About Me

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Runner. Nerd. Relentless reader and documentary watcher. Beer, vodka, and wine lover. Marathoner. Studier. Music Snob. Traveler. Chocolate lab owner.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Feed the F*cking Dog

(Disclaimer: there are a few swear words in this post.  For those of you that know me in real life, you know that I cuss enough to make a sailor blush, but I try to avoid it in writing.  In this case, I'm quoting and I felt it was necessary.  It's really not that bad, but I felt like I should warn you anyway.)

Jenn begged me to blog again, and this is one of her favorite stories.  It's a story that I wish I could tell you in person.  It requires my particular brand of snark, a little bit of interpretive dance, the happy hour setting, and the kind of wild hand gestures that would lead me to spill a beer in your lap.  Your lap, not mine.  Bear with me, runners, because just like every other thing I say and do, I manage to tie it back into running.  That seems to be the curse of marathon training.  EVERYTHING you do is somehow related to tied back into running.  For those of you that aren't runners, you might actually enjoy this anyway.

When you choose nursing as a career path, it takes a certain amount of courage to walk into that hospital every day.  You have to be brave enough to assume that you can handle whatever is thrown at you, confident enough to trust your instincts and training, and just bad-ass enough to keep your unruly patients in line in order to pass them on to the next shift.

Over the summer I had the pleasure of taking care of a particularly memorable patient.  We'll call her "Miss H."  Miss H was a total disaster.  On a scale of one to ten, with one being a "hot mess," and ten being a "train wreck," she ranked about an eleven ("it's one louder than ten").*  She belonged in the locked psych unit, but she wasn't medically stable enough to be there. She had every blood disease known to man, and if it wasn't transmitted sexually then she picked it up off a used drug needle.  Let's just say, I didn't want any of her body fluids coming anywhere near mine.

Miss H, because of her high risk of falling, had been given a bed that is very low to the ground.  Because of her delusions, she had been assigned a sitter.  The hospital employs sitters, whose only job is to sit in a patient's room and keep them from hurting themselves.  Miss H had a central line (a large IV-like catheter) in her jugular vein that she had been trying to remove on her own.  She had also attempted several times to leave the hospital. She was unsteady on her feet and was not able to stay oriented to her environment. See above: train wreck.

I confidently strolled into her room and said, in my sweetest morning voice, "good morning Miss H.  My name is Ashley, and I'll be taking care of you today. What can you tell me about your night?"  She didn't even look at me.  She was sitting on her low bed with her feet on the ground.  She cried out, as if in pain, and drew her knees up to her chest.  Concerned, I squatted by her bed and said, "Miss H, are you hurt?  What happened?" She again, failed to even glance in my direction as she said, "you know that g*d damn cat from down the street?  They're always letting that piece of shit run around.  No more."

Unsure of what to do, my body frozen in a squat, I pivoted my head to glance at the sitter who let out a combination of a grunt and a laugh.  I was acutely aware that my patient was bat-shit crazy, and it was my job to battle it out for the remainder of the shift.  This was one of those battles that was going to require a little more bravery and strength than I was accustomed to.

Keep in mind, Miss H also had a roommate.  This roommate wasn't so sane herself.  Every time I spoke to my patient, her roommate would answer.  Here was just one of the many exchanges we had:

Me: Miss H, would you like a Sprite?
Roommate: I don't want no damn Sprite.
Miss H: Ma'am, I was speaking to your roommate. If there's something you would like, I'd be happy to get that for you.
Miss H: Who let her in here?  You know she's up here smoking that shit.  Oh hell no! Not in my house.
(It should go without saying that no one was smoking in the room.  Also, Miss H seemed to have forgotten the fact that she was homeless.)
Roommate: Where's my damn Sprite?  These stupid kids...

Much of the day continued like this.

Periodically throughout the day Miss H would burst into tears, start ripping at her central line, or try and get up to leave the room.  I'm not sure if you have ever had to intervene with a person that is having drug-withdrawal hallucinations, but it's near the bottom of the list of my favorite things to do.   Several times that day, Miss H would look in the corner of the room and say something along the lines of, "I'm gonna kick his ass...that stupid mother f*cker."

With anger in her eyes, this would be the point where she would stand up and head towards the corner.  Since she was a high risk for injuring herself we had no choice but to intervene.  There was no one in the corner, but I was afraid that as soon as I stepped near her she would find me.  I'm not sure, but I was afraid that to her I might look remarkably similar to "that stupid mother f*cker."  I'm not keen on putting myself in front of a combative, hallucinating patient that's ready to spit hepatitis in my eye (that's not exactly how it works, but you get the idea), but it's also my job to keep her from hurting herself.

