Dec 30, 2007

morning debates.

should i or shouldn't i?
now or later?
17 miles in the pre-dawn 23 degrees or back to bed?
i am a wuss. i chose the later.

but not before getting up at the crack of dawn, having breakfast, getting fully geared up and ready to go and taking procrastination to new levels. but i had been up for over an hour and wasn't getting any more alert. i wasn't feeling that well. a sore throat had made an appearance overnight and i figured i'd have to get back on my salt water gargling & snorting plan asap to nip whetever it was in the bud. once i was fully satisfied that i had wasted all the time i possibly could, and could no longer prolong the inevitable seventeen miles that lay ahead, i went outside. and stood there. it was so dark and so cold. my running tights may as well have been my pajama bottoms. they flet flimsy and useless. i turned around and came back inside. then i went back out. then i came back in again.

my husband asks what was wrong with me. nothing. nothing is wrong. except for the fact that do i have to be a marathoner? can't i just pretend i am not? and so the negotiations begin. he says do the run later. i say no, that never happens. something will get in the way and mygodits17milesnothingcangetinthewayofalongrunihavetogo. but in no time, i am gratefully pulling off my gloves and fuel belt, taking my sneakers off and heading back up to bed. and i climb in, running clothes, hat and all and go back to sleep. and dream about running, in all things - a torrential downpour.

but i am up now, and feeling a little bit better. my husband will be home in a few hours and i'll head out for my last long run of 2007. for a nice grand total of 1551 miles for the year.

Dec 27, 2007


this is something i've always strived for but never seem to attain. and so because it has always been so elusive to me, i especially love it when little moments of balance appear in my life.

i found some balance this christmas, when i finally acheived the perfect place of not so many gifts under the tree i was embarrased by the excess, and so few i was wrought with guilt. i have been known to go to both extremes. and that's just it. i am a woman of extremes. its all or nothing. there is no in-between.

we had a mid-ride breakfast spread out on our table the other morning, a friend of mine, who knew about my ongoing battle with dairy and now, all things sugar-free asked how things were going; and, motioning to the table full of food - asked what i could eat. i replied by saying i could eat anything i wanted. but then i wanted to elaborate, to explain more. but it wasn't the time. and i still hate talking about food. my consumption of it and relationship with it in particular. i would have explained that i suppose i could eat anything i wanted. but mostly, what i want now is healthy, whole food that keeps me in this place. this place i was never sure i'd ever get to.

this food experiment has not been about replacing one obsession (non-dairy) with another (sugar-free), but all about getting back into balance; which required remaining dairy free and becoming sugar free for a while. dairy was never the issue, and i know that now. but dairy, by nature is hard to digest - and because my intestines were such a mess, it was doubly hard. once eliminated, it made a very immediate & positive impact. and so i rightfully thought problem solved. but not so much. the symptoms remained. i couldn't figure out why. i went to three doctors and had oodles of tests. no doctor ever, ever asked me about my diet. and no doctor could ever figure out what it was. which pissed me off.

and so i spent my days while training for a marathon being afraid to eat so many things - worried about the gastrointestinal consequences i may face on the run the next day. or, i was so stressed by the air of panic and doubt over running and qualifying that hung over me like a cloud that i just didn't eat. i've never been one to turn to comfort food when stressed. rather, i just wouldn't eat at all. the maniacal pacing i did in our hotel room on marathon morning spoke volumes about my stress level. landing on the sidewalk and then in an ambulance just turned the volume up full blast.

fast forward to working with a health counselor for the past seven weeks. my system is no longer a toxic, imbalanced mess. and subsequently, neither is my head. okay. i'm still a little bit crazy and intense, but i'd like to think its been dialed back just a weensy notch and i am on a slightly more even keel.

