Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ho Ho Half Marathon: our final farewell to Hostess snacks

Who doesn't love a fun, free event?  I know I love them the best!!!  I wanted to run a half in late November, but there wasn't one nearby so I decided to create my own event- and invite all my friends to join me.  I organized, planned, made awards and prepared for a BLAST with friends for a Sunday morning of fun!  
Welcome to the inagural Ho Ho Half Marathon (and 5K and 10K) in honor of the demise of Hostess snack cakes.  Everyone had to pay an "entry fee" of one box of Hostess snack cakes and they were to eat one snack cake every 2 miles of their run.
all the entry fees laid out on the table- sooooo many snack cakes...

Well, it turns out Hostess goodies became too scarce to find, so instead most everyone wound up buying Little Debbies instead (and Little Debbie says "thanks again for going out of business, Hostess"). 
It was a blast.  About 40 people showed up to run.  Some ran on the one mile paved loop, some ran on the trail, some ran on both the pavement and trail.  Everyone seemed to have fun.  I only made it 7 miles and 1.5 snack cakes before I stopped, but it was a fun time, and I enjoyed hanging out, taking pictures and socializing with old and new friends.  We'll definitely do more of these potluck running events.  I'm getting REALLY tired of paying $65+ to run a half marathon and $90+ to run a marathon.  I truly understand why it costs so much, but I like to do lots of races and the budget doesn't always allow for me to race as much as I want.  If I can do 3-4 choice races a year, then do some of these casual races with friends, I would be a happy girl.  Real races are fun, but there's something to be said for lacing up your shoes and spending the day with people you know and enjoy hanging around with.  A great time was had by all.

Jack the dog did his first half marathon today, too!
yours truly turtle pacing it on the trails (with my new Amphipod handheld that I LOVE)
Rocky made home-made Twinkies.  They tasted MUCH better than real Twinkies!

Well hello there, Rico Firmshooter (a whole crew had some very creative stripper names
on their bibs- it was HILARIOUS)

Foxxy Puckerthighs and Sephora Silkhooters showing off their best moves

post-race socializing and relaxing

everyone kept track of their miles on this chart
I made awards for all the finishers.  5 and 10K awards are on the left, and the half marathon awards- shaped like Ho Hos are on the right.  The big thing on top was for the person who ate the most snack cakes during the event (turns out it was an awesome 11 year old girl)
the snack champ playing with her prize
Being out there and having fun is what it's all about.  Seeing the joy of a friend who completed her very first half marathon today (woo hoo), and seeing the playful spirit of an 11 year old girl makes you remember how much fun it is that we get to do these things.  Even when it hurts, even when you want to stop, and even when you question your sanity and wonder why you even bother.  It's all worth it. 
Happy running!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Taking offense...and probably taking it too personally

I've been trying to find some blogs about slower runners/ultrarunners lately.  I have a handful of blogs that I follow from endurance athletes who are regular people, but most of them I can't really relate to on a Darwinian level.  I mean, they might be ordinary people, but when I read race reports from them and they talk about the major struggles and how they had to walk and it was a slow death march to the finish, and then they report that their really tough mountain 50K finish was 5 hours- I just cringe. 
Surely there are people out there like me (women espeically) who are not the fittest, not the tallest, not the fastest, who struggle along at the back of the pack- sometimes bringing up the rear- who blog.  Surely.  Right?!?

So this all leads me to this blog post that I found from some yayhoo.  Perhaps this was written as a joke, but it struck a chord with me that really, really bothered me on a cellular level.  He was writing about the Top 5 Things to Hate about Marathon Runners.  ha ha- ok, poking fun at some of our idiosyncracies.  I get that.  But he went too far when we wrote #4:
4. Fat Runners:How can people who fully train for a marathon still be fat? Oh yeah, because if you are running 15 minute miles, you aren’t exactly ripping through calories. And fat marathonites constantly make you put your foot in your mouth. The fatty approaches you and says “I am training for the marathon,” to which you reply, based off their physique, “oh yeah? When do you start?” And then fatty hits you with the bomb, “I am trained, the marathon is next week.” I have to imagine it is a lot like accidently asking a married lady who recently put on weight when the baby is due.
Perhaps I'm just a little too sensitive about this to take this with a grain of salt, but the sad truth is that I KNOW people feel the same way, and I KNOW some runners even feel the same way. 
And it's just sad.
No, we're not exactly ripping through the calories at 15 min/miles, but it sure beats the hell out of just sitting on the couch like other skinny or fat people who do NOTHING athletically.  Right?!?
I am a good 20 lbs overweight. My doctor would argue that at 5'3" I should be in the low 120's (and all the charts say at my height my ideal weight is in the one-teens), but that's simply impossible for me. For this particular body with this particular genetic makeup. 

