What the Doc Says…..And Burning Cars

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I made a promise to myself (and the Hubs) that I would have my foot checked out after Portland. I figured that, worst case scenario, I may have to take some time off and cross-train for a month or two while my foot mended. And really, I don’t need to crank up the Boston training until mid-December or even January. So why not find out what’s going on, fix it and then run pain-free? Makes total sense, right?

Except for one thing. My podiatrist is at Dallas Presby. Also known as ground zero for Ebola in the US. Yes, my podiatrist, my internist and my eye doctor, all of whom I need to go see, are located at the hospital that was being swarmed by the press, politicians, and, oh yea, Ebola. No thank you.

So I put off calling all three of my doctors. And continued to run on a heel that feels like someone used for batting practice. I ran, I iced, I complained, I didn’t call. For weeks and weeks. Until finally I decided to hell with it and called my podiatrist. (The other two doctors can wait.)

The good news – there’s no stress fracture. I have a small bone spur but that’s not the cause of my pain.  Nope – true to my personality, I have a very angry tendon that is inflamed from repetitive pounding. The bad news is that there really isn’t anything you can do about it. Yes, I can take an extended period off. But chances are, it will just become angry again once I resume running. So, as the doc says, I can either quit running (“Which I know you will never do.”), or I can manage it thru Boston training and then do more cross-training and less running (“Which I know you wont do either.”).

Thankfully, this doc gets me. Or, I should say, he gets runners. He knows we won’t stop running unless we hear the word “fracture” or our foot detaches from our body. So he showed me how to tape my heel to relieve the stress on my tendon and then instructed me on how to treat it after each run to reduce inflammation (heat first, then roll it with a frozen water bottle).  And, big surprise here, my orthotics were completely shot and needed to be replaced. (I totally thought this was a sales pitch until he flipped them over and showed me the holes I had worn thru them. Whoops.) $175 later, I was walking out with brand new custom orthotics with a special “horseshoe” for my heel.

And before you label me as a sucker, let me tell you – my feet feel 100 times better when I run in them. It’s crazy how I can run 7-10 miles pain-free in orthotics but can’t walk around my house barefoot without hobbling like I have a broken foot.

So anyways, here’s the plan. Run. Heat/Ice. Limp. Repeat. I know it sounds ridiculous but so long as I am not in pain while running, I don’t really care. I do have to give up on the boxing though. As fun as it was to beat the hell out of a heavy bag, the doc thinks the bouncing on my feet may have been what triggered the inflammation in the first place (only because it started after a month of classes).  Which, all things considered, is probably for the best. Remember my belly button hernia?

Oh the things we do to ourselves. And tolerate.

But hey, if I were to do something crazy like take a sabbatical from running, I would miss out on such fun things like random cars blazing in the night. As in fire. In my hood.

Yes, I awoke one morning to this cheery email from the local PD:

Good morning, Mrs.  X,

I am well aware that you go for your morning run around 4am. (Really? Is this because of my past complaints about the police almost hitting me?) Did you happen to run on the morning of October 27th? If so, did you see anything suspicious? At approximately 3:45 a.m. a vehicle was set on fire by arsonists in your neighborhood and I was hoping you might have seen something.

Uh, by suspicious do you mean a burning car? Or maybe a man lugging a can of kerosene around the streets?

Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for me, I had slept in that morning and didn’t witness any fire bombing of cars. But this occurred around the corner from my house. And, as far as I know, I don’t live in the ghetto (although I am really starting to question that).

The officer thanked me for responding and informed me that they were increasing a police presence in our neighborhood for overnight patrols. Which means I have seen exactly ONE patrol car in the past three weeks. Although the local fire department drove thru this morning. I guess they were looking for burning vehicles?

Perhaps in addition to my pepper spray I should begin carrying a fire extinguisher. You know. Just in case I see something suspicious.

 

 

2014 Portland Marathon Recap

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This will be my third attempt at recapping my second voyage down Portland lane.  My prior attempts were either way too wordy or way too damn boring. And we certainly can’t have either of those here.

No sir-e.  This needs to be funny and short(er). How am I doing so far? Yea that’s what I thought. On to the race.

