New Goals, Old Fears

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you already know that I run most of my marathons pretty slowly. I take pictures. I jump across the finish line. I drink ALL THE BEER. There are two reasons for that:

  1. It’s fun. Like really, really fun.
  2. I can’t fail at it.

The first one is a valid reason. The second one is not. In case you haven’t noticed, I rarely set running-related goals that have anything to do with time.  Sometimes I do, but it’s not very often, and it’s never anything overly ambitious. I never set out to PR because I’m afraid I’ll be too upset if I don’t. If I happen to randomly PR, that’s awesome, but that’s never been my goal. And honestly? That’s a pretty weird way for a runner to live. Most runners that I know have at least some goals, and they train hard to work towards achieving them.

I do not.

I am afraid.

I’m afraid of how it feels to have my heart pounding out of my chest (to be fair, I do have a heart condition, so that’s kind of legit).

I’m afraid of how it feels to not be able to catch my breath.

I’m afraid of training for months for something and failing to achieve it.

I’m afraid to find out I’m not the runner I want to be.

I'm not crying. I'm SO NOT, you guys.

I’m not crying. I’m SO NOT, you guys.

See, in my mind, if I never train really hard, then I’ll never know what my true potential is, right? And that means that I’ll never know for sure whether I could do something like run a sub-4 marathon or qualify for Boston. Now, I can delude myself into thinking that those things are possible, if only I trained hard enough. Some people would look at this situation and ask me how I could stand not knowing. Well, not knowing means there’s hope. Knowing means there might not be.

I’m afraid of failure, but it’s not something I’m confronted with very often. I don’t think it’s that I’m excessively great at anything, so much as I very carefully avoid things that I am not good at.

It's important to know your boundaries.

It’s important to know your boundaries.

Running is definitely not something I am naturally talented at, and I have a love/hate relationship with it as a result. It’s always there, whispering to me. Needling me. Telling me to try harder and see how fast I can go. Telling me I’ll fail when I do. But you know what? It’s not running that says those things. It’s me. It’s Ed. Running is a great equalizer. It’s one of few things in life where  you mostly get out of it exactly what you put in. Yes, some people are naturally gifted and some are not, but when you train hard, it shows.

Shortly before I had my surgery and in the weeks since then, I have noticed that my pace per mile is getting just a little bit faster. I’ve been running a lot with people who are faster than me, and although I spend most of those runs unable to breathe, it has made a difference, and it got me thinking – could I be fast? Not actually fast, like people who win races, but respectably fast? Sub-4 fast? Boston fast? (Unrelated: as I read this paragraph back to myself, the word “fast” is starting to look really funny. Carry on.)

So, I’m going to be working with a coach, who I’ll be introducing here soon. In the mean time, I’m going to state my goals for public consumption. If I don’t achieve them, you all will know, but you know what? I’m pretty sure you’ll get over it and so will I, after I drink enough beer and shake my hair out.

And when all else fails, go back to what you know.

And when all else fails, go back to what you know.

T-Rex Runner’s Running Goalz

  1. Improve fun/marathon party pace so that I regularly finish under 5 hours, even while taking lots of pictures and having a good time. Yes, I know that’s not that challenging, but stick with me.
  2. Run a half marathon in under 2 hours. My current PR is 2:02, and although that seems like eons ago, I think I can break 2 hours this year. No, I will break 2 hours this year, even if it means I have to actually run a half marathon.
  3. Run a marathon in under 4 hours.  I’m going to be honest – right now, this seems like a joke. It is literally laughable. That being said, my coach believes I can do it, and despite my nearly frantic need to change this goal from “under 4 hours” to “under 4:15” and then to “general PR,” I wrote “under 4 hours” in this post, so here we are. I’m going to try and run a marathon in under 4 hours.

So there you have it. I’m going to work hard to achieve the goals I have set for myself. At some point, I will probably breathe harder than I prefer. I may sweat more than I am comfortable with. I will definitely curse at my friend Chuck on our runs more than usual (sorry I’m not sorry, in advance). There will be probably be more than one post about how much I hate training, but hopefully there will be some triumphant posts too. Either way, at some point I will definitely do something embarrassing for your ongoing entertainment.

Speaking of people who are training really hard and whining about it way less than me, check out Bluegrass Achilles’ amazing raffle! They’ve got some really cool prizes, including medal hangars, and you don’t have to be present to win! All proceeds go directly to supporting disabled athletes.

Leave a comment: What are your current running goals? Do  you hesitate to set goals for yourself for fear of failure?

Back By Popular Demand – Team T-Rex shirts!

So, a weird thing happened when I declared that the last set of orders for Team T-Rex shirts would be the last one for the foreseeable future and possibly forever. All of a sudden, people have come out of the woodwork wanting them! And I can’t say I blame you. These shirts are awesome.

Me in the shirt, looking fly.

Me in the shirt, looking fly.

Therefore, I am doing another round of orders for Team T-Rex shirts! The shirt order cut off is Tuesday, April 2 at 11:59 pm.

