First Grade Draft

My boss is a fitness competitor. As I walked into his office recently, I was distracted by all the shiny trophies proudly displayed on a top shelf. There were 6, I think. As I stuttered for a second in what I was sharing with him, it made me take a quick look at my own accomplishments.

Memory Lane

When I notice the rack full of medals, I don’t see the end result. I do see the work I put into earning them. And they were earned, for sure. Granted, it’s nice to have them, but it’s what isn’t written on them that makes a difference. Which leads me to this point – you can’t make someone want something they don’t want for themselves. If you’re doing it because it’s another person’s dream for you, the value is minimal, if real at all. Not to say there isn’t value, but it probably isn’t the full value you would have instilled.

All this to say…I believe there’s a draft system in public schools. Very loaded statement, Kel. As mini goes to a small(ish) school – but certainly not as small as mine was – there are 4 kindergarten classes and, I presume, as many first grade classes. So as she has begun peppering me with questions like who will be her teacher next year, I gently remind her I don’t know and probably won’t until about a week before school returns in August. Then she asks who her classmates will be. Wash, rinse, repeat.

photo credit: pexels

Which got me thinking how are classes decided? Is it a drawing? A lottery? Do the teachers drink heavily one night and pick names from an empty wine glass? There’s an idea! My predominant belief is a draft system. As the school year goes on, their teachers are keeping score. Since kindergarten is a (typically) rookie year, they get a wild card pick. So when you see kids getting traded within the first week of school, it’s because a teacher has decided to use her wild card. For the remaining years, trades can only happen when the owner, ahem principal, deems it necessary. At the end of the year, by popular vote, the teacher with the worst class gets first pick in the new school year. Indeed there lives score sheets, mugshots…I mean school photos, and printouts on how annoying the student’s parents were. Sorry, Toots, I bugged the crap out of your teacher.

I’ve been assured the draft doesn’t really take place; it’s all up to chance, so they say. Can’t fool me. I’m convinced there’s a secret society of school personnel who wait all year to call dibs on the class that will rule the school. For one year, at least.

First rule of fight club…

_______________________

I ask you –

At what point should my boss stop bringing his big trophies to work?

How many kindergarten classes did your school have? Just one.

Draft: yay or nay?

Released Unto the Wild

I graduated! For the fifth time (or something like that).

(L to R) PJ, me, Max

PJ and Max at Reneau Rehab have been quite incredible on this entire 6 week journey. When I started there, I could barely stand on my left leg for any amount of time. The pain levels were intense, I was pretty depressed about the status of my injury, and I wasn’t entirely sure I would ever run pain-free again. Disclaimer: I know I get dramatic, but I was seriously in a rough place!

PJ continued to challenge me until even the final minutes of the last session. I learned to focus on the mind/body connection of the muscle groups I’m working instead of nonchalantly going through the motions. My left knee tends to just do whatever it wants (falls inward, acts ridiculous, etc) so I really have to put thought into what I intend it to do for me. It’s more than strength training – it’s using the muscles for a purpose. Mind and body!

As I completed a few 5ks – distance, not races – throughout the course of physical therapy, the changes were noticeable. I really had been slacking off. Wayyyyyy off!

Now that I have a whole week of on-my-own training under my belt (minus a few days of insanity), I’m especially happy I wrote the exercises down as I went through them at Reneau. The exercise band is kept in my purse so it travels wherever I go. That’s not weird at all. My goal has been to dedicate 3x a week to strength training. I only got in 2x this past week but they were good because the soreness was real! Indeed I received some odd looks when, at the gym near my workplace, I was surrounded with “toys” aka a bosu ball, a weighted bar, a medicine ball, and a yoga ball, among others. Yes, you can get a great strength session without actual weights. Shocking, I get it.

Indeed I noticed several gentleman with a huge upper body and stick figure legs. Excuse me, Sir, can I interest you in a medicine ball? Allow me to show you a few things. Maybe next week.

______________________

I ask you –

What did you last graduate from and when?

Did you know it’s possible to strength train without dumbbells?

In a scale of 1 to an uneasy staring contest, how well will a “let me help you train your legs” conversation go? Knowing my ability to be humorous, probably a 2.

Do You…?

Meditation is my thing. But I’m not going to lie: sometimes I go into my closet and lock the door so no one can find me.

Gwen Stefani

Part One

Even before mini started school, I had wondered what parts of it would mimic my own school experience. Because things can change in —- ohhhhhhh —- nearly 20 years. I wondered about cafeteria food, her first book, and loads of other variables. Including the book fair! I’m pleased to report, indeed, there is still a yearly book fair, even for children as young as 5! However, it wasn’t the overflowing library of carts covered in books I remember from years gone by. Instead the book fair was only a small rendition; a miniscule scale of the elaborate week it once was. Mini enjoyed it though. She has no other comparison. Blessed be the innocent.

