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Archive for the ‘2013 races’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Memory of May 2013

Tis funny almost to think of it now. I was still having pretty major right hip issues. Been lucky enough since then to have nearly no tinge at all. But flash back to end of April last year, getting ready for a freaky hilly 10k in Sammamish, and I wasn’t sure it was going to happen at all.

A few weeks earlier, I’d met Dr. Bob for the first time. His acupuncture released a ton of stuff in a complimentary session with Coach Bryan Hoddle. I mentioned my hip issue so he added a few needles to aid in releasing whatever was going on in that area. I mean, it had been two years of some kind of hip pain, no matter what I did. It was deep and uncomfortable. Occasionally it would subside but really, it was always pretty present. And I tried lots of various things, natural and not. All in vain.

Was it grief? Not dealt with? What was causing this deep seated, literally, issue? For quite some time I’d chalked it up to the weirder-than-strange head bump/concussion I’d given myself in April 2011. That had repercussions in a number of areas in my body. And head. And all that training and ALL that frickin’ driving (note to self – stop trying to prove something to people) had to have done a number on my hip. How could it not? So, here I am trying acupuncture and hoping hoping it helps.

Well, it did. In that, it moved. The pain went from deep in the right groin pain, that limited severely movement to in my right glute and top of my hamstring. Owweee. When I ran, it was more acute, the pain. Whereas before it was constant but muted, this was sharply painful and inconsistent. Although consistently during a run for sure. What the hell? What had I done? Hmm. I am sure it’s all connected, right? The right shoulder, hip, knee, hamstring, glute. Heck, sometimes it crosses the body, the muscles are all so interwoven. So, I have a big ol’ unraveling to do on my right side. Awesome. But how?

Did this mean I had to fully back off running? Nah. It really meant more sessions. In the meantime, I had a 10k to prepare for and the day before I’m for real concerned and for real freaking out. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I had a half coming up in Portland, and another half in Seattle a month later in June. Is this stupid for me to even attempt, will I do more harm than good, will it be worth it? Part of me thinks, just go do it even if half of it is walking (yeah right, in a race, my competitive side, with myself, knows no bounds.) But this is by far the most I’ve hesitated before a race.

So, I decide to text two people. One, my LA trainer Schuyler who knows me, my body and my running, plus he’s worked with ALL kinds of bodies and injuries and comebacks, so I’ll trust his advice. Then I text Coach Hoddle, head coach of the 2004 Paralympic Track and Field team. Working with runners is his work gig and his love.

I received pretty much the advice I was expecting. By that I mean – make your own decision by listening to your body. Don’t overdo it. Don’t go out if too painful or maybe cause more injury. And Schuyler suggested an epsom salt bath that night and make a morning game time decision. All very reasonable. Part of me, I think, wanted one of them to exclaim “DON’T DO IT!” or “DO IT, YOU’LL BE AWESOME AND JUST FINE!” in some way, but this was all much more subtle.

(Schuyler’s exact text: “Roll out tonight and get a good stretch in, maybe even a Epsom salt bath. If nothing changes in the morning and you have pain getting up or walking it’s not worth the damage it may do.” Coach Hoddle’s exact text: “I’d rest it. IT might set you back a bit. You’re a great competitor and it’ll be hard to hold back (during the race.) I have some theories on it.”)

Ok, so reading their actual texts, they did both pretty much say “don’t do it.” But, um, I digress. (funny little memory! I guess I really did want to do it!)

Having never done an epsom salt bath before a race, I’m curious how this will go down. It does feel good. And I’m still strongly considering not doing the race. But I will see how I feel in the am. I get a pretty decent night of sleep and wake up with the stronger desire to go through with it, in a state of wonder about my body and start to get read. And knowing full well in this case, I will in fact back off if something doesn’t feel right.

Race morning routine down, I easily head down to the start. It’s cold. And not super well organized. Ah well. It’s benefiting the Boys & Girls Club locally so it’s all good. It’s early and looks like decent weather. I thank my mom for dropping me off and get in the zone. The start is fine, I’m listening to my body. And I’m running just fine.

The biggest things I remember about the race is being pretty happy with my pace, and more importantly, feeling like while the glute/ham pain were ever present, I didn’t feel like I was doing any more damage by doing this run. And I kept running. About halfway through, we take a left and BOOM. Most. Giant. Big. Hill. I’ve. EVER. Encountered. In. A. Race. Wow. Seriously, I’ll be impressed to see anyone run the whole thing. It’s steep AND it’s long. (um, TWSS! :))

Deciding to go for it, I keep up my pace, with some decent energy. But about 1/3 up the hill, I’m not only feeling it generally, but the pain in my right leg is too much to be silly like this. So, having not done this before in a race, I start to walk. It’s steep uphill so it’s not exactly a cake walk all of a sudden. Feeling a few folks whiz, not really, by me, I’m bummed I’m walking but still ok with it. And end up passing a few slower walkers who’d sped by me earlier in the run. It’s certainly a bizarre course up until now. Cresting to the top, finally, we cross the main street in town and yes, looking that way down the hill…that’s a doozy.

Getting my wind back a bit, start switchbacking downhill on the other side, heading through a park and into a neighborhood. At this point, pretty much no one is around. Hard to get a sense of where everyone is, how the race is going and where are the spectators cheering us on? Wow, spoiled I am with big races and crowd support! Anyway, keep making my way through this neighborhood path, some downhill, some not and wondering if I’m making any time up from a significant walk. I mean, I had to have walked for a solid five minutes. And I can’t recall but I think I may have walked another part of the same hill or part of another hill.

But, while definitely feeling it in my leg, I’m now so far through the course I can’t help it, I have to keep going. And then the people helping guide the course become more and more sparse and I’m starting to wonder if I’m even still on the right course because there are not too many folks around. I see one and head right based on her motioning. As I get further down that road, it deadends at a T and there is NO ONE telling us where to go, nor a “not a through road” sign that would have been at least some evidence of which was not to probably go. So I spy back behind me and even though she’s pretty far away, she see me slow up and look left and right frantically for a few precious seconds.

