Race Decisions – When Are You Being Too Picky?

Decisions, decisions.

UGH.

Lawd help me…

I’ve been running races on and off since high school.  Which, considering that took place in another millennium, that adds up to a lot of racing.  ALOT.  Some were awesome (all the Disney races), some stunk, (I Care I Cure 5k), and some were someplace in between, (Race for Women’s Wellness Half Marathon).  Each one a learning experience in it’s own right.

As I start looking at the calendar to pick my races for this year – and I’d like there to be more than the 1 or 2 I did last year, because, ya know……..LIFE – I get this feeling I may have set my requirements for races just a tad high.  By all means, please weigh in here.

Now, I’m not talking I need to have Disney-level race insanity for every race – nice as that may be – but my wallet certainly couldn’t afford said insanity.  But a few racer-friendly perks are always a good thing in my opinion.  Here are my top requests in case any race directors happen to be paying attention:

Manned water stations and/or appropriately supplied:  I did a 10k on New Year’s Eve 2017 along the beach in Boca Raton.  The two minutes you could actually watch the sun rise over the ocean was lovely, but once you turned off into one of the local neighborhoods, the scene wasn’t so pretty.  The one water station around Mile 4ish had one poor guy and his young son ferverishly trying to get water poured and out to the few hundred saps slogging by.  A couple of miles through the neighborhood brought us back to the same water station, only to find it both unmanned and out of water.  I was pretty much running in the middle of the pack, so I can only imagine how much worse it got for the runners behind me in the typical south Florida humidity that never seems to go away.  Now I know how difficult it can be to find enough volunteers for events like this.  However, this race has been taking place every year for the past 39 years.  Yes, 39 YEARS.  You think just maybe they might have stuff like this figured out by now, especially in the tropics?

Kids get their own race:   Make no mistake, I am ALL about kids putting down their phones and getting outside to move.  But if you’re doing everything you can to keep from running them over because they’re fully engaged in the “let’s sprint for 50 yards then come to a dead stop in front of some poor, unsuspecting sap whose brakes don’t work as well” mode, then the kiddies need to have their own kid moment of glory, if for no other reason than this poor unsuspecting sap’s knees can’t take emergency braking every 50 yards.

If you’re doing swag, do it right:  One word. DriFit.  I’ll pay an extra few bucks on the reg fees.

Use your outside voice:  Let it rip at the start people.  Especially for those saps like me who prefer to start at the back of the pack and haven’t had any mochaccinos before the start.  We can’t hear you chatting it up with the serious speed queens in the front row when you suddenly drop a “oh, let’s get this race started shall we?”  And pack up those obnoxious bullhorns.  They don’t work either.  Good option – put that local cheerleading squad to work.  Megaphones aren’t just for football anymore.

Take that constructive criticism seriously:   I can only imagine some of the ridiculous requests race directors see when they get their post-race surveys back.  However, there may be one or two that are actually good ideas that don’t cost anything extra to incorporate into the race day planning.  Like perhaps noting on the race website that drivers in the area ARE CRAZY AND DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY’RE GOING SO FOR GAWD’S SAKE, KEEP YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL.

No lady, I’m not sorry for scaring the crap out of you when I slammed a paw on the hood of your car as you looked right at me and hit the gas anyway.

All of the above noted requests, along with a few others (location, cost, registration fees, charity, etc) help me determine which races will hit my calendar in any given year.  My question for you is this.

Am I being too picky in what I want/need/expect from a race?

In my immediate area, 5k’s are rampant, 10k’s practically non-existent, half marathons are not too bad, and full marathons seem to be everywhere.  As I have yet to PR my half, I always have a few to choose from to maybe someday actually get it done.  My hesitation mainly stems from most of them, while geographically desirable, are not always the most convenient to actually get to, requiring one of those classic Disney 3am wake up alarms in order to have enough time to get ready, travel, park, get to the start, and warm up.  Plus, I know for logistical reasons, many in this area are held on Sundays.  Having a Monday-Friday desk job, a Sunday half doesn’t always equate to feeling so well the next day when you’re stuck in a chair and can’t really keep loose to fight off the DOMS.