Part Two

Dan (the one and only) sent me this article: How to Use the Two-Week Rule to Become Remarkably Successful (and Optimize Your Bucket List)

Quotes like “I can do hard things” by Des Linden are prime motivators for really anything you encounter in life. But what if someone told you that in two weeks you’d know exactly how reachable your goal is…would you believe it? Probably not. I met interesting people during the course of 15 physical therapy sessions. Some I’d like to have coffee with; others I could do without ever speaking to again. Get back to the point, Kel. In particular, I met a previous runner now cyclist who was dealing with some knee issues. She stated she kept their business in business. As we discussed various running distances and the local, famous cycling event, she said she had completed 2 marathons and encouraged me to at least once in my life complete one, as well. When I raised my eyebrows as if to say ‘look lady, I’m here because I can’t manage a long run much less 26.2 miles’, she reiterated the word run. Not race. Run. Her words were ‘walk if you have to, run when you can; your goal is to cross the finish line standing up’. And in that moment I saw it all. Start with two weeks, then think about the next two weeks, and so on.

On the topic of bucket lists (and knowing I’ve shared much of this before), a marathon is included. As is a trip to Mexico and/or Las Vegas. Mainly because many of my friends have taken a trip lately and I’m feeling left out. Other to-do’s are to restore an old truck, then outfit a van into a camper and travel from state to state. I also want to complete a Ragnar. I’d love to see the northern lights. For now, I think I’ve got a good start on a list.

Now What?

I have no idea *massive shoulder shrug* When I wrote this post and decided to combine book fair with motivational statements, it didn’t work then either. I make the rules! You’re welcome.

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I ask you –

Can you do anything for two weeks?

What’s on your bucket list?

Name something from your childhood you fear (or know for sure) has changed. Definitely school lunch.

 

Sensing a Theme…

I love reading about and watching the Barkley Marathon. There’s something so primal (and completely insane); it’s just fascinating!

I found this post: A-Z OF BARKLEY MARATHONS, THE WORLD’S MOST NOTORIOUS ULTRAMARATHON The people who run Barkley are both nutjobs and heroic. I appreciate these qualities. With so many races now returning from virtual-only, my entire news feed is flooded with photos and stories of runners doing what they do best. The familiar feelings of being inspired have returned. At this moment, I have 3 more physical therapy sessions before I am officially cleared to go forth and run! It’s exciting yet also a tiny bit terrifying. Granted I have run during the course of PT; however, it has been under their guidance. Now it’s time to leave the nest!

I sure would!

There is a 5k (my longest distance since injury recovery) scheduled next weekend – I did sign up with intent to run – and my therapist stated go for it! Note: it’s a run, not a race. Speaking of racing, recently I remembered meeting an Army officer when I worked in Oklahoma. He would never train lower body because he said as a collegiate and military-sponsored soccer player he received all the lower body training he needed on the field. I brushed it off as surely he knew what he was doing; I thought it sounded odd but to each his own.

Today, I’m dealing with the ramifications of this very same mindset because as someone who runs consistently I believed I didn’t need (or make time for) a solid strength training routine because everything I needed I could find out on the road/track/treadmill. Now look where I’m at. Just look at it! This faulty line of thinking forced me to take an extended break. But it also reframed my entire way of incorporating preventative training.

Now what, Kel? Well – I have the tools, literally and figuratively; I have the will; I have the reason. Nothing can stop me except myself. My plan is to prioritize strength training with the same schedule I’ve had for PT, i.e. 3x/week. As much I dislike the word balance (yeah right), my motivation is not finding myself in this position again. Don’t be like soccer guy! So, if you need me, I’ll be over here with my happy little stretchy bands doing what someone else more knowledge than I showed me how to do. And I will appreciate it!

_________________________

I ask you –

Can you imagine the mindset of taking on a challenge like Barkley?

Have you ever overheard (or been given) terrible advice?

Share your thoughts on activities like a Barkley or a Ragnar!

On the life scale … + PT Update

Just when I get accustomed to a routine at physical therapy – a collection of 8 or so exercises targeting core, hamstrings, knee, and glutes – I’m treated to a wonderful surprise. A new routine! It’s really not wonderful. But of course they didn’t remove the exercises that are the hardest for me. Oh no. Why would they do that? Ugh. Instead, they leave the super difficult ones and add some others in place of the ones I was starting to master. Sure. Why not.

