Tag Archives: endurance

The Sweat Life at 21 Weeks of Pregnancy 

4 Jan

Good morning, lovelies!

 

And Happy New Year!!!

 

Oh boy, I mean, oh girl – this is the year we welcome our little baby macaroon into the world! I can’t believe we have already passed the half way mark!

 

I keep stating the obvious – that my energy level is much better in comparison to the first trimester when I didn’t have the inertia to run let alone roll out of bed. This makes me blissfully happy because I feel like myself again.

 
I’m also blissfully happy because I’m finally “feeling” and “looking” pregnant. Even though these adjectives do not have me feeling like myself, the transition is authentically mine – it’s an experience devoid of self-shaming criticisms – at least now. Feeling and looking pregnant has helped me to counter all my prior negative feelings I battled when I looked in the mirror in the early stages of pregnancy. The stage when it looked like I washed down too many bags of gummy bears with Kilt Lifters (one of my favorite beers) creating a softer than sought core…you know, the thickening of the waist without the baby bump…

 

Fortunately I’ve entered the stage where baby girl is making her debut. I have a new roundness that I love and cherish because it’s her – our baby girl! I accept her presence with unabashed alacrity unlike any other challenge or journey I’ve embarked upon.

 

Anyway, baby girl and I had quite the weekend – two phenomenal sweat sessions! Saturday we welcomed 2016 by embarking on a one hour run covering 7.31 miles at an 8:12 pace followed by yesterday’s intoxicatingly addictive cycle class!
Here’s a brief recap of Lava Barre’s VCycle:

 

 

Yesterday I welcomed 21 weeks of pregnancy & celebrated by indulging in a new class of the sweat life – Lava Barre’s VCycle! Holy guacamole! This indoor ride focused on cardiovascular endurance (I got that ✔️), strength and core (baby girl is occupying that) while incorporating weights and a special kind of choreography on the bike 🚴. Newsflash: This mama-to-be struggles with choreography – and they were asking me to add rhythm and move while spinning intensely through the hard resistance on a bike…yeah…that was a sight to be recorded for laughter! Shoot, at one point my right foot came flying out of my shoe that was clipped in! How does that happen?! Although I struggled a bit with some of the moves and laughed at my clumsy ways, I loved every sweat minute of it and with new friends.

 

Pregnancy hasn’t been a breeze but I’m finding that this second trimester really is the honeymoon stage. Baby girl is growing and measures 10.5 inches and 12.7 ounces!

 

I’m determined not to wish away these moments that I’ll want back one day. I’m so thankful for this gift of life I’m carrying and with each passing day I’m moved by how fearfully and wonderfully made I am [all women]. I’m thankful for the gifts bestowed upon me – a healthy baby girl and this body to protect and nourish her.
And there you have it friends – a little tale about my deviation from running for two.
May you all have a blessed week!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

XO
Valgal and baby macaroon!

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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 

 

 

Grief Doesn’t Have a Face

3 Apr

Hello lovelies!!! Happy Thursday! 

Here I am experiencing delays at good ol’ DCA…the original plans had me missing my connecting flight and after several phone calls, I landed a new flight but had to act fast! I had 60 minutes to get to the airport and through security [in heels]! Hot damn! 

I made it! I ran (first time in weeks) through security and to the gate when…

Dunnn. Dunnn. Dunnn. The gate met me with another delay! Convenience is only a dream.

To occupy my time I’ve been re-reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and several other books related to the art of Legal Writing in Plain English. Ha…there’s more comedy, will I ever be able to perform such duties?

I gravitated to Wild instead of the latter. I got lost again. Lost with no need to be found. 

Considering my current life events, I couldn’t help but to feel moved by the following, so much so I wrote it in my journal to remind myself…

“…But you seemed so happy was all they could say. And it was true: we had seemed that way. Just as if I seemed to be doing okay after my mom died. Grief doesn’t have a face.” 

First off, my incredibly selfless mother is ok. She blesses me and all those around her with her immanent radiance outpouring unconditional love, nonjudgment, unyielding support, comfort, fervor for life, and more. 

Secondly, this quote, in and of itself spoke to me. The words are branded in my brain. I repeated the quote. Perhaps it’s a new mantra to pull me out from under when I need it most.

I’m told I have a magnanimous demeanor which warms my heart! But friends and family, oh my, seriously, I have dark moments. Gloom hits me and sometimes hard. I try to sweat it out but it doesn’t always do the trick. The magic is finding a healthy place for grief. I still haven’t discovered this place outside the trails and paths where I find myself running (or not running). 

What I am trying to tell you is grief is grief. We all accessorize it differently. I wear red on my lips and 5″ heels on my feetsies when I’m not flying in Newtons. I do my best to try to make it look good. Well really, I do this regardless of grief or not, but grief has me try a little harder. With grief my efforts are more deliberate. I may go that darker shade of red and line my eyes with a black sultry wing on these days. It helps me rise above the littered inconvienent truths and consequential lies between the miles.

Miles don’t lie. A mile will always be 1600 meters. It assures you that your mood after running it (x 10 miles +) will be altered. Whether the endorphins work for or against you is up to your mood. 

My mood as of late has been positive considering my lack of running; however, it has been peppered with some dark spots. Thank goodness I love pepper! A little spice never hurt anyone! I’m just asking that we tone it down a little. My tastebuds are growing numb. I want to continue to taste the exquisite pleasure and pain that is now that reminds me I am alive. You can’t celebrate happiness without sorrow. You can’t say “happiness without saying penis!” You can’t enjoy comedy without tragedy. 

Lately my life through the miles has assured me that the false dream of convenience is just that, a dream. 

I ask, who wants convenience? 

I don’t.

I want inconvienent and all-consuming love in the friendships/relationships I forge. 