My day progressed from a polite "Miss H, please have a seat," to a very stern "SIT. YOUR. ASS. DOWN. NOW."  I didn't leave her room all day.  She blamed me for missing the birth of her grandchild.  She told me the sitter threw her down the stairs.  She warned me of the dangers of sharing a crack pipe because some of those people have AIDS.  This was not the time to remind her that so did she.

The day climaxed with her simultaneously swinging at me and the sitter as she tried to leave the room, and then burst into tears before taking a seat on her trash can.  After finally getting her back in bed, she started in on her rice crispy treat that was leftover from lunch.  She sat down, got a glisten in her eye as she tore off chunks of her dessert.  She fixed her gaze under her roommates bed while puckering her lips and beckoning with her hand.  She smiled and said, "see that dog?" as she began to throw pieces of her rice crispy treat under the bed while saying, "come 'ere boy!"

I roll my eyes towards the sitter and put my hands in the air.  The sitter and I exchange a brief look.  It is the look of sisters.  It was a look that can only be shared among people that have experienced an epic event.  It was as if we had survived a plane crash, natural disaster, or nuclear fallout.  We had been battle hardened and suffered.  We were at our breaking point.  In exasperation I said to the air, "feed the f*cking dog.  I don't even care anymore."

Nursing is about priorities, and after all we had been through that day, preventing my patient from making it rain cereal treats was not a concern of mine.  If she wanted to make some snap crackle pop confetti I was going to allow it.  I reached the point where I had not choice but to just carry on.  It's not how I pictured my day, and it wasn't pretty, but I knew that I had done everything I could.

"Feed the f*cking dog" has become something that I say a lot now. When I've reached the point where things are out of my hands.  If I've done everything I can, and now I'm just forced to sit back and watch.  I also say it when I just don't give a shit.

You still with me, runners?  Here's where I bring it back:

When you run you have plenty of time on your hands to think.  I think about this patient a lot.  It was such a shit-show of a day, but I can't help but laugh every time I think about it.  I know I have posts that tend to get philosophical, or motivations that can be incredibly corny.  The reality of it is, at mile twenty, I doubt that I will be saying, it's only "about an hour."  When I am miserably trying to suffer through that last .2, I don't think I'll be able to say, "remember why you run!" (<--both posts you should check out)

Just like that day, I have NO idea what to expect when I'm running a marathon.  I will be brave enough to go to the start line, confident enough that my training and rest will get me through, and just bad-ass enough to force myself to finish.  I know there will be some miraculous highs, but I'm dreading the inevitable lows.  Despite what happens, I'm sure that at least some of it will be a miserable experience.  I'm expecting it, and I accept it.  

My mind will quit on my body.  My body will quit on my mind.  Despite the training, and the support, and the motivation, I'm going to be dealt blows that I can't comprehend right now.  I will be battle worn and scarred both physically and mentally.

At that point I will have lost all shreds of arrogance.  I won't be able to turn to my sappy sentiments.  When I've done all I can, I will just have to somehow keep going and say, "Ash, feed. the. f*cking. dog."

*Sorry if you don't get the reference to "This is Spinal Tap."

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Post About Nothing

I can't gather my thoughts into one cohesive post. Here's what's been on my mind this week:
  • Do you think I would be a better runner if I liked bananas? I'll choke 'em down before and after a race, but I would be a lot more eager if instead of post-race bananas they gave you post-race tacos. Post-race bacon, anyone?
Now Grandpa, that was a man that liked bananas.
  • Why is my dog always trying to steal my food? She's just tall enough that she can put her front paws on the counter and take anything. I always see her plotting to do this. Taking food from me when I'm in a state of runger is just rude. Marley, not only am I your best friend, I'm pretty sure I'm your ONLY friend. Don't be an asshole.
When she was this size, she couldn't reach the counter, but she was tall enough to knock the trash can over.
Maybe she's still trying to get back at me for the time I threw snow in her face. I thought she liked it.
I also thought she liked learning to long board. Maybe she's still mad about that, too.
Ahh, it must be the hat she's still angry about. Ole!
In all fairness, she walked right into that hose.
It just can't be stopped, this girl's hungry.
  • Here's what my ten-year-old sister got for her birthday: an ice skating birthday party. That's fine. Family dinner at the Japanese Steakhouse. That's also fine. we always get to pick where we eat on our birthday. She got a shopping spree at Justice. OK, that makes sense, she does need presents. Lastly, and here's the kicker...wait for it...she got an iPad. iPad's are unnecessary for millionaire business men, let alone a 5th grader. I would jump in front of a train if I thought it would improve her life, but I would not buy her an iPad. When I get an email from her, I shouldn't have to wonder if it's coming from her personal laptop, her Blackberry, or her iPad.

