View From the Rear

Alas, another year has come & gone. It really puts things in perspective on how fast time flies when I find snacks that I swore I bought a couple of weeks ago and they are dated October 4, 2016!  I guess I didn’t want them as bad as I thought I did at the time or they would have all been gone-ah, hindsight!

Hindsight – (noun) Understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.

How many things can you look back on that happened in 2016 (or prior) and have a little more understanding now? I can think of lots of things. My overactive brain is always in “go” mode & in hindsight I should write them down when they pop in my head, lest I forget (and have) most of them.

I kind of, sort of, (snicker/snort) like to run and enjoy competition with myself. Race wise I ran two marathons, six half marathons, two 10ks, six 5ks, one 4 miler, and  10, 15, & 20 mile technical trail runs. I kind of like bling too (e.g. medals). Total running miles for the year = 1,375. That is probably not a lot of miles for some runners. In hindsight, that it is the equivalent of running from my little town in Missouri to Las Vegas, give or take a couple of miles (1,377.4 miles or a 19 hour drive). That seems like a lot for me, although my total was a bit more in 2014, less in 2015. There is always room for improvement and growth.

I try to change things up so as not to get too bored. One way in which I sought to do this was through technical trail runs. I have ran four total and I love being out in nature among the quiet and serene. I have fallen three out of the four. I’m just a clumsy butt. The last one on 11/12/16, a 25k, was a beautiful course. I had run the 10k of this race in2015 (my first), so I decided it was time to up the ante. I had run a marathon two weeks prior, so I thought 15 miles would be a breeze. Well, it’s trails so…lots of autumn leaves and rocks/roots under those leaves. I fall down go boom boom on my left side at mile 11-hard. I finished strong, but was oh so glad to be done!

In hindsight, I should not have ran that race, or I should have at least taken sufficient time to heal, but I really had no pain when I was running. I went on to run a 1/2 marathon a week later and a 5k four days after that, again with no problems, or so I thought. I tried to run with the group the following Sunday and my left knee started giving me pain. I rested a couple days and took short run/walks the rest of the week. On 12/4/16, I was feeling pretty good, so decided to run four miles. The first mile was great-no pain! Mile two was a little sketchy and in hindsight, I should have quit and called for a ride. I am MUCH to stubborn and gave it all I had to get back to my house. That was truly my last official “run” for the year. My knee was trashed. I managed an 8:38 pace, so there’s that, ha, ha!

Having one last 5k for the year-my 20th “race” for the year, I was determined I was not going to miss it. It would be my husband’s first 5k and I was not going to let him down. I thought I would just run very conservatively, maybe around a 10-11 minute/mile pace. Who the heck was I trying to kid? Well myself of course! In hindsight I was delusional! I tried to jog (in very bad shoes)! This was after I got my “boogie” on at a pre-race costume/dance competition. Approaching the first mile, I was wishing I had just signed up for the one miler! I limped/walked for the next 2.1 miles.

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Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

View from the rear: I am not the fastest runner, nor the slowest. I am more of a “mid-packer.” My very first 5k as a runner back in 2007, was a walk/run dare. My time was around 48 minutes. My PR in the 5k is 0:23:11 9/6/15. This jog/limp was around 48 minutes. But oh, the sights I saw! I saw grit and determination from those who are always bringing up the rear. I saw walkers and families with strollers and dogs having a great time run/walking all lit up in costume and lights. People came out of their homes to watch and say, “Merry Christmas.” I was able to thank the volunteers and the police officers. I tortured people with my singing “Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer.” I shouted to the runner in the “A Christmas Story” bunny suit, “Speed up you Wascally Wabbit.” My son and daughter in law passed me. They were the cutest. It was a beautiful December night.

In hindsight, I gained a whole new perspective. Way too much emphasis is placed on “speed.” That is fine if one is trying to qualify for an event, but we are all different. At my peak, running too slow is uncomfortable. My best times have come when I wasn’t even trying. The people I saw from the rear had this figured out-have fun, take it all in, and enjoy the journey. Despite the pain, I still got my bling!_20161225_111826

 

Lessons Learned: 

Heed the warnings of your body. What may have been an little issue in the past, could be disaster in the future. I ended up having a lateral meniscus injury that threw me into IT band problems by my leg trying to protect my knee. I am on the mend and have a wonderful chiropractor to thank for that. I should be able to do my first race at the end of the month.

Trail races are great for the non-clumsy, although even the swift and nimble have been known to fall a time or two as well.

After care in running is hugely important, especially as we age. If we want things to function well, we best take care of what we have.

Old dogs have joint issues as well and need lots of hugs and cuddles._20161214_201429

 

Life and running does not always have to be FAST. In hindsight, the caboose who thinks he/she can, eventually will -with determination and effort.

Temporary set backs are just that-temporary (remember the expired snacks)? Although when you’re going through it, it seems like forever which brings me to my next point.

It really is all about perspective and attitude. _20170106_091359

Goals are important but none are as important as your health. My main goal as a runner this year: _20170101_112832

In hindsight, what are your goals for the new year and beyond?

“There’s not a better feeling than when you have found that moment of balance and harmony when both running & life come together. Then you know why you run and that you couldn’t live without it.”-Joan Benoit Samuelson

Have a great January and beyond. Cheers to the New Year!

Stephanie

The Glass Half Full

Well now-it has been well over a month since I last attempted a blog post. Sometimes my brain gets so overloaded with ideas that it is easier to do nothing until something stirring happens. I have plenty of races to blog about, but for sake of time, I will condense those at a later date (and eventually get back to living in the present while reflecting on the past).

