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The Pot Finally Boiled Over

28 Mar

Hello friends,

I went ghost on you for a myriad of reasons. But I’m baaaaaack!

I’m back but I’m not quite back.

Running and my life between the miles have both put me on a journey I wasn’t expecting.

March 14, 2015 was the day I greeted my third marathon. I put the training miles and sweat in but I knew I wasn’t likely to BQ. I had several distractions that I had to tend to. Although I have always made time to train, with the events I was juggling there was no reason to put my body or mind through any other strain. Had I trained as I have in the past it would have been permissible to put the stamp that reads SELFISH on my forehead. I didn’t want that.

I was already struggling with what selfish meant. I knew what it meant to me but what it means to others takes on a very different meaning. Everyone has their own definition shaped by their experiences, hobbies, interests, or lack of the aforementioned.

Needless to say, I put the miles and sweat in and I was going to run my third mary despite the bull I was facing head on. Or bulls. I wanted to get lost in the peripheral magic of the marathon. I wanted to take in the spectators, the energy, and the music while I organized my thoughts and ran through the pain.

March 14th was a gloomy, wet, and cold day. I didn’t care. I showed up with alacrity to run all 26.2 miles in the rain because I wanted that stamp of authenticity and BADASS RUNNER on my forehead-anything to dimmer the flashing selfish reminder…

The rain fell. The Newton Women’s Ironman Elite racer shoes weighing all of 6.2 ounces were heavy as I ran, or really footslogged through the course. They must have been double their weight. (Attention Non-Runners: This is a big deal. Extra weight adds stress and slows your cadence.) Fellow runners were averting puddles and continued to weave in and out of the crowds to avoid them. I didn’t understand. How does one avoid puddles when it’s raining? I ran straight through them with childlike enthusiasm. I was already wet. Running through each puddle made me feel badass but also like a kid. I giggled. I wore a grin because I was taken aback to a simpler time. A time when mom would come pick me up from softball practice or gymnastics. A time when sports, friends, family, and Friday night dates with my grandparents were all I worried about. A time when you could jump in a puddle and relish in the splash for the simple reason that you wanted to!

While thoroughly enjoying the inclement weather, my iPod died five songs in. Water damage.

There I was. Running. Running without tunes. I never run without tunes. I had 24 miles left. I told myself I would let the energy of the race and crowd carry me.

What crowd? There was no crowd. The rain and cold weather had friends and families of loved runners nestled up in their cozy homes drinking coffee or sipping mimosas. They were warm. They were dry. They were the smart ones.

Running. Running. Running. I was running to the songs I was singing in my head. I know about a quarter of each song on my playlist and I put shuffle on. However, the last song I heard before I got to the race was Ella Henderson, Ghost and it was stuck on repeat.

I keep going to the river to pray

‘Cause I need something that can wash all the pain

And at most I’m sleeping all these demons away

But your ghost, the ghost of you

It keeps me awake

When I could finally toggle to the next song, I was singing A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, F*in Problems. I’m sorry. I meant this white girl was whiting up Kendrick Lamar’s rap verse.

Uh, yeah ho, this the finale

My pep talk turn into a pep rally

Say she from the hood but she live inside in the valley now

Vaca’d in Atlanta, then she going back to Cali, mmm

Got your girl on my line, world on my line

The irony, I eff’ em at the same damn time

She eyeing me like a man don’t exist

Girl, I know you want this D…

And I would giggle. I giggled like a child because it was so inappropriate. But I kept singing it. Over and over. Just that last line. Then I thought of its semblance to the movie Wonderlust when Paul Rudd talks to himself in the mirror. Classic. More giggling. My thoughts were all over the place!

I eventually went back to the songs I knew in my head. Ella and Kendrick were always featured but I sprinkled in some Eric freaking Church and other varieties. The variation of songs and genres put me back in the game.

I fared quite well considering. Mile 12 came and I was at a crossroads. It said, LEFT LANE HALF MARATHON/RIGHT LANE FULL MARATHON. I suddenly felt the pang of decision-making. I already made several big-girl decisions over the course of the past few months, I didn’t want to make anymore. I mean, my life between the miles was all about big decisions as of late. Running the actual miles shouldn’t have been. I flirted with going left. I knew I hadn’t trained properly and that would have been the safest choice.

