Tag Archives: half marathon training

What’s Up with Some Women

26 Sep

Good evening, lovelies –

My life between the miles has surely kept me busy. My little lovebug is all of 16 months old and let me tell you that we have a future runner girl in the making. She speeds through every adventure. Just running around, laughing, giggling, and playing. Her disposition is incredibly infectious. She is and will always be a reminder to live life with childlike enthusiasm. She silences the peripheral noise and aggravations of difficult people. These days are gold. 

I’ve been running. Repeat. I have been running. I’m logging 25ish miles a week. Pre-mom Valerie would scoff at that number. Mom-Valerie is like…that’s kind of badass. But just kind of. The trouble is me. I can’t commit to waking up at 4a every day to run. If I did I could squeeze in an extra 6-8 miles per alarm buzz. But that snooze button gets me if I didn’t sell myself on the maybe sweat sesh the night before. I don’t often run after work because of the hour and my incessant desire to spend quality time with Oriana before it’s “night night time.” I am all about being present with my family and I have only 2 hours each evening with my little babe to coordinate/make dinner, enjoy bath time, have a mini playtime session, go for a walk, read a book, and then put her down. When 8:30p rolls around I tease myself with the notion to run. But I’m quickly reminded that late night runs put me in an energizer bunny state, so I opt for a glass of Chardonnay. Not always. But more often than I’d like.

While I have some guilt I am finding peace with the balance I have created. Andy and I have no family out here to help us with the day-to-day and considering, we are rocking this parenthood thing! Can I just pick up an go run the next marathon? No. After my recent 17 miler I was reminded I have FAI. I’m 32 but feel like a geriatric post such long distance. This will be cured when I finally have needed surgery (After baby #2. No. I’m not pregnant.). At any time can I go run a half marathon? Damn skippy – yes! There you have it, that’s my balance. I’m always primed to race 13.1 miles. That is me winning at this motherhood thing!!! I may not PR but I can easily run the distance that once upon a time was a challenge.

Speaking of challenge, let’s talk about people. I often get lost in my mind while running. I work out problems and the idiosyncrasies of individuals. This is how I cope. And it’s often a way I manage stress mid-day by exchanging lunch for a run = runch. It helps to dissolve any conflict or ugly emotion. It resets me. 

But back to challenging people…

Why are some women hell-bent on dishonoring our own gender? I am tired of being exposed to this unavoidable casualty. Wake up ladies, there is a code of ethics amongst women and it appears there is a significant need for a reintroduction. I’ve grown tired of callous comments and negativity by which I don’t understand how I’m on the receiving end. Why can’t we mindfully and/or lovingly disagree? I wish there was a way to change this proclivity of female divide that keeps widening. Some women need continuing education on feminism. I want to throw the book at them (in the most kind way). I want to preach “Read it. Breathe it. Reflect. Turn a new page and stand united.” I want to observe women empowering women. 

What really ruffles me is that I am a mother to a daughter. A beautiful little girl who might be disliked by other girls for being uniquely different and alluring because of her ethnic mix plus her aptitude. What’s more aggravating is the ugly truth that beauty and brains is a lethal combination. And because of this truth I know girls will try to hurt her and cut her down out of envy and admiration. It’s ridiculous. Why does admiration have to come at the cost of jealousy? Why are women compelled to break each other down? Why is there reprisal for being different, intelligent, beautiful in both a conventional and unconventional way? I don’t want my daughter to grow up being chastised for being herself. I want to teach her that women are alliances. Emphasis on alliances. We need to enrich these relationships rather than create conflict. Conflict serves no purpose in this context. 

So here I am. I am facing an opportunity dead set at trying to resolve discord. Discord I assure you as it relates to me being me. I know more than I let on. That’s my superpower. I am quirky but for good graces that doesn’t mean I am dense. Because of my role as woman who is now a mother I am responsible to lead by example more than ever before. I have a mini shadow. If Oriana was older and could understand or witness my conversations and interaction how would I act differently? How could I gain favor? 

