Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

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 “half marathon”

Getting the boot.

I abhor Velcro.  Velcro is in collusion with this damnable boot to drive me over the edge, clinging fearfully to the wrong side of the boot, grip of iron, it won’t let go “NO NO! you can’t make me!” as I desperately attempt to get even a fingernail slipped between the clinging Velcro and the boot.  I try folding it neatly back upon itself so when I put the boot back on I can just unfold it and tighten.  No.  The moment I turn my back all the Velcro straps flop open and take turns sticking to each other and the other side of the boot.  Nanner Nanner Nanner they say, passive-aggressive payback because they know – they KNOW, they are SENTIENT and they know that I secretly hate the boot and, thus, I hate them.

THEY started it.  Both boot and Velcro black as night, I can’t see the end of the Velcro strip hiding like cowardly Velcro chameleons behind the boot, my foot held captive as I stretch to the left and to the right trying to peer at the back of the boot.  Oh, I know what you are thinking, there, all smug in your shoes.  You’re thinking, just take the boot off, straighten the straps and put the boot back on.

I can’t!  They KNOW!  I tried!  I took it off, I pulled the Velcro nice and straight and slid my foot gently into the boot not to disturb them.  Distracted trying to keep my jeans from bunching into a baseball-sized-knot rubbing a sore on my ankle, I looked away for just one second – just one! and they turned into super-glued velcro spaghetti.

I am an adult.  I am stymied by a strip of fabric.

Even better, today when I finally got the boot on – and Boot needs a name, by the way, so we are having a naming contest, winner gets 47 majillion points so post your nominee to the FB post linked when I publish – I got to wrap it in garbage bags and duct tape it shut so I could wander around the RRS half marathon all morning in the rain.  I bought a rain suit at Bass Pro Shops.  It was a size medium.  I failed to realize that many of the Bass Pro Shop customers are hulking males who can heft big guns and large dead animals.  The result was me hobbling around in a garbage wrapped boot (which probably further angered the Velcro, I’m sure they all felt I was dissing them) in rain suit pants which reached from just below my armpits to about 5″ past my heel; rain coat hanging halfway to my knees and to the tips of my fingers:  lurch-thud, lurch-thud, lurch-thud.

And I’ve been nice to Boot.  I even decorated it yesterday.  It’s not Boot’s fault that I hate it, I’m trying to be fair here but if Boot and Velcro continue with this attitude things could go bad fast.  Which is a hollow threat because they both know I have no control in the situation.  *Sigh*

boot

Today one of my BRFF’s, “Lisa” brought me some awesome little foot/toesies covers to wear so my toes don’t get cold.  Her sister “Robin” (which may or may not be their real names, identities obscured at random to protect the innocent who never asked to be publicly associated with me) was in a boot (sadly) but (happily) she loves to knit and made the little Toesies.  One is a kitty, so guess which one I chose to wear first?  And you are both lucky I’d already put it on because while I love you both, faithful lonely followers of my World Famous Blog, I don’t love you enough to return to battle with the Velcro.

toesie

Isn’t it cute?  I will love him and squeeze him and call him George.  The Toesie, I mean.

Despite the travails of the Velcro War and lurching about like a man-made monster we did have fun today, in the rain, working the race.  The MRTC runners are AWESOME and we love them, crazynutjobrunners currently under- or un-medicated but we won’t tell.  After the race started another BRFF, whom I shall call Sara, and I drove the course, hubs in the backseat, doing the driving himself which I have no idea where he got that from, “watch out for that car!”  “watch out for that runner!” and how he saw them, nose deep in the newspaper in the backseat, I have no clue but should not be surprised because he did the same thing with the kids. Didn’t have to even look up.  DO NOT PUSH YOUR BROTHER DOWN THE STAIRS, he would state, calmly, in his booming voice.

We honked and beeped and waved at the runners, sometimes when the rain was not pelting sideways at one side of the car we’d open a window and shout at them.

GO RUNNERS!  YOU LOOK GREAT!  YOU CAN DO THIS!

They would wave back, rain dripping off their faces, miserable, whipped by 20-30mph winds with gusts.  They definitely earned their stripes today.

At the turn around we waited for Sara’s Doug which she says sort of like  ♬♪Doug♪♬ all syrupy so we almost got diabetes.  She jumped out into the pouring rain and waited for him, giving him a kiss and hopping back in the car.  Still staring at the paper hubs muttered, Terri wouldn’t jump out in the pouring rain to kiss me.

Well of course I wouldn’t.  My leg is currently firmly stuck to the fabric of my car seat by an angry rogue strip of !#&!’ing VELCRO.

Daylight Stupid Time, Part Deux

I’ve never liked math but I can add, subtract, and multiply, although I usually multiply by two (mother of twins joke ha ha)

I say I can add and subtract but I still spent last night counting on my fingers repeatedly to be sure that if my clock currently said 9:37 and I reset it to 8:37 I had, indeed, calculated properly.  Most of the time I would not care.  I would just go bed and worry about it in the morning whenever I awoke because how much difference can an hour make on a Sunday morning when the only children you have, have four legs and feed themselves?

Unfortunately I knew that this was Road Race Series morning out on Singleton Parkway and I also knew that due to my job I have all the registrations, all the forms, all the chips and B-tags, safety pins and ties, the cash box, the CC slips and all the shirt check lists in my vehicle.  If I show up an hour late to a race, arriving 15 minutes before the race starts, my new name will be $#@*’#$@ #$(*&% with several !!! added on the end and there could be a lynching although my greater fear is being stuck headfirst in a port-o-let that has been visited by many nervous runners.

