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Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

Archive for the tag “Garmin”

Happy Flookie Bootie

It’s my birthday!  I may as well admit it; I’m typing so I’m still breathing, so odds are I’m gonna have one of those at least once this year.

It really is a beautiful day, 60 degrees this morning when I woke, gorgeous sunrise and nothing I had to do, not even a race I needed to work which hasn’t been the case recently.  Here’s a pic of the beautiful morning:

IMG_0390

This photo was taken with an iPhone by a total amateur.

I have no work I have to do, and I have nothing I’m training for, so I can – call me crazy – go for a run with … wait for it … NO GOAL.

Right.  Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out … I know you’re both taken aback, I realize the idea of just going for a run like you were a kid with no responsibilities on a Saturday morning is completely out of character for any real runner and could cost me my card.

But, then, I’m just wild and crazy and there’s no stopping me, as we’ve discussed before so you know what?

Nanner Nanner Boo-Boo.

nanner nanner

That’s What.  This photo was not taken by me with my iPhone.  Thank you, icanhascheezburger.com

Now that  we’ve settled that like three responsible adults, as I said, I decided to go for a run.  Just a run.  That’s it.  Not being a total rebel nor completely insane I did not, however, run nekkid.  Garmin and HR monitor are our friend.  Once I did not wear Garmin and HR monitor and while I was gone Garmin committed GPS suicide.  The next run Garmin refused to charge or find the Mothership.  I cannot bear that type of responsibility.  At this point in my life the goal is shedding responsibility, not taking on more.

Becky batshitcrazy-biker-babe Elkins met me and biked alongside for a few miles.  We ran into (not literally, of course, because that would be rude, right?) April “Honeybadger” Henderson and Donnie “Deacon” Baldock who were at, oh, I don’t know, 87 miles or so.  Becky had to peel off back home so I hung with Donnie and April.

Here in my fascinating narration of the un-run we will stop.  You two go watch the Honeybadger vid linked to April’s name, above.

It’s ok – go on – I can wait.

Eew, that’s so nasty.”

 “Look, it’s eating larvae, that’s disgusting. “

(Just entertaining myself here, go ahead, watch the vid.)

Done?  OK cool.  That’s the end of that part of the story, I wanted you to see the honeybadger vid, the rest was just verbiage to get there.  Otherwise this story would be one word long and probably everyone would be grateful.  To bad, it’s not.

PART TWO

In a vain attempt to distract Donnie and April (running animal beasts), and since we’d about exhausted honeybadger quotes, I thought if they heard a story they would be fascinated and slow down, and also because something reminded me of the story but now I cannot remember what, I told them the story of the day our dog Maxie bit my butt.

Actually he didn’t bite it.  I mean, he did bite it, but it wasn’t really a bite, he was barking.

For some reason I happened to be chasing the twins through the house – for FUN! – they were running in circles laughing and I was chasing behind them laughing and Maxie was running in circles behind me barking.  Unfortunately I had to stop suddenly and Maxie didn’t brake, instead running right into my backside while barking and on the downstroke of the bark he bit my butt.

 It broke the skin and bruised, he had a strong jaw, and I had to go to the doctor to get an antibiotic and get it checked.  It was a bit embarrassing but what can you do?  You have a dog bite on your butt.  It’s not like you can say, oh, look, I think I broke my finger.  They’re pretty much going to have to check things out, if you know what I mean, and they don’t believe you when you say you broke your finger but you actually didn’t.

PART THREE

Two or three weeks later I got a phone call.  The insurance company.  “I understand you were bitten by a dog.”

“Oh, gawd.  Um, yeah…”

“I need to determine if there will be any suits filed in the incident.”

“Right.  No.  It’s OK.”

“Have you made any type of settlement then?”

“Uhhh.  Mmmmm…” so I had to tell another stranger about the dog bark biting my butt, that it happened in my house, to me, and was my fault, so probably I wasn’t suing myself.

“…so you see,” I concluded, “it was just a fluke.”

PART FOUR

Immediately Donnie and April composed a birthday song named after me entitled “Fluke Bootie.”  It goes like this:

FLOOOOOK BOOOOOOOOOOTIE

FLUKEY BOOTY Fluke fluke fluke bootAY

FLOOOOOOKIE Flookie Flook BOOTIE

After that you let the band riff for a while.

PART FIVE

The moral here, Boy and Girl, is never tell anyone your dog bit your butt but it was a fluke.

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It’s a Beautiful Day

It’s a beautiful day, indeed.  This morning I watched the houses across the cove glowing slightly golden in the sunrise as the sky grew bluer, the lake truly smooth as glass although it sounds trite; my soul as smooth and calm as the lake’s surface.

This is the day I’ve struggled toward these past few months, a morning when Brain has decided to quit stomping on the ICK button it’s been stuck on for so long, a day for silent contemplation of the sound of the birds as they flit back and forth, for looking closely at the soft fuzzy buds on the dogwood, for soft, slow, deep, calm breaths.

In the dark night I felt Chunker curled up in the curve of my neck and shoulder, something she did always as a kitten but then stopped.  I don’t know why, perhaps to roam, as she grew into a cat and became more nocturnal.  I reached my hand to her fur, so incredibly soft, the softest cat I’ve ever had.  She stretched her paw to my hand and purred and I drifted calmly to sleep.

It’s easiest, of course, when I can keep it simple but, like most, I seldom do.  Or can.  But I can continue to strive.

Sometimes as I struggled to find a solution to this pain I wondered – more frequently than sometimes, actually – often I worried that I was simply a wimp, that others hurt just as much but don’t show it, they are stronger somehow, they feel pain but don’t succumb as I did.

Perhaps that’s part of my peace this morning.  I’m going to try running ten (very easy, slow) miles with Becky this morning.  I think I can do this.  As I was setting out my bottle, charging my Garmin, and eating my breakfast my mind lingered only on the thought of taking it slow and getting it done, and I realized I had not thought once of how much it would hurt.