becoming sugar free for a while is what my body needed to purge itself of all the toxins. they had nothing to feed on once the sugar was gone. i kept a food log and a fatigue log throughout the days. the fatigue log was a scale of 1 - 10, ten being exhausted. the first few weeks, my numbers were all over the place. i was a rollercoaster of exhaustion and energy. there was always a huge spike in numbers in the middle of the day. but now? now i can see the balance plain as day. the number is the same. all day long. sure, i may write a higher number down on some days - but i also may have run 19 miles that day.

i had my first scoop of ice cream in a year the other day. it was on top of a brownie & topped off with homemade fudge sauce. it was sublime. i've had greek yogurt. i've had pizza. pizza, people. dripping with cheese. and none of it resulted in any unpleasant gassy bloaty poopiness. i've gone to dinner parties and not been in a panic over whether there was dairy in anything. i finally, finally feel like a normal person. i hated that friends would ask what i could & couln't eat. and while it was lovely and thoughtful, i hated that they'd go to the trouble of making sure things were dairy free, or "zanne-friendly". but i hated more the gassy bloaty poopiness that made my running and my life a pain in the ass, pardon the pun.

i can eat now without fear of the unpleasant and painful gastrointestinal consequences. i have learned how to stave off any consequences and get myself back in balance when i do indulge. and i realize that i've acheived a level of balance when my husband says to me that for the first time in years, that i go to bed and no longer announce that i feel like crap. he can no longer hear the crazy grumblings of my stomach from the next room (and they were not grumblings of hunger, but that of toxins - making me miserable). i wasn't even aware that i went to bed every night and made this arbitrary announcement. i haven't said it in seven weeks. as far as i am concerned, jen is a miracle worker.

i have learned to apply the same structure with which i follow my running schedule to other areas. i won't die if i take away just a bit of the intensity over the running and put it somewhere else. the running still happens. it is amazing what happens when that panic and doubt are not hanging over you. you can just run. because you love it. and then you can do other things too. it all just happens. it all starts to come together.

i'm not saying that i've reached any sort of nutritional nirvana here and that by eating good food i find myself living in camelot. i was stressed to the max over errand running, gift buying, cookie baking, meal making, guests arriving and children fighting. the good food and balanced intestines don't make me hate mile repeats any less. and i still can't figure out how to get my laundry done in a timely manner, unless my mother comes to stay for a bit and does it for me. and i can take my part-time-work-from-home job to new levels of unproductivity. i am a work in progress. there's always more work to be done. there's always room for improvement. i'm just saying that i have seen how little bits of balance have eeked into my life. and i like it. i have learned things i never expected. i am amazed at how a balanced nutritional life translates into other aspects of life. and i think that maybe, just maybe i am getting a weensy bit closer to finding that in-between. that balance i have been looking for for so long. and that is a nice way to end a year and go into a new one.

my ducks are almost all lined up.

it's official

i just registered for the plan b marathon.
no refunds. no turning back. hit register button.
there is slightly less anxiety than there was the last time i did this.
mostly, i was amused by the field in which you needed to fill out
"emergency race day contact person"
and "emergency race day phone number".
there wasn't enough room to write
the guy who is running right next to me.
but now that i have all my ducks in a row, there shouldn't be any need for a race day emergency contact. but i put one down anyway. i put my husband, who will be cruising around birmingham on his bike, carrying food, extra bottles of water for my snazzy fuel belt and whatever else i'll need.
forty-four more days.
it will be better this time.
it's all coming together.

Dec 25, 2007

christmas run

my christmas present to myself was no mile repeats.
instead, i went out for a run in the park.
sunny blue skies.
fifty degrees.
no wind. no rain.
the run was effortless
they don't get much better.
love the high as a kite runs.
merry christmas!!!!!

Dec 23, 2007

holy headwinds

last night, as i was closing things up around the house & heading up to bed, i listened to the roll of thunder across the sky and watched as the sky lit up with lightning, and thought - yes, perfect. the weather is just as it should be the night before a long run. my plan b long runs have all been in miserable weather conditions, why should it change now? i heard the rain, and then the howling winds all night.

i hit snooze for two hours this morning. prolonging the inevitable. but it finally stopped raining which left just the wind. i had my breakfast and geared up to head out. but not before checking the winds were howling and i was curious to see how fast they were actually blowing.

