Tag Archives: in it for the long run

Happiness & Pain

9 May

Hello lovelies and goooooood morning!!!

I continue to go against the doctors orders and I’ve been running.

I put in a good 20 minutes on the elliptical but found myself bored with little perspiration. The music blasting through my earbuds was reminiscent of my marathon training tempo and with one glance at the treadmill I was lured. 

No words and no pleasantries were exchanged. It was a mutual understanding that the intimacy was back on.

With one stride on the moving belt I was swooned. I was right back to where I was.

The hour was late and I still had my master’s homework to tend to as well as pack. I was limited and rushed with time. My legs were fresh and I was hurried! I began at a pace I tend to flirt with outside but tend to fall back to a 7:10-8:00 considering the long-term goal. But I had no restraint. I was clocking 6:40s and 4:30 400 repeats. 

Holy hot diggity are you kidding me?

How could so much time off allow for me to have this much speed?

After 3 miles of a 6:40 pace and 4 x 400 repeats I called it a night. I was covered in sweat. My lungs were burning. My core felt engaged and tight. My legs felt fresh. My hip only stung slightly. I never felt better.

The affair was back on. 

Like so many things in my life I find it easy to fall back to the things that I inherently love. Running is one of them.

But I question at times, am I addicted to the things that aren’t good for me? Will I always have pangs of sharp pain when we part? Is this affair going to steamroll me with its past entries while tempting me with promises of what I pray is not fleeting happiness disguised as speed and flowery lyrics from my earbuds? 

Is this a surreptitious romance? Will it always be so I can’t get knocked down by the criticism of others? Is the proverbial treadmill both my addiction for happiness and pain?

And therein is lies the question-can something you have wanted so bad be the cause of both your happiness and your pain? Can happiness with my relationship exist without the pain from its very past? How do I learn to trust its patient and equally intolerable history when promiscuity runs rampant? I don’t have to see other runners pounding away on the very equipment that shapes my training and commitment to BQ, but the mere fact that I know of them because of the trails they leave behind crush me. Why is it that it must be so reticent and omit that I am not the only one?

In fairness relationships are hard. But all this time I thought there was a commitment. A mutual understanding that if you do right to me I’ll do right to you. Absorb my mid-foot strike and allow for me to have my wings out and heads up-let me fly gliding on your belt and help me focus on my form to keep it looking effortless.

It looks effortless but my training and the rekindling of this flame is peppered with anxiety. 

And there you have it…In one run and in one moment I learned the reality of this relationship-while it makes me incredibly happy it has the capacity to destroy me and all my dreams for plans. 

Happiness and pain…in my affair with running I recognize it is also symbolic of life-the inexplicable connectedness of the two…

I don’t know what to do. But I’ll be here until I run…(hopefully without pain)

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Now go enjoy your weekend! What does your training plan look like? Any long runs planned for this weekend?

XO

Valgal  

    

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The Pressure

8 Apr

Hello friends!!!

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

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

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

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

I was frozen in pain overthinking all my realities. 

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

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

 

Particularly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so grateful for you! 

How do you handle pressure?

XO

Valgal 

 

 

Silence is a Gift

8 Feb

Hello friends,

It’s February! I’m one for stating the obvious…

So what…it’s February you must be thinking…Well it means I’m one month away from new digs and one month away from my third marathon. I’m one month away from a lot of other details in my life that are bittersweet. March 6th is going to greet me with a warm welcome and tell me that I gained entry into the NYC Marathon (I’m hopeful) hosted in the cold month of November! The date will also register imminent details that I will protect with silence.

Silence is a good thing. I’ve said this a time or two but I prefer silence over noise. I’m very connected with being me and enjoy my company. I have a healthy relationship with a treadmill. He accepts my silence while I run all over him. I don’t get barraged with questions to explain my state of few words. He gets me.

