Saturday, February 26, 2011

Get me an Asprin and my GPS-Stat!

Last year I got stuck on Space Mountain. Well, not stuck in the way that you think of normally where you are trapped on the top of the steepest hill out in the middle of the ride. This was was much less dramatic. It was actually a problem with the release bar. It was stuck in the down position and they couldn't get us out of the cart. So we got to stay on and ride it again. Or maybe it happened for two rounds, I can't really remember. It's all a blur to me. Literally a blur.

See, I get vertigo. Normally I do ok on roller coasters, especially if I can see what is coming. But on Space Mountain you are in the dark, so you never really get oriented to where you are. Then just about the time you figure you are ok, the strobe lights start. That's when it happened. I started spinning. Now I'm pretty sure there are no spins in Space Mountain but it didn't matter, my brain was spinning. Then we get to the spot where at least I'm prepared for what is coming next...I'm getting off the ride and wham, the bar is stuck and I can't get out and it starts all over again.

That's what my life has felt like lately, especially this week. I can't seem to get oriented to where I am and I'm not sure what is going to come at me. The obvious area this is happening in this week is the weather. Wednesday night I ran in 37 degree rain at the track. Cold and painful. Not my favorite. Thursday I woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland at my house only to learn from the TV that I had to go to work. We already know how that went.

Thursday night I get a flash alert that my district is closed on Friday due to ice and possible snow. Friday I awake to the most beautiful sunny winter day ever. I had a lovely day with my sister so that was worth it but jeez, I just can't figure out what is coming.

Today I log into my online grad class to learn that the final has been pushed up and is now due in one week. Crap, one week? Are you kidding me? I also woke up to 19 degree weather so Sean, Sarah and I decided not to participate in the 10K race we were supposed to do as our long run so boom, another plan thwarted this weekend. I'm running tomorrow with a fellow training program friend, but it is still off plan.

And then there is the whole running experience. For a while it was feeling great. Now weird things are cropping up again. Is it an IT issue or the knee? Why is it in the hip on one side and the lateral knee on the other? Are those my shins again? What the heck? Do I use my inserts or not? I just can't seem to figure out what is coming and depending on the day it changes. How am I ever supposed to get better if I can never really figure out what works and what doesn't? Why can't this just be easy?

Sometimes I wish I could figure out who holds this playbook of life. I'd like to steal it just long enough to get a glimpse through the plans. If I could just get some sort of a tiny sense of what is coming.....maybe I could get oriented again. I'd like to feel like I'm on solid ground, and once again headed in the right direction.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pump the Brakes!

Damn it Jim, I'm a teacher not a snow plow driver!

Of course you wouldn't have guessed it today as I careened through an intersection, directly across two lanes of traffic and narrowly avoided coming to a rest in the ditch across the street. I plowed a big old pile of snow in front of my car along the way. No my ABS on my AWD Subaru did not kick in at all. As Sean has explained to me, my car did not have any idea it wasn't stopped already. My 4 wheels were locked up solid in the slide of death towards the impending intersection. Luckily I had an audience of little kids waiting for their very late bus. If only they had score cards. Once I came to a stop inches from the ditch and facing on-coming traffic, I put the old Subie in reverse and like Sean had also pointed out, they "go" just fine, it's the stopping that's the problem. Much to the relief of the mini-van coming my way in it's own lane of traffic, I backed up and got headed in the proper lane towards work. I did another slide into the parking lot and finally made it into a spot and out of the car. An hour and 30 minutes after I left for my 25 minute commute to Albany on this snowy winter drive.

Oh did I mention the 40 minutes I spent sitting on I-5? I was at a standstill while the overturned semi blocked all lanes of traffic? Did I mention the fact that every school district in a 50 mile radius around us was closed for the day? Did I mention that Albany had a snow day back in November for about 4 flakes of snow on the ground? But today as inches and inches piled up and accidents were happening everywhere, my district deems that it is a safe day to go to work/school for all involved.

