Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I'm making lists this evening. My car was broken into today as I was running round the lake. The police require a comprehensive run-down of what was taken. I'm trying to have a good attitude, so I thought I'd balance it with a couple of lists of what was not.
What was taken
Purse--including my driver's licence, bank and credit cards, favorite lipstick, wallet.
Sports bag--including swimsuit, goggles, yoga pants, favorite "Will Run for Wine" shirt (dammit!), expensive sports bra (double dammit!), new, gifted to myself for the season, yummy toiletries for post-swim showers.
GPS system--anyone who knows me well knows I don't know where they are any more. It was great while it lasted. So very sorry...
What was not taken
My new glasses--found buried under the shattered window on my passenger seat but still intact. So grateful. Apparently that extra $20 for the scratch-resistant lenses is not a scam.
Leftovers from yesterday's trip to Cosmic Cafe--my favorite firstborn found them in the footwell this evening and devoured them gleefully after driving me all round town to help me take care of business.
Bike rack--totally accessible, totally untouched.
What can never be taken
My beautiful friends, who bombarded me with messages as soon as they heard. Could they drive me somewhere? Bring me pho? Search the crime scene for discarded items? Bring me a new purse, a margarita? Cash, cuddles, Cabernet?
My beautiful run today, and the year and a half of training that made it so easy to loop the lake on a windswept sunshiney day.
Our crazy, messed-up, complicated, beautiful whirled. It takes all sorts. Thanks for being a part of it. x
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Speaking of measuring, you might be interested to know that it's exactly 356.7 miles from my living room sofa to Lizzy's dorm room at Texas Tech--hell, yes, I counted! It may not seem too far to her sister, Joy, who traveled decidedly further afield to college in Minnesota, but anyone who's driven from Dallas to West Texas knows there are times when you think that journey's never going to end. You drive for hours through some of the flattest, dullest landscape ever seen outside of Holland, and the boring view is surpassed only by the dearth of decent eateries on the way. You begin to understand why people go crazy out there and why cow-tipping is a thing.
Which brings me back, of course, to running because today is also my Runniversary--it's exactly a year since I staggered sweatily down to the end of my road on Day 1 of Couch-2-5K, wondering whether I might die on the way. In the 365 days since then, I've run an astonishing 1,110 miles, and it's quite comforting to me on this day of endings and beginnings, of counting and logging the data, to note that that's significantly further than the 356.7 miles my daughters drove to Lubbock today or the 903.9 miles between my front door and my older daughter's dorm room in Northfield, Minnesota.
I've done the math and figured out I can run to them if I need to, so I think we're gonna be OK.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon: April 27, 2014
I’ve had a couple of hours of sleep, and it’ll have to do. I wasn’t expecting much anyway. I’ve been a weird/wired mix of a little kid waiting for Christmas and a dental patient waiting for the drill for days now. I’m hopped up on carbs and equal measures of fear and excitement. I’m so ready for this—and so not! What the hell am I doing here? Eight months ago, when I started Couch25K, I could barely run to the end of my road. What makes me think I can suddenly run a marathon? I chow down distractedly on a handful of chocolate-covered coffee beans and a banana and swallow a mug of hotel coffee. That should do it!
We’re getting on the DRC Party Bus and headed downtown to check our race bags and line up. Everyone’s
6:30-8:00amThe race has been postponed… and postponed… and postponed again. I’m wet and hungry and depressed and tired. We had all fine-tuned our nutrition and our repeated visits to the porta-potties for an exact 6:30 start. Runners obsess about such things—what goes in, what comes out, and when. No one here cares about getting wet, but there is a dangerous storm system overhead. The race directors have to make a tough call to ensure our safety, and things are looking dicey out there.
More than 26,000 runners are huddled in doorways, parking garages, and buildings across the city in varying degrees of optimism and despair, waiting for more news. I find myself in the hall of a local Methodist church that opened its doors and started serving pancakes and coffee. I can’t be bothered to stand in line, and someone in the street gave me a cinnamon roll anyway. I don’t much like sugary pastries, but I’m grateful for the carbs because I’m still hoping to be able to run, and my breakfast has long since drained away with much of my energy and hope. . . I share half of my roll with some guy who can’t stop staring at it: he gives half of that to the guy next to him—the girl opposite me splits a sausage and gives half to me. It’s a modern day loaves and fishes scenario in this church, but this crowd just wants to run.