There is something inherently wrong when women disrespect women. I can’t run this emotion out of my mind. I have a heightened awareness and sensitivity on this topic because of my daughter. We can break the perpetual fallacy that women are superficial and catty but I can’t do it alone. I’ll raise my daughter to know better, to refrain from repressing the feminist movement and to advocate for women with fervor! 

We need to practice decorum. We should learn and teach this from the very beginning of our lives. We must show love and be nurturing. We are all surrounded by extraordinary women who teach us about quiet strength and dignity. Let’s break the narrative that women tear each other down. I promote that we have an obligation to help one another. How do we get the naysayers on our same sheet of music? 

If there’s one thing I can do right it will be to raise my daughter to be kind, respectful, grateful, warm, generous and mindful… If for any reason she is compelled to be anything otherwise antonymous I will encourage her to take it out on the asphalt. To pound the pavement. 

We women run the world (pun intended). Let’s be each others cheerleaders on the same track (of empowerment) and remind ourselves we are running our own unique race. There’s room for civility on every course. We are an exclusive community – we are a brand. 

To my daughter: One day you may read this and if you do I hope I have lead by example. You inspire me daily to be a better person. To practice compassion. To remain present. I love you.

To women (past and present) and those reading this: You teach me daily how to wear all the colors of our multifaceted roles. I respect you. 

Thanks for stopping by,

XO

Valgal

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Not All Those Who Wander Are Rootless

10 Oct

Hello lovelies!!!

Wishing you all a fantastical weekend filled with warmth, the aromas of fall, football & some racing!

I’ve been under the weather all week but I’m gearing to go for tomorrow’s Army Ten Miler. It won’t be a PR because I won’t be putting in race effort thanks to my hip injury and general feeling of ick. Regardless of the circumstances it will feel great to get out there with my tribe of runners!

***Note- last year I maintained a 7:12 pace with an overall finish of 1:12:09. This year crossing the finish line is my only goal. 🙂 [I can’t believe I’ve just typed that…]

Anyway, after taking the week off I engaged in quick 3 mile run this morning. Man I needed it! The feeling of my lungs expanding and my legs feeling light, loose and fresh put me in a trance of euphoria. I mean one week off and I still got it… Ohhhweee!!! It felt good to get back at it.

Check out my t-shirt…I picked up this gem yesterday, Not All Those Who Wander Are Rootless. Oh how I love it! Let it remind us that we runners [insert whatever defines you here] wander to new destinations – new destinations where PRs don’t have to define our effort but instead our curiosity to seek to know more of what is around and within us. Let it help you find peace in your run and peace in your journey.

Happy running y’all!

Enjoy your Saturday!

Not All Those Who Wander Are Rootless

Not All Those Who Wander Are Rootless

Valgal

XO

Running High

2 Jan

Hello friends!!! And Happpppppy New Year!!!

As I reflect on the blessings and tough luck that was 2014, I approach 2015 hopeful. There were moments in 2014 I found myself tongue-tied and twisted. It continues to be a trickery issue. The issue of ambition and happiness. Can you have both?

A friend of mine shared a thought-provoking article a few days back that touched on a similar subject. Replace ambition with love. No, no, no…I’m not saying, “Love and happiness…Can you have both”. Keep reading.

The article was about self-identity. Let me explain and circle it back to my endeavors and exhausting commitment to running. The article states that love is emotional and compatibility is logical.

Hmmm. Okay…[thinking oil and vinegar…]

I’m clearly emotionally involved with running but my commitment to run for hours upon hours and abuse my body to the point of dehydration renders me delusional, high and happy and is likely NOT logical. The question is, do the two really blend together, or are they like oil and vinegar? Can you have love without compatibility? Can you have compatibility without love?

I have evaluated this topic and I am left puzzled.

