Tag Archives: DC

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 

 

 

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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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My Army Ten Miler Quick Recap

15 Oct

My recent Army Ten Miler Recap

I’m not going to go over the myriad of details about the course, the spectators, or the participants. I’m going to quickly recap the race-the race I had with myself.

Pushing myself outside my defined limits was exhausting, but proved I was capable of hard things. You have break through the barriers and color outside the lines-that’s where the masterpiece unfolds. During the first half of the course I was flying. My first mile was clocked on my Garmin as 6:50. I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to carry that pace for the duration of the next nine miles so I pulled back. But by mile three I was getting restless. I had no aches. I had no discomfort. I had no pains. That’s when I recognized I could push harder.

When I started to push my body to go faster I recognized my breathing felt labored. But I was okay with it. Each exhale of breath painted the course. Blush was the theme. A color of intensity I wasn’t familiar with. My focus was to breathe in the confidence of the lively crowd and exhale doubt and the onset of fatigue. My mind echoed the phrase, steady and relaxed. That’s all I cared about. To maintain rhythm and relaxation while priming the pavement with my sweat and each foot strike. My lungs still ached with each breath of crisp air. I needed a stark contrast of thought to illustrate my future triumph!

So I exchanged my thoughts to focus on what was feeling good-my legs. My legs felt fresh, agile, and fast. But I also reminded myself I wanted this pain. It makes me feel alive. Struggle is exhibited by sweat, tears, pain, and the burn in your lungs. It’s a hodgepodge of feelings to include fatigue, difficulty, hesitation, excitement, elation, and when blended together wears like a hue of blush on my skin. My mantra to keep at it was: Push forward through the fatigue. Push forward through the doubt. Glide. Light. Easy. Smooth. Fly.

I flew right on past that finish line. The race was my canvas. My finisher’s medal was my prize.

Did I push hard enough? Probably not. I’m still learning the difference between exhaustion and my limits. I try to color outside those lines. I paint my own picture of success with each race, but I know I can add more crimson to my palette. I have yet to cross a finish line broken by fatigue. Yes, that is my goal. I want to break the confines of my own limits. I hope that looks like a BQ!

A 10 mile 1:12:09 isn’t too shabby!

What are your goals? What are your mantras?

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy running!

XO

Valgal

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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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Running: You Give Me Fever

6 Feb

I’ve been hitting it hard lately. Running. Running. Running. Did I mention aside from running all the things that take my time away from running? Things such as working, studying, not sleeping well, and a session of Crossfit (new addiction) to name a few.

Sometimes when fatigue hits me and boy when it does it hits hard, I question if I should rest. But resting is for woosies. Right?

Wrong.

But when I do give into rest days, I feel like a big baby and I’m guilt-ridden.

You see, when I am in desperate need of a rest day I battle my logic, my heart, and my training plan-the dreaded marathon training plan in which I do not follow, at all. But it’s there on my counter, glaring at me with tons of unspoken suggestions. When I finally make eye contact it tries to prescribe a 6-10 mile run. So what I do is a quick self-assessment to determine what my prescription ought to be amped up to because I have a fever and it’s running hot (You like that? You see what I did there? Pun intended!). I run 12,15, or 20 miles on my long runs because I can, not 10. A 10 mile run is sprinkled in somewhere during my Monday-Friday routine. Perhaps I’m delirious but that’s what fevers do. 10 miles just doesn’t cut it for a long run. After all, I have my base miles down and I really need to work off those gummy bears I devoured at lunch. But then again, I’m friggin tired.

It is during these moments when I realize I need to question my sanity. Delirium and fevers aside, why wouldn’t I rest when I feel like my breathing is labored from pure exhaustion, when my body aches, and when I’m showing tell-tale signs of a suppressed immune system that is trying to ward off the flu and other bugs I’m certain I caught from public transit? Why did I sign up for a full marathon, again? Holy shit! I am a nut. I signed up for a marathon! I need to be institutionalized. The reality of running 26.2 miles is finally setting in. I mean, can I really run 26.2 treacherous miles, consecutively? I’ve only managed 20.1 miles to date and didn’t know how on Earth another 6.1 miles could be feasible. But when I’m running, I develop this fever for running, this addiction, this euphoric feeling that anything is possible. You see, the fever eliminates any pain and gives me a false sense of security. I call this delirium. Because the moment I’m done with a run I become fully aware that I signed up for a marathon-thinking I could really do it. That’s what’s funny. When I’m running I think I can finish a marathon. But during rest days and moments when I’m not running, the notion of running 26.2 miles exhausts me and I question my abilities. I’m just not too sure anymore if I’m capable of this labor unless I’m in an altered state of mind- running.

