Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Mario

Mario's latest Culinary Make-up courtesy of dried roses.

I've notified Wings' owner that I'll be ending my lease soon and it makes me very sad. It was an awesome lease situation with a very nice horse/owner/stable. It has been a decade since I last rode regularly and I'm fairly certain it'll be at least that long if not longer before I ever ride regularly again. A part of me realizes this could quite possibly be the end of my riding story, too. As someone whose childhood revolved around horses I find this sort of surreal. The last time I stopped riding it was always with the promise I'd get back to it as soon as I could. There is no such agreement with myself this time around.

I haven't yet tried running. I am hoping to get out for a 1-2 mile test run this evening. I am getting a little better every day. If I had to guess it would probably be another week before I am 100% better. I am getting a little concerned I may have some residual back issues for much longer, but guess I'll cross that bridge when it comes.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Peace of Mind

"No fracture or other acute focal bony abnormality is identified within the visualized portion of the thoracic spine. Visualized portions of the thorax and upper abdomen appear unremarkable."

So at the urging of all of you (and especially a childhood friend of mine who is a physician -- the words, "YOU MAY NEVER RUN AGAIN!" surely inspired me to get checked out) I went in to see a doctor today. All clear.

The first thing I asked was, "So can I run again before the pain goes away?" The doctor asked how far I was going to run. I was almost afraid to answer this question. "Well, I was supposed to run 20 miles today..." He said running can exacerbate back pain and while I didn't have to wait to be 100% pain free, I could definitely run when it, "improved a bit." You know I take this to mean I can run on Sunday.

As far as the horse thing goes, I am heavily leaning towards giving up riding. I mean, I got my spine x-rayed. The radiology tech got two shots and after reviewing the second one on the computer, he told me to take a seat on the x-ray table while he went to talk to the radiologist. I didn't like the sound of that. He came back and said that the radiologist wanted a closer shot of an area. I really didn't like the sound of that. And in the 40 minutes between that moment and the "All Clear" moment I knew what was important to me.

I don't want to just stop cold turkey and let that be my last ride. I also don't want to leave Wings' owner hanging so suddenly. So I'll probably continue on through March, though that isn't for certain yet, either.

Much thanks to everyone for your concern and advice. I needed to hear some voices of reason.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Wings

I searched through the "Wings Archives" to find a suitable photo for this post. I settled on this one since this is how I end up looking at the end of the story.

So if you follow me on Twitter, you already know about this, but I took a nasty fall off Wings on Tuesday. It's a long story, but the short version is this: A wayward jacket scared her and as I was trying to convince her it wasn't going to eat her, she bolted. In that split second my brain registered what was happening and I went to do a one rein stop. The nano second after I processed that, she started bucking. I think on the third one I went off. I went flying over her head and I knew that I was going to land on my head.

I hit the ground (thankfully it was in that sand arena in the photo) in some form of head first and the momentum of my body flipped my legs up and over so I came to rest on my back.

You can't tell in the photo, but the visor is actually bent inward. Hit the front of my face/head...

And rolled up on over my head as a pivot point to come to rest on my back.

In all the times I've fallen off of a horse I never in the past lay there wondering if I would be able to stand up. I moved my legs and my arms and decided nothing hurt. It was hard to catch my breath for a second but I got up with no big problem. Wings was standing there looking fairly apologetic. It all ends well as I got back on and got her to put her nose down on the jacket (you'd think she could have just done that in the first place).

From the moment I stood up the middle of my back was pretty sore. It also hurt a bit when I took a nice deep breath. Today my back is stiff and it hurts a lot to try to stand up straight with an arch in my back. I have a bruise on my upper right forehead and also strangely enough between my eyes. I am too sore to run and I am pretty shaken up.

I have had scarier falls in the sense that I've been maliciously run off with or been bucked off with no warning. I know she was scared -- she wasn't being mean or a brat. So it isn't so much the fact that she dumped me. I think it is the way I landed that has really caught me off guard. I recall being bucked off in the past and having a bruise on my forehead through my helmet so it isn't like I haven't hit my head before. But that previous time I landed more on my side and bounced my head on the ground.

