Monday, May 30, 2011

Besides food, I will also run for pottery.

Note: photography on the Acoma Reservation is forbidden, so the pictures of the landscape here are taken off the Internet.

Dear Diary,

Baboo and I left home on Memorial day at five am, headed for the annual Acoma Seed run. This 8 mile run is held at the Acoma pueblo each year, which is about 16 miles off I40 in some of the most breathtaking scenery you can imagine. As you come over a rise and into the valley near Sky City, you see this:

It's enthusiastically raced by both local tribal members as well runner peeps from Albuquerque. Now, as I'm fond of saying, you can rarely throw a stick in most of New Mexico without it landing on a breathtaking view, so why do they come out 75 miles where there's no cell phone to run 8 miles? Well, first because it's cool: you get to through lands where outsiders are rarely allowed, and second, the age group awards are hand-made Acoma pottery.

The race is informal, timed by yelling "go" and then collecting race bib tags and putting them in order on a board.

I spend much of the pre-race shivering and looking around furtively to try to guess who was in my age group and marveling at the rock formations. The area where the start and finish line looked like this:

See this big sand dune?  Hold this image in your head for a bit.

At the top, Sky City, which has been inhabited continuously since 600 A.D.

Readyyyyyy?  GO!

Mile one a started with a downhill-flattish run that rapidly turned ugly as we turned into about a half mile of deep, soft, fine, sand. Because you know, if you're running a steep uphill, there's nothing better than

Deep, Soft, Fine, Sand. 

After much experimenting, I figured out that hopping up the hill on the balls of my feet worked well for me.
You get to the top and run across an old wooden bridge through a narrow slot in the sandstone, imagining this as the last stronghold holding off the Spaniards, specifically Don Juan Onate, right before he started cutting off the feet of Native Americans as punishment for their rebellion but for some reason there is a town, schools, and statues in honor of this madman.  One of the statues' feet were cut off soon after its dedication, as well it should be, at least.


So then you head down a hill through (say it with me now)

Deep, Soft, Fine Sand. 

End of mile 1.

In mile two, headed down the hill o' sand, I fell in behind a woman as we headed down into a shallow arroyo, and--wait, what? Too late: I tried to leap over a large tangle of piñon and chollo, landing on the other side on a slightly smaller tangle of piñon and chollo branches, rolling over a few times until I wound up on my back, in the arroyo, my legs tangled in branches. I got up, brushed myself off, climbed out of the arroyo, and tried to catch up with the women I had passed on my way down. Most of them turned left at the jeep road and headed for the three mile finish, while I turned right and headed into four or so miles of jeep road covered mostly with large, unexpected patches of
Deep, Soft, Fine, Sand.

The road was described to me as boring, but I disagreed, I found myself headed towards this:
Mesa Enchantida (Enchanted Mesa)

By mile 3, I could feel a pillow of soft, fine sand had built up in the toe of each shoe. It wasn't painful but was an odd sensation having this soft bump under the ball of each foot, like I imagine the sketched shape-ups might feel. I did not feel like I was getting toned, but as I told one guy at one of the many water stations, "I'm going to have to empty my shoes so that I don't violate any tribal laws by taking parts of the rez away."

About mile three or four, I passed a guy who immediately sped up as I passed him, and I was like, really? He ran alongside me for a while, and then I hit a patch of solid jeep road, got some traction, and was able to take off.  For a while. These patches of firm road were greatly sought but well-hidden.

You know, there is nothing that makes me feel slow, fat, and old like

Deep, Soft, Fine, Sand.

I turned onto the road about mile 5.5, and headed into a stiff headwind. It was both cooling and hampering. The last of the 8.3 mile run is uphill. When I finished, there was a Sweet Baboo, (by the way, I'm happy to announce that my iPad now automatically suggests "Baboo"' and even capitalizes it), burritos, fruit and water.

Luckily, despite the bricks tied to my feet, and losing the fight with the branches in a dry river bed, there were only two women in my age group, so I won an award:

When you accept your award, you shake the hand of all the tribal elders.
Lots of the peeps won awards today.
Sweet Baboo, 3rd in his age group, won a pottery medallion.
1st place winners, like friend Ken Gordon, win large pots.  Ken suggested this run, and is going to let us know about more like them.  

Closeup of my award, as we are leaving - you can see Enchanted Mesa in the background.

 Will I come back next year and suffer through

Deep, Soft, Fine, Sand?

Oh, you bet I will.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stupid things I run for.