It’s a beautiful day
The sun is shining
I feel good
And no-one’s gonna stop me now, oh yeah

It’s a beautiful day
I fell good, I fell right
And no-one, no-one’s gonna stop me now
Mama

Sometimes I feel so sad, so sad, so bad
But no-one’s gonna stop me now, no-one
It’s hopeless – so hopeless to even try.

Hello, Old Friend

I just checked my Garmin, which is at 32% – so now it’s on the charger for a bit before I head out and I will ruminate while I wait.

It’s cool, damp and breezy, a storm coming in later this afternoon.  It will be a good day to stay in and cook with my mom.  Number One Son is getting married Friday and we are having a gaggle of people here tomorrow night for BBQ.  She and I will spend a dry, warm, cozy afternoon making potato salads, slaw and cookies while it rains outside.  The cats will wander in and out and the dog will hound our every step waiting for something to drop, CHOMP.  Homey.  Nice.

Monday I headed out for wog/slog/jog, whatever it might be called.  I managed four miles and nearly three of it jogging.  I missed doing them Sunday, but otherwise I’ve been getting my planks done every day.  It could be said they are getting easier but that’s rather like saying running hills gets easier.  It doesn’t because as soon as it does you go faster or longer.  In the article I read the author was told by her PT that she should be able to hold several planks “very” easily for 60 seconds.  I’m holding three and my arms are not quivering quite as much.  I guess that does not indicate I’ve reached the “easy” stage, much less the “very”.  But at least they no longer feel quite as much like limp noodles.  That’s good, right?

I run in the neighborhood across the street from me as mine is rather chock-a-block with a busy road you must take in order to get to the other parts of the area, so I run to the end of my street, cross the busier street and run in the lovely, quiet neighborhood there.  I headed out and nothing really hurt, just pinging.  Pinging, once a bad sign, is now a good sign.  We’re moving backward through the aches.  Peeling off the layers.

It was cool and breezy, beautiful.  This fall is not as colorful as some but there is one tree that is a beautiful orange, I don’t know what kind of tree but they stand out, so pretty.  I love my four mile route through the neighborhood which, when developed, wisely did not do any clear-cutting.  Huge oaks, shag-bark hickory, maples, large houses set back from the winding street.

Right now on this route I frequently see a doe with twins that look about half grown.  I’m guessing one is female and one is male because, first, one still has some spots on her hind quarters and the other doesn’t, and secondly because the other one tends to be further from Mom every time I see him, while the lightly spotted one is right by Mom.  “HEY! MOM!  Watch!  Look!  I’m in the other yard!”  It’s not quite on the level of finding out over Christmas dinner, when you sit back and just listen for a while as the four of them laugh and tell stories on each other, that some of your progeny went porta-john tipping one night, but it still seems more a male thing than female.  Rather like the B’ster in his Superman costume showing his “guns”.  I don’t remember my daughter worrying about her “guns”.  I think of this and it makes me laugh every time I see the deer.

It’s no wonder the deer roam, safe.  Cars stop for the deer who wander across to the other side for more of whatever tastes best.  I’ve heard you can give up on growing hostas.  A mile in I see mom and the twins.  They stand, watching me, chewing, as I slog past, talking to them.  “There goes another one of them,” mom says to the kids, “crazynutjob runner, they’re safe.  They’re crazy, but they’re safe.”

Each mile I stop for a moment and stretch my lower back and gauge.  Still hanging in there.  Still holding on.  I reach my turn-around and head back, looking at the beautiful trees, breathing the cool air deeply.  Hello, running, old friend.

Hello, back, running replies.

I’ve missed you.

But it’s not been too long this time, running reassures.

Yes.  I missed you but I knew you were there, waiting patiently.

I’ll be here always, as long as you stay strong.

I’m trying, running, I’m trying.

Will I learn this lesson, finally?  Or will I, type-A first born, headstrong and impatient, fail another test someday?

I hate to say so but I might.  And please God I will again stand up, brush myself off, and move forward again.  And again, and again.

I ran in the rain and I liked i-it

It’s a lovely dreary rainy day here in Wonderland, a steady dripping grey blur mottling the surface of the lake like heavily printed dotted swiss.  Murph T. Dog is thrilled, flopped in the dining room staring forlornly across the kitchen at the wet deck, ears drooping.  Murph knows.  Sometimes life just sucks.  Sometimes you get a bath.  Sometimes you manage to get out and eat the neighbor’s garbage.  You just never know from one minute to the next how things are going to turn, he thinks, looking at me with sad dog eyes, slightly accusingly.  It’s raining in his bathroom.  He sighs and closes his eyes, He’ll sleep away this mucky day.

Chunker, in whose bathroom it is not raining, apparently found the change in air pressure invigorating, smacking poor Mo soundly as he walked innocently past, then helping clean out closets.

chunk in bag

She quickly decided to bag that idea and instead hauled her babies around the house mewling sorrowfully for all the kittens she will never have.

chunk and baby

If that’s all the better care she can give her babies we made a good decision.

I was antsy, about as agitated and stir-crazy as Munker.  I needed to get out of the house.  I have no babies to worry about any more and I was free to head out for a run.  My Garmin finally located the mother ship, searching a bit harder than usual with the clouds moving in but I’d been checking and I knew the rain wasn’t going to hit until about noon.  It being Memphis and all you can pretty much bet whatever the weather forecasters say is going to be spot on.

I am currently without a Piece of Paper to Live By from my coach.  I’ll have it soon enough and for now I shall enjoy not knowing what track work lurks next week.  Without the POPTLB I was free to slog about wherever I desired at whatever pace I decided.  Sweet Freedom, a purposeless run!

A man was released from prison.  He’d paid his dues to society and was free to go.  He wandered down the street, dazed with joy, gazing freely about.
“I can go over there and get a milkshake”, he thought, “or I can go sit in the coffee shop and read the paper”
Delirious with joy he skipped down the street singing, “I’m FREE!  I’m FREE!!!”