She’s wildly waving  her arms to her left, over and over until I pitch left and give her a thumbs up and a wave. Ok, so that’ll need to be fixed for next year! Finally come up on the main road, heading to the finish line. What a weird end, still having to adhere to the signals that are right at the very end and do a very small double back to make the full length count. But, I head in, feeling actually a bit stronger than I thought I might.

So yeah, my leg hurt like a beeyotch after that. I talked with some sports therapy people who had booths at the post-race event. Couple of them use similar tools to what Dr. Bob had showed me he uses with athletes he works with. And I start to really wonder if I can move this out of my body altogether. I mean, a two year old in-the-same-place hip pain suddenly moved to the back of the same leg, nearly overnight. Thereby providing evidence that yes, in fact, I could get rid of that pain, so why not this brand new one?

I’m glad I did the race. And I ended up with a super solid finish time, especially impressive considering how much and not fast I walked up that hill. That gave me a little skip in my step for that and I am happy I listened to my body and went forward. Sure, some people wouldn’t have pushed but I like to think I listen well enough and know my body well enough that if I truly couldn’t or would’ve been facing serious continued damage, I wouldn’t have done it.

A 10k down, and then right around the corner, two half marathons. Originally I’d slated to do the 10k as a “training” run for the upcoming half. I mean, it is in fact a great distance when two weeks out from a half. So it was well timed. And turned out to be far more useful for me than originally thought, in that I listened to my body and worked with it to achieve a finish I was happy with and enjoy another race experience.

PostHeaderIcon Running and ink don’t mix

And that’s a good thing. Think I found a way to keep me resting for the week after a big race. Get some new ink the day post-race. Obviously not before, cause you wouldn’t be able to wear the clothes that bind nor is it a good idea to sweat big time right after the process. However, the day after? Perfect. I can’t do a darn thing right now and that’s speeding my recovery for sure. Who knew? Great advice to myself! 🙂

 

PostHeaderIcon I want to RUN

I wanna run to feel again, to be no one
To run under the stars of Orion
And all my life I’ve been burning by the dreams I’ve had
Now I want to run
I want to run

 

(Chorus of Delta Rae’s song “Run” – most awesome song to run to by the energy, beat and lyrics)

PostHeaderIcon A little change makes a big difference

Newton. Newton Newton Newton. Gotta love ya. You got me into the mess, you got me out of the mess.

The searing calf pain that nearly dropped me had me trying everything but the kitchen sink to alleviate the pain and discomfort. While at the expo in Savannah, I picked up a TENS portable massage unit and stuck those all over my legs to unfurl the muscles. That may have done a major part of the healing, and the night before the race.

But it was also the shoes – I ran into Josh at the Newton booth in Savannah. Moreover, he remembered me towards the end of the conversation from meeting him and Nick at the Newton booth in Miami in December 2011. It dawned on him that I was the same woman who was finishing my 11 in ’11 project when we met. And that’s when I bought my first MV2s!

We spoke at length about the MV2 and 3 and how they’re not actually great for more than a 10k. Things that would have been helpful to know a long time ago. I probably read it and ignored it, the desire in wanting to wear them so much blocking that part out. Then we spoke about the new distance elite coming out that pairs the soul of the gravity with the upper of the MV shoe. ABOUT TIME!

Beyond excited for the new shoe, needless to say. But as we were finishing up our conversation, I straight up asked him – I have my brand new never run in distance u’s with me, wearing them around now, as well as the MV3 that my calves are still screaming from. Which ones should I wear? Without hesitation, the distance u. Wow. Even though I haven’t run in them yet? Even though. For that distance, way more support for the foot and leg as a whole.

I felt like I just learned a new skill, something I couldn’t wait to go out and try. I felt lighter, more assured, excited to try the race. And yet of course, still nervous. But I had a plan, I had a way to literally move forward and with expert advice to boot! Gaining that knowledge from someone I trust, from a company I trust made a huge difference – the helpless feeling I had evaporated and I couldn’t wait to walk around some more, get more inspired, eat a good lunch. And then, get back to the hotel room, put my feet up and let go of all expectations for the next morning’s race…

PostHeaderIcon Sole Sisters

Someone really gets me! Heck, a whole business does!

As I’m making my way through the Rock n Roll Savannah Expo for my next half marathon (27th in 3.5 years to be exact), I’m feeling a particular sense of anxiety unlike I’ve felt before. Between taking much longer for my calves to heal and therefore not running hardly at all since LA two weeks ago (oh, and some weariness from travel), I don’t feel all that…ready for this race. Kind of feeling like I’m going to be winging it as best I can. And yet, I don’t want to walk or drag my average finish time down either. So, I’m feeling at home in an expo but also nervous, like, can I really do this one?

I have a great start to the Expo – I find a whole box of salted caramel GU to purchase and end up running into and talking with Josh from Newton Running. Josh as in the guy along with Nick my mom, sister and I met at the Newton booth in Miami in December 2011. And he remembered me! Oh right, the blogger, all those half marathons! How cool is that? And he guided me to which shoe I should wear for this race (NOT the MV3 again…) which was incredibly informative and eased the anxiety a little.

And then I stepped into an oasis of understanding. Lift Your Soul. The first phrase I saw, on a t shirt, was “If I have to explain to you why I run, you wouldn’t understand” and from there I was captivated. Amazing phrases on the back of the shirt to underscore the love of running, and then another one about being a badass that was uplifting and empowering too. And then, a section of Wonder Woman items! I was mesmerized – I’d never seen it put forth quite like this. Sure, I’ve seen all the jokey items about running for wine or running 13.1 means I’m only half as crazy and all sorts of other stickers and magnets and shirts. But this, this was different.

Even the pendants were awesome – no glitter or rhinestones, no self disparaging words written in jest, no specific race listed, again, great phrases and support. A footnotes book. A bracelet. Picture paintings with images of runners outside and inspirational quotes. A section of wooden plaques with THE most incredible phrases like “There will be days I don’t if I can do a half-marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing that I have” and “Trade sweetness for STRENGTH, trade doubt for BELIEF, trader fear for COURAGE, trade Running for Nothing” and “If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience another life, run a half-marathon” and so many others.

