“You get what you get … and you don’t pitch a fit”

The subhead of tonight’s post could be: All I really need to know about running and life I learned in preschool (and kindergarten).

I first heard that quotation (the headline for today’s post) at Tarzan’s preschool when one of the teachers repeated it to the children.

I’ve used those words since with my own children.

Today I repeated them to myself.

I planned on doing an early 20-miler this week (today, not the weekend) as the Dude and are taking the kiddos skiing on my normal long-run day.

I was so proud of myself for planning so well. I put Tarzan in extended care at the preschool to give myself extra time.

Jane even asked me earlier in the week to come to her school and have lunch with her. She considers this a treat and special time with mommy.

No problem, I answered before my overscheduled, flooded brain could think twice.

This morning Jane reminded me about lunch. I checked her school schedule for the time I needed to meet her. That’s when I realized I’d blew it. 

Because of the timeframe of when her class eats lunch, right smack in the middle of the day, there was no way I could get the full 20 miles in, which usually takes me about 3 hours, more of less, to do. 

By the time I dropped Tarzan off at his school and got started, I would come up short at least a half hour if I tried to do it before lunch.
 
If I waited and started to run after our lunch date, I’d come up short an entire hour as I needed to pick up Tarzan by 3:15 p.m.

In short, my 20 consecutive miles to myself were doomed. 

I tried to negotiate with Jane for another lunch date instead of today. When I saw the tears in her eyes I knew I couldn’t go back on my word.

I bit the bullet. I ran 11.5 miles in the morning outside in the cold and then I went to Jane’s school to meet her for lunch. She had a ham sandwich and chocolate milk. I had a PowerBar, water and Gatorade.

After our lunch date, I went to the gym and finished the last 8.5 miles on the track. That gave me barely enough time to shower, get something to eat and pick up Tarzan.

The second run was exhausting, mentally and physically. I kept telling myself that it was better than cutting it short or skipping it altogether, that I would be glad I did it later.

I am, and I’m also crazy tired now.

The looooong miles took a backseat to what was most important: keeping my word to my daughter.

That’s fine by me.

“You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit.”

Indeed. 

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage today: 20; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1340; Miles left to go: 430. 

The little blogger that could

Two months exactly from today I will run the Boston Marathon. It falls on a Monday, Patriots’ Day.

Gulp.

It’s hard to believe it’s getting that close.

Am I ready?

Yes and no.

I’m doing all I can to prepare, physically, mentally and emotionally.

The rest is in the God’s hands and karma, I believe, and I’m just going to have to trust.

I know what I’m hoping for at Boston — an experience of a lifetime.

Likewise when I began this blog I had lofty aspirations for it. The longer I blog, however, the less attached I’ve become to the outcome. 

Don’t get me wrong. I work hard and I care. I just know that whatever happens. I must accept any result with grace, dignity and humility, and especially, gratitude for being given this chance in the first place.

This journey — getting to run the Boston Marathon and keeping this blog — has been a gift.

The training, the mileage, the blogging, the BQ profiles, the writing — I’m sort of like the little blogger and runner that could at this point.

This blogging business is a lot like those last few miles of the marathon where one is so close yet stretched to the limit. Pain, exhaustion and loneliness can make one want to surrender.

I will not quit. I will see both this blog and my Boston Marathon experience to the end, and persevere and triumph.

That’s been my intention all along  — “surviving marathons, motherhood and midlife triumph” — and sharing things to give others courage, humor and hope.

Lately, “the little blog that could” seems to gaining some traction. One of the next BQ profiles will be about an overseas reader. The first “Boston or Botox T-shirt” also is in the works. (If you want to see them, let me know.)

I’m brainstorming ideas to continue the spirit of Boston or Botox after I finish the marathon. (Again, I’m open to readers’ feedback.)

Today my friend Katherine and I traversed a 7-mile-ish trail run full of mud and muck. It was so messy, it was more of a calorie-burner than a true training run, but that was fine with us.

She told me a little bit about when she ran the Boston Marathon several years ago. Her words made it seem more real and got me excited.

Two months and counting: we’re almost there.

