Living a Life of Rhythm and Blues Spattered with Intermittent Harmonies

Spelling correction in the title…oops!

Life Begins When You Let It

Have you ever thought about how much of our lives are spent in repetition? We get up, have our morning routine, go to work, school, or whatever- come home to our evening routine and go to bed only to start all over again.

RHYTHM: (American Heritage Dictionary) 1. Movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions (the rhythm of the tides). 2. The patterned, recurring alternations of contrasting elements of sound or speech. 3. A regular pattern formed by a series of notes of differing duration and stress.

My morning routine goes something like this: First alarm goes off (the 15 minute warning) usually around 0345. I shut it off. The second and final alarm goes off at 0400 (that is the get your butt out of bed NOW alarm). Now I am not going to say that I have never reached over and shut the…

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Living a Life of Rhythm and Blues Spattered with Intermittent Harmonies

Have you ever thought about how much of our lives are spent in repetition? We get up, have our morning routine, go to work, school, or whatever- come home to our evening routine and go to bed only to start all over again.

RHYTHM: (American Heritage Dictionary) 1. Movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions (the rhythm of the tides). 2. The patterned, recurring alternations of contrasting elements of sound or speech. 3. A regular pattern formed by a series of notes of differing duration and stress.

My morning routine goes something like this: First alarm goes off (the 15 minute warning) usually around 0345. I shut it off. The second and final alarm goes off at 0400 (that is the get your butt out of bed NOW alarm). Now I am not going to say that I have never reached over and shut the second alarm off and gone back to sleep (I might have). Those (may be) the days when speed limit signs are mere suggestions. But when I DO get up on time, I stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot, try to get my eyes open and focus while trying to find one of the many pairs of reading glasses I have stashed throughout the house. Mostly they just end up in a pile in one room.

How does this happen?
How does this happen?

I then commence to drinking my coffee, checking my email, and thinking through the day. I then tend to tooth scrubbing and beautification, get dressed and head out. It takes me about 40 minutes to get to work where I have a routine there all it’s own. The days I’m off the getting up is a little less structured, but coffee is always the priority in any morning routine!

I Love Coffee!
I Love Coffee!

I’m sure you all have your morning and evening routines as well. It’s just a fact of life. We’re even birthed as the rhythmic contractions of the uterus propel us forward and our mothers’ rhythmic pushes push us out! Our walking has rhythm, our breathing has rhythm, our heartbeat has a rhythm and for runners- we talk about “getting into a rhythm.”  With music and dance, it’s all about the rhythm. We live in constant rhythm-in birth, in living and in dying.

BLUES: (American Heritage Dictionary) 1. A state of depression or melancholy. 2. A style of jazz evolved from southern African American secular songs and usually distinguished by slow tempo and flatted thirds and sevenths.

I love bluesy, jazz music. I am fortunate to live in an area where jazz music is a big deal. One can tell it was born from true heart and soul. The blues are a prominent musical style. Then there are the “blues “-that state of depression or melancholy. Haven’t we ALL experienced that? It kind of goes hand in hand with the rhythms of life doesn’t it? We’ve all heard of the “baby blues” or “post-partum depression” after a woman has given birth when the initial excitement has worn off and the hard core work of taking care of a new life settles in. Some mothers experience the blues when their child goes off to kindergarten. Both parents may experience it when the last child leaves home (better known as the “empty nest” syndrome). In our society today, it’s pretty common for everyone to get the blues from time to time. The gauge is to watch how long you stay there. If it lasts longer than two weeks, you should not be afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed to get help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I had never really believed there was such a thing as “post-marathon blues” but I have experienced it first hand. I had that particular goal that I was working on for weeks on end commencing with the excitement of race day and the thrill of finishing. Over-just like that! That’s why I have scheduled one race a month through the end of the year to have something special to look forward to and work toward. I also get the blues when I don’t hear from or see my kids for awhile. The most disturbing blues come from misunderstandings with friends and/or family. When people don’t consider what they say, it can be very hurtful and interpreted as insensitive and uncaring. Funny that it doesn’t matter or hurt when it comes from someone that you could give two hoots less about. Am I making any sense here? Friendships/relationships often fall by the wayside when things aren’t talked out while trying to see the other person’s point of view. Communication is broken down and hearts (mind, will & emotions) are left in a smoldering heap. Pride is the reigning victor and lives are bruised. That saddens me.

Miscommunication
Miscommunication

HARMONY: (American Heritage Dictionary) 1. Agreement in feeling or opinion; accord. 2. A pleasing combination of the elements that form a whole. 3. A combination of musical sounds considered to be pleasing.

