Powering through Pain: my long run debacle

img_20170218_121104_072I recently did a long run that would probably label me insane by a lot of people, maybe you’re already convinced I am, truth be told, we runners are a crazy lot. I know I’m not the average person anyhow. I’m what my daughter terms “extra” and what I know to be type-A in nature, so it’s hardly surprising that I would choose to hop a train out to Long Island for an impromptu long run, at the suggestion of a friend after suffering through a week of a mother of a toothache. Maybe it was the chance to break the cycle of pain, but I over-zealously grabbed on to it with both hands and jumped right in to a hell of my own making.

I got up early Saturday morning, ate, took my pain meds, and took off running to the train station. A few feet into it..my tooth made me aware that maybe, just maybe, this was not such a good idea after all. In all honesty, I thought about abdicating for all of two seconds and decided to hell with that, I’ll wing it. I loaded up on oral gel – it had to work – and we boarded the train and hello Wantah. We made it in under an hour and immediately took to the street, zig-zagging our way through traffic and sidewalks still packed with ice, from the snow storm last weekend, all the way to the Ceder Park.

img1487614898472Mindful of the cold air getting to my gum and the exposed nerve, I was pretty much mummified, which may have helped except that the pounding of my feet sent shards of glass shooting up the right side of my head. Duhh, you may say. Well, a girl could dream; dream of running fast and far enough that the pain would take flight, only it didn’t. I tried tailing my partner in the hopes that my pain wouldn’t jeopardise his run, I tried running alongside him & letting him chat it up to take focus away from the pain, I even tried running ahead, that lasted for all of one mile. In the end it proved rather difficult to pretend it away and I had to live with reducing my pace and keeping my mouth and much of my face covered.

Seven and a half miles in we came upon the beach area and I was able to appreciate something about the whole mess of a run. Turned out it was a view worth running for. The ocean seemed to beckon as its waves rushed forward invitingly, whereupon we succumbed to its temptation and ventured closer to touch its water. No surprise there, it was as cold as it looked, though we didn’t let that stop us from trying to capture the picturesque scene and peace surrounding us. A futile effort really, as the photograph would never quite capture the awesomeness of that moment.

imag1651While it was hell going, the return proved much easier even though my momentum was shot to hell. Thus, I was able to increase my pace somewhat and breathe easier as the air got warmer and I lost some of the covering over my mouth and face area. Physically, there was little I could do once reaching the beach, it was either Uber, swim or run. Since there was no chance of either of the former, it was down to make-up-a-mean-mind and get it done. And done I did..not in the time nor fashion I wanted, but hell, sometimes finishing just has to be enough.

Fourteen miles and some coconut water later, we were back on the train heading home. Did I end up worst off or further incapacitate myself as a result of running with a toothache, somewhat. I’ve been dealing with an ongoing runner’s knee issue and because I had to favor my right side to minimize the tooth pain, I ended up over-compensating, which flared up my knee pain and has me back to working to recover from that. Sometimes, we can be such fools. However, I promise you I spent the rest of the day as horizontal as I could and plan on having an easy week to help heal my mouth and a painful right knee. After all, April’s fast approaching.

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Jones Beach

 

Love Beautiful, Love Healthy, Love Happy, Love Running

 

Source:Core Body Fitness

Source: Core Body Fitness

My body and I have been through it all. But recently I have been liberated. I am healthy, I treat myself well, and for that I’m happy. I’ve looked in the mirror and been able to LOVE the things about my body that beauty norms deem ‘undesirable’. I now have grown to know that my body is worthy of so many great things. I don’t need to be a size 0 to believe in myself. My body carries me each and every day, it loves the people i love, it holds what makes me healthy and strong, it bends it shakes it runs and it CHANGES. That is okay and that is beautiful.                ~Sailor Brinkley Cook

