Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Runiversary

Today is my Runiversary.  Not my “I just started” running runiversary, sadly, but I’m celebrating this one as a pretty big milestone nontheless.  I really can’t remember the first time I went for a run that wasn’t required in PE, but I remember Dec. 20, 2011 like it was yesterday.

Two years ago today I had just started my journey to getting healthy.  Inspired by my Best Running Friend Cyndie who had lost over 20 pounds that fall, I started a program called Take Shape For Life.

By December 20 I had lost, I think up to that point close to 20 pounds.  For the first few weeks on the program you are encouraged to take it easy and let your body adjust.  Then I started walking, 30 minutes, every other day.  It was always really cold (thank you December) but I bundled up and I went anyway and I was happy.  I didn’t miss a walk.  Sometimes one of the kids came with me.

For me to even make the effort to go for a walk was monumental.  Sad, considering I’d been somewhat athletic and an on again off again on again off again runner.  Something I loved so much was not as important to me as food, and, well alcohol.

I had grown somewhat dependent on a half-bottle or more a night wine habit when I lost my father 18 months before.  I wasn’t an alcoholic, let me be clear.  But I did use alcohol to numb the pain of a loss I never expected and the guilt of not being a better daughter.  

I always made very meal I could from scratch and convinced myself I was OK because I was eating healthy.  But the pounds piled on, and oh the empty calories and the fullness of a life well-lived just slipping through my fingertips.

The day I hopped on the scale and weighed what my husband weighed was my rock bottom.  He’s 6 foot 4.  I’m, well, not.  I looked in the mirror and realized that no matter what I was the only person in control of my life and my health.  I have a beautiful family, an incredible husband and amazing children and I was putting every proverbial nail in my early death coffin, just like my father.

I talked to Cyndie, she referred me to Beth Kershner, and I never, ever looked back.  So back to December 20th.  What made December 20 different than any other day to start running, I’ll never know.  But that morning, on an 18 degree clear Boise winter day (we were visiting family for the holidays) I put on the warmest things I had, laced up and went out my mom’s back door.

I walked to one song to warm up.  Then ran without stopping to the next song.  Walked another one, ran the next one.  I went for 30 minutes total.  I remember the blue-ness of the sky, the feel of the sun on my face (the only skin exposed to the elements), that amazing smell of a crisp, cool, winter morning.  The hoar frost on the trees and how it glittered like little tiny diamonds as a light breeze blew it off the naked branches.  

I remember the sweat under my (non-wicking dri fit) clothes and how quickly I warmed up.  I remember smiling the entire time I was out there in that frigid cold.  I remember the construction workers checking me out, and I DIDN’T remember the last time that ever happened.  

I remember that, for the first time in a really really really long time, I felt alive.  Really alive.  Oh how I had missed this.  This feeling that nothing and no one could touch me, that I was in control.  

That I could do this, do anything, really.  I didn’t want it to end, but I promised myself just the 30 minutes, and not to overdo it.  So I went inside, smiling on the inside and out and I haven’t stopped since.

There’s so much more to tell in this story but I’m leaving it at this.  So Happy Runiversary to me, and to all of us out there.  If you run a block, a mile or a marathon.  You know what a special, wonderful, crazy gift this thing of running is.  You understand why I want to celebrate the date I reclaimed my life, my health, my sanity and who I am.

I’m many things, but I always have been, and always will be, a runner.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Maude vs The Procedure

I was feeling brave, daring and a little bit stupid on the morning of my procedure.  I was still squirting rocket fuel from my butt (prior to starting part 2 of the prep) but it was definitely waning and I needed to send a few packages in the mail.

After dropping off the kids at school (not a metaphor for pooping, I really did take my kids to school) I picked up a box of packages at home and drove to the post office, arriving just shortly before their 9AM opening.

This was the daring part of my day.  The thing about the Golightly (aside from not actually going lightly) is that when you realize it's time to GO, it's TIME TO GO and you better be less than ten feet away from a toilet or an outhouse, or hell even a hole in the ground.

I really needed to mail these packages out and I thought if I got to the post office before they opened I'd be in and out before lightning struck.  When I got there, about 100 other people had the same idea.  So I got in line, practiced my ass-kegels and hoped for the best.

I had a "I'm going to bail on this" plan in mind.  If I didn't get to the front door by 9:30 I would be outta there, but if I made it there then I was sure I'd get my packages mailed and be home A) in time to shart and B) by 10AM so I could finish that delicious and well prepared solution just waiting for me in the fridge.

I don't know if you've ever stood in line WITH GRAVITY pulling at your poop WHILE juggling a LARGE BOX FULL of packages to mail ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, but I wouldn't recommend it. 

The guy in front of me was tweeting on his phone (no doubt about the alien stirring inside the woman in line behind him) and the guy behind me, I think, wished he WASN'T "behind" me, based on the noises my guts were making.

On the plus side, I didn't fart, because, well, when you've had Golightly you NEVER. TRUST. A. FART. 

At 9:27AM I made it to the front door and I knew at that point I wasn't going anywhere until my packages were posted.  I would like to give a shout out to the Beaverton post office: you guys freaking ROCK.  I was done by 9:50AM and made it home by 10. 

They were moving really fast (kind of like my poop) and I am glad I stuck it out.  That experience folks, waiting for 55 minutes at the Post Office, was the highlight of my day.

