Cornball Picture Alert!

Posted: November 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, as an addendum to the last post that had no pictures of us, here’s a gem from the finish line:

Canyon City Pic!

It wasn’t enough to pose with our gargantuan medals in front of the fake mountain backdrop. We had to hold up major bright orange placards announcing BQ! and PR! I really can’t imagine why non-runners find runners to be obnoxious.

Anyway, I don’t care. I looooove this picture. There’s a picture of Cheryl crossing the finish, but she’s looking at her watch. There’s another of me at the finish, but all you can see are my hands waving behind some fat guy. There’s another picture of me around 22 where, as usual in race photos, I look like I’m about ready to either burst into tears or go insane. Good times.

As a side note, about 20 minutes after this picture was taken, Cheryl nearly passed out and ended up in the medical tent for 30 minutes. (After a bunch of Pedialyte and a Miller Lite, she was fine.) But as always, she looks freshly pressed and sparkly here. On the other hand, I have mascara (yes, I wear it in a race. DON’T JUDGE ME.) streaming from my eyes and the typical explosion of Espresso Love gel on my white shirt.

Enjoy!

My Final Marathon. Seriously.

Posted: November 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

As many of you (3 or 4 of you) may know, I’ve had a ghastly ongoing battle with the stupid marathon for the past nearly 2 years. Back in February of 2013, I decided I was going to run my next-to-last marathon. I was all super-confident that I could BQ (sub-4), and I was vaguely confident that Cheryl might do the same in her first marathon. As we all know, I had a spectacular blowup around mile 19, and Cheryl cruised on into a BQ-12 or whatever.

So then I was pretty much over-the-top that I just HAD to BQ, particularly after the events at the 2013 Boston Marathon. What followed was a full year of Are You Fucking Kidding Me? First, I took a wrong turn around mile 18 at the Ann Arbor Marathon in June. This was followed by acquiring a hip injury a mere 4 weeks before a marathon in South Dakota in August. My shot at a 2014 BQ was over, but I still wanted to run one last marathon. I really didn’t want to end marathoning with a sucky marathon as my final Marion Memory. So, I barreled on into Country Music Marathon (ick) training feeling pretty good. Naturally, I sustained a foot injury about 3 weeks before the event and had to drop to the half.

Honestly, the marathon has never been all that good to me. But this was ridiculous.

I was on the verge of saying Uncle (whatever that really means) when Cheryl mentioned that she wanted to run a marathon for her 50th birthday in November. Cripes. Being the agreeable person that she is, Cheryl researched marathons and made sure there was a half option for woebegone flailing old me. She finally settled on the Canyon City Marathon, a race 2 days after her 50th. Cheryl was all, “There’s a half, too. I really don’t mind if you do the half. Seriously.” But then I read the description of the full, looked at the spectacular pictures, and thought, “Hmmm…”

One of the pictures that initiated the “hmmmm….”:

10377442_761631487217782_5466005681070021289_n

And another:

elevation_small

A marathon that goes from 5748 feet to 614 feet? Hello.

So, I went back into somewhat tentative marathon training once my foot healed. I was hesitant and wary. To be more specific, I was afraid.  Truly afraid of the marathon for the first time in 26 marathon attempts. Sure, the marathon has annoyed me, pissed me off, amused me, made me seriously nervous, and even bored me. But it had never really scared me. Yes, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and thought, “Run 26.2 miles? WHAT?” and had a brief panic attack, but this was different. I was now doubting that I could finish the distance ever again without trauma, injury, or something inane happening. Still, I wanted to run one last marathon. I wanted it to be memorable in a good way.

Somehow, I convinced myself during this training cycle that my time in this marathon was going to be irrelevant. I was only doing it to put a cap on marathoning and celebrate Cheryl’s 50th. If it took me 6 hours, who cared? I was ONLY DOING IT TO HAVE FUN.

Aside from the fact that there’s just something inherently wrong about talking about running 26.2 miles for “fun,” we all know that a number, a certain time, a goal is in every runner’s mind when training for a race. I pushed that number as far back as I could and just ran. For the first time, I didn’t follow any kind of specific plan. I ran fewer miles than I usually would in a marathon buildup. I gave myself a break from any kind of major speed work, only doing occasional speed with the cross country team I help coach in the fall. I did a few long tempo runs and wondered, ultra-briefly, what marathon pace would even be for me. I did a final long run without a watch. I tapered with astoundingly little angst.

