How Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson got me through a run

Here’s to hoping this humors you and makes your week a little bit better. If it doesn’t, it will at the least make you realize that in addition to being a badass, I’m also a weirdo. Or super cool. Whichever. Whatever.

In a year where I’ve already run over 300 miles, including a marathon, I’ve also already lost my distance training. Ya know what they say – “use it or lose it.” It’s true. And it’s not like I’m disappointed by it, I mean… hello, I ran a marathon. But I definitely didn’t think I’d struggle to get back to a 10K just three months later. Again, use it or lose it. I didn’t use it, so I lost it. I mostly didn’t use it because I’m secretly a really hot ninety year old woman who was nursing both hip and back injuries, so again, not disappointed.

As I persist to get back into a routine, I chug along, huffing and puffing, especially in the latter half of whatever distance I’m doing. My heart wants four miles and a donut, my body just wants the donut. Except on yesterday’s run, my heart (okay and maybe my body too), wanted Dwayne Johnson. Yes, The Rock. The People’s Champ. The Brama Bull.

What?

Hear me out. Running is monotonous. Running is long. Running tests all of your strength, both physical and mental. Sometimes to get to your goals, you have to think of weird things, or do boy band dance moves while everyone’s watching, or train yourself to play Words With Friends while keeping pace. Yesterday’s run embodied weird things. Like, how cool would it be if, on this trek of mine, I just randomly ran into The Rock? How would that go? Knowing me, it would start with word vomit and end with a really cheesy selfie where I look terrible and he looks like he hates the girl in the photo with him.

No, no… that’s not what would happen. What would REALLY happen is I’d be like “Yo Dwayne, I know you’re not from Reno so let me show you the course!” I’d give him the preface that I average an 11:30-12/min mile but don’t worry, I’m a marathoner. He’d give me the People’s Eyebrow and I’d assure him that yes, this size 14 curvy fit woman has run not one, but TWO marathons. Feeling confident he wouldn’t have to give me the People’s Elbow, he’d agree to stroll along and we’d become best running pals for life. (Side note, even though I grew up as a huge WWE fan who was in love with The Rock, I still can’t do the People’s Eyebrow.)

Two miles done.

While trying to keep my cool, I’d get consent from DJ to do a Facebook Live because you know, if this was really happening, I would need to make sure the whole internet world knew. My intro would go something like this: “You guys, I was just minding my own runner business when I caught up  with a familiar (literally) figure. Meet my knew BFF who I assure is not going to lay the smackdown on my candy ass.” Then angels would sing and I’d probably drop my phone as I moved the camera upwards to catch his face.

Three miles done.

As we trail along, we’d bond over our love for Kailua and protein shakes and how jealous I am that he got to film a movie with Amy Pond.

Being the social media king he is, Big D would want to put me on his Instagram and tag my running profile and that’s how I’d finally reach 1,000 followers on my Insta.  At the end, we’d high five and I’d introduce him to Pawko who would get to take his first picture with a celebrity.

Voila, four miles — done!

The moral of this story is that I probably don’t need pre-workout.

Marathon 2

On June 3, I became a two-time marathoner. It wasn’t without challenge, chafe or crisis, but it was with pride, power and pep. It wasn’t the race I wanted, but its a race that, at the end of the day, I am proud of.

Since I am a Rock n Blogger for the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series, I decided to sign up for the Remix Challenge, which is a 5K one day in addition to the full or half the next day. I told myself I’d walk most of that so as to not put too much stress on my body or risk a freak accident that would stop me from being at my best the next day. But, in true me fashion, I ran the whole way and killed it with a 10 min/mile pace (I’m normally 11:30-12 min/mile). I spent the rest of the day in recovery and relaxation mode, fueling up on carbs, enjoying Porto Vista Hotel’s spool (spa jacuzzi pool) and straight up Netflix-and-chillin’ in my hotel room. I was determined to awake the next morning in a calm and motivated state.

Since I traveled to San Diego for the race, I purchased a VIP pass so I had somewhere to eat breakfast, get coffee, stretch and hydrate pre-Race. While shoving a bagel down my throat, I saw the one and only Boston Marathon winner Des Linden hanging out on the other side of the tent. I tried to finish scarfing down my meal so I could go take a selfie with her, but I sadly missed her by seconds. Still, being in her presence was one of the most motivating feelings I could have pre-race. “Run like Des,” I told myself.

I made my way to Corral 22 hydrated, fed and stretched. Normally I like to jam to some New Found Glory when I’m nervous, but I didn’t want to waste my headphone battery pre-race as I knew I’d need the power-through songs towards the end.  Instead, I made a few friends – some returning marathoners, some first-time marathoners. We shared our stories as we waited nearly an hour after the first corral started for our turn. At about 6:56 a.m., I was officially en route on marathon number two.