It’s a conundrum.

Not this kind. Sadly.

As 2019 brings me to yet another year of debating which races will hit my schedule, I can only say this.  Every year I am eternally grateful that I have the ability and the resources to keep up with this crazy little hobby of mine.  Like anyone, I like to get the most bang for my buck and that is true for each race I consider.  Sometimes I wonder though.

Maybe I’d be better off just closing my eyes and pointing a finger?  Seems to always work well in my wine cooler.

Who’s a happy girl?

 

Enjoy the ride.

 

What helps you determine what races you will participate in? What are your race pet peeves?  Have you ever responded to a race survey?

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?  

Come Sit By Me

As things were pretty non-existent for a while around these parts, I figured it would be a good time to catch up on life.  So pull up a pool chair, order a margarita, and let’s chat a bit.

Salut!

I WANNA DO-OVER

Let’s just say 2018 has been a total poop show.  It’s always tricky deciding how much we want to reveal of our personal details in the blogosphere, and it’s no exception here.  Let’s just say, the Black Dog staff had some MAJOR medical issues come up, but thankfully, all pulled through and the recovery process is moving along nicely.  Word to the wise: when you have a bellyache for a week, don’t give your significant other grief when the doc says to get your dupa to the hospital.  And once you’re there, thank your lucky stars said significant other is too stubborn to let you leave.  2018 could have ended a whole lot worse than it started, so we are happy to leave it in the dust.

THE WONDER MUTT STILL REIGNS SUPREME

This girl.

Beware the snoot……

Still just as silly, still a splash queen, still the BESTEST WONDER MUTT EVER, even if she has gotten a little more “sun exposure”.  She is the love of my life, my confidant, my fashion consultant, my workout buddy, bestie and running partner.  And yes, her Daddy gets it and makes sure to occasionally give me grief about it.  Maybe if he met me at the door at night wiggling his butt with a hedgehog in his muzzle, he’d rate right up there beside her too. 🙂

Do you like my hedgehog?

AGING SHOULD ONLY APPLY TO FINE WINE 

Have I ever told you I’m the youngest of five kids?  Yup, FIVE.  How the heck my parents did it is completely beyond my comprehension, especially since I have enough trouble with a husband a dog.  I hit another decade last year and fighting Mother Nature with everything I’ve got.  As much as I despise admitting it, all those articles about your metabolism slowing down each decade are absolutely true.  Mine however, has decided to just plain check out.  I swear I just LOOK at a mini peanut butter cup – LOOK – and POOF!  That’ll cost you another five pounds lady.  I know I did not do well when I was recovering from my two knee surgeries, but dammit Mother Nature, can you cut me a bit of a break here??  I turned half my garage into a gym, tuned up the bike, and kick my own dupa six days a week.  And still.

Nothing.

Nada.

I’m coming for your hips lady….

Hello Jabba the Black Dog.

There is nothing more frustrating than forcing your muscles to lift more, run faster (well try to anyway), pedal away the miles, eat enough veggies that you swear you’re turning green, and still nothing.  The hubs tells me I look great and there’s only so much I can do.  But this is ME.  Stubborn, concrete-headed, determined, refusing to give up, and just plain pissed off.

Ladies?  Ya see what I’m sayin’??

I understand everything is a balancing act.  I cannot obsess about calories in/out, but I do pay some attention to what I shove in my yap.  If only there weren’t so many amazing tastes out there!  Drink half my weight in water most days, but then…..WINE.  Sweat my dupa off in the Island Time Sweat Box then find that creating cocktails is kind of fun.  What’s a girl to do?  If any ladies out there suffering from a slowing metabolism and uncooperative genetics have any ideas, by all means – feel free to share.