To order: Send an email to thetrexrunner@gmail.com with the cut (unisex or women’s), size, and color (lime green, grey, or white) you would like to order.

Here are links to the women’s size chart and the unisex size chart. Shirts run pretty true to size and I am wearing a women’s small. The shirts do not ride up and are a normal length, unlike some women’s cut shirts.

The shirts cost $25, which includes shipping. They are a technical/dri-fit fabric and are meant to be worn while running (duh). After I receive an email from you with your information, I will send you a PayPal invoice that you can pay using PayPal or a credit card.

Warning: These shirts have brought epic PRs to many of the people that have bought them. In fact, they seem to bring PRs to pretty much everyone other than me. If you’re not prepared to start running really fast and making new friends with all of the people obsessed with your shirt, this may not be the shirt for you.

So, to review:

  • The cut off for orders is Tuesday, April 2 at 11:59 pm. Shirts generally arrive about a week after that and I ship them out when I receive them.
  • Shirts are available in lime green, grey, and white.
  • Women’s and men’s sizes are available.
  • Shirts fit true to size.
  • $25 each, including shipping.
  • Email thetrexrunner@gmail.com with the color, size, and cut you want to place your order!

Speaking of awesome shirts, make sure you enter my Albion Fit giveaway!

Sandy and JC wearing their Team T-Rex shirts all the way out in Hawaii!

Sandy and JC wearing their Team T-Rex shirts all the way out in Hawaii!

Steve rocking the Team T-Rex shirt at the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach

Steve rocking the Team T-Rex shirt at the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach

Team T-Rex visits Italy!

Team T-Rex visits Italy!

A Scary Run in a Cute Shirt – Albion Fit Giveaway!

It’s pretty rare that I run in long sleeves. I’m the type of person who will run in a singlet and running tights because my legs rarely get hot, but I have this paralyzing fear of my upper body overheating. It’s got to be REALLY cold with absolutely no sun for me to run in long sleeves, basically. So when Albion Fit offered to let me review their Go Long Crew, I was excited but also a little nervous. What if my anti-long sleeves agenda biased my review of the product? That would be unfair to both my readers and the company, so that’s not really cool. I figured I would give it a shot, though, since the shirt is super cute. I did not anticipate that this review would lead to one of the world’s most ridiculous runs.

Go Long Crew in plum

Go Long Crew in plum. Those thighs are obviously not mine.

Albion Fit is a women’s fitness and swimwear company that has some adorable workout clothing. Their gear is great for both working out and lounging around, and it’s the type of stuff you could wear out in public and still look cute – rare in the workout world, right? I elected to review the Go Long Crew in the plum color for a couple reasons – first, purple is basically universally flattering, and second, purple is one of the colors that comes with thumb holes, which is extremely important in life. I can’t think of a time in my 27-year existence when I wore a long sleeve shirt and thought to myself, “You know what? I’m really glad this shirt doesn’t have thumb holes.” You know why? BECAUSE THAT’S ABSURD. Thumb holes make everything better.

Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, we had a spurt of warm weather and I started panicking that it would never again be cold enough for me to comfortably wear long sleeves while running. Fortunately, God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster both heard my prayers and the weather got cold again while I was in Charleston for work last week. I had 8 miles around the Charleston peninsula on the schedule for 5:30 on Friday morning with my friend Crystal and my new friend Debbie. Crystal had warned me that some parts of the run go through some “sketchy areas” and that we would have to stick together, but I wasn’t too concerned.  As it turns out, I should have been.

First, here were my early observations about the shirt before the run began:

  1. It’s super soft and silky. The material is incredibly comfortable and I immediately wanted to wear it all the time. The material is also very thin, but not see through.
  2. The shirt is long. Like there is no chance of your stomach ever becoming uncovered no matter what you’re doing kind of long. AKA my kind of shirt. My stomach has not seen the light of day during a workout in the history of ever, and I’m going to keep it that way.
  3. The neckline has more of a boatneck shape to it than an actual crew neckline, as the name would imply. This is not at all important, just an observation.

We met in downtown Charleston at Colonial Lake at 5:30 am sharp and set off to get our miles in. Amanda and I had run 15 miles on Wednesday and biked on Thursday, so I was looking forward to a good shakeout run at a slowish pace. What I did not anticipate? Sprinting to get away from all of the following during the course of just 8 miles:

  1. Homeless people
  2. People who were awake and standing outside a bar not because they had just woken up, but because they still had not gone to sleep
  3. Gangs
  4. A street sweeper trying to cover us in road filth
  5. A garbage truck trying to cover us in trash stink
Dear all of Charleston: LEAVE US ALONE

Dear all of Charleston: LEAVE US ALONE

Apparently when Crystal said we ran through “sketchy areas,” what she actually meant was “death traps,” because seriously, I have never run through anywhere like that. It was a good mental exercise, though, because we had to be constantly vigilant and make sure that we were all just within a few feet from each other for fear of kidnapping/death. During our run, Crystal and Debbie reminisced (and laughed!!!) about the time that a dead body was found next to the spot where their group meets for their long runs (and where we had met that morning).