This whole time I have been preaching to you that running is where I have found myself. Running is my identity. I was wrong. (That tastes like vinegar but I’m fortunate that I have acquired the taste)

Running is my love and we are compatible. It is a graceful tango with emotion and logic! (I wish everything were so easy.)

Running leaves me empty at times but also fills me with euphoria. Running gives me a sense of happiness and thwarts any feelings I may have of dissatisfaction, anxiety and depression (temporarily). Running and I get along, pretty dang well. When we argue, we argue fair. We have a mutual understanding that when I’m being a pain in the ass (quite more often I’m sure than I would like to admit) it will call me out and drive me to dig deep and push harder until I break through the barriers I have created. It peels away at my layers exposing me to vulnerability. It allows me to be transparent in this forum in which I express my life between the miles. It is the ultimate relationship as it challenges me and keeps me striving for more. Our dance through emotions gets me intoxicatingly high. Who wouldn’t want this?

But as I said minutes ago, I was wrong when I exclaimed that I found my identity through running. Running is NOT my identity. Running supplements me. As should any relationship. Running makes me whole but does NOT define me. I say again, as should any relationship.

So here I am again reflecting on 2014 and trying to project 2015. I said project, not plan. I will NOT plan anything (we all know how that went in 2013); however, I will commit to goals.

I am told I cannot sit still and I don’t know how to relax. True. It is because I have been drugged by the arrival fallacy and honey, I am severely addicted. If you’re not familiar with the arrival fallacy it is the belief that when you attain your goal, you will be happy. The trouble with addicts, like myself, is that once you taste the sweet nectar of success, you want more. Attaining one goal often reveals another goal or peripheral goals that you want to aspire towards. My running endeavors are a fine example. I ran a half-marathon and immediately after crossing the finish line, I was as high as Seth Rogan and James Franco in Pineapple Express (but with adrenaline and endorphins). I thought it would be a good idea to commit to a training plan for a marathon. Someone should have puff puff passed ME but my lungs were burning with the euphoric shock of finishing a race and I was highly vulnerable to the vapors of the arrival fallacy. And now, with two marathons in the books, and several half-marathon training runs completed, my goals shifted from completing marathons to Boston Qualify. For real this time. I will BQ in 2015. I think I’m still high.

That is my runnerlution in 2015. I have no other resolutions. I have no plans. The trouble with the BQ is that the commitment to training is exhausting, oh but the inebriation…

I had a lot of failures in 2014. Some related to my marriage with running. What relationship isn’t flawed? Commitment to anything is exhausting. The give and the take. The difference in opinions. The way love and compatibility don’t line up as often as you would like.

Love and compatibility weren’t fully aligned during my first marathon in 2014. I ran it just to see how I would do. I had a lot of fuel left in my reserves when I finished and I carried some resentment about it. Nonetheless, I was on cloud 9 and couldn’t come down. I ran my second marathon high on Mucinex while trying to fight bronchitis. Love and compatibility were in line this round but my health wasn’t. I flirted with a BQ. I missed the mark by four minutes. My ego wasn’t bruised but my lungs were. I came up short but I was damn happy for even showing up and racing at all. That’s the perk of the post-marathon glow of high spirits.

I ask you this, what happens when you try and you give it your all and you come up short? Time and again (in life and all of your relationships and endeavors?). Do you keep moving towards the original end-goal? Or does your goal manifest into something else? Do you change your direction to meet new unanticipated peripheral goals? When do you realign your goals to meet your needs and desires? Does love and compatibility drive your ambitions?

I recognize that I am perpetually creating goals. It doesn’t make me unsettled. It makes me thirsty. I am the arrival fallacy. That is life! I am running my life (pun intended) with what I hope is the perfect blend of love (emotion) and compatibility (logic). So far it has been the secret to my healthy affair with running. It keeps me high, baby! Stay high!

Happy New Year Friends!!! May 2015 greet you with a healthy glow, love, happiness, success, and inspiration!!! Stay high on life…get high on the run. Commit to love and compatibility and allow yourself to have both!