I certainly need not provide additional details about my "prep" experience, the video from yesterday and my descriptions really capture the moment well.  I'll fast forward to the experience in the clinic because I need to get a lot off my chest and this seems like the appropriate place to do it.  As you may or may not know this blog started as a recommendation from my therapist.

My check in time was 2:40PM.  Like a good patient I got there at 2:30.  They brought me back closer to 3.  No biggie, I'm just ravenously hungry and peeing like a freaking race horse, because in addition to pounding down drano in 8OZ increments every ten minutes you are also expected to drink twice as much water as you normally do.  I looked like I was about 3 months pregnant. 

I had to put on the hospital gown with these sexy little non-slip socks.  And I mean SEX-Y.  They left me with a blanket thank GOD because the gown barely covered up my lady business (when you're 6 feet tall you need more than a pediatric sized gown, jussayin').

I had to pee twice while we waited, and then again when they came in at about 3:15 and put my I.V. in.  The assured me I was next in line.  I tried to ignore the groaning and grunting I could hear through the wall.

I sat there waiting, waiting, waiting.........  Eventually I feel asleep, not because they had given me ANYTHING in the I.V., no, I was so calorically deficient that I just passed out. 

When I woke up I was still no closer to getting into the procedure room so my sweet husband decided to play hangman with me.  That lasted about six rounds and then I asked what time it was.  He didn't want to tell me.  I MADE him.  It was 4:40PM.  I suddenly realized I had to pee desperately and my lips were really chapped.  You start to notice all kinds of crap when you're pinned down to a bed, thank you I.V.

So he had to go WITH ME to the bathroom.  As if it isn't humiliating enough to be wearing a mini-gown, with sexy gray socks, but then your husband has to come WITH YOU to the bathroom while you pee out of your BUTT and your pee pee hole.  There's not a shred of mystery left in our relationship at this point.

I'm not sure when they finally wheeled me back into the "room" but I was pretty hot and in NO MOOD for small talk or any discussion with Dr. M.  I pretty much was like "let's get this shit over with so I can get the hell out of here."

The last time I had this done (9 years ago) I remember NOTHING.  And I mean NOTHING.  This time, I remember 97.4 % of it.

First of all, Mark said he could hear me SCREAMING from the recovery room, on the other side of the wall.  What I remember is saying fun and sweet things like "mother f&%ker" that hurts and "g-damn it" and also "son of a b%$ch".  Then just press repeat.  I think I apologized for my profanity but in hindsight I really shouldn't have.  They can suck it.  That shizzle hurt like a mo-fo.

So rather than, I don't know, giving me a little more sedative, the stupid anesthesiologist was HOLDING ME DOWN so I wouldn't move, and saying "we're almost there".  I wanted to ask her if she'd ever felt like there was a GIANT ALIEN BEING crawling around her intestines but I was too busy being in pain and crying for my mommy.  If I could have gotten my thumb in my mouth I would have but the damn woman had my arms pinned too.

I'm really hoping there's some Karmaic influence at work here and someday she'll be in my, er, position and better understand why just knocking my ass out would have been the humane thing to do.  As expected, they didn't see anything they thought they would and believe me I watched a decent amount of it, listened to their small talk, told them a funny story about my mom (tee hee) and then they wheeled me back to the recovery room. 

They told me they removed some stuff, biopsied something they couldn't remove (trust me, I'm not worried at all about it) and sent me home with some after care instructions.  In recovery, I drank two cups of apple juice, ate shortbread cookies they gave me, three packs of graham crackers and two packs of saltines.  I probably looked like Cookie Monster eating a cookie.  And had the crumbs all over me to prove it.

I will say this: my story is unusual.  Honestly.  Most people don't remember ANYTHING from their colonscopy experience.  It's VERY rare for you to remember anything or feel anything or remember that you felt anything so I don't want to deter ANYONE from doing this.  It's one of those screenings that, while really unpleasant for 48 hours, is super important to do. 

And trust me, I remember what the "anesthesiologist" looks like and I REMEMBER HER NAME.  She better hope I don't see her in public or Maude's gonna punch her in the gut, in about seven different places.  And then I'm gonna pin her down, get two inches from her face and say "we're almost there."  With a SMILE ON MY FACE.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Maude VS the Prep

Most of yesterday was spent with the feeling that my stomach was trying to digest itself.  I stayed home from work, and it was a good choice given my fragile state of mind (and I was starting to hallucinate the smell of bacon) and my ever so slighlty edgy mood.  But, as it turns out, I did need a distraction so I thought maybe running a couple errands would be all right.

Here's kind of how the day went:

11:30AM - decided to get off the computer and have some broth.  Maybe that would help me feel a little less so-hungry-I-could-eat-a-whole-extra-large-pizza feeling I had going on.  Heated it up and it looked like pee.  Drank it anyway, and it tasted amaze-balls.

12:00PM - changed into my workout gear, thought maybe it would be OK to just go lift some weights, no cardio or anything like that.  Got dizzy after putting my shoes on, decided it wasn't my best idea.

12:15PM - Put on sweats, easier to remove when the unstoppable lava-like butt barfing begins.

12:30PM - Gathered up a few things to mail, made a short list of things I needed at the store (what the f@!k was I thinking going to a place with FOOD) and headed out the door.

