Category Archives: Running

Ragnar approaches

Ragnar is a week from today.  As I look back on how different I felt this time last year it is hard not to post about it. 

Last year I was a brand new Ragnarian who had no idea what to expect who had trained hard – pushing through injury which I had no idea would impact my life so greatly a year later.  This year I breezed through logistics planning for my team with ease – thanks of course to my handy dandy spreadsheet I could re-use from last year!  I attended the Captain’s meeting last night and smiled sweetly at all the newbies furiously taking notes, because they were now the ones with no idea what lay ahead of them, and chuckled about being in their shoes last year.  Last year I had obsessed about buying the right gear weeks before, this year I haven’t even started to worry about what I need to buy except briefly in passing a couple of times.  Guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend, huh? 

Two major things are weighing on me.  Training and temperatures.

Last year I was in great shape having just finished my first half marathon a few months prior to starting Ragnar training and averaged twenty five miles a week until race weekend.  This year, I was barely able to run a mile straight when training started because of my injury – caused of course from training so hard the year before for two Ragnars and ignoring the plantar fasciitis I had going on.  Plus, I have a two year old and what seems like a crazier schedule this year with Big Sister’s dance which impacted my training time severely.  I haven’t come close to the distances I was running last year and although I’ve been following the beginner training plan laid out by Ragnar I fear I am not prepared enough for all the running I’ll be doing on race day.  I guess we’ll see next weekend how ready I am! Hopefully I’m just being too hard on the comparison between where I was last year and hating how far back injury pushed me from there.

Last year it was unseasonably cold in Utah and there were still mountain passes covered in snow that the course had to be rerouted around.  This year it’s hot.  As in we’ve broken heat records in the past week.

(I’ve expressed my hatred of running in the heat before, right?)

Yesterday I ran three and a half miles in late afternoon heat (it was seventy degrees out I believe) and ended up with heat stroke.  About four hours post run I had the worst headache and was nauseated for hours.  Today I did some research – which means I asked a fellow outdoor enthusiast who trains in the heat – and found out both symptoms can be caused by heat stroke.  Great… the heat index is predicted to be ninety six for next weekend.  NINETY. SIX.  Two of my runs are anticipated to be in the heat of the afternoon. 

I’m trying hard not to panic.

I think I can…

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few weeks.  Life interfering with my running has me doubting whether I can even be ready for Ragnar this year.  Being crazy busy with Big Sister’s dance competition season leaves me no time for much of anything past my day job, cooking dinner and trying to stay ahead of Little Sister’s toy bombs before bed.  I’ve had zero energy for staying up late which means I haven’t written in weeks.  Because I haven’t written in weeks I feel like I’ve lost the spark of creativity and the roll I was on a couple of months ago; and the overwhelming thought of what it will take to re-immerse myself has me dragging my feet to start again.

I certainly hope this shit is somehow normal because I rarely find myself in this land called self-doubt. But right now the world is pressing on me with stress and insanity and I have yet to rally myself completely out of it.

Maybe I’m just sad because we are losing Little Sister’s amazing nanny at the end of this week as she embarks on new adventures with her husband – on the other side of the country.  She’s been with us since Little Sister was five months old – two solid years – and has become one of my closest friends and confidants.  Whenever I think of life without her I get all weepy and sad.  I don’t even want to think about the reality of what next week will look like where I don’t see her every morning.  And work from home days without long lunch-time conversations are really going to suck…

But, like the little engine that could from that childhood book I remember having to read to my youngest brother over and over again… I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.  I keep telling myself that – even if it is something I actually believe one minute and the next something I’m merely willing to be true.

It’s amazing what a positive attitude can do to turn things around.  Even if it isn’t in profound ways.  After taking a week off of running to address some knee pain issues – caused by lack of cross training to strengthen my quads – I went for what my training program called for yesterday: an EIGHTY MINUTE run.  Twice as long as I’ve done since my injury.  I didn’t think I had it in me but guess what, I did!  The first mile was all uphill and I powered through it.  The middle was fraught with headwind that sucked the speed out of me.  But when it was all said and done I busted out FIVE miles and did the entire run.  Boo-ya!  Just because I’m using a different training program from the last two Ragnars doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.  I just have to keep believing I can stick with it and be ready in two months.

Luckily I have my writer’s group looming toward the end of the month spurring me on to get writing – which I haven’t done since the last meeting.  Instead of wallowing in all that I could have been doing which is in the past and cannot be controlled or changed, I am choosing instead to focus on what I can control: now, the present.  As always, I get my creative juices flowing and build momentum by crafting blog posts.  Step one, check! since here I am!

A conversation I had with an old friend a couple of days ago reminded me that even if I don’t make cookies from scratch, even buying the package you add butter and an egg to and making a dozen cookies ‘hot from the oven’ is enough for my kids and won’t overstress me.  All I remember from making cookies from my own childhood is how messy the kitchen was and that I always got stuck doing the dishes afterward.  This way, my kids only get the joy of warm cookies without all the extra fuss and I’ll still be a great Mom in their memories.