Today is Halloween by the date on our Gregorian calendar. I won’t get off on a tangent about the history of the “holiday” as much as I’d like too. I will just say that people sometimes major in the minors about the “to celebrate or not” as it implies to the “pagan” background More importantly, I returned home today from a four day trip to Washington, DC. Annie the orphan pup was glad to be home from the sitter & appropriately did her “Franken Annie” impersonation in her sleep.

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Franken Annie

Why was I in DC? Glad you asked. Last late winter/early Spring (I can’t remember exactly when, I’ve slept since then), I entered the lottery to run the Marine Corps Marathon & actually got in. My fall marathon was planned. After the horrible experience I had at Grandma’s Marathon in June, I almost regretted having to train for another one occurring just four short months later. Since this was a bucket list marathon, I trudged away with hot, humid, summer runs.

This is not a race recap. You can find plenty of those on other sights. After all, this was the 41st running of MCM. I am not a race director, nor do I aspire to be. MCM was my tenth marathon-not really that many by hardcore marathoner standards. What I do know is this-everyone has an opinion, and everyone is different in their likes/dislikes of particular races from course layout to crowd support, to aid stations, to…you name it. To run out of water at a race is unacceptable (which they did not, but I have been to others that did). I personally think that chocolate milk should be a standard offering post race at EVERY race, but that’s just me. Not being a race director does not numb me to the fact that all races entail a great deal of planning/preparation, especially one of that magnitude.

Some of the complaints I heard online and at the Hotel I was staying at afterwards were as follows: Too hot (as if the weather can be controlled), too many out & backs, too many times around the Pentagon parking lot, course was a bit longer than 26.2, not enough showcasing of DC, expo too far away, no finisher blankets, blah, blah, blah. One person even said that she was going to write to the General. Good luck with that.

My point is this: Is your glass half empty or half full, whether in a marathon or any other aspect of life? Here is the mission statement from marinemarathon.com

“The mission of the Marine Corps Marathon is to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the US Marine Corps.”

It goes on to tell how the Marines are actively involved in the planning & execution of this and other MCM events. Marines organizing every jot & tittle of a public running event. No prize money for the winner. It is “The Peoples’ Marathon.”

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Snipers On the Roof, Protecting All

The Bleacher Report said this:

“One of the nation’s largest & most popular marathons…provides an opportunity for members of the Marine Corps to come together and celebrate a special day for the armed forces.”

Did you catch that? “To celebrate a special day for the armed forces.” This was the 41st year. There was at least one older gentleman who had run all 41. A lot of our armed service personnel who are either active duty or retired, run it every year. Many others run it every year. So to be fair, I have no other years to compare it to since this was the first time that I have been privileged to run it. For the complainers in the hotel, it was their first time as well.

My perspective: This was my 2nd trip to DC. The last time I was there was 2009, and things have changed somewhat. I have lots of photos from previous trip of all of the monuments and other touristy stuff, so I didn’t repeat a lot of those photos. The featured image says it all. I will always visit Arlington National Cemetery. So I will start there.

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At the start of the race, the headstones are visible to the left. “Thank you fallen service members.” If it weren’t for those somber graves, there would be no freedom to run marathons. Since it was Halloween weekend, many runners wore various costumes. One runner wore a Yeti costume with full head gear the whole time. That had to be miserably hot. Moreover, there were the photos/names of the fallen, the fighting, and the wounded pinned to many shirts. There was a firefighter who ran the entire race in full gear in honor of an armed service person. Many active duty ran in full uniform with packs on their backs. Many carried American flags. “Thank you active duty.” Many wounded veterans ran whether with prosthetic leg or via wheelchair. “Thank you wounded warrior.”mcm-start

Then came the “blue mile.” From mile 10 to 11, photos of the fallen with family members standing by some, others holding the American flag. Besides the foot falls, there was silence, then faint sobbing. It was hard to breathe right and run that mile. Once again, “Thank you fallen warriors & bless the families that you left behind.”

Starting at the expo to the finish line, there were Marines helping, serving. No greater honor than to have one of them put the medal around my neck. Those who have sacrificed so much to be there for me, a small town Missouri runner. Those in the grave, who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I might be free. What do I have to complain about this race?

The miles really just flew by. Legs were a little weary by mile 22, but Marines were there to encourage. It was a very special day. My time? Meh, it wasn’t about the time. I will always cherish this medal above all others for what it symbolizes. I will always salute the flag of the United States of America whose colors never run, birthed with the blood spilled by many. I will always thank God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son for this great country and for the men & women who serve it’s armed forces.

Thank you United States Marine Corps for a job well done. My cup runneth over. #missionaccomplished

In Your Honor

Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers,

You left behind your sisters and your brothers.

Leaving your beloved children and wives,

You put on hold your dreams, your lives.

On foreign soil, you found yourself planted,

To fight for those whose freedom you granted.

Without your sacrifice their cause would be lost,

But you carried onward, no matter the cost.

Many horrors you have endured and seen.

Many faces have haunted your dreams.

You cheered as your enemies littered the ground.

You cried as your brothers fell all around.

When it was over, you all came back home.

Some were left with memories to face all alone.

Some found themselves in the company of friends,

As their crosses cast shadows across the land.

Those who survived were forever scarred emotionally, physically,

Permanently marred.

Those who did not, now sleep eternally

‘Neath the ground they had given their lives

To keep free.

With hand upon my heart, I feel the pride & respect;

My reverence is revealed in the tears

That now stream down my upturned face,

As our flag waves above you in her glory & grace.

Freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave.

Pain & death was the price that you ultimately paid.