The harmonies of life-aren’t they a great place to be? Wish I could live there 24/7. Unfortunately that is not reality. People are so different and we all think we’re right! If you’ve ever heard anyone sing harmonies acappella style you know how beautiful that sounds. For some (as with the Lennon sisters) it happened so naturally (like the “zen” moments in life). For most (as in life) it takes work and effort. Everyone should have a voice and have their feelings validated no matter how hard it is to understand them. We all come from different backgrounds, experiences and traditions that mold how we think. It doesn’t make us bad people for interpreting our world through those lenses. If you truly care about someone, you don’t hold that against them. It’s easy to sing the melody, but the harmony takes practice. When a musical instrument or a song is out of tune it is a wretched sound isn’t it?  Much the same way is life-miscommunication is like being out of tune. That is the peril of  social media. It’s easy to type something back and forth, but you can’t see the person’s facial expression or hear the inflection in their voice. MUCH is misinterpreted. Truly the phone isn’t much better. It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard or hang up on someone. And we think that’s okay. Lives left hanging in the balance when there could be beautiful music.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

–Mahatma Gandhi

I am SO thankful for music. I think there is a song for every mood I’m ever in. I like all genres of music for the most part.  As I type this, I am in a heavy metal/Pink/Katy Perry mood-ha! Music can lift your spirits, make you dance, and calm your soul. It is the universal language-the language of the heart. May the rhythm of your life be harmonious! Live, love, laugh!

 

Laughter is harmonious
Laughter is harmonious

Until We Meet Again,

Stephanie

“The words had all been spoken and somehow the feeling still wasn’t right. And still we continued on through the night, tracing our steps from the beginning until they vanished into the air, trying to understand how our lives had led us there.”  –Jackson Browne (Late For the Sky)

 

 

 

 

Race Recap: Chasing (and seizing) the Boston Dream

Every strike brings me closer to the next homerun.”

–Babe Ruth

I really like that quote because one can apply it to many areas of life. We live in a culture that tries to define us by our failures. I’ve also heard it said that “failure isn’t fatal, not trying is.” Don’t know who said it, but I like it too.  There is no shame in failure and it really depends on the context that failure is applied anyhow.

When I first started running, a marathon was a pipe dream. Sure, it sounded nice (gag) but in my mind, that was for people who had been running a really long time. After four years of running 5ks and a couple of half marathons, I decided to give it a whirl and start training for my first marathon. To be quite honest, I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t take it as serious as I should have. I hadn’t grasped the concept of all the different training runs that one needed to do to succeed. I really didn’t have a time goal for that first one, so I decided to go with the 4:40 pace team, thinking that was a reasonable target. Due to my lack of structured training & (ignorance) of running shoes, I finished that first one in 5:17 and some seconds. I lost the pace team at mile 15 after I stepped into a chug hole and my knee started throbbing. I had had IT band problems the entire training time by doing too much, too soon and not being consistent. Needless to say, I hobbled through the finish line, but I was determined that I would finish, even if I crawled. But that was then, and this isn’t about that race.

Through many miles, buckets of sweat, injuries, tears, black toenails, and determination, I managed to do three more marathons. The fourth was one I described a few blogs back that was strictly for training purposes. I decided to set my sights on qualifying for Boston.  I was originally going to run the Leading Ladies  Marathon last summer but injured my right leg while landscaping. Thank goodness, it is one of the few that lets you transfer your money to the next year secondary to unforeseen circumstances. After running my third marathon November 2013 in Tulsa, OK (which I was just running for fun and was the COLDEST ever), I decided to get really serious with my training. I took three days off after that marathon and plotted my strategy. I’ve always sought to stay 5k ready, so I ran short distances outside and on the treadmill when the weather was bad.

I discovered a group on Twitter  called #runchat  that is a supportive, inspirational group for runners. It was through that group that I hooked up with a running coach who raised the bar for me and helped start me on my journey to success. I was with him for three months (virtually). He gave me my training plans and I sent him my results. It was great for accountability. There is no way I was going to fake a training session because I would just be cheating myself. It was around the end of this time with my coach that I met and got to run with Jeff Galloway and pick his brain for 3.1 miles. He uses the run/walk method in his training and I started incorporating that into my long runs. I also bought his book on how to qualify for Boston and got serious with speed work, hill repeats, intervals, cross training, and strengthening my core. I ran a half marathon in April barely under two hours as the last four miles was a torrential downpour and pea sized hail. It was awful and glorious all at the same time. I decided in my head at that time that no matter what it took, I was going to target and achieve a Boston qualifying time at the race in August. This is a recap of that journey. I apologize ahead of time that this may seem lengthy, but will try to keep it light with speckles of humor.

Friday, August 15, 2014, 0230: Alarm goes off- I try to remember why any sane person would get up that up this early on a non-working day. My foggy brain remembers and says to me, “Oh yeah, an eleven hour drive to run a marathon.” Stumbling through the dark, I make my way to the kitchen for that delightful dark liquid that is filled with caffeine. I suck it down and mentally go over what I need to finish packing as I had done most of it the night before. After deciding that all essentials are accounted for, I pack the Jeep and away I go.