25-35 mph. 30 degrees. 20 with the wind chill.

i step out to start long run number theresbeensomanylongrunsnowivelostcount and was pleasantly surprised. the sun was shining, i could smell the fireplace fires burning. i was in heaven. for about a half mile. i was wondering where the winds were. i turned the corner and BAM! there's the wind. this is going to be a rough run.

rough is an understatement. for fifeteen miles i wondered when the hell the wind would be at my back. it seemed that it was always coming at me, hindering any hopes of forward progress, or clobbering me from the side. i can't count how many times i wanted to turn home at certain points in the run. at one point i stopped at the bridge to decide. if i went left, i'd be home in two hills and 1.3 miles, if i went right, i'd be home in 4 hills and about 4 miles. i went right. and wished i had gone left.

once home, i felt like i had been beaten up, hit by a truck and thrown into a boxing ring. there needs to be some sort of handicapping system for running in that kind of wind. like, add 2 more miles to your total mileage, or subtract 30 seconds from your overall pace. something that makes up for the youaregoingtogetyourasskickedbymothernature factor. i can run in the rain, i can do cold; but that wind chewed me up, spit me out & kicked the shit out of me.

suffice it to say, long run number umpteenthousand sucked.

postscript: just heard the news. today's wind gusts were 40mph.

Dec 20, 2007

today was not that day

i finally get to write the big dog run report that i have wanted to write for months. the good report. not the report where i am sucking wind, near tears and totally defeated at the end as i bring up the rear. this is not that report.

today was not the day that i desperately struggled to barely keep up on a big dog run. it was not the day that i wondered what the hell i was doing at 5am running with a crazy fast group of people. it was not the day i would come home and write an email to coach begging him to take me off the runs cause i couldn't hack it. (and that day was just a few (more) bad big dog runs away from happening). it wasn't the day i got my ass kicked and came in last yet again.

today was finally the day that i started a run with the big dogs. and most importantly (to me), finished a run with the big dogs. i repeat - i finished a run with the big dogs. not after them. not last. nobody was long done and waiting for me. i finished with them. i could mention that the pace was pretty tame by big dog run standards, but that takes away from the glory i want to bask in for the morning. coach never had to look behind him to see if i was still there. i could actually hold a conversation with people. i felt good and strong. and these are two things i have never felt on a thursday run. until today. today was finally the day.

and because it bears repeating: i finished a run with the big dogs. its a christmas miracle. that, or the hell that is my plan b schedule is finally paying off.

Dec 19, 2007

the (un)kindness of strangers

another mile repeat day.
i start it the same way i've started them for about five months.
by putting my warmup top and water bottle by the bushes at the end of the lap. and i go do my first lap. i end it only to find that my jacket and favorite water bottle gone. so i am rummaging through the bushes to see if my stuff fell through to the ground. i scan the street to see if i can run down whoever took it. i figure they can't be far - they were in & out in less than 8 minutes. if i had to run them down, maybe i could count it as another repeat. then i start yelling obscenities at the bushes. "are you shitting me?" and "wtf"? - only i said the whole thing, not just the letters. the thing is, bushes don't know who took your stuff. then i hear a lady across the street. maybe she knows who took my stuff. she heard me swearing and she asks what i lost. i tell her the whole thing. how i have been doing this every single week for months. and briefly, the thought of how often i am out there is about as depressing as the fact that my favorite water bottle and cool top are now gone. i apologize for my language. but she's horrified that someone in her neighborhood would do such a thing and says "i'd say the same damn things". i like her. then, to counteract the unkindness of whoever took my stuff she offers up her back steps for me to put all my stuff next time. which was very nice. but still. loved that water bottle.

