Archive for the ‘Marathon’ Category

244 Days to go: the Road to Paris

August 10, 2014

I don’t think.  I mean I REALLY don’t think at times.  Win a bib, enter a marathon, plan the trip around Europe AFTER the marathon.  I forgot something in all this.  As in oh, damn.  I have to TRAIN for said marathon.  It will be an adventure.

Right now? Uh.  Turns out a screwed up my back during the Hyannis Half in February: I’m just now recovered to  the point where I can’t cause any further damage (comforting words).  My shoulder is stuck with the reality of the cortisone shot not working, the damage of arthritis means I can kick, swim breast stroke or walk.  I’m at the point of being frustrated with life time of orthopedic issues (as in SERIOUSLY OVER IT) combined with normal sprained ankles.

I told somebody a few weeks ago: I am going to Paris.  I may not walk the marathon.  But this is about me being selfish and setting a goal.  I have the Columbus, Philadelphia and (get this) Surf City half marathons on the calendar.  I am going to work on being ready.  I’m just at the point for the first time that I’m not sure if my body has enough duct tape, bolts, pins, wires and artificial parts to hold myself together.

Yes, I know this is a first world problem.  Yes, I know people who are facing far more daunting issues than joints that like to destroy themselves.  I know that I’ve lived with this far, far longer than I’ve not lived with it.  Here is the deal: it doesn’t get easier.  I just get less frustrated.  Except for today.

Today was a day of frustration.  I tried to do some yoga to stretch out my lousy hip flexors.  Sort of worked (disclaimer: cats and yoga).  Spent 45 minutes on specific shoulder exercises.  Grateful for ice.

I know that marathons are mind games.  I know that I can rise to the challenge.  Right now, I’m frustrated.  Tomorrow, I’ll re-lace my shoes and go for a few mile walk.  I’ll remind myself that the human body is an amazing creation: and that duct tape works well.  And I’ll try to remember what my niece told me after I had to bail on a 5K in July: at least you tried. 

At least I survived the eating of kale.

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Why #cancersucks, the #TracyMafia rocks and the past month (or so).

April 17, 2014

In the most obvious statement, cancer sucks. I hate it. Aside from the most isolated research biochemist who has the social skills of a dead tree on the planet, who is going to run around saying yeah cancer! (The idea of doing that reminds me of a professor at Hollins who mocked Nancy Regan and her “Just say No!” Campaign because where we really going to tell our kids to go get high? He then paused and said that might not be a bad f’ing idea). I digress.

Tax day was the anniversary of The Marathon Bombings. Like many who live in and around Boston, I’ve begun to grasp what New Yorkers went through on September 11, 2001. The interwebs crawled with the more than normal narcissism of Bostonites and how other towns did things one way versus another. Whatever. Even growing up in the Chicago ‘burbs, the Boston Marathon has its aura. I mean, we run 26.2 miles to celebrate starting a country. We are slightly crazy. We don’t go through Lexington and Concord. Nope we wind through a few towns and turn left on Boylston to finish mid-block on the third Monday in April because you know, that makes sense. Oh, and you have to qualify by running an aged based time and even then you have to win the lottery. Uh, yeah ok, like I said it was the more than normal narcissism of Bostonites. Basically, we want to have a 26.2 mile drinking party and created an event that involves a baseball game getting out as the “commoners” are making that turn. That, my un-Boston friends, is the Marathon. And last year, 2 jackasses killed 4, injured hundreds and basically made this town turn into a giant how can I help on twitter feed. And ok, we’ll stay inside when you want to find the terrorists. (Seriously, it was strange, but live through a New England winter, it was a Nor’easter minus the snow complete with whackadoodle TV coverage). So yesterday when everybody started to descend on the city, I found myself in tears a few times.

I realized later that night: April 15, 2013 was the last time my mom was my MOM in that nothing can fix this but I need my mom sort of way. I was a few days out of a major shoulder surgery, in a bit of a narcotic haze and then they blew up our block party. And I freaked and started doing a lesson learned of 9/11 in texting, tweeting, facebooking: Mom and I are safe, didn’t go to the Marathon today. I played a twitter find shelter give directions with a California friend, called my sister to tell her to TELL the medium sized girls before turning on the car. And I cried, I was angry, I was scared. And I spoke in the strange half sentences like “Omg that is right by the place where, I don’t get it, I mean, it’s the Marathon” and my mom just watched the news and said they’d catch who did it. She could not say much to console me; she didn’t even try and for one of the rare times in my life, I was glad my mom was here because my mom told me they’d get the bad guys so everything would be ok (I’m going with the theory that the Percocet haze helped this work because the idea that I fell for it is lunacy!).

