Thursday, March 7, 2013

Always Looking Forward

You guys, Ragnar was amazing. Actually, during the race I thought it ranked 3rd among my Worst Decisions Ever, but that's just because everything on my body hurt. The thing is, when you sign yourself up to do something hard, and it hurts, and you're afraid of the pain, and you do it anyway, it means you're LIVING OUTSIDE the rut.

You know, that freaking rut that is so easy to fall into and get stuck in, that rut that so many people live in without even noticing. So YAY FOR NO RUTS!

Woohoo for challenging yourself, and
YIPPEE for the confidence you get from doing something hard.

I wish all this didn't sound cliche, I wish I could get people to understand that they, in their ruts, are not stuck there. YOU are not stuck.


Here is the best part of Ragnar for me:

That right there is my one and only true love Jeff, who ran along side me with water and chapstick, and brought me Gu gels even when I snapped at him "JUST GIVE THEM TO ME" out of the desperation of my crying muscles. He stayed up a day and night and day driving and navigating and supporting, and I'm pretty sure the balance of awesomeness has shifted in our household, because he is the Greatest Guy Ever and I can't even begin to deserve him. He is a gift to me from God. Also, our team of Cholla Chicks and Cholla dudes (don't care for the Cholla Pricks or Dicks designation, if I'm being honest) is the most awesome and wonderful group of people ever.

Also, just look at that scenery!

The Finish Line: we thought it was a myth!

So! Next up! I am injured, and broken down. Not complaining, just pointing out the perfect timing because in about 12 hours I leave for Egypt! And there will be No Running In Egypt. I am just beyond excited about this opportunity and can't wait to share it with you. Until next time!  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Running is Not a Team Sport...?

Until a couple of years ago, I always ran by myself. I thought other people would hold me back or push me too hard, and I liked the convenience of going whenever I wanted. And all these things are still true! But then I was introduced to group running through my awesome Cholla Chicks. They push me, support me and drink with me and I am a thousand times better at running because of them. They helped me identify as a runner instead of just a person who goes running for exercise, which in turn connected me to a whole bunch more awesome people!

These are some examples of the intrepid Cholla Chick 
 (Chollus Chickii) species, known for their extreme endurance

I say that to say this: Ragnar is this Friday!  Listen, all races are fun for me. Short ones, long ones, obstacle courses, the burlap sack race at the company picnic. But there is nothing like an endurance relay. We're doing an Ultra team, which means six of us take turns running 212 miles total. But the relay legs are only a part of it. While one person is running, the other five of us, our loyal and stupendous driver/navigators, and our two satellite pilots leapfrog the course cheering, providing support, giving fuel, planning ahead, encouraging, and generally being freaking wonderful to each other. We go for 30+ hours with no sleep on dead legs, and the only thing each of us wants is for the other five girls to do great. Marriage is intimate, but not as intimate as Ragnar.

Endurance runners are a unique bunch of freaks.  Here's a quote from my friend Carl--we went to high school together eons ago, haven't seen each other since:

The thing that I love the most about the Run/Endurance culture is that we are linked by a bond that is forged by shared exhilaration and suffering. You and I were never more than passing acquaintances during our time in school, but late in life I know that in you I have a "sister in pain" that shares a unique bond that can only be known by those that have bled on the same field of battle. Congrats on your accomplishment. Rest and dream. It's time to start Triathlon Training. : )

Let's just push the triathlon suggestion to the back burner, shall we?? But you see what I mean. You haven't experienced closeness until you've sat in a van with someone who has sweated intensely for 18 hours, smells like rotten buttcrack, and still wanted to hug them because they got a half marathon PR in the middle of a 16-mile leg.

When we ran this race last year (described here in my friend Mandi's blog), I felt so much more exhilaration at the end than I generally do after a race.
Maybe it's because I ran with these crazies

This race takes all my favorite parts of running and jams them together for a day and a half, and then we get to drink beer at the end. What could be better?

Wish us luck!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Nearly Lost My Life in a Portapotty

Good morning friends! Wait, it's afternoon. Good afternoon.

I realize that I owe you a post--it's been two weeks since my marathon--but life happens, you know? Time flies. Mountains move. Babies are born and grandfathers die.

So! The marathon. All that training paid off--I hit my goal time! And I never have to run another marathon again. Except...I think I could do better. This time, it only took me 36 hours to change my mind and decide to do another.

The day started perfectly. I was feeling great after the taper and several weeks of healthy eating. It was about 45 degrees at the starting line. I started at what felt like an easy pace, which was 8:30. I meant to run 8:55 all the way through but I felt so good that I kept going. Mistake! I'll tell you why later. Wait, you know why, right? You can't bank time. You stick to your plan. Everyone knows this. But my dang legs betrayed me.

