Monday, December 31, 2012

Bad Penny

Dear 2012,

You suck.

I had high expectations for you.

After a disastrous end for 2011, stress fracture in a boot and all, I so was looking forward to a better year with you. 

But, you disappointed me.  You failed me.  

Bite me, 2012. 

Just a few days into 2012 I got out of my boot and ran.  Doctors blessing.  I was scared.  But, I ran my Fuck the Boot 5k  .  On a gloriously freezing cold Chicago winter day.  I ran.  It was wonderful. 
I was happy.  And optimistic.

I was fooled.

Just a few weeks later, I strained my calf muscle.  If you have never done this, be thankful.  It's was 100 times more painful than my stress fracture.   A few steps into a run and I felt and HEARD a pop.  I honestly thought I broke my leg.  The pain? Whoa.  I literally hopped home. Called into work the next day.  I never called into work at all with my stress fracture. 

So, off the legs again.  Of course.  Rest up for a few weeks and try again. Start slowly.  Again.  Baby steps.  Again. 

In the middle of this I sign up for the Chicago Marathon.  Because, obviously, I'm an idiot. I can't even run, yet I think I can do something I have yet to be able to even start? Stoopid. 

I think I'm on my way, so sign up for a St. Patty's Day 5k.  Oooof.  Again, stoopid.  It was a bit hot a humid that day (my kryptonite)  and I got spanked.  I had to stop multiple times. Walk. Breath.  In a 5k.  I finished 10 minutes off my PR.  Huh?  I wasn't ready.  What was I doing?  I wasn't ready. 

I was pissed.  So, I came home and immediately ran the race over.  Stoopid.  (See a theme here?).  It was now high noon.  Hot as hell.  Humid as hell.  And, I walked right into it.  Ran right into it actually. This time up hills too.  And, didn't stop until I ran that entire 5k again.  Ran it about the exact same time as the race. But, this time I was happy.  Because it was even harder.  Yet I did it.  Oh, sure, I got some severe foot pain in my wonky leg half way through.  But, I sucked it up cupcake and ran anyway.

Ahhhh, but that foot.  The pain kept me from really running again.  I gave it a few months rest and tried to start up when Chicago Marathon training began.  Made it to my 7 mile long run.  And quit.  I just knew I wouldn't be able to make it to the super long runs.  Not in the pain I was in.  No way.  So, once again.  I failed.  I quit. Yeah me. 

Oh, wait, stop right there..... stop. Ok, I didn't run.  2012 was not the year of running for me.  We all got that.  YOU all so got that.  

So, what did I do

Let's see, I crewed my dear friend as she ran 76 miles Barefoot 24.   I jumped on a train for 10 hours and met the lovely Deb. I was a virgin at crewing and just jumped right in.  It was an unbelievable experience.  Exhausting.  Wonderful.  I'd do it in a heartbeat if I ever have the chance to do it again. 

Well, my girls and I  decided to do a team triathlon in June.  Our first time.  We were clueless.  We weren't well trained.  But, we were determined.  We had a little bit of inspiration on our team. So what if my swimming wasn't where it needed to be.  If someone can be in the midst of chemo and kick ass, I can surely give it my all. We had a blast.  We didn't do so badly, rookie mistakes and all.  I was third out of the water for the relay teams.  Only behind the leader (10 years my junior by the way) by 18 seconds. Errgh.  We finished 7 out of 58 teams.  Pretty proud of that.  Oh, but, we will be top three next year.  For sure. Perhaps we may even win. 

So, the rest of the summer I swam.  I loved it.  Outside.  Warm sun on my back. Clear waters.  It's where I am at my most peaceful.  It's where I don't break.  I swam longer.  And  faster.  I did a four mile swim.  I got a great tan. Mmm'kay? I was sad to see it end.

I cheered at Shamrock Shuffle.  I cheered at Chicago Rock n Roll.  I went to the Fox Valley Marathon (Half & 20 miler)  I got there before sunrise and chalked up the running path for my friends.  I #DoEpicShit cheered every single person that started this race.  I had a blast. I loved seeing my friends.  I loved running (painfully) with them for a few feet,  screaming in their ear.  I got mad love back from the race on their facebook site.  That was sweet.

I went to the Chicago Marathon and cheered.  For the third year in a row, I cheered.  For the second year in a row I was registered and DNS due to injury.  So, yes, once again, there I was on the sidelines.  Cheering.  This year was different.  I was a bit more sad this time around.  Sigh.  I saw lots of my usual racing suspects, which was nice.  I also had the pleasure of cheering on some first time finishers.  The highlight for me was running with them for a bit at about mile 21.  Whispering a few words of encouragement in their ears as they struggled those last miles.  Then, I went home. 

Shortly after Chicago Marathon, I started my return to running.  Baby steps.  Literally.  Half mile runs.  They were tough.  Building slowly.  

Then life shit happened.  I hid a bit.  Because I needed to.  But, I continued to run. Progressing.  I was feeling good enough that on a whim (and fueled by wine) I signed up for a January half marathon. What?!?!? Am, I insane?  No, just stoopid.  I think we've established that already. So, I quietly did my own training.  It's probably not what I should be doing according to some well trained expert.  But, it's what works for me with my work schedule and my life.  I ran a 4 mile intensely hilly Turkey Trot.  I did not die.  It was close, but I did not die. I ran a cold and rainy December 5k trail race.  It was delightful.  I continued to run. I never got fast.  But, I get faster than when I started.  I went long.  Not super long.  But, long for me.  I ended the year with two 10 mile runs.  

Me.  The always broken girl.  Two 10 mile runs.  Even surprised me. Sure, that last one broke me again.  Still not able to walk right now.  I have a lovely shuffle/limp to keep me upright and moving forward, trying to keep the intense pain to a minimum.  Hoping the pain goes away all together.  Soon. 

So apropos to end 2012 on an injury again.  It just wouldn't be right if I didn't, right?

Ah, but I did end the year today with a quick mile swim.  A swim to always calm the chaos.