I’m amazed to discover that some people don’t get me. I’m not complicated. I’m quite the contrary. I am very easy-going if you took a minute to stop judging.

Some assume l’m high-maintenance because I look “high-maintenance.” Oh boy! I’ve got them fooled! My stilettos and attire are like veneers—they enhance how I feel about myself! I feel good more often than not and I want to exude that via my veneers! That is NOT high-maintenance. It just means that I always want to be on! But being on doesn’t mean I need a face full of makeup while I sashay the streets or my small city apartment in stilettos. Being on is a state of confidence. I get my confidence from sweating, running, reading, learning, mascara, red lips, dresses, athletic attire, and stilettos to name a few.

People see my “veneers” and tell me it makes me unapproachable…unapproachable!? REALLY? Why? Even when I’m a sweaty monster with my checks (not my ass) bouncing around? Yeah, okay. Lay off that crack-pipe, will you? I suppose it’s a compliment but not really. I’m unapproachable because I like to be on? Is being on having a coordinated outfit on while I sweat? Oh gee! We have different perspectives! I suppose your opinion of me is okay…especially if it means I don’t have to converse with you and listen to your first-world problems. It means more time for me…more silence! More time for me to be on.

I’m type-A? Yeah, you got that right! Can’t dispute this one. People know this right off the shoot. Judge all you want baby!!!

Other than being labeled type-A, I’m tired of being labeled and generalized. I am not complicated. If you think of me as complicated it is because you chose not to understand me. You try, maybe, but can’t quite put me in a box and wrap a ribbon around it.

I’m not focused on understanding others. I accept people for who they are, adoring and loving them for being real and honest. So why do others try to figure me out? There’s nothing to figure!

I’m living my life. I have some wounds but I wear them proudly! My name is Valerie. Valgal. Valarina. Valeria. Val. V. Shortay. JD. HB. Whiz Bang. Junior Mouth. The list goes on. (If you happen to be super close with me or you’re my family you know what each name means *winkwink*) I have big hands for my short stature but an even bigger heart. I feel the weight of the world. A commercial could put me in tears. I want: to go to Rwanda and nurture kiddos, take time and volunteer more like I used to, work hard, be well-respected for my ambitions and talents, seek not to be well-known but worth knowing, breathe in life-mistakes and all, exhale love, have inconvenient and all-consuming love, butterflies, and passion for life. I will challenge the status quo every chance I can. I do not want to be limited by the judgements of others or believe in the lie of limitation. I will exercise silence when you need me to listen and will not judge.

God has given me divine beauty. He chose me and created me in His likeness and image.

And it is that very fact that helps me hold my head high and beg of you to stop judging. Stop judging me. Stop judging others. Allow for people that are different from you to teach you from their life lessons.

In a world so big, as sacred as silence is, listening without an air of criticism is uncommon. Sometimes silence from your own voice is all we ALL need.

I’m fascinated by other people and chose not to categorize and stereotype them.

We are all made up of experiences and quirks. That is what makes us uniquely unique.

Shouldn’t we love each other and accept each other for our individuality? YES!

Who we are is based on our life experiences. Experience is a stamp of authenticity. It gives substance to our spirit! There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love or judge if you could read their story.

I have a story! But my story is mine. Some chapters are public while others are private. Who gives you permission to judge?

There’s nothing wrong with me other than wanting more from myself. So I ask you politely, stop judging and accept! Accept that I am not a fan of gambling but recognize that I will always bet on myself, especially this year. I will Boston Qualify. I will laugh. I will travel. I will cry. I will sashay in my stilettos across some fancy resort while its view eludes that the sky kisses the salty elixir of the water. I will have two or more new stamps in my passport. I will race on different continents! The countdown is on. Therefore, 2015 promises to be lucrative!!! Emotional but lucrative. I am so on!!!