12:45 - Arrived at Fred Meyer with list in hand.  Found myself staring at all the fried chicken and frog eye salad at the deli counter while a small stream of drool fell from the corner of my mouth.  I tore myself away and ran through the store as quickly as possible. Unfortunately my trip to the store wasn't nearly as painful as my trip to the Pizza Parlor.

1:00PM - Walked into Papa's Pizza to pick up the donation check from fundraiser we recently did.  The smell of their pizza buffet nearly brought me to my knees.  I had to wait just inches away from the most glorious display of heat lamp warmed coagulated left over pizza slices that never looked so good to me in my life.  All I wanted to do was escape from this hell but it turns out I had to run back outside to grab my drivers license.  Who knew they wanted picture ID to verify I am who I say I am before handing over a very large check. 

1:15PM - Ran to the bank, figured it would be a quick and painless adventure, no food there right?  Coincidentally they share a wall with Panda Express and once again the overwhelming urge to say f%&k it and eat everything it sight nearly overtook my better judgement.  I stayed the course and headed to the UPS store for an hour of my life I'll never get back.  And I ended up not mailing all my packages because it was twice as much as going to the post office.

I had enough time to get gas, run home to refill my water and guzzle some more chicken broth before picking up my children who had been warned in the morning to be nice to me at the end of the day because I would be hungry and grumpy.  Their only response was "Hope you don't take something fun away from us because you're mad" to which I, mother of the year, replied "well you've been warned so you'd better be nice or I will."

At 4PM sharp the prep officially began, and I opted to burn up my twitter account just for the hell of it.  Here's the rundown:

Chicken broth never tasted so f-ing good.

Let's do this:

This is my cup of choice. Channeling my inner competitor to get this done in 10 minute intervals instead of 15.

I really would rather be drinking beer right now.
Made this for the fam for dinner. Smells amaze balls. 

Then I sent the following text to my husband shortly after the most amazing pizza ever made was fresh out of the oven:  Hope you are on your way soon.  The floodgates have opened.
My home for the evening. I cleaned it just so I can defile it all night long. #thankscolonoscopy #lastpostipromise (of course it was NOT my last post)
Bought a people magazine today hoping for celebrity gossip. Turns out I grabbed the holiday issue full of recipes & pics


Some time after I completed phase one of the prep I passed out on the bed.  One or both of my children came in to see me, though I don't remember for sure.  I destroyed the plumbing, annihilated our TP supply and went through a half a tube of A&D ointment.  And in hindsight (poor choice of words I know) I should have put the A&D on well before the assplosions began.

So I'm four glasses (of 8) in on my morning prep and I can feel the rumblings the likes of which remind me of this:   TIMES A DOZEN, or more, I lost count around the time I passed out.

So I'm off to lube up and burn through the rest of my reading material.  Until tomorrow friends.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Maude VS The Colonscopy Part 1

I assure you, this isn't my first rodeo.  Nope, my butt's been scoped before.  It's been about 9 years so I'm overdue for a good cleansing and subsequent ass violation.  And that whole cancer thing I guess. 

They said I needed to have this done.  I'm expecting them to find nothing but a lovely soft pink tissued shit hole tomorrow, but in the meantime I'm super grumpy.

Thankfully I realized that being at the office today would not be in my best interest (or anyone else for that matter) since I'm on a clear-liquids-only diet (crossing my fingers that wine counts as a clear liquid because I'm desperate to make the pain go away).

Yesterday, really part 1 of the process, was picking up the "Golightly" powder solution that gets mixed with water in a gallon jug.  And, as mentioned, I've been down this muddy road before, "Go Lightly" isn't the most aptly named product if I'm being honest.  At the pharmacy counter (which was THANKFULLY empty save for me and my horrified 9 year old daughter) they at least giggled when I pointed that out.

I ass-cracked several other inappropriate jokes as well, because what the hell, why not?  No big secret what I'm going to be doing.  She asked if I'd ever done this before to which I replied yes, and I'm well prepared with a new tube of A&D Ointment and a stack of magazines to read. 

The only thing I think I'll WISH I had was a padded toilet seat because I'll be sharting out a weekend's worth of debauchery for several hours and I remember it not being advisable to leave the immediate area.  I'll also be longing for a pair of "Oops I Crapped My Pants" to wear if I'm not careful.  Thinking a pack of these should be a buy one get one when you pick up the Golightly.

Starting today at 4PM I'll be channeling my inner college drinking self and guzzling 8 OZ of floor stripper every 10 minutes until half of the gallon is gone.  Maybe I should watch a rerun of Discovery's Gold Rush and take an 8OZ shot every time Jack Hoffman says "Glory Hole", cuz that's like really super appropriate.

Then I get to do the other half tomorrow morning which is so not totally awesome.  But thankfully the kids will be at school.  I'm hitting the store in a little bit to get some flavoring for the solution (they said I could) and probably more reading material.  Two tours of "doodie" on the crapper will mean I'll burn through every issue of Runner's World I haven't yet had time to read.

And I'll probably pen part 2 when I'm all done tomorrow, prior to the actual ass violation in the afternoon and I'm going to have to rely on Mark to recap every odd, ridiculous and inappropriate thing I say while under anesthesia.  I'm sure there will be even more juicy nuggets to report.  So if you don't like reading about poop, you probably want to skip the next few posts.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Let's talk about boobs

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, everyone wear pink month, buy a shit ton of Yoplait and save those gross lids month and remember to check your boobs month.