Then we can down those margaritas. 😉

PRIORITIES MOVE LIKE THE TIDES

There’s nothing like a good old life scare to make you step back and re-evaluate what’s important.  For all my metabolism bitching, in the big picture it means nothing.  The love and health of family and friends, the health and happiness of your critters, slowing down life for a minute and enjoying a sunset with a special someone and a good glass of cabernet, traveling outside your comfort zone and embracing adventure, that’s what life should be all about.  Not making enough money?  Live within your means and be happy you have a job when so many others don’t.  Angry the man of the house keeps forgetting to put the toilet seat down?  At least he’s there to forget to do it.  Living with what seems to be a case of a permanent bad attitude?  Make the effort to do something nice for someone else and then try to fight that smile that’s tugging at the corners of your mouth.  Without question what was important to me 20 years ago is nowhere near what it is now.  We all have personal trials we go through and times in our lives when it seems like everything is a big pile of dog poop.  Then something happens to make you realize your poop amounts to nothing.  NOTHING.

LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT

Races. Travel. Laughter.  Great friends and great times.  Funny how the simplest things have the biggest impact on your life.  Some of the best times I’ve ever had included a glass of wine, music, friends, dogs, and a simple backyard fire at this great little tiki bar I know.  It’s easy to find things to be grateful for each and every day, if you just take the time to stop and notice.  A helpful coworker, a smile from a stranger, a funny joke made by a passing runner at a race – all good things.  So my advice to you as I bring this recap of sorts to a close, is to appreciate the life you’ve been given and everything that makes it awesome.  You only get out of life what you put into it, so make that little extra effort, especially this time of year, when so many feel so lonely.  It costs nothing to thank a veteran or first responder for their service (dispatchers too!), or to help a senior citizen load groceries in their car.  Little things go a long way and people always remember the little things.

My challenge to you this day is to do some little thing for someone else.  Pay for their coffee, hold a door open, give their dog a biscuit (after making sure it’s ok of course!), then come back here and share what you did.  I guarantee you will feel a bit better about yourself and life in general.  Perhaps if we all do a little something for someone else, this tide of animosity that seems to be overtaking our lives will turn back just a little bit.

And little bits can change the world.

 

Enjoy the ride.

What little thing makes you smile?

Southernmost Half Marathon Recap

 

This was one of those moments.

Huh?

Let me set the scene for you.

Sometime early 2017:  looking for a fall half to run.  Because I live in the tropics and what better idea than to train through all levels of summer hell for a fall race.  IN KEY WEST.  Yes.  THAT Key West.

Then.  Hurricane Irma.

Not cool Irma. Not cool.

Fast forward to early 2018.  Sign up for said race in Hades.  Again.  Because one does get used to the sensation of boiling blood coursing through your veins during training runs.  Can be quite pleasant at times. 

But I digress.

Wanting to really PR for once since my very first half in 2007 – yes, it has been that long – I set my sights on lots of speed work and consistent mile times.  Twice a week I would be up and out the door before 5am, all in an effort to beat the heat.  Of course, Mr. Humidity likes to make an appearance daily and at times could make breathing a bit of a challenge.  I simply plowed forward with the mindset of, “Well, if I can train in this mess, at least I have the advantage.  Right?”

Yeah.  Not so much.

Every week, up at 4:30 every Monday for easy runs, and Thursday for speed workouts.  Saturdays I’d sleep in until 5:30 and then hit the road for LSD days.  Of course, those were much better as I had my very own Grouper Road Crew along for the ride.  Cold drinks and cloths in a bike cooler, tunes from the wireless speaker, and of course, the Grouper himself.

He doesn’t really look like this.

After a momentary panic attack about two-thirds of the way through my training plan when I discover I had counted my weeks wrong, (probably due to all those 4:30am mornings),  I realize I had less weeks to train than originally thought.  No worries, I’ll simply skip one of my cutback weeks and increase the weekend mileage a little quicker.  I got this.