I looked down to my Garmin hoping it would return an answer and tell me what to do. It surprised me as it displayed I was on track for a negative split! My heart, lungs, and legs all felt great other that the discomfort of my right hip. I thought, Oh Snap!!! I may actually BQ! And in this weather! Hello BADASS runner! That stamp was going to be real! I told myself if I go left my half marathon time would be dismal.

I went right.

All was good. Negative splitting, baby!

Then the pot finally boiled over.

Mile 17 met me with devastation. I was paralyzed by pain. I could not put one foot in front of the other. In one stride my right hip screamed game effing over, Val! Game over indeed. I stopped. Panicked. The pain was excruciating. Between the rain and the hurt, I didn’t know if the salt I was tasting was from my sweat or tears. I knew I needed immediate attention and help, STAT!

The pain was sharp. I could not engage my muscles to move my leg forward. I was at a dead stop. No music. No phone. No metro card. Wet. Cold. Freezing.

After being still for a few minutes I tried to hobble my way forward to complete the race. Nope.

I was done.

With no aid station around and minimal spectators I felt alone and worried I couldn’t get to the finish line. I asked a gentleman if I could use his phone for a taxi. He said “Better yet, my wife just ran by and me and my in-laws are headed to the finish line now to watch her cross. Why don’t you join us?”

I gladly accepted. After brief discussion I learned that his wife’s name is also Valerie and she was trying to BQ as well. I learned that he’s a runner and is going to do his first 50-mile race soon. I was in good company! I was actually in the company of 4, his in-laws and I’m guessing his brother-in-law. Where would I sit in the taxi?

The taxi arrived. I’m blessed by their willingness to help me out while I recognized I was equally blessed to be standing 5’2” and 105 pounds soaking wet, literally, because I could make fitting five people in a taxi with a driver work. I sat on the brother-in-law’s lap. I’m pretty sure I made his day. I giggled.

After the taxi ride and slogging through the finisher’s area Scott received a called. The call was from Valerie advising him that she too got injured at mile 22. What’s the irony? Seriously!? Two Valeries and both are injured! I couldn’t wait to meet my twin and caption a picture, “Twinsies!”

The story continues and is peppered with more comedy. However, I’ll wrap it up.

Looking back, there were so many signs that were trying to lead me to what was the right direction-turning left. But I refused. Instead of wearing SELFISH on my forehead I should wear STUBBORN. I took the difficult path. Reflecting on this now, it appears I often take the difficult path with my personal affairs.

The race was one for the books. The pot needed to boil over otherwise I would continue to do more damage to my hip and perhaps never be able to run again.

The race, in all of its glory, through all of the rain and discomfort, baptized me. Cleansed me. Everything unfolded as it should to set me up for new beginnings.

I may have made some wrong choices in my life but they have led me to the company of great people. Those who rescue me at a race or those rays of sunshine I am lucky enough to call my friends, our own quirky tribe of DC Blossoms! I may perplex the shit out of you, but this is my journey. I am in awe of how every little thing when added up has brought me somewhere wonderful. I am grateful and blessed for the things that didn’t work out the way I once wanted them to. I might not have BQ’d March 14, 2015 but I’m on a road to recovery. My setback is a setup for a comeback! As for my other affairs, I trust in the process and I repeat, my setback is a setup for a comeback! 🙂

I am reminded that you have to be brave with your life.

Just like a marathon, any race, or really life, our journey leads us to the same destination; it’s just some paths have more obstacles.

I’m waiting to see what’s next for me. I’m embracing the journey, the unknown, the good, the bad, the fair, the unfair, the highs and the lows, and all the love in between. But this round, I’m going to practice patience and repeat the mantra, over-planning kills the magic. I’ll let life unfold organically. Hopefully I get to wear BQ on my forehead the next round. Until then, I’ll live in the magic of today and just love and make mistakes!

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy running and gee, happy recovery for those of you who are in my current shoes!

Talking about shoes, time to change into some to go out and watch the Wildcats make it to the final four!! #BTFD

XO

Valgal

Be Brave With Your Life

UofA Keep Calm BTFDMarathon

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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

ValgalIMG_6030.JPG

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Blackberry Smoothie Recipe

13 Oct

Hello friends!