Last week there was a CNN opinion piece by Peggy Decker about Christie Brinkley,  a 63 years old former Sports Illustrated (SI) model, who appeared on the cover of SI once again, after many years, alongside her two daughters, Sailor Brinkley Cook and  Alexa Ray Joel. While the article has many merits, I take issue with its attempt to delegitimize Christie Brinkley’s love, validation and pride in her body.
Decker argues that Brinkley’s “sexagenarianism” or youthful beauty and implied good health is an impossible ideal for women to strive for and is therefore unrealistic and unattainable. I hardly agree. Those of us who embrace a healthy lifestyle expect to see the results of our dedication and commitment to same. We are under no illusion that we hold the key to eternal youth or any such fallacy, as that is well within God’s design,  but we do believe that such a path allows us, as far as it is within our power to do so, to minimize the risks of sickness, aging badly and other negative conditions associated with getting older. The idea is that if we love our bodies, regardless of color, size, age and or type, and take care to treat it well, we will be rewarded with a healthy and beautiful life as much as it is within our power to do so. Granted we live in an imperfect world and so we’re privy to all the imperfections that come with that, however we have a responsibility to value greatly this gift we have been blessed with and while it may not always be the case, at least 75% of the time we are guaranteed success.
Our part is clear and easier now than ever before: eat healthy meals, snack healthy, drink lots of water, exercise daily to include running of course (wink), moisturize and use sunscreen, visit your doctor regularly to ensure your necessary checkups and be happy. Those are the things within our purview, things we have every right and responsibility to attain. It will go a long way in refuting the supposition that a long, beautiful, healthy and youthful life is unrealizable.

Running is Empowerment, Ownership and Control; don’t hate, Run.

Source: blogdoctoroz.com

Source: blogdoctoroz.com

Someone once asked me if there was anything that couldn’t be cured by running..my answer – of course no! LOL. I mean you have to believe in something right? After God that is. While it seems the world’s all upside down these days and people are all torn up about this and that and a lot of politics are involved, I try to keep it simple. It’s not that the politics of Washington and the issues affecting this great country doesn’t affect me, it sure does, only through running, I have discovered the power of compartmentalizing. Since then, there’s a place for everything and everything’s in its place.

You live and learn is truer than you think. You live long enough, you learn well enough that life is not so much a sprint as it is a marathon – in which case it’s all about the strategy (how well you run) to get to the finish line. Know that as with any endurance event, there will be uncertainties and/or unknown elements and even disappointments from time to time. But just as we never throw in the trowel and quit before we reach the finish line, so too we must face life head-on determined to persevere and not just finish, but do so successfully.

Forgive me while I don’t indulge in all the whining and bitching (excuse my candor) about life and politics and our undetermined future. The recent political upheaval notwithstanding, I’ve embraced running as the friend it is to empower me; to give me the sense of purpose and freedom that is so indelible to my nature. On my runs I can think, breathe, process and compartmentalize. I have perspective and faith that things are not going to get the better of me.

Running allows me to own my problems..the issues I face and the responsibility I have to forge a path forward, finish line in focus. It is through running that I can regain control of my sense of self and purpose and so use it to inform and empower others to own and control their destiny as well. One step at a time, we have the power, the right, and the freedom in these United States to overcome whatever challenges that threaten our right to live, love, let our voices be heard and even run freely. We must not take it lightly nor should we let anyone or group de legitimize our right to do so.

Stay Inspired and Running this Winter

Source: Rush University Medica Center

Source: Rush University Medical Center

Winter has to be the hardest time to stay committed to a running plan. I mean, there are so many challenges facing the inspired-new-year-goal-oriented person. There are those brutally cold and snowy days: days when all you wish for are PJs all-day long. Then there is the issue of shorter days: less daylight hours means less time to run especially if you’re going solo. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s still the issue of getting all cloak and dagger like and layering up, which is such a bother really. Add to that much more extreme weather and/or a fluctuating weather pattern, which is uncertain at best, and your chances of catching the flu or a virus become highly probable. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

There isn’t much more one can do but stay focused and committed. Sure there are a lot of hurdles weather-wise and many personal and physical adjustments to consider but this is one instance where the grass is really greener on the other side. During this time, more than anything, a runner needs to embrace his or her strengths and be flexible with the intent of adapting: time, effort, pace etc., to remaining on point for the duration. It can only help that lacing up and getting out is hell on the dreaded winter blues and puts runner’s joy on a whole new level.

