Tag Archives: Boston Marathon

Dreams of Boston: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby

22 Apr

Today was the 2016 Boston Marathon. I planned on BQing this year to secure my spot for 2017 but life happens – literally. My body is not my own.

I find myself 9 months pregnant and determined to not let my fitness and fitness goals get derailed.

I’ve had a wonderful pregnancy but let me tell you this – pregnancy is hard. I will be honest and say I miss my body. The body that carried me through many races. Fit, trim, lean and light.

To date, I’m sporting extra pounds that have found a new home in my thighs and arms aside from the belly. I’m very accepting of this. Yes. But the change is still challenging.

I don’t want to sound vain – only honest. For those of you pregnant mamas that scroll through feeds that showcase the ✨ glowing claims of how fab it is to be pregnant and you just don’t feel it – I’m telling you that sometimes we filter the ugly (the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions, the symptoms). It is most definitely not all rainbows and butterflies. At times it is a stab to your ego. I’m not trying to undercut the miracle of pregnancy – because I do love it, but with it there are accompanying struggles.

Struggles of self-acceptance. It’s normal.

There’s some boilerplate bullshit out there shaming women who admit to feeling insecure with their pregnant bodies. Don’t listen to them. Embrace the #hormotions. The highs and lows. It is part of the journey. Enjoy the marathon. It might not be Boston, but it is #40weeks of training!

Hopefully in the next few years I’ll look back on today with a BQ under my belt – back to the fit, trim, lean and light #runnergirl I am with Ori and daddy waiting for me at the finish lines!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

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Intro – Running for Two: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby

4 Nov

Hello lovelies!

Welcome to the newest addition to my blog – Running for Two: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby!

Woweee!!! Here I am closing in on the last week of my first trimester. I am 12 weeks and 2 days pregnant with 194 days to go until we get to meet our little macaroon! We are officially due May 15, 2016! I am amazed. Thrilled. Entirely enraptured by the uncertainty of it all!

Upon discovery of being pregnant I scoured through literature about running and pregnancy. I found your typical books with your typical advice: keep your heart rate below 140 (crock of poo poos); go slow; reduce mileage; reduce intensity; etc. [Insert big yawn]

I wanted literature from veteran runners who have been at this very crossroad I am faced with.

Talk about cravings. I was craving literature that wasn’t written and influenced by an aged wrinkly man who hasn’t seen a woman’s anatomy since 1973 unless he google’d the free videos on his phone [cough cough] I mean mega iPad and watched it magnified at the bagillionth degree possible. No. I wanted literature written by, co-written by or edited by elite women runners who understand hormones, fatigue and their own body and how it plays an active or not so active role in their workout regimes during pregnancy – especially for the particular energy-annihilating, ruthless and impetuous hormones that rule over my morning sickness and desire to sleep that is the first trimester.

I was searching for honesty about the sport from women to women. I wasn’t looking for the retro housewife tales of daily housekeeping that dictate I should be a “wife”, cook, laundress, cleaner, dishwasher, nurse and hostess but most definitely not an athlete.

Newsflash: I’m pregnant. I’m in the magical misery of the first trimester where admission for two is wrecking havoc on all of my cognitive functions. How ever does current literature expect me to be a wife, cook, laundress, cleaner, dishwasher, nurse and hostess on top of also being a full-time employee (in a career I’m captivated by), a master’s student and an athlete? Something has got to give and I tell you what – it isn’t the latter three.

Anyway, I found NO substantial literature. Zilch. It all felt outdated and lacking charisma. I am not interested in jogging to keep fit – I’m interested in running to Boston qualify (BQ). Now that I’m pregnant I’m interested in maintaining a routine that will afford me the agility to bounce back to BQ training post-pregnancy. I don’t want a book about “how-to” perform a casual light jogging stroll through the park while (get this) maintaining a low heart rate. Shit!!!! Do you know me? Tell me fro-yo is on the menu somewhere today and I’ll get giddy over adorning my ménage of flavors with sprinkles and gummy bears – that alone will spike my heart rate to 140+! And you want me to take it easy doing a light stroll? Riiiight.  Call me a running snob – a nickname given to me by a good friend but a light stroll doesn’t cut it. I need to sweat from the sport that is running. I’m cognizant that I am pregnant and my body must slow down. I want to ensure I’m being safe with my goals and that’s why I searched for books that broach the topic. I even poured through running blogs and stumbled upon a few I enjoyed which has brought me to write my own.

FRO-YO yummy!

FRO-YO yummy!

So there it is, the long and short of it. I will be blogging about my experiences Running for Two: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby. Please note that I am not an expert (no way no how), I am not a dietitian, a nutritionist, a coach etc. I am simply a first-time pregnant 30 year-old woman who wants to share this journey with you in the event you’re as lost as I am. This is simply the truth of my experiences that I am sharing with you. I hope you find that it is amusing, inspiring, relatable, elemental, and conventional. Most importantly, I hope you find this as a source of comfort and unification in knowing that you are not alone in this uncomfortable, awkward, exciting, beautiful, interesting, uncertain transformational experience. I’m right here with ya!

So here we are…we’re pregnant! Congratulations!!!!!!!

Stay tuned for the trials of the first trimester!

Thanks for stopping by!!!