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

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

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

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

http://thechiaco.com

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

Blackberry Smoothie Recipe yields 2 Servings

2 cups of Trader Joe’s Green Plant Juice

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

2 cups frozen blackberries

1 chia shot packet by The Chia Co.

Blend it up and enjoy! Nom Nom!!!

Nutrition Facts 1 Serving

284 Calories

2.5 grams of Fat

0 grams of Cholesterol

52.5 grams of Sodium (mg)

600 mg of Potassium

57.1 grams of Carbohydrates

9 grams of Fiber

42 grams of Sugar (all natural)

5 grams of Protein

32.5% Vitamin A

105% Vitamin C

28.4% Calcium

25.5% Iron

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

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

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

Happy running and happy fueling!

XO

Valgal

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No, I’m Not A Vegan & Running Army Ten Miler

13 Oct

Hello friends!!!

And happy Monday!

I’m sitting here at my kitchen table going over the past few weeks in my mind. I’m thinking about quite a bit—relationships, to include family and friends, diet, exercise, lifestyle, and work. The list goes on but I’m not interested in boring you with my trivial quandaries. I’m interested in sharing with you the silly dilemmas that I encounter day-to-day, with my running shoes on or off.

New revelation…no, I’m not a vegan

Here’s my newest revelation. There are far more than one, but let’s keep this short. I recently picked up the running novel, Eat & Run, written by Scott Jurek and wow…I love his writing style. Jurek is a literary genius for both the everyday and serious elite runner. No chapter is exempt from his unconventional and idiosyncratic wit. The book evaluates Jurek’s life by virtue of circumstance and reveals the peculiar way that he fell into running—running and veganism. The book illustrates how both running, oh that’s too illusive…I mean ultramarathoning, while also being a vegan can be coupled together in a tale that is motivating, inspirational, and droll.

And there you have it. My big revelation. No. No, I am not a vegan nor would I ever consider it. I like butter, eggs, and cheese! However, I have always leaned more towards being a pescetarian. I like steak, don’t love it. I like chicken but I’m bored of it. I LOVE prosciutto. But if that’s all I LOVE (when it comes to meat), it’d be easy to give it up. I have always had my qualms with poultry and red meat but enjoyed it nonetheless. Now I’m beginning to understand my objection more clearly. First and foremost, (I’m getting a little honest here) it’s difficult for me to digest. It sits in my stomach like a brick. Talk about discomfort! Secondly, the factory farming and animal cruelty our main entrees are subject to is repulsive. When I look at my plate with the deliberately placed garnish and sauce drizzled over the meat and sides I have conflicting thoughts. First, is that the presentation looks delectable and on-point. Mmm. Mmm. Then my conscious seeps in and I question, is this meat from a factory farm? The factory farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs and always at the animals’ expense. My moral conscious goes into a tailspin.

There you have it. I can’t digest the meat easily and I have a moral conscious. Animals shouldn’t be subject to the most unethical and inhumane of practices to assure that business profits remain high. Another truth that we place profits above doing what is right. Sounds like the insurance business…they provide drugs for treatment but drag their heels in the sand over the notion of investing in finding a cure. Why? Perhaps because they fear their profits would cripple. Seriously? Their motto is profits over life/quality of life..?What’s wrong with the world today? Riches shouldn’t be measured by monetary balances at the cost of health. Cancer is far too prominent these days. So riddle me this, why is there still no cure? F*CK Cancer! Find a cure! Could some of the cancers be linked to meat and dairy products? I won’t even get into the discussion of the injection of growth hormones and steroids into our meat and dairy products and its repercussions on our health…ahhhh shoot, to echo Bill Maher’s antics, I just stumbled upon a new new revelation, I love cheese and cheese is dairy. Dang it! How do I protect myself from said hormones and steroids?

Anywho, back to my original new revelation…I have been steering clear of chicken and I have been feeling a lot better and a lot healthier. I have only eaten red meat maybe twice in the past year therefore I don’t have to make a deliberate effort to avoid it…Any GI troubles I have had have been recently minimized. I am finding that I have always favored eating fruit and vegetables over chicken on any given night. My day-to-day staples are pretzels, oatmeal, Quest bars, vegan protein shakes, hummus, tomatoes, avocados, cheese (fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, ricotta, and Havarti), and salmon, salmon, salmon. I could live off salmon, sushi, and halibut.

