Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pride Cometh After A Fall

I was going to recap yesterday's 5k. I'll still do that this week. Today's initially innocuous run just took precedence in my tiny brain, though. Fair warning: there are some gross photos and fairly raw emotion included. Drama? Yes. Long-Winded? Mmm. Hm. Tempted to keep reading? Probably not.

If you prefer to spend your time reading something funnier, lighter and more intelligent, please visit my sissy's new blog and enjoy this post.

Having not run more than 17 miles since my mess of a marathon in December, I planned to knock out a solid 20-miler before this much-anticipated event. Training has been solid. Other than some overall fatigue, I've been feeling great. So, when preparing for this morning's long run, I set a goal.

Keep it easy, but finish with an average pace you'll be happy and confident about. That actual number's not important to the story, but I had a small range in mind.

Unfortunately, even after a relaxing night, good sleep and plenty of hydration, I woke up feeling pretty groggy and un-motivated. Coffee helped and I was out the door with little trepidation. It was (Florida) cool, very damp and foggy. The morning was still dark, quiet and almost silent. Everything was shrouded in creepy, heavy mist and it was too early for even die-hard dogwalkers to be out.
not quite as dark as this run ,but you get the idea

A lot of my runs begin this way. Normally I enjoy the peace. It's a chance to clear my thoughts, plan my week, set small goals and focus on happy moments my family and I have spent together, recently. Today, though, the dark miles passed very slowly, both physically and mentally. Yesterday's race was taking it's toll on my legs and I ran out of happy-go-lucky way too quickly.

Sunrise happened and helped my mood, immensely. And then it didn't. Oddly, for me, I felt very lonely. While most of my runs are solo, I was suddenly craving company. There were overwhelmingly ugly feelings of jealousy towards my running buddies I knew would be enjoying their miles with friends, today.
where were all these guys when I needed them?!
Then my phone rang. Sometimes, while "in the groove", the distraction can be a slight annoyance. Today's call was perfectly timed, though. My dear, sweet husband wanted to know where I'd be so he and the boys could come offer "on-course" support. We picked a place and I hung up with a smile to replace my former, sour frown.
Miles 8-14 were mostly a blissful blur. I threw in a challengingly faster mile, turned on my audiobook and looked forward to seeing my guys in a short while. The weather prevented me from even working up a real sweat. My legs were getting achy and fatigued, but in a good and normal way. The city was wide awake, finally, and the bevvy of new activity around me was a welcome distraction.
When I came up to The Husband and Middlest, sans vehicle, I realized they'd be hoofing it with me, for a bit. That brilliant idea was such an awesome surprise! Middlest rode his scooter (not so fast!) in front of us, and The Husband and I caught up on fun stories while he tried to slow his (much fresher) legs. After a couple sips of water, I left him with my half-full handheld as it was getting annoying to carry. With less than five miles to go, and the temperature being so lovely, I'd be fine without any more fuel.
They honked, waved, cheered and drove back home. I returned the wave and rallied my heavy legs to finish this run strong.
Quick disclaimer : "strong" and "fast" are not interchangeable, in this particular context. I'm a firm believer in the benefits of running my long days at an easy pace.

