Monday, August 18, 2014

Leading Ladies Half Marathon Recap

One year ago, I was having an ultrasound done to determine what the bump in my stomach was. I remember how scared I was about what the ultrasound would find. I had no clue then what the next year would have in store for me but let me tell you, the six weeks between that ultrasound and the surgery that removed what we found out was a cancerous ovarian tumor were hell. People would sometimes tell me that I looked terrified at the start of a race and sometimes I was a little - when I was about to race a new distance or a difficult trail race. But not anymore! Racing is easy compared to cancer. Never again will I be afraid to race. As a friend reminded me last month "It's just a race." Whatever happens, happens. If it doesn't go well, it's not the end of the world. So I was pretty relaxed for this weekend's adventures. Maybe too relaxed.

Yesterday, I ran the Leading Ladies Half Marathon. I'd originally signed up for the marathon but fatigue and foot issues derailed my training and I asked if I could drop to the Half. I'd run the marathon there a couple of years ago and thought it would be a good one to come back with. It's pretty small, only for women, and really beautiful. I also didn't get to see a lot the last time I was there so wanted to go back.

Because my kitten, Jenks, is still pretty young, I didn't take the long weekend I'd originally planned and just did a quick Saturday/Sunday trip. So I packed A LOT into Saturday. My flight arrived at noon on Saturday and I immediately headed over to the race expo to check in. Picked up the beautiful bib and cool shirt and the chip and then headed out to do some exploring.

First, I went to the Spirit of the Wild Sanctuary. It's an animal sanctuary for lions, tigers, bears, and other wild creatures who were in captivity or as pets but not able to be taken care of anymore. I took the tour which took about 2 hours and was pretty cool. I even saw a coyote cousin there. You should have heard one of the mountain lions screaming. Gave me chills. But then there was this cutie in a tree. Almost makes you want to hug him. Almost. 

After that, I drove to Devil's Tower National Monument. If you've seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you've seen Devil's Tower. It is amazing and weird! It's also pretty popular with climbers.

I did the short 1.3 mile hike that goes around the tower. It was beautiful and I got to watch some climbers for a while. I didn't see any aliens though. As I was driving out of the park, I stopped to take photos and one of the stops had a large field across from it filled with prairie dogs! They were cute and fun to watch.

Then I drove back to Spearfish to check into my hotel, stopping once to watch the sunset for a bit. I tried going to sleep but tossed and turned all night. I'm not sure why. I wasn't nervous.

I got up at 3 on Sunday and got ready to head over to the park to take the bus at 4:30. It was cool but not too cold. I got to talk to some women while we waited for the start and I met a woman who knew me from my blog. So wild! We were supposed to start at 6 but didn't start until about 6:25. I hadn't had breakfast except a Lara bar and then a gel about 15 minutes before the start.

Finally we were off! I tried to hold back because I was planning a 2:45 finish but felt good and ran a faster pace than I'd planned pretty much until mile 9. I only stopped once to take a pic of Bridal Veil Falls (which I missed the last time because you had to cross the road and go out on a deck). I tried taking pics as I ran but only 1 came out. I guess I need to practice that. Hmmm...

I had another gel with me but ended up not taking it because my stomach was unhappy starting about mile 9. I walked thru 2 aid stations to grab some pretzels to see if it would help and it did a little. I never really found my pace again so the brief glimpse I had of a 2:30 finish faded away. But besides those 2 aid stations, I didn't walk at all which I am very proud of. The unhappy stomach and my legs being sore were voting for walking and settling for 2:45 but I outvoted them! I distracted myself from them by trying to remember how many races I'd done that were a half marathon or longer (53 including this one) and just counting steps. I finished strong and was really happy to see I made it in before 2:35. :) They gave me my medal, a rose, and a warm, lemon scented towel and then I headed over to the pizza cookies which were just as yummy as I remembered.