I've never been thin.  I've struggled with my weight my ENTIRE LIFE.  I will ALWAYS struggle with my weight.  So many of my athlete friends are thin and have always been that way.  They are fit and have always had an easyish time maintaining their weight.  I know some who were heavier but are thin now.  I know very few who constantly struggle to stay out of the "obese" category on the charts.  Hell, I'm happy that I'm only in the "overweight" category on my doctor's chart.  That's a victory for me. 

When I was at my lowest adult weight at age 31, I was 122 lbs.  I was a size 4.  I was thin.  I looked good.  I felt good. I had just lost 60 lbs. I felt alive and sexy and just like every media message told me I should look to feel attractive.

But I was starving myself and I had to continue to starve myself to maintain that.
At the time, I was training for my first marathon. Sure, I looked the part of a marathon runner.  I was thin, light, looked good in spandex and probably could have even gotten away with running in just a sports bra and shorts if I wanted to.  But I was miserable.  Know why?

Because I was starving myself.  I was hungry ALL the time.  I was still going to Weight Watchers and losing weight and trying my damndest to count every frickin calorie that went into my mouth.  Want to talk about an eating disorder?  Yeah- I most definitely had one.  I wasn't throwing up or not eating, but I was SOOOOO incredibly obsessed with every bite I took.  I would obsessively plan my day around points so I knew just how many points I would have left for dinner, or more importantly, how many points I would have left if I skipped dinner and just had dessert.  WW didn't teach me how to eat, it taught me how to eat carrots and other "free" foods so I could save enough points up for the pizza or the other shit I ate that I really wanted.  It wasn't healthy physically or mentally.  And it did nothing but allow my body to lose weight, then destroy my self-esteem when I quit counting and gained back 50 lbs. 

Now that I'm 158 ish, I know that I'm a bit on the chubby side.  My thighs have cellulite.  My belly is paunchy, my arms and tummy aren't defined.  And I have chub-rub again. 
My ideal weight is about 145-150.  Not according to the charts, but according to how I feel when I run and ride and swim.  How my body feels.  I was 145 when I did my first Ironman, and I was soooo strong then.  Perfectly strong.

But I'm still an athlete.  Still strong.  I just did my first 50 miler last month.  I can show you ten dozen skinny bitches who can't run/walk one mile, let alone 50.   I get so angry when people criticize "fat" people for getting out there.  SOMEONE has to be at the back- and it's not always the fat people. Sometimes I'm running along at a race and come across someone who is obviously faster than me who outweighs me by 100#s.  More power to them. 

Here's an example of how people criticize based on looks. Last year I did the Memorial Marathon and I did the early start since I was a little undertrained and needed some extra time.  That was the year it rained and hailed and the start of the marathon was delayed.  It was cold and the rain was freezing and my muscles cramped up at mile 13 and would not get loose again.  Hypothermia was starting to settle in, and as much as I needed to run to get my core body temp up, my muscles were having none of it.  So I had to walk the last 13 in the freezing cold rain.  It was miserable, but I was moving forward and making progress.  And I was out there.  Coming down Broadway into the chute before the finish line my calves seized up.  I had to stop along the cattle fence and stretch.  Someone nearby made a comment along the lines of "how can she be finishing so fast- she doesn't look like she's that fast" and someone else commented "yeah, she had to have done the early start that's why she's finishing now".  I was the only one around, so they had to be talking about me.  Had my teeth not been chattering so hard, I would have given them a piece of my mind.  How did they know I wasn't that fast?  I could have finished in 3.5 hours.  What- because I'm chubby I had to be an early starter?  Whether I did the early start or not doesn't matter.  I moved myself in crappy conditions over 26.2 miles.  What did they do?  Cheer in the cold rain?  Whoopdeedoooo.  That hurt my pride a lot at that particiular moment, but it didn't hurt for long. 

