Thursday, September 29, 2011

Healing Sucks

I miss running. I miss it as much as insomniacs miss sleep, dieters miss chocolate, Kate Gosselin misses being on TV.

I miss feeling like a rock star when I run. I miss the neighbors gawking at me as I pass their house for the 7th time in an hour. I miss getting nearly run over by cars in this god-foresaken city with no sidewalks. I miss obsessively checking my pace on my Garmin watch. I miss listening to the songs on the playlist that I only let myself listen to when running (sniffle, its been too long "Dancing With Myself"). But most of all, I just miss feeling like myself.

See how happy I am
Over the past 12 years, running has slowly become part of who I am, a huge portion of how I define myself. Without it, I feel a bit lost. One skipped run, and I feel like a fraud. Like one skipped run should  strip me of my title of ‘runner’.

Luckily, with this latest injury, I have been able to ride the bike. Much as I hate it, that little bike has been my savior. If I didn’t have some outlet for my cardio, I’d be a complete basket case by now. While I know biking is definitely not the same as running,  the damage to my speed and stamina should be minimal when this is over. To get my biking to equal my running, I’ve been riding until I get to 800 calories, which is what I burn in my typical 9 mile run. Tricky business since there is the obligatory gym sign of ’30 Minute Limit Per Machine.’ (My trick? Resetting my bike every 30 minutes…or just coming to the gym after 6 when no one’s there).

Except for Theresas

But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t feel pain just walking any more and I’m planning my first run to be on my beautiful Towpath next weekend. If taking 2 weeks off for my honeymoon (where I did nothing but sit on the beach) didn’t hurt my running, 3 weeks off with the bike should be no sweat.  And I can NOT wait to get back!

And neither can my car, because I sweat 1,000 times more on the bike.

So much for that new car smell

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Shoes

As I've mentioned, it’s been a year of injuries. Injuries and I do not get along (and coincidentally, when I’m on bad terms with injuries I don’t get along with anyone, sorry dear husband).  Nothing makes me crabbier than not being able to run. 

I blame it all on Brooks. Oh yes Brooks, you had treated me so well for the last 3 years, but then you stabbed me in the back and discontinued my favorite shoe (Brooks Infiniti). I'd been betrayed. Et tu, Brooks?

So, I bought the Brooks Ravenna, which was supposed to be the Infiniti's predecessor. But oh no,  this shoe turned out to be the bad uncle of my favorite dependable pair. They attacked my Achille's to the point where I couldn't wear shoes with backs (including my favorite hooker heels) and had to perform surgery on my shoes to be able to continue to run (don't worry, I'm a (shoe) doctor). 

Tape to keep the stuffing in

After that, I went to Fleet Feet in Cincinnati where the sales lady paid zero attention to me and put me in Brooks Glycerin. Same thing happened. These Brooks shoes were determined to mess my Achilles! So finally, after filling Brooks’ inbox with lengthy emails begging them to reinstate my precious Infiniti's, I found a few pairs on in my size! Wahoo! Happy dance!

But something was wrong. My first run, I had to tie them ridiculously tight, and still felt like I was flopping around in a pair of clown shoes. When I got home I had a huge blister across the entire back of my right heel.

“They’re just not broken in,” I rationalized. It’s a fluke! So I did the only logical thing to do, and stocked up on oversized bandaids. Eventually, I got used to my laces cutting off my circulation and kept running. After a few weeks, the top of my right foot started sporting a hard, nodule from the laces being so tight and the blister started to morph into a nasty calloused, bloody sore. But I could still run, and that’s all that matters.

I started stuffing paper towels in my shoe to provide extra cushion with the bandaid. After all, it couldn't be the shoes! They were the same size and shoe I'd been running in injury-free for 3.5 years!

