|Photo by Movin' pictures.|
It's been a while, but I always feel guilty writing anything when nothing really running-related had been produced. That, and the fact that my life is so overwhelmingly busy, I hardly find time to sit down with Larry and simply breathe...
But anyway, speaking of running. Or lack thereof. After Bay area trip, next time I ran was the weekend after, when on Saturday I did 20x0.33M hill repeats on a road totaling in 13 miles and 2,300 feet of elevation gain, and on Sunday I did another 10 miles of trail hills (steep with ladders and steps, in 1M out-then back intervals of hard rolls) that gave me 2,500 feet of gain. Those 2 days felt pretty good, the weather cooperated (I am not sure about this global warming thing, but Texas has awesome Spring, I can't believe I am writing this sentence!), and may be the fact that those were "repeats" and I was able to recover on downhills, and also power-hiked hard some steep portions, the runs were quite inspiring. I tried to run May 6th, when I went for 5 miles on the road, but made it 4 and was back to square 1 (may be 2).
On Saturday May 10th Larry and I traveled to visit our friends in San Antonio, and they, of course, put out a shout for a Rockhopper's run with us - of which Larry ran about 10-11 miles, and I shuffled about 2 out of 9 total (the rest I walked) - but it was awesome in every possible way. While that was the day my body, again, decided a no-go on running front, it was wonderful to spend time with my good ol' buddy Big Chris and talk, talk, talk...and a host of other peeps from time to time, share stories, laugh, explain in a 100th time that I am not injured, but not training anyway and why...Jason and Claudette hosted us for Friday night and Saturday, we all went for brunch after the trail outing (walk/run), then hung out with Liza Howard and her kids while doing nothing but chatting (a much needed kind of afternoon in life), and ended our trip with an early "dinner" with a few more friends. One can't go wrong when good people are involved...
Because I was so fed up by then to meet random people and respond to their "How is your training? No way you are not training!", I felt that I am in a constant mode of apologizing and explaining. I realize it is hard to grasp the "I can't run" when there is no visible injury present, and honestly, I don't have a coherent way to make sense of it either. So, I had posted on my Facebook a statement:
I am NOT sandbagging. The posts you see about my runs are pretty much ALL the runs I had done, may be a few short struggles 1-2 times a week in March and beginning of April (I gave up those "during a week" by now to even try). Between my body doing whatever it wants to, and my priorities changed for the time being, "training" as we know it is not happening (what does NOT mean I am not working out hard! I am, every day! But not running/training). I am strong and healthy (otherwise) and with a body that can do a lot of things. I have a few "races" that I had signed up for prior getting ill last Fall, and I have full intention to complete them, but NOT race them. I am in a perfect place of my life, way over the hump being upset/sad/whatever about it, and thrilled about how things are. And yes, I still love running (when it does happen) - which is very important to me. Now that Texas summer is here (and the last 3 summers were the times I got injured/overtrained/ill), and as Bryce 50 is about to finally happen (June 15th, for which I am even pretending to do those longer runs), I plan to stop most of my weekend runs as well (unless I really want to shuffle for an hour) to allow myself to heal fully (but keep exercise). What happens after - is not on my mind at this point (why fidget if I can't control it?). I am blissfully living today, and have amazing plans for the coming months...
Funny thing is, I posted this at the same time as I announced my lucky lottery win to a La Luz 9M uphill mountain trail race in August in ABQ - and was asked why would I apply/accept this if I am not racing. Well, one who follows my blog and FB would know, while I keep saying I will not race competitively, I also always quick to point out I will not promise to never "enter" a race again. What my "no racing" announcement meant was that no expectations had to be set, I am not doing specific running training, but I am keeping in shape, and there is some natural ability I have that would allow me to pull it off some races I do enter - and for those who keeps a tab on it, I am also in for Beacon Rock 25 km on June 8th (I have a trip to Portland planned to see friends and kids, so why not?), Bryce 50M on June 14th (for which I am registered prior being diagnosed with CMV and all the complications arose, and since I already dropped $125 registration fee, and our vacation is arranged around this race, I am going to participate and finish and give my best), and last, but not least, technically my name has been rolled over to this year's Grindstone 100M in October (which has been cancelled last year), and I am NOT taking my name out - I will make a decision the week of the race, but even now, I am pretty certain I can walk it in, just depends whether or not I want to feel crappy while doing it.