Then I observed the San Gabriel Mountains as we flew into L.A. and had a colon clutch:

l.a. mountains

Yes, we’d be running down from those monstrous mountains, but still. I recalled a recent thread at RunningAhead about downhill races and how several Elitist Pricks know-it-alls had suffered more pain than they had ever experienced in any race due to quad horrors. “If it’s too steep, your quads will feel like they’re exploding near the end,” one person had cheerily written.  “Prepare to be unpleasantly surprised,” another had merrily chimed in. “Downhill can really suck.”

Great.

But I packed up the negative thoughts into tidy and miniscule shrink-wrapped pellets and deposited them once again in the very back of my brain. FUN. GOING TO HAVE FUN, DAMN IT.

The morning before the marathon, Cheryl and I drove the course from downtown Azusa to the very top of the mountain. I know this is not a great idea 24 hours before a race, but somehow it made both of us feel better. I was gratified to note that there was no way I could, say, make a wrong turn at mile 19 since there was only one road. We saw that there were, in fact, some substantial uphills between miles 13-17. That would give our quads a break, right? The morning was cloudy and foggy, so we couldn’t really grasp a visual of how high we were, but our ears were just about popping out of our heads, so I sensed we were getting up there.

At the top, we parked outside of the Crystal Lake Café where the race would begin. Inside the little cabin café, a little man named Adam informed us that he had bought a million (or maybe 400) bagels and he was hyper-curious to know whether the 800 runners would buy that many bagels before the start and whether he should charge $2.50 for them. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that there was no way in hell that I could eat a fucking bagel right before the start of a marathon or that you’d have to pay me to pay for a bagel at a race. He seemed like a nice man though, so we just nodded and smiled, bought some Fritos, and drove back down the mountain.

And then it was race day.

We had to get up at 3 a.m. to catch the buses up to the start which wasn’t all that painful since I had been a Clock Nazi since we had arrived in CA, insisting that we stay on Nashville time so that the 3 a.m. alarm would feel like 5 a.m. (our normal wake-up time). Every couple of hours for the past two days, I had announced what time it should feel like to us. Poor Cheryl. Anyway, it worked, because we both felt pretty rested. In keeping with convincing myself that I wasn’t nervous, I had actually slept most of the night. Unheard of.

The bus ride was a laffy daffy jovial affair with everyone chattering and laughing like insane people. It was pretty much pitch black for 50 minutes of the hour-long drive, as the ancient school bus dragged and sputtered straight uphill. Then, just as we were approaching the final switchbacks to the top, the sky lit up and there we were, above the clouds!

cloud mountain

The sea of clouds with mountain peaks pushing through seemed to go on forever. The bus got quiet, and everyone kind of looked at each other and then out the windows and then back at each other with goofy amazement grins. And I thought, we get to run through this! Cheryl squeezed my hand and said, “Oh wow!” And I, in typical pithy fashion said, “You can say that again.”  And I think she did.

A marathon, to me, is something like a book. You take your chances on whether or not it will draw you in, whether or not it will be good, whether or not you will finish it focused or scattered or at all. In this marathon, I was drawn in by sentence one. In the first few miles, the sun rose up over the clouds turning everything purple and gold and gauzy. There was that kind of muted hush that high places have with just a distant whistling of wind somewhere further up. I was barely aware that I was running. As a sheer rock face lit up with sunlight, a man ran by me and touched me lightly on the shoulder and just said, “Look!” I smiled and nodded. In any other marathon situation where a stranger touched me on purpose, they’d be in danger of pulling back a bloody stump. Not today. It was wonderful.

And the wonderful went on for miles. I had never run so far so downhill, and it was a uniquely unusual sensation. I was vaguely aware that I was probably running too fast, but I didn’t feel like I was putting forth any exertion. I forced myself to slow down at least a dozen times in the first 10 miles, and every now and then I would get this euphoric (and just a little unsettling) feeling that I was being zipped along by something other than myself. It’s hard to explain. At many points, I could see for miles down the switchbacking road, and it was as if all I had to do was roll effortlessly down there.

