Tag Archives: sweat

“And She’s a Mom!”

3 Aug

Yesterday marked my first run after work postpartum. I set out to sweat but also to quickly return home to be with my babes.

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I woke at 4:30a. Bus to metro to work by 6:45a. Returned home at 6p ish. Showered my baby girl with kisses, squishes, and cuddles (a proven test that my lip stain is indeed a stain as there was no evidence of my smooch fest on her cute little cheekies 💋). Little O fell asleep shortly after so the guilt of leaving her for my needed “mommy time” aka “run” didn’t sting so badly. I returned home around 7:30ish to find my little rosebud giggling with daddy. 

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Seriously peeps, coming home is the sweetest gift ever!

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But let’s get real about some things…

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The Monday-Friday grind, the commute, and wanting to spend every waking minute with little O while also training for a marathon, training to get my body back, and making sure my relationship with my better half continues to thrive is a challenge.

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The transition to motherhood has been blissful. But the transition trying to find the time to connect to my mind, body, and soul as well as trying to connect with my partner is nothing shy of a taxing adventure. It’s an adventure plagued by my own heavy guilt (because of societal standards) coupled with the subtle microaggressions from others and the ubiquitous endorsements, advertisements, and stepford-esque wives evangelizing the glory of motherhood and condemning any other activity that taketh your attention away from it. 

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Not all dialogue centered around motherhood is riddled to make you feel guilty. But my point is, some dialogues about motherhood actually reject mothers carrying other roles; thus, rejecting women and the whole feminist evolution. The content strikes me as callous because the words scream to me that when motherhood “ails” women it deviates women from their previous multifaceted construction to that of a singular dimension. We are not one dimensional! It’s as if having a child suddenly diminishes a woman to carrying one title only – a mother. Is that all that is expected from us? Being a mother? Anything on top of that role is an attaboy moment – “She managed that project, delivered her pitch, ran a marathon, and she’s a mom!” Why is there the qualifier, “and she’s a mom!”? What purpose does it serve? We are whole without it. We should not be typecast as if being a mother abates us of all competencies. (Thanks to Lauren Fleshman for pointing that out in her podcast with Dr. Melody Moore.)

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I’m a mom. A new mom! I was a runner first. And people still don’t understand my desire to run, especially post pregnancy because it means I leave the house and my babes after being away all day for work. I think it makes people uncomfortable because they couldn’t fathom leaving the house and their newborn. Maybe it’s a fear of separation anxiety from their baby (I did experience this). Or maybe it’s their fear of being criticized for putting their own needs first. I don’t feel the need to repent for continuing to put my needs first. I’m on call all day and night – a little time etched out of the day for me is reasonable, not selfish.

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Yet I’m criticized on the daily – I’m sure of it. Some days I feel assaulted by negativity because of the opinions of others about how I “mom.” No one explicitly criticizes me but their comments are back-handed. Do you know what I do? I smile and nod. I play dumb. While it’s hard to ignore the undertones of chastisement, I pretend I’m not competent enough to understand their insults because hey, I’m a mom – remember – all competencies were removed with my placenta – part of the deal.

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Why is there this brazen epidemic to mommy-shame? I question if I’m a bad mother because I’m trying to do it all. Intuitively, I know I’m not a bad mother. But yes, I leave the house after working all day to run. And yes, I’m a breastfeeding mom who drinks wine with dinner. At least it’s not the bottle! I’m not a bad mother.

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But do I need to explain myself so that my actions make others feel comfortable? No.

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I still have a commitment to myself while also holding the torch of motherhood. Becoming a mother doesn’t dissolve me of my identity. Rather, it highlights it. 

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So there you have it. In a culture that pretends there is equality among sexes, why is it that we celebrate motherhood but impose insidious maternity leave policies? Why is there gender inequality in the workplace? Why do we celebrate men who become fathers with a pay raise but women who become mothers don’t see that same jump in income? Why is it that our culture preaches women can do it all but then women are ruthlessly assaulted and shamed when they try to {cough cough} and do so successfully? For a culture that is so politically sensitive about the most paltry of matters, why is it so crass towards women and women’s rights? The whole empowering women movement is just a dog and pony show. The kicker, why are some of the hardest critics of women those that share my gender – women? It’s pitiful. We can’t rise when we are anchored down by our own kind! Come on ladies!!! 