 A little boy stood at the corner, watching.  As the man skipped past the little boy said, “Tho what, Misther?  I’m FOUR.”

I jogged to a road I haven’t run on much but will again soon, large houses on large lots, a curving winding hilly road with little traffic, like being out in the country.  I ran down the center of the road looking at trees and houses, flowers blooming, someone trimming hedges.  I ran across the road, back and forth, back and forth, just because I could – I’m FREE – in slow easy S’s from curb to curb.  I can go over here.  I can go over there.  I’m FREE!  Nothing hurt this morning, the hand-sized Stanky Creek black and purple bruise healing well and the heaviness having moved out of my legs.

Free to run, free from a plan, free from time, I ran.  It started to mist and I ran.  It misted heavily.  I looked down at the dampening road watching my shoes pass beneath me, and I ran.  Two miles from home a steady rain started, a solid rain, no huge downpour, just steady.  I ran, soft drops of water dripping off my hat, off my nose, running down my legs into my squishing shoes until I noticed at the edge of some trees the twin fawns I’ve been seeing around.  I stopped, standing in the rain, looking at the deer as they chewed while gradually moving into the trees and then I ran again through the rain, down the hill, around the turn toward home, looking up and down and all around at the wet world, alive, breathing deeply, running in the rain.

M- Minus 1

Almost exactly, as it’s 4:44am and the race starts at 5am tomorrow.  I’ve been looking at digital clocks since 2:34.  At least the numbers are all even.

What did we do before digital clocks?  Were our minds slightly less TimeOCD?  “Oh, crap, it’s 2:30-ish.”  Did that somehow seem better than those gleaming red digits that light every bedroom so brightly you can see your way to the bathroom despite the near-death of ninja cats in your pathway, their gleaming red eyes eerily reflecting the display?

I spent about an hour and a half doing everything I could think of to drift back off.  Hail Mary Full of Grace mumble With Thee should I carry the powerbar and the beans or just the beans?  But the Blessed Mother figures that’s a personal problem I need to sort out for myself, apparently, and no answer echoes in my manic brain.  FLOP.  Adjust covers.  Nudge snorfing hubs.  Red digits burn into my retinas.  2:59…3:13…3:28…

I do know what we did in the times of BK (Before Keurig) – we had to wait at least 2-3 more minutes for the coffee.  In my early coffee years, even before the automatic pause feature where you could pull the pot out and the coffee kept brewing, dammed up in the filter for a minute while you poured (DO NOT forget to put the pot back on the burner … tiny tsunami of hot liquid coffee grounds spilling across the counter and dripping into the cupboards), I learned the tilt and pour, pouring coffee into the cup while it still brewed.  Yes, you burned a few fingers but what is that compared to waiting two more minutes for coffee?

I did spend several very enjoyable minutes thinking about dinner at Vanelli’s tonight.  Particularly the meatballs.  I may order extra to take home.  With the Traitors firmly ensconced in Brooklyn and Chitown there’s no one to eat them all and leave the empty container in the refrigerator to be discovered later by a very disillusioned mother.

And speaking of meatballs – or any food – how can my stomach possibly be growling hungry at 4am?  If I did the math correctly – and there is always that – but I did use a calculator, which is always fun because when Mo hears it he comes tearing into the room and leaps on the desk, absolutely enthralled with the paper rolling out as I add, biting at it, filing it with little holes like an old punch card – if I did the math right I took in 1,635 calories in carbs alone yesterday.  This does not include the actual sandwich part of the club with ham, turkey, roast beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, peppers, spinach and mayo (LITE) (because LITE is lighter that LIGHT) or the ham, turkey, cheese, mayo and pickles of the cuban, or the meatballs, sauce and cheese on the spaghetti, all of which is just making me hungrier.

Probably all the hyped up nervous leg jiggling is burning hundreds of calories.

I really am pretty excited.  Don’t you just love it all?  I’m thinking of tomorrow morning, standing in the Mississippi countryside in the dark which somehow makes sounds crisper, the shuffling of feet, beeping of Garmins, nervous laughter, inside jokes, and suddenly it’s time – the start sounds and off you move, one of many, united and yet each on their own journey, fighting their own good fight.

I was greeted in my inbox this morning by a friend who shared this article:  http://triathlon.competitor.com/2013/05/training/chris-mccormack-embrace-the-suck_76419.  I loved this:  “I realized that no matter how much I loved racing or how hard I trained, at some point a race is going to really suck. It is how I reacted to this moment that determined everything.”

And don’t you think that as a runner – and I know not everyone who reads my blog is a runner but it’s likely that at least one of the two of you are – don’t you think that through running you’ve learned more about life and yourself than you have about running?

I’ve learned that there is always a finish line.  You keep moving past the finish line, but there is a finish line.  My brother’s death was a finish line.  A finish line that fell down out of the sky and knocked me flat on my back in the middle of the race.

So how do you expect me to live alone with just me
‘Cause my world revolves around you It’s so hard for me to breathe
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No more
It’s no air, no air
(With thanks to Jordan Sparks)

But you can’t keep lying there.  You can stop along the way, yes.  But you can’t stay stopped because eventually while you stand there in the middle of the event, stopped, they will start taking down the course and the water stops and the cones and cars are free to roam the streets where you stand and your family is at the finish line, waiting for you to arrive, to be there for you, and then move past that line with you.

And there is not just one finish line throughout your life, you have many more to cross until you hit the final one; you’d better learn something every time you get to one or you will just have to repeat that race.

