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Rockland Running

Remember me? I was the one who said she would take a break from running. I was the one who said she would concentrate on pulling tight muscles out of their angry knots. That lasted exactly a week.

For seven days straight I dutifully put in an hour of yoga. For seven days I obediently ignored the treadmill’s silent stare while I gently teased out the troubled spots. I had gotten so tight I couldn’t reach the floor with fingertips. I had gotten so bound up I couldn’t look over my shoulders. I needed the time away from the tread. Until Rockland.

Okay, okay. Technically, Thomaston. Do you care? The Kisa and I went to Maine for a belated holiday celebration with my family. Staying in a hotel means the pool for him and a different treadmill for me. How could I say no? How could I break with tradition?

Sunday morning found me & myself staring at the hotel’s only traitor tread’s display screen, ready to fly. With borrowed earbuds (why do I always forget my own?) I found my girl power playlist (I’m in love with Sia now). With my family in the other room eating an illegal breakfast, I climbed aboard another Guinea. With my heart in my throat, I started running 22 seconds faster than my normal warmup. I wanted to see if my speed was lost for good or if the time away did me some good. The latter. True, I only ran for 25 minutes but almost cleared three miles. And, and, and! It wasn’t torture to grocery shop afterwards. Walking down the aisles, looking for Bixby chocolate for Ruby Tuesday, I felt as if the short run just minutes before never even happened. A month ago I would have been hobbling. Progress.

I don’t start officially training for the 10km for another three days. In that time I plan to go back to ignoring the treadmill and scrutinizing the tightness in my quads, hips and lower back. Wish me luck.

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This Just In

Quick update. Last night I gritted my teeth, swallowed my fear & to said to hell with it. Last night New Guinea and I went 3.3 miles with… no issues. That’s the yawn part. Running isn’t my monster right now. When I settle down for sleep is the ghost that haunts me right now. But. But! But, let me bask in the glory of going three point three first: Nose breathing for the first mile? Check. Finding a rhythm so I could close my eyes and lose myself after that first mile? Check. Inner voice not finding issues with feet, knees or hips? Check. Check. Check. I love it when the treadmill and I are on the same sentence, right down to the same frigging word. It has taken me over a year to get back the confidence to run blind with New Guinea – although Guinea is not so ‘new’ anymore. Even though I find outdoor running easier, the tread is definitely my good, good friend (as you right remember when I had to say goodbye to the Gerbil. I cried for days. I imagine I will be just as sad to lose Guinea one day.)

But anyway, I’m derailing…

Sleep. I need to say this. I was NOT kept awake by any twitching or tingling! Hooray for small miracles. If I listened carefully to my legs, and listen I did, I could hear electrical “jits” every once in a while. I likened them to distance thunder and fell asleep with no problem. I had weird dreams about gambling and a farm stand and a girl wanted to kiss me, but that’s a whole other story.

The plan is to run another three tonight. Since it will be too dark to venture outside by the time I get home it’s me, myself, moi and New Guinea!

Song of the run: don’t hate me: Roar by Katy P. I like how my feet match the beat during the chorus.

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What Will You Say?

Ever since I called to make the appointment I have been rehearsing my story. It goes a little something like this:

About a month ago I started trail running. On one run I almost collided with another runner & as a result came down hard on my left heel. It didn’t produce pain nor did it hurt a day after the run. However, a few days later I noticed an “ache” but nothing serious than that. I continued to train conservatively (40 miles over the next 19 days). If asked I would say pain never got higher than a 2-3 on a 10 point scale. I I didn’t worry about it. About 10 days before my half marathon (on 10/13 to be exact) I decided to stop running altogether. I still had the “ache” and I wanted my foot to heal whatever was going on before 10/23. I just wanted 13.1 to go well. Exactly one week later I experienced knee pain like nothing I had ever felt before. Pain to the point I could barely walk. I took the next  day off from work and rested, hoping to feel better by 10/23. I did, but not well enough to run and haven’t run since. That’s why I’m here. Please save my sanity. Please.

