Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 In Review

Well folks, tomorrow I am getting on a plane and heading for Los Angeles.  A few weeks ago I surprised Eric by booking a trip down there so that we could visit his brother and friends, and also so we could kind of shake things up for New Years Eve.  We usually just sit in our living room in our pajamas like old people, and frankly we may or may not be actually stay awake until midnight.  We always talk about actually DOING something for New Years, and I figured that this was a good way to close the year out.

I posted this to Facebook but not sure if everyone is on there or not...anyway to prove my point about saying my goals aloud, you know how I said I was going to get as many runs in as possible to see how far above 300 miles I could get for the year?  Guess who woke up on Christmas Eve feeling like absolute shit, and subsequently finally had to give in yesterday and go to the doctor for the first time in like 2 years to be diagnosed with a sinus infection?  Yep.  And let's remember people, I had JUST gotten over being sick.  I suspect it was a relapse of what I already had, but it's been really, really awful.  I mean I'm talking 102 degree fever for 2 days, unbearable sinus pain, coughing, the works.  The doctor gave me an antibiotic, which I haven't taken antibiotics in probably 12-15 years, and Walter White grade Sudafed, which I absolutely hate.  Anyway, I haven't had the energy to move from the couch, much less run.  I suppose the 2013 record will have to stand at 300.4 miles.  And don't even think about asking me what my next goals are, because I'm not EVEN writing them down on this blog.  ;)  Seriously though, who gets a sinus infection for a month?

Anyway, since I will be out of town, I am going to go ahead and write a little "recap" of what I perceive to be important events for me in 2013.  I cannot believe that I am writing a post recapping 2013, which was an incredibly odd year and really falls into the "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" category.  This year has gone by in such a blur, it really has.  I was telling Eric awhile back that the first part of the year (roughly January to June) feels like it happened 4 years ago.  In some ways this year has been really awful and Eric and I are both ready for 2014, but in other ways there are some personal triumphs and bright spots to the year. I wanted to highlight some of the more important events from the year, both running related and non-running.

1.  We lost the best dog in the entire world in early February.


I wish I had the adequate words to describe what a good dog Natasha was, and how big of a void her death left in our lives.  She was quirky, sweet, goofy, smart and the most loving dog  you could ever meet.  Her enthusiasm for everything was unmatched, and she was the best greeter when we would come home, as though that moment every day was the greatest moment of her life.  She had an epic head tilt/derp face combo, especially over the words "treat" and "go" that never failed to crack us up, and was an unrepentant beggar who infinitely preferred treats over her normal dog food.



She adored Eric and clung to me like glue, and had a steadfast refusal when it came to taking treats from strangers.  She had horrible breath that could melt steel, a funny little walk, made crazy noises that sounded like a combination of a dolphin and a monkey being strangled, and would tap you with her paw if she felt she hadn't been adequately petted.  Despite having the most huge, loving, forgiving heart in the world, we had to put our baby to sleep just a few months before her 15th birthday due to heart issues and possible cancer.  It was a traumatic event that honestly colored the rest of the year for us, and we have never quite gotten over it.  Even my mom, who is not a huge animal person sobbed uncontrollably when Natasha died.  She was just that irresistibly lovable.  She was one of those "once in a lifetime" dogs, and I am so lucky that I was blessed with her.  I wrote a post about her after her death, so if you would like to read more about her and see more pictures of her, please go here.

2.  We adopted a retired racing greyhound, Molly.

After Tash's death, I felt even emptier because it was the first time since I was about 5 or 6 years old that I didn't have a dog, and it felt completely unnatural.  I spent about a week after her death thinking that I could never own another dog, and then just as quickly realized that I would go insane if I didn't get another dog right away.  Besides my obsessive longing it just felt like the right way to honor Tash, to give a loving home to a dog who needed one.  After annoying the shit out of my ever patient husband and coworkers with constant shelter links to various dogs, and several depressing shelter visits where we left empty handed, we were about to give up in our search.  I then remembered a few years ago meeting some greyhounds at the Blazer games and totally loving them, and their personality fit our lifestyle so I broached the subject to Eric.  We went to a "meet a retired racer" event and loved up on some greyhounds, and decided to pull the trigger.  After a lengthy application, phone interview, required reading (seriously!) and a home inspection, we were approved for a greyhound, but it took about an extra month to be matched to one that was a good fit.

During the last week of April, we got an email that they wanted to pair us with a greyhound named Nikki (Molly's foster name), and did we want to meet her that weekend at the local Petco.  Eric claims he knew all along we would come home with her, but I was gun-shy and didn't want to have my hopes dashed like all the other times.  We stepped out of the car and saw a lone black greyhound in a group of fawn and brindle greyhounds, and I was instantly in love.  I knelt down and she walked right up to me and licked me on the face, which her foster mom said she'd never seen her do to anyone.  It didn't take us long to decide that of COURSE we were taking her home.

Molly has a sad history to a certain extent.  After racing 52 races in Texas, she had been bounced around from foster home to foster home, was adopted and then brought back because she bit the lady's other greyhound.  Bless her heart, in her 2 years since retirement, she has not had a forever home.  When we first got her she was pretty aloof with us, probably because she assumed she wasn't here to stay, but has really grown more and more affectionate and attached to us.  It's been so fun watching her open up and it makes me so happy that she finally has a forever home to call her own, and that we could be the ones to give her that.  Of course she isn't Tash and can't replace her, but she's brought back a lot of joy in the house.  We totally love her.  She's a complete diva and defiant, to the point where you just have to roll your eyes and laugh.  She also goes from regal to derp in a moment's notice.


She is strong as an ox and I am pretty sure she will break my nose at some point during one of her wild woman moments, or cause lasting damage with her whip tail of destruction.  She has cost us a grip of money with her ridiculous antics that cause us to have to rush to the vet, including eating an entire onion she stole from the pantry.  Like Tasha, she will tap you with her paw when she's in her "you must pet me for hours" mode, and she also tilts her head at the word "cookie" and "go", though not quite as magnificently.  She is so beautiful that we can't go 30 feet during a walk without having someone stop and admire her, and was a crowd favorite on the greyhound float at the Starlight parade.  When some of the other greyhounds on the float were quaking in fear, she was sound dead asleep on her back, and I was using her paw to wave to people in the crowd.  As far as greyhounds go, she's actually quite confident and fearless, which I am happy about, and she has me hooked on greyhounds for life.  Owning one is a total trip, and you have to throw everything you know about dogs out of the window, because they are weird little aliens who don't behave like a normal dog!

3.  I finally did it!!!!



Obviously the crowning point of both 2013 and my entire life is finishing a marathon.  I didn't finish it fast, and it was the most physically and emotionally grueling process I have ever gone through, but I did it.  It's more than likely this will be the only one I will ever do, I definitely feel like I got my marathon ya-yas out, but you couldn't find a better "one and done" marathon than Portland I think. The marathon showed me that I do have an ability to follow through, something that's probably one of my weaker points.  It made me feel like a better person, and is definitely something I can be proud about for the rest of my life.

The best part of doing the marathon were the people around me who made me feel so loved and supported.  I know that a lot of runners don't have that kind of support, but I had it in embarrassing abundance.  From coworkers, to family to my husband, I was supported and propelled to keep going when I didn't think or believe I could.  Eric particularly was consistent in listening to the tears, the bitching and the complaining, but in refusing to allow me to quit.  If you'd like to read my recaps on the marathon, you can find them here and here.

4.  I ran my first "destination race"

Because I like to do things backwards, my first half marathon came 2 weeks after the marathon, and it was the glorious Nike Women's Half Marathon in beautiful San Francisco.  In many ways, signing up for this half was the key to my being able to run the marathon.  I got a lot of good running tips from the TNT people, and being obligated to training for and fundraising for the half made it critical for me to not quit.  Thankfully this race put the fun back into running, since I was definitely ready to divorce running after the full marathon.  I also earned my first Tiffany necklace, which wasn't such a bad part of the deal either.  ;)


If you'd like to read more about my SF half, you can read my recap here.

5.  I ran more this year than I ever have.

It's kind of a big deal.  Just a few years ago a doctor told me that I'd never be able to run due to painful plantar fasciitis in my foot.  In fact, I could barely put weight on my foot during normal every day activities, much less run.  But I couldn't get my desire to run out of my head, so I kept trying to find a way to heal.  With a combination of yoga and all minimalist shoes, my foot allowed me to start running again last year, and miraculously I've remained uninjured.  I've done 8 races this year, and between races and training runs I've run 300 miles, which means I've effectively given that doctor from a few years ago the finger!!