I’ve learned that there are many friends, but there are not so many Friends.  The ones who help you find a foreclosed house so you can use the backyard as your personal porta-john, that feel your pain, irritation and embarrassment, and can still laugh at you until you are both crying, crying-laughing in the middle of the street until you can’t stand up.  And who also understand you do turn the Garmin off because that doesn’t count on the mileage.  Friends who didn’t get to do that run but will have you crying-laughing again in the retelling.  Friends who get the texts, the crazy I’ve-lost-my-mind messages, the FB posts and offer to join your run even though it’s not on their plan, because they know expletives mean you’re heading over the edge.  Friends that give you the remains of their Gatorade and run the last mile dry themselves, who completely understand that a Ride 5 and a Ride 6 are a continent apart the week before your race.  Friends who live far away and helped you across other Finish Lines, still as near as your heart.  Friends nearby but time gets in the way and months pass before you get together – but those months are nothing when you meet again, you are where you always were; you could go a year without seeing them and call at midnight for help and they would be there.

I’ve learned that you can hit the wall – in life or in the race – and while time seems to stand still, washing you in a shower of drenching, breath-taking, all-encompassing pain, you don’t die, no matter how much you might wish to at that moment.  I’ve learned that you may as well quit standing there and take a step forward.

I’ve learned that you have to look up, not down.  I still look down a lot.  I like to think I’m looking up more but I know there are days I spend only watching my feet shuffle.  This is why I cannot be a runner without races.  I need a goal.  I need a plan.  I need the easy days and the hills and the tempos and the long runs, the rest days.  I need the time alone, running, seeing that mama deer and her twins, and I need the run with a friend while mama and the twins look on.  I spend time looking at the road passing beneath my feet, and I look up at the tops of the trees and the sky.  You can’t spend all your time doing only one of those – you will run into something, or you will trip and fall.

We need it all.  The good and the bad, the joyous and the solar plexus blow.  If you are not a “runner” you are still running the race and I commend you, fellow runner, and thank you, my Friends, for running the race with me. Read more…

If I only had a brain, Part 2

#crazynutjobrunner

So the alarm went off at 4:40 am and while I can’t express how happy I am to be training for another marathon, I’ve definitely hit That Point in the process.  I despise the marimba ring tone of my iPhone alarm.   Apple needs a ring tone that says, “Ok, then, sorry about this, but you’re the one who set the alarm, not me, and now you need to get up.”  Preferably Mr. Roger’s voice; there  is no way I could say “eff you, Mr. Rogers.”  I have a Pavlovian reaction to the ring; cringing, heart pounding, slammed out of a deep sleep by the marimba.  Thank God for some multi-flavored chemical laden, artificially sweetened and creamed K-cup steaming in my coffee cup; I’m up but basically making my way through the house by bouncing from one wall to the other in a (mainly) forward direction.

I have also definitely hit the point in marathon training where Taco Bell Fourth Meal happens about 12-1pm as opposed to the midnight-1am (younger!) crowd the campaign originally targeted.  The other day I had lasagna at 9am after already having breakfast.  I did at least warm it but then stood at the counter eating it directly from the casserole.  NOMNOMNOM. Yesterday:  breakfast followed by a cranberry bagel with egg and bacon (yes), then a really lousy salad followed by a nap which was celebrated by death by chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and caramel followed by another nap. I made dinner at 4pm.  Then what do you do?  It’s 4:30, you’ve slept for two hours, you’ve eaten five times, you’re too tired to fold laundry and you still have daylight remaining, and after about three hours of Yard Crashers you’ve pretty much seen the best TV has to offer.   I’m thinking I may pay for HBO since I’m never going to finish reading Game of Thrones.

And you both know that Brain 1 and Brain 2 are of no help whatsoever.
brain one and brain two

The other day while scarfing down one of my multitudinous meals I was reading Runner’s World.  Sometimes I read the newspaper, it depends.  It depends mostly on how much I feel like screaming.  Reading the newspaper is like taking algebra so you can grow up and work from home typing stuff; you know it’s good for you for some reason but you don’t actually ever apply it in your life and it makes you feel like screaming the entire time you’re doing it.  I always read the editorial section first, it’s like eating all the Brussels sprouts first so you can have the meatloaf second and enjoy it while also getting that awful taste out of your mouth.  Plus when I read the paper I yell, making the cats run away and causing Murphy to skulk guiltily.  Anyway, I was reading Runner’s World which is nothing like eating Brussels sprouts, it’s more like Three Guys Pizza Pies.  And also it doesn’t cause me to yell, making all the animals happier.

In this article (Beyond the Mantra by Michelle Hamilton, May, 2012 issue, I cannot find a link, sorry) the author visited with a sports psychologist and implemented his suggestions in her running.  It’s taken me about 98% of my life to truly understand that what drives everything in life is not what is happening to and around me, but how/what I think about it.  The Brain.  That little wrinkled up thing in our heads drives everything.  We ‘think’ what’s wrong is that our leg hurts, or the boss is an ass (which, none of my 15 bosses is an ass, let us be clear on this) or that our spouse cannot see the dishwasher which is apparently invisible.   Then we feel like screaming after 20+ years of seeing their dirty dishes in the sink TWO FEET FROM THE DISHWASHER (meanwhile the poor spouse just wants to avoid putting dishes in the dishwasher which may – or may not – have clean dishes in it; he doesn’t know and can’t figure out, since this is a secret hidden from men from the beginning of time.  He knows if he puts dirty ones in with the clean he will get The Look and The Sigh.  His brain is screaming, DON’T MESS IT UP!!  I CAN’T NOT MESS IT UP!!  IT’S A TRAP!)

Not that I’m upset about the empty dishwasher and the full sink.

Basically, as the author notes and as my counselor noted, you think: you live.  Talking to my counselor was the first time I heard the word catastrophizer.  I thought she’d made it up just for me, but I found it later in a book.  You can look it up, it’s a personality subself.  If it can go wrong it will.  Spectacularly.  If it can’t go wrong it still will. Or it could.  So we’d better think about every possible outcome to every possible situation.