5 miles in, my belly started to rebel. This is par for the course--it's not a long run unless I feel like I'm going to poop myself at least three times. I veered off to the portapotty and then things got ugly. It was already full to within a foot of the perch and I was scared for my butt.  What if there was splashing and something got on me? I performed the Outhouse Maneuver (you may be familiar, it's like a squat but your arms carry part of the weight by bracing between the toilet paper holder and the door handle). The portapotty was vibrating. VIBRATING! Like it was about to burst and spew forth! I'd be famous!

"Local Runner, 39, Swept Away in Toilet Tsunami" 

It didn't happen and I survived. That was fine, but there was no toilet paper OF COURSE so I had to sacrifice a glove (gloves are great for outhouse emergencies, wiping snot, etc. $1.50 for two pairs at Target! You're welcome).

You thought this was a running blog, not a pooping blog? I'm so sorry for the misunderstanding.

After miles 10-13, I decided This Isn't Fun Any More and thus began the battle between my body, my mind and my soul. It sucked. I started to slow my pace. At mile 20 I had a surprise pick me up when I saw my smoking hot husband on the sideline cheering for me. Yay! I hadn't expected that. I picked up the pace for about 50 yards and calves cramped. I will spare you the description of each agony-filled mile, but let me tell you that getting stabbed with a kitchen knife hurts less than six miles of calf cramps (stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, every freaking step). I kept going because my watch said I could still hit my goal. There was something wrong with the finish line (it kept getting farther and farther away) so the last 1.2 miles were actually 452 miles long. And I ran them at an average 9:30 pace, WAY over my planned pace. And ran straight through the finish line to the medical tent.

Whatever, who cares, I finished in 3:55:57, and I never want to see a 4 at the front of my time again! YAY!

HUGE thank you to my mom (a friend of runners) and Amy (a friend and runner) who rubbed the cramps out of my calves and poured chocolate milk into my body, gallons at a time.

A massive thank you to the hundreds of volunteers and workers who made it such a great event. 

And a ginormous thank you to my family and friends who are so supportive and lovely to me all the time.

Next up is the Ragnar Del Sol relay in less than three weeks with my CHOLLA CHICKS! Woohoo!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

OHMYGOSH I'm So Nervous!

Wooo! It's a mere five days until my first marathon in three years! Are you scared? You should be, and here's why. I want to break 4:00:00. It's a huge goal, HUGE. Picture a cumulonimbus cloud with the words "four hours!" printed on it in large fluffy letters, attached to me by a string, floating above my head everywhere I go since October. Yeah, that's what it feels like. I'm in great shape, I've stuck to my plan, I've lost a few pounds, I didn't miss any long runs, and my pace is where it should be.

Why the fear you ask? Because now is the perfect, most lesson-bestowing time for God to say from on high, "Whooaaaaa, back it up Spooky! Quit feeling so proud and self righteous! You wouldn't even have legs if it weren't for Me!" At which point I get struck by lightning or contract Hepatitis or what have you so that I can learn humility.

All perfectly true and valid. I know the truth is that I could never do this distance running without all the blessings I've been given (strong legs, spare time, safe neighborhood, supporting husband, great friends). It's easy to think it's all my hard work that's gotten me here, but how far would I get without those blessings? YEAH.

To bring my point to a close, something inside my foot hurts. I want the goal, but I might have to be okay with not getting there because my foot is wiggety wack, and I have to be okay with that. It's a privilege to be healthy and I'll enjoy it either way. Right? Right. BUT I REALLY REALLY WANT IT.*

I went out and bought a new outfit for race day. It's a clown-colored rainbow of brightness. Luckily I decided against the rainbow socks.

Do these pants make my butt look fa(s)t?
Believe me when I say the tights are a bilious purple!  I took them out for a test run today to make sure they have the most important elements: No chafing, no riding up and down, and no visible crotch sweat patterns. 
There's another bonus to this outfit, too. When God decides that I'm too prideful and causes me to trip at the starting line and be trampled by tens of thousands, and you're watching the news that night with the headline Marathon Mayhem, you'll say:
"Hey, that's Christy Albers!....I recognize her Clown Pants!"
Simplicity of recognition. It's what I strive for. 
I hope you have a great week, folks! Tune in next time for the results show.
Does it count as carb loading if it's five days early?

*Please note that this is not one of those preemptive thingamajigs where I fail utterly and then come back and point out "I SAID my foot hurt, it's not my fault!" I'm just MENTIONING it is all.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

This is why I like running!

Today is exactly why I like running.

Except for this!:
Cheap Socks: At Least They're Green

Don't worry, I finally bought real socks and threw these away. But back to my point...

I was grumpy and irritated this morning because some annoying things happened. They were out of my control, but they still made those little glands shoot chemical stress into my blood stream. But around 1:30 I went for a run. It was chilly but sunny, and I headed out for 4 miles in the park. 

