On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.


My (running) year in review

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions; I think there are fewer chances for disappointment this way. This year I decided to make a resolution anyway. I wanted to run–and log–1000 miles. Here’s how I kept my resolution:

January: What better way to kick off my resolution than to come down with the flu! Of course, I didn’t admit it at the time. It was just a fever, complete exhaustion, and some body aches. Plus I’d had a flu shot. After a day of rest, I thought I was over a 24-hour bug. Nope, the fever came back, and I went back to bed for two more days. I only managed to run 55 miles in January. That left me 25 miles in the hole for the month.

I hit my target mileage in February and March–despite the 3 consecutive weekends that a stomach virus visited our household. I even managed a decent time in the Charlottesville 10 Miler on St. Patrick’s Day. 1:25:00 is decent for someone who slept 4 hours in 20-minute increments the night before (stomach virus #3 visited S). Did I mention that there are just a handful of stretches that do not ascend or descend any hills or that it rained for the first 4 miles?

2013 Charlottesville 10 Miler. This is probably around Mile 8.

2013 Charlottesville 10 Miler. This is probably around Mile 8.

April: I logged more than 100 miles this month as I trained for the Marine Corps Historic Half. In May I ran a respectable sub-2:00 half through my college town of Fredericksburg, but I definitely need to learn to navigate crowds and course turns. My GPS showed that I ran an additional 0.25 miles, and you aren’t allowed to deduct overage from your official time.

June: I won the running lottery from Another Mother Runner! I earned a spot alongside 11 other mother runners for Ragnar DC.

Team Dimity in our tutus at the start of our 200-mile adventure.

Team Dimity in our tutus at the start of our 200-mile adventure.

July, August, and September: While training for Ragnar DC, I averaged 115 miles each month. What is truly significant is that I kept running through the heat and humidity of the summer.

Ugly race face as I near the finish line to a 10k PR!

Ugly race face as I near the finish line to a 10k PR!

August: Pr’ed in the Chaptico Classic 10k. My dad and I ran together, and he helped me finish in 49:22.

Finished with my first Ragnar run, which included 2 miles straight up a mountain!

Finished with my first Ragnar run, which included 2 miles straight up a mountain!

October: Ran 15.1 miles out of approximately 200 miles from Cumberland to DC with 11 teammates for Ragnar DC. Least sleep I’ve gotten since the girls were born, but way more fun!

Even Smartwool socks can't wick away this much water!

Even Smartwool socks can’t wick away this much water!

The next weekend I ran the Lower Potomac River 10 Miler (with my dad, again). Rain, wind, and flooded roads helped me PR in 1:21:51. I also learned firsthand why one should obey the rule about resting the same number of days as the number of miles raced. Had I skipped the LPR 10, I wouldn’t have had to visit the orthopedist, take 10 days off, and baby my right knee for the next 8 weeks.

This is me sucking wind at a 7:43 pace.

This is me sucking wind at a 7:43 pace.

November: Finally broke 24 minutes in a 5k. I haven’t run this fast since high school cross country, and I squeaked out a 23:58 in a local Thanksgiving prediction run. (That means I ran naked, or without a watch.) Yes, I had the approval of my ortho to run, and I trained without doing any speedwork. See? I’m learning how to follow the rules…. I also crossed the 1000-mile threshold about 5 weeks ahead of schedule. H, my frequent companion, rode along with me and was quite disappointed to learn that she had not pedaled 1000 miles, too.

1000 miles done!

1000 miles done!

December: Logged my coldest run ever at 8° F. We were visiting Spokane for the week and apparently I didn’t read the thermometer correctly before I left on my run. My father-in-law explained the dangers of frostbite before I left, and I ducked inside a gas station at 1.5 miles to thaw my face. You know it’s cold outside when your teeth hurt.

As of today, my total mileage stands at 1,119. With just four more days left in 2013, I should finish somewhere between 1,130-1,140 miles. I haven’t made any resolutions for 2014 yet, and I probably won’t. Next year is a big birthday year for me though. I’m planning to celebrate my new age group with a new race. And I have exactly 4 months to find that race.