Can I be honest?  I never checked mine, not in October, or for any month for that matter.  Well, that's not ENTIRELY true.  I gave myself a very poorly done self-exam once after I found out my best friend's mom was diagnosed, then when a co-worker was diagnosed years later I checked again.

My husband was more than happy to "exam" them anytime I wanted, but quite frankly I figured if I didn't know anything was there then I was just fine.  That's not a safe place to be friends!

I even had a mammogram, when the giant Boobmobile showed up from Sacred Heart Medical to Coldwater Creek when I lived & worked in Sandpoint.  Of course, I got the all clear.

Breast cancer runs rampant in my family, as does the BRCA gene.  My sweet father, in the early 2000s, had himself tested, at a great personal expense, and thankfully did not have the gene.  So I figured I had a get out of jail free card.

If you're just getting introduced to Bliss & Chaos and haven't read anything from the summer of 2012, I'll save you a quick trip down memory lane: I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I'm re-living the experience today, just because I want to tell you to please check your breasts.  Not just in October, but regularly.

And I've said it before, but if you aren't comfortable (we're told our WHOLE lives not to touch ourselves and then suddenly we have to make peace with feeling ourselves up?!) just have a glass of wine (or three, whatever works), read a naughty book and let your husband/significant other go to town.

And yes, I'm living proof that even if you don't have a lot in the chestal region you still can get breast cancer.  I remember being called a "pirate's dream" (thank you Craig Woods, are you in jail these days by any chance?) for having a sunken chest in junior high (like who didn't?!) and as an adult I was no different and I still got the cancer!

And I'm also standing here today as proof that breast cancer is survivable, particularly when you catch it early, like I did, but I got LUCKY.  I wasn't doing a routine self-exam, nope, I was laying on the bed talking to my husband about anything and everything and I felt an itch, scratched and found the lump.

I knew immediately it wasn't going to be good news, and I was right.  I love to be right, but this one time would have been nice to be wrong.  

Ever since all this happened I've run out of fingers and toes to count the number of women I've met, or knew, who are, or about to become, strong survivors.  My own surgical oncologist was diagnosed this summer!

But instead of dropping like flies, we're surviving, thriving and as best as I can I'm trying to proselytize the message: CHECK YOUR BOOBIES!

I'm not shy about it either, I tell people all the time, not because I want the "oh I'm so sorry" response, please don't EVER feel sorry for me, seriously.

I mean, let's be honest, yes it was a BIG inconvenience, but it could have been worse if we hadn't caught it when we did.

AND, as long as we're being truthful: I HIT THE BOOB LOTTERY.  So my consolation prize is a nice, brand spanking new rack.  There are no losers in this scenario.  If I hadn't found the lump, totally different story.

But that's the message I'm trying to give you today.  Check your boobs, feel them up, know what they feel like so you know if something isn't right.

And honestly, if you have to knock back a couple of cocktails and let your husband do it, go for it, he might be a little more thorough than you would anyways, jussayin'.

Don't think for one second you don't have to worry about it either, I was 39 years old (young, that's what they kept saying which was super fun to hear), no BRCA gene in my body, the three times I checked I was clear and then it happened.  And it COULD happen to you.

It doesn't matter if you have family history, no family history, gene, no gene, young, old, healthy or not.  Breast Cancer is like that mean little kid in junior high (I'm looking at you Craig Woods) who randomly picks on girls just because he feels like it.

So do me and your family a big ol' favor and just be sure, not just in October, but every month of the year.  And, in the end, if you catch it early enough, you too can have a nice new front porch and the blessing of a long life ahead.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Maude the Marathon Jumper

OK please don't turn me in, please.  I jumped into the Portland Marathon yesterday, but only for a little bit.  Before you get all "what?  you ran a marathon you crazy B?" let's get one thing straight: I'm probably not ever going to run a marathon. 

Probably.  Before yesterday I said NEVER, but now it's PROBABLY never, which gives me a loophole so in the future if I DO decide to run one you can't say I said never.  PROBABLY never.  There you go.

My day started at 4:55AM, of course I woke up five minutes prior to my alarm clock (dammit) even though I really really needed those extra five minutes of sleep.  I threw on my running gear, choked down my breakfast, grabbed snacks & water and headed out to pick up my Best Running Friend. (I did, for the record, also brush my teeth somewhere in there)

I rolled up to her place at 5:22AM, 8 minutes ahead of schedule, but I know how much she hates to be late.  Me, I was BORN late.  As my Daddy used to say I'll be late for my own funeral.  But for her, well I just made it happen. 

Thank GOD she had coffee in a to go cup all ready for me.  She was locked & loaded and we hit the freeway, making it downtown in record time.  It's amazing how fast you can get places around here at 5:30AM when NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND IS AWAKE.  Except marathon runners, who I would argue, definitely not in their right mind.  See?

Once we arrived we wandered the streets like a couple of homeless chicks trying to find corral D.  Things look VERY different in the dark in downtown PDX.  Up side?  With so many runners lurking about, stretching and pooping, I never did worry about getting mugged.

Speaking of the poop, it wouldn't be a Maude race recap if we didn't discuss the deuce.  Again, I must repeat, I was NOT running the marathon, yet I had a healthy case of the sympathy colon.  Both my BRF and I would have easily been able to have a colonoscopy pre-race, as clean as we were.  I was thrilled to see the number of porta-potties they had down there as well.  Big time KUDOS. 