Oh hells ya we are smart in Albany. Good thing I made it to work in one piece so that I could teach the 14 children that actually showed up today.

I can hardly wait to see what happens tomorrow.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No apologies!

I am having a blast with my half-marathon training. Is it hard? Am I feeling pain? Hell yes and hell yes. But I am done apologizing for the fun that I am having. I refuse to accept that there is no fun in improvement. I refuse to accept that if you can talk you aren't working hard enough. I refuse to accept that if you are smiling and having a jolly good time then you just aren't doing what you should be or that you could work harder. That is simply not true.

See, I've been down the other path. The path of tears, pain and loneliness. I've pushed so hard that I've taken myself out of the game. I've run the silent miles where the minutes just tick away. That didn't work out for me. So this time, much like my favorite 90210 girl Kelly Taylor, I choose me. I choose fun over speed. I chose laughter over silence. I chose irreverence and sarcasm, over decreased minutes running. As it is the time flies by and I don't think I'd want less time having this much fun! I am 42 years old with a bad knee running on borrowed time. I'm going to make the most of the time I have left in the running community and I'm going to have fun with it.

No more will "I'm sorry" escape from my mouth. I will not apologize for the life I have lead that has placed me where I am. I am in the middle to the back of the pack. If you must know, it's the damn finest place to be. We have fun back here. Will we win any races from this vantage point? Hell no, but I could push myself to the breaking point and maybe shave of 30 seconds or more, but would it put me in a better place? Hell no? I'm never going to win so I may as well have a rocking good time. And the truth of the matter is the view is pretty damn fine from here. I'm proud of where I'm at. Truth be told I never thought I'd make it this far.

And so I announce to the world that I will make no more apologies for where I am. I accept it, I embrace it, and quite frankly at this stage of the game I can think of no where else I'd rather be.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Babies and Puppies!

All this cuteness can only mean one thing! Spring must be around the corner. Well, not really because it is freaking cold outside right now and I can see snow in the foothills. But today I spent my time admiring a young recently adopted shelter dog and holding a one week old real baby.

A big congrats to Erin and Luis for the successful reproductive endeavor of one Mateo Sebastian Puga. That is a damn fine little guy. I love his expressive, hostile little face. I have no idea what he could be so angry about in his short lived existence, but the expressions and scowls he makes are priceless. It is going to be extra fun watching him grow up. He gets huge bonus points from me for allowing me to hold him for nearly an hour without screaming once. Seriously, that has never happened before. Usually babies sense my terror and scream immediately. Kudos Tao for being brave or angry enough to let me hold you!

The puppy I saw was also adorable. A recent transplant from CA to our local shelter (see even dogs want the Oregon relocation program), he was adopted to an older lady who was told he was between 18 months and 2. She had big news today though when the vet informed her that he was only 8 months at the most. She was carrying him with her everywhere because she said she's never had a puppy before and doesn't trust him left alone. Good plan having had personal experience of leaving a puppy alone in my early dog owning days! He was full of pep and cuteness as was she. I think they will be an excellent match.

Now I'm home on my forced (ouch, quit twisting) day off. I'm loving this cut day, although my paycheck won't love it especially as tax day approaches. My dog while not as cute at that tiny guy won't let me out of his sight either. He walks me from room to room, settling himself down even if we are only there for a minute or two.

There is something to be said for the total love of someone who depends on you. Be it a baby or a pooch, I like that someone notices I'm here and is excited to see me. Now, if I could only train him to unload the dishwasher.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ooo la la!

Oh yeah, I got some pretty little things for Valentines Day! We are talking jet black with some smokin' red accents. Short and tight in all the right places. Show a little leg and make them beg for more. Oh heck yes I'll proudly wear this around town. True love isn't afraid to make such a purchase because it knows it all comes back in the end.

Oh yes, I got what I wanted on this amazing day dedicated to lovers!

New capri running tights!

