Monday, July 17, 2017

We are getting back there

Well, the running's been sporadic for a few weeks, due to head and MJ issues and just not adjusting to minor changes in my life. I swear I'm getting to be more sensitive to changes than the Royals are - and that's saying something. I mean, a few changes in the lineup and all of the sudden no one knows how to play like a team. 
This is probably why I fell in love with running so much. There's the comradeship of a team, but really, you are in it for yourself. 
Anyway ... after weeks of struggling, I went ahead and emailed PT and asked if I could come in for a tune-up. He said a year out from the last time he saw me was excellent timing so I went in. I explained that I was having more days of 4-5 whining from MJ than I cared for and that I felt the only way I could tackle it on my own was total rest, and I wasn't prepared to do that anymore. Plus, I am lucky enough to have health insurance. May as well use it. 
Several tests later, PT determines I simply have some soft tissue inflammation and that we can take care of that over several sessions, fine tune some things and give me a few more challenges so I don't get bored with my strength workouts. 
And with that, I started trying to get back to a regular running schedule again. Last week, I hit three days of running, two yoga/mobility days, and one strength day. The runs felt pretty good! It's been wicked hot and with MJ still being finicky, I ran for time (30,30,40) instead of mileage and it was the right decision. Keeps the mileage low and extending running time by 5 minutes will get me in the right MPW zone in time for 10K training in mid-August. After reading Peg's 10K RR, this one will be a doozy, but I'm looking forward to it. 
I've also been joining the Sports Bra Squad for more runs these days. I still get self conscious about it, but it's so hot and it's so much cooler without a shirt that I suck it up and do it anyway. I get annoyed with myself when I worry that someone is going to make comments loud enough for me to hear that "she should put a shirt on" but I never hear them. I try to tell myself that maybe I'm encouraging someone to love their body for what it can do, not what it looks like. I guess in the end, I'm at least encouraging myself to do so, and that's what matters  .


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This past Saturday was the inaugural International Sports Bra Squad Day - spear headed by blogger Kelly Roberts, who does a lot of writing about having a healthy body image, which you all know I really love. 
And yeah, there's some recent controversy surrounding this woman, including marathoninvestigation catching her "banditing" a few races. I put that word in quotes, because I don't think hopping in for a segment is actual banditing, unless you are using course resources, like water and porta potties - and I get that races pay to have roads blocked off, but please. Glass houses. Stones. Get my drift? Also, Kelly is sponsored by Oiselle and CEO Sally B calls Kelly a professional athlete, even though she does not run anywhere near an elite level. Again, I could care less. Sally doesn't call her an elite athlete and the word "professional" simply means you get paid to do something. What Oiselle wants to do with their money is their and their shareholders business. I highly doubt they would be blocking any doping investigation by USADA, so that's one up on another company in my book (burrrnnnnnnn).
Now that all that BS is out of the way ... 
When I heard about #sportsbrasquad day, I figured, why the heck not? I can do one run in a sports bra. And then I found out that a local running store was hosting a group run, and immediately put it on my calendar. 
The morning of, I found myself standing around with a bunch of women I didn't know (and one that I did know), all of us nervously waiting for the moment when we would shed our security blankets, AKA, those shirts. There were questions of "Are we really going to do this?", but the second the shirts came off, there were comments of "Your sports bra is so cute!" The transformation was nearly instantaneous. 
During the run, I found myself on my own - there wasn't anyone running my exact pace, but it didn't matter. I was running in a part of my city that I love, but live too far from to run regularly. In fact, it was the very area I nearly put in an offer on for a house, and was really sad to let it go (was at the very top of my budget). On the back half of the run, however, I came across the rolling hills that I always forget are EVERYWHERE and I kept thinking how they were really generous with including hills on this route and then maybe I didn't feel so bad about not living in that neighborhood. I nearly forgot I was running without a shirt, until I had to stop for traffic. But then, I just stood as confidently as possible - and quite frankly, I didn't care that much because it was SO humid and I was sweating buckets. 
By the end of the run, I was feeling pretty darn good - actually one of the first "good" runs I've had since hitting my head - and very thirsty, hahaha. The magical part, though, was all the women just hanging out and chatting without caring that we were all still shirtless. There were even photos taken! 
The start of the run. You can find me in the purple sports bra and capris - perfectly positioned between the street sign and the streetlight post.
My Sports Bra Squad. Only knew one of these ladies, but I like to think we are squad members now.
The take away message, though, is that regardless of what you think about Kelly Roberts, her relationship with Oiselle and some of her antics, is that creating a moment for all to embrace body positivity was exactly what I needed. I may be a regular member of the Sports Bra Squad.