There was one moment where folks got tired of waiting and formed their own line.  I didn't realize it until one of those bastards ran in front of me to grab a porta potty on the end.  The next lady in the new line informed me that my choices were #s 3&4, but their line had dibs on 1&2. 

I immediately informed them that A) I was crowning, B) would only be a minute and C) I wish I had thought to form my own line.  Door #3 opened and I zipped in there before she could beat me up or steal my spot.  I was done in less than 30 seconds and announced as I exited "THAT is HOW IT'S DONE, FOLKS!"  A little pre-race humor never hurt anyone.

I hung with my BRF and while we chatted, she fiddled with her fuel/water/clothing/GARMIN and holy shit her GARMIN actually FROZE.  I gotta hand it to her, she handled it better than I would have, or did.  She futzed around with it while I posted on FB: Who can bring Cyndie their GARMIN in the next 30 minutes?!?  Crisis averted, she just had to reset.  PHEW.  Post was immediately removed.

Eventually it was time for me to head out and find my way to mile 6ish where our other BAMR (bad ass mother runner) friend would meet me so we could run some of the WORST six miles of the marathon, an out and back along Naito/Front that was just horribly boring, with our buddy.

We had about 20 minutes to hang out and watch all these amazing athletes run by, what I love is that runners can opt to have their name on their bib, which is big enough for ME to read as they whizzed by even without my nerd goggles on.

At no point in the day, up to this moment, did I ever have that "oh I wish I were doing this" feeling.  Not once.  In fact, I didn't get that feeling at all until later.  But I squished it quickly, more on that later.

My BRF's husband kept me updated as to her status, so we knew when to expect her.  After a few false alarms, several ladies wore green tanks with gray/black bottoms, the "interception" went perfectly, both of us jumped in and flanked our gal and ran with her as long as we could.

We ran and chatted, chatted and ran.  I took a few pics by sprinting ahead and even got a cool group selfie WHILE running!  The nearly 6 miles we ran simply flew by for us.  The only place where I got a little teeny weeny bit upset was the section where there was a group of total freaking idiots dressed in Pirate garb.

I am not shitting you at all when I tell you that they had explosives.  No joke.  They had a fake cannon and then a fake gun but let me tell you the sounds they made were real, and THEY WERE LOUD.  I IMMEDIATELY thought of Boston, peed myself a tiny bit, then when I saw the pirates I got kinda mad.

They were all high-fiving us as we ran by and I told all all three of those assholes what a poor choice those loud explosions were.  "REALLY?!  You think that's a good idea in a MARATHON? DUUUDE!"

Seeing as how it's an out and back, just so you know they weren't exploding anything when we ran back through.  I am sure I wasn't the only one to give them a piece of my mind.

Have you ever tried running & texting with the voice to text feature?  I have.  It sucks.  My BRFs husband texted me to see if she really did want pretzels at mile 12.  I texted back "Yes she asked for the pretzels" but it said instead "yes, she asked for butt cells".  WTF? 

There were several examples and her husband couldn't help but make fun of me.  So I texted back "Fucking voice to text" and SHOCKINGLY the damn phone got that exactly right!!!!

At about mile 11 she asked us to run ahead so we could get a photo of her with her husband and children, but she was hauling ass at this point so we then had to haul even MORE ass to get there first.  We did, with only a few moments to spare. 

Prezels dispensed, photos taken, runner off and I realized I was FRICKEN starving so we headed back to the finish line in search of a Starbucks.  If you've been to PDX you know that Starbucks are like Prius's, you can swing a dead cat at any intersection and hit at least two.

But when you NEED one, g-damn Siri can't seem to understand what the frick you're talking about.  I needed three things: food, hot coffee, and at this point a place to PEE.  We wandered around and I started to panic worrying we'd miss her big finish.  Security at the PDX 'thon is TIGHT and I LOVE it.  You can't get to the actual FINISH line. Brilliant.  I mean that sincerely. 

We FINALLY found coffee, but the line was too long for the crapper so we headed out again and found another Starbucks like a block away.  See, when you don't need them you can find them EVERYWHERE.

We headed out once again in search of the best spot to see her coming in.  When we finally found it we had about 18 minutes to spare, and I'm not even lying when I say she showed up exactly 18 minutes later.

While we stood there and watched all the finishers coming through I was momentarily caught up in the excitement and thought how cool it would be to be finishing the MARATHON right now, with all those people there watching and cheering. 

Then, I remembered that you have to TRAIN to run 26.2 (no thank you) AND people clapped and cheered for me when I finished 13.1 just as much.  So in about ten seconds I (mostly) talked myself of ever running a marathon. MOSTLY.

So my BRF who trained for months, complete her first marathon in 4:04.  I am amazed, impressed and completely inspired.  Such an amazing accomplishment for any human, but so incredibly rewarding for me to be there to witness this achievement by someone I hold dear to my heart.

Well done friend.  Well done.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Maude VS The Obstacle Course (and, well, herself)

In case you're wondering, did I ever get my real sprint triathlon in (I'm sure you've been stalking my blog just waiting to hear) I completed the Best in the West in early September, complete with swim, even though I DID get an email the night before warning us of an algae out-break. 

I am totally not making that up.  Turns out, false alarm, but I was gonna swim dammit, no matter what.

