Runathons? And maybe the best Thanksgiving ever.

We (my sister and I) FINALLY talked my mom into letting us take over most of the Thanksgiving meal preparations for our family meal this year.  Last year, my then nearly 80-year-old mom ran herself ragged and ended up forgetting to put the ham in the oven!  I know how hard it is for her to accept help; after all, I’m just like her!  But we wouldn’t accept “No” for an answer and, surprisingly, she agreed without putting up much of a fight.  That’s how tired she was!

My husband smoked the turkey, while my sister prepared the ham and the rest of us filled in the gaps with amazing and delicious sides.  My mom took care of the mashed potatoes and her famous homemade rolls.

Alli was in charge of mashing to potatoes, while Memo added the ingredients to make them yummy!
Alli was in charge of mashing to potatoes, while Memo added the ingredients to make them yummy!

Memo (pronounced Mee-mo, and what we ALL call my mom), is always SO worried about her rolls rising properly!  It is comical the amount of fret and worry she puts into the making of her rolls.  Yesterday, she said she prayed over them that they would rise properly.  The prayers must have worked, because they were perfect!

Rolls are serious business.
Rolls are serious business.

Our lunch was delicious and wonderful!!  While some of us were cleaning, the grand kids sat down to decorate some thread spools that a lady had given my mom.  This lady thought that Alli could make some duct tape creation with them, but my niece had the idea to paint them and make ornaments.  They are sitting around my mom’s table, which has been in my dad’s family for at least 3 generations.  In fact, there were many leaves used to extend the table years ago, but have been lost.  No one knows how far it will extend….we tried once and ran out of room, but it was at least 20 feet long at that point.

Yes, my niece has dreads.
Yes, my niece has dreads.

Some of the finished products.
Some of the finished products.

For dinner, we went to my mother-in-law’s home.  It’s always interesting, to say the least.  This time, she asked me if I had run any runathons.  Before I could process what she said, my sister-in-law said, “Don’t you mean marathons?” And yes, she meant a marathon.  Although, I am VERY certain she has NO idea that I “train” for this marathon, nor that it is a distance of 26.2 miles.

I did, in fact, run yesterday morning.  It was probably a little ambitious, considering my recent ITB issue.  I was planning a 7-8 mile easy run.  I feel like I accomplished this, for the most part.  However, I also achieved a HUGE mental victory.  I noticed some tightness in my knee after mile 5, but no pain whatsoever.  And, here is the miracle, I decided to stop at 5.5 miles….BEFORE any real issues cropped up.  I was a mile from my car and knew I would have to walk back, but I was OK with that.  I’m really not sure how this happened, or what motivated me to stop.  In any case, I am VERY proud of myself!!

I also feel I am making progress with my ITB. I have been foam rolling, stretching and using my ball several times per day.  The stiffness around the ITB attachment point at my hip seems to be easing up some.  Just one of the many things for which I am thankful!

Since I’m a conscientious objector to the mayhem that we know as Black Friday, the only shopping I will do today will be in locally owned small businesses.

Happy Friday!

When advice is confusing and so are your friends.

I attempted my last long run of marathon training on Monday.  I say attempted, because my ITB flared up and I cut the run short – 11 miles instead of the 20 I had planned.  My reaction to this setback was surprising to me on many levels.

  • I didn’t panic or immediately sink into a pit of despair – during or after the run.  This is a biggie.  I’m at a critical point in marathon training.  Not getting this last long run in means that, on race day, 5 weeks will have passed since my last long run.  That’s enough to cause any aspiring marathoner to shake in their Asics.  Believe me when I say that I am shaking in my Asics.
  • I decided to cut the run short.  This is also a biggie, considering I finished my long run the last time this happened and ended up running limping the last 8 miles.  I also ended up tweaking my calf, which is just now healed properly.  Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.
  • I used the setback to my advantage and tried out some strategies for race day, in case myITB rears its ugly head again.  I stopped and stretched myITB and tried walk breaks, both of which provided relief for a window of time.  It’s always good to have a Plan B.  I hope I don’t have to use Plan B.

    Plus, who could be upset when your run began with this beautiful view?
    WHO could be upset when your run began with this beautiful view?

I appreciate all the support and advice that I’ve received from my running friends, my chiropractor and my myofascia guy.  And even though the nuts and bolts of the advice may differ from person to person, there is a common thread shared by all – listen to your body.  This seems like a simple task.  I’m sure it is a simple task for normal people.  But for me, it is THE biggest challenge in training.  To explain this, I must offer a confession: I am an addict – a running addict(try finding a 12-step program for that).  As an addict, I am proficient in justifying my actions.  In fact, I can justify any ache or pain, convince myself I should still go for a run AND that I should push my pace or add hills to the route.  So, listening to my body causes great confusion and dialogue within me (not unlike Gollum/Smeagol in LOTR).  I’m trying to quiet that uber-competitive part of me that wants to push through regardless of the consequences.  I also get distracted by my goals.  For example, I feel very strongly that I need to work that long run in somehow.  And while I know this isn’t a good idea, I can’t shake it from my mind no matter how hard I try.  Even though I have given voice to letting that run go, I catch myself thinking of ways to “make up for it” in my upcoming lower mileage training runs.  But I have come a long way, Baby, so I’ll take whatever progress I can get.

