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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Sending Flowers to the Living

What is your favorite flower?

Tulip

Tulipomania

Mine is the tulip. It’s a simple flower and easily identifiable.  Not too elegant; too much or too little ~ simple leaves, and comes in a variety of colors.  You can add it to any arrangement or let it stand alone. Strong and powerful it is quite beautiful.  I love the black ones.  I planted some last year that bloomed this Spring and they were beautiful.  They really look black ~ interesting flower.  Not a whole lot to think about with this flower.  You can look at it and appreciate it without having sensory overload.  It’s simple and beautiful, my favorite flower.  Maybe one day I’ll visit Holland and see them in the fields.

I got off of work early today to get a jump on the weekend and frankly to have some time for myself.  I have one of those jobs where sometimes you just can’t seem to get ahead, always busy.  I work in a secure area which means cellphones aren’t allowed in the workspace.  At the end of the work day it’s the same routine. I unlock my phone from the lock box and check my messages.  Today I noticed there was a message from my Aunt Patty. A little background information, Aunt Patty is my mother’s younger sister. I’ve had an off and on again relationship with her over the years. I’ve never lived close to her, she in California and me…well all over,  but I have visited her when I could. Only in the last couple of years have we become closer. She has fought cancer on and off. She went through a bought about a year ago, completed the treatment and came out on top. My last visit with her was last April 2012. We had a great time together.  Laughed like sisters, went to wineries and just enjoyed each others company.  I was older and there was so much more to appreciate now.  We’re both bad at keeping in touch and sometimes would go months without speaking. Over these last few months I’ve been busy. Work, kid and life. Excuses.  I didn’t call. Excuses.  I would think about calling her from time to time, but then there would always be some reason why I didn’t.  Some excuse or reason not to pick up the phone and say a simple hello how are you doing.

As I listened to the recorded message on my iPhone it was her son’s voice I heard not hers. Instantly I knew. I knew. I think I’ve known for a while, but didn’t act on that feeling.  I knew I blew it before the message finished. “Laurel I just wanted to let you know that Mom isn’t doing well, if you could call me when you get this message I would appreciate it”.  Blew it, in a major way.  So busy, I just couldn’t find the time.

I called her number and my Uncle answers.  Bottom line she’s got one to two weeks left.  She isn’t conscious and is in hospice .  I hate that word.  I asked what the plan was,  “there is no plan.  She is only awake for a couple of hours a day.  If you want to come say your goodbyes than okay, but she might not be aware”.  A hard blow,  a hard reality, a hard lesson to learn and some bitter medicine to swallow.  I was not there I wasn’t present.  I was busy.  I own it.

Laurel and Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty and me in San Francisco

Natural Bridge

A picture from our trip up the coast

Waves

The beach we visited

She never stopped telling me she loved me.  I’m very sorry to see her go so soon. I will remember all the good times and the difficult times will be forgiven.

My favorite flower is the tulip.  Today I will send flowers to the living.  A friend of mine who is fighting breast cancer and having reconstructive surgery today.  Tomorrow I will run the longest I have ever run at one time and I will reflect, on living.

The meaning of tulip is: perfect love.

 

 

Run #5 – August No iPod Challenge

10 August

The cats (yes cats…I have four – what?  That’s normal…) woke me up around 5:50 a.m. this morning ready to eat.  I’m starting to get back into longer runs on the weekend and I wanted to get the run in before it gets hot.  Trudged to the closet found the running gear walked over to the sock drawer and I sigh.  I’m not excited about this morning’s run.  I wanted to listen to music and check out for a while.  I have realized giving up listening to music for a month during runs is helping me get in tune with my body, pace, and breathing.  I pushed that small disappointment to the back of my head and went downstairs to prepare for this mornings run.

During the warm months I like to feed the cats and let them outside, enjoying a cup of coffee before this side of the world starts cranking.  I’m greeted with a warm hello…

sunsetI started to feel better and was thankful I could see this sunrise.  Take time for the little things…..on my way.