If you previously happened to have followed my little corner of the internet, then you are well-acquainted with my long-running #brokeknees drama.  I am happy to report that I have officially moved on from that drama!  But now?  #brokebutt drama.

Gee, thanks.

Yup.  Once again we delve into the dark runner world of injury, this time centered around that bitchy little piriformis.  Ooooh boy, can that little flat muscle cause some BIG runner issues.  Now, being an expert at making myself crazy over training time injury maintenance, I do what every obedient runner does.  No rest, overwork the butt, and bitch the entire time.  I also did throw in weekly chiro adjustments, the hated foam roller, and standing at my desk with my leg up trying to stretch out my butt at work several times a day.

That made for some interesting looks from the coworkers.

And wept as I saw that PR slowly slipping away.

As always happens when time is running out, I had a few good long runs, mixed up with anxiety and tear-filled long runs.  Trying not to subject Grouper to more #brokebutt drama than he needed to witness, I sucked it up and limped home on more than one long run, bitching the entire time.  Sadly, prior to race day, my longest good run was only 10 miles.  No biggie, what’s another 3 miles, right?

After spending my last six weeks of training in a total crap shoot, on a beautiful Friday morning, we drop off the Wonder Mutt at the sitter’s, pack up the Mutt Mobile, and down the Overseas Highway we go.  Packet pickup took 5 minutes – all packet pickups should be at a bar on the sand if you ask me – and back to the hotel to chill before hitting the hay early.  Thank you 5:45am start time.  All those gawd-awful early morning workouts were paying off.

Saturday morning.  The humidity is pretty high, Hurricane Michael is making his way just south of the States – really Mother Nature? – and Grouper and I jump on a rent-a-scooter to make getting to the start line easier.  (Great idea if I do say so myself).  I hit up a surprisingly clean portapottie, then hang out in the start area stretching and warming up, passing the time among all the marathoners, halfers and 5kers.  And of course, petting ALL THE DOGS, which did wonders to calm the pre-race nerves.  The full marathoners get called to the start line and promptly at 5:30am, the festivities begin.  The half was supposed to start at 5:45, but kudos to the race director for delaying 15 minutes as the lines for the portapotties had gotten quite long.  An announcement was made for the 5k peeps to jump out of line, and let the half peeps do their business so we can get the show on the road.  At 6am, we were on our way!

Two things to keep in mind should you wish to indulge in such madness:

  1.  It’s still dark out at 6am in October and course lighting is definitely NOT in abundance.
  2.  Duval Street is more like a study in not face planting thanks to the road conditions.

And the biggest lesson of all – HEAD WINDS SUCK.

Me. FOR 4 STINKING MILES.

Nothing like feeling you’ve won the Powerball when your first two miles are run at goal pace, you’re on track to #PRCity, you manage to not go over the railing into the Atlantic Ocean because you’re running a pier in pitch blackness, and you have to deal with crap like Mother Nature with a bug up her dupa.  She couldn’t even make it a decent headwind, but an angled side wind.  The kind that no matter which muscley cute dudes you’re running behind, (I’m married for gawd’s sake, not dead :)), you just can’t seem to find that sweet spot that said muscley cute dudes can run blocker for you.  You know that goal pace I mentioned?

Yeah.  NO.

Miles 3-6 were spent battling a bitchy Mother Nature to the point that all I could do was try to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Pace?  Out the window.  Conserving energy?  #jokeoftheyear.  Ignore what is now your screaming glutes?  Got that down.  Grit your teeth and hope the normally beautiful oceanside view comes to an end as quickly as possible.  Or more like just come to an end at all.  I’ve never been so happy to see a Mile 6 marker in my life.  Especially because Grouper was plunked right there, cold Angry Orchard in hand, tunes playing on the speaker, and dancing like a fool.

Best road crew ever.