One of the many reasons why I chose to return to Portland is the fact that they have race logistics nailed. With a downtown start, corrals are strategically placed on different city blocks with separate points of entry. The result? I literally walked out of my hotel at 6:35, nervously chatted with the Hubs for 5 minutes as we made our way to my entry point, and after a quick selfie and kiss, I strolled into the FRONT of corral B at 6:42. There were no lines of people waiting to get in. There was no wedging of bodies into a small place.  There was space. Lots and lots of space. And I only had 10 minutes to kill before the National Anthem. Not. Too. Shabby.

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Still looking perky…but grainy.

Another reason why I am a repeat Portland customer…..the weather. We have gone to Portland during the first week of October three years in a row. And three years in a row, NO RAIN. I’m beginning to think this “it rains all the friggin’ time in Portland” is a total ruse to keep tourists away.  As I stood in the corral, the skies were clear and the temperature was an extremely pleasant 54 degrees. Which also means I didn’t have to deal with throwaway clothes. I was just fine waiting in my shorts and tee. Although I would soon wish I had gone with my singlet. Or even just my sports bra.

The starting gun (or whatever they used – I have zero recollection) went off promptly at 7am and the wheelchair racers took off. Approximately 2 minutes behind them went corral A. And then it was our turn. As opposed to last year when I had a sea of humanity start in front of me, this year I was at the front with a huge gap between our group and the speedy A’sters. By 7:04 we were off, flying thru downtown and heading towards Chinatown. I found myself behind the 3:25 pacer – not my planned pace. While all summer I had trained for a 3:30 finish, with my left foot being banged up and general apathetic attitude towards the race in the weeks leading up to it, I had pretty much given up on all expectations and was just going to run the damn thing and get it done.

Ha.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

The smart move would have been me letting Mr. 3:25 go on by and then maybe falling behind Mr. 3:30 for a bit until I grew tired. The super competitive, crazy as bat shit me decided I would ride Mr. 3:25’s tail for as long as possible and see how much time I could bank before hitting mile 16 and the BIG ASS hill that leads up to St.  John’s bridge.  (Imagine running up a 45+ degree incline for a half mile….AFTER running more than a half marathon.  Let’s just say your pace tends to nose dive after that.)

So here I am. Frolicking behind a guy that was really running too fast for me. But I was feeling good. No, I was feeling great. And as the miles clicked by, I began doing mental math (always dangerous) and calculating how much time I was banking. This worked well until about mile 9 when I could no longer perform simple calculations in my head like 4×4 and began to wonder if perhaps I should throw the brakes on and slow it down a bit. But no, I wasn’t ready to yield to my faster-than-me escort. I wanted to keep going for just a few more miles.

And then mile 12 hit. Miles 12-16 basically run you along the side of a “highway.” On one side of you, the Willamette River. The other? The side of a hill. That offered zero shade. And while it was still in the low 60’s at this point, with the sun beating down on you and absolutely zero wind, running on black asphalt got really hot, really fast.

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This was actually around mile 18. But you get the general idea of how I was feeling. Hot and tired. And this coming from a Texas girl.

I could feel my legs starting to get a little sluggish and was quickly running out of my electrolyte drink. I began taking two waters at each water stop, one to slosh down my throat and one to dump down the back of my shirt. After a check of my pace and a gut check, I made the decision to back off and let Mr. 3:25 go. I wasn’t about to risk a DNF due to heat stroke or cramping.

So I chugged along the highway, trying to stay relaxed and allowing my body to recover as much as possible before hitting the turn up to St John’s. It was here that I found my second wind. On THE hill, no less. Not that I sprouted wings and began to fly by any means, but I caught up to several guys who had been following the 3:25 pacer. And I was passing them. My confidence flew thru the roof and I felt my gas tank refilling. This would not last long.

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Don’t I look all happy and confident as I run in front of the 3:25 guys? Of course, they sprinted past me right after this was taken.

Coming off the bridge, I finished the last of my drink and began searching for a water station. I was now at mile 17 and feeling the heat. Runners all around me were limping off to the side of the road with cramps. A few were losing their GU’s in the bushes. And an ambulance zoomed past me to a runner in need. At this point, I didn’t care what my pace was.  I was beginning to hurt – and do negative self talk. This is seriously the dumbest shit you have ever done. Why can’t you stick to half marathons??

My only saving grace was that I had a friend meeting me at mile 19 with another bottle filled with a Gatorade/water mix.  I kept telling myself – just hang on until then. All you need is the bottle and you will feel great.

And then mile 19 rolled past. And no bottle.

