The Places Running Takes Us

Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write my latest attempt at literary mediocrity, only to find this is my 500th Post!

Say WHAT???!!!

Yes ma’am. 500 posts about running, Disney, dogs, travel, opinions, memories, reviews, recaps, and a general overview of all things shenanigans.  One name change, a couple of breaks, a few years later and here we are.  What have we learned along the way?  Not much.  That’s okay though because it’s been a fun trip and I don’t plan on that trip coming to an end any time soon.

In honor of this not so momentous occasion, let’s dive back into the archives and take a look at where this crazy sport of running has taken me.  As a true Sagittarian, I have an ingrained love of travel.  So combining my two loves has always been a no-brainer.  So grab a margarita, step into the Black Dog People Mover, and enjoy the ride.

One Happy Wonder Mutt.

Vero Beach, Florida

Not exactly a destination running beach, but definitely a happy place for the Black Dog family.  Thanks to a family connection, we spent many a great weekend at a beautiful beach house walking some serious mileage along Vero Beach in Florida, conveniently located about 4 miles away from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.  The sand was too soft for running – unless you’re a glutton for punishment – but a decent hour’s walking in that stuff was enough to make you feel like you’d run a good half marathon.  Not to mention that if you went at the right time of year, the turtles are laying eggs all over the beach.

#adorbs

Washington D.C.

Once upon a time, a certain Grouper had the opportunity to attend a session at the FBI Academy in Quantico.  Just before he graduated, we had the chance – ironically on September 11th, 2010 – to run a memorial 5k that started/ended in Arlington VA, and ran through a small section of DC, including past the side of the Pentagon that was struck on that tragic day.  It was a bit surreal to say the least, and plenty of tears were shed as we slowed down passing the Pentagon.  To this day we are still so proud and honored to have been able to participate in such an amazing event.

All’s good in the Big Easy.

New Orleans

Where do I even begin with this wonderful city?  The people are SO fun, the food is out of this world, and the music?  All I can say is you’ve never heard such a mix of every genre out there.  Running along Canal Street can take you to Louis Armstrong Park, along the Mississippi, back to the French Market, (Bloody Mary to burn your lips off anyone?), up Bourbon Street, past Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Shop, (which sadly has become very commercialized), and through the French Quarter.  The roads and sidewalks are horrible running surfaces, but the color and flavor of the city cannot be beat.

Hang on little grapey friends.                              We’re on our way!

Napa, California

Being the wine freaks that we are, it was only a matter of time before we decided to fly the friendly skies to the west coast and indulge ourselves on all things grape.  The best part of staying in Napa is a miles long paved fitness trail that runs right through the main stretch of the town and continues into the start of the vineyards located in the center of the valley.  We visited in August, so while quite toasty for those of you more “thick-blooded”, we were right at home in the warmer temperatures.  And what’s better than being able to run off all of those wine induced calories?

Best. Bling. Ever.

Disney World

It always makes me smile to think of all the amazing people I’ve met simply by the need I’ve had to reign in the game show dollar machine I have for a brain and let what’s racing around in there spill out onto this blog.  Lisa is one of those people.  We may live 2,214 miles apart (give or take a few), but our common love for running has bonded us probably for life.  She is the hare to my turtle when it comes to pace, but having someone as obsessed about pace, finish times, and injuries as I am, makes all the conversations we have daily – thanks to Google chat – that much more fun.  We were finally able to run Disney’s Wine and Dine Half back in 2016 together, and to this day, even though it was my slowest half ever – because who can resist stopping for ever silly photo op possible? – it was one of my favorite races ever.

When it all comes down to it though, as much as I suffer from a never-ending case of wanderlust, I love coming home just as much.  Who wouldn’t with sunrises like this and little furry friends who are only too happy to keep you company on a cool tropical winter morning?

Home. Sweet. Home.

The best advice I can offer you is this:  explore the world.  There is so much out there to be seen, heard, tasted, and experienced and life is way too short not to do all of it.  Even if sometimes that experience means simply turning left instead of right.

Enjoy the ride.

 

Where is your favorite place to run?  Do you explore new places by running through them?  

(A Wine and Dine Story) And So We’ve Come….

…to the end of the road.

Literally.

I know this has been a long, drawn out, painful process.  Much like my running life has been the last few years.  And it ain’t over yet.  Well, almost.

I promise.

The pain is coming to an end.

