Running on injured

 
I went out for my first run since doing the Asheville marathon followed by jackie’s run (nearly marathon distance) within a week of each other. 

Both pairs of my running shoes are covered in sand… Inside and out…  
Running felt good, only a minor ache from my foot a little into it, but I ran faster and it went away. It felt good to run a little faster. I wish I could run faster more often without the resounding risk of injury. It sucks being injury prone. 

Now my foot is feeling a little tight across the top. No idea if this is tendonitis or the start of a stress fracture (thanks for getting inside my head Lisa… :-/ ). A whole week off running, and it still hurts… Its better, but not gone.  

Anyone else in a constant cycle of running injuries? Is it really just me?

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The injured ones

 Let’s all have a moment of silence for those poor, hobbling injured runners out there…

 

I really cant say it better than this…
 
I may be among thier ranks, at this point…   The top of my left foot started hurting early on during the Jackie’s Run last Friday, and though I’m no longer limping quite as profusely, I still feel the tinged of sharp pain when I’m moving it.  Shhh!   No one say the “stress-“word.  I’m just going to see along and ice it until it either persists so long that I have to see a dr about it, or it goes away.  Friday will certainly be a test run on it.  Right now, 4 days after doing essentially two marathons in a week, I don’t feel any drive to really get out and run.  I’ll likely bike today on the trainer and watch some bad Kung fu movies.

  

I mean, that just shows how much my husband loves me that he would buy one of those 12-movies on one disc sets that you just know means every movie on there is so ridiculously bad…  And you know only a die-hard fan of that genre would even look at it.  I watch one of those terrible movies every time I ride the bike on the trainer in the family room.  And it’s dangerous!  I’ve almost laughed myself off the bike three times.  

All right.  Time to hobble around the house finishing chores and then onto the bike to go no where fast!
Cheers!

Jackie’s Run – A Run to End Alzheimer’s Disease

Over the past week, a friend of mine, “Superman” Steve Schwalbach, has been running across the state of Florida (coast-t0-coast) to raise awareness and funding for research into Alzheimer’s Disease.

   

He calls the effort: “Jackie’s Run” – an event he plans, organizes, and runs (supported by friends and volunteers) largely solo; Run in the honor and memory of his mother, Jackie.  Jackie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2001.  Superman and his family were thrown into a world where their loving mother often didn’t recognize them, but knew that something was wrong and couldn’t place what it was.  Caregivers suffer as much as patients with the disease.  As the disease becomes more debilitating, the families are often forced to put the loved one in assisted living.  Superman recalled seeing his mother bed-ridden and wishing there was something he could do to help, to ease.  He felt powerless.
“I’m not a doctor.  I’m not a scientist to come up with some crazy drug…I want to help my Mom some how.”  Superman said.
Superman turned to the thing he does best: Running.  He decided to put his skill and passion to work to help the people who are doctors and scientists so they could solve the disease and come up with a cure.

 

poster from KY Jackie’s Run, signed by everyone who ran or helped
 
Three years ago, Superman ran from southern boarder-to- northern boarder across the Commonwealth of Kentucky as the inaugural “Jackie’s Run”.  He raised $12,000 that year.  Last year, he crossed the state of Ohio, Northern boarder to Southern boarder…finishing both state runs with a victory lap past his mother’s home.

In March 2015 Superman was extending a cool-down run after pacing a local race when he got a call from a friend,
“I’m sorry for your loss, man” the tear-filled caller said.
“What loss?”  Superman, who had just completed a successful pacing run, was confused.  It was then he learned that while he was doing the thing he loved, running, his mother passed away.  Superman grieved.  He grieved hard.  But while he grieved, he doubled his efforts to help find a cure or treatment for the disease that took his mother’s last years from her.

  
Starting last week on March 11th, Superman began the journey across his third state.  Florida is an important spot for him – his family has property in the area of Longboat Key, and he has many fond memories of family trips to the area.  It’s at Lido Beach that he intended to complete this challenge.

Running from Daytona Beach to Lido was no easy feat.  A total of 226 miles over 8 days in Florida temps with Florida wildlife and some mileage on the shoulder of a roadway not normally meant for pedestrian traffic.  Superman relied on volunteers and family and friends who were able to work their schedules to meet up with him.  Those volunteers would meet him at set points to give him water, electrolytes, food, and reapply sunscreen.  As day temps reached 90F, and Superman was pounding out the miles, varying from 25-33 each day, he reflected during the hard moments on why he was out there.

  
I managed to pull off a last minute flight to join Superman for his last day of running.  Still sore from my marathon the Sunday before, I was confident that I could keep Superman company and motivated to reach his goal at the the appointed time.

  
Superman, his cousin, and I ticked off the first 8-9 miles quickly.  The air was still pretty cool as the sun rose, but it turned humid and thick quickly.  We were joined by a local area runner, a complete stranger to all of us, who read about the effort in the local running club’s newsletter and decided that she wanted to be a part of the effort.  Other runners joined on and off, and the local running club leader held an impromptu coke, chips, and beer stop for us.

For a man who had run a marathon or more for the last seven days, Superman was moving well.  When asked how he felt, the answer was “stiff, but excited.  Lets get this done.”  He was an unwavering force.  And why wouldn’t he be?  He was a man on a mission.  Driven.