My stubbornness has, however, served me well in the past and earned me quite a reputation.  A friend asked yesterday how training was going and when I gave her the Cliff Notes version, replied, “You’re going to run this race held together with spit and baling wire!” (spoken like a TRUE Texan….she is a transplant!) and then, “You’ll do it, if only from sheer will.”  That, my friends, made me smile, because I know she is right and I know that I can do this! 🙂

This also makes me smile.  A wonderful new addition to my back window: :)
This also makes me smile. A wonderful new addition to my back window: 🙂

I went for my weekly myofascia appointment yesterday.  When he asked me how things were going, Debbie Downer I replied, “I’m falling apart!  My ITB is so mad at me! I don’t even know if I will be able to race!”  I proceeded to tell him about the long run and why it didn’t happen and he replied (this is why I LOVE him!), “You aren’t falling apart, this is just a speed bump.” Basically my ITB was GLUED from my hip to my knee – it wouldn’t move at all when I first got there.  My guy works with his wife but her client didn’t show yesterday, so she came in to help with my session.  At one point, I felt like I was on “The Rack”.  She was pulling my arm in one direction and he was pulling my leg in the opposite direction.  They did lots of other things, but at the end of the session I felt like a new runner!  I’m really very thankful she was able to help out, because I wonder if he could have made that much progress alone within an hour.  When I asked him how to approach the remainder of my training – you guessed it – he said “Just listen to your body.” Clear. As. Mud.  (I wonder if anyone ever notices my eyes glaze over when they say this to me??)

This morning, I had plans to have coffee with a friend who moved to the Dallas area a couple of years ago.  We try to get together in the summer and holiday seasons to keep in touch.  We always meet at her house – she is the one who lives in civilization, after all, so I left my house to head her way around 8:30.  At 8:45, I got a text from her confirming what I already knew; that she was running about 15 minutes late.  But that sounded odd, since I was going to her house!  I contacted her and realized that we were each going to the other’s home!  I had not understood that she was in town visiting her parents for Thanksgiving.  Typical, for this relationship! I turned around and headed back home to meet her.  As always, the visit was WONDERFUL, but reminded me how much I miss our little Ya-Ya Sisterhood.  And in Cindy fashion, she brought her own coffee mug!

Happy Hump Day & Turkey Eve!

 

Christmas came early (twice) and the not-so-great long run.

Friday evening, my little town held its Christmas Parade.  A wee bit early?  Probably, but waiting means that people start leaving town to Christmas shop.  And, believe it or not, the smaller (yes, there are smaller towns) towns in our county hold their parades in the weeks after Thanksgiving, so we wouldn’t want to schedule our parade to compete with theirs.  Apparently there are a lot of people who hit the parade circuit in Fannin County.  Who knew?  A little side note: my town’s population is around 10,000 (which includes 2,000 who are housed in the prison here) and is the county seat.  Last I heard, the county pop was around 30,000.  Small town Texas, America.  Right here.

I must confess I haven’t been to our Christmas parade in years.  Alli had a friend over to spend the night who suggested that we go.  We went into town early to get a parking spot, ate at THE Los Amigos, then headed across the street to secure a viewing spot.  Before the parade started, there was a little band and a choir singing Christmas carols and we even sang along by candlelight.

Alli and her friend, Roxy, protecting their flames from the breeze.
Alli and her friend, Roxy, protecting their flames from the breeze.

Finally the parade began! We were standing near a corner where the parade route made its final turn around the square.  Since I’m new to this blogging thing, I haven’t yet gotten into the mindset that I must have my camera at the ready at all times.  Sadly, I missed a good photo to go with this story.  As the floats crept by one by one, I noticed a person covered in white out of the corner of my eye.  My first thought was (and, I’m NOT making this up), “Why the hell did they let the KKK in this parade??”  This must have been on my mind because recently the KKK held a public rally in an East Texas town.  Seriously, SO sick of people who spread hate, but that is for another post.  As the man in the white robe came closer, I realized it was Jesus – although I’m assuming resurrected Jesus (he was even wearing Reef flip-flops).  Generally speaking, you would expect baby Jesus in the Christmas parade, but hey, this IS Bonham and we do live in the Bible Belt, after all.

Those of you who live in suburbia are really missing out.  In Tiny Town, Texas, you get to see some of the strangest parade entries: GIANT wreckers (WHY??), wooden electric cars named “MaryLou”, miniature horse-drawn carriages and more!  It was a fun evening out, though, and we were so glad that we went!

These miniature horses were sooooo cute!
These miniature horses were sooooo cute!

No Texas parade is complete without a cowboy on a horse.
No Texas parade is complete without a cowboy on a horse. (This one is for Paula, Marci and Jane!)

My church had the most original entry, in my opinion.  Of course, the fact that my sister and cousin were part of it had NOTHING to do with that!  Our church was to hold a “Spirit of Giving” this weekend and our entry was advertising this event.  It was staged like a marching band, except instead of instruments, the members were wheeling shopping carts!  Each shopping cart was decked out with lights.  Our “Drum Major” would whistle and shout instructions and they would wheel around in like they were marching on a field.  It was hilarious and very clever!

My sister and her parade shopping cart.
My sister and her parade shopping cart.