Chubbies can run, too.  We might not be fast, we might not lose a ton of weight in training, but we're out there.  Isn't that what everyone encourages chubbies to do- get out there and move.  Chubbies get knocked for sitting on the couch and then get mocked for getting out there and doing something about it.  Sigh... people really suck sometimes.

Never mock an overweight person for being active.  Whether or not they drop poundage, maybe they're just doing it because it makes them feel good about themselves.  Maybe they like being out in nature.  Maybe their goal wasn't to lose weight, maybe it was simply to feel better about themselves or to see what their body is capapble of in its current state.  Not everyone needs (or wants) to be a skinny bitch.  Sometimes they just want to do something they love... just as they are.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hooray for National Hug a Runner Day!

Yay!  Hooray!  Yippee!!!

Today is National Hug a Runner Day.  Sure, why not!  Share the love, share the sweat, share the stink. 
If you know any runners (ahem... hint hint), you should go out and hug them today.  Hugs are free, but sharing the love is priceless. 

Let the hugging festivities commence!

of course, if you can't find a runner to hug, a runner can always hug a tree instead

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday...

Creature comfort goals
They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see
My thoughts all seem to stray, to places far away
I need a change of scenery

-The Monkees Pleasant Valley Sunday
It was another pleasant run on the trails at Bluff Creek.  My first run since last Sunday's marathon.  The wind was blowing rather fiercely today, so I was glad to have the coverage of the trees protecting me.  Things felt good out there.  Slow, but good. 

I noticed the tree up above a couple miles in.  How have I never noticed how MASSIVE it is before?  It has to be at least 5 feet in diameter.  I don't think I could even put my arms out and touch it from one side to the other.  I never remember seeing it before.  I mean really *seeing* it.  I know I've seen it, but I've never paid attention to it.  It's beautiful in so many ways.  I guess I need to look around more closely when I'm out there running.  Not just look around, but REALLY see and pay attention to things.

Like Ferris Bueller says: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fort Worth Marathon 11-11-12

Happy Veteran's Day, America.  Wanna go for a little run? 

This weekend was the Fort Worth Marathon in, well, Fort Worth, TX (that wasn't really necessary to mention, was it?).  It was an easy course.  It wasn't easy on this particular day, but the course itself is flat and easy. 
I went into the race with a bit of a chest cold starting.  Coughing, tightness, coughing up my lung, etc.  I knew it would be a long race and it was.  But really, what's a triumph if you don't struggle a little, right?

You'd like for me to describe the course?   Well, OK.  It was 9 miles of the suckiest/strongest headwind, on a course that was poorly marked for those doing the early start, a nice 8 mile wind-block through a neighborhood and park, then a great tailwind for the last 9 miles, with a little coldfront/storm that moved in with heavy, cold rain, and really poorly stocked aid stations.  There you have it. Ta-da!!
The aid stations may have been very poorly stocked by the race staff (some had only a bowl of pretzels, others had bananas and oranges, others didn't have anything but water).  The volunteers were AMAZING, tho.  They were out there with smiles on their faces and cheers for us- even in the freezing cold rain! Thanks to the fantastic volunteers!!!

But I still had fun!  Even between the crying episodes I still had fun.  In the end, all the discomfort is worth it.  But this one was ESPECIALLY worth it because this marathon made me a Marathon Maniac.  MM# 6109.  Woot!!
I had to do 2 marathons within 16 days to qualify.  And that's to qualify for the lowest level of Maniac stature.  That's the basic.  So I did a 50 miler and threw in a marathon 2 weeks later for kicks and giggles.  Only there wasn't a lot of kicking or giggling.  Mostly just shuffling, crying, questioning my sanity, and praying that my body would hold up to get me across the finish line.  The kicks and giggles were all in my head.  They had the voices up there to keep them company.

But lets start at the beginning, shall we?

