Least likely to be athletic

I’ve had a few comments over the last couple of days that really made me think, or I should say laugh. Someone said I must have been a star athlete in high school. A lot of people said to me over the years that they could never run a marathon. They only wish they were as athletic as me. Their idea of a marathon is Netflix, etc..

I suppose if you met me now you would assume that I was always this way. Now I am a lean and muscular marathon runner aspiring to run my first 50k. Before, well sometimes you just have to laugh.

I was that scrawny little kid that ALWAYS was picked last to be on someone’s team. It always hurt when pickings got slim. Which loser would be picked last to be on the winning team? That internal debate of the team captain on who would suck the least of the last remaining few always showed through the frown on their face. I wonder if kids are still allowed to pick their own teams in gym class?

I was the ONLY girl that tried out for cheerleading in middle school that didn’t make the team AND didn’t make the alternate list.

True story, in middle school I had to write book reports on sports to pass gym class.

You could say I sucked. I didn’t have a trophy case full of ribbons and medals. My high school years were certainly not my glory days. I lived the worst years of my life in my childhood.

But now, I actually feel sorry for people that say their high school years were the best times of their lives.

I became an athlete as an adult because that is what I wanted to be. I still think it is funny when people assume I’ve always been this way. I also think that it is funny when people say that they could never run a marathon because they are not athletic enough.

We are capable of doing whatever we tell ourselves we can (or can’t). All you have to do is take the first step. It is never too late to be the person you want to be. Look at me, least likely to be athletic then is a marathon runner now.

 

 

Goal 1: Run a 50k/work out more

I may have mentioned this before, but this year I want to go to Hell. There is a 50k ultra race in Hell. Then I would like to get my first tattoo…Outrunning my demons in Hell 50k.

I started this blog originally because I read a book created from a blog about someone training for their first marathon. I thought that blogging would be fun along with running my first marathon. Then I also started talking about my demons. It has been a great process. Since this all started, I finished my 4th marathon and slayed 2 demons.

Running has been a very therapeutic way of dealing with the stress in my life. But I want to do more. I want to run further. I want to be stronger in other areas as well. This week I started a strength training class. Once we get more snow, I want to go cross country skiing. I want to do Zumba just because it is fun. Now that I don’t have a job, I have more time to exercise. I want to exercise 5 days a week and spend one day a week just cleaning my house…so basically working out 6 days a week.

If I know one thing about myself, it’s that I love to keep busy. But I also know that if I push myself too hard I could hurt myself. I’m not sure how long I will be able to keep up this pace either as I continue on the path of aging.

I really wonder how many long distance endurance runners are outrunning their demons?? I fear someday I may have to face what I am running from.

I want to be strong enough that I could live without it if I have to. I don’t want exercise to control me either. But that is another goal altogether..

 

Spring in my steps

I can’t believe that it will be May tomorrow.

We will be moving in one month. My cousin decided that she didn’t want to buy our house. Now we are working on the little repairs to get it ready to put on the market.

I have been very busy. I’m not sure how much time I will have to blog over the next couple of weeks. So not to worry if my patterns seem to change a little.

The snow has finally melted! Spring has finally arrived. I am hoping to run outside from here on out. I haven’t been able to get in a long run at all lately. The weekends have been busy with kid stuff and I can’t take off of work to do a long run during the week. I’ve been feeling so sluggish and slow when I do get the chance to run just short distances lately (5 or 6 miles).

I’m running my first trail marathon in two and a half months. I haven’t been out on the trails yet. I am hoping that they will be open within the next week or so. I’ve only been able to run outside 5 or 6 times this year. Wisconsin is a harsh climate for exercising. That and all the beer we drink and cheese we eat, it’s no wonder why we lead the nation in obesity.

I have a 4 month window for running outside in ideal conditions, with about 5 months where it is nearly impossible to run outside at all. Not to mention that a lot of people suffer from seasonal depression. I try to curb it by taking copious amounts of Vitamin D. It’s hard to stay active here without a gym membership and even harder to keep motivated to run to the gym.

The window for swimming is probably closer to 2 months. I’m thinking that we still have some patchy ice out on the lakes. I don’t think I feel comfortable doing a full Ironman without several months of swimming in open water. Swimming indoors and even outdoors did not come close to preparing me for the massive waves during the Half Ironman.