I like to call these “truly awful”

In related news, I can tell my lower body strength is increasing. Because Texas graciously awarded us a week of beautiful Spring-like weather a week after the second ice storm, I was able to run outside. Not one to waste an opportunity, the run was my first since beginning PT and I could tell a difference in the way my hamstrings didn’t feel “wobbly”. There was a slight knee twinge around mile 1.5 so I walked some, then when I restarted, everything felt fine. It’s working!! I’m extremely thankful to Renau Rehab for guiding me; working with Max and PJ has been incredible. Beyond being very knowledgeable, they’re also kind, funny, and invested in my return to running.

these are called “one-legged wonders”

Also, have you ordered your Running on Fumes merchandise yet? There’s still time and many options available, from tanks to hoodies to coffee mugs to tote bags! You can find your next RoF item here!

the beloved Ms. Dory! (hoodie)

Last week was one of those weeks where if it isn’t one thing, it’s a billion others. From craving ice cream – all I could find were popsicles – to multiple days of gorgeous sunshine, besides the craziness, it was one for the books. Personally, I’m just glad we’re moving forward.

This is officially the week before my birthday week (it’s a Sunday this year) and I have big plans. Stay tuned!

_______________________

I ask you –

What part of exercising is your favorite? When it’s over!

How often do you do any task that requires standing on one foot?

Tell me your favorite cold, sweet treat!

Diagnosis meets Prognosis

The jury is in! Aside from (or maybe in accordance with) a torn meniscus, physical therapy is going swimmingly well. Torn is a bit of a general term when the meniscus is already healed. Luckily, my body did what the body does and indeed it healed. That’s the good news. The gray news (I’m not using the word “bad” because it’s not really terrible) is I have a lot of work to do in order to correct the resulting lack of strength and balance due to said injury. My left knee/hamstring/hip/calf are all very tight while also very weak. My balance is off because I don’t have a lot of confidence and am afraid of hurting myself more. All this being said, I’m the most enthusiastic PT patient I ever met!

been awhile since I used these

In approximately 5 weeks, I will have completed 15 therapy sessions and everyone seems to have high hopes I can return to running in a normal fashion. Praise the Maker! Perhaps this was my wake-up call. I’ve known for some time – ahem, years – you can’t expect the body to perform at peak condition if you’re not giving it an opportunity to ever be at peak. In my case, I devote all my time to running during a training cycle, then return to strength training during the “off season”. Never have I been able to (i.e. made time for) strength training, flexibility, and running. Together. So here we are.

these are demonic torture devices, so I bought my own

Currently I’m ramping up my collection of therapeutic tools, like these nifty cloth bands that make my outer thigh burn like fire, and a weight bench for step-ups, supermans, and full body dumbbell exercises. Among other things. Put those gym management skills to use, Kel! I want to be strong AND healthy enough to run. Since my powerhouse of strength is seriously degraded right now, I fully understand this will take time. Most importantly, it will take discipline to continue what I’m learning in PT. I don’t know if you know this by now but I’m an extremely stubborn and dedicated person. Shocking, I bet. Surely I can devote my time to the exercises that will ensure I am able to run for years to come.

There’s probably many who are shouting “I told you so”. Trust me, I told me so, too. Sometimes we get into the groove of same old, same old…status quo…whatever the word du jour is. But until there’s several people with fancy titles and notepads asking you to stand on one foot – until that very moment – you (I) will continue to say everything is fine. Even when it isn’t. Even when a simple task like standing on one foot was once so incredibly easy yet somehow is now not. I remember running my first race after the traumatic DNF. I needed that run to regain confidence, to remind myself I’m capable of finishing, to prove my body and mind are okay. It was hard. The entire time I ran I was examining every symptom I experienced, wondering if I was hydrated enough, did I eat enough the past week, what if I pass out again, and the list goes on. How dramatic I sound right now I know not! All I know is this is real life to me.

On the bright side, the rehab facility is easily located and I’m thankful I have a position where I can attend therapy as much as needed to get me back in fighting shape. As long as I can outrun an enemy, hopefully it won’t matter if I can’t beat them up. But I’ll try!

____________________________

I ask you –

Have you ever had a torn meniscus?

Do you have any favorite “PT-style” accessories?

Tell me something interesting about your week!

Reach for the Stars

I recently caught myself using the phrase “I may never run again”. The weight of that short statement was not so obviously downtrodden until it was the time of year where my favorite shoe company releases a new iteration of my go-to shoe style.