So I did what I do when I’m worried about things – like most people – and I woke repeatedly during the night looking at the clock, thinking it all through again.  Then I checked my phone, but it’s not 2am now, or maybe it was and now it isn’t again, but it will be and will my clock say 2am then or did it already say 2am and then needs to say it again when it isn’t 2am again?

Finally, exhausted, my head pounding, I fell deeply asleep only to be rudely awakened by sweet Mo tapping my cheek with his soft little paw.

Baby JESUS in a basket in the RIVER!  What TIME is it? I thought as I scrambled for my phone, belatedly realizing that was Moses in a basket in the river.  4:13am.  I turned the phone off and back on again, in case the phone doesn’t turn over to the right time unless you turn it off and back on again.

You laugh, go ahead, but how many times have you fixed some program by turning the computer off and back on again?

Four men rode in a car: a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, a chemical engineer, and a computer engineer.  Suddenly the car stalled.
The mechanical engineer said, “It must be the pistons; let’s repair them and be on our way.”
The electrical engineer said, “It has to be the spark plugs; we’ll replace them and be ready to roll in no time at all.”
The chemical engineer said. “No, it’s got to be bad gas; we’ll flush the system and be on our way.”
They turned to the computer engineer. “What do you think we should do?” they asked.
The computer engineer shrugged and said, “Get out of the car. Close all the windows. Turn off the car. Then turn the car back on and open all the windows.”

The phone popped back up, little white apple glowing and soon proudly announced it was 4:15 am just as the duck quacking alarm commenced to announce it was time to get up.

It could be a trap, you never know.  I could have set the phone wrong, like I could have told Siri that we now live in Pennsylvania and she reset the phone to their time.  I wandered downstairs and turned on the computer to google “what time is it in Memphis, Tennessee” and while I waited for all the windows to reopen I went upstairs to turn on the Keurig so my brain would start too.  Hope springs eternal.  Oh, look, I left the cup of water out on the counter.  May as well drink it up.

HOLY SH*T what the $&*% is THAT?

Because I think it’s ridiculous to spend the money on soap dispenser refills I buy cheap clear dish detergent and thin it with water to fill the soap dispenser in the kitchen.  In all my worries and concerns about DST and the RRS half marathon I’d forgotten I’d done that last night before bed and since it was all bubbled up I left it on the counter to settle and yes, I know what you are thinking and yes, you are right.

I spit the soap out into the sink, my eyes watering, my nose and throat burning, coughing and gagging, spitting, nearly retching.  I took a swig of (REAL) water and gargled, bubbles foaming up out of my mouth and running down my chin, spitting, gargling, foaming, spitting ACK ACK ACK

I gargled and spit, gargled and spit mouthfuls of foam into the sink until finally there were no more bubbles.  I tried some coffee but it tasted funny and I couldn’t figure out why until just now.

Everything loaded in the car I headed to the race site, throat still burning, sipping some juice, fumbling to find some ACDC or Ozzy Osbourne when I noticed – the clock in my car is right again!

OCD much?

Hubs and I were out of town last week.  You might think I would feel completely free to leave town now the kids are grown and gone, no worries, enjoy the trip, relax, eat drink and be merry.

But, no.  First, I no longer have that burning desire to desert Rome as it burns, my mother and four children waving forlornly as we back down the drive, desperately repressing the jiggling as my legs begin the Happy Dance under the dashboard.  NO VOMIT!  NO DIAPERS!  NO CRYING AND FIGHTING AND STEPPING ON DEADLY LEGOS!  I’m FREE!

I can lazily drink coffee and read the paper daily now.  I don’t have to put on adult clothes to take the kids to school and work the phones in the office from 8am to noon or help in the clinic wiping snot and blood.  I don’t have to camp out in a hotel to have a bathroom all to myself.  I don’t have to hide the chocolates in a tampon box.  I don’t have to worry about organizing soccer/cheer/homework/scouts/cupcakes for the birthday party before leaving everyone.  No worries, now.  Free Free Free.

Instead I spent three days prior to leaving town waking at 3 and 4am worrying about — The Damn Cats.  What if they refuse to eat?  What if they pee on the bed?  What if they … I don’t know … jeeze, they’re CATS – how much could go wrong??  But, no…wake, roll over, worry.

Obsess much?

Meanwhile – no pressure here – every damn day hubs insists that I need to try on his wetsuit and be sure it fits.  Fine, I tried it on.  OK, right, it was on backward but what the hell.  It’s not like it’s gender specific.  If it fits backwards it should fit frontwards.  No, apparently it didn’t count, backwards negates the experience so now I have to try it on … again.

Then, after I try it on again, he thinks I need to take it to the Center and swim in the damn thing.  Remember the pool running incident (here)?  Where all the senior water exercise class people glared at Becky and me in shock and awe?  What do you think it will do to them if I show up at the pool in a f*cking wetsuit?  How long will it take management to get all the exploded brain matter out of that water?  And can they sue me for the damages?

Still hubs remains – daily – sincere in his insistent insistence that I must absolutely without doubt swim in water with the wetsuit.  I pointed out that if I fail to do so prior to the race, and it is a wetsuit legal race, I will swim in the water to warm up and I will be wearing the wetsuit.  I think that counts as swimming before the race.  I mean, what if I swim in the wetsuit at the Center and I find out it doesn’t work so well?  Is that going to change the temperature of the water Saturday?