Strangely, I didn’t panic. Probably because I was too tired. I did make a mental note that I was not going to buy her a beer after the race. But then mile 20 hit. And there she was. And all was forgiven. (Just kidding, TD. You know I love you.)

Unfortunately, the Gatorade did not prove to be my high octane racing fuel. While it saved my calves from completely balling up (oh but they certainly tried), my energy level was kaput. I stopped looking at my watch and started making deals. Just make it to 22 and then you can run/walk the last 4. Mile 22 would hit…..just make it to 23 and then you can walk the last 3. And then suddenly I saw the Broadway Bridge. Just make it to the bridge, walk the bridge, and then run it home thru downtown.

Except as I came to the bridge, I saw a clock tower. 10:20. And I was just a little over 1 mile out. Huh???? In all my misery I failed to notice that the 3:30 pacer had never passed me. Either he had fallen dead on the side of the road or I was going to come in very close to the 3:30 mark. Now the energy began to flow…..

I gave everything I had to crank it back up and head for home. Which really means I went from an 8:30 to an 8:20 because my body really was toast. I wove my way past walkers (from the half marathon and who were literally blocking the road as they chatted) and made the final turn. There it was. The finish line. Where I could see that the official clock said 3:30:something. Knowing that I had started somewhere 2-3 minutes after the clock had started, I sprinted for that finish line with the biggest grin on my face. Ever.

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It’s funny how you can go from feeling like death to total elation in a matter of seconds.

My official finish time – 3:28:38. Besting my previous PR by over 5 minutes and BQ’ing for 2016 by over 10 minutes.

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Blood shot eyes, completely drenched and with Gatorade stained teeth….never happier to be finished with a race. Never happier to have the Hubs hand me gummy bears.

I swore that Boston would be it for me after Portland. That I would stick to the half and be kind to my body. But I can’t help but wonder – if the weather had been just slightly cooler, could I break 3:25?

Hmmmmmm……..

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Finally Official (and My Plans for the Future)

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After waiting for almost a year to apply for the Boston Marathon, I finally received my acceptance notification yesterday.  I can now officially say – I AM BOSTON BOUND!!!!!!

Seriously, someone pinch me. I still can’t believe I get to do this.

I have been wound up tighter than a top for days while I waited and waited and waited to hear back from the BAA regarding my application. Meanwhile, I saw more and more posts on Facebook from people who applied on the same day as me and who had already heard back. Needless to say, my anxiety was on the rise, and the Hubs was growing tired of listening to me “What If” the situation.

I even went so far as to call the registration office to make sure my app was still in the queue (it was).

And finally – four and a half days later – the email came. This is to notify you that your entry into the 119th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20, 2015, has been accepted….. I swear my heart skipped a beat when I read that. And I’m pretty sure the lady sitting next to me at the red light thought I had spilled hot coffee on myself because I suddenly started swinging my arms in the air like a total crazy and screaming at the top of my lungs.

Now I just have to wait. And train.

Which brings me to the second part of this post – my plans for the future.

In a nutshell, I’m BURNED OUT. Not on running, but on marathon training. On average, it takes me 5 months to prepare for a marathon. That’s 5 months of Saturday mornings eaten up by the long run. And 5 months of Friday nights spent eating the Same. Damn. Thing. to make sure my stomach cooperates the next morning. Going out on Friday nights? Ha. I don’t think we have ventured out of the house on a single Friday night this year. And then there’s the negative effects of distance running – my left foot has been jacked up since May. Plantar fasciitis? Bone spurs? Tendonitis? Who the heck knows. All I know is that both my heel and the ball of my foot hurt. Except when I am running. It’s crazy.  But I’m tired of gimping around and sticking my foot in ice on a daily basis.

And yes – I do plan on going to the podiatrist. After Portland. Or the Halloween half. Perhaps sometime around the holidays….. But yes, I will go.

Needless to say, if I had not gotten into Boston, Portland would be my last marathon for a good while. (I would say ever but I’ve said before I would never run another marathon and here I am….).  So Boston will be my swan song. My “let’s go out with a bang!” Or, more likely, the marathon that I run truly for the experience and take selfies the entire way so I can remember it and show my grandkids one day.

And then I will assess my wounds/injuries. Probably have my hernia surgery. And then switch my focus to halfs – which are truly fun for me, don’t consume my entire life with training and allow me to continue to eat like I have a tape worm.