Dear Diary,

So This morning I went to the Women In Training workout as a volunteer.  These are all women, training for their very first 5k.  I loved every minute of it, and tried not to be too creepy as I happily eavesdropped on their conversations with each other about why they started running.
- so I told him, I'm not dying first, were going to the nursing home together.
- I just want to set a good example for my kids, you know?
- I just wanted to see if I could.

Then I led a group on a one-minute on, one-minute off run/walk for forty minutes.  I have an orange wicking shirt now that says Volunteer on it.  I feel privileged.  I feel old and wise and shit.

okay! Were going up a Little bit of a hill here! Remember: little steps, little steps!

It's not a SkirtSports design yet...  

Of course, I don't know if it would make sense to any of them to know how ridiculously happy I was to find out that they are serving bacon at the big horn 50 mile trail run I'm doing in June.

 My daughter said, geez, mom.  You keep going on and on about the bacon, and I spouted off about how during a long run I often do not not want to eat anything, and it is often the case that extreme measures are needed to get me to eat.

Such as, for instance, Nutella.

Or bacon.

This was all completely true, of course.  But completely irrelevant.

There are things I simply do not keep at home.  It's like caviar.  You don't keep caviar around the house. But if someone offered some to you, you'd take a hit because, well, after all, its caviar.

I also don't keep liquor around the house, for various unfair reasons relating to my genetic loading.  But if someone at a party offered me some amaretto, dude, I'm all over it.   So it's kinda like that, except that it's bacon.  Or Nutella.  or in the case of a certain local 4 mile run that occurs in March every year, Bailey's Irish Cream in tiny paper shot glasses at mile 2.

Gatorade, schmatorade. Hic.
Give me a shot.
Nobody has thought of getting Krispy Kreme as an ultra running sponsor, but if they did, I know at least one other woman who would be all over that race.

Meanwhile.  Theres this 100 mile trail ultra in Alabama.  I've already got my Alabama marathon. I also don't like Alabama all that much, mainly because I've been there, done that. But I hear there are s'mores at one of the aid, they just might get me yet. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Trivial things to think about: I has them.

13.  I got the Tetris app for my iPad. I've discovered I suck as badly as it as I always have.  But I enjoy it just the same.  I'm hoping someone will come out with the Dr. Mario app.  Blissss!

UPDATE: I just was notified that there is an app for that: Flu Fighter. I'm going to look into this later and see if I want to pay for it. 

I LOVED Dr. Mario.  In fact, multi-tasking queen that I am, I used to breastfeed while playing Dr. Mario on the Nintendo.  No lie. 

12.  On my summer reading list, if I can stop playing Tetris and sudoku long enough to read:
 11.  This summer, I will finish the fantasy exercise room I started last fall.  This will involve the following:
  • Taking all my clothes that need to be altered to the tailor so they aren't piled up in this room.  There are a bunch of these, and I'll have to pick away at them over the next couple months.
  • Taking clothes "on probation," that I haven't worn, to Goodwill. Or maybe selling them on ebay.
  • Listing the computer hutch on Ebay to be sold.
  • Moving the dreadmill from the garage (have you done this? I may have to hire someone; these things are heavy.)
  • Mounting some sort of medium-screened TV/computer monitor on the wall in front of the dreadmill, for playing movies and exercise videos. 
10.  I am currently tapering for Big Horn, in June, my last "A" race of the year. Here is the profile for Bighorn:

I have five hours to make it to the Footbridge aid station at mile 18.  After that I think most of the cutoffs are workable for me. 

9.  Runs I want to do for the rest of the year, after Bighorn will be mostly 10Ks and half marathons.  Here is what I'm thinking:
  • Some 10K up in Colorado in about 3 weeks, whose name I can't remember.
  • Several 10ks (local) in June, July, and a couple this fall
  • A few local half marathons in August, September, and a local marathon in October.
  • A couple of sprint triathlons, one in August and one in December.
  • 8/7 - La Luz Trail Run (9 miles)
  • October: Sandia Crossing (25 miles - this is a mountain in back of my house; you start at one end , climb up about 4000-5000 feet or so, and cross it along the ridge.
8.  I attended the first internship meeting at the VA where I noted with satisfaction that I was probably the oldest intern in attendence (six were selected) but I'm pretty sure I could outrun everyone there.

I was informed that the three-day orientation to working at the VA, otherwise known as "Life In  a Beurocracy" and "Acronyms 101" (my names, not theirs) would begin in middle to late July, some time.  And, that the internship would start immediate after that.  Once I start my internship, it's four 10-hour days per week at the children's treatment facility where I work, and two 8-hour days at the VA.

