yet. And trying to make myself ready in five weeks added a lot of stress to my life. I know it did. I can see that I have lots of room to improve the swim, and I will spend time on that this winter, but I'm not going to do that to myself right now. It's not safe to go into that undertrained. The pool swim tri on October 2 is still a possibility. Worse case scenario I hold on to the pool edge at the end of every lap and come out DFL of the water. No biggie. I've been there, done that. So it is still a possibility.

What about the races I had planned?  The first one up was Palo Duro 50k. I've heard amazing things about this race. I really want to do this race. I had the entry form printed out and filled out and on an envelope on my desk but we ran out of checks. So I haven't sent it in yet. I may not. if I do, it will be for the 25k. Maybe I won't enter but will just tag along for the ride and the company and cheer all the folks that are doing it. That way I can run in folks if they need it at the end, or just hold down the fort and cheer while everyone is out running. I don't know yet. I won't know and I won't make up my mind about it until after Labor Day. Rocky Raccoon 50k is another one I am signed up for. I will go and I might run the 50k. I might downgrade to the 25k. I don't know. Again, I won't decide until after Labor Day. Until then, I will run if I feel like it, but won't force myself to keep to any schedule or pace or any other expectations.

What about the big one? Wild Hare?  I don't know about that yet. I want to do a 50-miler. I do. Is it the right time? I'm not sure. Probably not, if I can't even bring myself to get out of the car at the lake right now... so, yeah, we will have to see. Worse case scenario I downgrade to the 50k here. How stupid is that? My "downgrade" goal is still a 50k. wow. Next on the agenda is the double full marathon on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Those are still totally on the table. That will be a weekend filled with frunners and awesome people and the goal for those is just to finish and support my RD friend and all the folks out there those days. Plus it's still 4 months away, so even if I wanted to start from a base of a 6 mile long run it is completely do-able. After that? Hard to say. January is a long way away.

Am I disappointed at having to adjust some of my race goals? Of course. Am I more upset at possibly missing out on the fun with my frunners? For sure. But, you know what? The most awesome thing about my frunners is that they love me and support me and back me up whether I run a 50-miler, a 50k or 50 yards. If I do nothing more than show up with my camera and a tutu they won't love me any less than if I run a thousand miles. That's the beauty of the community, of the FAMILY that I have built through running. I've seen it in my "bubble of love" at Cowtown, in the finish line picture at the Hottest Half where two amazing women crossed the line holding my hands on either side of me. I saw it with the texts and phone calls and messages from people this weekend. I can't miss out on this for long. So I will be back. Soon. I just need to fix my body, and fix my head, and take a break until I can come back and be happy with just the act of running, no matter what the clock says, or the distance. I need to rediscover the joy and really be able to embrace my new beginning instead of being resentful of my setbacks and jealous of my friends' successes and unhappy with myself. I need that. And for everyone who has been so supportive and so loving, I very much appreciate it. I feel my bubble expanding further with each setback, so while I am having a hard time right now, I know I will be back. Stronger than ever, happier than ever, and ready to spread my zest for running and for life even further.

Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for being my support system. It means more than any of you will ever know.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday 13: The Hotter than %$@%$ Hottest Half Edition

I have been arguing with myself for the last 3 days about this race report. This was a tough race, not so much physically (although it was a beatdown on my body for sure) but mentally.  I am starting over, and much like the 5k we ran the day before, this was going to give me a marker for exactly where I am right now. There has been a lot of emotion tied up in this for me - it's just hard to start over. And I knew this race was going to bring up a LOT of issues in my brain, much less in my body, which is why it was so crucial to me to have my friend Marci with me at my side.  We were really glad to have Fiona along with us, too - I figured she would go on ahead since she is training so much stronger than I am right now (beastly, actually) - but it was awesome to have her optimism and cheerful attitude along for the whole ride, too. Kris and Mel were there to support me as well, but Kris is on a semi-hiatus from racing and Mel was gunning for a PR, so they were going to stick with the 10k.

We knew we were not going to "race" it per se, but rather make it a supported long run, and stick to our slower training paces, per McMillan. We knew we would have to slow down even further if it got too hot. We knew we were going to stop and take pictures and enjoy the day and our friends out there as much as we could. And we knew we were going to have breakfast afterward. Everything else? Just a means to an end, which was a few emotional dragons slayed along the course, with nifty hardware as a bonus.