Miles 6-9?  Another round of runner hell, this time due to a lovely out and back along U.S. 1, most of which was on an angle of much like the side of Mt. Everest.  There was no where you could run to find a bit of even ground unless you went up onto U.S. 1 itself; which wouldn’t have been bad, but after the slowed pace during the #headwindsfromhell portion of the program, traffic had started to pick up and becoming roadkill wasn’t really part of the next act.  Continued teeth gritting and carrying on was the only option.  Plus I knew Grouper was waiting back around Mile 9 with more Angry Orchard on hand.  Apple juice makes the world go round.

Once I was properly refueled, hugs and kisses from #bestroadcrewever, I knew I only had about a 5k to go.  Team #Brokebutt was making sure there would be no chance to revoke my membership, and a shot at #PRCity had long ago evaporated, so it was time to just finish the damn thing.  At least I had great scenery along the way as I hobbled down U.S. 1 with the Gulf to my right and a busy U.S. 1 to my left (no sarcasm here).  And of course, #bestroadcrewever buzzed up alongside me on his scooter, backing up traffic, music blaring, and shouting inspirational messages for all us runners in the vicinity.  Oh wait.  That would have been me.  Only me.  I had lost sight of just about every other runner both ahead and behind me, we had become that spread out.  Onward and upward!

Something like that.

A right turn over the bridge – thank you tailwind for once – and down into the neighborhoods adjacent to Old Town we go.  Remember I mentioned I had lost just about every other runner out there?  Not good when you come up to an intersection AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO.  Granted I had looked over the course a few times, but when you’re dupa is broken, your previously busted up knee is starting to complain, and you’re starting to feel a bit goofy in the head – more so than usual – it gets a little nerve- wracking until you notice some nice race person had placed some cones basically MAKING you turn where you need to go.  Score one for the non-goofyheaded race peeps!

Now.  Repeat after me.  LONGEST TWO MILES EVER.

Good job.  Great audience participation on that one.

After what I swore was previously mentioned LONGEST TWO MILES EVER, the finish line was in sight.  Actually it was around a couple more corners, but I could see it in my mind.  A right turn here, a left turn there, (oh look, Schooner Wharf Bar!  I’ll be right back guys!!), and THERE YOU ARE YOU GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL FINISH LINE!!

Let me just interject said beautiful finish was momentarily marred by large muscley sweaty dude FLYING by me with about 50 yards to go.  Why marred you say?

He was the winner of the marathon.  Yeah.  The FULL marathon.  Turns out Mr. Speedy had finished 15th OVERALL at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

STAY IN YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL PLAYPEN SPEEDY MCQUEENEY.  Leave the Keys to us pathetic amateurs.

A sweet little old lady handing out medals, a big hug from Grouper, and an ice cold Gatorade later, we were back on the scooter and heading back to the hotel.  I would have liked to hang out for the post race festivities, but girlfriend just wanted to get off her feet and into a nice refreshing shower.  Because.  KEY WEST.  Time to get this party started!

For all the bitching about the race conditions, it was still a well-managed race.  MultiRace puts on a good show and I would absolutely recommend any of their events.  If you’re intrigued enough to give this one a shot just remember to bring a light.  And extra apple juice.

SOMO Half

Nothing but smiles…

 

Enjoy the ride.

What is your favorite running destination?  Have you ever run a race in the tropics?

 

 

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.)

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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…..

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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

We’re officially in final countdown mode for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, so what better way to honor this longstanding tradition than by paying homage to that wonderful little creation…..the grape.

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Enjoy the ride.

Show of paws – who’s going to be part of the upcoming madness in November?  How many of you have your last long run/taper run this weekend?  Who’s completely befuddled about what time to actually get up that morning with the time change taking place the same day?

Wonder Mutt Wednesday

As many of us are in the middle of fall half/full marathon training,  Calypso the Wonder Mutt thought this was only too appropriate for the occasion.  Happy Hump Day hoomans!

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Enjoy the ride.

How many of you run with your mutts?  Have you ever been embarrassed to be seen in public wearing the same thing?  Do you tend to ignore the runner hooman and lavish attention on the pooch instead during your runs?