Maybe I should write what I know – who’s interested in a story of an overachiever fighting to be super woman and perfect in every aspect of her life?  Because I could totally write that shit with my eyes closed and two hands tied behind my back!  Too bad inner conflict isn’t enough to build a solid plot.  Guess I’ll stick with living that story and finishing the one I’m writing instead!

Here’s to getting and maintaining momentum – may we all be successful at it at least today.

Ahhhhh, bliss

This week of happiness brought to you by the generosity of my best and only sister.  She bought a treadmill a couple of years ago, used it for a while and decided she hated to run and even if she liked it couldn’t do it on a boring treadmill.  It’s been in her basement doing nothing.  Now it is in mine getting run on daily since its arrival.

It is my new best friend.

Of course like all friends it has it’s flaws.  It doesn’t go downhill like the ones at the gym that I’m only able to frequent one day a week – if I’m lucky.  But let’s be honest that will make me a better runner in the long run.  (ha ha, pun intended!)  I’m still building up my endurance from my injury and I can’t lie – it is frustrating as hell not to be able to just run for hours like I could last year.  But, I can see improvement each time thanks to my heart rate monitor and I know it will come eventually.

This weekend was heaven. I ran while Baby Sister was napping and Hubby had taken Big Sister swimming.  Couldn’t have done that before.  I ran while Hubby had gone to the gym after the kids went to bed.  Couldn’t have done that before.  And I have the option to get up early and run before work now.  To do that before, I’d have had to leave the kids alone in the house, sleeping in their beds, since Hubby is at work at that time of morning.  AWESOME!

I slept better than I have in weeks.  I am less stressed because I can run all my stress away daily.  I’m almost back to myself.  And best of all, I am no longer worried about how I’ll survive Ragnar in sixteen weeks because I wasn’t able to train.  Now, I’ll be a training machine like a good little honey-badger should be.

This one little tweak made all the difference in restoring balance to my life.  No longer do I have to stress at work about how I’ll find time to work out.  If I can, I’ll lift weights.  If I can’t, I just won’t.  And either way my training won’t suffer.  My healthy and committed mojo is back.  Turns out it was life that had stolen it in the first place and I just wrestled it back.  Go, me!  Now maybe I’ll quit feeling sorry for myself and watching TV at night instead of writing and get my first draft finished in the near future…  Imagine writing every night fueled by the endorphins of an amazing run.  I sure can!

By the way, thanks for sticking with me through the whining and bitching times… I can be such a pain when I can’t run!

Reinventing myself because life stole my mojo

I’m not entirely sure who swooped in and stole my mojo but I really wish they would return it.  I keep making plans to work out and get back on track with my training for Ragnar now that I can run again.  And day after day life gets in the way and I find myself drained and ready for bed without having lifted a single weight or run a single step. Each day ending with a vow to make it happen tomorrow.

I stepped back earlier this week and tried to take the reigns again by scheduling in my workouts physically on my calendar.  Two workouts with weights happen at 9:30 PM each week after the kids go to bed; running twice during the week at the end of the workday assuming I can actually leave my office on time and run before Hubby has to go to work; a trip to the gym every Friday night; and a long run every Sunday.  I felt so much more in control after I put my “me” time in place.  And then I promptly missed every single workout since then.  I was too exhausted both nights that I was supposed to lift weights in the basement after the kids went to bed and instead went to bed myself.  My run on the workdays both got cancelled due to issues that cropped up at work that had me there late with no time to run.  Long gone are the days where I could keep up with my workload AND spend an hour in the fitness center every afternoon.  I didn’t run last Sunday because my foot hurt after having run seven miles during the week and I was scared shitless I was going to reinjury myself and wouldn’t be able to train at all.

So yeah, I’m seriously a mess.  Plus I’m giving in to my sweet tooth and eating crap that isn’t good for me because its all a viscious cycle.  If I’m eating great and working out I feel amazing and then I don’t even want anything that isn’t good for me.  But now I am back to feeling crappy because I haven’t figured out a way to squeeze everything into every day again which means I turn to food for comfort more often than I should.  I need to pull my head out of my ass is what I need to do.

I ran this morning – the first in a week and a day later than scheduled – and it felt great.  I can see progress on regaining my stamina and endurance even though I’m nowhere near where I was prior to my injury.  Maybe that’s also because I am running hills in an effort not to die on Ragnar this year?  Yesterday I ate better and I feel like I might be taking the reins back.  I still don’t have all my mojo but maybe if I take it one day at a time it will magically reappear.

I added streaks of red to my hair hoping to fool life into believing I’m someone else and letting up for a bit.  We’ll see how much that works.  Meanwhile, I’ll take every day as it comes and strive for progress rather than perfection where it comes to eating and training.  That and hope my sister really will let me store her treadmill in my basement instead of hers where I could use it whenever I could squeeze in a few minutes of running.