Because we run so we can eat, right?

RIGHT.

But along the lines of burnout and switching my focus is also a shift in my writing.  It’s been painfully clear for months now that I am tired of blogging about running. Perhaps because marathon training was just beating me down. Or because I really had nothing new to say – I ran. Again.  Blah, blah, blah.

But it wasn’t solely my blogging that had grown stagnant. I started several writing projects this year, wrote furiously for a short time, and then decided that it was all CRAP. By July, I had completely written off my dream of becoming a full-time writer as just that – a pipe dream. It was NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN BECAUSE I CAN’T FINISH ANYTHING.  But after talking with my therapist about my writer’s block/inability to write anything that doesn’t totally suck, she made a suggestion. Forget about writing the next great American novel. Forget about all the Must-Do’s. Set aside one hour each day, pick a random topic, and write about it. No matter what.

So after much debate, I took her idea and ran with it. And in under 30 days, I wrote over 30,000 words on various topics such as potty training, telling my son he’s adopted, switching to a big boy bed, depression, struggling as a mom, creating memories with my family, and things my son randomly says (yelling “We’re all going to die!” as we drove over a bridge). Clearly, I have a passion for writing about being a mom.

I also discovered that, by making myself sit down each night at the same time, I have created a habit of writing. Not only that, but I have learned to write efficiently. I used to struggle to churn out 1000 words an hour. Now I can crank out 1000 words in 25 minutes or less. Partly because I have trained myself to do this. Partly because I love what I am writing about.

Which leads me to this. Early to Rise Runner. Obvously, this is not a mom blog. And I have no intention of turning it into one. But I am developing a new website and plan to launch that before the end of the year (and will post a link for it on the blog).  I don’t expect a good deal of you to follow me – you’re here because of running, not because you want to learn how to bribe your kid to poop in the potty. So I just wanted to warn you, dear readers.  While I will post a race recap for Portland and obviously Boston, I have no idea how often I will post training updates. I don’t want to totally kill this blog. But for now, I am burned out on writing about running.

With all this being said, I am signing off until after Portland on October 5th. For those of you racing before then, best of luck! For those of you who run because you love to run (and eat), don’t let anyone or anything take that away from you. And for those of you who are debating becoming runners, stop reading about running and GO FOR IT!

I love to run. And I will continue to run until I no longer love it. Just as I will continue to write until I no longer love what I am writing about.

Until next time, embrace what you love and do it with joy.

Catch ya on the flip side.

A

 

 

 

Hearts on Fire (Along with Everything Else)

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I swear….bushes are burning around me as I run in the morning. Not in the biblical sense. In the sense that it’s friggin’ hot and humid and I am beyond TIRED of running in it. It should not be 82 with 95% humidity at 4am. That’s just stupid.

What else is stupid is that we should be starting a gradual cooling trend. Instead, we are slated for triple digit heat for the rest of eternity the next 5 days. Come on already! We are 10 days away from September (don’t think I haven’t been counting down). Can we please, for the love of God and my own sanity, at least start dropping the humidity levels? Please?

This week has been so miserable that I have prohibited myself from checking my pace as I run. I already feel like I’m dying out there. I don’t need to be angry, too. Instead, I have just resorted to chanting – Just log the miles – over and over as my heavy feet plod along under the not-very-cool moon light.

This morning was especially painful. After a double workout yesterday (5 miles in the AM and boxing in the PM), my legs felt like they were made of lead. I was sore, cranky, way too tired, and just flat out miserable. I tried losing myself in my music but my body just kept reminding me how much it hated me at the moment. It wasn’t fun. At all.

But one song…one random song….saved me.

Survivor’s Hearts on Fire. Also known as “that training song” from Rocky IV. Suddenly I wasn’t running loops around the shopping center, sweating every last drop of fluid out. I was running thru snow drifts in Siberia with Rocky. Getting ready for my big show down with the Russian/Portland Marathon. I was pumped.

But that doesn’t mean I started hauling. Oh hell no. It was still hot, after all. I just stopped whining about my run and gave thanks that I have the ability to run. Because seriously – as much as I complain about running in this weather, I can’t imagine what life would be like if I couldn’t run.

And how I got to that appreciative, Zen-like state from a cheesy song off an 80’s soundtrack, I dunno. But it worked. Don’t judge me.

