Thoughts On ~ “Ok, you’re a runner, get over it”

There is an article making the rounds called Ok, you’re a runner get over it, by Chad Stafko.  No doubt if you blog about running, read about running or run you’ve most likely read the article.  I’m posting it here for two reasons.  One, Mr. Stafko lives in a neighboring city about 15 miles from me.  So at the very least I find it amusing that his article, published in the Wall Street Journal, has received so much retort from other writers including Mark Remy from Runner’s World Magazine. Two, I’ve been giving a lot of thought about my blogging and social media in general.  I try very hard to make my blog fun and interesting about the topic of running.  I’m a normal Joe, I blog about my running experiences and what they mean to me.  I’m not a psychologist, former running pro, journalist or running coach.  I don’t take myself too seriously; I’m not arrogant or in-your-face about running.  I do it for the joy it brings and share my experience with others, but I’ll get into that later.

You can read Mr. Stafko’s article here: Ok You’re a Runner Get Over It

You can read Mr. Remy’s article here:  Response to Stafko article ~ it’s pretty funny

I don’t know Mr. Stafko and the article doesn’t faze me in the slightest.  He is writing his opinion about runners and that is his right.  We live in a great country!  I will say the article is a bit strange, almost whiney.  It’s apparent he thinks “runners” are braggarts.  Not only do we brag about our running accomplishments but when we are out on a run we are somehow bragging to those that pass us by on the road.  A sort of in-your-face mentality ~ look at me.

I got the idea about blogging about a year ago by reading someone else’s blog.  I thought it was a neat thing to do for the purpose I was trying to serve ~ trying to log 11,315 miles to honor my mother, nothing more nothing less.  I didn’t even do research on other running blogs before I started.  I just jumped in and started.  I’m surprised to see how many other people were blogging about running.  Lately, I’ve been kicking around in my head whether or not it is an arrogant thing to blog or should I just stop doing it altogether.  It really didn’t cross my mind I might be bragging.  I often ask myself why does anybody want to read my tripe.  Who really cares?  So what, I’m running ~ it doesn’t mean I have to tell the world about running.  I just wanted to share with others the different races in our area, what they’re like and my experience participating.  Maybe it will spur interest in others who would like to participate in the sport as well.

The subtitle for Mr. Stafko’s article states ~ Running a marathon is hard enough without also patting yourself on the back every step of the way.

I wish someone did pat me on the back ~ it might have made me move faster ~ :).

In my opinion the above statement is a little clueless.  If you’ve gotten off your duff and completed any race, no matter how long or for whatever reason.  I humbly offer this:

In the immortal words of our Vice-President Biden to President Obama as they rolled out the health care plan.  “This is a big f***ing deal”. 

Ask yourself this:

Why go to college and place the “University “X” sticker on the back of your car window?  Because you are proud of your accomplishment and wait for it…it’s a big “f***ing” deal.  You spent four or more years trying to better yourself ~ it’s big.  It’s the same thing as placing the 26.2 sticker on your car.

Yes it is.

I have to say, I have never met any runner that went on and on about a race they ran.  As-a-matter of fact I’ve only discussed runs and running experiences with other runners.  Why?  Because that’s who’s interested.  Most of the time runners never discuss about the end of a race and the medal.  It’s what happened on the way to the finish that counted.  Some of these races are life changers for people.  Sure, is cool to get the t-shirt and the medal.  Are they fun to receive?  Bling, yeah!  But that’s not the only reason why people run.  People in running community are some of the most giving and supportive people around.  I live in a large military community and a lot of these runs help support the troops or a soldier who has died in the area.  Many of these races support cancer, soldiers, and community.  We can quibble about the percentage that goes to the cause, but in my book if you’re willing to come out and run so a dollar can be donated for your favorite cause ~ then who is it going to hurt.