So goodbye 2012.  I'm done with you. You surely knocked me down.  A lot. But, stoopid me, I kept coming back.

Like a bad penny.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ramble On

So, yeah....... I've been quiet for a bit.

When I was injured I spent my time following everyone else's workouts, progress, races.  I enjoyed following everyone's journey.  I rambled on. Had fun.  Made new friends.  Got close to old friends.   I also lost a few.  Circumstances.  Life.  It made me realize I depend on people too much.  While many people in life depend way too much on me, I expect others to be there for me.  However, in the end, when it matters most, nobody is there.

Through the last year everyone has been unbelievably supportive to me. They listened to me bitch.  Tried to hold my hand when I cried with frustration at being injured yet once again.  Virtual hugs abound when, once again I could not try to run Chicago.

I went through some tough life shit recently.  Still am.  Had some days when all I wanted was for one of my many many friends to be there for me.  To notice I needed help.  Needed a shoulder.  An ear.  A hug.  But, nobody was there.  It made me realize that although I am lucky to consider so many people I know virtually to be close dear friends, in the end they cannot be there for me when I need them.  Are not there for me when I need them.  They have their lives.  Their shit.

So, when I was ready to start out  on my journey once again, instead of depending on the wonderful support of others, I walked away.  It was easier to be alone at the start than to have company and expect it to stay, only to be disappointed in the end.

When I was ready to start out again, I wanted nobody around me.  I'm not quite sure why.  Because if nobody knew what I was doing then when I would inevitably break once again (because I will) I won't have to not only disappoint me, but those who support me?  Maybe.

Or maybe because I wanted to do this on my own.  With out the rah, rah, rahs.  Without the "you're amazing"'s. (I'm not)  Oh, don't get me wrong, I like those.  I need those.  But, I ultimately need to do this for me.  By me. For me. Me.

So, I ran.  Some were good.  Some were downright awful.  But, I ran. I ran into double digits.

Now I sit here with ice on my foot.  Unable to walk due to the foot pain from today's 10.4 mile run.

I'm not sure if it's just some cramping.  Or something worse.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tap, tap, tap....

Is this thing on?

Is there anybody there?

Is there anybody REALLY there?

Sometimes I wonder.

Well, I'm here.  Doing it on my own.  Or trying to anyway.

8 miles today. Yes, me. 8 miles.

Turning the tide.

Carry on.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Take what I can and run with it.

Yesterday as I was leaving work I had a few last chats with Lisa, my co-worker/ex running partner/friend.  She had asked me to switch Saturday work with her so she could get her 20 mile run done.  Of course.  She is running the New York Marathon in two weeks.  Her third marathon (she ran Chicago twice).  We talked about where she planned to run that morning.  I suggested a few options, basically my entire biking route is 20 miles.  I told her I would meet up with her on the way to work and bring her fuel, food, etc., as the trail IS on my way to work.  We talked about the options and made some very loose plans on me doing just this.  As I was about to leave our boss turned to me and yelled, "That's the world's best cheerleader!!!" 

I smiled and walked out.  Then paused outside for a bit.  Got a bit sad.  I know what she said was a nice compliment.  Said with complete kindness.  It was taken as such.  But.....

I've been in a post Chicago Marathon funk.  Yes, I realize I did not run the marathon (I'm CLEARLY aware of this fact).  I know several of my friends who did run it are in a bit of a funk too.  But, they RAN this marathon.  I just screamed from the sidelines.  However, yes, I too am in a funk. 

I know people see me as a great cheerleader.  As a motivator (not sure why). A good friend.  I might be those things.  However, as I've been reminded of lately, I tend to give too much of myself.  I give so much to others that I fail to give anything to myself.  Ever.  I'm okay with that.  Or I guess I was.  I don't know.  It's just what I'm used to.  I kind of don't think I deserve to give to myself I guess.  What for? 

Don't get me wrong.  I adore all the people in my life.  Adore.  However, sometimes I feel as if I have just one too many people depending on me.  Even if it's just for me to tell them things are going to be ok.   Sometimes I get emotionally exhausted.  Sometimes I need people to lift ME up.  I feel sorry for those that end up with that task.  They certainly don't deserve it.  But, I thank them for it.  It matters.  They matter.  They know who they are. 

Some people in my life have been a bit more insistent lately that I need to give less to others, take more for me.  So, I've been trying. I'm trying to get back out on my feet.  Trying to run.  Bike.  Swim.  Move.  Turn my phone off.  Tune people out.  Do nothing.  Do something.  For me. 

The last three nights I've lounged on the couch and did nothing but watch t.v.  This may sound strange, but I haven't done that in.... well, I cannot remember the last time.  I'm either meeting someone, or chatting with someone, or doing something for someone.  In fact I did get a text while on the couch, asking to meet me for a drink.  An old friend who has been trying to meet up with me for months.  Each time he got me I was literally in the middle of a run or ride.  It was kind of funny. This time I was on the couch.  Yet, I replied, "Can't tonight.  Busy.  Raincheck?"  I was busy doing nothing.  It felt good.  

Haley crawls all over me.  Bites the heck out of me.  We run circles outside.  She runs away.  I chase her down the street in a shortie robe and no shoes. Good times.  All good.

So, "World's Best Cheerleader"? Huh.  Well, gee, thanks.  But, I don't want to be that.  I don't want to be just that.  I don't want to just be giving all that I have to everyone else.  I want to give to me too.  I want to run.  I want to be epic.  I want someone else lifting me up besides myself.  

So, pardon me if I don't post as many comments on your epicness anymore (I know some of you are saying, "Uh, you never post comments on mine."  Uh, sorry. LOL) Sorry if I don't reply to your texts asap.  Sorry if I am not standing at your next race cheering you on.  I, perhaps, will be attempting to do it myself.  

I'm going to lounge on the couch more.  I'm going to finally watch an episode of Honey Boo Boo (no joke, never seen it). I'm going to learn some Gangnam style.  (again, never seen it - til just now). I'm going to throw /give away tons of my clothes.  I'm not sure what I was saving them for.  However, I'm quickly creeping towards fitting back into them.  I don't want to fit back into them.  They need to go away.  Forever. 