7.  I'm really bummed that Garmin doesn't have an app for that.

6.  I have a poster up on my wall that is very timely for the Jemez experience that I had Saturday: CHALLENGES

5. Did I mention I'm done with my coursework? I really don't know what to do with myself these days.  I'm still kind of hypervigilant about my time, imagining that anything and everything will just suck it away. I wonder how long it takes to get over that.

4. So this was my first recovery hike/run after Jemez:

 3.  I'm back up to 149/150 at this point, but the clothes aren't fitting any differently, so I'm not worried. Of course, eating two Lean Cuisine meals a day probably isn't helping any, but I'm just so darned hungry all the time these days. 

I suppose that one regular healthy meal would be cheaper than two Lean Cuisines a day, too.  Then again, I eat a first lunch around 10:30, and a second lunch around 2:30.  They're around 230 calories each.  I'm thinking that I should just start packing leftovers in two containers and eating them that way.  Hmm.

2. I confess my addiction to Groupon.  Actually, it's not a true addiction. It's just that, for a long time, I've looked at a couple of self-indulgences, namely, spa treatments and cleaning services, and always turned them down as being too expensive.  With Groupon, I get them cheaper, at least 50% off.  Monday, I had a Groupon day:  I took the day off from work, and did the following:
  • I had a maid service come and clean two years of dust off my baseboards, woodwork, mirrors, and floors.  
  • I had a massage that was so awesome that I fell asleep for a few moments in the middle of it.  It was with a complete stranger, and I made the decision not to talk, which made it even better.  
  • I then went to my favorite all-you-can eat binge bar and had a meat fest.
  • I went and had my car vacuumed and washed, while I waited, which wasn't long. 
  • I then got a large pizza for himself and the Daughter, and a salad for me, for $1.68, which of course meant no cooking.
Then yesterday, I was noticing that my feet are badly in need of a pedicure, and what should cross my email today?   Pedicure AND manicure and herbal wrap....hmm. 

1.  Okay, so this is bragging, but I have to say this: there is a woman I work with, a psychiatrist, I think she's in her late forties or early fifties.  Anyway.  She was asking me about my Jemez run, and I was describing it to her, and she made some sort of comment about how it would be "great to have" all my "energy" and then asked, how old are you anyway?


>cricket< >Cricket<

What?  You're forty six?  I though you were a lot younger that that...

OHHHH, Yeah.  Nothin'; feels better than that.  :-)))))


 Posted from my COMPUTER because my iPad won't do HTML.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Note: Do not use The blogpress app on your iPad. It replaced one of my posts with another one, which is why there are comments that have nothing to do with the post (below)

I tried to quit but nobody would let me. JMTR Race Report.

Dear Diary,

I never had any illusions that this would be an easy race.  After all, last year, I quit after climbing up this first climb, which goes from about 7000 feet above sea level to 9000 feet above sea level.

This is part of the devastating Los Alamos (google it) fires.

At mile 7.2, I saw this. 
Now, I was expecting the ladder, but not what followed.
On the way up Caballo mountain, elevation 10,400 or so, I had to step aside so that the faster runners could blast on past me on their way back down.  That was okay, because it gave me time to breathe.

Clockwise from top left: elevation, heading, total ascent, total descent
(By mile ELEVEN)

I struggled to the top of Caballo Peak, about third or fourth from last. I was pretty happy to reach the top, but told everyone I saw (which was most people, because I was 4th from last when I was climbing that bastard) that I was quitting.  I fell into DP, moaning, carry me.

Then I reached the top and was pretty damned happy there.  Some guy asked me to strike a pose, so I did.
You could so some fun subliminal stuff with the ski slopes
in the back ground.
I was really worried about the neuroma thing that pops up from time to time, and by the time I reached the top, my right food was burning and hurt like hell.  Luckily, when I started descending, it faded.  I sat down at the top, took some electrolytes, and advil, and then headed back down.

But then, on the way back down, my body started talking to me.

Hi, I'm your it band; remember me?
You've done it now.  We are in full revolt.

At the bottom, I told the guys at the aid station that I was done, time to pack it in. I was exhausted, and it was only mile 14, for gosh sake. Where's the Jeep?  I want a ride back to the start line.

They informed me that there was no transportation, and if I wanted to quit, I still had to climb 1000 feet up out of the canyon, no matter whether I went forward or back.
Well, shit.

I might as well go to the next aid station.

Then I'll quit.