Mr. Stafko also mentioned “selfies”.  I’ll be honest I didn’t know what a “selfie” was.  I understand now it is taking a picture of oneself.  I’ll agree selfies are a little strange to me.  I’ve only done it twice, really, and it was weird both times.  I won’t do it again, I’m pretty sure.  I’ve only done it to say hey I was here.  But if you do it, I don’t judge.  It is what it is.  🙂

I have read many “why I run” themed posts.  I started a post about a month ago titled “Who do you do it for”.  I never posted it but maybe now is a good time to share some running reasons for me.

Why I run or started running:

1.  To honor my mother.

2.  To lose weight.

3.  Keep healthy

4.  Challenge myself

5.  Calm myself

6.  Participate in community and give back

A short and humble list.  No flashy pictures with bling just an honest assessment.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to polish my 26.2 sticker on my car.

To all runners and non-runners alike ~ happy miles to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mileage Recap 1 ~ 9 Nov

I am slowly recovering and taking my time before I start longer distances after running the St. Louis marathon.  I didn’t have any injuries but I did have pain that manifested about two to three days after the race.  The most prominent was the top of my right foot.  It was really hurting for a few days so I forced myself to do lighter “runs” if you will, using the elliptical and treadmill for about a week.  I iced and used my foam roller ~ both seem to help quite a bit.  The “rungry” also didn’t happen.  I find that amazing as well.  When I ran the half I was extremely hungry for a couple of days.  I’m chalking this one up to eating well.  I really made sure I stayed hydrated and ate enough(tried to eat the right foods).

It’s funny, I had no problem with the taper before the marathon.  It was aftermath of “still wanting to keep moving” I found more difficult.  The urge to go out and run, knowing that wouldn’t be a smart idea.  You have to give yourself time.  It’s the smart and healthy thing to do.  So, catching up with a few days this was the recap:

Nov 2 Sat ~ 3.49  walked

Sun ~ rest

Mon ~ 3 miles elliptical

Tues ~ 1:15 hrs yoga

Wed ~ 3 miles elliptical

Thurs ~ Fri  rest

Sat ~ 2 miles treadmill 3 miles elliptical

Total = 14.49 miles.  To all of you who visit from time-to-time, follow my progress, or just the curious.  I thank you and happy miles to you ~ 10,395.70 thankfully remaining.

 

Mileage Recap 20 ~ 31 Oct

Still recovering from the St. Louis marathon last Sunday.  I have pretty much laid low the entire week.  I have some pain in the top of my right foot but for the most part I’m feeling okay just a little tire.  Got out yesterday for a walk, but I will add that to my November mileage.  I was able to get 32.23 miles including the marathon to round out October with 103.77.  I hope everyone had a lovely Fall weekend ~ 10,410.19 miles remaining.  Happy miles to you.

St. Louis Rock ~n~ Roll Marathon Recap Oct 27, 2013 ~ Anything Is Possible

I’m happy to report I completed my first marathon, 26.2 is in the bag:)  It was a wonderful, fun experience.

0400 AM  ~  Got up ready to go.  Surprisingly I slept the night before with no problem.  I was calm and I was glad none of my cats decided to “play” during the night.  Maybe I should chalk it up to inexperience but I didn’t have a case of the jitters.  Ate a banana drank a glass of water and a cup of coffee.  Checked the temperature and it’s 31 degrees.  Not happy about that, but at least it wasn’t raining or windy out.  If you’ve been to the Midwest, you know what I’m talking about.  Put on my gear and I was out the door.

0515  ~  met Kathi at the train station.  There were a lot of other runners already waiting (this was kind of neat) so the excitement was high on the train.  By the time we arrived in St. Louis the train was already packed with runners.

Getting started

Kathi and I on the train.

0600  ~  Arrived in St. Louis and made our way to the venue.  I was beginning to worry a little because it was cold.  I’m not a stranger to running in the cold, but I was really hoping it would be warmer for this first run.  Again, oh well and suck it up.  The first thing Kathi and I do is roll on over to the porta potties.  That’s right, no line you’re going to go even if you don’t think you have to go.  It’s one of those things before you run, I don’t have to go now but maybe later I will, so you try.  After that we strolled over to the gear check.  I was still wearing my pants at this point realizing that I would have to shed them at the gear check.  After about 5 minutes of banter between Kathi and me, “Are you going to take your pants off? Yes, are you?  Yes, right now?  Yes, are you…right now?”  Crap we have to take our pants off…it’s cold:(  We finally take our pants off and check the rest of the gear.

cold morning

No estoy pantalones!

