Recovery: After a long, hard run

Yesterday was race day – half marathon for me and a full marathon for many of my beloved friends. It was a tough day. It had its bright moments. It also brought many tears. We had trained for months for this day.


I quickly and easily awoke for the 4:30 am alarm. I was excited! Race day was here. After a weeks of anxiety, fear, and doubts, I woke up confident and feeling good. I went about my preparations. There was NO DOUBT in my mind that I would beat 2 hours.

The startline

I felt good. We ALL felt good. The race director led a short, but powerful, time of silence in honor of the recent events in Boston. Knowing my tendency to start out running too fast, I started with the 2:20 pace group. I would rather run too slow mile 1 than too fast. My first mile was about 9:30. The second, 8:45. I had to pull in the reigns. I found my pace at about 9:45 and I felt good. I knew I could maintain this for several miles, if not to the finish. I had trained for this!

Along mile 4, I passed a woman with medics – she was convulsing on the ground. As I was beginning to feel strange and off, something inside me said, slow down. That was a frightening sight. It was not long after this that I had no energy, no drive, and I just wanted to be done.

By mile 6, I had made the decision to walk/run. I considered quitting. I was not going to win, I was not going to achieve my goal time, there was no reason to push it and risk injury or illness. Knowing that my Chix were running twice as far as I was pushed me to at least finish.

At mile 9, I sent a text to the Chix waiting for me at the end – I was 30 minutes behind my goal and they should go find our Chix doing the full before it was too late. Jane replied, “No Chix left behind!”

The finishline

I finished! I just wanted it done! I did not know what my time was and I did not care. I was more concerned with how my eight Chix were doing – four of them en route to Boston qualification. I grabbed my water, chocolate milk, and fruit and connected with my Chix. We hopped on the road bikes and were off to find the runners. This is when I learned that I was not the only one who had struggled.

Team support  941425_10200732482747321_1589908574_n

Two of our Chix had pulled out – saving their physical bodies for another race and a Boston qualification. One pulled back significantly. One Chix pushed through – dug deep. She gave it her all. We biked the route backwards. We found her along mile 23. Hot. Exhausted. Struggling. It was a hard sight (also knowing in our hearts that we wanted to see 4 strong runners at this point). Two Chix stayed with her, and we continued to go and find the others – we had 5 other chicks out there. We passed a lot of runners – some looked strong. Others shuffled, determined to finish despite the circumstances. A part of me was worried that the others had pulled off – we went quite a distance without seeing any of our Chix. We wanted to find the girls we knew were alone!

Did she need water? A sane mind to tell her it would be okay to stop?

Kami was running strong – we checked in, she was fine. Next, slow and steady Captain Carol looked good. It felt like forever before we saw our next Chix. I was worried. We were about to get to the path along the river – NO bikes on the path. We would have to wait for them to come to us at this point.

We waited.

JILL!! I was elated. She looked good. we were SO relieved that our Chix were running smart! Each had been listening to her body – walking when needed – and getting one step at a time closer to the finishline. We knew the others were at least in company on their journey – so we made the decision to ride back. I needed more water and fuel myself. And I had peace of mind knowing my Chix were safe and running smart.

Not all was bad

We did have a Chix PR!!!!! Cheri killed the half marathon. She felted good. She did it! And I am so proud to be able to call her friend!

AND, we finished. We did something that most individuals do not even consider doing. And we overcame obstacles! We conquered our own minds and spirits.

The aftermath

My heart hurt. Was I disappointed in my run? Yes, but that was not my concern. I had finished. Some of my Chix had made the INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT decision to pull out of the race. I am indescribably proud of their smarts and their courage. My heart ached, knowing how hard this must have been.

Following the race I had a 5-hour drive from Green Bay to Minnesota. I drove in silence. I was recapping the day’s events. I was praying for my Chix. Everyone’s hearts and physical recovery. Stacy’s health and well-being. V and Em’s hearts, souls, and physical bodies. The spirits of the Chix I had yet to hear from. I cried. It was a hard day. Hard decisions were made by all.

And I contemplated whether I will be trying that again. (No decision was made!)

The bottomline

I am truly proud of every one of my Chix who participated in yesterday’s marathon events. Each made THE BEST decision for her. She made tough decisions. We each had big goals for the day – and most of them were left to the wayside.

If you are reading this, my Fit Chix with Quick Stix – know that I am indescribably PROUD of each and every one of you. You were ALL body smart – in situations when it would be ‘easy’ to push through the pain. You were wise. And inspiring. I love you ladies.