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes and go!

MIleage today: 7; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,305; Miles left to go: 465.



Jolts and second chances


Her words made my heart drop to my knees.

“I am not wearing black. I am not planning a funeral. I am not explaining to my little boy that his dad is in heaven but will always be with him in his heart,” a friend of mine from childhood wrote on Facebook.

Her post knocked me out of my cheap little self and grounded me.

My friend’s husband suffered a heart attack recently. Their son is age 7. I believe my girlfriend turned 50 in the last year. Like me she had children when she was older. I have not seen her in person in years, but I know what it’s like to get a shot at a family and some of your dreams later in life. 

She went on to say her husband’s health seemed to be improving. It appears they had been given a second chance and precious gift, although he’s not out of the woods yet.

Shortly after I read her post I went out for my long run. I prayed for her and her family. I also prayed for my own family and for myself, and my friends and other people who touch my life every day.

Hearing about her experience jolted me. I don’t mean that in a way to offer her and anyone else pity so we can feel better about ourselves and circumstances. No one deserves or wants that.

Rather it reminded that we walk this earth together with common threads of experiences like one giant tapestry of humanity — and to offer one another a shoulder and strength when we can, and to not lose sight of our humility. 

Love, compassion, hope, courage and understanding — these are the seeds of the best within us, I believe. That’s what my friend and her family could use right now.

I ran yesterday thinking about her, not caring about my pace, training or it being the perfect workout, but staying in the present moment, feeling the sunshine on my face, my legs moving, a cleansing sweat.

I ran as if each step I took was a second chance, for my friend and her family, for myself, for anyone else reading this right now who could use it, too.

I hope my prayers get answered, and I will keep moving and running forward as if they already are.

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage yesterday: 16; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,298; Miles left to go: 472.
   





Swimming in the ‘puddle of doom’

There is a spot on the playground at Jane’s school that she nicknamed “the puddle of doom.”

On soggy days this spot on the north side of the school, where the sun barely hits in the winter, rivals the depths of Lake Michigan. When it’s cold and snowy, it’s an icy mess.

Jane came up with this moniker herself, which makes me laugh and proves she’s definitely my daughter.

The week, though, the joke was one me.

No, I didn’t fall into the real “puddle of doom” at Jane’s school. Metaphorically, however, the water rose over my head as I attempted to play catch-up with my life: the household demands and my children, my paid writing assignments, volunteer work, running and training, blogging, nursing myself to health. 

This mental “puddle of doom “reached maximum capacity two days ago when I formatted the eBlast, an electronic, weekly bulletin for the Colorado Columbines.

Cyber goblins (whom I believe must breed within the “puddle of doom” waters) intercepted every piece of data I entered. I would hit the “save” button and whole sections of information would disappear. It became an exercise in futility with one technical or programming glitch after another pulling me down like an undertow.

Finally, after hours of digitally drowning, I broke the watery surface for air. I gave up and sent out the eBlast knowing this one was a floundering eBust. I chocked it up to a by-product of a full moon, high tides and a fully exhausted me after being sick.

All I wanted in that moment was for someone to throw me a life raft and pull me safely out of “the puddle of doom” and onto dry shore.

Yesterday and today that finally happened — I worked out hard. Each time the action felt like a life guard pulling me to safety as I cleared my head from the previous few days’ stress. 

Yesterday’s run: 3 miles on track in 23 minutes, 40 seconds; then 3 miles on the treadmill, 24 minutes exactly.

Today’s workout: 1.5 miles on the treadmill followed by a round of weight-lifting; 2 more miles on the treadmill followed by sit-ups, push-ups and a plank for 60 seconds; and then 1.5 miles on the treadmill followed by more sit-ups, push-ups and another 60-second plank.

Running and endorphins are not everything, but they helped me keep the muck from my “puddle of doom” at bay.

I’m not caught up yet, but I’m getting there … one project at a time, one workout at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time, one breathe at a time.

The water at last is no longer rising. 

And I hope to avoid falling into the “puddle of doom” again — Jane’s and my own — for a long, long time.

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage today: 5; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1282; Miles left to go: 488.














