Tuesday, December 31, 2013


So walk down any magazine aisle or stand in the checkout line at the grocery at about this time of year, every year, and every single print publication (minus maybe the Enquirer) on the shelf says the same thing..."NEW YEAR NEW YOU!!!"

Runners World has seriously had that as their December issue every year for the last decade, I swear.

Without intending to sound cynical, it may be a "new" year, but you're still the same you; sorry. It's not as though we're like a bunch of little caterpillars emerging from their cocoons as pretty new creatures just because the clock struck 12 on New Year's Eve, I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but you kind of still are where you're at. Nonetheless, I think something in our human psyche likes the idea of a clean slate and a new starting point and maybe even a Do-Over on some things, even though there are no real Do-Overs, there are only Try-Again-And-Do-Betters.

Try-Again-And-Do-Betters...I like the sound of that. So that said, I'll play along. After all, there's nothing wrong with a good, solid, healthy session of SELF-REFLECTION and GOAL SETTING is there? YEAH! Virtual fist-bump via this blog! Let's get on it! And what better time to do it than teetering on the edge of a year, which had its awesome, its great, good, bad, and ugly. Such is life.

I actually only have one goal, or resolution, or whatever you want to call it. And I guess it's applicable to both Running and Life, but since this blog is about running, we'll stick to that to keep things relatively concise and uncomplicated. Anyway...see, I've got this little problematic mindset called Nothing's Ever Enough, and I think it would be a good thing to be shut of. I think most of the entire Western culture is affected in one way or another by this rather unsavory and icky ailment since we live in a world of constant competition in everything and constant comparison to everyone else and constant need for instant gratification and constant want for more, be it through materialism or kind of whatever, it's just how we've managed set things up; always trying to keep up with the Joneses. And for what? Affirmation? I guess so.

Anyhow, while that's applicable to many things in this life, as far as running goes, I think it's safe to say that we're mostly competitive people here to some extent. And it's great to be competitive, and it's great to let the accomplishments of other people set the bar for us to some degree. After all, if you always only set your own standard and "good enough" is always fine, then you never have any need to rise above it, and you never get any better. But taken too far, too much competitive drive and close examination of everyone else's accomplishments to the point of never-ending comparison to everyone else doesn't so much drive the desire to get better as much as it does flatten it altogether. Because ever notice that no matter how much you do and no matter how well you do it, there will always be someone who seems to be doing more, and doing it better? Always. And that is when this icky downward spiral into Nothing's Ever Enough happens.

Hold on a sec while I digress a little bit. So there is this woman, Lize Britten, she lives in Boulder now and was, at one time, one of the greatest runners in the nation in her younger days. Anyway, for many reasons her brilliant running career came crashing down, and now, many years after, she's a writer. She once wrote a post on her blog about how she was considering quitting the writing profession altogether, because she knew she'd never be a Steinbeck or a Dickens or a Hemmingway or any of those other people who are considered to be "the best," and everything she wrote would pale in comparison to that stuff, so what was even the point in doing it at all? At the time I thought that was such a sad way to look at something that you love to do and are good at doing even though you're not necessarily what the rest of the world deems to be "the best."

Then I realized I do that very thing ALL the time, I mean ALL THE TIME. I'll be all excited because I hit some certain number of miles in a week that to me indicates that things are really going well, only to hear about someone doing twice that. Or I'll run a PR, but maybe it's not even within 90+ seconds of what people I know are doing. Or I'll have some workout or race that, for me, is great, and I should be happy with it, and I am, till I realize that's someone else's worst day. And it's this endless cycle of comparing, and needing to control the uncontrollable, and being constantly reminded of where you are versus where "The Best" are, and of your best never being quite "enough", when really, you ought to just be satisfied and thankful with what you just did, and the fact that you can do it at all, and that you've still got somewhere to go from here and that you're actually capable of doing so. But instead you're wondering whether you should hang them up because you're not "the best" and because Nothing's Ever Enough. But at the end of the day, would you be hanging them up because you really want to, or because you felt that you "failed" to measure up to...uh...someone's--actually I'm not even really sure whose--standard(s)?

All this is to say, I haven't entirely figured out how to quash this often self-sabatoging attitude, in running or any other area of life. It's a constant work in progress with no actual end in sight. Maybe use other people's accomplishments as a standard to strive for rather than a mandatory bar to be reached (even though sooner or later someone will always move the bar just a little bit higher)? Maybe close off from hearing about what everyone else is doing altogether, which is hard because none of us lives in a vacuum. Ultimately though, competition is a wonderful and valuable thing, but only if you use it as a means of avoiding complacency rather than a destructive means of self-comparison. So while I'm not really all that into painting ooey-gooey verbal pictures of sparkly unicorns that poop Skittles and whatnot, I think this little quote sums it all up really well and that everyone, whenever you go about doing whatever it is that you do, ought to keep in mind:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Club XC

Another year another Club Cross in the books. Clubs is and will always be my #1 favorite race of the year (don't worry Richard Fannin, Gate River is a close second!) and this time didn't disappoint. It was its usual adventure of never-ending amusement with the most fantastic group of people ever to be assembled onto a single team, or piled into a single van. Then of course there was the race. I know, I know...too cross-country-ish for some, which is understandable, but I loved it. I will say though that a few months ago in wondering and questioning and agonizing over whether or not to get my knee fixed or wait till after Clubs, that I am so, SO glad that I did it when I did, absolutely no way could I have picked my way through that course with stuff the way it was. You can always think of a million things that you could or should have done differently in a race, but all things considered I'm pretty grateful for how it all turned out, and we came away with second place, which was great considering how loaded up that race was.

Another reason big races like this are awesome: they're like one big runner-fiesta-gala-reunion-pow-wow-shindig-of-running-and-merrymaking...thing. I geek out over stuff like this, and I'm not ashamed. I mean, almost got taken out by a panic-stricken looking Alan Webb sprinting to the start and I was actually excited about it. I stood next to my biggest runner-girl-crush EVER, Lauren Fleshman, on the line and I wished SO bad that I had a Sharpie on me at that moment so that she could autograph my bib real quick before the gun went off. Plus, it's always good to look down the results list and see names of people who seemed to disappear or have flown under the radar for a bit come back out of the woodwork and start the climb back up again (Angela Bizarri, Jess Tebo, and Mel Lawrence to name a few. I'm sure there are some guys too but I'll admit that I'm woefully inadequate when it comes to following men's running. Horribly sexist, I know). Also, it was great to see little Laura Thweatt get the win, that makes two years in a row of a woman from Colorado taking the individual title.

Anyway, this post is slightly devoid of any personality whatsoever. I feel sorta like, I don't know...mentally hungover right now I guess (not that kind of hangover, there were no Amaretto Sours at the after-party unfortunately. Must be a Bend thing.), from getting so amped up for so many months for that little 6k race, considering that was the biggest carrot to make a strong post-op comeback last fall. But now there's USA XC in Boulder on the docket--8 weeks away, so best be keeping the nose to the grindstone.

Here are all of us telling everyone to have a Merry Christmas:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back At It

Well I said I'd post back here after I had a race under the belt, and I've got one, the Colorado Club Champs race up in Boulder last Saturday--only 4k long but a race nonetheless and a pretty good indicator of where stuff is at.