A week of milestones

Last week was crazy and looking back on it I realized it was full of milestones for every facet of my life.  I should have something quirky to say right here to peak your interest and hope you’ll take time out of your life to read about mine but I’m too tired to try that hard right now. Oh, and I turned forty.  FOUR. OH.  Like oh shit you’re old now.  So forgive me?

Is it me or were those who told me that everything changes overnight when you hit forty right?  
We had already celebrated officially since Hubby also hit this milestone last month so we picked a day in the middle and had our good friend cater a fabulous meal for us and our closest friends.  It was amazing – both the company and the evening.  And so when the official day of my birth arrived, it seemed kind of anti climactic.  I got to do exactly what I wanted to do all day which included a whole lot of sitting around without guilt and getting caught up on movies.  Oh, and a trip to the running store WITHOUT KIDS.  It was a decadent hour of my life that I will cherish since it happens rarely. A couple of days later I was at the doctor’s for my annual checkup and since it’s the first of the year I had to fill out yet another new page of demographic and insurance information “for their files” and paused just slightly when it came to that blank next to “Age:”  How brutal to have to write that number before I’d even had time to process it let alone embrace it.

I quickly got over this insane milestone that, when I was young, I heralded as the beginning of old age.  After all, I don’t look forty and I sure as hell don’t act forty.  Plus I’m in better shape physically and mentally than I ever was at thirty.  Besides, I didn’t have time to wallow since Baby Sister turned two under a week later.  

Apparently I suspected subconsciously that “they” were right about the mind being the first to go.  Because I had individually told everyone on the guest list in my head to save the date for the birthday party for Baby Sister in the weeks before my birthday.  Lucky for me since I remembered to send out an actual invite (via email) with details three days before the party and stressed that no one would show up because I didn’t remember having invited everyone already.  Seriously, totally off my game!

Lucky for us, too, we learned the right lessons with Big Sister.  Like the one that says “until your kid is old enough to remember the birthday party you shouldn’t go overboard on it”.  We kept it low key with dinner for our immediate family.  The three or four people Baby Sister sees on a regular basis and who comprise her world came later for ice cream and cake.  It was perfect – well, except for that page I got at the end of the evening since I couldn’t get out of my on-call shift.  The next day on her official birthday she got her ears pierced.  She’s officially a big girl and I’m sad to lose my baby forever.

Another milestone in the last week involved work.  I’m busier than I’ve been in years.  Literally.  The entire week I didn’t leave the office until after 5:30.  I’ve been thrown on a new project – which I love – but not only do I have to come up to speed in the middle they are in the throws of major conversions so there’s not a lot of leeway for me to learn everything before I am required to perform new duties.  Gives new meaning to “sink or swim” that I hear all the time but never experienced before.  Plus, I’ve been assigned as the primary trainer for two new hires which carves out two hours of every day devoted to sitting in a conference room talking theory and principles and not doing any real work of my own.  Oh, and did I mention the slacker on my team who is supposed to take my pager shifts and hasn’t been?  It all has turned into a perfect storm of high-stress and no time to run at work which makes Terra a very bitchy woman.  
And then Friday – on top of everything else – my laptop decided to die.  It may or may not have been a result of someone trying to help fix the issues I was having and making it worse.  Now I could connect to the network in the conference room for training but not anywhere else in the building.  Makes it really hard to work that way.  In all fairness the hunk of outdated hardware had been on its last leg for months but this timing sucked.  I ended up losing a full day and a half of productivity.  Friday ended with me skipping my planned trip to the gym and coming home to yell at the kids, pour a very large adult beverage and plop on the couch for the evening to drink it and decompress.  I needed it so much I didn’t feel more than a twinge of guilt for not running.  I was emotionally and physically drained and it would have been a shitty run anyway.

I am still struggling to get back to running shape for proper Ragnar training which started officially today.  I did three miles but the last two thirds were all walk/run fartleks where I pushed myself harder than I normally would have for a training run.  Hoping it pays off next time I go out and my heart and lungs are in better shape.

Last week also marked a milestone in my writing.  I submitted the first three chapters of my rough draft from NaNoWriMo to my writer’s group for critique.  It’s been years since I had any work I thought worthy of being seen by others.  Two NaNos had come and gone and my beloved writer’s group hadn’t gotten to see the fruits of my labors or their encouragement.  I was so stressed between hitting send on the email and getting feedback at our meeting.  But it turns out they liked what I’d written and wanted more.  Plus they gave me some great feedback on ways to tighten things up.  Considering it was a true rough draft from NaNo land of “write first, ask questions later” I was happy and encouraged.  They make me feel like a real writer.

So here’s to life which marches on and delivers milestones in the weirdest places sometimes.  Do you ever have weeks where everything happens all at once in every area of your life or is it just me? 