I climbed up to the Pipeline aid station, which was the begininning of another out-and-back, which are just lovely for getting a full few of how many people are ahead of you...(this is the needle looking thing on the profile above).  I did it by hiking 25 steps, then stopping to breathe, and so on.  I passed a couple people.

 Pipeline outbound was around mile 18 or 19; if you look at the profile, it's at the top of that needle.  It felt like one, too.  I arrived at the Pipeline aid station, and told them I was ready to pack it in.

Oh.  Well, you have to go into ski lodge aid station if you want to quit.


So, then I headed to the Ski Lodge Aid station, which was an out-and-back from Pipeline. I passed some folks I knew on the way back out of ski lodge: Dread Pirate, Johnny Tri, Joe...but no Sweet Baboo. He was far ahead of me. I looked at my watch. Holy shit, it was mile 20, and I'd been on the course for over six hours.

Well, hell. I only had 13 miles to go. I might as well finish, now. *grumble*  

 I noticed some people that had been ahead of me were sitting down, very still, with stunned, sickened looks on their faces.  I left the Ski Lodge, headed back to the Pipeline aid station, thinking the worst of the climbs were behind me. But there were some disappointing ones yet to come. I did my 25-step-trudge-and-breathe intervals, and hated everyone. EVERYONE. 

Mile 25. Where the hell is that aid station?

More artifacts from the Los Alamos fires.

Miles 28, I came into the Giage (sp?) Ridge aid station, inbound.  All the way there I was so very, very alone.  I didn't mention it, but part of the reason I think I was able to finish was that I sat down at every single aid station and vented.  Okay, bitched.  I hate this race.  THis sucks.  I'm not having fun.  I wanted to quit and they wouldn't let me.  Etc.  Aid stations volunteers chuckled and handed me things.  I had a large bag of fritos and M&Ms - I had peanut M&Ms before, but they were too much trouble to eat, which is testiment to how fucking hard this race was, Hey, do you have any plain M&Ms?  The peanut ones are too hard to eat right now.

 Giage was no exception. I sat. I breathed. Just 7 more miles to go. I stretched, and then headed out across the burn zone.

Very, veery alone.

Occasionally a 50-miler would go sprinting by me.


I ran out of run, and began walking enrgetically, although there were some nice runnable sections, but miles 31 took a loong damned time. My stomach was starting to revolt. 

Then I came into the last aid station, and there was Sweet BabooI was too tired to cry.  He suggested I sit down before the last climb out.

The last climb at mile 31 doesn't look like much, but it was pretty disappointing.

I sat down. I had chicken broth. My stomach felt kinda funky. I had some ginger ale. I sat on the stump for a while turning down offers for a real chair.  When I stood up, I stuck to the stump, mostly because my hot ass had softened some pine pitch,which was now stuck to my shorts.

There was one last climb up out, and it was nothing. I walked energetically, chatting with Baboo, to the finish.

Finisher's prize: a small pot from the Taos Pueblo.

Last Big View before descending.
Now, DP told me that she was told by a caring significant other, don't take this the wrong way, but never do this race.

 I won't tell you that.  What I will tell you is this: Do not take for granted that you have done a few 50ks that you are ready to do this race.  You should be prepared to be on your feet for at least 10 hours, unless you're some kind of freak, like Sweet Baboo, who finished it in 7 hours and some change.  I will take to heart, too, that maybe I'd have finished sooner if I hadn't done those four marathons a few weeks ago.

IF YOU GO: This is a cupless race. Take a hydration pack, not just a bottle.  The course is very well marked, and the aid station volunteers are unsurpassed.  Since most of them had to pack it in, most of them are in damned good shape themselves, probably some sort of endurance athlete, so they know what you need.  Make sure you get Popsicles at the Pipeline Aid station.

And, make sure that you have a few 50-milers under your belt, including altitude training.  This was a damned hard race, and after I was finished, Sweet Baboo told me it's the hardest 50k in North America.

Oh, sure.

NOW he tells me.

On the way home, I had five pieces of Popeyes chicken, AND extra gravy, AND mashed potatoes.  So THERE. 


Location: Home. Posted from my PC, because my iPad doesn't support HTML.  >:-(

Blogger is pissing me off.

I have been trying to post my race report all morning, but blogger won't let me log in from my PC.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, May 20, 2011

On salsa, and gloating, er, BLOATING, and other things.

Transport shuttle at the Kalamazoo

Dear diary,
14.  The app I bought for my iPad to post my blog does not edit HTML.  So that's why I'm late.  I'm stll working on it .

13. Today is my favorite day of all, my very, very favorite.  Today is the day that I eat a shitload of food and tell everyone that I'm not binging, I'm "carb-loading".