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize… Philippians 3:13

26.2 Bible verses for running & racing

Do NOT tell me I can’t

Do not tell me that I cannot or will not do something. You are only asking to be proven wrong. This is particularly true when it comes to physical feats. I take great pride how far I have come and what I can do. I spent years training a body to do things that most individuals do not even think about – and I had been told I could not do them. So do note tell me that I can’t. I have asked my friends never to tell me that I cannot run a marathon, because I do not want to have to do it. (I will never run a full marathon, that is just silly!)

I spent years visiting doctors, being poked and prodded, trying different treatments. Pain in nearly every joint was depressing and at times overwhelming. Not that I would let it stop me – but I wanted answers. But the doctors did not want answers as much as I did. Several of them shrugged their shoulders and handed me a prescription. The rheumatologist told me not to exercise and to lose weight. The orthopaedic surgeon told me that he had done all that he could (after my second surgery on my right knee) and that I would never run, squat, or jump. The chiropractor (also a CSCS and brilliant) told me to avoid overhead movements (e.g., shoulder presses, overhead squats, snatches), barbells on my back, heavy weights, jumping, and the prone position (e.g., pushups, mountain climbers). The combined opinion was that I would need to manage my pain – most prominent in my knees, hips, and back – by decreasing my scope of activity and taking pain medication and/or experimental drugs.

Between the activities that the surgeon told me I would never do again and the recommendations of exercises to avoid, the message was clear: STOP EXERCISING. Stop exercising? Ha! Fat chance of that one. Sure, I could build workouts around that list of no-nos, but that would have been boring – little variation and little fun.

Proving them all wrong

Mind you, the chances are – having dealt with chronic pain for most of my life – that my pain tolerance is higher than most. Nothing about what I have accomplished was easy. Nothing was pain-free. I have endured some pain – and maybe too much in some instances – in order to prove them wrong. But in the long term, my pain is better and well (8)

No squats – I managed to max out at 300 pounds in 2010 and have set a goal of re-achieving this in 2013.

No jumps – I jump all the time. For fun. For exercise. I just like to jump. Sometimes, like yesterday, I even jump with a barbell on my back.

No running – since my last surgery in 2008, I have run countless 5Ks, two half marathons, and numerous relay marathons – including a Ragnar relay. I will attempt my 3rd half marathon this May.

No overhead movements – well, let’s just say that I take some risks here…but I listen to my body and I stop if I need to. I can do 54 pound single-arm kettlebell snatches. Weighted overhead squats tend to be a different story. So I listen, and I stop when m y body screams.

No barbells on my back – clearly I ignore this. BUT! I use progressions to warm up. And I have definitely cut back my everyday weights to reduce painful aftermaths. Again – body smart!

No heavy weights – I don’t know what that means. Friends do not let friends use light weights. The fastest way to fat loss is with heavy weights. The easiest way to weight maintenance is heavy weights. The fastest way to sweating is heavy weights. The best way to cardiac fitness is heavy weights – – – need I go on?

No prone position – I enjoy pushups and planks. Back/hip flexion is actually what gives me the most difficulty so I tend to avoid the dynamic movement (yeah, no burpees).

Inspirational transformation

My story is mild in comparison to many. Arthur Boorman completed an inspiration transformation:

Overcoming obstacles

What are your obstacles? Which are excuses and which are real? Just because it is difficult does not mean it is not possible. I know this because I have lived it. I know this because I have watched others live it. It is not going to be easy. It will not happen overnight. But are your obstacles worth tackling? One day at a time! Just like Arthur, you might fall down. But do not you want to get back up?

Exercise is medicine

There are days when my body aches. There are days I experience superficial burning in my thighs because my nerve is impinged. There are days when my knee buckles and clicks. Some of these days I rest, but more often than not I exercise. Exercise IS the best medicine. Exercise releases adrenaline – the natural pain killer. Being body smart, I use corrective exercise techniques to work with and around my disabilities. These are not the days for barbell complexes nor running. But these are the best days for building mind-body connections. These are the best days for being body smart.

The bottomline

You tell me I cannot do something and I will do everything in my power to prove you wrong. I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to. And so can you!

Lose the excuses. I know pain, I live pain – pain is an excuse not to exercise and eat well. When exercise and eating well are the cure for pain. You see, I am off all maintenance pain medications. I found the best treatment – so maybe all those doctors knew what I needed to hear after all!

Did Arthur have a right to excuses? Doctors told him that he would never walk or run. And look at him now.

What is your excuse? And what things will you never do?

If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.  ~ Hippocrates