Thursday, June 29, 2017

Running with Heart

So, you may remember that I have had concerns about heart palpitations during certain races or runs. If you don't remember, you can read about some of them here and here.

You may also remember that this is the second anniversary of my father's death after a heart transplant.

If you put the two together, you might conclude that I should be seeing a doctor to determine if I have heart problems of the same magnitude as my father. This is definitely what my mom thought (Hi, Mom! Love you!), and so I made a series of appointments for tests and consultations with various specialists. Every test turned out normal. During my echocardiogram, the technician kept saying, "Boy, I wish every patient had pictures like yours!" I take a strange pride in the fact that I have pretty pictures of my heart.

This is EXACTLY how my heart looks in the echocardiogram pictures.  Except it isn't a tree.
The fact that all my tests were normal and I hadn't had any episodes since last Thanksgiving led me to believe that the palpitations (tachycardia) were probably stress-induced. My cardiologist (a young kid, by the way), however, wants to monitor my heart activity for a month to see if he can catch an episode. I have to wear the monitor at all times and do everything I can to provoke the tachycardia so that he can get a recording of it.

Me: Wait, so I can run, do speed work, race, all that stuff?

Doctor: Yes, exactly. I want you to provoke an attack so I can study it.

Me: Won't this be harmful? Couldn't I, like, die?

Doctor looks at me for a full minute, then says: Do you honestly think I would tell you to provoke an attack if I thought it was harmful to you?

Me: I don't know. Maybe you don't like me.

Anyway, now I'm sure he doesn't like me because wearing this event monitor SUCKS BIG TIME.  It's huge, so it looks like I'm carrying around a beeper from the 80s.  It has suction cups, which I have to move to a different place each day, so it looks like I have hickeys on my chest.  I have wires protruding from all parts of my body. I have to sleep with it, so I roll on it and it pokes me or vibrates to let me know that I'm killing it.

This morning I went for a long run (12 miles), and I wore the monitor.  This is how it looks:

One electrode here

The second one here just under my bra
They connect to this big, freaking box.

I can't see any data from it.  There are only buttons to push and one light that blinks when I have to upload the data.  How do I do that? I have to call a number, hold the box up to the phone, and let it play a whiny fax-machine-sounding thing for at least five minutes. I'm not exaggerating.

The good news is that I feel much better knowing that this isn't really harmful; the word the cardiologist used was "nuisance," which I know pretty well. I can live with this nuisance, but I'll wear the damned monitor while I have to (love ya, Mom!).

I'll leave you with something positive--my view at the Beaver Marsh on the Towpath this morning:

Those green plants are lily pads!
And this is how I felt when I finished my 12 miles:

I'm hot, I'm sweaty, and I'm fabulous!

Also, my fellow-Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Andrew (@Andrewrunsalot) found a picture of me on the Akron Marathon page!

I'm in the bright yellow. Look at that ass!
However you run this week, I hope you run with your heart--see what I did there? Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Outta My League

Have you ever looked at a group of runners (probably completely cut, shirtless or wearing only running bras) who pass you chatting and laughing with each other while seemingly-effortlessly running 4 minute miles?  Have you looked at them and thought, "Whoa. Those runners are WAY OUTTA MY LEAGUE," yet you couldn't help but get a small twinge of wondering, "What if? What if I tried to hang with these machines? How far would I get before I cough up lung butter?"

You know, like this guy, who for one glorious mile got to hang with Meb and the elite pack at the Boston Marathon. Sometimes we just have to try to hang with people way out of our league, and that is what I did this week.

Example #1: I belong to quite a few online running groups, and while I lurk there, snooping on their runs and pictures, I have never run with many of them because. . . well, look at the title of this post. Phillips Phlyers is one of those groups.  They run at all times of the day and night, and there have been many times I've seen them at races or the same running route I'm taking that day. Last Tuesday, Joey Phillips (the leader of the Phlyers) posted a hilly 7-miler at 9:30 in the morning, which was just the time I was trying to kick my butt in gear. I first posted to Joey about pace because my main concern is I don't want to jack up someone's run. He told me to join them, so I did. After an interesting initiation ceremony that involved some group chanting, a selfie, and an American flag, Joey, John, and I got going.

This is EXACTLY how I look before running with Joey and John. 
We ran up the biggest hill ever. I tried to give up, but Joey and John weren't having it. I made that hill my bitch (you knew it was coming), and then Joey and I split off to the trails while John continued on the road. To take my mind off the fact that I was dying, Joey told me about his running history, and boy, am I glad he did! This man ran the Boston Marathon 20 TIMES!!!!  He trains hard, he is an amazing runner, and he is super-kind.

We met back up with John at the end, and he had water for us. I was feeling a little guilty because I knew they had run more slowly than they are used to, but they were both so kind about it that I got over myself. Thanks, Joey and John for letting me run with you on a super-hot day!