So, with marathon training, moving, and fixing up our house plus working and everything else going on…my time is going to be very limited over the next couple of weeks.

I’m planning on starting a new series though…I have a huge collection of fortune cookie wisdom to share and recycle before we move.

 

The long run

I have been thinking about next year’s racing season.

This past week I decided that I wanted to do the Tough Mudder and a trail marathon next summer. The trail marathon is on my birthday. What could be better than getting up at the crack of dawn and spending your birthday in complete and total agony?? Not to mention feeling sore, sick, and exhausted after the fact.

Do I really want to run another marathon?? Do I really want to torment myself on my birthday?? I could be out spending the day having fun…getting a massage…drinking champagne…sailing…

But I love the challenge..the satisfaction of completing a goal…

Successfully overcoming obstacles is more pleasurable to me than unearned self-indulgence.

So I decided to go for it.

I almost signed up..

Then I went to the gym for a run.

My ankle started to hurt. It felt like my foot bones were twisted and grinding together. It wasn’t very painful, but the pounding on my foot mile after mile…

I ran while in pain like this several times now. It wasn’t bad enough to stop. It is like running with a small pebble in your shoe versus a sharp rock.

Friday morning I ran 10 painful miles. After I got off of the treadmill, I sat in the sauna a few minutes. While I was in the sauna, a stranger sat down next to me. She said that she saw me out on the treadmill and wanted to know if I was okay.

Are you feeling okay??

A stranger coming up to me and asking if I am okay??

Could this be a problem?

What am I doing to myself?

The pain made me more determined to fight the pain. I was, in essence, fighting with myself and someone was going to lose. I berated myself for the mile I had to walk. The physical pain seemed to even trigger emotions of other painful times in my life.

I am never a gentle taskmaster to myself. I crack the whip and get it done regardless of whether I want to or not…whether I am in pain or not.

My greatest strength is my greatest weakness. Self-discipline is a great super power to have, but…and you know that a but is coming, sometimes I need to take a chill pill and relax a little.

I am not good at relaxing. I want to push it to the limit which conflicts with my desire to do this for the long run.

If I push myself too hard, end up getting seriously injured, and have to quit running…What good is my determination??

Sometimes it is easier to show you my medals than to tell you about my struggles and weaknesses. I want to make running a marathon look easy.

I took today off, but tomorrow I am thinking about running. My ankle/foot only hurts for the most part when I am running. I have been trying to solve the problem with my foot. I think the pain is coming from bad sitting habits. I like to curl my leg under my body and sit on my foot. I want to see if it helps if I stop doing this.

So far I am still planning on signing up for the races. In the meantime, I have to be smart. I have to learn to take better care of myself. I have to recognize when exercising and being too healthy is unhealthy without a few words from a stranger in the gym. Somehow I need to develop that inner voice of reason.

I want to be in this for the long run…

 

 

Out running

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Change is inevitable. It happens each season. This week a cold wind came into Wisconsin and blew the warm falls days and sunshine away. Sadly, I started going to the gym and running on the dreadmill again. I really can’t complain. It has been a warm fall with hotter temperatures than this summer.

Usually we get our first few flurries by this time of year. It makes me remember my grandma. For the first little snowfall she would write the word flurries or put a F on her empty calendar like it was a huge event. I have a F on my calendar too. It reminds me when I need to give my pets their flea medicine. Seriously, what did you think it stands for??

The last time I ran outdoors, I took a few photos to show you how beautiful my running route is. It was probably a good time for a change anyway. People were getting to know my routine which can be a little disconcerting. It was always the same cars that almost hit me. People were starting to actually honk when I wore my ‘honk if you’re going to hit me’ shirt.

I had a great season with huge goals…My first 18 mile trail run weekend, my first Olympic triathlon, and my first Half Ironman. Plus I ran another marathon. I am thinking of cutting back though. I’m not going to decide for sure until January.

Three out of four races, I had to travel far enough from home to need a hotel room. Plus adding in all of the gear and race fees, it can be a pricey hobby. I will probably still race, but will cut back on the amount of races and the longer distances. I also might want to try other things like doing a Tough Mudder. Plus next summer, the local theater is planning on doing the show Cabaret which is heavy on dancing.

Running has a special place in my heart. I spoke to my trainer at the gym this week. I told him that my races went well but I was thinking of cutting back. I told him that I want to run for the long run. Running gives me time to process my life in a healthy way. I don’t want to over train, hate it, or get hurt. I want to enjoy this hobby as long as possible. Plus I want to do other things I enjoy like dancing, cross country skiing, or kickboxing without being locked in an always training box.

