Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dream big!

Lululemon has started a new campaign: If nothing was stopping me, I would....

I'm not really good with fonts and stuff, but I had no trouble expressing what I'd do....

I'd keep running...but I know where I want to be.

2 more weeks.

What would you do if nothing was stopping you?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Remember that black hole I wrote about a few weeks ago? The one that was threatening to suck me in? Well, it's back at it again. Life just keeps lobbing balls at me. Or lemons.

Good advice!

I was doing really well after my last post. Trying to keep a positive attitude. Really pushing myself to be happy and goofy, like I normally am. And being fairly successful at staying positive, too, if I do say so myself.

A few bumps in the road, including my father-in-law being admitted to the hospital last week, didn't shake my confidence. He's fine, by the way. Even though the doctors messed up and he had to stay an extra night. Smh. Mother Nature brought us more snow and cold. Hasn't she checked her calendar? But in spite of the bad weather, in the mornings the roads have been mostly clear and I have been able to run outside. The sun has been shining.

And then this....

Last week I got my new Garmin. I bought a low end model, the Garmin Forerunner 10, because I my iPhone running apps weren't very reliable. They kept quitting midrun, and I didn't trust the splits they were giving me. The Garmin performed beautifully, and here's what I saw:

I could not have been happier. This run was done in the cold wind, following a snowstorm...typical of our winter this year, and with splits like this, I feel like I've been doing a great job training. The Garmin does not lie, right? I was so thrilled with my new Garmin! Why was I resisting owning one all these years?

In my enthusiasm, I sent the picture to my family, along with a comment about how great I felt.

My sister responded with a snarky comment about her 3 miler on the treadmill, "steep hills". 

It was then I remembered a comment she made to me a week before when I was talking about running. A big sigh, followed by "that's YOUR thing...". In other words, "I don't want to hear about it". I realized then why she sent me the snarky text. 

Hurt, I let the text comment ride until the next day when I called her. She didn't pick up, and l left a message that I thought we should talk. Later she sent me a text message, which was not nice. She didn't want to talk to me, she said, and basically stated I needed to keep my running to myself. There was also a comment about me "needing to pat myself on the back" all the time. 


We runners tend to talk about running ad nauseum...because we are so passionate about it. Running has the power to transform our bodies and our lives, and I could write a book on what running has done for me. My family may not understand my passion for running, but with the exception of my sister, everyone has been really supportive. When I ran the Chicago Marathon, my mom and my youngest sister and her family were there. But not this sister. It bothered me at the time, but I let it go.

After this past incident, I'm having a little harder time letting it go. Over the years, she's told me multiple times that I'm her "best friend". I've supported her through her divorce, and other trials and tribulations. I've always been there for her. That's what sisters and friends do for each other. But I'm not feeling the love back. I can analyze why she says the things she says about my running, but I don't understand the venom behind the comments.

Maybe I shouldn't have sent the picture of my Garmin. But what about the pictures she sends of her new home, her new furniture, her boys...what makes that different? 

And is what we runners are doing in our blogs and facebook, twitter and instagram considered "patting ourselves on the back"? I enjoy reading everyone's posts on Facebook and everyone's blogs. I find them motivating. I love the encouragement I get from my fellow runners and I try to reciprocate. I do try not to go overboard when I talk about running with my family and friends because I know it isn't their "thing". I try to be sensitive when it is time for me to stop talking about it..the glazed look I get usually does it for me. When people ask me about running, I always joke "don't get me started!"

But my friends understand that running is my passion. I'm not sure what to do about my sister, but I'm not going to let her comments affect the my journey. 

Keep moving forward. 

Healing my bruised ego. My broken heart.

Are your family and friends supportive of your running? How do you handle those who aren't? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Feet

I really wish I could dance.

I was just watching the news today and saw a couple demonstrating the tango. Oh my gosh, watching them move...I only wish I was that sure footed.

I can run, pretty quick at that, but my feet only move in one direction--forward.