You have to love her.
  • Speaking of siblings, my little brother is dressing as Michael Jackson for Halloween. I find this awesome for several reasons. First, my little brother is an absolute stud. He's breaking hearts of eight-year-olds all over the state of Iowa. He's a charmer. He bases every choice based on whether or not the ladies will like it. He'll make a perfect Michael Jackson. Second, he can pull it off. Not only is he a stud, but he's a good dancer. He takes hip hop dance classes (He's very wise. Once, when I asked him about his hip hop class he said, "well it's fun, but I like to talk to the other boy. You know I like girls, and girls like me, but sometimes girls are kind of crazy, ya know?"). Lastly, I am thrilled that he likes Michael Jackson. When he was four he would call me and sing every word to the Copa Cabana. As adorable as it was, I disapproved of his choice in music. I'm glad he was able to eventually make good choices despite the fact that my step-dad is a member of the Barry Manilow fan club. I wish I was kidding.
Lock up your daughters.

My step-dad looks like a man that listens to Barry Manilow, does he not?
  • I hate Halloween. What causes our thoughts to change from "am I too old to go trick-or-treating?" to "where can I find stripper shoes to match my lingerie?" Ladies, wearing underwear and cat ears does not make you a cat. It makes you a girl that is most likely inappropriately dressed for the climate, and most certainly inappropriately dressed for public. If you wouldn't wear it in front of your dad (or anyone's dad, for that matter) don't wear it in public.

This is what we looked like last Halloween. You know it's Halloween because that's a man dressed as bacon behind us.
  • Speaking of dads, the older my dad gets, the less he looks like Forrest Gump. I find this disappointing.

When I'm right, I'm right.
  • The Nike Women's Marathon: I told my friend Jenn that I wouldn't want to run a women's marathon. That's too many chics for me. She said, "well, I just want the Tiffany necklace." Excuse me? Tiffany necklace? Apparently when you finish that race a fireman hands you a blue box with a Tiffany necklace inside. Excuse me? Firemen? OK, I am highly interested in running the Nike Women's marathon.
  • Holy Boston, Batman! I'm proud of all my friends that earned a spot there, but I'm not proud of all the ugliness the controversy brought out in a lot of runners. I would be crushed too, I'm sure. So, I'm also sorry for all the runners that didn't get in. Boston is just like anything else, once everybody starts talking about it, I want them to stop.
  • While we're talking about running, let me just say I'm out of my damn mind. I haven't ran my first marathon yet, but I signed up for two more next year. I'll be doing with Cowtown challenge in Ft. Worth in February with Jenn, Lee and Isis (The Running Couple), and some other DM/Twitter friends. I somehow got convinced to sign up for MDI next October. I'm pretty scared of that one. I already asked a friend to run the Cleveland Marathon in May, and I'm trying to convince my cousin to do Rock n Roll Seattle in June. On top of that, I have a Ragnar team for June, Rock n Roll Chicago Half in August, Rock n Roll STL Half in October, and I'm sure I'll somehow participate in the Go! STL Marathon Relay or Half.

This is my friend in Cleveland. He's a Cross Fit and general fitness rock star. He ran a marathon without even training because he said, "I felt like I should just be able to do it." When I asked him if he wanted to do the Cleveland Marathon with me, he didn't even stop to think, he just said, "sure." What a bad ass.
  • You know you're a runner when you have no Saturday night plans, but you have Saturday morning plans. Being a runner interferes with my social life.
  • Whenever I'm running and I approach another runner, I always want to raise my hand to give them a high five. It would make me really happy, but I haven't done it for fear of scaring the other runner.
  • The Halloween 10k was pretty fun. It was nice to see a large mass of sober people moving through my neighborhood for once. The race was poorly organized and the support wasn't very good, but it was only a 10k so I guess that's not a big deal. I felt very popular because I ran into several different people that I knew, some before the race, some while running, some watching, and a couple afterward. They were EVERYWHERE.

Yep, there's my house in the background.

I can barely run in clothes that are made for running. I don't know how people run in paper mache anything.

That's all for now. Thanks for listening, or not listening. Either one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why I Run

I have no idea why I'm still running, but I do know why I started. My decision to start running was two-fold. It centered around my job, and my career goals. I'll elaborate a bit on both.