As is often said, this too shall pass. Below is a video clip I discovered on YouTube by “Just Another Runner”  that explains why running is my happy place and may help to keep you inspired. Take a look.

Training Day: long-run Saturdays


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For the past four weeks or so, I’ve been in training mode preparing for the Boston Marathon in April. Seems I’m always in-training these days, though I did have a few weeks off last November. No matter, the important thing is to get it in so as to be up and ready when the big day comes. To this end, I’ve been paying mind to the necessary components of a good training plan, particularly the long run aspect. I should stress that all parts of a plan are important; however the long-run, for me, is of great significance because of two things: the opportunity to develop strength and endurance and, in the latter phase of training, the opportunity it presents to simulate your race day strategy.

Developing strength and endurance happens over time, it involves steadily increasing mileage and alternating workouts to encompass building speed, stamina aka endurance and running efficiency. Any good training plan, for the average runner concerned with running a marathon goal time, will include speedwork: interval training, some hill work, tempo runs and long runs and rest days. The long run builds slowly over weeks (between 16-22 weeks) of training up to two weeks before race day. During this period, the focus is on building endurance through getting the body accustomed to running for longer periods each week, gradually increasing mileage to the point where one can confidently and comfortably complete 20-22 miles. For example, in my training, my long runs may start at around week 8 with 12-13 miles (which is really a bit of a medium-long run) to which I will add-on a couple of miles each week.

From early on, it’s important to plan these days and decide on which works best for you. Turns out Saturdays are ideal for my long runs as I’m mostly off from work and I can choose to either rest longer in the am ( during winter anyhow) and run later in the day or get it in early and have the rest of the day off. Usually, I try to get to bed at a decent hour the night before so I’ll wake up rested and ready to go. Also, I try to eat my carbs and hydrate well leading up to Saturday; this is all to make sure I’m in the best place to accomplish my mileage without killing myself. Most times it works out great, I clear my schedule and leave my day open for running and I’m able to do just that.

As it gets closer to crunch time – by then I will have racked up the necessary mileage and developed the level of endurance I need – I’m able to use my remaining long runs to simulate race day. On these runs, the focus is on running efficiency: pace, hydration and strategy. The idea is to perfect a plan based on the above in as near to similar conditions as race day to help project performance on that day; this will help to build confidence and race preparedness. I’m under no illusion that mastering the long-run will ensure stellar performance on race day. On the contrary, there are no guarantees in running as so much is particular to that run and that day. What your training long-runs do is give you the ability to control what you can and give you the confidence – ammunition if you will –  to go out there on race day and do the best you can.

How to make Running Fun

 Dreamstime.com

Dreamstime.com

For many people running is categorized as hard and can hardly be described as enjoyable. For them, it’s complexing that others can embrace a sport that literally takes your breath away and sometimes quite painfully so. I posit, that it is precisely this that captures runners’ imagination. It challenges them to take a seemingly solo gig with little excitement and make it something fun, something happy, and something that’s even anticipated.

The age of technology and social media have made it so easy to rally around just about anything: to garner support, incite action and encourage others to join you in living adventurously. Running is a no brainer really – aside from its health and many other benefits – it has tremendous potential to change your typical everyday routine and bring out your fun side. Of course it all depends on what your goals are. And, even if you have serious goals like losing weight or running a marathon, there is still fun to be had. Indeed, fun must be had or else it’ll be a long and lonely road quite literally.

Lucky you, I have it all figured out (wink) – not really. Here are a few ideas I’ve picked up along my running way; thought I’d share with you. If you’re just starting out:
  • Find a running buddy or group; the leader usually has the scoop on how to encourage, challenge and support your goals while mixing some fun in there
  • Make goals; small, measurable ones. It feels super when you get to check them off
  • Keep it regular and add variety; different courses and different workouts encourage consistency and provide enjoyment
  • Sign up for a fun race; obstacle, mud or color run. It’s something to work towards and look forward to
  • Embrace the challenge and the difference running brings to you physically and to your life in general; new community, new friends, good health, new habits and even new goals
  • Show up with the right attitude; sleep well and plan accordingly, this will allow you to be ready and excited to get out and have fun

If you’re a running veteran beware; it’s easier to fall into a routine and a rut if you’ve been at it for some time. In this case, it behooves you to take stock periodically to make sure the correct attitude, level of enthusiasm and challenge still inspire your runs. If it’s not, it maybe that you need to shake things up a bit and so a sit down with your group leader/ coach may be necessary to help figure things out. On the other hand, even super heroes need to rest sometimes, and so it could be time for a break, to give yourself time to shift gears and refocus.