XO

Valgal and little macaroon

The Pressure

8 Apr

Hello friends!!!

I hope Monday greeted you with a warm hug and cup of piping hot coffee instead of my alternative…a 4:00a wake up call for a 4:30a boarding time, an empty stomach taunted by the fresh aroma of coffee, blueberry scones, toasted bagels, butter, and eggs all begging me to indulge in just one bite (I was fasting), and a cold MRI machine hours later…(blog to follow). The adventures of my Monday wrapped up with the disappointing loss for Wisconsin. Who wants Duke? Ever? Really? I gladly threw in the towel to meet my dreams. 

I woke up thinking Tuesday ought to be better, right? Until I looked at my phone displaying a number of text alerts. Some legit. Some ok. Some from my tribe of girls. Some casual hellos. Some of which had my mind spin in a tizzy. The pressure to remain calm overwhelmed me. I had to remember I can’t change anyone’s opinion of me. It is out of my control. 

Then I started thinking of other things out of my control. Things like death and taxes. But seriously, things like the health of my family members and friends and my being so far away. All the the things that break my heart. All the things I can’t control. I want to take everyone’s pain away. I don’t want anyone to suffer, ever. I feel I’m better equipped to handle pain, heartache, discomfort, grief, etc. I would gladly take it all from you because you don’t deserve it, whether we are strained friends, lovers, or what have you, I believe in forgiveness and acceptance and you still and always will matter to me. So let me handle your pressures and I’ll run it out (when this injury is healed).

Anyway, I became emotionally numb to my text messages this morning. Messages with twisted and contorted truths hijacking my happiness. It put me in an awkward state of frozen discomfort all day, emotionally and physically. I was drowning. Paralyzed. Then there’s my hip also paralyzed from the arthrogram yesterday. Ugh.

I was frozen in pain overthinking all my realities. 

I decided early on I needed tunes to warm my heart and my hip…

And there you have it, this song was the backdrop of my mood today.

 

Particularly:

 “…But it’s really out of my control. The way you feel is not my problem…”

“…Have you seen my f**ks to give? I have none, I cannot live with…”

“…The pressure. The pressure you know I feel. The pressure. The pressure to keep it real. Pay attention to the signs. Stay and listen, you will find. Everything, ain’t rocket science. Every gem is not a diamond.”

Sorry to be so forward about the lyrics, have you seen my f**ks to give; however, it was a very necessary line that helped me pull out from the undercurrent. Why do I care about people who are committed to misunderstanding me and who don’t care about me? I shouldn’t give a F!

The pressure to wear a smile when heartache and tears overtake me for what feels like an infinite number of reasons consumed me today. Tears were streaming down my face and I was drowning in the salty reality that things, all things, come to an end. 

My lips caught each tear and with each taste I gave it a breath of prayer. Prayers for so many things. Prayers for the strength to accept that your perspective of me is none of my business (small potatoes); prayers for my grandparents health; prayers that we find a cure for cancer (fuck cancer) (stand up to cancer!) (big potatoes); prayers that people learn how to forgive so they don’t grapple with grief when it’s too late; prayers for understanding, acceptance, compassion; prayers for the health and safety of my family-blood and those I choose as blood; and so much more. 

With each tear the integrity of my mascara was tested. I couldn’t let on that something was wrong-that and my vanity got the best of me, so I took refuge in the bathroom to ensure I had no raccoon eyes and tried to pull myself together.  

I looked in the mirror and with my mirror-face I gestured silently to myself, “Stay strong, woman! You got this.” I reminded myself everything is a fight and counted my blessings. I splashed cold water on my cheeks, twisted and secured my hair with the use of a pencil , painted my lips coral and put my big girl game face on. 

I couldn’t compromise my feelings today. I couldn’t negotiate and let them spill over. Ok, maybe I did for a minute but I handled it. The pressure pulled me under but I caught my breath soon after. Sure it was a doggy-paddle but I made it up for air. I am accepting the ebb and flow of life. 

Salty words camouflaged as sweet gave new meanings to my state of reality today. Recent other realities gave me other new meanings to life, love, friendships and the true meaning of wealth. It is in those realities I have found that life gets harder but only because we get stronger…

I’d like to give kudos to fate, too. Fate brings us together when we need each other the most. Fate has helped me to celebrate the change of seasons with those I love so deeply. Looking back, the best portions of my realities have been the small, nameless moments that will forever be memories imprinted on my soul. Memories spent smiling, crying and laughing, all of which are acts that leave me in tears, with those who have warmed my heart. If it weren’t for the pressures of life, I would be void of experience and therefore, without my salty elixir.

Therefore, I thank life for pressure-it doesn’t diminish my gratitude, it adds to it.

Thank you for stopping by and reading a blurb about my life between the miles!!!

I’m so grateful for you! 

How do you handle pressure?

XO

Valgal 

 

 

Crash and Burn

20 Dec

Hello friends!

Good morning to you all! It’s been a quick minute, or should I say month since we’ve connected. I’m not going to bore you with the minute details of my life between the miles and those so-called miles…I want to update you on the NOW.

The NOW is…

I woke up hurting. It could have been because I had one too many pear martinis last night at my local sushi restaurant–nah.