BAH

BAH.

On the plus side, Crystal and Debbie knew where all the water stops and bathrooms were along the route. We even got to go inside the Citadel in the wee early hours of the morning, which seemed like a really deviant thing to do despite the fact that the doors to the building were open and it’s not like we snuck in or anything. Whatever.

The weather was hovering right around 40, and while I was running, I tried to think deep thoughts about the shirt I was wearing. Crystal and Debbie both complimented me on how cute it was multiple times, and while I was running, I realized that in addition to being cute, it was also really comfortable and perfect temperature-wise, even as the miles went on. In fact, I would almost say that I was a little chilly, which basically never happens to me. As someone who is super dramatic about overheating all the time, I would say this means that for your average runner, you could wear this shirt in warmer temperatures and be comfortable. You probably wouldn’t want to wear it when it’s 80 out, but you could wear it throughout the spring and fall and be comfortable, which is a really big deal, especially here in the southern states!

As the run progressed, I kept thinking about how comfortable I was, and most importantly, I was not overheated! I was elated and all I could think about was the fact that I wasn’t hot. Amazing! As finished the run along Charleston’s famed Battery at sunrise (non-sketchy part of the run), I was in a great mood. Good mileage, beautiful morning, cute shirt, and great friends? What could be better?

Don't judge my lack of make up. It was early in the morning, dammit.

Don’t judge my lack of make up. It was early in the morning, dammit.

So by now, you’re totally jealous of my shirt, right? Well, lucky for you, Albion Fit is providing a Go Long Crew to one lucky reader! They have also graciously provided a discount code exclusively for my readers. Use trexrunner15 at www.albionfit.com to receive $15 off a $50 order, good through March 29th!! Don’t worry, guys, you can win too – just give this shirt to a woman you want to really really love you forever. I could say something more suggestive, but I won’t. But I’m thinking it.

Enter below! The giveaway will close on THURSDAY, MARCH 28th at 11:59 pm EDT. You can use either Facebook or your email address to enter, but you must use one so I can identify who you are and know how to contact you! Make sure you check out all the different ways that you can enter! The more entries you choose to complete, the better your chances to win!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!!!

As required by the FTC: I received this product for a review. I received no monetary compensation.  All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

If you would like to sponsor a giveaway on my blog (or you know someone that does) please contact me by sending me an email to thetrexrunner@gmail.com.  I will always disclose whether or not the giveaway is sponsored by someone else or if it is one of my very own.

Questionable Choices and Help Wanted

I wouldn’t say I’m the type of person who caves to peer pressure in most areas of life (interesting fact: I’ve never smoked pot or done any other illegal drug. Seriously, it’s true. Stop laughing.), but my strength of character does not extend to race registrations. You can peer pressure the shit out of me and I will sign up for the race pretty much every time, with only a few exceptions – namely, Rock ‘N Roll races and trail races…I don’t like running that much. In fact, it might even be an exaggeration to say that I require peer pressure to make these questionable choices, because I really don’t. Usually, someone just innocently mentioning a race that sounds interesting is enough to convince me to sign up for it. Case in point? The Go! St. Louis marathon on April 7th.

I was scrolling through the 50 States Marathon Club facebook group and I saw a post about a woman who was considering doing the Southern Indiana Classic Marathon on April 6th and also doing the Go! St. Louis Marathon on April 7th, since the races are only about 2.5 hours apart. I didn’t know that this was even an option since the St. Louis race is normally held later in April, so I hadn’t even checked. I was planning on going to Missouri in November to run a different marathon, but flights are expensive, so this idea became super tempting. Two marathons in two new states in one weekend? I liked the sound of it immediately and basically had made my decision as soon as I found out about it, but I called T-Rex Mom to kind of float the idea as if I wasn’t sure about it.

I feel like I could use this GIF in every single blog I write

I feel like I could use this GIF in every single post I write

The problem? Oh yeah, that stupid surgery thing. As in, I got surgery and Southern Indiana was supposed to be my first marathon back. I’m cleared to run and all, but my doctor never said anything about doubles. In fact, I think his exact phrase was “start with 3 miles and build up slowly,” which sounds an awful lot like “run two marathons in one weekend six weeks after surgery,” if you ask me. And even though it sounds like/is possibly the worst idea I’ve had in recent memory, I’m feeling relatively good about it. I’ve been building my running back up and did 13 miles this past weekend at a decent (for me) pace. Tonight, Amanda and I ran 15 miles, and I’m going to try to throw in another longish-run on Saturday – hey, I do them when I have the time in preparation for days when I don’t. I don’t feel like I’ve lost a ton of fitness, and Amanda hasn’t been running much so she’s promised to gut (see what I did there?) these races out with me. Ultimately, I just can’t pass up the opportunity to knock off two states for pretty much the price of one, especially since I’ve heard really good things about Go! St. Louis. Bonus? My friend Angie over at the Marathon Training Academy has graciously agreed to let Amanda and I become hotel squatters and share her suite in the host hotel, just two blocks from the start of the race! Come on, I can’t pass that up!