 Ready at the start (what is with this pose?)
 the early start had about a dozen starters
a blurry Fort Worth skyline in the dark
 most of the course was on the Trinity Trails- flat and smooth and fast (except for the 30mph headwind bitch-slapping me in the face)
 ouch ouch ouch ouch   This is FUN!!!  ouch ouch ouch ouch  I really do love running!!
I remember most of the course looking like this: blurry and unrecognizable
Wait... is that Bigfoot I see in the bushes back there??
  the only downhill and uphill part of the course
ruh roh!!!  The storm is moving in.  Heavy cold rain is on its way.  Batten down the hatches.
 My savior!!! There was only Gatorade at the turnound (13.1).  No other stops had any, or they ran out.  And it was REALLY humid and I was super crusty with salt.  I was even taking endurolytes and drinking plenty of water from my hydration pack.  I texted him telling him I really wished I had Gatorade and POOF! There he was.
He surprised me with 2 bottles of the good stuff at mile 22.  I love him!!!
Like the Kool-Aid man said "OH YEAH!!!!"
 Some crazy weird contraptions floating in the river- and there were more- these were just the few I took a picture of

My favorite bridge of many on the course.  It was so giant and majestic.  It also signified the last mile of the race.  Woo hoo!!!
 walking in to the finish.  I really didn't even have enough juice left to pretend to jog across (but I mustered up just enough to wog across the finish line).  A wog is a jog so slow it's almost a walk- in case that term wasn't obvious to you.
 DONE!  This marathon made me a MANIAC!!!  MM #6109 reporting for duty!
Holy Heck, Texas, that's one fine belt buckle.  My first belt buckle.  Pow pow (that's me firing off my pistols).  It's actually one of the cooler finisher medals I've ever earned!  It takes second place to the Tiffany silver necklace I earned in San Fran in '05.
We went back to the hotel right after the race, I took an ice bath and then we checked out and went to find something to eat.  I was starving, but nothing tasted very good, so I nibbled and we headed north back to the homestead.  On the way home we were behind this gem:
Yup, that's a dead deer wrapped in a giant brown tarp with it's hooves sticking out.
Keeping it classy, Texas.
I just imagined the horror of little children passing this thing yelling "Why is that deer riding on the back, Mama?  Is that Rudolph Mama?"
Poor damn deer.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dancing with the Devil at the Ft. Worth Marathon

There is one song that truly defines my marathon today.  I must have listened to it at least 15 times (likely more).  I lost count after a while.  I listened to it when I was feeling down and in tears, and I listened to it when I was feeling happy and good.  It had totally different meanings depending on the mood I was in.  It was a melancholy song when I was tearful, and an uplifting "go get 'em" song when I was riding a high. 
I was seriously bi-polar during this marathon.  Moreso than most of my long runs (and that's really saying something).

Sometimes a song speaks to you in a certain situation.  Today this song was it.

Florence + The Machine:  Shake it Out
Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around

Our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it's always darkest before the dawn
 And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
'caust I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn
And it's hard to dance with the devil on your back
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It's a fine romance but it's left me so undone
It's always darkest before the dawn
And I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't
So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope
It's a shot in the dark and right at my throat

'Cause looking for heaven found the devil in meLooking for heaven found the devil in meWell what the hell, I'm gonna let it happen to me


The ghouls coming out to play, every demon wanting his pound of flesh, and the dragging the horse around for me are all the DNF's I've had in the last year. Redman (my Ironman last September DNF'ing at mile 18 of the marathon), my DNF at Midnight Madness in Tulsa in late June, and DNF'ing at Palo Duro last month).I carry those around with me, and even if they don't always bother me on the surface, they are still there. Lurking and waiting to pounce on me when self-doubt comes creeping in.

I was introduced to Florence + The Machine by another blogger, Jill. Of all the songs on the Ceremonials album, I like this one the best (although there are about 6 others that tie for 2nd best). It just speaks to me. Especially when I'm suffering.

So even though my body revolted against me around mile 14, I knew I had no choice but to finish.  There were about 8 miles where you wouldn't have wanted to speak to me because you probably would have witnessed a really juvenile mental breakdown.  I listened to this song and cried.  I listened to it and smiled.  I walked when it hurt to run.  And then I ran when it hurt to walk.