I’m not in the business to walk anyone else’s tightrope anymore. I will continue to bet on myself and I’m positive I’ll make it to the other side. I may fall a few times. (Friends and family should chuckle knowing this only happens when I wear flats when I’m not running). I hope you follow me on my journey! 

Until next time, thanks for stopping by! 

Grief may not have a face but I will continue to aspire to look pretty in pain!

Here’s to recovery!!!

️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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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

Blackberry Smoothie Recipe

13 Oct

Hello friends!

I woke up and I was ravenous! I looked to my dependable Blendtec to do the trick after rummaging through the fridge.

I gathered some random ingredients and hoped for the best. And WOW-WEEEE it was better than the best! It was delightful, hydrating, and nutritious.

First off, you must like blackberries. Blackberries have a high concentration of antioxidants, are low in calories, practically fat free but you ought not to worry about that because these are blackberries and not a palmier (double yummy) laden in butter (yummy), and a great fiber source to name a few benefits. So if you like blackberries, keep reading.

You should also like or be open to the idea of eating chia seeds. Chia is very versatile. It can be used in smoothies, sprinkled on salads and yogurt, and poured into your water. Chia seeds are one of the world’s oldest sources of nutrition, and has been documented to have been eaten by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. The Born to Run book, authored by Christopher McDougall, tells us that chia seeds are a staple for the Tarahumara Indian Tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. Chia seeds offer the highest combined plant source of omega-3, fiber and protein, alongside a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Chia offers essential wholefood nutrition that is often lacking in the modern diet. For more information, visit

http://thechiaco.com

And if you’re still intrigued, read on to get your blend on!

Blackberry Smoothie Recipe yields 2 Servings

2 cups of Trader Joe’s Green Plant Juice

1 cup of Tropicana 50 Orange Juice No Pulp (if you like pulp, go for it)

2 cups frozen blackberries

1 chia shot packet by The Chia Co.

Blend it up and enjoy! Nom Nom!!!

Nutrition Facts 1 Serving

284 Calories

2.5 grams of Fat

0 grams of Cholesterol

52.5 grams of Sodium (mg)

600 mg of Potassium

57.1 grams of Carbohydrates

9 grams of Fiber

42 grams of Sugar (all natural)

5 grams of Protein

32.5% Vitamin A

105% Vitamin C

28.4% Calcium

25.5% Iron

*Percent Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

I hope you enjoy! For me, this was a perfect breakfast pre-run as it was hydrating and fueled me with all the essentials!

What are your favorite smoothie recipes? Do share!!! I can’t wait to give them a whirl!

Happy running and happy fueling!

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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But I’m Tired & I’m Sore

27 Jul

After waking up with sore muscles I struggled with the idea of working out. To get my mind off of it, I got lost in Sunday morning. I made my husband a yummy breakfast since he was working and I was delighted to receive his approval with a five star rating! I then spent the next hour sipping my coffee as I blogged about the Spartan race. After blogging about the race, I mustered up the energy to change into my athletic attire and head to the downstairs gym.

I got as far as changing. I was getting ready to put my shoes on when I decided I to prep dinner. I took two steaks out of the freezer from Omaha Steaks to thaw (just a small fraction of the generous assortment of goodies we received from our mom-thank you, Jan!). Then I decided to fold the laundry. I kept looking around for more tasks to complete other than my school assignment to avoid the gym.

What has gotten into me? I love the gym…But I kept thinking, I’m tired and I’m sore.

It came down to gym or homework. I opted for the gym.

Today’s sweat session was different from my normal running routine. I gave my legs a bit of rest while I killed it on the elliptical! A good hour on that baby had me soaked in sweat. Ahhh, the sweat life. How I love thee!!! I couldn’t believe I was going to give in to a rest day. Why would I ever willingly trade a training day of sorts for a rest day? I love the feeling of accomplishment. I love feeling cleansed and empty! I love knowing I have a glass of Silk chocolate milk waiting for me! (Or a beer).

After a quick hour I parted from the elliptical, my trusted backup plan if I’m not running or on the bike. I headed over to the yoga studio to work on my abs. I dread doing abs. It’s the bane of my existence. Ok, not really. I just hate them. I know having a strong core is necessary, especially in all that I want to accomplish fitness wise but I hate them. I get into really good routines incorporating them in, then I fall off. Some days it looks like I have nice definition and other days, there’s no definition-evidence of Spartan race pictures. Today I reminded myself that abs were necessary. So I forced myself to complete a few sets of plank and pike among others. Ugh. I think this is how some people feel towards running. I get it…

After my ab sesh, I returned home feeling revived and the soreness from the morning dissipated. I enjoyed my Silk chocolate milk and proceeded with my household chores until a wonderful girlfriend invited me for coffee.

I warned her of my current sweaty state but she didn’t mind. I put a leash on Silas (our boxer pup) and walked down the street to visit with her. That’s the great thing about where we live-the community cultivates an environment that is car-free, walkable, and dog-friendly. As we sipped on iced coffee (I indulged-there goes my ab workout, hehe) and chatted, Silas met new friends (humans and other fur buddies) and slurped water from one of many water bowls.

When it was time to go, I couldn’t help but to feel even more refreshed and accomplished. My lazy Sunday has been nothing but lazy. It has however, been very relaxed in the sense that I have had no itinerary.

I achieved a lot today (except for my homework). Most importantly, I have enjoyed everything around me. Today is a gift and I am blessed to have been able to risen and care for the ones I love, including puppies, and been able to sweat. It’s the little things.

I hope you’ve had a blessed day and been given an opportunity to do what you love to recharge for the next work week, all while loving unconditionally all those around you. Take a minute to be thankful. Breathe in the beauty of the day.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Sunday!

XO

Valgal

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