I work in the Cardiac Cath Lab at St Louis Children's Hospital. We treat children with heart defects (congenital and acquired) and arrythmias. I have countless stories of tragedy, and just as many of miracles. My pager has gone off at 3 am to save a child that's being airlifted from Oklahoma, we've had babies rushed the hospital next door immediately after their birth, and had children flown in from as far as Nepal to be treated by us. In short, my job is amazing, and I'm lucky to have it.

This is what I look like at work. We aren't usually hooked up to microphones, but this particular day we were broadcasting a live case to China. That's Dr B., one of the best Interventional Pediatric Cardiologists in the world. He sometimes babysits my dog, refers to me as his surrogate daughter, and calls me "Ash-Hole." He's a hell of a guy and one of my favorite people on the planet.

I've seen plenty of codes, but there's one that really stuck with me. In early Fall of 08 we had a young teenage boy that received a heart transplant as an infant, and was coming to the Cath Lab for his yearly biopsy. I was standing next to him holding his hand as the anesthesiologist was preparing to put him to sleep. I can't tell you why, but something about it didn't feel right. I went to one of our nurses and I said, "something isn't right here. That kid gave me a look like I was the last person he was ever going to see." She responded by saying, "Ash, what is wrong with you? You never get like this." She was right, I never get like that, but something had me very uneasy.

When we were done with the case I was standing next to him again as the anesthesiologist was waiting to pull out his breathing tube. Again, I just didn't feel right. I looked at his monitors and saw that everything was fine. I looked back at the patient and said to the anesthesiologist, "he just doesn't look right." As soon as the words came out of my mouth is ECG flat lined and blood started shooting out of his breathing tube.
We immediately started chest compressions, coded him for a couple of hours, and ended up bringing in the surgeons to open his chest and perform surgery right there in the Cath Lab. When codes are going on it's my job to run around and grab whatever supplies the doctors are calling for, assist with compressions, hand off drugs from the pharmacist, hook up drips, prepare equipment, page specialists, etc. My hands were shaking so bad I could barely manage to open sterile supplies.

Another nurse said, "Ashley, what is wrong with you? Your whole body is shaking. You act like this is your first time." This may sound bad, but try to understand: I'm good at what I do because I can watch a child dying and still keep a clear mind and a steady hand. In order to be good at my job I have to be that way. You can't save a life if you're too frantic to hang an IV bag. That doesn't mean that I don't freak out a little once it's all over, because sometimes I do. That doesn't mean it doesn't affect me, because it always does. Regardless, I have to keep my cool in the heat of the moment.

With this kid, I had a really hard time keeping my head on straight. He was put on the transplant list, and luckily received his new heart within a couple of weeks. At his first post-transplant checkup, he came in the room, saw me, and said, "you're the one that saw me die." He comes back often for his post-transplant checkups and refuses to come in on a day that I am not working.

Very cool news stories done on our patients:
Dream Catcher
Camp Rhythm

Work isn't always crazy. Sometimes we have no cases and I get to play HORSE with the docs.

Yes, I shoot like a girl.
Sometimes I even get to put my feet up.

In terms of the things I have seen, that day was very mild. In terms of emotions, that day was off the charts. I'm normally very calm, collected, and low-anxiety. I left that day feeling very guilty. Here's this teenage boy that should be trying out for high school sports and helping his family on the farm, instead he's fighting for his life. Here I am, perfectly healthy and not doing anything to take care of myself.

That very day I decided that it was unacceptable for me to have a perfectly healthy heart and take it for granted. I was always an athlete, but I never worked out without a reason. I played soccer, swam and cheered, but outside of practice I didn't do anything extra. Once I got to college, I rarely, if ever, worked out. I'm not lazy, I just tend to get bored.

I started working with a trainer just to get in the zone. At the start, I had no plans of running.
At some point, I decided that as a 23 year old, I should be able to run a 5K. I started forcing myself to run and I hated every second of it. I couldn't even run the entirety of my first "race." That was two years ago this month. I ran another one a month later and I was able to run the whole thing, but I still didn't like it. I ran every now and then, just because it was a good way to exercise when I wasn't with my trainer.


The reason I decided to start distance running has everything to do with my educational and career goals. I graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Biology and Psychology in '07, and started working at SLCH in '08. I have been working as a Cath Lab Tech since then. I eventually want to work as a nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at SLCH. That's where many of our patients come from, and they are the sickest kids in the hospital. Working at SLCH is very good experience for me, and a great way to get my foot in the door. I was offered higher paying jobs with better hours (no 3 am pager calls!), where I would actually get to use the B.S. I worked for. I turned them down in lieu of the Cath Lab experience, because I knew that it would be better for my future as a nurse.