0420: Arrive at my oldest son’s home. He is sitting on his front porch half asleep. He loads his stuff up, we look at the map, set the Garmin and head out. I don’t know who had the worst bladder problems, but we managed to stop two times in two hours before we even got out of Missouri. Caffeine was not helping that situation.

Drive, drive, drive…hello Iowa, goodbye Iowa. Hello Interstate 90 and South Dakota…ALL the was ACROSS South Dakota. My hips hurt, my butt hurt. One can only transfer weight so many times! Good golly gas started getting expensive! We were humored by some of the signs we saw and by some of the items for sale in the gas stations. I started wondering if maybe this sign was for runners given the fact that we are prone to black toenails:

"Toe Service?"
“Toe Service?”

After making a pit stop in Sturgis (where gas was $3.89/gallon), we visited the world famous “Full Throttle Saloon”  for some of those “touristy type” photos:

"Touristy"
“Touristy”

5:00pm: We finally arrived at our destination- Spearfish, S. Dakota, and drug our travel weary bodies into the hotel. I found the expo down the hall- a really small, but well equipped one. Expos are dangerous places for me to be. It’s the adult equivalent of Toys-R-Us-“Why yes, give me one of each please!” One thing I will always purchase is a book by the speaker or in this case the race director. She (Dr. Elaine Doll-Dunn) is an amazing lady and has been running since 1978 at the then age of 40. Makes me feel really good that I was only a few years older than that when I started running. I also purchased some Zensah arm sleeves, something I have been wanting to try for a long time. I know they say “nothing new on race day,” but those are something I could shed and tuck into my Spi-belt if needed. They proved to be a wonderful addition to my running attire as my arms did not get near as fatigued as usual. The check in process was well organized. I picked up my bib, my tech shirt and a timing device that you Velcro around your ankle. That was a first. After that I called it a night.

Saturday, August 16: I toyed with the idea of a shake out run, but decided we would be doing a lot of walking and hiking so I scrapped that idea. We had a whirlwind of a day driving through the Black Hills National Forest, hiking up to Roughneck Falls and back, going to Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore and finally Needles Highway. If you’ve never been to the Black Hills, it is a must see with it’s indescribable beauty and tranquility. Needles Highway is phenomenal.

Roughneck Falls
Roughneck Falls

8:30pm: Finally arrive back to hotel. I decided to go for a swim and relax in the hot tub for a bit. My son had gone to call his girlfriend and I thought he would be back before I was done. Oh contraire, he was gone a LONG time and the pool filled up with kids and the hot tub got- well, hot and I was ready to go to bed. Since I thought my son would be back, I didn’t take my key/card with me. It’s such a lovely feeling to have to go up to the front desk, dripping wet, in your swimsuit, to ask for a spare key…awkward! I got in the room, laid all my race gear neatly out, set the alarms, and went to bed. It was 10:30pm. The shuttle to the top of the canyon was to pick runners up at 0400.

Sunday, August 15-Race Day 0230:-alarm goes off, and I jumped with a start…this is it! I got up, fixed the coffee, ate some oatmeal with a little peanut butter, got dressed, and relaxed a little. My biggest decision (which was a race day change) was to wear my Brooks instead of my Hokas. I’ve always worn the Hokas for long runs, but since this was going to have some steep downhills, I didn’t want any surprises and I knew the Brooks would give me the kick I needed at the end. Nice surprise to get a text of well wishes from a runchat friend. It’s the little things. I told my son goodbye  (he was sound asleep), told him not to forget my purse when he drove out to the finish (and that he would look good carrying it), and I made my way to the lobby.

0355: The lobby is filled with runners-females. The Leading Ladies Marathon is an all woman race and is in it’s tenth year. This will be just one of the firsts that I encountered. The shuttle (bus) was right on time and we filed in. I sat up front behind the driver and a pleasant, VERY talkative lady sat next to me. I guessed her to be in her late 60s, maybe early 70s. She stated that this was her “two- hundredth something” marathon. She had a litany of physical ailments she had overcome and her constant chatter kept me from thinking too much about the race. It was pitch black out, so she also kept me awake. It was about an hour drive to the top of the canyon in Lead, S. Dakota.

0515: We finally get to the top and all I have on my mind is “where is the bathroom?”  The temp was in the 50s which was nice, but when you’ve got to pee, it makes it even worse.