I'm going to run.  Or try to.  It's still a struggle.  It still hurts.  New things hurt.  But, I'm trying.  I'm doing the exercises I'm supposed to do.  They are helping.  I'm going to try to swim more.  The indoor pool is hard on my lungs.  I think I'm going to try for an inhaler to help with that. But, I'll keep swimming no matter what.  I'm going to bike as long as the weather allows.  

I'm going to finish my friend's book he wrote and gave to me in February.  Chris and I grew up in the same neighborhood. We swam together.  We weren't really friends.  Acquaintances perhaps.  We reconnected on Facebook two years ago.  Somehow started chatting about what we had been up to in our lives since high school.  Somewhere along the way I became a cheerleader for his book release.  He also became a good source of encouragement for  my running.   I don't chat with him much.  But, when I do, he always asks about my running.  Or my injury.  Either way he offers encouragement. He sent me a signed copy of his book before the release date.  I read half.  Then stopped.  Not because it wasn't good.  It was very good.  I just stopped doing things for me.  I opened up the book the other day.  I re-read the inscription: "Andrea, great to reconnect on FB!  Enjoy the read.  - Chris. P.S. Good luck with that Chi Marathon race." 

I guess sometimes I forget people are cheering for me too.  I thank you.  A lot. 

But, first..... I need to figure out where I'm meeting Lisa on her 20 mile run tomorrow on my way to work.  

I know, I know. 

I can't quit entirely.  It's part who I am.  However, not totally who I am. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicago Marathon, DNS deux

Second year in a row I DNS the Chicago Marathon. Super.

For those that don't know >>>  I sign up.  I get injured.  I whine.  I don't run it.  I cheer.  I go home.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 

I woke up at three a.m.  Not sure why.  But, I did.  My friend Lee heard me up.  She came into the room and said, "I'm not going to run.  I don't feel well."  I said, "Ok.  Are you sure?"  She said, "Yes."  Then she went back to bed.  Five minutes later I crawled in bed with her and she said, "Sorry, I just don't feel like doing it".  I told her no need to apologize to me.  But, I asked if she wanted to wait until I got up later that morning to really decide.  She said she would feel the same in an hour.  I clued her in that it was only three a.m.  She laughed.  She thought it was 6:30 and I was up to go cheer.  Lee had also signed up for Chicago.  We planned to both do this.  She ended up not training.  So, she had planned to only run the first 8 miles.  The start back to her home.  However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Marathon.  The night before we were out watching the Notre Dame - Miami football game from Soldier Field.  We may or may not have been over served.  And, by over served I  mean the bartender adored us and made us some very yummy complimentary shots that were clearly not necessary each time he gave them to us.  But, being ladies and not wanting to be rude..... Well, ya know.  

So, Lee was out.  I checked Twitter and giggled at the tweets I saw coming over from racers not able to sleep.  I know those nights.  A few hours later these tweets turned into pictures of themselves in their race outfits, ready to run a marathon.  I got excited.  Marathon race morning, baby!  I got dressed in my DES gear, texted Claire.  She asked how bundled up I was.  Bundled up?  I was wearing running shorts, DES tee and a light running jacket.  She had fleece lined running tights and lots more on.  I made her disrobe a bit.  Mid 40's?  We would be fine.

It was perfect marathon running weather.  A gorgeous fall Chicago day.  

I headed out the door down the half block to mile 8 to get coffee.  People were already lining the streets of Boystown.  Helicopters were flying overhead.  It was coming.  The marathon was coming.  

Once again, my dear Claire  and I were Do Epic Shit cheerleading.  For those new to to me the cliff notes version of Claire and me (because people ask me)  is that we met randomly at an internet fun run on July 4, 2011.  We didn't chat much that night.  However, we ran into each other again at medal engraving a few months later for RnR Chicago.  We had a very intense talk about life.  About us.  About running.  About where we were and where we were going.   We talked about our running peeps.  You know, the people who get us through each and every day.  I had my Daily Mile peeps.  She had her Tumblr peeps. We discovered we were alumnae of the same college (me much, much, much earlier than she).   Somehow I told her about the Do Epic Shit shirt I had procured earlier that day.  She wanted one.  I told her that she would have to EARN one.  First of all change that "old Claire" facebook photo to a new "Rockin" Claire profile pic.  THEN, PR her next half marathon.  She changed the pic.  Then I epic cheered her (taunted) her at her next half, wearing the shirt and yelling at her along the course.  After her PR,  I took off the sweaty shirt and bequeathed it to her.  She went on the DES cheer and various race around the country when she was on injured reserve. (She is chronically injured like me, sadly)  She got quite internet famous doing so.  Rightly deserved. 


The leaders
Claire is an amazing cheerleader.  She makes me look like a mime next to her.  She yells the most hilarious things.  She has great one liners.  She heckles the runners.  She over compliments them and makes them giggle and blush.  Eventually I just started stealing her lines.  Ha.  Seriously, if you haven't cheered NON-STOP for 5 hours you have NO idea how hard this actually is.  The stream or runners never stops.  You are on constantly.  You don't want to miss any group.  So, you keep yelling and yelling and yelling and yelling.  Don't even get me started at how tired your arms and shoulders get.  I'm not kidding.  And, my voice?  Fuggedaboudit.  Brenda Vaccaro seks line worthy today.

Porta John alertn level low @ mile 8.
Well, @  7:30am anyway.  ;)

We set up shop to start at around mile 7.5 mile-ish.  Just before the fun of Boystown.  Last year this spot wasn't too crowded.  I was able to walk in the street a bit and scream.  This year we were a bit smooshed.  Even with Claire and I being tall and towering over most everyone else (FYI, do NOT stand behind two tall woman holding and waving signs and then complain you can't see.  I will tell you to bite me) it was hard to get our signs waving into the street. But, soon... they started to see us.  "They" being one of the many runners either Claire of I, or both, knew.  She with her Tumblr peeps.  Me with my Daily Mile peeps.  I "knew" some of her Tumblr peeps too, but not as well.