Back to the beginning

This past week felt like the beginning of more than another year.  I did my first run without pain in more time than I can remember and I started editing what I wrote in NaNoWriMo.
While my body has healed from my injury and I’m finished kicking myself for waiting so long to address it as the injury it was for a year, that doesn’t mean I just pick up where I left off.  I thought I could but I was wrong.  I have to start all over again.  I’ve lost so much ground with my cardio that I couldn’t keep my heart rate down in the aerobic zone if I ran more than a few minutes at a time at my comfortable pace.  After a frustrating mile of running with some irritating walking interspersed (accompanied by curses mumbled under my breath which I’m sure still offended the girl walking next to me) I climbed off the treadmill and opted instead for a spin bike.  It was my first time on one and I loved it.  Well, once I got it adjusted appropriately for my short legs anyway.  It was easy to lose myself in my audio book and make easy adjustments to keep my heart rate in zone 2.  I came away from it feeling as refreshed as if I’d run the whole forty minutes.  I guess I’ll be doing a bunch of walk/run and spinning for a few weeks until I can get my heart and lungs back in shape.  It’s a road I’ve traveled before and I’ve heard it comes back fairly quickly.  Let’s hope so!  I’m looking back and regretting skipping the gym entirely just because I was dejected about not being able to run.  If only I had kept up with my cardio… *sigh*
Editing my writing is a road I have not traveled too much – unless you count that first attempt at NaNoWriMo where I wrote a chapter and then obsessively edited it over and over again losing sight of the whole point.  This is different editing altogether.  NaNo is all about writing first and asking questions later which I embraced wholeheartedly.  The drawback of this is that you get to the end and your characters and even their motivations have changed since you’ve gotten to know them better.  Plus, the story itself evolves.  I’m at a place where I can’t finish the ending unless I fix the beginning to keep things consistent.  I started doing that this week and while it is cool I find it takes a lot more time to see progress than just banging out a first draft with abandon.  I’ve got my first two chapters pretty well polished and ready for my writer’s group.  They refuse to be patient enough for me to finish what I started during NaNoWriMo to read something and I really can’t blame them.  After all, they were with me every step of the way and should be rewarded accordingly.
So far 2012 is promising to be a great year!

Let the madness continue

We got into the sold out Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back!!!  Our number came up on the waiting list this week and I literally was jumping up and down when I got the phone call.  I wanted to scream but kept at least my voice composed for the angel on the other side of the line with the news I’d been waiting ever so patiently for months for.
And so it is official – training starts the first of February.  Race day mid June with a semi-new crop of fellow crazies.  I’ve already substituted two runners from the original twelve who committed and paid back in July when we got on the waiting list.  Luckily I had two people waiting in the wings for a shot at joining the party. This year Hubby and I will be in “the other” van so we can experience the entire race route.  Since Hubby is back to tip top shape and is officially one of the strong runners, we have to be in the van with the ubber-hard “Ragnar Hill”.  And this year I’m taking a leg with shorter total mileage.  I learned my lesson last year.  Hard means hard when it’s labeled as such regardless of how innocuous the elevation map makes it look.
I use Nike+ to track my running – it’s the coolest app on my iPhone – and every year they give you a rundown of the previous year.  I ran a total of five hundred miles in 2011 averaging three runs and ten miles a week.  Pretty impressive considering I haven’t run more than a couple of miles since Thanksgiving.  Compared to 2010 when I *only* ran three hundred seventeen miles I’m pretty happy with myself.
I’m slowly easing myself back into training mode.  I ran twice this week and it still amazes me to wake up in the morning without pain in my foot.  All the physical therapy and massage therapy has worked wonders and I’m so grateful it was so easily solved.  It’s insane how much you get out of practice when you stop doing cardio regularly and I’m trying not to get frustrated that I can’t just head out and easily do three to five miles at a time.  I have January to get back to where I was before I have to start hard core training.  Twenty three weeks until Ragnar.  I hope it is enough time.

Race Archive 2011

Another list for my OCD.  Although this one seems tiny compared to 2010.  But it represents double the training effort so I’m recording it anyway.  Officially 2011 was the year of Ragnar.  The best part: doing both of them with my Hubby.

Ragnar 2011 – Wasatch Back Relay
June 17-18, 2011
(192 miles, Logan to Park City, UT)
Personal mileage: 21 miles
Team time: 38 hours 05 minutes

Ragnar 2011 – Las Vegas Relay
October 21-22, 2011
(195 miles, Lake Mead to Red Rock, NV)
Personal mileage: 14.2 miles
Team time: 33 hours 31 minutes

I also trained for a half marathon in October which I got two weeks away from and had to cancel because of my injury.  The injury I could no longer ignore…  sometimes reality really bites.

Going crazy without an outlet

I’m currently an injured runner.  Something I never thought I would have to deal with.  I knew I got far more than weight management benefits from my running but until I was sidelined I had no idea the real impact running has on my life and my sanity.  Oh I had an idea but I seriously hadn’t come close to the reality.  It’s been three weeks since my last real run – minus the test run after I saw my therapist which did not go well.  And I haven’t been able to run regularly since before Thanksgiving. 


