Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?A change of plans

“Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry
Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry

Cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry”

Since a little while after the Marine Corps Marathon, I have been in pain. In a nutshell, my butt hurt. Deep, deep within my butt on the right side. At first it was my hip but Smurti adjusted my hip so the pain moved to my butt because I had jacked up my hip trying to protect my butt. I signed up for another marathon, anyway, because you know, training for a marathon always makes all your injuries feel better. I took a month off from training and scheduled running in December. My butt should have gotten better. It didn’t. I went back to see Smurti but she is so busy I couldn’t get in to see her until this week.

It turns out I have Piriformis Syndrome. I’m super proud of myself because I diagnosed myself with Dr. Google. The piriformis muscle deep under my glutes has been shortened and it doesn’t like running long distances. It also doesn’t like sitting at my desk in front of my computer 5 days per week. What caused it? I have sacral torsion. In regular people speak, it means my ass is out of joint (this is literally and not figuratively because I know you all already think I am always out of joint).

Here is what my pelvis looks like:

When you try to run with a pelvis that is shifted, the side that is “up” has to work harder ergo, your hip abductor strains, your piriformis pulls up, your IT band stretches too far and your plantar fascitis comes back because you are trying to elongate on that side. I had a knot in my QL in my lumbar spine and a big old knot in my piriformis. You could palpate the knots. Smurti did her Graston magic to work out the knots and my lower back and right butt cheek look like I went a few rounds with Rhonda Rousey. The knots are gone but the underlying problem is not. Smurti had to get a strap, tie it around her waist, tie the other end around my right leg, I had to hold onto the table for dear life and she had to yank to get my pelvis aligned. I could feel it move.

What causes sacral torsion? I broke my tailbone in 8th grade when Chan Wright pulled my chair out from underneath me while I was in the middle of sitting down in Language Arts. It hurt like a son of a bitch and he still wouldn’t acknowledge the crush I had on him. It also didn’t heal perfectly level. Throw in birthing two babies and training for a marathons and you have a bad combination.

So, what am I going to do? First, I am not going to run a Spring marathon. I’m not even sad about this decision. See, I signed up in the wake of my grief over my finishing time/medical tent adventure at the Marine Corps. I was living on Redemption Island when I signed up for that race. It was going to be my comeback. Yeah, not so much if my butt won’t propel me in a forward motion. Then, the marathon was canceled so the decision was reinforced for me. I could not possibly be ready for any of the other local marathons because they were sooner than my race and there is NO FRICKING way I would ever run the Raleigh Rock N Roll full marathon. I am going to run three half marathons and two 10 milers between now and the end of June. My butt is bound to enjoy this.

My marathon days are not over. I signed up for the Kiawah Island Marathon on December 10, 2016. Heather and I were strategic with our choice of this race. No long runs required until late September. That is going to be much better than 18 and 20 milers in July and August. It also means we don’t have to get up at 5 AM to run to beat the heat. We can get up at 6, which makes a big difference, for real. Also, if my butt doesn’t want to get back into joint or I cry at the thought of running the race, I can drop back to the half but still hang with my friends and take a trip. Winning.

Running Humor #22: I am never running again. Oh, look, a race! - Nemo:

Second, I am going to strengthen and stretch my piriformis. I’m going to teach Carly how to adjust my pelvis (the Teen is bound to love this but I’ll tell her it hurts me so she will probably do it). I am also supposed to get up every hour while at work to walk the halls of my building for 5 minutes to combat all the sitting I do. I’m also getting new custom orthotics to help with the PF.

Fleet Feet training is ramping up and I’m co-coaching the interval runners. This is both exciting and challenging. My first half marathon is February 28 in New Orleans. This is NOT a goal race and may be the first race I run with a hangover. I will take a PR in running while recovering from overindulgence.

Should you eat before a run? The short answer. It depends on what type of run it is. Nutritionist Emily Brown breaks down optimal fueling strategies for easy, long, and workout days and tips to keep your stomach feeling good no matter what time you hit the roads: http://ow.ly/d5qrH:

Cheeseburger in Paradise: The Angsting of a Fat Runner

“I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heniz 57 and french fried potatoes, big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer…”

So, true. I could write a similar song about tacos.

Hello, my favorite food.

I’m spending a lot of my time in the month of December assessing things running and health-related. I am on a self-imposed running “vacation” so I don’t have anything to fill my time (I’m still running but mostly running the dogs around the neighborhood or meeting a friend here or there for an easy run). This is the first time in three years I have set aside an entire month to rest from running – to reset my clock. I’m resting my body and getting lots of sleep. Something I know I need after a hard marathon training cycle and a new marathon training cycle starting on January 5 but something I am not sure is mentally good for me because I get all up inside my own head and can’t clear the space. I’m also eating some crap like pound cake and cookies because, holidays and breakrooms at work (of which there are 3 I can frequent).

I’ve reconnected with my Fleet Feet friends who I largely abandoned during MCM training because Heather and I had to make our own way through our training plan. I’ve recommitted to mentor at Fleet Feet, the place that taught me that, I too, could be a runner and it wasn’t just reserved for the super-fit or the really skinny women. I’ve gone so far as volunteering (along with my friend Melody) to co-coach a whole section of interval-only runners for the first time in Fleet Feet history on their journey to 13.1 or 26.2 for this Spring training season.

I wanted to coach because I feel very, very passionate about the safe space that is Fleet Feet. I have never felt more like a fish out of water than I did when I decided to start running on my own. Me, Running? Ha. I fell in love with it and I wanted to do it with other people but I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in but I never once felt uncomfortable in any Fleet Feet group. It is, truly, a space where anything and everything is OK. I need to help keep that vibe going. We have all different shapes, ages, sizes and I see them every Saturday and every Wednesday, out there getting it done.