Obviously all of those things are just a snapshot of everything that happened, but those are the things that stuck out to me as important.  I am looking forward to letting go of this year and seeing what 2014 has in store.  I hope that 2013 has been a good year for all of you, that you have a safe and wonderful New Years, and that 2014 will be stellar for all of us.

XOXO.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Unleashed

Well, it doesn't look like I am going to make my 350 mile goal for the year, which really bums me out.  I ended up getting super sick right after I decided to go for 350, which I swear to God always seems to happen right after I make a goal.  Either that or work springs some kind of horrid project, trip or utter nonsense on me.  It's really so discouraging and makes me want to never want to strive towards a goal, much less voice it aloud, because life seems to like to swoop in and shit on it as soon as I voice it.  I know that is a terrible attitude, I'll get over it, but it's kind of the truth.

What did happen today that was a little more positive was that I hit 300 miles for this year.  I ran for the first time since getting sick (and I'm still coughing up grossness after 2 weeks!), and just went out and did a short 4 mile run.  It wasn't my fastest time (more on that in a moment), but it didn't feel horrible at least.  Anyway, my short little jaunt put me at 300 miles!  It's definitely an okay consolation prize, even though I didn't keep very good records in 2012, I for sure didn't run 300 miles in one year!  I am going to try to squeeze in some miles before we leave for Los Angeles, but I am going to do my best to get some more miles added to my tally.



So okay, about the slow time.  Obviously I've never exactly been Jesse Owens when it comes to my running speed, but today I got handicapped by unleashed dogs.  I hope I don't hurt anyone's feelings here, but I'm just going to say it.  If you have your dog unleashed in public, you're an asshole.  I don't care if your dog is friendly, I don't care if Ceasar Milan trained your dog personally, I just don't care.  You guys know that I'm totally dog crazy, I HAVE a dog and I adore dogs of every shape and size, but when I am running I want to feel safe.  My greyhound is the friendliest dog on Earth, but she is also a complete gomer, and she stays leashed in public at all times with a REAL leash and not one of those bullshit retractable leashes.  I already have to deal with living in a kinda trashy neighborhood with an insanely busy highway (where a couple of people have been hit and killed because a tweaker rammed their car up on the sidewalk), as well as deal with idiots who text and drive, who turn into crosswalks without looking, and people who blow a giant cloud of cigarette smoke right into my path (I am allergic).  The last thing I need to deal with is your dog running at me, causing me to have to stop and stand still until I determine if it's safe to move.

Today there were 3 unleashed dogs on the same street, and it frustrated me immensely.  The first one was this mean looking lab who was staring me down while he and his owner were taking a walk down the street.  I tried to not make eye contact with it, and of course I slowed down to a very slow walk so that I wouldn't look like a fun target.  I am pretty good at gauging whether a dog is friendly or not, and this dog definitely wasn't.  So I get through that boondoggle and then further up the street was the same blue heeler who ran at me a few months ago, unleashed of course.  I slowed down again because I knew for a fact the dog was mean.  Fortunately he stayed with his owner even though he stared me down pretty hard, and I was walking pretty slowly so that it didn't get any ideas.  So I start jogging again, and not 30 feet up the fucking street was ANOTHER unleashed dog.  This time it was a little Pom, but little yappy dogs usually are the most likely to nip.  This time it started running towards me and following me.  I stopped dead in the street, and his owner was having a conversation with his neighbor and was completely oblivious to the whole thing.  It's one of those situations where you wish for a brief second that a car would mow down the dog and teach the owner a valuable lesson.  Again, I love dogs, I certainly would never want to see one hurt, but if you truly love your dog you won't let it run in the street.  The guy finally turned around and was like "Oh you've made a friend."  I grappled between saying "My friend is completely fucking my running pace", or "my friend is going to be a pancake in the street if you don't keep it leashed up."  I said neither one and just continued walking.  So between all of that, I wasted about 7 minutes, which really made me mad.  It's the type of thing that makes me hate where I live, because I wish I just lived in a quiet, tweaker free place that had sidewalks, and people with a small nugget of common sense.

On to happier things, I cannot believe Christmas is almost here!  I have 98% of my shopping done, and just need to get a few more stocking stuffers for people.  My aunt and I were joking that the family pets have more presents than the rest of us do!  I can attest that Molly is a spoiled turd who has a jam packed stocking  from us AND a wrapped present under the tree from my parents.  We got some pretty cool stuff for my aunt's cats that I am excited to give them.

On Christmas Eve we will be doing our traditional church service with my aunt and uncle and my uncle's parents, followed by shrimp gumbo at my aunt's house.  The gumbo dinner is a nice tradition, in fact I think we've been doing it the last 7 years or so?  Then we all open presents and take family pictures.  And for Christmas day Eric and I will be doing our traditional prime rib dinner with just the two of us, and we'll open our presents to each other.  We'll also watch our traditional Christmas day movies, which include Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas and SNL's Best of Eddie Murphy.  The Eddie Murphy thing got started because my aunt gave me a bunch of the "Best of SNL" DVDs for Christmas in 2006.  Eric and I were still dating and were in fact just freshly engaged!  I don't know if anyone remembers, but James Brown died on Christmas Day of that year, so in "tribute" we pulled out the Eddie Murphy DVD in order to watch the "James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub" skit, and then got sucked into the rest of the skits because they are hilarious.  Every Christmas Day since then, we have watched that DVD on Christmas morning.  The Claymation Christmas got added in later on after my brother gave it to me as a gift, it was our very favorite Christmas thing to watch when we were little, probably because I was apeshit about the California Raisins as a kid!  It really is the coolest and most underrated  Christmas thing, I included a clip from it below of "We Three Kings".  The music from it is awesome, and I love the camels.  :)



Well, I will leave you with something that is sort of Christmas related, a picture of Molly harassing me when I was trying to wrap presents.  She hates having her picture taken, so I started doing selfies of us just to annoy her and get her away from me.  And the angle of the shot is sort of unfortunate, let me put it this way, I DO have a shirt on.  It's a tank top so it's hard to see, lol.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

350

Today I did something shocking, I actually forced myself to run after work!  I have been really, really awful about it, which sucks because at this time last year I was somewhat consistently running during the week.  I've brought my gear several times, but I always end up letting work get the best of me, and just blow it off.  But the Louisiana Half is getting closer by the day, and I really want to have a decent time and possibly PR, so I've got to get off my ass and start getting those miles in.  I don't want to totally lose my distance base!

I really only had about 30 minutes today to get a run in, so I only did 2 miles, but it felt really freaking great.  It was SO cold, it was actually about 30 degrees at 4 pm, but it felt so awesome.  I forget what a great stress reliever it is to head out right after work, and was really scolding myself for not forcing myself to do it sooner.  Instead of feeling all tense and mad when I got in the car, I felt really energized and happy.  I posted my time to Facebook, but I did my 2 miles in 24:50.  Not bad really, the cold definitely helps my speed.

Something else that would help my speed is to stay on track nutrition wise, but alas, that has not happened.  I don't know what it is, but I cannot get my head in the game.  Work gets so chaotic and makes me feel so stressed that I end up eating and drinking really crappy.  Or I'll just eat way more than I should of something that's moderately healthy.  I keep trying my best, which is all I can do, but have tried to not beat myself up about it.

When I got home today I wrote how many miles I ran on my calendar like I always do, and then I counted up how many miles I've run so far this year.  I nearly peed my pants when I saw that I'm like 10 miles short of hitting 300 miles for the year!  I know to seasoned runners that ain't no thang, but it's a big deal to me.  I obviously am going to hit 300 miles, so I thought it would be fun to strive hitting 350 miles by the end of the year.  I really only have until December 28th to do it, so I would definitely have to put in some miles, but I know I could do it if I consistently run for the rest of the month.  I am kind of excited about it actually!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Overdue Recaps! Ugly Sweater 5k and Oregon Turkeython 10k

Ug, I cannot believe that I have gone this long and not posted a blog post, especially since there are TWO races I need to recap.  You know the usual with me, it's been super busy, and then Eric and I were on a glorious vacation.  Honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was even look at a laptop since that's my day every day.  I have no problem completely unplugging from the tech devices, which is what I did!  But here we are, so I'll do some recapping for you guys.