If you’ll recall (new readers may not know this), I won a contest in 2020 titled the 20 Year Drop. Essentially, Brooks Running supplies with me a free pair of shoes each year for 20 years. Wow, right?! This is my only claim to fame, but I’m claiming it forever! My favorite shoe is the Adrenaline GTS. Each year, I receive a new pair as the contest winner. However, pandemic and supply chain issues have caused a slight problem with my ability to locate the newly released Adrenaline GTS 22’s. They were advertised online, but out of stock at my local Academy and even on the Brooks Running website, as well as Amazon. Figures. I had resigned myself to not needing any new shoes because I’m doing a whole lot of no running right now.

And then this happened.

L: 22 R: 21

I was wandering around an Academy in a different part of the world (not exactly) and stumbled upon these. Two pairs of shoes flew into my cart. The rest is history. Ok, not exactly. But kind of. I successfully located my size in the new 22’s; then, I found my size in a pair of 21’s. Stars: aligned. Thank goodness for shoe money. The fun part of this whole expedition is, unbeknownst to me, the 21’s were nearly half price at checkout. I don’t question these things! Stars, remember?!

So allow me to land this plane. As I slipped my feet into the Adrenaline GTS 22’s, I felt the SPARK. You know…the one where you dream big and see yourself in front of millions of people singing on a stage! No? Really? Too far? Oh right, the plane. I felt that tingle of remembrance on what it feels like to run just to be running. Just because I can.

And I thought…Kel, you may never race again, but you will definitely run. And it can’t come soon enough!

______________________

I ask you –

Have you ever won a contest? Or lottery?

Where do you typically purchase shoes?

Name something you thought you’d never do but have been able to!

Year in Review

So as 2021 will be closing out in just a few days and I will be on my way to retrieve mini from her holiday, today is my – surely anticipated – year in review!

In actively trying to remember how many races I’ve run, I returned to admiring my medal and race bib holder. There’s a lot of jingle on that wall! Pre-pandemic, I was accustomed to training for and scheduling at least 2-3 half marathons per year. Since then, I’ve been extremely lucky to complete one per year. 2021 was a wash/rinse/repeat of 2020, but I don’t let it get to me. Sure, I could blame the lack of events for my injury (which makes no sense and still doesn’t make me feel better); however, one is more than none! Knowing I run much better in the cold, a December race just works for me. I tried to establish a base through the summer, but between the heat and the dreadmill, it sucked. Not only did my base not get built, in retrospect, perhaps I should have used that time to ensure I wasn’t dealing with an injury before I started fall training. One day I’ll learn the lesson the first time!

10 – is how many half marathons I’ve run. Technically, I only completed 9. But I’m still proudly saying 10! Never did get around to counting the assorted 5k and 10k medals. Instead, I took a trip down memory lane. It was fabulous! I have made some amazing friends who also run. I’ve talked to people from different areas and connected with them solely online. I even get super excited when they complete a race because sharing in another’s accomplishment is such a rush of emotion! There are people whom I still refer to as my running buddy, my coach, my mentor – life brings with it different seasons but those people stay in my heart. I imagine for forever. Running just does something wonderful for me.

Ok, moving on…

I love when an app puts numbers together for me! Sometimes I don’t number well on my own. What can I say? – I’m a writer, I like words! Since I won’t be running much (any) anytime soon, I shall live vicariously through my previous endeavors and your stories! Give me all the stories! Disclaimer: for 2021, I only started using Strava in April so this doesn’t include any miles I ran January – March.

thank you, Strava

Being uncertain of which of the past years have been my favorite, I am extremely grateful I chose running! Or maybe it chose me. There’s joy in the adventure running brings to me. It is a huge sense of accomplishment when you complete a run, no matter how fast or slow it was. Running gives back tenfold what you put into it. I want other sports to BE that for me; alas, I don’t know if it’s in the cards for the dream to ever be a reality. Time will tell. Some days I’m rushing to know; others are a slow crawl. Guess it just depends on the mood of the day. I’m anxious to ditch the brace and lace up my trusty running shoes, but I know it can’t happen. Yet.

_________________________

I ask you –

Anybody else love looking at their year’s stats?

Are you following me on Strava? Share your ID so I can follow you!

Goal time! Tell me what you have planned for 2022!

Reflections of a Training Cycle

This one has been tough – not on time, but on my body.