My Instagram Post after the run: I survived a run with Phillips Phlyers. I'm going to go throw up now.
Example #2: I needed a recovery run the next day, and I saw a post from the Canal Rats. I've run with the Rats a few times, so I should have known what I was getting into there, but, well, I'm not that smart. The Canal Rats meet before dawn to run the Towpath and/or Sand Run. They have a set weekly schedule, so I know that if I run with them on a Tuesday or Thursday, I could use it as a tempo run. This post was on a Wednesday, and it said "Relaxed Pace," so being gullible, I showed up at 5:50 AM to run "4 easy miles" on sore legs after my hill run with the Phlyers.  Umm.  Yeah.  The easy run was sure enough at my half marathon pace, and I had jumped into it with my eyes wide open.  Dumbass.  I ran the first two miles steps behind the pack (on the struggle bus the whole time), and then at the turnaround, Mary Jo ran back with me. This is usually what happens when I run with the Rats; they are so kind that one of them takes one for the team and runs with me for a few miles. I stayed with Mary Jo for one more mile, then I told her to catch up to the pack because I was going to cool down with run/walking.

My Instagram Post after this run: Aaaand today the Canal Rats kicked my ass.
Example #3: My friend Pam (@HopRunner), a fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, is training for the Canal Corridor 100, and she has been putting in serious miles each week. She is a real badass, so I knew this was the time to try to run with her, while her legs are seriously tired before the taper. We made a plan to run 15 miles together on the Towpath on a hot Sunday morning. Pam needs to run slowly, so I thought I'd be able to keep up with her.  Unfortunately, I made a really stupid rookie move by doing lots of lunges and goblet squats the day before our run.  GAAAAAAA.  My legs hurt SO MUCH on our run. I have NEVER punked out by walking so much at the end of a run in my life! After mile 12 I was over-heated and my legs were toast. I felt terrible for Pam, but she was a great sport about it. We had a great conversation over the 15 miles, and I'm so grateful to her for letting me run with her and soak up some running-wisdom along the way.

This is the before pic. No way was I going to take an after-pic.  Look how fresh and pretty and cool we are here!
Ok, so I really stretched myself this week by running 47 miles, 15 of them counting basically as speed work. I'm pretty proud of myself; I ran a lot, I ran hard, and I didn't injure myself. I attribute the non-injury to my secret recovery drink:

Most importantly, I spent time with some inspirational people this week, and I learned a lot. As you have read, I learned that runner peeps are the best peeps, even when they are Outta My League.

How are you handling the heat? However you are doing it, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Green Jewel Recap: I Don't Read Directions

This week I ran the Green Jewel 50k relay with my friend from high school Marsha. She is a real trooper to step in at the last minute and do this with me, especially on such a hot day. How did we do? I'll let you know soon, but FIRST, I need to tell you how badly I failed at paying attention and following directions.

Normally, this isn't me. I am the one who reads the directions on the box, both in French and in English so that I don't mess anything up. I roll my eyes when my husband, the master of Oh-Hell-Let's-Just-Look-at-a-YouTube-Video-and-Wing-It decides he is going to fix something or put it together. My pet peeve as a server (16 years!) was adults (not children, children always listen to the server) who don't listen when I give them choices. For example:

Me: What would you like to drink? We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Pink Lemonade, Root Beer, and Iced Tea.

Customer's Kid: I'll have a root beer.

Customer: Do you have Mountain Dew?


This is EXACTLY how I looked as a restaurant server. Creepy, right?

I digress. The point is that I am usually the person who reads the directions carefully, especially when I get any information about a race.  Not this week, Buddy.

My first directions-fail was in not paying attention to packet pick-up information. I found the location, Vertical Runner Brecksville, and I went there after I finished whatever it was I was doing at the house. I couldn't find an address on the webpage, so I plugged the store into my map and took off.  And got lost. Siri kept directing me to a bunch of buildings at the store's address, and none of them were Vertical Runner! Then I decided to drive around to see if the store might be nearby.  Nothing. Finally, I called and explained that I was lost, got the REAL address for the store, plugged it in, and arrived to pick up my packet only to find out that. . . it didn't start for another hour.  Sigh. Seriously? I was certain the hours were after 1:00 pm, but when I checked again, I could see that it started at 4pm.  Nothing to do but go to Starbucks and slowly drink a Midnight Mint Mocha Frappucino while reading my daughter's copy of Divergent for the second time. (Hey, it was the only book I had in the car.) Ok, no big deal. I just took up more time than I probably should have, but maybe this was the Universe's way of letting me know I had to relax a little bit.

Do I look relaxed here?

Next fail involved the Green Jewel relay legs. I ran leg two, which I understood to be 16 miles. I don't know why I thought that; in my head I can picture myself looking at the webpage and seeing that distance, but it turns out that I'm the only one who thought it was 16 miles. This really affected how I ran.