I can’t concentrate on anything.  All I can think about is running and how I can’t do it.  I get dejected thinking about going to the gym because I know when I get there I can’t run and then because I know I will be tempted to run if I go I just don’t.  I stay up too late, I sleep too late, I have too little patience with my kids and my husband.  I can’t sit still long enough to focus on writing consistently.  I’m a mess!!  I even found myself resentful about hubby’s gym time because he shouldn’t be able to do what he loves when I can’t.  Am I right?

There is good news, however.  I no longer have foot pain when I wake up in the morning – something I haven’t been able to say for going on a year.  (Yes, that long, really!)  And it was only a little bit of pain resulting from my test run after my last treatment.  So, progress!  I see my miracle worker massage therapist again tomorrow and I’m hopeful I’ll be back on the trails by early next week.  I’ve even managed to curtail the daily expansion of my ass by adjusting my eating.  No need to fuel my body for running I’m not doing at the moment… (I’m such a creature of habit!)

Whatever you do that you love, rejoice in it and cherish that you can do it.  And if you’re a runner – stay healthy!  I wouldn’t wish injury on anyone because it plain sucks ass.

This week’s lesson on balance

It’s the holidays and like what I hope are the rest of the women/wife/mothers out there, I start planning and spread-sheeting and making lists around Thanksgiving (okay, post NaNo!) and spend the three weeks before Christmas jockeying for the right gift for everyone on my list.  Hubby admits to never having a good idea for a gift and happily sits back and lets me handle everything.  I used to feel a tiny bit bad about this like I was taking too much of my own control in this piece of our marriage.  But lately I wonder if he’s actually not the smarter of the two of us having now manipulated himself out of all responsibility for gift giving and letting me have all the stress.  Hmm. I hope it was only coincidental on his part and he’s merely reaping the coincidental rewards.

Big Sister’s best friend on the planet and her family moved into the house on the corner last month.  After three years of living far enough away that to see each other outside of school hours required coordinating a play date with their parents, the girls are ecstatic to be able to walk across the street any time they want to see each other.  It has added a new dynamic to parenting – since she now wants to do nothing but play all day and all weekend.  She even told me that she wanted to quit dancing so she had more time with her BFF (Best Friend Forever).  The other day when I’d had enough of her room looking like a tornado had blown through and yelling constantly about how she either needed to do X or she was grounded from seeing BFF, I took a step back and had a conversation with her about how she thought things were going.  As if on queue, she asked me how she is supposed to do her homework and go to dance and do her chores and still see BFF every day.  I told her it is all about finding balance between the things you have to do and the things you want to do so you can do both.  Do you think it’s easy for me to be Mommy to you and Baby Sister, and be Daddy’s wife, and run the household and go to work every day and be a good employee and still have time to run and write and read and all the things I WANT to do?  Nope, it’s hard and it sucks some days but by finding ways to be better and faster and more effective at the things that I have to do, and sometimes giving up things I don’t care as much about as others, it gives me more time to do the things I want to do.  The conversation that began with her in tears throwing her hands in the air in frustration ended with a pretty grown-up kind of discussion which I hope lays the groundwork for a very valuable lesson she’ll have to remember the rest of her life.  Maybe this will be one of those things that she’ll remember for the positive column when she’s in therapy as an adult?

On the heels of this conversation, the stars aligned as they rarely do resulting in a day all about me.  I had neglected scheduling a hair appointment too long and had some seriously embarrassing regrowth going on.  My sister was in the same boat so we decided to schedule together so we could hang out for a few hours.  The stylist could get us in before Christmas (a miracle in itself) but only for an afternoon appointment.  I checked my calendar and didn’t have anything scheduled that day at work and decided it was meant to be.  While I was at it, I’d take the entire day off.  I haven’t had one of those with the exception of the time off required to do my two Ragnars since last spring so I was due!  Since I had the whole day off, I called to see if I could get in to see the massage therapist my sister has been demanding I go see to fix my plantar fasciitis issue.  I called, she answered, and had an appointment open the same morning.  What are the odds?  While inputting the massage appointment in my calendar I realized I had a girls’ night dinner planned that night from weeks ago and had already lined up a babysitter.  Seriously!  A decadent day of activities for me and only me.  I came home from girls night that night refreshed and recharged.  Dinner lasted an hour longer than normal because one of the group was running late and we decided to wait to order.  We got to chat in depth enough to realize we were all going through the same things as everyone else and buoying each other up like only girlfriends can.  If only I could have squeezed a run in it would have been the perfect day.