So anyway, I have no backbone and my first marathons back will be a double weekend. YOLO, as the kids say.

Meh

Meh

In other news, I made another questionable decision (are we sensing a theme?) recently and applied to be a keynote speaker at the 2013 FitBloggin’ conference this summer out in Portland, Oregon. I heard about this conference last year and when I read about the experiences of some of the bloggers that I read regularly, I really wanted to participate. The only problem is that the cost of registration is pretty steep ($300) plus hotel and airfare out there, and that’s seriously cutting into my marathon budget. Then I learned that this year’s conference is in Portland just one week after my race in Alaska, which you might remember is on the same side of the country (aka very far away from me but comparatively close to each other). The wheels started turning. Maybe I could just extend my trip to the west coast for a few more days and stay for the conference. Maybe I would only have to buy one plane ticket. Maybe I could bully  encourage my large Portland following, particularly the Honey Badgers, to hang out with me and show me the sights while I’m there. Hmmm.

Honey Badgers, I'm heeeeeerrrreeeee

Honey Badgers, I’m heeeeeerrrreeeee

Well, as it turns out, the keynote speakers get free registration for the conference, which would be a huge help. It would also be a great opportunity for me to talk about my blog and get some more traffic to my eating disorder series, which I think many in the fitness and healthy living communities could benefit from. Plus, I’d get to meet other bloggers and get some great tips to make my blog even better – I know it seems impossible – for all of you. And I’m basically 100% sure that me speaking in front of a large group of people will result in me somehow embarrassing myself, which just gives me more material with which to amuse you, so really, we all win.

This is where you come in. In order to be selected as a keynote speaker for the conference, I need you to vote for me! I rarely ask you for anything other than your undying admiration, so please do this one  thing for me. Go to THIS LINK and scroll down until you see “The Little Dinosaur That Could – My Journey to Run a Marathon in All 50 States and DC Before Age 30,” then click and give me 5 stars! I’m really nervous about this, but incredibly excited. Also, please feel free to vote for other topics that you think are interesting. They will pick multiple speakers in an attempt to have the best line up possible! I love how diverse the topics are and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) hearing many of them! I really appreciate y’all’s participation in this! It means a lot to me, so thank you to everyone who has voted so far!

One out of four ain't bad!

One out of four ain’t bad!

LEAVE A COMMENT: What questionable decisions have you made lately? I can’t be the only one, right? RIGHT?

The Shame of the Non-Minimalist Runner

I have a confession to make. It’s a big one, and it might not be very popular.

I can’t run in minimalist shoes. In fact, I hate them.

Vibram fivefingers? No. New Balance Minimus? No. 4mm heel-toe differential? Screw that.

The running community these days is all aflutter with the idea of minimalist shoes – that is, shoes that have limited cushioning and mimic the “natural movements” of our bare feet. In theory, the logic behind it makes reasonable sense – our ancestors ran barefoot for great distances, so why shouldn’t we? Do we really need all of that extra cushioning and stability? Should we be correcting overpronation? After all, those are the natural movements of our feet right? REI has a great explanation of the basics behind the idea, which I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable enough about to bore you with here. Essentially, the idea is that running shoes as we know them today are causing us to land unnaturally and ultimately causing more injury and pain than we would have if we were running barefoot while chasing mastodons, like our ancestors did.

Ok, now THIS is a man who takes his race costume seriously.

Ok, now THIS is a man who takes his race costume seriously.

The idea sounds really great in theory. Natural! Minimalist! Getting back to our true state of being! Other things hippies would say! So, the problem? Well, it might not be for everybody. It’s definitely not for me. It’s not for lack of trying, and it’s not even because I think most of the shoes are ugly! They just really make my legs hurt, and I’m sick of being made to feel bad about that. I’m not talking about the people I know who run in these shoes – in fact, I have quite a few friends who wear these hideous creations (sorry Halbert, I love you, but it’s true) and even one who runs completely barefoot – I’m talking about the companies, media outlets, and organizations who are trying to shame runners into running the “right” way, all the while forgetting that we aren’t all the same.

The guy on the right is my friend Halbert. I like him despite his elitist footwear.

The guy on the right is my friend Halbert. I like him despite his elitist footwear.

Last spring and summer when I was having so many problems with my back, one of my doctors suggested that I try running in minimalist shoes to see if that would fix the problem. When acclimating to these types of shoes, you’re supposed to build up your mileage base VERY slowly, since your feet and legs need time to adjust to the new ways you’ll be using your muscles. I decided it was worth a try and ordered some shiny new Saucony Kinvaras, which are billed a minimalist shoe with just 4mm difference between the height of your heel and the height of your toe (studies suggested that large heel-toe differentials cause runners to land on their heel first, known as heel-striking, which can lead to impact injuries) but are supposed to have plenty of cushioning for long runs. I began running in them for very short distances (we’re talking a mile, then two miles, etc) with a goal of transitioning to run a marathon in them over the course of a year. Reasonable, right?