There was a light breeze so fall leaves were scattering across the path. People were playing frisbee and fishing. Little kids were riding bikes and skating. I saw some kind of  Native tribal dance happening, and even the kids were in costume and participating, so cool! Other runners said hello. And as I ran, the stress of the day was pounded down through my quads and calves, out the balls of my feet into the ground.
Training for distance runs is hard, grueling, time-consuming and sometimes tedious. There are rewards, sure. But a 20-mile training run is not fun in any way. Being done with it is nice. Having accomplished something difficult is great. A marathon is thrilling, rewarding of course, and satisfying. But it hurts from head to toe, mentally and physically.

Sometimes, you have to set aside the training plan and the goals and timing and pace and just...have fun. And that's what I did today.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Resolutions! Such as they are.

Hi all, I hope you had a very merry Christmas or what have you!

Today's workout-- I felt like I was running super fast, and I decided that because it's so cold, my thigh fat froze solid, causing it to jiggle less. If you follow the laws of physics you know that less jiggling = more forward motion. It's Newtonian law. Ergo, if I lose weight, I'll run faster. SCIENCE FOLKS.

So! That being said, I'm laying out my New Years Resolutions.  I do them every year, and usually I follow through. The ones I didn't finish were kind of over-ambitious (learn Brahms' Rhapsody No. 2 on piano? Yeah, I bought the sheet music, muddled through it once, and thought "well crap"). As I am sure you remember from your management trainee classes, goals should be specific, measurable and attainable. One year, my friend Ann-Margret and I vowed to run in at least one 5k a month, and we did. In 2012, I wanted to run 1,000 miles, and I have (1297 as of this morning). I also read the whole Bible instead of in bits and pieces, continued exercising, and started counting my blessings every day all as part of my resolution-keeping. What I'm saying is, I take this seriously.


1. Lose weight. HAHAHA, you're thinking. I lose the same dang 15 pounds every year--sometimes twice! But this year I'm changing it up. In the interest of long-term health, my resolution is NOT to lose 15 pounds. No, I need to sustain it. So this year, to get specific and measurable: I will weigh xxx* on March 19, June 19, September 19 and December 19, which is my 40th birthday. And by 40th, I mean 26th again (obviously).

*You'll never know! Just kidding, I'll probably forget I posted this and tell you how much I weigh later.

2. Break 4:00 in a full marathon. This isn't really a resolution, it's a goal. And my marathon is in January, so it's not a year-long thing. But I'm putting it here because if I do it, I can check it off my list! And if I don't, maybe JUST MAYBE I AM NOT PROMISING I can sign up for another later in the year.

3. Not sure how to put this in words, but I want to stop letting things sneak up on me. Like, I'll get a call that it's my nephew's 13th birthday tomorrow and think "What? How did this happen? Isn't he 9? Isn't his birthday in January? Oh wait it IS January! Crud!" Or, my sister-in-law was having a baby and for MONTHS I thought, "I should start planning the shower" and suddenly it was only a month away. You know what? I need a personal assistant. But since I'm not rich, I need another plan.

To start, I got a tiny pocket calendar and I'm slowly entering birthdays and anniversaries. I'm going to start planning events farther ahead then next weekend, too. And instead of just entering the event itself on the calendar, I'll enter "start getting ready for Event" a few times ahead as well. Yeah! Genius! Also, I'll back up my calendar. I used to keep it in my phone only, and when my phone got smashed in a horrific treadmill mishap, my life was in shambles.

4. I'm thinking about entering something here about push-ups and sit-ups, but I'm not fully committed yet. It sounds hard. I like sitting on the couch and I don't want the floor glaring at me in a judgemental manner if I'm not down on it sweating.

So! Those are my resolutions. Wish me luck! Or better yet, wish me resolve and determination. I need all the help I can get. Happy 2013 everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

'Tis the Season to be a Chunky Monkey

All I can say is, it's a darn good thing that I run a lot. Yesterday after 16 miles I proceeded to eat cookie dough and cookies for dinner--luckily I had chunky vegegetable beef soup for a snack, which I am sure cancels out the ginormous mounds of cookie dough, two kinds. I shudder to think of the calories.

But then today, this is what greeted me at work:

It's two layers. Five pounds. There are seven of us here but I guarantee that I will eat over half this box. I decided that every time I ate one, I'd run in the back and do ten pushups. But here we are at the end of the day and my arms and chest are trembling, I'm just not strong enough to stick to this deal!


My boss brought me these because, as a dude, he thinks all woman-stress must come from hormones and chocolate will solve it. Never mind the high-pressure job or all the other things that might stress a girl out. Don't get me wrong, I ate it. All. We just have so much junk food around here all the time!

First world problems, amiright? Sometimes I think about how awful it is to eat food just because it's there, hungry or not, when people in other places are literally always hungry. We are truly wealthy here in America and often take it for granted.

Anyway, it's now about six weeks till the marathon, and I'm not exactly where I should be with my training. I'm starting to wonder if my goal of "finishing with a 3 in front of my time" should change to "finishing". Which is totally fine, I am blessed to be able to do this at all!

Merry December 12th, y'all.