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Years of false paradigms have flooded our minds with what it means to be a woman, a wife and a mother. It’s such a narrow definition of success. We should stop expressing concern about a woman’s (a mother’s) well-being because of a false idea of what she should be. 

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I am a woman. A mother. A daughter. A sister. A granddaughter. A niece. A cousin. A wife (soon). A friend. An employee. A runner. A lover of all (especially my Boston terrier, Mika). A pseudo chef. A wine lover – bring on the Malbec. A tequila nut. A frozen gummy bear spaz. A book worm – I can never have enough books. A terrible singer. A shoe fanatic. A luster of the new Garmin Fenix 3. A woman who loves dressing up my sass but equally loves to be accessorized in sweat. Whether I’m in stilettos or my laces are tied, in conference rooms, or starting lines, or singing lullabies, you can’t define me. I don’t fit in a box. 

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And so, I will continue to defy the norm. I invite you to do so as well. If you’re reading this and you are a mother, I ask that you acknowledge that you are more than just that, albeit being a mother is a privilege and a gift! The only qualifier I want referencing me as a mom is, “and she’a badass motherrunner” – because let’s get one thing straight, I’m am!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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XO

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Valgal, badass motherrunner 

Running and Life

20 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!.

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.My days are numbered being at home with my little babe. The longest I’ve been away from her has been during my runs which is about 1-2.5 hours. So with Monday on the horizon, my heart is sinking. How am I supposed to go back to work? How can I juggle work, be a mother, a wife in training, and a runner? .


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During my mini sweat session today (I ran based on how I felt – hello sub 7:00!!! – ran a 7:50 warmup and speedy miles thereafter! I love the way a 6:00 min pace feels- it’s been too long! 🙌🏼) I was thinking about how running is a true euphemism for life – more so today than ever before. What I’m saying is that it takes enormous spiritual strength for me to embrace training for a marathon after 39 weeks of untraining my mind to go hard and push through the pain because of pregnancy. Now I’m trying to build back that grit. But honestly, it takes even more spiritual strength to leave my little on Monday for the first time ever for my workday.

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I’m freaking out that I’m going to miss her more than words. Her little coos, her smiles, the way she cuddles on my chest and grips my hand so tightly. How am I supposed to be away for 9-12 hours without her when she has been all I’ve ever known. “It’s impossible to miss anything before she came into the world.”

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I’m so thankful for running. It has allowed me to run out my emotions. It helps. But I’m still deep in resentment that I can’t have a few more weeks. At least I know what I’m in for. My work day will feel like a bloody marathon – trudging through the pain of her absence – but coming home will feel like crossing the finish line – the reward of embracing my rosebud will be worth it. .

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Shout out to all you badass mother runners, and mamas who must leave the house for work, (because let’s be honest, being a mother alone is WORK), “The world does not benefit from you hiding your bad-assery” so make sure you make it known!  You inspire me!!! XO #badass #motherrunner #runnergirl #sweat #sweatsession

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PS- thanks @nuunhydration for hydrating me!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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XO

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Valgal


A Walk/Run Sequence- Who Am I?

22 Apr

Fitness for two:
This Garmin snapshot of a walk/run sequence may not make me look like a Boston bound runner – but training 20lbs more than my race weight has surely got to give me some kind of advantage. Riiiiight?! Post-Partum Expectations – compliments of Runner’s World.

Excerpt:

There’s a theory as to why some runners have a good post-partum running experience – it’s called the “remodeled” heart. “During pregnancy, the heart actually changes to accommodate for a higher level of blood circulation,” Mottolla said… The result? The heart likely doesn’t have to work as hard at any level of exertion following the process of giving birth. It’s something akin to the benefit some runners might experience from training at a low heart rate—eventually the heart adapts and helps move runners forward at less effort.