12. My body held its usual post-race bloat a little longer than usual last week. I was starting to worry. By Friday I was still about 7 lbs up, and I had to keep reminding myself that, well, I certainly had not eaten an extra 10,000 calories over and above what I had run last weekend so there was no reason for me to have actually put on that much weight, but you know, pants don't fit, worry sets in, and I started catastrophising.
  • I am gaining weight.
  • My clothes will not fit anymore, and thanks to dp, I have no more more fat clothes.
  • I will have to do all my shopping at garage sales.
  • I will look like an old bag lady.
Finish chute at Kalamazoo.
But then Saturday, I did my imitation of a racehorse (not being fast. The other thing) and my weight dumped about six pounds. I am not sure when I will reach a point where I am not weighing myself twice a day.
11. Sweet Baboo suddenly and inexplicably asked me if I was interested in salsa dancing lessons. With him.

I kinda thought it was a joke at first; men are notorious for avoiding the 'dance' I said yeah right. Turns out, he was not kidding. We started looking online at YouTube videos and even the beginning ones look incredibly complicated. Ulp. But there is no turning back now.
It turns out that classes are reasonably priced, fit into our schedule, so we go.
I told him, you know that this is another reason women will hate me, don't you? But,well, there you go.

10. I did my first session as a volunteer for Women In Training Saturday. I led a group of about five women, including Daughter, on a one-minute-on, one-minute-off jogging and walking workout, with a warmup and cool down, with some stretching before and after. I really enjoyed myself and regret having so many Saturday races coming up.

9. How does a person eat half a bottle of low-fat ranch in a sitting? Can anyone tell me that?

Finish Line.

Himeself, finishing his
fourth marathon in 3:45
 8. Sweet Baboo took a physical fitness test for the guard. He did 62 pushups, ran 2 miles in 13 or so minutes, and met the weight requirement. He smoked all the young bucks. :-D  Hubba hubba!

7.  Just for future reference, if your teenage son is caught at the seen of a crime weilding a gun after having taken something that doens't belong to him, you don't get to say he doesn't have behavior problems.
This isn't about any one particular case; this is about half a dozen cases I've seen over the past few years. 

I no longer turn off my
Garmin until after crossing.
6. Tuesday, Daughter declined to do the first workout of the week because her knee hurt.  I'm not pushing this.  It has to be her decision. 

Ranch dressing fountain.  I'm not saying
I don't love the stuff, but c'mon.  There's
other condiments out there. 
5.  Update to number 9, above: the entire bottle of ranch was gone by Monday (it was purchased on Saturday).  This lead me to google ranch dressing, and I came up with this: fat girl ketchup.  Go ahead, Google fat girl ketchup

4.  Sweet Baboo and I are signed up for an 8-mile run at the Acoma Pueblo.  It's a rugged trail run, like most of the ones they have there, that takes you on lands that outsiders are almost never allowed to be on.  The Acaoma Pueblo is either nearly the oldest or the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America which, if you read up on it, is true of several pueblos in New Mexico.

Some examples of Acoma pottery.
 Prizes, which I will not get but will admire greatly, are ceramics created by Acoma craftsmen and women who revere running.

3.  Yesterday Sweet Baboo and I were talking about the Jemez trial 50k that we're doing tomorrow, and he said something offhandedly something about not getting home until 9 at night.

9 at NIGHT?  What on earth are you talking about?  I figure it will take me seven hours, eight tops to do a 50K

"Misty, you know how long it took me to do this last year? Ten hours."

>cricket<   >cricket<



I forgot about the profile.  That's probably good because it saved me from a full-blown panic attack, but still, here it is:
See that first bump?  The one that stops just short
of 9000 feet? Yeh.  That's where I quit last year. 
2.  I got a landline from the cable company.  It was cheaper than paying daughter's cell phone bill, and this way she can get messages from prospective employers (please, please, please let her get those messages) anyway. So, but, I know from exerience that a cordless phone will disappear and we'll spend most of time looking for it, and most of the time it will be in the guest room where daughter is staying.  So instead, I plugged in this:

I know, right?  And yes, it works.  However. You cannot press "1" if you wish to continue in English.  You can't even dial it.  You just have to stay on the line while the voice command repeats several times. 

You see, my philosophy regarding having children living at home after they are old enough to hold down jobs and pay their own rent is a simple one: make the house as inconvenient and annoying as possible to expedite their leaving and their motivation to do so.  This includes restricting internet use, having annoying, old-fashioned appliances, and maybe making loud sex sounds that freak them out. 