WARNING: PORTA- POTTIES CAN BE PROBLEMATIC (especially in the pitch dark). Get ready folks, I’m about to keep it real! So there were five porta-potties all lined nicely against the parking lot. Of course, everyone had to use the facilities. That is another reason I sit up front-first one off. Yay me-I was first in line to the first modern outhouse. Disclosure: I NEVER sit on public toilets-I either hover or use the little paper saddles. Well, you know how uncomfortable/confined/ergonomically incorrect those things can be-especially in the dark! I started to hover, and then, thought heck with it, they’re probably sparkling clean and put out here just for this race, so I sat down. Oh sweet release! Wait a minute-why is the floor getting wet? Oh holy mother of pearl the lid is down! I WAS SITTING (AND PEEING) ON THE FRIGGIN’ LID! Thankfully the vertical john was slanted a bit and nothing got on my clothes. So now here I was (in the dark) trying to grab toilet paper and wipe up the seat and the floor. I managed to “gitt’er done” and no one was the wiser. So now it is our little secret so don’t you tell.

Shhhh!
Shhhh!

I exited that johnny room with my best poker face.  “Please God, I thought, don’t let this be an omen for the rest of the race!” I hopped back on the bus and managed to use the facilities one more time (without mishap) before the start of the race.

0550: I had contemplated before this race, that I might run with a pace team again. I hadn’t done that since the first marathon and thought that would be a good way to keep me from “firing out of the gate” and using up all of my energy. Since this was a small race, there was a 4:00, a 4:30 and a 3:45 pacer, but no 3:55 which is what I wanted. So I decided to run with the 4:00 pacer and forge ahead toward the end when I needed to. The leader was a very nice girl who volunteered to be the 4:00 pacer since they didn’t have one when originally she was suppose to do the 4:30. A funny story about the 3:45 pacer- it was a “he” who signed up for the race not knowing it was all women. Since he had already paid, they let him be a pacer! ,

0600: The horn blared and we were off. Our little 4:00 group consisted of two nurses of which I was one, a med student, a pharmacy student, and an occupational therapist. How coincidental is that? It was nice chatting at the start and finding out where everyone was from. The first mile was up “Cyclone Hill” on mostly gravel/chat. Everyone had warned me about the effects of the thin air (at 6000 ft), but truthfully, this was the only time I felt it when starting up that hill. Mile one- 9:57 pace. “This is great,” I thought to myself, “I didn’t take off like my butt was on fire.” Over the hill, there was a sharp down hill. Mile two 9:05 pace, mile three 9:06 pace. After mile three, I stayed under a nine minute pace until mile 12.

Somewhere around mile six, the pace leader hollered at me (I was a bit up ahead) and stated that we were under pace and had some making up to do. It was then that I decided to go it alone. I thought if I could at least keep the 3:45 pacer in sight, I would be okay. Mile 6-7, I passed a much younger girl who seemed to be struggling a bit. We chatted for awhile and I downed my first GU-a little late as I had intended to take one in every 5 miles and a salt capsule every hour. No big deal, I was feeling on top of the world.

From about mile nine until mile 11, I was pretty much alone. There aren’t words to describe how beautiful Spearfish Canyon is especially at that time of morning . The mountain air was cool and fresh and the streams and creeks were flowing from the falls. It was nature sounds in it’s purest form. I felt a glimpse of what the Native Americans describe as, “A harmonious interaction between the body and the environment.” That is one reason that I do not run with music. For one, I do not want to get used to it and then something happen and not have it. I also like to be aware of my surroundings for safety, and in this case -to take it all in.

Spearfish Canyon
Spearfish Canyon
Spearfish Creek
Spearfish Creek

 

The rock formations are Deadwood Shale, Englewood limestone, and Paha Sapa limestone. “Paha Sapa” is the Native American name for “Black Hills” so named because from afar, the numerous Ponderosa Pines look black. Spearfish Canyon is said to be twelve times more ancient than the Grand Canyon.

I can’t tell you how many people doubted me that this race was a Boston certified qualifying race because it is mostly “downhill.” That is a misconception. Yes, it is down the canyon, but the twists and turns make it a little rough on the knees, especially the right knee because it is getting more of the friction from the curves. Downhill also shreds your quads. I would venture to say that it is harder than running on a flat surface (which none ever truly are). Also, WHY would I lie about it? Better yet, why would the website lie about it? If the Boston Athletic Association deems it a qualifier…then it’s a qualifier!

Mile eleven took us into “Little” Spearfish Canyon where there is a lodge and a 7/10 mile jaunt up the hill that leads to Roughneck Falls. I was SO glad that I had ran up the steep hill in my hometown in preparation for this hill (see it’s NOT all downhill)! The almost halfway point, PLUS the fact that the surface was gravel, gave the phrase “dig deep” new meaning. Since it was an up and back I got to hit the aid station that was there twice. Good thing, because it seemed like there wasn’t another one until mile 15. Mile 12 pace-9:38 (last time over 9:00 pace until mile 19).