Hard knob, courtesy of super tight laces

my leprousy

But then, the last straw. I went out for my usual 9 miler, and had so much pain in my groin that I........stopped……running. I NEVER stop. I've run through shin splints, a sprained ankle, fevers and once went running only an hour after puking from the flu (Lucky Charms have never been the same). I do NOT call a run short. But, I had so much pain from a pulled groin that had been bothering me more and more the last two weeks that I had to do the unthinkable and hobbled home in defeat. I had the Air Force 1/2 Marathon coming up in a week and for once, I decided to be smart. So, I sobbed and sniffled all the way home and then did what anyone in this situation would do. I called my mommy.

That brings us to now, two weeks after the horrible aborted run. As you've read, my new best friend, Advil, got me through the 1/2 Marathon with flying colors, and this week I've been torturing myself on the stationary bike.
Only another 45 minutes to go!
This weekend, I went to Fleet Feet Northfield and got new shoes! The poor salesgirl. I came prepared with notes about my different aches and pains. But, she listened, watched me walk and run (I don't pronate!), and I picked out what I hope will be my new favorite shoes. Which, ironically, are my old favorite shoes. Back when I first started running, I'd worn Mizuno Wave Riders, and now, it looks like we meet again. 

My, hopefully, new friends

 Not that I needed any more incentive to heal faster!

Friday, September 23, 2011

It Started With a Laddie Pencil

I’ve been drawing Disney characters since I've been old enough to maneuver my Laddie pencil to make 3 circles.
Ok, I admit it. I just drew this

Then, after years of battling with my mom to be allowed to put posters up on my bedroom walls, she finally gave in to my very convincing arguments (and whining). At the tender age of 10, I grabbed paper, my scented marker collection and some old Disney picture books and went to work. On the back of my dad’s old engineering blue prints I drew Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Pluto and stuck them all over my bedroom walls (luckily I left enough space for my Backstreet Boys posters and Russell Crowe shrine).

No, I didn't give Mickey a mole. That's ancient sticky tack bleeding through

The paper has not aged well

Now, in my 20s, I’m trying to make something of my art. After painting a few replicas of Disney Fine Art pieces for my living room (and an inspiring trip to a Disney Gallery), I’ve decided that I want to be one of those Disney Fine Artists! 

With the original piece at Art of Disney Gallery
My version

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of their featured artists at a signing at the Art of Disney store in Downtown Disney this February. Since then, I’ve desperately wanted to be sitting on the other side of that table, signing my own pieces for Disney art lovers. The only problem, how does a copy machine make original work!?

The last few months since that trip, I have spent hours (and miles) trying to dream up creative art scenes that would WOW Disney. There’s so much to think about for this:

1.      Is it in the realm of my skill level? (Love ya Tink, but I’ve sacrificed too many erasers for you)
2.      Is it different and not like any other Disney Fine Art piece?
3.      Does it have my style? (What IS my style, do I have one?)
4.      Would it make Disney money? (And me!)

So much to think about, all while dealing with severe cases of painter’s block, time constraints, and of course, big, ugly self-doubt.

I’ve painted a few original pieces, but no response from Disney yet (crossing my fingers that they’ve just mistyped my email address and are frantically googling my name and contact info)  




And a few original non-Disney pieces, with the goal of having my own art show when I’ve made enough

But even with the statement above, more often than not, I think ‘Who am I kidding’ to think that my stuff is worthy of an art show. It's one thing to send jpegs of your work to some faceless person but a whole different thing to consider a show. “Yeah, good luck with that ," Mean Me heckles in my head (and for an extra jab at my confidence, I’ll check out the new works posted to Disney’s fine art site..I told you, self-torture is a talent).