I was accepted to start nursing school in September of 09. I had a few pre-requisite courses that I needed to take, so I worked full time and took 8 credit hours in the Fall, Spring, and Summer until school started the next year. I have always been lucky that school has never been a struggle for me. I had 14 absences in first trimester of Senior year alone and still managed to graduate as a Salutatorian. It just wasn't that difficult for me. Again, I'm not lazy, I just get bored.

Becoming a nurse was really important to me, and something that I had been heading towards for a while. By the time Spring of 09 rolled around I was incredibly frustrated. It still seemed like it was so far away, and I wasn't accomplishing anything. Work was going well, but there was no room for advancement until I become a nurse.
I couldn't do anything to advance my education other than sit and wait for nursing courses to begin. I was just taking my mandatory prereqs at a Community College. I never had to do homework or study. I just showed up on test day.

I had started to feel really worthless. I knew needed to find a goal that I had to really work for.
I had still been working out with my trainer, but not towards anything specific. We were working together just to keep me in good shape. I heard about some friends that had ran a half marathon, and that's when it clicked. It was March, and I knew if I trained that I could do it by July if I wanted to. I chose to do it because I knew it would be really hard for me. I needed a challenge. I needed to work my ass off for something. Not only would it be a physical challenge, but for someone like me who bores easily, training for and running 13.1 (don't forget the .1!) miles would be an enormous mental challenge.

That first half (Joker's Wild at Westport) was pretty miserable. The course was terrible. Straight uphill, straight downhill, repeat. After that, I didn't run again for months. Eventually, I ended up coming full circle. A year later, I knew some girls that needed another person for a relay, so I agreed to join their team. It turns out they were running the Joker's Wild, the race that I vowed to never run again. I actually enjoyed it this time around, despite being late, the heat, the storm, and the ex encounter. I ran my second individual half a month after.
Somewhere in this dust, one of our teammates was still running.

The weather at the Joker's Wild. This was shortly after a tree came down on the mile 10 aid station.

My running career is still in its infancy. I've only got 3 half marathons under my belt, a couple 10Ks, a few 5Ks and my first marathon is quickly approaching. I have no idea why I keep upping the ante, but I do know that I won't stop. Even when those days come that I don't want to run, I always manage to pull myself out of the slump. Even if I don't always appreciate the challenge, I have accepted that I need the challenge. Unlike most things, running isn't easy for me, but it's not supposed to be.

We all have different motivation that works for us. I ran across the quote
"I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can't run, what they'd give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them." That one really hits home for me. That's the reason I started.

I may not run fast, I may not run well, and I certainly may not always enjoy it, but I will always run with heart.

Monday, October 11, 2010

44 Goals in 44 Days.

I have 44 days until my marathon! That is just far enough away for me to get some solid training in, and just close enough for me to start freaking out. So, in the next 44 days I have 44 things that I want to accomplish.

1. Stop freaking the hell out. I know I will finish it, so I have no reason to start hyperventilating quite yet. I completed a 39 mile walk for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer when I was completely out of shape. So if it comes down to it, I know I'll be able to walk it at the very least.
2. Get a couple more long runs in. To date, my longest run was 17 miles. On my training schedule I have two 16s, two 20s, and a 12 still on the schedule. I'll need both 20 milers under my belt to have the confidence to do this.
3. Cut out the drinking. I'm by no means an out of control drinker, it just seems that way because I just got back from a week long bender. It's hard to get long runs in and stay hydrated if you're boozing and hungover all the time. There are two exceptions to this: Homecoming and Thanksgiving. Any gathering of my college friends is bound to crazy, but if you put us in a tailgating lot it's going to get bananas. Also, the night before Thanksgiving is a very big party night as you get together with all your old friends, and the day of Thanksgiving is usually a shit show because my mother seems to disapprove of my sobriety.
You can't get the crew together without obscene shenanigans. I can't wait for Homecoming.
I can promise you that we won't behave.
Like mother like daughter. We're good German-Irish girls, what do you expect?
4. Stop eating whatever the hell I want. Last year, when I was in prime shape I was able to run and eat whatever I want and still look great and feel great. Part of it's old age, part of it is a thyroid disorder, but I know I have to be more careful. Your body runs best on healthy food, it's as simple as that. I live across the street from a farmer's market, so I have no excuse.
5. Lose 5 lbs. Trust me, cutting out alcohol alone will take care of this. Marathon training isn't a time to cut the calories I need, so I don't plan on doing that. Cutting back a bit of weight will make 26 miles that much easier.
6. Get my running buddy out more often. I don't love running with my dog, but she deserves to go on some of my easier runs. Plus, she's a good runner.
Let's hit the trails, Marley girl.
7. Get my running buddy out for more than runs. She loves to hike, walk, and go for drives. Every now and then she deserves a walk to the coffee shop to hang out while I read, or to walk to Lafayette Square to bark at the ducks.
She's a talented lady and is amazing at fetch.