3:45 am Brain 1: OMG OMG OMG.  No, wait, it’s just the effing alarm, nothing is on fire.

3:45:01am Brain 1: OMG OMG OMG is it raining???

3:45:02am Brain 2: OhhhEmmmGeee.  So what if it is, we’ll get wet?

3:45:03am Brain 1:  We could get CHAFED

3:45:04am Brain 2:  Yes, that has certainly never happened.

3:45:05am Brain 1:  We won’t be able to see the Garmin clearly!  Our glasses will fog!

3:45:06am Brain 2:  Ok, you’re right.  We’ve definitely got a world crisis here.

It’s the words you think.  For so much of my life I tried to change the way I felt.  I’m so sad because I can’t go to the party (don’t feel sad!  don’t feel sad!).  I’m so mad because that email was mean (quit being mad!  quit being mad!) You can’t.  It’s like slamming your finger in the door.  Don’t hurt, finger!  Don’t hurt, finger!  How about, “Rats, that hurts.  Need to get some ice.”

This morning I realized that I still doubt myself.  I still doubt I’ll get the marathon done.  My friend Elizabeth asked why I would worry about that.  She said if nothing else, you’ll walk it in.  And it occurred to me that I didn’t actually think of that as an option – but of course it is.  Somewhere in my brain I either finish the marathon or … what?  Teleport back to the car?  Get caught up to Oz?  Life instantly ends?  It’s like, in my mind, there is a marathon stretching out on a road with a finish line, and I either reach the finish line or fall off the road into oblivion.  Maybe I end up wherever the Coyote ended up when he fell off the cliffs, I’m not sure.  I’ve already talked with my coach and we have my A, B and C plans, none of which have either the teleportation or falling off cliff option listed.

Think about it.  Spend a day listening to what you say in your mind.  How many things do you think you’ve missed or not tried because you talked yourself out of them before you could even start?  I’m starting that marathon, and I’m finishing it.  No matter what Brain 1 and Brain 2 think.

No. Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.

All due credit to any triathlete out there.  This is a bunch of hard work – not that I doubted that, having watched hubs do every distance from sprint to Full Ironman over the years.  I’m doing, to my knowledge, the shortest Tri you can.  I think the only way I could do a shorter race is to trick my way into a Kid’s Tri.  “Hey, I had a growth spurt!  I’m tall for my age!”  I won’t do that though, not because I’m an honest sort of person, but because some tiny dudette would go spinning past me on their little training wheels bike sporting a white wicker basket with pink streamers and I would cry.  I would get off my bike and throw it on the ground and stomp my feet and cry.

Crazy Becky Heather Killer Hubs cannot seem to quit dropping helpful hints about triathlons.   Very helpful hints, too, with the exception that I still can’t figure out if I’m flattered that hubs, while discussing this Crazy Weather and whether it would be a wet suit legal race, offered me his wet suit.   Not so much even that he offered it, but that he seemed to think it would fit.  Isn’t it in some hubanding manual somewhere that you never indicate that your dainty wife could fit into anything belonging to your manly self??

jacksprat

The learning curve is steepening rapidly.  Suddenly what seemed to be an hour or so consisting of doggie paddling in a warm, shallow lake, peddling along a highway and then going for a little jog has turned into Mothra vs. Godzilla, and we all know what happened to Mothra.

Mothra-9

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothra “Mothra is known for her habit of dying somehow in many of the movies she has appeared in”

(I’m just quoting Wiki.  Sentence above she is referred to in is somehow dying.)

I realized this weekend that I didn’t even know the distances of all three events.  I thought it was a 5K run, and I know for a branded-in-my-brain fact that the swim is 400 yards but had no idea what the bike was.  Ten miles?  Eighteen miles?  Who knew?  And what kind of special stupid do you have to be to register for a race for which you do not actually know the distances?

Me, and one other lady.

I trained for three or four months for my first half marathon.  I talked hydration nutrition elimination clothing shoes for months.  I bought a Garmin and tracked every single mile like a new religion.  Date, time, distance, pace, weather, everything.  The day dawned.  I’d set everything out the night before, of course, nervously reviewing it all 37 times.  Hubs and the twins were going to meet me at the finish line, so I hitched a ride with a friend, a seasoned runner, marathoner and triathlete.

She noticed I seemed a bit nervous – probably the incessant leg jiggling, which I’m actually doing right now, I guess Pavlovian leg jiggling as I remember the story?  Can leg jiggling be Pavlovian?

Yes, it’s my first half!  I told her, jiggling, head bobbing, jerking slightly and slavering a bit at the corners of my mouth, my water bottle full of bubbles as it shook uncontrollably.

Well, I lived.  I did the half and thought I’d conquered the world.  Tired, stiff and sore – yes, I did – I wore my race shirt triumphantly to work the next morning and told everyone who couldn’t hide fast enough every excruciating detail, mile after mile.  I did not wear the finisher’s medal only because it kept clanking against my desk in a very irritating fashion.

The second day, as even more soreness set in and I was forced to grab the edge of the desk to sit or stand, my friend came into my office.

“You did that half marathon, didn’t you?” she asked.

“Yep!  It was great I was so excited I did it!  It was hard but I did it!”  (Why was she asking this?  I’d talked about it every day for the past several months.)

She then told me that a lady she bowled with the evening before was limping terribly and could hardly get to the line to bowl.  She asked the woman if she was OK.  The woman (a smoker who walked a mile or two daily and bowled as her forms of exercise) related this:

She’d registered for “that 5K” over the weekend; she wanted to walk the 3 miles in support of the charity.  Except after a while, when she thought she surely should have hit three miles by now, she looked about and realized there was no finish line.  In fact, what she saw was a sign that stated Mile 4.  Asking around she discovered there was no 5K, only a half and a full marathon.  Well, what to do?  So she continued on and walked the entire damn half marathon with NO TRAINING.  Her feet were covered in blisters and she could hardly move her legs.

And she was my age.