Well, as time went on, my back wasn’t feeling any better and my legs were feeling progressively worse. Every time I ran, I got horrible shin splints or would experience extreme pressure in my calves that made me feel like they were going to explode. The strange part? It never happened during marathons, which eventually were the only times I was wearing my old extra-cushioned, big heel-differentialed Mizunos. I finally put the pieces together and realized that I wasn’t having the leg pain in my “bad” running shoes but WAS having it in my natural, “good” running shoes. What the hell?!

My luck is the worst.

My luck is the worst. My hair is the best.

I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t I run in the cool hippie shoes? How much longer did I have to run before my aggressive heel-striking (thanks to the huge heel-toe differential) caught up with me and I exploded into a million tiny pieces (which seemed to be the only possible option if I did not start wearing minimalist shoes right now)? The thing is, it seems sometimes like the minimalist running community implies that if you heel-strike when you run, you’re basically going to die. You are inches from death. It is the worst thing that can happen to your body/life, and it is the ONLY thing that can happen if you are wearing the evil, bulky, non-minimalist shoes.

My friend Otter is in agreement on this and helped me dig up evidence of minimalist condescension. Take, for example, this excerpt from Altra Running’s website: “Altra Zero Drop Footwear places your heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground for less impact, more stability, and proper running technique.”

In this clip, Altra is the girl in red and I am the girl in white with the luxurious hair.

In this clip, Altra is the girl in red and I am the girl in white with the luxurious hair.

Excuse me, proper running technique? Have these people ever watched a marathon? There are as many different strides as their are different runners because everyone is different. Running on one of the popular paths in my community, I can tell from a solid half a mile away if any of my friends are approaching, because all of our strides are so unique and distinct. I realize that last sentence may have sounded extremely creepy and a little stalker-esque, but sorry I’m not sorry. Anyway, the point is that even elite athletes have different strides. If the same type of shoes worked for everyone in the world, we’d all be wearing exactly one brand and model of shoe.

Somehow, some way, despite the fact that I wear those big, heavy, giant-heel-toe-differential, evolution-hating Mizunos, I’m not a heel striker. Do you hear that, minimalist elitists? I land on my midfoot, where I’m “supposed” to land, just fine without those shoes. In fact, the only thing that happens when I wear minimalist shoes (and I’ve tried multiple models, by the way), is pain. Lots and lots of pain. But if I did land on my heel, so what? If I’m not chronically injured and not in pain when I run, does it really matter how I do it? According to some companies, it does, and I don’t appreciate that implication. It’s hard enough just to get out the door and run without worrying about whether or not I’m doing it the “right” way, dammit!

So THERE

So THERE

Does that mean mimalist shoes are bad shoes? Not at all! In fact, they’re probably really great for some people. It just means they aren’t right for me. Does it mean I wouldn’t recommend them? No! Give them a try if you want. People ask me all the time what kind of shoes they should buy when they start running, and my answer is always the same – go to a real running store and get fitted for a shoe that works for you. You might hate the shoes that I wear, and that’s ok. You have bad taste in footwear, but I accept you and love you anyway.

I guess my point is that if you’re running regularly and you’re not in pain, you’re doing something right. You’re just fine. If you are in pain, then that’s one thing, but don’t change what you’re doing just because a company, magazine, or blogger (yes, even me) tells you that you should. I’m literally terrified that this minimalist trend is going to become so popular that they’ll stop making “normal” running shoes, and I will be forced to stop running in this post-apocalyptic era. This fear is really not helping my tendency to hoard my running shoes, of which I currently have eight, yes EIGHT, pairs sitting in my closet. And no, I do not think that comparing the end of running shoe production as we know it to the apocalypse is inappropriate, thankyouverymuch. 

TELL ME: What kind of shoes are you rocking during your runs right now? Do you run in minimalist shoes or are you biomechanical failure/crybaby like me?

Interview with the Race Director – Southern Indiana Classic Marathon

My first marathon of the post-surgery era will be in Evansville, Indiana on April 6. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous – it’s just a few weeks away, and I’m not sure I’m marathon ready just yet. Only time will tell! The Southern Indiana Classic Marathon is a relatively young race that I picked in large part because I’d heard good things about it and my cousin Chad and his son live there. It’s within driving distance of my house, and since I have family there, T-Rex Mom is coming along too! I figured her presence could be quite beneficial if I have some type of awkward medical emergency. Also, for kind of a small city, Evansville has a large number of Marathon Maniacs, many of whom I know quite well! All the familiar faces can only help me in my first race back at it.

To find out more about the race, I interviewed co-race director Adam Keister. As always, any italicized marks are my unwelcome additions and are not the interviewee’s fault.

1. Tell me a little about your marathon history. Do you still actively race?

I’m actually not really much of a runner. I’ve never run a marathon. Don (co-race director) used to run, but no longer does. We’re both retired military – I guess I got sick of all the forced running and never did it for fun. Don latched onto running, but I didn’t. We met through the car business, working at the same car dealership in 1999. We’ve been friends ever since and eventually started working out together. As you get older, you don’t look quite as good as you used to and things start getting a little lumpy, so you have to actually work at it!