Initially this post started out as one of my, how shall I put this, Immediate-Post-Race-Emotional-Vomit-Rant...things. But I deleted that after I actually had time to mull it over and figure out it wasn't the end of the world (surprise!), and not even bad for that matter, and that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to pick out the positives and--gee I dunno--actually be thankful for the outcome. I don't really know what outcome I was expecting in the first place, but I didn't really want to go into it with a "this is just a rust-buster" mentality, because I kind of feel like that's a ready-made excuse to pretty much run like crap and feel okay about it. I guess I just thought I'd pick up right where I left off, go right out there and run the race of my life and have it feel effortless like it does every time you have "the race of your life". Amazing how easy it is to forget that racing actually hurts, a totally different kind of hurt than you can give yourself from a workout. In any case, I came away with 11th place, a really hard-to-get-hunched-over-hands-on-knees-at-the-finish-line 11th place for that matter, and our team got 2nd, which I was admittedly feeling salty about.

So that said, I spent a solid 36 hours beating myself up in the following fashion:

"I didn't spend that long on the sidelines, I shouldn't have lost anything. This is inexcusable."
"I crossed-trained like a mofo, if anything I should be in better shape than before. This is inexcusable."
"I feel fat. This is inexcusable."
"Usually I'm (fill in the blank) number of seconds ahead of (fill in the blank), definitely not today. Not even close. This inexcusable."
"Usually I'm up there with (fill in the blank), but nope, not even close again. This is inexcusable."
"Umm helloooo I've done like 3 actual workouts in the last 2 months, I should be in like, PR shape right now today, this is inexcusable."

Irrational much?

But later Taskmaster Cody presented to me the mind-boggling and radical notions that 1) You got knee surgery 12 weeks ago for s**tsakes. 2) You did, in fact, not run for a few weeks following. And this does, in fact, affect performance. 3) It was a loaded up field, and you were right up with people who are fit and ready to go.

Okay. So maybe he was just going all Dr. Phil on me in order to stem the crankiness and quell the oncoming tide of neuroticism that was rapidly impending like an inescapable wall of molten magma erupting forth from deep within the bowels of Mt. Vesuvius, threatening to engulf and destroy all in its path, leaving naught but death in its wake...but either way it did sound sort of completely sensible and rational and sound and reasonable and logical and basically like the opposite of anything that I normally come up with on my own on any given day. I was positively dazzled, and I ate it up.

And then, there is such a thing as being grateful that you're out there. Yeah yeah, I know. we've all heard it before: "It's okay that you're running like dookie*, at least you're out there!" That's not really what I'm going for here. For one, as mentioned above I am forced to concede to the fact that I'm actually not running like dookie, it's just kind of where stuff's at right now, and it's not so bad, it just needs to get better, which might not happen right now today because immediate gratification just isn't really part of the whole running thing, otherwise its popularity as a sport would be unmatched...which it clearly is not. But what I'm really getting at is that less than a third of a year ago, I felt like there was an angry little man with a pickaxe just going at it on the inside of my knee, every. Single. Run. For almost two years (how'd I even do that?!). And now it feels like nothing ever even happened, actually I think I forgot what normal even felt like. And for the record normal feels pretty neat. 3 months ago I was walking around like a peg-legged pirate, nevermind even thinking about running for 5 minutes, or even pool running for that matter. Just a few weeks ago I was pretty sure I wasn't really going to feel the same as I ever used to. And now racing on an absolute ankle-breaker of a cross country course and being back to doing what I was doing before and having no issues whatsoever? That's nothing to sneeze at...the body's a freakin' miracle. Sometimes you've really got to get off your own back, you actually are pretty ridiculously fortunate to be back at it.

So with that being said, that was a dang good starting point and there's really nowhere to go but up. And if we thought last Sunday's course was an ankle-breaker, by the sounds of things it was just a baby ankle-breaker compared to what's waiting for us in Bend for Clubs.
Bring it.

*If you're not sure what dookie is, refer to the following: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dookie

Fake It Till You Make It

This last weekend I got to participate in the first US National Road race championships 12k in Alexandria VA and had such a great experience. I can not say enough how much of an honor it was to be involved in the amazing field. USATF did a great job with everything! The course, hospitality, location and competition were all top notch! I can't wait for next years event.

Unfortunately my race was not as top notch as the event. The last couple weeks before the race I had thoughts of dropping out. I knew my speed wasn't back yet and lining up with girls going for the American record was really going to make it show. Yet ultimately being invited to this event was a big deal. It was the first one ever and you had to place high in a USA championship race to be allowed in. Since I knew what an honor it was I figured let's just go and do what we can and enjoy the experience.

As we were walking to the start line Sunday morning we ran in to David Monti who gave us some good advice...fake it til you make it. I figured yeah why not. I know I can't hang with these girls but lets just pretend. Well right after the gun went off I realized how funny that was. You can not fake it in a field like that. At a mile I found myself very close to last place and started to have a pity party for myself. No matter how much you prepare yourself mentally to get a butt kicking seeing it happen is a lot worse. It's a weird feeling to be racing and feel so good but not be able to make your legs turn over and I was frustrated. Luckily I had my teammates in this race so I just focused on catching up to Mattie as I figured we would be able to work together to pick some girls off. Let me tell you though that was a rough mile working my way back up to her. She is one tough cookie! I have had 6 weeks since my marathon she has only had two and she was doing so good. Well it was so good to catch up to her I think after 5k it just helped me relax to run along side her. I was feeling fabulous and at the turn around was so happy to see Laura Thweat and Brianne running so well I couldn't help but cheer for them. My pace didn't change much while me and Mattie were running together. We were talking to one another and trying to encourage each other during our lack luster performances. Honestly at times it was almost comical. Yup it was happening we were not even close to what we should be but sometimes it's good. I came through 10k in 34:15 which is actually only 12 seconds off of my road PR and just pushed through to the finish. I knew top ten was probably not going to happen unless somehow my legs just magically came back but it's still not any easier when you actually cross the finish line out of the ten. Good for me when I crossed I saw the super sweet amazing Laura Thweat with a flag draped around her! I didn't even care about my pity party I yelled for her and gave her an air high five! Those of you who don't follow her or know her better get on it. She is just starting to show everyone what she is made of. Plus she is a great young lady so it's even better to see her do so well!

I'm taking away the positives from the weekend and actually am not at all upset. I have to be 100% honest. After Twin cities heart break I was planning on doing CIM. I wanted redemption and I wanted it now. So I jumped right back in to running full steam ahead and more excited than ever. Well once everything settled down me and Scott talked and with tears in my eyes and a broken heart we decided it was not the best idea for my future marathon career. I know it's the right thing to do but after that decision I was not super excited about training. The thing is speed is something I have to work super hard at! It does not come easy at all to me so I knew this was going to be a humbling time of getting my butt kicked at every workout for the foreseeable future. So I was going through the motions. Speed sessions, predator runs, long runs, easy days just doing what I was suppose to without as much heart as I normally have. Well getting your butt kicked at a race will sure change your motivation :) I'm now super excited about speed work. I'm actually even excited about going to Club XC with my team and actually finally running a great XC race! Plus I am even more motivated for the usa half marathon champs!!! I want a new half PR so bad and it is on my birthday so it'll be a fun race! Also it probably doesn't hurt that I now have a marathon on the schedule. I can always focus better on speed when I know it'll help my marathon down the road and it is going to be so amazing to run Boston!!!!! So no more faking it til I make it. Time to put in some good old lung burning 400's, 800's and miles to kick this old ladies butt back in speed shape. Full steam ahead to the half champs and a new PR!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pittsburg, Monterrey, Costa Rica ...