We ran down into clouds that, as if on a timer, magically parted in a dozen or more spots to allow brilliant shafts of light through. Waterfalls splashed now and then. Purple wildflowers hung out of the rocks. A cool breeze blew at my back. This was a marathon?

Well, yes. Around mile 15, we switched to rolling uphills for quite a while. Or it at least seemed like quite a while. I noted with some alarm that my quads felt weird. They didn’t exactly hurt or feel tired. They just felt noticeably there. Kind of block-like and even a bit numb. Numb but so very much there. I tried, fairly successfully, ignoring this until about mile 20 when we headed downhill again. This time it was not nearly as steep, but I instantly found myself wishing for an uphill. I’m certain that this is the only time I’ve wished for an uphill after mile 20 in a marathon. My quads had now become brickish and moody. They were clearly pissed that I’d been having such a blast at their expense.

But mile 23 was coming up and as much as I had insisted that I didn’t care about my time (FUN, DAMN IT), I desperately wanted to break 4 hours one last time. Up until mile 20, it had looked like I definitely would. But now I was running with concrete quads. I had Tin Man legs.  A tremendous blister had formed on my right foot. I was practically bouncing on it. By mile 24, I sort of couldn’t get a normal gait going, but I could still make it under 4 hours if I didn’t walk, right? Where the FUCK was the 25-mile-marker? I felt like I was going to throw up. I hated everyone. Stupid mountain. Stupid wildflowers. Tick tock, tick tock.

I moved along in a completely idiotic mime of running form. My watch mocked me. If I slowed down even a fraction of one iota more, I wouldn’t break 4, and yet I felt as though my entire lower body was beginning to solidify into a salt pillar or something. Only by mentally convincing myself that this had been a fabulous marathon and that I was going to finish happily no matter what and never NEVER EVER have to do this again, was I able to keep on at my wretched, but at least consistently wretched, pace. And then there it was: Mile 26. I looked at my watch and realized I would go under 4 even if I slowed down. Which, of course, gave me enough adrenaline to dash through the finishing chute like a lunatic, waving at everyone in supreme cheese ball fashion, and throwing my arms up in the air as I crossed the line.

3:58:20. My final marathon.  A final BQ that I will not (NO!) use.

Even better, there was Cheryl sprawled out on the astro turf stretch mats (or whatever) at the finish cheering. She had run a PR (3:44) and a BQ too. We were fucking awesome.

The next day, we couldn’t walk. I mean, eventually we could, but it was not pretty. There was absolutely no chance of bending over or squatting. Going to the bathroom was an adventure in learning how to fall against a wall and slide. We drove to Santa Monica and staggered along the beach for a mile or so. At one point, I accidentally dropped the car keys on the ground, and Cheryl and I just stood there staring at them helplessly.

“Are you going to pick those up?” Cheryl finally asked.

I did some sort of bizarre half-lean, fell over on my side, and grabbed the keys. Cheryl couldn’t really lean over far enough to help me up, so I kind of flailed around in the sand on my elbows until I could grab her hand and teeter forward while cursing. Several children building sand castles stopped what they were doing to walk over and observe us.

Ah, the marathon. It’s been good times, but it’s time to bid that asshole of a race distance a fond farewell. Really, this time. I mean it. Seriously. Shut up.

 

 

 

 

I just thought I’d pop by my dead, windswept, organ-music-in-a-minor-key, tumbleweeded, broken-shutter-banging-against a deserted house, creaky floorboarded, black hole blog to chat about a fun shirt I saw in the gym not long ago:

shirt

(Actually, the chick wearing this shirt had cut it all up so that it would look a little more jaunty with her yoga pants and gargantuan mega boob job.)

Naturally, I was on a treadmill directly in front of her as she joined in with a group of weirdos doing some kind of prancing around punching bags to disco music. There was a whole lot of waving of hands in the air and skipping and going “WHOOOOOO!” Every now and then everyone would fall down on the ground and frantically kick their legs on the mats and roll all over the place. Then they’d all pop up and flap their arms and hurl themselves into the punching bags.