I reevaluated how I was feeling. The pain by no means was in my head. There’s significant pain in my right hip still, an extraordinary dull pain in my core, and a slight pain, okay really just a soreness in my hammies that are pleading me to roll them out. [Insert me singing “Roll Out” with my own twist and gawd awful voice]. This means I am making progress with Operation Abs and Booty–I’m strengthening my core in hopes to get faster. I’ve cut back on long distances significantly to help heal my hip, with a strategic focus to get faster by incorporating more speed intervals! I figured because there are no races I’m participating in in the next month, there’s no need to crash and burn with distance training every day. My goal has given me the freedom to balance strength training with running and all things in between my miles. But no, the new regime and my aching muscles this morning isn’t the hurt I woke up with.

Ah-ha, I said it earlier but in the wrong context. Crash and burn. Yup! That’s it. It sounds awfully reminiscent of young and hopeful romances, but this isn’t a Nicholas Sparks blog. No, no, no…if it were, I’d be rich “rolling in twenties, with the top back, so much money, you can’t stop that…” my shoes would be custom-made, I’d be custom-paid , and everything I own would be custom-fitted [do you like what I just did there? Thanks Luda!]. But back to the pain, no more rolling around. The pain is because I literally did crash and burn last night. After returning home from eating sashimi and a yellowtail roll, the perfect complement to the pear martini(s), I took the pups for a walk. But you see, I can’t just walk them. I want them to get their pent up energy out so I got them riled up and gearing to go. We crossed the street at high velocity when I NOT so gracefully hit the ground running–skidding across the cross walk. My gray pants have holes where my knees crashed down, I have cuts all along my legs, and my left palm looks like I clenched jumping cholla cacti, you know, because that’s fun. My right hand was spared, slightly. The ring finger resembles a burn but fortunately I’m left-handed so it’s tolerable. That’s my story. I crashed and I burned.

So there you have it. That’s the pain. Crash and burn. The nostalgia of all things that crash and burn is that, just like relationships past, there’s an image that dances around the mind, a distant memory of affection, never affliction, until you look in the mirror and see its scars (not all scars are visible). That’s what makes it real. The satisfaction is picking yourself up, accepting the humility, and moving forward. Who cares that I had an audience! I’m sure they chuckled and hey, if I can provide free entertainment at my expense (I need new jeans), I’m all for it. They probably judged me but I’m not scathed by the opinions of others anymore, only my fall. This too will become a memory–another scar that makes ME unique. That’s the reminder. That’s the crash and that’s the burn. Ohhhh the duplicity.

Thanks for stopping by!

Enjoy your weekend and happy running!

XO

Valgal

Pain Is Insignificant: A Commitment to Honor

11 Nov

Hello friends!

First and foremost, let me begin this blog with a shout out to our veterans! My heart is full of love and admiration for those who wear or have worn the uniform in their unwavering efforts to protect us and our country. I want to take the time and honor those who served and are serving. Their bravery, courage, and service to our country is truly an act of selflessness—I am honored and privileged to write these words. I am humbled everyday by your sacrifice and feel overwhelmed with pride and honor serving you. May God bless over you, your families, and all of your loved ones. XO

It was inspirational to watch Vice President Biden speak today paying tribute to our nation’s veterans. He was speaking with charged passion and the crowd was listening in affected silence. He was literally an arm’s length away from me today, no joke. Okay, maybe ten. Regardless, he was close. And I was moved.

Talking about being moved, let’s get to running…

I completed my first run post-marathon on Monday. It was brutal. I took two weeks off after the Marine Corps Marathon hosted on October 26, 2014. I expected to kiss the asphalt with my feet with a light, easy, and relaxed feeling considering the tender, loving, care I gave to my body.

I only ran three miles. Three fast miles. The speed felt great. I ran light. My breathing was easy. But I felt nothing near relaxed. The ball-and-socket joint of my right hip felt as if with each movement there was a crushing sensation. It felt like every time the bones met each other they were sanding each other down. Then add the feeling as if my hip caught onto something. It would pop then pop again. Really?

I ran a solid three miles and called it quits. I didn’t want to welcome an injury, especially not post-marathon. I couldn’t help but think, what gives? How does one get an injury post-ANYTHING? I’m without a logical explanation.

I wrapped up my workout with an ab session. I felt defeated. I came up to the apartment and met my shower with affectionate arms—I mean hips. I hoped my hip would respond to the hot water therapy but it didn’t do much… other than leave my body temporarily stained a few shades of red.

I tended to my emotional disruption of a possible injury by indulging in a glass of wine and my master’s homework. Best thing to do at that point was ignore the pain. After all, pain happens. This pain was not significant. I told myself to get over it.

The following day I was walking around and I still noticed discomfort. I continued to try to ignore it. Discomfort is an enemy of my sheer will and determination to push through obstacles. An obstacle disguised as right hip pain paled in comparison to just having ran a marathon with acute bronchitis, while losing a contact, with my calf muscles on fire. Therein lies the truth that I can push through difficult things. Right hip pain didn’t have anything on me!

Naturally, I wanted to shake the feeling of discomfort by running seven miles. Wouldn’t you? I wanted to push through the “pain”. I was longing to be absorbed in a good, long run because I was tired of being so compulsively worried about my right hip and the reality of an injury. I didn’t want anything more than to focus on the moment and the mile I was in. I longed to be connected and fully vigilant of my breathing, turnover, cadence, pace, heartbeat, and movement because it had been so long.