It is funny how much coordination I lack. Becky, my trainer, has been teaching me a variety of crossfit moves. Several of them involve a hip thrust forward as you lift the weight up your body. Then a jump, or a burst of power, as you hoist the weight to your shoulders. One of them we've been working is the "clean" technique. I've just been using a bar without weights because I can't seem to get it right. Every time I see her, she has to re-demonstrate the entire sequence for me. She breaks it down. I feel stupid and uncoordinated. Becky is very encouraging and doesn't laugh at me. At least not where I can see it.

Full disclamer: This is NOT me. But this is a great picture of that hip thrust I was talking about! She's got some momentum going...that baby is going up!

But I bet if I was a good dancer, I would feel more comfortable in my body and be able to move through that sequence much more easily. Like that woman in the picture above.

I'd probably be able to navigate a lot of things more easily! Like hopping the curb from the parking lot into Target. Face meet bike rack...but that's a story for another blog post...

I've never been great at dancing. In kindergarden, I took dance class, and my mom took me out after I just couldn't seem to get it. An awkward, gawky preteen, my mom enrolled me in dance class again, not sure why--maybe to help me with my utter lack of coordination. After several lessons, the instructor took my mom aside and told her that perhaps dancing wasn't my thing. Funny thing, I was fine with quitting.

Even at our wedding, my husband and I did our slow dance rocking from side to side.

As I got older and more comfortable in my skin, I found that I could "move" to the beat and so dancing in large groups became more fun for me. But throw in a floor dance like the electric slide and I was in trouble. After my friends reviewed the steps with me, I still couldn't get it. They'd be going one way and me the other. After a couple of drinks, nobody cared and it was pretty funny. But still.

Thank goodness I can run. Forward, one step in front of the other.

Are you a good dancer? Do you think good coordination is essential to being a good runner?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Does size matter?

Have you seen this medal?

This is this year's medal for the Little Rock Marathon. I wrote this blog post before the race actually took place. I'm sorry to hear that it was cancelled half way through because of the weather. This post is NOT about that race. Or that particular medal. I'm writing about medals in general. Please don't flame me!

Maybe I'm a party pooper, but what the hell? That thing is ridiculous! It's bigger than my head! You could eat dinner off it! And yet people are going crazy for the bling these days. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a good race medal. I have a few myself. 

My favorite medal? This one, from the Madison (Wisconsin) Mini-Marathon:

Attractive, yet practical, with the bottle opener. But nothing extreme.

My least favorite medal? This one, from the North Shore Half Marathon:
This was the cheapest, crappiest medal I've gotten.  I'm really not in it for the bling, but if you are advertising as "the best goody bag ever", you better bring it. Plus this was one of the more expensive races I've ever run. I expected a little more for my money. Don't even get me started on the ugly man shirt that I got. Which went right into the Goodwill bag.

Run Disney has really upped the ante with bling. There is the medal for the marathon and the half marathon. It used to be if you ran both, you were considered "Goofy" and got a 3rd medal. Now there are medals for the 5K and the 10K. And if you run all 4, you've done the Dopey challenge and get a medal for that. 6 medals in all.

Ok, this is going to sound curmudgeonly but COME ON! My email is filled with messages from race directors beckoning: "best bling" "biggest medal" and so forth. While I'm not above being rewarded for my effort with a medal around my neck, I don't pick a race just because of the medal.

After seeing the Epic medal, I had to say something. My fellow blogger Marcia, at Marcia's Healthy Slice wrote about this a few weeks ago. You can read that post here. The comments were mixed. Some people LOVE the bling. And others, old school runners like me, would run for no bling or small bling.

I'd not discounting rewarding people for their accomplishments. Long distance racing is hard, requiring dedication and training. If the lure of earning a medal gets more people moving, that isn't a bad thing. I like when the volunteers put the medal around my neck and congratulate me at the finish line. But what do you do with the medals when you're finished showing them off? Where do you store all your medals? Are they on display? Or do they go in a drawer, like mine?

And think about this: the cost of the medal is included in your race fee. These medals aren't cheap. And race fees are going up, up, up! Those Run Disney Races? Start saving your cash now...