10 more days until September. 45 days until Portland. At least in Portland I know it will be cooler!

Summer / Training / Life Recap

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I blinked and summer is almost over. How did that happen?

I would like to say that summer has flown by because life has been so much fun. But that would be a monumental stretch. Truthfully, this summer (and even the spring) has brought all kinds of changes to our family that has left us with our heads spinning, our bodies going 20 different directions at once, and extreme exhaustion from dodging all the hand grenades life has thrown at us.

It’s been fun. Not.

So, without further ado, I offer you this brief summary of my summer/training/life:

It. Sucks.

Just kidding. For reals – here’s the summary:

1.  My mother-in-law fell several times at Easter. This set off a chain of events that involved two hospitals, two stays in skilled nursing facilities, and relocating her from her home in San Antonio to an assisted living facility five minutes from us.  There was also the discovery of some other health issues, which we are still working thru because you can’t get in to see a specialist without waiting 3 months for the next available appointment.  I love our healthcare system.

In all of this I have discovered two things: One, I am not good as a single parent. Two, the Hubs is the best son ever. If you only knew what all he has been thru since April. I love you, babe! And your mom is so lucky to have you.

2.  On a lighter note, E turned 2 in May. And has been in underwear since June. Which means that my washing machine has been under duress as we gingerly tiptoe our way thru potty training. To E’s credit, and because he’s just so darn smart (!!), he quickly figured out that underwear is not the same as pullups and does very well with minimizing peepee accidents.  As for the other….we are still working on it. And I am buying 409 in bulk.

Seriously, E really has figured out potty training. So much so that he is no longer wearing a pullup at nap time. This kid is a rock star in my book. And I love him more and more each day!

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3.  Marathon training…..What can I say? I run and run. And run some more. This weekend we are tackling 20 miles. Then we back off for a week before we push 22. And if memory serves me correct, we begin to taper shortly after that.  I CAN’T WAIT for the taper. It’s not that I’m burned out, per se.  It’s more that I just want to check Portland off the to-do list and then turn my focus on Boston.

My training crew this summer has been nothing but awesome. I never in a million years thought I could hang with the fast guys. And while some Saturdays it feels like I am barely able to hang on, I know that the push they give me will ultimately pay off come race time. Plus – I got the added bonus of running 18 with one Logan Sherman. He’s the Man when it comes to running around here. And while you may be saying “who?” let me shed a little light on this guy. He’s a chiropractor who finds the time to run 90+ miles a week. Why? Because he is trying to qualify for the Olympic Time Trials. Do you know how you qualify/get invited? You run a half in under 1:05 or a full in under 2:18. So far he has run a 1:06 and a 2:22. That’s insane. Absolutely insane. But if anyone can crack qualifying times, it’s Logan. And I for one can’t wait to say – I ran with that guy one time!

4.  Injuries – because you know I can’t make it thru a training cycle without hurting myself. Since May, I have been battling plantar fasciitis/heel pain. Then the ball on that same foot began to hurt. Neither has stopped me from running though. I just ice. A lot. Common sense says I should take some time off and let my foot rest. I apparently don’t have common sense. Nor the time. So I continue to stretch, run, and ice and make promises to myself that, after Portland, I will take some much deserved time off. Right.

I also recently found out that I have a belly button hernia. Look above my navel in this pic:

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See that little bulge? Since May I thought that was just the result of losing visceral fat on my mid-section (and an ugly belly button). Um, no. That’s a hernia. It doesn’t hurt. And I can push it back in (that sounds sick). And I have pretty much ignored it all summer long. But after a run-in with WebMD (which I should be permanently banned from), I called my doctor, fearing that my summer was going to end with surgery. Thankfully, no.  Because my hernia is not symptomatic and is so small, surgery isn’t worth it at this point. And thanks to a strong core, my abs are actually holding the hernia together. So I don’t have any restrictions on what I already do. However, I was advised to not start a heavy lifting program (I hate weights and already avoid them like the plague) and I now skip the lower abdominal exercises during boxing class. Per my doctor, I am years away from needing surgery (provided I don’t do something stupid – good luck with that) and may actually never need surgery.  Let’s hope not. Because I have already read WAY TOO MUCH on the internet about the surgery, recovery and possible complications.