But, I’m determined. And one day I will be on the other side of that table. (and most importantly, get to post my artist’s bio on their website that I may or may not have been working on for months!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Air Force Half Marathon

I ran in the 15th Annual Air Force Half Marathon this past Saturday, for the 3rd year in a row.  I was really worried about it this time around because just one week before the race my groin decided to rear its ugly head and hurt itself (the nerve). After a tear-filled 2 mile walk (limp), back to my home, I sucked it up (pouted and sobbed some more) and stuck to the stationary bike (torture) until the race.  
The morning of the race was pretty chilly and partly cloudy.  But, thanks to a hot-blooded mom who was more than willing to let me use her as a personal heater, I kept from getting frostbite before the race.
About an hour before the race started, I tried running a few steps to test how the groin felt. Big mistake. It felt horrible and I started to get pretty worried. I kept berating myself for testing it since I knew that the pain feels the worst in the first few steps, so why bother when I knew it could only be bad? But torturing myself is a talent. So, with less than an hour to go, I knocked back some Advil and Shot Blocks and headed to the start line. 
START LINE: When the gun went off and I took my first few running steps over the start line, I felt…nothing!  I didn't have any pain in my groin! I knew immediately that it wouldn't be an issue and I might actually pull this off. I was still concerned that I'd have to take breathers or walk a bit after hills, but I knew I'd finish (just the idea of not finishing a race was something that would have been completely unheard of to me before this injury-filled year).
Mile 1: I HATE PEOPLE. After a mild panic attack that my ipod didn’t work I realized I had only accidentally hit pause and it wasn't broken. Phew. With my traditional 1st song for a race blasting (“No Line On The Horizon” – U2) I happily continued on my merry way until I came up alongside: THEM.  I had found myself running next to a pair of yappy running buddies. As the right ear bud on my headphones has long since died from my toxic sweat, I had the pleasure of listening to them shoot the breeze like they were sitting on a back porch swigging beers. I desperately tried to figure out ways to pull away from them..(or push them over the construction barrier)
Mile 2: Finishing the first mile in 7 min. flat (and with a hill!), I started to warm up and dumped my arm socks to be trampled on by the rest of the herd (this is why I buy $1 knee high socks and cut holes in them instead of buying the pricey ‘official’ arm socks. Works the same and you can cover your hands, too)
Mile 3: Rid of the two middle-aged chatty cathys and passing a sort of metal detector station while running alongside 4-wheel driving soldiers (the base is on a higher security level this time) I'm feeling good and settling into cruise control.
Miles 4-7: Feeling great, doing good, keeping my pace between 7:10-7:25...passed a soldier doing the marathon in full gear AND an eye patch...pretty badass.
Mile 8: The Onramp. When was including an on ramp in a race ever a good idea?  Ugh, I knew it was coming, but it doesn’t make me hate it any less. As I climbed up the hill, an old man in front of me slowly started biting the dust, I took advantage of his weakness to give me a boost and picked up my speed to pass him and reach the top.
Mile 9-11: Because one hill in the final miles of a race is never enough, lets throw in 2 more! At this point, my shoes (which I was only wearing for the 2nd time since May) were starting to make the little ball under my pinkie toe on my left foot numb and tingly. It was horrible. Visions of chucking them to the side and running barefoot the rest of the way danced in my head. But, after a guy I knew from the gym, smuggly sipping his hot cocoa from a comfy lawnchair, called my name to cheer me on, I continued trudging up the hill like Sysiphus. I knew I couldn't just start walking now that I had an audience. Damn him. 
Mile 12: WHO SETS UP A FINISH SO YOU HAVE TO RUN PAST IT!?!  Again, I knew this was coming, but seriously, these race organizers are sick and twisted . As I made my way thru the first part of the U-turn I tried to force myself to look down so I wouldn't see how much progress I wasn't making.  But, my watch told me I hadn't slowed down at all, so high five! Coming in to the final stretch towards the finish, I couldn't wipe the biggest grin off my face. I sprinted in and basked in my glory...and congratulations from the 20-something guy next to me who thanked me for letting him use me as a pacer (to which I responded, "I did? Well, er, no problem" ....then poured my whole 'I had to limp home in tears a week ago' story to him. Heh heh.

It was an awesome race. Made better by beating my brother by 24 minutes. I went to watch for him and ran him in (and the people in the food tent said once you left you couldn't go back...mwahahahhaha).
My final time: 1:38:20....My 4th fastest 1/2 marathon. Not too shabby considering it's my 10th one! And best yet, I get to keep my ‘Elite’ status.