When last we checked in here and here, I was headed for that great big starting line in the……….wait.  No no no. Not THAT one.  This one.

wine-and-dine-start

Jeep packed up, Wonder Mutt dropped off at the neighbors, and off to the most Magical Place on Earth we go.  Not without a giant case of the nerves.  After checking in to our little temporary home for the next few days the night before, we headed over to the expo.  Nothing too exciting there, just your usual, if more complicated, expo shenanigans as in past years.  Complicated as in “let’s just make everyone walk all over kingdom come to get anywhere else between packet pick up, shirt pick up, and goodie shopping” kind of complicated.

We managed to get through all the madness, hook up with running buddies Rae and Lisa, grab a brewski upstairs from the expo, head off for a day of eating, shooting aliens in Studios, grabbing some moonshine at Fort Wilderness (literally, moonshine!), and singing our way all over central Florida.  Yep, that was us you heard.

night-sweats

Much less hairy though.  MUCH.

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  Oh-dark-thirty.  No sleep.  Nerves jumping like Pop Rocks.  I tape the beeJesus out of my knees, get dressed, try to eat the bagel the hubs had so thoughtfully picked up for me the day before, quadruple check that I have all race necessities – tunes, shades, Sport Beans, sanity (not so much), and off we go.  Hubs drops me off at Coronado Springs so I can hop race transpo to the start, and back to bed goes he.  After a very short wait, bus arrives, off to WWoS we go, and the reality of what’s about to happen REALLY starts to sink in.

Holy crap woman, you’re about to run 13.1 miles.  Again.  With the very real possibility that you may finish, not finish, implode before you hit the start line, or act like that ninny in A League of Their Own.

baseball.jpg

Thankfully, the wait to start wasn’t unbearably long, and before I knew it, Rudy and Carissa, those ever faithful runDisney announcers, had the corrals off and running.  Ever vigilant of not starting off too fast, I ignored the typical bizarre looks I was getting from runners around me as I had the following convo with my psyche.  Apparently out loud.

“Hey idiot.”

“What.  Can’t you see I’m trying to run here?”

“Yeah.  That’s why I need you to rein it in and make sure you stick to your intervals.  Otherwise you may not finish.”

“I may not finish anyway.  And I hate running intervals.”

“Hubs said if you finish, he’ll have Patron waiting for you.”

(silence)

(more silence)

(even more silence)

“Dammit.”

Needless to say, agave juice won out.

Margarita in a glass

Dammit.

Soooo, as I wound my way at a snail’s pace around Animal Kingdom, of course I had to stop and hang out with these guys.

Stilt Guys1.jpg

My, you’re all really…..tall.

The new course then meandered along random Disney World roads and back towards Epcot.  At which point, my eyes lit up like I had just discovered a giant bowl of spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.  Due in no small part to what was probably the GREATEST MILE MARKER EVER……

mile-9-rev

Maniacal smiling!

Mile 9.  I knew I was going to finish this bad boy one way or another.  But not before I had to go through what I lovingly termed the MILE OF REALLY MOTHER-EFFER?!?  I JUST COULDN’T GET THROUGH THIS WITHOUT YOU, COULD I?!?

stubborn mule

Nope. Not a chance lady.

Hello Mile 10, hello “what the hell just imploded in my left leg?”  Oh wait, just a lovely little mixture of tight IT band, tuckered out left glute, with a touch of inner left knee soreness thrown in for good measure.  Now, all that being said, I had stuck to my intervals, stopped to stretch every 1-2 miles, and never pushed the pace the entire time.  I knew this was not going to be a speedy half, and had already decided to just have fun with it.  Having this blow up at Mile 10 didn’t really bother me all that much, and if I had to walk it in from there, then so be it.  I could live with it.  I knew the hubby and Lisa were already celebrating her oh-so-speedy finish, and I had every intention of joining them in consuming vast quantities of celebratory libations before much longer.

lisa-grouper1

“Move it girl, there’s partying to be done!”

Then I knew the runner gods had been paying attention.  Mile 10 consisted of an insanely banked ramp up to an overpass.  A ramp which had no flat spot to run on.  ANYWHERE.  Now, I had received very strict orders from the Man and Torture Tony to NOT RUN THE RAMPS OR ELSE.

And for once, I actually listened.

Not just because there wasn’t a flat spot anywhere along that ramp to run on, but also because – you know – that whole pesky left leg thing.

Then, a Disney miracle happened.

miracle.png

No, not that miracle.

As the ramp peaked at the top of an overpass around Mile 11, I decided just to test the waters a bit and see if the extended walk break may have been enough for everybody to calm the hell down.  After a few cautious jogging steps – and a lot of breath holding – things seemed to actually be…..ok.

laugh dog

Say WHA?????

What?  Were you not paying attention?