 

Superman’s shirt includes a list of names of friends and family affected with the disease
 
We weaved along roadways, answering questions and sharing the meaning of the shirts: “END ALZ” with drivers or pedestrians who asked.  Even as the mileage began to wear on me (I’m injury-prone, remember?  Two marathons within a week pretty much destroyed me…though, I think it was my shoe choice for the second one that did me in…) Superman was tired, but showed no signs of stopping.

The day was beautiful.  Superman had a whole week of beautiful running.  Even when the run got tough and he was out there by himself for some miles, he managed to tough it out and take in the sights.  He said this run was the best, just simply because he didn’t know the area.  Everything was new to him until this last day.  Now, running on his own stomping grounds, he felt revitalized and strong.

  
We made a couple of stops for Superman to talk with the media, and we looped through Sarasota to sight see and kill a little time, since we were ahead of schedule.

 

Superman does an interview while the rest of us get a needed rest
 
When it was time to cross the “largest hill in Florida” -as one runner referred to it (Bless those flatlanders), we were joined by a small group of more local runners.  Shirts were handed out and we took off.  Eventually we were weaving through crowds of people and “around the circle” toward Lido Beach, Superman’s finish line.  The boardwalk to the sand was lined with people in purple, and balloons, and Superman’s family.  They cheered extra loud as he sprinted through them, his goal to run into the ocean.  He dusted across the sand of the beach, the rest of us sliding and struggling behind him.  Hitting the water, he threw his arms up into the air and cried out in triumph.

  
It was a great achievement for him.  All the ups and downs.  All the connections made and all the experiences.  And more than anything, the dedication to something so deeply important to him.

  
Observers on the beach cheered with us before asking what was going on.  Once they were filled in people stood out of their chairs and came up to Superman from all along the beach to shake his hand and congratulate him.  Superman was on cloud 9.

Hours later, after the after-party, and after the runners got some real food in their bodies, Superman walked back to his car.  Still on a high from the week’s conclusion, but a little more somber.  He held the bunch of purple balloons from the finish line.  After a moment of silence, he released them to the sky, watching them float and fighting tears.  A long moment of reflection and he turned to me asking, “So?  Indiana, California or Texas?  Which one is next?”

Superman is going to run this country.  He’s going to keep pushing state by state, until some kind of break through is found for Alzheimer’s Disease, or until he has all 50 and has to take on a greater challenge.  And he will.  Because he has purpose and drive.  And the support of runners and family – close friends and complete strangers – every where he goes.

  

  
If you want to learn more about Jackie’s Run, or, and I really hope, to donate to the cause under Superman’s name (in the honor of his mother), CLICK HERE 

No.  Superman said he never did see an alligator while he was running.  Our small group had some hopes to see one…though I don’t think any of us knew what we would do if we had.

  

His Florida run has raised nearly $5,000, and there is still time to help him raise more.

California and Texas are not going to happen in 2017…  but it’s now a choice between Indiana, which is likelier, and Georgia, along the coast – which I’m pushing for.

  
Like his facebook page and follow along each year!

Cheers!

  

The post-marathon run

So the legs still ache some…  That left hip still feels a little uncomfortable as you swing that leg forward for each step.  

  
It’s the first run after the marathon.  Some people go out immediately…like, within hours, and run again after a race.   Some people are able to go out the very next day and knock some easy miles out.   One of my friends is so freaking brilliant, that she can knock out 80-90 miles in a race, will have run to the point that she no longer can run anymore – and I think, “surly she’s hurt, she’ll be off for a couple days at least” and yet…   And yet, she goes out the next day for a short run and feels brilliant.  

Some other runners don’t stop running after the marathon.  They ran to the race as a warm up, raced the 26.2 like it were more or less a 10k for mere mortals, and then they take off on the rest of thier run, medal tucked in thier long-run pack… Along with half a dozen burgers and three changes of clothes.  I mean, I think that’s what’s in the packs… I don’t know.  After all, I’m no where near that last type of runner.

I need some time off after a marathon.  At least a couple days.  And I need easy running after…a week of not caring about the distace or the pace or the destination.  Just running to be running.  Marathons are hard to me.  At mile 24 of the Asheville Marathon last weekend, I commented to my new friend, Antony, that I wished the marathon would get easier for me.  Antony laughed at me and told me that if I figured that secret out, I should teach it to him.  I’m still waiting for some guru to teach it to me!  

Until they become easy, however, for me the marathon will be the great humbler. Some times I can run it in a respectable time (I’m not an elite…for me respectable is sub four hours….and I’ll remind readers that I still have not made my Boston qualification time of 3:35:00) and I feel like I could keep going, at least a few more miles easily.  And I could do the same effort and I’ll come off the course so tweaked or hurting and couldn’t run another step for about a week.  

So I take a couple days to recover.  I’m injury prone….or have been…and I prefer to be able to run “forever”, rather than try to run too soon after the marathon.  

This all becomes moot at the end of April, when I, along with some particularly crazy friends fro the running group, will do the Derby Marathon in Kentucky.  

Oh, what? Just the marathon? What’s so crazy about that? 