It was sooooo hot on the day of the race, and as leg 2,  I started a bit later in the morning, so the temperatures were rising quickly. My partner Marsha was a real badass; she finished her leg and gave her all, giving us a great time. Plus, she said she would move my car to the finish line for me! You may remember that I put it out to the Universe last week that I would need to find a way to my car. Well, first, Kelly, a Burning River Goddess, said she was volunteering at the finish line, and she offered to drive me to my car. This was so awesome of her, and I accepted. Her offer put me in a bit of a worry, though. I didn't want her to have to wait too long for me to arrive, so I was trying to figure out how to rev my engines without dying of heatstroke.  When Marsha offered to move my car, this took the pressure off; I knew it didn't matter at that point how long it took me to run the leg. In retrospect, this is one way I veered offtrack in my running strategy for that day. I texted Kelly at the first aid station in my leg and told her she didn't need to wait for me.

The Green Jewel is a beautiful course. My part ran from Berea to Rocky River to Lakewood, all in the Cleveland Metroparks on a paved path. I was mostly in the shade, thank GOD, and there were really only two hills that I could remember. I know Marsha had lots of uphill work in Leg 1; I know this because she texted me about it. My response: Better you than me, Sister.

There was an aid station at my Mile 5 and another at my Mile 11, and the volunteers were really great. There was plenty of water, Tailwind, pretzels, endurolyte tabs (lifesaver), and GINGER ALE, which is my ultimate favorite running treat.

Here is where things get iffy in my head: Remember that I thought my leg was 16 miles.  At the second aid station, people coming the opposite way were telling me that I was almost done. I brushed it off as their knowing that I looked like I was dying and wanting to encourage me. It was incredibly hot at that point, so I decided to incorporate some walking if I felt like my heart rate was getting too high. I also decided to stop at a bathroom and later at a water fountain to splash my head with water. When I got to mile 14, I saw a hill, and I decided I was going to walk that hill when I reached it. A third of a mile later, a volunteer told me he was going to cross me at an intersection because of all the cars around. I thanked him and started toward the hill, but he stopped me. "Hey," he said pointing down into a parking lot, "there's the finish. Go for it!" Wait. What????

So, yeah. I didn't pay attention to directions, and it kind of cost me some time. I figure I lost at least 6 minutes to screwing around either by walking, hanging out in the aid station, or going to the bathroom.

When I got to the finish, I saw my fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors Pam (and her husband Steve) and Stephanie.

Stephanie took 2nd place AG;Pam took 1st AG. I have a bug on my face that nobody would tell me about.
I didn't bother to check the awards or time sheets, but I should have.  Marsha and I placed 2nd in the Women's Relay!  Yay for us!

There is no way that we could have come in first place; I checked those times, and that duo was CRAZY-FAST, but I am still a little disappointed in myself. Could I have shaved off some time if I had been paying attention? Yes, I'm sure I could have. Ultimately, though, it doesn't really matter. My true goals for this race were to 1. Compete a long run to keep up my mileage, 2. Make sure I don't shame my partner, and 3. Try something different.  I did accomplish those three goals. For my next spontaneous race, I will add a 4th goal: PAY ATTENTION TO DIRECTIONS!!!

Cute medal and shirt!
I hope you pay attention to directions, too! Regardless, make sure you Run Happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Another Race? What?

So, on a whim I signed up for the Green Jewel Relay. The price was right, and I thought this would be a good motivator to keep up my mileage instead of starting from scratch to train for the Akron Marathon. I put out a call to every running group I know, and eventually a sucker nice runner volunteered to join up with me for a total of 50k. Beth, race director for the Medina Half Marathon, will be running the first 15 + miles, and I will be running the next 16 miles. I've never done this race, and I have no clue how it works, but I'm not going to sweat it, Peeps. I'm going to show up at the relay point and hope that I find a way back to my car when I finish. This, by the way, is not a smart strategy, but I have never claimed to be smart. I am putting this out into the Universe: I need to 1. survive the Green Jewel Relay and 2. find a ride back to my car. If you see me, Peeps, I would appreciate some help.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm pathetic and needy.
Today I ran 8 miles with the Goddesses. Everything kind of derailed for me on this run. I had meticulously packed my bag anticipating running 8 miles on the trails with the Goddesses and then finishing about 6-8 more miles on the Towpath. That just didn't work. There was some rain and some thunder and lots of conversation, so when we finished I had run out of time. I had to go home and garden, Peeps, which is THE WORST.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm avoiding gardening.
I saw Pam (fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador) and her husband Steve on their long run completing a 100-mile week. I was really tempted to ask them if I could run with them, but they sensed the desperate-ness and told me that I was technically in taper for the Green Jewel, since I had run a marathon two weeks prior and a half marathon the previous week. It was nice of them to phrase it that way. Anyway, I called it a day.

Now that school is out, I'd like to share my new strategy:

1. Track all my food AGAIN. Always. If I can lose 10 pounds, I can be back to my racing weight.
2. Increase my weekly mileage instead of starting from scratch when training for the Akron Marathon. Of course, I trained for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon during the school year, so I had limited time, but now my goal is to increase my during-the-week mileage (without injuring myself). My theory is that I need much higher mileage to better my time from the Cleveland Marathon.

As I continue to write this summer, I'll show you how I am increasing my mileage safely.

What are you training for? Running any trails lately? Check back next week to see if I got stranded during the Green Jewel.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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