I wasn’t feeling this way about my national Oiselle team. It was causing me a lot of angst. There are very few women in Oiselle who look like me and I am at the upper limit of their sizing (which happens to not be really generous to begin with but that is OK – not everyone has to make running clothes for larger runners but it makes me sad because their designs are awesome and comfortable). At times, at least on social media, there didn’t seem to be a place for all runners in this group (to corporate Oiselle’s credit, they are trying to dispel this perception). I was afraid it was re-enforcing my fear that I couldn’t do this and that I don’t belong. See, when you are a fat girl and have been your entire life (except for the 18 months you spent in undergrad with anorexia and bulimia) you just assume that you don’t belong or that people think you don’t belong. It is why Rebel Wilson introduces herself as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect, so she can put it out there before one of the skinny girls calls her fat. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of my time hanging out with super-fit women and a lot of time on social media looking at women who look nothing like me and run a lot faster than me. I am sure the national Oiselle team has some other average or larger size women on it. They don’t post on social media, though. The slower ones don’t say anything, either. All the pictures from corporate are women who look nothing like me. I felt like it was really getting to me this month. There was also a bit of insensitivity related to weight going on over on Twitter. It wasn’t from corporate so no blame there and it wasn’t on the official Oiselle team page, either, so I can’t really call it Oiselle-related. People can say whatever they want on Twitter. I can say whatever I want on my blog. I can also unfollow people, which is exactly what I did.

 

I can say, though, that larger size women want to see that you don’t have to be at an “ideal weight” to enjoy fitness. Larger size women want to be normalized because all we see are images of people who don’t look like us and we’re told we’re disgusting, or should cover up or stop eating. That is why it is such a big deal when magazines like Women’s Running put plus size runners on its cover or when the NBC Nightly News features stories like the one from blogger, Fat Running Girl. I don’t want to get into a whole “trolly” argument about how I’m promoting “unhealthy” lifestyles because I’m not (and would it even matter if I was because how people chose to live their lives is really no one else’s business and people who feel like they can say mean things to people  because of their size are just assholes, anyway). I want to show, “Hey, I am not thin by society’s standards but I am doing this and you can too, if you want to. We’re here for you. You don’t have to wait until you are an ‘ideal weight’ to live your life under your own terms”. Oiselle has a woman-strong message I love. We can work on inclusion a bit more. Our NC team leader, Allie, took to the team page to remind everyone that we have room here for everyone and it was very well-received and I love her. I think most people who want to be part of a team do so because they want to hold others up and be held up at the same time.

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Obviously, I am the one who looks like I ate Kathryn and Tricia for lunch.

 

 

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You can easily spot me and this was 10 pounds smaller

 

This is not to take away from the WONDERFUL women I have met in person from Oiselle. My local group is made up of some of the most supportive and non-judgmental women I know. I genuinely love them and don’t feel uncomfortable around them in the least. Same goes for the women I met in person at Bird Camp in Boone last summer. This is MY issue but looking at all these images on social media makes it worse (I don’t feel bad looking at my non-running friends photos so this is, clearly, a running-related issue. An “one of these things is not like the others” issue). I briefly considered dropping off from the national team and only insulating myself with these beautiful women. I ultimately decided that was foolish.

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Slightly better in street clothes

 

So what is my point, you ask? Comparison is truly the thief of joy. I had a lightbulb moment at home last week when talking to Carly. Carly was complaining about how she has a lot of wealthy friends and that money doesn’t seem to be a barrier to anything her friends might want to do. I said to her that there were always going to be people who had more money, more things, were thinner, were prettier, were smarter, etc. I told her that this didn’t detract from her in the least (how about how good that child is at math and engineering?). I suggested she stop comparing herself to others and embrace her strengths. She is good enough in her own right and she is so much more than the brand of boots she wears. A lightbulb went off in my brain – take your own advice. Stop comparing yourself to other runners. Stop comparing yourself to other women. Stop comparing yourself to other mothers. For someone who has spent her entire life convinced that she was not good enough at anything, it takes some convincing but I think I can make it work. If not for myself, I need to do it for my daughter. I really don’t want her to struggle with all of this. A person’s worth is truly not defined by a number on the scale but we live in a society that judges the books by their covers. If I’m fat, I must have failed in some way despite all of my other successes. I hope I’m ready to call bullshit on this. I just need to shut up about it (says the woman who wrote an entire blog post on angsting over being a fat runner). You do you and I’ll do me. You might be thin and run really fast. I might be fat and run pretty slow. It is all good.

I’m not going to lie. I love food. A lot. I don’t think women are supposed to say this out loud but I just did. I love cooking and eating the things I made, figuring out how to do it differently the next time. I love going out for a nice meal and lingering with friends over good food and wine. I love to try new foods. In my journey to be healthier (and my health was the main reason I decided to lose weight and exercise), I have fallen into the trap of equating my self worth to the number on the scale.  I could be “thin”, again, but is that going to solve all my problems – is there a magic number where all troubles melt away? Nah.  I don’t want to spend every minute of every day worrying and being cruel to myself about every piece of food I put in my mouth (believe me, I have). I don’t want to look like a fashion model. I just want to wear Oiselle and be able to walk into JCrew and find stuff that fits to wear to work. I have learned that healthy food can taste good and that I actually like it better than crap food.I eat good food, now. It might not be “healthy” all the time but it is quality. I’m no longer morbidly obese. I’m no longer “unhealthy” by my doctor’s measurements. Why isn’t this good enough?