There has been a noticeable tone of negativity in the running world lately as people from around the country have weighed in on the decision of Competitor Group to eliminate funding of its elite athlete program.  Most of the articles and opinions I’ve read raised solid points, and I do believe Competitor Group has deserved its criticism.  I don’t really have much to add to the conversation, so instead of focusing this blog on an organization that doesn’t want to help runners, I would like to recognize some of the amazing groups that make professional distance running possible.  Since this list includes most of my racing schedule this fall, I thought it would be worthwhile to give praise where praise is do and unveil my racing schedule at the same time.  Also, this list isn’t comprehensive.  There are many more races that deserve a shout out.  However, I lose interest in a blog that is over a page, so I don’t want anyone to leave mid-blog. 

My first race this fall was the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler this past weekend put on by Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. and the Steel City Road Runners.  These folks generously fund a full and half marathon, a road mile and have added a 10 Mile this fall.  Additionally, they have announced a grant program for developing athletes.  Most importantly, they see the value in connecting the elite runners with the public.  For example, while the elites were in Pittsburgh, we met with the local running group for a run as well as a high team that had just finished their season.  I think this is the future of road running – trying to find ways to mingle the elites with the local running community to promote the race and enhance the appeal of those who pay to run.  In what other sport can the public compete at the same time and in the same arena as the professionals?  Three Rivers recognizes the value of elites and is dedicated to helping us while also improving the racing experience for other runners.

Two weeks later, I’m set to run the Big Sur Half Marathon in Monterrey, CA.  The race organizers in Monterrey earned much respect from me two years ago.  I had placed 4th in their race in 2011 finishing behind Ezykias(?) Sisay who later tested positive at another race for deer antler spray or whatever drug cheats are taking these days.  By the time the results from his failed drug test were in, the prize money had already been distributed to the top finishers.  The race didn’t have to take any action.  However, they took Sisay out of the results and sent checks to the runners that would have finished in the money had Sisay not run.  I doubt they were able to find Sisay to reclaim their first place prize purse, but that didn’t stop them from re-distributing the prize money.  I have a lot of respect for those that do the right thing when they don’t have to, and I’m honored to be running their race again this year.

Next, I’m returning to Costa Rica for a half marathon in San Jose.  This will be my second time racing in Costa Rica, and I hope it’s not the last.  The atmosphere at races there rivals that of major U.S. sporting events.  The other runners are excited about the elite race and winners spend the next hour after finishing taking pictures and signing autographs.  Given the enthusiasm for the elite race, organizers in Costa Rica have made a concerted effort to bring in elites and offer decent prize money as well.  Again, these organizers see the value that elites can bring to a race, and recognize that an elite competition can improve the overall experience of the race as a whole.  The professional running scene needs these individuals to survive, and thankfully we have many in the U.S. and around the world.   

I have a couple more races after Costa Rica and will talk about those next blog.            

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm not mad anymore

It's been 8 days since I toed the line for my second marathon and I am finally done crying. I tried to start this blog many times over the last week but just wasn't ready yet. After a lot of tears, anger, second guessing and doubts I feel like this is my final stage of "grief". I realize most people don't really care what did or didn't happen but this is my way of being done with it and moving on.

First let me say I have never been more confident in a race than I was when I stepped foot on the start line at Twin Cities. Every part of my build up went better than planned. I raced a lot more this build up and even on dead tired legs was able to get within seconds of my PR's every time, even on tough courses. Workouts were spot on and the paces even scared me at times. The night before the race Scott confirmed with me my game plan. Twin cities has an interesting but somewhat challenging course since the last 10k climbs a hill for the majority of it. The plan was to go out at 5:40 pace no matter if that meant I was running alone or in a pack. It was the pace I had been killing in long workouts and the pace Scott felt was right for me. Knowing the last 10k was going to be the hardest I knew I just had to be tough mentally and expect pace could drop just a hair with the same effort. My one and only goal that day was to break 2:30 and I was so confident in it I could see the clock in my head. I knew if I could break 2:30 placing would work itself out and even if I was 10th I'd be so happy with the effort. Scott has never given me a race plan that hasn't been accurate . He is one of the best coaches out there, giving us race plans and paces based off of the course and the work we have out in. I was 100% confident in what he had planned.

My splits
5:32, 5:49, 5:38, 5:32, 5:39, 5:41, 5:37, 5:38, 5:38, 5:37,5:43,5:43,5:45,5:49,5:43,5:50,5:49,5:56,5:55,5:53,6:12,6:31,6:38,6:26 and that's all I got I stopped hitting split.

The race went out exactly as I had planned. Sure the first mile was just a bit faster than I wanted but not crazy it would be ok. For the first half of the race the only person I knew was by me was Asfaw and I was happy to have company. We were very consistent hitting splits just as I wanted , sure a couple would be a second fast and some a second slow but I think that was the hills. My only problem was even before the race started my stomach was cramping and uncomfortable, but I chalked it up to race day jitters thinking like always once the race started it would be out of my head. Things were going so smoothly I couldn't even believe it. Miles were coming by faster than expected, I was getting my waters and gu easily and my legs felt completely relaxed. I was on a high! Until I took my gu and water around 11. My gu there had caffeine in it which I have taken before but it just seemed to push my cramping stomach over the edge. For the next six miles I didn't let it bother me. Sure it hurt but I was feeling too good other wise I was confident it was just runner belly and it would go away. But when I hit 17 I just couldn't control it anymore and I had to make a decision . Do I stop and use a bathroom really fast or just keep going and hope for the best. I couldn't decide what to do until we made a little turn and I noticed I had dropped Asfaw at this point I knew I had enough in me to keep pushing this pace to the finish so I wasn't going to stop. Sadly my stomach was too upset. By 18 I had gotten more room between me and the next girl but my stomach was getting worse and worse. I couldn't control it at all. In my head I thought the best thing to do was to stop taking my fluids and gu. I felt like it would just go right through me, besides I was only a little more than 10k out it would be fine. This may be the thing that ended up killing me but at the time it seemed logical I wanted this race so bad I could taste it. By 20 my stomach was so cramped up and my gi just wouldn't stop I kept trying to fight it but it just wasn't happening. Sometime before 21 Annie came up on me and I was in so much stomach pain I couldn't even fight it off. Yet in my head I thought just keep going you are still second and on a good pace. Shortly after she passed me though I couldn't give anything. I was running slower than I did on long runs. I don't remember a lot between 22-26 it was a really weird ,dizzy out of body kind of experience. I remember thinking just stop.stop at a medical tent but I just kept passing the, and pushing along. Portis passed me on the final uphill stretch either right before or right after 25 I'm not too sure. At this point I couldn't really see straight.everything was blurry and I was so dizzy all I could tell myself was run as close to the curb as you can. If something happens maybe you will fall into the grass. I can remember being really close to the spectators and the last thing I remember before the finish was seeing cute little Esther Erb and her cheek tattoo. Luckily i had asked kevin to be at the crest of the hill to cheer and push me into the finish because he saw me go down up the way from him. From what he says two guys helped me up and asked if I wanted medical, which of course I refused. Somehow I managed to push my way to the finish while asking my husband are any girls gonna catch me. What an idiot even when I'm out of it I can't turn the competition off. Kevin said when I ran towards him I looked like Slooth from the goonies and was really out of it. As soon as my legs stopped running they just gave out and I spent the next long while in the medical tent. Luckily Carolyn Mather was there to help me out. I was having a really hard time staying awake and the Dr's were trying to figure out if I hit my head when I fell. But when I finally snapped out of it Carolyn let me know I was 6th in 2:36 and that it was ok.