Every day, I give my utmost admiration

To those who have fought

To defend our nation.

-Author unknown

Is your cup half empty or half full?

Until next time,

Stephanie

 

 

Breaking Out Again (of this rut I’m in)

May  I be painfully honest? I have really not felt like running since Grandma’s Marathon on 6/18/16. In fact, I’ve really not felt like doing much of anything-except sleeping! It’s summer for goodness sake, what’s WRONG with me???

I tend to internalize crap that I shouldn’t. Like having a crappy race experience when I know I am capable of so much better! Oh there are other things like not hearing from my kids for weeks, worrying about my mother’s health, and thinking about the project I need to get done for work. Some things are out of my hands, this I realize. Other things, like knowing I should be training more (or better) are completely in my control!untitled (89)

I refuse to blame it on age, because I have always believed that age is a number. We get out of anything what we put into it. I know 90 year old people that have more energy and spunk than a lot of 40 year olds (and younger). I am definitely not a lazy person, but I have discovered that I am definitely one who gets bored easily. I thrive under pressure. I am always looking for that new experience and adventure.

I have never followed just ONE running plan. I tend to glean from a few different ones and adjust them to my schedule. I also admit, that as a nurse on my feet for 12 hours for 2 days in a row completely drains me mentally and physically. Running is usually my outlet, but then again, I have been in a rut of sorts.

So I decided that I needed something more. I need accountability to help me get through the rough spots. So once again, I hired a trainer to get me to the finish line of my next marathon pain free and under 4 hours. The last time I did this was early 2014 before my first Boston qualifier. It’s so easy to get lax when one doesn’t have someone pushing them and expecting more out of them. PLUS, when I have spent the $, I expect to get my money’s worth! It is definitely no quick fix. I MUST put in the work!

Variety is the key. I love being around people who are constantly trying to better themselves and do not accept mediocrity. The dumbing down of our society as a whole is so frustrating! I have mentioned before that I am SO thankful for the high school teachers who pushed me and didn’t let me get away with less than my best! I will forever be grateful for my college prep teacher who instilled in me a HUGE vocabulary!

So once again, discipline is key. July first will be the start of my training for the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. No more rest days when I need to be training. No more talking myself into less miles than I should be running. I need to “get out of my head” and be a little selfish with my time.

Would I like my kids to visit/contact me more? Certainly! Would I like for my mother to be completely healthy? Of course! But those are two things that are completely out of my control. What is in my control is the goals I have for myself and the steps it takes to get there. That means core work every day even when I’m sore and running when I don’t feel like it! 049c711c262d57cf3909b8a1cfa92bb7

Everyone experiences low spots in life, it is the human experience. Realizing that  you are not alone is a major step to breaking out of ruts, no matter what it may be. Maybe it’s not running. Maybe it’s life in general. The news media certainly doesn’t help with making our world a cheery place. Depression is real. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is treatable, and you are not alone. You are not a weirdo or a freak of society.

This month marks 7 years that someone I was close to chose to take her life. She is missed every day and her contribution to society is forever gone. It doesn’t have to be this way. Reach out-there are people who truly care and can help you through this rough spot.

Sometimes we can get so down on ourselves that we can’t see the beauty of our lives for what it really is. ALL lives matter. Whatever you’re going through, don’t let it defeat you!

“I choose to be strong by being soft and pliable rather than inflexible, brittle, and hard.”–Affirmation by Wayne Dyer from Living the Wisdom of the Tao, verse 76

Hope to see you out on the road or trails!

Stephanie

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

 

 

Oh the Agony of da Heat & da Knees!

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Catchy title eh? It should more appropriately be called, “A Tale of Two Cities” but I think that was already claimed by Dickens & it was set in London & Paris before the French Revolution. I could have called it, “Three Strikes You’re Out,” (appropriate since it’s baseball season), or I could just lay it all out there in Stephanie style and tell you how I see it.

This is of course, my experience with running Grandma’s Marathon 2016, which just so happened to be it’s 40th anniversary. Anniversaries are lovely things, but that is fodder for another blog. Note the featured image. It was 64 degrees and overcast the day I arrived in Duluth, Minnesota. I was thankful that I had seen fit to bring my long compression pants as rain was in the forecast for race day (they weren’t needed after all).

The Expo: It intrigues me to experience different cities/marathons and their expos. Having just experienced Hospital Hill in KC, for the umpteenth time, it was quite the contrast (as much as the cool temps from the upper 90s in KC)! It was held in the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center or DECC. One had to go through most of the vendors to get to the packet pick up area. That was fine, as I got to sample some wonderful coffee-“Arco” brand that I made sure to purchase at a local grocery store and bring home. The “problem” as I saw it was that it was way too congested. I thought Twin Cities was asses & elbows, but this was much worse! I like to shop at expos and tend to spend too much money, but I couldn’t seem to think of a thing that I needed at this one! I picked up  my bib/packet without much fanfare, got my freebies, and left.

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On to locate the Motel. Duluth is beautiful by the way, and if you have a chance to visit, I would highly recommend it! I should mention at this juncture, that the whole premise of running this marathon was camaraderie with some of my fellow running group rock stars. I would have liked to have gotten a New York qualifying time, but I wasn’t training for it in particular. I was mostly “along for the ride.” Having said that, the “group” which arrived in various fashion-planes, trains, & cars (ok, maybe not trains), were planning on having dinner together at a pizzeria just across the state line in Wisconsin.

Nutrition & Fueling: I have learned through the years, that I cannot eat past 4pm before race day & expect good outcomes. Since the group was meeting at 5:30pm, that meant that eating would most likely commence a little after 6pm & not end before 6:30pm or 7pm. Not a good plan for me. I was in bed by 8pm.