It just so happens that there WAS something in that water, and I still have the ringworm on my left ass cheek to prove it, though the tube of anti-fungal cream I've been so very un-sexily rubbing on it night and day, says I'm near the end of the treatment. 

Fast forward a few weeks to last weekend and the Epic Grind.  After months and months of gorgeous weather, mother nature decided to piss on our Portland-is-so-beautiful-when-it's-sunny parade and hand us a big ass typhoon for the weekend.  September weather sucked.  Ass.  Big time.  But there was no worse weekend than Sept. 28 & 29.

I blog for Run Oregon which means I race a variety of events, usually about one a month and write my thoughts.  For the Epic Grind, I jumped at the chance to test out my first obstacle race/trail run when the weather was sunny and 80.  All the photos on their website showed sunshine and happiness in abundance.  I never occurred to me it would be monsoon season in just a few short weeks.

I also signed up my nine year old, thinking she'd like to do the 2 mile event and write her own review, like mother like daughter, she's a budding writer.  We were giddy with excitement.  Until the typhoon hit. 

I can't lie here, my baby girl was still really excited.  She never once, not one time, tried to get out of racing.  I gave her EVERY opportunity and she never took the bait.  It made me ashamed of myself, but not enough to not spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of time trying to weasel my way out of the event.

I tried to pretend that I couldn't do the obstacles (too much use of my chest muscles, they can't possibly be healed yet!), being out in the cold with my weakened immune system would surely spell doom for me in the form of a horrendous cold. 

In the past year and three months I've never, ever, ever let that whole episode with breast cancer stand in my way of anything (not even housework!) but I found it to be a convenient excuse suddenly when the wind was blowing the rain sideways.

I was unable to come up with any real compelling reason not to do the event, and I committed to being there, so off we went.  On the way my little lady and I listened to music and I tried to pump ourselves up.  We talked strategy and listened to Katy Perry's ROAR like fifty times.  But I never really felt like I had the "eye of the tiger" but more it's tail tucked between my fungal ass cheeks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I probably shouldn't have looked at any of the obstacles online before we left.  I think that really messed with my head.  I kept flashing back to all my PE failures:  I could never climb the damn rope, I had a devil of a time with the monkey bars and I sure as hell couldn't climb the net very fast.  And then there's running a 5K in between all these obstacles?  Hellz no.

As it turns out I did not have to repeat any of the aforementioned feats because I selected the 5K race (one of the few choices recently that turned out to be a GOOD one).  My heat started at high noon, Kaylee's at 12:30, I planned to get my ass moving fast so I could maybe make it back to either finish with her or watch her cross the finish line. 

If I'm being truthful, I was a little terrified of running trails in the mud, and also doing the obstacles in general.  But I'm game for anything most of the time, and with the motivation my beautiful fearless daughter gave me I went for it as soon as they counted us down.

I did start of slow, mostly because I wasn't sure what to expect.  Our heat was fairly small and I was in the middle of the pack after the keg pull.  I was pulling into the front when we hit the Tall Enough net, ten feet up and ten feet down, and I am clearly in far better physical condition than I was in grade school, I climbed up that thing like a fricken monkey.

Back down the other side and onto the giant spools, and suddenly I was all alone.  No one was with me, and from there I just said eff-it, I'm going for it.  I want to be back for my daughter and I've never been first before in anything, so let's see how long I can keep it going.

For once I didn't bring my Garmin so I had no clue how fast I was going and I had no music (which is a rarity for me) but I didn't even care.  Originally I was just doing this just for fun.  It's like I don't know myself, just for fun?  Pssssht.  What-evs.  The minute I had a taste of being the front runner my brain just switched into "suck it up and go" mode.

I'm pretty sure I was smiling about 98% of the time, how could I not?  No one was right behind me and as my BRF said, I pretty much made that course my bitch.  I sailed through the obstacles, with the exception of the paint ball gun (I'm a terrible shot and I hate firearms) and as I neared the lake I even caught a glimpse of my kiddo climbing the big net.  The kid race started!!  At that point I figured I was about 45 minutes in, not too bad, my "goal" was under an hour.

I just kept going, crawling across a moving pile of inner tubes, scrambling up the muddy bank and onto the "tired wall" the final obstacle before the finish.  I checked my time and couldn't believe my eyes, I did it under 46 minutes.  I knew I won my heat, and that was pretty cool for me as it was.  And I made it back to see my little girl crawl across the tubes, climb the tired wall and run to the finish (all with a smile on HER face!).

Later in the evening, after we got home, showered and I attempted to warm up I checked the online results.  I was second overall female for the day.  And if I'd gone the day before I would have WON the day compared to the times posted then.  And then I looked at the age group I was in: 31-40.  I was the moldy oldy!  And the chick that beat me?  In the age group below!  HA!  Take that!

And I'm going to say this so you can see what an awful person I really am, but as soon as I saw the results I said "Suck my 40!". Yes, I'm going to burn in Hell.  And not just for that, but I don't have time to make you a list.

I really would not have had as much fun if the weather had been nice.  I loved LOVED crawling around in the mud like a little piggy.  Being filthy dirty and sweaty was freaking awesome.  I had the time of my life, and so did the little miss.