0630  ~  we make it on over to the Soldiers Memorial for a picture with one of the local running groups the Road Warriors.  They are a great group of people that enjoy running and offering support to other runners.  Always a pleasure to be around.

Road Warrior Photo

Where’s Laurel and Kathi:)

0635  ~  We decide that we want to go to the bathroom… again.  Directly in front of us is a string of portas that are heavily backed up…no pun intended.  I was starting to get nervous and I didn’t even have to go.  Then out of the corner of my eye I see another string to our far right and no lines.  I point and we literally start running to these portas.  It appeared that others were catching on as well, STEP IT UP.  The jog became a little faster.  Whew I’m in the front of the line baby! It was dark and difficult to see which ones were occupied and which ones were free.  Then there was the occasional battle cry, “don’t use this one…it’s out of paper!”  The tsk, tsk of another runner, “that is not how I want to start my day” and all the affirmations of yes, yes.  Finished there and bolted to my corral.

0650  ~  Arrive at my corral, 10, and begin the wait game.  This really was a very interesting aspect of the race.  You’re pumped and ready-to-go but waiting for the race to start.  The sun was just beginning to rise and you could see that beautiful sunrise of bright orange and yellow mixed with a splattering of clouds against a struggling dark blue background.  It was electric.  I started my Garmin at least three times before I actually got going.  Since I was in corral 10, 1 – 9 went first.  This was new for me as I’ve never participated in a race this size.  So you would move up as each corral left the gate.

0710  ~  I was off.  I started strong and felt good.  In past races I usually dislike the start.  You’re always trying to dart around to find that nice hole that you can run your own pace.  It was really difficult to do this with so many people so I didn’t even try.  I went a nice normal pace and just really enjoyed the run.  I also wanted to make sure I didn’t start off to fast and had energy for the end.

I’m not going to mark time anymore because honestly after the first two  miles there was no point in me watching the clock.  I had a long way to go.  Instead I focused on the mile markers and how I felt.

Around mile 2 my hands were starting to get hot.  I grappled with throwing away my gloves so soon, but decided to do it anyway.  I should have waited a couple more miles because my hands were cold, but there you have it.  Throw-away gloves were a very good idea.

Around mile 4 I was hot and ready to shed the throw-away headband and take my long sleeve off.  Chucked the headband, danced around to take the top off, dropped my iPod and cracked the screen and Walla finally felt a little better.

Mile 4

Here I am at mile 4. My shirt is secured. Thanks to Karen Conley for supporting me and taking this picture.

Everything was easy breezy at this point.  The run was fun and I felt pretty good.  I made sure I drank plenty of water not passing up too many of the water stations.  Everyone is different when it comes to water, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t get dehydrated.  I tend not to drink as much when it’s cold, so I forced myself to take little sips.

Around mile 9 or 10, I forget, they offered the first GU gel.  Let me personally testify, chocolate and GU, uh no.  I picked up the small packet, ripped it open and began to eat it.  Nasty, is not the proper word.  Let’s just say, licking the asphalt, might have been better.  Dang!  That was bad.  Maybe they meant to do that.  Here, little girl I’ve got something yummy for you.  So yes, I did need water with that treat!

My first mental hurdle was at mile 12 when they started peeling the half marathoners away from the full marathoners.  I admit I looked at them in envy.  Wow, they’re almost finished and me I’m going to run this…again.  It’s easy to get sucked into that mindset, but I made that left turn and kept fighting for every mile.

At mile 17 I looked across the street and saw mile 24 with the lead runner heading toward the finish line.  That’s a mental mountain.  Look forward and keep going.  There were a couple of points on the route that intersected.  You might be at mile 18 and to your right you could see mile 21.  It’s tough.