I'd gotten about a quarter-mile away before I tripped on a minuscule crack in the sidewalk.
My body went flying and skidding. As was the case with my last fall I simply didn't have any spare energy to try to stop the crash. I slid on my palms, scraped my arm, hip, knee and hand.
Two things registered, immediately.
1. OW!
2. There was a line of cars waiting to pull into the church entrance where I was hideously sprawled and a dozen or so congregation members, in the parking lot, staring at me in horror.
Fact Number 2 got me to my feet faster than I could've ever imagined. I surveyed the important damage (Garmin ok? Ipod still as intact as ever?) ,while I ran away from the humiliating scene. My body, while bruised and stinging, was still moving as it should be. That fact, along with the realization that my phone was in the handheld water bottle I'd sent with my husband, forced me to continue this run I so desperately wanted to abruptly end.
When I reached the 16th mile, and remembered that the next few stretches would be full of tall (Florida) hills, I finally paused my watch and fully stopped to survey the damage. I guess I was hoping that it was much less benign than I thought it was? I stopped the exploratory searches when I saw this:
spoiler: I survived and took pics after the run
While I now, rationally, realize it's simply a scraped knee, at that moment it was enough to drive me to actual tears. Frustration (why does this keep happening to me?!), Embarrassment (which isn't an emotion I generally succumb to), Exhaustion and Defeat overwhelmed me. Glancing up the steep hill, I saw people coming, so I slowly and sadly stumbled on. The thought crossed my mind to ask them if they had a phone so I could call my husband for a ride. By the time I reached them, though, my stupid crying fit was over and I'd decided to keep running. My pace was abysmal, my spirit was dead and my freaking bruised hands hurt like a b*#)%!
With everything now aching, inside and out, I shakily managed to switch my ipod back on to drown everything out with some music. When it started filling my ears, brain and heart, it was like a switch was flipped within me, as well.
I picked up my head, focused on the wisdom of Van Halen ("Right Now? It's Everything!") and my form, and destroyed the next hill.
Now, well into the seventeenth mile, I stopped looking at my watch but remembered my earlier goals for this training run. My legs started churning out beautiful-feeling movements but my breathing stayed soft and easy.
When Dave Grohl started singing about his "Hero", there wasn't a doubt in my mind he was referring to me.
Thinking back to my very first 20-miler, and the overwhelming sense of emotion and pride I felt when I knew I was going to finish it strongly, I started to get choked up, once again. That run had been prior to my injury, . While I'd managed to heal and get my fitness to a place where I could giddily complete my very first marathon, I'd very rarely felt "back", during my subsequent runs.
Here's the thing about running. It can, without warning or provocation, turn into an absolutely spiritual experience. It's not something you can plan or force. Some miles, some races, some impromptu jaunts with friends, just totally morph into something that cannot be explained without sounding like a complete dork. This, obviously, doesn't stop me from trying...

When I finished today's 20 miles, and realized they were, overall, even faster than my pre-injury ones(complete with fall and blubbering like a baby!), I couldn't decide whether I wanted to holler, cry (again) or just let my proud smile overtake my tired face.
So I did all three.
bruised & bloodied hip
curious about how I managed to scrape the palm AND back of the same hand

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Answers for Un-Asked Questions

Alternate Title : You never asked, I'll answer anyway!

Also, thanks for weighing in on the last post's questions. If you didn't, yet, there's still time! You'll totally win a prize for providing the best answer, too! (Not!)

A lot of bloggers get asked enough questions, that said bloggers can create entire posts dedicated to quenching their readers' thirst for knowledge about them and the life they lead. I don't really get asked any questions, specifically.

This fact will never lead me to believe my life is un-interesting, though. My readers are simply left reeling from the burst of excitement I inect, into their (your) days, with each and every pointless post!

Imaginary Question #1: Haven't seen you around the interwebs, lately. Have you still been running? Yes. I've run in 81 degree afternoons and 40 degree mornings, all in the same week. (Florida weather's pretty interesting, huh?). I expertly avoided a PR in a 15k relay, this past weekend.
not a jump of excitement. The timing mat didn't register me the 1st (or 2nd) time across
I counted the 5k as my speedwork and threw in a couple, double-digit runs, too. Everything's been going well and I'm excited for my last few races of the season. I have another 5k, this weekend, that I get to run with some family members. Very awesome.
Next weekend, (wow. Is it really coming up that soon?!) I'm going to try to beat last year's time at this half marathon. I love the course, after party and family events there. The two bridge crossings are not real high on my "love" list, but they probably won't kill me.
I'll let you digest those two races for a couple days before we dive into the rest of my schedule.
Imaginary Question #2: Did you just stop typing up this post to peek through your blinds to watch your neighbors scream at each other? Yes. Yes I did. Lesson : Scream at your spouse inside your house. It's very likely your nosy neighbors are watching when you do it outside.
Imaginary Question #3: Do you often, silently curse your dad for giving you chronic Achilles tendinitis? If you're reading this and you ARE my dad, then the answer is no. Of course not. If, however, you happen to be anyone other than my dad, then yes. Yes I do. Out of all of his amazing attributes, he decided to pass on bad teeth and hopelessly weak tendons.

thanks a bunch, dad
There are countless other questions no one has asked me, that I feel the need to answer. For now, though, I have to continue to clean up Birthday Weekend 2013. The Oldest and Middlest's birthdays are one day apart, so the partying aftermath tends to look a little something like this:
They had fun and that's all that matters

Pretend I asked YOU a meaningful question and go ahead and answer it :

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Poll Time

I love getting up really early to work, only to find out the remote server I connect to is down.