I learned a few things about myself in the process: 

1. I don't think I can really run something just for "fun" no matter what I tell myself
2.  I'm a horrible person (suck my 40?!  REALLY?!) 
3.  I am my own worst enemy, talking myself out of something I've never tried before because I'm a chicken shit (it really wasn't all that much about the weather, truth be told) and, finally:
4.  I can do a hell of a lot more than I think I'm capable of.  I just have to learn to get my own ass out of my way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How not to F$%! up 4 months of training by getting sick a week before your race

Let me get my disclaimer out of the way first:  there is no scientific background/research involved in this post.  I am not a doctor, I could barely make it through biology class so a career in the medical profession was never in the cards for me.

My top ten tips on staying healthy (and not getting the CREEPING CRUD your children bring home from school/birthday parties/playdates/sporting practice) is purely driven by my experience with a compromised immune system (thanks again Breast Cancer, you're a real peach). 

I could feed a small underdeveloped country with the money I've wasted on race registrations because I got sick by being a dumbass.  So I thought I would give you my personal best, and also my BRF Cyndie posted on Facebook for ideas as she's going to run the Portland Marathon and I wanted to help her out.

Here are my top ten, in no particular order, on how to stay healthy and not miss your race:

1.  No lip kissing of any kind, children or husband (or significant other) OR your BRF!

2.  No sharing forks, spoons, glasses during meals with ANYONE, not even a SIP of someone's drink, not even if they say "Ew, this is really gross, taste it!"  (don't fall victim to this classic hijinx, it WILL taste gross and you'll get sick)

3.  MOVE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH away from your husband's and kids and I mean like in a hermetically sealed clean room environment away, not up on another shelf away.  Toothbrushes are a magnet for germs, like Bill Clinton to interns.  Or Anthony Weiner to sexting.  Irresistible.
4.  Take a daily zinc supplement (only use the lozenges if you feel like you are getting sick and do some research on the best ones to take before you procure them, they are not all created equal).  This seems to boost my immune system enough to ward off about 50% of the germs in the high school where I work.  
5.  Take a shit-ton of Vitamin D.  You can't overdose on the stuff without taking an entire bottle.  I think I take 4000 gs or mgs, whatever the standard dosage is.  This will also boost your mood, another handy dandy benefit during taper time!

6.  Take VITAMIN E, you know those little goopy capsules that if you puncture you can rub the oil on your boo boos and it heals you right up.  Take them whole.  Suck it up, they help.

7.  LOTS of water. And I mean like 100 ozs of water, so you pee constantly, flushing out all that bad germy stuff.  The bonus is two-fold: you get the health benefit of water AND a little extra exercise going pee all the time.

8.  REST - if your body says it's too tired to do a workout, skip it.  Seriously.  At this point you are ready, ya gotta love taper time.  If you are feeling run down and you workout anyways, trust me on this: it will almost guarantee you'll get sick.  Refer to item #5, if you can't work out at least you're taking a mood booster.  Taper weeks are rough for us as I find myself growling more often than not.  But it's OK to miss a session, you'll be that much more revved up on race day.
9.  Eat well, and often.  Fuel that body.  If you aren't eating enough you will also get sick.  I don't mean all you can eat buffet eat well, but don't skip meals, have seconds and don't worry about your calories.  You'll need them later and your tired body will THANK YOU.
10. Never fear killing germs with alcohol.  Ever.  Beer, wine, liquor- it's all good.  That's all I can say: NEVER FEAR KILLING GERMS WITH ALCOHOL.

Good luck to everyone in taper mode, follow my advice and while I cannot 100% guarantee you won't get sick, I DO know that you're doing more than most to avoid it.  And, if all else fails, put yourself in a bubble.  Don't go to a hotel, don't get me started on the germ issues there.....

Love always,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Maude learns to roll with the punches

I'm officially blogging for our local online running news source now under my real name and posted my race recap last week.  So I had to wait to post my personal review of my sprint tri for a few days.  Now Maude can tell you the real story. 

My official review was very complimentary towards the event, deservedly so. I just didn't want to put a bunch of stuff in my race recap about my actual race, no one really cares how I did, except for me. 

Let me get the first thing out of the way: THE LAKE WAS CLOSED TO SWIMMING!!!!  THE LAKE WAS CLOSED TO SWIMMING!  Remember my description about the smelly lake and dry heaving and stuff? VINDICATION!  They closed the lake to swimming the day before my sprint tri because of the fear of a TOXIC ALGAE OUTBREAK.  I can't make this stuff up.

My initial reaction?  Horrendously inappropriate and uncontrollable sobbing.  Like I'd run over a pet cat or something.  I mean seriously, I've had a LOT worse things happen to me in the last three years you'd think this would just roll off my back.  But you would be horribly wrong.

I cried, and cried and cried and cried......My only option, according to the email from the event company, was to do the Duathlon instead.  Are you freaking serious?  I have not RUINED my hair in a swimming pool for three months, subjected myself to an open water swim in what felt like an ocean and risked typhoid fever the week before the event to be told I have to run an extra 5K. 

Oh.  No.  You.  Di-int.

I kept saying "I didn't train for this event."  "My joints will never forgive me, I'll be in severe pain on Sunday."  "I don't even like riding a bike, maybe this is the universe telling me to just forget it."  Then I realized I'd have to repack my bag, and the kids bags and try to get some damn sleep.