Then I headed back to the hotel to shower and pack for my flight home. It was a SHORT but sweet trip!

I probably could have done a few things better. Like having a good dinner the night before and not doing all that walking with the running thru airports, tour, and hike. I could have also had a real breakfast. And remembered to bring salt pills. Oh, and I didn't taper. I really thought I would be doing some walking so hadn't done the usual pre-race rituals. Next time, I'll be better about it!

But maybe I wouldn't be better about it. I would hate to have missed the sanctuary or Devil's Tower. I mean, that's the whole reason I race...to see new places and explore this incredibly strange and wondrous planet we live on. So I wouldn't change that part. But the nutrition part and the tapering...yeah, that I have to work on.

One final thought...I definitely do need to lose more weight and get stronger all around because my legs and back were pretty sore after. If I'm going to run hard, I better make sure my body can handle it.

I still have a lot of work to do!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rest is a 4 Letter Word

Last week was a really good week. I am not feeling exhausted from my work outs anymore though I still fall asleep early sometimes. Sadly, I didn't lose any weight but I feel like I lost inches. I guess I should measure that.

Last week's training:

Running - 24.4 miles
Cycling - 123 miles
Weights - 3.5 hours
Rowing/Walking - 1.75 hours
Total Hours - 19.75

I have my first half marathon in a year this Sunday. This should be a rest week but I'm not really resting that much. Oops. I should. I know. Maybe I will.

I should have taken it easy on Sunday too but I didn't. I ended up buying some Hoka One One Cliftons on Saturday and wanted to give them a good test run so I can wear them next week. I ended up running 11 miles in them. The best part was that I did it at 12:07 pace! That's 1:11 per mile faster than last weeks 10 miler. Woo!

I am less tired and sore after too. In fact, I ended up going to the gym after lunch with my family to do some rowing and then a leg workout. I did a pull workout on Saturday. Leg days and Pull days are fun. Push days...not so much! Ha! Phil tried to get me to do push ups on Thursday and it did not happen. I had to do wall push ups. But I will work up to doing real pushups!

So anyway, I'm going to South Dakota to do the Leading Ladies Half Marathon on Sunday. It's just a quick trip because I don't want to leave my little cat, Jenks, alone too long. For being so small he sure can get into trouble!
I did the Leading Ladies Marathon a couple of years ago. It's a pretty course and mostly downhill so it should be fun. I am looking forward to it. I'm not sure what time I will do for the Half but I am going to try for 2:45. I think I can do that. I hope.

The last half marathon I did was 1 year ago in Dove Canyon. I ran it in 3:15. I remember feeling so tired and hot and like I was pregnant but I did it. I didn't know at the time that I had a tumor the size of a basketball inside me! Or that I had cancer. I am really glad that wasn't my last Half. It was #26 and Sunday will be #27.

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Running And Self Worth

"Self-worth comes from one thing - thinking that you are worthy." Wayne Dyer

My training last week:

Running - 21.1 miles (9, 4, 5, 3.1)
Riding - 112 miles
Gym - 4.25 hours
Walking - 1 hour
Training - 18.75 hours

Last week was good. It kind of kicked my butt because I fell asleep at 7:30 on Friday and slept through til 5 am on Saturday morning! I totally could have gone back to sleep but went for an easy 5K instead. That run and the ride to the gym were a little tough because I felt really tired. After the gym though, I felt fabulous.

I posted this on Instagram on Saturday:

The picture on the far left was taken a little over a month ago when I was in Tennessee and the pics on the right were taken on Saturday. I feel different and I'm noticing that my clothes are getting loose so I definitely feel like there has been progress in the 3 weeks I've been working with Phil.

I can also tell when I do medicine ball slams because those are getting easier.

Hey, did you know medicine ball slams are an excellent way of working out anger and frustrations?

Totally works. :) You should try it!