Here’s where I tell you about how I haven’t been running and where I admit that my “injury” had become a full blown injury (without the quotation marks) sidelining me from my favorite pastime.  I can’t ignore it anymore when I go for a little baby mile run and can barely walk for days afterward; where it is so bad that even if I haven’t run in a couple of days and go to a friend’s house with the “no shoe” rule and spend three hours barefoot I’m in agony when I leave; where the only shoes I wear are my running shoes for the support to stave off the pain and I wear them every minute I’m awake every day.  The worst part is that because I really haven’t been able to run more than three or four miles a week since the Vegas Ragnar, I put on TEN POUNDS without even realizing it.  Until one day I put my jeans on and they were uncomfortably snug.  Of course then I was so depressed about the ten pounds I put on five more from emotional eating.  *sigh*

The good news is that running is just over the horizon for me.  I put my big girl panties on and did something about it.  I spent an hour with my sister’s amazing massage therapist who touched nothing but my lower leg.  I walked yesterday for forty five minutes as directed and still had zero pain when I woke up this morning.  Which means today I get to go for a little jog and see how it goes.  If I have no pain, I’m cleared to resume my normal running.  If it still hurts, I have to go see her again.  I’m tingling with both anticipation and dread at how it will go.  I want to be able to run so bad and I’m so scared it isn’t going to be that easy.  But until I try I’m just sitting here with my ass growing larger by the hour – or so it feels.

Wish me luck!  And here’s to you – may you have a happy holiday season while maintaining balance in your own life.  Remember that if you don’t take care of you, there isn’t enough of you to take care of everyone else…

New beginnings in unexpected places

Here we are in week three of NaNoWriMo.  And what a wild ride it has been.  I thought a couple of times that I might be sort of cheating this year since I’ve *technically* been working on the same novel I originally started with back in 2008.  But I used the following rational to counter that:

  1. I had scrapped every piece of shitty writing I’d done to date and had no plans to even look back at any of it for reference.  (yes, it was that shitty!)
  2. I had plotted out a structure for the entire story complete with several subplots all neatly tied in with each other
  3. I had even changed the main character’s name since we named Baby Sister the original character name when she was born

With the new plot and new character motivations I knew the book would be far different than I had envisioned when I first came up with the idea.  But guess what?  I never needed to rationalize a single little thing!

I had a rough start after I got through the prologue (which hasn’t really changed much over each iteration of attempts).  I wrote myself into a corner where I knew my character would never be stupid enough to do what I was trying to make her do as a means to get her physically from one place to another.  I wasted days of writing more crap dragging one scene out and never getting anywhere but behind in my target word count. I was honestly getting worried.  What if I hadn’t prepared enough?  What if I couldn’t figure out how to translate a plot to a real story?  What if I failed?

Then I went for a run.

And I had the best run of my life – five miles in a hour which is insanely fast for me!

I must have shook up my brain with all that pounding of treadmill because I came off that run with a shit-eating grin glued to my face AND a way to get myself out of the corner and fix everything!

I rushed home and wrote like a mad woman.  I was able to salvage most of that original crappy chapter and after adding seven hundred or so words I was back on track toward where I needed to be heading.  I was even on my way to the next mile-marker plot point.

And I know I was still high from that amazing run when the next morning in the shower I had the one piece of unknown I’d been trying to solve SINCE THE BEGINNING IN 2008 just fall into place.  It was so earth-shattering when it happened I expected to feel the earth move beneath me.  But it didn’t.  One minute I had this question of “how does that happen that will make sense and be believable” playing over and over in my subconscious.  And the next it was clear as day how it would all work.  The last loose end was no longer loose!  Plus, it was so fundamental that it changed everything.  Including the title which had been the one constant from the beginning.

I wonder if anyone else who embarked on this journey is experiencing anything similar.  Because it is crazy how unbelievable it all is and I’m only half done!

Want to know what running is like?

I just saw this video and it so accurately sums up how I feel about running that I had to share it…


Thanks to a good friend and fellow runner for sharing it with me, my heart gets lighter every time I watch it and my feet itch to hit the pavement.  Even though I know I shouldn’t until I do a bit more physical therapy for my injured foot.  I’m a stubborn bitch, everyone knows that already, right?