I feel like a Salvage Title

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Y'all, I know that hitting your head is a serious thing, and the brain is a mystery, more sensitive than emo Mary Jane over here, but man, I'm losing my patience. 
Like many cars made in the 80s and owned by young people, I get that I haven't always had the best maintenance strategy, and even after major repairs, old habits die hard. The mentality that "everything should be ship shape" now means it's easy to let those bad habits of not stretching and gunning the engine and maybe doing some off roading when you really shouldn't slip right back in. 
And then when there's a hit to the engine, but it's still running fine, I thought, I'm young, I can recover from this easily. The service people don't make a huge deal out of it (perhaps they thought I was not so young and much wiser than I really am - after all, I was made in the 80s) and I just wanted to jump back to the usual miles, because damnit, I sat in the garage for so long just a short 18 months ago. 
Sometimes I forget that surgery did not make me a shiny, new model. I suddenly did not become a 2015 model - I'm still the 1983 model and even though I have relatively low mileage, the parts aren't that new and work on them doesn't make them 100%. Mary Jane, at her best, will likely only be 85-90%. Regular maintenance is still necessary, and engine work takes time, so again, I have to exercise one of the things I feel like I don't naturally have a lot of - patience. 
Last week, I tried again to get back into the routine of things. Strength training, rest, run with some hill repeats, foam rolling, mobility/yoga, lawn mowing and another run. I felt okay. The run with hill repeats was just plain stupid. It was wicked hot last week, and the day I wanted to run it was thundering and lightening in the morning, so I thought, well, I'll just run right around lunchtime before it gets crazy hot. 
Not the best idea. I know better. I just really wanted to run. The hill repeats felt fine (just 4x20-30 sec hard runs up a hill), but I had to take so many walk breaks on the way back. And, now that I think about it, running in the heat + concussion = big impact. I was tired the next few days. Like, really, tired. And then that exacerbated other symptoms, like irritability and loss of concentration. 
I really don't want to go back into the garage. I had big plans for this fall's 10K - lots of running, speedwork and being a boss. But getting there requires a good base, one that I am not confident I'll be able to get to now. I read that mild concussions can take up to three months to fully recover from, and that's probably when people take a lot of rest right away. So, that's frustrating, although it's my own fault. 
For now, I'm keeping the running to 2-3 days/week, with one day of strength, and lots of mobility and meditation in between. 
I'm so bored. 
Oh, and my vehicle? The 1983 Subaru DL 1800 Station Wagon. Practical, can haul a lot of stuff, but has a turbo and 4WD, so don't think it's a pushover by any stretch. And, it's pretty comfortable in nature and getting muddy while out for a drive. Sometimes, it thinks it's young, but there are a few rust spots here and there that definitely show it's not in it's 20s any more.

Travel. Wine.Food. Running.