Last week I ordered a tri-suit.  It was in the mail when we got home.  I pulled it out of the packaging.  This sucker will not fit a skinny pre-pubescent 13-year-old.  I don’t know why they wasted a 9×13 envelope to send it to me, it would have fit fine in a letter sized and saved some postage, which they handily charged me.  Now I’ve spent $79 + tax, shipping and handling on something that weighs about four ounces and I may wear only once in my life – if I can even get it on.  And hubs is happy I spent the money.  If I buy a new lipstick and he sees it he asks me how much it cost.  Tri-suit?  Wet-suit?  Bike?  Helmet?  Bike shoes?  He’s throwing money at it like it was beads in New Orleans and he might see some boobs.

I spent one morning at the hotel swimming, then got on the spin bike and did 13 miles, then ran three.  There, I’ve done the distance, so mentally I got that out of the way.  What I realized is that I do not care at all about this triathlon like I have all the races I’ve trained for.  I’m just as obsessive about getting everything organized, not forgetting anything, hoping I don’t bonk, but I don’t really care about doing the event.  All I really care about is getting it over with.

Training for halves, fulls, 50K’s, I check weather for weeks, mentally preparing for wind/rain/floods/solar flares and meteors.  I’m scared, nervous – but it’s an excited nervous fright.  It can still get ugly – marathoniritationitis (with a graphic, here) is nothing to laugh at, but there’s still an excitement about the whole thing.  This one:  if it rains, oh well.  If it’s hot, well damn.  If it’s cold, well sh*t.  Oh, well.  If I get there, and I don’t like the weather, I might just decide not to do the event, and right now I cannot dredge up any impending regret, other than I’d be forced to register for another one and go through all this again.

Last night I dreamed I had a curse that if I talked to someone it would take away one of their powers.   Unfortunately Becky asked me a question in my dream.  I replied without thinking and it stripped her power to do triathlons.

Obsess much?? This is going to be a bitch of a week…

You can’t fall off a marathon, and you can’t sink in a 50K, and all you need is some shorts, a shirt and some shoes.

The truth is:  I’m cranky and pissed and obsessed about the cats because I’m scared of this one and it’s not an excited nervousness.  It’s just fear.

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?

Promise and new growth

It’s a beautiful late Sunday afternoon and I’m watching the sun set behind the trees across our little cove of lake.  Earlier this afternoon I felt the first hint of spring in the air, that indefinable scent or feel, somehow different from a winter day with the same weather.  Perhaps it’s a slight change in the look of the sunlight or the stirring of the animals.  We have a bluebird couple at our suet and a flock of cedar waxwings stripped our holly bushes bare last week.  A few daffodils and crocus are popping up and their bright colors on the rather monochrome landscape seems especially cheery.   Geese and ducks have been absent for a while and this afternoon I can see several little groups floating around.

Tomorrow’s forecast is rain, thunderstorms and winds, with the days following in the 40’s/30’s.  Since I’m seeing posts from people trying to decide to run inside or out with a 13″ snowfall I have no problems with our forecast returning to winter for a few days.  It will fight its way back.

Saturday morning the alarm went off at 5am – not a completely indecent time of day.  And it wasn’t a kleighorn blaring like an oncoming cruise ship, which made the entire transition smoother.

I did question what I was doing, thinking I could do another half.  Yet there I was, and there was hubs, and there we were in the car on the way to Oxford, Mississippi at 5:45 am in order to make race day packet pickup.  It was little surprise when we got there and it was grey, cloudy, 34 degrees and windy.

This race had everything in common with the Greenville race:  cold, grey, windy; fantastic volunteers, very well-organized, excellent course support, cheering townspeople; endless beer and pizza at the end.  So, to one-up Greenville, Oxford, however far in the distant past, decided to be built, not in the delta, but in the rolling hills of middle Mississippi.  Unfortunately, I overlooked that fact.

My main concern going into the race was that I wasn’t in shape for these hills.  It didn’t occur to me that my butt would attempt to fall off at mile 9.  Butt has been behaving so well lately.

There has to be something in the stride going uphill which pulls that piriformis/sciatic nerve and I’m truly looking forward to talking to Dr. K about this next time I see him.  He loves to talk about his work and explains everything so well.  I find it fascinating so I’m a good audience.  I like knowing the how and why as I’m sure you do.

Sure enough, by mile 10 I was walking every hill not because I didn’t have the strength to run them, as I’d worried, but because my leg was singing soprano.  Who needs an iPod?  I was mad because I was scared, and every negative tape that could possibly play in my head got air time.  I walked the final (uphill) 1/2 mile to the finish line.  Poor hubs, smiling at me, and all I could say is “I have nothing good I can say right now”.   Pizza, a small beer and dry clothes went a long way.  We headed home and I wiggled and twitched the entire way.  Butt was definitely feeling worse.  I cared – but I didn’t.  I knew this was part of fighting my way back, one way or the other.

We had a wonderful Saturday afternoon running errands and celebrating the 3rd birthday of the B’ster.  There’s no way to feel in the dumps watching a three-year old open gifts of cars and trains and spooning in pizza and ice cream with chocolate sauce.  I look in those beautiful dark eyes full of total joy and melt.  I hold it in my heart and try to absorb it.

Yesterday evening hubs was online.  “Terri, it looks like you’re 3rd in your age group.”

WTHeck?  Sure enough, none of the fast women showed up and someone Mastered out of the age group.  I placed third.  I’m not being facetious here, I know my time and I know the area runners.  I placed because they were not there.

I don’t care.  LALALALALALALA!  I placed!  Happy Dance!  At mile 10, if I’d known where the finish line was, I would have thought about walking off the course.  I wouldn’t have walked off, but I would have given it some very serious consideration.

I will take that finish and 3rd place and put a bow on it.

AND – this morning Butt was back to where it was before the race, still there but much better.  I’m less stiff and sore from the race than I was from Greenville two weeks ago!