Race Day: 0300 alarm, out the door by 0530 and just in time for shuttle bus to the start at Two Harbors by 0545. It was 33 miles to the start from the motel. The course ran along Lake Superior, ending in Duluth. My group had boasted that this was a “flat” course, with one hill toward the end. I beg to differ. To me, it was like 24 miles of Rockhill Road in Kansas City. There were a few downhills, but not many. I was just pleased as a peacock that it was not raining and that the temp was 70ish to start. Still a far cry from the 90’s in KC.

My people showed up group by group, depending on where they stayed. It was a great sight to see the orange finally arrive! A quick photo and we all headed to our respective corrals (if you could call it that). Supposedly, 9600 people were registered to run the full marathon. I had no plan, other than to hover from the 3:45 to the 3:55 pacers.

I should have hit the porta-potty the final time before the start, but I didn’t, lying to myself that the urge would pass. It didn’t. Thankfully, there were the familiar blue vertical rectangles along the route before even hitting a mile. I had to stop, knowing I would be thinking about it the entire time and not doing my best.

That taken care of, I tried to make up time by sprinting-never a good idea at the start of a race, especially on what appeared to be mostly uphill! I caught a glimpse of one of the running group girls, caught up to her & we chatted for a bit. There was a random runner (female) with some odd coin type skirt thingy over her shorts that kept “jingling.” I can’t tell you how much I wanted to rip that thing off of her! How freaking annoying! By mile 4-5, I took in my first GU and my first Saltstick cap by mile 6. I was feeling actually pretty good and on my normal pace.

It was great to have volunteers handing out cups of ice, because the temps were starting to increase. By the halfway point, I was at around a 2:04 and was starting to feel a bit fatigued. Fatigue and heat I can handle, but what was about to come, I could not.

I started to feel a little niggle in my right knee around mile 16. “Crap,” I thought. “Maybe it will just go away.” I was hitting every water station and walking through them. It wasn’t cramps, but the old IT band from many months ago, laughing at me. Another girl from the group showed up at one point and we ran some together until she needed the porta-potty. She caught up to me and passed me as I needed to hit the johnny room again (so much for nutrition planning)!

Nothing smells quite as horrific as a porta-potty on a hot day in June, especially when one is having digestive problems and feeling some queasy. At that point, I decided that I just did not care about time anymore and I just wanted to finish. I could handle this-two 10ks & I had it whooped! By mile 19, the wheels fell completely off as BOTH knees were crapping out and I decided at that point that I was just going to have fun and get through the final 7.2 miles any way that I could. So I started taking pictures.PhotoGrid_1466433879970

It was after all, a beautiful course. I made sure to get in some photo ops with the locals, Elvis seemed to be popular :PhotoGrid_1466433694350I think it’s around mile 22 that Scenic Hwy 61 crosses over into Duluth. All I know is that I was going to capture this monumental moment. Every time I saw the “First Aid/Dropout” signs, it was oh so tempting!!! Ok-only 4.2 miles to go! My knees were screaming. I tore my sweat rags and tied them around both knees. I was hot, nauseated, and hurting. So thankful for the people along the way who graciously sprayed us!

A fellow runner, who ironically was having IT band problems as well, offered to take my pic in the sprayer. Runners are so awesome! It wasn’t long after this when a couple more from my group passed me & were aiming for a PR. I tried to stay with them but the knees said, “no way!” I then employed the 1 min run/30 sec walk routine. This worked for awhile. Finally mile 23. There was a guy with a beer bong, and boy was it tempting! Anything to numb the pain!PhotoGrid_1466433559856

“Only” a 5k to go! As any marathoner knows, the last 5k is mostly mental-especially on a good running day. I just kept thinking, “Okay, I can walk 10 min miles and be done with this beast in a little over 30 minutes.” I didn’t even notice the hazard signs that had gone up.

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Photo credit: Runner’s Edge

“Full steam ahead!” I only wished. The same girl from early on caught up with me again and another whom I thought had long passed me. We had about 1.5 miles to go and I thought I could finish with them, but the last little downhill on the brick road was too much for the knees and I had to walk once again. My time between miles 25 & 26 was 15 minutes. I told myself I would at least run (hobble?) the last .2. I just wanted to be done and get that damn medal!

I did finish in 4:50:45-my third worst finishing time ever in my 9th marathon! The first was KC Marathon in 2011 at 5:17:56, followed by Route 66, 2013 in Oklahoma at 5:04:37. All three times (three strikes) were a result of IT band flares. I have no one to blame but myself.

Two tales (in pics) of beginnings and endings:

What Went Wrong & What I Learned: Every run-race or otherwise, should be a learning experience. Yes, it was hot & humid and is estimated that over 2000 people dropped out. No, the course was not what I expected. I never look at a course prior to a race. But I had just done Hospital Hill for goodness sakes! As I reviewed my Garmin, I had a  pretty good race up until mile 13-16. Heat has never really been an issue for me. As a rule, I like hills. My problem was laziness. What???

Let me explain. Since I qualified for Boston for 2017 last fall at Twin Cities, I kind of let things slide. Especially after I got sick in March and had to forfeit the 100 miler I signed up for. I have taken a LOT of rest days, and not pushed myself like I know I should have. As I said before, I really did not have a goal time per say for this race, but somewhere between 4 and 4.5 hours would have been desirable. I am 10 pounds heavier than this time last year. True, a lot is muscle, but I have more around my middle than I like. For the past three years, I have been consistent with core work to strengthen my back, and hips. I have not done one lick of core work this year mostly because I find it totally BORING! I have weak hips, back, & glutes. I have work to do.ChZrZ5mWMAErX2T

Hopefully I will have a better report after the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. On the flip side, this was one of the funnest marathons I have ever participated in because I was there with my local running family. They are the best and I am so glad that our paths have crossed. They are some of the MOST hard working, dedicated people I have ever met & who NEVER give up! They truly made this a memorable weekend.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

–Dean Karnazes

Hope to see you out on the roads or trails!