Ugly Sweater Run 5k

Our ugly sweater run was 2 weeks ago, and it was a nice way to start dipping my toe in the waters of the holiday season.  The race was pretty close to where we live, and it was nice to be able to just drive 10 minutes away and be there!  It was an interesting if disorganized race.  Doing bigger races has messed with me, because once you do a few of the bigger ones where things are super organized and they over inform you of all the details involved, doing these smaller races seems a bit...chaotic.  Their site didn't even have a readable course map on it, and we didn't know until 20 minutes before the race started where the finish line was.  To me those are kind of major details that should be readily available, but I kept reminding myself that the race was supposed to be for fun and I just needed to let it go.

We met up with our coworkers who were doing the race, and stood around and chatted beforehand and took pictures.  Here are Eric and I goofing off in our sweatered glory!  Actually, I didn't think his sweater was that ugly at all!


There were probably about 500 people in the race, DEFINITELY smaller than I am used to!  Even so, they did a staggered start, which, WTF.  I mean I get having a staggered start when you have a few thousand people, but it definitely wasn't necessary for this.  If I'd known, I would have definitely squeezed my way up to the front, since we were all the way in the back of the group with a bunch of women with Cadillac sized double strollers.

The race itself was fine, although it was unseasonably warm and running in those sweaters became really uncomfortable really quick!  I am so hot natured that I don't even wear sweaters in a normal context, so to go running in one was challenging!  It was Eric's first time running since the Helvetia in June (he is SUCH a good sport), so I ended up hanging back with him and taking things nice and steady.  I told him that he totally infuriates me because he is naturally so fast, and he barely runs!  I was having to slow him down at times since I didn't want him to burn out.  If he trained on a regular basis, I think he'd be an absolute killer out on any race course, but he just simply doesn't care for running.  Then you've got dumpy old me who will more than likely be a slow poke for life short of some intensive speed training.  The race wasn't timed, and it also wasn't a true 5k.  I think my watch measured it at about 2.9 miles, and I think we finished in like 37 minutes or something.  I didn't take a picture of my Gamin and am too lazy to plug it in to look and see what our finish was!

My aunt and uncle live really close, so I insisted they meet us at the finish line since I knew they'd get a kick out of all the crazy people dressed up.  Sure enough they were both there cheering us on when we crossed.  It was probably good for them to see me cross a race finish line looking happy, since I was bawling like a maniac and limping across the finish for the marathon.  We hung out with them for a bit, and then found our coworkers in the beer garden.  I certainly wasn't leaving without my two drinks, especially since they were serving Angry Orchard cider...my latest fav!  The after race part was fun, we literally just sat in the rain with our friends and sipped our drinks for probably over an hour while Christmas music played.  It was a nice way to kind of start easing into the realization that Christmas is around the corner!

Between The Races

Besides work, which, who cares, we had a four night stay at a cabin near Mt. Hood this week.  God, it was so nice to get away and get on "mountain time", and most importantly get away from our computers.  We didn't "do" a heck of a lot other than drink our faces off, go for hikes, sit in the hot tub and eat too much!  The weather was also clear and we got to drive up to Timberline Lodge one of the days.  It's one of my favorite places on Earth, and this picture is an example of why.  :)



Oregon Turkeython 10k

The day after we got back from the cabin, we had our Turkey Trot.  I have wanted to do a Turkey Trot for a couple of years now, and I've talked about this particular race a couple of times on the blog. It wasn't exactly the most exciting course, it was located at the mall, and if you did the 5k you ran 2 loops around the mall, and the 10k people did 4 loops.  Again, after running the streets of Portland and San Francisco, the mall wasn't exactly my dream course, but it still ended up being a fun race.

It...was...cold!!!  We got up Thursday and it was 28 degrees, which is a total change from what I am used to running in.  Poor Eric had to borrow one of my Bondi Bands to cover his ears as well as one of my long sleeved tech shirts (thankfully for him I like to wear men's tech shirts because they don't require you to be anorexic and flat chested).  The race was not easy since I hadn't run since the Ugly Sweater Run, but eventually my body got warmed up an accepted that we were doing this.

As I got towards the end, I realized that I was more than likely going to PR, which pushed me to keep running and finish strong.  I was SO excited when I crossed the finish line in 1:18:59, because I knew I'd PR'd for my 10k pace.  My finish time for the Helvetia 10k back in June was 1:25:02, although the heat from that day probably impacted me, but I'll take the PR!  And just for fun I looked up my first 10k race (and my first race ever period), and my finish time for that was 1:47:04.  I've improved slightly since then.  ;)  It would be nice to someday get a 10k in under an hour.

And of course the recap wouldn't be complete without posting a picture of the greatest medal of all time, my turkey medal:


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ugly Sweater

First of all, my apologies that I didn't write a blog post on Monday to let ya'll know how my weigh in went, nor did I write a single thing all week about jack squat.  Work, work, f'ing work.  That pretty much sums up a lot of things and the reason I didn't write, and I'm honestly so tired of having bad days and bad luck.  The sad thing is, the week started off ok.  I lost a smidge over 8 pounds, which is nuts and I'm sure was just mainly water weight but at least it's going in the right direction!  My food stuff is still okay, but sort of a work in progress.  Most days I did pretty well, but there were 2 days that I went totally nuts and went like 200-400 calories over my metrics.  Again, work caused a lot of emotional reactions that didn't exactly help me stay on point.  Doesn't make it right I guess, but makes me human and is just reality.  I am proud that I continued to track my food even when I was doing poorly, which is something that I usually don't do.  I feel like seeing some of the consumption in print kept things from being worse than it could have been.

My fitness stuff sucked too.  I did yoga on Monday and didn't do it again at all for the rest of the week.  I also didn't run during the week.  I had my bag packed at my desk with all my crap, but do you think I used it?  Nah.  I definitely felt and feel low that once again I let that place upset me to the point of throwing away my own needs.  It certainly wasn't worth it.  It never is.

Thank God the weekend came along, and I had all the time in the world to focus on me today and to have a nice run.  It's also officially chilly now, and nothing made me happier than to put on my long sleeved marathon finisher shirt and my gloves, which I can't remember the last time I put my gloves on!  I set out saying I wanted to do 7 miles, but decided to do what made me happy, which ended up being 4 miles.  I had the time to do more, but this was literally my first run since my summer training and the 2 big races.  I just for once wanted to go out and have fun and not feel upset or pressured by a training run.  And I did.

I ran around Intel for the first time in a long time, which is where I did my 20 mile run at the end of September (ie 100 years ago).  I just remember how long and torturous that day was, how I was fighting blisters on my feet and other unmentionable places, that it was raining the whole time and I was so hungry.  Today was very different!  It was dry, cold and I was out there because I wanted to be.  And truthfully, it felt like the run was over so fast even though it took me almost an hour (I really gotta start working on speed).  Losing even the small amount of weight I lost this week helped me, because the run felt effortless at times.

Running is such a weird thing.  Lots of times it can be gross, upsetting, frustrating or downright torture.  And then sometimes it's exactly what you need to feel good.  I needed it today.  I put on that finisher's shirt this morning and remembered that yes, I completed a marathon this year and felt incredibly proud in that moment.  The girl who was barely running 3 miles this time last year ran 26.2 miles this year.  Then when I ran my 4 miles today, I thought of it as a "short run".  However when I ran 4 miles for the first time in January of this year, I remember being like "whoa, I'm kind of a BFD".  The change in my mindset when it comes to running now is crazy.  Those are the times that running is wonderful, uplifting and awe inspiring.  What running gave me today was something I desperately needed, which is to feel like sometimes hard work does pay off.  When it comes to running, if you put X amount of effort into it, X results happen.  I have put effort in over the last year and have achieved things with running that I never believed I could do.  Looking back on that makes me feel so good.  I wish I could get that kind of satisfaction and happiness from my professional life, and I wish that hard work and effort had the same payoffs in the corporate world.  At least I have running to fulfill that need.