I landed on my head this time and it doesn't take much of an imagination to think of how badly this whole thing could have played out. A woman who saw me go off pretty much said she thought I had broken my neck. What if the angle had been slightly different? What if we hadn't been in a sand arena? I am a decade older than the last time I rode regularly and I have a keener sense of my own vulnerability.

I have to admit this has made me question whether or not I should be riding at all. I have priorities in life (living and walking being one of them) and this fall has definitely messed up a major one -- running. Last week was a bit of a wash since I had a head cold. I had an amazing tempo run Tuesday before I went riding. Just as I was starting to feel back on track I am sidelined from running again. I skipped my run this morning and am seriously doubting whether my back will be well enough to run 20 on Friday.

If you ride you understand you're taking a risk. There are no guarantees and most likely you're going to fall off every now and then. I knew this going in, but suddenly all of that is in harsh focus for me. If I keeled over dead in the middle of a road race I wouldn't regret running. But if something were to happen to me while riding I don't think that is worth it for me.

I enjoy horses a lot but if I had to choose, I'd choose running any day of the week.


p.s. ALWAYS wear a helmet when riding a horse. If you are at a touristy trail ride, ask for one and decline to ride if they don't provide them. Even supposedly bomb-proof horses can have a bad moment. I was listening to a horse podcast once and the guy said there is no such thing as a bomb-proof horse. "I'd bet you anything that if a bomb actually went off next to a 'bomb-proof' horse, he'd react!" I know of someone whose horse actually tripped and fell down on top of her. You never know what is going to happen and it has nothing to do with how much you trust an animal or how good of a rider you think you are. I never understand it when I see people riding without a helmet.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Mario

Too cute for school.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Year Of The Marathon Class Photo

Okay, I got all the medals from the "Year of the Marathon" up on the curtain rod. I immediately took down the Texas medal for fear it would connect with my foot in the middle of the night. Originally the plan was to keep medals from the current year up on the rod. But I haven't yet had the heart to take them all down. Boyfriend and I joke and call it our Earthquake Alert Device.

I'm glad everyone likes the rod. It is very economical and adjustable (though we reached the limit of the rod for 2010). I got the idea from people who hung their medals from curtain rods. I don't have any curtain rods over windows, but figured that wouldn't stop me from buying one and putting one up.

BunnyGirl asked if I have a favorite swag item. I think my favorite medal of the year is the Austin Marathon medal.

Mica wanted to know what The Year of the Marathon cost. To be honest, I don't know and I don't want to know. If you are talking about the races themselves, they probably averaged about $100 each give or take $20. If you're talking travel costs associated with the races I'm guesstimating $2,500 (this does NOT factor in 2 one week Disney World vacations -- let's not go there). I tried to travel as cheaply as possible and spent a few nights in motel rooms some of you would surely have declined. And while I minimized missing work for this endeavor, if you factor in lost wages, we're up in the bury-my-head-in-the-sand price point.

Mica's Harrison wanted to know why I don't plan to apply to Marathon Maniacs. I hear they are a very supportive bunch of people. I happen to personally know my fair share of Maniacs. And lately I've "met" more of them while listening to the podcast, "The Marathon Show." They sound like a fun bunch. I choose not to join for a few reasons:

1. I don't think my multiple marathoning has ever been defined or validated by their group. I have no desire to be a star-chaser and to think of ways to increase my star ranking. It would seem to me that after a certain point, going up the ranks in Marathon Maniacs is a monetary achievement and I'm not interested in that.
2. I've been told that wearing the shirt is a great way to meet people and to garner support while out on the course.
2a. I don't like their shirts. I highly doubt I'd regularly wear their shirts while racing. My one personal shopping weakness is running apparel and I love planning outfits for races. The idea of wearing the same shirt to every race makes me rather glum.
2b. While I do enjoy running with other people, if I had to choose, I'd be a solitary runner. In marathons especially I actually dislike the idea of people excessively chatting to me on course. In other words, if wearing that shirt is an invitation for people to talk to me, I'd rather RSVP "no thanks."
2c. I have no doubt in my mind that a lack of a Marathon Maniacs shirt would never stop a Maniac from being friendly or supportive towards me if I chatted them up. So they're friendly if I'm wearing the shirt, they're friendly if I'm not wearing the shirt (see 2a.)
3. There is not only a fee to join, there is an annual fee every year thereafter. It isn't much, but I'd rather put it towards something else.