It’s February. I have ten months to make sure 2015 is a dream. Ten months to get them stamps in my passport!!! I want to succeed with my goals as a bad as I want to breathe. I have confidence! I WILL be successful (with setbacks, heartache, and all). Running gave me the grit to press on through the pain, and baby, I’m on!!! I might not talk about my struggles but silence is a gift (that sometimes surprises you with stilettos and Newtons). Don’t cast judgement because you are committed to misunderstanding me. Just accept me.

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Be Present

22 Jan

Hi friends!!!

I hope you’re having a wonderful Thursday!

I’ve been running a lot lately preparing for my third marathon. There’s a lot of me time going on which means there’s a lot of thinking.

I don’t need to think.

I overthink. I always overthink which leads me to over analyze every single detail in my life.

How do I just run without thinking?

How do you run without thinking?

I stumbled upon an incredible article thanks to a good friend that is helping me to Be Present, titled, 38 Lessons I’ve Learned in My 38 Years. http://zenhabits.net/38

Number 5 speaks to me.

“The moment is all there is. All our worries and plans about the future, all our replaying of things that happened in the past – it’s all in our heads, and it just distracts us from fully living right now. Let go of all that, and just focus on what you’re doing, right at this moment. In this way, any activity can be meditation.”

I need to practice this. I’m going to practice this today onward – on or off the course.

I recognize that I often times feel things too deeply because I set unrealistic expectations of myself and others.

For those who I drive crazy because I am always trying to coordinate and plan your/our next move, I am so sorry.

Hamlet said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Therefore, I have decided to form a resolution that doubles as my runalution. I may be late to the game but this is too important to me to not commit to.

I am going to eliminate expectations. I’m going to Be Present. I read another article that struck me. I read it ten times over I swear. It explains my heavy heart at times. It reads, “When people disappoint you, it’s not their fault. They’re just being who they are. Your expectations are at fault.”

Right there says it all. My expectations have been at fault.

I have expected people to: set expectations; set boundaries; call me when they think I want them to (what a flawed method) rather when they want to; speak intelligently; speak with love; speak with honesty; be passionate; love their job; defy mediocracy (because status quo is boring – ah ha moment – to me); be optimistic; accept my flaws; accept that I run; put me first; be selfless; be motivated; have a hobby; be kind; be generous; multitask; be authentic; and so much more. How selfish is that?

I realize today that that’s not fair. I can try to be all those things but I shouldn’t dare project my expectations on you.

I’m here to tell you friend, that I am sorry.

I am sorry I have wedged a space between what we already experience with distance.

Today, while I run, I’ll focus on my breathing. I’ll focus on my stride. I’ll focus on my cadence. I will stop trying to relive and over analyze my past for details I missed. I will Be Present.

Please take this friend as my apology and greet me with your forgiveness.

Happy running friends.

Happy anything!

All my love and gratitude.

Here’s to being present!

How do you Be Present?

What do you think about when you run?

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

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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Dang You Easter Bunny!

5 May

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Hello friends!

Happy Sunday! As luck would have it, I was able to wear my contacts today without experiencing excruciating pain. Naturally, this meant that I would have a full schedule of outdoor activities. The agenda: a long run, a long bike ride, maybe a stroll through Eastern Market, and then some random explorations – and not in any particular order.

The morning started off and I advised the husband that if he would rather ride in the a.m. instead of the afternoon I was down. I prefaced the morning like this because I knew if I ventured off for a run I might be gone for an hour or two and I didn’t want to take up his valuable time by him waiting for my return. Sometimes I can get lost in my run and what might feel like an hour in reality might be two or two and a half hours. I’m not counting –seriously.  I am doing my best trying to be cognizant of my time (which is hard when I’m engaged in the things I enjoy) and his.  The husband recognized my efforts to put his interests before mine. Granted I like riding, but my first love is running.