Stephanie

Next up: Stars & Stripes 5k on the 4th of July and taking on Psycho Summer 10 miler 7/23!

 

 

 

Running is Glamorous & Sweat is…

WordPress tells me that it has been 16 days since my last blog post so I thought I’d better get after it!

After contemplating the many issues plaguing the world, I could have written about a handful of them. Things like how I think political posts on social media are idiocy at it’s finest,  how debates about zoos, children, & gorillas are multitudinous, how swimming in alligator infested swamps at night is utter foolishness, or how those who believe the mainstream media are completely simpleminded (ranks right up there with the readers of the Enquirer), but that would take weeks. So instead I will focus on the glamorous residual effects of running-that is, how lovely it can be. (Disclaimer: I am not a poster child for the subject of this blog).

I don’t know how they do it. “They” are the cutie patooties who still look as fresh & beautiful after a run (or workout) as they did before prom (not afterwards with those back seat shenanigans)! You know the type-perfect makeup, smiles on their faces, nary a hair out of place. They take the most flawless selfies afterwards.

I don’t know how you “loose” arm fat. I would think one would want to tighten that crap up! (Beauty but no brains perhaps)? And do people really smile on a treadmill?!

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I don’t know what they are on, but I want some!

I don’t know about you, but I look like a sick cow with a hangover when I’m on the “dread”mill.

A popular photography company back in the late 80’s, early 90’s was one known as
“Glamour Shots.” I guess there are a few still around for those who like to feign “glamour.” Honestly, with photoshop and the ability to alter digital images, I don’t know why anyone would PAY to have this done. That is MY opinion of course, so take it or leave it.

I like to dress up occasionally and to look like something other than what the cat drug in when I go out. But I really love taking candid shots of others or as I like to say, “capturing life.” My kids think I’m daft. That’s okay, I am-and the apples don’t fall too far from the tree! So to get back to “running as glamour,” I shall now share with you some of my “glamour shots.”

I don’t think any advertising companies are going to be calling me anytime soon.

I will try to be brief -humor, arr, arr (only us “old” people get that, but believe it or not, there was once a sitcom called “Mork & Mindy” in the days of three channel T.V. from whence that phrase came). At any rate, I will TRY to highlight the finer aspects of the glamour of running.

Glamorous run faces:

I have tried to anticipate the photographer and tweak a little smile:

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Semi Smile?

Glamorous Finish Line photos that look like you are being a wimp & carrying an umbrella!

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Not Mine!

Glamorous bodily functions:

Glamorous gourmet foods (may cause spontaneous puking on a long run):

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Yummy Gels

Glamorous bodily smells:

Glamorous after effects like chafing and pain from foam rolling:

Glamorous after photos with sweat in the eyes:

Glamorous photo ops with celebrities:

 

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Glamorous Accessories:

Glamorous feet/toes: Who needs polish when your toenails are always black?_20160527_161242

Glamorous Imagination:

So there is my not so comprehensive list of the glamours of running. At least all of my toenails have grown back in time for sandals, I’ve only chafed once (work to be done on those inner thighs, but I’m blaming the material in the shorts), and I’ve only bought 5 pair of shoes so far this year. Since I didn’t get to do the ultra I was planning, there has been no pooping in the woods (yet).

Running has brought me many glamorous things, but I am quite certain that I will NEVER have a booty that looks like this no matter how many squats I do. That’s okay because then I’d break the bank with new clothes. CJ_BumXXAAAS6XT

There are always butt implants and boob implants, but…why? Oh, this society we live in! I would have to learn a whole new way of running and well that’s just TOO much down time!!! I love my glamorous self, my glamorous health, and my glamorous running friends. I must confess that the gams are a nice by-product of running as well.

The moral of the story-embrace you for you. Whatever it is you’re committed to-the good, the bad, and the ugly. Above all, embrace health. We only have one body and when it breaks down, parts are pretty sparse. Most people take better care of their vehicles than they do their bodies. Fight the fight, live long, and capture those life moments!

I love ME, flaws and all.

Oh-and you’re still wondering what sweat is? Wet and sweaty of course…duh!

Hope to see you out on the road or trails!

Stephanie

P.S. And I didn’t even talk about the glamour of spitting & snot rockets!!!

Photo credits to whom they rightfully belong.

For the Love of the Run

Wow, it is May 4! Just another day to many of us. Second month of the second quarter and the weather has been a little schizophrenic. I like it HOT. In fact- the hotter, the better. Screw those cold weather runs! Actually, the low 50s is sort of a runner “sweet spot” but I cool down very quickly and get cold rather easily. At any rate, I will run in whatever weather if my running family is out there too.

I love running. No other way to put it, pure and simple! There is nothing I would rather do in my idle time, and when you get to do it with others, it is all the sweeter. Don’t misunderstand, I enjoy my solo runs as well. In fact, they make up the bulk of my running. It just makes the time with others all that more awesome. It is a community of commonness, a fellowship of perseverance. We’re all out there for the common goal of competing with no one other than ourselves in pursuit of pushing ourselves to the limit.