What are your runnerlutions?

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Aka Valarina ***(Thanks, Dad! He has requested I remove Valgal and use the nickname he gave me since yay high…oh you don’t see me showing you yay high…newsflash, I haven’t grown. Be it 2 or 29, I’m still yay high but not “high” – if you read the blog)

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Possibility

28 Dec

I love the smell of possibility in the morning!

So much can be achieved in 24 hours! It’s a thrill to wake up and set out to conquer your goals!

This morning I woke up with the intention to go on a long run to sort some things out. I wanted to run through a host of concerns.

I evaluated the possibility of a morning run and couldn’t contain my excitement. The possibility of running in Chicago! Ooooh how my eyes sparkled with a rush of thrill and spontaneity! Where would I explore?

I stepped out.

The possibility of running in Chicago was a no go. A total, heck NO, I must be crazy! It was 25 degrees and I clearly didn’t pack accordingly for the stark chill.

Then there was the possibility of running at the gym.

Hmmm. Nope.

The possibility and favorable probability that I would finally win a scrabble game with my pops was more enticing as he welcomed me to a match at the kitchen table.

I had to forgo a run to score a win. I had no option. I really didn’t.

I got to thinking about possibility…

There is a very real possibility I will travel to Milan or Paris (or both) this year. Heck, I may even end up in Croatia!

There is also a very realistic possibility that I will qualify for Boston this year!!! Heck yes!!!

There’s a possibility that my marriage with running will be long-lasting and fruitful despite the disappointment I will face when I don’t PR. That’s the ebb and the flow…

There is also the possibility that my commitment and vow to run forever may be sidelined if I become injured.

Forever. Forever isn’t for every one.

Sometimes our injuries are scars you never see but are hurtful reminders of a crash and burn or inviting memories that you explore time and again. They can knock you off the path of forever or redirect your visions of possibility!

I reflect on my relationship with running. I am in a healthy relationship with it. We do not argue. We do not throw jabs. We trust each other. We challenge each other. These are the ingredients for a heathy commitment, for our healthy commitment. So why should I feel threatened that the possibility for forever may be shorter?

Do you look at your relationships and their possibility for potential?

Possibility is everywhere! It’s endless. Stay focused on your dreams, the peripheral opportunities, and follow your passion! You will find yourself in the company of happiness with the people that belong in your life!

The possibility of a run today is not in the cards-because today we play scrabble! Perhaps tomorrow!

Until then, happy running!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

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My Affair with Running: Love and Happiness, A Complementary Intimacy

27 Dec

Hello friends!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Pancha Ganapati, Kwanzaa, and Festivus!!!

I hope your holidays were bright and filled with joy! To sum it up on my end, I’ve had quite the month of travel celebrating togetherness with family and friends. I’ve been blessed for the opportunities to visit many places I call home! I ventured to Arizona, Illinois, and made a quick pitstop to surprise family in Michigan. Not to mention, I was grounded in the District for a temporary pause on my travel to enjoy some normalcy and routine. As much as I am a creature of habit, I love traveling because it fills my heart with joy and compassion for others. I get to witness strangers greeting their loved ones after a flight with abandoned thrill and my heart just bursts with delight and excitement! I get so moved by the raw emotion! It reminds me that happiness and love are common threads weaved within our souls. I’m not talking about romantic love only, I’m talking about love of all sorts.

Love. Love is a messy thing. It is enigmatic and full of beautiful chaos. Happiness is not and should not be dependent on love. As I reflect on 2014, I explore the correlation between happiness and love…how one can exist without the other, but how both are complementary together!

If we examine one of my loves, my running affair, it’s a balance of wanting to run, having to run, being disciplined to run when I don’t want to run, being in-tune with my body enough to know when I shouldn’t run, cross-training when I don’t want to cross-train, etc. This doesn’t sound like love but it is.