Let me say this... having people dart out of a crowd to you and stand before you for 2 seconds while you try to process some name-face recognition while also giving them some words of encouragement is REALLY hard.  Seriously.  I try to first get the name right (harder than you think).  Then I usually go for the quick high five or hug if I can.  Then some good words for them to take on their way.

Chris came flying by first.  I do not know Chris.  Claire knows Chris.  Chris saw me at Fox Valley Marathon cheering.  We mutually followed each other on Tumblr after that.   He said he promised to say hi to Claire and me along the route.  I said, sure, a hello, high five, fist bump, ass slap, whatever.  All of a sudden out of the crowd  of runners there stood Chris in front of us.  He hugged Claire.  Without a word spoken to me, I turned around, he slapped my ass.  Then ran off.  It just seemed so very right.  And, made me snort with giggles.

And, so it begins.  Bring it. 

Kelly came by with a kick ass smile and strong high five.   I saw Brian coming up way down the street.  I stepped into the street and yelled "BRIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAN Whoooooooo!" at the top of my lungs.  Got a hug, sent him on his way.  Jeff zoomed by, said hi.  Maryjo literally zigzagged across the crowd and flew by with a wave.  It was almost like she was floating. David swooped by and smiled and said hello.  Then, smiling a huge grin and seemingly skipping through the crowd came Ben.  Wtf?!?!?  Ben had been injured with a stress fracture most of the summer.  He was in the same, "I signed up for Chicago Marathon but was injured and couldn't run" boat.  I literally yelled at him, "What are you doing?  What are you doing?'  His reply, "I'm ruuuuuunning!!!!!"   Yes, you were, Ben.  Yes, you were.   Michelle and her sister Bobbi, yes!   Oh, lookie there, it's Ashleigh.  I had no clue she was running CM.  Oh, wait, she wasn't.  She was pacing some of her peeps 25 miles! She never ceases to amaze me.  I believe I may have even seen her pirouette. . Many more Daily Milers came by.  Some I had never met before.  So, it was fun to get a shout out from them.

We eventually had to leave and get to out next intended spot, Mile 20ish.  However, leaving the runners mid cheer is hard.  We feel like shit.  Like walking out before the play is over.  We had to do it skillfully.  First the signs came down.  We kept cheering.  Then, Claire stepped back.  Then, I stepped back.  Then we were off.  Signs in hand.  Claire ordering me to run.  Then asking me if I could run.  Yes, Claire, I will run.  It doesn't matter if I can.  I will. So, off the few blocks to the El.  Half way there Claire yells back to me, "Hey, remember when we weren't injured, when we were skinny and ran fast?" (as in a year or so ago) Ugh.  Sigh.  Ugh. I believe I said, "No, I don't.  It seems like forever ago"  She said, "I do.  I was looking at pictures from last year.  I remember"  I think I try to forget.  It's too painful for me to look back at how great it was.  How great I felt.  How great I looked.  It feels like another lifetime ago for me now.

PLEASE NOTE>>>>>> This might be a good time to refuel.  Take a gell cap.  Hydrate.  Do some stretches.  You are only half way through my recap.  

running into Chinatown

Next stop China Town.  I had never been here for the marathon, but heard it was a great place for the race. Indeed it was.  It was loud.  The music was loud.  The cheering was loud.  It looked like fun.  Immediately, Claire and I decided it was NOT the place for us.  We needed desolate.  We needed space.  We needed a place where the runners needed US.  So, we ran about 3/4 miles away (Andrea, you doing ok?  You want to walk?  Can you still run?  You think you can make it?  Yes, Claire, keep going.  I will make it.  I will).  We ended up in a more industrial area.  Not very pretty.  Not too many people cheering.  Plenty of room for the Do Epic Shit show.  Perfect.

The internet in a tutu
We missed many of the fast runners were had seen early on in Boystown.  They were either done or almost done.  But, we were here to catch the majority of our other runners.  Lots of the Tumblr peeps came by.  I recognized many of them, but few knew who I was.  Claire was there to give the hugs and the encouragement, the motivation.  I did get a few kick ass hugs and was able to give my own words to some. I was able to see Tumblr David  twice.  It was nice to meet him.  We even wonder twinned powered our #DoEpicShit bands.  I want to think that gave him a bit more energy.  

Michelle & dad
I saw a few Daily Milers here. All of a sudden Jeff was standing in front of me.  Just standing.  Arms at his side.  With a look.  Not a good look.  I asked what was wrong.  He said, "Everything".  Ugh.  I gave him a hug.  He held on for dear life.  I SO wanted to fix him.  Badly.  I told him he could do this.  One more hug.  Then I sent him back out.  If I could have I would have put him on my back and carried him.  Michelle M. was suddenly in my eyesight.  I hadn't seen her yet in the race.  How did I miss her the first time?  Huh.  Was I asleep?  But, thankfully, I did catch her this time.  I gave her a huge hug, then watched her run off, with her dad - who surprised her at mile one - running by her side. (How kewl is that?) Then, I threw down my sign and ran after her.  To chat a bit.  Run a bit.  Tell her she was kicking ass. To tell her she WOULD finish her first marathon. It was within reach.  Finally. (Goose)


An idiot came by.  A real Idiot's Running Club idiot.  Dressed in idiot gear and all.  I had my IRC sign ready for him.  I had seen him at mile 7.5, but couldn't get my sign out in time.  This time I waved it in his face.  He was hurting a bit.  Didn't look too happy.  But, Claire and I screamed. "IDIOT!!!!   Idiot's Running Club!!!! IRC BABY!  Go Idiot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  He laughed continued on.  Once again I dropped my sign.  I ran after him.  I yelled shit in his ear.  Then I turned around and took his picture.  Hey, it's what any good IRC Princess would do after all.