As much as I love running and what it has done for my health, body, and mind, I love that it has brought people into my life that I would have otherwise never met. They just “get it.” By “it” I mean the struggles-battling injuries, trying to get faster while not getting injured, getting the nutrition “just right,” wearing the correct shoe for your gait, pace, racing, body lube, recovery…the list goes on & on! Struggles…THEY GET IT!

They also get it when you talk about the time when you first finished a 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, & ultra marathon. They relive the ecstasy of a new “PR” even if it is just by a few seconds, and they rejoice with you. They are the people with the most “intestinal fortitude” on earth! If I was stranded on an island, I would want runners with me. We don’t give up and we don’t give in. We persevere to the end.

To all of my running family past and present: I want to tell you how grateful I am for you. I watch you, I admire you, I feel your pain when you have to take time off for an injury or illness. I get it when you get in a “rut.” I get pissed at you when you talk negatively about your run and that you “only” did 4 miles, or that you “only” had a 9:48 pace. We are all built differently and we all have “off” days. You all are phenomenal. It brings me great joy and pleasure to run with you, even if it is just in passing and we give each other a “high five” or whether we are just acquaintances via social media. Don’t ever underestimate yourselves or give up on your dreams.

We were passionately destined to meet. We are family…we are runners!

Hope to see you out on the road or trails,

Stephanie

“I learned that if you want it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it.” -Gale Sayers

52 Reasons I Am Thankful For 52 Years

Ah, birthdays-some hate them, some love them. Well, consider the alternative & that is my #1 reason for being thankful. As birthday number fifty-two is coming up on April 5, I still have life in this body (even after a horrible bout with the flu which led to respiratory issues-blah)!

#2 My maternal great grandmother was a widow in her fifties and could not drive a car. I am thankful that I can drive a car, and a truck, and a stick shift, & that I have two of the three.

#3 I am thankful that my parents never abused me and had my best interests at heart even though they were imperfect people.

#4 I am thankful that I grew up in an era when respect & manners were high priority and a foundation for a successful life.

#5 I am thankful that my teachers pushed me to be my best and academics were not “dumbed down” to accommodate those who did not care & did not try.

#6 I am thankful for all of the whoopins’ I got that broke my will, but not my spirit. I am a better person for it.

#7 I am thankful that I know what a rotary phone is, lol!

#8 I am thankful that I know what America’s top 40 with Casey Kasem is, The Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack is, and was alive when video killed the radio star.

#9 I am thankful that I lived through the original vinyl albums, 8-track tapes, cassettes, and saw the advent of CDs and digital music.

#10 While on the subject of music, I am thankful that I grew up listening to pure, raw talent with the likes of Johnny Cash, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Journey, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Kansas, REO, Pat Benatar, & Sebastian Bach…just to name a few.

#11 I am thankful that I had my first “real” job at age 15 (babysitting before that), and that I had to earn my own money to buy my first car AND pay the insurance. It taught me responsibility and to take care of my belongings because they weren’t just “given” or “entitled.”

#12 I am thankful that my mother instilled a strong worth ethic in me.

#13 I am thankful that I still have my mother.

#14 I am thankful that I had my dad for almost 80 years of his life and 45 of mine. The rascal chose to depart the earth on Father’s Day in 2007. He always had a dry sense of humor!

#15 I am thankful that I inherited my dad’s dry humor. Some may not understand my humor, but it has kept me sane & kept me from crying a lot of times.

#16 I am thankful that I reside in America where (so far), women can pursue their dreams.

#17 I am thankful that I never missed a meal. It may have been Miracle Whip or Spam sandwiches, fried bologna, deviled ham, goulash and plenty of mac & cheese growing up, but my stomach was never empty.

#18 I am thankful that I grew up with no air conditioning, then a window unit that froze me out of the room it was in, but made the rest of the house sort of hot. I didn’t die.

#19 I am thankful for that doctor who got the needle out of my butt when I was sick at 5 yrs. old (I stiffened up), the nail out of my foot, and who assured my mother that I would outgrow “wetting the bed.”

#20 I’m thankful that I DID outgrow “wetting the bed!” LOL!

#21 I’m thankful that my older brother did not kill me.

#22 I’m thankful that I could play outside long after dark without fear of harm.

#23 I’m thankful that I walked to and from Jr. High and never got abducted. Stranger danger was not an issue.

#24 I’m thankful that I was a tomboy and collected frogs and snakes in a Mason jar and wasn’t afraid to have a turtle for a day and then let it go (as well as the frogs & snakes).

#25 I’m thankful that I had pets growing up and was taught what it took to care for them.

#26 I’m thankful that I got to experience the loss of those pets in a safe atmosphere. It taught me that nothing lasts forever.

#27 I’m thankful that I had to create my own entertainment as a child and became an avid reader with a HUGE imagination.

#28 I am thankful for books…hard copy

#29 I am thankful that I was a fat kid (what)? It taught me to be an empathetic adult and to understand what it is like to be the last picked at kickball and not be in the “popular” group.

#30 I am thankful that I hope I will NEVER be in the “popular” group!

#31 I am thankful that I held the vision/dream in my heart since age 5 in kindergarten, to be a nurse.

#32 I am thankful that I graduated with honors in ALL of my nursing programs after returning to school as the “non-traditional” student (thank you Weenie Ward and your college prep class in high school)!

#33 I am thankful that both of my sons got to witness my graduation from my Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program in 2006.603814_10201224709765943_221805729_n#34 I am thankful that both of my boys are successful in their endeavors & that both had beautiful weddings to wonderful girls.Wedding 20#35 I am thankful that despite my daughter’s rebellion, I have faith that one day she will see the light and realize that I am not the bad guy!