Hope that answers some of your questions!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Mario

I love this rabbit.

This photo is fairly old, but it had been stuck on my non-internet connected phone. I was sitting at my computer when Mario hopped over and flopped down right onto my foot. The only device with a camera nearby was my phone and I snapped this shot. I turned my phone's internet back on when I was away in Orlando and remembered to email this photo to myself before it was turned back off (yes I realize there is some sort of cord I could have hooked up to my computer or I could also have transferred it via SD card).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Year of the Marathon in Review

All of my 2010 medals hanging on the curtain rod
(Just realized that missing from the line-up are: Texas and WDW 2011 medals
I will try to get a complete photo but not sure they will all fit!)

So it feels like just yesterday I was perusing with a pencil in-hand and a calendar of the year jotting down potential races. After which, I sat down and wrote this post. Remember that? Can you believe the whole year has come and gone?!

The journey has seen 16 marathons in 12 months, 2x(3 marathons in a 4 week period), 4x(2 marathons one week apart), 1x(back to back marathons), and 2x(marathon PR's). Wowza.

I have learned a lot about my body this year. I am quite familiar with what the later miles of the marathon feels like both mentally and physically. I've come to understand how multiple marathons close together affect my pace. I'm in much better tune with my body and have a fairly good idea about how I'm feeling translates into a time and what effort level I need to give to produce a certain result. I have also realized that your body can do fairly extraordinary things.

My fastest marathon time was 4:01 and the slowest of the bunch was 5:26. I just did the math and I averaged 4:22 over the course of the last 16 marathons (which, I might point out, is 262 minutes). I find this utterly amazing since less than a month before The Year of the Marathon started, 4:22 was actually faster than my PR at the time. For you math people, the median was 4:39:30 which feels fairly representative of the results I was seeing overall.

One of the main things I wanted to find out over the course of the year was whether or not multiple marathoning would make me stronger. Obviously it helped my running as I dropped my PR 13 minutes over the course of the year. But I also went through some periods where my legs were very fatigued. BUT, I had my best performance after the worse period of fatigue so you could argue that I came out stronger. Overall, I'm leaning towards the idea that it made me a stronger runner both mentally and physically.

I highly doubt I will ever run more than 16 marathons in a 12 month period again. I'm glad I did it once to see what it was like and to know I can do it, but I think I've gotten it out of my system. I will not, however, shy away from back to back weeks or double type deals down the road. I still do not plan to join Marathon Maniacs or actively pursue or join the 50 States Club.

Next up, what is in store for 2011? I still haven't figured it all out, but will gather some thoughts on it soon.

Check out Runner's Rambles for a chance to win an entry to one of the San Francisco Marathon events!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Mario

Are you there God? It's me, Mario.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I wanted to share a great deal I've stumbled upon. The Jo-Ann craft stores sell gloves which are perfect to use as throwaway gloves for $1.00 a pair. And if you use this coupon, you can snag them for $0.80 a pair! I used these at Disney this year. And actually, it was so cold in Orlando the last two years I've gone for the races, I even wore a pair of these around the parks as well. I always feel sad dumping throwaway anythings & cheap gloves make it easier.

I have tried to get into a stretching/foam rolling routine every evening which seems to be helping my knee out. I didn't stretch at all for the two weeks after Disney which set me back a little. But I've been fairly good about it the last week and my knee seems to be doing better. Not 100% yet, but it is holding up well!

I am trying to pencil out my 2011 schedule and will probably share some thoughts on that really soon. I will be doing a great deal less marathoning in 2011, but I am having doubts about committing to a 6 month marathon drought before the next PR attempt. It is a little late, but I'll be posting a 2010 wrap-up next week.