I'm trying to resurrect that phrase. Let me know if you're on board.

Today's regularly scheduled drivel will be replaced by something beneficial to me only for all of us. The potential racers will be grateful and you, the reader/commenter will be rewarded with a feeling of pride and satisfaction at how helpful you were.


If you were to be offered a One Mile Race, the weekend of Mother's Day, would you want it to be on Saturday morning (the day before Mother's Day) or Sunday morning (not too early)? The race would be Mom-Themed and very family-friendly. It would, of course, not be limited to those celebrating the holiday, though.

Soooo...that's about it, for now. Two simple questions :

Which day should the race fall on?

How do you feel about incorporating NOT! into your daily conversations?

Oops. Can't have a picture-less post!
"honey, does that say "the clam was hot"?"
"...because the water was hot, mom."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Re-grouping and Recovering

Out of our Ragnar Ultra team, I had the shortest total mileage. It still did a number on me, though. Although it was spread over two days, I felt exactly like I'd run a really hard marathon. Unfortunately, due to some more upcoming, exciting races, (more on those, soon!!) I wasn't really able to allow myself to just "take the week off"...or whatever it is smart runners do.

"she has the smallest biceps. Lets give her the baby miles!"

However, this never means I skip recovery altogether. I've learned the stupid hard way, that diligent and patient post-workout routines are key to maintaining the healthy, running lifestyle I've grown attached to.

The folks at this gorgeous-looking spa totally agreed with me. They contacted me in regards to providing me and my readers with some recovery tips. Simple, intelligent and useful...unlike my normal posts. (psst: that's how you'll know when my words end and the article begins!)

Thank you, Jerry, for providing this timely post!
How to Improve Your Recovery Time

Marathon training is not any easy task. It’s not just about the running. You must also
care for your body to ensure you’re prepared to run. This means a healthy diet and
injury prevention. Of course, you need a high-energy healthy diet, and you also
need to engage in copious stretching and massage. Here are a few examples based
on similar techniques used at leading spas including Áhsi’ Spa in upstate New York
and some suggestions for do-it-yourself (DIY) massage:

What Can I Gain From Pre-Marathon and Post-Marathon Massage?
Before you start training for a marathon, consider a massage to help the blood
circulate into the tissues. This warms your body and helps to prevent injury that
may occur during a marathon run. If the muscles are tight before a run, it is more
than likely to lead to a sprain or strain. Pre-marathon massages help to prepare the

The post-marathon massage can help to remove lactic acid from the muscles. With
lactic acids removed, you can heal faster, and the pain will dissipate. Every runner
needs to eliminate pain, and sports massage has been proven effective.

The muscles will also develop in a balanced manner with this use of sports
massage. Balanced muscles will eliminate injury and sprain. Scar tissue can also
be eliminated with the help of massage, and recovery time can be accelerated.
Massage has numerous benefits that are essential not only in marathon training, but
for runner’s at any skill level.

Try a DIY Massage With Self-Massage Tools Made From Household Goods
Massage with Canned Goods. Canned goods can help to alleviate pain in
the feet. Simply remove the label and place the canned good on the floor.
With your weight, press down on the can. As you press and roll the can back
and forth with your foot, the pressure will knead the tight muscles in your feet.
Canned goods are inexpensive and are commonly found in every household.

Massage with a Foam Roller or PVC Pipe. A PVC pipe can be used in
place of a foam roller if you cannot find one. If you roll your side over the PVC
pipe, the pain in the side will be eliminated. Consider how you can massage
with a foam roller or PVC to release tension and make healing easier.

Massage with a Tennis Ball. Tennis balls can also be used to knead the
muscles in the feet and in the legs. Consider buying tennis balls to eliminate
any pain in the feet.

Massage is the Key to Healing After a Big Run
After a marathon or any race massage accelerates healing times. There are not
many other methods as effective as massage. Consider incorporating massage into
your training regimen.

What's your tried & true recovery routine?

Do you spring for a massage on a regular basis?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ragnar Recap, Alphabet Style

Not to be confused with "Gangnam Style"

Sorry I've been absent, lately, in case anyone even noticed...Busy days! Awesome days! You get the gist, right? I can't wait to get caught up on everyone else's blogs, as well.
lots of pictures, less words, more fun

A is for Art: Our driver, my husband. He was such an integral and amazing part of the team.

even if his name happened to start with a "Z", I would've figured out a way to list him, first
B is for Baby Wipes: I did most of my post-run "showering" with these but those other wipes were a hot commodity amongst the Ragnar teams. You guys are okay without a picture of that, right? Good.

