I entered my first half marathon in the fall of 2008.  I had never run over five miles at one time, let alone be officially timed while running.  I had only started running as a way to tire out my Golden Retrievers, then I realized it was good, cheap exercise, and it was stoking some creative energy that I thought I had long since snuffed out.  The only reason I entered that half marathon was at the nudge from a friend who is without a doubt the most authentically warm, genuine and positive person I have the pleasure to know and I had not one good argument to tell her I couldn’t do it.  Plus, I was getting addicted to that runner’s high.  I know, gag me, but it’s real.

Since that race in 2008, I have run six half marathons, two of which where off-road trail halfs, and as of tonight, three Tough Mudders.  As my team, the mighty Mudtallica walked around Truckee this morning, we were chatting about how we became Mudders, and it all goes back to me and an email I wrote on April 30, 2010 to several good friends who were each experiencing some of life’s hardest and darkest times.  The email was a rallying cry, an effort to inspire my friends to join me in showing life that we were not going to take its worst days without showing it how we live our best days.

As I sit here, sore as hell and chuckling about our adventure on the course yesterday (yet also feeling a bit of the post Mudder blues), I realized that my next organized event is not a run, but a much needed nudge to honor my writing and creativity, Camp Mighty.  I am seriously WAY MORE terrified of that than any eight foot Berlin Wall will ever be.  But, since I used my writing to inspire the friends that have now helped me complete three Tough Mudders, I wanted to share that email, and a picture of me, with my actual face showing, however covered in glorious mud.

Hope this inspires you too.  I imagine it can.

30 April 2010

So there I was last night, on my walk with the pooches, not really running this week as my body needed the rest after the half on Sunday, and my mind started doing its thing where it lets go and settles into my “write” brain.  My feet would not not run, so I let myself settle into short bursts of jogging as gentle as possible since my feet still ache from the race, I had not taken my inhaler, and most of all, was without proper boob support.  I started thinking about the next physical challenge I wanted to pose for myself since that seems to be the way I have kept sane the past two years.  The ideas and images of half marathons and trying out Cross Fit and getting back to yoga all meandered by.  Then I remembered an article I read in the NY Times the night before about a challenge called Tough Mudder.

Apparently the Tough Mudder is a not-race, meaning it is untimed, but it is a 7 mile course with intensely crazy-fun obstacles, like a mud run on steroids.  I f’ing love it.

Now comes the imagining part…

As I walked along last night, I started going all GI Jane and thinking about climbing hills, and rope walls, and slogging through mud and doing it with glee and shouts and laughs and yawps and promise of beer at the end.  And then I thought, who would be the best people to have on a team for this insanity?  Please see list above :-)

Each one of us, for all our blessings has had their share of shitstorms, stresses, dramas, depressions, worries, and hells on Earth the past year or so.  Between us I tallied up three divorces, one nearing divorce, two strained marriages, two kids with life threatening surgeries, two pending bankruptcies, one mom on chemo and radiation, one dad in a coma, two sick dogs, two dogs who passed away, cats given up to others, family members dying, friends dying… just amongst the 10 of us.  Each one of us has found strength in the others and damn it all to hell, our tough asses are still here facing these seeming disasters.  And each one of us has used physical strength, movement and activity to heal ourselves, or at the very least, expend some of the nervous energy that builds up in our battered hearts and minds.  We have a triathlete, two marathoners, several collegiate athletes, skiers, both amateur and pro, and some who just like to run and all who like to move their bodies.

I started to imagine each of us, standing together as a team at the top of some crazy-ass hill in the Northern California mountains in October getting ready to hurl ourselves down it Braveheart-style, scramble across logs and rocks and mud and water all the while helping each other along the course.  We would be our own Race for the Cure: the Cure for Fear, the Cure for Worry, the Cure for Stress, the Cure for Hating Your Job, the Cure for Anger, the Cure for Sadness, the Cure for Others Who Cannot Hurl Themselves Down a Hill…  Us.  We together could do that.

And I would write about it.  Oh boy would I.

So, dear friends, I just ask you to IMAGINE.  Just spend a little time this weekend imagining this.  It is five months away and the same weekend as the Nike Half and Full, which two of you I know were considering anyway.  We would be an AWESOME team.  We already have a coach on the list.  And I am really good with logistics.


Love you,

Runners Know Their Times

2010 Marin County Half-Marathon

Here is the list I keep in the drafts folder of my WordPress dashboard of my half-marathon times for safekeeping, reference, pride, comparison, information, motivation, curiosity, training and did I mention personal pride?  As you can see, there is a range of times.  I know by looking at them what my training plan was, what the course and weather was that day and if I was injured or not.  The times matter to me because it is the tangible record of how all those other factors impacted my race that day and ultimately THE TIME.

Paul Ryan lying about his marathon time is just absolutely stupid, foolish, arrogant and immature.  To complete a marathon is a huge feat, one that I actually never plan on doing!  So to lie about it diminishes the impressive accomplishment that it is. And not to put too fine a point on it, but someone who would lie about their marathon time and then when caught give a cutesy anecdote about how he confused his time with his brother’s makes me unable to trust anything coming out of his mouth ever.

2008 Big Sur half 2:18:30, 10:34 pace

2009 America’s Finest City half 2:08:31, 9:49 pace

2009 North Face Endurance Challenge, 2:29:46, 11:24 pace

2010 Marin County half 2:04:32, 9:30 pace

2010 North Face Endurance Challenge, 2:37:29, 12:00 pace

2011 America’s Finest City Half 2:08:45, 9:50 pace

Year End Review

A couple weeks ago, I was supposed to run the North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon, which is a trail half, right here in the GGNRA  and an event I have done the last two years.  When I ran it for the first time in 2009, I also challenged myself to write daily for the last 3o days of training.  It was a massive personal success and so much fun that I ran it in 2010, to considerably less fanfare and much worse weather.  I was undertrained in 2010; I finished the race slower than 2009, and injured my left foot into a two week limp and several expensive healing treatments all for the lesson that I had to pay closer attention to pain being different than soreness.

This summer I ran a half in San Diego in August and then did the NorCal Tough Mudder in September.  The TM had a much longer course than the year before, so it’s likely I was a little ill-prepared for that too but adrenaline, insanity and Team Mudtallica got me through it.  I signed up for the North Face Half anyway, intending to train right and strong, until I realized my left knee and right hamstring were just not ever feeling okay, more like electric cattle prods were being shot into my joints and muscles with every stride, or if I wore high heels.  Yes, that was the validation of the injuries: the inability to wear already ill-advised footwear thereby ruining a great outfit.

With a lack of running, my writing jams up too, which as I have lamented before, I don’t like one bit.  It being the end of the year and an obvious time for reflection, I have added this conundrum to my list of what to work on in 2012.  (I must make a big happy note though, that 2011 was the first year in about the last seven or so where more seem to go well than not, so hey, progress!)  In that herky jerky six weeks of to train or not to train I did write several drafts and had one MASSIVE epiphany about a project I want to undertake in 2012.  My intention is to beat Resistance back for the next two weeks of 2011, finish the good ones of the drafts and begin to outline the bigger project.  This is my way of applying some discipline that I want to be spending on running, and hopefully building a new muscle that can lift my writer’s brain up when my knees need some rest.

Fingers crossed!