Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Long Road Back from Injury: Frustrating as Hell!

I must have been high or something because when I was given the "go ahead" to run for 2 minutes at a time (2 minutes run/2 minutes walk for 16 minutes and build from there) back at the end of June I thought it would be a piece of cake. After all, the hamstring was healed and running is, like, what I DO! (of course in full disclosure I NEVER did 16 minutes. More like 56 minutes because I don't listen).

Major wake up call. When I ran, I felt as if I had never run before. My leg tired so easily and I honestly could barely even run the 2 minutes. I kept at it, running 4 to 5 miles a day, doing the run/walk thing.

I did that for WEEKS. Do you know how long it takes to run/walk 5 miles? I bet you do. People do it all the time. I am just not a patient person, however. So, averaging 12:30 miles was humbling as hell. And, it wasn't getting any better. I can actually have some patience if I see improvement. But after three weeks of being back to "running" nothing felt better. It might have even felt worse. Sure, I did the relay, but those miles were rough on me. I never got into a groove, I could hardly run for more than 4-5 minutes at a time before walking and my poor leg felt like a huge ham hock that I was dragging behind me.

Trails feel WAY better to me these days than road. I might look "okay" here, but I'm pretty
sure I was hyperventilating.

Fast forward to today and all of the complaining I'm doing to my PT (they must get SO sick of us). I'm a bit shy of three months out from the injury. I'm still struggling. Well, I say that but I can now average a 10:13 mile and that includes some walking. That is definitely progress, but is is really hard not to compare where I was pre-accident.  I am less concerned with pace than I am with how I feel. I'm not sure how/why I still feel so out of running shape. I've had some major drying needling the past few weeks and have done a gait analysis to make sure I'm not doing anything too wonky. I'm not.

So, here I am, just a girl trying to be patient and grateful that I can do anything at all. Blah blah blah.  I just wonder when I'll feel like my old self again. Running is hard enough as it is, but when one minute you are on top of your game and the next minute (literally) you are laying in the street and can't walk, it's discouraging.

And life goes on. I think if the rest of my life felt really in place, maybe all of this wouldn't bug me so much. But it doesn't. I lay awake in the middle of the night last night (as I do most nights between 2am and 3am), knowing that I cannot be the only person who is 51 years old and feels a bit lost. Kids are leaving the nest. My career has been successful but I'm just not sure it's what I want to do anymore - and if it's not what I want to do, what the hell DO I want to do? What the hell am I actually QUALIFIED to do if not what I do now?

I can't believe I'm sharing this; I have no shame. Ken took this of me the other night. Proof that I sleep
really HARD before I am wide awake from 2am to 3am

People tell you you can do and be whatever you want. Not really. You know I'm the first person to chase dreams and big goals, but at 51, there are some things that are a bit out of the question for me now (probably won't be a heart surgeon or the POTUS). Then I start to have regrets about career choices I've made and not made. I basically have made the choices I did because I wanted to be home with my kids. I'm proud of that. But, that meant a job where I could work from home. I've been good at it and the job has been really fulfilling, but I'm just entering a new phase I suppose.

Enough on all that. Just being real here. Then I go to hospice with Heidi today and get some much needed perspective. All of what I love and value is right here in front of me right now. But if I could run normal again, that would be great, yeah thanks.

Seriously. Wouldn't she comfort you? I can't even with this picture.

What's your job? Can you see yourself doing it for years to come?


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay - Did I Run It?

I know you all have been holding your breath wondering if I was able to run the Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay. The relay kicked off almost two months to the day after I fell and tore the shit out of my hamstring on May 11. I'm happy to say, I ran all of my legs - 5.2 miles, 2 miles and 5.7 miles, all for a grand total of 12.9 miles! 

No, I did not feel like myself. No, I did not have any hamstring pain, but other stuff felt "off." Yes, I was happy with how it went. No, I did not tell my PT I was doing it. Yes, I averaged about a 10:30 pace and yes, I walked quite a bit. I was teetering on that edge of wanting to do what I wanted to do, but not wanting to further injure myself. I think I accomplished that.