Last year's Chicago Marathon medal was small. I heard that people complained about it.
I don't know. Finishing a marathon is a pretty big deal in itself. And now Chicago is so popular, there is a lottery for entry if you don't qualify. So maybe the race promoters don't have to try so hard and sell the race with "bling". 

That's my kind of race.

I've seen the question come up before, and I want to bring it up here. Would you run a race if there were no medals? Do you choose a race because of the bling? Is bigger really better?

I'm linking up with MCMmamaruns, NoGuiltLife, and Run the Great Wide Somewhere for this one!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Waiting for spring...

Last week at yoga, I stopped to chat with one of the women in the class, whom I hadn't seen for a while. She is a runner too, and last time we talked, was suffering from a hip injury. I asked her how she was feeling, and she told me much better, that she had started running again. I asked her what she was training for.

She told me she's running March Madness, which is a half marathon in Cary, Illinois. This race is kind of the unofficial kick-off for the long distance running season in the Chicago area. Wildly popular, registration opens up on December 31, and usually fills within 30 minutes. I hear the course is quite hilly...the weather unpredictable...the runners FAST!

And then she told me she's running Boston.

I love this ad for the Boston Marathon.

Ah. Boston.

How many long distance runners would love to be training for Boston? And why is that? Is it because you have to qualify for an entry? One of my friends, who has run it in the past, met the qualifying time for this years' race, but because of the large number of entries, was denied, deemed to be 30 seconds too slow.

30 seconds? Aye!

I've always been a middle of the pack runner, not too fast, not too slow. Normally I finish in the top 25% of my age group, and I've always been pretty happy with that. I'm not saying I wouldn't love to qualify for Boston, but I know that I will never run that fast. Right now, my qualifying time would be 4:00:00. I'm a 2:00 half marathoner on a good day...when I ran my one and only marathon, it was on an 80 degree day and let's just say that at 4:00:00, I was nowhere near 26.2.

Besides having a slower BQ time, another benefit to being older, and we all joke about it, is moving into a new age group. I am now in the 50-54 year old women's group, and the ranks are starting to thin out. When I realized this, I had 2 thoughts. One was Yay! Podium! And the other was Oh crap! These old ladies are fast!

I love this graphic because you can see the spread in age groups at the big 3 marathons: MCM, Chicago, and NYCM. You youngsters have a lot of competition!

Anyways, I'm half marathon kind of gal. The half marathon is my favorite distance. Tough enough to have to train for, yet the training doesn't take over your life. I work almost full time, and yes, I did train for my marathon even with my job and my family, but it was a challenge.

I like to do 2-3 half marathons per year. This year I'm considering 4. I had considered the March Madness Half, but after the winter we've had, I began looking for a race in Florida that I could do while on our family spring break trip. As far as the rest of my races go, I can only hope that Mother Nature will have mercy on us poor midwesterners and let spring come.

For now here is my race calendar for 2014:

So tell me! What races do you have planned for 2014? What is your favorite distance? Do you have any goal races/distances that you would love to do?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Polar vortex? Black hole?

This polar vortex version 3.0 has really gotten me down. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude, my wacky sense of humor, trying to keep moving forward, telling myself that I have no control over the weather and life, but I can control how I feel. I'm trying. I really am.

But I've been hit hard with some really stressful situations the last couple of weeks. Over the past weekend, I felt myself sliding into what I can only describe as a "black hole". My mood was dark and I couldn't shake it off. A long run in the cold, bitter wind on Saturday did nothing to improve my attitude. As a matter of fact, I felt worse when I finished, which is a rare, unheard of event following a run. It probably didn't help that I was frustrated by the failure of my mile tracker (this time I used Endomondo) and had to keep stopping my run to restart it. Later, I went to dinner with my family to celebrate my parents birthday. I couldn't get into the conversation. Later, my mom and my sister asked me if something was wrong and I just said I was feeling really grumpy. I shared with them some of the events of the past couple of weeks and they were shocked, telling me I should call them to talk about it.