So far, none of this has worked.  I'm open to ideas. 

1.  - Posted from my iPad -  This is awkward, I know. After years of mocking ipad and iphone owners, I is one.  Just so you know, none of my opinions are written in stone.  I can be won over by a reasonable, valid argument based on evidence.  Or very good electronic gadgetry.


Sunday, May 15, 2011


Ironically, "Keep Breathing" by Ingrid Michaelson was on my ipod when I rounded the corner and came up on the guy standing just beneath the crest of the hill.

I'd noticed as I ran south in foothills the group of people, but was too far away to see what they were doing. I figured it was hikers, or even a group of folks out praying since, after all, it was Easter.

I switched off my ipod and walked up the hill toward the man, who had his back to me, staring at something I couldn't see. I saw the helicopter, and the EMTs standing in a semi-circle. They were doing chest compressions on--on what?

"Is this a training exercise or a real emergency," I whispered. I'd just had my refresher training in CPR so right away I was thinking: they're practicing on a CPR dummy. But most of those don't have legs.


Two others were in dirt-bike riding attire, and there were three dirt bikes. I wasn't sure what to do. It seemed insensitive to walk on by. It seemed insensitive to stop and stare.

EMTs talking to each other in low voices, and into a radio. "They started doing chest compressions when he went down. That was at 9:35." I looked at my watch. It was 9:55. One EMT said something to another in a low voice, "probably not much heart muscle left."

Who would get the call on Easter Sunday, that their husband, father, or brother was gone?

The other two bikers were with him when he went down, after climbing a long hill. From what i could see, this wasn't a frequent activity. One of them told me that whenever they stopped CPR, the guy's pulse would immediately stop. I told them in a low voice that I was sorry for the loss of their friend, and walked quietly away, down a long hill. About 20 yards from the scene I came upon a lone helmet. I left it there.

About a mile later, the helicopter lifted off over the hill and flew south, toward University hospital.

I spent the rest of the day emersed in writing final papers for classes, but during breaks, my thoughts wondered to the mountain biker. Who was missing him already? Or had he, by some miracle, been recusitated? It's not likely. I don't know if I'll know who the guy was.

You hear people talk about how they "want to go" and I suppose that some might think that a beautiful morning in the northern foothills would be it. I don't know. Frankly, the guy's dark hair made me think he should have had more time left than that, and he oughtn't to have gone at all that day. He looked like he might have been my age, although it is hard to tell sometimes.

I don't know if all that I do will actually extend my life. Science says it will. I don't know what kind of genetics I have because most of the people in my family are overeaters and alcoholics, but i do have one Aunt, a retired physician who at 85 still walks to yoga class. She gives me hope that at 46 i am, indeed, middle-aged.

But overall, when I do go, I want to be certain for my family's sake that I did all I could to stay around.

Location:At home.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Blah, blah, blah. On running, journeys, and the meaning of suffering

Dear Diary,

I'm happy to report that this weekend I did not crap myself while running.  And if you're wondering why I didn't say that last weekend...well.

Moving on.

The lowest 'knuckle' on both my big toes hurt, and my quads are stiff, and some toes on my left foot are a bit raw on the ends, and I've still got a bit of that post-race narcolepsy. But, I'll go to work tomorrow morning.  Meanwhile, now that I won't be required to read and write I'll be doing more running and writing.

You know, as I run these things I realize, in the grand scheme of things, my own epic struggles are ridiculously and completely self-imposed.  I wonder what the onlookers think, as we run through their town, especially the ones who didn't come out to watch but were just going about their lives and there's this marathon in the way.  I imagine that guy, the one leaning against the fence as he might sit all day, staring, and I wonder what his life is like.  I wonder if he wonders what my life is like. Does he imagine that it is easy?  is he right?

There are those whose epic struggle is complete a marathon, just one, and then they are done.  Or a 10K.  Or a 5K.  They have meaning.  They have done something more than most will ever do and that, for them, is enough.  For others, there is a quest for more, and for so many different reasons.  For some, it might be a type of penance; for others, a triumph of will.  For sill others, a voice in their head whispers, ordinary, ordinary or something far more malevolent, is something to be quieted.    