Is it OK to love food and be a runner? Can I reconcile my love of good food and my love of good red wine with my love of long runs? Can I extoll the virtues of good tacos and still do my Iron Strength workout twice a week? Can I still call myself an “endurance athlete” if I think about porchetta while I run? I think the answer to this is “yes”. I can be a contradiction. I can be a fat runner.  No, I don’t look like a runner but I sure as hell run like one!

Happy holidays, friends. Eat, drink and be merry for marathon training starts in January!

 

IMG_0001This was a few years ago but I just love this picture! I made these little people in my fat body and I think they are pretty damn awesome!

You Can Fly: The Disney World Wine and Dine Quarter Marathon Race Report

“Think of the happiest things
It’s the same as having wings
Take the path that moonbeams make
If the moon is still awake
You’ll see him wink his eye
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!” – You Can Fly, Peter Pan

86256C99-3CC9-4307-A62A-1D6114E55138Me and Michelle

So, I picked this song because I dressed like Tinkerbell for this race complete with a set of wings. It was a PR for racing in fairy wings! If you ever need any fairy wings, I recommend Sparkle Athletic’s Racing Wings and of course, you know, I am a big fan of their sparkle skits and own a rainbow of colors! The wings did not annoy me, at all.

Anyhoo, I was looking forward to this race. I generally love Disney races, I love dressing up and I love the atmosphere of these races. I did not run between the MCM and this race on Smruti’s very wise advice. I allowed my body to recover from the marathon training and the dehydration. I did walk all over the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for three days before the race but I laid out by the pool all day Saturday in anticipation of the race so I think that makes up for it. : )

I planned to meet up with my Oiselle teammates for a team picture and little hanging out before we headed to our corrals for the race. From the minute we left our condo to drive to Epcot where I would take a shuttle bus to the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the start while Mike and the kids played at Epcot until I finished, I could tell there was not the usual Disney level of organization. It took us 30 minutes to get into the parking lot (we were only staying 5 minutes away) at Epcot. The signs were super-confusing, telling us at one point we had to merge left only to make us merge right, again. The people directing traffic were not directing, waving their red flashlights all around and not in any one direction. What was up Disney? Y’all are supposed to be uber-organized. We finally made it to the parking lot and I sprinted over to where the shuttle buses were, only to stand in a really, really, really long line of runners also waiting for shuttle buses (really, really, really long lines were the theme of this Disney trip). Then, it took the bus 30 minutes to get to ESPN WWS. The hold-up? Traffic jams full of other shuttle buses. Everyone on the bus was questioning why this was all taking so long. Disney just was not on its game last Saturday night.

I finally found my Oiselle teammates and we hung out for a bit. A wind picked up and there was a strike of lightening. Suddenly, an announcement was made saying we all had to be evacuated into the WWS complex. We shuffled in a pack into the buildings and sat on the floor, elbow-to-elbow.They said they would delay the race. Finding my teammates and hanging out with Joyce and Becca was the silver lining. If I had to wait alone, I would have been even more bored. All of the cellular data networks were jammed by so many people in such a small space trying to text, Tweet and FB post that I could not communicate with Mike and Carly back at Epcot. With no official announcement from RunDisney, other people started getting up and making their way to the corrals so we did, too. Once we got to the corral area there was another announcement that they had no idea when the race would start so we sat down. Eventually, some people near the front must have gotten word that those of us in the back did not and they started moving towards the corrals so we did, too.

5F42EFFD-65D7-42F6-906D-57851D8AFA83The view from Corral F

Once in the corrals, an announcement was made that the course had been modified. That was the only information we received. We had no idea what “modified” meant. Was it shorter? Were we going on a different route? Hello? Runners are typically Type A people and lack of information makes us upset. Finally, someone next to us found a volunteer who said the course had been shortened. Hmmm. People were terribly disappointed. Some people had on shirts that said it was their first half marathon. All of us had spent a significant amount of money to get to Disney to run this race. We found another volunteer who told us we were running “somewhere around 6 miles” and that we would completely by-pass the Animal Kingdom. I just wish Disney would have made an official announcement instead of allowing us to rely on rumor. No such luck.

We started but I lost Becca and Joyce in the crowd because it was crazy crowded and it never thinned out for the whole 6-7 miles of the race. Normally, half marathons thin out after the first few miles and you can make your own space. There were only a handful of character stops and I didn’t feel like any were worth stopping to stand in line. Also, I knew Mike and Carly had no idea what was going on and might worry so I just kept going. Running through the Osbourne Family Lights was fun. The rest just felt like running past a lot of dumpsters and metal buildings. It was nice of the volunteers and the cast members to be in the dull spots to cheer us on.

6F6DB9B5-ED0E-43F9-8634-CD2E5F881A6DHollywood Studios

I finished and found my family. They missed me at the finish because the runner tracking was all jacked up due to the shortened course. My watch said I ran 6.8 miles but they guy who finished next to me had 7.1 miles on his watch so who knows. To my knowledge, RunDisney has yet to clarify or provide any information. I crossed the 10K mat before I crossed the 3 mile mat. Apparently, Disney made no announcement at Epcot to let the people waiting on runners (the park was closed to everyone else at that point) know that the race had been delayed and shortened. The kids had ridden Test Track and Soaring a bunch of times but Colin was pretty much asleep by the time I got there. My plan had been to head to the countries to partake of food and drink from the Food and Wine Festival before heading home. The problem with this was that with the shortened course, so many people finished all at the same time that there was no trickle of finishers like there would be in a longer race. There was no way to cross the course to get to the food and wine festival so all the finishers were trapped in the front with no way to get back. There was absolutely NO food in the front of the park. They gave out boxes of food at the finish but the chute was so crowded I missed my box, figuring it was not that big of a deal because I could get food at the festival. Not so much. We ended up just leaving  and I ate chips and salsa back at the condo before going to bed.