828418_278303175_XLargeI vastly underestimated the number of hills that were on the course and they started right from the beginning. What did blow me away was the amount of course support there was from the City of San Diego. Everything from costumed strangers with motivational signs to a full on stretch of bars set up outside of people’s houses. Around mile 4.5 I enjoyed myself a shot of tequila, a swig of beer and a few jolly ranchers (the whiskey leprechaun was sadly on the other side of the street). Little kids were high-fiving everyone who would accept and neighbors thankfully set up their hoses to help runners stay as cool as possible on a wicked hot day. I kept myself occupied just at the sheer curiosity of what would be around the corner on the next stretch of road.

At about mile 10, the crowd thinned as the marathoners and half marathoners split courses. I had spent the latter half of the race headphone-free so I could enjoy the conversations, cheers and live music, but as the course became more and more desolate, I knew it was time for my “26.2 songs to get me through” playlist to be cranked.

During my training, the half-way mark seemed to be where my downfall would begin, no matter what distance I was aiming for and that was no different for this race. My feet were so sore I could feel and count at least three blisters on each foot. It was hot. SO hot. I felt well-fueled, well-fed, well-hydrated, but the heat and hills still took a toll on me. I did everything I could to just enjoy the surroundings, what I was about to achieve and the thought of what was at the finish line. I had great friends and family cheering me on and coaching me as best they could from a distance, my favorite bands were blasting in my ears and I was in beautiful San Diego. Of the many messages replaying in my head throughout the long course, “only half marathons from now on” was definitely one of them.

As I approached mile 22, a police officer was moving a course barricade. He then proceeded to tell us the race was over and the course was being shut down. “What do you mean?? We have two hours left to finish!!” “There’s an active shooter downtown.”

In this day and age, that is my biggest fear. Every concert, festival, special event I go to, I am met with that fear. I blew up in water works and called my family and my boyfriend to let them know that I was in a safe spot. We were being re-routed to the mall and a shuttle would come pick us up. Despite safety, I was mortified by the thought of not finishing. I did not spend six months training for something to be destroyed by this god-forsaken society we are currently living in. By some stupid schmuck. By today’s new norm. Fellow runners saw how distraught I was and comforted me. Thank you, strangers.

Luckily enough, the situation was quickly controlled and unrelated to the Race with no injuries at play. About ten minutes later, we were back on the course and met with the amazing news that we would be able to finish. However, the break was my downfall. I spent so much energy crying and fearing that it completely killed any stride I had left. I knew the last 4-ish miles would be the biggest challenge, especially with the MASSIVE hill that was miles 23-24. Literally all up-hill, at the end of the race, on the freeway, with no shade. It was brutal. I feel like whoever conquered that that day, should get a medal just for beasting that portion. The brightside was that a good majority of the remaining miles was downhill – but at that point, I was so beat-up, blistered, chafed and burnt that mostly-walking was how I kept going and “just keep moving” is all I could tell myself. 828418_278213763_XLarge

As I turned the corner to see the finish line, a little over a quarter of a mile away, I got that final burst of energy and off I went. Six hours and twenty minutes later (including the potential active shooter lull), I was a two-time marathoner. And thanks to the Remix Challenge, I had three medals to celebrate it with. And some pizza, beer and uber-delivered ice cream sandwiches.

 

When You Know Something Will Suck and It Really Does Suck.

I have officially survived all of my extremely long training runs. An upcoming ten miles sounds like a breeze, but I am terrified of 26.2 of them. Over the weekend, I barely made it to my 20 miler. I cried. I struggled. I hurt. I doubted. I still finished.

On Saturday, I didn’t want to talk about it. On Sunday, I still tried to process it. Today, I am still recovering from it.

I did all the things I needed to do. From stretching, to hip strengthening exercises throughout the week, to good sleep and water, but still, I suffered. But secretly, I had a feeling it would be that way. All week, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to conquer it. And I let that thought in my mind win. My hips felt off balance, my hamstrings were tight, even my upper body felt like it was in suffering. If I didn’t have a friend by my side, I would’ve quit by mile 15. Goddamn the convenience of Uber. No pep talk I gave myself lasted more  than a half mile. No food or beer motivated me enough. But ultimately my heart was too stubborn to be damned not to finish.

Mile 20 was a few steps from my front door. As the door swung open, I fell to my knees. I crawled to my bedroom floor. And I cried. I wallowed. I pitied. I couldn’t even be proud that I finished it because I wasn’t proud of how I finished it. My lower back was on fire. The arches of my feet were numb.

I continued sulking in my sorrow by soaking in my bathtub. I cried when I couldn’t get the faucet to switch from the shower head. All I wanted was to lay in hot water and pity myself. There was a burning question in the back of my mind and as I finally set into the sea of epsom, I asked it – Am I going to be able to do this? What am I going to do on June 3? I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this. Up until now, I was so confident in myself as I knew if I did it once, I could do it again.