After my brain stopped exploding I asked the woman’s name and immediately looked up the race results.  Fortunately she was about the last in our age group, or my running career would have been over right then.

But you gotta admit, the woman did not give up.

And I won’t, either.

Anything you’re looking at that intimidates you?  Are you going to try?

We’re all talking monkeys on an organic spaceship.

It’s possible, anyway.  I figure whatever we are, that’s what God (or First Cause, or Creator, or whatever name you use) decided is best so if some monkey in the past began to evolve, and now this is what we are, well, who are we to argue?  We’re not monkeys now, right?  I mean, just look around you at how well we all behave, no screeching unintelligibly because someone stole our banana, no running around aimlessly in circles while scratching our head, no shoving each other out of the tree, no shunning the least because they don’t fit in our tribe.

monkeys organic spaceship

Had the big visit with my new BRDr.FF, Dr. L, yesterday to find out about the MRI.  I don’t want to borrow trouble, but at this point, to tell you the truth, she and I both thought it was going to be the S1 herniated; send me off to the neuro and scoop the damn little thing out.  I was really hoping so.  Easy fix.  Just pull the stinking little SOB out.

You two know how I always do things the easy way.  I’m a rule follower.  I’m a follow-the-packer, just let me sit back here and watch.  Straight line, easy breezy lemon squeezy, no arguing, no questioning WhyHowWhen.

Dr. L reviewed the results of the MRI with us.  A few little things in L1-L-4, but nothing – not a thing – no thing – nothing – that could be the cause.  And the S1?  Absolutely normal.  Finally.  What I’ve dreamed of since I knew the term:  “normal” + “Terri” in the same sentence.  Just when it helps least.

God bless Dr. L flying around on the organic spaceship, she is trying so hard to figure what is going on.  Guess what?  And you will both spit your coffee on the screen so I’m just warning you right now to put the mug down and swallow before you finish reading this sentence:  she said I’m currently one of the most complicated cases she has.  Meanwhile I’m beginning to fear I’m just a hypochondriac or a nutjob.

Hubs probably heard the Hallelujah Chorus repeating in stereo in his head when heard her say that.  COMPLICATED.   It’s official.  Terri makes no sense.  Thank you thank you little baby Jesus in your crib, listening to the cows moo you to sleep, THANK YOU.

She did an ultrasound on my hamstring hoping to see if there were some trigger there, but no luck.  I’ll have another MRI Saturday to look over the entire length of the hamstring and I will freeze to death on Pluto (sorry Pluto.  To me you will always be a planet and if I have to freeze to death I want it to be on you) before I get a copy of that damn thing.  If BRDrFF Dr. L  finds that it shows nothing I’m off to the neuro.  Hopefully the neuro will only look at my back and legs because if he looks inside my head he’ll charge us a finder’s fee.

Saturday was the St. Jude Memphis Marathon weekend.  A friend of mine is injured and couldn’t do the marathon she’d registered for.  She is also a St. Jude Hero, having raised money for the kids.  We kept ending up in the same volunteer spots throughout the day, a lot of it on the field at the two finish lines, watching the runners come in, both of us so happy for them.  But even though  it made me feel like a complete jerk, I was jealous.  No matter how horrid the run, I wanted it.  I wanted to be coming across that finish line, happy, exhausted, hurt, disgusted, anything.  I just wanted to feel that sweat and the hum in my muscles (not the electricity).  To enjoy the sweetness of finally stopping, the first taste of water – even lukewarm – that tastes like nectar.

Now I’m going to admit that I’m an idiot.  Again.  Why Why Why (OMG there’s that word again) do I always end up an idiot?  After the race I did something stupid: I went by the MRI place and got a copy of my report.  I didn’t know I could do that.  So I read it and googled all the terms and stuff, and of course I saw words like andycondializing scuppernongs and blerferating hagis and thought well sh*t my back is totally screwed.  My brain was flying through the universe on an organic spaceship in hyperdrive and it was taking me along.

Hubs is feeling pretty frustrated.   This is not unusual, of course.  But maybe he’s like a couple thousand points higher on the frustrated scale right now.  I’m guessing this based on how red his face gets and the frequency and duration of his tongue biting.  Sunday morning when I woke in the middle of the night I was about as down as I’ve been about all this.  Lying there in bed at 2am trying to go back to sleep all I knew were pictures in my mind of race finishers, the shouts of their families, bispurtilizing discotomies and the little spasms in my leg.  I thought about what I could post to the MRTC FB page in the morning, something about the race, of course, since so many Memphis runners had done it.  And I didn’t want to.  I didn’t want to see all the FB posts and emails and joyjoyjoy about their race or the sorrow of a missed PR or sore quads.  I was turbo charged by the steroid shot(s) and frustrated.

When I could no longer stand it I got up and went to the kitchen.  My Garmin was on the counter in its charger.  And right there, encompassed in a half-charged Garmin, were all the long runs and short runs, tempo runs and speedwork, heartrates and elevation maps of all the runs I haven’t done and as embarrassed as I am to tell you this, I sobbed.  I sobbed and snotted and hiccupped and sniffed while tears ran down my face and neck and cried that I just want to run.

Let me tell you both something right here, especially if one of you is a husband.   Maybe someday your wife, in the morning, sober, after having coffee, takes you by the shoulders and states, “next time I go bat sh*t crazy crying and sobbing, I want you to come to me, ask me what is wrong, try to understand what I’m saying and then try to fix it.”  You should then get that in writing, drive immediately to someone who can notarize it, get it framed and hang it prominently in your house.  That way she will know where to find it to throw at you next time she melts down.

I know – pull up the big girl panties – and I have, it just took me a couple of days.  Apparently I’m a slow responder.