Shit gets lumpy and you have to work on it. Or so I hear.

Shit gets lumpy and you have to work on it. Or so I hear.

2. That’s really interesting – you don’t meet many race directors that aren’t actually into racing.  How did you get into race directing?

Well, as Don and I started working out and spending more time at the gym, we heard about those mud runs.  We wanted to do a Tough Mudder (ugh, WHY?) and we looked around and realized there wasn’t a similar event all that close to Evansville. We decided to start a mud run in Evansville, which somehow led to the discussion of “hey, there’s no marathon in Evansville either!” So we decided to start one of those too, and it’s been great!

No need to list all the reasons I'll never do a mud run. This picture says it all.

No need to list all the reasons I’ll never do a mud run. This picture says it all.

3. That’s a very unique “start-up” story. So, what is the course like? Are there any interesting or historic sites we should look out for along the way?

When we started this race, we thought a lot about what the type of runners we wanted to cater to and how to design our course to accommodate them. We decided we wanted a fast course that encouraged people to qualify for Boston, which unfortunately meant we needed to eliminate the downtown and more historic areas. People who are trying to qualify can sometimes be hindered by downtown areas, so we wanted to avoid that. This is a mostly rural course and it goes through a lot of cropland (at this point I rudely/awkwardly interjected something along the lines of “Oh good! I totally love farms!” Oy.) It’s mostly back roads and side streets. There are a few subdivisions too. Honestly, if people are coming to run this race just for fun, they’re not doing it for the course and scenery – they’re doing it because they love to run or they love the after party!

4. I know that in the past, the weather has been a concern for this race and some of the other April Indiana marathons. What conditions should runners expect?

The tricky part about the midwest is that the weather at this time of year is really unpredictable! It could be a high of 50 degrees on race day or it could be a high of 90 – there’s just no way to tell. Come prepared for anything! One thing I can say, though, is that we will not cancel the event under ANY circumstances. People come from all over the country for this race, and we really respect that. We know how important race day is to the runners, so we won’t cancel. We believe that our runners, if they’ve trained properly, are adequately prepared for the conditions. I’m not saying that people don’t need to be careful when they’re running, because they do and they should use caution, but it’s important to us to give them the opportunity to at least start the race and see what they can do. Are you hearing this, Madison Marathon? UGH.

 5. What changes can runners expect this year?

We’re really proud of some of the changes we have made for this year. It’s really important to us to make this race a celebration of Evansville, so we decided to do away with the big name sponsors and focus on the local community. We wanted small businesses in the area to be able to participate in the race and really feel some ownership over it, because it’s all about Evansville! Our training program is done by a local runner with his own shop, a local car dealer is providing the official race vehicles, and our local beer distributor will be providing the beer after the race, etc. We decided that we wanted to get back to the grassroots approach and bring something back to the area where we grew up and currently live! Can I just please take a moment to geek out over this? I am so in love with races that emphasize their community’s assets. Take that, Rock ‘N Roll series!

There's something either inherently cruel or inherently brilliant about starting and ending a training run in front of Domino's. I can't decide.

There’s something either inherently cruel or inherently brilliant about starting and ending a training run in front of Domino’s. I can’t decide.

6. I guess this is a silly question, but what is your favorite race that you have run?

None! The only runs I do now are for fun. I just like putting on events and making the experience great for the runners. Smart man. Probably has a much more sizeable bank account than me.

7. What has your learning process been like as a non-runner? It must  be kind of difficult to put on a race when you haven’t really run any.

It’s been difficult, to be honest. There’s a pretty steep learning curve, and at first, we weren’t really sure where to begin. This is the fourth year for the race, and every year it gets better. We’ve recruited local runners onto our race committee and we try to get as much input from the local running community as possible. We want to know what people want from our race and how we can deliver a better experience. For us, every day is a learning experience, and we’re committed to making the race better every year.

8. I’m coming in from South Carolina to do your race. What should the other traveling runners and I make sure to do while we are in Evansville? Do you have any recommendations for a good local brewery?

Evansville has a lot to offer! We have a growing zoo, a popular casino, and a revitalized Riverwalk area and Main Street. The city has done a ton of work down at the river and along Main Street, and we want to showcase that and bring people in from outside and show them the best of southern Indiana. You definitely have to see the Riverwalk area. They have completely redone the entire thing and it is absolutely beautiful! There’s a covered area where you can sit and watch the river no matter what the weather. Main Street has opened a ton of new restaurants and bars. We have a great new brew pub downtown called the Tin Man Brewery that you’ll definitely want to check out while you’re here, too. Maniacs dinner at the Tin Man Brewery, anyone?

This actually looks totally legit.

This actually looks totally legit.