Somewhere along the line late last summer, I knew my mom’s cancer was back. I cannot pinpoint it, she said her reports were good but I did not like the way she looked. Or coughed. There was something off. And because I’m insane I saw a friend posting on FB about running his first marathon …. After picking up running as a lifestyle change after his second surgery for cancer and did anybody want to run the Philly marathon with him. Not for a cause but just to train and run. I laughed a bit as Tracy was pleading in his Tracy way and I finally said, hey I just registered for the half to walk it. The response from just about everybody: you’re NUTS. (Ha! I said nuts!).

You have to understand Tracy: he married a college classmate of mine. He then voluntarily attends class reunions. Of hundreds of screaming women who drink too much wine and act like idiots. I don’t think he’s missed one: our college doesn’t have a mascot. But our class has Tracy. We get our hair and fashion tips from him (and so do lots of other people). And bacon reviews. And there is something about not liking pie. As in the dessert but Whopie Pies are trick pies because they have frosting. Basically, he is the younger brother/older brother/best friend/half of the most positive couple you’ve ever met type of person. We chatted in Philly about his cancer, my mom’s cancer and how much cancer sucks.

And then my mom died. Who starts to reach out? While quietly finding out his own news? T and his wife. People who’ve walked in the shoes I stood in who had EVERY reason to make a quick hang in there, I’m here for you post and allow what they knew would come out to stand as the reason because we’ve known each other that long. But they didn’t. That’s why cancer sucks. Cancer doesn’t go out and use natural selection. Cancer can be so random, so unfair.

I think we both did a half marathon (I use the word ‘both’ so liberally) the weekend he let people know of the cancer returning. I was sick, I was pissed and the smart person wouldn’t have been at Hyannis. I do not know how he was feeling but there was a lamentation on not being under 2:00 in Rhode Island that same weekend. I will lay money there have been tears and anger and all of that: but the quintessential New England response was FU cancer. I have my family, friends and my very own mafia. I have to travel. I have to run half marathons (while trying to con my wife into one on FB) and I really want to run NYC (and probably secretly qualify for Boston because you know, I’m a Sox Fan).

I remembered Steven Colbert’s opening remarks on 4/16/2013: after running a marathon they went to give blood. That’s the type of person Tracy is. That’s the type of person his wife is. That’s how my mom was. There are people like me who float around in corporate America and then there are people out there advocating against the injustices that we layer or are layered upon us by genetics or circumstance. And when a person who works for the greater good is dealt such a blow, you want David Ortiz to say and FU for them. Because it hurts. It hurts where you don’t know it can hurt just when you thought you were done with the hurting.

Then you look back at the reaction to the news: Ok, I’ll deal with it. I’ll have surgery and in-between finding out and surgery, “squeeze” in 4 half marathon’s (including under the 2:00 barrier!) and a few 5K’s. And the other way: curl up at 3 am wondering if there is sleep, wander through a half marathon in a time that a snail would be embarrassed by and say it sucks as a mantra.

Today is not going to suck. Today the mafia don kicks cancers ass. Tomorrow, he starts training for Richmond (where we know he’s secretly going for a Boston qualifying time, a Ranger’s Stanley Cup and some free hair conditioner). And I’m wearing a blue shirt with tan pants. I will think about all of my friends whose shoes I’m standing next to in fighting the fight. I love you all very much.

#Hyannis Half Marathon: The Aftermath.

February 23, 2014

I walked the Hyannis Half Marathon today. My time was a disaster (I finished last; by almost an hour). I’m never going to be able to run because of various orthopedic maladies. Right now, my body feels better than when I did the Philadelphia Half Marathon last fall: I was on pace to break that time by an hour. What happened? Put it this way: I have more respect for any high level athlete who plays through a cold, bronchitis or the flu than before. The last 4 miles were torture. But here is where I ran into kindness. It was obvious I was struggling. I was wearing a University of Tennessee dry-weave shirt. Marathon (it was a combined Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Relay) would turn back and yell: You have it! Keep going. Don’t stop and my favorite “Come on Volunteer! You can do it!”. These are people who can still speak after running 22 miles. I was stopping every 200-300 yards to cough my head off. One runner STOPPED to make sure I was ok. At mile 11, I let a few tears slide out. I could feel a blister, I was coughing and damn it there was a hill! There was no way I was quitting with only 2 (ish) miles left. Marathoners, half-marathoners and wanna be’s (that would be me) are nice. They encourage, they yell support and then? After running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, a group stands and cheers for the stragglers.