How my new lifestyle harmonizes with my running…

I raced in the Army Ten Miler yesterday, October 12, 2014. I did freaking awesome! I credit my speed and endurance to my newly refined lifestyle. I felt like I was flying during my run. I had no brick in my stomach and I was light on my feet, gliding forward.

I got a bit tired at mile 7 but fought through it. I found my mojo, if you will, at mile 8 when I picked up my speed again. I didn’t dig deep enough when I needed to but like I mentioned above, I am happy with my end result! I fell in love with the participants and the energy of the crowd. I found myself running with an infectiously charismatic group of people that pushed me. I was running with several wounded warriors. Some were wearing one prosthetic leg while others were wearing two. It was reminiscent of Nike ads for Oscar Pistorius. But what was radically different to witness was their courage, discipline, and motivation to do hard things after having done hard things—serving to protect and defend our freedom. It was an inspiring site to see and reminded me to run hard and to run for those that can’t. Because of them, I am humbled.

Waves of exhaustion and excitement carried me across the finish line. I was overjoyed to have run with patrons of the service and been given the opportunity to thank them for serving. The Army Ten Miler, #atm2014, awarded its participants a commemorative coin symbolic of the Army Commemorative Coin Program. However, I was awarded so much more than the coin and a PR finish—I was awarded an opportunity to endure the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship between me and running. Let me rephrase, me and running this city. The streets and its affectionate solicitude made me fall more in love with each curve, straight away, incline, rolling hill, participant and spectator. I love the run. Yes. But I’m also addicted to the exquisite pain in my lungs and calves. My new diet/lifestyle helped to alleviate a lot of the pain I believe I would have felt otherwise, especially GI… not to mention, I believe it has also helped with my recovery post-race. (without much effort I ran a solid 7 miles todays without any aches or pains)

Scott Jurek says, pain only hurts. And pain, well pain through a means of running makes me feel alive. Living here also makes me feel alive—proof we can do hard things. I am blessed to call this place home for almost one year now.

Are you a #vegan, #vegetarian, #pescetarian? Do tell! How do you fuel your runs?

Thanks for reading!!!

Happy running!

XO

Valgal

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My Definition of Beauty: Sweat

29 Jun

Hello friends!

Happy Sunday funday! I hope you guys are all doing well!

Today my husband and I went out for a ride. We ended up exploring the trails for a total of 32 miles. It was glorious! The sun was beating on our backs and there was a light breeze. The combination mixed with our sweat helped us keep cool as we raced through the underpasses and the trees.

My husband was always ahead of me. I want him to be ahead of me. I don’t want him to have to wait for me just because I’m slower than him. After all, we set out for a ride with the intention to work out and to get our heart rates up. We wanted to feel the pain in our lungs and the hurt in our legs by pushing our limits. If he stayed at my pace, I’d be robbing him of his “work out.” Fortunately, every 8ish miles I found him waiting for me to make certain I was safe. I thought that was rather cute!

But what I have learned from this bike ride, and what I learn from my solo runs, is that people offer comments when they are not invited. Before I get to the specifics, let me explain a little bit about myself.

My name is Valerie and I have struggled with more things than you know. Those struggles have given me substance, character, and experience. They have helped to define who I am. With my struggles I have seen the darkest of days and the brightest of days. I choose to live in the brightest of every day, every moment I can. I have been near death because of my own addiction to anorexia. One cannot be anorexic—you cannot be an eating disorder! But one can suffer anorexia. And I have suffered with it since I was 13 years old. I’m sharing this because it’s time I get real. It’s a self-inflicted affair between me and myself. My anorexia stemmed from my days as a gymnast, and being a cross-country rat. I was a “heavy-spot” and my coach recommended I drop some weight. Per pound I dropped resulted in me being an easier spot and a faster runner. My mile times kept getting faster and faster. It was easy to correlate being thin to being fast. And so I lost more and more. I was down to eating an apple a day. My food journal was pathetic! My beautiful friends around me were developing curves I would never have because of my anorexia, and as much as I wanted to be like them, and have curves, I couldn’t face food. I starved.