9. You talked about the great post-race party earlier. What should we be looking forward to?

In keeping with the emphasis on Evansville and the great things we have going on here, our post-race party has tons of local vendors. We’ve got everything from people making parachute bracelets to kettle corn, a local DJ, beer from the local distributor, food from local restaurants, etc. All of that is great and a big draw, but one of the things we really emphasize is getting the local runners to interact with those who have traveled from all over the country. It’s great to be from Evansville, of course, but we want people to know there is a whole world outside of southern Indiana. If people are coming from different states to run our marathon, they’ve most likely run great marathons in other states, and we want to encourage our runners to get out and do those events as well. What better way to learn about all these different places and races than by meeting other runners who have experienced them? Ok, so, the 50 stater in me totally died at this. I really love the idea, because Adam is right – there are great races all over this country, and so many people never think outside their own state. I realize that the kind of travel I do isn’t practical or possible for everyone, but the occasional trip can create a lifetime of memories! So freaking get out there and come hang out with me at a race in a random state, ok? Ok.

10. Tell me more about your charity, Rolling Thunder Inc.

Rolling Thunder is a nationwide group with a chapter in Evansville. They take care of and advocate for POWs, soldiers who are missing in action, and injured veterans. Since Don and I are retired military, this cause is obviously close to our hearts. In addition to backing such a great cause, they have always been a huge help in putting on the event, and they ask for nothing in return. We do donate money to them, but they are really just all about getting out and helping the community put this race on. We have veterans helping out during the race, and you’ll see veteran amputees, etc. They are EVERYWHERE on race day and we couldn’t put on this event without them. They are 100% there to help and they’re a great group of people who deserve our support.

Just in case you needed further evidence to prove that I'm oblivious to the world, Rolling Thunder, Inc. is apparently also like a HUGE motorcycle group that rides across the country to bring attention to the plight of veterans and POWs. So now you know.

Just in case you needed further evidence to prove that I’m oblivious to the world, Rolling Thunder, Inc. is apparently also like a HUGE motorcycle group that rides across the country to bring attention to the plight of veterans and POWs. So now you know.

———

Southern Indiana Classic Marathon, I am coming for you! And ok, yes, maybe I checked to make sure that I would have plenty of time to finish this race just in case my first marathon back was a total disaster and involved some time of meltdown. Sorry I’m not sorry. I’m really excited about the emphasis on local vendors, and even though I have literally zero chance of qualifying for Boston, I do love a good run through farmland. So, who else is going to be in Evansville on April 6 to watch me crawl my way through the countryside to the finish line?

The Marathon Spectator, formerly known as T-Rex Runner

The Columbia SC Marathon, my hometown race, was this past weekend. After I had such a wonderful experience last year in the inaugural event, I immediately decided that I wanted to become a streaker. No, not the naked kind, the really crazy kind – the kind that does a race every single year starting with the inaugural. Even after I had my surgery on February 19th, I was still deluding myself with the belief that this was a possibility. When my doctor cleared me to start running again on the Monday before the marathon, it was less than 2 weeks post-op and the quickest he had ever released someone to start running again. Impressive, right? Well, sort of. I was cleared to run 3 entire miles and build up slowly from there. And since I got the news on a Monday and the race was on Saturday, I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean build up from 3 to 26.2 or even 13.1 miles over the course of 5 days, and I was forced to make a very difficult decision – I wasn’t going to be running at all on Saturday. Ironically, I still wasn’t supposed to go back to work full time yet, since running for half an hour was actually less taxing on my body than sitting up for 8 hours straight. Yeah… that was a really awkward conversation to have with my boss.

As disappointed as I was not to be running in the race, my disappointment was quickly displaced by sheer panic because I had appointed myself the ORGANIZER OF ALL THE THINGS, meaning I was coordinating the race weekend for all of the Maniacs who were coming into town. This, of course, was on top of the duties I had coordinating the expo as part of the race committee. As the only Maniac living in Columbia, I felt obligated to show everyone traveling in from out of town a great time. The problem? I am so not an event organizer. Feeling like whether people have fun or not is in my hands is terrifying. So I did the smart thing and put off all of the planning for as long as humanly possible until I just couldn’t ignore it any more. I made dinner reservations. I decided on a picture location. I found out who needed their packets picked up. I tried not to panic.

If only I was quite this victorious about it

If only I was quite this victorious about it.

And so, on Friday, which was my first full day of work since the surgery, I was running around the office like a crazy person. I went to the expo and picked up literally 15 packets and shirts (this is where being on the race committee came in handy, because otherwise I’d just look like a psycho/thief). And immediately after work, I headed over to the Maniacs dinner, praying that people would show up. In addition to the fact that a lot of people end up changing their plans at the last minute, several Maniacs flights were delayed and coming in later than expected. Imagine my terror when I get to the restaurant and am told that we can’t be seated until at least half of our party is physically in the restaurant. Umm…what if half never showed up all at once? It’s kind of a fluid situation with people coming in and coming out. What if everyone hates me because they can’t sit down and I picked the worst place ever? WAHHHHHH.

Everything was fine, of course. In fact, my mood substantially improved when I found some Maniacs that were already at the restaurant (at the bar, of course) and learned that one of them had brought me an offering present!

This is Jim. Jim is not only devilishly handsome, he is also smart. He brought me a T-Rex!

This is Jim. Jim is not only devilishly handsome, he is also smart. He brought me a T-Rex!