The joy of this is not only in the running.  The joy is that I’m learning to work with this.  I’d like to be a person who can immediately stick an issue in the correct slot in my brain and not go off track, but apparently I’m not.  I expect most people are the same way but I’m not trying to figure them out, I’m trying to figure me out.  I don’t know where the manual is.  Maybe when we die part of the afterlife is that we all get our owner’s manuals back and everything finally works and makes sense.  I hope so.  Still, I’m happy that despite the fact I could not think of anything good to say at the end of that race, I eventually shook it off.  It took a while, and some focus, but I made peace with whatever the next day would bring.

I’m growing, I’m learning, I’m changing.

At this juncture of winter and spring, as we begin to see the promise of new or renewed life, the somber greys/browns slowing budding with fresh green, the bright yellow or purple of buds frozen in the earth, what promise do you see in your life?  What new growth do you reach for?

What special stoopid pills did you take this morning??

Anne set her alarm for 4am.

Just as the identity of the rapist/murderer roaming the campus trying to find me was being revealed a kleighorn began blaring.  I levitated and hung suspended in the air for a moment before I fell back onto the bed.

“What the holy hell was that??” I yelled, as Anne laughed.

“I told you, you wouldn’t sleep through my alarm.”

No shit.  I almost didn’t LIVE through it.  Between the murdering rapist in my nightmare and the Q.E. 2 barreling across the waves for me I knew I wasn’t going to have to worry too much about porta johns on the course.

Sleepy-faced runners roamed the kitchen in the rental house.  Apparently worried about famine, five people had brought 21 bananas, two packages of bagels, one package of English muffins, a personal Keurig, two dozen assorted K-Cups, peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, juice, creamer, and a grocery sack full of protein and trail mix bars.  This does not include the Gatorade being mixed and Gu’s being shoved in pockets.

What I’d been casually thinking of as a longer training run than usual suddenly became a lot more real.  Everyone else was there for a marathon, and there is a whole big wide world of difference between 26.2 miles and 13.1.  Everyone visited quietly and went about the business of fueling the machine that was their body.

I love that part of a race morning.  Focused, calm, centered, carefully considering the fuel needed, what to put in your body during the three hours between now and the race start.  Not too much, but enough.  Tying and retying shoes.  Adjusting hats, shorts, socks, HR monitors; Garmins beeping in the quiet dark morning.

This time we drove on a real road into town which didn’t dead end and had no ancient graveyards full of dead trees and broken headstones with murder rapists hiding behind them waiting to jump out while dueling on banjoes.  We parked on the levee in downtown Greenville.  It was dark, cold and breezy, but this race buses you to the start line and you run back to town, so we had warm buses to sit in.

I didn’t know anyone on my bus so I settled back in the seat (first seat on the first bus going to the half) and daydreamed with my eyes half-open.  A police cruiser pulled up in front of the marathon buses, lights flashing.  The buses started up, their lights now flashing and beaming and they began rolling forward.  I thought of the runners in there, all their goals and hopes; of my friends, all the training they’d put in, how the adrenaline would be starting for them now as the buses’ tail lights receded in the distance.

There was a BEEP and the radio announced to our driver it was time to head out – and suddenly it became real.  I’m running a half marathon.

What. The. Hell.  Was I thinking?

I’m a certified running coach.  I know better than this.  If one of the Women Run ladies came to me after five weeks of training for the 5K and glibly announced they were heading out for a nice 10 miler Saturday I’d drop my teeth and mentally call them playground names (are you an idjit??  dummy!  doodoo head!  What special stoopid pills did you take this morning??)

I’m going to run a Half Marathon on a training base of sixty-three miles??

The furthest I’ve run in five months is 7 miles and that was last week!

I’m an idjit!  A dummy!  A doodoo head!  What special stoopid pills did I take this morning??

“STOP THE BUS!!!  I have to get off!!!”  I could hear the screaming in my head but nothing was coming out of my mouth.  Odd, but fortunate.  Usually my mute button doesn’t work.

I gave myself a mental slap and closed my eyes.  In…Out…In…Out I breathed.  Look, Terri, you start slow, you walk the water stops, you’re just out there for a little jog, not a big deal.  Just go slow.  Walk the water stops.  You can always walk off the course if you need.  Dr. K said you’re good to go.

The slowest hour of the year went by in about 13 minutes and I found myself at the starting line with two friends from home, all three of us surprised to see the others there.  The horn sounded and we started up and over the Mississippi River Bridge.

mississippi-river-marathon-bridge

Stock photo I got from the race website

The sun was rising and there was a mist in the lowlands along the bridge.  We could see a barge disappearing in the fog downriver.  It was quiet, not a lot of talk, the huff of breath, the shuffle of feet, cars and semi’s going by in the other lane.  It was windy and I thought of Becky, Anne, and Heather, fighting this wind for 26 miles.

My goal had been to walk every mile at the water stops but they had decided at the last minute not to do the stop at the top of the bridge.  At 30-something degrees those tossed cups could leave a lot of frozen liquid on the course.  I ended up doing the first three miles non-stop.  I picked out someone in front of me and made myself stay behind them.  That sounds real good on paper, but if that girl with the backside like a 25 pound bag of potatoes in the flowered tights got in front of me all bets were off.  Which is totally not PC and is mean so I probably should not have admitted it.  But it is true.

Since I’m newly concentrating on my form I watched the runners pass me, and I began to see two types of stride.  Some were running from their hips and glutes, hips swaying slightly to and fro.  Others ran with their legs; their glutes and hip flexors stationary.  Following Dr. K’s advice, I was trying to fire my glutes.  It was harder than usual to make an ass of myself but I was trying.  And then, it clicked.  Sometimes I’d lose form.  Immediately my hamstring would shout at me and I’d adjust.