The crazy, for me, is that the very next day, Sunday May 1st, we will run the Flying Pig marathon.  

Yes.

A full marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday.  52.4 miles total, over two days.

 

pain by numbers “Derby-Pig challenge” logo
 
I’m sure there ar ultra runners out there who scoff at the ease of this challenge.  I’m sure someone will say that that’s a big rest between the two.  That someone is not me.  Remember?  I’m injury prone.  I need two days of rest before I feel safe running any distance again.  

What have I done?  

How long do you recover after a major distance race?

Any thoughts on how I can prep for this back-to-back marathon challenge?  Because, when I look that up on google…the articles all consider back-to-back to mean..uh….with a week or two or six between each race.  Because…I guess…no one is stupid enough to do two marathons in one weekend….  No one, that is, except me and seven lovely brave souls from a running group that lives up to its name: Pain By Numbers.
Cheers!

The Asheville Marathon – Recap

This race brought to you by:
Opulence.
And hills.
And Mother Nature…she thinks you need more rain water in your life…and your race.

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The Asheville Marathon made it onto my bucket list of marathons a couple years ago when a friend mentioned that she ran it once.

I… I’m not making that up.

I wish I could say it took more than someone saying, “I ran this race at Asheville once…it was pretty neat.  Hilly.  There was some trail…  it was at the Biltmore Estate, you ever been there?”
But.  No.  That is all it took for me to think, “I wanna do that race too!”

I knew nothing about the race.  And nothing about the location: The Biltmore Estate.  All I knew for sure, was that this race sounded pretty cool – cooler than running on a soul-crushingly flat route with no spectators, which pretty much sums up a lot of the races in my area (Despite all the hills around us…) and the direction of interest most of my running group was taking at the time (flat for fast, I guess).

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“It’s hilly” was the warning I got repetitively.
I’m not scare of hills.  I admit, there’s a love-hate relationship between me and hills…  all the emotion is on me though.  Sometimes I really love the feeling of powering up hill…  I love that I feel so strong as I climb, because I pass people on the hills all the time.  I mean, I’m so gassed at the top that I can’t tell if i’m being passed by them after the hill, but I don’t care.  It’s a boost feeling strong on hills.  My legs crave the climbs.  Flat races are where I come away hurting.  The diversity of muscle use and the mental game of challenging race routes feel good to me.

I signed up for Asheville this year because it fit into my marathon-a-month challenge, and because travel-wise it felt very doable.  My husband started voicing some concerns about using up too much of his vacation time back in September, and I don’t like the idea of going on a trip without him.

Asheville, North Carolina is a little bit of a drive for us, about 5.5hours without stops, but it’s not bad.  I figured if my man could pull off a half day on Friday and we left immediately after the marathon, he wouldn’t have to use any time.  I also figured that if he decided he didn’t want to go, I could always find a friend who would want to spend a weekend at the Biltmore with me (Spoiler alert: Hubs really, really wanted to go and did).  Things worked out beautifully and without burning any vacation time, we managed to pull off the most beautiful, romantic, and relaxing weekend trip in the history of us.

And I apologize.  I’m probably going to have a lot of trouble separating just the marathon from the trip.  The whole package was just so damn perfect!   Ergo, this post will be long.

Here’s The tl;dr Version:
A marathon happened. I had fun, it rained a shit-ton on race day, and I finished about when I expected to.

As seems typical of me:  I took care of signing up for the race and then put the whole trip out of mind for a few months.  As race day loomed, I realized I hadn’t gotten a hotel set up for us yet.  With a month to go, I called every hotel on the list and was soundly informed that all the cheap rooms for the race were taken.  And in some instances, there were no vacancies left at all.
Crap.
I had a race to run, but no where to sleep.  Due to my…uh, well it wasn’t even laziness… maybe forgetfulness?
Yeah.  Due to that, we ended up getting a room at the Inn on Biltmore Estate.
So, yay!
Accidental posh!
Ouch.
The cost of posh.
For…two nights…
ehhhh…

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Redrum, bitches.

We arrived late in the evening and entered into a world of opulence.  Utter, utter opulence.  I worried that I did not pack clothing expensive or fancy enough to permit me to wander the hallways or go to breakfast or anything while we were there.
It helps that after 5-6ish hours of driving, I was too exhausted to care very much beyond a, “day-uhm… that is a glorious fire place.  Is everyone here a millionaire?  Shit.  Can we afford breakfast here?”
It also helped that despite the opulence, the hallways still made me think of the movie The Shinning.  I guess it doesn’t matter how posh a place is, when the halls look like this, you will still run like a madman if twin girls come at you ahead of a river of blood.

The room was also very swank, but the view I saw when I woke the next morning?  That was worth the cost.

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I mean.  That’s the view… 

The view also reminded me of one thing.  All those warnings…. “It’s a HILLY race”.  Shit.  I forgot that North Carolina doesn’t have hills…they have mountains.  I probably shouldn’t have scoffed so freely about the ‘hills” warnings.

Saturday.