Dec 16, 2007


long run experiment number five was fairly uneventful.
unless you count the howling winds
and the crazy cold.
and the incident.
a minor, yet perplexing snot incident.
i usually blow on the fly.
and this goes off without a hitch.
the snot - goes out, down and back.
never to be seen or heard from again.
until today.
i blow.
and then - wtf?!
the snot

and so i spent the next mile or so trying to figure out the physics of that.

defying all laws of gravity,
it went out and up and to the left
up and to the left.
that was some magic snot.

Dec 13, 2007

easy week

there's nothing like an easy week to remind you that you really do love running.
the workouts have been hard.
i've been feeling slow, defeated & frustrated.
its been raining a lot.
i find myself wondering what i am doing -
why was i out there,
standing at the mile repeat yellow line in the dark?
this week, i remembered.
i am running.
because i love it.
i might have 3 weeks of crazy hard workouts,
but i have this one easy week
to remind me that i still got it.
i remember now.

Dec 11, 2007

finally out the door

i did indeed finally get out the door.
(for those of you sitting on the edge of your seats, wondering)
and the only thing flying was the snot,
cause it sure as shit wasn't me.
which would normally frustrate the hell out of me & bum me out.
but because it's an easy recovery week
and my legs made it quite clear with every step
that they were still feeling sunday's nineteen miles,
i am uncharacteristically not beating myself up over it.
which makes me feel like a rational, grown up runner girl.
it's a christmas miracle, people.
but the day is half done. i may be going back to my 5am thing.
it is strangely, much easier to get out the door.


this is me.
its mile repeat morning and i am trying something new.
that something new being waiting till all three kids are on the bus and off to school before i start my mile repeats.
the butt crack of dawn thing was habit.
left over from early summer workouts to beat the heat.
so now, i thought - why not wait till it warms up a bit?
gets a bit lighter out?
but the thing is?
it's 9:09.
and i'm sitting here.
in my running clothes.
i had to do some dishes. check email.
throw in some loads of laundry.
then there was a good crock pot recipe on the today show
i had to watch.
see, the thing about getting up at 4:45 to go run
is that there is nothing else to do.
get up. get dressed. go run.
under the cover of darkness so no one can see the snot flying.
the sun is up now. still here.
must go. get this done. cross another square off.
the jury is still out on this later in the morning thing.

Dec 9, 2007

avoiding the treadmill

at all costs.

today was my 19 mile long run. it was going to be another rainy one. and while the one and only thing i hate about running is running in the rain, i hate the treadmill more. i pride myself on the fact that i am now into training for marathon number 3, i have set foot on a treadmill only once. that one time was enough. i will run in any weather. i will get up at 4 am in the summer to beat the heat. i will bundle up against the cold. i will wear a windbreaker thing in the rain. the one thing i can't protect myself from? lightning.

so this morning, i'm running. i'm running. and i've got my head down and i'm in a nice little zone. a surprisingly happy place even though i'm going slower than i'd like. i'm only 5 miles into run. i feel good. i'm saving the best for the second half. and then, the sky lights up a bit. but my head was down, i had a cap on & i wasn't sure if i imagined it. there it goes again. shit. lighting. oh, and now the thunder. perfect. this is perfect. and now i am thinking that if it gets really bad, i will have to finish this run on the treadmill. i pick up the pace to try and cover as much ground as possible, in an attempt to lessen the miles i imagine having to plod through on that vile machine. the sky lights up a few more times. but i never see that big lightning bolt sort of a flash. so i think i'm good to go. and the sky never lights up again. phew. in the clear.

and then around mile 9, the skies open up and it is a torrential downpour. i am soaked to the bone. i'm cold. and i really want to be home. but it is raining so hard, that i once again wonder if i am going to have to stop this run and finish it on the treadmill. i start calculating how far i am from home, how many miles are left. and doing all this math in my head takes up a nice chunk of time. but then i think over my dead body am i going home, warming up, waiting for gym to open at noon and plugging through 6 or 7 miles on a treadmill. i'm already cold, wet & miserable, may as well suck it up and stay that way.