We create our own struggles, our own dramas.  Some like me seem to enjoy them more when they hurt. The struggle I undertook to leave behind welfare and food stamps seems to have imprinted into me the need to meet goals, especially ones that are crazy and hard. I know that I'll hurt.  I might even cry.  It's all part of the fun.   :-/

I've passed lots of people with Vibram five-finger shoes, or just barefoot, who are clearly suffering.  My first instinct is to mock them: Did Born to Run convince him that running barefoot is natural?  Well, it is.  26 miles of cement and asphalt, however, is not.  Personally, it's weird, to me, to create that kind of suffering, to give one's life meaning, but that's their journey, their need to do something extraordinary. As my mother might have pointed out to me, You ran 62 miles when you could have taken a car.

Towards the end of road marathons especially, I pass a lot of men who are healthy and athletic-looking.  (Sweet Baboo thinks maybe most men do not pace themselves as well as women do.) Their slumped shoulders and shuffling feet speak their fatigue, and they are tired, suffering, and determined.  Perhaps if it was easy, it wouldn't mean as much.  It means more to overcome it on your own.  It is uniquely personal.

It's not to be imposed, however.  The woman at the Kalamazoo marathon who pulled a small boy along by the hand, a small boy of about eight, who was wearing a Tee-shirt that proclaimed: CHOOSE LIFE. CHOOSE ADOPTION, didn't know this.  As I passed, he asked mommy if he could rest for a moment, and she urged him on.  If you want to make your children walking advertisements for your beliefs, fine, but don't drag them 26 miles.  The journey, THEIR journey, means more if they push THEMselves.  You can't give the meaning of the journey to someone.  They have to find it on their own. Otherwise, they'll hate you for it.  When they think of your beliefs, they'll think of suffering.

There are the stories, and the journeys. Take none of them for granted.  They are uniquely those that belong to the people who created them. The sign at mile 12 that says "Jeanette you are a 13.1 rockstar!" made me smile because my guess is that there is a story behind that sign and the people who wrote it.  Jeanette, wherever she is, is a rockstar. We all are.


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Marathons #3 and #4: Race reports

We flew into Chicago Friday morning, grabbed our rental car, and headed for Kenosha.

Marathon #3: The Wisconsin Marathon
in Brief: Pretty, Flat, Overcast and COOL.
Notable features: After the finish, Bratwurst and Polka Rock,.

I forgot my iPod shuffle, but used my iTouch and it worked fine. I also forgot gels, but the night before the race I dashed across the highway to Dicks sporting goods - and here is what is horrible about Big Box stores: When I walked in the greeter asked me what I needed, and I said "Gu" and he did not know what that was.
I said "Sports gel".  Nope.
I said, "Energy gel" and he pointed me towards all the energy foods, where I found some Roctane.  I love this stuff.  Lots of electrolytes, a bit of caffeine.  I "Galloway"ed this one, running 5 minutes and walking 1 minute.  I felt strong on this race, but had a moment of panic at mile 15-ish, when I started feeling my IT band.  It murmured at me for a while, and then inexplicably, the feeling disappeared.  There were a few uphills, but they were mild.  Lots of concrete, and part of the course went onto a gravel road.
Unbelievably, I blew away my old PR (that I got last week in Nashville) with a finishing time of  4:47 and and...
there was nobody there at the finish. Nobody I knew, anyway.

I wondered around for a bit for 30 minutes, and then Himself came walking toward me - he'd gone and gotten the car and moved it closer and never expected me to finish that fast.  And why would he?  *I* never expected to finish that fast.
We stopped at Popeyes at my request, and I changed in the bathroom,, scarfed down some chicken, and then jumped in the car and headed for Kalamazoo.  We arrived early enough to relax for most of the evening and get a good night's sleep.  We ate at a local Italian chain.

Marathon #4: Kalamzoo Marathon
in Brief: REALLY Pretty, Hilly, Sun skies, Mostly cool.
Notable features: I never found the meal I had the ticket to.  But it didn't matter.  I just wanted to lie down and cry when I was done.

Arriving in Kalamazoo, much like the Wisconsin marathon, the packet pickup was small and low-key.  I checked in at the 50-state challenge table, where they took my picture holding a placard that said "New Mexico."  They gave me my free New Balance 890s for being the first person from NM to sign up.
I "Galloway"ed this one also, running 4 minutes and walking 2.  I were a tired puppy.  But I'm telling you, when use the Galloway method, your legs are fresher toward the end when everyone else is fading.  But boy, my feet hurt. I was not expecting this to be hilly, but it was.  However, at mile 15, I got my feet under me with a long, mile-long downhill.  Most of this course was shady.

Lots of friendly locals, and trees covered with huge pink flowers that looked kinda like huge pink gardenias, but no leaves, just entire trees covered with huge waxy blossoms.  Can anyone tell me what these are?
Oooo, my feet hurt.  I had more Roctane Gels for this.  They are hideously expensive .