But it was too difficult. Each mile my right hip felt like it snagged onto something. I grimaced one time or fifteen. I wear my emotions on my face plain as day. Anyone could have seen, with my squinted eyes, tight lips, and a raised eyebrow my silent vulgar cries. “OooOoow what the [bad word] was that? Did my hip just seriously [bad word*ing] pop? What the H.E. double hockey stick is going on? WHAT is going on!!!!?”

I was fretting because the pain was unfamiliar and a major nuisance. I forgot to mention I have another race this Sunday that I stand a chance in placing, thus supporting my deposition that this is a real and very major nuisance.

What do I do?

With that said, I decided to take today off from running. It makes me anxious with trepidation because I should be training for the race and a PR.

But what kind of anxiousness is mine in comparison if we circle back to our selfless service men and women, and veterans? The thought reminds me that running is privilege and I ought not to fuss over the insignificance of my “pain.” Pain presents itself in endless forms. And today, I was deeply moved by the Veterans Day Ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery honoring our veterans and the sacrifices they have made. I pay tribute to their unwavering commitment, bravery, and service while recognizing the myriad of emotions, to include pain, that is entwined within their creed.   God bless.

Thanks for reading!!!

Honoring Those Who Serve(d), Veterans Day 2014.

Happy Running.

XO

Valgal

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Marine Corps Marathon Ooh Rah Recap: Hot Dammmm

6 Nov

Hi friends! Here I am with MARATHON NUMERO DOS under my belt!!! Hot dammmm.

I never knew that screaming hot dammmm could be both a good and bad thing! Let me explain.

Pre-race: good thing.

Mid-race: good thing.

Last 3.2 miles: bad thing x bad thing x bad thing. It was hot dammmm! Seriously! When is this isht going to be effing over? My Garmin was flashing 26.2 miles and I was NOT done. Where was the finish line? Was that the finish line? I couldn’t see. Hot dammmm[it]!!!

Let me define hot dammmm by breaking it down.

Hot [good]: I refined my training for this marathon. I got this! Feeling good! Feeling light. Feeling flight. Wind under my legs. I got this!

Hot [bad]: My calves were on fire. My calf muscles felt like they were falling off my bones with every strike on the pavement. Ouuuuuchhhiessssss. Then there was my anxiety. My anxiety was running hot. It had a fever. A bad one because I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see because I lost my left contact at mile 9, (my left eye requires the strongest prescription) lucky me.

So there I was with a fever of anxiousness and a crowd cheering “You’re almost there!” They were relentless with their excitement to include clapping, whistling, shouting, cowbelling…I might have had a fever but the only prescription was finding the finish line, not more cowbell!!!

Dammmm [good]:I got this! I trained. Hot diggity dog, I might BQ!!! Wooohooo I’m flying.

Dammmm [bad]: It felt like I was sprinting when the reality was I shifted into granny gear!!! Talk about a Sunday joy ride. It was Sunday and I belonged in a walker at that point to carry my weight.

The Real Recap

The morning of the marathon was unlike any other. I hopped on the metro and was greeted with a swarm of runners (civilians, Marines, and other service members), volunteers, bands, and spectators. We were all crammed on the blue line heading to the Pentagon. The metro ride was a concert of songs, Ooh Rahs, and praise. The acoustics were unlike the normal route into the city. The clamor was a stark contrast from the Monday-Friday commute when most are plugged in to their phones being disconnected from the very person who’s sharing their personal space. These people were all up in each other’s personal space and they were welcome there! It was really something.

Fast Forward.

It’s race time. Hot Dammmm [good]. There were no “real” corrals. If you think you’ll finish with a 3 hour time, 4 hour time, 5 hour time, etc., you were to go park your feet near the designated sign. Oh I hate that kind of pressure. I wanted a 3:35 time because that is a Boston Qualifier (BQ). But I hesitated because I was suffering from acute bronchitis and didn’t know whether or not I would run fast or if my breathing would be exhaustively labored. I took one look at the crowd, the 20,000+ people (talk about sharing personal space), and recalled how much effort it took to weave in and out of the crowds of runners in my last race. So I deliberately parked at the 3:35 sign until the gun went off.

Gun went off.

Welp, I was wrong. What’s new? I am wrong a lot. The 3:35 sign did me no favors. I was stuck behind crowds of runners. I was shuffling my feet.

Thank gosh I stand 5’2” tall because I darted through people and any open space given the right opportunity. It took a lot of effort but none from my legs or lungs. I had to watch the people in front of me to gauge the motion and timing of their stride and elbows. Who said you don’t use physics and math in real life? I had to strategically and deliberately plan my attack to squeeze through limbs, spit, and other runners like me trying to dart ahead, while not colliding with one another. I was gauging speed and velocity at 8am, with the intent to BQ, while maintaining steady breathing, with a focus on my stride, fuel intake, etc. Are you kidding me? This isht gets difficult. I managed not to collide with anyone other than a fellow shrimpette, who like me, was planning her breakaway and taking full advantage of her 62 inches or less. We barely touched but shared a chuckle. We exchanged an excited “Sorry!” and kept moving forward. If you know me, you know how I say this!!! [“Sa-weewww-thank you cab driver!]