Food was the ultimate enemy. My struggle with anorexia is intimate. I know what it is really all about. I have learned that food was never the issue—it’s an issue of control. Fast forward only a few years after my initial struggle and I found myself in a treatment center. I was 5 foot 2 inches, like I stand today, and 78 pounds soaking wet. I thought I was fat. I was robbed of my chance to compete in gymnastics because I might faint or have a heart attack, same reasons why I wasn’t allowed to run competitively anymore. I wasn’t allowed to do anything I wanted. I wasn’t allowed to do anything but EAT! It was tragic!!!! Anorexics, like most teenagers, just aren’t human! They aren’t in the right mind frame. They’re so narcissistic. I thought that everyone would know if I ate more than an apple because they would see it on my thighs!!!

I’ll spare you all the details of my struggle. But I share with you this, I have struggled. I have talked to God and begged Him to help me. But I was so afraid of His help because I didn’t want to really get better. I only kind of wanted to get better. I didn’t want to gain weight. I didn’t want to look different. I wanted to maintain my frame and eat only when people were watching—because in my mind, that was getting better. I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted to get better to appease my family. I wanted to make them proud. And with each bite, I succeeded. Too bad I couldn’t perfect my already perfect grades to impress them. Instead I was faced with eating every course presented to me on family Sunday gatherings. It was torture for me. The feeling of being full equated to death. I wanted to literally roll over and die because I felt like I could roll over. The feeling of being full, to this day, makes me so uncomfortable I can’t breathe. It’s something I am learning to cope with, but it will never go away.

Let’s fast-forward 15 years to today! Anorexia is still prevalent in my day-to-day routine. For those of you who are my friends, don’t act like you’re not surprised…I control it. What my family and friends fear is that I’m back to competitive running and have a passion for endurance sports. But they need not worry. I’m okay. I just wish I didn’t wait so long to return to the sport.

But let’s talk about something…let’s talk about this idea of beauty. When I was 13 I knew my curvaceous friends were beautiful. I knew I was a beanpole and I knew that being a beanpole was not attractive. But I couldn’t do anything about it. I was under the spell of anorexia. I knew I was different. And I didn’t care. Feeling empty inside from food made me feel beautiful. Today, well today feeling empty inside still makes me feel beautiful, but I only want to feel empty inside after hours of a long workout. I feel beautiful when I have my headband on and my Newton’s on ready to run. I feel beautiful when I have no makeup on and the sweat drips down my face and I taste its salt. I feel beautiful when the sweat from my ponytail drips down my back and onto my calf. I love how my skin glistens after being kissed from the morning or afternoon sun during a run or a bike ride. I feel more beautiful any day of the week when I’m in my athletic gear rather than my casual or professional attire. I mean, I love me my stilettos and pairing them with my newest dress from Ann Taylor, but the promise of sweat and a caloric deficit that my Newton’s offer me makes me much happier. And happiness is a beautiful thing to witness.

But with my happiness comes critics. And this is really what today’s blog is about today. My husband and I rode 32 miles today throughout the District. When I tell you I feel beautiful in my athletic attire, it’s not only because I like how I might look in it, it’s also because I like what it promises me—a work out=sweat. I wear what I wear because it makes me feel strong and pretty. Two words that should bleed together more often!

What I wore today, many girls wear. But today, like other days, I was barked at, catcalled, stared at, and was told “nice rack” one too many times. You might think that’s what I get for getting an augmentation. Ok, I don’t disagree entirely—although I did it for me, not for attention…and I had to do it twice because my first doctor royally messed up. I did it for me because hey, remember when I told you I was anorexic? Couple that with running and I lost all that I was barely given. I’m not shameful when I tell you I got them done. I did it because by being anorexic I deprived my body of what could have been. It was a very difficult decision to make because I didn’t want to come across as if I were narcissistic. Then I was faced with having to do the procedure again because of complications, at which point I wanted them out entirely!!! I hated them. And I hated how I felt about myself because I felt guilty for wanting them, fixing them, and then again for having them.

What I am here to say is, I have breasts. I’m not showcasing them as if I’m on the Las Vegas Strip! I’m not in a padded bra that emphasizes them to be 3x larger in a dress where they are so close to my chin I could eat them for dinner. I’m wearing a freaking sports bra, like every other girl out there, with a tank top. Yes, my athletic clothes might hug my body tightly (like everyone else) and it might make my curves look a little more voluptuous. It’s not intentional and I don’t wear my clothes for unsolicited comments.