My right hamstring started acting up at mile 18.  There was a lot of pain.  I had to focus and slow down a bit.  When I had to slow down I did, when I could pick it back up I did.  Mental, mental and more mental.  I kept fighting for every mile.

Another GU gel was offered at mile 19.  Oh no you don’t!  I’m not falling for that again.  This gel was mandarin orange.  Oh…really…sure it is.  I took it anyway.  Yes, it tasted like man….CRAP!  It did give me a boost.  The things we must endure for a boost.

Miles 20 – 23 were tough.  The pain in my leg would come and go and I had to adjust the pace the best I could.  As Ron the pace guy neared me with his bright shiny placard with 4:45 in big black writing, I was determined that he shall not pass!  So, I pulled it together and moved forward to mile 24.

My good friend Karen was able to make it to the 24 mile marker and take a photo.  Let it be known, if you are going to do something ~ go big or stay at home.  Folks, this may be one of the best photo bombs yet.  There is no measurement for the level of awesomeness for this quality of photo bomb.  I will say this, we’re both smiling at mile 24, therefore brother, and you’re alright with me.

Photo Bomb

Mile 24

 

Photo bomb1

Just because one isn’t enough.

Mile 24 became mile 25 and you know the rest of the story.  I finished with a time of 4:41.  I’m happy, empowered and ready to do it again.  A special thank you to my husband Dave who has supported me through all my training and my friend Lorene who was at the finish line.  A hearty thank you to everyone who offered well wishes and encouragement.  Happy miles to you.  With hard work, determination and the right attitude…

Anything is possible…..

FinishedKathi and Me

….even drinking Michelob Ultra Light afterwards.  (If you follow this blog you understand!:)

After Beer

 

 

 

Pre-Marathon Expo

Let’s see if I can get this post out with proper spelling, etc unlike the night before.  I guess that’s what happens when you are blogging at 930 PM trying to get words out and thinking one thing while typing another.  Sigh.

When I went to pick up my bib yesterday there was a Running Health Expo as well, different companies selling all sorts of running gear as a precursor to the race.  I’ve never been to one so it was pretty neat, at least for women.  Sorry guys, I know they were selling stuff for you too, but let’s be honest, this was all about women.  Shirts, skirts, socks, running bras, onesies for babies and the almighty headband.

The first part of the Expo was the “Brooks” store.  I happened to migrate over to the shoes where the salesman asked me would I like to try on a pair.  Yes.  As
I was trying on the holy grail of moderate stability shoes, the young man said
oh so cavalierly “you know if you spend $150.00 you’ll be a VIP”.  I looked at him quizzically.  “You know, Very Important Potty”.  At that moment the clouds parted, light shone down and a choir of angels descended.  What does that mean, I asked.
“You don’t have to wait, you get to use the special potties”. You mean I can potty like a rock star?  Yes, oh my yes.  I began to have visions of Charmin served up on silver trays as I walked into my USDA Grade A porta potty.  Hmmm.  He continued to look at me with a twinkle in his eye.  You’re good, I said.  Again he batted those baby
blues.  Alas, I had to let him down gently, I’m afraid I’m not in the market for new shoes at the moment, so I sulked my way over to the sports bras.

So many choices and so many colors.  There is no discussion here, yes…I’ll take that one.  Sigh, yes I’ll need a small.  Walking…walking…STOP! Oh my LAWD what do we have here?  After leaving the spectacular land of sports bras I found myself in headband heaven.  All women runners are aware of the headband craze.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard “That’s so cute”!  My goodness.  They have us hook, line and sinker.  Do I need another headband, no.  Did I buy another headband, of course.  Walking…walking…ooooh compression leg sleeves.  The woman at the kiosk asks, “should I measure you”?  Yes.  I’ll take those.   Walking…walking.  Hmmm, I’ve lost my friend Kathi, oooh Jamba Juice.  Yes.  Finally found Kathi and we took our photos.