I ended my run in 54 and a halfish minutes, and I was okay with that time.  I think during the summer 4 miles took me an hour, so I suppose this is a slight improvement, but I definitely need and want to get better


After my run was over I ran a bunch of errands.  I finally found the Cliff Blok flavors I wanted (margarita and tropical punch).  Ever since I had a good experience with Bloks at the Nike Women's half, I've been willing to give them more of a chance for my training for my January half.  I also had another important errand that HAD to get done today, which was to find an ugly Christmas sweater for my Ugly Sweater 5k next week.  It's the type of thing that really makes me hate hipsters even more, because now that ugly sweaters are a in vogue, they are expensive.  And I'm kind of cheap when it comes to clothes as it is, so the thought of paying $30-$70 for a butt ugly sweater to wear for "fun" 1 or maybe 2 times was just inconceivable to me.  I didn't want to make my own because that kind of felt like cheating, so I went to the Goodwill today to see if I could find something.  I hope you are sitting down and prepared for the glorious tackiness that I am about to violate your eyes with:


I mean, that's real life.  That just happened.  When I saw it I was just like, however much it costs I'm paying it, and whatever size it is, I'll be anorexic just to fit into it.  Thankfully it's just my size, as though the ugly sweater gods were watching over me.  (It was also a very reasonable $7 which was just about the price I was willing to pay).  It has jingle bells on it, so I will be tacky AND festive, which I greatly enjoy.  The only thing I am worried about is that it's HEAVY, and considering how hot natured I am, the sweater will probably piss me off by the end of the race.  I guess I could cut the sleeves off, but it seems wrong to sully such a pristine work of art.  Hopefully it's super cold next weekend, and that way I won't die of heat stroke from wearing that thing!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pepperoncinis

Just thought I'd write a quick post because...well, because I can!  This weekend has been totally awesome, totally relaxing (other than our typical Sunday of yelling at the Bills for their ridiculous mistakes), and it's nice to have the time to sit down and write!

I am really happy with how this week has gone foodwise.  It's one of those things where I didn't realize how crappy and sluggish I felt until I got back into eating healthy again.  My energy is through the roof and I'm in a way better mood.  It's one of those things where I kick myself for not getting back on track sooner.  Regardless, I've done well from a calorie standpoint (other than Halloween candy, which was a one time blip).  The only macros I've really been going over are carbs and fiber, and that's because I've been eating so many fruits and veggies this week that it's been putting me over.  Since I think freaking out about carbs in fruits or vegetables is utter insanity, I don't stress myself about it. If I was going over my carb macros because I was eating bread by the shovelful, I might be a little more mindful, but I'm definitely not going to freak about veggies or fruit!  If I'm hungry and a banana or a big salad is going to help tide me over until my next meal, I'm eating the banana or the salad.

Speaking of salad, and as a PSA to continue trying foods you think you don't like, I suddenly randomly started liking something that I've always hated.  Pepperoncini peppers.  It started with making a crockpot recipe for drip beef sandwiches last week from the Pioneer Woman blog (side note:  totally obsessed with her recipes) that required pepperoncinis.  I was skeptical about it due to my hatred of them, but decided to do what the recipe said.  I ate them on my sandwich and ended up really liking it.  Last night I made a simple salad topped with black olives and tomatoes, and decided to throw a couple of pepperoncinis in seeing that I had the giant Costco sized jar of them.  I couldn't believe how delicious and enjoyable the salad was!  I made another big salad to have with lunch today and chopped some more up to put in there.  I guess my point is, if you think you hate something and haven't eaten it in several years, try it again.  I've done that so many times, and have been won over as an adult by foods I hated as a child.

I have been checking out the scale this week and I think tomorrow's weigh in is going to be good, and it's going to put me close back to where I was from a weight standpoint.  Unfortunately my body shape is still "fluffy" from muscle loss, so I think it's still going to be another couple of weeks before I fit comfortably into my trimmer pants.  I'm not terribly worried about it, my workouts are going to start back tomorrow and I'll gain some of that muscle tone back in no time.

I sat down last night and planned out what I want to do from a fitness standpoint, and I am happy to be getting back into it.  My body literally has been hurting from not moving around, especially my back, so I'm beyond ready.  I am going to do the full 108 days of the Ultimate Yogi program, which I am pretty excited about.  I am going to try to do it in the mornings (especially now that Daylight Savings is in my favor and I'm going to feel more rested for awhile), but will do it at night if I don't feel like it in the morning.  I'm also going to be doing shorter runs 3 days a week and one long run on the weekends.  I am not going to plan which days all of that happens, since I want this to be low pressure, I'm just going to get the runs in on the days it's convenient.  I might try to do a full 13 miles the next weekend because we're having a late combo birthday dinner for my aunt and Eric next Saturday at Trader Vic's.  I am super excited about it, ESPECIALLY their mai tais.  I want to make sure I can justify having 2 cocktails with my yummy dinner.  ;)

Well, I guess I will update you guys tomorrow with my weigh in and how my first workouts went!

Friday, November 1, 2013

No Obligations November!

I cannot BELIEVE it's November.  It seems like yesterday it was June or something, and now all of a sudden the trees are half bare, the fall rains are about to set in, and we are gathering up all the candy that the kids didn't take at Halloween and pawning it off on coworkers!

I am personally very excited that November is here, because a few months ago Eric and I designated this month as "No Obligations November".  We have both had a super crazy year with a lot of stressful situations and running around.  There has been a ton of business travel, and of course my marathon training that consumed every weekend.  We've barely had a chance to just relax at home on a given weekend or enjoy ourselves, so we declared that we were going to have a WHOLE MONTH to ourselves.  No social obligations, no travel and no activities other than whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it!  We are already set to do absolutely nothing other than hang out at home this weekend, and I couldn't be more thrilled. 

This week has been going really well as far as my goals are concerned.  I have been really on track with eating (other than some indulging with Halloween candy yesterday),  and I honestly feel so fantastic.  I have a lot of energy and just feel less gross than I did, and I am definitely ready to add yoga and running back into the mix (especially since I will get to add more snacks into my day!).  I have definitely been going full throttle with the fruits and veggies this week and have been going over my fiber macro every single day.  And I am addicted after a mere few days to my morning cherry/pineapple/kefir smoothie concoction.  So good, except that I kind of want to throw some rum in, even though that would probably be frowned upon at work!

I've also done pretty good with tracking my food.  It's definitely a reality check and makes me so much more thoughtful about what I eat, and also makes me choose more healthy options, since you can obviously eat a lot more healthy stuff than you can junk!  I hate having to track my food, but unfortunately I think it's something I will have to do for the rest of my life since I tend to be Pollyanna about how many calories/fat food contains.  I always think "there's no way this is that bad" until you pull it up in My Fitness Pal and it's EXACTLY that bad.   

I've been much more mindful about my water and tea drinking, and really find that having hot tea a few times a day keeps me on track and makes me less hungry.  I've found a new tea place online that is way better than Teavana or David's Tea called The Tea Guys.  I find that especially David's Tea has a weird chemical taste to all their stuff that I find pretty repulsive.  I am also hearing that since Starbucks took over Teavana that the teas have gone way downhill.  Plus they are so freaking expensive!  I did a random search online for a new tea source and found The Tea Guys and ordered a few things.  I am definitely impressed.  The teas are very natural and clean tasting, and I am officially in love!  Their straight up peppermint is awesome, as well as the Chocolate Mint Rooibos.  I also got the Earl Grey Creme tea (apparently Teavana changed the formula on theirs and it SUCKS from what I read online), and the Gingersnap Cookie, which are both really awesome.  If you are interested in checking them out, I definitely recommend it!  http://www.teaguys.com/ 

I have also been good about moisturizing twice a day too!  It's definitely annoying and adds more "fussing" to my routine than I normally care for, but my skin looks really good, and it's kind of nice to not have a shower of flakes around me when I take off a piece of clothing.  I was like Pig Pen from the Peanuts, except dry skin instead of dirt.  (I know that it was imperative for you to know that.)  I also started taking coconut oil supplements because my hair has been insanely and inexplicably dry for several months.  I don't blow dry or straighten my hair, and I don't color it either, so it really has no reason to be like that.  I've only been taking the capsules for a week so I haven't noticed a huge difference yet but hopefully it will help.

And another race update...I signed up for another local half marathon in May.  I can't believe I am all gung ho and actually seeking them out!  I am definitely not wanting to lose my running base, so I am looking forward to continuing to race.   I poked around online the other night and found a training schedule to use as a guide to gear up for the Louisiana Half, which is only like 11 weeks away or something.  I am going to get back into it next week and start doing my runs.  I am definitely excited and ready, especially now that my nutrition is back on track.  I have so much energy and I'm ready to put it to use!  (Please remind me of this when I'm bitching about a training run!!)