What will the verdict be? Did I bruise a bone way over a month ago? Did I fracture something? Is it as simple as plantar fasciitis? (Which, by the way, I have no idea what feels like, despite my Kisa’s diagnosis.) Will I get a boot? Will I get the all-clear to run? Red light? Green light? What will you say?

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Last Words

St Pat’s is in less than two hours. I am suited up and not-so-ready to rock. I lost my running partner at the last minute so I am solo. Somehow that should put me back in my comfort zone with myself and moi, but it doesn’t. I want to PR. I’m under trained and just now I am realizing I was looking forward to running with someone who runs a sub-six mile. Wish me luck (of the Irish). xo

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Stronger Somewhere

Day V of the Stronger Challenge felt a little wonky. Maybe that’s because my “Refuel” workout from the day before also included a 4+ mile run. Maybe (and this is probably closer to the truth), maybe I’m just not used to the explosion moves in the “Ignite” workout. Here’s my pre-workout routine: Hours before I usually watch the workout sitting at my desk at work, if only to get the moves in my head before trying to copy them from a phone at home. Sitting in a library (can you picture it?) trying to watch five beautiful people struggle through this workout was not encouraging at all. 99% of the time workout videos don’t include physically unfit people so if these guys were struggling I knew I would be in serious trouble. And I was. I won’t lie. I got home, changed and mentally tried to prepare myself for the insane moves I was about to miserably fail at doing. I’ll be honest. I have a hard time with regular pushups, never mind the kind where you explode off the ground and into the air two feet. And those tuck jumps?! My knees were begging for mercy before I even began. Every time I did a squat I heard my knees popping and grinding, complaining and bitching. They’re the reason a certain doctor told me to “take up swimming” instead of run. I knew there was no way my poor knees were going to let me launch myself into the air. Duh- Moment Admission: I stayed low for most of the routine. Duh! That doesn’t mean I stopped. At no time did I wave the white flag. I just kept it close by for security purposes. Here’s what I need to tell myself: this is only week one. I’m not trying for gold at this stage of the game. Hell, this is supposed to be just for fun (or funny).

There was no run to speak of on “Ignite” day.

And we won’t even talk about the diet.

Day VI of the Stronger Challenge is a repeat: Soldier. Let’s just see what happens when I revisit that can of worms!

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Give to Get

I have this friend, this amazing friend, who says what she means, does what she says and always, always means what she does. She will never ever hand you an empty promise or promise an empty hand. If she says she is going to do something (anything) there is no doubting her. Ever.  Ever. Ever. I love her for this and I want to be just like her when I grow up. In my mind she is exemplary and rare. Almost extinct.

It is this friend I thought of when Kisa handed over the keys to his car, wanting nothing in return. Maybe a boys baseball game and a handful of peanuts. He had made a promise so long ago and the time had finally come to keep that promise. Or give it. as the case would be. He thought nothing of transferring the title or traveling the three and a half hours to deliver the promise. Just like that. He thought of everything, even a screwdriver to take off the plates. He cleaned out the back seat and made sure the manual was in the glove department before relinquishing the keys. Generosity in a promise kept.

That day my Knight In Shining Armor gave me something as well. A chance for an island run. Don’t gasp when I say this…but. But! But,  me, myself and moi have decided Peaks is our favorite place to run. Seriously. Better than Monhegan. Better than Florence. How can I explain? My sister lives in the woods. A run from her house affords me tall pines, soft dirt roads and a silence like no other. Yet, she is on an island. Sooner or later you will meet the salt, salt sea, the rocky shore, and the sound of the ever-insistent surf. The gentle scents of island roses, beach sweet pea, lilacs, honeysuckle and sand permeate. Continue on and you’ll reach town. Bustling with tourists, the ice cream shop and knickknacky places will be in full chatter. The smell of fried seafood has the power to tickle the appetite. Suddenly you’ll want a beer. It’s the strangest thing.