***Less effort -💪🏼😜✌🏼️ helllstotheyes!!!

Many runners speculate that their increase in oxygen-rich red blood cells helps boost post-partum performance. This is true, but only for a short period.

***💪🏼😜✌🏼️ I’ll take it!!!

James Pivarnik, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at Michigan State University said there is the possibility that the hormone relaxin, which helps prep a woman’s body for delivery, might play a role. “If relaxin makes a woman more flexible and that increases her stride length by even a small bit, she might benefit,” he said.

***💪🏼😜✌🏼 I’ll take this too!!!

New moms might also experience a psychological boost from the delivery process. “There are women who might realize that if they can give birth, they can tough it out in a race, too,” Pivarnik said.

***Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I can finish a marathon no problem regardless of pain, fatigue, exhaustion, legs heavy with lactic acid, but birth? Epidural please!!! ✔️ Anyway, with relentless focus, hard work, and baby in tote (we got the BOB stroller!!!) my dream will come! Boston will happen!

How are you managing your goals during pregnancy?! Let me know by leaving me a comment!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Dreams of Boston: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby

22 Apr

Today was the 2016 Boston Marathon. I planned on BQing this year to secure my spot for 2017 but life happens – literally. My body is not my own.

I find myself 9 months pregnant and determined to not let my fitness and fitness goals get derailed.

I’ve had a wonderful pregnancy but let me tell you this – pregnancy is hard. I will be honest and say I miss my body. The body that carried me through many races. Fit, trim, lean and light.

To date, I’m sporting extra pounds that have found a new home in my thighs and arms aside from the belly. I’m very accepting of this. Yes. But the change is still challenging.

I don’t want to sound vain – only honest. For those of you pregnant mamas that scroll through feeds that showcase the ✨ glowing claims of how fab it is to be pregnant and you just don’t feel it – I’m telling you that sometimes we filter the ugly (the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions, the symptoms). It is most definitely not all rainbows and butterflies. At times it is a stab to your ego. I’m not trying to undercut the miracle of pregnancy – because I do love it, but with it there are accompanying struggles.

Struggles of self-acceptance. It’s normal.

There’s some boilerplate bullshit out there shaming women who admit to feeling insecure with their pregnant bodies. Don’t listen to them. Embrace the #hormotions. The highs and lows. It is part of the journey. Enjoy the marathon. It might not be Boston, but it is #40weeks of training!

Hopefully in the next few years I’ll look back on today with a BQ under my belt – back to the fit, trim, lean and light #runnergirl I am with Ori and daddy waiting for me at the finish lines!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

The Sweat Life at 21 Weeks of Pregnancy 

4 Jan

Good morning, lovelies!

 

And Happy New Year!!!

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

XO
Valgal and baby macaroon!

Friction

25 Jul

Hello Lovelies!!!

And how are all of you fabulous people doing today?

The sun is out, the weather is warm but not too warm, the humidity is low and I got my run on today…I got it in!!! Today is a good day. And last night I had a good evening, too. I shared my evening with the lovely beauties I’m grateful to call my friends. My relationships with them are so powerful and with little friction. We sipped on wine and shared laughter over topics of relationships, travel, engagements, injuries, and wildly inappropriate subject matters. The dialogue nurtured me as I have missed these women immensely. I swear these friends of mine eat sunshine. We can discuss terrible and beautiful things that have happened to us and to others. We can also discuss world events that are equally terrible and beautiful, and we do so in such a manner of grace and patience with sober awareness paired with frivolity. These women help me explore the depths of myself I wouldn’t otherwise know. They help me see a world through a different lens and I want to give them a shout out and say thank you.

I want to say thank you to these beauties for a myriad of reasons. One of which is kind of my mantra and I’ll get to that. But to travel somewhere 2,200+ miles away from home and to luck into a group of women who not only speak my mantra, but live it…are you shitting me? This is not common practice. I believe most people peacock 24/7 and I’m not trying to sound pessimistic there…more like I’m finally a realist. More often than not people speak words crafted by their bitter tongues that speak boilerplate bullshit…But these women, nah…they’re real.