Alli and I volunteered at the Spirit of Giving event that our church held on Saturday.  Anyone was welcome to come and shop and there were no income requirements to be met.  Each man, woman and child who came were given tickets with which they could “purchase” items of their choosing.  All items were one ticket, and some smaller items were combined so that patrons didn’t have to use all their tickets on something small.  We had a “free” clothing room that was shopped first before they moved to the other areas.  There were bikes, coats, household items, food baskets and more.  I worked with my good friend, Andrea, in the picture section.  My reply when she commented about the fact that no one was shopping our booth was, “It’s hard to worry about decorating your walls when you need a coat.” So we made the executive decision to make our section a clearance section, and we started giving away all our items without requiring a ticket. 🙂

Working the event was such a blessing.  I had tears in my eyes more than once.  There were so many walking around with smiles on their faces.  I saw SO many kids from school.  It was great fun to see their reactions because I was obviously out-of-place! In the two hours that I worked, we were able to serve over 300 people.  They were all so appreciative.

Alli with her best friend, Sarah at the check-in point.
Alli with her best friend, Sarah at the check-in point.

Some people waited almost 2 hours to get to come in and shop.
Some people waited almost 2 hours to get to come in and shop.

On Sunday, our church elected our slate of elders for the upcoming term.  (I’m Presbyterian, by the way.)  My son, Logan was elected to serve as youth elder.  The funny thing is, I had NO idea until they called his name in the meeting!  Before names are brought before the congregation, the nominating committee talks to those who have been chosen, to see if they are willing to serve.  This means Logan was asked and said nothing to me about it!.  Typical.

Today, I had scheduled my last long run before taper.  I tried to send out good vibes to the running gods so that this would be the best long run ever, but apparently I failed.  Maybe I should have tried an offering of Clif’s Double Espresso gel? The good news is that there was no calf pain during the run, so fingers crossed in hopes that is healed.  Now for the bad news: my ITB was a little cranky.  And by “little”, I mean it wasn’t as painful as last time, but bothered me enough that Smart Jen overruled Queen of Stupid Sh*t Jen and cut the run short.  (Or maybe it was the promise I made to a friend to cut short if I experienced any problems….who knows?)  The run wasn’t a total loss, however.  I tried some tricks, like stopping and stretching my ITB as well as short walk breaks.  This seemed to keep it manageable during the 5 miles that I was running back to my car.  This gives me hope that I can finish on race day, if it decides to act up.  I may not meet my time goal, but I will just have to deal with that!

And, instead of “Suck It Up, Buttercup”, my new mantra (until the race) is “No Stress”.  I can’t worry about it.  It is what it is and will be what it will be.  I’m just going to try hard not to get in my own way between now and December 14.  And for that, I may need an intervention.

 

Happy Monday!!

The suspense is over: she ran!

Yesterday I held an ongoing debate with myself on whether or not to run.  This may come as a surprise to most of you, but I ran.  My plan called for a 10 mile run, but life gets in the way, and in post-time change so does sundown.  I know I can run in the dark; I am sufficiently equipped with paraphernalia, but I really dislike it!  (Warning: Please seat yourself before reading on.)  So I did something that I rarely do: I went out on my run without a mileage goal OR planned route.  I know you are asking yourself how OCD Jen managed this feat.  Well, I actually was concerned about my calf (even more so than running in the dark) and decided best course of action would be to let my calf dictate the run.  I’m not going to lie, it hurt when I first started.  However, it didn’t take long for the soreness to go away; less than 1/2 mile.  At this point, I figured that I should hold my distance to 5 miles but found myself dreading running the same ‘ole roads.  I am SO bored with my routes AND my playlist!  I was considering my alternatives when I remembered it was “Hug A Runner” Day. My chiropractor had commented that I should come by and get a hug, so that’s exactly what I did!  I changed my route, quickly stopped in for a hug and said hello to everyone, then went down to run the loop at the park where I first started running.  Even though I have “outgrown” that 1-mile loop, I always feel like I’m getting back to my running roots when I go there.  As I was heading back and hit the 4-mile mark, I realized I was on track to set a 10k PB, if I amended my route to 6.2.  Note: this is usually the point at which I lose all self-control and motor on as fast as I can to break my own record.  This time, though, I kept a steady pace and had a heartfelt discussion with myself.  I ended up deciding to run the route I was on and put the looming PB to rest.

I made no attempt to hide the fact that I LOVE "Hug a Runner" Day!!
I made no attempt to hide the fact that I LOVE “Hug a Runner” Day!!

I ended up running my fastest 5.5 miles to date!  I don’t usually like to discuss my pace, because I feel like a turtle, but I averaged 9:18/mile.  And while I pushed the pace for much of the run, I felt comfortable most of the time.  I tried to focus on my hip extension, and have NO idea if there was any correlation between that and my pace.  By all rights, it was a very good run!

I’ve been feeling a little melancholy lately.  I wouldn’t describe it as a sadness, but I am not my usual chipper self.  When I find myself in a funk, I am always bothered if I can’t identify the problem.  I am a lot like a guy, in that I like to “fix” what is wrong.  I suspect that my mood is highly correlated to my current stage in marathon training.  I am anxious.  REALLY anxious.  I’m sad that my last long run is this weekend.  I’m nervous about tapering and even more nervous about the race.  Then there is the added stress of my recent ITB scare and my stupid calf problem.  And, quite frankly, I am missing a friendship and what I thought that friendship meant to me and as the race draws closer I am reminded again and again that I miss my training partner and friend.

My friend, Running Lonely, discussed his disappointment regarding his performance 50k race last weekend.  Part of me wonders HOW could he be disappointed – he finished!  I’m in awe of his accomplishment.  But the other part of me completely understands.  So many people have told me that, in running my first marathon, the goal is “just” to finish.  I can give lip service to that and say that is my goal, but I need to be true to myself.  I know exactly what I want from this race and I won’t be satisfied if things don’t go as planned.  (And guys, I AM smart enough to know it WON’T go as planned, but this is me and this is how I think.)  Of course, all this added pressure on myself is contributing to my anxiety.