#36 I am thankful that I have a great job.

#37 I am thankful that I own my own home

#38 I am thankful that I have the certain neighbors that keep a watch over me and mine.

#39 I am thankful that despite being a fat, non-athletic kid, that I have found my niche in running.10409885_10203859670678319_1117570621_n#40 I am thankful that despite the naysayers, I qualified and ran Boston and will return there in 2017.

#41 I am thankful that despite a few setbacks, I am for the most part, healthy.

#42 I am thankful for all of the people that running has brought into my life.

#43 I am thankful for all of the people that running has reacquainted me with.

#44 I am thankful for all of the running greats that I have met through this glorious sport.

#45 I am thankful for my whirlpool tub and for a bed to lay my head on after running.

#46 I am thankful for the love/hate relationship that I have with my foam roller.

#47 I am thankful for body glide.

#48 I am thankful for the Sunday Runday group and for 2 mile aid stations.

#49 I am thankful that winter doesn’t last forever.

#50 I am thankful that I got to see the Kansas City Royals win the World Series TWICE in my lifetime!

#51 I am thankful that I am finally comfortable in my own skin and honestly DO NOT care what others think of me. I refuse to play games and pretend to be something I’m not. I’m “popular” with me and I have to live with me, so there it is.She was fierce (2)#52 I am thankful that despite all of my failures and short comings, God knows my heart and that it doesn’t matter one iota what others have said, done, or expect of me. I am NOT a conformist. I think for myself and form my own conclusions. If one can’t/won’t accept that in me… “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!” -Famous quote from “Gone With the Wind.”

Hope to see you out on the roads or trails,

StephanieSayings 3

 

When Life Gives You Lemons

I’m sure we have all heard the various takes on this phrase- make lemonade, add vodka, etc. I don’t particularly hate lemons although they can leave a sour taste in the mouth. I’m pretty sure that is what the author of this phrase meant in regards to something that can be distasteful or disappointing.

My last post I was entering my last 27 days of training before taking on 100 miles. My last long run was exactly 2 weeks ago-a 20 miler that felt sluggish at best and left me feeling really beat up. I could have blamed it on the intense wind that day or the fact that is was day 3 of back to back long runs, but that was not the case as I was soon to discover.

Enter The Lemons: I awoke the next day ready to go to work but feeling a bit “off.” I thought I was just a little sore from the intense 3 day runs so I arrived to work ready to tough it out. Have you ever had one of those “pseudo reality” experiences? Like arriving at your destination without recollection of how you got there? I sort of felt like I was floating and then the intense chills/rigors/body aches set in. I left after 30 minutes, realizing I was going to be a worthless nurse that day.

I seldom miss work, but for the next three days I was behaving something like this:

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Baby Rex the Chihuahua

Needing a Dr. excuse for the 3rd day of missed work, I embarked on urgent care for the first time. Nasal swab confirmed influenza B. So much for mandatory flu vaccines. I have honestly not been that sick since the early 90s. The body aches were so intense that I could NOT get comfortable no matter what I did. I maxed out on ibuprofen and took Tylenol for the first time in at least 15 years. I soaked through bed sheets at least three times a night for 4-5 nights. M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E! By Saturday (day 5), it had settled into my lungs/chest and every cough felt like I was going to hack up a lung and felt like an inferno in my lungs. The thick, green phlegm that came up (sorry) told me that I was now sporting a good bacterial infection that was not going to go away without antibiotics.

Urgent Care Trip Two: Having been there once, I thought, “Okay, this will be a breeze. I’ll tell them what I need (after all I AM an RN), they’ll write me a prescription for an antibiotic, and I’ll be on my way and feeling better in about 48 hours.” I can now appreciate when patients say that doctors don’t listen to them. The “full of himself” physician told me that he was sure that it was viral and that I did not need an antibiotic. I’m so glad that he came to this conclusion without a chest x-ray or sputum sample. Holy crap-me knowing my own body and what it needs surely was not enough! I left with a prescription for steroids and tessalon pearls because CLEARLY the doctor knows best! The ONLY reason that I filled the prednisone was because I had also developed an itchy rash on my chest & on both ankles and I knew that steroids would calm that down. I did not fill the tessalon pearls because I hate taking medication that makes me feel loopy. It was only to suppress the cough anyway. The fact that he would not listen and almost insisted that I smoked (asking 3 times) left a REALLY sour taste in my mouth. Talk about lemons!

What is a nurse to do when she has to return to work the following Monday. She takes matters in her own hands and uses the internet to get what she wants. I’m pretty sure that feeling like I was drowning, not being able to breathe and wheezing was indicative of something more serious to which an antibiotic would be effective. Long story short, I got my antibiotic and within 48 hours was feeling much better although the cough seems to be hanging on without the burn. For all I know, I could have had a touch of pneumonia or RSV. I was never checked for either. What I DO know is that I NEVER want to be that sick again. I’m pretty sure my body could have fought it off after being exposed to the germs at work, but doing those back to back long runs expended all of the energy that was needed to fight it. Who knew?

Lemons. The two things I love doing the most -running and eating, I could have cared less about. I missed key training runs leading up to the ultra. The weather here in Missouri has been bipolar lately with cold, damp mornings and chilly, windy days. I have since started running again on my treadmill, embracing it like an old friend. I am not going to run outside until the weather levels out. It’s just not worth the risk of relapse.