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Back To Basics

So I mentioned after my marathon that I wanted to start focusing on my nutrition again, which has been simply abysmal since the start of the summer.  A lot of it was that I was stressed from work, and tracking food just simply got to be too much.  Once I added the marathon training in there was stress on top of stress.  I needed something to ease up in my life, and my healthy eating and commitment to slimming down ended up being the sacrifice.  I'm not saying it was a wise idea, it's just kind of the way things happened.  And I think a lot of people automatically assume that when you are doing training runs that you turn into a toothpick, but it's actually pretty common for people to gain weight when they run.  That's what we're going to roll with anyway.  ;)

I'm definitely not happy with how I look right now, especially since I've lost a lot of muscle tone and am pretty convinced that I'm getting some flying squirrel wings on my arms which is NOT cool.  My pants don't fit great anymore either, and I'm falling into that "I'm throwing on a dumpy hoodie and jeans to cover the rolls" mode.  I weighed last night and was surprised to see that I haven't really gained as much as I thought considering the debauchery of the last few months (only 10 pounds), but to illustrate how important strength training and muscle is, my body shape is totally different and not in a good way.  I know some people make light of yoga or think that it isn't that tough, but I had way more muscle tone when I was doing it on a regular basis than I do now.  Regardless, I've acknowledged my failings and am going to buckle down and get back into it. 

The full and half marathons have given me a new confidence in myself that I can stick things out, so I feel good and hopeful about getting back into my nutrition and finally getting into the physical zone I want to be in.  Seriously, if I could tough out the painful last 10 miles of the marathon, then I should have the fortitude to not shove 12 salted caramels from Costco into my face every night. I really want to be in a healthier state for my upcoming races.  I want to improve my speed and also not look like Jabba the Hut in my race pics!  I was pretty horrified by some of my NWHM pictures, so it's like yeah, it's time to quit horsing around and get back into things.

As usual, I don't believe in crazy diets or completely cutting out anything, I'm just going to your basic calories in/calories out, "I can live with this for the rest of my life" approach.  Here are some of my intentions starting today:

  • Drink more water and hot tea:  I don't do too bad on water really, but I have so much loose leaf tea at home that I need to enjoy, and I really want to focus on making sure I'm hydrating myself enough.  I know I did so much better with eating when I drank a ton of hot tea, and now that it's cold weather again, it just seems right.
  • Start eating better breakfasts, including putting my Vitamix to use and making fruit/veggie smoothies:  My breakfasts are usually not my problem meal but usually it's just boring cream of wheat, so I don't feel like I get variety or even the nutrients I need.  I treated myself to a Vitamix blender over the summer, and it makes amazing smoothies, so I want to utilize that more for breakfasts.  It's just so easy to get in a lot of yummy raw foods in at once, and I'm usually pretty full if I have one of those in the morning.
  • Getting more fiber in general:  I do so bad with this, and I need to get better.  Fiber means happy days and being lighter, and typically when I get more fiber, it means that I'm eating the way I'm supposed to.  And I think whether we want to admit it or not, we all love being able to go "big potty" without issue. 
  • More yoga:  I mentioned this after the marathon, but I want to get back into regular yoga practice again.  I didn't have back, hip or foot pain when I was in regular practice, and I want my muscles back!
  • Moisturizing my skin more:  I know this sounds like a weird thing to focus on, but it just kind of falls into that whole taking care of myself thing and that I want to be better about it.  I want to take care of my skin so that it hopefully is kind to me and somewhat bounces back as I shed weight.  I've been really focusing on it since Saturday, and already am so happy with how much better my skin looks.  I'd also like to try to feel a little more girly and pretty, and you can't be girly and pretty with alligator skin!
Of course it's only Tuesday, but I've been doing pretty well this week with my food.  I'm tracking again, which is unfortunately something I think I'll have to do for the rest of my life.  I just don't do well going rogue.  But it feels good to get better food in my system, and I haven't been terribly hungry or gotten headaches.  I have indeed had smoothies for breakfast.  The one I made Monday was super gross but I drank it anyway (beet, beet greens, pineapple, lime and a banana), but the one today was freaking delicious.  I used plain kefir, which was a total impulse buy, and blended it with pineapple, strawberries and a pear.  SO good.  It's been pretty basic other than that.  Salads, lean meats, baked sweet potatoes, homemade chicken noodle soup, etc.

I haven't started the yoga or my training runs this week.  I wanted to start back with my nutrition and food tracking, get it ingrained as a habit again, then add my fitness back in.  I

Monday, October 28, 2013

Race Announcements!


I can't tell you guys how good it feels to be at home and back in a more normal schedule, and to even sleep in a little!  Even so, I felt so strange this weekend not having a long run scheduled, even though it was the bane of my existence all summer.  It felt even more strange to not have anything to work towards, and I know I said many times that I couldn't wait for both of my big races to be over, and now that they are I just feel weird.  As I said in my last post, I had a super positive experience during the Nike Women's half, and by the end I had that same elated feeling when I crossed the finish line that I normally have.  As soon as I was done I couldn't wait to get online and see what races I could sign up for next!

Next month I'm signed up for two races here in Portland, both holiday themed ones.  I'm pretty excited about them because I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and both of these races are low pressure things where we're just going to have fun.  And I made my poor, long suffering husband sign up with me for both of them, and I love when he runs with me, even though I know it's not his thing.  The first race is the Ugly Sweater Run 5k, and is definitely just a silly thing for fun.  We joined a team with a couple of our coworkers (one of them is the girl I roomed with in San Francisco and who ran the NWHM with me).  I don't know where the heck I'm going to get an ugly Christmas sweater, and was joking with my mom this weekend about how bummed I was that we still didn't have some of the ones from my childhood.  We had some super bad ones in the late 80's/early 90's era, and that shit was NOT ironic.

The second race is the Oregon Turkeython on Thanksgiving Day, which should be a good start to the gluttony.  I am doing the 10k and Eric is doing the 5k.  I have always wanted to do a Turkey Trot, and I will be completely honest, I am obsessed with medals now and I really wanted the tacky ass turkey medal that you get for finishing the race.  This is the glorious medal I'll be getting:



I mean....I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of excited.  I'm almost more excited for it than I was my marathon medal, lol. 

Now for the bigger running announcement that I mentioned yesterday.  I haven't really talked about this, but I have a 2 month sabbatical coming up next year in January and February, which I am pretty excited about.  I've been toying with what to do during my time off, and one particular thing kept coming up for me as something I wanted to do.  I knew at some point I wanted to go back to Louisiana to hang out with my family since I don't get to see them that often.  Just for "fun" I kept looking to see if there were any local races going on during the time I roughly wanted to go down, an one kept jumping out at me.  I decided to go for it this weekend and sign up.


Now don't get riled up, I did NOT sign up for the full marathon, only the half!  No way am I even considering a full ever again without about a million stipulations, but a half?  Absolutely.  This one is in Baton Rouge, and I couldn't be more thrilled to run a race in my home state.  And of course, I'm pretty thrilled about those medals lol.  For those who are like "WTF is that", it's a running shoe print with a Cyprus tree in the middle.  I love, love love it!  I called my parents to tell them that I am coming down for 2 weeks to visit and will be running the race, and they just about peed themselves.  It will be nice for them to be able to see me race, which they've never been able to do before since I live so far away.

It feels good to have some races in the hopper, and to have something to work towards again.  Running is funny like that.  You bitch and moan about it, but it does become a part of your life that you feel lost without.  Races are totally addictive (medal or not), and I am very happy to have some coming up that are all about having fun.  The Louisiana Half is going to be fun too because of seeing my family.

So those are my announcements!  Now you guys get to look forward to me continuing to post craziness about my running training!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nike Women's Half Marathon Recap

Good lord, am I EVER overdue on this recap.  When I was in San Francisco, my hotel charged $12 for internet per day, and there was no way my cheap ass was paying that much just to use the internet, and then when I got back into town, our week was so busy that I didn't have time to sit down and thoughtfully write out the kind of post I wanted to write.  So, here we are a week later.  I'd planned to kind of do a 3 part thing and include a ton of pictures and stories about the other crap we did, but I'm just going to keep it to this one blog post since I need to slay the dragon and just get it done.  I'll probably do a little "outtake" post with all of the pictures and stuff I didn't post here.  For now, I'll post just about the race.

The Nike Women's Half Marathon is the biggest race I've ever run when it came to the number of participants.  The only thing that has ever come close was the Shamrock Run here in Portland, which I think had about 32,000 runners, but the NWHM was almost 40,000!

The race had an agonizingly early start of 6:30 am, and TNT required that we meet up in the hotel lobby at 5:15 (!!!), so I was up at 4:30 am.  I was a bit irritated because there was no good reason for us to really meet that early since it was just typical TNT nonsense of standing in circles talking about being purple warriors, passing out buttons to wear at the race, talking a million pictures, crying and lecturing everyone about eating enough salt.  Everyone was super peppy too and all up in each other's faces, which that early in the morning and no coffee is just not for me.  I am always pretty quiet before a race because I have a ton of adrenaline, even if it's something simple like a 5k, so I was a tiny bit miserable having to fake sunshine and flowers at that hour.  So much more to the whole TNT thing that I'll get into at a later date.