What the heck did you think I was talking about?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Move over Eminem

8 Miles! Now when I hear that I am no longer besieged with images of Eminem in a grey hooded sweatshirt. No more bad semi-biographical movie references. Rather I shall remember a beautiful run on a warmer than average February morning. Yesterday I ran 8 miles with my pace group in my on-going training program for the Corvallis Half.

We started out with a cool little talk at the local tri shop about fuel on the run. It is interesting to shift your mindset from using exercise to burn calories and to wrap my head around taking in calories to fuel my performance. When my only thoughts for starting runs in the first place was to lose weight, this is a big thinking shift. But I get it and I will follow it. After an exceptional amount of loving from the shop's mini-aussie to help with my motivation, I found my group and headed out.

It felt good from the start. As the miles passed, I began to wonder why I had spent so much time worrying about the 8 all week. Two more than the previous week had intimidated me. It shouldn't have. While I was getting pretty tired by the end, the group dynamics kept the energy up and I got to talk to several people I hadn't talked to before. It is nice to have that energy source when your reserves start to deplete.

I heard a rumor that next week might be 10. Am I scared about that? Hells yeah. My achy knee this morning is a not so gentle reminder that these are pavement miles and they are a lot less forgiving than the trail miles of last summer. But I will stretch well this week and prep well. If it gets tough I know that my group will pull me through. There is something to be said for being a social creature!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Running on Fumes

Donut fumes that is. Tonight was track night again. I avoided it last week due to my cold, but I had to go back and face the music tonight. Armed with my new strategy and buddy Melinda I met Sarah after work and we headed for the workout.

Sarah looked amazing. I enjoyed watching her jog away. I found my buddy and we started running. Tonight was a 3 minutes of fast (ha ha, theoretically that is) and 1.5 minute of recovery. We picked up the speed on the 3 and walked the 1.5. I intended to slow jog the 1.5 but ended up walking. I'm really nervous about the Saturday long run this week which is 8 miles. So I figured I'd save my track legs this evening. The night went great and we ended up doing 3.8 miles with a total average including walking breaks of 10:31/mi so I feel really good about it.

My sister lapped me 3 times. I'm so proud of her. I'm no longer deluding myself that I can try to keep up. I feel good in my own right. I've found a nice little niche for myself with new running folks who are trying to enjoy it just like me. We are kind of having fun even. Who knew.

Like tonight when at about 2/3 of the way through the workout we suddenly all smelled donuts at the same time. I don't know where the scent came from, but for about one lap we chatted about what color, shape and type of donuts they were. Then we discussed Voodo donuts and before we knew it, our last interval was done.

Friends, fumes and no extra calories consumed. For the first time ever I can say that this track night was a very good night!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Finding peace in intervals!

I missed the group long run yesterday due to my cortisone injection on Thursday. I was supposed to wait at least three or four days prior to running again. Today was day 3 and there had been a post on the training board from someone looking for a partner. She is slightly slower than I am and is on a 3:00min run/30 sec. walk recovery program at about an 11:00 min mile. I figured that would be a great way to easy back into it after my week off due to various injuries and illness.

We met downtown at the skate park with plans to repeat the 6 mile route of the prior week. I didn't clue her in on my secret plan to bail at my house if the run wasn't going well. The route literally runs within 100 yards of my front door. I set my Garmin to start and kept track of our pace. She set her phone to it's pre-programed application of an electronic male voice which would command us to "high" when it was a running sequence and "low" when it was a walk break. Funny how much quicker the walk breaks ended. At first his electronic voice was annoying. We laughed at it and discussed whose voice we would prefer to be speaking to us as we trained. I found out that there is a Lance Armstrong application and you can bet your sweet ass that I'm going to be looking into purchasing it. However as the run progressed, I noticed something I wasn't expecting at all.

Walk breaks made all the difference in the world. We actually ran a 10:30 or less pace the entire running sections. But knowing that you were going to get a regular recovery time in between kept me going. I finish the run today pain free. Yes, pain free. My pace was slower than last week, but who cares. Slower and pain free, and not even that much slower either. I can't believe how much better I feel this week.