I always find that when I’m with these women we find ourselves in a natural rhythm of conversation. Their passion and excitement flows from their tongues like the wine we pour in our glasses. Their eyes sparkle and radiate when they divulge new news! I love these women unconditionally because they don’t encourage whining. They don’t suggest that you have to explain yourself and what you’re doing with your life. Instead, they propose solutions; they suggest that you throw yourself in unknown territory without a predetermined plan. They encourage strength, independence, and freedom from the insecurities that we tend to build in our heads. If there’s friction they want to help you sand it down. They speak Valerie. They defy the status quo and don’t explain why. They just do it. They are genuinely themselves. They are authentic. And they don’t apologize. Helllllooo, can you tell why I love them?

One of our topics in the middle of our wildly inappropriate conversations was about my hip. My good ol’ right hip. They encouraged me to accept my fate and have surgery. So let’s discuss the deets.

Granted, I ran today…but oh man the hurt. It felt like someone was stabbing a steak knife in my hip in an attempt to get it lodged in there to stay put while I was running. War games were playing in my head. My rational self begged me to stop while my stubborn self told myself to push through the pain. PAIN IS TEMPORARY. Pain is Temporary. Pain is temporary.

This is when I recognized that the conversation I had with my doctor the other day was not hogwash. I had originally thought that the doctor wanted to err on the side of surgery because that’s profit in his pocket…and although he showed me evidence of why it was needed, I couldn’t believe it.

So let’s backtrack…

Monday I went to a specialist who would perform my right hip labral tear surgery. I visited with him to discuss the results in greater detail, determine the necessity of it and if required, schedule the date of surgery. When I met with Dr. P he promptly asked me if I knew my results. I assured him I did. He said okay, tell me what you know. I explained the tear in quick breath. He advised me that I was misinformed. He followed it up and instructed me to lie down on my back because he wanted to contort my body to feel how my hip would react. 

Okay. I felt friction.

After a few awkward leg placements and my right hip popping disturbingly he sat me up. The friction dulled to intermittent blunt pain. He inquired if the positions hurt. I said to a degree but it was tolerable and felt more like my hip was catching onto something. He appeared to be in disbelief and said I have a high pain tolerance.

He had me take a seat next to him by the computer. Images of my hip flashed on the screen. I recall thinking, “Great. What good is this shit…I can’t read it. It’s my hip. Woo freaking hoo. What’s atypical about it?”
That’s when Dr. P starts explaining my condition.

Guess what…

I don’t have a right hip labral tear from running…NOPE. That’s the secondary condition from running. The primary condition is severe Femoracetabular Impingement (FAI) or better known as hip impingement with a number of bone cysts coupled with a large labral tear. Ouchies!

To explain I’d like to compare it to relationships. When something is good for you it shouldn’t hurt, right? But like most relationships friction arises. How do you get past the friction—especially when the relationship works for the most part?

This is my conundrum.

Running, parallel to me and my relationships with people have become old faithful to each other. SO why is it turning on me? Is it bored with my antics, my conversation, my very essence? Have I nagged about the pain and discomfort for too long? Have we become like security blankets devoid of true companionship?

I have exercised integrity with running. I have even applied the attraction principle—a little bit of distance and silence… I thought that should have done the trick (back in April). Running post-discovery of the labral tear robbed me of my confidence but reassured me when I picked it back up that distance and silence were golden gifts—the catalysts that helped me find my speed. A BQ was SOOOOO in my future, like tomorrow!!! So where did I go wrong? Did I even go wrong? Why are we breaking up?

My running relationship akin to that of real relationships has caused literal friction. My hip impingement basically means that the pain I’be felt since I was about 3 years old in gymnastics and forward was due to my ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) rubbing abnormally creating damage to my hip joint. Apparently, compliments of my genetic makeup, my femoral head is too big for the socket (that’s what she said – I had too…sorry!). All my complaints of the rubbing, crushing, clicking, catching, sanding and popping sensations in my hip have a real physiology — for that I am relieved.