Eventually, I wander into the sanctuary. There are hundreds of runners filling the pews, and some of them may well be praying. Behind the cross on the altar, a big screen is blaring out Fox News weather reports. Could life get any weirder? They are talking about the possible need to cancel. 8:00am was the last window of opportunity, they say. The city roads need to open again at 1:30pm, and lots of the marathoners won’t make it round by then. Plus, the day’s going to get very hot and humid. If the storm doesn’t get us, the traffic or heat will. I am about to lose it. All the planning, all the work, all these runners with nowhere to run…
And then suddenly the race is back on. They’ve pushed the window just a little further out, and we’re pouring out of churches and parking garages back onto the course. I think someone is singing the Star-Spangled Banner. The mood is wild; we’re elated. I line up near some firemen, and I realize I’m crying. This is really happening. We’re going to run… I’M going to run…
The press of people is huge, but there isn’t any rudeness or shoving that I can tell. The patience and grace of these people is helping me get a grip. I catch the eye of someone I think I might know, smile through my tears… And we’re off!
Holy crap, this is happening!!!
Crowds are cheering, feet are pounding, and everything’s moving very fast. It’s so easy to get caught up in the wave of speed, but I have 26.2 long miles ahead of me, and I need to hang onto some drive for the hours ahead. I need discipline like I’ve never needed it before. I check my watch religiously, every few seconds, to make sure I’m not getting carried away. It’s a rookie mistake to take off like a rat from a trap on the adrenaline high. I read on a running website recently that in those first few miles you should feel like you’re “just poking along.” That phrase is resonating with me now. That’s what I’m doing. It’s effort, but it’s far from all-out effort. All that training at differing speeds has given me a real feel for what might work, and I’m hanging onto it tight in the face of a killer desire to just take off as fast as I can move.
I run the first mile in 11:07 minutes, according to my Garmin, and then I reassess. Right now, this pace seems nicely doable. I’ll stick with it for a while. I run miles 2 through 4, from Bricktown through the State Capitol Complex, at 11:08, 11:01, and 11:09. I’ve decided the Garmin is the boss of me for the duration of the race. I read an article recently which suggested our bodies lie about what they can do and shut down early to protect themselves. We’ll be having none of that malarkey here today! Whenever I see my pace fall off, I tell my body she can never get these minutes back if she loses them. So, step it up!
Perhaps I should pause at this point and say I was kind of hoping I would find an inner serenity out on the course, a runners’ version of Zen enlightenment, an inner Dalai Llama, if you will. I was waiting for the appearance of this sweet fuzzy encourager who would say inspiring things like some of the posters held up by the crowds: “You are so awesome!” “You’ve got this!” “You’re an inspiration!” It turns out, what I have is a harsh task master who takes no prisoners and snorts at failure, who has much more in keeping with those other posters out on the road: “If it was easy, everyone would do it, so suck it up!” and “One in every 100 runners poops their pants. Are you that one?” Oh dear… Out on the course this day, I have discovered my inner Commandant, and this is a character not to be messed with! It tells my body whenever she starts to whimper, “You are a machine! Your job is just to do this, so DO IT! DO IT TILL IT’S DONE!”
Somewhere around those miles where I’m settling in with my inner Bossy Boots and my body is giving up the
Mile 5, I run at 10:59, and this is where I admit that all that wise counsel that I should let go of my time goals for my first marathon has fallen on interested but decidedly ambivalent ears. I got injured in the last few weeks, and though I’m getting back on form thanks to excellent physiotherapy, I’m not where I was, so I’m not looking for a 4:40 finish anymore--but I do have a secret need to beat the five hour clock. If I can stick close either side to the 11-minute mile mark, I can probably manage it even with a visit to the loo! I need to time it right though. In the first few miles, there are long lines at every porta-potty stop. There’s no way I’m standing in a line watching the seconds tick away. I decide to wait till the Half Marathoners peel away on a separate route, little knowing that’s not till around mile 10.
Miles 6, 7, 8, and 9, I run in tightly disciplined splits: 11:03, 11:04, 11:05, 11:03. It looks like calm assurance—who would know there is a war going on inside? From time to time, my body mentions that her feet are sore, and wet, and that she’s not sure I’m doing the math right, that maybe we should slow it down. I tell her it’s well known bodies tell lies. I tell her she’s a machine, that sometime this will all be over, but now is not that time; she’ll be sorry if she doesn’t give it everything she has!
We hit the infamous Gorilla Hill around mile 7: it’s steep and seemingly endless. I power up, armed with the insider knowledge from my friend Jennifer that at the top will be people dressed like bananas. What she didn’t warn me was the banana-people are handing out actual bananas to runners, who are chowing down and trampling the skins! Who orchestrates a road for marathoners that’s covered in banana peel? I pick my way through, laughing at the craziness, and run on.