Mile 13 came and went and before I knew it, I was halfway done. The outer part of the right knee started to twinge a bit, but due to the fact that I was wearing my Brooks, my left “great” toe started to hurt too as it was taking the brunt of the weight on the curves. Oh well, I guess I’ll end up losing that toenail too. Small price to pay and it kept me from obsessing over my knee. The knee pain was truly transient, for which I was grateful. I looked at my Garmin, and I was hitting the splits with some to spare.

Mile 14.5 -well meaning spectators yell, “Only ten more miles, and it’s all down hill.”  If my math skills serve me correctly, I KNEW I had 11.5 miles left PLUS 385 yards! But I was glad that he told me it was all down hill, lol. It was at mile 16 that I started playing the mental games with myself. “Okay, ten more miles…that’s like two 5 mile loops at home and a sprint to the car…easy breezy!” I was also mostly alone again so I played this game of catching up to each one that was just ahead of me. I had been freaked out about bears the whole trip and certainly didn’t want to meet one. The closest I came to one was a stuffed one in a glass case and that was close enough!

Scary Bear!
Scary Bear!

Mile 17, I passed a girl who was going for 3:30 time. She was puking on the side of the road-poor girl. My “catch the runner” game continued. Mile 19, I struck up a conversation with a runner and asked if she was on target for her goal. “I have no idea,” she said…random. I caught up to another who stated that she was having terrible stomach cramps. I chatted with her awhile and tried to encourage her. Mile 19 pace-9:13, I would hit over a nine minute pace only once more at mile 25.

Mile 20 with a 10k to go. Legs are getting a little weary, but not too bad. I sucked down my final GU. Where in the world is the water hole? I NEED WATER!  Starting to get a little cranky as I keep looking at my Garmin. Doubt crept in, but just a little. I thought of all the hard work I had put into preparing for this day. I thought about all of the people who believed in me and encouraged me -who had faith in me when I didn’t have faith in myself. I thought of Bart Yasso and how he lives with pain 24/7 from Lyme disease and how he told me in a text, “I know you can do it…hope to see you in Boston.” I even thought about the naysayers and how cutting them out of my life has been the BEST decision that I have ever made and how their doubt and cruelty and bullying only served as fuel to ignite my passion to be a champion. Then I got angry-angry at myself for even allowing doubt to creep in knowing full well that this was MY day, this was MY time and that I KNEW that deep down in the fiber of my being. I had no expectations to live up to except my own, and I EXPECTED to be a winner this day. Okay, it was time to channel Katy Perry and ROAR…eye of the tiger…go from ZERO to my own HERO!

Mile 23-8:56 pace, a 5k to go. I passed a few more walkers and told them to hang tough and that it was all mental from here. I looked at my Garmin, did the math in my head and knew that if I could just maintain at least a 9:00 pace I would still finish under  4 hours, hopefully 3:58 or under. Mile 24-8:51 pace. On a straight away now and headed toward the park. Mile 25-9:02 pace. Someone shouted “Fourteen minutes!” I thought to myself, “what did that mean?” Last mile- time to give it that last push, “Feet don’t  fail me now!” Why does the last mile seem the longest and THEN there is yet 385 yards! Mile 26-8:52 pace. I was in the park -up and over a bridge and there it was in sight-the FINISH line! No one word that stands alone is so meaningful at that moment. Last push-DONE!  Final official time 3:54:08. (8:57 pace) 25/126 overall, 6/18 division. What a glorious feeling…no words.

FINISH!
FINISH!

Ladies, this is a must do race. I hope to come back sometime and just run it for the pure beauty of it all without being concerned about the time. Well organized, plenty of aid stations, nice medal and tech shirt. I promise you won’t regret it.

I went from zero to my own HERO
I went from zero to my own HERO

“When you get really clear and honest about what you want, everything in the universe conspires to help you get it”.

-Michael Neill

Until we meet again,

Stephanie

If You Are a Runner
Somehow It Makes Sense

 

 

The Problem With the Problem is That the Problem is Most Likely the Problem

Life certainly can be perplexing at times…and challenging, and interesting, and humorous-but definitely not boring. If you get bored, you must not live on the same planet as I do. There really are not enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs to be done, let alone things you just want to do…or is there?

We all have 24 hours in a day. I will be the first to say that sometimes prioritizing is just a little bit difficult for me. I know the things that need to be done, but I am somewhat easily distracted by what I want to do. Oh I do the major things like paying bills on time, keeping up on certifications for work, laundry, etc. but there are trees/bushes that need trimming, a house that needs some spot painting, windows that need cleaning-you get the picture. I just can’t motivate myself enough to do those kinds of things. The problem is not that there isn’t time, the problem is my lack of drive to get those things done. After all, there are books to be read, dogs to play with, miles to be ran, and for goodness sakes-BLOGS to write! I’m glad I’m not much of a phone talker. In fact I despise talking on the phone for long periods of time. I am more of a “get to the point” type of talker and not much on idle “chit-chat.” Good thing or that would be another time consuming problem.