The morning begins. I make the Mr. a great breakfast. Think egg McMuffin but better! Three fluffy eggs on a toasted English muffin smeared with baby Swiss cheese, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, with turkey bacon, and a healthy serving of sliced avocado. That paired with coffee with a little something, something, Emmets Irish Cream (it’s Sunday!) and who could complain? We throw our gear on, pump up our bikes and try to head out the door.

DETOUR!!!

My rear tire is flat. We just pumped air in it to 115 psi and it went down to 40 psi. It should be between 100 and 120, not 40. Come on! We do it again. Seconds later it is flat. Okay, so we drive to our local bike shop (we should be riding at this time) and arrive to fix the flat. This is supposed to be a quick stop. An hour later we leave with a new tube, a couple of gadgets, and a CycleOps Fluid 2 Bike Trainer. Really? We were there to fix a $6 part and we left close to $400 poorer. Ugh! Why does my/our athleticism rob me of our cash? At the end of the day, take a look at all the running gadgets (#Garmin) and the running shoes (#Newton, #Hellobetter, #newtonrunning), the road bikes, the cycling attire (Pearl Izumi), the list goes on that I/we own. Add it all up. Please. Add it all up!!! I could easily own several Michael Kors purses as well as Jimmy Choo shoes and Christian Louboutins. What I’m telling you is I’ve got great taste but something is happening to me. Rather than dropping the dough to adorn me in the dress code for the Scottsdale club scene, yes that is/was a version of me, I’d rather drop the money on all things that make me sweat off the dance floor. I’m transforming into an athletic stylista fashionista who would rather frolic around in colorful Newton running shoes, a neon bright Lululemon Tata Tata Tamer sports bra, Lululemon Speed Shorts that match my bra, and the matching headband. What’s funny is you’ll see me wearing less running than at the club. Because the running paths have no rules about taking your shirt off. What, I’m hot! My humps are still covered.

Anyways, back to today. We dropped some mullah. I had a mini-heart attack because I can’t flash what we bought around my shoulder…Just kidding. I just had a mini-heart attack because believe it or not, I’m conservative with cash and hate spending money. However, I must brag that we bought the trainer because it was on sale and it was a hell of a deal.

Back to today. We came back from the bike shop with a tire full of air. Put that sucker on my bike and headed out. We ventured to a store first a few miles away to buy gear we need for our upcoming Ragnar Relay Race in Cape Cod. Approximately a 5 mile trek toward Clarendon and there we were. We bought a headlight and some reflective gear. On our way back home to drop the stuff off to finally head out for a long ride, winds picked up 25+ miles per hour. Getting home was torturous: the wind; the traffic; the hills; and the downhills. Holy crap I HATE riding downhill. The speed freaks me out. It’s unlike snowboarding because when you pick up speed snowboarding you can fall on snow which causes little pain and the likeliness of skid marks…well, it’s unlikely. Going down Walter Reed road had my stomach in knots. Halfway down and I hopped off my bike and walked down. Yup! I’m a pansy. Paul just cruised on down picking up pace every second. Me, I was a chicken shit and met him at the bottom of the hill a few minutes later.

When we arrived back to our place our intent was to drop off the goodies we bought for Ragnar. But with the wind being intolerable we opted to save our long ride for another day. There you have it, there was NO long ride. There was no long ride, no run, and no random adventures. I could not tolerate this. I was totally bummed out. Sunday was supposed to be our day full of activity!

There we were in our apartment with only 10 miles worth of a bike ride. I asked if Paul was interested in a shot of tequila with me to lessen the sting of not putting in 20+ miles but he wasn’t.  So I grabbed a beer and sipped on it while I grazed on a few pretzels dipped in hummus (if you know me, this is quintessential of me). Then, well then I had hunger pangs for chocolate. Ugh!  Thank you Easter Bunny for leaving me with several REESE’S Fast Breaks. That’s right, I devoured the REESE’S peanut butter and soft nougat covered in deliciously rich milk chocolate candy bar. The 260 calories of goodness left me feeling  guilty that my bike ride wasn’t longer and that I hadn’t run yet. Oh wait, 260 calories of chocolatey goodness and half a beer – shoot, I just consumed close to 400 calories of yummy goodness that I didn’t deserve.