Now I had put a TON of pressure on myself for this event.  Suddenly, the weight was lifted.  To be honest, I slept like a baby.  But I awoke with a very confused feeling, no anchor.  No A, B or C goal to achieve.  NO freaking clue how I would even do. 

The absolute FREEDOM I actually felt was like nothing I've ever experienced in a race.  I had nothing to prove.  I just had to go.  My BRF even wore her "Don't think, just go" shirt, courtesy of the Another Mother Runner  tribe.  So appropriate.  I had no other options.

Here is my BRF with the shirt, and the biggest, baddest cowbell ever!

I was still on the nervous side and barely choked down my breakfast.  Once again, can't believe I had anything left in my colon that morning but apparently I was oh so very wrong.  My compliments to the event organizers on the appropriate number of porta potties for the amount of racers. 

Normally I wish there were three porta-potty sections, one for the casual pee-er, the person who empties their bladder not because they need to, but because they feel like it.  No rush on their part. 

Then there should be a section for the emergency peers, the people who either hold it too long or drove far enough that they're sweating bullets when they arrive. 

The third section would be for people like me, the "I think I might SHART myself" line, the line that I would have needed to be in that morning, but thankfully I never really had to wait all that long. 

But I digress.  Must focus.  I really loved getting all inked up, with my big ol' 40 on my right calf and 26 (my race number) on the left.

I convinced myself that people might think the 26 and the 40 were accidentally reversed, despite my wrinkles, gray hair and flabby-ish upper arms.

There's something empowering about seeing someone's age as you compete.  Every time I passed someone running or biking with anything below 40 was a VERY gratifying experience.  Boom diggity.  But, being passed by someone with 56 on there, well that just wasn't fun.  And it did happen.

And, as it turns out,  I had the option of only doing the bike & run, and not replacing the swim with another 5K.  Have we met?  Well, that wasn't going to be acceptable.  Like any insane weekend warrior I just had to see what I could do.  Anything less would have felt like I wimped out.  Not that I'm judging....just saying for me that's how I would have felt.

My little family made it to the start of the race, literally as they were counting down the last 30 seconds before the race started.  I was so happy to get hugs and kisses from the kids who, thankfully, genuinely seemed to be happy to waste an hour and 37 minutes of their lives watching me compete.

I took off on the run and hung in the back.  I listened to the announcer tell us not to push too hard on the first 5K, and to save it for the end.  I finished the first 5K without even breaking a sweat, sitting at 92 out of 197 some competitors and in 28:32, which is a slow & easy pace for me.  I was glad I didn't push too hard.

See? Not even tired or sweaty.
In the end they told us we could run with one earbud in, something I didn't think we could do, so of course I had to run with tunes.  That ended up costing me a few seconds in transition to the bike, which made me mad and regret my decision to listen to music.  

Then I was really mad because if had been able to swim it wouldn't have been an issue at all.  Like the hulk, any anger triggers an immediate hot flash.  Now I'm breaking a sweat.  Damn.

Here I am, headed to the bike portion.  Note my helmet wasn't buckled so that cost me time too.  
So the bike was where I was most nervous.  I've said it before but I'm terrified of the bike.  I was ever nervous about how that was going to go, but I had nothing to fear apparently.
My long ol' legs are clearly an advantage so I passed many people (again, thrilled when their ages were less than mine) and ended up going into the final 5K at 51st place.  Do that math, 92 going in, 51 coming out.....Never in my life has 12 miles on a bike gone so freaking fast.  And thank GOD for the tail wind on the return 6 miles.

Here I am, I came flying in at 20 MPH, I kid you not.  No way was I slowing down until I had to!

I wasted no time on the transition here, and just took off on the run.  Again, your brain thinks you should be going faster so you try really hard but your legs feel like they belong to someone else so you WILL THEM TO MOVE. 

And I mean you really WILL THEM TO MOVE.  If legs could talk after a hard bike ride and you push them to run, they would say, and I quote "F*&k you."  Yes, they would.

After about the first mile I started to get the feeling back and was holding pretty well at my pace.  I walked through the aid stations (lesson learned during my first half marathon) and put on the gas for the last mile, and was running sub 8 when I finished.  

Here I am, running by the STINKY lake (thank GOD I didn't have to swim in it) for the second time that day.  The girl next to me that I'm passing had a 33 on her calf.  Jussayin'.

I ended up finishing 48th overall, in the top fourth of the competitors, and 10th in my age division, 40-44 year old women.  Not too shabby for an old lady on her first tri, er, try!  I realized, as I calculated my times that I likely would have finished in about 1:30 had I done the swim.  So, it was a total victory for me.

This last pic is one of my favorites.  I was so happy to see my kids and husband there to cheer me on.  I was smiling SO BIG every time I saw them in transition.  I should have posted THOSE pics.  It meant the world to me that my family was there, along with my Best Running Friend Cyndie and her husband (whose LIGHTNING fast bike I borrowed) and their kids.

Even if it wasn't the race I wanted, it was the race I raced and the best I've ever done.  I loved it.  In fact, I registered for my next sprint tri, and have been assured that I'll be able to get my swim in this time as it's in a nice, clear reservoir in Oregon.

I learned to roll with the punches on this one.  Racing and parenting are no different in that respect.  What you are prepared for may not always be what happens and you've got to do the best you can in that moment.  And I did.  I truly found some bliss in this chaos of racing that I've created for myself.  And I can't wait for the next one.......