My breasts just so happen to be so firmly squished together (so they don’t bounce) giving this illusion of cleavage that apparently makes a gentleman become a complete asshole. I didn’t know seeing cleavage gave men the right to say whatever they want. I am sooooo happy my husband was in front of me when these crude comments were made today.

What troubles me is that there’s this absurd fascination with sex—it’s ridiculous. A beautiful woman walking down the street is subject to insensitive, crude, and demeaning comments because she is beautiful. A woman sweating her ass off at the gym or outside is subject to these same remarks because she has cleavage, or nice legs, or her arms are too sexy. I just don’ get it! A woman can’t win. If she carries herself with confidence, confidence she gains from working out, she’s considered self-centered. You see, I don’t view my body as an instrument of sex. I view it as an instrument of strength!!!

If a man or a woman judges me (or any other woman out there getting her sweat on—I see you, I know who you are and you ROCK!!!) when I’m (she’s) outside pushing my (her) limits, sweating, and pleading with my (her) legs to keep going, because they think of sex when they see a little bit of cleavage, arms, and legs, I think the problem is theirs.

My definition of beauty for myself is not measured by my cleavage. It’s not measured by my sex appeal. It’s comprised of hard work, sweat, and pushing my limits both personally and professionally. For some of my friends, they think it’s being adorned with the newest trends and brand names, getting Botox, collagen, and eyelash extensions, and having perfect hair, makeup and nails. Granted my friends don’t need any of this, they’re beautiful without it, I respect them for doing what makes them happy and not apologizing for it. To each their own! Who am I to judge? I know I’ll never have perfect hair. I know I’ll never have the picture perfect makeup on to look flawless in person and in pictures. I’m okay with this because the hours it takes to do all that, I’d rather be sweating. If I spent that kind of time getting ready, I’m sure I could look glam, too! But I’d rather look like a Boston Qualified Marathoner (when I stand up next to my girlies in pictures)!!!

Here’s the thing ladies, despite what we do for our beauty regime and how different it is, our beauty regime is for us—we do it for ourselves, not for a man! So why do we allow for a man (mean girls, too) to strip of us of our confidence by making inappropriate remarks. I didn’t put my sports bra on today to invite tasteless comments—I put it on to embark on a serious sweat session, to live in the beauty of today, and relish in another victorious day against anorexia.

I read something the other day by a woman I admire and it reminds me of what I experienced today. And it goes like this:

“I truly think nothing bonds people more than sweating together. I am not a let’s get drinks kind of woman [unless it’s after a race, training run, or bike ride J], or a talk on the phone kind of woman. I’m a come and sweat with me and we will be fast friends kind of woman. It shows you what a person is made of.”

-So come on and sweat with me!

Happy Sunday!

Happy Running!!!

 

XO

Valgal

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I’m All Jacked Up on Ragnar!!!

8 May

Hello friends!!! Good evening!

You read right. I am packing for Ragnar! This is the first time I’m participating in the Ragnar Relay series (Cape Cod) and I am
thrilled about it! I mean, I am really jacked up with adrenaline right now! Wohoo!!! I can’t stop reading about everything Ragnar.

Each day goes by with both co-workers and friends warning me to tread cautiously because I won’t get any sleep, delirium will overtake me, and that they hope I’m paired with a fun group of Ragnarians because if I’m not, I’m told it could threaten the experience and it just might suck!

I need all the advice I can get (good and bad) since I’m the rookie this go around. I’m the rookie of Ragnar! It is kind of exhilarating to go into something without having expectations. I am told I will love the experience as well as hate it during the running legs, but when we cross the finish, I’ll be so doped up on the experience I’ll be fixing for more.

I am guessing that the experience is euphoric. It plays on emotions and fatigue – enhancing said emotions! Ahhhh!

I am not too concerned about the balance between the love or the hate of the race. I recall training for my last marathon. The training was the part I hated (kind of); the racing was the part I loved – a representation of our duality!

Anyway, I’m trying to calm down to catch some shut eye so pardon my brevity. I need all the sleep I can get if I’m going to race for 48 hours with limited rest.

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned!!!

Happy running!!!

XO

Valgal

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