Faster, Fitter and Freakier at Forty

Faster, Fitter and Freakier at Forty.

The Running Junkie and Fear of Recovery


As I looked out my window this morning watching the pounding rain, I thought to myself, ‘I should just stay inside and do yoga’. But then the rain lightened up for a brief moment and I said, “Oh, it looks like it’s gonna stop. I’m going for my run.”

At mile four of my hilly-six miler, when the cold spring rain was pelting me in the face like shards of glass as I ran, I had two thoughts:

1. I am so glad I opted to leave my expensive Garmin Watch at home, although I would REALLY like to know what my pace is right now.
2. I am so glad I didn’t opt-out of my run and do yoga.

While most sane people are looking for a good opportunity to back out of a scheduled run, the Running Junkie dreads having to back out of a run. The Running Junkie’s worst day is when he/she is sick, and not because he’s on his knees vomiting into the toilet, but because he is too weak to go outside and run. He fears he will lose fitness and God knows what else.
While creating today’s blog in my head today during my stormy run I discovered the ‘God knows what else’ of the above sentence…I think.

You see, staying inside and doing yoga this morning would have been perfect for me and my fitness. This is especially true since I did two speed-workouts yesterday (one of them completely unplanned and off the cuff) and my left leg was wound as tight at a pretzel.pretzelAn easy day full of stretching and meditation would have probably allowed my leg to mend and my muscles to repair so that my long run tomorrow would really be awesome…maybe even brag-worthy.

But I didn’t choose yoga, like so many Running Junkies out there, I chose to run.

Now I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret that only a small handful of people (maybe 3 people) are aware of. I think it is pertinent to my discovery this morning so I am willing to scar my perfect image with the sad truth of my youth.



As I ran along, my shoes sloshing through mud puddles I dialed my brain back about 18 years to a time before I was married and long before I became a runner. I was in college, alone in a strange town in Montana and using pills to get me through my long days of school and work. During my college career I had developed a nasty dependency on these pills so much that I was taking them every day and barely able to pay for rent to feed the addiction. I was convinced that without the pills I would fail; fail at school, at work and in life, that I couldn't imagine a single day without my precious pills.

Occasionally I would decide to take a 'day-off' of my pills, to let my body recover and my tollerance to bounce back a little. I was taking more and more all the time, I had hoped that with a day off, maybe I wouldn't require so many pills to keep me bouncing through my day. But the planned 'day-off' seldom came. ???????????????????????????????????????
I feared it. The only way I could manage it was to stay in bed all day and sleep. A day without my pills was like a day without the sun.

Now fast forward to the me you see today, the organic food eating, running, swimming, biking mother of two and wife. I’m so far from the disaster I was almost twenty years ago. But if I look deep into my soul I have to admit I still have an addiction, I’ve just replaced it with running.

mom and kids


Like so many Running Junkies, whether they are running from a past, a drug, a relationship or whatever, we are junkies. We can't imagine what will happen if we don't get our fix for the day. We run in the rain and do speed workouts the day before a race and choose running over yoga because there is a piece of our brain that just plain cannot imagine what will happen if we don't run. Even when we know we would be a faster runner, win more races and suffer less injuries if we just gave ourselves the recovery/rest days we need…we still run.

In the last few months I have pledged to take one rest day a week. I often end up hiking or doing something active, not sleeping, but it is a day off. In return my body has rewarded me with faster tempo runs and new race PR’s (personal records). When I wake up on my rest day and think about going for a run, just a short one, I think back to my youth and tell myself, ‘No, Diane. You’re a grown-up now. You know what will happen if you don’t run…and it’s a good thing.”

But today was Wednesday, not Saturday, so I couldn’t possibly miss my run:)
must run

So, to all you Running Junkies out there, and to Tim, whom I know is going to try to squeeze a quick four mile run into his layover at San Francisco two days before his big marathon, you are not alone. At least we understand each other. Have a great run, I hope you find what you are looking for.

Happy running to all my fellow Running Junkies AND to the Sane Runners we will never be. (Yes, Running Junkie and Sane Runner DO need to be capitalized:P

#running #junkie #racing #recovery #restday #drugs #pills #training

Peeing Like a Boy: The Painful Story Of How I Learned To Run

me and the assEveryone has their story, here’s mine.

I didn’t run track in high school. I didn’t run cross country either. Until I was thirty-two, the farthest I had ever run was two city blocks, and that was only because the police were chasing me out the back door of a party.