And so I shall with my ego in check switch groups next week to the run/walk group. My pride is slightly bruised, but I feel so good that this has to be what all those people are talking about when they say they find peace in running. I just had to slow down long enough to listen to the voice, be it an electronic voice prompting my speed or the voice in my head saying-"this is what you are supposed to be doing dummy". I don't know. Either way, I feel better than I've felt in months and I'm going to go with it.

Of course, if I have to have a voice whispering sweet commands to me, you can bet I'm headed out looking for the Lance version I've given up some pride at this point but not my ability to dream!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Evolution of the Shoe

Last night was the 4th annual girls Bridgeport trek. My friend Kathy quit smoking 4 years ago (or would it be 5?) and each year we commemorate the event by piling a bunch of tired teachers into a Chevy Tahoe and driving to Portland to shop for shoes and enjoy a decent meal together. It is always a blast and a not to be missed event.

It's funny how much can change in 4 years. Over the past 4 years we have had three babies born and one more set to arrive any day now. There have been marriages and a divorce and a separation. We've been transferred to different schools. So many changes. I'm still married, have no children born, nor unborn, but I too am not impervious to the changes in the group. The one big change I've noticed is the shoes I've purchased on the trip.

The first year I bought a red pair of Mary Jane's with a 4 in heel. They are beautiful and still sit proudly in the top of my closet. I have no idea when the last time I wore them was.

Year two, another mile high strappy sandal. I walked around in the store for 40 minutes before I decided for sure to purchase them. Unfortunately, I think that was the most I ever wore them and I honestly can't quite even remember what they looked like.

Last year I was nursing my twisted ankle during the trek and I purchased an ugly set of flats. I didn't like them then and I don't like them now. I still have them and they get worn, but no one is happy about it.

This year I went in looking for something specific. Beauty and function. I found it too. In the form of two pair of Jambu shoes. They are beautiful and they feel like pillows on my feet. Beautiful pillows of work shoes.

I'm not going to even make a box for the top of my closet for these shoes. They will not be placed in the shrine of the shoes that once were but rather they get a front and center spot in the row of shoes that are. I think my knee, ankle and any other part of my leg that I will surely manage to injure prior to the completion of this 1/2 marathon endeavor will appreciate them.

Functional, sensible shoes. I have officially become an athlete. Well, at least in my head I have because that is the only way that I can possibly reconcile the purchase of these shoes on my once yearly girls trip to shoe heaven.

Yes, a lot can change in 4 years.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting on pins for the needle

Tomorrow I have a cortisone injection scheduled. It has taken all my will power not to call and cancel it. I am a gigantic baby about this. I've been dreaming about it, in nightmare form all week. At a minimum it will at least be over with!

This is the first of the conservative treatment options to get my left knee back to it's pre-"Big Climb" self. I miss that knee. I miss what it could do. It has come a long way since it hit rock bottom back in July and swelled up so much it wasn't recognizable as a knee. However, months of PT and gentle coaxing have not returned it to it's totally normal state. I visited a second opinion Dr. a couple of weeks back who informed me that unlike Dr. opinion #1, who claimed there was nothing they could do, this guy said there are loads of things we can do. I guess that is why it took 6 months just to get into a consultation and every athlete I know loves him.

And so I start with the most conservative approach. Two injections into my knee joint. One to numb the pain and the other to pump the drug. I hope they get the order right.

I hope this works. I hope it doesn't make it worse. Please, please, please don't make it worse. I hope I don't puff up like that former olympian on the Biggest Loser from the steroid. What if I get 'roid rage. Wait, would that even look any different than my normal personality?

I wonder if I at least get a balloon or a lollipop when I'm done. After all, isn't that normal shot protocol? At least I took the entire day off in case it I need to stay off my knee. I sense a little General Hospital therapy in my future. And a Starbucks. Venti....