The lesson is: sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do (in any relationship). The relationship thing is all about the give and the take. Sure it sucks. I don’t really want to get up at the crack of dawn to take someone to the airport, but I do. Someone doesn’t want to wake up early and wait for me at the finish line of a major race regardless if I want them to…so I take a step back…I get it.

Relationships force us to make compromises. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. I sacrifice my happiness for yours and vice versa. Some are compromises we agree to while others leave us throwing a silent tantrum in our head-both in an effort to keep the peace and maintain harmony.

Compromising isn’t a natural thing for any of us. It is hard! Think about it. We have had a relationship with ourselves much longer than most relationships we have with others (except family). I’ve learned that we become obstinate to compromise when we become a twosome. But compromise doesn’t always have to become the elephant in the room-even when it takes up all the space in my 1000 square foot apartment. Let me explain straight up, compromise is NOT unwelcomed. Unless of course it turns into resentment. I do know a few elephants that taste like resentment – even with one small bite at a time chased with a sip of wine (or tequila!). I prefer resentment to taste like vinegar because it makes itself known and present, rather than sweet and inviting. I would rather call a spade a spade. I don’t need it dressed up in tannins and Riedel wine glasses. But each specific situational context renders a different spread (that’s easier to swallow with the right pairing of wine).

As trivial as it sounds, when I have to compromise my steadfast resolve to train for a BQ because something takes precedence, I have a tendency to get a bit pissy. Especially when my palette is faced to indulge in a sinful spread without a caloric deficit – thank you holidays!!! I mean seriously, I have goals!!! Aside from the holidays, I dislike when people meddle and wreck havoc in my routine because they don’t understand my goals or get my passion. I’ll come around after 7p! I have got to get my run in if I’m gong to BQ! The idea of BQ’ing makes me happy!!!

Clearly, I have strong convictions toward running (and many other things). It is extremely hard work to maintain high mileage and skipping a day or days is a major compromise for me! It’s a compromise because I love to run. It is my passion. In addition, running helps my happiness-o-meter hit the high mark!

What I am learning is, so long as you don’t compromise your overall goals, who you are, and your own happiness, stay willing to exercise some flexibility when you have to and chalk it up to the notion that sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to. Isn’t that the freaking truth?

Running is my unique escape from some realities. It is, however, a favorite realty where I continue to discover who I am. I do it when I don’t want to. I do it when I want to. My relationship with running can be difficult. But what relationship isn’t? Relationships are also twofold – at the very least! I find so much peace, tranquility, and happiness with running aside from its difficult nature. The sweat and the tears, sometimes to include the blood when I crash and burn, make me feel alive and whole. However, contrary to relationships you have with people, you should NOT rely on anyone to make you feel whole as I do with running.

Running may be one of my loves but it is just a euphemism for a healthy relationship and my great love. That is why I am fanatical about running. I walked (ran) into my affair with running with my own happiness (a little green) and its matured into forms I cannot express with words. Running has granted me with the gifts of self-acceptance, self-awareness, and self-reflection. It has helped to increase my self-worth, proven to me that I am capable of more, and helped me realize I can endure very difficult tasks. It continues to be liberating. The self-discovery increases my self-love thus my overall happiness.

Now come on folks, talk about having a relationship that you can learn from, be inspired by, be enriched by, and ultimately be elevated by!!! Do you have a love that challenges you? Liberates you? Encourages self-discovery and self-love? If you don’t, I must ask, don’t you want that?

Shout out to running! I am forever grateful and blessed! If your relationships are lacking in this, I urge you to reflect and define your happiness.

As for my other relationships, this isn’t the forum to discuss them but these are the things I seek and expect.