For me, running happened by accident. After my first child was born I became a bit of a cardio junkie in an effort to lose the baby weight. When I became pregnant with my second child, I did the elliptical five days a week up until my due date. When he was born I resumed the elliptical with a passion.>elliptical

For my 32nd birthday my husband bought me an IPod Shuffle. I was so pissed! What the hell was I supposed to do with an IPod? I watched TV when I worked out. I was never one to have headphones on and listen to music…I just didn’t care about music.Ipod shuffle

So one day I showed up at the gym, dropped my kids in the gym’s daycare and headed for the cardio room. The kids were only allowed two hours at the daycare so I had to hurry to get my workout in and shower before my time was up. When I got to the cardio room, all the elliptical machines were being used. I waited and waited and no one got off the machines. UGH! I was upset, this was eating into my two hours!

So I looked at the track. track2
I figured I could go walk the track while I waited. I grabbed my IPod Shuffle and headed out at a brisk pace. The music really pumped me up, so much so, that I actually broke into a bit of a jog. I had never jogged before.

Amazed that I made it around the track one entire time without stopping, I decided I would run around as many times as I could without stopping until I couldn’t run any more. With music blaring in my ear I started running. I ran one lap, then two, then another…I felt like I was dying but at the same time I felt like I was the most awesome person in the gym, cause I was RUNNING!

I finally came to a stop after reaching five whole laps. I was euphoric. I was on top of the world. I looked around to see if anyone else saw just how fricking amazing I was. I mean, they were just walking, but not me…I ran. I toot

I assumed I had run a couple of miles. I mean, it was five laps, maybe a lap is a mile, I didn’t know. I approached a little old lady walker to see if she had any idea how far a mile was on the track. She was really nice, probably honored to be talking to a runner, and explained that eleven and a half laps equal one mile.

WTF! Actually, I didn’t use that acronym, it wasn’t really around at the time but in my head I was saying the real words. How was it possible that I hadn’t even run a single mile!? I didn’t even make it one mile. I was so bummed. And then I decided to set a goal. One mile, non-stop.

I gathered up my will, cued up an especially inspirational song with a great beat and set out to run eleven and a half laps without stopping. I was a little smarter already, after my first five laps I had already learned the lesson of starting off too fast. With a much tamer pace I ran one lap then another keeping a focused look on my face and desire in my heart. As I entered the virgin area of lap six I tried not to let the unknown drag me down. By the time I was on lap eleven I was convincing myself that if I could do a mile, I could be president. I could literally do ANYTHING, if I could just run this mile. presidents-slideshow

The point marking eleven and a half miles was in my sight, I thought I would die before making it there. My legs were on fire and I could hardly breathe. I damn near pushed people out of the way so I wouldn’t need to waste any energy going around them. You could hear my sickly gasps for air all the way in the weight room…I was sure of it.

I did it. I made it eleven and a half laps, came to an abrupt stop nearly tripping an old man behind me, and held my hands up as if cutting the tape on a marathon. I did it. I was the BOMB! I simply could not wait to tell my husband, friends, and family (especially those on Facebook…poor thangs) just how awesome I was. I RAN A MILE!!

My life has been forever changed since that day I ran eleven and a half laps around the track at my local gym. Despite the fact I was unable to descend stairs without sitting on my butt for a full week after running my first mile, despite having to pee standing up like a boy because I could sit without assistance, despite the delayed onset of excruciating pain…I continued to run and still do to this day. It's been over six years. I've run every distance up to the marathon and evolved into a triathlete. Amazing how things can change so dramatically in one silly day.
peeing like a boy

That stupid IPod is to blame. Had it not been for my silly husband buying me a stupid gift that I would NEVER use, I probably never would have run on the track that day. My husband’s gift, gave me a gift that I am forever thankful for.

PS: I no longer run with music, it took me a few years to grow out of the need for music while running. I write books while I run now, the music is distracting:)
triathlon pic<

#running #triathlon #beginner #track #crosscountry #funny #Ipod #Race #elliptical

Trail of Tears and The Tough Mudder

I did another #Tough #Mudder this past Saturday.  My first one was in Indiana on June 16th.  It was about 90 degrees that day.  I had a team of six, me being the only girl.  The guys were all late twenties except me and another guy who are 36 and 37 respectively. As a whole we looked pretty fit and bad ass.  Our pre-run picture was worthy, it looked like a team who would finish with a smile.