In other marathon news, I “think” I have settled on THE shoes.  I am an Asics girl, through and through, and generally wear Gel Nimbus.  I have strayed from Nimbus a few times but always come back to it.  (My feet REALLY like this shoe, OK?)  Upon the prodding and poking and suggesting of my Twitter friends, Paula and Mark, I tried Gel Kinsei.  Kinsei has taken me a couple of runs to get used to it.  My foot strikes a little differently in this shoe, but I like it….a lot!!  I’m wearing them in my next long run and if all goes well, they will be THE shoes for race day!  The commemorative marathon tattoo, however, is STILL up for debate.  I’m really sad that I haven’t settled on a design, because I want to get it as soon as possible after the race!  Suggestions are welcome!

The winner has been (almost) crowned!
The winner has been (almost) crowned!

Something that always makes me smile (and scratch my head at the same time) is when friends ask me for running advice.  I’ve had so many people reach out to ask how I got started.  They always go on to say that I have inspired them to try living a healthier life.  This boggles my mind, people!!  I have never seen myself as inspirational, but I am so humbled and honored by this.  When I began eating healthier and running, I did it for ME.  I still do it for ME.  But, it’s a nice side effect of a healthy lifestyle, and a happy way to end my Friday post. 🙂

Have a fantastic Friday!!

Which Jen will win & Twinkies or Twinsies?

I am registrar and in charge of student records for the elementary school in which I work.  The most tedious part of my job is ensuring that all students are coded correctly so that the district gets maximum funding per student enrolled.  I enjoy it, but don’t get to interact with the kids as often as I would like.  This year is a bit different, though, in that I get to go into a classroom 40 minutes each day and assist with intervention, specifically math.  (I would really prefer to work with reading, because, as I revealed in my last post, my oldest is dyslexic and that is where my heart lies.) Anyway, being part of intervention means I get a small group for benchmark tests.  I’m pretty sure I am the luckiest person in the building because I couldn’t have gotten two boys any sweeter than the ones I had in my group during benchmark testing this week!  Both of the boys in my group are dyslexic, so they get certain accommodations on the test, such as the test questions read aloud and extended time to take the test.

After finishing the test, they were helping me put my office back in order. One of my friends noticed this magnetic schedule on my fridge and said, “Look at that TINY girl!!!  She is so tiny!” And, yes, I laughed until I cried!! (If you are unfamiliar, my oldest daughter is 5’1″, plays collegiate volleyball and yes, we poke fun of her stature every chance we get!)

Yes, Taylor really is THAT short!
Yes, Taylor really is THAT short! (Hint: She is front and center.)

Today, when I arrived at work and greeted our principal, I felt as if I was standing in front of a mirror!  NO, we did NOT coordinate our wardrobe!  The funny thing is that half of the kids in the school already call me Mrs. Fox – this will only confuse them more!!  Since I handle some of the discipline issues when our principals are out, I’m thinking coordinated wardrobe should happen more often – they would never know the difference!

In Texas, we say "twinkies".  The rest of the country saying "twinsies" is wrong.
In Texas, we say “twinkies”. The rest of the country saying “twinsies” is wrong.

New officials in USAV always start in the younger divisions and are moved up as they achieve proficiency .  In my first season, I was calling 11s at a tournament.  One match was between two top teams from a couple of the best clubs in our region (our region is well-known for its high level of competition) so the level of play was very good.  The venue was set up in such a way that parents and spectators were on my side of the court.  After one of the plays, a dad asked his daughter why she tipped the ball over rather than hitting it and her reply was, “It just didn’t feel right.”  I still remember the feeling I had when I heard her response.  I can’t even put it into words: astonishment, in awe, hopeful that Alli would say that one day?  It amazed me that an 11-year-old could be mature enough as a player to know when it “didn’t feel right”.

I’m getting so excited for this upcoming club season because Alli is starting to develop awareness like that.  She is thinking about whether her hitter is a lefty or righty; she tries to set different positions and there is already a strong chemistry developing between her and many of our hitters.  I could bore you with the things that she brings up in discussion after games and practices, but I think only one of the five people who read my blog would understand! (Yes, you Mark!)  All this really means for the lay person is that this is going to be a fun, fun season! Fear the Frog!

Very detailed hitting instruction from our last practice.  Alli actually had to do 10 crunches because she didn't execute as the coach had instructed!
Very detailed hitting instruction from our last practice. Alli actually had to do 10 crunches because she didn’t execute as the coach had instructed!

And now for today’s challenge: Jen applying common sense to running decisions.  I’m still on the fence regarding whether or not to run this evening.  I WANT to run and I feel like I NEED to run, but, guess what?  Even though my calf feels 110% better, I still have a spot on my shin that is sore. Should I lay off another day or two and let it heal a little more? Or has enough healing occurred to make it safe to run? On the other hand, I have my last 20 miler coming up and I want to be prepared for it.  And in the midst of it all, I STILL have that 1,000 mile challenge in the back of my head and I don’t want that skewing my decision-making. (Seriously, WHO am I kidding?!?)  At this point, I have a little over an hour to decide.  Which Jen will win?

Tomorrow is Friday!!