I am responsible for my own happiness. I have learned that you can’t base your happiness on the happiness or opinions of others. I’m not one to say that I am happy 24/7. However, I am one to be honest. I know I have made mistakes. I have found myself broken and vulnerable with toxic thoughts thinking I won’t be able to heal. I have been and still could be broken. I have been mortified by what others think of me in the past. Running has helped me move away from that carcinogenic mentality. I really don’t care anymore what other people think because they shouldn’t live in my mind rent free. I have experiences unlike others. I’m not going to waste time trying to explain myself and my actions to those who are committed to misunderstanding me. I make decisions that I think will enrich my life with the wealth of love as well as happiness! People may not agree with my actions but they are not my concern. Happiness comes from self-acceptance! Self-acceptance is love and that results in happiness. 🙂

I have learned that people mistake my emotion and define it as fragility. Pfff. If anything, emotion humbles me, gives me strength, teaches me resilience, makes me more compassionate, and reminds me to be nonjudgmental.

I’m here to tell you that I am imperfect and flawed. My relationship with running is fueled by emotion and passion (as are all my relationships). It has given me the fortitude to take risks, self-reflect, self-accept, and define my happiness without boundaries.

May 2015 greet you with relationships that enrich your soul, support your passion, love you unconditionally, challenge you, and elevate you in all ways possible!!!

And salute to a 2015 BQ for me!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy running!

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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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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Trouble with the BQ

10 Sep

Hi friends!

Happy Tuesday!

It’s Tuesday, right? For the past few weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to live out of a suitcase. The days blend together. I was in Atlanta, Phoenix, and Miami.

I spent time with family in Arizona but the memory feels too surreal and too distant. It feels as if my visit with family was a mirage rather than a reality. My time spent, which was approximately one week, was dwarfed with the ruthlessness of time and obligations. Obligations such as work, my master’s program, the promise to visit family and the disappointment that I was faced with when I had to break plans to visit with friends because of other external variables. In addition, the contention I met in my attempts to maintain my commitment to train for my upcoming marathon-my efforts were desultory-at best.

I’m not complaining. I’m just stating the obvious. I’m busy. But I recognize that you too, are busy. So I ask you this, how do you balance your day and adjust the expectations you have of yourself? How do you do it when there are so many other obligations to fulfill? How do you prioritize your commitments? Do you feel selfish to put your athletic/endurance goals ahead of others, like a BQ? Sometimes I do.

Moments when I feel selfish I recall why I love running. I recognize it takes away time that would otherwise be obligated towards other things. Things like building and growing other relationships. The truth is running affords me the opportunity to build and grow the relationship I have with myself. It’s special. I’ve learned over the years that I really like being around me. I love quiet time. I love turning the chaos off. That’s when I turn to running. When I’m not running you can find me reading, writing, cooking, and/or playing with the pup pups. These things, among several others, fulfill me! In the past I lived in a world that didn’t have definitive lines between boredom and contentment. I lived in a space that was familiar and replicable. Today, running, and the addition of all my professional and educational pursuits help to push me beyond those barriers. Point in case, running forces me to grow in realms not otherwise connected.

The reticulum of things and people linked by the pursuit of sweat and testing the human spirit promised by running and the lifestyle that becomes of you is intriguing. It’s almost embarrassing!!! Running makes you hopeful to expect more from yourself. You can do hard things! You can’t expect more from yourself unless you imagine it. And I imagine a Boston Qualifier (BQ). Not today. Not tomorrow. But soon…after successful, disciplined, and consistent training.

But how do you train for a BQ when life happens? How do you disconnect from the day-to-day demands and shift your focus to a BQ training plan without guilt? How do you evaluate priorities?

There are days I want to ignore the computer, the laptop, the iPad, the iPhone, the emails, etc. I want to disconnect. I don’t want to read the news, the tweets, the Facebook updates, or any feed for that matter. I want to be in the moment. I want to escape technology that always makes me available. I want to run for three hours and not delude others of my ambitious endeavor for fear of being judged.

There’s this obscure cultural criticism cast upon the running community because non-runners don’t understand us. I recognize this. That’s why I am asking you, how do you cope with it? How do you plan your days when so many hours of your day are dedicated to your ambitions, like mine, to BOSTON QUALIFY?

Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to your feedback and responses!

XO

Valgal

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