Thank you, Easter Bunny. Because of the Easter Bunny, I stuck to my Sunday agenda. Although the bike ride was cut short due to the flat and the wind, the chocolate and beer mandated that I lace up. And lace up I did.

I put my Newton’s on, gave the Mr. a kiss, gave the puppies a little squishy squishy, and I headed out the door. I walked outside and let the satellites sync with my Garmin. I hit the button “Run” and run I did. I intended to go out for a slow run; a slow 8:30-9:00 minute pace per mile. Instead, every time I glanced down at my Garmin it read 7:15, or 7:45. From time to time it flashed 8:13, or 8:45 on hill. I didn’t care. I was just out there to burn off that damn candy bar (thanks, Easter bunny), and to prep for my Ragnar Relay Race in Cape Cod. As I was running, I stayed focused on my form and my cadence. I bent my knees, I kicked up, I drove forward,  and I breathed through my stomach.

 I couldn’t help but to think, and think a lot. I always think when I run. I think of my past, my present, and my future. I work out all my problems and find solutions. I couldn’t believe just how much I was thinking about during this run in particular. You ask, what was I thinking about?  I was thinking about love; life; where I am at personally and professionally; what will come of my decision to change my Master’s (if I go through with it); will I qualify for Boston; can I qualify for Boston racing a half marathon; I need to run a flat and fast marathon for Boston;  I can totally do Boston – I got this, I just need to struggle a bit more; oh geez, family – the grandparents moved this weekend into their new place, I wonder how they like it; I miss my grandparents; I miss their pasta and desserts; damn those desserts; damn you REESE’S;  I miss Phoenix/Scottsdale;  dang it’s kind of hot right now;  I think I’m actually getting burnt;  ooooow, he’s got his shirt off – hello Spring, hello summer;  Paul would like that girl’s ass, look at it, it’s so round;  maybe I should start doing more squats; I have no ass;  Paul’s a trooper man – he’s going to run Ragnar; how much longer until I’m done; geez –beer me already…etc. The list continues.

And then I stopped. I stopped 10 miles later and I can’t really tell you the answers to my problems but I assure you I came across them and attacked them during my 7:30 pace! Yup, that’s right, 10 miles with an average pace of 7:30/mile. I managed to work through my problems/concerns with no room for difficulty.  I managed to let them all roll off my shoulder. I also managed to burn off the REESES’s candy bar, the half beer, and fall more in love with the new city that I’m in. Even though I cursed the Easter bunny earlier for leaving chocolate candy at my disposal and me not having the willpower not to eat it, I’m blessed at the least that the Easter bunny dropped by a few weeks back and in an indirect way, motivated me today to get out and sweat while I explored the city.

So yes, because I was able to wear my contacts today without experiencing excruciating pain, I was able to fulfill most of the obligations on my schedule today. Maybe not all of them, but most, and it was glorious!!!

Thanks for reading!!!  

Happy Sunday!  

 

XO

 

Valgal

 

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Today’s lesson: Marathon training = Patience. A lot of it.

10 Feb

I had the courage to sign up for a marathon, but do I have the courage to finish one?

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Training for a marathon requires dedication, commitment and time. Some days I want to curl up in my bed and throw the covers over my head and just sleep. I want to ignore the training schedule and nutrition plan. I want to sleep for hours, wake up and eat butter latent sugar cookies until my heart’s content. But no, I can’t. I have to get up off my rear and run. Some days running is effortless. Other days running pains me. Literally, it pains me. What was an easy 6 or 10 miler the day before could leave me exhausted and lifeless.