I'm competitive by nature, so it's tough for me to hang back, let people pass me and not be able to show up how I would have liked. But the truth is, I was just glad to be there at all. This was my 8th relay. Here are the others (linking to my race reports):
Seems like these days Ragnar has taken over the relay world, and the smaller relays don't exist like EPIC and Wild West. That's too bad cause I really liked them. Ragnar is efficient and like a well oiled machine, but in my opinion in lacks some personality and character. Also - it's getting super congested.

These relays are a funny thing. I mean who thought, "Let's put 12 people in two vans and have them run for 25 to 35 hours, through the night and no one will die??" Honestly sometimes it seems so dangerous what with people running on roads all night, driving hundreds of miles in vans in unknown territory..but I've only heard of a few deaths - a guy in Maryland in 2010, a man hit by a drunken driver in 2011 at the Vegas Ragnar. There have probably been more, but not to my knowledge.

This is the first time our team has flown to a relay. It was fun having a new adventure in a new place. We rented a house on Whibdey Island (northwest of Seattle), where the race ended. 

We flew Alaska Air. Anyone else think their mascot looks like Bob Marley? (yes, I know it's an Eskimo)

Image result for alaska air mascot

The first night at the house involved  a lot of drinking because that is a good idea before an endurance event. The house we stayed in (Langley, Washington) was an Airbnb and was awesome. It was on the final leg of the relay route, so that was nice too. Interested? Here's the link to it. 

Cute courtyard for cocktails

I was in van #2, which means we start later. We hit the road heading toward Bellingham and started around 2pm. I was runner 10 out of 12, so my first run wasn't until about  5pm when it was nice and hot. These days, my injured self usually starts out walking but there was no way in hell I was going to grab the baton and walk out of the starting area like some gimpy ass. So, I took off, running until my problem child leg wanted to take a break. I was psyched with how the first run went. It pays off to have very low expectations because then you are never disappointed. That is my new life hack.

My second run came at 3am. It was only 2 miles, but I'd been cramped in the van all night and the run kind of sucked. It was dark (duh) and mostly on sidewalk (ewww) so I was terrified of falling on some damn sidewalk crack. PTSD. Plus I didn't want to break my mother's back. She already has osteoporosis. 

My third run came at about 2pm and after a huge plate of eggs Benedict (EB). I wasn't sure how all of that would play out. Turns out Ragnar frowns on crapping in someone's yard or on the side of the road. Which is too bad because that always makes for a good story. I did not, however, feel the urge to unload the EB. Despite some major hills and heat, the run went well. One major complaint about Ragnar - not even ONE free beer at the end.

Then just like that, we were done. 

My BFF, Erika, next to me in the pink did her first relay!

Usually we are in the masters division cause we are all well over 40, but our friend's daughter, 21, joined us, so we were in the mixed division.

32 hours with 11 runners. We placed 74/195 in our division. 

I was just a bit happy to be done.

We spent the next day eating our way through Langley - I might have had a few raw oyster shots with vodka.

Monday was spent hanging out in Seattle and after a delay, getting into Denver at 3am. I'm old so I'm still recovering - not from the race but from lack of sleep. And vodka And oysters.

We saw the gum wall in Seattle and it literally made me gag. We heard it is the second most non hygienic tourist attraction in the world after the Blarney Stone.

I'll give you $5 if you guess which piece is mine.

Overall, I'd say this relay ranks up there in my top three that I've done. I gotta say I don't love running on the road, so I missed the trails, but the scenery was lovely, as was the weather.

Deception Pass

And when you hit Bush Point, well you have to point at your....

Next year we're thinking about Ragnar Napa or Ragnar Niagara - anyone done either? We tried the lottery this year for Napa and didn't get in.

Until then...

Favorite relay you've done?

Raw oysters, yes or no? Despite the fact that they have the texture of a loogie and taste like you are eating sand from the bottom of the Pacific, I like them. I learned they are a great source of phosphate!


Monday, July 2, 2018

The Flight From Hell and I'm Running!! (sort of)

It seems like everyone has a nightmare flying story. It may not be as bad as being sucked out of a window or landing on the Hudson, but chances are you've got one. I had (one of) mine flying back from Phoenix last week. What was supposed to be a 1 hour flight turn into 7+ hours. How does that happen, you ask?

We were delayed from the get go, leaving Phoenix almost an hour later due to Frontier crew showing up tardy style. I'm happy to say Frontier is now the new Spirit Airlines, leading the industry in crappy, soul sucking service that nickles and dimes you for every peanut and ice cube. And, then they love to delay and cancel flights just as icing on the cake. They should charge you for that too.