All in all, I am pretty disappointed with Disney, in general. A lot of the magic has worn off. I’ve been to Disney at least a dozen times and this was the worst visit.  I think the new Fast Passes in advance have sucked a lot of the fun out of the parks. I think there are too many people in too little space. I think Disney has not been able to keep up with the demand in an effective manner and the cast members seemed overwhelmed and some were downright rude, a first for me at Disney. The race was really unorganized and the lack of communication was very frustrating. I get the safety issue but if the Marines can convince 7 different law enforcement agencies and three cities to keep a marathon course open 30 minutes later because some metal detectors went down in the rain, delaying runners, I feel like Disney, on Disney property with Disney employees could have found a way to make the full race work despite the weather delay. Even if they felt like they could not, they could have at least communicated this and told us how far we were going to run. I got my Coast to Coast medal (one of the main reasons I did this race) but I don’t feel like I really earned it.

88BE6026-5FC6-450B-9300-A7C17DF363ED13 year olds don’t take great pictures at 1:30 AM.

The Disney Princess in 2014 was so much more fun than this race. The Star Wars Rebel Challenge in Disneyland in January was amazing. I am done with the Wine and Dine. I am done with Disney races for awhile. I am also done with Disney World. I can think of a lot more places to spend my money and I have a lot more places I want to see while running.

So, this racing season has come to an end. It started with the Marine Corps 17.75K and ended with the Disney Wine and Dine Quarter Marathon. I still have two small races coming up but they are only 4 and 5 miles and I’m not racing them, just having fun. I have put a lot of miles on these legs since March and finished a second marathon so I’ll consider it a success but there is always room for improvement. I’ll keep running for fun in the off-season and my next training season starts at the end of January.

I will neither confirm nor deny if I have registered for another marathon in 2016. : )

The Wheels on the Bus: Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

“The Wheels on the Bus go round and round, round and round, until they don’t want to turn and the wheels come off the bus and the back of the bus is dragging on the ground.” 

Ok, Ok, that is not how the song really goes but it should go that way because kids need to be taught that things go wrong. Just kidding, sort of.

Below are 26.2 thoughts I had during and after the Marine Corps Marathon (I actually had about 26,200 thoughts like “You have no business running marathons”, “You suck. This sucks. Everything sucks”, “Wow, that guy is really cute”, “Why is that woman running in a jacket it is sooo hot?”, “There are a lot of SWAT team cops out here”, “Hey, those cops are on horses and that seems like a cool job”,  “I wonder if that is Obama flying over the race in Marine One”, “Wow! Georgetown has the best lululemon store – just look at all those gym bags in the window, I wonder if Heather will go shopping after the race”). For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook (and I think that might be about two of you reading this), I had a bad day and ended up in the medical tent getting IV fluids for dehydration. I finished in a horrible time (missed my goal by 24 minutes) but I finished. It took every ounce of grit I had to cross that finish line. 

  1. Marathons suck.
  2. Marines are really young and very polite. Female Marines amaze me.
  3. The infamous 14th Street Bridge between miles 20-22 is a dark mental place.

BF3DDD18-16A5-419E-BF81-55A42E75435FDoesn’t this bridge look fun?

4. Seeing me throw up into a trash can on the National Mall by the carousel in front of the main Smithsonian building is probably a deterrent to most of the people spectating to ever run a marathon. 

5. Quitting is, truly, not an option at mile 21, no matter how badly you feel.

6. Marines are really helpful in a medical situation. I might need to add some to my zombie apocalypse group.

7. The sports medicine doctors from Penn State are super nice. (One was a marathoner and said he suffered a similar fate during a race once. He said marathons make smart people do very stupid things. Truth but, if ever in doubt, go to the medical tent. They are there to help you and they’ll need you to go see them so they’ll have good stories to tell!)

8. When you’ve hit mile 25 of a marathon after 5 and a half hours of running with people whose personal bus also lost its wheels, it looks like a scene from The Walking Dead.

9. When you are dehydrated, it is really hard to get a blood sample and someone will have to stick you in the same vein more than once. It will leave a mark.

10. IVs in your hand hurt but IV fluids are a fabulous invention. This, too, will leave a mark.

11. The Oiselle Volèe is made up of wonderful, kind and compassionate women some of whom run very fast.

IMG_0065My running teammates as photographed by our non-running teammates at the Cowbell Corner at mile 22. They waited for me!

12. Two extremely ripped, tattooed Marines stripped down to their skivvies handing out high fives near mile 25 is a beautiful sight that will make you laugh even when you think you might be dying. They also had a chocolate Lab puppy. It will be the best high five you’ve gotten all day.

13. I don’t care who you are and what race you are running, if there is a Wear Blue, Run to Remember Blue Mile with pictures of servicemen and women killed in action lining the road, you will tear up. If that Blue Mile is at the Marine Corps Marathon and the canopy of American flags is the longest you’ve ever seen and those flags are held by family members of dead servicemen, you will sob and want to hug every flag holding person. Every Marine you see after that you will want to tell them to stay safe.

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14. Having your medal hung around your neck by a newly minted Marine Lieutenant who salutes YOU will make you feel proud even if you have to lean on said Marine and ask for medical assistance.

15.Yellow Gatorade is really good when you feel like shit even though it reminds you of being a kid in the 70s when there were no other flavors and you were sick and also felt like shit.