My race reports are usually done in the Good, the Bad & the Ugly format, but honestly, so much of this race would have ended up in the Ugly category that I'm going to instead hijack this week's Thursday 13 and give you 13 Things I Don't Want to Forget about The Hottest Half!

  1. Yay for early arrivals and prime parking spots! We got there right past 6ish on Sunday, which meant I got a great spot along the street right where the course came out under the overpass. Convenient to get to before & after the race and made me so happy to turn the corner and see my EBV and know that the end was in sight!
  2. Bonus #2 for early arrivals - I got one of the cool coral-colored shirts instead of the standard red (and there were some blue, too). It's closer to orange than red, and it's way pretty. I am very happy with it and I'm sure I'll wear it a lot! Kinda bummed I forgot to go back and get an extra shirt as I could have since I'm a Mellew Incentives member, but by the time the race was over, I was ready to boogie from there (and never, ever, ever come back). 
  3. I never noticed how many stupid bridges there are on this course. Never mind that we've run loops at White Rock since forever, and I've run that section twice in the last month. All I could think of in the first three miles was "How many freaking bridges are there?!" 
  4. The Mike Moore Bridge  is a freaking rubber band when a bajillion people are on it at the same time! Again, as much as we run this lake route (enough that we have nicknames of our own for all the places along the course: the Mockingbird Bridge is where we ran into Mike Moore on a training run last summer, Kris' Crying Tree is where she had a breakdown at Mile 16 of her first 18-miler, the Port-o-Potties near the bathhouse are where the BEST conversation ever on a run took place, etc., etc.), I never noticed the bouncing. But this time, oh, the bouncing! took a good quarter mile to get your legs back under you after getting off that thing. It was a little better on the back end because it wasn't so loaded with people by then. 
  5. Gummy bears in ice water? Genius! Ice down my shirt, front and back? Glorious! Having my NTX Runner peeps at Mile 11 to look forward to since about, oh, mile 7? Greatness. Thanks, Libby, Shannon & Greg (plus the girls!) for making the back stretch so cool!! By the time we got to them, the sun was pretty merciless and we were actively seeking out shade spots, so the ice to cool us down was just the ticket!
  6. I love, love, love seeing all my frunners out on race morning!! Ran into too many people to name, but especially loved having pics with my Beer & Bagels crew Michelle K, Erik "DBS" K and Derek. I found the elusive Coco Washington, as well as the inimitable Brian B pre-race too, and of course, we had a mini-OKC reunion when we found Kris and Mel right before the gun went off. I love my frunners!!
  7. Also, so wonderful to see the whole Barraza clan out to help Lupe support daddy Bal on his first half marathon!! WOOT!! Great performance on a very hard day. If you can run a half in August in Texas, you can pretty much do anything!! 
  8. Even better than seeing frunners pre-race is seeing them mid-course. Got to see Lesley and Elaine out on the run, looking strong and happy to be out in mid 90s and blazing sun. Freaks!! 
  9. Big deal last year was that the race organizers ran out of water. Very glad to report that was not a problem this year. We had our own fluids with us, but saved them in case we needed them later on if the situation repeated itself. But they had everything under control, with more than enough water, properly diluted powerade and even someone with a water hose spraying us down at mile 7ish. Really happy we didn't have that to fight through again this year. I had half a 20 oz bottle of water when I was done and a nearly full bottle of gatorade/water mix when we were done. 
  10. Despite drinking water and powerade at EVERY stop, taking e-caps 3-4 times during the race and not having an ill effects of the heat DURING the race, I have not felt that dehydrated after a race in a very long time. Took 2 tall glasses of water and three 32-oz bottles of diluted gatorade mix to get me feeling normal again Sunday night. I could tell it was a swelterfest when I took my shoes off at the car before breakfast and they were as wet as they had been after running through puddles on Saturday morning. eeeewwww. 
  11. Primal scream on the Mike Moore Bridge. Glad to report that it freaked some folks out behind me who had no idea what was going on. Marci just looked at them and very matter-of-factly said, "primal scream." Um, DUH!
  12. I have the BEST friends ever. Marci literally held my hand when I hit a few tough spots between mile 9 and 12, and she told me what I know, but needed to hear again. She and Fiona let me get ahead when I was feeling good physically and needed to put on the jets and run out some of the emotions going through my psyche. They understood enough about what I was going through that they were right next to me when I needed them and gave me space when I needed that. Without us saying a word about it. They just knew. And we crossed the finish line hand in hand, with Mel joining us when she saw us coming down the stretch. And when the announcer said "welcome back" to us, he couldn't have chosen better words. I'm back. I'm not The Runner I Used To Be. And that's OK. Because while The Runner I Am Now has a lot of work to do, I'm not doing it alone, just like I didn't cross the finish line alone. 
  13. I crashed HARD when I got home, taking an unintentional 2-hour nap, and I may or may not have slept with my medal on. I'm going to enjoy this medal for a while. Because I'm not EVER doing this damn race again!