I relaxed, enjoying the little boy scouts and girl scouts shouting, the middle school cheer team, the high school band.  I ran by each, cheering back, slapping palms and high-fiving them.  There was an old couple sitting in a truck at an intersection.  I thought they were mad, waiting to cross – no – they waved and yelled as everyone came by, their cheers muffled by the rolled up windows but the enthusiasm evident.

There I was – 4 miles – 7 miles – 9 miles!  I’m almost done!

I enjoyed every single step I took on that course.  I thanked every volunteer and police officer I could see.  I high-fived little kids and yelled Hotty Toddy at the adults but passed on the actual toddy.

John and I hung around the finish line visiting with the surprising number of people we knew from Memphis.  Heather came in three minutes under her BQ time and also placed!  Becky and Anne came in looking great although completely worn out from battling that wind.  Becky said this about the wind, and I quote,  (*&$$ (*)(%’ing #*&$ damn #$*&(&) son of *&$%&^^.  Then she said this about Anne, and I quote, )(*$%* good idea )*(&$#%)*(&’ing run a &*#(*$&^ marathon in the (*)&#)*(&$ Land of your (*&&^% PEEPLES.  Anne sipped her Mick Ultra, unpreturbed.  Hey, the beer was free.

They refueled, we all grabbed a baby Mick Ultra and headed home; John at the wheel, Becky, Anne, Maggie and I slumped in the seats.  Becky mumbled something that sounded like ^%$$ never again &*)*&*( Anne &*^%* but probably it wasn’t.

We stopped for gas at a little quick mart between the Wishy Washy Washateria and the Nette Belle Boutique and Tax Service.  We looked at the tamales, the potato logs and the cajun fried popcorn, but in the end we opted for, as Anne referred to it, 22 ounces of icy cold deliciousness (Becky and I went for the 12 ounce option) and we each bought a Bud Light Lime.  John got a red powerade and some crackers.

We are wild and crazy and there is no stopping us.

wishy washy

nette belles

22 ounces

Betcha thought I’d made it up.

Sorry, I half to run.

(Names have been changed and details obfuscated to protect the not-so-innocent because the Home is still looking for them after that last breakout)

It was dusk and we were following Heather and Maggie along a quiet, lonely, deserted, dusty, rocky Delta road.  We’d been detoured when the original path ended, blocked with large signs covered in X’s.  A dry creek bed had, at one point in the past, been full enough of raging water to wash the road out.  Judging by the quantity, size and condition of the signs some people had managed to miss the message anyway.

Becky and I were trying to call Heather to tell her to turn around and come back as we watched her tailights recede in the dust and distance.  I finally got through.  “Heather, you need to turn back, I think we’ve found another way to get to their house.”

“No, it’s OK,” she replied, “David told me to drive until the road dead ends and then turn left.  Then when that road dead ends, turn left again.”

When the road ends, turn left.  As the sun quickly disappeared on the horizon, looking around at the silent, barren fields, the twisted grey-brown trees, and the leaning, rotted, empty shacks, I asked Heather if she and Maggie heard banjos.

beermug

Now it’s Sunday morning – a steady grey rainy downpour outside my window.

I can hear birds chirping, flitting about while I watch the surface of the lake bounce with the rain.  A large blackbird is hugely pissed and hopping from limb to limb purveying his destroyed beginnings of a nest, screeching at the offending squirrel who apparently misjudged his leap from my roof to the tree, landing smack on the foundations the bird had carefully laid.  Murphy’s cowering under my chair.  He’s going to be staying close to me for the day, I expect, between the thunder, which he abhors, and the fact that I abandoned him and the cats overnight Friday.  Yesterday evening when I got home Mo wouldn’t come out from behind the dryer while Chunk jumped up on the counter and kept grabbing my arm if I started to walk away.

I have Dumper Soup on the stove as I’m (oddly) craving healthy food, and I’m looking back at both the last five months and the last 48 hours, shaking my head in disbelief.

I ran a half marathon yesterday.

beermug

Crazy running nutjobs and beer.

Shortly after the awesome adventure of their first marathon last December my friends Becky and Anne were discussing their next goals.  Anne had discovered the Mississippi River Marathon & Half Marathon in Greenville, MS in February.  I believe beer had to have been involved; she talked Becky into training for it.  Why lose the fitness so diligently obtained training up for the first marathon? they most likely reasoned, probably nodding in sloppy agreement over their cups at the Flying Saucer.

I thought they should.  What would it hurt?  I didn’t have to do the race.

Anne was beside herself happy to show her best running buddy the Land of Her Peoples, having been born and bred in the Mississippi Delta.  An Italian from the heart of the Delta.  She talks fast and southern.

At some point I got tapped to be the DD on the journey, as Becky doubted their ability to run 26.2 miles in the Land of Anne’s Peoples and then drive home.  Later Becky’s hubs, John, decided to come along and do the half also, effectively making him the DD, a fortunate occurence for all involved.

beermug

Last Monday after running the furthest I have gone since 9.9.2012 – 7 miles – on the previous Saturday, I asked Dr. Krackurback if I needed to be scaling back, hanging with the same mileage or if I should try pushing it.  He paused for a moment and looked at me.  “I think I’d like to see you try pushing it.”

Dr. K doesn’t know me very well.

beermug

Thursday night at Flying Saucer while celebrating a birthday we discussed the next day’s plans, in which John would take Anne, Becky and me while Heather and Maggie drove separately to Greenville.  John and I would try to register for the Half, having learned that 100 extra regs had been opened.