I thought I’d be settling in and listening to my music by this time, almost two hours into the race and with another three to go, but I’m not. The internal argument is taking all my concentration. When the Half Marathoners peel off and the crowd of runners thins significantly, I spend a precious minute and twenty seconds (Hell, yes, I counted—runners love data!) in a smelly loo. It costs me dearly. Mile 10 registers 12:23 on the Garmin. My inner Commandant is not amused!
Mile 11, I’m back to 11:10, but it’s rough going. I’ve been chewing the healthy nutty-datey snacks I’m lugging round with me because I’ve been warned that by the time I realize I need energy, it’ll be too late. It’s getting harder to chew, and I’m starting to worry my body’s right after all; I picked a too aggressive pace. The race delay means we’re running right through the heat of the day. The sun’s beating down, and the air is thick with humidity; the medical tents at regular intervals along the route are keeping busy. My body mentions she might need to sit down in one. My inner Commandant ignores her. That body is such a liar!
Mile 12 and 13, I’m heading towards the lake at 11:25 and 11:38. Dammit, I’m slowing down. My feet feel like lead, and I have a sudden certainty that the store sold me mismatched shoes—the right one is definitely too small. I love water. If only I can get to the lake, there’ll be a breeze… But damn, if you’ve ever read the Pilgrim’s Progress, you’ve heard of the Slough of Despond, and that’s what that lake is to me today--and to many others. This is the only place the route loops, so you can see runners slogging back from where you’re going. It feels pointless and like you’re heading the wrong way only to turn around. I’ve always hated U-turns, and this one is the absolute worst. The air coming off the water is hard, and hot, and thick with humidity and misery. I’m overheated and overwrought and not even halfway home. Mile 14 is the turn at the lake, and I somehow beat my way back to 11:22, but by mile 15 I’m in trouble. My right leg has cramped, and it feels like I’m running on a stump. I’ve been warned, just on the bus coming down here, that stopping to uncramp is a mistake. If I try it, I’ll never get moving again. I can see a medical tent and some helpful looking people. I lurch past them at a halting 12:11, aware I have a couple of hours more of this with no hope of relief. I’m distraught, but I’m in it for the long haul. Doggedness is my superpower.
Somewhere around mile 16, my miracle shows up. Through the fog in my head, I start to hear my name, and through my misted-up sunglasses, I see Douglas running at my side. He’s holding a book (he’s running and reading?) and has pockets full of stuff. He tells me later he had been calling a while and had real trouble getting through to me. I wasn’t very coherent apparently. He lets me know he has painkillers; do I need them? I’m confused and refuse, but he asks again. I figure out a couple of ibuprofen might be a good idea and eventually ask for four. He runs beside me till he finds a water tent when he gives me both at once. I chug them down and run on, leaving him and his book in the dust, but I hang onto the water bottle. I’m so happy to have seen him, but I know if I stop, I’ll never start again.
Someone has handed me a sachet of gu, an energy gel. I’ve never tried one. I prefer the natural gunk I’ve been hauling round unable to chew. I feel a little like I did when, in labor with my first child, I gave up on the idea of a drug-free childbirth around hour 20 and took the shot—a chemical-dependent failure. Nevertheless, I tear the top off and suck it down slowly between miles 17 (12:51) and 18 (13:12). The gu is like sugary glue and tastes like hell, but I’m starting to feel clearer. I couldn’t have swallowed it without my magical bottle of water. There have been plenty of water stops along the way, but I’m bad at drinking out of paper cups while running, and I daren’t stop. The water bottle feels miraculous as I sip and run.
My right leg is still cramped, and it occurs to me, vaguely, that it might snap off with the constant pounding. I alter my gait to try to stretch it a bit. My body, which has been moodily silent for a while, mentions that legs are not really designed for this kind of treatment. Also, it thinks its right foot is probably bleeding and has a huge lump on the side which might burst at any moment. And, of course, that’s when the chest pain kicks in.
Apparently, in addition to an inner Commandant, I have an inner hypochondriac. For a while, I wonder whether this tight band around me is the beginning of a heart attack—and then I realize that it’s just the bottom of my sports bra feeling too tight. I shake off the fear and remind myself it’s well known bodies lie—she was just trying to get in another medical tent, dammit! I remind her she’s just a machine, so she better keep doing what machines do.
I get someone to fill up my miraculous water bottle at the next station, and then I start work on a second gu which tastes even nastier than the last. At some point, someone hands me a big cup of something, and I take a giant swallow. Holy hell; it’s beer! Much as I want it, I throw it away. I can’t afford the dehydration or the distraction right now.