Periodically, Shirt Chick would cast a smug look in my direction. I can only guess it was because she was proud she didn’t have to do something as embarrassing as running to stay in shape. I think there was a hint of relief in her expression, too. I’m assuming she was relieved that she wasn’t on a treadmill, since there was a very good chance that her bouncing titanic mammoth mammaries would hit her in the face and knock her unconscious.

Anyway, I get it. A lot of people DON’T RUN. The growing tidal wave of undue hatred for running is advertised in the 0.0 bumper stickers, the “Running Sucks” line of clothing, and the general huffiness of 5-across-walkers in the park who are always delighted to make an offensive runner stumble into a ditch in his or her attempt to get around them.

I don’t completely get why people feel the need to announce their disdain for running, but whatever floats their flabby-assed boats. And I’m sure it’s moderately gratifying to wear an anti-running frock into a gym where you most certainly will encounter at least a dozen or more runners who will be shocked (shocked, I say!) by your blouse. And isn’t instant gratification with a shock bonus what it’s all about these days?

Just think how great we could all feel by wearing our “I Don’t” shirts and marching into the exact places where we could offend and anger (awesome!) the most people!

Howzabout this frock for, say, a visit to McDonalds?


(I suggest ordering a small black coffee and then spending an hour sipping it while frowning sanctimoniously at people ordering food.)

This might be a nice tunic to wear into a blue-collar bar around midnight:

Or, conversely, a pleasant coverlet for waltzing into an AA meeting:

But definitely this snappy smock next time I go to the gym (or The Mall at Green Hills. Or Brentwood.)

Lunks vs. Cardio Freaks!

Posted: February 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

skinny-guy-cartoon

Hey runners! While you’re amped up on coffee and before you go for a run to calm down, how about taking a gander at this terrific article about fitness! It’s part of the “Testosterone Nation” page on Facebook, so you know right from the start that that’s going to be some seriously spot-on advice stemming from thoughtful contemplation with nary a speck of Mister Man bias. Granted, it’s Facebook, but don’t be scared. I scrolled through and saw ZERO pictures of people’s lunches from last week or grave comments concerning their pedicures or the fact that OMGZ! It’s soooooooooo Cold!

Anyway, this dandy gem made its way over to the GSP at RunningAhead, and I don’t need to tell you that some of my fellow chicken-boned wrist runners found their hackles ruffled after reading it and were simply not amused. Not. Amused. (I just wanted to do the separate word thing with periods here to annoy myself. I hate it. Hate. It.) So, I thought I’d go through some of the more fascinating points in this manly I WILL PUMP YOU UP! article for the sake of a lively debate.

Conditioning prepares you for battle. Cardio makes you really good at running slowly away. (By “conditioning,” the writer basically means picking up heavy shit and throwing it back down. By “cardio,” he apparently means distance running.) Well, thank God someone has warned me that training to run faster is not only going to make me run more slowly, but that it will ALSO fail me entirely when I suddenly and unexpectedly find myself in the Arena at the 81st Hunger Games next week. Somebody warn Peeta!!!

Conditioning makes a man look good naked. Cardio makes a man look good in lavender skinny jeans and not much else. And let’s face it, one of the primary concerns of Manly Dudes at the gym is what other guys look like naked.

Conditioning builds legs of steel. Cardio builds legs of an underfed seabird. I can’t really refute that, but I would like to point out that the common seagull or, say, the Double-Crested Cormorant or, quite frankly, any bird, possesses legs that are entirely unaffected by caloric intake. Their legs are void of shape, stick-like, covered in scales, and generally attached to fairly frightening feet. As I say, I can’t entirely argue that this is unlike most runners’ legs.

Conditioning gives you an upper body made of stone. Cardio gives you an upper body made of twigs and Jell-O. If your entire upper body is made of stone, that includes your brain, you lunkhead. HA HA HA! Anyway, Jell-O. Mmmmmmm. If possible, I’d like my upper body to be twigs and cherry Jell-O. Or watermelon if it’s available.

Conditioning is sex. Cardio is cuddling and a chick-flick. *psssst* Hey Squat Master…that moderately effeminate runner dude in lavender jeans who’s into cuddling and Steel Magnolias just stole your girlfriend! Alas. But now there’s more free time for you to hang in the locker room! (Pun intended, bitches.)