Mile 3 people were stopping. I remember thinking “It’s mile 3. How are you going to line up at 3:35 and stop here!?!” I mean seriously, it’s kind of dangerous when you’ve got me and shrimpette number 2 darting around. I mean flying around. Especially dangerous because it was a decline. Declines are FREE SPEED and I was all about that high velocity. I wanted more!

The FREE SPEED lasted a while. I took full advantage of it. Hot dammmm [good]. I loved that I didn’t have to return any favors either. Each decline and incline over the course was a silent declaration of what was to come. I paid close attention to its subtle hints (how often do those get overlooked girls?) and adjusted my body to its forewarning.

I leaned into the road. I was one with the road.

I was one with the road until mile 9. I had a gnarly cough paired with its obligatory accessory-phlegm. It was radiant in shades of green. OooOoo green! My favorite color! And neon green to boot! Thanks acute bronchitis! I digress. Anyway, I had just ate a GU so everything in my mouth felt sticky. Plus my cough was deep and my phlegm was thick. That’s the time when my left contact developed a film so thick I could no longer see. I stopped to make an effort to clean it. I had no other choice. I had to. I had to because it was more uncomfortable not being able to see than hacking said lungs. I can’t see 2 feet in front of me without contacts but this was worse. So I took my contact out and planned to spit on it to clean it. (As if you haven’t before. Spare me!) But my spit was thick with Jetberry GU residue and phlegm. I couldn’t do it. Sanitary purposes. I had to draw a line.

I ended up putting my contact back in my eye. Unclean and all. And with one intentional blink to make it fall in place that sucker fell off my eye and was gone. Shit!

I glanced at my Garmin. No I didn’t. I squinted. I couldn’t see very well at all so I placed the Garmin right in front of my right eye. That’s when I realized I had lost approximately one to two minutes of precious BQ time. Hot dammmm[it] [bad].

I ran the rest of my race, 17.2 miles, with one contact. I was blind. I was uncomfortable. And I couldn’t see the spectacular air show above. I couldn’t read the funny marathon signs. It sucked. 😦

As sucky as I felt I found pleasure in how great my legs felt. I just crested the course. I relied on my other senses to elevate me. I breathed in the remarkable, and inspirational cries from the crowd. I maintained focus. I repeated the mantra, Pain Only Hurts. Flight. Glide. Fly. Easy. Light. Smooth. It worked. I was clocking 7:40 miles give or take a few seconds. I even clocked a 6 minute mile somewhere in the mix. HOT diggity DAMMMM [good]. I fell back to a mid-8 minute a few times. Even losing a contact! Insert Hot dammmm  [good] one more time! Yes!!! My potential to BQ was still real.

But the pain began to set in at mile 18. Hot dammmm [bad].

The pain got so bad in my chest that I had to stop and cough for thirty seconds at least. My BQ fell further from reality. Hot dammmm [bad].

My legs were still fresh and agile. But my chest hurt. I was hacking. I dug deep. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. When, OWWWWwwwweeeeee happened. The discomfort of being blind coupled with my heavy chest was one thing. But by mile 23, with 3.2 left to go, my calves felt as if they were on fire. That was the other thing; the ugly thing.

Each time my foot touched the pavement my calves ached with excruciating pain. I tried to ignore it. I tried to ignore the ugly pain by telling myself that if the whole race goes to shit in a hand basket at this very moment, and I fall back to 10 minute mile pace, I would still, at the least, PR. So that was a good thing. 🙂

But I would resent myself if I did. I knew I was a tough runner and could endure pain. I knew I could endure even more pain. So pain, I taunted with, summoning it to BRING IT ON. I double dog dared it!!!

That was the pain I had been begging for during my last marathon. Pain is the telltale sign that you’ve pushed your limits. (For me at least.) There it was staring at me at mile marker 23. I was tickled with excitement that it finally came to meet me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was that same feeling you get when you massage a bruise. (Right?)

I wanted nothing less than to be seduced by it. I wanted it to take all of me.

But I played hard to get. I wasn’t quite ready to give up. My effort was twinged but at I still had some.

For the last three miles pain and I danced around the course. It seduced me with water stops, orange slice stops, Gatorade, etc. I wanted to give in. The temptations were hydrating. The allure had me salivating.

However, I knew relief was only three short miles ahead. And in three miles I would be greeted with a medal and a beer!!! Mmm beer! Please! And it was only three short miles away. Three short miles away after having already covered 23.2 miles!!! Why do I do this to myself? I’m crazy!

I begged my body for merciful forgiveness as I repeated: Only Three More Miles. Only Three More Miles. You Got This. You Got This. Easy. Light. Smooth. Glide. Fly. Flight. Run For Those Who Can’t. Pain Is Temporary. Beer. Beer in Thirty Minutes or Less! Fly.

I convinced myself that not all pain is significant. I focused on the finish and not my legs.

I started to fly.

Or so I thought…

With less than a mile to go I started to focus on my will rather than my physical strength. I was running on empty and enveloped in pain. I wanted to walk so bad! I squinted at my Garmin to see how much more distance I had to cover before I would finish. I was p.o.’d. The Garmin told me I had already run the distance of a marathon. Ugh!