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We had all day to wander the grounds and see the sights.  Breakfast was beautiful (And thanks to some random jackass who was the stereotypical white male pain in the ass loud and rude “Murican in shorts and wife beater – I no longer felt inadequate or out of place).  I felt like I was on vacation, and there was nothing that could wipe the dumb smile off my face.  We walked to the “village” – you know, where the “plebes” lived when they worked on the estate back in the days of extreme opulence.  Look.  I made a lot of posh and opulence jokes.  There was no avoiding it.  You would have too.

The day was bright and very warm, and it looked like the half marathon was still finishing up while we looked the place over.  A staff member said that if she could do anything that day, she’d go into downtown and shop, and that’s what she recommended we do.  We hit the expo first, which was small so it didn’t take any time really.  A guy at the ChiRunning booth gave me a quick overview of the race…  he was mostly wrong (Sir, after finishing this race I can handily tell you that mile 1 was not downhill.  No part of this race was downhill.  North Carolina is uphill in every direction!).  Two women who just came back from the half marathon were passing through the expo and I asked them about the course.  Everyone I met so far were laughing and smiling and just raved about how beautiful the run was!  “Hilly, but gorgeous!”  These girls bemoaned the hills.  “Mile four is a black diamond!”  One girl cried throwing her arms up.  I laughed nervously.  Exactly how steep did these hills get anyway?

The husband and I hit town for a few hours of wandering after the expo.  Finding a parking space was such a nightmare.  Almost as bad as trying to find one in Chicago…which was weird for such a small town.  We wandered shops, laughed and joked, enjoyed the sunlight…  got blessed by some random dude dressed as a nun riding down the roads on a giant bike.

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Keep Asheville weird, my friends

We headed back to the Inn to change and do my shake out run.

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I ain’t afraid of hills.

We decided that since there was a trail head right across the roadway from the Inn, we would do that.  After all, after the “hilly” warnings came the “some of the race is trail” warnings.  I figured everyone meant gravel roads when they said trail, but I still wanted to run on some gentle ground before the race.  My husband, who was having as much of a blast as I was, headed into the tree line with me.  The trails were “okay”…but also shitty.  It was difficult to tell whether hikers were allowed on some spots and not on others, it was obvious after a few hundred feet that we were on a “off road vehicle” trail rather than hiking trail…but where we lost the hiking trail wasn’t obvious.  Other than this, the running on the trails was beautiful!  And the hills didn’t bother me.  I felt strong.  I felt good.  I was excited and SO READY!  My husband, who was not enjoying the run that much, convinced me that I should stop while I was running happy, saving some of it for the race the next day.

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Bring it Biltmore! 

We headed in, washed up and went back out on the town for dinner.  My husband chose the restaurant, and wanting a romantic and nice evening, he picked “French comfort food”.  The place we ate was delicious, and the waitress was hilarious.  She even shared a tid-bit about the Biltmore Estate (that there are 44 bathrooms).  I’d say we learned more about the landmark we were staying at by wandering the town and having people tell us random stuff than we would have if we actually went to it.

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Carbo-loading … for the discerning marathoner…

We topped the night off with dessert and a short walk around town, then went back to the hotel.

img_0235Thanks to being guests at the Inn, we had a pass that allowed us to drive through all the gate houses and check points.  Lemme tell you how posh it feels to be waved through multiple check points where everyone else has to stop and show or buy tickets:  Super posh.  It was like we were very important people with very important things to do on the estate.

I slept like a rock the whole night.  Which is really good, considering that we lost an hour of sleep thanks to the antiquated “day-light savings”.  Who plans a race for a time change day!?  Ugh.  Despite an alarm clock fiasco – the alarm was set for a weekday, not a weekend, and so it never went off, I was awake and ready to go with plenty of time to get to the start.  Thankfully we didn’t have to drive to the start line!  The rules were so strict that people who had to drive in were required to be on the grounds before 0630.  The race had a lot of rules, and reading them before the day made everything feel so restrictive or tight…like there was no room to have fun.  But being there, and throughout the race, it was the most relaxed and low-maintenance kind of feeling for a race.  Everyone was happy and chipper.  I didn’t run into a single person who didn’t want to chat or be friends before or throughout the race.  And the volunteers were wonderful!  Especially since, on the “back half” the volunteers were the only crowd support you could have.

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Bonus.  I found the only porta potties with no lines!  Winner. 

A drizzle started while we waited for the start.  My husband hadn’t brought a raincoat, so he hugged me, told me he was proud of me, and said he’d be at the finish when I got there – then he headed back up the hill to the Inn to sleep some more and work on loading our car.

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I chatted some with a lady at the start, but once the run started and we got into the hills….  haha!  This is funny, because it was all uphill at the start…just…slightly less so until the first mile was past.  From mile 2 through 8 it was all rolling hills of various degrees.  Mile 4 was pretty impressive as a hill, and I could see why the girls from Delaware called it a black diamond.  During these miles, I made friends with a Michlob Ultra runner from Illinois who was stopping to do this marathon as she “passed through” on her way to Miami for a cruise; and with a local girl who kept claiming that she was “falling back” due to not feeling well…just before she would surge past all of us.  I also made friends with a woman from Florida, who I kept pace with a little better than the others, so I stuck with her a lot longer.  It was funny to me that I managed to find these women, and a few more, all around my pace who had similar humors to mine.  We cracked each other up with stories about bears and race mishaps and adventures.  The miles passed.  The rain did not.  By mile 8, as we bottomed out for a little flat running, and a quick intro to what they considered “trails” the drizzle from the start turned into a downpour.  That downpour lasted almost an hour… and never really stopped so much as slowed to a drizzle and picked up again on and off for the rest of my race.  I chatted freely with everyone and anyone around me, and they chatted just as happily.  We crossed a bridge around mile 10 or so and no longer had the hope for pavement as we started turning back up hill toward mile 13.