Conditioning is testosterone. Cardio is cortisol and estrogen. Now wait just a darn tootin’ minute there, chief. How can cardio be estrogen when anyone with half a brain (or an entire stone one) knows that running will make a woman’s uterus and her ovaries fall out within just a few short months of strapping running shoes on the ends of her underfed seabird legs?

Conditioning is pecs. Cardio is man-boobs. Okay, first you’re telling me that running will increase my estrogen production, and now you’re saying that it will create boobs? The fuck! 37 years of running FOR WHAT? I’ve totally been robbed. (As for running developing Moobs…Well, again, that’s hard to deny. Right, Thunder?)

Conditioning relieves anxiety, boosts all-day energy and fires up brain function. Cardio increases anxiety and cortisol. (Runners are only happy when they run. The rest of the time they’re assholes. True story.) Oh dear. I’ve always thought I was at the zenith of my assholiness about 5 miles into a tempo run. And now I find out that that is when I’ve been the happiest? My anxiety and cortisol is increasing even as I type! Nonetheless, thanks bunches for setting me straight Mr. Perf Pecs, and I’m sure you’re right as you sound both anxiety-free and totes full of fired-up brain functioning. True story.

True. Story.

1997.2 Miles!! DID IT!

Posted: January 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

That’s right, bitches! I made it under 2000 miles this year. Staying under 2000 was a goal for 2013 and I just barely made it! It wasn’t easy either. On December 31st, I trundled on out to MonkeyVille fairly worried that I would miss my goal by maybe just a mile or 2. After all, I was on the 11.2 loop, and if I ran the entire 11.2, I would come up long by roughly 3.8 miles. I probably don’t have to tell all my fellow OCD runner types how stressed I was about missing my goal or just how doggone determined I was to nail it.

So how did I do it? Well, I don’t mind bragging about myself when it comes to major achievements like this, so I’ll reveal the ingenious and difficult plan I put in place. When I approached the infamous 9-Mile Hill, I broke into a cold sweat as I realized that if I continued in a running motion, and didn’t do everything within my power to change that motion, my goal would be perilously close to being shot all to hell.

So I focused. I did the math. I gathered all my reserves of willpower, and I stopped and… I WALKED! That’s right. I actually stopped running for nearly an entire mile and a half. That’s how fucking dedicated I was to doing what I said I would do back on December 31, 2012. I think I may have gotten a little choked up at that very moment with the overwhelming sense of just how awesome I am. I made a mental note to humble brag about it on Facebook.

Furthermore, (and, again, I don’t mind publicly patting myself on the back over this admirable tidbit) I cut the 11.2 short by taking a left and continuing to walk (WALK!) back to my car by the service road. So, in summary, in my final all-out effort to hit my year-end running goal, I both stopped running and cut the course. But wait! There’s more! I also logged the run as “The 11.2″ even though I made every conceivable effort to not actually run the 11.2.

Aren’t you impressed with my perseverance and dogged stubbornness?

It’s 4-Question Friday!

Posted: November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

why1

From time to time, important questions trouble me. Typically, I find that mulling over the complexities and serious components of these questions can alleviate some of the mental anguish that their mere existence inflicts upon my ragged brain. So, here we go with some very stern and important questions:

1) What the fuck does “Toys-r-Us” mean? Were the CEOs enjoying a mild hallucinogenic when they came up with this name? I mean, were they actually envisioning themselves as toys and, as a group, decided to announce that discovery in poor grammar and then use the whole atrocity as their company’s name? Further, after a hearty dose of crack, the board of directors apparently thought it would be a good idea to turn the “r” around backwards. And put quotations around it! Inside a star!

Anyway, this has troubled me for about 20 years. I can barely drive by Toys-“r”-Us without having an aneurysm.

toys-r-us
Way to go, crackheads!

2) Why are there so many freaks at my gym? (It occurs to me that I’m asking this as a long-standing member of my gym, but let’s not consider that.) Just this morning, I witnessed an old dude in leather pants doing seriously alarming squats, a woman dashing into the locker room to blow dry her armpits every 5 minutes for no apparent reason, and a trainer stomping around and clapping his hands and going, “WHOOOO! WHOOOO!” at his own reflection in the mirror. As I was leaving, a young man wearing heavy mascara did a triple cartwheel by me.