 

Patience eludes me once again and a little lesson in dyslexia

Patience has never been my virtue.  Running has helped temper my anxiousness, because it requires a certain kind of patience, but even running is a cause for my anxiety of late.

I actually prayed for patience once.  Maybe I should have been more specific.
I actually prayed for patience once. Maybe I should have been more specific.

At the beginning of 2014, I joined a group of Twitter friends in a goal to run 1,000 miles this year.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, and a very achievable one, since I ran 960 miles in 2013.  (Side note: STILL hanging on to the disappointment that 40 mile deficit, as I realized my shortcomings on December 30 – until that point, I had NO idea I was that close!) So I readily signed up for this challenge, excited about the accomplishment to follow.  Then, life happened.  I had determined that I needed to average around 84 miles/month to stay on track for this goal.  I was under the miles I needed in 4 of the first 5 months of the year.  May was a TERRIBLE month, with a measly 37 miles.  May was a TERRIBLE month altogether, because that was the month that I finally admitted I was injured and needed help which resulted in a trip to the doctor and 2 weeks of no running. <Insert insane runner here.>  When I began running again in June, I was restricted (ok, I can NOW admit this was a good thing, but at the time was furious about it) and so June’s numbers were low as well.  I resigned myself to the reality that I would fall short of this goal.  And even though I had a very good and understandable reason for missing it, this still nagged at me.  Fast forward through Fall marathon training and I have found myself in a place where this goal is within my reach!  But it isn’t a sure thing.  It all depends on how many miles I have actually logged by the end of the day on December 14 (which, if you haven’t heard, is my marathon day!!!), since I’m not sure how long I will take off after the race.   To date, I am at 884.5 miles for the year, and by my best calculations have around 100 miles to left in training to run, including my race.  So surely I can tack 15 miles on somewhere!  I keep telling myself not to think about this; to focus on training smart and running a smart race.  But let’s face it; I’m Jen and this is what I do: focus on insignificant things, lack patience and self-control and end up injured.

Believe it or not, I have tried hard not to talk about my marathon training 24/7 and even feel like I have done a pretty good job up to this point.  Now that the LAST long run is looming on the horizon, I am starting to get excited; REALLY excited and anxious and nervous and a lot of other emotions I am unable to label.  And so I find myself thinking about those 26.2 miles ALL THE TIME!  The suspense is killing me, literally, because I am so ready to run! As a result, I’m probably going to be posting about it a lot.  I can’t help myself!  Have I mentioned – only 24 more days?!?

One of the most meaningful things for me about running the Dallas Marathon is the charity that the race supports, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.  The sad thing is that the race route usually passes the hospital, but doesn’t this year because of road construction in the area. (Honestly, there isn’t one road in all of North Texas that isn’t under some sort of construction right now.) Scottish Rite is well-known for its specialty work in orthopedics and that no child is ever charged for services provided by the hospital.  Scottish Rite has a special place in my heart for another reason – their dyslexia program.  Many schools in Texas use the Scottish Rite program to remediate students diagnosed with dyslexia, including the school district in which I work.  Parents can even take their children to Scottish Rite for diagnosis and treatment, if needed.  And, just in case you aren’t familiar with dyslexia, here are some facts that you need to know: dyslexia affects roughly 10% of the population, dyslexic people have above average IQs, and having dyslexia doesn’t mean a person can not read – they just use a different part of their brain to read, which requires some additional training to achieve fluency.  Can you tell I am a little passionate about this subject?

My oldest, Taylor, was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in 3rd grade.  I had my suspicions up to that point, but she was so smart that she had been able to fool everyone and compensated by memorizing everything.  The reading transition in 3rd grade caused her some struggle, but luckily she had a teacher who was very aware of dyslexia and pushed to have her tested.  She was placed almost immediately in the dyslexia program.  Long story short, Taylor put in a lot of hard work throughout her elementary school years and the Scottish Rite program gave her the tools she needed to be successful.  She graduated 7th in her class and is now a math major maintaining close to 4.0 in college while tutoring in the math lab.  (Just a few more of the reasons that I am proud of her!)  I am so thankful for all of the research and continued commitment to dyslexia at Scottish Rite Hospital, and I am honored that the race I’m about to run will help them continue their work!

Finally, I went for my weekly pre-marathon session with my myofascia guy last evening.  When I told him that I thought I should just move in with him until the marathon was over, he laughed!  It’s important to note that he didn’t say, “No”, so I feel there is still a chance this could happen!  He spent half the time on my gimp calf.  You know, the one I messed up when I refused to stop on that 22-miler. (Oops, I may not have shared that part!)  It was hard for me to admit that I needed some help with my calves.  I’ve NEVER had calf issues and I have taken great pride in it.  In addition, he said 99% of the people he sees have issues on the outside of the calf, while my issue was on the inside.  Just proof that nothing is ever normal with me, as if any of you needed proof in the first place.

I’ll leave you with the obligatory selfie, and the only reason I’m sharing is because I LOVE this shirt!  You can get your own at Texas Humor 🙂

I actually had to explain this shirt to my husband this morning!
I actually had to explain this shirt to my husband this morning!

Happy Hump Day!

When you can’t scratch “The Itch” and Emancipation Day

I’ve had “The Itch” the past few days; since Saturday, to be exact.  “The Itch” is the phrase I use to describe that gut feeling I get when all I want to do is run or when I just can’t get enough running.  And historically, for me, is usually the precursor to injury.  I can’t help myself from doing too much or going too fast.  But this time, “The Itch” is itching for a different reason.  I am ready to race!!