5.   Oh Captain, My Captain.….The loss of Robin Williams really hit home for me, as I’m sure it did for lots of people.  While I have freely discussed my battle with anxiety, I have never discussed my dealings with depression. Mainly because I did not have a name for how I have been feeling until  I finally decided to talk to someone this summer. And although my depression is minor, I do understand the loneliness and darkness that Robin Williams lived with.  The day after his death, I wrote a blog discussing my experience with depression and my reaction to Williams’ suicide. However, it got faaaaarrrr too personal. And deep. So it got filed away for now. Just know this. Even though the person you are talking to is smiling and laughing, doesn’t mean that they aren’t dealing with something deep down inside.

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6.  My writing endeavors. Oh boy. I would love to tell you that I spent this summer writing feverishly on my new project. But that didn’t happen. For a myriad of reasons, I just couldn’t commit myself to sit down and write these past two months. Call it burn out. Call it fear of failure. Call it laziness.  It’s my own fault and I know it. BUT – I am working on a new project that I am beyond excited about. And hopefully I will have it launched sometime this fall.  Hopefully.

However, I CAN say that I am a published writer. I wrote a short article for a local magazine and appeared in their June/July publication.

photo (24)EditedSince my name appears in the article, I decided to not link it to my blog.  But if you would like to read it, I’m pretty sure you savvy people can find it on the internet…..

So there you have it.  My summer in a nutshell. Full of ups and downs, hernias and magazines.  And while it has had it’s share of good times (just about every weekend spent with E in our pool), I am looking forward to cooler temps, shorter days and, of course, candy corn season.

Until next time,

Don’t bust your gut! Keep running!

 

Hitting the Bag

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Raise your hand if you know that cross training is good for you. Come on. Raiiiise it.

Now……raise your hand if you actually cross train.

That’s what I thought. We runners are absolutely HORRIBLE when it comes to cross training. We like to run. We like to race. We like to put on our shoes and go. We don’t like stepping outside of our comfort zone. We certainly don’t like being exposed as a clumsy ass in a class setting. We run. And run. And run.

And then we burn out. Or get injured. Or just stop caring about negative splits, hill repeats and track workouts. It happens, I know. A five-month marathon training program is grueling and tedious. Especially when you are logging tons of mile in suffocating heat and humidity. Last summer, the thrill/pressure of BQ’ing at Portland was enough to push me thru all of those runs that I Did.Not.Want.To.Do.  But geez – running and rowing six days a week gets BORING.

So I knew – going into this training cycle, I needed to find something else to add into the mix. A “change of pace” workout.  Something that would not replace any of my daily runs but would provide a little excitement, get my adrenaline going, and perhaps allow me to burn off some of the anxiety I carry around.

Enter boxing. Cue the Rocky music.

In April I was invited to an open house at a local Title Boxing club. Along with I don’t know how many other people (100 maybe?), I tried out a two-hour class.  This wasn’t your standard Title class. Because of the volume of people, we were broken up into three groups and rotated thru stations – agility drills and sprints, boxing/kickboxing, and an inflated obstacle course designed for two people to race thru.  I must admit – the obstacle course sealed the deal for me.

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You can only imagine my disappointment when I showed up for my first class and there was no giant bounce house in the parking lot…..

Lack of bounce house aside, boxing has proven to be one of the greatest workouts I have ever undertaken.  I can run 18-20 miles and feel semi-ok afterwards.   A one hour boxing class? My body is physically DONE by the end.

Here’s a brief summation of how a class goes:

The first 15 minutes is a “warm up.” I use “warm up” rather loosely. Sure, you stretch your arms, shoulders and legs (for maybe 30 seconds).  But you also are shadow boxing with 3 pound weights (which, I assure you, feel like 20 pound weights by the time you are finished “warming up”). And dropping to the floor for burpees. And power squats and lunges. And push ups. And mountain climbers. And side planks. And then more shadow boxing. All while you are jamming out to Eminem, DMX and Beastie Boys (it’s a total college flashback for me).

After we are sufficiently drenched in sweat and wondering how we are going to last another 45 minutes, we toss the weights to the side and throw on our gloves. This is WORK TIME.  For the next 30 minutes, we work with the bag, throwing whatever combo the trainer calls out.  “Jab, cross, left hook, right upper, right hook.”  It took FOREVER for me to decipher what these words meant. Now it’s automatic (ok, most of the time it’s automatic). And you throw these punches in sequence, over and over until the trainer calls out something different. Typically we work in increments – 30 or 60 seconds – before the combo changes.  And after roughly 3 minutes of pounding, we drop to the floor and do a combination of planks, crunches, push ups, mountain climbers, bear crawls or burpees. There is no rest. You are either throwing punches or on the floor sweating profusely and wondering why your abs suddenly won’t cooperate.

