Sunday, January 29, 2017

Who's Your Ambassador?

Who is incredibly attractive, witty, talented, hard-working, has a fabulous smile, and. . .

NO!  Let me finish the question!!! We are not talking about Meryl!
Who is incredibly attractive, witty, talented, hard-working, has a fabulous smile, AND is a 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador? Well, yes, it is true that I could be talking about ANY of the Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors, . . .

DAMN, we are a good-looking bunch of runners!

BUT I'M NOT. It's me. I'm a 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador!

Wait, that isn't very flattering.  Let me get a different picture.

No.  Just. NO.
This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm excited to be a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador!
And excited to eat Mitchell's ice cream.

I am so lucky for this opportunity, Peeps. It's my third year, so hopefully I have a clue about what I'm doing this time around. I do know this: It is the 40th anniversary of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and to celebrate, anyone who runs the 10k, half marathon, or marathon will receive this bonus swag:

Look at this mighty cool keychain!

Check out this shirt!  I love it!

It's a big race, Peeps; anything can happen. Last year was the #mostClevelandraceever with hail, snow, ice, rain, and waterspouts. I'm excited to see the topper this year. I hear from Buffy Summers that there is a Hellmouth in Cleveland; maybe it will open up.

What am I running?  I'm going to hold off on answering that question. I have a plan, but it's a sneaky plan. I don't want to commit to anything yet. I will say this: I plan to run my butt off (there is a lot of butt to run off), have fun, and drink beer.  Join me by registering here.  

Wanna try your luck at a giveaway? My fellow ambassadors and I are taking turns each week with a free entry for one race in the series (I'll explain more about choices next week).  Follow us and take your chances!

Oh, my training?  You want to know what I did?  Well, today I ran twelve miles of Towpath with my running friend Shelby.  We were cold and miserable. I swore a lot.  It was great.

I look forward to running with you in Cleveland.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Takes the Piss Outta Me

Peeps, I had surgery one month ago today. I thought about whether I was going to write about it or not because it's not a comfortable, dinner-table conversation. My doctor told me that my life would change so much that I would write a book about him after I win my next marathon.

My doctor knows NOTHING about running.

He was right about the life-changing part, though.  The following topic may or may not be relevant to you as a runner. I suspect that many Mother Runners will know exactly what I am writing about. Today I ran ten miles with Shelby, and I did it pee-free. . .That's right; I didn't piss myself once!

I have been running for about five years now, but I have been a mother for over fourteen years. As many women know, childbirth can cause damage to your urethra, bringing about stress incontinence. This is why so many of us will NEVER jump on a trampoline. While I have managed to avoid the trampoline, I did not want to give up running just because I can't seem to control my bladder.  I tried every possible fix ranging from plugs to pads to drinking less water to changing the way I carry myself while running.  Nothing worked.

I invested in a LOT of these.

I tried these.

And I tried these.

For years I made do with incontinence pads, but when I started putting in more miles, especially in the heat, this became a real pain in the. . . well, you know. Chafing caused me to scream every time I took a post-run shower, and no amount of Glide or Vaseline could prevent it. I had scars; it hurt. It almost made me give up on running my first marathon.

See the big bulge on the back of my belt (I'm in the yellow)? That is an extra pad I had to carry with me in case I needed to change during the race. I look like I have a growth coming out of my butt cheek. 

It looks even worse here.

Finally, I went to see a doctor about my problem. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have done it if Dr. Apostolis' office wasn't just down the street from my house. Anyway, after a few tests he decided that I was a good candidate for a urethral sling. I was less-than-thrilled; I don't know what I thought he would do for me--wave a magic wand? give me some magic beans?--but I hadn't considered surgery. The deciding factor was what Dr. Apostolis told me when I asked him what would happen if I did nothing:

"Well," he said, "believe it or not, you have a very mild problem right now, so it must be very tempting to just bear it. Today it's just when you run; five years from now, you'll pee your pants when you sneeze or cough; ten years from now, it will happen when you laugh or just get up from a chair."  That is when he finished with the remark about writing a book about winning the marathon, which was so ridiculous it was cute, but I got the point: This was a quality of life decision. Three days before Christmas I went ahead with the surgery.

The procedure itself took about half an hour, and I was under general anesthesia for it. I woke up completely alert with very little pain (yay drugs!), and after proving I could urinate by myself, I was allowed to go home. The whole shebang-waiting, prepping, surgery, recovery, testing-took about four hours. I took pain killers for two days, and then I was fine.  Really fine. I spent the next week of vacation recovering--basically napping and walking laps around the mall.