When I crossed to the last turn, the 3 guys who passed me twice and called me Tennessee were standing there with their friends. They yelled “we told you we’d wait for you at the end!” I’ll probably walk at Hyannis next year (unless, of course, I have a re-run of a vicious cold). From the volunteers who didn’t leave, to the people in the area who stood out between water stops with water/Gatorade, I had fun. It might take my lungs a bit to heal. But if you want to meet a nice group of people? Lace them up. Because sometimes even dead last can feel like winning.

Yahoo!  I did it!

Yahoo! I did it!

A new record on the way to the #PhiladelphiaMarathon

September 22, 2013

Less than sixty days to the insanity!  I am becoming excited about walking the Philadelphia Half Marathon for OAR (shameless fundraising plug).  In an effort to not become injured, I’ve started to cross train at the gym.  Between kicking, swimming, stationary biking and (ugh) weight lifting, I was injury free until I dropped a bed on my foot.  Yup, you read that right.  I dropped a bed on my foot.  I was attempting to rescue pink mouse (REALLY? AGAIN?) and blue rat (new cat, same issue) and the board came crashing down.  After few A lot of curse words, I realized my foot was not broken just going to have a massive bruise. Right across the top of my foot.  It healed.  And I was ready to resume walking.

Today, I started on my Sunday morning trek with the goal of “hit seven miles”.  7.4 miles later, I unlocked the key to the front door.  Really.  Ok, the time wasn’t great but it was done.  I skipped a ready-made excuse of the pouring rain thinking WWTD*?  Yeah, if it’s raining that day, I’d go. . . better get used to walking in the rain (although when it hit downpour level I did wait it out under the entry to some local business).

Somewhere between mile five and six, I found myself aware of how I was pushing my body. I see why runners run.  There is a point where it’s the next step, the air in your face and a feeling that is so completely different than anything else I’ve felt.  I can’t remember the last time I walked seven miles (maybe never).  As I walked through the office park on my path, I saw a dead snake (ew, but grateful for his/her demise), saw two deer romp along the front of an office building and realized the town next to me has an intersection of Bartlett and Lyman.

Two hours after coming home, I’m not hobbled in pain.  And I’m thinking this is the best impulsive idea I’ve had in a long time.

 

Move the bed, get my toy human!

Move the bed, get my toy human!

 

 

*WWTD in no way shape or form resembles a popular religious acronym.  The fact that the third letter refers to a person with wildly long hair and a strange cult like following is purely coincidental.  Pretty sure the other guy ate pie.

Wrap up from week 3: #PhiladelphiaMarathon #RunForAutism

August 16, 2013

I’m still a snail according to RunKeeper. . . I was hoping to move up to slug or oh turtle.  Last week (that would be week 2) was a disaster.  I let work dictate my life (bad) and on my one wog, wound up with a nightmare case of shin splints (bad).  Oh, and shameless fundraising plug.

This week, I finally decided to be a bit more logical in my approach.  I broke down and bought one of those green straps that I can use to stretch my hamstrings.  I found a better pair of shoes that fit my insane ankle pronation and I’m trying to balance a 3/4 inch leg length difference and what sort of trails/paths I need to walk on.  Luckily, the course itself is flat.  I’ve revamped where I wog from my neighborhood to a few other areas.  I live on the top OF a hill and most walks have hills which aggravate the hamstring/shin splint issue: of course, I thought of this today!

Strange lesson learned: I tend to eat better when I exercise.  I’m sure there is a logical explanation but I don’t even want junk.  It’s not in the “OMG, I know exactly how long I have to work out for to burn those calories” but simply not wanting junk.  I also eat less.  Ok, that is probably because I’m less stressed because somehow exercise makes me less stressed.

New additions to the chic training gear: replaced foam roller (thanks Lafitte), green strap, correct running shoes and a kitten.  Really, a new kitten.  Windsor but more on him later but he’ll help with agility training.

Miles Wogged: 10.14 Tu-F.