When I decided to pursue a modified version of the traditional "50 states" running goal, I knew I would take advantage of work trips when possible and squeeze in a race. My work trip to Boise, Idaho, was no exception. 
And before you ask, yes, I paid for the extra night at the hotel and did not collect per diem on my "non-work" day. I'm irrationally afraid of breaking rules, and have no desire to throw bad karma out there. <--- Really just writing that for anyone who might actually know details of where I work and what I do and is really concerned about how public servants spend taxpayers money. Sir or madam, this one does it as responsibly as possible.
In any case, taking extra time to let my brain heal after hitting my head meant 1) of course I will still doing this race and 2) I would be taking it easy and run/walking and 3) barely having any wine, despite paying the extra $ for a commemorative wine glass and unlimited wine tastings. 
The race, themed as a summer night, took place on .... a summer night at a beautiful winery just south of Boise. I don't remember the actual temperature, but at 7 pm in the evening, it was still definitely above 80*. With the area being at just under 3,000' elevation, the 4 min run/2 min walk plan was sure to be a good one to not kill myself in 3.1 miles.
BTW, there was also a 10K and 13.1 option for this race. Yeesh.
So, the gun goes off, and I'm bopping along, getting in front of the usual walkers, except I think it was me who was in the wrong this time and had no idea how few runners there were in the full scheme of registrants. Eh, no mind. 
As we make our way out of the winery, I thought I had gotten a good thumbs up photo with the photographer. Instead, I got these two: 
DSC_0048-X3 [2)
Wayyy in the back.
Oh look! My ponytail! 
In any case, I was feeling the heat quickly. UGH. But the course was thankfully easy. I just kept going at whatever pace felt good, averaging 10:30-ish on the run portion. Not going to lie though, those walk portions were readily welcomed. It was just so darn hot and I was really thirsty. When I hit the aid station, I did the rare act and took both water and gatorade. 
Yes. It really was that hot. And okay, so I had also barely trained for this race. I wasn't racing. 
That is, I wasn't racing until there was less than half a mile left and I heard someone coming up behind me. With no one else nearby, there was no way I was going to let anyone pass me, ha! 
Hey guys! I'm running in a winery! I'm hot and miserable! 
The volunteers handing out finisher medals at the end were fantastic. Instead of awkwardly finishing by myself in silence, I was welcomed with cheers and smiles. It was one of the most fun finishes I've had in a long time. Afterwards, I immediately grabbed water and gatorade and drank both slowly as I went to grab my ID so I could get my wine glass (yes, EVERYONE needed IDs. I chatted for a minute with a 60 year old guy who had to get his ID, too). 
After I cooled down a bit (probably should have done a cool down jog, honestly), I enjoyed one small sample of the winery's rose, which was absolutely fabulous and I was very sad I didn't have room in my checked bag for a few bottles. Then, I grabbed a few bites of food - they had a spaghetti dinner, someone making grilled cheese and lots and lots of wine everywhere. 
Honestly, despite the heat, it was a really well done race. Small (which I love), good food (++), live music and just a fun, relaxed atmosphere. If I had been out there with friends, I would have stayed much longer than I did. 
A few more pics from the evening: 
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Sweaty selfie with winery-themed manicure
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Wine glass and finisher medal
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The whole combo.
FullSizeRenderBeautiful flowers and the crowd at the post-race festival.
Final results: 36:09, 6/25 in 31-35 AG (had I been in pre-head hitting shape, could have taken 2nd in AG). Don't remember the other placings, but definitely top half. Like I said, a lot of walkers - and I think a lot did the 10K, too. Probably so they could drink more wine, LOL. 
Anyway, state 11 down, 39 to go! Would like to knock one more off the list this year, but probably won't happen, unless I do one of the neighboring states that I haven't done yet (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee). 

Finding the Mental Space

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Honestly, I don't know how parents do it - take care of their family, run all these errands and then still get tons and tons of training in. I realize less sleep is probably a part of the formula for "getting stuff done", but my goodness, that is just a difficult sacrifice for me to willingly  make. 
For the past month or so, I've been waking up early and walking Jeff with my neighbor, whose two dogs were attacked by another neighborhood dog while she was walking by herself. That whole issue hasn't been resolved, and she was really upset, so I offered to walk with her. It's not been a huge disruption, but one change that I'm just struggling and struggling to adjust to.  Also, I hate to admit it, but hitting my head I think has taken longer to recover to than I anticipated. I just feel .... off. 
All of that basically has meant I haven't been running as much, and it also means I'm relieved my application to be the ambassador for a local triathlon didn't win. I still would like to have a reason to use my bike more, but right now I just don't have the mental capacity to train for a race. 
So, this summer will focus on maintenance, getting back to basics, and finding a group that I can bike with on the weekends. 
In other news, I'm thinking about getting Jeff a kitten. He needs a buddy and two dogs is more work than I'm willing to put in. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Eliz goes to Urgent Care

