Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Honor Boston

To a Runner, running shoes are sacred. Runners will typically honor their shoes in one of two ways.

1) They wear them EVERYWHERE. Never knowing when the urge or opportunity to run will happen.

2) They ONLY wear them to run in. They do not waste valuable, precious available mileage by wearing them to the supermarket, or Lowe's, or Walmart or anywhere that running is not involved.

I'm a #2. I very, very rarely wear my kicks anywhere but running. Maybe during the break-in process, but not likely other time.

I'm presenting at a conference today and tomorrow. This typically involves me being dressed wisely for the occasion - slacks, sweater, dress shoes.

But today is different. Today, I felt compelled to wear something different.

I wear these in memory of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and the graduate student from China whose name hasn't been released yet.

I wear these to honor those that were physically injured, those that are emotionally and psychologically scarred.

I wear these to lift up those that will never be able to run again.

I wear these in defiance.

I am a runner. I know pain, but it does not deter me.

I am a runner. I have overcome my fears, and they will not slow me.

I am a runner. I refuse to be terrorized, and you will not stop me.

I read this poem by Mark Remy of Runner's World, published 15 days ago. And if you are a runner, you get it.

I was angry, so I went for a run. And things got better.

I was confused, so I went for a run. And things got better.

I was exhausted, so I went for a run. And things got better.

I was lost, unsure, empty, afraid. Certain that whatever was left of my sanity had snapped, had come untethered and floated away, to a place so high and remote that I would never see it again, and that even if I did, I wouldn't recognize it.

So I went for a run. And things got better.

I felt like things could not possibly get worse, so I went for a run. And things got better.

(Another time, I felt like things could not get much better. I went for a run. Things got much better.)

After enough miles, over enough runs and enough years, I realized: No matter what, no matter when, or where, or why, I can find my shoes and go for a run and things will get better.

And that realization? Just knowing that?

It made things better.

So put on some running shoes. Be it 0.2 miles or 26.2 miles. Just. Run. 

It will get better.

Boston Marathon. I honor you.

Gotta run... 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I hate you. I love you. We need a break.

I hate you.

Uh…what was that?

You heard me. I hate you.

What the hell? You love me!

No. I hate you.

What did I do to piss you off?

You lied to me.

Wait…I what?

You LIED to me!

Please explain.

You said if I started running, that I would lose weight.

Ahhhh…no. I didn’t say that. You assumed that.

Oh come on! You don’t see fat runners out there…so you IMPLIED it.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret….you can run all you want, but if you eat like a horse…you’re going to look like a horse. I just help your body be more efficient at it! May I remind you that you are about 40 lbs +/- lighter now than when you first started running?

Yeah. But you had NOTHING to do with that! That didn’t start happening until I started controlling my diet. Oh…

“Oh…” is right. I gave you the discipline to see things through. If you can get up at 4 a.m. and pound out a mile or 8 miles, you can walk away from a KitKat.

Dammit. You said if I ran more I’d get better….get faster…

And you haven’t?


You really think that?


Have you reflected on your race times since you started running? In case you have forgotten, your official 5K times have dropped from 37:29 (HotterNHell August 2010) to 32:58 (KTC Expo May 2011) to 32:38 (Man Run August 2011). Your 10K times have gone from 1:19:01 (Strawberry Plains February 2010) to 1:08:39 (Carter Mill July 2011) to 1:08:04 (Carter Mill July 2012). AND your Half Marathon times have dropped from 3:13:40 (Covenant Health March 2010) to 2:28:06 (Kickin’ Asphalt November 2011) to 2:26:13 (Conquer the Mountain November 2012). So what the hell do you mean that you haven’t gotten “Better” or “Faster”? Seems to me that yes, in fact, you have. Maybe the results aren’t fast enough for you…but you are improving. And are you really trying to get better and faster?

What do you mean by that?? I’ve been running for over 3 years now!? Of course I’m trying to be a better and faster runner! Don’t YOU remember all of those miles?

Yes. I remember every one. Do YOU remember all of those speed sessions that you didn’t do? Or those tempo runs that YOU didn’t push yourself on? All of those runs where you were on autopilot?

But all of those miles!! All of those “training plans” I followed!!

Yes. There were a lot of miles. And ALL of those miles have helped you.  They have helped you in more ways that getting “better and faster.”

What do you mean?

Have you noticed you are a little calmer, a little more patient now?

Well. Yes.

Have you noticed that you can handle stressful situations better now that before you were a runner?

Yes. There is that.

Have you noticed that you are a better person, a better wife, a better employee that you were before you were a runner?