Though I didn’t want to talk about it, there were a few friends that forced me into it. Many helped me believe that I should be proud that I did the 20 miles and that they are now in the past. One told me that a bad dress rehearsal means a fantastic opening night. Others didn’t know how much I was hurting inside and out and instead just helped me celebrate.

While I’m not physically ready for the next run, mentally, I need it for my sanity. To prove to myself that I’ve got this. That a bad run is ok. That I’m a bad ass mother fucker who CAN and WILL get to that finish line.

I Run and I Do Things

As the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon draws near, running is one of the only things on my mind. From planning training routes to buying new shoes and thinking of my race outfit, to ensuring my travel plans are all in order and thinking of my pre-race to-dos like a trip to the chiropractor, a pedicure and a trip to Reno Running Company to stock up on Honey Stinger Waffles and Sport Beans. (Side note: most of this equates to spending money which is my number one anxiety tick. Help me, I’m poor.) For the next six-ish weeks, when Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” or an acquaintance wants to make small talk, the world will only hear me speak of running. Running to the store, running over the weekend, running through your mind, running to the toilet to vomit because marathon #2 draws near….

Which is why I sat down to write about the ‘other’ things. The other workouts that have made me stronger, the other goals I have for a better race day, the other things that will fill the next few weeks of my life… I don’t JUST run. I don’t run every day. Hell, some weeks I run twice, including my long distance run. See… even when I have intentions to do or write about other things they always equate back to running. Everything comes full circle during training but there are very, very few things in my life that I’ve worked as hard for and all these things show that. But still… I want you to know the ‘other’ things:

  • Cross-train. I’ve been doing a lot of leg presses because, quite frankly, they make me feel like such a BADASS! Just today I PR’d at 180# for 50 presses. After that, I did 5 rounds of 100 jump ropes and 20 bicep curls with 15#. Other favorites include rows, squats, shoulder presses and battle ropes. I’ve been really consistent about my 5 a.m. wakeup calls for things other than running and all of the different exercises have seriously aided my body – faster pace, less injuries and more stamina. I still shock myself every time I pace at a 10 minute mile (only on shorter distances…) but I know its because I’m really working hard to strengthen my entire body.
  • Sobriety. I’ve spent most of this year sober but birthdays, concerts and vacations have fallen back-to-back over the last two months and that affects my weekend productivity and even into Monday. I have one more fiesta on the books but after that, its a dry zone for me until race day. (Friends, don’t take it personally if you don’t see me the next few weeks).
  • Walk my dog. Cuddle my dog. Talk to my dog. Love my dog to pieces. Enough said.
  • Self care. I’ll be upping my chiropractor visits just to make sure I’m on my game. Epsom baths will become more frequent. A massage might be in my future. I’ve also been trying like hell to get my skin to clear but I’ve always struggled with adult acne and that shit is powerful right now. I’m trying out a few new things in hopes something will get it under control.
  • HEALTHY EATING. I was doing SO well with paleo at the beginning of the year but between carb loads and previously mentioned birthdays and vacations, I feel like I’ve fallen a bit off track. I’d really like to focus on upping my greens, curbing my chocolate cravings and seriously cutting down on weekend gluttony. I haven’t checked the scale in a few weeks (which is seriously liberating) but with a Hawaii trip post-marathon, I’d love to see it lower than it has been in years (and last I checked, I was almost there).

I truly did have other intentions for this post but sometimes the words just come out differently (and like the nerve vomit, word vomit is another nervous tick of mine).

SIX WEEKS…. AHHHHH.

 

Halfway there, halfway chafed

I’m in a temporary rut – one of exhaustion, hormones and with a lack of motivation. This week I have been nothing short of tired, no matter how much sleep I get. But I keep envisioning that June 3rd goal, how important it is to me and how amazing it will feel when it’s complete. I do have successes to reflect on, so I’m turning to this post to do so.

On April 8, I ran my first half marathon in two years! I traveled to the Bay for the Rock n Roll San Francisco Half Marathon, complete with great friends and my ultimate running partner. The day we drove in, the rain was a torrential downpour. Fingers and laces were crossed that it would clear up by Sunday, but until then, we had a two mile walk in Hurricane Half Marathon to get to the Race Expo. I love that we’re able to bring our guests to enjoy some of the Expo perks and I loved even more that Blue Buffalo was one of the vendors. I legitimately walked out of the Expo with more goodies for my dog than myself, which was great because I knew he was going to be pissed at me when I got home (see: Mamma’s Boy). Walking through the merchandise area gave me chills and it was the first time I had gotten nervous about the race. I decided on some retail therapy and got a beautiful teal commemorative tanktop that eventually went great with my race medal. 29873128_589164891464079_981320735037531872_o

We stayed at Club Quarters in the Financial District and it was a runner’s dream! Not only was there FREE WINE every day from 5p – 6p, but each floor had filtered water stations and each room had a yoga mat and resistance bands, plus access to fitness classes and a gym complete with Peloton bikes. Plus, the staff was super nice, there was electronic check-in, free laundry and an attached restaurant/bar. If I was in SF for business or just to be away, I could definitely see myself staying there for a few days without ever leaving (seriously, even my UberEats driver walked into the lobby instead of meeting me curbside).