The ChiRunning guy said that around this point I would reach the top of a “significant hill” but be “rewarded with a view of the Biltmore House over your shoulder”.   Hahaha.  No.  It was raining so hard, and the dirt / gravel road we were on was slick, rutted, covered with puddles, and uneven.  My attention through pretty much all of the second half of this race was 100% on where my feet were going to land.  Energy drained fast on the hills now, because the ground was slick enough that my foot would slide a little as I pushed off in my stride.  I gave up on trying to avoid puddles.  My shoes were already squelchy from the rain water and I was covered in mud.  They should have given us more than one Tide pod in our swag bags at the expo.  Tide should have sponsored mile 15.

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Only Asheville Marathon’s website could describe this route better.  Opulence people, opulence.  “much different passageway” …that’s code for bring your trail shoes peasants.  You’ll need ’em. 

I enjoyed listening to my Florida friend moan about the hills and the mud.  It was hilarious.  
“I want to run on the good side of the dirt now!”  She cried as we were forced off the…uh…less puddled portion of the track by on-coming runners (the race has out and back loops in spots).  I splashed through a puddle and laughed, “We are on the good side!  We’re ahead of them!  We’re closer to finish!”  
“Hey!  I like that!  Our side is better!”  She cheered and we trash talked each other through another mile.  At one point I moaned about how good it would feel just to be able to put on a dry shirt.  The rain was pounding us, and we were slowly slipping along toward mile 15.  I realized the shirt wouldn’t stay dry for long, but just having a fresh one for a moment would help a lot with my mental game.  I felt like I weighed 100lbs more with my soaked shirt.  And I was feeling super self-conscious.  After all, I feel fat on the best of days…having my shirt stick to that fat is awful.  A guy running near us at the time heard me commenting about wanting a change of shirt and Florida was mentioning just wanting dry shoes.  He turned toward us and told me, “You should know that you look beautiful.   You wear that shirt well and really… you’re beautiful right now.”

Holy shit green shirt man.  I mean, in the retelling, it comes across a bit creepy, but at the time, man.  He was just being nice…very sweet.  Florida and I gushed about how nice he was and how well trained his woman had him, and we ran on.  He caught up with us a little later and we chatted about his love life – a new girl friend and how divorcing his wife had him focused on his sons and his job.  
“Its easy to tell when I’m in a relationship, because my running always suffers then.”  – Green.
“I have a friend that calls that relationship fat.”  – Me.
“Oh SHIT!  This is the funniest shit I’ve ever heard!”  – Florida.
“Make me glad my husband supports my hours and hours of running.” – Me.
“Lucky gorgeous girl, you.”  – Green.  
 Green shirt guy would show up on and off at the loops, and he’d drop a comment about how pretty I was each time.  Along this race I was given a lot of random and out of the blue complements.  Maybe it was how relaxed I was on this weekend… how happy…  stress-free.  Who knows?  But it made me feel so happy, despite the dragging feeling from the soaking wet clothes and the start of the different marathon run pangs.  Ah, hamstring, I see you want to hurt now.

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We crossed some thing the race called “Dam hill”, took a sharp decline and then falttened out for the last time.  No more hills.  Well.  No more signifiant hills.  For North Carolina, this was as flat as it got.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief…except me.  Now my quads were beat, sure, but my hamstring was too…and the hills were giving me something to focus on beyond just getting my legs out ahead of me with each step.

Mile 18 I had to step off the route for a pit stop…ugh…it was not good.  But once it was over, I was fine…except that I lost my group of fun girls.  I hustled along toward mile 20 – which had the additional pain of letting you pass the finish line.  During this time, I picked up Jennifer, a girl running her first marathon (And doing amazing, by the way).  She was struggling a little, and I needed company more than anything at that time.  So I slowed and ran along with her.  We picked up a pacer who had dropped back from her group – we all have bad days.  The three of us encouraged each other along, taking walk breaks at the water stops and telling jokes.  Around mile 22 I felt msyelf zoning out and I was starting to drop my impromptu team.  I called back to them that I was zoning and asked if they were okay if I went on ahead.  They said sure, and I was off.

Zoning out didn’t last as long as I had hoped.  My hips were starting to tighten up too now.  I pulled up along side Antony, a Marathon Maniac who was super nice, sweet, and dragged me the rest of the course.  He talked about his 50 states goal, and about his favorite races.  He shared all kinds of great stories and helped me get through the last four miles.  Within a half mile to go, a Welshman came up along side us and I kept pace with him to the finish line.  He, Antony and I all hugged it out and thanked each other for the support.  A couple other people finished behind us, and we hugged and thanked them for the support too.  That was the happiest, most together finish line I’ve ever crossed.  Also.  No one was hurrying us out of the way.  We were welcome to stay and hug as many finisher as we wanted!  haha!