Finally at 6 am we walked the 3 blocks or so over to our corrals.  I finally took my chance to break free of the group and worm my way into the middle of my corral so that I could be in my own headspace and quietly prepare to run the thing, but of course a group of TNT people somehow found me and were blabbing to me non-stop and asking me a ton of questions.  *sigh*  I just resigned myself to not being able to have a moment's peace until the race actually started.

To give you an idea of how many people were in the race, the start time was 6:30 am, but I didn't cross over the start like until 7 am.  I know the picture is blurry and you may not be able to tell, but there is a faint blue strip WAY in the front center of the picture, and that's the start line.  That should give you some perspective of how far back I was.  There were still like 3 or 4 blocks worth of people behind me!


If you love San Francisco, the route for the NWHM is super cool.  We ran right past Fisherman's Warf, which is one of my favorite things, as well as Alcatraz Landing.  I probably would have had a better finishing time on the race, but I stopped and took a million pictures along the way, and it was all worth it.


For the first five miles, the race was so insanely crowded that I couldn't even move my arms that much without hitting someone.  I was also getting annoyed with people who were walking and blocking the way of the runners.  I obviously support anyone who wants to sign up for a race, but if you feel like you will need to walk most of it, then the rules of the road apply...slower traffic to the right!  I was doing some crazy dodging and passing moves, all while trying to make sure I didn't eat it on the uneven pavement.  I kind of wish I'd lied and stated a faster time to get in a corral that had a bigger ratio of runners, which is a complete "note to self" if I ever do a bigger race again.

The one thing I didn't even really think of until I was in the race was "oh yeah, San Francisco has big ass hills!"  I'd had a couple of locals tell me the course was flat, which would be like me telling an out of towner that Portland's obsession with bacon, beer and hipsters is on the minor end of the scale.  (in other words, all lies!!)  When we hit our first hill, I was cursing every person who'd called the course flat, because it was brutal.  EVERYONE stopped to walk at that point.  In a crazy way though, I do feel like it took pressure off areas of my legs that normally get worked out too much.  Here is a picture of the biggest hill (and my alien thumb), which just got foggier and steeper the higher up we got.


Despite the hills I have to say, my energy levels and body treated me right during the race.  There was never a point where I felt bummed out, stressed, tired or even that winded.  I had Gu in my pack, but it actually hurt my stomach the first time I took it, so I cautiously took some Cliff Bloks at one of the aid stations.  I felt great after I ate them!!  Usually Bloks hurt my stomach and make me feel sick, but for whatever reason they went over well during the race.  I think the trick was that I would eat one, then wait until at least another 0.75 to eat another one, but who knows.  I was pretty happy that I took enough Bloks with me to squirrel away in my bag for the remainder of the race.

The aid stations were pretty decent, though at many of them they were running out of water, and all of them were crazy disorganized.  I can't really fault them though, having to keep up with that many people.  There was also Nuun at every station, which I had trained with and was used to, so that was just fine on my stomach.

The spectators at this race were pretty decent, but definitely not as good as Portland.  There were some pretty funny signs around that I wish I'd taken pictures of, but I DID capture a picture of another runner's shirt that made me burst out laughing.


Such a cute shirt, even though I guess that means I'm not a nice girl, since I did go all the way in Portland!  ;)

All of a sudden (or so it felt like), I was at mile 11, and realized that I was almost done.  I believe my exact thoughts were like "hell, why didn't I just do a half marathon in the first place?!?!"  I guess the trick to having a pretty easy half is to run a full marathon a couple weeks before!  Thankfully the rest of the route was downhill, so I ran for the remainder of the race.  The next thing I knew, I crossed the finish line and ran towards a tuxedo'd fireman holding a Tiffany box!  Grabbing that box was totally thrilling, since I've never owned a Tiffany anything in my life, and since I knew it was going to be a one of a kind necklace.




So that's the necklace, which I LOVE.  The "X" is since it's the 10th year of the Nike Women's Marathon/Half Marathon, but I most love the side that just has the simple engraving on it, which is the side I wear it on.  I am so proud of it, and still so in awe that I own a Tiffany necklace!

My finish time was 3 hours and 22 minutes, although I think I could have done a sub three if I hadn't fiddle farted around and stopped for pictures so often.  I also had to wait in a really long porta-potty line, which easily was a 10 minute deal.  I'm still pretty happy with that though.

Afterwards Eric and his friend Oliver took me to a local cafe for a victory brunch.  I had quite possibly the best chicken and waffles ever, as well as a really amazing cup of coffee!


I know all of that wasn't the most detailed recap of every little thing that happened during the race, but at least you guys know I survived now!  I can also happily report that the race was such a positive experience and so much fun that it completely revived my love of running!  I know I'd told you guys that after this race that I was going to retire from running for a little bit and well...that's kind of a big old lie!  I not only am going to continue running, but I am already signed up for three races!  Two of them are local races and will be in November, and I have yet another destination race in January that I will be telling you about in the next blog post.  All I'll say for now is that I'm pretty excited about it, but it's not a full marathon!  I haven't changed my mind about not wanting to do another one of those!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall Photo Blog

Fall is my favorite time of year, period.  In the South I never got the changing of the seasons, it's either hot or seriously freaking hot, so since I moved to Oregon I can't get enough of having an actual autumn season.  Eric and I have an annual tradition of going to the local cider mill and getting our Halloween pumpkins and some goodies.  Today was the first day in a long time where we had nothing going on, so we decided it would be perfect to head out to the mill.  I don't want to get too wordy, I'd like to let the pictures speak for themselves.  Needless to say, we had the perfect Sunday.

The diva queen of goats at the cider mill "petting zoo".

I hate to see him leave, but I love watchin' him go...

A girl and her perfect pumpkin!
We're romantic and artsy fartsy
A few of these, a couple of caramel apples and 2 gallons of apple cider.
Stunning and red...
Pink Floyd sun catchers in a local cafe during lunch

Wine tasting in the fall sun.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Brown Margaritas

Today I did something almost as hard as my marathon, which was get up when I was immensely hungover and had about 4 hours of sleep to go on a 4 mile walk.  God.  Yesterday was one of the worst days at work, which is saying something in the scope of this year.  One of those where you come home and cry (as you're doing overtime) until your husband forces you to get up and go out to dinner to get your head in a different space.  We tried out this Mexican place we'd never been to before that I had babbled to him about when I was totally doped up before my Lasik surgery.  I guess many years ago a friend had told me this place had margaritas that were so strong, they were tinted brown from the amount of tequila.  I was insisting we go there after my surgery, because you know, what better thing to do after 2 Xanex and eye surgery than go drink.  Obviously we didn't do that (I was out by the time I got to the car), so Eric suggested we go there last night.  I guess if there was ever a night where I needed a brown margarita it was this one.

True to the legend, the margaritas were pretty damn strong and indeed seemed to have that faint goldish tint from tequila.  I of course had two large ones.  The food there was okay, I think I liked it a little more than Eric did.  I am not sure that we'll go back, just because the food didn't blow us away and the service sucked.  I guess I'll just have to make my own brown margaritas!

Unfortunately between still being upset about work and drinking too much, I popped wide awake at a little before 1 am, and couldn't go back to sleep until 4, then had to wake up at 6.  UG.

See, I have not trained with my Team in Training team for the whole summer.  When I saw my coach out on the marathon course, I promised I'd go to the last training so that I could pick up some stuff I need for the San Francisco trip, and to decorate my race shirt.  That was all well and good until I was hungover and running on no sleep, but a promise is a promise, so I dragged myself out of bed and drove to Vancouver freaking Washington.  No coffee, no breakfast, not even any water.  Also, I was pretty sure that I was sweating tequila out of my pores.

The training walk was ok.  I did the 4 mile route option and walked with a nice older lady who is a coach on the team.  She was also very quiet so we just kind of had a peaceful walk without a lot of chitchat.  I am a bit worried about my leg.  I noticed during the last mile of the walk that tendon was really barking at me.  At one point we all jogged across a crosswalk since the light was about to turn, and my leg really didn't like that at all.  I still have another week before the half marathon, so I really hope that my leg settles down.

I am definitely ready to get the half marathon over with.  This getting up on the weekends and having obligations stuff sucks.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Honesty

It's funny, I've had more than one person over the last few months tell me they appreciate me being so honest and full of candor about my experience with training for and running the Portland Marathon.  I especially got a lot of that after posting my marathon recap and the Q&A yesterday.  A few times in person, and lots of times via blog comments.  I get the sense that these people aren't getting the real scoop on running from other sources and are somewhat relieved to hear my crazy stories.