The other day I tried to start my Saturn Ion with the Jeep key…it didn’t work. The problem was not that I did not have a key, but that it was the wrong key. The problem was user error, lol (sometimes I scare myself)! Now, I could have blamed that key for not working-after all, it was a vehicle key. Would that have changed the outcome? You don’t think so either? Well then, great minds think alike except sometimes mine doesn’t fire on all four cylinders (or is it six or eight)? I may have also left my purse in the Jeep that I had driven earlier in the day, but I won’t mention that. That could have been a problem if I had been stopped by a friendly police officer 🙂

Just Slightly
Just Slightly

There are two words in the English language when put together read something like this, “personal responsibility.” Here we go: Responsibility – (American Heritage Dictionary)1. The state, quality, or fact of being responsible. 2. Something for which one is responsible; duty, obligation, or burden. Responsible – 1. Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority. 2. Capable of making moral or rational decisions on one’s own and therefore answerable for one’s behavior. 3. Capable of being trusted or depended upon; reliable.

Now, if I oversleep whether by not setting my alarm or by shutting it off and am late for work, is the problem the traffic or the time clock at work? What if I get written up? Is the problem then that my employer/manager is unfair (even if there are clearly spelled out guidelines)? If I get a “bad” assignment due to my tardiness, can I blame my peers for this problem?  If my co-workers have to continually work short and pick up the slack because I have excessive absences (totally hypothetical) and are a little annoyed with me is that their problem? True, they have complete control over their actions, but the problem about the problem is that my lack of personal responsibility IS THE PROBLEM.

How much in our society could be remedied if people would just start taking personal responsibility for their actions. Folks want to piss and moan because they can’t pay their bills, or don’t have enough money to do what they want, yet getting a job or a 2nd or 3rd job is out of the question. Now I realize that it has been a difficult economy, minimum wage is difficult to live on, and the price of everything has gone up. It is challenging to live and have the basic necessities. I’m not down playing those facts. Moreover, I am speaking of those who have the talent and resources to move ahead and just don’t want to do it. There are college educations that are never used because well, they just aren’t interested in that field anymore. Or, pure laziness has become a way of life, and it is much easier to watch TV all day and hope the “employment van” stops at your door. It always amazes me too, how people can afford what they want especially when it comes to supporting their habits. They can’t pay the gas bill, but those cigarettes and booze? No problem! So it becomes the gas company’s fault when the gas is shut off-mean old gas company!

It takes a little effort to fill out a job application. Is it fun? Not generally. I hated every application, resume, cover letter, etc. I had to ever fill out. Not to mention jumping through all the hoops of education, student loans and the like. What-you flunked your test because you didn’t study? Well, I’m sure that darned old test was just too hard and had content on it that was never covered in class. Oh, you didn’t take notes or show up for class half the time?  The system must be the problem.

There are those who want a quick fix to everything. They want to lose weight but don’t want to put in the effort to exercise or change their eating habits so they blame the airlines for charging them for two seats because they take UP two seats. Is the seat size the problem? Dumb- dumb people get burned from hot coffee at a fast food joint and sue the company with the help of dumb- dumb lawyers (coffee is hot?-Who knew)?  The coffee was definitely NOT the problem.

I work in a profession where I care for a lot of people who come in with the same issues time and time again. It’s always something/someone else’s fault. They don’t take their medication correctly or at all and want to say that it isn’t working. They may be diabetic and still eat whatever they want or they don’t show up for their routine doctor appointments. Again, I am not speaking of those who don’t have health insurance or can’t afford their medication. Those are the ones who generally do not come in until they are very sick. Unfortunately a lot of people treat hospitals like a bed and breakfast-“three hots and a cot” but then leave continuing to do those things that got them there in the first place. THAT is a problem!

In the running world, there are also those who gripe because they, as spectators, don’t get to indulge in post race refreshments. Seriously, really? Maybe race directors should just start handing out medals to all who are near the finish line as well. What-running a race whether it is a 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon or marathon takes training/effort??? Let me tell you something-the reward is in the journey that gets you to the starting line. The finish line is the icing on the cake. Don’t give me some sad ass excuse that you can’t accomplish something like that. It’s all in the WANT to as explained in the next paragraph.

I have a twitter friend whom I do not know personally but from what I know, he is a fine young man. He is battling cancer and is a runner. Just the other day, he received platelets at 0600 at a hospital, and not long after ran 10 miles. He’s been on several different medications that have crappy side effects and yet he runs with nausea and fevers. Today, he has not been able to keep any food down. He has been training for and will be running the Ventura marathon on September 7 (not his first marathon). To put it bluntly and honestly…he is my hero. On those days when I’m a little sore and don’t actually feel like running or feel like quitting, I think of Alex…and I suck it up. I stand in awe of people like him and I hope I can be half the person he is.