I recall thinking that I must be close. The trouble was I couldn’t see ahead. I saw two or three massive displays of orange balloons. One of them promised to be the finish but I could not decipher which one.

I had a fear of sprinting too early, granny sprints or not, so I maintained my pace.

When I could finally see the finish line I realized I should have started sprinting a quarter-mile before. Hot dammm [bad].

I dug deep, shifted gears, and I ran as hard as I could to the finish. Granny kicked ass! I think.

I crossed that finish line. Hot Dammmm [good].

I was in pain. I was exhausted. I couldn’t walk. Hot Dammmm [bad].

I was overwhelmed with emotion. I PR’d! Stopping to breathe, contact issues , and all! Hot Dammmm [good].

I finished in 3:39:35. An 8:22 pace per mile!!! Hot diggity Dammmm [good].

I missed Boston by 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Had I run 10 seconds faster per mile I would have BQ’d. But I accepted the circumstances. Had I been 100% healthy, I bet I could have celebrated a BQ. Regardless, I PR’d by 11 minutes. That’s something I’m proud of, sick and all!

This was the first race where I finally met pain. I finally met exhaustion. I finally met the wall. They all stink, literally: Pain. Exhaustion. Wall. = PEW. Hot Dammmm [bad]. But I can’t wait to meet them again and crush them. Hot Dammmm [good] J

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Happy Running!!! Happy BQ’ing. Happy Cowbelling, he he he. Happy whatever makes you happy! Just be true to you!

XO

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No, I’m Not A Vegan & Running Army Ten Miler

13 Oct

Hello friends!!!

And happy Monday!

I’m sitting here at my kitchen table going over the past few weeks in my mind. I’m thinking about quite a bit—relationships, to include family and friends, diet, exercise, lifestyle, and work. The list goes on but I’m not interested in boring you with my trivial quandaries. I’m interested in sharing with you the silly dilemmas that I encounter day-to-day, with my running shoes on or off.

New revelation…no, I’m not a vegan

Here’s my newest revelation. There are far more than one, but let’s keep this short. I recently picked up the running novel, Eat & Run, written by Scott Jurek and wow…I love his writing style. Jurek is a literary genius for both the everyday and serious elite runner. No chapter is exempt from his unconventional and idiosyncratic wit. The book evaluates Jurek’s life by virtue of circumstance and reveals the peculiar way that he fell into running—running and veganism. The book illustrates how both running, oh that’s too illusive…I mean ultramarathoning, while also being a vegan can be coupled together in a tale that is motivating, inspirational, and droll.

And there you have it. My big revelation. No. No, I am not a vegan nor would I ever consider it. I like butter, eggs, and cheese! However, I have always leaned more towards being a pescetarian. I like steak, don’t love it. I like chicken but I’m bored of it. I LOVE prosciutto. But if that’s all I LOVE (when it comes to meat), it’d be easy to give it up. I have always had my qualms with poultry and red meat but enjoyed it nonetheless. Now I’m beginning to understand my objection more clearly. First and foremost, (I’m getting a little honest here) it’s difficult for me to digest. It sits in my stomach like a brick. Talk about discomfort! Secondly, the factory farming and animal cruelty our main entrees are subject to is repulsive. When I look at my plate with the deliberately placed garnish and sauce drizzled over the meat and sides I have conflicting thoughts. First, is that the presentation looks delectable and on-point. Mmm. Mmm. Then my conscious seeps in and I question, is this meat from a factory farm? The factory farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs and always at the animals’ expense. My moral conscious goes into a tailspin.

There you have it. I can’t digest the meat easily and I have a moral conscious. Animals shouldn’t be subject to the most unethical and inhumane of practices to assure that business profits remain high. Another truth that we place profits above doing what is right. Sounds like the insurance business…they provide drugs for treatment but drag their heels in the sand over the notion of investing in finding a cure. Why? Perhaps because they fear their profits would cripple. Seriously? Their motto is profits over life/quality of life..?What’s wrong with the world today? Riches shouldn’t be measured by monetary balances at the cost of health. Cancer is far too prominent these days. So riddle me this, why is there still no cure? F*CK Cancer! Find a cure! Could some of the cancers be linked to meat and dairy products? I won’t even get into the discussion of the injection of growth hormones and steroids into our meat and dairy products and its repercussions on our health…ahhhh shoot, to echo Bill Maher’s antics, I just stumbled upon a new new revelation, I love cheese and cheese is dairy. Dang it! How do I protect myself from said hormones and steroids?

Anywho, back to my original new revelation…I have been steering clear of chicken and I have been feeling a lot better and a lot healthier. I have only eaten red meat maybe twice in the past year therefore I don’t have to make a deliberate effort to avoid it…Any GI troubles I have had have been recently minimized. I am finding that I have always favored eating fruit and vegetables over chicken on any given night. My day-to-day staples are pretzels, oatmeal, Quest bars, vegan protein shakes, hummus, tomatoes, avocados, cheese (fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, ricotta, and Havarti), and salmon, salmon, salmon. I could live off salmon, sushi, and halibut.

How my new lifestyle harmonizes with my running…

I raced in the Army Ten Miler yesterday, October 12, 2014. I did freaking awesome! I credit my speed and endurance to my newly refined lifestyle. I felt like I was flying during my run. I had no brick in my stomach and I was light on my feet, gliding forward.