My only goal for the that Mudder was to NOT be the weakest link.  As long as I wasn’t holding the five other guys back, I didn’t care.  And since the guys managed to drag my ass over all the walls, I wasn’t holding them behind because endurance-wise I was easily prepared.  As far as strength went, well put it this way… I did Yoga for my training.

But let’s face it, except for the gynormic walls, the monkey bars and the swinging ropes, the Tough Mudder is more about pain tolerance and nerve.  Dunking your body into an ice bath doesn’t take strength, it takes a serious set of balls.

My team last Saturday looked a little different.  There was only four of us and it was bitterly cold.

My Husband: extremely fit, weight lifter, been biking for 5 months, runs 2-3 times a week but can’t go more than 5 miles without foot pain or shin pain.  He had me concerned.


Me: #Run, #Bike, or #swim every day.  Endurance is high, muscle strength (useful muscles anyway) is low.  Extremely determined but feeling exceptionally fat and bloated at the moment.

Kris: Fit male of #Asian decent and undetermined age. He has been running with my run club for a few months and seems to be right on track as far as training goes.  He does pull-ups at the park and is up to running eight miles no problem.

Hal:  Hal is fifty-something.  He is a good friend and been in my run club since it’s infancy; over five years.  He has been known to run a marathon on four weeks training and yells out things like, “Pink Clitorous” without provocation when referring to a Ford Taurus.  He hasn’t been running much lately and he hurt his back so bad 2 weeks ago that he needed assistance rising from his chair.

We looked like a gang that rides the short bus.

The beauty of dunking your already-shivering body under ice water is that the outside air actually feels warm when your body shoots back out gasping for air.  When you start running again you feel suddenly alive…until you start getting cold again.

90% of nerve at the Tough Mudder is made possible through the herd mentality.  When everyone around you is roaring like beasts, then diving under barbed wire into water surrounded by dangling electrical wires, it just seems like the right thing to do.

The first of us to show signs of pain was Kris. His hamstrings started cramping around mile six, making it nearly impossible for him to walk with straight legs.  He wasn’t alone, at the top of every hill there were no fewer than 12 husky men laying on the ground rolling while grasping their legs (and whining like a bunch of sissys).

As we trudged on, he no longer looked Asian.  With a metallic Mylar blanked wrapped over his head, his slumped over carriage, and a smear of grey mud on his lips and most of his face, he looked more like an old indian man walking the Trail of Tears.

Danny, my husband, surprised me.  I assumed he would be the first to complain of pain.  But instead he ran ahead in full force, yelling and cheering others on.  He was the leader of our gang up until mile eight, when he suddenly seized up and began walking like a penguin.

Hal wavered.  At first he had a hard time keeping up with us.  He spent excessive time fumbling with his knee pads and rubber gloves.  But he kept plugging away like a champ and in the end put us all to shame.

I was feeling fine endurance-wise.  My body didn’t like the cold and it was shaken with bouts of shivering as the miles passed.  Each water obstacle became harder and harder to do.  I don’t think you could call me a complete sissy until about mile nine, when I did a face plant in the mud and nearly broke my nose.  Grace has never been used to describe me but at the Mudder it wass even worse.   For the last 3 miles I was conservative (read wimpy).

We approached Mount Everest, the mountain sized half-pipe that requires (for mere mortals anyway) someone on top to catch your flailing body to get you over it.  My hyperthermic body ached as I stood in line, watching as people made half-assed efforts, slamming their bodies against the wood and ending up like Mr. Bill.

Hal made one good run for it before deciding without question he would not make a second.  Kris, nearly dead at this point, made a single heroic dash at it and made it with the help of some bystanders.  He put us all to shame with his bravery.  Strong warrior.

We walked up to the finish line, which is on the other side of thousands of dangling live electrical wires and a pool of water/mud.  We would have to run as fast as possible while getting shocked, scale a mud ditch and make our escape.  Everyone did it with class, except me.

I ran hard, imagining the beer waiting for me on the other side.  I took my shock with pride, scaled the mud bank then slipped backwards, slamming my body down with a thud and a bounce as the announcer said, “oh, that hurt.”  (this photo is not of me btw, but it shows the situation so well I had to use it.)

And now, three days later, the pain is nearly gone.  And yes, we are looking for the next Mudder we plan to attend.  This time however, it will be during the summer.  I’m not ready to get the tattoo yet, but I will say I have plenty of scars to prove my dedication.  That gives me an idea for my next blog post.  Do you care to see my scars?  I bet mines bigger than yours is:)