C is for Conch: Sounds dirty, but it's really just a giant seashell. They're abundant in were the teams with "Conch" somewhere in the name. In fact, one of our own club's teams chose to be:

D is for Dirty. This is how I went to bed, in Key West, when we were done with the race. I hope I'm not the first person to complete a two-day running event and not shower that night. When faced with the choice of  : Pass Out and Drown in Shower or Go to Bed Dirty, I chose the latter.
Runner-up. These were so tasty at 4 am.

E is for Earrings. I wore tiny, cheap, gold hoops, in conjunction with our team's pirate theme. My ears are bloody, scabby messes, now. Today's Running PSA: Don't wear cheap earrings when you plan to get really sweaty!

F is for Famous. One of my multi-talented teammates submitted an article for Ragnar's RagMag. They ended up featuring it, along with pictures (page 20) of last year's team (all the same except for me. I was a new addition/replacement). Other runners were excited when they saw us. "Hey! You're famous!!" was fun to hear from strangers.

G is for Gators: My 2nd leg started in a pitch black swampy area. The "road" was grass and very large gravel. I was completely alone but hoping our van would be able to find me, at some point. Blocking my path, about a mile in, was a truck. The driver hopped out and yelled at me to stop. (Pretty awesome, so far, right?)

"You have to go tell all these runners to stop coming down this road!" "There are too many gators out here!" "It's not safe!" The stranger, in the dark, told me.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to run away from him, and the gators, even faster or jump in his truck for safety. Either way, it scared the heck out of me.

H is for Hair: From the Fluffy 'Fro pre-race, to the disaster, mid-race, I had to just stop caring about what I looked like. This wasn't too hard to do.
not actually a raccoon try to escape the bandana hair was the least of my problems, at this point
I is for Ill. How I was feeling from just before my 4th Leg, all the way 'til Monday afternoon. (2 days after the race ended). Must figure out what's causing my intestines to misbehave so badly during these runs!
J is for Jumping. Awkwardly.
no runners were hurt in the filming of this over-played scene
I could've picked a more obvious "J" topic. Too easy.
K is for Kathee. We pulled off the road, into a mostly abandoned parking lot to try to catch Jeff on his current leg and give him a water. Looking around, from the van, I suddenly spotted another blogger! It was so random that I happened to see her. I'm terrible about approaching people but knew I'd regret it if I didn't. Kathee looked and smelled much better than I did, at the time. She and her team seemed awesome and I was so happy I'd gone and talked to her, all stalker-like.
Hi, Kathee!!
L is for Lost. This is what happened to one of our teammates, during his 2nd leg. By the time we found him, we were in last place out of 491 teams. We were so happy to find out he was alive, though, we could've cared less about anything else. However, due to our later start time and the mishap, our next stretch of legs were very dark times. Literally and mentally. I am so proud of that fact that we, as a team, didn't let it get us down, though. We rocked those lonely, empty, dark miles.
my view from my 2nd night run
M is for Mothering. I guess, because my own children were being cared for and spoiled by their grandparents, I inadvertently reverted to trying to "mother" everyone else.
"Did you re-apply your sunscreen?" "Try some ginger for your stomach." "Bring your water!"...and the like. I'm sure it was annoying the crap out of them, but I couldn't seem to stop.
N is for Naps. There weren't a lot of these. I snoozed for about 10 minutes, during the night, and about 20 the next morning. Most of the time, our eyes were too heavy to keep open, but actual sleep was elusive due all the stops and starts.
plus, if you fell asleep, people would take pics like this one
O is for Overjoyed. This feeling came over me when we finally saw another van and other runners, in the middle of the night. One of the first vans we saw was actually another WVR one, which made it even more awesome. Our giddy greetings also helped soften the blow that we were about to leave them in our dust...
P is for Port-a-Potties: Road, Van, Port-a-Potty. That about sums up where I spent my time from Friday Afternoon through Saturday evening.
very few of our photos don't include those grody little units
Q is for Quirks: Lord knows I have plenty of my own. After spending that many sleep-deprived, physically hard hours together, I learned quite a few of my teammate's, too. Somehow, we all managed to not kill each other. 