That brought me to another FB post:
Giving up racing (competitively) was not difficult at all (after all, I had done so much, I could share with everyone and their mother). Giving up training was not necessary - the idea of setting goals and working hard can be interpreted in other working out means. It's when the "good run" does happen does it hit me just how much I love and miss my daily running routine, the freedom of it, the fluidity...and this morning was one of those "good run happen" moments that set me into tears....
Anyway, it's a long introduction to a simple weekend I had for a blessing: I went to Tyler, TX, to race Whispering pines. I signed up for a 20 M version as a (potentially seemed at the time) my only chance of a long run for Bryce 50. I managed to do 21 miles of trails on my own in April, along with 24 miles in Marin Headlands with Larry, so it ended up being my 3rd "long" run. I love Endurance Buzz races and David H. is my very good friend, and I love to support him, his family and his business. He does great job race managing - and this one in particular promised pine-needle single track under the consistent canopy of trees. And boy, he delivered!!! All that, and hills, and awesome weather!!!
|Photo by EBuzz|
I spent the night with my good friends and both former coaching clients Brandon and Megan, who this time were volunteering for the race, and the conversations were wonderful. By the time I picked up my bib in the morning, it had a personal message from Brandon - and from Wendy (RD's David wife) - with general words "run happy". I was deeply touched...My Garmin broke in the bracelet, then never picked the signal, and I took it as a sign to just trust my body, as I entered the woods on a single track along with those doing 20 M and 50k version (in 10 mile loops). I did wear a regular watch so I can more or less figure out when to eat the gel, but I had not a clue about my location on the course...
|Photo by Movin' pictures.|
|Photo by Focusinonme.com, around mile 7.|
|Photo by Movin' pictures, finishing 1st loop I think.|
The loop 1 happened in 1:53. I spent good 2 minutes at the start/finish AS, lost the guy behind and went on. A half mile down, a girl in front of me does superman face-down and bleeds from a head scratch and nose. I stand with her, spraying water over and trying to assess damages. She seems to be somewhat doozy, but coherent, so I sent her backwards, thinking it's only 0.5M and there are people coming on to their next loop, so she'll be watched over (she was).
As I got into the AS with Megan and Brandon, I had JLo on my ipod and dancing wildly. Why not? It's a party after all! I danced there for a minute happily, then moved on to a trail. About a mile later the wheels did begin to loosen up a bit here and there, the temps were warming up, and this whole non-stop running was wearing me out somewhat. I did manage to pass 2 girls here, but was also passed by one, and since I had no clue where I was location-wise (in a race), I could care less. I came again to 2nd AS and chatted some with friends, then finally gathered myself for the last section. It took me 30 min on the first loop, so I figured I'll try it again...
The hills were quite relentless, and since I tripped a couple of times at the beginning of the 2nd loop over the ever-growing roots (the trail did have roots, even if no rocks), I was ginger to not do it again (one of those "trips" produced a hip pain in my torn labrum that I had to walk for full 5 minutes, swear and not smile). But I still felt rather strong, if not in legs, then in my will, and I ran same 30 minutes all the way to the finish. The mind had not lost its own training! I crossed the line in 3:54 and pointed to David "Who knows my body better??!!" and a total of 2:00 for a 2nd half split (which, after deductions of longer AS time, fallen girl and walking hip, is same as first).
Speaking of David and our exchange at the end, I brought it up because 2 weeks prior we had this:
-You ready for a little singletrack fun at Whispering Pines? Maybe it will provide a bit of the PNW spirit within the "bigger" pines and rolling singletrack. No guarantee...but maybe. :)
-I am not ready one bit, no pressure, please, but I know I can make it through, and I need a 20 miler for the Bryce. I am thinking 4 hrs on a good day, unless it's hot and humid, then all bets are off as you already know:) That's my plan.
-My prediction for ya...3:15-3:40. There...no pressure!
-I never ran 3:15 even in my good years, honey:) 3:45 is a possibility for sure.