I said,

EVERYTHING SEEMED TO BE OK

AS IN NO PAIN

ANYWHERE!

In complete and utter disbelief, I called the hubs and Lisa, told them to get the ‘ritas chilling, kicked it into high gear – well, MY high gear – and brought it on home.

The rest – as they say – is history.  Enjoy.

choir1

medal-shirt1

Enjoy the ride.

Thank you for following along with me on what has been on helluva ride.  Your good wishes and crossed paws all helped me cross that finish line on that beautiful morning, and I could not have done it without you.  I especially could not have done it without the encouragement of my hubs, my family, Lisa, PT Pam, Torture Tony, and Dr. Testa.  It’s been a long and painful journey, but we have finally arrived, in no small part to every one of you.  My running adventures will continue, and I hope to take all of you along on them.  Hang on tight, as the ride is only going to get better from here on out!

Full Circle. Almost. Again.

In the last installment of Black Dog shenanigans here, we left you on the edge of your seats, (just work with me here people), waiting to see how the latest attempt at post-surgical recovery/rehab shenanigans was moving along.  My angel-winged running neighbor had recommended this GUY, who, as it turns out, has proven to be the man.  As in THE Man.  As in, after more than two years since all of this #brokeknee crap started, has actually been able to, ya know – FIX MY SHIT – and get me running kind of like a normal running person does.

elmo dance.gif

I’ll make this short as I know your attention span isn’t any better than mine.

Wait.

What?

Was I saying you something?

Oh yeah.  Running rehab shenanigans.

Anywho, this GUY, not only shoved a finger in that lovely area known as the piriformis, which was immediately followed by a string of cursing the like has never emitted from my goody two shoes yap –

incredulous-owls

Lady, you’re not fooling anyone.  Stop embarrassing yourself.

– but within about 10 seconds had figured out what was actually broken THIS TIME.  Say it along with me kids…

“Since you’ve got a completely shut down broke ass on your right side, your left side has stepped up to the plate, tried to do the work for both sides, and has now decided it’s had enough of this malarky.  It’s sending you the message, with all due respect, to go eff yourself, it’s tapping out.”

Well now.  That’s pretty…..specific.

What’s a frustrated runner idiot girl to do?  Get to work of course.  On BOTH sides of dear ol’ broke ass.

get back to work.jpg

The next few weeks consisted of such insanity as hip and glute strength building, cursing at my new BFF Torture Tony, Elastigirl-like stretching sessions, more cursing, zapping, icing, resistance band exercises I have to determine the validity of or if Torture Tony was just effing with me, more cursing, and oh yes….running.  Remember running?  That bastard of a sport that started all this nonsense in the first place?  That activity over which us runner idiots types have no power to ignore, like a mythological siren’s song?   Yeah, that one.

Jackass.

crying runner.png

After sweating and swearing through four weeks of visits to the GUY and Torture Tony, I was as ready as I could be.  I tried to ignore the knots in my gut that kept telling me…

Too bad you didn’t find these guys a year ago.”

You haven’t run further than 9.5 miles before your leg implodes, you know.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“There’s a big, fat Ghiradelli sea salt dark chocolate bar in the freezer.”

“Could you possibly be any more undertrained for this if you tried?”

“You’re an idiot.”

“You’re going to have so much kinesio tape on your leg you may get mistaken for a mummy.”

“Have I mentioned you’re an idiot?”

Next up, the final chapter.  Thrilled this painful journey is almost over aren’t ya?  It’s okay.  I understand.

resting-bitch-face-dog-3

Seriously. Killing me.

Enjoy the ride.

How long have you given a new type of therapy before giving up on it?  Have you ever had to apologize for swearing at your doctor?  Did you find the therapy got a bit more “intense” after unleashing on him/her?  Do you have cute pet names for him/her?

Full Circle…Almost

We came, we saw, we conquered.  Sort of.

wine and dine

So.  We meet again.

If your attention span is in any way even minutely better than mine, then you would know what a big deal this year’s adventure to the Wine and Dine was going to be.  This is going to take a while – and a few episodes – so sit back, grab yourself a nice fat ‘rita, a couple of ice packs, and maybe hook up that TENS unit for a bit.  Because gawd knows my attention-deficient brain won’t be able to hang in there long enough to get through the entire adventure in one shot.  Besides, cliffhangers are more fun anyway.

After #brokeknees Part 1 and 2 finally came to an end – almost – it was time to get on that training train again and start pulling on the whistle.  ‘Cause DAMN, those miles weren’t going to run themselves.  It was time to grab those pretty new pink ASICS and get to work.