From start to finish (16 weeks), I only gained 6 lbs but the inflammation is very pronounced. I have failed to disclose previously I’m under orders to stop running for 6 weeks. Ooof. Due to a probable hamstring sprain/strain bordering on a tear, instructions were given to rest/ice/heat/medicate and a whole list of other things for no less than 4 weeks. Instead, I continued to run and train for several weeks to make it to race day. So what does that mean now? It means I’m very lucky to have made it through the race and now I will be following doctor’s orders for the remainder of the month and partially into January. Not exactly the plan I had, but here we are. Surely I realize the scope of my decision to train regardless of pain, etc; however, once I finally received a diagnosis, it was exactly 10 days until R-Day. Many people much smarter than I have decided not to compete in events incredibly significant, i.e. the Olympics, for injury prevention reasons. Alas, my measly race pales in comparison yet I continued to train despite the bruising, pain, and swelling. I don’t say this to brag; rather I say it to reemphasize what not to do and how little I use my brain cells. Please learn from my mistakes.

If anyone needs me, I’ll just be ambling around chained to an ice pack alternating with heating pad and taking copious amounts of muscle relaxers to release the muscle from its confines of tension with the ultimate goal of running sans pain in the very near future! Speaking this into existence! Also, it seems I’ll definitely need to make an update to my eating habits for the duration. Can’t be imbibing in everything my heart desires if movement is limited. Don’t misunderstand – I don’t run so I can eat. It’s taken a long time to get to a place where food is fuel. I eat so I may run. I eat to enjoy the little things in life, like fresh baked cookies. But the donuts and croutons and extra pie need to take a back burner to getting myself well again. They will be there when I’m ready.

16 weeks is a bit too lengthy for me. Garmin told me I “peaked” around 14 weeks and instructed me to race soon as my fitness would start to decrease. So I proceeded to continue running as prescribed because what were my other options?! Then the reported VO2 max kept increasing so was I really peaking? Was the peak an early symptom of the highest VO2 max I’ve ever accomplished? Who knows. Let’s be honest…I have never considered my VO2 max as any number worth being concerned over and I’m not starting now. But it was awesome to see the message ‘Superior’! haHA! Superior! Anyway, previously I said (wrote) I wanted to focus more on the 10k distance in 2022; I think my plan is solid even if it won’t start as early as I’d hoped for due to mandatory rest. Seems like every single time I have a great running base something comes up. Oh well.

_______________________

I ask you –

What is your typical training cycle length?

Have you ever continued to train for an event despite a recommendation to stop?

Tell me the stat you like to track!

BMW Dallas Half Marathon Recap!

Let’s start off with the good stuff, shall we, on this edition of the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Yes, I met my goal of a 2:10 half marathon! Specifically, I ran 2:10:45 with an avg 9:58 pace. I asked my feet to fly and they did what I’d trained for with an 8 min PR! It was a lovely 35° at the start line – I met the most awesome people! My 2:10 pace crew also seemed nice.

Now the bad. Allow me to be a bit dramatic. My pacers were pushing us 20-30 seconds faster than what we were told we’d be running. I was able to stay with them the first 5 miles, then I dropped back. I don’t train to run non-stop. In fact, only one time have I ever run an entire half marathon without walking. It’s just not me. I’m super proud for holding on for 5 miles! But that wasn’t the plan. After the race was over, I remembered hearing pacers talk about this course “running long”, no pun intended, which means in order for pacers to lead their runners across the finish line in their prescribed time, the pacers were going to have to run faster. My unofficial course time was 2:12, but Garmin showed I ran my 13.1 in 2:10. Thank you, Garmin! Finally! I reject the course time.

So here’s the ugly. Because I spent the first almost half of the race running faster than I had trained for, miles 6-11 were brutal. The walking increased, even though I was still mostly holding on to a 9:45 pace. I began to favor my left hip/leg/hamstring/knee which caused a lot of pain in my right foot. So glad I decided to put BCAAs in my CamelBak and fuel with jelly beans. Even then, those middle miles felt awful.

pre-race injury treatment – long story for another day

Overall, course support was amazing! There were people giving out donuts, beer, mixed drinks, extra energy bars, and who knows what else. The water stops – though I used my own hydration – were frequent and plentiful. The bands on nearly every other street corner were more entertaining than anything I’ve seen in a Rock n Roll event. And those events should be bursting with music! Finish line food was great: pizza, tacos, bananas, enrrgy bars, more Gatorade, tons of chocolate milk, sweets; it was all incredible!

Morgan from Oregon kicked butt out there! She, too, dealt with the disappointment of a long course and too-fast pacers, but I think she rocked it! She’s got an upcoming 15k event and we’ve discussed a late summer run nearer to her so we’ll see.

At this moment, I’m retiring from the half marathon. Remind me next time I tell you all I want to race again!

_________________________

I ask you –

How was your weekend? Anything exciting?

Runners, do you write motivational things on your pace band, arm, etc?

Chance I’ll stay “retired”: 60/40