At this point, Claire had left me.  These Tumblr kids, and I call them kids because I'm an old fuddy duddy fart compared to them, were amazing.  The ones not running (and there were a good lot) made sure they had lined the worst part of the marathon - miles 18 to the finish.  They were all over the place.  Jumping in to run with someone when needed.  People needed it.  One of Claire's Tumblr peeps, Smitty, (<<<read this.  now.) came up. Claire realized he was running dangerously close to missing his 5:00 finish time goal at his current pace.  She thew down her sign and was off.  To get him to that finish ( He made it by 2, yes 2, seconds.  Thanks mostly to Claire's encouragement, pacing, motivation, and really.... orders.  )  I was then cheering with JBizzle and KC.  They had just run a few miles with someone and stopped here and waited for more runners.

Bobbi & Michelle
I was still waiting for Michelle and Bobbi.  Michelle was fighting some serious pain in the last two weeks.  I was worried about her.  I knew this would be at tough day for her.  But, she had her sister by her side.  How amazing was that?  Pretty. So, there they were smiling and running toward me.  I could tell Chelle was hurting.  A lot.  It broke my heart to see her in so much pain.  But, she was moving.  Forward.  She was fighting with everything she had.  I gave her a hug and she whispered to me that she was in a lot of pain.  I tried to say something encouraging.  Then she and Bobbi ran off.  Again, I threw down my sign and ran off to catch them.  I caught up to Chelle and told her that she had already ran further than she had ever run.  That I knew she was in pain, but she COULD do this.  She WAS doing this.  I eventually had to leave her.  She was in good hands with Bobbi.  However,  I wanted to run her the rest of the way in to the finish.   It's my one regret.  I wish I had.   

I saw most of my peeps.  Sadly, however, there were a few I never saw.  (Insert sad face here).  I was exactly in the spots I said I would be.  However, crowds get thick.  Minds wander.  Things happen.  I feel badly I wasn't able to cheer some of those people on.  

JBizzle, KC and I then went back through the race.  Walking against the stream of runners.  Back a few miles to find a missing friend they left behind.  As we ran we waved our signs,  yelled out a few things at the racers.  Then we came upon a runner down.  Medical crew working on him.  The water station crew had formed a human wall between him and the other racers, so they hopefully didn't see what was going on.  We, however, did.  They were giving him some serious medical attention.  Some very scary medical attention.  I thought back to the man that died feet from last year's finish line.  My heart sank.  Shit just got very real.  We  walked in silence for a bit.  Eventually, I think I said, "Whoa.  That was scary"  Then, as if we just had to... we started cheering again.  For those still in it.  These racers were the back of the pack.  The last people running.  The real heroes in my opinion.  Still moving.  Forward. 

This area was even worse than where we had come from.  Dark and dingy. I'm still not sure where it was coming from, but come it did.  It was the theme for Hawaii Five-O.  I know, wtf.  All of a sudden, as if in a very Footloose moment, I started to dance.   I don't know what got into me.  But, all of a sudden I found myself literally surfing, arms stretched out waving up and down, through the runners. JBizzle and KC also were surfing.  Runners smiled.  Giggled.  Some surfed with us . 

.Next song was "Shake a Tailfeather".  Once again, without speaking the three of us danced randomly.  Holding our signs, dancing fools.  (Almost reminiscent of the Blues Brothers scene. ha) Runners came over the bridge and giggled.  One guy ran by me and smirked.  Then he stopped, came back, and started twisting with me.  Then started butt bumping twisting with me.  I gladly obliged.  Yes, I butt bumped a strange man in the middle of a marathon.   It just seemed so very right. .

We then made it to literally the end of the race, as in the sweeper finish car.  Stay in front of this car and you officially finish.  Fall behind and you just do it for your own pride.  No medal.  No name in the paper.  These people here were the epic ones.  Not giving up.  No way.

We then headed for the L.  We were going to hit the finish and post finish area.  I decided I wasn't going.  I hadn't seen either the start or finish of this year's race.  I was kind of a bit melancholy about being at the finish  this year.  Last year I saw many of my friends finish.  It was emotional for me.  In a good way.  I was happy for them.  This year I wouldn't be there to see anyone finish.  Just where I ended up logistically at the mile markers made it impossible to beat them to the finish.  But, more, I think I didn't want to see them post race. Not that I wasn't happy for them.  I was over the moon happy for them. But, at the same time I was getting a bit sad.  Sad that I couldn't be that too.   At this point I just wanted to go home.  I wanted to be done with the marathon.  I was tired.  Very tired.  I needed quiet time. With just me.

This girl's family loves her. 
The crowds cheering at Chicago are unreal.  I only see it from a spectator's perspective.  But, I've seen some really amazing things over the years.  I can't even imagine what it's like from the runner's perspective.  Strangers cheering for strangers.  Huge families jumping in and running along side a family member, screaming, cheering, supporting.    You can't help root for everyone. 

The running/ walking I did that day was tough.  It hurt.  A lot.  I didn't really tell Claire this. Ok, maybe a little.  I didn't want to slow down our plan.  Oddly enough, it's when I sit that hurts most after I run.  After our 20 minute L ride I had a hard time even walking at first.  But, suck it up cupcake I did.  I had friends running a damn marathon.  Geesh, I can run a few miles.  Or hobble.  Hell, last year while cheering the marathon I walked ALL over the place with a yet to be diagnosed tibia stress fracture.  Yes, that hurt too.  And, yes, I sucked it up. 

The love I get back from the runners is indescribable.  Seriously.  The amount of thank yous I can't even count.  The eye contact I make with people is intense.  Often no words are exchanged.  I get a lot of points.  No words, just guys looking across the street at me.  Pointing at me.  I point back.  It's our little moment.  Sometimes it's just me speaking.  But, I see it in the way they look back at me.  It matters.  I matter.  It hits me hard.  It makes it ALL worth it.  

I somehow made it to my 11 year old niece's birthday party later that day.  She ran out to greet me with a huge ol hug.  She asked me how the race was.  I said amazing. She asked me if I saw all my friends run.  I said yes.  She asked if it was fun.  I said yes.  She told me that she wanted to go sometime and watch me run the marathon.  I said, "Me too.  Me too"

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes my 2012 Do Epic Shit cheering duties.  Any races in the near future that I attend will have me participating.