-OK, I will bend a little and tighten a little...3:20-3:39. Done! Ship it! :)
-And I thought you're my friend who understands my internal struggles...
-Just playing with ya. :) My non-vodka drinking wish...you put together a day you want for yourself. You smile. You enjoy the rolling singletrack. I really care very little about numbers, but I do care about the people behind the number. It is a runnable course. Mentally prepare for that. No complaining...this is Texas. :) But I do think you will enjoy it.
Photos of the finishing line by Movin' pictures.
So, yes, indeed, I smiled a whole lot and had a day I wanted for myself! Wendy (his wife and co-RD) gave me a hug even though I was sweaty like a pig! I changed, had a couple of tacos, took a couple of pictures, and was driving 4 hrs back to my boys, whom I missed a whole lot. It was totally worth the trip. I will be forever grateful to the pine-needled single track, cool-ish weather, tall trees, folks treating me like a royalty at the AS's, good friends, and my body's ability to do its thing...
|Photo by (and with) Julie Dolph, a great friend from OK!|
|The man behind the scene, David Hannenburg|
And that brings me to one more thing to come clean about (I know, I am silent for weeks, then just pile it all in one post). My body - and my body image as well. Granted, I had had a dissatisfaction with said image ever since I remember myself. Luckily, I always liked to exercise, although I also always liked to eat. While ill last Fall and Winter and not doing anything at all besides yoga (probably for the first time in 2 decades), my fat content shot up, but so did my water retention. While having higher fat percentage was totally understanding and expected and could be worked on, the fact that I tend to retain water (and my weight can deviate by 5-7 lbs overnight with literally not bad doing of my own I can speak of) was annoying to say the least, concerning, and also made me not fit into my clothes - and it was worse (the water retention that is) it had been in a long time (also since I am not training hard/running, I have time and energy to actually look after it, along with belonging to the gym that utilizes body composition machine, which I peruse every month). I know it sounds vain, but every season I allow myself to gain some pounds due to a break (usually that break is because of injury or overtraining, or now body infection with total shut down), and truly I am naturally not slim at all - a testament of it are those pounds I put on as a spare tire every damn time I drop the intensity even just a bit, and I am not even talking about living on a couch with a bag of chips and a beer! so if you're using your body composition as an excuse to never get in shape - don't talk to me, I don't take such excuse. When I begin on my "road back to shape", I take photos so I can have visual to compare (it is much easier to just hate myself regardless, but with pictures I can "judge" progress better). I have those "comparing" shots aligned from every year. This year is no different. Only when I stopped eating grains did I drop most of my water (which is off the "normal" scale produced by that machine"). I also lost couple pounds of fat, but that is all fine and dandy (what is 18% vs 17% anyway?). I did consult two of the nutritionists I know, and neither seem to have an answer (besides east fewer calories and add protein to each snack, but again, my question is about why I hold water, not weight in general). The fluctuation of intra- and extra-cellular liquid seems to depend on the inflammation I have consistently happening in my body (as someone with chronic IBS, as well as low thyroid function and now dealing with post-CMV recovery), along with hormonal imbalance likely due to an early menopause and probably a host of other things I need to check on. (As a side note, while I try to stay as close to no grain-no beans-no dairy eating plan, occasionally I loose the battle and indulge in pizza and cookie - I am human after all - but I pay for it with violent stomach pains, cramps, bloating, gas, all kind of weird elimination problems, and overall ill feelings).
(TMI: my father visited my sister, the only family member with computer and internet, and saw photos from San Francisco trip. He called me and said: "You look good for your age, keep it up". Nothing like a brutal honesty of a Russian chauvinistic male - served straight up with no sugar-coating.)
|Every girl needs a little stash of yarn, just in case!|
|There was a fun order for some 20 alpaca hats with holes!|
"Once a year, go somewhere you've never been before" Dalai Lama.
I've got a handful of such things planned for this year already, beginning with this long weekend's trip to Ouachita mountains in Eastern Oklahoma, where Larry had already mapped out a 22 mile loop and a 15 mile out-n-back, and then we go visit mama for some love and care.
This is going to be an awesome year.
Happiness is about attitude. I choose happy.