R is for Roadkills: When you pass another runner, during your leg, you get to count them as a "roadkill". Each team tallies up their "kills" throughout the day, and at the end. For the most part, it's all in good fun. The teams that went overboard in their celebrating were annoying, to me.
our sad stats during the night, when all the other teams were long gone
S is for Slap Bracelet: This is what all teams use as a baton, when passing off to the next runner. The "seamless handoff" attempts were pretty funny to watch. I stopped even trying, after a while. I just kinda put it somewhere near a wrist and hoped someone would start running. Fun fact: No one wanted to keep the stinky, moist souvenir after the race. So, I brought it home! The husband was thrilled.
waiting for my very first "slapping"
the "eyes closed" handoff is particularly tricky to master
T is for Towels. We used these, after our legs, to sit on and protect the van's seats. All the towels in Florida couldn't have withstood the sweat we produced over the weekend. Think about this next time you're sitting in a rented van...
U is for Unbreakable. Regarding our spirits, and determination during some very undesirable conditions? Yeah, that word about sums it up. 
V is for Vests. Good for safety, bad for running. I should've definitely practiced running in them before the race. They were so uncomfortable and distracting. We were, literally, counting down the seconds 'til 7:30 am, when the race directors had deemed it safe to remove them.
flashlight? check. Stupid vest? check. Annoying my teammates with my dumb smile? check.
W is for Winning. Yep. Last place team came back to win our division. (mixed ultra) In addition, we ended up beating 436 other teams, by placing 56th overall. How, you may ask? See the letter U.
X is for X-rated. Don't panic! No pictures for this one. One of the exchanges (the start of my last leg, in fact) was outside Adult Superstore. Plenty of obvious jokes, ensued. I was just trying to focus on rallying my tired legs and completely destroyed stomach to pay any attention.
Y is for Yummy. The piping hot, fresh, burgers (black bean, for me) we inhaled after stumbling happily away from the finish line were beyond yummy. I did comment, however, that they could've handed me a hot shoe and I would've eaten it with the same gusto. After a couple of days of Non-Perishable Van Goods, a hot meal hit. the. spot.
We made it to one pub, after our quiet, reflective beach burgers, before passing out. (some of us may or may not have done so at the table) At the pub, I finished off my Post-Race Food Wishlist with a basket of giant, crispy fries. My mouth's watering just thinking of those golden brown sticks of heaven. Or, possibly, I'm feeling the residual blisters from tearing into them while they were still smoking. Either was all yummy.
the shoes I was drooling over while waiting for my burger
Z is for Ziti. Yes, I did have ziti, mid-race. No, it doesn't fall under the Yummy Hot Food category. It was scraped from the edges of a giant, tin serving dish at a major exchange. Again, we were the last to arrive, so we weren't given a lot of options. It was well after 10 pm. The food was ice cold and the cheese was questionably crusty. I didn't care. My body wasn't used to what I was putting it through and had decided it was starving during my 6 mile leg right before this point. That heaping plate of old pasta couldn't have looked more appetizing, at that moment.
hot parking lot, cold ziti, delirious runner

Have you ever participated in a relay?
Which part of this recap made you most want to run one?







Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Post

The running portion of my 2012 ended with uneventful miles. Sadly, I didn't make the connection, until after the run, that it'd be my final one of the year. I'd like to think that I'd have done something clever to commemorate it, had I realized it sooner.

Instead, I ran three, easy miles, with some running friends and then dropped my ipod.

I've got to find a better way to celebrate milestones.

Boo! :(
The worst part is that the resilient little sucker still works just fine. It refuses to be replaced.
Soon, I would like to  recap my running and racing from the previous year. I'd love to re-live some of the moments and hope to learn from the ones I'd prefer to pretend never happened. Today's not the day for all that, though.
Today is more about this:
Eraser Tea!
In a pathetic attempt to counteract the effects of this:
much tastier than tea
Before your start imagining me, as a wild partying animal, I have to confess I was the first guest to make my way up to bed. I did stay up past midnight (go, me!) but definitely won the Boring Old Lady Award.
Me and some non-boring ladies

Today also turned out to be an un-planned rest day from running. I'm sure my body is thanking me for the break, anyway. Tomorrow will likely involve a few more miles (what else can I drop and break?!) and more pathetic attempts to not stress about :

How did you ring in 2013?