Friday Funny

FF weekend cats

Enjoy the ride.

Happy long weekend to those of you pulling the Monday through Friday thing!  What do you have on tap for this long weekend?  Perhaps racing in the Happiest Place on Earth?  Fighting gators during your weekend triathlon?  Whatever you have planned, may you enjoy every second of the next few days celebrating in a completely pointless life.  See ya summer!

Reset.

Sometimes that’s the only thing you can do.

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Blogging around these parts for the past year has been sporadic at best, in case you hadn’t noticed.  Between school, my job from hell, and, oh yes, that little ditty called LIFE, my brain was being pulled in so many different directions, it felt like I was coming apart at the seams.  Every damn day was becoming a battle, so much so that the brain had nothing left to vomit.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it just suffered a major meltdown.

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I hope I’m not jinxing myself,  but it seems like things have FINALLY somewhat calmed down, at least to a more respectable level of chaos.  I had to make some hard decisions to try and reduce the stress level, and they seem to be working for the moment.  I was over the whole going to the gym thing – not for any particular reason, just over it.  Without really putting much thought into it, the hubs and I started using that Amazon Prime membership to the extreme and began collecting random sets of free weights.  Then Pilates balls.  Then a weight rack for all those randomly selected weights.  Now a weight bench.  Lo and behold, before we even really noticed, we’ve now got ourselves a sweet little convenient garage gym, complete with live entertainment.

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“Let’s go lady, I ain’t got all day.”

In all honesty, it’s pretty damn awesome to just walk out the hall door and get a good sweat on, even if it is a million degrees and you’re sweating just breathing.  But when you look down and see this fuzzy face looking at you like you’re insane, it makes it all worth it.

Even if she does occasionally find it necessary to add a little more unnecessary resistance.

As I start really buckling down for November’s Wine and Dine Half, the cross-training aspect is going to play a major part of the training process this time around.  This will be my last Wine and Dine Half, at least for a while, (yes, I AM that whiny one who’s still pissed about all the changes to what was the best race EVER), and I need to be smart about finding the balance between what I hope to accomplish – a 2:00-2:15 half – and nursing the knees along for the first race post #brokeknee surgery x2 (recaps here, here, and here).  Every run so far has been somewhat of a mystery as I get used to a new reality of what strange crap I’m going to feel each time out.  I’ve been assured by my PT, chiro, and two orthos that I’m not doing any more damage to my knees, so I can do whatever I need to do at whatever pain level I can handle, if any.  As opposed to before the surgeries, the pain is now pretty constant, but at such a low level that I barely notice it anymore, unless I move funny and tweak something.  I take this as a win when before, the pain would peak and stay there, making any kind of speed next to impossible.

Pain tolerable was what I was shooting for post surgery, and pain tolerable is what I’ve got. #ftw!

pain tolerable

And it’s all good.

The balance will come into play big time this training cycle around with cross-training.  I need to build up the strength in the muscles surrounding my knees, slowly build up the mileage, and really just listen to what the good ol’ bod is saying.  Feeling too beat up today?  No problem!  Yoga it is.  Feeling that LSD run from a couple of days ago?  Off to the pool we go.  Need some extra muscle cuddle time?  Well, looky what we’ve got here!

Let's go lady

“Move it woman.  These weights ain’t gonna lift themselves.”

She’s a bit of a taskmaster.

The training runs so far have been slow and an exercise in patience, but now I look forward to each one – as opposed to before when I was dreading what would happen around Mile 6.  I’ve made some adjustments to my equipment, (hello compression knee sleeves!), and no longer have to wear the dreaded Monster Brace From Hell.

So the name of the game this time around will be “let’see what’s going on today.”  Not exactly the model of half marathon training plans, but hey, it works for me.  I look forward to every run now, I’m loving life in the land of garage workouts, and I have a new chiro who doesn’t waste her breath telling me I shouldn’t run.  Hopefully, the tropic steaminess will start to back off a little, caution and patience will pay off, the knees will cooperate, and the encouragement I’m getting from the hubby and running friends alike will continue.  I’ll check in along the way and hopefully have more than a few humorous training escapades to report. Until then my running buddies, may your runs be pain-free, the swampass minimal, and the run-ins with Zika skeeters non-existent.