Someone mentioned recently that I have not drawn any pics lately.  I thought this might be particularly helpful for any husbands out there, and so I will close with this.  As always, copies are available for $25 and if you’d like it autographed let me know, prices have gone up, I’m sorry, but what with being the National Posterchild and Spokesperson for the BFOS I’m getting a bit busier and my time is valuable.  Drive the picture over to my house and I’ll autograph it for $37.82.  No tax, we’re a nonprofit.

crazy train

You learn something new every day.

“They” say you learn something new every day.

I’ve never learned who the “they” people are.

Today I learned to put the dust bin back in the vacuum cleaner before you start it.

And I learned if you don’t, you’ll probably sneeze.  Maybe a lot.

Yesterday I learned you should put the beans in the coffee pot when making coffee.  Otherwise, when the coffee is done and you’re so happy because you finally get to have a cup of fresh hot coffee which you’ve had to wait for, like, at least ten minutes for it to brew, you will look in your mug, then you will look in the pot.  You will think, What the heck? and you’ll look back at your mug.  Finally it will dawn on your decaffeinated Brain that you have:  Hot water.

It will be extremely sad and you’ll have to wait another 10 minutes for your coffee.  This is also not safe for family members or pets but that’s not news to anyone.

Yesterday one of my BRFF’s whom I shall call, Um, Ursula (which you have to pronounce like this:  ERR-sue-lah whether that’s actually right or not, because that’s how I’m pronouncing it and it’s my blog.  And I still don’t like Brussels Sprouts so don’t hold your breath for recipes, although if I get the Cajun popcorn recipe I’ll pass it along) learned that if you have spicy shrimp boil with corn on the cob followed by a movie and two tubs of Cajun popcorn and then head out early the next morning to run 9 miles you will probably have a Code Cajun or perhaps a Code Jet Exhaust.

Her running buddy learned to stay slightly ahead of Ursula.

I went riding with Ursula’s hubs and learned some new courses.  It was a beautiful morning. We biked through the country roads, trees arching over the roads, pretty country houses set back from the road, lovely cool breeze and a bit of fall starting to scent the air. We hit one spot on Memphis-Arlington Rd that was downhill for at least a mile. I dropped and let Matilda have fun coasting rapidly down. At the bottom I told Mr. Ursula, if he told me we were turning back on this course, I was bagging it and going home! WOW what a stretch, no way I’m strong enough right now to tackle that hill going up!

He told me the first time he took Ursula on the course going uphill he reached the top and could hear her as she ascended.  “You *&%% hill what the &*(+ are you thinking you &^%% ‘ing *&^% idiot”.  I learned that did not surprise me in the least.  Ursula and I can sound quite like the sailor sometimes.  We do it on purpose.  Then we think we’re just ^%$$ing hilarious.

OH – hey – here’s a good thing to learn.  If you’re completely drunk on a Saturday morning about 7:30am and you want to get home, but there’s a bunch of cops in the street directing traffic and letting ladies cross to get to a race start, and you don’t want to stop so you go ahead and hit the gas while aiming for the cop, who fortunately bounces off your bumper and just lands on his butt:  about 1,487 cops are going to find your house, put your car on a flat-bed tow truck, take you both downtown, and I bet you are not getting pancakes for breakfast.

I’m learning it’s still a good thing to move slowly and think carefully while paying close attention to what you are doing when you stop your bike while clipped in.

I learned that I will not actually die immediately if I start to topple over but I might hyperventilate.

Oh – another one you might appreciate:  If you are sweaty and trying to put on your bike shorts it will take you a couple of minutes to get those suckers pulled up, your HR will be 125 and you can burn about 25 calories!  Sweet, eh?  I don’t need to actually ride the bike, I just need to put on damp bike shorts.  You can learn a lot from a Garmin.

Last week I learned if you’re stressing yourself over something and don’t get to run, you just get more stressed.  Brain loves to find an issue and jump on that sucker like it was a blow up trampoline at a 1st grader’s birthday party:  JUMP JUMP JUMP

But best of all, on Sunday I learned that you can blow out energy on a bike ride and get as many endorphins stuck to you as you can running.

Sweet!   I’m a very lucky person.  I can’t indulge my first love right now, but biking came along at just the right time and the joy of being a Newbie is filling the gap nicely.

I’ve been running, off and on, for 30 years.  I’ve never experienced a ‘runner’s high’ or endorphin rush – unless I was mistaking it for something else, like the incredible euphoria I felt when my first ever 20 miler was done.  I don’t think that was a runner’s high because mostly I just managed to drive home and collapse.  I know for certain the ice bath following that 20 miler had nothing to do with any type of physical or emotional high, and I can also assure you that sitting in the bathtub clutching a hot mug of coffee while wearing a sweatshirt is fairly ineffectual while sitting in cold water surrounded by a couple bags of little icebergs from the 7/11.

I’ve tripped lightly and sometimes heavily through the past thirty years, running and then not running, then getting back to it.  For the past 10 years I’ve been steady except for the Plantar Fasciitis detour.  Some days I don’t want to run, but once I get out there I’m glad I did.  Other times I’m ready for a run but it’s not so great.  I knew I cherished running but I hadn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on the friendships, the social aspect of the run, the runs by myself as I ironed things out in my mind, loosened up my shoulders, let the troubles slip off – until once again the chance to do so was eluding me.  I was certain there is no other activity that could fill the gap not running leaves, and I was once again sad and rather angry to be out of it again.  Friends kept encouraging me to bike, I knew I should, I knew it would help, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same.  I don’t mean this in an elitist way but I’ve always felt kind of sorry for my running friends who had to turn to biking when injured.  Sure, it probably kept them in shape but, still – it wouldn’t, couldn’t be the same as a run.

Sunday morning I got home, tired, sweaty, stinky, ready for a shower and the egg & veggie tortilla wrap I’d spent about the last 1/2 hour of the ride thinking about.  Fresh out of the shower, clean and happy, I sat down with my tortilla wrap and the newspaper.  I noticed my legs kinda humming a bit, that feeling when you’ve worked out hard and the muscles seem to hum?  I checked in with Brain.  He was pretty mellow, sitting back, legs crossed, just checking things out.  Do you remember Wooly Willy?