I know you are a bit pissed about your last half marathon. I know you wanted to come in with a faster time. And I know you doubt that ‘official’ time considering the lack of ‘official-ness’ of that race, and the fact that your Garmin showed the course was a bit short. So yes, your real time was likely the same as your previous time and/or a few seconds slower. And I know you want to blame someone…blame me. But do you remember the weeks leading up to that race?

What do you mean?

Remember that long run you did about 2 weeks prior to the race…that 14 miler?

Who can forget that?

Remember that your plan had you “tapering” off on your mileage…but you instead decided “I’ve got this” and basically stopped running for two weeks prior to that race?

I was so tired by then.

Remember those “Hill Repeats” on your plan that you didn’t do?

Yeah. I hate hills.

Remember that race was called “Conquer the Mountain?” What the hell did you expect? That you would be running DOWN the mountain???

But most of it was pretty flat!?

Yes…but there was that 2 mile ascent in the middle…UP. THE. MOUNTAIN. And don’t forget the 1.5 miles DOWN!

But the end was SOOOOOO HAAAARRRDDD!!! I was literally yelling at myself OUTLOUD “Don’t you quit! Don’t you give up! Don’t STOP!” I know that everyone around me thought I was nuts!

Who cares? Did you quit? Did you give up? Did you stop?

No. I pushed it harder than I ever thought imaginable. My legs hurt SO badly, but I never stopped.

So….what’s the problem then? Seems to me you conquered not only that mountain, but you conquered one of the hardest things ever for runners…Your will. Your determination. Your desire to beat down that little voice that is screaming STOP at the top of her lungs. You conquered it!! You should be PROUD of that!!

I am.

And let’s be honest with each other here. You haven’t been “Racing” a whole lot. You’ve been running with bouts of racing. If you want to be better at racing…you need to race more. You need to conquer that part of you that’s holding you back. You need to clear your Saturday schedule this year and sign up for 5Ks and 10Ks and run them balls out!

Yes. I know. But I think I need a break.

Whaaaaa????? You can’t!? You wouldn’t!? You can’t leave me!? What will you do without me!?

I’m working on increasing my strength training. And it’s really hard to train for endurance races like half marathons and focus on gaining muscle all at the same time. And I really think that increasing my strength will improve my running even more.

Possibly. Likely.

So after the Covenant Health Half this year, I’m going to back off on running and work on lifting.

But you’ll miss me.

Yes, I will. But I’m not leaving you totally. I’m just backing off and not going to worry about getting a 4-10 mile run in on the weekends. I’m planning on adding in some sprinting and intervals instead of mile after mile after mile.

Will you come back to me?

Yes. Of course. Hopefully better than ever. I’m planning on attacking some 5Ks and 10Ks this year and not worry about running another half. I may or may not pick one in the late fall. If I do, that will be 3 for 2013. I’ve never done more than 1 per year because the training cycle is pretty long, and I’ll have 2 completed before spring racing really starts this year!

Ok. I’m sad. I don’t want you to go.

I know. I don’t want to either. But I feel like I need to. I think this is best for now. I’m afraid if I don’t get a break from endurance running that I’m going to hate it. I’m going to hate you.

I thought you already hated me. That’s what you said earlier.

I don’t hate you. I need you. I was just mad. I’m sorry.

I’ll be here when you get done. That’s the nice thing about me. I’m always here. I’m always ready. I am dependable. Just put your shoes on and get out the door.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Slaying a Mountain Goat


Is that what you've been wondering? It's been over 3 months since my last blog post. What's up with that?

Well, I could give you the excuses of "I've been busy." "This house is taking up a bunch of time." "I just don't have time." But the true reason is likely this....

I've been mad. At running.

The one thing this blog kind-of centers around....I've been pissed at.

We need to go back a last post was the night before the Conquer the Mountain Half Marathon in Franklin, NC. Oh...OOOOHHHH.... So, was it bad? Did I DNF? Yes and no...for both. I DidNotFall if that's what you're thinking.

You know there was some let me give you a race report first....Then I'll eventually tell you why I was pissed at running.

The night before the race, which let me remind you was named "Conquer the Mountain", I was trying to decide if I was going to just 'run it' or to 'race it.' And let's be honest...the only person I would be racing was myself. (And of course Megan because I so wanted to kick her butt.)

The morning of the race, my nerves hit the stratosphere! I woke up at 6a.m.; ate a bagel; debated my wardrobe choices; pace about; stretched; ate more bagel and drank more water; and pretty much had a nervous breakdown in the hotel room. I finally convinced myself to lay down and relax.

And I kid you not, the very freaking second I drift off into relaxation and a bit of a nap, the freaking fire alarm goes off. What the hell is it with me and hotel fire alarms before a big race???

After going downstairs and sitting in the lobby with everyone else in their pajamas (which is the only time adults are allowed to wear PJs in public!), Megan finally picks me up and we head off to the start line....