Sure I wanted to give up many times, but I had no choice but to make it back to the start.  I had to bury that damn horse in the ground.  Is that the greatest line ever or what?  "Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground."  Just the idea makes me giggle.  Digging a horse-sized hole?  That would be really hard during a marathon.

In the end, I danced (mostly WITH the devil on my back), and marathon #7 is in the books. It wasn't pretty, but not everything in life is.
Obviously most of my races aren't pretty, but then again, I've never liked being the pretty one.

Here is the video if you care to listen to this amazing song:

I'm blurry because I'm trying to shake that damn devil off my back

Thursday, November 8, 2012

To run or not to run???


What to do... what to do???

I'm pondering doing a marathon this weekend in Ft. Worth, TX. 

I know it's pretty soon after my 50 miler, but I have my reasons.  They are listed below for your consideration:
  1. I want to become a Marathon Maniac
OK- I guess there's only 1 reason I want to run the marathon this weekend.  If I do 2 marathons within 16 days I qualify to become a Marathon Maniac.  Why would I want to do this?  Who the hell knows?  Why do I want to do most things I do??  There's no explaining it.  I guess it makes me part of an exclusive club of a few who have done something so cuckoo and crazy. 
It makes perfect sense to me.  Maybe ONLY me, but I'm the only one who really matters anyway.  Right? 

So I'm on the fence. Today is Thursday.  The race is Sunday.  I need to make my decision by tomorrow. 
I mean, I've run 6 miles in the last 2 weeks.  I'm ready.  It's just 4 times that far.  I only have to average 16 min/miles to finish in 7 hours (the cutoff).  That's not hard at all.  I can walk that.

I don't know what to do...

but I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to be driving down to Ft. Worth on Saturday...  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hey it's good to be back home again...

"Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend, yes, hey it's good to be back home again. "

Don't ask why, but this song was in heavy rotation on my run this morning.  And no I didn't have my iPod with me.  It was just floating around in my head during my run.  I couldn't stop it.  I tried. 
But you know what- I admit it. I like John Denver.  I'm not sure what that makes me (super-white? a hippy?  sympathetic to pot smokers? Rocky Mountain lover?). 
No matter, I freely admit that I have JD on my iPod.  I have this particular song on my iPod.  For 6 miles it floated in and out of my head.
Sometimes you just have to go with it...but I guess it's appropriate. 
These trails are like home.  They are the closest to my house and the ones I always go to.  I spend more time here than just about anywhere else. 
"There's a storm across the valley, clouds are rolling in, the afternoon is heavy on your shoulders."
"Oh, the time that I can lay this tired old body down, and feel your fingers feather soft upon me."
" It's the sweetest thing I know of, just spending time with you. It's the little things that make a house a home."

Recovery is coming along.  Everything felt pretty good out there today and after about 1:10, it all felt just fine and I was sailing along. 
Love my trails.  Love being outside.  Love feeling "at home."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Feels good to shake out the cobwebs

I did my first recovery run after the race this afternoon.  I went to the trails and did a short 2 miles. 

I've been REALLY slothful this week, although everything I read said to take it easy and rest as the body told me to.  I took lots of naps, ate just about anything and everything I wanted since I was ravenous all week, and was generally one lazy bum.  And that's what's supposed to happen.

But today my legs got to itching at work.  They started talking to me telling me they were ready for a run.  Not a long one, but just long enough to shake my muscles loose and get moving again.  The first 10 minutes was hard, but it always is.  We've had this discussion before about how it takes me over an hour to warm up and get in a groove.  The body felt surprisingly good out there.  Really, nothing hurt and everything that was a little stiff loosened up pretty quickly.  I fell into a groove rather easily and even though it felt slow, it was a comfortable and sustainable pace.

My breathing, however, was pretty labored.  I had a hard time getting comfortable with my breath.  I felt like I was gasping the whole time; like it was the first time I had ever run in my life. 

So it was no surprise when I looked at my watch as we finished the 2 mile loop and realized we had run it in less than 28 minutes.  Um.... OK.  That explains it.  I usually run that loop in closer to 30. And that's when I haven't done a 50 miler less than a week earlier.  No wonder Bluff Creek took my breath away today. 

Feels good to be back out there again!