Friday morning I laid out my running gear.  I was a Newbie all over again. Shorts.  No, not those shorts.  Those.  Shirt.  Short sleeve.  No, long sleeve.  No, both.  No, not those shorts after all.  Those.  Garmin, charger, HR monitor, gear bag, socks, chews, trail mix bar, lucky hat…for hours I laid things out, looked them over, wandered about the house.  Returning, I looked over everything.  Add, subtract.  Search frantically to see if I’d remembered socks.  Yes, four pair should be enough.  I was going to be gone a whole night, after all.

John helped me load everything in Becky’s car and we picked up Anne.

You can buy freshly made tamales at gas stations on Highway 61 in Mississippi.  I didn’t.

beermug

We drove directly to registration and I nearly bowled over three people in my rush to see if I could still register.  Clutching my race bag I ran to Becky and Anne.  I’m IN!

The get ‘er done run.

Success!  I hung with one of my BRFF’s ever, DJ, who is training for Chicago and doing a 4/1 run/walk program right now.  I knew if I hung with her I would not be tempted to go out too fast and maybe my hamstring would not try to desert me.  I’m pretty sure it’s trying to jump ship; it certainly feels like it’s trying to crawl right out of my skin.  Luckily its attempts so far have been thwarted by Ligaments and Skin.  Thank you, Ligaments and Skin, for hanging tight.  Please don’t let go.

All I wanted was to see the finish line.  I didn’t care time, I just wanted to go 14 miles.  I needed it, mentally.  I needed to blow off energy and I needed an accomplishment in my running.  It took 3 hours to go 14.2 miles between walking the water stops, doing the run/walk and the porta john stops, and I didn’t care one bit.  I can wear the shirt, now.  You can see this is a shirt that should be worn often and handled with care so it can be worn for many years – how cool is this shirt!?  Oh, and we made up a poem:  ON ON! to the Portajohn!  At least I was hydrated.

Last year after Tupelo I wrote this (below).  I know you’ve both read it before but I don’t care.  As I’ve noted, it’s my blog and I can do anything I want.  Or I can not post anything I don’t want to post.  For instance,  I’m never posting Brussel Sprouts recipes, because there is not a recipe in the entire world which can make a Brussels Sprout taste good except a garbage disposal so that would be a waste of typing.

++++++++++++++++

Sunday I ran Crazy Jimmy’s Tupelo Half Marathon which is not even a half but is a Half + 1.1 miles.  The race is every Labor Day Sunday, and if you’ve never run in Mississippi the end of August you won’t appreciate the race’s 5am start — but if you have experienced its soul sucking humidity and heat you are happy for even one hour’s reprieve from the sun.

5am in the Mississippi countryside is dark.  No atmospheric reflection of glimmering city lights, no reflected porch lights of houses sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the neighborhoods, no glow of business signs and lit front windows.  Houses are spread apart, set back; porch lights shine further from the street; street lights are distant from each other.  The race begins quietly, no gun, no siren, no shouts.  Garmins and Timexes beep shedding greenish light. The figures ahead of us start bobbing, their shadows outlined by the small flashlights held by the other runners in front of them.

I run the first 5 miles with an MRTC friend but can’t keep his pace.  I’ve been out a lot the past couple years; a couple injuries, a couple family issues, some happy, some not so much.  It’s great to be racing.  I find that I don’t mind having no one to talk to.  I like it, this bobbing along in the dark as it begins to lighten. I listen to the softness of the footfalls, my raspy breathing, crickets.  A dog whines from someone’s house.  At mile 6 we turn east and I notice the horizon is lightening.  The shapes of country houses take form, still and flat, one-dimensional in the semi-darkness.  Rolling fences appear and I can see the fields now, see the ponds in the fields, and the treerows further back.  The colors change, from the bluish-black of night to dark shades of greens, then browns, and soon the runners around me aren’t just bobbing shapes but bright yellows and reds and blues and greens.

We run along in the day as it wakes.  I see the road now, and I see my feet as they push the distance behind me.  I look at the faces of the people around me, I hear mutters of conversation; over and under and around all that I hear, constantly, the soft shuffle of feet, the measured breathing of everyone around me, and I know that they are celebrating, as I am, the incredible knowledge that we live, that we exist and we are incredibly, gloriously alive in this brand new day which birth we just witnessed.

Runners may be many different things, but one thing we hold in common:  We are celebratory people.

++++++++++++++++

Unfortunately, however, this year after the race ended there was a very very sad incident in which my Former BRFF ever, DJ, tried to steal my beer.  B*tch.  You can’t trust blonde German women when a beer shows up, it’s a throw down looking for a place to happen.  Fortunately right after this photo was taken we were directed to the cooler chest containing about 157 more beers and we kissed and made up.  I no longer hope her keg explodes.  Just a small, slow leak would be fine.

BFOS – The Saga Continues

Last Sunday’s run sucked like a Dyson on steroids. I’d had a great tempo run last Wednesday and had a target pace in mind, which I held for exactly 2 miles and then the Butt fell off the bus. I ran, I walked, I cussed, I hurt, I limped. I’d done two slow miles to warm up before the race, did the 5 Miler and gave up. My butt was trying to fall off and I was about fed up with it. I’d hoped to do twelve last Sunday since I’ve got the Tupelo run this weekend; unless I wanted to run the final 5 hopping on one foot – and I didn’t – I needed to bag it for the day.