Preface: If there is one thing I've learned since I started running is that life is very much like those rolling hills I enjoy running. Sometimes they are wonderfully easy, sometimes they are annoying as heck and other times I just want to lay down and admit defeat. Good thing I never take that last option. Also, this post was written a week ago. 
Ever since the surprise-awesome-5K, MJ has been bothering me a bit. Mostly, an inflamed hip flexor and the usual tricks - cold showers, ice bathing, foam rolling, massage, you friggen name it - were not working. So, I knew something was up. And I knew it was time to get back to basics and stop doing plyometrics, for goodness sake.
So, Tuesday, I went back to by good ol' hip and core routine and discovered it was a lot harder than it should have been. It's also disappointing, because I really wish those online workout programs would just do the trick for me (I really love working out and not having to think too much), but instead, noooooo, I have to do my specialized workout routine. UGH. It gets so boring after awhile, too. 
I digress. 
Here's where it gets juicy. Wednesday, I decide to workout at home and go back to my old lifting routine. I find the workouts on my phone and realize I need something to mimic the effect of lat pull downs. NOW, a normal, smart, reasonable person would think, I'll just do modified handstand pushups. Wicked hard (check the satisfying box), an inversion (check the yay! box) and reasonable (check the reasonable box). Instead, I grab one of my bands, look around my basement and see a hook in the ceiling that was probably used for a hanging plant. 
I'm going to stop you right there. 
Yes, exactly what you are imaging happened. Here's a lesson I learned that I really, really, really want you to learn as well without actually experiencing it: hooks that are secure enough for a hanging plant are NOT secure enough for band lat pulldowns. What will happen is that you will essentially slingshot a hook out of the ceiling towards your head and have it hit with such force that you have a gash in your head and a ringing in your ears. 
Needless to say, blood was soon gushing out of my head and I. Was. Freaking. The. EFF. Out. Thankfully, I did two things: put my hand firmly over the general area and did not stop putting pressure on it and called my neighbor who was able to come right over. She was able to help stop the bleeding and calm me down (during which Jeff thought this was an opportune time to try playing fetch) and then took me to urgent care to get things taken care of. 
The ladies at the urgent care were wonderful. I was so embarrassed that I just started joking about everything and by the end we were all laughing. A few of my favorite quotes from the visit: 
"At least I've never tried to fry a frozen turkey or set off a firework in my hand."
"We aren't going to shave your head."
"That stings!"
"The needle isn't even touching your head."
"But the liquid is touching the wound!"
"Do you feel that?"
"See? I don't even know why I went to medical school, I'm that good."
"Make sure we count how many staples we put in."
"I think it was six."
"Hmm ... one, two, three, four, five, six, SEVEN! Haha, you missed one!"
"Hey, I hit my head!"
So, yesterday, I took it easy, slept a lot, was walking a bit slower than usual, ate half a pint of ice cream and tried to convince my mom it wasn't that big of a deal and that I was okay (it's not and I am!). I gave my neighbor irises from my backyard as a thank you and had to withdraw from my spot at this weekend's 5K - which is part of a city-wide corporate challenge thing that happens every year. I'm terribly disappointed in that. I wasn't going to race, but with MJ and company flaring up anyway, it's for the best. 
It's been very much an up and down 2017 for me - my memory of 2016 is mostly so wonderful that it's really been messing with my head. I've had disappointments in the relationship department, financial surprises that have made me thankful I have an emergency savings account (although money aside, the stress alone of that is insane, especially as a single person and I have a whole new level of respect and compassion for people who spend their entire existence living paycheck to paycheck or worse), the damn eardrum rupture, some changes at work that I've really had a hard time adjusting to, and now this. It's all #privilegedproblems, I know, but it doesn't lessen my experience of it. 
But so many wonderful things have happened this year, too! Actually training for a 5k and enjoying it, finally meeting AB in person, a sub-30 and managing to keep TWO houseplants alive (that's fantastic for me, folks). 
In any case, yesterday was Star Wars day (I'll save the May the 4th jokes for next year), and after getting in bed Wednesday night and catching myself wondering if the year was over yet, I decided I didn't need a January 1 to start over with a good attitude. So ... yesterday was 2017.2 for me. 
Happy New Year! And hey, it's next year, so ..... 

