Tag Archives: hello better

A New Affair 

19 Jul

Hello lovelies,

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Notice anything different?!.

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Other than me not having a baby bump?!?

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The shoes!!! Meet Brooks Launch 3!!!

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That’s right friends, #badass #motherrunner was running on clouds today. Clouds of comfort! I literally had an extra spring to my step for push-off and it gave me amazing energy return! For real though!!! Plus, their ultra light and perfect for me (I’m a neutral runner). I’m in love. .

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Newton, we’ve covered a lot of distance over our 4 year courtship, but your discount code for me has since expired and your 5 lugs just don’t comfort me like the 4. You will be my first love, and I will continue to be a fan, and even wear you for feelings of wild-eyed marathon training nostalgia of the past (I have quite the collection)…But let it be known you’ve got some fierce competition these days! And I’m thinking it’s time for a new affair…#runnergirl

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Today marked my marathon training’s request of an easy 3 mile run – which was totally hard to do because I wanted to rocket through my run with these new badass kicks!!! But hey, I’m following protocol – and that’s a first!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

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First Week of Marathon Training Postpartum

16 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

Happy Saturday – woot woot! Today marked my longest run postpartum – 8 miles at an easy pace – averaging 7:52/min. My lungs and legs felt fresh. Granted, I could have definitely welcomed speed, but for first time ever, I’m following a marathon training schedule and it told me to go easy. Yup! This mama is ready to BQ!!! And with training I hope to shed the baby weight too. ..

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The hardest part of marathon training post baby so far has been to be patient with miles and time because let’s face it, during pregnancy we’re told not to: run for too long, not to elevate our heart rate, not to exert too much energy etc…Therefore, running for long periods of time is new again – my mental training to tackle distance is lacking. The second challenge is running in between feeding sessions – I’m always racing against my milk coming in 😂. .

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Anyway, I really wanted to go faster and/or longer today but I took a step back and told myself that I am committed to embracing the marathon program that promises speed. If I could run a Mary before (or 3), then I can definitely run one again 🙌🏼!!! I mean shoot, I only missed Boston by 4 minutes before while having bronchitis – perhaps I’m closer after baby? Either way I’m loving the journey! First week of 12 ✔️ done and done! .

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Hello, #Boston! I’m coming for you!!! 💙💛 #bq

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Thanks for stopping by! XO.

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Valgal 


The Pitch – My Relentless Pursuit to Run 13.1 Miles for Two

30 Mar

Hello lovelies!!!

 

Happy Badabump [insert Hump if you’re not lucky enough to endure unprecedented weight gain despite workout efforts, heartburn (from water), hunger pangs at 5a that are only satisfied with a slice of toast with a light spread of natural peanut butter and drizzle of honey, kicks and jabs from within that wake you up but melt your heart, the insatiable appetite for an entire bottle of wine – Chardonnay, Prosecco, or Malbec – because close to 9 months of sobriety is a bitch and I’m jonesing for a buzz, oh yeah, and upper/lower back pain] Day to you all!!!

 

Anyway… Let’s get to the content.

 

Well holy guacamole runner friends – this mama-to-be ran a half-marathon pregnant! Yes. Pregnant. All of 31 weeks of me and my little macaroon hit the pavement running. If you’re reading this and you follow me on IG and/or Facebook I’m certain you saw my photo spam that documented this incredible journey. Anyway, I’m here to give you a little glimpse into how I convinced my man to let me run 13.1 miles for two to mark the most epic and total experience ever.

 

A little disclaimer: The Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series is significant to me. I ran the Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series in March 2014 and it marked my first ever participation in the full 26.2-mile trek to the finish line. I trained for months on the unforgiving apparatus – the treadmill – during my first winter in the District classified as “snowmageden.” Despite running on the treadmill with an even incline, I finished the race and with far too much energy left in the tank – after the hills and all. The energy stores left in the reserve triggered my affair to find perfection. I would go on to run more marathons as the ultimate test of my running ability. Fast forward to the Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series in March 2015 – this would be the third marathon I would complete. Having just come off the residual high of missing a BQ by 4 minutes (I ran the Marine Corps Marathon October 2014 with bronchitis and stopped several times to hack a lung or two) I was more than ready to race and secure my spot on the Boston Marathon starting line. I was certain I’d qualify and at the very same race only one-year prior that ignited this passion. My legs were light. My body told me I found the balance between training and rest days. I was at my perfect race weight. I was alert. I had no fear that I wouldn’t give 100%. I hadn’t exhausted my limits. I would BQ. I was flying. “Light. Easy. Fly.” was written on my hand for support during the moments when the fun of running manifests itself into drudgery. But BQ I didn’t. The significance of this race was the mounting wave of pain that overtook my right hip . After a failed BQ attempt, an arthrogram (painful) and x-rays I was told surgery would be the placeholder for a BQ (at least for a while) to repair the FAI and large labral tear. I didn’t know what was worse. The constant state of excruciating pain felt on my right hip or the fact that I’d be forced to be immobile for 6-9 months post-surgery. That reality led me down a rabbit hole of emotions and what-ifs. Thoughts of losing all athletic ability, losing muscle and form, endurance capabilities, maximal aerobic capacity/peak VO2, etc. I was devastated. Ugh!!! I was told by the doctors that surgery would help me – it’s the setback for the ultimate comeback. But I didn’t care. I wouldn’t be running. And life without running is not life – at least not for me.  Then through Immaculate Conception (wink wink) my body decided to carry a life – and voila – I found myself 31 weeks pregnant and flirting with my third Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series  – but this time I’d only tackle the half-marathon – that is, if everyone cleared me to run because of baby girl and my hip. Talk about the significance of this particular race. Each one marked a pivotal moment for me in my exploration of mind, body, spirit and ability.