Wow. This was all the right combination of support, inspiration and sisterhood. And then I spoke with Shanna and Laura, the two wonderful women representing Lift Your Sole and they asked about my story. When I shared this will be my 27th half marathon in 3.5 years after being told I’d never run again, Shanna got goosebumps. Literally – I could see the hairs on her arm suddenly stand up! She said she was so amazed and inspired by my story, and that she must let her boss know. They wanted my website and contact info and want to connect more with me. This is a response I’d always thought would be generated by sharing this story of mine. The energy of the connection was awesome.

It wasn’t an ego stroke or sunshine up my a@# or false promises. It was a couple of women representing a company that together understood the profundity of my journey and potential for inspirational impact. Wow. Yes. And yes again! I purchased some t-shirts and the footnotes book (little book of running quotes) and a pendant that says 13.1 miles of heart to wear when I run. I thought of others, specific words or My Race My Pace or other fun ones, but given that I aim to live life from my heart and connect with others from my heart and stay in my heart and out of my head as much as possible including when I run, it seemed the absolute best one to purchase.

So, a HUGE thank you and abundance of gratitude to Lift Your Soul – you gave me something in this trip for this marathon I didn’t realize anymore I’d been missing and for that, appreciation abounds. Words don’t do justice for how you’ve made me feel and I’m excited to go out and run this race, and knowing you exist makes it that much sweeter.

PostHeaderIcon ACK the recovery

What a weird journey since this last half marathon. My calves have seized in a way I have never experienced before and I have wobbled a bit in the whole process of recovering from that. All I ever really want to do is run well. And enjoy it. And feel great doing it. When that doesn’t happen, and it’s part of your daily life, it can be a little strange to say the least.

In the last week I have KT taped my calves (right calve currently sporting a festive red tape), iced them, lathered them in Traumeel, foam rolled them, Stick‘d them (oh the pain!), stretched them, taken arnica pellets, taken Aleve, tried an epsom salt bath and rested them. And rested them. And rested them.

All rest and no run make for a squirrelly girl. And mind. Restless.

Scared to do much of anything other than rest and worried each day that with every passing moment I’m not truly recovering, in that I’m not taking my small runs, my gingerly runs and not instantly getting back up to race mode. Am I losing foundation? Speed? Muscle tone or memory? I know it’s only a week, but it could be two weeks of basically no running until running a full half again. Huh? Seems like not a good idea. And even doing other things, like sun salutations with downward dogs or squats and lunges or pilates mat work or any number of other movements I could be embarking on a workout with seem a little nervewracking, like I’m hesitant to really go for it. Don’t want to tweak it worse and make the small amounts of noticeable healing take a giant step backwards.

Now, if I didn’t have another race to do, I’d probably walk a lot, work out other ways and go find a gym to rat out at but because I don’t want to incur any further issues I’m taking it WAY easy. And then THAT in an of itself seems weird.

And then I read article after article that says I should wait four weeks in between races. Well yeah, that sounds great. Ideal even, but race calendars don’t always support that notion and I’m nothing if not determined. And sure, admittedly, kinda makes me feel like a badass when I read that and realize how many times I’ve done two or three weeks only in between half races. And then I wonder if really it’s foolish instead of badassery?

So here I sit. Just a few days away from another half, and having only just finished one 10 days ago. Not so bad, right? It really is a testament to my dedication to running and all things moving the body that I’m so acutely aware and also curiosu about how to do it better. Always willing to tweak. I don’t think I’ve ever had a training or a race where I didn’t know I could try something different or could’ve adjusted somewhere or felt 111% ready and perfect to go. I don’t mind that. Or as I like to review Eric Hoffer’s quote: “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” I’m nothing if not always learning and reaching for more.

I’ll work out tonight, nurturing the body as it continues it’s healing. And tomorrow I will run again as I would anyway and I’m wondering how it will feel a few days out. And then I will rest for a few days before heading to Savannah. And I will wait until that race is over to decide how I will embrace preparation for and my goals around a half in Austin a blessed five weeks later.

PostHeaderIcon LA race review

Why the hesitation or procrastination to write about my race on the 27th? Perhaps because it didn’t measure up remotely to what my expectations were. And no, that’s not a life analogy, and that’s another post anyway. It’s more that I thought it would go different, I thought I was in a different place. Sure I’d lost a bunch of weight (read: five pounds in seven days, a ‘bunch’ for me) so perhaps my reserves were low and I’d done a training run with fewer days to go than normal, but given the other kinds of prep, mentally, I’d been up to, I really expected something different. And the recovery…

Morning started great – didn’t sleep much that night but that’s not exactly unsurprising. Rarely do I sleep like a baby night before a race. But I woke, and ate, starting my prep right on time. No coffee as I’d not been in the mood for it for a week or so anyway, but the yogurt, the chia, the banana, the tea, all good. And I wrote! I love writing on race morning, it gets me in the zone. And I had quiet time, just me, in the room so I was able to lift the energy with some Mozart and inspirational mantras. I knew I would at some point be seeing family and friends, so I had that to look forward to.

Perhaps part of the issue is that I haven’t done a race for four months? HA – when did that become an “issue”? Was I rusty? Out of practice? I felt actually quite strong heading into the race, having eaten healthy for quite a while and rarely engaging in sugar or alcohol. Plus, and most importantly, my head and heart were healthy, healthier than they’ve been in a while.

So I was excited. And pulled all my various pieces together for my gear bag drop off and post-race nourishment to race out the door and walk downhill by 15-20 minutes. Didn’t get much in the way of a core warmup as per usual, but with no gym (closed for renovations) to head to, it got lost in my morning lineup.