Please feel free to help me get to the finish line.

I will  need it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

10 Running Questions

My friend (and the only boy who willingly chases me, albeit only in the water) Jeremy tagged me in this to answer the following questions.  So, here goes:

1. Best Run Ever

There are a few I can think of. But, the one I'll go with happened in January 2011.  Yes, I remember.  Daily Mile also helps me remember dates when I look up my logged runs.  I was planning on doing my running path, out in a prairie where I had be trying  to get my run on.  It's a 5.5 mile loop.  It took me awhile to run this entire thing without stopping.  Without walking.   I had not done it in awhile after the cold and snow kicked in.  I was trying to get this in for the first time in awhile. Start to finish.  No walking.  Run the hills.

It was a crisp cold winter day.  I texted my college roommate who lives 15 minutes away, and who also just recently started running.    I asked her if she was going out for a run.  She said she had just gotten her hair done, so no.  She was being snarky.  I gave her a hard time.  She said, "Meh, I'll just double whatever you do today tomorrow."  We giggled.

But, funny thing happened.  I felt great. I felt strong.  Fierce.  I ran my loop. The ENTIRE loop.  And, for some reason I did NOT go back to my car.  I kept going.  On another loop.  I always like a challenge.  Hee, hee. hee.  Really, Lisa, DOUBLE what I do today?  Huh.  Well, 11 miles baby!  I ran 11 miles.  Smoke on that Lisa. 

You have to understand, I had only done an 11 mile run twice before.  In my first and second half marathons.  Due to injuries I had never done an 11 mile  training run.  Ahhh, but, I had some great tunes in my ears, cool weather in my face, a challenge in front of me, and I felt strong.  I was SO proud of this run.

Lisa never ran the next day.  22 miles is scary after my awesomeness.  I understand.  

2. Three words that describe my running
Painful, Freeing, Necessary

3. My Go-to running outfit is
Seksi spandex shorts, fitted tank, headband, perfect ponytail swoosh, Brooks Glycerin 10

4. Quirky habit while running
I text and run.  Not randomness.  But, sometimes I need encouragement to get my run on.  Especially when I'm not feeling it.  I take inspiration from wherever I can.  I'm lucky to have such a great group of running friends who will say encouraging things to keep me going.  Even better yet, they say inappropriate things to make me giggle.  I think that works even better.  ;)

5. Morning, midday, evening.
Yes, please.  Oh, right, running.  Evening.  No contest.  I am NOT a morning person.  I stay up WAY too late for that.  I like running in the dark anyway.  Ninja runner.

6. I won't run outside if it's

Pouring ran while trail running down a mountain?  Nope, I'll do that. 

Run in 22 inches of fresh snow.  In shorts?  Nope, I'll do that.

Run with tornado sirens going off?  Nope, done that.  Twice. 

Hot and humid?  We have a winner ladies and gentlemen.  I have.  While training for 2011 Chicago Marathon (failed attempt).  It was what I had to work with to get my training in.  However, humidity is my kryptonite.  It brings me down.  Hard.  I have exercise induced asthma and when humidity rolls in I literally cannot breath.  I overheat.  It's horrible.

7. Worst injury and how I got over it
Really?  Where do I start?  I'm not even sure what the worst one was.  Tibia stress fracture fall of 2011 was the beginning of the downfall with my leg.  Then a calf strain in late January. (the most painful of the injuries). Now foot pain.  (still not sure what it is).  Then I always have the UBHA (sciatic pain) that just won't go away.

I'm not over it.  God, when will I ever get over it?

8. I felt most like a badass runner when
Three weeks of partying and doing physical property work (painting, cleaning, yard work)  around the St. Maarten place. Two days before I leave I sign up for a 5k with my St. Maarten friend.  When I get to registration I find out it's a 10k.  Oh dear.  I was doing little 3 mile runs here and there throughout the trip.  But, I had not run more than that in a very long time.  

It was a hot sunny Caribbean day.  I thought I was going to die.  I jockeyed back and forth with a few women throughout the race.  MUCH younger women than me.  I was DYING by the end.  I had very little left in the tank at the finish.  But, 10k I did (ooozing Heineken out of my pores).  

One of the young women I had passed came up post race to tell me it was fun pushing each other.  Then she also asked me if I had seen my legs.  What?  What's happened to my legs?!?!?  She laughed.  "No, when you run the muscles in your legs are sick" Ha. Why.... thank you very much younger and cuter woman than me.  These legs just kicked your ass.  

To top it off I got first place in my division.  Mind you, this is NOT the Chicago Marathon.  But, I don't care.  I got bling and rewarded myself with some beachside warm French croissants and ice cold beer. 

9. My next race is
God, I wish I could tell you that.  I have no idea.  I'm not running.  My body is surely nowhere ready to even think about that.  However, I would really like to get to the Turkey Trot 5k this year on Thanksgiving morning.  I ran it two years ago with my then 9 year old niece.  I was injured last year and had to watch her and the rest of my family run without me.  I really want to run it with her again. More importantly she wants to run it with me. 

After that if I can stay/be healthy I would like to possibly do the Fucking Freezing Half Marathon in January. My ideal running conditions.

Do I even look past that?

10. Potential Running Goals for 2013 
Swimming (had to throw that in) To do an open water swim race. To not die doing so.

To run a marathon.  Hell, just get to the start would be nice.

To have someone cheer for ME.

To. Not. Be. Injured. Dammit.

Run happy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Have You Seen My Ghost?

I forget about days like today.  That I can have days like today.  I know they are out there.  But, I forget sometimes. 

Per usual, I stayed up way too late last night.  Woke up way too early this morning.  Chatted up some friends.  Fell back asleep.  Mid chat.  Woke up.  Had some giggles.  Enjoyed my day off.

The sun was shining.  Would have been a perfect day for an outdoor swim.  If only my pool was still open.  If only. 