I got a bit tired at mile 7 but fought through it. I found my mojo, if you will, at mile 8 when I picked up my speed again. I didn’t dig deep enough when I needed to but like I mentioned above, I am happy with my end result! I fell in love with the participants and the energy of the crowd. I found myself running with an infectiously charismatic group of people that pushed me. I was running with several wounded warriors. Some were wearing one prosthetic leg while others were wearing two. It was reminiscent of Nike ads for Oscar Pistorius. But what was radically different to witness was their courage, discipline, and motivation to do hard things after having done hard things—serving to protect and defend our freedom. It was an inspiring site to see and reminded me to run hard and to run for those that can’t. Because of them, I am humbled.

Waves of exhaustion and excitement carried me across the finish line. I was overjoyed to have run with patrons of the service and been given the opportunity to thank them for serving. The Army Ten Miler, #atm2014, awarded its participants a commemorative coin symbolic of the Army Commemorative Coin Program. However, I was awarded so much more than the coin and a PR finish—I was awarded an opportunity to endure the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship between me and running. Let me rephrase, me and running this city. The streets and its affectionate solicitude made me fall more in love with each curve, straight away, incline, rolling hill, participant and spectator. I love the run. Yes. But I’m also addicted to the exquisite pain in my lungs and calves. My new diet/lifestyle helped to alleviate a lot of the pain I believe I would have felt otherwise, especially GI… not to mention, I believe it has also helped with my recovery post-race. (without much effort I ran a solid 7 miles todays without any aches or pains)

Scott Jurek says, pain only hurts. And pain, well pain through a means of running makes me feel alive. Living here also makes me feel alive—proof we can do hard things. I am blessed to call this place home for almost one year now.

Are you a #vegan, #vegetarian, #pescetarian? Do tell! How do you fuel your runs?

Thanks for reading!!!

Happy running!

XO

Valgal

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Life is Tragically Beautiful

31 May

I have little to write today as my heart is heavy and sad… although I should be blogging about my first Ragnar Series and my PR a few weekends back in my half marathon, I want to take a minute and pray.

Pray for those that we have lost and for those that are suffering. Regardless of our affiliation to anyone in particular, we are all human. And because we are human, we feel emotions. Some feel emotions more deeply than others whereas other may appear to be unaffected and cold as stone. Regardless of the category you fall in, if you know me, you know my heart, which means you know I feel things and I feel them deeply. I don’t need to know you well, but if you share with me your story, your experience, your pain, I can’t help but to feel for you. Not out of pity. But because there’s this depth in my heart that feels things for others that I cannot control. I am moved by the generosity of others, by the struggle of others, by the resilience of others, etc. I can’t help but to feel things and to feel things intensely. And perhaps that is why I love to run. Because my highly emotional self (which others view as a flaw) must be contained, subdued, and released…

Therefore I run. I run to feel it out. I run to work it out. I run to cry. I run to laugh. I run to reminisce. I run to recall the pleasures of my past. I marvel in my memories. My memories of love and life and all of its encompassing beauty, both tragic and elated states…

Today I ran for so many reasons. I ran to remember those that I have loved. Those who shine their spirits from above and who’s radiant spirit remains forever engraved in my heart. I also ran for those who I love who are ill because their health is compromised. I ran today for my family members, my friends, for those I have known well and for those I have never met. I ran for our veterans, our service men and women and their spouses, children, and family who gamble with life.

I was reminded today about life. All of life’s mystical beauty – its pain, its joy, its compassion to name a few. I ran today because life, well life is beautiful and yet beautifully tragic and I was shaken by some news that got me thinking.

I reminded myself that God only gives you what you can bear, for you are strong!!! And for those of you who are struggling to accept your current circumstances, I’m so sorry. I don’t know your struggle. I only know mine. But I assure you I can feel your heart and your pain if you choose to share your story. This is why I love being human. I want to maintain my vulnerability because it separates me from so many. I want to feel because I am alive. And because I am alive I can celebrate life’s journey. The beautiful struggle we each endure makes us authentic.

I love you all. I do. Maintain your good heart. Maintain your morals. Stay cognizant of what is right, what is wrong, and live, love, and be in the now.

Celebrate the little moments and the miracles. Everything is a miracle. If you read my blog, you know I am a firm believer in peripheral miracles. When you’re down and out, look around and you’ll see they are all around you, begging you for your undivided attention. Believe in the peripheral miracles. They keep me moving forward.

Smile often. Laugh. Forgive your enemies. Forgive your friends. Forgive the driver that cut you off. And forgive that runner who didn’t wave back at you on the WOD trail ;). Forgive, let go, and move forward.

With forgiveness we find ourselves…we find love, peace, tranquility, and God.

I pray for you.

Please know that time heals and memories don’t fade if you keep replaying them. I know we shouldn’t live in the past, so I ask that you exercise some caution…My only request is you replay the memories that are inviting. Like that of a mother who has an infectious giggle and whose eyes sparkle and radiate life!

With the loss of loved ones our hearts fall heavy to the ground. We hurt because we are selfish. But our memories are memories that are rich of their life!!! How blessed are we to be able to recall them!?