Another way I've been able to tell is running. Yesterday I ran 10 miles in the same time it took me to run 9 miles last week. And I didn't feel so beat up after. Woo! Leading Ladies Half is in 2 weeks and I finally feel like it's not going to be a slogfest. Oh, it's going to be slow. But I am thinking I might be able to do it in under 3 hours. Cross your fingers.

Sooo... one thing I've been thinking about lately is self worth and whether or not it's affected by running. That friend who thinks I'm clueless about ultras and not driven...he also told me he tried to give me self worth and that through running and his circle of friends, I became great and my self worth grew.

I disagreed but he insisted he was right.

You all know I love running, right?

I love being able to move my body. I love being able to get out in nature. I love traveling and seeing new places. I love being able to work out my frustrations through exercise. Running allows me to do all of that. It is my therapy and makes me happy but in no way does running give me self worth.

Period.

End of story.

I have confidence in what my body is capable of doing. Some of that comes from having run ultras and some of that comes from having done century rides as well. It's pretty darn cool to know that if you HAD to, you could run or ride where you need to go without worrying about a car or gas or traffic or whatever. Both running and riding have shown me that I am stubborn and determined and willing to be uncomfortable.

But I already knew those things about myself. They just reinforced it and gave me tangible rewards (medals) for them. I think they have increased my confidence but not my self worth.

Running or being part of a running group does not define me or make me feel worthy. I don't feel special or unique because I lace up running shoes or put on a bike helmet. Maybe I would if I were Shalane or Kara or Lauren? I wonder if they feel self worth because they are runners and have had success? Probably not.

Self worth isn't tied to what you do. It's about who you are and knowing that you are special and have something to offer the world. If, heaven forbid, I was never able to run again, I would be pretty darn cranky but I would not feel less self worth.

I think we forget that sometimes. That running is a hobby. It's not a cure for cancer (and don't I know it!). It's not going to stop war. If things go bad at your next race, it's not the end of the world. It's "just a race". It's just for fun. It doesn't mean you don't care about running and becoming better at it. It just means you have put it into perspective.

At least, that's what I think.

What do you think? Do you feel your self worth has grown because of running?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Time Is The Only True Unit Of Measure

Last week was a very good week. I am feeling much stronger and starting to have more fun on the run. Just 2 weeks with the trainer and I've already lost 10 pounds. I weighed 200.3 this morning. I am so relieved. I really though I wasn't going to be able to lose it. But all it took was more focus and little more work.

Totals for last week:
Running - 21 miles (8.5, 4, 4, 4.5)
Riding - 105 miles
Cross training (walking & rowing) - 1.75 hours
Weights - 3.25 hours
Total - 17.25 hours

I may not be doing that much more but I feel like I'm strong enough now that I can start pushing on the run and the bike. I am still really slow on the run but it's getting better. I also fall asleep sometimes around 8 or 8:30 on tough days. And I can tell when I'm tired because my bike commute is a struggle, especially the "hill". I am incorporating rest days into my week. I will still bike commute on those days but just an hourish round trip. Driving is not an option.

Oh...and weirdly...my eyelashes are falling out again. I may be a little paranoid about that but I am definitely losing them. It makes me wonder if I'm doing too much. I don't think so though. I feel better than I've felt in year. Thank goodness.

I made a Vision Board at Fleet Feet Rancho on Saturday. It was kind of funny because the others were all running related. Which you'd expect. But not mine. :)
 
I put the things on here that I want/need to remember and the goals I have for now: I want to be able to do a pull up. I want to improve my balance. I want to be able to do push ups. I want to learn how to rock climb. I want to be outside more. I need to remember that I have to keep fighting cancer and not let it win. That choosing to go back to a sedentary life would be giving it the ultimate victory. It would be so easy to do that but I'm not going to.


I made a decision to give up my contributions/duties to my running club - Run It Fast recently and I made the announcement over the weekend. I have struggled with this decision for a while but have decided to put myself first and shed some of the things that keep me behind a computer instead of out doing things. I am trying to manage my time better and to spend it on the things I need to do for my health and the things I want to do that make me happy.