With a soft finisher’s blanket wrapped around me and a bottle of water in hand, I called my husband and told him to meet me at the PT tent.

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I would recommend Asheville to anyone.  I would do Asheville again.  That says a lot.  I don’t like repeating races that much.  I only do the Pig each year because almost all of my running group does.  I prefer new experiences.  But I feel like I could do the Asheville again and it would feel like a different race.  Who knows how it would be to complete that race on a bright but cool sunny day?

Rain and mud and all, I managed to pull a 4:15:15.  Good enough for 11th in my Age Group and just about what I was expecting to do.  Between the hills, mud, and pouring rain, I thought for sure I was going to fall to a 4:30 time…  but this is nice.  Antony told me to expect Asheville to add 20 minutes to my normal marathon time, and that’s pretty accurate.

My husband and I rounded out our opulent and romantic, wonderful trip with a visit to Sierra Nevada Brewery for lunch on our way back home.  When I asked the local girl during the race where I could go for a good burger she first replied that she didn’t eat burgers, so she couldn’t think of anywhere to send me.  A few miles later, she and Illinois were yelling “Hey!  Kentucky!  Go to Sierra Nevada!  Got to Sierra Nevada!”  Turns out that’s a beer that my husband likes…and likes well enough that when I brought it up while we were thinking of where to go, he lit on the idea immediately.

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Readers.  This was the best damn idea in the universe!  The place was beautiful…oh, by the way, the sun came out IMMEDIATELY after  I crossed the finish line.  Like an ass.  It poured all the while I ran, and the minute I was finished, out came the sun.

Sierra Nevada Gastropub was amazing.  The food was so amazing that when I took a bite from my husbands buffalo sliders, I nearly cried.  My burger was a little over-cooked and it was still fucking delicious.  Our waitress was very patient and had a good sense of humor.  When I ordered my beer she asked if I wanted a whole or half sized serving…
Me:  “The fuck is this half bullshit?  I ran a whole marathon!  I will have a whole beer!”
Waitress:  “You’re hilarious.”
When the beer came it was in such a huge glass that I thought I would drown before I finished it.  I am not a beer drinker usually, and I typically hate most beers…including Sierra Nevada…  but still…
Me:  “Oh shit…”
Husband:  “You are drinking all of it.”

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I figure he just wanted to make sure i was out cold for the majority of the drive home.  After all, he’s been putting up with me wide awake and energized for two days straight. 

Don’t worry, folks.  I drank the whole beer.  And resulting food/beer coma was worth it.

And that’s Asheville Marathon.  
If you’re on the fence about it, do it.  But get your hotel room immediately.  And if you like to sleep in, splurge for the night and stay on the grounds of the Biltmore.  Its worth the posh, the swank, the special treatment, and the cost for a little more sleep, guaranteed parking, no need to pay for an extra pass for spectators, and the views.

Cheers!

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Another 60 minutes in the Sun

Its another beautiful running week around my hometown.


Apparently I’m no longer one of only three runners in the subdivision… I’ve now spotted at least two new runners out here.  I call them, “happy to see everyone dude” and his polar opposite “Mr Never Waves”.    Unlike some people, from what I can tell, I don’t get bothered about another runner not waving back or saying hi.  The few times that happens are so far apart that I don’t let it dampen the positive phenomena that is running culture.   Its like that thing that happens when you’re on a boat in a lake.  Everyone waves to everyone.  Maybe it’s the sunlight and fresh air…  people getting high on existing.

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With deep blue skies and bright sunlight, I hit the country roads near me and did a lovely loop through the trails of the park near-by.  I…  I think this is what happiness feels like.  I smiled into the sunlight and ran like this was the first run I’ve ever gone on.  I explored, and paused in the sunlight.  I realized two things.  First.  Man, I’m so pale you could direct air traffic control with the light reflecting off my post-winter limbs.  Second.  My Irish genetics make me…essentially… a vampire.  The sun, for all it’s warmth and happy – bringing, is the enemy.  Alas. Despite lathering up with sunscreen, I, dear reader, have my first sun burn of 2016.

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My husband is not sympathetic.  Apparently you can tell where my reach ends on my back… because there’s a perfect outline of my fingers among the burn/not burn boarder.  He won’t stop laughing about it.  :-/   Seriously dude.  At least rub the “after-sun-anti-aging-oh-my-gawd-this-chick-is-SO-Irish” aloe lotion in while you giggle.  Men.

Marathon #3 of 2016 is in about three days, and I’m excited.  As usual, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll finish…  it’s just the question of how fast or how well I will do so.  I’m hoping that I’ll make a couple friends in my pace range at the start and we’ll just go out and have a blast…  that would be the best, I think.  I feel like my speed has slipped off and my legs are pretty heavy / beat, but I’m not sure what to do to fix it.  Rest hasn’t been a problem the last couple of weeks during this taper.  Running has.  Running motivation.  But that seems to be fixed now, with the spring weather.  Yesterday, my 45 minute “easy” run became a 31minute 4 mile “all out” for the last two miles.  Not bad considering the first mile was in the 9’s.