 Note: I’ve been running with FAI and a labral tear since diagnosis. The pain is not terribly significant since distance has been minimized. It’s there. But tolerable.

But let’s talk about this third Rock n’ Roll DC race, my being in the third trimester and the arduous pitching I had to conduct to make the sale. Because I was a runner before being pregnant and maintained my activity during pregnancy I was cleared outright by my doctors to participate in the half-marathon. The only convincing, pleading, marketing, selling, and solicitation I had to do was with Andy – the father of our unborn child. His concerns were that of my health (especially my hip) and baby girl. Granted he knows I would never jeopardize the health of our baby he had his worries, despite what the doctors said. Naturally, I petitioned him. Every. Single. Day. 

 

Because his obstinate stance opposing my participation running a half-marathon was met with my obstinate stance for participating, we missed each coupon code and price reduction incentivizing runners to join.

 

Then shit got real. 

 

The last-call for registration was during the Health Expo for package pickup. Hello, this was two days prior to the race. My sales pitch obviously lacking. Andy wasn’t budging. Couple my plea to run with a higher cost to race – I didn’t see a favorable outcome. This wouldn’t be an entry fee paid for in the race with my unrestrained willingness to push myself to collapse and PR. No. This is an entry fee I want to pay so that I could run effortlessly with a moderate heart rate to feed ego and pride – to say I did it. To say I ran for two. (But don’t I most days of the week on the treadmill for $29.99/month?)

 

I channeled my inner teenager. I flooded him with texts. Message after message pinged his phone as if we time traveled back to when we were teenagers and he pulled some dumb shit (okay, me too) and I was appealing his requests.

 

I explained why I had to run. And I am sharing my mini dissertation with you so you can get a glimpse of my conjunction of life and running.

 

“…my being pregnant is really a marvel to me. I haven’t lost the lust to run and it is who I am. I don’t want to be like the norm because of the lack of perfection (my being pregnant, not a race weight, etc.) as a reason not to participate. I have the intuitive and instinctive nature to care for my daughter – unborn or not – and me. If I need to walk I walk. It’s not about racing. It’s about being a part of a community and a tribe that is unlike anything else. It’s about me being out there – moving – slowly – and with the grace of God and my will behind me. It’s about showcasing that you can be fit and active and pregnant at any size and at any stage. It’s my play time. Where I can be interacting freely in an environment that I love – and outside with nature – in my element. It’s liberating. It’s euphoric. And I miss it terribly. It’s so much more than running. It’s my lifestyle. And I know you came back in my world when I was prepping for a surgery – but you don’t know who I am and how liberating and free it makes me. I found myself through running and it’s because of running I’ve found confidence and self-acceptance. It’s gives me so much joy. It fulfills me.”

 

And there you have it. Like an overdramatic 16-year old girl I was committed to convincing the man I love to accept me.

 

So what did he do? He went ghost on me. The sound of silence was loud. Unbearable.  Each passing 45 minutes I glanced at my phone. Nothing. Not even the little dots to indicate he was typing. I was convinced I wouldn’t be running. He won. My determination to run was no match to his contrarious petition.

 

Then I got the call.

 

The call of calls. My florid of texts worked. He granted my request!

 

I was in shock. Giddy. Childlike enthusiasm came over me. You couldn’t wipe the grin from off my face. I was smiling ear to ear. Big. Wide. Showing all my teeth! I giggled. I shrieked. I jumped up and down. No kidding. I was time warped  back to being 16 when he asked me to prom – I couldn’t wait to announce the news but more importantly, dress for the occasion! Except this time I wouldn’t need long preparation, a fancy dress, my hair all done up, or makeup – only the essentials – colorful compression socks, a matching headband, sunglasses, my Garmin (I’m eyeballing the new Garmin Fenix Sapphire 3  but it’s totally unnecessary as I’m 8 1/2 months pregnant), iPod, a hair tie and my Newtons.