The quote at the top is from Lucy, which I saw yesterday. (It was...interesting, I could have waited til it was out on dvd). It did have some interesting concepts/ideas in it. And some good quotes. Like the one above. If it's true, then that makes what we do with our time even more valuable.

Here's another quote from the movie:

"And this is the crucial part of our philosophical reflection we have today: can we therefore conclude that humans are more concerned with "having" than "being"?"

I, for one, would hope that I am more concerned with "being". Or at least I'm trying to get to that point. :)

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Clueless in So Cal

"I'm pretty sure you have no clue what it takes to do what I do and the focus, energy, and attention to detail it takes and consumes."
I had a pretty good first week with my trainer. I was pretty extremely sore some days but already feel stronger and one of my skirts was not so tight today. I weighed 206.4 this morning so I lost 3.6 lbs this past week. Woo!

This was my training last week (Sunday - Saturday):
Running: 16.4 miles (6.2, 3.1, 3.1, 4)
Riding: 116 miles
Cross training: 2 hours (walking & row machine)
Weights: 3.5 hours
Total hours: 17.5 hours

I had a cold this past week which mostly affected my running with a lack of energy but didn't bother the other stuff. And running wasn't too bad really. I was slow but got out there and even hit the trails again on Saturday. I ran my longest run post cancer/chemo on Sunday (8.5 miles - last 1.5 miles was a run/walk) too. I have a half marathon in one month that I'm trying desperately to get ready for. I had actually signed up for the full but asked them if I could drop to the half because I am not ready for prime time.

I don't want to just slog through races anymore like I did when/since I trained for JJ100. I want to race. So I've decided to stop signing up for marathons and ultras until I've regained my strength and speed and lost the weight I gained the past year. In fact, though I have the half next month and I've signed up for a couple others (Avengers and Star Wars Halfs!), I'm going to concentrate on 5Ks and 10Ks for a while and really work on my speed. I've never trained for 5Ks/10Ks before. The PRs I have for those were set during training for marathons. What could I do if I focused on them?

I told a friend I was going stick to running local 5Ks and 10Ks and they responded with "So quitting running?". I don't see the step back as quitting but I guess it might seem like that to some people. This person also said the quote at the top of this post which was in reference to training for ultras. I was pretty floored when I read it. I was like "Really?" But maybe they were right. I don't know.

I thought I knew what it meant to focus and pour all my energy and attention on something but maybe I don't.

I mean it took me more than a year and half to lose 150 pounds. I thought I was pretty focused on that.

I thought digging myself out of $40,000 in debt in 5 years showed a lot of focus and a lot of energy since I gave up owning a car for 3 years to do it and rode or walked every where.

I pretty much thought going thru chemo showed me what it takes to be focused. I certainly poured all my energy and attention into that so I could work and manage my health. EVERY detail of my life was affected and it took everything I had to continue working. My doctor wanted me to not work during chemo but I didn't have that choice. I had to work or I'd lose my job. So many days I wanted to just curl up in a ball and not deal with anything but I did what I needed to do. Of all that I've done, surviving chemo was the hardest.

Way harder than the longest run I've ever done - Javelina Jundred 100K (it was supposed to be my first 100 miler but I dropped to the 100K). Way harder then the training I did for that.

But I haven't done many ultras so maybe it's different when you do a lot of them. I've only done a few 50Ks, 12HRs, and 1 100K. I don't have a slew of 100 milers or more under my belt. Maybe they take more focus and determination than I have? Maybe I don't have what it takes?

Maybe I won't ever do an ultra again anyway. I don't know at this point. Does that make me a quitter? Does it make me less driven if I don't buy into the "you have to keep running longer and longer races or you are goalless" way of thinking? Am I giving up?