7. Study more. Luckily, school has always came easily to me. The last week of our semester we always have to sit for standardized practice nursing boards. It requires that you really know your stuff, and that you're well rested and able to think clearly. My marathon is the weekend before my finals, so I'll really need to know my stuff because being well rested may or may not happen.
8. Get my dad healthy. In the past few months he fell off a ladder and got a concussion, then pulled a muscle in his groin, and then strained his back. He a couple months of work. I'm really going to harp on him to get out walking and to make sure he stretches. Getting him to eat right is an entirely different matter, but I'll see what I can do. He's pretty much my favorite person on the planet, so I want him to live a long and healthy life. He has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, so I can't expect him to be in perfect shape, but that's all the more reason for him to get healthy.
I got him the shoes, now let's get him out there.
9. Go watch a race. Spectators make an unbelievable difference in a race. I want to go watch and cheer on other people to make a difference for them. Plus, being a part of the racing world really helps to keep your spirits up.
10. Eat BBQ and lots of it. I prefer KC BBQ to Memphis Style, but I am going to destroy Memphis, home of the BBQ nachos after I burn 3000 calories on race day.
Oh Man, I love Memphis.
11. Run another race. I always get nervous on race day, so I need a couple more races mornings between now and then. I am running the Halloween 10K on Sunday. I'm scheduled for 16 miles on Saturday, so I'll probably just use it as a recovery, but again, being a part of the community is what's important.
12. Get a costume for the Halloween 10K. (6 days and counting, people) I'm tall and blond, so I'm thinking an empty box of wine and a diet coke can and I could pull off Sweet Dee.
13. Figure out what I'm wearing. Clothes are important for race day, we all know that.
14. To iPod, or not to iPod? I normally run with music, but lately I've enjoyed it without. I ran the Lewis & Clark last weekend without it and I really enjoyed it. I like talking to strangers, so it's fun to chat with people on race day. I need to figure out if I'm going to take my iPod or not.
15. Add to my motivation door. It's kind of fun to look at but I haven't put anything up in a while.
Old bibs, an autograph from Josh Cox, a reminder from Brooks to Run Happy, quotes that work for me and a fortune I got at RnR Chicago that says, "I think I can. I think I can." It's also where I hang my running hat.
16. Get my lovely friend to run a race. She just began to attempt running, and I told her I would practice for and run a 5K with her, whatever her pace. I'm very proud of her, and I want to hold her to this.
See that pretty lady on the right? She just started exercising and I'm going to get her out there. The fact that she finds me inspirational means a lot. I'm SO proud of her.
17. Get my bike out. I haven't ridden it lately because I'm tired of riding through the ghetto. I'll take it out to the KT trail and get some good miles in once the leaves start changing.
Martha (my bike) is getting lonely.
18. Take my buddy John out to lunch. We go out every couple of weeks and he always pays because he's a gentlemen like that. He watches my dog every now and then. He just watched her while I was in Canada. I have to suck up to him so that he'll watch her when I'm in Memphis.
John also lets me sneak to his roof and enjoy the view. He's a good friend like that. Just another thing he's good for.
19. Do something with Jenn. Not that we don't hang out all the time anyway, but she keeps me realistically motivated and she keeps me having fun. She's been my running buddy and a big motivator. Hopefully we can get out for a bike ride or run some hills.
You can see why we're friends. No alcohol beyond this point is just a fancy way of saying, "chug."
20. Speaking of Jenn, maybe she can hit the trails with me. I don't want to risk injury this close to the race, but I would like to take it easy on a trail run a time or two.
21. Post race, you better believe I'm going to party.
No Absinthe, but party just the same.
22. Drink more water. I already drink a lot of water, but I don't ever want to come in from a run using inadequate hydration as an excuse.
23. Get a massage. I have a good Groupon for one, and I think I deserve it. It can only help.
24. Recover properly.
25. Get enough sleep. This isn't usually a problem. I don't stay up studying all night, but I do typically get up pretty early.
26. Get new running shoes. Now that I've decided that my Brooks are the way to go, I need to get a new pair and break them in.
27. Get a good luck gift for all the ladies that are going. 14 people from my work are going down, three for the marathon, and the rest for the half. For four of them it will be their first race ever. I remember my first race and I was terrified.
28. Um, finish.
29. Do this for ME. I ran my first half marathon last year. I signed up because I knew it would be difficult, and I wanted to challenge myself. My boyfriend (at the time) decided to sign up with me. The ass ran the whole thing 15 feet in front of me because he said he couldn't run my pace. He did run my pace, just right where he was close enough for me to see but not be able to talk to. As if my first half wasn't torturous enough, that was just downright miserable. Even though I know a lot who will be running, this time it's all me, all by myself.
30. Sign my family and friends up for text alerts.
31. Make a packing list and a race day list. Check it 14 times.
32. Thank all my friends, family, Daily Mile, and Twitter friends for all the love, support, and advice they have given me.
33. Blog a couple more long runs.
34. Buy some throwaway clothes. Last weekend I forgot and a friend had to bring me an old coat to wear at the starting line.
35. Reread over my motivation 27 times.
36. Read "Born to Run"
37. Watch "Spirit of the Marathon" again.
38. Sign up for a race that will happen after my marathon. I don't want to lose my drive to run.
39. Start new countdowns on my MacBook. Most of my countdowns have expired. Right now all my countdowns are for the marathon, Mexico, and graduation. I want to add another marathon, and now that we have a team I can add Ragnar to that list.
40. Donate old running shoes. I'll keep my first pair, because they have sentiment, but I have a few pairs that can go.
41. Go running in a different neighborhood. I haven't ran a race in a place I'm not familiar with. Even in Chicago I knew where I was the whole time. This will be the first time where I am running and have NO idea where I am. I've only been to Memphis once, and we didn't make it too far off Beale Street.
42. Have a treat waiting for me when I finish, like a little tub of Ben & Jerry's Triple Caramel Chunk.
43. Do my best.
44. Have fun.