Fortunately, I don’t have too much trouble finding the time to train for a marathon. The trouble lately is practicing the patience to train. What I mean is, the distance I could accomplish in 1 hour is not the distance I’m told to cover in 1 hour. I’m being told to add an extra 15 minutes to hit my 8 mile mark. An extra 15 minutes!!! That extra 15 minutes could equate to an 2 extra miles in my “world” but NO, NO, I’m being prescribed to slow down. Slow down!  Really?! I’m not used to running in the 9 minute pace per mile realm, but here I am, running in it and I feel odd. My legs want to move faster.  The mental anguish! When the 60 minute mark goes by and I’ve only ran 6.6 miles I can’t help but to quibble because I know I could have had 8 miles under my belt had I just ran “my way”. But can I withstand “my way” for 26.2 miles? Probably not.

That’s why I abstain from doing things my way. It was hard to relinquish control. After all, to complete a marathon is big feat and I should accept the advice from those that have crossed that finish line. The advice being, SLOW DOWN.  Ugggghhhh!

Marathon training is forcing me to lessen my obstinacy towards what I know works for me. Marathon training has taught me to put faith in the experts and to allow them to weigh in with their advice in the “considerable” chance they can make me better.  

I know I can finish a marathon but can I finish with the time I have in mind? I wish I could be so lucky and qualify for Boston my first time like so many of my running peers. But it’s just a dream. Literally, just a dream. Actually, a nightmare.  I have been dreaming of running my marathon and missing the qualifying time for Boston by 2 minutes! 2 minutes! In my dream I cross the finish line in a euphoric state because I was faster than I imagined. Then when I become aware of my actual time I become overwhelmed with despair and shame for missing the mark for Boston. Yes, this is definitely a nightmare not a dream.

Boston’s Qualifying time for women in my age group 18-34, is 3 hours and 35 minutes, which equates to an 8 minute 12 second pace. I’m definitely not there, yet. Emphasis on yet. Maybe when I fall in the 35-39 age bracket I might stand a chance. The qualifying time in that age bracket is 3 hours and 40 minutes (so long as they don’t change the times!)

 http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/qualifying/qualifying-standards.aspx

I remind myself that finishing a marathon is a triumph of itself.  I know that. A girl can dream can’t she? (oh, Boston, how I lust for thee) I recognize that I have too many parameters to measure success associated with the completion of my first marathon and that I need to ease up on myself a little. But it’s hard. It’s hard for me to ease up because I’m a highly competitive individual who doesn’t like failure. I recognize failure makes us human but I can control “failure” in my running repertoire. Therefore, failing would be ridiculously reprehensible for me. I feel as if I’ve become a very natural and efficient runner and I want to showcase that on March 15, 2014. But with 9 minute “easy” runs, I don’t feel like I’m getting the aerobic challenge I need to prove myself successful.  I am, however, getting the leg training so that’s a plus. There’s the silver lining! 

Today I ran 15.55 miles in 2 hours and 21 minutes which is equivalent to a 9:05 pace. My only complaint about this is the pace because I am faster than this. I’ve covered this territory already, I’m sorry, I’m still getting accustomed to this reality. I have to learn how to slow down and enjoy the distance. These long runs are supposed to be completed at an easy pace. But guess what, these “easy” runs tend to hurt me more. Not in the lungs but in the legs, the feet and oh my gosh, my butt! Talk about a pain in the ass.  

I realized today that after completing 15.55 miles at an “easy” pace, I could happily and comfortably conquer a marathon sustaining that pace (or so I hope!). Sidenote *** Dear adrenanline, please kick in and help me crush my goal on March 15, 2014!

The task of running 26.2 suddenly feels really daunting right now. I don’t know what seems more daunting, the effort of running 26.2 miles or the time that I would have to spend to complete it.

Today’s lesson: Marathon training = Patience. A lot of it. 

Here’s to hoping that I can do it! 34 days until my marathon debut! 

Thanks for reading!

Happy Running!

XO

Valgal

 

 

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