Headed for the elevator and end up with three people, a couple and another woman. The couple says they’re walking, as do I so the woman changes her mind about a cab and decides to walk, asking if we can walk together. Sure, I say, and in all honesty, I didn’t want to randomly chat before my run. I wanted to stay in my space, in my warmup of a walk and in my emotional and mental state of being. And looking forward to the run.

She chatted the whole way and it was a whole lot of negative energy vibing at me. I am still curious as to what that was all about, what my lesson in it was. I kept voting her victory and vowed to let her energy bounce off me and not effect me, but as I look back now, I wonder if some of it did in fact do so. She was cackling for blocks about some poor drunk girl her and her friends were laughing at in Vegas, who fell into the pool of her own vomit at a bar and dragged her jerk of a boyfriend with her. Oh, it was THE funniest thing she’s EVER seen. She said that five times. And regrets not getting it all on her phone camera. Seriously? Felt weird to be having this conversation as the sun is rising and we’re heading to a race. There’s other various and sundry comments about how old “we” are (speak for yourself, lady!) to ever hope to win or accomplish anything, how expensive it is for her to live in South Lake Tahoe and that so many have it so much better, some warranted comments about the tigers in a cage at the Rock n Roll Vegas race last December (poor tigers :(), as well as a LOT of aggression about “I don’t care about people with chrohn’s or colitis, the charity for Vegas, they brought it on themselves with the crap they eat. The ASPCA – the LA race charity – I can get behind” and then also brought up that people with cancer fare no better in her estimation.

S’cuse me? Um. If she didn’t keep saying superlatives like ALL, EVERYONE, NEVER, ALWAYS etc, I might have let it slide. But she was actually and seriously blaming ALL people suffering from those diseases and therefore, she’d never support those charities nor have compassion for them.

Eventually, I couldn’t really keep quiet, it seemed to be way over the top so I said, hey, I know quite a few people who eat well, watch organic food intake (not just eat vegetarian or what have you) and also live healthy lifestyles, and still have dealt with those and other diseases. Do you mean to tell me they’re all at fault too? Could it be they lost the genetic lottery in that instance? And yes, I brought up my dad, who had colitis in the ’80’s, was put on massive steroids for years and eventually got lymphoma of the brain and died of that cancer. Ironically, it was easier to eat cleaner in the ’70’s and ’80’s because there were less choices and a LOT fewer chemicals and genetically modified foods. AGain, pretty sure I don’t go around thinking my dad brought it all on himself.

At that, she conceded, said, sure, I can see that point. Still, it was an odd, very odd interaction and left me shaking my head a bit. We walked over to the gear bag section and said our goodbyes and good lucks. I said, thanks, I’m happy to be hear, happy to be running, and know it will be a great race. Then she says, oh yes, great attitude, that’s what I wake up with everyday, no matter what, just enjoy life. I almost laughed as it was SO incongruent to the energy that enveloped our interaction from the get go (it literally started off with her doing an impression of Butthead of Beavis and Butthead when I said I flew in from Seattle. Um. Awesome.) Just. Odd.

Looking back, I could’ve and should’ve done something to shift that interaction energetically for my race to feel different. As it was, I was excited to get out there, use my Salted Caramel GU, and tackle this race in my new MV3s.

First few miles felt good, music going in my ears, legs moving and yet… And yet, the calves were speaking from the get go. I wasn’t expecting that. Looking back, yep, an eight mile run on Monday night, four mile run on Tuesday and then jumproping on Wednesday or Thursday – probably NOT the best idea even though I’m in shape and feeling strong. Silly me.

Breath feeling strong and overall body feeling lean and strong but my calves. Dammit. Well, keep going. That’s just what you do. I noticed the mile markers weren’t coming up as quickly as I’m used to. Usually not a good sign. But, still, felt good, felt swift, felt possible. Maybe I’d crush this LA race. Maybe it’d be my LA PR. Maybe it’d be my best time in two years! I started to really focus on that and enjoy the feeling of the possibility. That was nice. I started to feel some real speed a few times too, gentle and sustained. Ok, not bad. Super aware of where we’re at, running through USC and the stadium, still littered with game goers debris from the day before. And then we’re heading back up, an out and back type of course. I feel like I’m laboring a bit more than I’d like to be. Ugh.

No matter, keep going. Soon I get to have my first GU. It’s just that, well, it was a little muggy this morning in the warm fog and I’m warmer sooner than normal on a 13.1 course. Oh. Gee. Maybe it could be that scratchy throat that came on quite suddenly on Friday afternoon after flying and the vitamin c and other nutrients you poured down your throat all day Saturday. Maybe it’s that!?!

And. It could also be the reluctant anticipation of the bridge hill at mile nine. The first year I didn’t know about it and dealt as it came upon me, the second year I knew it was there but was in beast mode with three races in six weeks so I didn’t think much on it. This year, as it gets closer, I seem to be slowing down. And my heart’s racing a bit too. Starting to feel light headed. Ok, that’s what made me walk in 2011 so not doing that again. If I have to pass out on the course, that’s far more acceptable. Right? Brain thinks crazy thoughts when running…

I deal the hill, I run the whole thing and feel pretty decent about that. As I’m 2/3 way done with the bridge as a whole, I pass mile 10. Ok, I can do this. I can run three more miles in the labored, light headed, heart racing state. Yeah, so my calves are in effect actually trying to exit my body via my throat, but, Ima keep going.

It’s getting more difficult. I’m debating with myself about stopping, not stopping, walking, not walking, pride and self-care. Precious seconds feel like minutes and city blocks like miles. It’s beginning to take over, the pain over the triumph, and I feel myself giving over. Don’t do it! I cry out. Keep going! I scream. You got this! I exhale. And for a minute, I do. For a minute, I keep going, knowing I can do this. And then that other me comes back, not having retreated as I had assumed. The other me says, no, it’s ok, you can walk for a ten second spell, you’re fine, you’re already so fast it won’t matter. Just do it.

This goes on for a half mile. I hit mile 11 and keep running. I get close to mile 12 and the debate completely ceases. There’s no noise, no discussion, no decision. I just stop. And as I take a step to walk for five, maybe ten seconds, my breath catches in my chest. My hand goes to my throat and I can’t take another step.