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Not quite 2 weeks, but close

Lemons. Where does this leave my ultra? I had at first bumped down to the 50 miler, contacting the race director who was gracious enough to do that for me. But as of this writing, my gut is telling me that although I know I could do it (12 days away & I am THAT stubborn), it would probably not be the best decision. The long range forecast is calling for low 40s that morning with a high in the 50s. Normally great running weather, but not when one has another week of antibiotics to take, sweating and cooling off in those temps would not be wise. Weird to be side-lined by illness instead of injury.

One of my greatest pet peeves as a nurse is non-compliant patients. I have to practice what I preach, and putting my body through that much stress when I have been the sickest I have been in 20 years would be a foolish decision. I missed a Shamrock 5k I was registered for as well. So unfortunately, I will take the big DNS (Did Not Start). This decision was not made lightly and is definitely disappointing.

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Good Advice

My focus will now turn to training & being completely healthy for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth this June with some of my fabulous running group friends. I will also run the Hospital Hill 1/2 Marathon this year having not ran it for several years. I’ll see how many other states I can knock off over the summer with the half marathon & do some more trail runs. Will I sign up for another 100? I don’t know. It is a HUGE time commitment. At this point I am happy just to be able to breathe and feel like myself again.

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Enjoy the journey

 

That makes me happier than three turtles sunning on a log!946754_10209019969482564_5415457948324770105_n

Hope to see you out on the road or trails,

Stephanie

Living, Dying, & Finding 100

Recent thoughts going into my final 27 days of training

Let’s start with living. Take a deep breath in. Do you feel that? That is life in it’s purest form. No breath, no life. It’s the basic component of CPR-the ABCs- Airway, Breathing, Circulation. You have to have an airway to breath. Ventilators can breathe for you, but eventually you must breathe on your own, or it is shut off & you die. Take another deep breath. Relax & let the stress melt away. You are alive.

I think it was Les Brown who said, “Some folks are dead at 25, but not buried until they are 85.” I love this metaphor as it describes so many who just “settle” for existing. They are born, go to school, get a job (or not), retire, and wait to die. Their dreams, hopes, and talents are buried with them. They are the naysayers, the ones who don’t believe in themselves even when no one else will. They give up and settle. They never go outside of their comfort zone.

Now, I’m not saying to be irresponsible. Heck, in this day & age of entitlement, we need more responsibility. What if we all took a few more risks? You will never no how far you can go until you push yourself. Don’t die while you are still alive. Here’s one I’ve used before, but is worth repeating:

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Live Your Life

On dying: Was is Star Trek that always started with, “Space the Final Frontier?” I personally don’t believe that is true. I think death is the final frontier. What is left after that? Despite one’s beliefs on the afterlife, it is permanent and the one thing that we cannot control. We are all going to die. Many do not want to believe or accept that. That is why it is so hard to sell life insurance & why many a family is left to pick up the pieces and sort things out after the fact.

Many die way too young. So much living left to do, so much heartache left for those who loved them. Their chances are over. Just. like. that. Human nature, or selfishness (human nature), or the “I’ve got time” mentality makes one think that one will always be there. Words left unsaid, fences left un-mended, & “one of these days” are gone forever.

A tale of two women:

2/24/2016 a young woman left this world unexpectedly. I’m sure when she awoke that morning that the thought that she would perish that day never crossed her mind. So tragic, so sad, no time to say goodbye, just gone. I met this young woman when she was seven years old. She died way too young at the age of 40. Her facebook post from the previous day, almost exactly 24 hours to the time of the accident was this:

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We all have a departure date

A few days ago a friend called to tell me that a former co-worker was in the hospital and got devastating news out of the blue that she had inoperable cancer. In fact, it is so bad that they could not distinguish one organ from another when they opened her up. The only symptom she had was stomach swelling. The medical professionals have given her 3-4 months to live before her departure date. She herself is one of the finest medical professionals I know, and she taught me a lot about being a nurse. Tragic-yes. Still young by today’s standards of longevity in her early sixties. Yet she has the advantage of getting her affairs in order and saying her goodbyes.

 

Finding 100

As my training is winding down for the Epic Ultra 100, I have struggled to get things just right. Finding the right pace per mile has been one of the issues that has been difficult. Not too fast-definitely not too fast. Yet for someone who has always strived for speed, it has been a challenge wrapping my head around this. It is almost painful to go too slow, but I know this is what must be done to go the distance. So far, I have varied between an 11-12 minute pace and that has seemed to work even with 30 second walks every 4.5 minutes. I know I should slow down even more. I will hit my longest training run on 3/19 of 50 miles-2 weeks before the Ultra. Other struggles have been getting nutrition just right, strengthening my core/hips, and adjusting to carrying 2 liters on my back. At best, I am mentally prepared & I am determined that the other things will just fall into place. LES-BROWN-QUOTES-4

LIVING: Had anyone told me a few years ago that I would be running 100 miles, I would have laughed. But that has been with so many other things in my life as well. I have chosen not to die while still living and breathing. There is so much more living left to do. I am a risk taker & an adventure seeker. I have goals and hopefully will inspire others along the way.7eb0f7179138cf1b70e81bb2f543bcc2

DYING: I realize that I have no control over when my number is up, but I sincerely have tried to leave no regrets. Nor do I have control over how others choose to respond to me, leaving words left unsaid. That is for them to deal with when the time comes, but my mind is at peace. It requires dying to self, self-righteousness, pride, & ego. Sadly, many people would rather hang on to their need to “be right” than to “make things right” with others.

Metaphorically speaking-what will it take to find your 100? Is there a phone call you need to make? A debt you need to pay? A visit, a card? A vacation you’ve been meaning to take? A talent that needs to be unleashed? The chance for “one of these days” may never come.

Hope to see you out on the road or trails,

Stephanie