Las Vegas – Ragnar Style

You know it’s November, right?  Which means I SHOULD be writing my novel and not recapping Ragnar.  But if I don’t do it now all the amazing things that I want to remember will fade as all memories do.  And that would suck.  So I’m taking one for all of you and will just suck it up and drink an extra cup of coffee so I can stay up later tonight to meet my writing goal after I finish this post.  Aren’t you glad I love you, my readers?
The things that make a Ragnar a Ragnar don’t ever change – you still have twelve people split between two vans who run leapfrog style taking turns running their way through two hundred miles to the finish line.  In between, there’s three runs a piece, two periods of “rest” when your van is not the one with the active runners, and lots and lots of driving.  So, I won’t regale you with the sweaty details of the parts you already know about.
What was different between Vegas and Wasatch Back?
1.  We had different van mates.
This time we were invited to join a team and I was NOT the captain.  What a refreshing change for me not to have to worry about every little detail!  Hubby and I and Steven got to ride and run with two of our friends that were in the “other” van on Wasatch Back – Carrie and Nancy – driven by Nancy’s hubby, Trent.  We rounded out the sixth with one of my brother’s friends – Austin – who fit in amazingly well.  Probably because he is as sarcastic and fun as we all are.  I’m telling you, the people in your van make all the difference in the world on the experience you will have.  If you ever do one, you want to stack your van with YOUR peeps, provided you have peeps that are crazy enough to do this race with you.
2.  The other van was full of elite runners.
Four of the six people in the other van did the same race last year as an ultra team.  Which means they are crazy enough to do the entire two hundred miles split up between only six of them instead of twelve.  Because the entire van were elite runners with sub eight minute mile paces (that is INSANELY fast for those of you non-runners) we didn’t have much down time between our running.  The first time we had about three hours.  That was just enough time to get to the next exchange point to wait for them, snarf some amazing food (tri-tips and chicken grilled to perfection with a side of delicious pasta salad) sitting on asphalt in a dark parking lot and then sacking out in the gravel between the bushes of the planter boxes of the same dark parking lot.  The second time we had about five hours in the wee hours of the morning.  Not being locals, we had to follow the course the runners were on, through winding dirt and gravel roads, to get to the next exchange to wait.  That drive ate two hours of our time up and later we learned we could have taken the interstate and a much more direct route.  If only we had known.  This is also why Steven and Austin didn’t really sleep.  Steven because he took over the driving detail when Trent started falling asleep so we didn’t all die.  I think Austin is just not used to sacking out with strangers…didn’t want to let his guard down, maybe?
3.  Fewer teams on the course.
This is a huge catch-22 for me.  Wasatch Back allows one thousand and fifty teams and sells out every single year.  That’s twenty two HUNDRED vans on the back roads between Logan and Park City.  Vegas had about four hundred fifty teams total and it really was much better.  There wasn’t as much chaos at the major exchanges.  We could adequately support our runners without fearing we wouldn’t make it to drop the next runner off in time.  All the things those people who don’t want me personally to get OFF the waiting list for Wasatch Back 2012 have said in protest when they talk about allowing more teams.  I get it now.  Fewer teams means a more laid back race for everyone.  And I really enjoyed that part of the Vegas race.
4.  The scenery sucks.
I’m sorry to anyone who thinks that dessert landscape is beautiful, because I think those people are nuts.  I had to run through desolate stretches of ugly ass scenery twice with the sun baking down on me feeling like I would shrivel up and die.  Like some dead lizard.  And no one would ever find my body.  I’m used to running in the majestic beauty of northern Utah and by comparison this totally sucked.  Not a tree in sight, no shade for miles, and dirt.  In eight six and ninety degree heat respectively.  For the record, I know why the Vegas race is where they give you double medals.  Otherwise, no one would want to do it!  Of course, there were some pretty parts – Lake Mead at the first major exchange point between vans, and the Red Rock area near the finish were both pretty.  And the one bad ass hill we had to climb had a few trees at the top with a small section where it could be called nice.  However, I did not get to run anywhere near any of those places.
5.  The jokes were a lot more funny this time around – probably because we were all so much more sleep deprived!
  • Every time one of us would do something dumb, someone would smile and reply “aw, at least you’re pretty”.  This little saying was used so often it ended up written on the window by the end.
  • Bad ass honey badgers.  If you haven’t seen the youtube video, you should.  Although it will never be as funny as we all thought it was with zero sleep when we had it playing on one of the iPhones in the middle of the night.  We picked up and repeated two lines from this little gem:  “You’re a bad-ass honey badger – you don’t give a shit!” and “I’m a tired little fuck”.  Trust me, even I thought it was less funny when I got home and had gotten a little sleep so don’t feel bad if you don’t ‘get it’.  (at least you’re pretty!)
  • Austin obsessing about how all he needed when he got done running was a banana – and me meeting him at the exchange after his hardest leg with one.
  • Strobe light effects from a high-powered mag light accompanied by cow bells out the window in the middle of the night, compliments of Trent the driver extraordinaire.
  • “You guys can take your vests off now”.  Three of us in the back seat had fallen asleep on the two hour drive from hell.  When we arrived it was daylight and we all still had our night gear on.  
  • The anonymous chalk message written on a part of the course Austin ran that said “pick up your vagina and run faster!”  It became our mantra.
  • When the girls weren’t feeling so fresh anymore, Carrie stopped and bought a little bottle of baby powder that we then used to freshen up.  Guess what – you can overdo powdering your girl parts in compression shorts… afterward, we had the insanely funny idea of calling our team the “Powder Pussies” the next time we raced.  Something tells me that name might not be allowed.