They're right, of course, but I hate to bother people with that stuff. I'm the fixer, the one who helps people and it's hard to switch roles. I hate feeling like this. I'm the "suck it up" kind of person.  I've been trying really hard to push myself, to keep on keeping on. In my mind, I see myself clawing at the walls of this black hole to climb out. So far I've been doing ok. I've been talking more about how I'm feeling with my family and friends, which is helping. I always tell my patients who are experiencing anxiety to talk about it, that we know talking about it helps. I need to take my own advice!

I continue to run and cross train. Truly, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't run. I take it outside as much as has been possible this horrible winter. I'm trying to stay positive. Laughing a lot at the absurdities of life.

This morning I heard birds singing, even though it is bitterly cold. The sun is shining. It has to get better right?

Oh...and I bought a Garmin. One less thing for me to stress about on my long runs.

I'll be ok. I will. Thanks for letting me whine here.

Anyone else feeling the winter blues? What do you do to stay positive when you feel blue?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Who's old?!

Not me. Nope. Even though I color my hair to cover my gray every 4 weeks. Pull out my reading glasses to read small text. Go to bed at 9 pm. Lament those wrinkles on my forehead. 

Heck, I ran a 1:58 half marathon just 3 months ago! I can deadlift 150#! I can still get up on one waterski! Under pressure from my teenage sons, I wakeboarded for the first time last summer! I sure don't feel old!

Smiling or grimacing? You be the judge!

Yesterday at work, one of the younger nurses started talking with me about working out. 

"You look great, so fit," she said. Then the bomb dropped: "For someone your age."

I thanked her (and died a little, inside).

Then she went on. "I mean, you're older than my mom, I mean she's in her 40s and she doesn't work out at all, and you're in such good shape.."

Please, I silently prayed. Stop talking. I don't know how to respond to what you're saying. Stop. Luckily at that point, we were interrupted.

I know she meant to compliment me. Truly, I do. And truth be told, I could outrun her and most of the younger women I work with.

But what the heck? Just because I'm over 50 makes me that person, the one who is in good shape "for her age"? How about just being in good shape?

And what is the bigger picture? Are older women (and men) perceived as out-of-shape? Fragile?

Part of my reason for starting this blog and my Facebook page was to change that perception of the "older athlete" (and I cringe again). I don't feel old! But that young nurse sure made me feel that way, however well-meaning her intentions were.

Joe Friel writes a blog for endurance athletes. As a 70 year old triathlete himself, he also addresses issues facing older endurance athletes. Joe was recently featured in the Washington Post. His basic tenet: Athletes shouldn’t slow down as they age; keeping up the pace gives them the best chance of staving off decline. He also talks about the importance of weight lifting and high intensity training (HIT) as a way to slow decline and maintain or even improve aerobic capacity. An article in Runners World addresses the science of aging and endurance running. Basically: quality over quantity; flexibility and strength are key; recovery is more important than ever. And contrary to popular belief, running does NOT increase arthritis, in fact, runners have been shown to have less arthritis than non-runners. So there's that!

I get it. I don't deny that I feel different than I did when I was younger. My knees sound like Rice Krispies when I descend a staircase. If I skip a yoga class or don't stretch after I run, I pay the price with prolonged soreness and sluggish legs on my next run. I've incorporated HIT into my weekly regimen--crossfit--and it has enhanced my running dramatically. I run a lot of half marathons and I ran one marathon, but it took such a toll on my body that I've decided just to stick with half marathons. I haven't written off the marathon distance, but if I decide to do another, I sure would train a lot differently for it than I did for Chicago. Respect the distance. Lesson learned.

None of my friends run anymore. Most of them walk, in groups, carrying coffee drinks. Last summer, I invited one of my friends to go standup paddleboarding (SUP) with me on Lake Michigan. Always one to jump at working out with me (although she drew the line at running), after a short time on the board, she sat down and began paddling in a seated position. "It's too hard," she told me. My heart broke. 


Does aging mean you have to slow down? Why am I the weird one, who's pushing her limits? The one who looks good "for her age"? Am I destined to bingo nights, early bird specials at the local restaurants, short curly perms? 

Not if I can help it.