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Bastards.

 

Enjoy the ride.

Are you currently training for a fall race?  Does your training plan include cross-training?  Are you angry with the changes to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend?

 

 

 

Yes, it’s really a race recap! Sort of…

I know this probably doesn’t sound like any big thing, but keep in mind I haven’t been much of a race girl while getting #brokeknees 1 and 2 fixed.

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Don’t miss this nonsense!

Even though I’m not completely pain-free – and knew going into surgery that I may never be again – I have been able to accommodate my somewhat finicky joints.  In other words, keep the pain level to a minimum.  I can run.  Like the whole turtle though peanut butter kind of runs at the moment, but I’m okay with that.  I just keep telling myself the speed will come.  Maybe.  Hopefully.  It’s okay if it doesn’t because I really love peanut butter.

peanut butter turtles

After the fiasco that was the announcement of the new – and big steaming pile of dogpoop of a decision regarding Wine and Dine 2016 – I knew I had to get myself a proof of time to submit by August.  I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to properly train for a half after surgery #2, my old times were just that – too old – so a 10k it would have to be.  And if you live in south Florida, you’re basically screwed.

“Welcome to the Land of All Things 5k.  Because our attention span won’t last long enough for anything longer.”

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You suck south Florida…

Thanks to the utter lack of 10k opportunities, I bit the bullet and went with the Down2Earth cross-country series that goes all summer long, with this particular race being held at John U. Lloyd State Park.  Added benefit: they also run a 5k at the same time, so the hubby agreed to suffer right along with me.  What concerned me?  The whole CROSS COUNTRY part.  I haven’t run cross-country since high school.  The hubs has NEVER done cross country jaunts.  This should prove to be interesting, if not entirely life-threatening.

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Not you again…..

If you’re supremely bored and happen to go to the race website, you’ll see our race was held at a lovely sounding location known to locals as Dania Beach.  BEACH.  As in SAND.  LOTS OF FRIGGIN’ SAND.

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Bobcat paw prints included at no additional cost.

Being the wise old runner that I am, (you can stop choking now), I figured it would probably be a good move to at least go down to the park before race day and figure out what the course would be.  You see, there’s only beach, access road, and parking lot.  That’s it.  Intracoastal waterway on one side, and the Atlantic on the other.  So on a balmy Sunday morning, the hubs and I drag our dupas out of bed, loaded up the cooler, and headed on down the road.  We managed to stop one of the park rangers to see if he knew where the course would be.  After all, he IS the park ranger.  If anyone would know, he would.  Right?  Yeahhhhhhh, not so much.  He gave us his best guess and we just flew with it.  Right onto the paw print marked sand as you see here.  I can honestly say I have never cursed so much at one race location in my entire life.  I think the bobcats have permanently vacated the area after hearing what was coming out of this girl’s yap.

It was a good thing we took the morning to do this though, as a couple of weeks later, we were as ready as we could be for more than a few miles in the sand.  The race field was very small, no more than 30-40 runners for both distances combined.  Race directions were simple:  run along the beach access road until you see the yellow tape, run around the tape, then run back to the start.  5k runners go once, 10k runners go twice.  All right, we can handle that.  It’s hot as hell, no breeze, typical south Florida summer humidity, nothing we’re not used to.  We all line up at the start, laugh about how many of us are going to die, gun goes off, and off we go. Into the wild sandy yonder.

The hubs knew I was running for time so he wished me luck and off I went.  Knowing that pacing was going to be a big factor, I did my best to keep the jitters under control and not go out too fast which I excel at doing.  Mistake #1, thinking there would be a water station at the turnaround 1.5 miles out.  Let me just stay this:  every race I have EVER done had a water station around the 1-2 mile mark.  EVERY ONE.  This one?  Not so much.  I got up to the turnaround, saw nothing but stupid yellow tape, and proceeded to say things that made the local snakes drop dead in mid slither.