 

Hope and recovery …

This post is to let you know I’m still kicking and blasting a lot of germ-killing Lysol around my household as I write this…

Last night I had a fever of 102. It came on fast after I stubbornly went for a short run (3 miles) yesterday morning at the gym. It wasn’t the smartest move, I admit, but an act of sheer rebellion and frustration. I was so tired of taking time off and this crud lingering.

I guess it did the trick. The fever came and went, and I’m starting to feel better now but nonetheless I took today off again from running.

It’s amazing how much being sick takes out of you. I felt far worse yesterday with a fever than after my 20-mile run a few weekends ago … just crazy.

One of the hardest parts of about being sick for me has been taking time off from logging mileage on this blog. I’ve been very devoted to making my goal. I still am and I don’t want to let anyone else or myself down.

A few days ago I felt quite depressed about if I miss my goal of virtually running from Denver to Boston. Then I remembered how hard I worked to qualify for Boston in the first place, and that these kinds of ups and downs are often part of the process.

Life happens. There are bumps on the road and it’s not the bumps that define us but how we chose to handle them. I will persevere, some how.

Right now getting my health back is my top priority. Then all else will follow. If I do come up short on the miles I’ve got an idea for how to make them up. I will share it with you at a later date.

In the next few days I hope to be further on the mend and to post two more Boston qualifier profiles. (I’ve already interviewed these amazing women and have their photos ready. I just need to add the finishing touches.)

So stay tuned and keep your own Lysol handy. We will get through this crazy winter weather and training season yet …

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a old choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage yesterday: 3; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1245.50; Miles left to go: 524.50. 

The run-around

nasty storm is rolling in and my training calls for me to run 50 miles this week, including a 20-miler again by the weekend.

But it looks like God and universe may have other plans for me.

I’m afraid I’m in for the run-around in the form of bad weather and sickness, not mileage, ahead.  That’s the risk you take with winter training.

Tarzan woke up at 2 a.m. last night complaining of a headache but he didn’t have a fever, thankfully. I gave him lots of water to drink and some Tylenol. He fell back to sleep somewhere around 3 a.m.

It took me another hour to wind down and go back to sleep myself. I was worried he might come down with something and not be able to go to preschool today. 

I was relieved when he woke up his same peppy self at 7 a.m., ready for breakfast and preschool.

We got away unscathed today, but that won’t be the case tomorrow.

The district already has announced that Jane’s school will be closed tomorrow. We’re expected to get a boatload of snow with a high temperature of 7 degrees before the storm heads east to causes havoc there, too.

It also would not surprise me if Tarzan or Jane still came down with the creeping crud that seems to be making the rounds.
 
“The Dude” just suffered two weeks with the crud. He went into work anyway during that time but he came home every single night and spent all weekend laying in front of the TV with the energy of a banana slug. It was fun times indeed.

The most important thing is have everyone healthy from here forward. I’ll do my best to keep the crud at bay and roll with if it comes.

I’m preparing for a day tomorrow of cookie-baking, fort-building, crafts, Wii and videos to keep my niños going while El Niño does its stuff.

Today I trudged nine miles on the treadmill. If I’m lucky I might get another round of running indoors tomorrow when “The Dude” gets home from work.

When I was younger I used to get so frustrated when I experienced the run-around in life. These days I kinda expect it’s going to happen occasionally, even with my training. That’s why I hit it hard today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

I suppose that is true of anything we face in life.

I might as well enjoy tomorrow’s snow day and burn off those extra cookies I know I’ll probably eat when the weather perks up again, on a day when it’s not the run-around.

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage today: 9; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,212; Miles left to go: 558.

Chasing rabbits

Today’s 16-mile run pushed me hard. I was trying to keep up with a friend who wanted to go the distance but is faster than I am. We also were running with another Double D friend who is more evenly matched in pace to my first friend than I am.

The result: I only ran a few of the miles with them. They were too fast for me but I kept them in my sight when I could. It made me run faster than I would if they weren’t ahead of me.

I wished I could keep their pace the whole way because it was lonely in spots and tough. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

There were moments I wanted to give up and I didn’t. I’m proud of that.