Realization #1: I need to really work on the hamstring flexibility.  It’s completely related to the 25 or so odd surgeries on the legs.  They are never going to be balanced but I need to learn how to keep them from flaring (which, based on how I feel, I’m thinking walking in flatter areas is going to help).

Realization #2: I will always probably be a RunKeeper snail.

Realization #3: Sadly, I think I’m looking forward to the few miles I log after work to just decompress.

Realization #4: I’m a sucker for kittens with sob stories.

Best training advice: Figure out when it’s your brain saying stop versus your body.  If it’s your body, stop. If it’s your brain, tell it to shut up.  (Thanks Tim!).

 

Wrap up of week one from #PhiladelphiaHalfMarathon trenches.

August 3, 2013

It’s August. I’m August adverse. Between the humidity, blooming and growing things and just haze, I prefer to spend the days curled up under an air conditioning unit. So far, we’ve had a few good days of low humidity. And let’s face it, a Boston summer, for all of our New England wailing about the heat is only a few really gross days.

I read a few “how to train for your first half marathon including one that was a couch to half-marathon that starts with “you should already be running 5-10 miles a week”. Ok, in my world, couch means COUCH. As in I don’t run. (I mean, technically I can’t run due to the leg length difference but I’m not interested in wallowing over missing the opportunity to run. I think it’s nuts.) So, somewhere I began thinking this might be an impossible task a la Robert Irving failing at Restaurant Impossible or something like that. Then I got mad at myself for thinking I couldn’t do it (I might fail but I’m not going to throw in the towel). I should mention by this point, I hadn’t made it out of my driveway. I’m that exercise adverse.

So I spent 2.5 miles thinking about why am I doing this? Insanity. Challenges. Raising money for charity. Check. Check. Check.

Then I REALLY started thinking about why am I going to do this: I should be able to walk this without stress. I’m out of shape for no good reason (read, because I don’t exercise and live off the American diet of on the go for far, far too long). I’m overweight. And I need a tangible goal to aim for (getting healthy is not goal that motivates me): like I will do a certain event. Side benefits: RunKeeper tells me exactly how many calories I’ve burned. I can translate that quite easily into “There is no way in hell I’m eating that. . . it’s 20, 30, 60 minutes of hell because of that choice.” A shift from my previous attempts of weight loss. I’ve found myself not craving sugar. Um. I’m not going to even try to figure out why. I’m sure there is some logical explanation: but the vending machine lost one of it’s best customers in the past two weeks. I’ve had to consume less caffeine to live (sell your stock in Coca-Cola).

End of the week stats: 8.52 miles.
RunKeeper animal status: Snail (I’m aiming for turtle).
Best advice: “Just make sure you do 3 walks over 11 miles. You’ve got to get over that hurdle.”

Shameless fundraising link.  One in 50 kids will be diagnosed with Autism (or on the spectrum).  I know too many people impacted by this disorder.  Research dollars are needed; please consider giving. Plus it supports my insanity.

13.1 miles, it can’t be that bad, right? #halfmarathon

July 28, 2013

In a fit of a lack of judgment/goal setting/bucket list crossing off, I randomly decided to walk/jog the Philadelphia half marathon in November. Yup. The single most exercise adverse person on the planet (ok, maybe not the planet) decided why not? A friend is running the full and Philadelphia is a great city so I figured go big or go home. Ok, well maybe not big (if so I’d be attempting the full) but I’ve spent a ton of time trying to figure out a way to motivate myself to get into shape. The entire ‘get into shape for better health’ does not work for me. . . .the entire you just spent a ton of money and you better not give it up because you were too lazy to prepare for the event motivates me.

I signed up to wog (walk+jog) the Philadelphia Half Marathon. The longest distance I’ve ever walked is when I did the loop at Hollins twice in one day: and that was oh so long ago. I’ve decided to raise money for one of the official charity partners, OAR, which works on autism research (shameless plug to fundraising site here).

After spending the day yesterday downloading different training plans, I set off today on my first wog. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do any long-term damage. I dropped my pace time from the walks I have been doing. I’ve found a loop that measures exactly 2.5 miles which can be easily extended to a 3 mile loop (makes it easier for training!).

The best part? I didn’t come home and collapse like I thought I might. I stretched, ate some breakfast and looked at the training calendar for what I’m supposed to do tomorrow. This is either going to be one of the best or worst ideas I’ve had. It is completely one of the craziest!