Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Week (or so) in My Open Toed Shoes

Last week was so emotional. It's hard to believe that the Boston bombings were just 10 days ago. And within that 10 days, a plant blew up in Texas leveling a town.  Our area hit an all time record for rain fall in April. April's not over yet. Roads, homes and schools flooded. It snowed, hailed and graupeled. A family friend died, and we mourned his passing. The days were dark, cold and overcast. The sun came out once, maybe. And it rained some more.

Seamus the Weather Dog
Dailymile sent me my weekly review yesterday and instead of the usual "Awesome, Gnarly or Terrific", it didn't really comment on my four mile week total. Hmm.

I've become an old woman, or my dog and I really are becoming more alike. One of my dogs, Seamus, will sense a front coming in about four to six hours before. If there's a thunderstorm, he shakes like a leaf. Weather systems now give me headaches. I feel them coming. Not acute pain, just dull constant annoyance. I long for them to pass or it to rain to relieve the pressure. I had a headache all week.

Birkies and a Dora BandAid

I also had a toe ache. After my 20 miles in two days, my toe began to throb. I'm fairly familiar with black toenails. I've gone a full year with all my toenails. That's very exciting. I own purple nail polish so I can match the black toenail accordingly. I expected the pain to subside. Sleeping the first night after acquiring a black toe nail is very uncomfortable. Expected. When I ran with Kate on Tuesday, the pain increased. And the pressure didn't subside. Running was out for the week. Granted, I didn't want to run in the blah weather, but I also didn't want to put on a shoe. Ouch.

By Saturday, it was time to do something about it. I won't go into details, but my husband took care of it. I was a little squeamish. The relief from the pressure was fantastic. It's healing up pretty well. I'm eager to run again. And I am eager for warmer weather.

It's also been a time to take stock and be thankful. Hug my girlios. Cherish my husband. Celebrate what I've been given. Attempt to relax. Enjoy this moment before trying to plan the next. Smile at the little things. When I saw the sprinklers on in the rain yesterday, I truly cackled. Ugly laugh slipped right out.

Me, My Girlios, Dad, StepMom & Friend Post Fun Run
On Monday, my family did a Boston Solidarity Run at the Runner's Edge. I couldn't do the one with the running club because of my Shrek toe. It was so nice to run in the sun. My girlios ran too. They were all rock stars. And my six year old is a machine. She ran almost the whole thing, and I don't think she sweat. She's been asking me to run fun runs. This summer, we'll take on a 5k together.

Monday was also the warmest sunniest day in a while. My girlios spent a lot of the day outside, making up for the last week. Another front and headache came through yesterday, but the forecast looks good. A lot of sun, warmth, healing, growth and all those things this Spring brings. I'm glad. We could use it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Runner's High and Heartache

This is not the post I expected to write today. Today was my last day teaching a 5k class at the homeschool group. My students completed a 5k today. I had one sick and one injured student, but the other 14 ran/walked/finished a 5k within the class period. For some of them it was their first 5k. For others, it was just a chance to stretch their legs. My top runner came in under 23 minutes and runs barefoot. My second runner took several minutes off his PR. Everybody finished. It was an exciting day for me. I don't feel qualified to teach a running course. I run for my own joy, and that's what I wanted to share with my students.

The weather was great. 60s and windy. I made cookies.
I brought bananas. My running club, GRC, donated bags and stickers. I ordered medals, which I love, and I medaled the students when they crossed the finish line. I hooted and hollered when they finished. I tried to simulate that race feel. The joy of a race. That feeling of accomplishment. The love of running.

An hour later, one of the other moms told me about Boston. I felt like I got hit in the gut. I couldn't believe it. My heart hurt more and more. I could tell I was spiraling down when I heard there were fatalities. When we pulled in the driveway, one of my favorite running songs came on the radio - Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move." I completely lost it. Tears and gasps. Why would anybody target a marathon? Why would somebody try to destroy something I love so much? The Boston Marathon is something I know I will never run, but I respect it dearly and the event staff and the runners and the spectators who support the runners and the city.