30 minutes of nonstop punching, jumping, crunching and (quiet) cursing. I swear running a marathon is easier.

And right when you think you can’t take anymore and just want to curl up in a ball and suck your thumb, it’s time to take off the gloves and grab a medicine ball. Do you know how many abdominal exercises you can do with a medicine ball?? Too many. And for the last 15 minutes of class, you do nothing but discover how much your core really sucks.

But when you count out the last sit up or push up and collapse on the floor with every muscle twitching in protest, you smile.

Damn it’s fun getting your butt totally kicked!

And the best part? My running has never been better. While I still am doing battle with the Texas heat and humidity, I have found that my exertion level has decreased while my speed has increased. Meaning – I am firing off tempo runs without totally emptying my tank. Last summer, I would push 7-7:15 tempo runs and feel like total garbage at the end. This summer, I’m running the same pace, if not slightly faster, but feeling fresh at the end of my runs.  I can only attribute that to my twice weekly boxing classes.  Because it certainly isn’t cooler.

So for all you runners out there stuck in a training rut, or anyone else looking to try something totally different, I highly recommend you give boxing (or kickboxing) a try. Throw on the gloves, let your fists fly, and channel your inner Rocky.

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Hell Has Frozen Over

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I never in a million years thought I would be sitting at my kitchen table on a Texas July afternoon with my windows open and the AC off. Yet here I am. Perhaps I should pay a visit to a priest and make my confession. Because clearly the end of the world is at hand.

No joke. It was 63 this morning when I stepped outside to run. 63! Do you know when we typically start seeing low 60’s for overnight temps? OCTOBER. It was fan-freaking-tastic to run with goosebumps on my skin instead of sweat pouring off me. And to make it even more glorious, I was running topless (head out of the gutter – I had a sports bra on) and it was misting. Brrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!! Break out the tights!

Fridays are typically a cross training day for me. And I really should have stuck to my schedule and rowed this morning since I have a 16 miler tomorrow. But seriously – who can pass up the opportunity to run with a slight chill in the air when it’s typically in the low 80’s at 4am? Not this girl! So I put it on cruise control, set my tunes to mellow, and did an easy 5.5 around town, enjoying the “polar vortex” that has graciously (and freakishly) dropped our temperature for a day or so.

I’ve been asked repeatedly what’s up with my absence on the blog. Truthfully, summer training is boring. I run, I sweat, I run. Pretty mundane to write about. But I’m now just two months out from Portland and training is quickly intensifying. This is where the rubber hits the road. And it’s where I need to start focusing on what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be tweaked. So, barring the end of the world today, I plan on talking your ear off about running, sweating, and running some more. Lucky, lucky you.

A quick breakdown on how my weekly workouts are going:

Monday – off
Tuesday – 7 miles at half marathon pace (7:35 ave)
Wednesday – 5 mile tempo in the morning (7:15 ave), boxing class in the afternoon
Thurs – 7 miles at marathon pace (7:45 ave)
Fri – 75 minute row
Sat – long slow run (currently at 16 miles, 8:00 ave)
Sun – run an easy 4-5 (8:00 ave) in am, boxing class in the afternoon

It seems like a lot. And it is. But volume wise, I have kept it pretty much in check. I’m still averaging mid-30’s for weekly mileage, which is right where I like to be. That number will jump into the 40’s a few times when we start running 20+ miles on Saturdays. My mileage is atypical from most marathoners. The trend is to run in the low 40’s and ramp up into the mid 50’s and higher. I don’t want to risk injury so I focus on lower miles, speed and cross training. It seems to work well for me so why fix something that isn’t broke?

By the way, in case you are considering cross training and are looking for some guidance on what works well for runners, check out this month’s Runner’s World. There’s a nice writeup on what forms of exercise compliment running (FYI – rowing is discussed on page 50. Just saying.). And I really can’t say enough positive things about my boxing endeavor. In fact, I’ll discuss that in my next post. So brace yourself. Or you might get hit.

Until next time, run long and strong. And then eat everything in sight!

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