On this bright blue day I was supposed to run for an easy 25 minutes. Kisa was content to watch his nephews play a double header. I had an hour before the boat. I expected plenty of time. I expected another “2.35 in 25” report. I expected a lot except I didn’t expect to lose myself. No music to block my ears. No numbers to distract my mind. I just ran with the ocean beside me. Me and myself got caught up in the beauty of everything around moi. To say we lost track of time is an understatement. Time got so lost I made us miss the boat back. That was my gift to Kisa. On the next boat out he was able to sit with his nephews and talk Call of Duty. A little more time for the boys to be boys. All because of a beautiful run and a boat missed.

You have to give to get: 3.65 in 35.

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As Close as I Dare

I have always heard or read you shouldn’t run your race distance before the actual day in order to save your energy. True, the last time I trained for a half marathon my longest run was eight and that was five weeks out. But, But. But! That eight miler was the last good run before I injured myself. Running anything until race day was out of the question. For five long weeks up until the big day I spent a lot of time on an elliptical dreaming of really running. It sucked. I’m sure that if I was told I could run something, anything, it would have been more than eight. I know I would have. This time around is different. So different. Everything about this training is much different. I have wanted to push limits, test boundaries and take back all the I-Told-You-So comments I told myself.

Last Sunday found me back in 01062 with new resolve to run thirteen. It was a beautiful day and I had all the time in the world. No pressure. Kisa mapped out a route and my plan was to follow it to the letter…well, by the road. For those of you who know the area this will make some sense.

  • Mile 1 – the gates of Look Park. This is little recreation area is steeped in history. My husband’s grandparents met in this park. My husband’s parents met in this park (his dad was the engineer for the kiddie train. How cute is that?)
  • Mile 2 – the loop of Look. Kisa’s childhood playground.
  • Mile 3 – down the bike path. I used to be afraid of this path. It’s tree-lined and secluded and butts up behind sketchy apartment complexes. It’s easy for some pretty shady dealings, pun totally intended.
  • Mile 4 – still on bike path. I’ve missed some of the graffiti on the path.
  • Mile 5 – still on bike path (almost at end!). I could have stopped at the grocery store for my obsession, Kind bars.
  • Mile 6 – off bike path and heading up to Childs park (long, slow incline). This is where I get the yelled comments and wolf whistles… ugh
  • Mile 7 – Milton street – tiny little side street that I ran the last time I was in town. The broken mug is still there!
  • Mile 8 – Pumpkin Hill. As a deviant teenager Kisa used to steal pumpkins from people’s stoops and roll them down this hill.
  • Mile 9 – Meadow Street. I have always turned right at this street. One day I will turn left.
  • Mile 10 – this is where my legs started to protest a little. My mother-in-law’s voice was in my head. Right before I left she looked at my route and said “this is a long route! You can always stop at Meadow and come home.” Damn her for putting the thought in my head. At that moment it was all I could think about.
  • Mile 11 – I pressed on and went back to Look. This time I ran in the opposite direction so I would have a nice hill to coast my tired legs down.
  • Mile 12 – Bridge. Note: there is no bridge on this part of Bridge St. Just a really humorous graveyard which I can’t explain here in the off chance I end up offending someone.
  • Mile 13 – Chestnut. I have always wanted to live on this street. The trees on this street are incredibly old, impossibly tall, and just starting to show signs of spring.

When I got back to the in-laws I felt awesome-awesome-awesome but I needed something to eat before I passed out. Luckily, I had packed a peanut butter chocolate Luna bar & ate that beside Bat while waiting for the shakes to subside. I wasn’t sure I wanted to drive home until I had eaten something.

Take away: I didn’t bring hydration, fuel or sun protection. I didn’t carb-load beforehand or protein-pack afterward (other than a quick Luna bar). I went home and cleaned, did laundry and yoga. I guess 13 is all good. Or, I hope. I *thought* I hit start on my GPS and it turns out I didn’t. I’m counting on Kisa’s calculations to be correct. If not, I’m up for doing it again next Sunday. I’ll get as close as I dare 😉