So fast forward. I finally found my way to my husband and as soon as I saw him tears were flowing. I was so mad. But let me clarify I was not mad at myself, my race plan, Scott, my training or anything like that. I was simply mad at my body. I had trained it to give me 100% on race day and it failed me. I still don't know what it was. For a couple days after I was still having issues and not feeling well. Maybe I got some kind of a bug or maybe I ate something bad. Typically after a race I have a day to be mad if it was bad and than I'm fine. I could not shake the marathon let down though. I was a real peach all week. I've gone through a lot of thoughts. One being maybe I should have just stopped. People have dropped out of a marathon for far less and I was really sick. I should have just realized it wasn't gonna be my day, cashed it in and done one in a few weeks. But would that have made me happy? No way a DNF is the worst feeling there is! Than I'd think we'll at least I got my A standard out of the way even on a awful horrible day. I'm proud of myself for fighting on when it got tough. The easy thing to do would have been to stop but I found out what I was made of and I found out I am a lot stronger mentally and physically than I ever thought I could be.

So the race didn't go as planned but what it did do was give me even more of a fire. Last year there was no way I would have ever pushed the pace and take the lead. I raced the marathon from the start and for that I am proud of myself. Do I think I should have sat back and waited to the last 10k? No for two reasons. One I would have ended up sick regardless and than I wouldn't have gotten the A standard. Second you will never ever find out what you are made of always taking the easy way. The good old saying you miss 100% of the chances you never take is true. If I could go back to that day I wouldn't change a thing. All the way down to becoming poop girl! Plus like a good friend told me. I have an awesome card to play on the kids now.
Oh that hurt
Oh that's hard
Oh it's the worst day ever
Oh you want to quit
Well it can not be as bad as loosing control of your bowel over and over in front of thousands of people and a camera crew to the point that you become so dehydrated you pass out!

See what can they say to that!

I now know not all is lost. I'm stronger for doing what I did. Running a marathon is already a up hill battle without your body physically fighting you. My next marathon can only be better. I appreciate all the emails, text and Facebook messages from people. Especially those of you who have been in this business a long time. It really did help me come to terms with everything!

So now what?
Well I'm already back to running two a days and feel great. Of course we will be careful jumping back in and I will listen to my body but I didn't end up with a marathon race I ended up racing 19-20 and running 6-7. Look for me at a marathon soon as long as all things cooperate.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Will You Think About?

Recently I have been asked a few times what I will think about during the marathon and it got me thinking. 26 miles is a long way to go. During said 26 miles I guarantee each one of us will be faced with negative thoughts and at that moment you find out what you are made of. I'm lucky that my family is so supportive and my Aunt Machell, uncle James, Kevin as well as Chase and Tripp will be there. So my positive thoughts will be easy to come by and just hearing them will remind me how much I wanted to be in this race.

I'll start by remembering how badly I wanted this while I was injured. I'll remember the tears I shed of frustration , the amount of times I just wanted to quit , how I never thought I'd be able to be competitive again and how far I have come since than. The only thing that got me through my injury last winter and the first couple weeks of workouts that I just felt awful was dreaming of the finish line at Twin Cities. I thought of the finish line during treatments , needling, massage, icing and cross training. I've been visualizing this race for a long time now and I finally feel ready to take it on.

Most importantly I will think of all the sacrifice my loved ones have made. Marathon training is a challenge and time consuming for anyone no matter their job and as a mom it can bring some big challenges.

*my husband*
I'll remember all the times my wonderful husband had to sacrifice his time at the gym so I could leave early in the morning to do workouts in Colorado Springs which is two hours away. I'll remember all the times he had to get a late start at work which isn't easy at all since he owns his own business and is the only one having to answer to his clients. I'll remember how some of his clients are so supportive knowing why he has to sacrifice time and all the well wishes they send with him. I'll remember all the meals he cooked that I should have cooked but was either too exhausted after a day of 20+ miles or I was out doing my second workout of the day and he had dinner ready for me when I got home. Ill remember how understanding he was on weekends when keeping my eyes open past nine was just not gonna happen. I'm going to remember how much love he threw at me when I was so down on myself coming back that I didn't ever think I could do it. It's because of him pushing me and reminding me what I'm capable of that I am at this point today.
*My kids*
Chase and Tripp have probably sacrificed more than anyone in this journey. When it all started I was just a mommy with no other care or responsibility in the world other than them. This year found me juggling them all over to get in training. These two boys would get carried to my car at 3:30 in the morning during their summer break so I could get to Colorado Springs for a workout. Some days they'd get left home with a sitter while I was in the springs and sacrifice some of the fun things we would normally do. They have to endure the crazy mom who is dropping them off at practice and strips down to her sports bra to go for a run around the fields. Or the mom that is so physically tired from her hard morning workout that she literally bribes them in to not going to the pool or lake and instead to see the new Chipmunks movie on a hot summer day. All because mom knew she could sneak in a little cat nap while the boys sat next to her entranced by the movie. The boys would even put up with bike rides in 100 degree weather so they could ride with mom when there was no onehome to keep an eye on them. Meals on the go, meals at parks during runs, these two troopers have been so good for me during this cycle.
*My Aunt, uncle and cousins*
Luckily for me I have these guys. They would wake up a couple hours before they had to on work days to help me get my kids out of the car from the long drive to the springs and they'd watch them. They would show up at local races to support me, take the kids at a moments notice even drive up and stay at my house to help with the kids when i was gone. They even travel to some races including NYC and this time TwinCities. The support is endless.
*Sammy and Rikki Houston*
These amazing girls were my go to all summer. Day in and day out one of these two would be at my house bright and early during their summer vacation to help out with the boys. I wont lie without these two I wouldn't have had such a good marathon cycle. When I was young there is No way I'd want to spend my summer getting up early everyday, sometimes even 5-6 am. What's better is the kids really enjoyed spending time with the so it made travel and training less stressful.
My neighbor is simply amazing! She is always picking up the slack for me. If a sitter can't make it, if kevin isn't around, if the boys didn't want to go with me on a run, you name it Ranisa was always there to take the boys at a moments notice. Sometimes for short periods other times for a whole day. She would even help Kevin when I was out of town. She is basically the boys bonus mommy. We would be heart broken if she ever left. Not to mention she is a great friend who listens to me feel sorry for myself, rejoice and just there to have a bottle of wine when needed.
*My coach Scott*
Scott has given me so much since I've started with him.he has taught me how to believe in myself and push myself harder than ever imagined. He is there for races, he is there for workouts and he is so supportive. Even when I think a workout is crazy and not doable i remember Scott would never set me up for failure and I get the job done. He has made me a runner I didn't think I could be.

Last ill remember the marathon is so much more than the race. I have goals for Sunday and I know I am capable of them but I also know the marathon is a journey. Race day is only the icing on the cake. I've become a much smarter and stronger runner this cycle. So no matter the outcome of Sunday I know I have come a long way in these last few months!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Pikes Peak Mile and the Granny-Shuffle

Not a ton of cool racing news going down right now, but this is a pretty accurate picture of the current state of things:
Anyway, hopefully we won't all be sloshing/swimming our way through runs for very much longer.