16. If you are spectating a race, please for the love of all that is kind in this world, do NOT try to cross in front of the runners to get to the other side of the street! If you must, do NOT lollygag your way across. High knees, people. Runners are in a forward motion and cannot stop. Stopping means death (OK, not death but it feels like it when you move as slowly as I do). Do not get in the way!

17. Runners are really nice people. Suffering is universal. ‘Merica is great.

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18. People make very creative signs, many about the sorry state of our government.

18F6A290-F84E-4A53-90F9-3315BAC00A19These people speak my language.

19. Some parts of DC are beautiful, like Georgetown and Rock Creek Park. Some places suck, like the parking lot of the Pentagon, the seemingly all uphill Rosslyn section of Arlington and that horrible, horrible bridge.

20. Always high five the kids and touch their “Touch here for power” signs. Also, I don’t care if it is not your kid holding the sign, “Go Mommy” signs inspire all mommies. 

21. I can make it through 26.2 miles without suffering permanent injury so Smruti is the World’s Best Physical therapist for helping to keep my parts fixed. Although I felt pain in muscles I didn’t even know one used to run, none of them are damaged.

22. Half marathons are the shizz.

23. I have a lot of wonderful friends who all supported me from afar through social media or texts. Thank you to every single one of you.

24. Oofahs are the ugliest flip flops ever invented but they feel amazing on your feet after a race. Putting them in my checked bag was a stroke of genius.

25. Heather is a badass and I’m so happy that we did this together. I’m also very proud of her for never stopping. I’m sorry we didn’t finish together but I didn’t want to drag her down for her first marathon.

5F103B2A-62D5-4609-8E18-569CABAEAE4FBefore I sent Heather on her way.

26. The song that was playing on my iPod when I finished was “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” by One Direction. So disappointing! I needed better inspiration.

26.1 Marathons are fun until they aren’t.

E2C713EE-2C0E-4045-8DE8-6E5BB4FB3A74

26.2 Am I ever going to do this, again? Maybe. Maybe not. I do have to run a half marathon in less than two weeks. 

Where the Flame Turns Blue: Marine Corps Marathon Training

“I’m in collision with every stone I ever threw
And blind ambition where the flame turns blue” – Flame Turns Blue, David Gray

So, we just finished our last long run on Saturday – 20 miles in the rain. Never fun. I don’t feel like a badass. I just feel like shit. In some ways, it was better than the first 20 miler back in August simply because it wasn’t so damn hot. In some ways it was worse because I could not catch my breath and I ended up walking more during the last two miles than I would like given, that at Mile 18 of the marathon, I will still have 8 miles to go. It kind of messes with your mind. I ended up in bed later on Saturday with a low grade fever, general achiness, slight cough and fatigue so, maybe, I was coming down with something and that is why I just had no gas in the tank. I didn’t feel well going into the run but I wasn’t going to not at least attempt it. I PR’d at the Marine Corps Trail run back in March after coughing up a lung all night and having an asthma attack out on the course so you never know (yes, I am very stubborn and tend to ignore common sense when it comes to running). In this case, I just did not feel well in the beginning, the middle or the end of the run. Heather looked great so I have high hopes for her. The jury is still out on me. No pictures to document this. We were soaking wet, muddy and kind of gross.

I now begin the taper and the part of marathon training I call “The Storm of Never Ending Doubt”. The second-guessing of every run. The “maybe, I should add 14 miles to my training run this Saturday just to make sure I am prepared” phase (or the “OMG, STFU” phase as Mike refers to it). I already made my packing list  for DC and revised it, twice (at this point, many of you are feeling sorry for Mike and my children but I assure you that my anxiety has its benefits like 400 nights of meals in the freezer and we’re fully prepared for the zombie apocalypse).

At this point, I’m 90% sure I am undertrained for this marathon. Last time, I was 90% sure I was overtrained (and injured) which made for a shitty race. I think toeing the start line undertrained will be painful but, hopefully, not the same kind of painful as toeing the line with a chronic injury and thinking it will “work itself out” over the course of 26.2 miles (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). I’ve told myself that I can do anything for 6 hours (hell, I was in labor for 12) so, really, it will all be just fine on race day and I’ll have Heather by my side, embracing the suck right along with me. It will be painful, no doubt, but painful in a different way than last time but still, just fine. My Volee teammate, Sarah, refers to this as “Survivalist Running” and I think that is a good name for it (her training for NYC has gone about like mine). I am not sure that is the “right” way to run a marathon but, then again, the “right” way is to probably weigh 30 pounds less than I do now, have lots more free time to train, be 20 years younger and to run significantly faster than I do. Since none of those things are possible for me at this point in my life, I just have to work with the cards I was dealt and it shouldn’t (and, very likely, won’t) stop me from reaching my goals, assuming that just finishing the marathon is a satisfactory goal for myself.