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Toronto Competition

Toronto started out as a chance to see Natalie Merchant in a different country with an international friend. One night show. One day show. Something different. I’ve never been to Toronto so Kisa and I decided to make a mini vacation out of the trip. We would drive. Insert a little sightseeing, infuse a little culture, eat lots of food and of course, indulge in great music. Back when I was training for who the hell knows, Germany mentioned the Toronto 5k and asked if I wanted to run it with him. Actually, his exact words were, “you should sign up. You could run with me.” With him? With him? Panic struck hard and fast. Obviously he doesn’t know me. I train alone. I race alone. Hell, I don’t even race. I run just to say I finish. I most certainly  don’t run well with others. I just don’t. That’s not to say I don’t wish it were different. Case in point: there is a woman in my neighborhood who looks like she could be a runner; a runner coming off a crazy bad injury. She dresses the part but hobbles down my street with determination practically every day. I have tried to break the ice, just say hello but she doesn’t even blink. Kisa commiserated commenting he’s tried, too. I guess she’s not all that friendly. Period.

But, back to Toronto. On the phone Germany said something about running something in Toronto. Here, let me send you the link, he says. Without really thinking about it I opened his email and clicked the link. Within seconds I was considering something. Running in Toronto yes,…but running what? Certainly not the 5k. Running with Germany was and will always be out of the question. I’ll say it again – will always be out of the question. But, with his voice droning on in the background I scanned the site. My eyes kept gravitating to the word marathon.  I did the math. Not enough time. But. But! But, there was always the half. Something about the half. Hmmm…I was already running 25-30 miles a week. My long runs were already 9-10 miles. What’s another three? Was my training for nothing suddenly turning into training for something? Mulling it over I promised myself I would see how the St. Pat’s 10k went. Maybe, I thought, if that was a success I would *consider* 13 miles. Germany still prattled on…something about his rowing machine and not really training. I clicked on the race route. Not bad. I checked the registration fee. A little steep but doable. Germany’s voice was getting further away as I did more than consider. I started planning.

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Fantastic Fail

The entire week was fail-succeed-fail-succeed. With one aunt coming home from rehab with a brain-tumor induced diagnosis of dementia and another dying of a broken heart (a-fib), the run was way overshadowed by family drama. I only ran one foundation run on Tuesday, which now, come to think of it, I can’t even remember if I mentioned before. If I didn’t, it was a short 6.43 on the tread of dread. If I did, sorry for repeating myself. It really wasn’t all that big of a deal.
Probably the best run was yesterday’s fantastic fail. It has been on my to-do list all week to run 12 on Sunday. Up until Sunday morning I was thinking every mile would be with New Guinea. More snow was in the forecast and Saturday night’s accumulation was still hanging around. I’m okay with running on a treadmill. Really. But, then the sun came out and so did my need to be out in the thick of it. After all, it was a balmy 43 degrees.
Here’s what I forgot about running outside – so much more prep before I can actually run! In addition to in-my-left-hand iPod I needed to carry my phone for a GPS tracker. I have a ginormous phone and it doesn’t fit in any cute back pocket or shallow jacket pocket. It’s also way too big for me to carry in my right hand. Once I got that issue resolved I encountered hangup #2: lip balm and sunscreen are a must for outdoor running- something I don’t deal with running on the tread. Then there’s the issue of mapping a route. That took some time, too. I felt incredibly pokey when I realized it took me an extra 30 minutes just to get out the door. Here’s something else I forgot about running outside – no matter how carefully I plan a route I cannot stick to it. I meticulously planned a 6.1 mile loop that I intended to run twice. No such luck. I got out the door and promptly went a totally different way. To map my run it would look something like a sunburst. I ran down and back a lot of side streets along the way so that by the time I ran the loop the first time I had covered 10 miles.
Here’s something else I forgot about running outside – I run faster out of doors. No matter how carefully I stick to stride I’m always pushing it. My first mile is a hill (imagine that) and by the top of it I was feeling like I needed an inhaler. Frustrating to not be able to breathe but I can’t slow down.
Here’s something else I forgot about running outside – I am a snot factory. I produce the kind of snot you typically see when someone is sobbing uncontrollably.  I don’t know if it’s the wind or if I’m allergic to sunshine or what but my nose turns into a faucet when I run. Confessional: I have never mastered the art of blowing snot so yes, I use my sleeve. Both sleeves when it’s really bad. Like yesterday. I’m sure my face was crusted with salt and snot by the time I was finished. Gross, but honest.
Here’s something else I forgot about running outside – the outside world. I live in a neighborhood where people yell things at runners. People chuck things at runners. People honk or aim their vehicles at runners. People let their dogs chase you. And speaking of dogs – German Shepards behind tall walls try to scale their confines to get at you. Tiny rat-like dogs hurtle themselves snarling against chain link fences just to get a taste of your ankles. The roads are thick with sand; the sidewalks are thick with snow. Trash, dogsh!t and deep puddles are in everywhere between. I ran through it all. People, dogs and roadside obstacles. But, by the end of 10.36 miles I had had enough. I had lost all track of time and distance and didn’t care. So, after an hour and 40 minutes I went home. 10.36 miles total.