Chasing “the rabbits” ahead of me got me in touch with some good mantras for the future:

“You can’t cut the course short on race day. Don’t do it now.”

I used that one to avoid the temptation at the half-way point to stop short at 7.5 or 7.75 miles. I went  the full 8.0 miles, THEN I turned around.

“Stay calm and scale this one step at a time. You CAN do it.”

I used that one on the hills.

“You ARE going to make it. You ARE going to make it. You always do.”

I repeated this one near the end, the last two miles.

“See, YOU did it, you really did!” 

A final statement to the dissenting voice in my head, which plotted to thwart me earlier.

Runner’s World did an article this month on Mantra Magic.  If you are looking for some of your own, check it out. It helped me think and run stronger today.

The magic of a mantra is, it’s like pulling a rabbit out of a hat when you need it most. The mind almost always wants to give out before the body will. That’s when mantras really help.
 
And once in awhile it doesn’t hurt to chase a few rabbits either.

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage today: 16; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,203; Miles left to go: 567.

Head winds, mind games, but no ruby slippers

It was brutal.

I’m talking about the wind today during my 19-mile-ish to 20-mile-ish training run.

I don’t know the exact distance because my Garmin gave out so I ran for just over three hours (that’s about what it usually takes me to complete 20 miles), and I called it good.

Plus, I just couldn’t … take it … anymore …

When I lived in New Mexico the Santa Fe Striders hosted an annual run in January called the Corrida de los Locos  — literal translation: the “race of the crazy people.”

The gringo translation: it’s time to freeze your tush off.

The 5.8 cross-country race often fell on a day with miserable conditions — cold, sleet, snow, ice, wind — you name it.

While neither sleet nor ice were a nuisance on today’s route, which was along an exposed bluff, other elements were.

A cold wind blasted us the entire way. We also got a hiccup or two of snow, but it never stuck.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the ghosts of the Corrida de los Locos from my past visited me today. The distance was the equivalent of running three Locos races back to back.

Muy loco indeed.

“Hey MOM, can you turn off the wind machine before we get going?’ my friend, Donna S. from the Distance Divas, shouted to me when we started.

Whew!

She wasn’t kidding.

Just a few miles into the run it felt like we fell into a wind tunnel.

Dang Dorothy, I mean, err — Donna — we’re not in Kansas in anymore, but you could have fooled me!

If I had ruby slippers  … err … ruby running shoes to click and take us away I would have used them for Donna S. and all of us.

I swear the wind picked me up a few times and threw me back. As I crested the hills I pushed against it like a football player tackling a sled in practice down the 50-yard line, and I couldn’t move any faster. It was painful.

Luckily another Double D friend, Gayle, ran the full 19-ish to 20-ish with me. It kept me going because every logical part of my brain screamed for me to stop and it took all my willpower not to listen.

Why, you might ask, didn’t I stop?

I have this theory — that if we can conquer hard conditions in training, then race day should be a breeze (pun intended) no matter what gets blown our way (ditto).

Mind games over head winds — I hope it pays off and is true. We’ll see.

I will sleep well tonight and I’m grateful for the shelter of my nice, warm home, out of the wind.

Now repeat after me and grab whatever slippers you have (ruby or not): “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. …” 

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your  ruby slippers shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage today: 20 (revised after I confirmed the distance with my Double D friend who ran with me), and a dose of cold and stiffness; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1159.5; Miles left to go: 610.5.

Superman and mere mortals …

A few days I slogged through a tempo run feeling as rundown as a house decaying in east Detroit. If it were not for a friend of mine who helped me, I don’t know how I would have finished.

It’s amazing how some times I can still move as fast as in my 20s, and how at other times I can barely crawl.

On the latter days the demolition crew of my forty-something ego wants to pull out the wrecking ball and I compare myself to the elite marathoners.

They make training and racing look so much easier than the rest of us.

But is it really?

That’s a question I’ve pondered since I read  the December 2010 Runner’s World story on Eddy Hellebuyck where he talked about doping — using performance enhancement substances banned from competition — to win prize money and races as a master’s runner.