My legs have seized. Every ounce of adrenaline I have pools immediately into my calves. My hands fly to my waist and I bend over, not wanting anyone to mistake my sweat for the tears they have become. My body won’t move. My legs are like lead. I take a step and force, literally force with my hands on my quads, my legs to keep moving. It’s the exquisite pain of this exercise that somewhat breaks me out of my revelry. The daze of the seized muscles is broken by the pain of moving, so for a minute, I come back to myself, and say, girl, go. Do this. The worst thing you can do is stop now. You really are almost there.

I’m a fraud. I’m not a good runner. I can’t pull my shit together anymore. I’ll have barely the accomplishment of finishing at this point. But isn’t that what it’s REALLY all about? I often say that, no matter how I get across the finish line, getting across the finish line is really the only goal. But this. I thought I could slow down for a second and get moving again. I’m now practically delirious with pain and having SUCH trouble moving my legs. Just walking is a gift right now. So I keep walking. Holy where’s a red flyer wagon when you need one, Batman? I do NOT want to walk the last mile and a half. Gawd. How did this happen and why do I still feel like I want to throw up or pass out?

After what feels like forever, more likely a couple minutes (perhaps a whole song?), I decide to try again, to run again. While I thought this run might be a kind of test of where I’m at now, this isn’t even remotely what I had in mind. So I run a bit, and head into the tunnel to take a left onto Flower, the final road that leads straight to the finish line. Halfway through the tunnel, up hill, I pull over to the far right to walk again. I’d scream in frustration but I’m too exhausted and frankly, confused. And sad.

I used my personal and beautiful affirmations to inspire myself and support myself through this race. And they helped and now I feel lost. Am I so disconnected? Am I even still a runner? I know I must be as the last few runs I’ve had have been amazingly cool experiences, so how could this be this now? My heart feels like it’s skipping beats in my chest and I actually feel some physical pain on the left side, so as I come through the tunnel back into daylight, I’m clutching my chest with my right hand and someone steps forward in a gesture of “are you ok?” and I kindly and gratefully wave them off.  Determination wins again. Or stubbornness. Whichever.

The act of taking a left onto Flower for the last long stretch helps me pick speed and energy, even though it’s quite painful. At this point, I’m just ticking off each street block as I run through an intersection. Third Street. Oh, Fourth Street. I see Sixth Street in the distance, and realize I have five more blocks after that. Five long blocks. Who am I and where did “me” go?

I do begin to pick up some kind of ability to run, even though my body is protesting in a way it never has before. And I get through the final chute to cross the finish line. I’m confused, frustrated and mad at the clock. And I want so badly to walk into the medical tent and pass out. This couldn’t have been less “my race.” And that makes two in row. Late June and now this.

I stumble around for longer than normal, trying to get my bearings. Trying to catch my breath. Trying to right the ship. I down one then two cold bottles of water, grab my medal and take a couple can’t-be-good post-race pictures. As I wander ungracefully through the finishers chute, pass the couples kissing, the proposals, the flowers offered and all the family and friend congratulations, emotion wells up and I’m more grateful than ever I have my sunglasses on even though there’s no sun. In my purposeful but also slower than preferred gait, I make a beeline to my gear bag to get whatever I can to make myself feel better. And my phone.

My sister walks up soon thereafter and sits down with me. We’re arranging our day and chatting but I’m terrified, in reality, to get up and move again. As I ask for her help to pull me up, I recognize the severity of the pain my legs are in. Not. Normal. Not for me. Not like this.

I do pretty  much whatever I can in terms of foods, liquids, rest, aleve and more to take care of myself and it helps. Even remembered the compression socks to ease some of the discomfort. Stretch out some downward dogs too. And I find out my time, which is FAR slower than I expected and immediately put the spin on it of where my percentage of placement was in my division. Makes me feel a little better. But I’ve got a little voice in the back of my head that’s concerned about this, that’s worried about this affect and betting on a quick recovery…

So, LA third time was a charm in fact. Granted, I thought third time being a charm meant I would run it faster than the first two, but instead, I’m not planning to run that one again next year. There’s many other races, routes and courses I can tackle in 2014 and with my next race in Savannah one week away today, I’m putting my attention towards that.

Thanks, Magic, and Kareem, and Chick and Jerry – you’ve been great cheerleaders from Staples Center, and I loved hanging out with you. I’ll see you some other time, I hope, just not for this race.

 

 

 

PostHeaderIcon A new approach

Los Angeles – the setting of half marathon number four in 2013. Going into it, had a very different approach and coming out of it? Different perspective.

I wasn’t originally planning to run this race. I’ve run it two years in a row and just wasn’t feeling it much at all anymore. The big bridge hill at mile 9 sucks a@# and honestly, the scenery is pretty sketch for much of it. Sure, we start and end at Staples Center/LA LIVE and that’s an awesome setting but aside from a quick lap through USC, it’s not all that spectacular. BUT, a fellow runner and friend, one who I respect, had pinged me a few months ago and asked if I was running it. She’d just signed up and seemed excited to have me potentially running it too.

So I signed up. On the one hand, it was easy to do because I do know the course. And I knew it would be different as I would be staying downtown, in a hotel within walking distance, like I do with so many other events. That really seems to put a different spin on a race event for me. I’m able to really focus on the race itself, away from distractions like home or work or anything else. And I enjoy that ability to focus. It makes the race that much more of an event.

And then, there’s SO much work I’ve done in a variety of areas since my last half marathon. I’ve done a deep dive in energy transformation, somatic work, building an online business, building a brand, five elements, body consciousness, healing, training in being a life mastery consultant and transformational life coach including all the certifications and much much more. Been able to release so much over the last few months and embrace new and beautiful and powerful aspects of myself. Thereby, I can be in service to and for others. It’s an amazing life I’m building and it’s certainly infused and affected my training and this race, including attachment to the outcome. Or detachment.