Here’s why yesterday was a fantastic fail. I signed up for the Toronto half marathon (which takes place on May 3rd). That means I have five weeks to train for 13.1 miles successfully. Success to me means three things: come race day I run every inch of the course and I do not walk a single step; I run every inch powerfully and without gasping for breath; and lastly and most importantly – I run without injury. I really want to run Toronto like I ran St. Pat’s – strong (only without the giggling high fives and laughing fist pumps).

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Mixed Up Moi

So. The St. Patrick’s Day 10k road race has come and gone. I have mixed feelings about the day. I’m not talking about just the race. I mean I’ll get to that in a minute. I’m talking about the whole day from start to finish. I am of three minds when it comes to this 10k. Fear. Fun. Frustration. Fear – for starters, I woke to snow coming down in huge glittery flakes. That in and of itself was enough to get me jittery. I have always been afraid of injury this time of year. It will do me no good to turn an ankle just before Just Cause. As I watched the roadways become blanketed in white I wondered if I really should be running at all. But, this is the year of courage. Or, at least that’s what I told myself. Can’t back out now.

Fun –  the whole race was fun. 7,000 people all vying for road space. Sidewalks still snow drifted. Yet, this was my strongest race by far. I powered up every hill with a smile on my face and even a laugh once or twice. I ran through puddles while others tried to dance around them. I just didn’t care. On every incline I looked around for exhaustion but never found it. The whole six felt comfortable and even, dare I say? simple. I found myself goofing off – high-fiving and fist-pumping little kids and adults a like. I didn’t take anything seriously. Even the downhill sprint – I sort of lollygagged my way down, not really paying attention to anything except the clear blue skies and the throng of people trying to hand the runners beer. The first year I ran this 10k I just wanted to finish. Accomplished. The second year I wanted to conquer the hills and not feel cowed by them. Accomplished. This year I wanted to beat my time…but somehow I forgot that along the way.

Frustration – when the finish line was in sight I had two simultaneous thoughts. One, I could run another 10k right now because I felt that good. Second thought – Oh yeah! This is the year I wanted to beat my time! Too late I turned on the jets. There was so much more in the tank that sprinting the last 1000 yards was a breeze. Only. It wasn’t enough. I beat my time by thirteen small seconds. That’s it.

I’m mixed up. Normally I don’t compete with me or myself. At one point numbers were just numbers and times really didn’t matter. Not yours. Not mine. I simply didn’t care until suddenly this year me, myself and moi – we care. I’m confused because I’m mad at myself for making a mockery of the run. I ran so easily that surely I could have run harder for longer. The hills proved that. I could conquer every incline without losing pace. I felt strong the whole way. This lack of focus has bothered me enough that it actually has taken over my sleep. I had a dream that I was able to watch myself run. How stupid is that? A coach pointed out every time I slowed to high five a little kid. “See that?” he would accuse. “You lost three seconds right there!”

I’m not going to worry about it. I’ll take it for what it was supposed to be: a training run for the Toronto half. I haven’t registered but it’s time I put St. Patrick out of my head and started thinking Maple.

ps~ I can’t even post pics from RaceWire. They sent me a group of what they thought were pictures of me at the finish. Yes, I’m in the photos but all you see is a hand, a tip of a shoe, a suggestion of what might be bib #7238. The good news is Kisa got a blip of video when I ran by him at the start 🙂

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