The article is an interesting departure from RW’s regurgitated fare of “How to Run Your Fastest 5K yet.”

Sure, the elites come to the table with a lot more ability than us mere mortals.

It’s sort of like racing greyhounds versus wiener dogs. You can tell who’s going to excel right off the bat.

OK — I qualified for Boston. I may not be a wiener dog, but I’m no greyhound either.

I’m something in between — perhaps more like the old Dalmatians who used to run with fire engines? I’m not pure speedy but I race with heart.

You get the picture.

But beyond genetics, just how much of what the elites do is God-given and what part could be enhanced?

For me the article raised even more questions than that:

How many other elite marathoners have done it?

How about the female racers?

And how about the women elite racers who come back so fast and strong after pregnancy? Are they simply more Superman than the rest of us? Or are they aided, too?  Are their performances a combination of both — genetics plus enhancements?

What supplements might those athletes be taking that go under the radar? Could they be taking something that is technically legal for competition but doesn’t show up on a drug test but definitely produces an advantage?

Could they be taking something that’s not tested for yet?

I could on  …

The pressure to perform for them must be off the charts, and so must the temptations. It’s the top racers who get the endorsements and cash prizes.

Sure, for the average Joe being 10th overall in the world in the marathon would be the experience of a lifetime.

For competitors at that elite level, however, it’s probably not enough to keep Nike and others on board forever.

At what point could an athlete be bought out, even if it went against one’s ethics? It’s a good question, not limited to athletics.

In my original essay I joked about Botox. I’ve never had a Botox injection and I don’t believe I ever will. For me the idea of “tox” as in “toxin” in my system is a deterrent. However, I understand why others would do it and the social pressure to look younger. I know friends who have.

If I were Nicole Kidman or Julia Roberts and earned millions of dollars per movie, and my vanity and vocation depended upon Botox and such, and I, too, might be assuaged.

So much of what we read about celebrities is a glimpse of the whole picture in a world that thrives on illusions. When I want to compare myself to them I remind myself of that.

I’m not a greyhound. This isn’t my full-time gig like it is for the elites. I don’t work with a legion of coaches, trainers and therapists, and with state-of-the-art equipment  and who knows what else.

And there’s the X factor that goes into making them what they are that you and I may not know about, and might be kosher or not. Who can tell?

As a mere mortal I can listen to my body and do my best.

And I can send the wrecking ball of comparisons away to another neighborhood.

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Today is a rest day — I’ve got a 20-miler slated for tomorrow; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1139.5; Miles left to go 630.5.

Support systems



Moms can be angels on earth.

That’s what I concluded a few days ago when I got home from the dentist and my house was picked up for the first time in weeks, thanks to Helen (that’s my dear mother) and her magic.

She’s visiting us for two weeks. I’ve been buried for weeks and in just a few days she turned that around.

Suddenly my home is in order again and I’ve got an extra pair of hands to help with the cooking, cleaning and with the children. It’s amazing what a difference it makes.

When she’s here I can train and run at sane hours during the day instead of always getting up at o’dark early.

Having mama here is like the difference between running a race with numerous volunteers and water stops versus running one unsupported. 

When Mama visits she likes to keep busy. One of the ways she shows love is by doing what she can for others. She acts this way, not just with me, but the Dude, Tarzan and Jane, and just about everyone else, too. Mama is a natural “people person” and very warm and kind. She makes new friends easily wherever she goes. 

We are grateful to have her here.

One of the life lessons my mother has given me is that it is important to reach out to others and be there for one another. Today I ran with a new friend from the Columbines. I hope I was able to do that for her. She needed to run for a long time and some company always helps. I know how much this has meant when others have done this for me. It can be the difference between flying through the miles or slogging through them.

Just like wolves, we, humans, are social creatures. Running can be and often is a solo active, but even wolves run in packs and draw collective strength from one another. This method works well for them and for us, too.

For a few more days I get to enjoy a little pack time with my mother. 

Ja te volim puno, mama!

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Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!

Mileage today: 6; Miles to Boston miles logged: 1057; Miles left to go: 713.