Ended up looking very forward to the race, in spite of entering sort of backwards to it. Did some great training runs in high altitude in Tahoe as well as some good solid gym time, some nice long runs in LA in the summer including some inspiring personal training sessions with an awesome former trainer, short maintenance runs in Ottawa, and many varying distances and speeds in Seattle. And lots of jump roping of course! Along with some solid nutritional shifts and eliminating a lot of toxic input, feeling pretty prepared for this race.

And that’s just the physical. From a mental standpoint, I was very much feeling a whole new approach to running. I’d begun to fully embrace the concept of running with ease, of it being in harmony with my body, of trying out some affirmations while running. I still listen to music but feel less like I’m listening to the words (let’s be clear, not all of Rihanna, Eminem or Jay-Z’s music is exactly empowering for a woman…) and more just feeling into the beat. There have been times I’ve felt like I’m running faster than I ever have before, or running on air hardly feeling the ground beneath me, or completely losing sense of time altogether while on a run.

Then there’s an amazing phenomenon that occurs when I do a particular activity. Often when I feel like I’m “struggling” up a hill or with a long distance, I’ve begun to say to myself “I love myself unconditionally.” And the most awesome thing happens – my lungs fill with air, the effort is easy or even lightens altogether and my legs relax. If I’m running up a hill, sometimes I swear the hill flattens out. The point for me is not to say it over and over and over, to the extent that I don’t actually connect with what I’m saying. I wait at least 10 seconds to say it again, if I want to, so that it really has a chance to land in me, and have the desired effect – that I feel it.

Funny enough, during one run I couldn’t for the life of me remember “unconditionally” and instead “tremendously” came to mind. That had a similar effect and now comes to mind almost as often as “unconditionally.” It’s not a word I use readily so I love that it rose up in me all on it’s own.

I’m sure there are folks out there who would think this is silly or trite or even stupid, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It’s a powerful exercise that has a profound effect in the moment of motivating me to enjoy the run experience a thousandfold more and that without a doubt has a longterm positive net effect. The most successful people in the world have the ability to pump themselves up through positive self talk and activity – here’s my version.

And, it’s congruent to incorporate this work into my love of running, to marry all my explorations and life changes into the life that I would love living. Can’t imagine super efforting in running and maintaining my transformational explorations. Or even completely letting go of running altogether to only be in pursuit of these explorations. Running is what has saved me many times over and I view it as a gift that keeps on giving, one that I’m grateful for having found a true passion for and salvation in.

Then the real test comes in a race, if it’s called a “test.” And that is to find the balance between solid preparation I can feel proud of, the desire to do well as well as detachment from what my finish time is and being fully in the moment in a race and honestly enjoying the whole experience.

PostHeaderIcon Two years

Two years I’ve been gluten free. A gluten free athlete at that. As I sit here prepping for race #4 of 2013, late October in LA, I can’t help but reflect. It’s the third in a row Rock and Roll LA race I’m running and it was two years ago, on the morning of the first one I wrote about having just gone gluten free. Seems apropos to see what the journey has been all about.

First of all, I wouldn’t change a thing. Sure, I could say I wish I’d gone gluten free earlier, but I’m in such a good place with my health and body that I understand that everything happened as it to lead me exactly to this place right now. And it’s glorious. I’m completely in control of how my body feels, how it reacts and how it moves. Being highly aware is a gift I take seriously. Am I a shrieking fool who lashes out at whoever is nearby because there might be gluten in or touching the food – not even remotely. I actually pride myself a little on being out with people and navigating a menu without anyone necessarily recognizing I’m specfically choosing a gluten free item.

Sure, when I’m at someone’s house and they serve non-gluten free crackers with cheese, it’s going to come up. But nowadays, most people tend to ask “any allergies or diet issues I need to know about?” and there’s the opening. Funny thing is, I really do eat just about everything else (thankfully, as being a food lover, I love trying new things – hello buffalo! – and am not restricted by allergies, politics or fussiness), it’s the gluten that gets me.

Gone are the days of a refrigerator stocked with a chilling bottle of mint-flavored Mylanta, gone are the days a puffy tummy needed to be rubbed or hidden, gone are the days of mild to moderate to severe bloated-ness in the face and generally all over, gone are the days of all-over body inflammation seen and unseen, gone are the days due to that inflammation of consistent weight training and working out without anything to “show” for it meaning why could I never see muscle tone? and now I know and now it shows, gone are the days of brain fogginess – it wasn’t due to overdrinking or over tiredness or overworked-ness, it was most likely the gluten (although, drinking less, getting better sleep and setting real clear boundaries on my time spent “working” does of course positively contribute!), gone are the days of thinking “it’s just the way my body is built” in conceding a particular stomach ache or heartburn or a cold due to a compromised immune system, and gone are the days of knowing deep in my soul that I’m not just an active woman but capable of much more athletic ability and achievement than I (or the people around me) gave myself credit for.

And here are the days, the glorious days, of feeling truly empowered in my body, in the awareness I’ve come to relish, of the education I continue to cultivate in order to have my body run like a well oiled, well fed, well nourished machine. How amazing! How awesome! How breathtakingly engaging! I know what fuels my body and my mind, I know how to take care of them both, I know what makes them purr and hum and thrive. I never apologize for being gluten free because I know it’s absolutely the #1 way to take care of myself nutritionally. I’m grateful I don’t have celiac and am not so severely restricted that even a trace amount of gluten can send my body into swift and major decline. And I’m grateful that to best take care of an auto immune thyroid disease, one I was diagnosed with at age 12, is to be gluten free and that I now know how best to take care of me.