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There are others who I could mention. I’ve already talked about my mother in a previous blog about how hard she works and never complains. That is why I have so little tolerance for laziness and half baked excuses. I’m so SICK of the “whoa is me” attitude and “my life sucks because I don’t have enough money” mentality. If you have your health my friend, you are rich indeed. If you don’t take care of yourself-body/mind/spirit…you have no one to blame your problems on but yourself. That’s just the way I see it. If you don’t like it, I really don’t care. I’m just in THAT kind of a mood…and I’m  keepin’ it real!

There are a lot of overcomers in the world. The problem many times is that people want instant gratification. That is why it is easy to sell lottery tickets. No one wants to WAIT for anything, whether in buying things, relationships, education…you name it. The sad thing is that most of it is self serving-it is a “get what I want, when I want, and how I want it” mentality, no matter what it may cost someone else.

As of this date, I have four days until my goal race. All I can do now is trust my training and feed off the good vibes from all of the people who have encouraged me along the way. I LOVE the running community. No matter the outcome, I have experienced much joy in the journey and discovered that my body can do far more than what I ever thought capable. Besides, at the finish line there are always free bananas!

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Let me tell you the secret  that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.

–Louis Pasteur

Until we meet again,

Stephanie

You may never like anything I write- and then you may like something very much. But you must believe that I am sincere in what I write.”

–Ernest Hemingway

 

Long Runs Seem…Well, Long

Hey, hey, hey-here it is, another week gone by. Can you believe it is August??? Truly, I cannot. I remember my grandmother used to say, “The older you get, the quicker time goes.”  I have certainly found that to be true. What are your plans for August?  School will be starting soon, so I am sure that is in the plans for many. I do not have school aged children anymore, nor any grandchildren.  I have been cleaning out and giving away/throwing away lots of “stuff” lately. I still had unopened school supplies from years ago. I took them to work for a co-worker’s grandkids. She laughed that I still had them and said I was “funny.” Why YES  I am, thank you very much!

For me, August is a pivotal month. In 13 days, I will be running my goal race, a Boston qualifier. I had originally signed up for this race last year but got injured doing landscaping. Thankfully, it was one of those races where your entry fee transferred to the following year if you couldn’t make it. I have been running my arse off and lost ten pounds in the process.  I started out the year with a coach (virtual) to help me tweak my training. I had only taken 3 days off since the last marathon I ran in November which was the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK. It was a good start to the year. I have taken no more than 2 days off from running since November. So far, so good. My knees, specifically IT band, have been my nemesis. Strengthening my hips have certainly made a difference in the knees.

Since then, I have tried to incorporate several different training plans into my regimen. I had the privilege of meeting and running with Jeff Galloway in April of this year. I picked his brain and like what he told me, “You have already qualified for Boston, you just aren’t old enough!” I like that answer. Qualifying times have become quite strict. Boston is the Crème de la Crème of marathons-the runner’s dream. If you attain Boston, you have arrived. I bought his book and have been training to the beat of his drum, as well as listening to my body. He did instill confidence in me. So much of running is mind over matter.

Jeff Galloway signing my book
Jeff Galloway signing my book

and rightfully so.

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Confidence booster

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Most will tell you that the “long run” is the most important training component in a marathon training program. Usually done once a week, it is recommended that  they be done 3-4 minutes per mile slower than your marathon pace. The goal is endurance, not speed. Jeff’s training program has you exceed the marathon distance (26.2 miles), three weeks out from the actual marathon. Only his longest distance is 29 miles. I am kind of a rebel, and as stated previously, I mix different plans and listen to my body. It is on this premise that I will give you my recap of my long run yesterday-only it was 30 miles at two weeks out. I will try to be concise with bullet points.

  • Getting ready essentials: Cooler filled with ice, bottled water, vitamin water zero, and chocolate milk (for post run protein), spibelt, run/walk timer, body glide (for those not so fun chafing shenanigans), and an extra pair of socks (just in case).
  • Long run essentials
    Long run essentials
  • Nearing mile one: Hey, ho- feeling GREAT! It is so HARD  to run slow but I am DOING it! What is that I hear? Sounds like a cow giving birth. I round a corner to hear/see a girl on the lake/swimming beach singing (moaning?) acapella with her headphones- a horrific rendition of Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
  • Cow giving birth?
    Cow giving birth?

    Mile one complete, only 29 more to go. According to Garmin (a device for measuring pace/distance for my non-running friends), I ran that mile in 9:33-a respectable slow for most, but not quite 3-4 miles slower than marathon pace. It seemed slow.