How's your year been so far? Rolling hills? Pancake flat? 
Has it felt like hard race or an easy run?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Northland Half Marathon & 5K

After the slight disappointment of not hitting sub-30 in California with AB, I had two take-aways: 
1. I really need to start incorporating speed work and I'm ready for that.
2. One's mental state of mind is everything
I had signed up for this 5K as a spur of the moment - several friends were running the half marathon and I thought, oh hey, I'll just run the 5K, then hang out and cheer friends in as they finish. The day before, I was wondering why the heck I thought that sounded like a good idea. 
I hadn't been running a whole lot since California. MJ is a little cranky, and I keep trying to do plyometrics with my Daily Burn workouts for whatever reason. So, I'm perpetuating the achiness out of sheer .... idiocy, I suppose. All that being said, I thought it would be a good use of a tempo run (start that speed work!), and decided to aim for around 10mms. Quick, but not racing. Good. 
I get to the race early, do a long warm up, see my friends, say hi and good luck and realize it's way too warm for my arm warmers and jog back to the car to return with the perfect amount of time to pee and then get in line. This race had actual, flushing toilet restrooms at the start/finish, which was luxurious ... until one toilet got clogged. 
So, I line up, wait for the start and take off. After settling in, there is a duo that I tell myself to keep within spitting distance of - they are going nearly the perfect pace and I wanted to make life easy. Mile 1 ticked off in 10:08. 
Can you find me???

The course went out and up over a bridge, then down onto a hard surface trail. All the downhill made things pick up a little bit, and as we neared the 5K turnaround, I noticed very few people actually turning around, and very few women about my age. The wheels were turning and I realized it was one of those races where I may actually have a shot at placing well. Mile 2 ticks off in 9:50. 
So, I'm climbing back up the hill and bridge, thinking I'm tired and maybe I'll just go back to tempo, when a voice says, no, do it for AB. Give him the race he should have gotten with you in Cali. Well, when a voice tells you to do something for a running friend, you sort of just do it. Plus, I knew that most of the course was downhill from there. I decide to ignore my watch and just run. I pick up the pace and just keep going, "do it for AB, do it for AB." Naturally, I realize I should also be doing this for myself. I mean, I'm the one with the sub-30 to chase. And I'm just good of a reason to do this as AB is, so I just go. And go. And go. I'm not even sure what my time is, as I refuse to look at my watch. All I can think is, just give it your best effort (and don't let that woman you passed pass you back). I round the final turn and see the finish line, UGH, it looks like it's forever away. I see part of the clock, with a 2 in it and as it comes into view, I see the clock turn over to 30:00. I think I actually made some sort of frustrated noise out loud, but then I realize I'm the only person running for the finish line at the moment, so I pose for the cameras as I cross the finish.
PT would be proud of that straight line my hips are making.
I'm all annoyed until I stop my watch and look down at it. 
Holy shit, I think. What's the official time???
I get in line, give the person my number and he says, "okay, you got second in your age group." "I did?" I say as I take the slip he gives me. Then, I nearly forget about that part as I read the piece of paper: 
I looked up and around, as if there would be someone I knew to share the joy with and reached for my cell phone, which was in my car. Damn. Oh well. Instead, I shared a quiet, glorious moment, as I stood there, holding this tiny piece of paper close, grinning like an idiot. 
Then, I went and got some free beer and coffee. And of course, texted AB.