With all that said, it really won’t amount to anything if you’re not open-minded and armed with the right attitude. I’m of the view that attitude amounts to at least 50% when getting a job done. For running fun, you need at least 75%. I think that’s totally doable. Don’t you?

It’s Running Goals Time

Body I0

  Body I0

“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:

To rise above the little things.”           – John Burroughs

Each year we put ourselves through the wringer establishing goals that are all too often dreams we wish would come true. I’m so guilty of this. I figure why settle for the stars when men have walked on the moon, only, they would have had just that one goal in mind when planning. Not so I. Rather, I’m one to have many spoons in different pots – so to speak – and well.. honestly, that never has turned out quite right. In other words, being an overachiever is not such a good thing most of the time. You would think I’d know better, hell I write about SMART goals every year! What is it about not being able to see your faults but being able to identify the shortcomings of others? I’m hoping this new year will inspire me differently, that the goals I aspire to will ground me, keep me focused and ensure the wise use of my time.

If my record is anything to go by, I’m a tad bit out there and in dire need of keeping it real. I’ve tried to stay as simple and attainable as I can and in so doing aim to get the following done:

1. Run a 2:30 finish at the Boston Marathon
2. Develop my strength and fitness by completing a cross fit program
3. Finally get into a swimming program RE summer sprint triathlon
4. Log my miles daily – really stick with it this year
5. Run the NYC Marathon as a charity project
6. Run at least one destination marathon
7. Qualify for the NYC Marathon 2018 and PR with a half marathon
8. Volunteer running time once a week from the Spring
9. Develop a better sleeping pattern: bed by 11pm during week days and…
10. Read more running literature to gain more knowledge of the sport
When coming up with this list I’ve tried to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) as in the past, only this time I’ve carefully considered the factors that could hinder me from following through. And, save death, illness, injury or some other inconceivable threat, there’s really no obstacle that can get in the way of my success. I’ve got faith, determination and the endless will to succeed; this year is gonna be ridiculously amazing! May it be the same for you.
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Happy New Year: 13.1 reasons to stay running

new-year-2017-fitnessTwo Sunday’s ago despite my best intentions and feelings that day I couldn’t pull of the goal time needed to qualify for NYC’s marathon next year. Off the top, I could come up with a few reasons as to why – as there are always excuses when a run doesn’t go our way. However, this time I’m owning my failing and moving on. While I have yet to figure out how I’m getting into said marathon – you didn’t think I’d just give it up, did you? I’ve already set my sights on ways/runs to keep me on point with training for my next big goal in 2017. I figure if I ever needed to keep my running mojo happening during winter, then now is the time to focus and get my game face on. Perhaps you too may have found yourself stranded in the valley of indecision as it pertains to running in the cold weather. Here’s why you need to stay strong and focused:

  • Running this winter provides an opportunity to add cross training and other versatile methods, encompassing the treadmill among others, to improve performance.
  • Less crowded streets and parks to get your workout in. Amen!
  • Easier and more flexible schedule over the holidays to employ a training plan that will bring about the desired results.
  • A consistent running schedule and/or plan ensures maximum fitness for racing in the Spring.
  • Running is a great way to off-load those holiday calories and then some.
  • Running is convenient and mostly accessible to provide stress relief or as a means of getting away or even when seeking inspiration.
  • It’s a good way to meet people and make new friends, especially now to help carry out your new year goals.
  • If you ever needed motivation to get outfitted and be fit and healthy running is it.
  • Despite the cold weather associated with winter, running generates enough heat to give you a good sweat and keep your temps at a comfortable level leaving you better off than when you started.
  • They say summer bodies are made in the winter, they’re right. Put in the work now and reap the rewards when it counts.
  • Running is a great escape for winter blues. What better way to give it a well deserved kick than getting some miles under those shoes.
  • In a time that often comes with so much change and ups and downs, running can provide necessary routine and balance to your life.
  • Just in case you didn’t know it, people who exercise and run are known to be, aside from healthier, happier, more confident, driven and successful. Now this definitely is the way you want to step into this new year.