Mile 19, and something has changed. I’m still running on stumps, but I can feel an energy lift and I move through it in 11:18. And then I feel it coming back to me: hope, the thing with feathers. All this time, even at my worst, I’ve been running the data in my head, and as far as I can tell, a sub-5 marathon is still in sight. I power up a hill and kick mile 20 in 10:22. Am I making a mistake? Kicking it into gear too soon? I don’t think so... Mile 21: 11:06. Mile 22: 10:48. Mile 23: 10:55. Oh my God: I’m going to make it! I’m going to finish, and in a time that won’t make me ashamed. Mile 24: 11:13. Mile 25: 10:39. Mile 26: 10:31. And then I can see the finish. It’s slow and it’s fast all at the same time, and my vision has narrowed to a tunnel. I can’t feel my right leg anymore, but it can’t have fallen off or I’d over-balance, so keep moving, keep running, you’re almost, almost there…
As I cross the finish, still on my feet, still—miraculously—running, I’m vaguely aware that there’s a discrepancy between my Garmin and the race chip timer. It’s only in that last final burn that I realize I’m not quite going to make sub-5 officially. According to my Garmin, I’ve run 26.6 miles in five hours and one minute exactly.
According to the chip timer, it’s 26.2 in five hours 42 seconds. At this point, it doesn't matter. Sub-5, not sub-5, who the hell cares? I ran a marathon, dammit, a MARATHON, and I left every bit of me out on the road. I slow down and start staggering, hear Douglas yelling through the fence, and make it to him in time for a hug before I collapse on a delicious pile of ice. There’s another marathon in Dallas in December: I can beat the five-hour then.
Footnote: This was a wonderfully well-organized race with awesome crowds who did everything they could to cheer on the runners, from handing out strips of fresh-cooked bacon to dancing in the streets to playing music. The water stops were fabulous. The organization was great, and the hospitality of the people of Oklahoma City was warm and welcoming.
Dallas Runners Club, it should also be noted, is the awesomest of all the awesomes, and I feel fortunate, lucky, blessed to count myself a member of this amazing group of people. When I joined, just a few short months ago, I felt intimidated to be among "real" runners. That only lasted until the first time I got to talk to the first one of them. I'm so glad to have found this wonderful, supportive community. Thank you for being!
Saturday, April 26, 2014
I'm dedicating this race to the three most beautiful women I have ever known.
|Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon route|
Miles one through eight, I'm running for you, Lizzy. You have amazed me every single day of your astonishing, courageous life--and I'm pretty sure you're just getting started! You climbed walls before you could walk, crawled headfirst into the ocean as an adventuresome toddler, earned your own riding lessons when I told you I couldn't afford them, and then went on to earn your associates degree in time for your eighteenth birthday. You have never taken the easy or expected path. You are headed for the Honors Program at Texas Tech and have impressed a local scholarship foundation so much that they're putting you through college debt-free. School has only ever been your day-job though. You have given hundreds of hours of time to help riders with disabilities at Equest, and now you're rocking your new job as a swimming instructor in the evenings. And, of course, you want to become a doctor so you can work for Médecins Sans Frontières and help people in crisis around the world. Look at you go! It's never been enough for you to follow where others have gone before. You plow your own furrow, and it seems like you're always looking for the next mountaintop. I see that determined look in your eye, and I know the world better watch out! Miles one through eight, Lizzy: you're going to get me started because I'm going to need your tremendous courage as I stare down the barrel of all the miles and miles to come.
And you, lovely Joy, miles nine through sixteen are for you. The first time I saw you on a hospital scan, you did a somersault. Wild thing, you made my heart sing, and I've been expecting the unexpected from you ever since. Double-majoring in Computer Science and International Affairs, zooming between college in Minnesota and regular trips to Washington and New York as you work for Middle East peace, stalk congressmen in the Capitol, and hang out with geeks and banking bods in your "spare" time, you are the quintessential biter-off of more than can be chewed--but then you always chew it anyway. You earned a huge grant for college with your academic awesomeness and have landed a fabulous paid internship doing something geeky with algorithms that I will never understand. Whether you're directing hilarious Shakespeare spoofs, community organizing, or grading your professors' papers (lucky them!), you work with integrity and steadfast determination for the causes that you care about--and it's that persistence I'm going to need after the initial adrenaline has worn off and worn out. Doggedness, an unswerving faith for what you believe in and a stubborn refusal to say "I can't," is the superpower of yours I'm channeling to get me through the middle miles. When I'm tired, and it feels like it's all too much and it's all too far, I'm remembering you.