This race, btw, is my absolute favorite, check it out: http://tupelorunningclub.homestead.com/tupelomarathon.html. The race starts at 5am – pitch dark – from a huge furniture facility and is an out-and-back course through the Mississippi farmland. The half is actually 14.2 miles. The turnaround is 1.1 miles from the start/finish, so the halvers have to run an extra 1.1 to the finish line. They didn’t do medals for the halvers until a few years ago. You could do the half, but no medal. And the medal is awesome, you do want one: a skull with gleaming red enamel eyes. The half medal is even better: it’s a little bigger than a half a skull, with ragged edges as though it were torn in half. The t-shirt is always a long sleeve tie-dye with a skull and crossbones on the front and the race’s motto: “Hurdle the Dead. Trample the Weak.” Last week the RD sent the following announcement, in view of possible bad weather due to Isaac:

Special notice: Tupelo Marathon and 14.2 Miler Contingency plans regarding Hurricane Isaac

After consulting with Tupelo Running club Staff Meteorologist Michelle Rupp and long time, former Race Director Mike Lail I am announcing the contingency plan for this year’s race:

 A. In the event of rain we will get wet
B. In the case of heavy rain we will get really wet
C. In the case of REALLY heavy rain I will wait in the building until you’re all back

I’m concerned about the run tomorrow, I haven’t done more than 10 in a few weeks, and my butt tried to fall off yesterday at 6 miles. I’ve been doing some BFOS research and will report in later; I’m hopeful I’ve found some help but I doubt it’s going to work within 24 hours.

After the pain of Sunday I took Monday off and woke Tuesday with a plan. I was going to run four miles.

And….

Then….

I was going to….

RIDE MATILDA!!!!!! This was the day. This was the plan. I was firm in my resolve and when Brain tried to squeak in my ear that maybe we should wait until tomorrow I squished him firmly back into his little dark corner and told him in no uncertain terms to Shut. Up.

I put her in the car and drove to a church about a mile from our house. It’s a great little church, very traditional Episcopalian church, white boxy old-fashioned building with a little steeple on the top, rather like Little House on the Prairie. They are really nice people, allowing a 5k/10k race to be held on their grounds every year, and they don’t mind runners using their parking lot to meet up and head out for a run so I figured they would not mind if I rode my bike in circles in their grass. Plus with it being a church and all, maybe God would be extra close at hand to rescue crazy women learning to ride a bike.

I took a deep breath and saddled up. We can do this. Just stay focused and stay calm. No panicking allowed. One thing I’d noticed when I was practicing clipping the last time is that I tend to stop my bike while still on the seat and then put my feet down. This worked fine when I was 12 and riding my Schwinn Stingray with the banana seat. On a street bike you can’t do that, the seat is too high, you can’t reach the ground. I’d never thought about it, though, when using the regular pedals as my foot was freer to pop off at the last second and land. Voilà – there was the main issue: I was trying to stop first and then unclip.

The ladies coming out of the exercise class at the church looked at me a bit funny as I pedaled in circles, focused: pedalpedalpedal, unclip, brake, slow almost to a stop, put foot down, unclip left foot. I did it! Look, Ma! No Cavities!

Emboldened by my success I decided to take a spin around the parking lot. Two exercise ladies were standing by their cars talking as I wobbled around the corner and almost took them both out – my bad, sorry! I told them I was just learning. They looked a bit alarmed and asked if they were going to have to scrape me off the asphalt, but I wobbled onward, thanking them.

12.5 miles and 51 minutes later I returned to the parking lot, unclipped and glided to a stop. I am a cyclist.

I am a runner, and I am a cyclist. And since I swam 10 laps last week, I’m claiming that, too.

I am not, however, a triathlete. nopenopenopenopenope.

Running: It’s not Christmas morning

I ended up not doing the half yesterday and I’m fine with that.  I may not make the marathon I was aiming for the end of April, and I’m fine with that too.  I’ll see what this weekend’s long run is like and decide then.  Fortunately for me right now these are just goals to keep myself running; the particular event was not my focus.  However I’m seeing a lot of disappointment online today for some who did do the race yesterday, a day that dawned warm and got warmer.  The average high here for March is 64 and for April is 73.  Yesterday’s high was 82.

And so I’ve been thinking about the races and the runs I’ve done that ended up deal breakers, and why that might have been.

+++++++++++++++++

It’s November and the only thing Jr. has been talking about since the Christmas ads started in August is PsychoScreaming Elmo.  He prays for Elmo.  He searched the Dentist’s treat box for Elmo and asked the Tooth Fairy for Elmo.  Seconds after Elmo was brightly and gaily revealed on the We ♥ Kids Network last August every Elmo from here to the Adriatic Sea was snatched up, leaving you the one (loser) parent in the entire world without Elmo for Jr.

For the next three months you plan and strive.  You constantly watch EBay.  You spend evenings stopping by Target, Toys BackwardR Us and WalMart in succession.  You FB your plans, your strategies, your successes and failures (2 spotted at Target!  But I’m in a meeting with the Boss!  Who just asked why I feel a need to text!) Finally the stars align and you find yourself parked at WalMart at 4am one Saturday, the car stocked with coffee and donuts.  You’re fueled and you’re ready to go.  The doors open…3…2…1 – you sprint to the toy aisle.  You’ve practiced this moment for months.  You know the course, the tight turn at the sunglasses stand, the straightaway to toys, hard left, second row:  SCORE!

Christmas morning, whether it dawns bright and sunny, cold and snowy, damp and drizzly, or 100 degrees:  Elmo is still going to scream like a psycho.  If you got a stomach virus last night:  Elmo still screams.  Couldn’t sleep?  Been out of town?  Overindulged at the Christmas Party?  Still screaming.

Jr. may or may not end up loving the entire PsychoScreaming Elmo thing, he may be cowering terror behind the tree or have already thrown Elmo over for the latest and greatest Runaway Train, but Elmo is still Elmo, shrieking in the corner, one way or the other.