You would take the little red magnet and move it underneath the cardboard, smoothing all the iron filings in the same direction, lining them up in designs and directions.  That’s what running does for me.  It’s the magnet that smooths things out, lines things up, gets Brain all organized and orderly, everything in there aiming in the same direction.  And that’s what I learned Sunday:  it’s not a loss, it’s a gain.  I haven’t lost running, I’ve added biking.

How many times in life have I thought not getting something, not doing something was a loss, and it’s turned out to be for the better?  And yet I continue to have to re-learn that.

Shut up. Give me the coffee.

Car properly loaded to work and run the Road Race Series 10K – Shrine of Coffee, PB and Orange Marm sammie, tunes for the extra miles after the race (only one ear bud will be used for safety)

4:01 am.  56 degrees.

Every year, just when I give up hope, it happens.  It’s like Christmas, I finally decide that there really is no Santa and then I wake on Christmas morning.  Thursday:  103 degrees, 10 quadjillion% humidity.  Sunday: 56 degrees.  Still 97% humidity, so I’ll still sweat like an Arkansas hawg, but … it will be a clammy chilly sweat.  And, um, yay for that.

Here’s a surprise:  no matter what time I wake I’m not a morning person (pick your favorite, I couldn’t choose just one).  Back away, stay calm and leave a clear path to the coffee pot is all I ask.  Oh, and also, Shut UP.  I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to smile, I don’t actually want to breathe but that’s automatic, thank God.  Or maybe not.  Many people might be safer if I skipped breathing first thing in the morning.  Wake up, quit breathing, fall over.  Later, wake again.  It might work.

Do.  Not.  Suggest this to hubs.  He may take you up on it.

Hubs is like this: Deepest Darkest Night, alarm RINGRINGRINGRING and just as I think I will have to find a shotgun and scatter the F*ing thing into space he manages to find the button to turn it off.  Mind you, it’s the same button every damn morning, but somehow it seems to scoot to one end of the clock or the other randomly, never to be found two days in a row.

Over the years hubs has learned, and sometimes failed to remember, that I want to sleep.  Like, sleeping sleep.  Not like, “OK I’M GOING TO WORK NOW, BYE, Oh, sorry, DID I WAKE YOU?” sleep.  Because once you’ve attempted a conversation with someone, unless they are in a coma, under anesthesia or deaf then yes, YOU JUST WOKE THEM UP.  (Hubs has a hearing deficit.  I have to type loudly).  (I don’t have a hearing deficit.  I hear you in there, shaving and talking to the cat.)  (The cat is not going to answer you even if you continue to increase the volume of the conversation).  (Also, putting the cat in the shower and shutting the door does not work.  I can hear her mewing nonstop and you can, too, I know, because you keep saying, Just a MINUTE cat and I’ll let you out.  But, you don’t.)

I blame it on the 9+ months I spent without more than 3-4 hours sleep in a row, thank you so not, T1 and T2 although I know it’s not your fault that you didn’t like sleeping on your head all crammed in there together those last few months any more than I would have; altho the bed would have been more comfy for me than the recliner, it wasn’t about me.  And of course you shouldn’t be blamed for being hungry every few hours when you weighed about 6 pounds, altho it would have been nice had you timed your hunger pangs to coincide rather than splitting it up into 90 minute intervals.  This is all in the past however, and all that is left is a lingering and irrational desire not to be awakened.

As I’ve mentioned, the alarm clock has a warped sense of humor and takes delight in randomly working or not, so I set my phone alarm.  On Road Race Series mornings I’ve got to get up by 4:15am so I can get ready to run the race myself and also have all the registrations, packets, cash box, lists, etc., organized and loaded in the car.  Cat decided to be a nocturnal living alarm clock, however, and pounced on the pillow at 4:01 am.  There’s very little sense in trying to go back to sleep for 14 minutes so I got up and made coffee.  I thought something was wrong with the lights when I turned them on but then discovered I still had my eyes closed and was not, in fact, making coffee in the dark.  I was hopeful for a moment that I was sleep walking and not really awake, either, but discovered to my sorrow that I was indeed awake after a bit of hot coffee sloshed on me.  ouch.

Clutching a hot Go Cup of coffee, the Shrine of The Only Thing Right With The World At 5:15am safely buckled beside me, I head out in the cool dark morning to the race site.  I like this part, driving in the quiet early morning, hitting the freeway with the semi’s and a few out-of-state drivers apparently on vacation.  I think about where they may be going or have been. I’ve always loved driving in the dark, somehow feeling more connected to the greater world, the stars and the silence.  Well, except Thunderstruck just came up on 103 so now I have that blaring as I sip the nectar of coffee and head to the Farms.

This part I love, too – arriving at the race site in the 5:30am dark.  The finish line crew is already there, some are out on the course setting cones, some are getting the finish line set up.  This crazy bunch of nutjobs are not even all runners any more, due to injuries and issues, yet there they are, laughing, setting things up, playing jokes on one another.  Over the past 5-1/2 years of doing my job we’ve all shared ups and downs, we’ve laughed together, cried together.  They are there long before the race starts and long after the last runner crosses the finish line; they are my second family.

The stars slowly fade as the sun peeks up over the park.  There is mist rising off the ponds and I see the horses from the stable jogging along the fence as they see the runners begin to line up behind the start.  Runners stretch out in front and behind me, a rainbow of multi-hued tech shirts and hats, Garmins beeping as they locate the Mother Ship, feet shuffling.

I see Lane climb the stepladder with the bullhorn.  “GOOOOOOOOOOOD MOOOOOOOOOOORNING RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNERS!” he shouts.  The race is on, the day begins.

September 12, 2010 – the horses raced along the fence as the runners took off.  Photo Credit John Bookas.

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