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The Week in Review

I have writer’s block. I start to write about a topic and then lose interest or get distracted after a paragraph or so. There are all sorts of small people reasons for my distractions. For instance, we don’t have house guests often, but we’ve had 3 sets of overnight visitors for the past 2 weekends. If I tell you that I’ve changed more sheets in the past month than I typically do, you might figure out that I don’t change the kids’ sheets every week. Oops, my secret is out.

Speaking of house guests, we survived our first slumber party for G’s 11th birthday. I have officially switched my position on owning a home with a basement. I have decided that yes, a basement sounds like a lovely idea. Especially if my children want to have future slumber parties.

My father stayed with us the night after the slumber party. He and I got up during an unpleasant downpour last Sunday morning so that we could run the Lower Potomac River 10 Miler together. This year we actually ran through the Potomac River. Okay, that’s not true. It just felt like we did. The course had to be rerouted minutes before it was scheduled to start, and we had to run through about 6 inches of water–twice–near the course turn-around. On the plus side, I earned a new 10-mile PR. I finished in 1:21:51 and ran four sub-8 miles. That was the good part of last weekend.

The not-so-good part was the lesson I learned about resting my body after a hard run. After Ragnar, I took a very easy week and only ran 3 short runs of 4 miles each. I took 3 rest days and my legs felt fine before Sunday. My right knee wasn’t feeling fine, so I kept taking ibuprofen and icing it. The day after the 10-miler, my right knee was definitely puffy, and I had some trouble bending it. I decided not to run so that it could heal.

So what does a mother runner do when she cannot run? On Tuesday, she goes to CCR, the Cardio Core Resistance class that she’s been taking for 2 years. She wonders why every lower body exercise pairing include lunges, steps, or squats. Her instructor gives her ab exercises to do in place of legs. On Wednesday, her abs are killing her, and the stairs become her enemy. She finds an orthopedist who is taking her insurance and new patients and desperately schedules the first-available appointment, even though she has already booked a dental appointment for the same day in a different county. She also increases her ice time and decides that a calming Body Flow class will recharge her mood. She goes to Body Flow and can’t bend her body into child’s pose or half lotus or a dozen other poses. She isn’t feeling recharged. By Friday she is downright grumpy and moody. She needs an endorphin rush, but her knee is still swollen. On her sixth day of not running, she decides to follow the C of RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) before heading out to coach a soccer game. On Day 8, she calls the orthopedist’s office and asks to be added to the cancellation list.

In short, this mother runner learned her lesson. I violated the rule that says for each mile you race, take off 1 day before your next hard run or race. I raced 15 miles during Ragnar DC and raced another 10 just 8 days later. Now I get the reasoning behind the rule. I also got to see the orthopedist today! After a set of x-rays and exam, she pronounced that my injury was due to overuse. I told my sister that I felt like the little girl who cried wolf.

Speaking of my sister, we had a lovely weekend with her family. Her two boys are ridiculously cute. O, who is 5, is best buddies with my H, and they LOVE spending time with each other. G, who is 3, has turned into quite the instigator. He knows how to bother his big brother O in ways that remind me of growing up with my siblings. (Except that I never got in trouble for petting my brother’s hair after bedtime so that he couldn’t fall asleep. We preferred to touch each other and cross the invisible borders of the car backseat.) He also defies his mother by asserting his love for our surviving hamster Oreo. One of our conversations went like this:

G: “Aunt Laura, I want to see that boy.” He points to the hamster cage.
Me: “Do you mean Oreo? The hamster?”
G: “Yes, the hamster. He is cute.”
Me: “Yes, he is cute. He is watching you.”
G: “I want to hold him. He is funny.”
Me: “Yes, he is cute and funny.”

If you’re still reading, you may be wondering what my original topic was. Distraction. Writer’s block. Sometimes the best way to conquer those monsters is to simply write something. It doesn’t have to be brilliant. It just has to happen. And if you’re still with me, I’ll leave you with a little distraction for you. It’s a video montage of my Ragnar experience. Another Mother Runner sent 2 teams of mother runners. Team Dimity is sporting the light pink tutus, and Team Sarah is in the dark pink. One of my talented teammates is the voice behind the pictures. You can find me in a pink tutu. I’m wearing number 493.

By the way, I’m going for a run tomorrow.