So what have I learned? Here are the things I recommend not doing:

  1. Don’t get promoted at work and suddenly become busier than you have ever been. I appreciate that my workplace of 10 years recognized my contributions to the organization but a promotion provides you with the opportunity to make more contributions. For me, those contributions involved lots of meetings, many in the early morning, during lunch or late in the day, greatly impacting my running and gym schedule. It also involved a lot of high profile projects that I could not mess up. No pressure there.
  2. Don’t start your training plan weeks before all your running friends because you are running a different race than they are! You will lose your motivation to do your weekday runs because you will have to do them alone on the treadmill, later in the evening than you wanted to, while you try to mediate arguments between your kids. You will begin to dread running, it will become a chore and, since running is supposed to be the fun part of your life, there will come a time when you will feel like all the joy was sucked out of your life (true story).
  3. Don’t get up so early on the weekends for so many consecutive weeks to run before it gets hotter than 10,000 hells that you end up with a huge sleep debt you can’t pay back because you have a job and a family who won’t let you nap. We said we’d rather be tired than hot but now, my sleep deprived self, would probably rather be hot. Sleep deprivation is impacting my memory.
  4. Don’t have a teenage daughter who wants to do a bunch of activities that require you to drive her around during your allotted training time. Don’t have a 4 year old, either, who wants you to watch Frozen with him “just one more time”.
  5. Don’t try to plan a trip to Disney and get sucked down the Disney blog/Pinterest/My Disney Experience/Etsy rabbit hole of trying to figure out what rides to ride on what day, which matching shirts you want and how to take your own turkey sandwiches into the park instead of running. Seriously, my iPad has been attached to my hand on a permanent basis. I’m a little OCD (you’re shocked, I know) so I love to plan, plan, plan. Everyone in  my family hates me now and I think I am the only one who still wants to go to Disney.

What did I do right this training season?

  1. I ate. So, most of you know I lost a lot of weight before I got into endurance running. I survived on few calories but it all worked out because I was only running 3-4 miles at a time. Last training season, I did not eat much because I did not want to gain weight and I paid a price (and still gained 5 pounds). I bonked at the end of almost every run. This time, I ate.  I ate pasta for the first time in 3 YEARS the night before my first 20 miler. I added more carbs back into my diet. I also gained weight. Not a ton but more than someone who worked her ass off to lose 70 pounds would like to see creep back on the scale. I’m a little freaked out about this one but I am still going to put it in the positive category.
Haha!:
 2. I nailed my fueling issues on the run. I found gels I can tolerate, I started making my own runner food (the rice cakes from The Feed cookbook are life changing) and I use Scratch in my hydration pack. I also drink more while running. I added Base electrolyte salt. I am really happy. Heather helped a ton in this department
3. I am not injured.  I still have my aches and pains but I am not facing an issue at this point in training that I think will prevent me from finishing my race without having to drag an unwilling body part through the last 10K of my race (yes, I’m talking to you, IT band). I stuck to the time goals my coach put on the training plan. I also stuck, strictly, with my intervals of 4 minutes running/1 minute walking. It was slow but it paid off by preventing injury. I also ran a reasonable amount of miles (which may have contributed to my feeling of being undertrained) but I would rather have undertrained and not be injured than be overtrained.
4. I switched to heart rate training rather than insisting on a certain pace. This was a big change. I am a rule follower. If you tell me I have to do a run at 10 minute miles, I will try my hardest to do this and, if I can’t for some reason, I will tell myself mean things in my head and feel like a failure. Heart rate training gives me permission to listen to my body during each run. Thank you, Tom Tom, for making a watch that makes this easy for me.
5. I did not feel as much pressure. I think it is because I was not part of a program like 26 Strong where I knew people were depending on me. The only person depending on me to show up was Heather. That meant something to me and got me out the door but I also knew she gives zero fucks about what I do (or what anyone else does for that matter and that is why I love her) so it was a judgment free zone. Heather sent me a version of this meme yesterday.
behold the field in which i grow my fucks
6. I hired a coach (who I met in person) to create an individual training plan. I was straight up with him about my training time limitations, my speed limitations, my meager goals, etc and he listened to me. It made a big difference.

So, I am at a crossroads with my running. I’m not sure survivalist running is the best way to run marathons. I’m also pretty sure that I don’t have the time in my life right now to train the “right” way. I could put off running marathons for a while. I can knock out a half marathon at just about any time. Is that enough for me? I don’t know. I also know that I am 44. I know there will come a time when I, literally, can’t run marathons, anymore. Is there really a right time to do hard things (go back to school to get a law degree, have a baby at 39)? I want to keep doing this but I wonder if it is realistic when I run so slow. I’m not saying that us slower folks can’t run marathons and I am really grateful that races keep the courses open for 5, 6, 7 hours but I think 26.2 was designed for people who can do it in under 5 hours. My PT told me that there are some recent studies showing people really shouldn’t run for more than 3 hours at a time. That’s great. I’ve run about 10 runs this training season over 3 hours.

Then, I think to myself, why am I making up all these rules? Who came up with this shit about the “right” way to do this (the answer is I did and I’m just “shoulding” on myself). I am reserving a final decision on another marathon, for now. I want to run another and I don’t want to run another. I love it. I hate it.

Between now and the MCM, I’ve got three short distance races,a 16 miler, a ton of work to do and some kids who need things from me. Eyes on the prize from here on out.

Material Girl: Gear Update – Marine Corps Marathon Training

“Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl” – Material Girl, Madonna

So most of you who see me IRL know that I have a lot of running gear. Part of the reason is that I am super picky about stuff and I’ll try something for a bit and, then, find something better. I feel, at this point, I have truly found what works for me (until someone comes out with something new). Runners are always asking other runners about what gear they like best and I google reviews of any product I am going to buy before I buy it so I thought I would put this update out there. I can count on one hand the things I love because most things fall into the “stuff that doesn’t totally suck category” but not the “love” category.  Caveat: most of these products work really well for “not your average size” runner. I am not nearly as heavy as I used to be when the struggle was seriously real to find ANYTHING that worked, much less had the luxury of being picky.These are all the things I am currently using in training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

Things I Love:

Ultimate Direction – Ultra Vesta

Ultra Vesta

So, I am in love with this vest. I trained for the Philadelphia Marathon with a Nathan Intensity I got on clearance from REI. That sucker did not have enough pockets and slid all around. I could not adjust it enough but I used it, anyway, because I LOATHE waistpacks. The last thing a 43 year old woman with belly fat, big boobs and a short waist needs is a fricking pack cutting her off right in the middle. Forget the muffin top, I had a whole loaf of bread hanging over the edge after I put on the waistpack with the lovely constriction of the waistband of running shorts (if you want a running waist pack, see me. I have about 4 laying around and I hate every single one of them). When I knew I was going to be training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I went on the search for a new hydration pack. I started with the Orange Mud Hydraquiver. It looks like this:

HydraQuiver Single Barrel Gray

Pretty cool, huh? It has a nice bottle instead of a bladder and you don’t have to suck your liquid through a tube. (which does get gross, by the way). The problem, and I’m just going to say it, is probably because this product was designed for a size 2-6, it just doesn’t work with boobs. I had to put the straps off center, around the boobs, which created major upper arm chafing. Not cool. Plus, that pocket in the side? Not big enough to hold my iPhone 6 in its Otterbox. I wore this pack through several half marathon training runs and even to a half marathon race but I knew there had to be something out there that would not chafe me to the point of bleeding. I think the dual Hydraquiver may be better but I’m not buying another one so someone will just have to try it out and tell me. Enter the Vesta. I read every review of this thing I could find online. I also scoured the internet until I found it ON SALE with a coupon code at Backcountry.com. Winning.

Why do I love it? Adjustability. Adjustability. Adjustability. It was designed by women for women. The straps are already offset to account for boobs and the front and side straps are totally adjustable. I can lock it down and it won’t move for any of the miles. It also has a gazillion pockets. It holds my gels, my real food snacks, my Skratch in the hydration bladder, an extra bottle of plain water, my iPhone 6 in its Otterbox, my inhaler, my iPod Nano, my lip balm, I can hook my hat to it if I get tired of it and my Base electrolyte salts. When you are on your feet, running for as long as I am (read: I am slow) training for a marathon, you need all the things because you can’t convince people to stand out in the heat, creating aid stations for you. The reviews also said it worked for smaller women, too, because it comes in SIZES (how genius) so I bought the M/L and it is perfect. I am probably going to wear this to MCM because I won’t have Carly and Dimity on bikes, popping up all over the city to hand me my things like I did in Philly.

Oiselle Roga Shorts

Now, y’all know I am part of the Volee and promote Oiselle but I would not say I loved these shorts if I did not (see my posts about Saucony gear during 26Strong). I have these shorts in every color they made (even two pairs of black and blue). I wear these shorts, exclusively, for all of my runs. I still love my luluemon Pace Setter skirts (but they totally changed the style on the new skirts-jerks) and I wear them every once in a while (usually because all the Rogas are dirty or because I want to feel like a girl that day) and Oiselle does not currently make a running skirt. Why do I love these? First, the waistband – they have a yoga pant waistband that does not make the muffin top. Second, the fabric – I don’t know what it is but they are very wicking. Third, the colors – so many colors! Fourth, they are really comfortable. Now, they are short so, if you aren’t comfortable in shorter running shorts, try the longer Roga style. The Mac Rogas don’t cover my underwear so forget those. Fortunately, for me, my legs are the one part of my body I don’t completely detest so I don’t mind wearing shorts. I’m not a huge fan of compression shorts (have you ever tried to get those things back up after using the bathroom in a port-a-potte when you are super sweaty?) and I have Nike Tempo shorts to wear around the house but they ride up between my legs when I try to run in them so the Rogas are where it is at for summer running. I have plenty of running capris and I tights I love but I can’t even think about those right now because I am running during the hottest part of the year!

Tom Tom Cardio Runner Watch

 So, I have the Garmin 620 with the heart rate strap. I was all snobby and thought I HAD to have the gold standard of running watches so I got the one with all the bells and whistles. That is like giving a Ferrari to your grandma to drive herself up to Walgreens. A runner like me (read: slow) does not need to have all the Vo2 Max stats, etc, at her fingertips because none of it matters. All I need to know is, how far have I gone, am I staying on pace so I don’t drop dead at mile 10 of an 18 mile run and my heart rate to gauge the potential for dropping dead. The Garmin was not so good at the basics and I only ever ended up looking at the distance on one screen and ignoring all the other stuff. It was also hard to read (maybe, because I don’t have my reading glasses while I am running – getting old sucks) while I was running. I also hated the chest strap because it left a permanent scar on my back from a bad chafing episode last summer so I quit tracking heart rate. Heather has the Tom Tom Multisport because she swims, too, and I liked it. When they came out with the option of a watch that takes your heart rate on your wrist with no need for a strap in the Cardio Runner, I jumped on it. I love this watch. It is easy to use, it is easy to read and it tells me what all I want to know. The heart rate in my wrist seems to be right on with the ranges I used to get from my chest strap monitor. Oh, and you can change out the strap because you know I love color!
Brooks Glycerin 13
FullSizeRender
I’ve been wearing the Glycerins since version 11. Before that, I was in the GTS when Smurti figured out I did not need stability and switched me over to neutral. I love these shoes.  No other shoes meet my needs like these do. I do like the Saucony Triumphs but they fall into the “like” category and not the “love”. I rotate my Glycerins with the Triumphs every few runs. I love these shoes because they are cushiony but I can still feel the ground. The toe box is not overly narrow and there are no seams to create friction on my toes. I also think Brooks stepped up their design game and really outdid themselves with these Aurora colorways.
Skratch Hydration
Everyone knows I struggled last year with stomach issues in the heat with runner food. I’ve tried lots and lots of things but what I really love about Skratch is that I don’t get flavor overload. Gatorade and even Tailwind can be overpowering in their flavors. After a long time running in the heat, you don’t want to taste anything overly sweet, anymore. Skratch is made from real dried fruit that is ground into a powder with added electrolytes and a very mild, natural flavor. I prefer the Orange flavor while Heather likes the Pineapple. I have used these for the past 4 long runs and have not felt sick at all.
Honey Stinger Gels
These are the ONLY gels I can tolerate. They are made from real honey and don’t make my stomach rebel. The texture is also completely different (just like honey) so I can actually get them down (unlike GU, which makes me gag). I like the Gold (plain honey) flavor but the Acai Pomegranate are my favorite.
BASE Electrolyte Salt
I discovered this at Ironman 70.3 Expo. I am a salty sweater with an chronic electrolyte deficiency. I used to take salt tablets but I had to plan ahead and, once I felt sick, I did not want to swallow them. This stuff is great because you just put it on your tongue and it dissolves, immediately. I have not had a low electrolyte episode since using this while out on the run.