In other news running-related and otherwise, last month the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent crew decided to instate something new and put on the Pikes Peak Mile. This was a great one and took place at the tip-top of the Peak and was 6 loops in the dirt lot up there. The women's field was tiny this first year and composed of Nicole M., Adrian, Rochelle, and myself, but on the upside it was a BRC/adidas sweep (by default, but who's keeping track?). I think maybe this first time around everyone was sort of waiting to see
what would happen in terms of after-effects to the first batch of people idiotic enough to run it. They even had physiologists on hand taking all sorts of before and after readings, so we all lent ourselves to science. Although Tommy warned us against potential bloody phlegm, collapsed lungs, destroyed alveoli, irreversible recovery, and other dire consequences resulting from running an all-out mile at over 14,000 feet, I am pleased to say that none of the aforementioned ill effects occurred, and that I will happily go back for round 2 next year because it was a ton of fun. For the record, it feels like a normal mile race, just drastically slower with a slightly more accentuated than usual indoor-track-hack in the days following. But I did run my High School sophomore PR of 5:58 (woo!) and won $500. Probably the only time in my entire life I'll ever be able to say that I was paid $90-something dollars per minute. Yes, probably the only time. Ever.

That was sort of my Last Hurrah race before getting an angry meniscus taken care of. It was a long time coming as it had been a source of great irritation, frustration, limitation, inflammation, and consternation for about...oh, almost two years. After I finally got out of denial and came to terms with the fact that no, it's not going to fix itself (which is what they told me a long time ago, but let's not kid ourselves, runners have ignored doctors since the beginning of time and will likely continue to do so forever), yes it feels worse than it used to, and that yes someone else would have to fix it for me, I was at least thankful for the fact that I could more or less time it on my terms. So between the idea of playing Russian Roulette and hoping to get to Clubs and USA's with no guarantees and without doing more damage, versus biting the bullet, doing it now, and having the chance to get fit again in time for both, I opted for the latter. Big thanks to all of my running friends (you know who you are) who've dealt with the same thing and offered their extremely helpful advice as it never gets any less unnerving to let someone cut on you no matter how minor, which leads me to say thank you Dr. Peter Millet for doing such great work, and Kelly Haddock for jump-starting rehab.
^This was one day after, it looks waaaaay better now.^

So about 3 weeks post-op I was able to start some granny-shuffling, the duration's gotten longer over the last week but it's still the granny-shuffle. Not very far, not very fast, not every day, and definitely not twice a day. Yesterday Adrian and Christie blitzed by me on their long run and I was reminded of Cassie's quip the other day regarding being 8 months pregnant, out running, and unable to catch up to old ladies power-walking. These girls are definitely not old ladies power-walking, and I'm definitely not 8 months pregnant, but that's sort of what it felt like. I wasn't out for long but doesn't seem to take much to make the legs forget what "running" is. But during the times when the best you can do is take it a day at time, it always helps to keep the longer term in mind; where you want to be in 6 weeks (racing), where you want to be in 3 months (top-20 at Clubs...and by God we better win this year), and in a year (making a US mountain running team), it's a bit more encouraging and inevitably things always come around, all the drops in the bucket will eventually add up.

That's all I got right now, the pool beckons and hopefully next I'll have a post about a sweet race, can't wait to be back out there.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

El Reto Powerade

Last week I threatened to write another blog, and unlike my threats to discipline my daughter, I’m actually going to follow through on this one.  This week, I wanted to write about my most recent half marathon, which took place in Costa Rica about a month ago.  In professional running, you can sometimes find a competition that turns into something more than a race.  It becomes one of your life highlights – something you’ll eventually tell your kids about some day.  These experiences are extremely important for runners that don’t make Olympic teams because without them, your running tale is pretty much: “I ran a lot when I was younger, was really skinny, and ignored personal hygiene occasionally.”  These highlights come in many forms.  They can either be a PR, a victory, or some other set of unforgettable circumstances.  Everyone who runs knows what I’m talking about because everyone has had at least one of these experiences.  It’s why we keep running.

This past month, I took part in one of those lifetime highlight races.  The event was the Reto Powerade Half Marathon, and it took place in the capital of Costa Rica.  I was initially approached to run this race because a friend, Jeff Egglestein, was invited but instead chose to run some race in Russia (World Marathon Champs).  His gain turned out to be mine as well since I jumped immediately at the chance to race down south.  My wife then threatened to leave me if I didn’t take her along so the table was set for a nice Burrell outing to Costa Rica. 

I knew this race was different when I arrived at a pre-race press conference and was swarmed by folks in the media wanting an interview.  You could tell immediately that the public was interested in the elite race.  Now I’ve run in some huge races in the States with outstanding elite fields.  Races with long histories and importance in the communities that hold them.  Races with substantial buzz surrounding the event.  This was different.  The headline story of the Reto Powerade was on the potential winners of the race, whereas the headlines of U.S. races are centered on the event itself – the competitive race is a nice side story, but most participants and spectators aren’t really interested in who wins.  I’m not saying one is better than the other, but as a professional runner, the “cheeseball” in me enjoyed being the story of the race.  It was a ton of fun to live in the shoes of what I imagine a soccer or basketball player lives.  Where people don’t just enjoy you being out there.  They want you to win.

My initial impressions were confirmed during the race.  Throughout the 13.1 miles, I was accompanied by cars, bikes, motorcycles, and a helicopter all with cameras filming each step.  It was pretty amazing.  The downside was of course was being constantly filmed while having Tourrette Syndrome (a disorder I have that is characterized by involuntary facial tics).  When you have Tourettes, you eventually make some really strange looking faces and all of my great expressions were captured by Costa Rican media.  I ended up winning the race in a modest time (which I’m not going to divulge), and spent the next hour taking pictures with other finishers of the race.  Again, I can’t describe how fun it was to be treated like an actual athlete. 

After the race, my wife and I spent another week in the country with the elite coordinator and took pictures like this.  

It was definitely enough to keep me motivated to run for at least another year or so.  And for any Costa Rican runners that are reading this: You guys are simply the best.  I can’t wait to get back down there and run with you again.  Puravida.  


Many years ago Adidas consulted with Haile Gebrselassie, arguably the greatest distance runner ever, about a racing shoe. The result was the Adios, which would go on to hold numerous world records, world championships and major titles. The Adios graced the fast feet of some of the best runners in history, taking care of each stride and every step. It was the fastest shoe in the world. And it was only the beginning. 
Now, the whispers are getting louder. It’s time. Stories are floating around like lullabies about the arrival of what we believed to be a fictional shoe, a technology so advanced, it couldn’t possible exist in our lifetime. It’s time. Like the Second Coming of Christ, anticipation looms as the world prepares for the sun to get brighter, and the roads to get hotter.
The world’s fastest shoe, The Adios, just got a Boost.
Echoes down the dusty trails and roads are that the Adios Boost contains bubbles of joy and woe infused into the sole to insure that every step is fueled with Desire. Tears of Haile’s greatness, his sweat, and his Determination compacted into a shoe to be distributed to the world as the world’s fastest shoe. Don’t get left behind.
People thought the Adios was fast, and the Boost was faster. Like any good marriage, coupled together, The Adios + Boost = Greatness. Mixing two good things elevates them beyond measurements, beyond limits, and into the realm of Greatness. In a world where nothing compares, nothing can keep up, The Adios Boost has surpassed comprehension, as magic has been transformed into a shoe.  
And don’t be fooled. Don’t think this is coincidence. There’s a reason behind it all. There’s a reason they call it the “Adios”, and that it’s followed by “Boost”. There’s a reason the Road Runner beeps before he takes off down the road, the same way there’s a reason you say “GOODBYE!” before BOOST, you take off.
Now, everyone can get the chance to run in Greatness, and feel what it’s like to really have a Boost in your step. We all want to feel the joy of a Gold medal around our neck, the glimmer in the stadium lights after a hard fought Victory. We all want to feel the satisfaction of achieving our goals, and making our dreams become reality. We all want to sprint down the final straight in a 7.7oz Adios Boost across the finish line, light as a feather and strong as a bull. Michael Johnson had his Gold spikes in 96’, now the world has the Adios Boost. Now we all get to taste Gold, it’s not chocolate, and we all get to see the olive wreath up close. Just like Haile, we can run with wings at our feet and Desire in our heart. 
Because now with the Adios Boost, we get to run in Greatness. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reflections of a Scholar