There’s no denying challenges abound, in society, our lives and the world at large. Our best chance at getting this right and making the most of life is to give it our best shot and we can only do so if we’re healthy and happy. Don’t think me bias if I say running may be the way to get you there.

🎄Merry🏃Miles 🎅 on 👑 Christmas🎄

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Christmas Day bombed! Don’t panic..that’s good. Starting off a day with a run is almost always a guarantee that it’ll turn out right, but yesterday just had that extra Christmas magic happening. To be clear, I rarely spend Christmas in New York but go back to Georgia to enjoy it with the family. Over ten years, I may have spent two Christmases in the city and one was with my family from Georgia. So choosing to stay in New York this year was a big deal and could have very well been a hit and miss. To begin with the family was much smaller this year..what would that bring? Then there’s the fact that much of Christmas in the past was spent at  house parties and get-together with my friends in Georgia – true southern style. Christmas in New York was relatively new territory to me.

(Photo Credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

After a late night of food preparation and organizing, I managed to drag myself from bed around 8:30 am and headed out the door a half hour later. Turns out, the weather was pretty decent for running – slight chill but endless sunshine and blue skies. This made for an easy 5 mile run through my neighborhood in relative quiet with just one other runner sighting. Trust me,.nothing excites runners like clean streets when we have to run them, so that was darn cool already. Tempted though I was to up the mileage, I restrained myself as I had plans for church with the family. But I felt exhilarated and energized – simply wonderful – running out there on Christmas morning and I dare it set the tone for the rest of my day.

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Christmas Altar

Church happened, it was beautiful and close by, which was immensely helpful as we didn’t have to deal with commuting. Definitely praise-worthy. When we returned home there was the gifts exchange bit, which is always a fun time and then I prepared a couple of dishes to complete dinner prep. Though I didn’t sit down for very long during this time, I was energized and happy bustling around getting stuff organized. I retired the kitchen and sat down to an early Christmas dinner around 5pm, too hungry for words. For even though I had been cooking, I hadn’t really eaten anything for the day.

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Dinner Table

After dinner I collapsed on the couch for a bit of TV time and hung out with the family for the rest of the evening alternating between some idle chatter, goofy jokes and a couple of movies with a few eats and drinks in between. We crowned off the night watching, what is now a new family tradition, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Truth be told, I have never felt more satisfied and relaxed on Christmas Day than I did yesterday; It must be a New York thing.

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“The Grinch”

Racing with the Snow

“Bid me run and I will strive with things impossible.” Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

I woke up this morning smack dab in the middle of winter! I exaggerate. Seems snow tends to make fools of us all since it’s been setting up like that for the past few days, and but for my head in the proverbial sand, I would have seen it coming. Oh mother of wisdom – to sign up for a race in this crazy weather. Oh well, deal with it, I’m told; that’s what runners do best anyway. So, here I am – well within my element I guess – if I could just get this ugh hair appointment out-of-the-way, get a cross-training class in and get on to the chilling out pre race day part. See, I have such great plans, they just have to work out that way.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m running a half-marathon tomorrow with which I hope to qualify for the New York City marathon next year. Since the qualifying window closes on Dec 31, it’s kind of do or die..well maybe not die, but close. I get no do overs, not this year at least. Am I ready? As much as I’ll ever be in this weather. I’ve been pretty constant with running and though I haven’t been in full-out training mode since October, I’ve maintained a minimum level, which I believe is enough to bring it home tomorrow. The unknown element remains the course and how it pans out after the snow and rain today.

In keeping with tradition, I’ve had the huge pasta dinner and after resting up some, I’m ready for bed. Pretty early for me, but again it’s all part of tradition and good sense. Wish me luck!

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