It's only "about an hour," right?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Four Reasons I'll Never Be A Great Runner, and the One Reason That I Will.

I was told it's time for another blog post by Jamie. He's one of those friends I pretend to have. He's a bad ass and an inspiration. The trails of Maine are being owned by this guy.

1. I don't really like running. Seriously, I don't. It's not that fun. It feels good, and it keeps me sane, but I do get bored as hell. Most of the time I have to force myself to get out there. It's very easy for me to get out of a groove.

This is what my friends are doing on race morning, and I'm already up, dreading the moment I have to lace my shoes up.

--That being said, I don't hate it either. Regardless of how I feel about it, I have an addiction. Love it or hate it, I have to do it. I may not have plans to run forever, but I certainly have no plans to stop. It doesn't work when I do. I don't run and my life falls apart. Yes, it's just as dramatic as that.
Also, the finish line is pretty fun.

2. Speaking of addictions: I'm kind of a drinker, and by "kind of," I mean I am a big drinker. I live in Soulard, which actually means drunkard in French. There are two bars on every corner and we're home to the 2nd largest Mardi Gras Party. I have a bottle of Ketel One in my freezer at all times, and just to keep it classy, no less than 12 cans of PBR in the fridge. One of my favorite bartenders told me that I "run on a quarter tank of PBR." I guess that's fine, as long as I'm running on something.
That's my house being obscured by thousands of drunk people.

It's broad daylight, folks. If you want the truth, it wasn't even noon yet.

I'm not sure if you can tell by the lighting, but it's also early in the day here, too.

Middle of the day...on a Sunday...and these are all mine.

We're students. We're stressed. Don't judge.

--There's really no rebuttal for this one, but in all fairness, I've turned down the drinking quite a bit. The nice part about having bars everywhere, is that you can stop for a bathroom break or to fill up on water. When my friends give me hell for not going out, I say, "I'll come out and drink with you if you go run with me tomorrow." Going on the occasional run hungover is actually good training. You know those hangovers where you're nauseous, every muscle in your body hurts, and you feel like your brain is dried out and rubbing on your skull? Well, that's how I imagine I'll feel around mile 20. I went out Friday night, had a hell of a hangover yesterday, and set a PR today. Booyah. (disclaimer: I'm not actually an alcoholic, I'm just proving a point)

I don't wake up feeling like this every day.