It’s been years since my last blog, and since I’ve graduated, taken the bar and don’t have a job, I have a little time on my hands to write.  Now that I have a moment, I can’t help but reflect on my running career during these past 3 years of law school.  There were some incredible highs – making a World Half Team, placing 15th at the Olympic Trials in a debut marathon and setting personal records in the 10k, 10 Mile, Half Marathon and Marathon.  However, I also dropped out of more races in the past 3 years than in my entire running career combined.  For the most part though, I feel I’ve enjoyed mostly success since I made the choice to leave the professional running scene in Flagstaff, AZ.  It is this decision that I’ve begun to analyze a bit deeper.

For those of you that didn’t know (which is probably all of you because, let’s face it, distance running updates aren’t really covered by ESPN), I began my professional running career in Flagstaff, AZ.  I relocated to the sleepy mountain town right after finishing my undergraduate at the University of Georgia.  Coming out of college, I felt I had a ton of room to improve and it was only a matter of time until I became one of the top distance runners in the world (ha).  For 2 years, I put all of my efforts into running.  That was my sole purpose.  I had a small job on the side, but I was there to run and run fast.  I had some pretty positive results – setting a 3k pr of 7:52 (about an 8:24 2-mile), finishing in the top 5 in the 5k US Championships, and competing for the U.S. in Japan.  However, much of my time in Flagstaff was not enjoyable.  There were many months of dealing with sickness, breathing problems, fatigue and other running related issues.  I found myself unhappy frequently. 

Looking back, the problem was rather simple.  My sole source of happiness was derived from running.  If I wasn’t running well, there was nothing else I was pursuing that could give me that feeling of accomplishment.  This is a huge problem because athletes in endurance sports can’t be in top physical form for very long (unless you’re a freak or doped out of your mind).  So if you can’t enjoy yourself during periods of poor running, you need to find something to fill that void.  At least that’s what I needed.  I think some of the best advice I’ve heard for running is to not let your highs be too high and your lows be too low. 

It was during a rough stretch in 2009 that I decided I needed to find something else to focus on besides running.  I had just dropped out of the Boston Indoor 5k and was quite downtrodden.  When you’re a “running serf” like I am, you only get a handful of chances to make it in this sport.  That was my chance, and for whatever reason, God told me right then (in an awesome southern accent) “Burrell, son, you’re probably not going to make a living as a professional athlete.”  So I started getting my stuff together to enroll in law school – it had always been my intention to go to law school, but I was hoping it would be after a couple Olympic trips.  No such luck. 

The decision to go back to school turned out to be the best one I ever made for my running career.  Aside from running in Adidas shoes of course – seriously, I do like Adidas running shoes.  School provided an outlet for when I wasn’t running well.  If I didn’t have a good work out, I’d concentrate on school a little harder.  I didn’t have to worry about performing in races because it wasn’t my primary purpose in life anymore.  Of course, I never lost my competitiveness and always put forth my best effort, but things were a little different nevertheless.  If the race didn’t go well, I didn’t have that sense of panic I did in Flagstaff.  Eventually, I started having some of the best races of my life.   

So I guess the overall message I wanted to convey to other runners with similar personalities is to not let running be your sole source of happiness.  Now I do want to acknowledge that I do know people that are perfectly happy with sleeping and breathing only running, which is perfectly fine if you’re wired that way.  However, if you’re similar to my personality and you’re feeling stale and depressed with your running, take that opportunity to find something else to pursue.  You don’t necessarily have to give running up, but make sure to take a mental break to succeed at something else.  When you turn your focus back to running, I think you’ll find a new, invigorated attitude towards the sport. 

I actually have a lot more to say about the past three years and my overall running career, but the blog is already too damn long and I’m not nearly as entertaining as Bill Simmons (pre-Grantland of course).  So I’ll save my other sweet insights for another day.    

Monday, August 5, 2013

Off the Grid

Who would've ever thought that the advent of social media could make running feel so...complicated sometimes. I didn't really think all that much about it until I listened to a little spiel that one of our very own local (well, technically he's not local...he's British) Olympians, Gary Staines, gave to a group of kids at a running camp last week. He talked about a lot of stuff, some of which was about how competitive running today is so much more stressful--at every level--than it ever used to be, partly because everyone knows what everyone else is doing, whereas back in the day you just kind of trained and found out what you should and shouldn't do through trial and error. He didn't ever directly mention the social media and Instant-Access-to-All-Things-Running aspect of things, but when you think about it, that's sort of what really shrunk the running world. Well, and the actual world too.

I'm pretty thankful the whole Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Letsrun era didn't really exist when I first started running in high school. At that early stage, I had no idea how much I would have to do to improve on my 30-odd minute 5k times, I didn't even know what a good 5k time was, or where I actually stacked up against anyone. I just knew in my naive 14 year old brain that I went from being so far behind the race that people didn't know I was in the race, to actually being a mid-packer (in the JV race! Wooo!) in a single cross country season, and boy was I pumped. I thought I was improving in leaps and bounds, and I guess I was, but to be fair the improvement curve is bound to be huge when you have nowhere to go but um...waaaaaay up. But on paper it sure as heck wasn't impressive by any stretch of imagination. 25-28 minute 5k's certainly don't turn any heads anywhere. Heck, 10 minutes faster than that and it still wouldn't turn heads. Had I gone and looked up Colorado rankings on Milesplit.com (it didn't exist then) or checked out Footlocker (isn't that just a store?) rankings on Letsrun (never heard of it) or whatever, I probably would have given up just looking at the crazy fast nationally-ranked times girls ran. What I'm trying to say is that to be blunt, I was terrible, but I had no idea just how terrible, I was just having fun and getting better and that was all I knew and it was GREAT. You couldn't just access a million running stats at the effortless click of a mouse and compare yourself to everyone. And thank goodness. Complete ignorance really can be bliss.
That following summer, when I decided I really wanted to be better because I was on fire after my oh-so-successful track season when I had managed to break, nay, DESTROY the 7 minute mile barrier (6:56 baby! And I didn't know that was not even kind of fast), I decided to bust my a** all that summer and just knock out those 15 mile weeks like a boss. In my defense, our school was big on wrestling and football, definitely not running, and I trained by myself because for the most part, no one really knew what "training in the off-season" meant, much less that you should actually do it. And I didn't know that you should do it either, I just liked doing it. So I made my long runs a whopping 40 minutes, I never ran on the weekends, and I certainly never ran--or had even heard of running--twice a day. Who does that? Probably the entire Smoky Hill cross country team did, and they were a total powerhouse. But I had no way of knowing that because I wasn't reading any of their blogs because there were no blogs. Come to think of it, "blog" was not even a word then. Anyway, by the time my senior year rolled around, I won our league and region, placed 19th at State in cross country, and broke 5:20 for a mile in track, I credited it to moving up to those insane 25-30 mile weeks, and I thought that's what people meant when they talked about "high mileage," aaaand....I still didn't run on the weekends unless we had a race. At that time, nobody was Tweeting or Facebooking about their huge workouts or their splits or how many miles they hit that week, but if they would have been, I probably would have been trying to do the same thing just because I was competitive and liked the idea of outworking everyone, but thanks to my completely blissful ignorance I didn't know what "outworking" would actually entail. And who knows? Maybe I would have been better had I known any, well, better, but since I didn't even know what I didn't know, I thought I was doing stuff right and there was no comparing or self-doubting going on because that just isn't really possible when you're living in your own little vacuum. I got better because I had no way of knowing what all I wasn't doing. Really, it was so simple.