This marathon commitment requires me to log miles, miles, and more miles while I simultaneously beg my mind to give in to a rest day so that I may curl up in my bed under all the covers and get some shut eye, promising to savor every second of it.

And as the reality of this marathon thing sets in, so do other things. Things like the exhaustion. The exhaustion of my day leaving my mind numb and my limbs tired, heavy and begging for mercy.

I took a day off from running recently. I wrestled with the idea for hours. To guarantee my half-ass (I lost my full-ass—long distance runner problems) didn’t hit the treadmill I poured myself a glass of Malbec. I sipped my tasty red wine, sat back with my feet propped on my coffee table, and relaxed (or tried to). I still had a hot fever for running but forced myself to enjoy the solitude. I acknowledged I could tame my fever the following day and resolved that my prescription would be doubled. (2 runs in one).

The following day arrived and guilt hit me hard. Not only guilt for not logging the necessary miles the day prior to prep for my marathon (only 5 weeks away), I felt GUILT because I felt as if I retained all the water, the wine, and light dinner from the night before. My waistline felt 5 inches thicker and I felt as if I was a whopping 5 pounds heavier. At that very moment my fever began to blister!!! Screw the double dose prescription, this would be cured only if I tripled the dose (thank gosh I’m not really talking about drugs here).

I realized I wasn’t be rational so I got over the triple dose methodology to cure my fever and settled on the double dose. I continued my morning and as I perused the March 2014 Runner’s World while sitting on the metro I couldn’t help but laugh. I recall laughing at my madness and the madness of other runners. It appears most of us runners run a little hot and we are all a little neurotic… or a lot a bit neurotic.

Here’s what got me laughing.
________________________

March 2014 Runner’s Word, Screw Up–Like a Pro!
With a little stubbornness and stupidity, you can injure yourself the way elites do. Written by: Lauren Fleshman
Rest days are for babies:

I like to run, and I want to get better, so why wouldn’t I take a day off? The hard-core don’t take days off, do they? I bet Shalane worked out twice today. What will I do on my day off, anyway? Think about working out while my mitochondria evaporate? In one day my jeans feel tighter. There is no way this is from being hydrated for the first time in a week. It is fatness as a direct result in laziness. It’s only 9:30 p.m….still time to get in a quick four-miler.
_______________

It appears we are all addicted to the run and we all experience guilt. This article and I experience guilt and feel it on our waistline… And as our fevers blister, the only lovely way to burn is to run…

Takeaways

A rest day doesn’t mean you’re a woose or a baby, it means you’re tired and you’re body is begging you to slow down.

You can’t gain 5 inches in a day.

You can’t gain 5 pounds in a day. If you did, I assure you it’s just hydration and you will be 5 pounds lighter in no time.

Your jeans aren’t tighter because you took a rest day. You’re delirious and those jeans are just as tight as they were after you ran your last long run.

It’s okay to rest.

It’s okay to rest. (Intentionally duplicated)

Stop being guilt-ridden and enjoy your rest days.

Do one thing that scares you every month. (For me, it’s running a marathon)

Love the run.

Make pain a friend and you’ll never be alone.

Stop feeling guilty for eating gummy bears (Okay, that’s me…it’s my blog I can write what I want) 🙂

Keep running your race.

Have faith.

Enjoy being neurotic.

Thanks for reading and stopping by!

XOXO

Valerie
Runnergirl

Friendships and Airports

30 Sep

I am suddenly alone while not being lonely on a Sunday evening with my iPhone plugged into an airport power outlet at an airport lounge, sipping chilled Chardonnay waiting for my flight from Albuquerque to Phoenix to depart.