My most recent runs have been two of the most amazing runs ever in the history of running.  Even more miraculous is the fact that just one week ago, I was limping to my car, literally unable to bend my left knee after Queen Of Stupid Sh*t Jen refused to cut a 22 mile training run short when my ITB started acting up.  But I have beat that dead horse enough.  Since I tend to over-analyze everything (the things I happen to notice, anyway), I have some theories on why these runs have been so amazing.

  • My myofascia guy is THE BOMB
  • Standing at the abyss of injury is somewhat akin to having a near-death experience; it makes you appreciate what you are able to do
  • It’s Movember
  • Weather has been PERFECT! (for me: 40s, sunny and low winds)

Back to “The Itch”….It seems like ALL my Twitter friends were racing this past weekend.  The majority of them were living it up in Vegas and racing RnR, but I had one Twitter friend make his own 50k and another who ran his own marathon just because.  All this racing has caused me to realize that Dallas Marathon is getting close (25 days, to be exact, but who is counting?) and now the racing fire within me is at California wildfire status. It’s been a long time coming, y’all.  I trained last Fall only for the race to be cancelled because of a freak Icepocalypse (OK, I COULD have driven down to College Station to run that marathon, but I REFUSE to participate in anything associated with Aggies).  By the time it’s said and done, I will have waited almost 18 months from the time I began training the first time to actually running my first marathon.  To say that I am ready for this race would be a gross understatement!  I literally can not shake that yearning in my gut to get out there and go.  All that being said, the bottom line is that my biggest challenge at this point is to train smart, and we all know what a mammoth challenge that will be.

Yesterday was Emancipation Day in our house, for myself and my newly turned 16-year-old son, Logan – he passed his driving test and is now an officially licensed driver!!!! I have made it widely known how excited I was becoming in anticipation of this day.  In fact, I was so nervous for him (OK, for ME) that my stomach was in knots while he was out taking his test!  For me, this means no more driving Logan to 6:15 practice, no more hanging around in town after school when he decides to stay and play tennis, no more waiting for the soccer bus to get back in town at 10:30 PM and the list goes on and on and on! Logan is just happy to be able to drive himself to Burger King for a large fry at his leisure and sleep 30 extra minutes in the mornings before school.

YES, he needs a haircut, but that isn't the point.
YES, he needs a haircut, but that isn’t the point. And, yes, I expected aliens to reveal themselves at any moment while we were at DMV.

Our celebrations turned nostalgic last night, and we began reminiscing about Taylor (really just her TERRIBLE driving), which reminded me about something that happened at her high school graduation.  During the Valedictorian speech, I learned that Taylor had RUN INTO a student WITH HER CAR near the high school parking lot.  Funny, Taylor forgot to mention that.  Turns out that Taylor was turning as this girl was crossing the street.  Luckily, Taylor was going slow and the girl was “only” bumped by the side of Taylor’s car.  Taylor did admit that she was nervous for weeks after, wondering if she was going to get a ticket for it, as she didn’t know whether or not the girl would report it.  Remembering this helped alleviate some fears I have had about Logan hitting the roads solo, because I am positive that Logan will be a better driver than Taylor.  It takes a special kind of skill to run over as many curbs and collect as many tickets as she has and I don’t think Logan has it!  Alli’s place in all of this?  She is oozing excitement that she can claim the front seat as hers and hers alone!

And now I leave you with this….the happiness that is my desk.  I was given this little tree a couple of years ago and love it!!  I usually forget to get it out until we are almost out for Christmas break, but I am getting very excited for Christmas this year and decided it was time to decorate my office!!

Love this little tree....it reminds me of Charlie Brown :)
Love this little tree….it reminds me of Charlie Brown 🙂

Until next time,

Jen

Golden birthdays, comeback runs and grand-dog sitting

My middle child, Logan, is now 16 – and it is an extra special day because it is his Golden Birthday.  Even more special is that he will <hopefully> get his driver’s license tomorrow.  THAT will be cause for celebration!!

So many of my parent friends with kids Logan’s age are nervous and concerned about the transition to driving.  I have to admit, I am a little anxious about Logan being out there on his own.  However, they don’t have the same perspective as I do, because almost all of Logan’s friends are the oldest children in their families.  These parents don’t have a clue how wonderful it is to have a kid with a license living in your house….it’s like having a mobile servant!  Even if you don’t ask them to bring home milk from the store or pick up the little sister from gymnastics, the fact that they can drive themselves to and from school and soccer practice makes you feel like a prisoner that has just been set free!  I joke (well, people think I joke) that the hardest part of transitioning Taylor into college life was losing an extra driver’s license in the house.  I think you get the idea that I’m ready for Logan to take this next step in growing up!!

On Saturday, we gathered some of our family together to celebrate Logan’s day and surprise him with his truck.  Logan isn’t the usual Texas boy, in that his only prerequisite for a vehicle was that it “rides smooth”.  He wasn’t even that interested in going with my husband, Bobby,  to look around for cars, which caused much disappointment for Bobby.  Logan has been increasingly nervous, though, because his day has been drawing close with NO word of a vehicle.  Bobby hid his truck in the shop and sent Logan out for some ice, while I waited for him to snap photos of his reaction.  When he burst through the door, he noticed me, standing behind the truck, but didn’t even notice the truck for a couple of seconds.  It was priceless!