Like I said, I do still intend to run and race. And I definitely have hopes for a sub 4 marathon someday But I choose instead to focus on shorter distances for now. I need to get back to where I was in 2011 before I started training for ultras. That's when I set all the PRs for 5K, 10K, 13.1, and 26.2. 2011 was an awesome year. I want that kind of year again.

I think I'm being smart about my comeback now instead of having my head in the clouds like I did a few months ago. I still have 56ish lbs to lose. I still need to gain back the muscle I lost. I need to rebuild my core that was shredded from the surgery. I need to find my speed! I don't know how long that will take.

What I do KNOW is that I haven't given up and I haven't quit.

And anybody who thinks so can kiss my ass.

Signed,
Clueless In SoCal

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Clearing Cobwebs

*dusts off the screen*

Hello.

Is anybody there still?

*looks around*

I know it's been a while.

A lot has happened. A lot is still the same. I've learned a few things this past year about myself and about others. Some of it was not always pleasant but there has been some really good stuff too.

I am cancer free now. I had my 3 month check up on July 1st and the last PET scan showed no evidence of cancer, just gallstones (which I already knew about). The only lingering issues I still have are the weight I gained during chemo, fatigue, some stomach issues, and hot flashes/night sweats.

Even though there is nothing there (full hysterectomy), there was the possibility of traveling salesman cancer cells...which the chemo should have taken care of but you never know...so I was really nervous about lighting "up like a Christmas tree" (The Fault in Our Stars). I think I'll always be afraid of that each time I have a checkup. I am not dwelling on that but I would be lying if I said it didn't color how I look at things now. How could it not?

Mostly, at this point, I find it manifests itself in less patience for the things/people that hurt me or give me grief. Life is too short to put up with bullshit. The other thing is that it makes me want to start checking off the list of things I want to do like learn how to rock climb and hike the PCT. And also it makes me want to spend more time on the things I do love and less on things I don't.

One thing I know for sure, beating cancer doesn't make me a superhero. I had a whole team of doctors & nurses and family that did that. I am just a woman who survived as best she could. But I am proud of the fact that I was able to work through chemo and continue running. I think I did pretty well.

Before and after the surgery and then during chemo, I felt like my whole life was focused on cancer. First getting the huge cyst out, then recovering from surgery, then getting ready for chemo, and then chemo. When it was all over...it wasn't all over. I thought being done with chemo would mean I would be me again. I didn't realize I would still be dealing with the effects 4 months later or that it would be normal to experience side effects for 6 months or longer. I mean, I KNEW how horrid chemo was and what it did to my body but I guess I assumed it would bounce back quickly.

I guess I expected too much. Like someone reminded me yesterday, we basically had to "kill" off all the good stuff in my body to kill the cancer and that will take a while to recover from.

I am feeling much better and stronger now. I was a little depressed in May because I wasn't seeing any improvements in my body and I was so exhausted all the time. And then my sweet stripey-rotter, Spike, passed away...from cancer. I admit that I was bitter and angry for a while. I was so angry that cancer had taken so much out of me and was still controlling my life. I just wanted it all to be over with! I want to be healthy again and not worry about getting cancer again. I want to not have to go to checkups every three months and take blood tests and PET scans and worry about the results. Someone told me just this weekend that I was not the same woman I was a year ago. That I was not the happy, fun, and goofy Lisa I used to be. Yeah, no shit. But I'm trying.

The last month has been pretty good though and that's helped my mood. I took a vacation which helped tremendously with all the work stress. And I can run again without pain (had a little plantar fasciitis). And this weekend I joined 24 HR fitness again and had my first training session last night! He's a masochist! But I think it's going to be really good for me and will hopefully help me lose the weight I gained. It's been frustrating not being able to lose it. Though from what I've read, it will take a while for the steroids to wear off and allow the weight to come off, I think adding weight training will help that along.