Pre-Race with NTX Runners & the WRL Girls

Lupe & Bal along with their friends joining us for pics.
I ever have to go to war, I want these two women by my side! 
Coco Washington!! 'nuf said!

We apparently missed the coin toss?? what *is* going on here??

Gummy Bear goodness!! Thanks NTX Runers crew!!

Lesley & Elaine post-race!! 

Done. And beyond blessed. Thank you Marci & Fi!
EDITED TO ADD:  Oh, yeah, we finished, and our finish time was a lovely 2:50:17, a 12 minute PR over this course last year. And it will stand as my course record FOREVER!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

where you been?

Yeah, I know. I've been a slacker blogger. It's been stupid-hot in Texas, y'all. And I had that whole recovery thing going on, and then somewhere in there, we took the boys on a weeklong vacation to Disney and Universal Studios. There wasn't a lot of running going on. There wasn't a lot of anything going on but this (but how much awesome is this?):


Boys always LOVED dinosaurs. Jurassic Park was greatness!

Harry Potter World was magical! 

Seriously the Happiest Place on Earth. No lie. 

If I just pull a little harder... ooof! 

This picture pretty much sums up the whole trip!! 

Toy Story green army man! 

Buzz! Woody! Our last day at the parks. 

Yes, it's expensive, cheesy & manufactured.
And they loved every second of it!

Gangsta Pooh! 

So, yeah, there was that, taking up much of July after the greatness of El Scorcho. And then we got home, and there was laundry to do, and figuring out where Mom was going to be hanging out for a while, and getting back to work and real life.  And in the middle of that, I had to figure out how to run again. 

I had been gone from running only 6 weeks, really. And I had walked for all but one of those weeks, when I had a little bit of a scary setback and decided I maybe didn't need to hike 6 miles at Northshore 4 weeks after surgery, that perhaps that took too much liberty with the doctor's advice to "walk."  But I had slacked a lot before the surgery, mostly because of that real life thing with my dad being sick and dying and all. And I have put on weight before and after the surgery, from the stress of everything and the hormones being off balance and not running 40-50 miles a week after 8 months of running 40-50 miles a week. 

So when I started up again, it really was starting over. And there is a lot of stuff that goes on in your head when you begin something anew, when you start from square one. Those of you with injury issues, or post-pregnancy returns to working out, or extended sickness can relate.  There is the point where your mind thinks you are, which is right where you left off, and then there is the point where you really are.  The point that your body will very rudely remind you when you try for paces or levels that were the "before."  

I found that out the hard way.  I came back the week we returned from Orlando and very excitedly drove to Allen to run trails at Erwin Park with some great friends and some new folks from NTX Runners. I had never been there but had heard how it was nice and easy and mostly flat. I had 8 miles on my schedule that day and was ready for it. I thought. I was wrong. It was hard. I couldn't keep up. At all. Not only could I not keep up, but I was gassed and had a hard time regulating my breathing. And I was tired by mile 2. It was bad. I may have let out a primal scream (more like a primal grunt actually, because an actual scream would have taken too much energy) and freaked out a couple of the runners who didn't know me. And I was bummed, because I was really looking forward to it. And there was a great group of runners, who I really hope to see a lot more of in the weeks to come. But that day, even though I tried to hide it (OK, not really, I was a whiny little bitch for most of the run), I was crushed. It was a shame, too, because it is a nice trail. See: 

Can't beat early mornings on the trails. 

Great scenery out at Erwin Park. 

Great little wooden walkway. 

Monster hill! So MUCH FUN!