Simultaneously to Jr’s discovery of PSE last August, you found the inspiration to train for the Great Half Marathon your fair city is sponsoring in December.  Inspired by the pain of the rapidly tightening seat belt and the inability to reach your shoes to tie them you decided to Get Fit.  Eat right!  Walk!  Jog!  Have goals!

You’ve scoured the internet for training plans.  You’ve joined FB training pages.  You’re networking with everyone at the gym.  You’ve read Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon and Once a Runner; you’ve interviewed every running store employee in town about fueling, hydration, power bars, recovery drinks and Gu.  You got a new Garmin or Timex and can talk pronate/supinate with the pros.   You’ve done LSD and Fartleks and Intervals and your spouse has (in what sounded like a rather cranky voice, actually) requested that if you’re going to get up every Sunday morning at 4 damn AM to play with all your new friends, why don’t you just go sleep in the guest room on Saturday nights and quit waking me up?  And – by the way – why, when you agree to do so, does that seem to make them madder?

Race Day Dawns and this is where Christmas ends.  Because on race day your race may be Psycho Elmo, or it may be Tool Time Timmy.  The box might have said you needed AAA batteries and you actually need AA batteries.  Because races don’t come down assembly lines.

To date I’ve been unable to retro-fit my mother to pop me out in the mid-60’s instead of the mid-50’s and while most of the time I don’t feel like it, I’m going to be 56 next month.  Mentally, of course, not so much.  Physically I’m noticing it.  And all you out there older than me saying “just you wait” – save your breath, I know.  I know how I felt at 45, and at 50, and at 52…and I know it’s not going to stop.  I am going to do my best to slow it as much as possible, not out of vanity but because I see people whom I thought would never slow down slowly let it slip away.  Walking two miles makes me out of breath, I’ll drop to 1-1/2.  I’ll just walk a mile.  I’ll walk it tomorrow. I like ice cream.  I don’t want to eat veggies with my lunch.  Apparently we all regress to 2-year olds and anything that doesn’t feel good needs to just go away.

Runners don’t do that.  Runners embrace it.  Runners know that to go further you have to go farther than further.  You have to hurt to get better.  You get out what you put in…to one degree or another (we can’t all be pros).

The human body is an amazingly complex thing.   When I think of atoms inside of cells in side of muscles inside of skin, and how all this works together in connection with breathing and blood and food – awesome.  Breathtaking.  Incredible.

And there’s the rub.  You plot and plan, you hydrate and fuel the same calories and sleep the same number of minutes and this Saturday you’re popping miles like they were candy and next weekend you have an anvil tied to your a$$.  If you’re lucky the anvil shows up on a long run with your buds and you can sigh and complain to your heart’s content.  If you’re not, and it’s race day – sucks for you.  That, to me, is the plain of it.

The variables are incredible.  Perhaps the tiny remnants of the cold you had three weeks ago still has you oxygenating 2-3% less than peak.  It could be that you were a little light on carbs or protein lately, or you have just a few too many miles on your shoes and don’t realize it, or you need a bit more potassium.  Maybe you spent the past 2-1/2 months training in weather which was largely in the 30’s-60’s, partly/mostly cloudy and windy, and race day dawns 75 degrees, sunny and a bit humid.

Our bodies have rules and we haven’t figured them all out.   We know a stomach will only empty so many ounces per hour.  If you sweat heavily, have been training in cool weather and race day dawns hot, there’s not a lot you can do about that.  If your stomach will process 20 ounces of fluid and you’re sweating out 35 per hour, you cannot hydrate enough.  Your blood will get thicker, your HR will rise and your pace will slow.  If you had a cold and your lungs are still a bit tight, they are not going to open up because you want them to or you breathe harder.  The blood oxygen level is going to stay wherever it is.

Butt Falling off Syndrome has been a blessing to me.  Of course there’s the obvious:  I’m now a Famous Spokesperson and Poster Child which I realize most of you will never achieve (but I’m here for you, little people).  It’s been a ball of yarn, unraveling the issues, several smaller things leading up to a bigger one.  Too many miles on my shoes.  Neglecting electrolytes.  And finally looking at my training plan and realizing I had exactly one week that backed down 10% since the first of January.  The older we get the more we need to realize that our bodies need more time.  They don’t need us to give up, but they need us to sit back and slow down.  Enjoy it a bit more.  We know the 10% rule (every third week drop mileage 10%, then increase over the next two, repeat) but we don’t do it.  We don’t do it in our running and we don’t do it in the rest of our lives.  We stop in at the office every Sunday afternoon just for a couple hours and wonder Monday why we dread going to work.  We rush through the day and rush home and go to meetings and join organizations and then feel frustrated that we never sit on the deck with a glass of iced tea or a sip of wine.  We promise ourselves we’ll read that interesting novel but then we don’t pick it up until 9pm and can only make sense of the first two paragraphs.

Of course there are days and weeks that life kicks us around and wants 25 hours out of our 24.  But take a good look at things.  Is this that time?  Or could you really sit and watch the sunset?

Burned out on your race?  Are the runs starting to feel like another check on your list?  Put the watch in the dresser for just this week.  Tell yourself you are not allowed to run tomorrow even though it’s going to be absolutely beautiful and you do have the time.   Tomorrow morning:  cheat.  Go anyway.  Go slow.  Walk every 5th minute.  Make yourself count how many colors that flower bed has in it.  Run, but try only to hear birds singing.  Run to the next driveway and then skip to the mailbox.  Act like a kid even if your body isn’t, anymore.

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