Ah, but, I enjoyed the sun nonetheless. Then  I got an SOS call from someone needing me.  Just as I was walking out the door to pick up my bike from the bike shop.  For once, I didn't drop my life for someone else.  It was only my silly bike.  But, it's ME.  My life.  Dammit, I matter too.  

Today I felt strong.  Mind, body, and spirit strong.  This doesn't happen often.  My body has been broken so long.  That has affected my spirit.  But, today, today the stars aligned.  Yes, I hurt.  Yes, I'm still broken.  But, I saw parts of me that I forgot I had.  My smile.  My strength.  

I felt alive at Power Yoga.  I hadn't felt that in a very long time.  I used to rock those classes.  Hold the poses the longest.  Push myself the furthest.  Improve with every class.  For the last year these classes have been more a struggle with my injuries, with my fears of breaking.  Of hurting.  Trust me, many a class I was in severe pain.  But, I tried anyway.  Tonight I had my usual sciatic pain.  But, it didn't bother me.  My mind won out.  The rest of my body won out.  I won. 

I forget that sometimes I can be strong.  I've accepted for over a year that I'm weak.  That my body is weak.    It made me, oh, so happy to feel strong.  If only for one day.  Oh, but, wait, maybe not for only one day.  I can rock a four mile swim after all.  

Some days I wonder where my body went.  Other days I see the ghost of yesteryear.  


Thursday, September 6, 2012

What If.

What if.

What if things were different.  What if circumstances were different.  What if you didn't meet who you met when you did.  What if you met them earlier.  What if you met them later. What if you never met them. What if.

What if that didn't happen to you.  What if it didn't change your direction for many years to come.  What if you never changed the direction back.  What if  you let them in when they wanted in.  What  if you stopped fighting it. What if.

What if you didn't try.  What if you quit after you failed the first time.  The second time. What if you didn't succeed eventually.  What if you never succeed. What if.

What if you didn't break.  What if you didn't fix yourself. What if you didn't break again.  What if.

What if you weren't so tired.  So damn tired. What if.

As if.

"Every tear an ocean, that had the means to drown me, but instead taught me how to swim"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review Mirror

So, here we are.  One year ago on this date I broke.  

One week out from my 10 minute PR at the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon  and seven weeks from the Chicago Marathon.  I broke. 

I was whining and bitching (shocker) about going out on my 18 mile training run.  It would have been a PR distance for me.  I missed my 17 mile run for the half. The half hurt.  A lot.  But, I had a friend pushing me through it.  Otherwise, I think I probably would have quit on myself somewhere in there.  Not stopped.  But, walked some of the race.  But, I didn't.

So, there I sat ready to run my 18 miler.  Okay, ready would be the wrong word choice.  Terrified would be more appropriate.  Two of my favorite runner doodes were texting me and telling me to stfu and just go.  They are pretty bad ass ultra runners.  Me, not so much. Finally I went.  I really had high hopes and was determined to do this. 

But, eight miles in I stopped.  I quit.  Mentally I was done.  Physically I was most definitely done. My leg was hurting.  Not just  "this is a long ass run and my leg is tired" hurting.  Like on fire hurting. 

I sat on a bench along the river.  And cried.  I knew I was done.  Even if my leg was just a minor setback, I knew mentally I was quitting.  I texted the guys.  Both would usually tell me to suck it up and run.  They both told me to stop trying and go home.  They knew.  Better than I did.  They knew. 

What I didn't know then, or for a few months for that matter, was that I had a tibia stress fracture.  One year ago today.   I haven't been the same since.  What followed was a pretty crappilicious year, both running wise and personally.  

It took the next three months to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor. Bone scan, MRI, and more x-rays than I can count.   

I ran a 5k race after my ortho doctor told me that 10 weeks surely should be enough rest from running.  It hurt.  I did it.  But, I MADE myself do it.  It really, really hurt. 

After all the tests I finally got a hands in the air, "I think it's a stress fracture" diagnosis.  Boot for a few months to follow.  I waddled for the next few months, which then threw my UBHA (sciatic crap aka UnderBitchHammieAss) into overload.  When I finally got out of the boot my ass hurt a ton. If you've never had this sciatic pain you have NO IDEA.  It sucks.

But, I soldiered on.  Took baby steps back to running.  3 minute runs. 5 minutes.  7 minutes.  10 minutes.  1 mile.  Until I ran my Fuck the Boot 5K on a very cold Chicago morning.  I was back.  

I was wrong.

2 weeks later on a short run, steps into it I heard a POP.  I thought I broke my leg.  It was a calf strain.  TEN times more painful than my stress fracture.  Not to mention the awful sound it makes.  Ewww.  Down again.  

Then it was up, down, up, down for the rest of the year.  Ass pain.  Foot problems.  Falling off a bike. Mental funks.  Just when things looked good, they got bad again.  I'm in pain all the time.  Something hurts.  All the time.  From my neck all the way to my foot.  Pain.  Now I have some weird ailment I'm dealing with. I don't think it will affect my running.  But, I think somehow it was brought on by my lack of running.  I also think it's more mentally based.  It's just manifesting itself through a physical problem.  Oh goodie. 

I hate that this year was like this.  It was so frustrating.  Overwhelming at times.  I want to so badly be out there running.  It's what saved me.  It's now what kills me. People keep telling me to bike.  To swim.  Yes, I hear you.  But, I can bike 60 miles and it does nothing for me.  I get the miles in, sure.  But, I don't feel the mental and physical workout. Swimming?  I love swimming.  Of course.  It makes me happy.  But, running makes me healthy.  Both mentally and physically. 

While I struggled, others people rocked on.  It was fun to see people be awesome.  It was hard too.  But, come on....

First half marathon
First marathon 
first Ironman  (yes, I cried like a baby watching the live feed of friends crossing the finish)
200 mile rides
first 100 mile ultra
and many personal achievements and overcoming adversity that made me grin ear to ear.....
and on, and on....

Amazing to watch so many of my friends rock it.  So proud of them.