After having my “less damaged” knee parts fixed a year ago, (for those of you new to the nonsense, that’s #brokeknee Part 1 in last April AND #brokeknee Part 2 last November.  Because just one knee surgery is never enough), I was over the whole –

a.   You’re not getting any younger so it may take longer to heal

b.   Can’t you just do something else?

c.   You really shouldn’t run, it’s bad for your knees

d.  You need to stop running immediately  kind of moose poop.

(Thank you runner friends for completely GETTING me on this crap).

hug10

Every time I’d think I was FINALLY getting somewhere, something else would go to total crap.  Lessons learned?  Hoka One One’s are NOT knee friendly for this girl.  Next one?  Never settle for just one opinion.  Lesson three:  sometimes being a concrete head (as the hubs often calls me:), can come in damn handy when you have no intention of throwing in the towel.  The biggest lessons I learned?  Husbands and Wonder Mutts can be your biggest supporters, and chiropractors fluent in the language of Active Release Therapy are worth their weight in GOLD.

After what was yet even MOREIAMSOSICKOFTHISDAMNFRIGGINPAININMYKNEES setbacks with my training, I was at my wit’s end.  I had gone back to embracing the Galloway run-walk-run method, was only training two days a week, and fully acknowledged the fact this race would have to be all about finishing the distance and not about the time.  (Or so I at least tried to convince myself. #concretehead).

Then an angel happened to flap her wings in my general direction.

I have a neighbor friend who is as obsessed about running as I am.  The difference is she is actually really good at it.  REALLY good.  She’s a few years older, (falls into that dreaded Masters category), and has consistently finished in the top three at every event she’s competed in.  She’s fast, strong, and could pull off the cover of any fitness magazine WITHOUT any photoshopping needed.

And suddenly found herself riding the injury train right alongside me.

Did I mention we’re good friends and like to share?chagrined_chimp

As my neighbor buddy didn’t really blame me for my need to overshare on the injury front, she did the kind neighborly thing and told me about THIS GUY she had been going to who was doing some really cool stuff to fix her very own case of #brokeknee, including such neat stuff as TENS acupuncture, gua sha, and compression icing.  Photo updates from her visits quickly became a source of “holy crap, that looks….interesting”, “he’s doing WHAT?!”, and a few “what the hell is THAT?!” comments.

Now, being a complete victim of FOMO, I had to get in on this out-of-the-norm rehab action.  The bad thing?  The doc’s office was entirely too geographically undesirable.  As in an entire county and way too much traffic insanity away.  However, said doc worked with another awesome GUY who did the same kind of stuff and had an office in a much more geographically desirable location.  (Insert happy Black Dog dance here.)

seinfeld happy dance

Stay tuned for the next chapter of “WTF is Really Wrong With the Parts and How We’re Finally Going to Fix Them”.  It’s a nail biter.

Seriously.

My literary non-talent has Wonder Mutt gnawing hers off as we speak…..

resting-bitch-face-dog-3

You’re killing me lady.

Enjoy the ride.

 

Have you ever refused to give up when injured?  Have you ever explored “alternative” forms of injury rehab/recovery?  What were they and did they work for you?

Friday Funny

FF Run humor

 

Enjoy the ride.

Are you a diehard music runner or do you prefer to hear yourself slowly dying?  Do you go into vapor lock if your music dies mid-race?  Do you then engage in providing your own music?  Have you been subjected to Team Can-Am’s race singalong shenanigans?

Best of luck to everyone running the Dark Side Challenge at Disney World this weekend!  May the Force be with you!

Don’t forget!  I’ll be making my return to racing on May 8th, courtesy of the Wings for Life World Run.  Please visit my page and donate today.  Together we can help stamp out spinal cord injuries!

Wonder Mutt Wednesday

WMW Star Wars

 

Enjoy the ride.

Will you be running the Star Wars half marathon this weekend?  Think you may be sensing a disturbance in the force? Do you have any idea where your cat may be?

Please don’t forget as you’re running this weekend, those who can’t run themselves.  Help me help them by donating to Team Wonder Mutt as we run the Wings for Life World Run and let’s stomp help put an end to spinal cord injuries together!

Friday Funny

As I am off for just a bit of a Mouse-tease at the new Disney Springs – thank you very much passholder blackout dates – I thought I would end the week with just a smitch of offbeat, oh-so-appropriate Black Dog humor.

FF Dis Knee

Yes.  Yes I did.

Enjoy the ride.

When is your next trip to the Mouse?  Are you an annual passholder?  Do you cry when you see you’re two days out from the end of the blackout dates?