WHO THE HELL DOESN’T GIVE YOU A WATER STATION AT THE TURNAROUND POINT ON A BEACH RUN???  Oh, wait…..

stooge

This stooge, that’s who.

Now, I put this one all on me.  I should’ve known better when my previous contact with the race director asking if there was going to be a water stop was met with complete silence. Definitely on me.  Lesson learned.  Moving on.

I passed the hubs on the way back and told him of the unfortunate circumstance and warned him that I think I had inadvertently killed a snake with my vocal venom.

“There’s no water at the turnaround.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“I’m a monkey’s friggin’ uncle.”

(We have a special relationship.)

Thankfully, after the final half mile back to the start in the softest sand you could imagine – and mind you this was just at the end of the first loop – they at least had water set up at the start line.  After stopping long enough to gulp down a couple of cups and throw a couple more over my head, off I went for Hell in the Sand part 2.  Which was pretty uneventful and much like Hell in the Sand part 1.  Pretty views of the ocean, lizards looking at us humans like we were nuts – guess they call it like they see it – and for the most part, completely by myself.  Race support?  Non-existent.  (Good thing no one dropped of heatstroke out there, they’d have been screwed).  So I just kept my head down, stopped freaking out over the ugly times I kept seeing on the trusty watch, and thanked the runner gods that the hubs had enough functioning brain cells to fill a bottle he had with water and toss it to me as I passed him for the second time on my way back out.

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Yes, it felt THAT good.  Don’t judge me.

I managed to trudge back out to the turnaround, back through what beautiful little shade there actually was on the access road, out the to hellacious sugar sand along the beach, and finally made the final turn for the promised land.  About 300 yards from the finish, the hubs was standing on the side so I tossed him my iPod, turned on the after burners and hit the line still in an upright position.  I was hoping for a 60 minute finish time, but considering the terrain, I would have been happy to finish in 75.

Imagine my surprise, and somewhat sweaty delight, when I was told I had actually finished in 64 minutes, and good enough for 2nd place female! (Which sadly, once the results were posted on the website I was bumped down to 3rd place, but hell, I’LL TAKE IT!)

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(Smiling thinking about the post-race margarita.)

So here’s my takeaway from the Down2Earth 5 and 10k Cross-Country Run:

  1.   Ability to see the course online prior to race day – zip
  2.   Questioned answered by race director prior to race day – dog poop
  3.   On course race support – nada
  4.   Would I do it again? – perhaps

Here’s why that last one isn’t a flat out no.  I found out afterwards this was the first time this race was held at this location.  Normally they’re put on at Oleta State Park in Miami.  I’ve taken my bike there a few times and the park trails are CONSIDERABLY more runner friendly than at John U. Lloyd.  I got the impression when the race director was telling us about the races at Oleta, and proceeded to wave his hand at the sand and say “there’s no running in this kind of crap at Oleta”, that he wasn’t happy about the conditions either.  The only hangup for us?  Lloyd Park is only about a half hour away from our humble abode.  Oleta is a little more than an hour.  And in Miami.  MIAMI.  Trust me, not NEARLY as glamorous and these guys made it look.

The ending of the story?  I got my proof of time for Disney.  I got to run a race again, with the hubs.  I haven’t been able to do that in years.  Neither of us died.  I got a medal.  I know now that I have the verbal ability to scare away bobcats and shock snakes to death with my vocal venom.  ALL GOOD THINGS.

June 18 medal1

The aches and pains we felt over the next few days in places that neither of us knew we could be achy and painy from running in the sand?  Well.  That’s a story for another day.

Enjoy the ride.

 

Have you ever been disappointed with support at a race?  Have you ever done an entire race in the sand?  What are the worst conditions you’ve ever tun in?