And those final miles, mum, that last long ten: I'm running all of those for you. No one I've ever known, no one I've ever heard of, has taught me more about what the tough do when the going gets hard. You are the absolute overcomer, and your whole life is a lesson in faithfulness. I have watched you year after difficult year, decade after decade, walking the path of kindness and determination in the face of impossible odds. If I can run through a thunderstorm when every muscle in my body is screaming at me to slow down, sit down, give up, it's because you taught me how it's done. I never knew a woman with more dignity and strength, more derring do, or more grace, compassion, and love. You are my quiet hero, the one who keeps on keeping on when nobody's watching. I'm going to run all the way to the finish line in Oklahoma to honor you.
With all my love to the three most incredible women I have ever known,
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
Friday, April 25, 2014
Support Scarlett's Fundraiser for MSF
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Tuesday, April 1 (26 days to Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon)April Fool! My left leg is being an ass--it's an anatomical miracle, but not a particularly happy one. I've been "recovering" from what is probably an overuse injury in my thigh (gracilis, iliopsoas, piriformis, for those who need detail) for the last three or four weeks. To be more accurate, I've spent a couple of weeks in denial and a couple attempting to cooperate with recovery. I'm slower and weaker than I was a month ago, and it's completely frustrating. Two weeks ago, I ran 20 miles. Today, I set out to run 10 miles after work but only made it to seven with a combination of slow running and walking. I'm telling myself not to panic.
I'm walking/running a tricky tightrope between not getting enough rest to recover and getting too much and losing fitness. I keep declaring I will run this damn thing, but I confess to some tearful moments when I'm not sure I believe me. Some of my friends can't fathom why I'm still heading toward my goal. The runners understand, but I get that it looks crazy to others. All I can say is running has become a part of me over the last seven months. It's a relationship, and it's given me way more than I've given it. I've failed enough at relationships in the past to try something other than throwing in the towel this time around. Running and I are going through a rough patch; that's all. I'm confident we'll find a way to work through it, fall back in love again. Some of the excitement and shiny romance is admittedly a little worn of late, but these things go in waves, right? I'm holding out for the next one.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
|My first Half-Marathon, |
The Duel in Wichita Falls,
January 2014. Time: 2:17. Pace: 10:31.
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and the truth is I'm struggling. I got a little behind on my mileage a few weeks ago and then pushed too hard to catch up. I made the classic error of trying to squeeze in all the missed runs rather than calmly picking up where I left off. The result? A not insignificant amount of pain and more familiarity with the biology of the human thigh than I ever planned to have.
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I'm working through injury. So far, I've tried denial, Googling, foam rolling, and a sports massage. Of the four, the sports massage has been the most effective but caused the most bruises. As one of my pace leaders only half-joked, "Never go see your gynecologist within a couple of weeks of a sports massage--he'll ask you whether you're in an abusive relationship!" Don't be fooled by the word "massage" in there: any resemblance to a gentle rub with soothing oils is a linguistic deception. The only thing to which I can compare the experience is childbirth--but without the pain killers and cups of tea.
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I've trained too hard and come too far to turn back now. The hard-headed Yorkshire lass inside me who tells me to "grit yer teeth and run through the pain" has not been serving me too well as a sports therapist, so I'm dialing down and easing more gently back into my miles until the old iliopsoas stops screaming. Meanwhile, I'm reminding myself of how I built to my first Half Marathon not too many months ago--lots of long, slow, easy hours at sunrise and sunset, nights at the lake when nothing moved but wind on water, indeterminate wildlife in the bushes--and me. Running is easy really. It's just like life: you put down one foot, and then the other, and then another, and then another... And then you just keep doing that forever--or until the finish line, whichever comes first!
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I've got this. Distance running, I've learned, is only a little about the iliopsoas and the road--it's mostly in the mind, and they don't make expensive shoes for that. You see, I'm not planning on running 26.2 miles really. I'm running five, and then five more, and then five more, and then five more... and then just to the next tree, the next bend in the road, the end of the song... And then, of course, the one after that...
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I'll see you at the finish line.
I run for Doctors Without Borders: click here to view the fundraising page and see the list of awesome donors. And thanks!
Monday, January 6, 2014
I got a gift in the mail today: a T-shirt and note of encouragement from MSF.
You can give here: http://events.doctorswithoutborders.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participant&participantID=1600&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fscarlettswhirled%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F%3Fbadge%3D200x420thermo
You can give here: http://events.doctorswithoutborders.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participant&participantID=1600&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fscarlettswhirled%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F%3Fbadge%3D200x420thermo