In the air we go and I'm still certain we'll touch down just after lunch time. That's why we brought no food! Because it's supposed to be an hour! That's why I wasn't too desparate to pee before we left. Because it will be one hour!

We approach Denver and that's when the fun began. The "flight deck" (FD) came on saying a huge storm was right over the Denver airport, so we'd have to circle for 45 minutes. That turned into at least an hour.

Finally, I guess the FD got clearance to land, so down went into the turbulent, stomach tossing stormy weather. I am a nervous flier. I do fine until things bounce and dive and shake. Then I sweat, and in this case, start cussing. Loudly. I had one hand on Emma's thigh, one on Ken's. I was digging in. With every drop of the plane, I dropped a nice F-Bomb or at least a "shit!". I've flown a ton and this was some of the worst, if not the worst, turbulence I've been in. The only thing keeping me going was that we had to be close to ground, right? Wrong.

I opened my eyes to look out and we were still high, high up over the Rockies. We continued to swoop and shake as the FD came back on. "Well, folks" the captain said in his best official voice, "We started to land in Denver right as they closed the airport. They told us to circle for another hour while we wait for it to open but we don't have enough fuel for that. So, we're going to land in Grand Junction." Sighs and chatter all around the cabin. Another F-bomb from me.

  • Fact one: I never like to hear the words "we don't have enough fuel for that" while I'm in a plane in the air
  • Fact two: If you don't know Colorado geography, Grand Junction is at the opposite end of the state.

20 minutes later and we're on the ground in Grand Junction. This is a small airport with no gates, so we are stuck on board. Someone throws up in aisle 21 (my only phobia greater than turbulent flying is vomit. Aviophobia + emetaphobia = Beth having a panic attack). Finally we can get up and pee and the aisles are full. I'd really like a beer or a whiskey or something. A stranger gives me a stale Twizzler.

They guy in yellow shirt's expression is how I was feeling

It has now been about 5 hours since we left Phoenix and I am starving. In true Frontier fashion, there are no free drinks or drinks even offered (well, maybe some water during hour six). Not that I'm partial or anything, but I think Southwest would've had free drinks all around. If a nothing else, that would make the passengers more relaxed and happy.

We hang on the ground in Grand Junction to learn they've closed the airport. Again. WTF with this storm?

Finally, we are on our way to Denver. We land pretty smoothly and the entire plane erupts into applause. I do too. Problem is, we're not done yet. We taxi to the gate only to wait on the tarmac for about another hour (no gates available). The kid in the row next to us throws up. Get me out of this f&cking prison already! It's now been 7 hours.

Well, we make it off the flight. It's now 7:30pm. We were supposed to land at 12:30pm. Could be worse! (my favorite expression). I could've had a connection to make! I could be traveling with a screaming baby with crap in their diaper. I, myself, could've had explosive diarrhea! God is good after all!

Moving on. Guess what? I'm running again.

Well, let's just say I'm doing a version of running. I finally got the okay a week ago to give it a shot. The plan was to walk 2 minutes, run 2 minutes up to 16 minutes. So, I donned  my cute running stuff, fired up my GPS and headed to the local lake. The anticipation and excitement was building as I broke into my first run in 7 weeks.

And, if felt like shit!

A pensive runner in her habitat.

It felt like I had never run before in my life. Nothing hurt, I just felt out of shape, stiff and awkward. Oh, the humble road back after being sidelined. I went the next day and did further. And, it was slightly better. Then I went to the trails on Saturday and Sunday, run/hiking for four then five miles. The trails felt a ton better on my body - maybe it's the surface, maybe it's using different muscle groups, I don't know. But, oh-so-slowly my confidence is returning.

The Ragnar Relay (Northwest Passage) is in ten days. I have the shortest legs (no I'm not a midget) with only a total of 13 miles. I think I can swing it. Washington is one of the few states I have not been to (others are Alaska, Hawaii, Alabama, Mississippi). We're staying on Wibdey Island, which I hear is amazing!

Tell me your nightmare flying story

Favorite airline? Southwest. We're taking Alaska Airlines to WA and I hear that's great too

How many states have you been to? 45