  • I settle into a groove, man this feels good! Working at the hospital the previous day with no running was torture I tell you! I mentally take notes on when I will stop at water fountain/ car to rehydrate and refuel. I do have my handy dandy “spibelt” on with my GUs and Salt Stick. The “Salt Stick” caps have been a lifesaver. Bye, bye foot & leg cramps.
  • salt stick
  • Whew-a 5k already! I decide to live on the edge and traverse waters (areas) I have never ran before. I go up into the campsites. One & two I have ran many times. I venture into camp three. Holy mother of pearl- a steep hill going in. At least I know I will be going down on the way out. It does afford the chance to go another two miles to which I am grateful. I stop at water fountain and suck down a GU -a delicious concoction of sugar & electrolytes spun into a gel (explanation for my non-running friends).
  • Still feeling on top of the world, I make my way through some of the parking lots. Creepy guy parked at the stop sign just sitting there yells, “Run Forest, run!” I am bemused and keep running.
  • I try to vary my route as the laps around the lake can get quite monotonous. As it had rained in the morning, I was grateful that it hadn’t become too humid yet and the sun was staying at bay. Mile 6 & 7 fly by. Another jaunt through the campsites (excluding #3 with it’s monster hill) I end up back at my car at mile 10. I suck down another GU and-keep going.
  • I had started with a 30 second brisk walk after every mile. I continued this until I hit the half marathon length of 13.1 miles. I then converted to a 5:1 run/walk ratio. Dang it’s hard to try to conserve that energy for what you know will be a not so fun ending.
  • Strategy was to take in a GU every five miles and a salt cap every hour. Water fountains became my oasis. I hate the taste of Gatorade and avoid it at all cost. In fact, I don’t even buy it unless I have too…which is seldom.
  • Mile 15-woohoo, half way there!!! Still feeling pretty good (or so I tell myself). I imagine the hoards of adoring fans screaming my name on the sides of the trail and the friendly faces of volunteers at aide stations (or am I delusional)?
  • Mile 18-starting to try to compromise that if I were only going 26.2, I would only have 8.2 miles to go-only. Since the loop is 3.75 miles, I do the math in my head and decide I only need to go off the beaten path a little to finish up.
  • Mile 23-back at the car and mentally take note that by the next lap I will have completed a marathon. Legs are getting heavy and will is getting weak. This is when a crew or running partner would so come in handy. I decide I will push hard until then and then go with a 30/30 second run/walk for the remaining four miles.
  • 26.2-4 hours, 40 minutes, and 41 seconds. Remember this is long, SLOW distance! I want to quit, but I am not a quitter. I stop by car again and take in a salt cap and some water. No GU this time.
  • Legs are screaming as I hit mile 27. By mile 28 I am becoming faint of heart and will…and nauseated. I pause Garmin and give myself pep talk, “You only have two miles to go…two miles!!! Suck it up! Besides, what are your options? There is no one out here, no one to come get you. You either finish or lay down and die and have the disgusting, half eaten, decomposed remains of your body found a week later”(okay, that may be a little melodramatic). Most of mile 28 to 29 was spent fast walking.
  • Mile 29- I got my 2nd (or perhaps 5th?) wind. I settled into a nice jog and was never so happy to see/hear my Garmin tick of the 30 mile mark conveniently close to my car.

Water, blessed cold water! I ran the bottle over my neck and face and guzzled it down trying to not think about how my legs were aching (damned lactic acid)! I then dug through the ice like a vagrant in a trash can to get to my chocolate milk.  I sat briefly to drink it, do some stretches, and got a towel out to spread on the ground to lay on. I needed to get the legs up to drain the lactic acid. A tree works wonderfully for this.

Legs Up A Tree
Legs Up A Tree

Runfie

I had just completed the longest run of my life…ever. It was a very tiring, yet satisfying experience. Jeff Galloway states in his book, “By going longer than the marathon distance, you may never hit the wall again.”  For you non-runners, “hitting the wall” is the distance that you feel you can’t go on in a race-legs are mush, will is lacking.  Historically for me, it has been 18 miles.  That distance seems like a stepping stone now. Hopefully it will pay off in two weeks when I run the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Black Hills

Another thing about consistency in training is that I recover a lot faster. My hips and piriformis were a little tight last night on the left, but feel pretty good today. In the past, especially after a marathon, it was difficult to walk up and down stairs the day after. I have felt exceptionally wonderful today and entertained the idea of a short, slow run but decided to work on core instead. Don’t want to overdue it but it is hard to rest and taper for the next two weeks.

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What an incredible thing this running journey has been. I have met some incredible people, mostly via social media who are the epitomy of encouragement. No one understands a runner like another runner. And to think this is really only the beginning of something incredibly wonderful. To infinity and beyond!

There Was a Flower...
There Was a Flower…

Until We Meet Again,

Stephanie