and at this point where i have resigned myself to the lesser of two evils - running in a torrential downpour as opposed to the mill; a snazzy lexus pulls up beside me and i'm a little creepd out, but i think hannibal lechter doesn't drive a lexus, i'm not going to get tossed into the back of this car & chopped up into tiny bits. so then i think maybe its a friend. but i don't have any lexus driving friends. the window rolls down, and a woman pops her head out, and says "now that's dedication". and all i can do is laugh. and smile. the window goes up & she drives away. and her comment keeps me going until the downpour stops. and then there is another downpour, but i am too far into this run now. but it clears up and i'm thrilled when i hit the hills because it just means i am 4 miles from home. i did it. mother nature could not force me onto a treadmill today. she tried though.

and i think, is it dedication? or insanity?
i'm leaning towards insanity.

Dec 4, 2007

close call on a closeout

i was this close to falling off the wagon.
like, the smallest unit of measurement close.

so i'm at big lots.
and i'm hungry. and this is the kiss of death. to be hungry.
and i am standing in line,
when what to my wandering eyes should appear,
but my most favorite candy in the whole wide world.
on sale. and i never see this candy anymore.
and in my past sugar-laden life, when saw it, i'd buy it. cause i think its' almost extinct.
my god. it must be a close out. cause i'm at big lots. that's what they do, right?
there's a chance this is it. the last chuckles i'll ever see.
i am in week four of no sugar. week four people. and i thought i was doing well. but its chuckles.
so i wonder, for way longer than a moment - what would happen if i bought it. and then if i bought it, what would happen if i ate it. no one had to know. i didn't have my cell phone. couldn't call a sponsor. and this assumes that i wanted to.

i picked it up.
i put it back down.
then i picked it up again.
and this is where i saw the slippery slope that it could be. i'd start making excuses about why i needed to go to big lots. i'd be in the closet, eating chuckles. soon i'd be on the streets, in and out of rehab. what happened to mommy? she went back to the sugar kids. chuckles were on sale.
i put it down.

so that brazen announcement i made a few posts back?
that one where i got all cocky and said:
don't mess with me sugar, i am over you.
not so much, i guess. shit.
but. i am still on that wagon.


the alarm goes off.
i look at it. 5am.
and for a moment,
i cannot even fathom why i set the alarm for 5am.
and then i remember.
its tuesday.
if its tuesday.
its mile repeats.
so i get dressed.
and head out into the dark, cold morning.
my dollar magic stretchy gloves from krogers did nothing to keep out the cold. twenty-five degrees of cold to be exact.
they couldn't even pretend to be warm,
to offer any semblance of comfort.
not sure what i expected from gloves that cost a dollar.
every single repeat sucked a little more than the previous one.
a slow, and slow being the operative word here; sad, pathetic deterioration in performance.
as if there was any to begin with in that cold.
but at least they all sucked consistently.
they all hovered around the same sad, pathetic pace.
so i had that going for me. consistency.
tomorrow, maybe i'll wait till the sun comes up.
and wear warmer gloves.
bring a better attitude.
they can't all be good. and i know this.
but still. i have a hard time with it.

Dec 2, 2007

happiness is

seeing the banana that was stashed for you on your friends' car in their driveway, at mile 10 of a 17 run. just waiting for you. and you run and eat it with a shit eating grin on your face cause its mile 10 of a 17 mile run and you feel great.

it's hitting the hills. and feeling stronger at the top than you did at the bottom of all 13 of them, kicking their proverbial hilly asses. instead of the other way around. i didn't want to die at the top of maple. i was too busy smiling to want to die.

it's the perfect food. taken at the perfect time. never feeling hungry, spent, crampy or sore. never wanting the run to end.

aside from the fact that i felt like a pack mule, which is something i just need to get over, cause its' obviously working for me. and aside from the fact that it was raining, the entire time; and if there is one thing i hate about running, its running in the rain.

everything else outweighed those two minor details. long run experiment number three was just perfect. a perfect long run to make up for a week of tough ones. love how it all comes around sometimes.