On Saturday, we went to the birthplace of Irish Coffees at Buena Vista and aside from the finish line, this was the best part of our trip. To eat, you basically had to hover around other people until they got up from their spot and you could sit where they were. Luckily we made friends with an older brother and sister who allowed us to join them and another pair of strangers for breakfast. You would’ve never of guess that we had never met. It was like one big happy family at a breakfast table for the next two hours – sipping on Irish Coffees, compliments of the other couple, laughing, chatting, throwing things at each other (no really, I accidentally threw food on an old man’s crotch) and of course, enjoying some amazing, AMAZING food. I had a crab cake benedict that was perfectly crisped.

From there, we walked some of the course, said hi to the seals and eventually made our way back to the Expo for some last minute supplies and a less wet experience. Oh, and yes, the weather cleared and it was absolutely perfect. For dinner, we stumbled upon a restaurant down the street from our hotel called Mangia Tutti. Since working for an Italian family, I’ve become somewhat picky about my pastas and other delicacies. But everything from the wine selections to the bread dippings to the homemade pasta and authentic Italian waitress, was incredible. It was so nice to sit around a table and enjoy good laughs, good food and good company, all to ease the nerves of the Race morning. But alas, the sun was setting and it was time for me to get in my race preparations.

Fast forward to 4 a.m. when my alarm went off – I did all of the usual stuff – toast with PB and banana, Nuun, stretching, more Nuun, trying to poop, failing to poop, freaking out about not pooping and leaving before I pooped. I grabbed an Uber to Pier 39 as I was lucky enough to get VIP from the Rock n Roll race. I was also lucky enough to get to post to the RNR Instagram Stories all weekend which was SUPER fun and I squealed when I saw that some of my posts had almost 10,000 views (PR geek moment). As I was waiting for my friends to join up with me, a fellow Rock N Blogger recognized me and immediately invited me into the runner family. It was really awesome to meet face-to-face with some of the fellow runners I see on Instagram on a daily basis and that truly was one of the highlights of my trip.

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Ok, go time. (Literally, I finally pooped just before the Race started).

I ended up finishing the Race strong but slow coming in at 2 hours and 50 minutes. A lot of that was due to stopping for the bathroom or mostly to take photos of the most beautiful course I have ever run. You guys, I RAN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. And the weather was perfect, sunny and most importantly, especially in SF, clear. The views were some of the most incredible I have ever seen in my running days and my heart was just beaming as bright as the sun. My running pal and I stuck together for the majority of the race, talking and motivating, all to pass the time. By mile 11, I was ready to be done so I sped up a bit. I had been suffering from sore feet all week and a cramped calf from walking the hills which had me super worried about my performance all weekend. At the mile 12 marker, my foot started to go numb and I literally yelled out “Please, no, not now.” And it worked. The Running Gods heard me. The .1 of 13.1 was a steep downhill to the finish line which had runners crossing at top, powerful speed. Crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings I’ve had in recent times as I’ve ached so badly for that feeling. I so missed that feeling. I so wanted that to be the outcome of this journey.

And now… on to 26.2.

What’s Next?

After two weekends of 10Ks, I told myself I’d keep going. Long runs on the weekends, strength training through the week. While I’m still grumbling at my 5 a.m. gym alarm, I’m still facing issues with my hip which have left me unable to run, and some days, unable to even bend over. I know it will get better in a short time (like tomorrow after a panic call to my chiropractor) but I fear I’m going back down the damn rabbit hole for the tenth time over.

I’m also sitting here with that recurring stomach pain I’ve often written about. Since cutting my beloved tomatoes and apples out of my diet, the pain has been fewer and farther in between, but still here. Still a literal thorn in my side. It didn’t stop me from the gym this morning, but will it let me reach my 10,000 step goal? My ass in my work chair for the last three hours says no, but my OCD says “FIGHT THE PAIN!”

So, maybe I just need to commit to something. You know… make a plan. Normal people do that kind of thing, I suppose. Pick a half marathon (or maybe a full??) and get to the pavement. I have been pondering another full more and more. I am not sure a half would be as satisfying to me anymore (though the 10 miler did the trick just fine). Some days, I feel weird calling myself a “marathoner” or “marathon runner” when I’ve only done one.  I’m in the runner’s abyss, lost in translation.

What’s the best Race you’ve ever participated in?