I just love to run. Who knows? I might be able to get outside a few more times this year before it snows. Wisconsin is a very beautiful place to run.

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Locker room talk

I’ve spent a lot of time at the gym the last few months. I have become well acquainted with the locker room.

The locker room that I use at the gym is for adults only. Of course, rules aren’t necessarily always followed. It really drives me nuts when a mom brings in screaming toddler. They have a separate parent child locker room for that. Seriously, I work out to relax!

Or better yet, when a mom brings in a little boy that gawks at the naked ladies. They have a separate locker room for that too, mixed gender parent and child.

Seriously, I get it. I was once the mom that anxiously awaited outside the boys locker room and men’s bathroom for my son to emerge. It was scary the first few times…Is that your little guy in there? I helped him reach the paper towels. Don’t worry, he should be out soon..

It has become a pet peeve of mine when these rules are not followed. Frankly, it doesn’t bother me if teens use the women’s locker room. Of course, it may be scary for them to view a real woman’s body. I have yet to see anyone that looks like a Victoria’s Secret model stumble in. And these are the women that work out at the gym!

Not that I sit around and look or anything…

I’ve always wondered why when the locker room is totally empty except for one person that I end up having the naked lady using the locker next to mine. It happened last night. Uncanny…no, not really..lol.

Of course I always use proper locker room etiquette. I look with my eyes to navigate to my locker. If I happen to see someone naked, I drop my eyes to my feet like I am in an elevator. I may even hum elevator music softly in my head.

Sometimes I even use the locker room when the group of developmentally disabled come in from the group home. It doesn’t really bother me. Although it was a little uncomfortable when the first naked lady came up to me and complimented me on my¬† physical attributes or articles of clothing as I was putting it on. Hello, I don’t have any pants on and you’re naked.

Seeing the very nice group home ladies always reminds me of my brother…This is where the story gets very twisted…I’m in the locker room naked thinking of my brother! It makes me sad to think that my brother could be standing in the men’s locker room doing the same thing. It bothers me that his responses are not socially appropriate…like farting in an elevator. These ladies are probably someone’s sister…They don’t know what they are doing, but we can see..As a special needs sibling, I understand. I feel compassion and respect for them although it hurts me that they act that way. It’s a strange feeling..

It reminds me of other times…my daughter’s high school play…Matt in the bathroom using the urinal…grunting (Tourette’s) doing pelvis thrusts to dry himself (sensory issues)..a classmate freaked out…laughing…a weird man in the bathroom..hitting on me?…odd behavior…should I call the cops?…wouldn’t be the first time…my brother…no dignity…it hurts.

Sometimes the locker room is the hardest part of my work out. It elicits feeling of annoyance or sadness. I never expected that..

The thickness of water

Last week I ran into my aunt at the gym..I can almost hear you whisper to yourself…who cares?…Maybe if I told you that my aunt and uncle are going through a nasty divorce after being married over 30 years…my uncle is blood, my aunt is the water…that is the thick and thin of it..

When I saw my aunt at the gym, I gave her a big hug…I am the person that shies away from hugs, not the person that seeks out people in sweaty gym clothes to hug.

I didn’t even take her side…she wanted to leave…he wanted her to stay.

I am not sure why at the moment I hugged her after all of the hurt she caused.

I miss the times I visited them when I was a child…Nostalgia for the moments past…And, yes, I miss her.

When I was a child, there weren’t many happy moments at home. But there were many happy moments at my aunt and uncle’s home.

My mom would take my brothers and I to their house on a hot summer night and we would swim until dark. Afterwards, we would stay up late watching scary movies like Poltergeist.

I love swimming and scary movies. It reminds me of the happiest days of my childhood.

Sometimes I wonder if we like certain things just because they remind us of a good feeling…and perhaps the opposite could be true too…dislike for things that are reminders of bad times..

Then I wonder…what if certain periods of our life are so difficult that even good ‘things’ remind us of bad times…Can that trigger feelings of sadness?

Can we like things that we wouldn’t otherwise like just because of memories of doing those things with loved ones, like fishing for example…Or do we simply like what we like irregardless of relationships, memories, and emotions…

Here I go off on a thinking tangent again

Maybe one of the reasons I saw my aunt at the gym was because of my love of swimming. We joined the gym again so I could practice swimming for the half Iron, something I probably won’t have even thought of trying if I was afraid of water.