I am sitting at an airport lounge, people watching and reminiscing over the beautiful weekend I just spent with my good friends, their adoring family and their newest addition, Abigail. I can’t help but to think just how much time I have lost out with them over the years and for no real reason as to why. I know partial blame should be assessed to our busy lives…but in my heart of hearts, I’m cognizant that we all could have tried a little harder to make time for each other. But that is the past and the strength of our friendship, although tested, remains in the present and our future; let bygones be bygones. But as I sit here I do reflect. And reflection forces you to be honest. And if I’m going to be honest, I have to accept accountability. Therefore, since accountability matters, I have to own my part in our friendship conundrum. Truth is, I could have worked a little harder to make our friendship stronger rather than strained. I hope you are reading this D and Sean as I never wanted that. I’m sorry. I love you guys. Looking back I see I was focused on making my relationship at the time work and I hadn’t recognized the damage I was doing to our friendship. I can’t help but to think, “Isn’t hindsight a bitch!” (or for Abigail’s ears, a [butterfly]!)

And as the time continued to pass this weekend I found myself relishing in the moments of comfort that are Deanna, Sean and I (now with a little added flare I like to call, Abigail). I couldn’t help but to take photographic memories of what was transpiring before my very eyes this weekend so that I could store them in my mind and retrieve them for when my heart aches for comfort. I imagine I’ll need comfort and familiarity in my coming days as I prep to move out of my comfort zone I call, Arizona. By the way, thank you guys for believing in me and supporting me all the way through with this incredible, unfathomable discourse from what was going to transpire (my heart remains heavy and aches) … XO

The truth is it’s been years since I have enjoyed the company of my dear friends and we have picked up like no time had passed. I love them. More than words could rightfully express. The reality is they are no longer just Mr. and Mrs. They are: Mr. and Mrs. plus One. And wow! The plus one!!! No matter how great plus one has changed their lives, seeing Mr. and Mrs. in action with plus One as partners blew me away. I sat on the sidelines this weekend and observed…I observed what I once knew of Mr. and Mrs. and saw how they have transcended into a masterpiece. They are a masterpiece of love, adoration, chaos (constant commotion), a crying baby, partnership, friendship, laughter, sarcasm, humor, etc. Their partnership has always been solid but with the addition of baby A, their partnership is even more solidified. I took a step back and watched them through my rose colored lens and felt peace and comfort.

Granted, I know relationships are work and it’s never perfect but my friends make all the “manure” look like it’s worth going through. And I laugh I as recollect that the most beautiful of roses blossom from the strategic gardening methods using said “manure”… I mean, a little shit never hurt anyone! I don’t mind, nor have I ever minded, putting on my gardening boots and stomping through the shit.

I’m laughing again because Abigail taught me a lesson this weekend: regardless of her beauty and doe-eyes she comes with a little shit (literally)! Like 3 times in 3 hours and boy was it stinky! But that’s the comedic relief in it all-We all have a little shit, both figuratively and literally speaking. If you can laugh when life or “shit” happens you’re doing well!!! The “shit” should remind you that you’re only one step closer to the sweetness, the reward, the blossom of your hardwork, sweat and tears-The rose bud does bloom.

This weekend I saw firsthand that although my friends look to lead a perfect life: their life, like my life, like your life, well, it isn’t always perfect. Our lives our intertwined with heartache, stress, and love to name a few with fleeting moments of spontaneity and magic which makes the “shit” worthwhile. And my friends are a fine example of how to muddle your way through it all and come out smelling like a rose. They are strong. They are courageous. They are risk takers. They are brave. And they are lovely partners and parents with hearts of gold while also having the patience of saints.

My friends have gracefully shuffled their way through their “shit” and in between it all have found peace, beauty, love, and tranquility. To top it off they have been blessed with the birth of their beautiful, gorgeous, incredible, squish”able” baby girl…(now 13 months old).

I love you guys. Thank you for showing me and teaching me how incredible it is to have your best friend as your partner. And thank you for showing me how incredible the roses smell, even though you may have to trudge through the shit first.

I miss you guys. I am thankful and blessed for our friendship. It’ll never go this long again without communication. I’m sorry for my “shit”. I look forward to our garden of friendship!!! XO

Shoes Wisely

3 Aug

I have been running, and running, and running. That’s the great thing. I keep running to work out every scenario in my head because if you don’t know,  I am currently at a crossroads. I am… conflicted.  A friend of mine at work gave me a book to read to help me sort through my dilemma. The book is, Shoes Wisely, written by Dr. Wendy Treat. Knowing me and my obsession with stilettos, wedges, and Nike Free’s, I couldn’t help but giggle because the title is ridiculously appropriate!  The back of the book reads,

“You can’t run a marathon in your stilettos, nor can you attend the ball in your sneakers. God has equipped you to face every season of life, and fully prepared you through the power of His Word.”