  • Relating an injury to the other van and referring to it as “I bruised my vagina”.  Oh the jokes that followed that one…  
There were so many other noteworthy things that happened in those thirty three hours that I could go on and on about:
  •  Steven saying randomly over and over, “Austin, have I said ‘thank you’ lately?” every time he thought about how he was originally assigned to the runner position Austin did.
  • Taking time to set up a tent at the last major exchange so we could all go inside, strip down and take a baby-wipe shower.  “You know you’re on Ragnar when a baby wipe shower is the highlight of your weekend.”
  • Hubby getting mad at the inconsiderate and obnoxious college-aged children who wouldn’t shut up so we could sleep on the ground around them.
  • Carrie and Nancy running all three times in the dark.
  • Steven’s sprint finish on his last run.
  • My getting the shaft and having to run TWICE in the dreaded heat – in the ugliest parts of the course to boot.
  • Watching Austin power through his TEN mile run – six of which was brutal uphill and then being stubborn to a fault when asked if he wanted/needed someone to take over and finish it for him.
  • Losing Carrie at the second major exchange after she handed off to the other van.
  • Lake Las Vegas at night is so amazingly beautiful!  We all said we wanted to come back to Vegas and stay there instead of the usual places you think of when you think Las Vegas.
  • Hubby starting the weekend saying “this is my last Ragnar”.  And then kicking ass and feeling so great at the end that he was asking when the next one is.
  • The wonders of ‘Sore No More’ cream – just don’t put it near your girl parts!
  • Nancy crying out “That’s MY girl” when a confused runner from a different team slapped her bracelet on Carrie who was waiting for Nancy to hand off to her.
  • Nancy and Carrie both running personal-best fastest times – on their THIRD runs when they were the most tired.  Both of them ran sub-nine minute miles.  A-maz-ing!
  • Nancy commenting on how fast this adorable, young girl runner was when she left the exchange significantly ahead of Nancy – and then Nancy running so fast she overtook the same girl while we all cheered her on with cowbells.  Then when Nancy passed off to Carrie, she paced the entire leg with the same girls’ husband who happened to be the same guy who offered us bananas at the first leg when Austin was obsessing about how badly he needed a banana.  See, smaller is better!
  • Wine for the women at the finish line.  The bottle we bought in a gas station and had hauled with us the whole way in the cooler.  Drank from a shared paper cup we swiped from the hotel room.  Best glass of wine ever because it was so deserved.
  • Feeling sorry for people we saw at the finish line with “only” one medal because this was their first Ragnar of the year.  Saints and Sinners medal for those of us who did Wasatch Back this year and Deuces Wild medal for those who had done at least one other one plus Vegas this year.
  • Walking through The Paris hotel casino after the race was over.  Sweaty, stinky, haggard looking while women in hoochie skirts and hooker heels made up perfectly passed by on all sides.  And not giving a shit because just being there meant we were headed to a shower and a real bed.
  • Crashing in the room and not seeing a single typical Vegas sight before hitting the road to come home the next day.  Although Steven did!
So what about my own personal experience running this time around?
The highlight of the running part for me was my night run at one in the morning.  It was chilly enough for a light jacket, I could see the Strip all lit up in the distance, and the run itself was easy and enjoyable.  Well, that is until it was longer than advertised and I had spent everything I had in me thinking I was almost done.  Luckily, Carrie had back-tracked to find me in the dark after they parked and we ran in together the last half mile.  I was hurting and spent and she kept trying to distract me by making me think about what I was going to do the minute we got done and what drink we were going to celebrate our finish with.  I don’t know if I ever even answered her, but just having to think about it in my head and knowing she was right there with me kept me pushing to the end.  She’s my favorite little ferret.
The lowest part for me was when I had to admit I couldn’t finish my last run.  I’d been ignoring a pretty significant running injury for months (ha, still am!) and after the end of my second run I knew the third was going to be brutal.  Luckily, it was going to be one hundred percent downhill.  Not a single foot of elevation increase according to the race maps.  I started out feeling great and pounding the miles out.  About two miles into my six mile run it wasn’t downhill anymore.  And uphill aggravates my injury worse – plantar fasciitis – as it pulls the tendon on the bottom of my foot in a bad way.  I was still in good spirits and made a deal with myself and my burning foot:  walk the distance between every other barrel cone and run the rest.  That worked for about a mile and then I could barely walk and had to stop at every barrel to stretch my calves just so I could walk to the next one.  Every step sent sharp pains shooting up from my foot and I literally thought I was going to die.  No more running for this girl.  Not that day.  So I walked – and cried – and cried harder as each person passed me – until I could see my van appear over the next rolling hill.  Nancy was walking toward me and as I came within earshot she asked if I was all right.  I told her ‘No’ and cried harder as she took off running back toward the van.  My amazing Hubby – who already knew it was too bloody hot out and too much rolling hills for me to handle – had already suited up and warmed up and was ready to go.  He crossed the two-lane highway, hugged and kissed me and let me cry on his shoulder for a second and then finished my last mile and did his six.  The fact that this is my lowest point and most likely made his Ragnar all at the same time is only a little ironic.  Almost as ironic as knowing he was unable to finish his last leg on the Wasatch Back and had trained super hard for Vegas so as not to repeat it.  He was certainly my hero that day.  
After, we talked about how this Ragnar was Blood, Sweat and Tears.  Hubby had bled when he banged his leg on the tailgate at some point, we were ALL sweaty and stinky, and I had cried like a baby… In the end, we all decided that Ragnar is really about being with friends for thirty six hours straight.  The running  part is just a reason to make the time and do it.
Here’s hoping we get a spot for Wasatch Back in 2012.  And if not, we’ll find another one to do instead!