I've been soaking in the media information intermittently today. It's overwhelming. Horrible. My heart truly breaks. I can tell that I'm moving through different stages of grief too. I feel helpless. I've been praying. I'm terribly angry. Right now, I want to make shirts that say, "I am a runner, and I'm pissed off." Don't mess with my love of running. I'll keep praying. Try to find some way I can help. Pray some more. And grieve. And run. And run.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Impromptu Race: South Shore Half Marathon

So life is hectic. Last week I was became overwhelmed. The crazy pace I usually keep went completely off balance.  My paperwork load doubled. I got a jury summons for finals week. My brain was not gelling on my school work. Time was crunching. The girlios were crabby, and I joined them. Sleep has not been easy. Too much on my mind. On Friday I took my first rest day in 34 days of running and felt guilty about it. That's just wrong. I needed a break. For me, a race is a break.

So yesterday, I ran my first official race of the year. It was my second half marathon this year. (Our running club did a DIY half in February. Didn't get a chance to blog it. Bad bad blogger.) I did the South Shore Half Marathon a few years ago. I didn't really decide to run until race morning. My dog won't let me sleep again until I've fed him if my alarm goes off. I had been texting Kim back and forth about going the night before while staring at my studies. So after feeding the dogs I headed up to Milwaukee on Sunday morning to register and race. South Shore is normally on Saturday which means it conflicts with my husband's track schedule or our soccer schedule. This year it was on a Sunday. After talking to my husband about it, he put a twenty on the table and said, "Go run." He's such a keeper. One of the great things about South Shore is that it's 20$ race on race day. It can be as low as 13.99$ if you sign up early. There are no medals and no shirts. You get snazzy running (garden) gloves, chip times and snacks from Aldi. And a great out-and-back rolling course along and near the lake.

I was so excited about the diet cola because I had been craving a diet coke all week. When I had it later in the day, it was the worst diet cola I've ever had. It tasted like a melted watered down diet cola Slurpee. Ook. Yes, I still ended up drinking it. It took me a few hours, but I drank it.

I met up with Kim and two other bloggers, Jessica and Rachel. It was pretty windy and in the low 40s when the race started. I knew I was overdressed for the wind at my back. Wind and I are not friends. I sported my Ruu, which got a lot of looks, and I felt really bright for an overcast day.

In retrospect I guess I did have some goals. Secretly, I wanted a 2:15. Last year at this time, I came off an injury and ran a 2:27:32. Midsummer, I ran 2:14:49.  I wanted to feel like I've make some strides in speed and strength. I also wanted to leave it all on the course. I run happy and generally, that doesn't involve emptying the tank in a race. I genuinely wanted to end this race tired.

It was pretty clogged on the trail at the beginning. I'm slow so it doesn't really bother me. I'll pick a person to pace behind for a while and either let them go or pass them depending on how I feel. My legs felt like lead which I didn't expect because I had taken two rest days, the first two rest days in over a month. Generally, I don't bring music to a race. This time I was going to listen to tunes on the way back after the turn around. However, I put them on between mile 3 and 4 and took off running. My pace increased substantially. There were some puddles on the course and in going around one of the big ones on the way back I soaked my socks and shoes. Blah!

I didn't wear a watch so I had no idea how fast I was going. I did know that I was exhausted on the second half. The tank was emptied early. The wind was making my eyes water, and I may have had red eye. I've had a lot of eye allergies lately. Sometimes when I run in the Savannah my eyes get bloodshot, and I don't know until I've stopped at the bathroom. Then I realize why people I've passed look at me funny. The second half of the race was a struggle to run happy.

Two awesome parts of the course were when a little boy ran to meet his father at mile 11.5, and the song that came on when I saw the finish line. The dad picked up his son while he was running, and the whole family, including mom, had smiles on their faces. It encouraged me on the course. So cute and special. It reminded me of when my girlios ran me in for my first marathon. When I saw the finish line, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" came on. No explanation needed.

I finished with a clock time of 2:18:36 and an official time of 2:17:05. I'll admit I was a little disappointed. I worked hard. My body hurt. I tried. Looking today, I was 20th in my division. For me, that's decent. I left it all on the course, and today my knee is still angry. It's also a good baseline for the Wisconsin Half next month.

Here's the group after pic, including Alyssa, who was doing 20 that day. They went off to lunch (super jealous), and I came home to return to my world of studying, laundry, dishes, groceries and girlios with a half marathon under my belt. And homemade mac-n-cheese, thanks to hubs.