There’s no looking back or blame to throw for when I first diagnosed. There was little knowledge even then about gluten or even celiac disease. It was rare. But as we’ve poured more and more flour into products to act as “glue”, our exposure to it has increased a hundred fold. If you like pineapple juice and drank a cup a day, you’d probably be fine. But if you drank a gallon a day, most likely after many days or even months you’d not only be sick but may develop an allergy or intolerance to it (let alone just a severe dislike of it!) And absolutely, the GMO wheat and barley and other gluten by-products without a doubt have contributed to the meteoric rise in gluten allergy, intolerance and sensitivities. No, it’s not a fad folks. Perhaps for some Hollywood or vain types it’s a fad or trend to try a la Atkins or Scarsdale or even for some vegetarianism. But aside from those, it is a real true issue for many and therefore the gluten free products everywhere. There’s no self righteousness in this decision, there’s no political or “it doesn’t taste good in my mouth” reasons – it’s an honest to God health decision that has completely turned my health and personal outlook into one of educated empowerment and curiosity about the optimal use of my body.

A beautiful side benefit of going gluten free is eating far less processed food and eating much more pure foods. And neither of these things – not eating gluten because of the risks it poses for me or the purity of the food I now concentrate on eating – is anything I would ever impose on others. There’s no lecturing, or eye rolling or turning up one’s nose in the presence of someone eating gluten. It’s “this is what works best for me” and if someone has questions, I have answers or explorations, but otherwise, do what works for you and I do what works for me. Sure, I’d love for those I love to assume better choices for themselves or expand there possibilities but as with anything, one has to come to these conclusions on their own and then make their own choices, or not.

Having now enjoyed 11 races having gone gluten free and about to embark on #12, I’m so very grateful to my friend who pointed me to all the research around Hashimoto’s people going gluten free. I run cleaner, I think clearer and I feel stronger than ever before. Days leading up to races, moments before a run, during a run and post race are much easier on my body and psyche. Having had very un-understanding and discompassionate people around me post races years ago where my stomach would knot up post race and cause me to fall into bed in some kind of delirium for hours before rising again, and now knowing that was the gluten wreaking havoc on my compromised body, I’m forever grateful at the way I’m able to have so much more control over how my body reacts and feels (eating a bunch of roughage and questionable protein the night before a race, while gluten free, will absolutely also wreak havoc the next day…back to the night before light and lunch being the main fueler). No, perhaps we didn’t know back then what was causing some of the consequences of how my body reacted. But the disdain for not just bouncing back immediately was a kind of pressure and shame that felt practically cruel and that I’m gloriously free of now, as I know my body in such a way to be in exquisite control that I take responsibility even when things don’t go well, because I know pretty clearly what I did or didn’t do.

Someone going gluten free for health reasons is nothing to mock or shame or make fun of. I’m actually often asked “oh, are you gluten free for trend or health reasons?” which is to me a somewhat understandable question, and owning it’s for health, well, every time I say that I feel like my body says thank you and stands a little straighter. It’s a little jolt of “yes, I’m taking care of myself!” And what it’s done for my physical self in my running and recovery is a delight as well – while I’ll never actually know, I surmise that the ability to continue running at the level I do and these soon-t0-be last 12 races being gluten free is because I’m tuned into my body and take care of it in a way I didn’t know I could before. And every year you’re on this planet begs you to assess and reassess how you treat your body and mind, how you nourish and feed your soul and how you expand your existence in the universe – and that changes so the ability to remain aware and awake is critical to not survival but real thrival of your life this go ’round.

So thank you Heidi, thank you brain and thank you body for this beautiful adventure of going gluten free. I feel so much better, I feel so much clearer and cleaner, I feel so much more me. Most of all, thank you heart of truly committing to loving yourself enough to take care of your soul to this level.

Very excited and curious to see and feel and experience this next race – it’s an enjoyment of the senses I’m looking forward to!

PostHeaderIcon The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

First race of 2013 was fascinating in many ways to me. It’s my first race in five months. And I’d taken off quite a few weeks just six weeks earlier. My training recently had been intermittent and not consistent. It was a course I’d done once before, exactly three years ago that started this little odyssey. And it was the beginning of goodbye to San Francisco. I was really looking at this race at a starter upper for whatever I’m doing in 2013.

Feeling fairly healthy during the week as I’d cut off any booze and was getting decent night’s sleep. Plus, the previous week, I’d had a nice long run in LA that really set me right, it felt strong and good and settled my nerves a bit. See, I’ve been doing interval training aka a lot of walking in my training runs so actually, it’d been months since I’d done more than a couple miles without slowing for a walk. Could I actually run the whole 13.1 miles without throwing in a walk? Should I treat the race like Portland last year and just finish to finish? I land in SF and feels ok to be staying in the city, in the mix of it all. Taking it in, I imagine myself running across the Golden Gate Bridge and try to recall what the incline and mileage of it all is.

Heading to the Expo after a work meeting felt SO weird. Wearing heels and my downtown attitude, I step into the hall not quite sure of my place. Been a while. I know I want to embrace and sink into the expo, to get my motivation and excitement levels revved up. Plus, it’s in San Francisco. It’s like the first time I did one in Seattle – something different, something special, something to savor. So, bought some of the swag that starts the expo section – 2013 Rock and Roll gear plus specific to SF Rock and Roll gear. As I’m trying stuff on, I realize I’m not quite as in shape rolling into this race as I thought I was. I try to brush it off, but it clearly (based on later) plays in my head a bit.

I swing through the aisles, looking for familiar brands and familiar faces and note the smaller size of the expo and low energy. But. It is Friday afternoon – I’m used to rolling through an expo at it’s peak, mid day on Saturday. So I adjust. I embrace the more intimate feel and run into Garret, my Rock and Roll/Competitor contact. We geek out on courses and races coming up and I learn the race on Sunday is in fact the 4/11/10 race I ran that started this whole journey. Kind of trip out on that but in a good way – it feels right. It’s the right race at the right time.

Not laying as low as I planned on Saturday may or may not have contributed to my finish time on Sunday, but no matter, it was well worth it. Got a chance to connect with a number of old friends and felt enveloped by the positivity and sincere love shared. That itself is the perfect way to start a race!