I did have some nice moments in my crappilicious year.  There were the races I Do Epic Shit cheered for because I couldn't run them anymore.  Chicago Half, where I taunted Claire with her DES shirt the entire race.  I rewarded her PR with the actual shirt.  Off my sweaty back. 

Chicago Marathon, where I had THE best time cheering in all my friends.  Seeing most of them three times along the course.    Shamrock Shuffle, where injured reserve Claire and I finally joined forces and Do Epic Shit cheered together.  So fun! Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon.  The first time I didn't run this race.  

I quit my job of 19 years.  I love my new job.  There is no way I could continue on with my old job.  AND, not run.  I wouldn't make it through each day.  I was barely hanging on there in the end.  My new job makes me smile.  And, giggle.  A lot.  I feel valued.  Appreciated.  Not something I felt much of at my old job.  Or life for that matter. My boss is very understanding about my desire to run.  She doesn't run. But, she appreciates my desire to. And, she says fuck a lot.  Which makes me smile. 

I did my first triathlon.  Albeit as a relay.  But, a way to see what it's like.  I had the most awesome and inspiring teammates. It was an amazing experience.  So very cool.  I had a decent swim, coming third out of the water for the relay teams.  Not bad for an old chick. 

I worked on rocking my headstand.  Went for a five minute PR.  Knocked it out.  Now working on ten minutes.  At 8:26 I'm almost there.  I WILL do ten minutes. 

I got my swim on.  Not nearly enough as I really want to.  I want to do better.  But, I'm happy I'm back in after all these years away.  And, I'm proud that there is one thing that I don't suck at.   I want to be better at this.  But, I'll just keep swimming and see where it takes me.  Yesterday it took me for a 6000 yard swim .  Yeah, baby. 

But, I still don't run.  I know that when, IF I do start again, it won't be easy.  It won't be free.  It won't be without worry.  That I'll break again.  Something old or something new.  Break.  Long gone are the 9ish minute mile runs of running out my problems in my head.  Now my problems will be in my body for long 11:00 or 12:00 minute miles.  

One long year.  One very long broken year.  It's gotten really old.  I'm really so over it. 

I have to stop looking back and start looking forward.  I need to have some hope.  Even when I think there is little.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Body By Me

Today I was involved in a few body image conversations.  Not sure what it was about today.  But, today was about bodies.  At work we had some intense discussions about a new dress code that is, in my opinion, teetering on discriminating against people who don't fit a corporate image of what "Americana" looks like.  I'm not sure what that really is.  However, I do know that we could have walked in the Olympic opening ceremonies and been called out for being American in a heartbeat. 

During the day I was also having some serious body image discussions with a new friend, a male triathlete across the globe (I love the internet). We have the same insecurities.  We have the same struggles.  It's not a female thing.  It's a human thing.  I think women may feel it worse.  But, it doesn't mean men don't have the hurt too.  

The body is an interesting thing.  It's a beautiful thing.  We look at bodies all day long.  You may not think you do, but you do.  Some of you do more than others.  You know who you are.  When you are walking down the street you observe.  You look at those you pass.  You notice.  Shapes.  Sizes.  Movement.  Bodies. 

As I left work I was walking behind a young woman in a long clingy maxi dress.  She was covered in fabric from her chest down to her ankles.  Yet, she was hard not to stare at.  You boys missed out.  As she walked that dress hit all parts of her body.  Let's just say a thong does a body good.  I love men.  But, I can appreciate a beautiful woman's body.  Oh, I was jealous too. 

When I got home from work I saw my friend, Jay's post.  He had been at the mall today with the ladies in his family.  He had been killing time with some male mall observations:

The smallest thing you say can carry so much weight. I was stalking outside Victoria's Secret as I do, and a chubby young girl walked out. She looked at me while I was looking at her and she blushed. Who knows what she thought I was thinking. She looked embarassed. So I said real loud, "Hey...nice shoes. You are kickin' ASS today." And she smiled and thanked me and strutted on down the road. I think I surprised her.
Jay noticed her.  Her body.  Her body language.  He made someone who probably didn't feel too good about herself that often feel a bit good.   Jay is a good man. 

I know how that chubby girl feels.  I am that chubby girl.  I am sure I know the feelings she feels. When I'm with my friends I'm the chubby girl.  Yeah, that's me. I'm that girl.   People notice my friends.  They don't notice me.  Oh, sure, they sometimes notice I'm tall.  But, quickly they will notice the beauty of those around me.  It's a really bizarre feeling.  It's so very hard to explain to someone who has never felt it.  To feel invisible.  People don't even realize they are doing it to me.  It's really quite interesting.  It's hurtful too.  Yeah, that. 

The more I don't run the more invisible I feel.  I'm trying to keep myself from disappearing.  I'm trying to swim.  Swim hard.  I'm biking.  But, it's not doing what running does for me.  Did for me.  The weight keeps creeping on.  I feel horrible.  I crawl in a little hole.  It's a vicious circle. I'm trying damn hard to keep my body moving.  I swear.  But, sometimes I get tired of trying.  Tired of hurting.  Just tired. 

On my ride today I looked at every body that passed me.  Really looked them.  All shapes.  All sizes.  Bodies in motion. You have to love bodies in motion.  Even if it's not the most perfect body.  It's moving.  For that you have to admire it. There's greatness in all that move their bodies after all:

 As I rode I passed a woman on a horse.  Talk about an amazing body.  The horse was majestic.  The size of it.  The muscles.  It was magnificent.    You truly have to be in awe of bodies like that as well.  Come on, if you have been watching the Olympics you have surely thought more than once "Wow, that's an amazing body".  How can you not? Men's swimming?  Yes please.  Women's beach volleyball?  My ass is so jealous. 

I won't ever be that.  I just won't.  I have the body I have.  It is what it is.  Sometimes it looks better than other times.  Right now it's not so good. But, I'll keep moving it.  Or try to anyway.  Some days I'll feel better about it.  But, most days, not so much. 

If you ever meet me, please don't tell me I'm pretty when I'm not.  Don't tell me I look good when I don't.  However, tell me that you like my shoes and I'm kicking ass.  

I'd like that.  That would be nice.