Let me stop right there....there was no "start line." It was a bunch of people huddled about and one guy says "3,2,1, Go."

...Back to the start. I finally made my decision and shared it with Megan. I felt that if I didn't get a personal record on this course that I'd be disappointed, but I'd be even more disappointed if I didn't try to get that personal best. So...there it was...I'm racing. Megan said 'no problem' because she's a sweetheart and tried to make me feel like I was going to leave her in my dust. But when the guy said GO, she was OFF!

Here's the start of the race. That pink jacket is Megan. That blue jacket is me. I don't think our strategy was to get in last place, and see how many people we can pass. It was more like, 50 people were standing in a huddle and one guy said GO and shot off a gun. For some reason, everyone else started running and we were like "Oh, we'd better GO!"

I won't bore you with too many race details (yet)....except....

1) Much to Megan's disappointment, I didn't get to whip out the Mace and go all ninja on killer dogs. My guess is that there were so many runners ahead of us, that their bellies were full by the time we passed!
2) NEVER sign up for a race that has anything about "hills" or "mountains" in the title!
3) Do not trust small town, inaugural races to have tons of timing chips that were not made in the 1970's. Seriously....we were wearing ANKLE BRACELET TIMING CHIPS! We looked like a group of escaped parolees.

Or to have race bibs that have the name of the town on them.....

Which is about 100 miles from Franklin...

OR....something special at the finish line....

My "official" race time was 2:26:13!

That means I shaved a hair under 2 minutes off my best time!! (And a few minutes faster than Megan!! SCORE!!!)

So why am I not so excited about that? Why am I at a loss for words? Why can't I come to grips with that kind of accomplishment?

When you run 13.1 miles, and you are not a true 'marathoner' that runs 13.1 miles like every weekend, you are tired. You are a bit delirious. You have no idea what you are doing, except looking for a banana and a place to lay down.

When I crossed the finish line, some guy stopped me and was taking off my House Arrest Bracelet. Then some other guy handed me something...I didn't know what, I assumed my  medal...I just wanted a banana.

Normally, after a half marathon, someone hands you a finisher's medal. That's what I was expecting.

I am a hardware-whore. I expect a medal after running anything over 10 miles. I EXPECT a medal after running a half marathon. I EXPECT a medal after Conquering a Freaking MOUNTAIN!!!

Wanna know what we got???? Look closely and you might figure it out!

Do you see it? Can you see it? Where's the medal?

I see it. But surely not. They surely didn't give you......

 A. Sticker. ???

Oh....yes. They did.

A F-ING STICKER!!!!!! And not just any old sticker....a special, "unique" finisher's sticker. Apparently a Bumper Sticker!!! Because after having visions in my head of what a "unique" finisher's medal would look like for a race called "Conquer the Mountain", a Bumper Sticker

How in the name of everything holy, am I supposed to display a Bumper Sticker with my other finisher's medals? Oh, I'm supposed to put it on my truck that has 130,000 miles on it that will die within the next couple of years so that some grease monkey at the junk yard can steal it and say "I conquered a mountain!" ????

A. Sticker.

Maybe I should have re-read the race info on Facebook:

"Long Sleeve T-shirts will be given away to the first 100 registered racers & a limited edition half marathon sticker (so you can tell individuals, "Boom! I did a half marathon!) Please email your t-shirt size to:"

Yes. It said I'd get a sticker. But I thought that meant in the Goodie Bag!!! (Which did contain men's deodorant.) That description also said....Boom! What the hell was I suppose to think? With a cool logo like this....

One would expect a freaking medal that looked like that!!!

To "conquer" also means: To beat, beat up, better, blank, blast, bulldoze, clobber,  cream, deck, drub, exceed, excel, flax, floor, get the better of, knock off, lambaste, let have it, lick, master, outclass, outdo, outshine, outstrip, overcome, prevail, put away, shoot down, shut down, surpass, take care of, take down, tan, thrash, top, total, transcend, trash, triumph, triumph over, trounce, wallop, waste, wax, whip, whomp, whop, wipe out, wipe the floor with, wipe, zap

And if you do all of these, my friend....will get.... a sticker.

If you want a medal...then you'll just have to get creative!

For my rack of medals so that when I'm 95, I'll see it and remember I Conquered a Mountain!

Despite the fire alarm, the House Arrest ankle bracelets, the recycled race bibs, the men's deodorant, the bumper sticker....the stupid-funny part about the whole small-town-inaugural half marathon is that this guy won it...

I shit you not. An exchange student from Kenya.

So there's the funny part about Conquering a Mountain....tune in later for why I got pissed at another 3 months or so....

Gotta run...