Hmmm.  Marathon #3 in 2016.  Asheville Marathon will actually mark my 15th marathon, I think.  (Count not including the ultras).  In April I’ll run the Derby Marathon followed the next day by the Flying Pig Marathon… which…  Is going to be such an epic challenge!  I’m excited to see how they both go!  I’m excited to see how I do!

I’ll check in with updates from Asheville and my “posh” weekend.  Haha.  “posh” is what happens when you neglect to get your hotel room figured out early enough, and you end up staying in the expensive place at the start line…  Ooops.  I explained to my husband that it was an accident…

I.  Am.  Excited!    And still only a little bit burnt.
Cheers!

Motivation and Mutual Rescue

Sure.   I’ll hop on the bandwagon and do as everyone else.   

Motivation Monday!

Actually.   I watched this video for a pick-me-up, but it was such a sweet story and inspiring for people looking to change and be better.  So. Here’s the story of Eric and his rescue dog:

Eric and Peety

And if that isn’t enough, dear readers, here’s a photo of my rescue:

  
He loves to sprint, but he’s not a runner.   We got him at 4yrs old, and within the first year had to replace one of his knees.   Two years later, we replaced the second knee as well for the same issue.   He’s 8 now…and he hobbles occasionally, but he still has some puppy in him.

I highly recommend a shelter or rescue dog.  
Cheers!

The Stressful Running Question

I’m having one of those moments where I feel like I’ve been locked away in a box and tossed into the heart of a black hole a quad-zillion light years away.   And I’m screaming.  Screaming that I have worth.  Screaming for someone to notice me…  But in a positive way…  Notice me, see that I have worth..  Help me out of this place.

I know I could get out myself… but I’ve been trapped too long and have forgotten how to pull it off…

I read the headline of an article a while ago, and I never actually got back around to it when I had time to actually read the story, but it was something I wanted the answer to.

Does happiness or contentment make your running better or worse? 

Stress, fear, anxiety, anger….  I’ve been dealing with these a lot over the last couple of years.  I’ve also run 6+ mile training runs on challenging terrain in the sub-7 minute per mile range because of it.  I’ve powered through seriously rough half marathons at BQ marathon pace, and didn’t bat an eye at it.  And in fact, felt as though I could get more miles at that pace easily.  I focused on the task of running…and just went.  I didn’t pause to consider potential injuries….  I didn’t care.  I was already hurting emotionally and mentally.  I…  I just wanted something to feel like an achievement.  My runs were doing that.

But I’ve also run while I was happy.  I’ve enjoyed the laughter and easy-going nature of a run with a group of friends just out moving and sight seeing.  My times weren’t great then.  But I did run 8 marathons in a year, along with a lot of long distances “just for fun”.  One of those marathons was my PR at 3:43:34.  All but 1 of those marathons was sub 4-hour…. and the one that wasn’t sub-4?  I still took 3rd in my age group.

Now I’m struggling.  Those stressful situations have not resolved and my best efforts to fix them have resulted in things just feeling like they’ve gotten worse.  And the last thing I want to do is run.  Sure.  I can hop on the treadmill and pound out 9-10 miles like nothing right now….  I did 20 miles on the treadmill a couple weeks ago, getting my long distance run in during a sno-pocalypse.  But when I’m home from work and have all day to go out and explore or just do the distance, I don’t want to.  When I have the morning free and could meet with the running group, I just want to sleep.

I meant to run today…just 3 or 6 miles… something…  I haven’t run for the last two days.  This makes day 3 in a row of not running.  Sure, a couple days ago, I knew I wasn’t going to get a run in, and so I planned the training week with that in mind.  That was my “rest” day.  But yesterday and today?  These days have been taken over by “extreme give up”.  Last week wasn’t a shining example of my training either.

What’s “extreme give up“?
I dunno.
I just made it up.  I’m sure you could apply your own determination of it.
It’s what I feel.  Things are so heavy in one aspect of my life, and that used to be the number one thing that pushed me out the door and had me running a distance so fast it would blow me away….  or just running and running, to the point where I’d have to rein myself back and force myself to stop.  Now it’s like they’re so heavy I just don’t want to try to combat them.  I don’t want to sit around and eat… but I don’t want to go out in the chilly air and try to come up with an enticing route either.

I’m just going to note: Don’t worry about me.
I’m not depressed.  I’m not mentally unhealthy.  I’m “normal” (yeah, I can say that for certain…I got tested and everything).  I’m just…  lonely, I guess.  I’m an extrovert that has been forced into being an introvert at work because that’s what my coworkers have randomly decided I am…  oh, and they don’t want anything to do with me as a rule, so I don’t get to sit around and socialize like they do.  Ah, the stress makes sense now?  I’m not an introvert.  And the more I’m alone and sitting quietly, the deader I feel…  maybe not “deader”…. but…  the more… not happy or healthy, I guess?  Does this even make sense?

The last thing I can get motivated for after 8-12 hours of loneliness is going out to be alone some more, while also challenging myself physically…  It just gets… tedious…

I blame myself.  There’s no question about that.  Its on me to get out the door.  That’s a fact.  And its also my fault… for not putting in the effort to get out and run with the running group as much as I used to as well.  I could say that it has a lot to do with the constant changing of shifts the last couple of years….which hasn’t helped, to be sure….  but its also my not wanting to run in the cold and or snow and or ice.  I just don’t see the point.  I could just as easily zone out on a treadmill and be done sooner and not have to worry about carrying my water around or whether or not I dressed too much or too little for the chill and wind….  And I could go home sooner… be comfortable sooner…  Be alone some more.