Fenix Sapphire 3

 

So there you have it. I signed up…

 

Not to race. Not to smash a PR. But to simply run.

 

And run I did.

Thanks for stopping by!!!

 

XO

 

Valgal

 

PS – My experience running for two covering the distance of a half marathon at 31 weeks pregnant will be posted shortly. I’ve had the case of pregnant brain and speaking let alone writing complete sentences has presented me with a great challenge – that and maintaining a focus without being distracted “Squirrel!” Ha.

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 

 

 

Get A Hobby

16 Jan

Hello friends,

I was always inspired to do great things.

Great things for others.

I was on a journey to make everyone happy. I thought that would make me happy.

I adapted to each situation to fit the mold.

I exchanged pleasantries and laughed when cued to. I remember smiling while I clutched the arms of whomever and silently watched their insipid display believed to be a battle of wits with another show-off.

I was so focused on being pleasant I lost my voice. I became the dull one.

I didn’t like it. I wasn’t being true to myself and it created a fundamental clash against none other… Me.

I was always uncomfortable in my own skin because I didn’t know how to live in it.

I looked for people to energize me even if they were boring. I was looking for someone or something in everyone.

I had to have constant company. I believed it would settle me.

I was that girlfriend who called umpteen times a day because you didn’t answer.

I called you to say “hi.”

I called to say “I just tripped on nothing!”

I called.

I called for no reason.

I was that needy girl.

I thought I needed to be energized by people and crowds. I was always calling someone.

Then one day I called one too many times and broke someone’s patience.

The other voice spoke in a distracted, annoyed, and firm tone, “You need to get a hobby.”

I was silent. Dead silent. What a blow to my ego.

Humiliation.

Total humiliation.

I hung up probably without saying a word. I engaged the, I will show you-attitude, and propelled that sucker full speed ahead.

“Get a hobby!”

Years later I realize that was a pivotal moment in my relationship with myself.

I am thankful for the candor.

I felt incredibly alone for a while why I tried to lessen my need for people. I explored nature. Took up hiking, recreational tennis, jogging-only jogging. I started to write more. I wrote a lot. I would crumble the paper and toss it when I was done. Never reading it again. [hmmm, now I post to the Internet. Shit! It’s around forever!]

I learned to like my own company.

Jogging miraculously turned into running.

Running turned into MY HOBBY.

I am reminded every single day to “Get a hobby.” I chuckle because who knew the hobby would be how I discovered and continue to discover myself.

Running gives me focus. It forces me to let the chaos of external elements remain external.

You can’t cherry pick happiness. I used to try. I was always reaching to please others. I now know that you should never allow your happiness for someone else overshadow your own for yourself. (-M.B)

Running has taught me to never let fear decide your future! Struggle doesn’t come to stay, it comes to pass! (-M.B. Thank you!)

Running helps me be comfortable in my own skin. Major win!

I internalize more now than ever before. I will still smile while I clutch someone’s arm, but I am happy because I am not reasoned to be a wallflower and I also don’t feel the need to speak.

I find solace in being silent. (Or humor)

If someone wants to peacock in an attempt to impress me by featuring their quick-wits, I observe and silently crack jokes at their expense. You know, a man trying to impress you with his verbal snobbery and prowess, dressed to the nines with casual wingtip shoes, and not one hair out of place, without a woman on his side because every woman knows better than to be with a self-righteous, I take longer than you to get ready kind of man… Yes, this guy. I enjoy him for entertainment value only but I am not impressed.

What impresses me is if you have blisters on your feet from pounding 15 miles of pavement in the dead of summer. If you’re training for an Ironman. If you’re building up to race a century ride! What impresses me is your ability to articulate yourself in a manner that isn’t so assuming on or off the track. What impresses me is your ability to sweat and join me in knocking a few back.

Sure I love and I am impressed with a challenging and intellectual conversation, but I also revel in dirty humor and last nights South Park episode (if I didn’t fall asleep). I’m learning, through my hobby, you can have both in life – like a run, it can be challenging or humorous.

My hobby taught me to let go of what I can’t control. It has taught me that there is a time and a place to enjoy the company of others and when not to. I love the when not to because I love my hobby – it allows me to restore myself while being alone. I’m unapologetic for it.

Most mistake me for an extrovert but I flirt more with being an introvert. I am energized by being alone. Alone on the trails or with my nose in a book.

In a way, those words, “Get a hobby”, resonated in my soul. It’s been the best gift. Three little words wrapped into one idea – a tantalizing and inspiring source that acts like a muse through my colorful journey of running and my life between the miles.

So friends, get a hobby! -best advice ever!

Thanks for stopping by and happy running!

XO

Valgal

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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My Army Ten Miler Quick Recap

15 Oct

My recent Army Ten Miler Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 10 mile 1:12:09 isn’t too shabby!

What are your goals? What are your mantras?

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy running!

XO

Valgal

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