Sometimes I love being on water more than land.

I certainly did not learn that from my parents..

My mother doesn’t swim and is afraid of water.

The only time my dad went swimming he terrorized me by pulling me under, throwing weeds or death stuff at me, or dragging me out into the weeds and forcing me to stand there even though I was afraid.

One of my most traumatic childhood memories is of being in charge of watching my younger brothers in the water when I was 6. I stood speechless in terror unable to call for help while my youngest brother struggled for air, choked on water, and almost drowned…My mom left me in charge for only a few minutes…Minutes that could’ve lasted forever…

I should be terrified of water.

Instead I love the feel of water around me. I love the bubbles that flow through my fingers. For some reason, I associate water with happiness instead of fear..

I have to wonder if my love for swimming sprouted from those hot summer nights at my aunt and uncle’s years ago.

It is sad to see their marriage come to an end. I have always known them to be together..But maybe, just maybe, there will be more stolen sweaty hugs at the gym. For a few moments, it can take me back to those warm (sweaty) happy summer nights when they were still together…back to some of the happiest days of my childhood.

 

 

Barefoot running

The hardest part of joining the gym for my husband was buying shoes…

Several years back my husband got on the barefoot running kick after some program he heard on public radio. He ordered the book Born to Run about a tribe of elite super runners that ran barefoot. He decided to give it a try.

I thought he was crazy.

I learned at a young age not to walk around barefoot. With three younger brothers it was dangerous to go to the bathroom at night without shoes or slippers. I don’t even like the feel of grass under my feet.

Then there’s my husband…running around the neighborhood without shoes oblivious of broken glass, gravel, or what people thought of him. At first, his feet looked like raw beef, all red and speckled. He had to wrap them in large bandages. It was gross. After awhile, his feet grew a large layer of callouses over them. The bottoms of his feet looked and felt like leather.

People stopped him while running on the road. They asked him if he was hard up for money. They offered to buy him a pair of running shoes. They said that they couldn’t stand to see him run like that because it seemed so painful. People were doubting his sanity.

Then winter came and he couldn’t run barefoot anymore.

At the beginning of the next outdoor running season, he had to go through the painful raw meat stage again. His feet were cracked, bleeding, and blistered. They shredded up the sheets at night.

Paul said that barefoot running felt so natural. He ran differently without shoes, the way he was meant to. He said that he had less pain in other parts of his body.

But after the second winter rolled around, he didn’t want to go through the painful raw meat stage again. So, he broke down and bought minimalist shoes. They looked like water shoes with a separate area for each toe.

The minimalist shoes lasted forever. His one pair lasted as long as about 15 pairs of mine. After several years, they started to finally wear out. I won’t even tell you about how they smelled.

Once we got a gym membership, Paul had to buy some new shoes. Sadly, extreme minimalist shoes aren’t the in thing anymore and he couldn’t find another pair.

Paul really loved barefoot running. If we lived in a warmer climate, I know he would still be doing it today. He doesn’t like his wide feet being confined in a tight shoe.

I don’t know about you, but as for me, I will stick to my Saucony’s.

But sometimes I have to wonder….if Paul has such a high tolerance of pain, then why isn’t he running marathons with me??

Running on the last leg

I think my treadmill is on its last leg.

We bought it used almost 2,000 miles ago.

The liner under the belt is starting to unravel. It is coming off in big chunks that look like dust. It almost looks like I don’t use my treadmill or am bad at cleaning my house.

Every time I step on it, the treadmill growls. Seriously, I didn’t gain that much weight over the holidays!

Now I have to hang on to the hand rails when I run because sometimes it stops without warning or catches which might propel me into a wall.

Hey, at least it didn’t start to smoke!

So, I am faced with having to buy a new treadmill or join a gym.

If I join the gym I would actually have to drive a half an hour, share machines with strangers, and shave once in awhile.

But I could bike and swim in the winter. It has been hard to train outside when the lakes are frozen and the roads are icy.

Plus, it would get rid of an ugly piece of furniture(?) in my small house.

There are so many pros and cons to each scenario. I liked having a gym membership, but found it harder to make it work out with my busy schedule.

What do you do to make training easier over the winter??