Finishing time: 5:17, I think.  After this one, I felt a lot like I did after my very first marathon.  My feet hurt.  My quads hurt. I was a little unsteady when I finished . I went straight back to the hotel and lay in tepid water for a while, and then cleaned up and napped on and off most of the afternoon.  In the evening, we went to a Mongolian Barbecue, where I had some veggies, meat, and a bit of brown rice. Time to start eating clean again.

So what did I learn from this?

  • First, who would have thought a slow old lazy woman like me would pull off a sub-five marathon the week after running two others?  
  • Second, running at sea level ROCKS.  All that oxygen.  It's awesome.
  • Third, I married a stud.  His times on his four marathons were 3:44, 3:42, 3:41, and 3:42.  And he still had enough energy to chase me around a hotel room.
  • Fourth, for me, the Galloway method works.  It works well.  

Next up: Jemez 50K trail race.  I DNF'd this one last year; my goal this year is just to finish.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Weekend #2 looms. Thursday 13.

I look almost like a runner here.
Dear Diary,

13.  Number 1 and 2 are done, and I lost one toenail.  Well, 1-1/2.  

12.   At the Nashville marathon expo, I did one of those things where you fill out a piece of paper for a drawing, and then get added to an email list.  
But lo and behold, Tuesday, I got an email from Brooksrunning telling me I won a pair of shoes, how cool is that?  So, I just got to pick out a pair.

11.  So, then, I still have my free pair coming from the Kalamazoo marathon, as well, because I was the first person in new Mexico to sign up.   So, two free pairs of shoes.  Win-win.

10.  So far, only two kids have bolted by my office today (as always, followed closely by adults talking into radios)

9.  Every year I have wanted to be involved, some how, in the annual Women's Distance Festival.  There is training every Saturday, and then the final 5K, which is women only.  At the finish, you get a flower and a piece of chocolate. 
So, the Daughter Project and I have signed up to volunteer.  She and I will also start working on the "Couch to 5K Running Plan" from Cool Running, to do her first 5K.  She said she doesn't want to walk this; she wants to at least jog it.

The number 1 I'm signalling means
first marathon, not that I'm number one.  LOL.
 8.  I turned in my last final exam last night.  So, yeah.  I had me some spinach dip and chips for breakfast this morning. You bet.  I also had some diet Mt. Dew and Diet Cranberry juice because, well, I wanted to make it a fully balanced meal.  So, I had, well, dairy, dairy fat, chips, chip fat, and diet soda. There you go. 

Part of the spectating at Flying Pig
 8.  I bought a new SpiBelt at the expo last weekend, as I had lost my other one.  The new ones SUCK.  You practically explode your gels trying to get them in or out of them.  DO NOT BUY THIS, or don't buy the ones that "hold gels". 

Himself rented us a convertible for the weekend.

7.  My daughter went with me to the monthly meeting of the Albuquerque Road Runners.  She kept looking around and saying, "I'm the fattest one here."  She didn't seem distressed by this, but at the same time, I have to start telling her that it's not useful for her to be comparing herself to others; it will eat you up.  I only started enjoying myself when I stopped doing that.  

  6.  I actually got a blister this past weekend, on the top of one of my toes.  Also, I have two very sore toes that I keep stubbing on things.  I'm really hoping that in two days my feet will be better.  52.4 miles is a long way to go on feet that don't feel good.
Runners headed across the first Ohio River crossing.

It was a bit moist out.

The back of my Flying Pig marathon.

Me, at the finish Swine.
That isn't a peace sign.  That's me
signalling: #2.
5.  So the plan for the weekend; Fly into Chicago.  Drive to Kenosha.  Run a marathon.  Drive to Kalamazoo. Run another marathon.  Fly home.
4. I was showing a new runner my wall of medals, and that's when I realized: I have no new triathlon finisher medals.  Hmm.  Need to do something about that....

3. I meet kids, from time to time, who tell me that they like to run; it makes them feel better.  it's all I can do not to leap out of my chair well then go run, kid!  Instead, I do my therapy face, and give my speech about how everyone deals with their stuff differently...  

2.  So, I ate an entire jar of tostitos creamy spinach dip.  So sue me.  

1.  I would have posted sooner, but they are getting better at making it harder for me to get hold of my pictures without paying for them.  YEESH.  They are pictures of mE!  If post them on the web, I will have them. So here we go...

Next up: The Cheesiest, and The Inaugural Kalamazoo.


 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...