I come from pretty honest stock.  My grandmother (dad's side) was brutally honest and hilariously sarcastic.  She also taught me everything I know about using curse words to their full potential.  I just absolutely worshiped her and miss her every single day that I am awake.  My Oregon aunt (also dad's side) who is more like my sister and BFF also is bluntly honest to a fault and also has a fantastically sarcastic wit.  My mom's side of the family also pulls no punches.  Maybe it's a being from the country thing, we just all kind of tell it like it is.

I don't think anyone wins when they are spoon fed a sugar coated reality, especially when the stakes are high.  It would be a horrible disservice to say that training for this race was all unicorns and rainbows, because when someone reads that, trains for their race and has those bad training days they'll say to themselves, "I must be doing something wrong, because Mary had a great time training."  I think keeping it real allows people to prepare themselves for what could happen.  Running seems like such an elegant sport sometimes doesn't it, especially when you see those lanky gazelle people in their tiny running shorts.  They always make it look so effortless too.  Except, I'm friends with a couple of the weird gazelle people, and they face the same running woes us chubby mortals do.  They also go through the same cramps, injuries, horrible runs, chafing and near pants crapping.

Doesn't it make you feel better that the gazelle people also experience these issues?  Doesn't it make you feel more normal?  Exactly.  And that right there is why I'm honest.  Knowing that some of these struggles are normal and come with the territory when it comes to running lets you prepare.  It lets you educate yourself on what to do to combat the struggles, be they emotional or physical.  It gives you the ability to commiserate with other runners.

I hope my honesty doesn't scare people away from running or marathoning.  Just because something comes with struggles doesn't mean it's not worth doing.  It's kind of like owning a certain black greyhound.  Your couch may get taken over, you may have to pay $200 to an emergency vet when she eats an entire onion she stole out of the pantry, and she may leave revenge piss puddles on your carpet if she's PO'd that you've been gone too long.  But at the end of the day when she makes you laugh by doing something derpy and ridiculous, or sweetly puts her head in your lap to be scratched it's all worth the aggravation.  Not that I am talking about a specific black greyhound.  No, never....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Final Marathon Thoughts

Oh man, I could just kiss myself for thinking ahead of time and taking 2 days off of work.  Yesterday was pretty rough, mainly due to that tendon in my right leg.  It's super painful and there is a ton of bruising (there is a picture below in the middle of the post), but I iced it and rested all day yesterday.  Today when I got up, the pain wasn't quite as bad, though the bruising is pretty gnarly.  I can do a kind of pained old man shuffle as opposed to hobbling, so I think by tomorrow I'll probably be at 80%.  Otherwise I am having a grand time watching trashy ass Lifetime Television movies (for the record, men will ruin your life according to the gods of Lifetime), laying on the couch and eating leftover pizza.

I wanted to post some final reflections on marathoning now that I've had a couple days to recover, and thought it would be fun to do it in a Q&A format!  So here we go:

Q.  Are you happy you did the marathon?
A.  100% yes.  It's one of the greatest things I've ever done in my life.

Q.  Is there anything you would change?
A.  My lack of training, by far.  I mean for the last couple of months, I've only done my long runs, so I ran once a week.  Yeeeeah.  I didn't train nearly enough, and it definitely hindered my success.  I also stopped doing yoga, which was a huge mistake.  I lost so much muscle tone and flexibility, both which would have helped me out on the course.  I also wish that I'd really been more serious about dropping weight before I started the process.  I'm not saying chubby people can't do marathons, but I certainly didn't do my joints/feet any favors by being heavy.  Between my weight and my lack of training, I am VERY lucky to not be injured worse than I am.

Q.  Could I do a marathon?
A.  I think anyone who has the drive and desire to CAN do a marathon.  It is not easy, but you CAN do it.  I saw people of all shapes, sizes and ages out on the course.  I saw people much heavier than me out there.  I saw people well into their 80's out there.  It's all about being willing to put in the conditioning, time, and to be able to propel yourself emotionally.  There will be times where it's really tough, and the only thing to keep you going will be your own determination.  Also, please don't follow my example, make sure that you train properly, and that you don't eat like a fool.

Q.  What tips do you have for training for a marathon?
A.  Prepare yourself ahead of time for the emotional ride, because there are times where the process is going to be the most awesome thing in your life, as well as one of the most horrible things in your life.  Work out ahead of time what you are going to say to yourself when things are tough and you want to quit.  Trust me, that time will come.  Tell a shit ton of people you are doing it, because there were times that the only thing that kept me going was thinking, "Oh crap, all of these people know I'm doing this, I gotta get out and do my long run today or I'll look like a loser."  Be patient with yourself, forgive yourself for the bad runs, and try to not put pressure on yourself.  If you are new to running, seek out as many running resources as possible.  Read books and blogs on running.  Get a running coach and/or make friends with runners.  You will have bizarre questions that only runners will understand (butt cheek chafing anyone?) Surround yourself with supportive people who don't mind you yapping about running all of the time, and who will pull you out of a dark place when the training gets tough.  If anyone says anything negative about you running a marathon or implies that you can't do it, they are a butthole who is probably jealous of you and would never attempt something so awesome themselves, so screw 'em.

Q.  Would you ever do a marathon again?
A.  My knee jerk reaction is no.  I know you should never say never, especially when it comes to running, but I know deep in my heart that it's not something I want to go through again.  In any race I've ever done, as soon as I cross the finish line I say to myself  "Hell yeah, I wanna sign up for another race!"  I did NOT do that after this race. I was so relieved to be done that I cried in public.  The training is a complete time suck, even the half assed amount of training that I did.  The whole process is very physically grueling and sometimes traumatizing emotionally.  It utterly sapped my joy for running to where I am adverse to it, and that makes me really sad.  I think I'll find that love again, but not right now!

Q.  Seriously?  Even after saying it was the greatest thing you've ever done?
A.  Yes seriously.  Probably.  I mean, would I love if I had a marathon record of faster than 7 hours?  Kind of.  Will I experience a major void in my life for not attempting another one to better my time?  Probably not.  The only way I'd ever consider it even is if I was like 70 pounds lighter and it was a spring marathon, so I wasn't training in the summer.  We all know how I feel about that.  But yeah, my gut says that I'm done with the 26.2.

Q.  What is the worst thing about doing a marathon?
A.  Definitely the emotional aspect.  At a certain point, your body only carries you so far, and you have to carry yourself the rest of the way.  If you're a self deprecating gomer with low self esteem like I am, finding that strength and fortitude is very, very difficult.  The physical trauma to the body isn't exactly a fun time party either.

Bruises?  Flesh Eating Bacteria?  Who knows?!

Q.  Jesus, is there anything good about doing a marathon?
A.  Yes, absolutely.  The reasons TO do a marathon are the same reasons that people climb Mt. Everest or why Diana Nyad was driven time and time again to try to complete that Cuba to Florida swim.  Sometimes you are compelled to take on a challenge, no matter how crazy it is, because you know that the end result will be good for your soul.  It's hard to explain, but between the tears, the pain in the ass training, and just plain old pain, there were a lot of beautiful things about the process.  It uncovers greatness in you that you didn't know existed.  The marathon proved to me that I am more than a chubby, scatterbrained Sagittarius who has a hard time finishing what she starts.  I overcame that, and overcame myself to do something that not everyone does.  It taught me that I can follow through, that I am capable of doing something big.  It's an experience I'd recommend simply because it will show you everything that you are capable of, and because sometimes you have to answer that nagging voice telling you to do something.  (As long as that nagging voice isn't some kind of Son of Sam shit).  And there are the pleasant surprises that pop up too.  A couple of people told me that I am inspirational, which automatically makes me say, "Shit, really?"  But it also feels good to hear that.  A couple of people have said they started running because of me, which feels good.

Q.  What's next for you?
A.  Next is the Nike Women's Half in San Francisco, and then running and I are going to have a trial separation for a bit.  Along the way of training for a marathon, I lost the joy I had for running, and I think taking a little break and some time to reflect would help me get that back.  What I'd like to do next is complete the full cycle of my Ultimate Yogi  DVDs, which is 180 days.  Yoga is amazing for the body and mind, and I could certainly use help in both departments!  I also want to get back to focusing on my nutrition, which has suffered big time in the last few months.  Eric and I are talking about doing a Turkey Trot together at Thanksgiving, so that would probably be my next running related adventure after the Nike Women's Half.