What’s going on here? Cheryl has, in vain, searched for a nearby mental hospital to account for the clientele at our gym. She’ll often insist that there must be a halfway house or rehab center in our neighborhood, but thus far, she hasn’t had any luck locating either.

3) How can something be “new and improved”? If it’s brand new, it can’t be improved. Hi Everyone! Look! It’s a brand new blog post, and it’s definitely an improvement over the way it was before I even wrote it. Doggone it all, it’s new and improved!

4) How is it possible to surprise or scare yourself in a dream? I mean, when you’re awake, your brain doesn’t just suddenly hurl a vivid image of your long-deceased grandfather wearing a plaid jumper at you. (I mean, my brain doesn’t. I can’t speak for some of you.) I know things are different when you’re asleep, but I still can’t grasp how you’re just going along in a dream all lah-lah-lah and doing something mundane-dreamy like eating a chair leg or running a 5K through Sears, and then all of a sudden: Boom! You round a corner and your cat is barreling toward you on huge wire legs in a lightning storm and singing a Captain and Tennille song.

Where does a mental image like that even come from? Shouldn’t there be some basis of memory or some degree of new and planned creation involved? What the hell is going on with our brains when we’re asleep, anyway? VERY disconcerting.

Well, that’s it for now, folks! Thanks for spending 10 regrettable minutes that you’ll never get back!

I Have a Blog!

Posted: November 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

Just a note to let you all (all 6 of you!!) know that I’m not dead.

After the Half Marion in South Dakota, I decided to give my lame-ass self a physical and mental break from OMG! RUNNING!!! for a couple of months…Or at least until I got over my injury, whichever came first. Luckily, my injury disappeared after I did something truly remarkable and revolutionary when it comes to running injuries: I took time off. I know most of you have never heard of this approach, and those who have heard of it get chills and lightheadedness just hearing the phrase, “time off.” Sometimes mention of “cross training” can create moderate fever and disorientation. I’m pretty sure speaking the words, “I didn’t run at all last week” can induce spontaneous diarrhea and Tourette Syndrome.

Anyway, prior to embarking on Not Running, I made a visit to a chiropractor who is supposedly well-known and respected for performing magical Active Release Therapy. I’m sure ART is real and probably effective for some people, but this individual kind of lightly prodded me for about 4 seconds and then commanded me to jog. Naturally, an injury that was about 2 months in the making didn’t just evaporate into the New Age Music air of his dimly-lit relaxation spa examination room. Nonetheless, he seemed shocked and appalled when I was still limping. Then he sternly asked me if there was a history of hip disease in my family (FFS!) and commanded me to get x-rays.

Are you kidding me? Ego much?

So, after panicking for a couple hours after leaving his office, the completely novel and curious notion of not running occurred to me. About 12 days later, I was strangely able to move my leg without wincing or even saying, “Well, shit.”. Within 2 weeks I could jog slowly. Bafflingly, two months later, I’m able to run like a normal person (well, normal for me) again! If anyone can explain this phenomenon, please contact me. I’m thinking this could be a real breakthrough discovery for running injuries.

In other news, the Run Bitches returned to the Rock and Road marathon Relay a couple weeks ago and….well, read all about it on Bitch Amy’s Blog. There are some stellar pictures to go along with it including this one:

photohands

Check out that frightening photo bomb child right in the middle. Zoom in and check out her expression! AAAGGGGH! Children of the Corn deluxe!

Looking ahead, The Run Bitches Race Series will be hosting The Beer Mile Before Monkey on November 22nd, the Friday before the Flying Monkey Marathon. We’re just about at our limit (15), but if you’re just really dying to slam 4 beers and run up and down an asinine hill just before dark on a Friday afternoon back on a road where I’ve seen groups of coyotes gathered, let me know. I’m pretty sure at least a few of the people who have signed up for this event will have some sad trumped-up excuse prepared once the Strohs hits the road. And for those of you who remain eternally devoted to my fashion tips when it comes to running apparel, I should mention that I will be running this beer mile in a watermelon pink running skirt that I have borrowed from my imaginary friend Bob out in the Bay Area. Thanks Bob!

Okay, that’s it for now.

The Bitch is back!