Fast-foward to the present, now it's like constant bombardment. You don't really even have to go looking for it. Just log onto Twitter and you'll probably see no less than 20 peoples' workouts pop up in less than about 30 seconds. It's definitely not all bad though, especially if you're a nerd and you take interest in these things. Sometimes you can learn some interesting stuff, plus this sport could certainly use more popularity. It's great to see so much social media all over the place promoting runners and races and rankings and workouts and times. And it's impressive to hear about this runner doing X amazing workout and how they run (insert enormous triple-digit number here) miles a week with X number of super-complicated interval sessions to attain such-and-such a standard for so-and-so race. And if they're not doing all of the above listed things, they're doing this YouTubed core workout in the weight room (make sure to flex those abs in that Facebook pic), or doing plyometrics that some other runner blogged about, or Instagramming their Olympic-caliber dinner, or maybe supplementing (and Tweeting) on the Alter-G before Facebooking a photo of their legs in the ice bath. Oh, and don't forget to take a selfie with the track in the background, and make sure you have a nice sheen of sweat on your face for that one.
Sometimes it gets a tad over the top.

But again, it's all great to a point. Most runners have a lot of passion for what they do and when you have a good day, it feels great to not be the only one who knows about it. On top of that, it's pretty human and perfectly acceptable to want other people to take an interest in what we ourselves are interested in. But on the other end of the spectrum, sometimes you have to get away from all that...noise--for lack of a better word--or you get to wondering if you're doing anything right or if everyone else knows all these magical secrets that you don't, and do they ever have a bad day? By the tone of their Tweets it sure doesn't sound like it.

Running's already competitive enough on the actual race-course without being competitive in the virtual "world" on top of that. Every time I've ever started to go backwards with it all, it was because rather than staying any actual course, I was trying to emulate what I heard that somebody else was doing, because they seemed to be having more success, so surely it must be "right." Had I not known about it, I wouldn't have felt compelled to compete with it. Kinda makes me miss not knowing any better, because maybe it was better that way. Sometimes "ignorance" and simplicity can really be the way to go. Sometimes you gotta get off the grid.

And now in a final twist of irony, I'm going to post this on my Facebook!

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Real" Life

It sort of gives me a chuckle when I remember my little-kid-self: being like 7 years old and envisioning myself by the time I was 20 or 25 (because back then that seemed like a very old and adult-like age) and how by then I would be oh-so mature and wearing like, pencil skirts and carrying a briefcase and a latte' to my real job while talking on a cell phone the size of Derek Zoolander's, and having a husband and 3 kids (specifically 3, because see with 2 kids you run the risk of them having a falling-out in the future and no other siblings to fall back on, and only-children are sort of hit or miss as far as how they turn out) because I thought that was just what grown-ups did and by the time I was 20-25 I would be a GROWN UP. Granted, 20-plus years later I know that the aforementioned lifestyle would be tremendously ill-suited to my personality, so I'm thankful I was a little off in my predictions.

But at the same time it does kind of amaze me how myself and many others that I know more or less use running as an excuse to avoid moving on with "real life", and how it seems completely normal, and actually that it seems so normal that I'm not really sure if it's not normal. I guess if you're making a legitimate living at this sport, that's a totally understandable approach; it pays the bills, and it is a career, a temporary career, but still a career. But that's not most runners, that's hardly even some runners, such is the somewhat sad state of this sport at the professional level. For the rest of us however, the Not-Really-Pros-But-Trying-Really-Damn-Hard-To-Be-Pros, I'm not really sure if it's just a selfish pursuit that may or may not ever go anywhere, and even if it does go anywhere, is "anywhere" even a real accomplishment? Even if you medal at the Olympics are you actually doing anything for humanity? Probably not, but in the athlete-mind whether you do something huge like that or you run a PR in a rinky-dink race, it feels pretty freakin' good, and it feels like a real accomplishment even though 7 billion-odd other people don't care about it. And realistically since those running accomplishments are not accomplishments that you will be physically able to attain for your entire life, that's when putting Life on the back-burner in order to pursue those accomplishments--however modest they may be on the grand stage--starts to feel completely legitimate. If anyone caught the last Oatmeal, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (specifically Part 3: Selfishness and Krakens) it articulates this feeling with absolute flawlessness. This pretty much sums it up spot-on:

(For a more complete and thoroughly amusing explanation of this, follow http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running3).

Anyway, so we have this Fun Run at the BRC every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., (shameless plug), and this past week one of the kids there, a TWELVE year old no less, was making fun of us. She was telling us we're like a bunch of little kids. To be fair, at the moment Birdsong was juggling massage balls and Tommy was...well, being Tommy. And the argument at the moment was over who was a bigger "jerkface" (for the record, she decided I'm the least of a jerkface between the three of us). So really, her assesment of us was completely justified and quite astute. In any case, a twelve year old basically just called us immature.

"YEAH SO WHAT? WE'RE LIKE LITTLE KIDS AND WE NEVER GROW UP AND WE SPENT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON COLLEGE DEGREES THAT WE AREN'T EVEN USING," was Tommy's comeback (it's in all caps because he's loud). Sad. But so true. And I'm pretty sure we're all using running to make it feel more acceptable.

I do have a few friends though who are kicking ass on the running scene and they have jobs that they can make a career out of and that they can retire doing, and they have Masters' degrees or PhD's, and they pay mortgages instead of rent, and they're married, and they have kids, and they're going to the Trials every four years and running A-standards and such. It's amazing. I admire the heck out of that. But also I have absolutely no idea how they pulled all of that off. There's a million things I like doing...I really like running, but that won't buy food or pay bills because you certainly don't see me at the Olympics. And I really like writing too, but most of it makes little sense to anybody except for me (case in point: this post) and I'm not banking on the idea that anybody is actually going to pay me money to read entire books' worth of this stuff. So the long in the short is I have no idea what I really want to do, except that I do, but realistically all of my brilliant ideas are not really all that do-able unless I want to live in a lean-to made from a cardboard box behind 8th Street Wal-Mart, and I'm 27 entire years old, and that freaks me out.

And then your parents think you're wasting your life, and then every time you see people you haven't seen in a while (usually at other friends' weddings, because while you were out running they were out finding their soul-mates) and they've gotten married or had a family or have a 6-figure job now, or they've gone overseas and saved thousands of orphans in Rwanda and you're just like, "Um I PR'ed in the 5k last spring, and also I transitioned to a more minimal shoe," And you feel satisfied and, more importantly, happy with that, and they're looking at you and nodding and smiling just to humor you. And you know this. So then in a last-ditch effort to save yourself you start talking about your (imaginary) plans for graduate school, but then your ship is sunk when they ask you what you want to study and you don't have a ready answer. And sometimes you walk away feeling somewhat inadequate and like you're still that 7 year old envisioning yourself someday with pencil skirts and latte's and Derek Zoolander's phone. But at the same time you don't feel truly inadequate because you got better at something you really care about, even if it doesn't effect anybody else, and plus that "other" life just sounds so...blah. Yet on some level, you know you should feel inadequate. It's very confusing.