I use this photo, because after posting on Facebook, Logan made me take it down.  He says it is the "worst picture ever". I kind of like it :)
I use this photo, because after posting on Facebook, Logan made me take it down. He says it is the “worst picture ever”. I kind of like it 🙂

I know it is cold everywhere in the continental US (except for Florida), but guys, it is COLD in Texas!  I planned my run for Saturday afternoon, because I didn’t have time to run early morning with all the family lunch preparations. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it.  I am NOT a cold weather wimp.) I have chronicled my ITB problems of late, and, to be honest, have felt so weak mentally and physically this week.  I HATE that feeling.  I prefer the invincible feeling that I generally have in regards to my running. (A good friend told me yesterday that for ME to admit fear it had to have been BAD!)  Anyway, I ran my 22 last Saturday and did not run again until Thursday.  Thursday’s run was decent as there were no ITB or calf issues, but I felt sluggish; not myself.  I was NOT looking forward to my longer Saturday run, because I felt beat up; defeated.  I tried to find any and every excuse to post pone or cancel, but thank goodness I kept my wits about me and ran as scheduled.  When I finally got out on the road, I felt GREAT!!!  During the first mile, I thought it was a fluke, but when I was still feeling strong in mile 9, I breathed a sigh of relief and started believing that I CAN finish this marathon training strong.  I originally had planned 12-14, as this was a drop-back week, but decided before the run to hold the run to 10 to help my body ease back into the beating it will take this next week in my last long run of training.  The important thing, though, is that I feel great this morning on all fronts, and that is a RELIEF!  My biggest challenge at this point is to train smart, and I thank my lucky stars that I have several running friends who will hold me accountable.  We all know I can’t maintain “smart” training for any length of time.

One thing I have noticed about running without a partner is that I can’t always tell when I get my high.  My partner was my pacer (we all know the troubles I have with proper pacing) and as a result, always felt I was holding back. When I would get my high, she would literally have to grab my arm to keep me from taking off in a sprint.  I do love that feeling, as if you could take off and fly.  Ahhhhh.  These days I can vaguely tell during the run, but generally notice it later in my splits as that is usually my fastest mile.  All this makes me wonder if any other runners experience this as well?

It’s Sunday and, besides being Logan’s Golden Birthday, that means that Taylor is coming to pick up our grand-dog, Izze.  We kept Izze for Taylor because her roommate was in a terrible wreck and had reconstructive knee surgery this past week, so she isn’t at their house to watch after “The Iz”.  Taylor was to be out-of-town most of the week, as she and her team were playing in their conference tournament. (This is the “official” reason we kept Izze.  The REAL reason we kept Izze is because my husband missed her and wanted to get her nails trimmed.)  Izze is a short-hair, piebald mini dachshund and is the most nervous, spastic, ADHD dog I have ever seen, but we love her anyway!  Seriously, she barks incessantly!  I will go to my bedroom and when I come back, Izze will bark at me like a stranger that just burst through the door.  We have learned to just shake our heads, because there is nothing else to be done!  She WON’T stop barking! Sophie (our long-hair, piebald mini doxie) enjoys Izze’s company, but dislikes Izze treading on her turf.  Sophie has REFUSED to sleep under the covers this week, because Izze was also asleep under the covers.  I get so tickled, because the only dog/person Sophie is hurting is herself!  Doxies have to be the most passive-aggressive dogs on the planet!

She is a MINI, for sure, but cute as a button!  She has to be, for us to put up with all that barking!
Izze is a MINI, for sure, but cute as a button! She has to be, for us to put up with all that barking!

Happy Sunday!!

Jen

Major Award?? ME??

OK, maybe this isn’t a major award, but I’ve always wanted to use that phrase since I first watched A Christmas Story. 

My friend over at Running Lonely nominated me for the Liebster Award.  The name implies that there might be some sort of prize attached, but I quickly learned this is not the case.  Upon further examination, it seems more akin to those chain emails back in the 90s where you would answer questions and forward to everyone in your address book.  You know, the ones where you were instructed to COPY and PASTE so that those irritating forward symbols weren’t littered all over the email, but no one ever did it so you had to delete all those before forwarding (at least you did if you were OCD like me).  In all seriousness, I am honored that M would take the time and effort to tag me in his blog.  The only problem I see with this is that I can count the number of people I know that blog on one hand, so this limits the number of people I can tag to keep this thing going.

The obligatory inclusion of the Liebster logo.
The obligatory inclusion of the Liebster logo.

Now we get to the issue at hand.  Answering all the prodding personal questions.

  1. What is your current health related goal?

I’m not sure this is “health related”, but my current goal is to keep my ITB reasonably happy until December 14, the day of my first marathon.  At my current training juncture, this is a lofty goal.  I have considered moving in with my MFR guy until the marathon in order to accomplish this.

  1. What is your biggest irrational fear?

Runners trots.  Wait – maybe that is a rational fear, especially if Tex-Mex has recently been eaten.

  1. Do you enjoy wrapping presents?

I would enjoy wrapping presents if I had the ability to make them look presentable and cute.  But I can arrange tissue paper in a gift bag like a pro.

  1. What’s your favorite cross training activity?

People cross train?? I thought that was just an urban myth.  I enjoy cycling, when I can squeeze it in.

  1. If I came to visit you, what would we do? 

The most exciting thing to do in my town is watch the cattle graze.  But after all that entertainment, we would most likely go to Dallas and hit all the touristy places like, where President Kennedy was assassinated.  Because I think that may be our only claim to fame.