I’m suffering with the reality of my diagnosis because I’m used to getting what I put in on and off the path. I like to gain what I’ve earned. I recognize obstacles come up and trust me I know them well. I overcome them. I am happy to run through them with all my might — my whole 5’2” stature. But now I won’t be able to run through this one. Did I earn this discomfort because I was putting in the miles and speed to earn a BQ?

The surgery is going to require Dr. P to complete an arthroscopic procedure. He will shave my femoral head down to a size that accommodates the socket. During the arthroscopy he will repair and clean out the damage to the labrum and articular cartilage as well as shave off the cysts. Ugh!

Dr. P told me because of my 5’2” frame and being moderately thin that it is highly likely I will have a difficult recovery because my body won’t be able to compensate for the excessive swelling. Oh boy. He’s telling me to expect a 6-9 month recovery.

WHAT!?

I asked him immediately when I can start running…he laughed. He told me I might be able to jog sooner but he can’t give me a definitive timeline. I’m troubled because I don’t know what jogging is.  

My point is the friction is real. I can choose to either work through the friction to find a resolution (surgery) or wash my hands of it. Some relationships are best ended. Truth. Not this one. If you’re like me and chose to work through the friction I hope you reap the rewards of fighting through the discomfort because you want it so madly!

Relationships are unpredictable (have you met running?). Some are safe. Some are monotonous. Some have explosive sparks (hello wildly inappropriate girl talk). Some are bound by magnetism. Some are boring, abusive, codependent, selfish and proprietary. Whatever relationship you find yourself in, running, platonic, romantic, I urge you to see the opportunities disguised as friction. 

I believe there is an opportunity to BQ despite the diagnosis…just not as soon…

The BQ qualifying door may be shut for 2015 but I recognize that although I have been rejected from what I wanted, I’m being re-directed to something better. Find comfort in friction. Make it a friend. After all, to date it’s been a long-lasting friend helping me to discover that it all isn’t really that random — you can fuck up entirely along the way, you can play the wrong sport and not get that D1 scholarship, date the wrong people, marry the wrong person, invest in the wrong stock, train too hard and get injured…but you end up exactly where you need to be.

Cheers to friction. May it continue to unfold in all your relationships and may you find its remarkably uncanny backdrop in crises to be the driver of your greatest revelations.

How do you handle friction? What have your experiences been with sports/running injuries and how have you rehabilitated?

Thanks for stopping by!!!

X0

Valgal

     

 

It’s easy to go hard. It’s hard to go smart. 

24 Jul

Today’s Run Recap: I set out to do a #halfmarathon #halfmary but at mile 6 my right hip was throbbing w/pain. I told myself to finish the hour sweat sesh and wrap it up-13.1 was not happening. My lungs, legs, & core all felt fresh & able but I had to do the hardest thing & STOP. Listening to my body is not my strong suit but I’m getting better. It’s easy to go hard. It’s hard to go smart. Today’s pace was 7:15 & I was planning on maintaining it the next 5 miles. Maybe next time…maybe post-surgery…Highlight was sipping on the yummy goodness from @cranksports!    
   

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

Get A Hobby

16 Jan

Hello friends,

I was always inspired to do great things.

Great things for others.

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

I adapted to each situation to fit the mold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I called you to say “hi.”

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

I called.

I called for no reason.

I was that needy girl.

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

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

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

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

Humiliation.

Total humiliation.

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

“Get a hobby!”

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

I am thankful for the candor.

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

I learned to like my own company.

Jogging miraculously turned into running.

Running turned into MY HOBBY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I find solace in being silent. (Or humor)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by and happy running!

XO

Valgal

My Army Ten Miler Quick Recap

15 Oct

My recent Army Ten Miler Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 10 mile 1:12:09 isn’t too shabby!

What are your goals? What are your mantras?

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy running!

XO

Valgal

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