I’ll admit, I was quite nervous Saturday night and Sunday morning before the race. I didn’t know what to expect and I felt unsure of how my body would show up, how I would show up. Sleeping on a couch probably wasn’t all that conducive but having a foam roller and time to stretch worked out the kinks and I got enough rest (I think?) and my nutrition down early morning pat. I felt sort of in a daze, as it’d been a few months (I even had trouble packing for the race, trying to remember all the things to include) and I had a little extra time on my hands. Probably should’ve concentrated more on the race the day and night before but didn’t spend much time dwelling on that and concentrated on pulling myself together.

The nerves were starting to get the best of me but then after some advice from my sister, I took a breath and allowed myself to think about all the things that could go right for the race and how enjoyable it might feel to be out there once again. I shook off the uncertainty of my training, the lack of good sleep or nutrition earlier in the week and the fact that I’d be running by my ex’s place (of all the streets) and instead took in the ability to run at all, the stick-to-it-edness I’ve demonstrated by coming to the race, and the gorgeous course including being able to run across the Golden Gate Bridge. My stomach calmed down, I got into curious mode and got myself down, with my sister accompanying me, to the start. Thankfully, the start and finish were right by my old apartment where I was staying so it was an easy short warm up walk and saunter home.

The start of the race was pretty much all  up hill but it’s a short burst and then heads down into the Marina. I got to run initially with my dear friend  Marcie and pretty quickly felt a positive response in my body and listened to my head when it said “just go, get the race going and see where it takes you!” So I did. And it was beautiful. And then I run by some garbage cans and I laugh out loud as I pass my friend Bud and at almost the same place, I toss him my warm up run gloves (he was perfectly placed?!!?) – three years ago when I ran with my friend Natalie, it was a way colder start and I needed some gloves and I couldn’t find any of mine. Not one pair. So I grabbed a pair of my ex’s that I found in his closet and threw them on. Yes, I knew I wouldn’t run with them the whole race but didn’t think about that. And then, at about mile 4, I was warm. And still running with Natalie, we both looked at the trash can on the side of the Chrissy Field path and she just nodded her head (knowing who’s gloves I was wearing) and I dodged to the right and tossed them and ran back to her and she high fived me and we ran in smiles and laughter for a bit. (that’s where your gloves went, if you ever wondered) It sounds remarkable silly now, and did then, but in that small action, in that tiny moment with a friend, I felt a sense of control, victory, empowerment in the midst of all the pain. And a little rebellious too. Such a small thing but provided a little brightness in the race. (Natalie remembers the story too!) And to get to the same place and wanting to pull off my gloves and almost to the same basket and there’s Bud, with his camera, waiting for me and I toss them to him in almost the same spot – Universe, you have a funny sense of humor! (and these actual throw away gloves were in fact returned to me post-race!)

Speaking of clothing – wearing a new shirt was just plain dumb as it kept riding up. The. Whole. Race. But otherwise, feeling pretty good and running with the bridge always in sight. I know I have some seriously gnarly hills coming up but I’m determined to go up them with my usual speed and make a point to run, really run, the downhills. Not control them but make up time when I can.

And this works – it’s some lovely rolling hills on the way to enter the bridge through the Presidio. And a couple times I give myself that out, that “you can walk if you want to, you haven’t trained that hard yet anyway” and consider it, but I keep going up the first real hill and because I can see the top, even though I’m starting to feel a little light headed, I push because it’s about to shift and I trust that. Can’t go uphill forever!

This happens with a couple of the hills – the effort sustained and subsequent light headedness, but I don’t walk. Came soclose a couple times, but I push through. Something tells me I can so I listen. My stomach is feeling awesome, no cramps, no weird aches, no burning. Nothing but fine. And my legs are relaxed enough to engage when I ask them to. And I enjoy the hell out of the downhills – opening up my stride, leaning forward on the balls of my feet and flying. Fly. Ing. So fun. I know I’m getting stared at, like “what the hell is she doing?” but I don’t care, it’s too fun AND I know what I’m doing so I’m not worried.

These rolling hills are a little rude at this point but getting on the bridge is worth it. Stunning. Gorgeous. Breathtaking. So fun to be able to run on. Of course, when running, it’s always longer than you think and the up hills seem longer than the long slow downhills, but still…it’s worth it. A couple times I feel the crunch and crush of too many runners and not enough space as I’m trying to weave through. When four runners slower than you run abreast and there’s no room to snake or pass, it’s frustrating. You know it’s just five to ten seconds of this, but it messes with your pace and you do NOT want to be that asshole runner that has no etiquette on the course. So, it happens both going and coming but I roll with it, knowing there’s always an opportunity around the bend to weave. As we go under the bridge, I know how lucky we are because DHS negotiated with Rock and Roll to open this up to us – it’s clearly a high terrorist target but we got the okay to be able to run back across the other side.

Cool thing about having the bridge in the middle of the race is that you’re concentrating on being on the bridge rather than the miles and so by the time we land in Chrissy Field again, you suddenly only have three miles left! Such a beautiful course, so fun. Not a lot of bands, very little room for spectator support and some insane hills but it worked. I head down the last very steep hill right before mile 13 and recall this hill from the race three years ago and smile and shake my head. Wow. Come a long way, and then some.

Once again during this race, I’m able to dig deep and pick up speed for the last bit and finish strong. I’m excited about how the whole race felt – my stomach and guts were great, I didn’t need to stop for a bathroom break or for the water break (meaning I kept running with water in hand), my legs – knees, ankles, quads – all felt strong and my hips never bothered me to the point of distraction. I got enough electrolytes and hydration and generally felt strong through the whole race. How freakin cool is that? I almost don’t care what my finish time is because what matters to me is how I felt and feeling this good is worth it all. And, my finish time is reasonable. I was hoping to match what I did three years ago, and came close, but I was 15 pounds lighter then (ick) and had stress cortisol coursing through my veins as I ran an uncrowded course.

So that’s the good in the first 2013 race, the San Francisco Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Oh, the bad and the ugly? None. That I can think of. Nor that I would categorize as bad or ugly. Cause I got to run, I got to run in SF and I got to enjoy the whole experience. That’s what it’s about! Oh, and I’m thinking this is setting a pretty good tone for the 2013 races!