  1. You have 2 weeks off of work and 2 round trip plane tickets to ANYWHERE. Where would you go and who would you take?

Scotland or Spain.  Maybe I could spend a week at each and would most likely take my oldest daughter, Taylor.

Speaking of Taylor, here she is, having recently turned 21, on the beer isle.
Speaking of Taylor, here she is, having recently turned 21, on the beer aisle.

  1.  What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a run or race?

Thankfully, I have no answer to this question.  Check back, though, because I’m sure something embarrassing will happen sooner or later.

  1. Tell me the 3 best days of your life. Or at least the first 3 that pop into your mind.

Let’s go with events, because they aren’t necessarily “days”…

1) Volleyball with my girls.  We live so far from the Dallas area that playing club volleyball means a one hour drive each way for practices and tournaments.  I cherished the time spent with Taylor (and now, Alli) in the car because the conversations brought us closer and allowed us to talk about a wide range of subjects.  The volleyball part has been a lot of fun as well. 🙂    2) Deciding to “get healthy” before I turned 40.  Acting on this decision was the BEST thing I’ve ever done for myself.  I cleaned up my diet and started running, which has yielded much, much more than just benefits to my health.   3) My friendship with Allison.  Most of you don’t know about Allison, but she was my soul mate and best friend.  She died 10 years ago, but I am SO THANKFUL for being blessed by her friendship.  Most people live a lifetime and never experience a friendship as rich as the one we shared.

  1. Okay, you HAVE to eat a fast food meal. What restaurant would you choose and what would you order?

Chick Fil A.  I would have the grilled chicken wrap with avocado lime ranch.

  1. Have you ever met a celebrity?

I met Dubya, back when he was governor of the great state of Texas.  Does that count?

  1. Share a picture of yourself in non workout clothes!

    This non-workout pic is proof that a) I own a dress and b) I have actually worn a dress.
    This non-workout pic is proof that a) I own a dress and b) I have actually worn a dress.
  2. If you could choose to have a ‘do-over’ and switch careers, what would you choose and why?

Volleyball coach or an athletic trainer, for sure!  Because, in my mind, I’m already a trainer and a coach.  The fact that I haven’t been formally trained is beside the point.

  1. If you won the Olympic Gold Medal – how do you think you would react?

With shock and awe, because, well, I’m a #turtle

14. What do you want for Christmas?

A tattoo commemorating my marathon.  And maybe a couple of pair of Zensah compression socks.

Now I’m instructed to tag a couple of new bloggers or newly returned to blogging.  This is the hardest part of the entire exercise, since I am completely oblivious to the world of bloggers.  So I’m going to view these instructions as guidelines, open to interpretation, and just tag one of bloggers that I know, even though she isn’t new to blogging:

Jane from Canada and her blog 50 State Canuck

Apparently you can change one of the questions, if you wish.  I didn’t because I’m terrible at interrogating interviewing people.

Happy running, everyone!

ITB probs and my quest to save the marathon

In my last post, I leaked some info that I’ve been guarding pretty closely over the past few days: I have ITB problems.

One reason I kept the end result of Saturday’s 22-miler close to my heart was because giving voice to it makes it real.  OK, I KNOW it’s real, but I’m still kind of in denial about it.  My marathon is less than 5 weeks away and I’ve been walking around with a big lump in my throat, having realized that I’m one run away from not running it at all.  And folks, that scares me!

I have a guy that I see regularly.  He specializes in myofascial release and is THE reason that I have been so healthy and successful in running these past few months.  The word has gotten out, though, and he stays booked!!  I generally book my appointments at least 2 weeks in advance and had previously noticed that he was booked solid for this entire week. After the ITB episode on Saturday, I was planning to call him and BEG for him to make an opening for me.  Sunday morning, as I was limping (literally) around the house, I decided to log on to his online calendar to see if there had been any cancellations.  I almost CRIED when I found that my usual appointment time was open!

So I drove down to see him last night.  He gave me a funny look and said something about how surprised he was to see that I was there, given I just saw him last week and already have the next 2 weeks covered.  I’m not Catholic, but I imagine that going to confession is much like describing to my guy the stupidity that was me, trying to finish my 22-mile run.  And with grace like a priest, he just smiled and said, “We all do that, don’t we?” I LOVE HIM!!!

He worked on my ITB for a solid hour.  At one point, I felt the fibers of my ITB tearing away from my quad.  Then, he KinesioTaped me (do NOT say KT Tape around him, as he will give you an earful on the history of THE Kinesio Tape) literally from my hip to below my knee.

When someone else tapes me, I feel like a 'real' runner.  It's like I have people.
When someone else tapes me, I feel like a ‘real’ runner. It’s like I have ‘people’.

I haven’t run since Saturday.  Part of me is dying because I feel I need to be running.  Smart Jen (I realize that is an oxymoron) is OK with the rest.  I’ll run an easy 5-6 tomorrow to see how things are shaking out.  Also, I feel the need to disclose that I understand that my ITB is still angry and mad and my trip to MFR isn’t going to immediately solve this problem.  But if these sessions can keep me in the marathon game until I run my race on December 14, then I will focus on proper recovery.

In other news, my lunch the past couple of days has made me happy.  I realize that I probably shouldn’t rely use food for emotional purposes, but it was so green and fully of yummy, healthy stuff!

My delicious salad with coconut lime quinoa.  I know you're surprised that it wasn't a cupcake.
My delicious salad with coconut lime quinoa. I know you’re surprised that it wasn’t a cupcake.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!