Isn’t that the truth?

Here I am, 10 weeks away from our wedding day and my career just threw us for a zinger. And that zinger could mean there is no more “us”.

I have the potential to go after my dream job. The job announcement closes Monday, August 5th and I have known about this for the past week and a half. My resume is ready to go. I have all the documentation to support my resume. I have put out feelers to determine if I would like the chief of staff, the roles, and the responsibility. I have a real growth opportunity if I go after this with all the gusto I have. I want this! I have a good chance of getting this job. I just have to hit SUBMIT.

 But If I hit submit it begins the extensive process of being qualified then interviewed and I wouldn’t likely get an interview until a few weeks before the wedding. So what do we do? Our wedding is hanging over our heads whether or not I get this job. We have to make a decision now without knowing if the job is mine. 

 Do we cancel the wedding without knowing where my future lies? Do we postpone the wedding? Or do we get married and see how long distance works? Did I mention long distance before? This dream job of mine would land me in Washington, D.C. for a few years, maybe longer! This is remarkable!!!

 The snag is my fiancé would remain in Phoenix, Arizona. He doesn’t want to move. I support my fiancé’s reasons for staying but I am saddened he won’t join me on this venture if I get the job (I still have to hit submit!). If this career move in DC is only for two years he doesn’t see the point of packing up, selling the house and finding a new job just to turn around and come back. I understand his point. He’s also smart enough to know I may really like it there and two years may be four. But I know who I am and I know very well I won’t stay in DC for too long since “we” both have our family roots in Phoenix. This is just temporary. But temporary is a subjective term.

My fiancé is in a new role himself for the past four months and I know he is happy. I haven’t seen him this happy in a long time with his job. But his company isn’t in DC or the relative area. His happiness means the world to me and I want him to remain happy. I can’t selfishly ask him to pack up shop and move with me if I get the job while knowing I am putting a halt to his happiness and potential career. I am cognizant of all the things involved (emotions, finances, dilemmas, disappointment, realization that we may not be together, sadness, hurt-the list continues).

 

 And he and his family and my parents keep preaching to me that they thought I wanted kids. Yes. Yes, I do! The plan was get married in October and perhaps stop preventing the possibility of pregnancy come next June. It was discussed and planned.  But when do plans go accordingly? Having kids may be postponed but it would still remain a possibility if we stay together. If I get the job I would be going to DC. When ever was going to DC synonymous for having a hysterectomy!? It’s not like the second I get off the plane they remove my uterus! I didn’t see that in job description and I assure you I read the fine print. Babies would be delayed. And if he doesn’t follow me or if he cancels the wedding, there are no babies in my near future, unless of course I start dating the next President of the United States and he wants them ASAP. (jk)

I know if I don’t put on my big girl, I got this, confident, tenacious, this job is mine persona coupled with my big girl stilettos, I will regret not going after this.  I will always wonder what if. And my fiancé knows this. He doesn’t want me to go after it because there is the possibility he may lose me.  On the other hand he wants me to go after the job because he wants me to follow my dream.

 I risk so much whether or not I apply or don’t apply. My fiancé told me he can’t do long distance, plain and simple. He just doesn’t want to because it hurts too much and causes too much strain on a relationship, especially with the time difference. It was never because there is a lack of trust between us. Last year I was away for two straight months and that was hard enough. This would be a minimum of two years, if not more. I understand his point.

For the past week I have been “shoesing” my Nike Frees and been pounding the treadmill to work this out in my head. I want this job. I am willing to risk everything for this because this is where I have always wanted to be. This potential career move effuses opportunity.

I feel like if there were to be background music in what feels like a sudden Lifetime movie drama series it would be Jason Aldean’s song, “Keep the Girl”. A snapshot of the lyrics are:

This life is full of choices. Hard to make one. All the voices in my head. Those blue eyes I’m in love with or that highway which ever I pick, there’ll be regret.

I go one way I lose everything. I go the other way same thing. I’m torn and it’s tearing me apart. I want to go but I don’t want to break [his] heart. Like a sword with a double edge blade it’s gonna cut deep either way. This little town, that big old world. Chase the dream or keep the [boy].

… I don’t know why I can’t have it all.

 

It’s time I Shoes Wisely.

 

XO

Valgal

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