Hold on Tight: Marine Corps Marathon Training – Month 1

“So when you look at yourself Tell me who do you see Is it the person you been Or the person you’re gonna be Don’t take your life for granted Don’t take your life for granted Why don’t you hold on tight To what you’ve been handed” – Hold on Tight, Greg Holden

( :

I really feel like running is all about the potential. Potential to go further. Potential to go faster. Potential to travel to new places and see new things. As Heather and I train for the Marine Corps Marathon in the hot hell of this Southern summer, it has to be about potential because I don’t have much else to hold onto to. I have to hold on to the potential of my ability to cross the finish line on October 25. The runs in this miserable heat have got to pay off on race day.

I’m miserable. Almost every training run for this race has been miserable. All the glory I felt from my PRs this spring? Gone. I am humbled. I am sad. Some days my pace is so slow and may walk breaks so frequent that I wonder if I can even call myself a runner. I’m trying to limit my treadmill runs to one run per week and all the rest are outside so I’m suffering more than last summer. I’m also trying to teach our new puppy, Bacon, how to run with me so that requires dedicated running outside.

We start running at 6:15 on Saturdays to beat the heat as best we can. The only problem with this strategy is that it is so, so humid. We are dripping sweat by mile 3 of every run. We don’t dry. Imagine running for several hours in soaking wet running clothes. On Saturday the 18th, we tackled 11 miles and I seriously thought about quitting. I missed some weekday runs due to some hip pain and was wondering why I ever thought I could do this, again. As we approached Saturday’s long run this past Saturday, I decided I had to change my attitude. So what if I was slow? So what if I wasn’t exactly on schedule? I was still getting it done. I have to hold on tight to what I’ve got. I get to do this. I don’t have to do this.

I decided that each run is a clean slate and not at all dependent on the run before. Every Saturday has the potential to be great or to be bad but each Saturday is a new start. Whatever happens during the long run is limited to that run. Except for the lessons we’re learning, which are getting carried over to the next run.

FullSizeRender copyMe on an 11 mile run in 98 degree heat with a heat index of 105, trying to look like I am not dying.

The first lesson? Split the run up into legs instead of focusing on the distance. We’re up to 14 miles. We’ve got 16 miles on deck on Saturday and it only goes up from there until we peak at 22 miles in early October. Simply running away from the car for 7 miles in one direction and running 7 miles back was not cutting it. Last Saturday, Heather planned a route that brought us back to the car in-between. We wiped the sweat off our faces with clean towels, drank ice water and packed our sports bras with ice. We ate, standing by the car. When I knew I had to head out for another 7 miles, mentally, I knew I could do it because of the break and the ice water. We’re going to employ this strategy for the rest of training. We might even employ it for race day. We can think of the marathon as several short races and time it around our fueling needs. Tell yourself whatever you have to get through it.

The second lesson (which I already knew but was unpleasantly reminded of on the 18th)? My stomach rebels in the heat with traditional runner food. I had been using Honey Stinger gels, the only gels I can tolerate from a texture standpoint, and Tailwind in my hydration pack. On the 18th, I had horrible runner gut. Bathrooms out on the ATT are a godsend. The new solution? Skratch Labs. Heather and I each made a recipe out of the Feed Zone’s portables cookbook. Real food made with natural ingredients to take out on the run. I made the Skratch Labs chocolate chip cookies from their packaged mix. It is really finely ground oatmeal and very little sugar. Not a typical cookie but, still, very good.  Heather made blueberry and coconut rice cakes. These are not your typical dried out rice cakes. They are made from sticky sushi rice, mixed with coconut milk, layered with blueberries and chocolate chips in the middle. They were bland. They were good. Our stomachs were so much happier and no gut bombs for the remainder of the day. I’m switching from Tailwind to Skratch Hydration, as well. I like the Tailwind and won’t abandon it forever but I’m going to try something else for a bit.

I’ve cultivated forgiveness in my daily life. I don’t hold grudges and I’m not easily offended. I just let most things go. I don’t let things go from my runs and I am so hard on myself. I don’t know why I am this way about running and about my weight. The things I tell myself are so mean. I like the “clean slate” strategy for my runs. I like the idea of “potential’. I have the potential to be great and I am the one who defines my great. It may not be great by other’s people’s standards but finishing my second marathon after 18 weeks of hard training will be great enough for me. Finishing it with Heather by my side will be better than great. This is hard but I’m not going to take it for granted.

FullSizeRender Me and Heather at Four on the Fourth, the last time I ran a decent pace!