Laurel and Kathi Laurel and Kathi Arch0001

Believe it or not, I got out of there fairly cheaply.  It was a lot of fun and I came home with some good stuff.  So this is what it looks like for tomorrow.  Throw-away gloves, body glide, temporary inspirational tattoos, compression socks, new rockin’ headband and my give away ~ give away.  I have a courage bracelet that I plan to wear on the run.  When I finish the race I plan to pass it on to someone else.  Think of it as a good luck charm.

Expo Visit

Passion Post #3 ~ Disappointment Breeds Victory

I truly believe that disappointment and failure breeds the passion for victory and success.  That feeling of wanting something so badly, only in the end not to obtain or achieve your goal is a hard lesson.  I’ve experienced that disappointment through sports, education and life. Some of those life experiences worse than others.  One things for sure, I’ve always had this tenacity to come back and fight harder.

Circa late 1970s and I’m in Middle School in Victoria, TX.  I’m in the 6th grade and interested in trying out for the girls basketball team.  I love basketball and I wanted to be on the team, so badly.  The day comes to try out and let’s just say…hmmm I had a lot of work to do.  All in all I thought I did fairly well and when try outs were over we were told that the team postings would be listed on the locker room wall by the end of the week.

Friday was finally here and there was a buzz of excitement in the air.  If you’ve ever tried out for any sport, you are well aware of the jitters that go along with waiting to find out if you made the team.  I make my way down the cream-colored, fluorescent lighted hallway.  I see the two lists on the wall.  One is for the “A” team and the other the “B” team ~ the A team being the more skilled.  I move to the front of the crowd, I can already see disappointment in some girls faces and joy in others.  Some girls are running away crying and others laughing wildly.  You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach, the twisting of nervousness and the lump that forms in your throat waiting for good or bad news, I had it.  I look at the A list and my name is not there.  Okay, I understand that one.  I step to the right to look at the B list…and my name isn’t there either.  Disappointment ~ that split second of reality that occurs when the realization failure is taking place.  That point between anger, sadness and bewilderment.  I was disappointed.  I turned to my friend Stacy, who also didn’t make the team, and said let’s try out for something else.

I was already plotting my comeback.  I wouldn’t be denied.  No way ~ no how.  So, we had to settle for tennis that year.  No offense to all the tennis players, tennis is great.  Really.  Ok, it wasn’t great for me, but it kept me busy.

That winter I practiced my basketball skills every day.  I’m not kidding, every day.  I wanted to be on the team and I was willing to do what it took to make the team.  I dribbled here, there and everywhere.  I improved.  When it came time to try out in 7th grade I made the B team.  Again, I wanted to be better and again I practiced.  I let my passion for the sport lead me.  By 8th grade I was on the A team, starting point guard.  It wasn’t easy, but through hard work and not giving up I achieved my goal.

I picked up my race bib for my first marathon today, the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon.  This moment took me back to that time in middle school.  The marathon is a goal I want to achieve.  There were moments when I thought I would never get to this point.  Through hard work and perseverance I will run in my first marathon at age 45.  My passion has brought me to this place.  The marathon is only the vehicle for this passion.  As you know, it’s the journey.Laurel

Mentally marathon-ready

Good tips for marathon preparation.

Run and Jump

Never mind your legs; how’s your head? Sometimes it seems that the marathon is just as hard on the mind as on the body.

Training is fine because you can focus on the job in hand. But then the taper comes – and suddenly your mind is struck by weapons-grade maranoia, full of doubts, worries and the irrational urge to throw in one extra 20-mile long run ‘just to be sure’.

That’s even before the race itself, when your grey matter has to stop your body from charging off in mile one, and then has to kick-start your body when it falters at mile 20, the dreaded Wall.

Mental preparation is just as important as physical fitness on marathon day. There’ll be super-fit, well-trained athletes who go mad at the start or crack at mile 20, just as competitors of more modest ambitions will overcome the psychological challenge and…

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