So that was hard mentally. But I knew I just had to get back to it. It wasn't going to get any easier if I just sat and whined about it. So that's what I've been doing. Trying to get back to it. But it's hard, harder than anything I've done. I don't have my blog archives from when I first started running, so I don't remember what it's like to work my ass off during a run and look at my watch and see an 11:45/mile pace.* I wish I did, so I could look back and know that this will pass and that I will see improvements eventually. I was questioning everything about my running, though, wondering if I was going too hard, or too easy. I was wondering if I should just run, or try to stick to a specific pace. I was agonizing over every run and thinking to myself that I needed to be faster, run harder, get longer legs, new shoes, something. There had to be a way that I could snap my fingers and get back to Who I Used To Be. This has been the mental battle going on in my head, with the Runner I Used To Be. And I had to do something about those battles, because guess what folks? When you fight with yourself like that? You lose. 

So I drew a line in the sand. I decided that I needed a 5k race, so that I could run as hard as I could for that distance and see, really, where I am right now, today. Not in May of 2010, when I last raced a 5k and set a PR, not even in January of 2010, when I won my age group in a 5k. NOW. So that's what I did.  I met my friend/mentor/savior/voice of reason Marci out at River Legacy and we ran the humidest, stickiest, nastiest 5k we could. She matched her 5k PR (WOOT WOOT!) and I set mine. It is slower than what the Runner I Used To Be could run. In fact, the Runner I Used To Be would have easily won my AG on Saturday. As it was, I was content for 3rd place in my AG, especially since it was a 10-year AG, too! Marci placed 3rd in her AG as well, so it was a good day. And I now have an accurate 5k time to plug into McMillan and get my training paces for all my runs this fall. The goal races are distance-based, not speed-based, so I need to get over the idea that I have to run a 10:00/mile and focus on getting the distance done.  That is what is going to be important to me between now and November 19. Because The Runner That I Am Now has a date with 50 miles of trail. 

This is not my Before.  This is my Now. 
*NOTE: Do not think for a MINUTE that I think there is anything "wrong" with an 11:45 or slower pace. There isn't a damn thing wrong with that pace. I know that it's hard to run at that pace, because when that's your pace, running doesn't come easy to you, and it takes more mental fortitude to keep going when you're that pace. I know that. And I respect everyone who runs, regardless of their pace. But it's not where I was. I could hit a 10k consistently with a 9:20 at this time last year. Keep that in mind. Please. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

el Scorcho, in pictures

yeah, i know. I've been a slacker blogger. It has something to do with recovery from surgery, then getting clearance to run then going on a weeklong adventure with the family to ThemePark Heaven (or Hell, depending on your view of the Disney machine and theme parks in general. We love them but can only tolerate them once every six years or so!!).  I apologize. I'm running again ,and swimming and cross-training, so there will be more entries soon. Pinky promise. but....

Somewhere in there, I cheered and spectated and sprayed water all over the runners at El Scorcho. I promised pictures in my last entry, so despite big-time camera fail before the race even started (new camera didn't charge long enough before I took it out there), I do have pics to share. So here you go!

Pre-Race cheer squad. Tutus, glowsticks & glitter signs in the EBV.
Cassie & Ben-jammin assembling glow stick madness
Fiona wasn't running so she donned the tutu to cheer, along with the girls!
How many ultrarunners does it take to set up a tent?
ET Phone home!
Stacy arrives looking smashing  & ready to run!
The two whitest girls you know!
Ninja I & Ninja II getting ready for combat.
Just how small can Dat fold his bib?
Cannot stand the cuteness!
Julie is so crazy she drove down just to cheer! YAY!
The Official Unofficial Soaker Station!
Libby and Julie!! 
Met twitter folks out before the race!
Tutu patrol!!
Pre-race with David (who ran his first 10k in September - WTG David!) Megan & Libby
With Arlington Strider Blanca & DM Frunner Lupe! Lupe did her first 50k!
Really? How cool is this? Twitter, DM & just general frunners! WOOT!
The excitement was too much to handle... 
My original Twitter buddies Felix & Mark 
With Michelle - she finished her first 25K! WOOT (and some of these pics are hers)
Toward the end of the night. What an awesome group of frunners!
I'm very much looking forward to this race next year, when I will run it instead of just cheer. Hopefully we will have as big a crowd again and have a great night of running, cheering and frunnership!!