Two weeks later I had my follow-up appointment, and the nurse-practitioner gave me the go-ahead to run and/or basically do all the stuff I did before. I was amazed. "Really? Just like that? I'm ok to run?" She nodded and that was that.

And that was how I ran ten miles in complete comfort today.  Thanks, Doctor Apostolis.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I run 10 miles in complete comfort.

If you would like more information about stress incontinence or my surgery, feel free to email me at I know there are more of us who experience this problem, and I made myself vulnerable today so that I can let people know that there is hope.

I hope you run happy this week, Peeps!

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Training for What?

Welcome back to the blog, Peeps!  Before I get started, I'd like to announce the winner of the giveaway for Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Jill's book:

Rafflecopter chose Jen R. to receive Jill's awesome book!  Congratulations, Jen; I know you will love it. For those of you who are interested in purchasing Jill's book, and I HIGHLY recommend that you do, click here to buy it from Amazon, or check out Jill's signing at Mahall's (13200 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio 44107) on January 21, 2017 from 1:30-3:30.  Come meet Jill and have her sign your book; you'll have a great time, a fun new book, and a new friend.

We are halfway through January, and it's time I got my act together and started thinking about goals.  I had a nice little break when I was recovering from surgery (I'll write about that next week), but now I have to get my butt in gear.  And OH BOY HOWDY do I have a butt now.  I have gained ten pounds since I finished running the Akron Marathon, and eight of those pounds are absolutely non-negotiable. I know how I did it, too; I stuffed ALL THE FOOD into my pie hole.  Shame on me.

Luckily, I know what to do about that; get back on the horse (or on the road or trail). I've got to start watching my calories again and making some hard choices about what I put into my mouth.  I'm a stress-eater, and I'm a non-stress-eater; really, I just like food.  I need to remember what it feels like to have some discipline.  To start, I'm looking at my calendar.

One thing that helps me with discipline is my racing goals.  To that end, I have signed up for five races already this year. I'm betting you can guess one of them:

I'm so pleased and honored to be an Ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon this year. I love this race, and I love my fellow ambassadors. Check out their social media accounts here. I haven't decided what I'm running for this race series, but I promise I will let you know when I figure it out.

I'm also running the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon, the Medina Half Marathon, a sixteen-mile leg of the Burning River 100-mile Relay, and the Akron Marathon.

Do you think this will be the motivation I need? Of course, I also have some of the best motivation in the world: my friends.

Joy, Shelby, and I made a pact to do our long runs together. We started today.
What are your goals this year, Peeps?  Until then, run happy!

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Giveaway: Running with Police Escort

My friend Jill is all that, Peeps.  She has a fascinating life: former prison librarian, current Overdrive librarian, podcast host, blogger at Year of the Phoenix, and Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. She is also a recently-published author!

This is a book you want to read, Peeps!
I've read and enjoyed Jill's book; let me tell you why:

1. Jill loves Cleveland, and she lives in Cleveland. I love her anecdotes about neighborhoods and the races there.

2. I am a middle-of-the-pack runner on my best day, but I know what it's like to finish at the back of the pack. . .or at least I thought I did.  Jill has great perspective on what it's like to finish with the "sweep car." Many races have a police car following the last runner, and that is the origin of the title of the book.  Because Jill is such a positive person, she chooses to call finishing in the back "running with a police escort."  What a great attitude! I have a lot to learn about finishing with a great attitude.

3. Dr. Who references.  'Nuff said.

4. Even if you have never run in your life, Jill has something to teach you. We all have moments of doubt. We all have moments of struggle. As someone who has Impostor's Syndrome (Click on the link since I know you're too busy to research it yourself), I found Jill's stories about her self-image very inspiring.

In short, I can't say enough good things about this book, Peeps. Do you want to identify with struggle? Do you want to feel good? Do you want to laugh?  This book is for you.

This is proof that I am friends with Jill. 2016 VIP reception for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. Melissa, Me, Jill.

Let's get to it, Peeps.  I want you to read this book, so much that I am willing to give one away to a lucky reader.  Who will it be? Enter the rafflecopter, where I will randomly choose a winner to receive a free copy of Jill's book. Don't feel lucky in lotteries? You can click here to buy Jill's book on Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!