I dedicate this to those that I have loved and lost.

God bless you.

XO

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Frozen Gummy Bears & Frozen Yogurt With An Exorbitant Amount Of Sprinkles & Dark Chocolate Disguised As Toppings – Oh…& Boston!!!

13 Dec

When I talk to other runners I learn just how different we all are despite our shared interest of running. We are all in agreement that we run for the caloric deficit running provides, especially during the holiday season that is before us! But aside from the holidays and our fixation on maintaining a trim waistline while we contrarily overindulge with each dollop of mashed potatoes and all its obligatory fixings, coupled with each serving of pie, yes, aside from all of that, what makes each of us “runner’s” uniquely unique? Why do you run? What separates you from me? I might up my mileage during the holiday season to keep the pounds off like many of you I know do as well, but if you extract the holiday season and the excess sugar and fat (oh my, all the things I love!), could you uncover that every runner has a reason despite the season? Why do they run? What does their footprint tell you?

I realize that I prefer to run alone. I run for my own reasons unlike or similar to your very own but I’ve never dived into the true depth of the reasons why I began running. I run now to qualify for Boston but I didn’t possess this lofty ambition from the get go. I read others blogs about why they run and I have a tendency to agree with them but I haven’t formatted my own reasons as to why I picked up running.  What I inherently know is that we all run for the adrenaline high; we run for the intensity; we run to push our limits; we run because we have dreams to be better than we were yesterday; we run for pie-(pecan pie; the joy of the holiday season!); we run to break boundaries; we run to test our human spirit; we run for competition against ourselves; we run because we can and because it renders us happy. We run to stay thin; to eat frozen gummy bears and have frozen yogurt with an exorbitant amount of sprinkles and dark chocolate disguised as toppings – okay that’s all me…

Sprinkles. Where's the chocolate!?!

Sprinkles. Where’s the chocolate!?!

Why do you run? What’s your reason? I was recently asked this very question. When I set forth to answer the question as to why it is I run I couldn’t quite articulate one particular reason. I couldn’t identify one critical reason as to why I run because there are so many!!! I answer the question and state that I’m addicted to the adrenaline and the feeling of being completely clean and empty. Feeling empty equates to the feeling of being cleansed with the body and mind.  Not empty of emotion but empty of that toxic rhetoric dialogue we have with ourselves when trying to make sense of daily setbacks, dilemmas, misgivings, and triumphs; empty of conflict; empty of reserves (nothing left to fuel the run), or so I hope! I continue to think…Why do I run??? I run to cope with life’s obstacles. I run to workout “hypotheticals” and their cause-effect relationships. I run because it is the only time I have with myself to analyze my goals, short-term and long-term, by the evaluation of my day, my days, my months, my years without the white noise and casual interjections from peers/friends/family that potentially pose grave and risky casualties to just that, my goals. I run because it’s my very own me time; it’s my selfish time. It’s just me, my mind and the pavement (or treadmill-because I’m not used to running in 20 or 30 degrees).  What a perfect time for me to decipher between what I believe is right, wrong and where I find myself indifferent. When I finish my run, the concerns that I had when I laced up are almost always vanished. I pounded those suckers (concerns) out with each strike of my foot on the pavement. I crushed them! That’s one reason why I run.

I digress.

Why did I pick up running? Who I was and the reasons I started running  morphed with each passing day, each race, each life event. Who I was at the starting line of my first 5k, 10k, 12k, 17k,  half marathon was never the same person as I was when I crossed the finish line. Each training run: speed work, tempo, intervals, sprints, fartleks, each race, they all afforded me and continue to an opportunity to grow as a person and better yet as a runner. I am not the same person today in comparison to who I was 4 years. I have changed. I have changed mentally, physically and spiritually. I no longer get cramps in my calves at 8 miles. I get cramps in my calves at about 18 miles now.  I run longer and harder (that’s what she said- I had to!). I can endure pain, dehydration, exhaustion and cramping but I rely on my heart, my mental grit and spirituality to carry me versus just the physicality of training and being on my legs for hours.

I see that my reasons for running continue to adapt and mold based on my state of mind and goals. My reasons to run are infinite and never static. Wait… One reason is fixed and that is my aspirations to qualify and run Boston. My running goals provide me the mental and physical stamina and willpower to keep trucking forward during my marathon training despite my legs feeling like bricks planted in cement. I recognize each stride is a stride forward and towards completion of my goals, regardless how heavy my legs feel and how much I may want to quit. I repeat in my head, “Pain is Temporary. Failure is Forever. Endure. Endure. Endure. This Too Shall Pass! Endure!”. The marathon training as I am sure the race itself, is a battle of the mind, the heart and your legs. Don’t give up. Each (training) run is a run closer to my goals. My current goal is to run, run happy, and complete my first among many marathons that will provide me an opportunity to qualify for Boston (one day!). Therefore, I answer the question as to why I run – I run to qualify and run Boston. In the interim, I run for the adrenaline high, the intensity; I run to push my limits; I run because I have dreams to be better than I was yesterday; I run for pie, gummy bears, sprinkles and dark chocolate;  I run to break boundaries; I run to test my human spirit; I run for competition against myself; I run because I can and because it makes me happy.

.   Ready to Run

 

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