Ugh!  Lame.

So The Question:
Does a person run better in a situation where part of their life is out of balance and they’re stressed?  Or is it better to run happy?  Which one yields the results?

I’m not going to argue that its not better to be happy.  It is.  Absolutely!  Optimism and happiness go a long way to improve and lengthen lives, put off illness, put of injury, inspire others to want to be around you, brings success after success, and so forth.  The benefits of being happy cannot be argued.  But that’s a lot of work too, for me currently…  I was working on it pretty actively up until last week.  And then… I dunno, I guess I lapsed.  Things just became more than I could handle with my meager attempts to process things with a positive mind.  I got a little blind-sided as well, which did not help.

But running with stress?  Be honest, if you’ve ever thought to run competitively – even like me: just the little local races during track season so those lithe and speedy a-hole high school track athletes aren’t running and you have a relatively realistic shot at placing, if not winning.  Even just aiming to do better than the last time in a race.  These things bring some amount of stress to your body.

So does that power you through to your goals?

Does it break you?

I’d like your thoughts.

And if you want something happier than my blog to read, allow me to recommend fellow blogger: Jenny Lawson.  She has a couple of biographical type books out and both had me laughing until there were tears in my eyes and reading the book aloud to my husband.  I also recommend Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman.  It’s not funny, but it has a lot of good advice and provides a solid base of research in an easy-to-read manner.

7 days to Asheville Marathon!!!
I’m looking forward to it.  Very much so.

 

Cheers!

 

Running the Wilds and Spreading Good Vibes

The false-warm sun and the blue, blue sky called to me all throughout the work day.  I had to go to the woods.


Typical spring weather of my area still has us getting dumped on by snow one day, and then sweating things out in the upper 60s only a couple days later.  Yes.  Still.  The ground is nothing but mud… but the sky has been so beautiful.
Running on the soft ground and the mud eased my tired legs.  And the beauty of the trail made me feel so damn happy.  With the slick mud and deep soggy spots, I was able to give myself permission to just take it easy and enjoy the moment.


Being on the trails was fun.  It was a nice little step away from everything else.  I have never run those trails before..so it was 100% an adventure.  A fellow blogger warned that there was going to be a hill or two on the Asheville Marathon (A week away now!)…  I’m not scared of hills.  We have a few of our own down here.


What is it about trail hills that makes them harder than road hills?

It was lovely…So, so, very lovely…but it was also lonely.

I couldn’t help but imagine how much fun this gorgeous day would’ve been with my running group friends on this trail with me.  A couple of years ago, I headed up a bunch of trail running meet-ups for the group, and we had so much fun exploring the parks.  Once, we followed some deer track up and out of the park and into some lady’s back yard…and she was sitting out there playing guitar.  She sang a lovely song for us, a few of the group sang along with her.  We took a photo together and I sent it to her in an email.  Her response was so lovely…

Emily,

The honor and pleasure was mine!  I had been playing to help ease some sadness and you brought joy into the moment and filled my heart with a big smile.
Thank you for the warmth and kindness, and the picture by which to remember 🙂
Be well,

Patti

We never really realize the lives we touch as runners.  Some of us run for charities or try to support races that give back to the community…but we don’t really see the impact we have just by our consistency.  By being that person that is out running and showing their community that there’s more to the journey than the destination.  We don’t see the people we give hope to.  We don’t know the story behind the people who stand all alone in front of their home during a race – clapping and smiling, but so clearly not attached in any personal way to the race beyond living right there.

On the Flying Pig course, toward the end of the full route, there’s an older man who dresses up in a white suit and hat.  He stands alone in front of what must be his home, and he plays chariots of fire on repeat from a stereo while he claps and cheers the runners on.  Some people stop to shake his hand.  But he looks like he’s enjoying the race more than anyone running it.

Even when you don’t think about it, you have the power to affect others positively.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

Yeah…  I got away from the trail running part of this post… but I think that point about touching lives is more important.  Who would expect to bring so much joy to a random stranger after popping out of the trees into her private back yard.  We invaded her life, but touched her world in such a nice way.  Just as she did for us, as she dedicated the song to us.


My trail run came to an end at a stream that I absolutely was not going to try and cross…  one foot was already squishing out brown water with each step…  I cut a path to the roadway and jogged down the center of the asphalt.  The road was all mine.  And this was a wonderfully peaceful thought as well.  The park was closed…the roads were gated… Sure, there was a couple on bikes that passed me early on, otherwise… it was quiet and calm.  A hawk swooped from the trees on the woods side, glided above me and along the road before turning toward the lake.


Life felt whole.

In a week I go to the Biltmore Estate to run the Asheville Marathon.  I’m looking forward to it – I’ve heard it’s beautiful.  I don’t know how I ‘ll do…if I’m ready for another marathon…  I don’t really know if I’m excited to run.   But I am excited to be there.

Cheers!

 

Any advice for dealing with a motivation black hole?