Q.  But if you're not running, does that mean you won't blog either?
A.  Heck no!  I love writing on the blog, so I'll still be writing.  It probably won't be running related for a bit, but you can expect to see the blog turn back to more food and nutrition related posts, as well as my return to yoga and derpy pictures of Molly.

The ever elegant greyhound...
So I guess that's it for today.  If you guys have any other questions, I'll be happy to answer them in the comments section.  I do want to say a huge thank you to those of you who read the blog.  Writing my posts was so cathartic to me, and knowing that you guys were reading, following me and rooting for me was a huge help to me when things got really dark.  I felt very supported and loved!  XOXO!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Portland Marathon - A Recap....I Freakin' Did It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my God you guys.  I did it.  I did a marathon.  It may not be the most eloquent or detailed recap, but it will have tons of pictures.

So nothing too dramatic about waking up yesterday morning, I woke up on time and was of course freaked out.  However I had everything laid out on a silver platter, so there was no stress as far as getting ready.  I was so nervous that breakfast was hard to choke down, but I had a smoothie made with coconut water/banana/strawberries and a Cliff bar.  Getting down to the starting line was fine, and there was no drama.  Eric hugged me, wished me luck, and left me to my own devices in my corral.

To quote Ron Burgundy, I was in a total glass cage of emotion at the starting line.  I cried when they did a moment of silence for those who were died or injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.  (Hearing over 15k people go silent at once is eerie and beautiful).  I cried when we all sang the Star Spangled Banner together.  I cried when they played "Sweet Caroline" as we all lined up, to show solidarity with Boston.


Here we are in our corral, patiently waiting to start.  And of course, I was patiently waiting and boo hooing.

So as I suspected, I was much faster in the beginning than I have been in training.  The miles were flying by and I was feeling great.  There were tons of spectators, bands and performers on the course, which was giving all of us amazing energy.  I can't say enough nice things about the support from the crowd, the volunteers and the random spectators who came out to cheer us on.  The people at the aid stations were so kind and helpful (one guy even gave me the score to the Saints game when it was in the 3rd quarter...they were winning, natch!  5-0 baby!!)  People were coming out of their houses and ringing bells, blasting music for us from their porches, and even sending their kids out to cheer our names and offer us food.  At one house, the owners came out and were offering us cups of beer, which I politely declined though I thought it was sweet and funny.  Portlanders are freaking amazing people.

Around mile 10 I ran into one of my coworkers, and we ran together for a bit.  I was actually very happy to have the company, and I think running with her pushed me a little more than I would have been otherwise.  We didn't even talk that much, but her presence was so appreciated because I was definitely starting to feel lonely.  (Thanks again Libbie!!)

So, I was doing pretty good until about mile 14, and then my hips started to go dodgy on me.  And of course, my damn calves started cramping.  It was a pretty rough freaking go from miles 15-20, and I kept having to pull over to stretch.  I was never so happy to see the St. John's Bridge at mile 17.  It's so beautiful and the day was so beautiful that it was a nice distraction.  You can't tell from the picture I took, but the day was so clear that you could see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier and Mt. Hood all in a row.  It was a breathtaking moment that took my mind off of the pain for a bit.


When we were coming off the bridge a very hilarious woman ran past me and she tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Start running!  There is a camera ahead so we can't look lame!"  Indeed, there was a photographer up ahead, so I kicked it into gear.  Once we passed him she said, "Keep running girl, cause there's a big ass hill ahead, and that's when we can walk."  It just sort of cracked me up, and I definitely needed a laugh, let me tell you!

Once I was off the bridge, I started having a pain I'd never had before in my right leg.  It was a sharp, stabbing pain right where the leg bone and ankle connect, and was going down over the top of my foot.  Pulling over to stretch and massage it almost seemed to make it worse, and I started getting totally freaked out.  It's like, is this a blood clot, is it a stress fracture, what the hell is this?  Whenever I touched the spot, it felt roughly like I was touching a lit match to a sunburn.  The next three miles were really hard.  I was in an incredible amount of pain, the sun was beating down on me and I felt so alone.  I started tearing up and cried for probably about half a mile, but sucked it up before we got to the next aid station so that they didn't think I was crazy.

At that point we were in a neighborhood, and as I said, the homeowners in the neighborhoods were amazing.  Lots of cheering, encouragement and funny little signs all over the place.  I had to stop and take a picture of this one around mile 21, because it was exactly what I was thinking.


It's like, ain't that the motherfrigging truth.

I managed to have a surge of running for about a mile on a downhill part, even though it just about killed my leg.  My friend Dave and his wife Carrie met me at mile 23.5, and I was so happy to see them.  It was at a point where I really needed to see someone I knew and to talk to someone, because I was in a pretty bad state mentally.  I stopped for a minute to talk to them both, and they both gave me a ton of encouragement and some hugs.  Carrie was like, "You are so close, you are almost done!!"  I felt boosted by their pep talk and continued on my way.  I honestly don't know what I would have done if they hadn't been there, even having that 1-2 minute interaction with them did a ton for me mentally.

At mile 24.5 I ran into my coach for the Nike race, and she could tell immediately I was not doing well.  I started telling her about my leg and she was like, do you have a shooting pain that goes into the top of your foot.  I was like, yeah actually I do.  She said it was tendonitis of the blah blah, I honestly can't remember what tendon she said.  She handed me a mini Stick to roll out that spot, and then sprayed me down with some kind of Bio Freeze stuff.  It honestly didn't help that much, but it was a relief to know that it wasn't something more serious I guess.  She walked with me for a bit and gave me some pointers on how to treat it.  Again, and I am not normally like this when I run, but it was so helpful just to have someone to talk with.  I was just feeling achingly lonely and mentally drained.

When I hit mile 25, I wanted to have a mental breakdown.  It's the ultimate "so close, yet so far away" adage.  I was emotional that I was one mile away from being a marathoner, I was in pain unlike anything I have ever felt, and I was having to dig deep to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  When I rounded the corner to run towards the finish line, I started running again, even though it was the most painful thing I've ever felt to do so.  I looked up and saw Eric, my aunt and uncle standing there screaming my name and I began tearing up.  When I ran across the finish line and the guy said, "Mary Layton, you did it, you are finished!" I totally lost it.  I put my hands over my face and burst into tears.  The announcer must have seen my reaction because he said "Aww, you did it, you made it!"

So, there is a bit of controversy about what my actual time was.  My Garmin says that I did the marathon in 6 hours and 43 minutes.  When I go on the Portland Marathon site, it says that my time was 7 hours.  17 minutes is a pretty big difference, so I'm not sure what happened or which is right.  I mean the distance on my Garmin is correct, but whatever is on the Portland Marathon site is what's going to go in the record book.  I didn't look at my phone to see what the time was when I crossed the finish line, since that would kind of settle it once and for all.  All I'll say is that my Garmin has always been in synch with my race times for the last few years, so I'm not sure why it wasn't this time.



I have never gotten a medal for anything in my life, but I'd say that having a marathon medal as my first is pretty damn awesome.


I also got a rose (City of Roses and all) and a Douglas fir tree seedling, which is pretty cool.  Through it all I was crying like a maniac, and I'm sure I just looked insane.  I grabbed an orange slice and some doughnut holes, even though I was sick of sweets.  My stomach was a wreck after eating nothing but Gu, Cliff bars, gummi bears and electrolyte drink for roughly 7 hours, and for the first time in history, I didn't even want a beer after the race.  That my friends, is unheard of.  I've never declined a post race beer.  My stomach was just too messed up.

I exited the finisher's shoot and saw my family standing there.  Eric grabbed me first, and I collapsed into his arms and sobbed.  I was so happy to see him, and so happy to be done.  My uncle sneakily took a couple shots of our embrace, but I am really glad he did.  It was a pretty awesome moment in my life.



My aunt and uncle brought me two bunches of gorgeous roses, one set from them, and one from my parents.  I was stoked to see my aunt and uncle, and it meant everything to me that they'd showed up to see me finish.

We went home and I took a much needed shower and an ice bath, and then Eric went and got pizza and champagne to celebrate.  Afterwards I laid on the couch, then gave up the ghost and went to bed at 8.  My right leg is completely screwed up, and I have this scary red mark on there now that I'm hoping is a bruise from me rolling on it with The Stick.  Thank God I have the next 2 days off of work, because 1) I can barely walk, and 2) I need the emotional break!

I'll leave you with a picture of my finisher's shirt.  It's beautiful and awesome, and I couldn't be prouder to have it.


I will write another post tomorrow with some more thoughts and feelings on the marathon once I've had some time to process it, as well as a preview of what's next for me.