I do happy and healthy things too, like take my dog hiking. I know she's sideways. Don't worry, in real life she is right side up.

Or try something new, like snow-shoeing.

Or take my little bro to a baseball game.

Occasionally I go save lives...but obviously not this one. He's clearly a coworker and not a pediatric patient, but you get the idea.

3. I'm not built like a runner, mentally or physically. I've always had the mindset of do what makes you happy, and accept absolutely nothing less. When running, that often results in me turning around way too early when I plan on a long run. I just don't want to run 14 miles sometimes. That's really boring. I'm not built like a runner. My sister is built like a runner, but she doesn't run. She's long and lean and just naturally small. I'm not. I'm curvy. I have thighs that resulted from years of soccer and cheerleading. Homegirl's got a booty. On Friday a friend told me, "you have a really fun ass. It's not a perfect ass, but it's fun. A fun ass is better because perfect has an expiration date." I'm not sure what that means, but that's the way it is. That may not make me a great runner, but it does mean I get to dance to "Baby Got Back" and "Fat Bottomed Girls" and REALLY mean it.
From what I hear, we "make the rockin world go round."

--Not being able to do something has always served as an incentive for me to do it. There was no way in hell I could have ran a half two years ago. I barely made it through my first 5K, and in all honesty, I whined through the last mile and a half of it. If Grandpa taught me anything besides being a good sport, he taught me to be stubborn as all hell. Signing up for my first half was a challenge to say, "hey, prove it." I hated every second of my first half, didn't run again for months, and I didn't race again for another year. Now I run all the time and am training for my first marathon. So I don't naturally have a runner's body? Well, lots of people aren't natural blonds either, but a lot of them manage to pull it off. Most people don't have runners bodies. We're called "Athenas" and we're just as bad ass as the rest of them. On Friday, a friend was dancing with me and she said, "I can tell you're a runner, feel those quads!"

As the Nike Ad puts it: I have Thunder Thighs. And that's a compliment because they are strong and toned and muscular. And though they are unwelcome in the petite section they are cheered on in marathons. Fifty years from now I'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs and then I'll go out for a run.

4. I get injured. A lot. I have only once been injured while running. In fact, I've only sustained two injuries from sports. I've been to the ER 15+ times. As a child it was due to bravery (it takes courage to ride your tricycle down the stairs), and as an adult it seems that my body just can't handle my sweet dance moves. I was walking home one night a couple years ago and tried to do a dancing leap through a fountain and ended up in the ER with a sprained ankle and a toe sliced to the bone. I tore a meniscus dancing at a wedding in May. I sustained a deep second degree burn the size of a lemon on my thigh last month. I've broken my femur, my left arm twice, my right arm, I cracked ribs, I cracked an elbow, I broke my right wrist, and my left ankle. I was in a body cast as a three year old. I don't know if my body is weak or, like my dance moves, I'm just too bad ass for my body to handle. Either way, it doesn't bode well for marathon training.

In case you guys were wondering, the inside of your toe looks like uncooked sausage. Since you don't all work in the medical field, I decided to be nice and not show you the close up.

Sometimes the night just ends up this way.

I shouldn't be allowed to dance ever again.

This is the night that derailed my marathon training. I guess a summer of dealing with a torn meniscus was worth the fun I had at this wedding.

This burn hurt something fierce, but it was a fun wound to show off.

--Clearly, I'm just a bad ass. To me, a torn meniscus meant I moved my marathon from October to December, and would need a lot more ice and Ibuprofen. When I broke my ankle in college, I actually walked home 2 miles and waited to go to the doctor until the next day. I just don't mind being injured. Maybe that's because I'm used to it. The more I run and get involved in the running community, the more I know that we ALL have some issue. Every runner has a joint, or a muscle, or a general pain that gives them trouble. That's just part of the glorious torture that is running.

It's all worth it for one of these.

There are 1,000,000 reasons that I might not think I'm a great runner. I skip that happy hour to go for a easy 6, I stay in on a Friday night so I can go on a training run Saturday morning, I pass on a lunch date with my friends so I can go run the park, I set my alarm for 4:30 am on race days. If I listened to all the reasons I shouldn't run, I wouldn't make those sacrifices. There are 1,000,000 reasons that I'm not a great runner, and one reason that I am. I'm a great runner because I run, and that's all that matters. My friend Jenn once told me DFL>DNF>DNS (Dead F*cking Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start). It doesn't matter if I'm slow, or hungover, or bored, or dragging my ghetto booty across that finish line, I'm still crossing that finish line because I was brave enough to toe the start line.