Then again, even the people who have made it to the top of the sport and have a truly legitimate reason to use running as an excuse to avoid so-called "real life" because it HAS been their job, seem to have some of the same worries. I'm not a huge blog-follower, but Molly Pritz wrote a fabulous bit about the less wonderful aspects of what it's like to put everything on hold for running and pursue it as an actual career, and the anxiety that comes with trying to figure out where to go after it's over one day:

Running as a job is a very tiny basket in which to put all of your eggs. So as dream-like and glamorous as it seems from afar, I have to admit that I'm not sure how jealous I truly am.

I suppose when it all comes down to it then, choosing to feel "inadequate" because you haven't got it all figured out, and for the time being your pursuit of running is doubling as both something that you love doing, yet also as a salve of sorts to dull that feeling of cluelessness and to put off the inevitable Figure-It-Out part of life, because after all you ARE trying to go to the Trials one of these days. Important buisiness! So I guess inadequacy is a chosen feeling. I guess at the end of the day if you are getting a wee bit better--even if you're the only one who will ever know or hear about it--at something you absolutely love, and it makes you happy, then it's not completely aimless or pointless. But then again, I could just be making excuses.

Friday, July 12, 2013

No one said it would be easy but EVERYONE said it would be worth it

Well a lot has happened since my last post. I've started to learn how to race again and had a few respectable, if not exactly what I wanted, showings.

*Bolder Boulder 10k 36? Maybe and 4th female
*USA 25k champs 1:28:52 good for 6th. My highest USA champs placing.
*new York mini 10k 34:03
*USAhalf champs 1:13:17
*USA 10k champs 34:21 for 13th american (24th overall)

I am going to be the first to tell you that coming back from injury was not all rainbows and sunshine. I think I thought that since I got injured in the best shape of my life I'd come back fast. I cannot tell you the amount of time I spent on my Elliptigo in the rain, sun, snow and ice plus the hours I spent at the gym and PT. I had this crazy thought that I would come off of injury and be right back to my old self. Ha! It was ugly. A 30 minute run felt like death. I felt like a seriously over weight, out of shape, near never gotten off the couch with my bag of potato chips and beer woman. I am not gonna lie to you. I was weak minded at the time, which is my biggest annoyance, I thought more than once of quitting. I had the "well really I'm just a mom who did ok mixing it up with the big dogs. Why not just walk away now and know you did ok". Luckily my mom raised me to not ever quit before you have give it every damn thing you had and even than you keep fighting. So I kept slugging along. Honestly I had no business toeing the line in DC. My workouts had been mediocre at best and I was just afraid to run. All I can say is I'm glad I had a coach to push me to do it. Had not done that race I'd still be slugging along scared. So I owe a big thanks to Scott,for so many things, but most of all right now for making me stop being a damn cry baby!

What's changed since the 10 mile? Well I made the decision to start heading to the Springs for a workout a week. Trust me when my alarm goes off at 3:30am on those days I really contemplate my sanity, but it's what's right for me. Don't know if you have noticed or not but my two teammates Brianne and Mattie have been killing it on the roads. I figured if I head down to do speed work with them it would give me no choice but to do it and do it fast or get left in the dust. Plus it has proved invaluable to have Scott on hand for workouts. One of the biggest challenges I've noticed post injury is remembering how to hurt. In races and workouts I'd get to a point that if it was uncomfortable I'd just slow down I mean I was injured forever really I should be going slower. Well that thinking doesn't work when you are with Mattie, Scott and even Curtis (Mattie's hubby). While I'm sure if Kevin were out on a workout yelling at me to go faster or telling me to get up with Mattie I may punch him, with Curtis it actually helps and makes me do it. Hmmm......maybe that's why Kevin won't take up running :) Anyway working out with my team has helped a lot. While my great workouts haven't really shown up completely in a race I know eventually it will. I am just really happy right now to be mixing it up with some great ladies again. I just keep going out with the pack and hoping one of these days soon I won't get shot off the back!

What's next? Well guess what? It's marathon training time and I am SO damn excited I can't control myself. I have to be totally honest I do not enjoy most of the speed training stuff. It hurts, I'm old and I do not have good fast twitch muscles. BUT I know the 10k training will make me a faster marathoner so I do it and don't complain (ok I did complain when I had to do mile repeats on the track) but this marathon stuff....now THAT is fun. I am ready for the long grueling workouts that make me contemplate my sanity. I'm ready to see what my body can do. I'm ready to get a new marathon PR and really race the whole marathon without being terrified. There are a lot of amazing options in the Fall. Part of me really really wanted to go back to NYC and do what I had set out to do last year, part of me wanted to try Chicago since so many ran so great there last year but ultimately I love doing the USA championship circuit so I will head to Twin Cities this year. Hopefully I'll be running marathons again and again and will have my shot at going back to the always wonderful NYC marathon as it is for sure a must do! This time around I want to do all the little things even if I don't feel like I have time. I want to make time to get to the gym and lift to keep those hips strong and healthy, I should probably start doing core again instead of choosing the glass of wine over it! I really want to incorporate my Elliptigo in for extra training.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Running in (lots of) circles...

Runners are often characterized as being a touch eccentric, and admittedly, that reputation is sometimes well deserved. For example, just a few days ago I was preparing to race 10K at the Portland Track Festival and my thoughts were something along the lines of “it’s only 25 laps, that doesn’t sound very long, I bet it will go by really fast.” That’s a perfectly sane perspective, right?

This weekend marked a lot of firsts for me—first outdoor track race outside the state of Colorado, first 10K on a track, first time getting to starting line after my usual bedtime. In running, as in life, every new experience comes with equal measures of potential and risk. It’s exciting to try something new, to have the opportunity to achieve at a new level; at the same time, the unfamiliarity of new challenges can sometimes mean that you don’t get it right the first time and leave unsatisfied. But you have to risk failure to find out what’s possible…

And so I found myself in the middle of the Portland Track Festival 10K on Friday night wondering how I deluded myself into thinking that 25 laps would go by quickly—the first few weren’t too bad, but after the initial early-race excitement wore off, I realized that running 10K on track is an exercise of persistent focus. It’s not as simple as just setting out at a certain effort and spacing out for 25 laps; a difference in pace of 1 second per lap adds up quickly when you’re running 25 of them. Every lap was an intentional effort to fight for every second, or every tenth of a second, that I could manage. One thing I didn’t have to focus on was keeping track of my progress circling the track—between the lap counter (which was great for such encouraging mid-race thoughts as “great, 5 laps down, only 20 to go”) and the announcer (who updated entire stadium on our progress every 200m—“they’ve got 8 laps in the bank, they’ll come around 17 more times this evening”), at least I had that covered.  

The end result of this mental and physical battle? The Portland Track Festival was a fantastic meet, and I was fortunate this weekend to leave with a feeling that this debut was an overall success. I set a new 10K PR (in total, this spring I’ve improved my 10K time by over 2 minutes) and even managed an unofficial PR in the 5K at the halfway mark. Despite this exciting result, I left feeling that there were a few things I would do differently next time and that I have room for more improvement in this event. It is this state of simultaneous satisfaction and dissatisfaction that drives me to keep training, to constantly push the limits of what I can do. While I am still waiting to regain normal feeling in my calf muscles (25 laps in spikes—enough said), I am excited to get back to training and to start chasing new goals, no matter how distant they seem at first.