Started off slow, concentrating on foot placement and movement of my body as I leave my driveway and start down my street.  The street has a bend and as I round it another runner is coming out of the cross-section running in the same direction.  I’m behind her so she doesn’t see me.  She’s running merrily along, pink compression socks (awesome) blonde hair in a pony-tail (cute) and…and…her iPod touch.  It’s on her right arm.   

I find myself running a little faster

Hmmm…I wonder is that a 6th generation?  How much gig?  32?  64?  Like I always say…go big or stay home.  

Starting to catch up

Headphones draped over the back…good.  Oooooh the headphones are a mustardy color.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen that color before – interesting.

Catching up – behind her now 

Beginning to feel like I’m in a white windowless van – “so little girl…whatcha listening too?”

Now I’m even with her

She looks at me and I’m thinking…hey you can have the left ear bud and I can have the right one…what do you say!  Then I smiled and said good morning and politely passed.

Came up to Mascoutah Ave and things are pretty quiet.  Sprinklers are watering a common area of a subdivision on the left and the water always reaches to a part of the street.  I’ve been running this route for two years now and no matter how hard I try I never time it so I can get sprayed!  No, I’m not just going to stand there:/  Yes, I have stood there – I still didn’t get sprayed because…I looked funny standing there.  Not sure why that is….oh well.

Feeling really good

I’m concentrating deeply on my form.  I’m feeling great.  Every time I start to feel a pinch in the knee, back or hip I think about what I’m doing correct and I feel fine.  Wow… not bad, not bad.

Make the turn onto Green Mount and it’s all uphill.  This is a steady elevation for about two miles.  If you’re feeling weak in the body and the mind this can really be a stretch.  Taking the turn at the stoplight and looking forward, the elevation is such that you can’t see the stretch of road in its entirety, thus a hill.  It’s daunting and this is where the mental toughness needs to kick in.  It’s hard but you can’t stop now.  This is the first time I’m running this without music.  As you know a hard heart-pumping song will help you up that hill, right?

It was easy.  The mind chatter was to minimum and I felt great.  Traffic was light and the air was cool.  I’m a mile into the stretch and I start looking at the side of the road again…sigh.  A couple of beer cans and a…WHOA…a NASCAR cap!  Somebody’s upset!

Running on

You’ll be happy to hear…no road kill sightings on this run.

Running on

Reach the top of the stretch…cemeteries on the right and left of me…keep running.

Home stretch

Feeling strong and a very good run.  I felt like this was one of my most disciplined runs.  Is there such a thing?  I think so.  Finished 7.25 in 1:15.

Today's Run

 

Mileage Stats Recap 1 – 6 July

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July.  We’ve been having some great weather here in Belleville.  It hovered in the 80s, so not too hot and no humidity, perfect for grilling and fireworks!  I enjoyed the festivities without the clammy, sweaty skin, always a plus.

Pretty good week.  I incorporated some training on Friday with a co-worker who is just beginning his journey in exercise.  He’s excited and I’m excited for him.  We created a small team of co-workers and will be participating in the Warrior Dash in the Fall.  It’s a great motivator and I have no doubt he’ll be happy when he completes the race.  It’s gratifying to share my enthusiasm with him.

Total miles completed this week = 15.43 – 10,798.27 remaining.

Always run with your head up, or your tiara may fall off….

Twete Bird Giveaway Winners

 

Contest Winner

Reaching that 500 mile mark is very rewarding.  Even more rewarding is sharing this milestone with our readers.  Thank you for hanging with me for the first 500 and here’s to the next 500.

The winner of the G.I. Jane camouflage headband goes to Andrea S.

The winner of the Girl Power headband goes to Anna D.

Again, thank you and keep on running……

 

 

Mileage Stats Recap 23 – 29 June

?????????

With every step I take….I’ve reached my first milestone!  I have officially made it to the 500 mile mark.  I feel good and feel like I’m making progress toward my goal.  I finished 16.34 miles of running this week.  The weather reached into the 90s and was humid, but I like running in the heat.  Soon the runs will be early morning or later in the evening.  Total miles completed = 501.30 with 10,813.70 remaining.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday.  Remember, Life’s hard, running is easy~Laurel