So, I'm planning on chronicling my comeback here and will try to post once a week or so. I have plans to go social networking free for a month because I need to spend more time doing and less time on the phone and other gadgets but I will still blog. I have a lot I need to work out and writing helps.

Until next time...I hope you are having fun whatever you love doing!







Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - Ending On A Positive Note

I’d had such high hopes for 2013 – PRs, BQs, completing 365 days of run streaking, travel, and fun. Cancer threw a wrench in my plans to PR and BQ but I did some streaking, some traveling, and I had a lot of fun. :)

I am not going to let Cancer turn me into a whiner so I am posting my top 5 moments/memories of 2013 so I can end 2013 on a positive note. Here’s my best of 2013:

1. Fontana Days Run 5K - I didn't PR but now that I know I was dealing with Cancer win I did this, I am VERY happy with being just 20 seconds off my PR. Especially with not real speed work prior to it. I am proud of myself for running so hard it hurt and I thought I'd puke! And getting 3rd in my Age Group was icing on the cake!

2. Bataan Memorial Death March - The memories from that weekend in New Mexico still give me chills. It was an amazing experience made even better by sharing it with my friends Cliff and Jeff. This is definitely one of my top 3 marathons. I was slow but it didn't matter.

3. Horseshoe Lake Trail Marathon - I celebrated my 45th birthday with a trail marathon in San Jose. I had a fun running adventure that weekend. And even though that marathon was SO slow that my friends Josh and Naresh were afraid I'd died, it was a beautiful place to run and I enjoyed it. Getting to have dinner with Naresh (who bought me a birthday cake) was a great birthday present too.

4. Run Under The Stars 10 Hour - What happens in Kentucky, stays in Kentucky! ;) LOL, seriously, I know most people would think I'm crazy to include a race where you run in circles around a half mile track for 10 Hours but...I did this race with 70ish of my Run It Fast friends. I loved seeing everyone and running with them throughout the night. It was my first trip to Kentucky too.

5. Thanksgiving Run - This wasn't a race but it was my first day back running after not running for 11 weeks! It felt so good! This is me on that day. Do I look satisfied or what? Woo!
Even though I know I have a long way to go to get back to where I was, I am excited to be able to put my running shoes on again. I've been running 3 to 4 times a week and have been able to run trails again. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! I'm a runner again! Now, here's a summary of my 2013:
Can't complain about being able to do 19 races, right? And 1539.2 running miles is nothing to sneeze at. I was also able to streak for 337 days. Oh so close to a year but will have to try that again soon.

Let's see...I got a lot of cool medals in 2013 but these 2 are my favorites:

The RUN medal for my 3rd AG at Fontana Days Run for the reasons specified above.
And my Snoopy Coaster Run 10K because this one also hurt and I am Snoopy! And it's cute!

There were a lot of other great memories, too many to count or recap here. But one of the best things to come out of 2013 was all the great support I received from my friends and family. I definitely felt all the love and prayers and it was a great comfort to me during the scariest and hardest moments.

This year, I learned that running gave me the strength and knowledge to tackle life's problems head on. At each stage of my journey through Cancer, I've felt overwhelmed and scared. But running taught me to take things one step at a time. To worry about and take care of what you can and deal with the rest as it comes up. I treated Ovarian Cancer as an ultra and instead of running away when I didn't want to know what was wrong, I took the first step towards health. And then the next. And then the next. Now I'm halfway through chemo and I'm doing the same thing. One chemo round at a time. Don't think about what's to come. Run when I can. Rest when I need to. Just keep going.

The biggest lesson I learned about myself in 2013 was that I am stronger than I thought. I am also more stubborn than I thought. Okay, that's a lie. I knew I was VERY stubborn. :) But the next time I toe the line for a race, I won't be as scared or nervous as I was before. I will do my best and have fun but racing is not something to be afraid of. It's something to celebrate.

I plan to celebrate a lot in 2014.

Happy New Year! See you on the roads and trails!