For the record, I like presents. We all sat down and waited as more and more members of the group started to arrive. The whole time, I’m frantically checking my phone for facebook messages and text updates to make sure that everyone is still on their way and I don’t need to go grab any more packets. Well, lo and behold, I find out that I do need to run back to the expo and get another packet for my friend Nicole, who was stuck in traffic in Knoxville and not going to make it to the expo. So I leave the dinner in the middle of it and run over to the hotel, meanwhile texting Justin Gillette, who is a Maniac who had come in from Indiana with intentions of winning the race the next day. Yes, winning. As in COMING IN FIRST. This is a very foreign concept to me, but I figured I would meet him at the expo, as we had been talking about his plans for Columbia over the past few months. Of course, I used my wit and charm to convince him to come back to the Maniacs dinner and meet everyone.

Justin might be really fast, but I have really awesome hair. I'll call it a draw.

Justin might be really fast, but I have really awesome hair. I’ll call it a draw.

The Maniacs dinner was amazingly fun and overwhelming at the same time. So many people showed up that we had to grab more chairs! By this point, the people I was most nervous about meeting had arrived. Katherine and Sean had flew in all the way from Oregon for the express purpose of meeting me to run the marathon and the half marathon. Katherine is a member of the Elite Honey Badgers Running Squad out in Oregon, and even though I don’t actually know any of them in real life (well, I guess I do now, but you know what I mean), they’ve become people I would consider good friends even though they’re all the way on the other side of the country. Their support for my blog/existence has been really incredible, and I was really nervous about meeting Katherine because I didn’t want the bubble to burst, quite frankly.

At the risk of disappointing all of you, I don’t think I’m nearly as interesting in person as this blog would have you believe. It’s a lot harder for me to be funny in person than it is on the blog, and my natural tendency is to actually be pretty introverted. When I meet new people, I’m forcing myself out of my comfort zone – which is a good thing, of course, but a cause of anxiety nonetheless. Katherine in particular has put so much faith in me and sent me the most encouraging messages after my toughest blog posts, and I guess I was worried that I wouldn’t be everything she had hoped. Either way, I’m just me, so remember that if we ever meet in real life. For the record, I realize it’s ridiculous to think that she had built me up to the level of, say, Justin Bieber, but I like to turn things into apocalyptic scenarios in my mind, ok? Anyway, she ended up being really sweet, much cooler than me, and a huge inspiration. And she and her husband brought me special Honey Badger gear!

The back says "Badger Up!" and the side says "T-Rex." I'm getting a lot of awesome headgear lately.

The back says “Badger Up!” and the side says “T-Rex.” I’m getting a lot of awesome headgear lately.

We had such a great turn out at dinner and ended up having so much fun that dinner wasn’t even over til 10pm. Four hours? Crazy! J.C. was staying at my house for the race, and we still had to grab cups for my aid station before heading home. I had already procured 150 individual bags of gummy bears, two big bags of pretzels, beer, foam board and markers for signs, and pretty much everything else I needed; the woman at the Dollar Store looked at me like I had two heads when I bought all that stuff.  J.C. was off to sleep as soon as we got home, and I still had plenty of setting up to do before going to sleep. Having the alarm go off less than 6 hours later was not pleasant.

So many awesome people in one room! Makes my heart happy.

So many awesome people in one room! Makes my heart happy.

The next morning came bright and early, and I gathered up all my aid station supplies and JC and I hit the road. The Maniacs picture was 15 minutes before the start of the race, but I also needed to meet up with Nicole to make sure she got her packet before the start. Fortunately, we were able to park and find her with no problem. Before the race, I also was able to meet Emily, who is maybe the most adorable person in the world. We’ve spoken through our blogs and on Twitter, but I’m 100% sure I creeped her out when I recognized her from all the way across the lawn. Anyway, she kicked ass in Columbia and nabbed herself a PR. I did not kick ass and failed to get a picture with her.

Although at first it seemed like no one was going to show up for the picture, all of a sudden a herd of Maniacs assembled on the state house steps! Whew!

Our apologies to the innocent bystanders who had to take 500 of these pictures.

Our apologies to the innocent bystanders who had to take 500 of these pictures.

You might notice that I am wearing a hat in this picture. That’s because the most excellent Peter was rocking his Team T-Rex shirt and brought me a matching T-Rex hat! I was wearing about 18 layers of clothing at this point because I’m always cold unless I’m running. I saw everyone off to the start, then quickly ran over to my truck and headed off to the designated aid station location. It didn’t occur to me until Friday morning that I actually had to do some research to pick a spot for the aid station. I’m not sure what I was thinking – apparently I thought I was just going to set up in someone’s driveway and they just wouldn’t mind? Yeah, not the best plan. I ended up settling on a quiet intersection along the course that didn’t seem like it would have much traffic and also seemed to have a low probability of getting mugged, since downtown Columbia can be quite sketchy at parts. Although I had tried to force encourage AJ to help me with the aid station, he’d pretty much rather die than watch a marathon I wasn’t running in (or even one I was, unless it’s in Chicago), so he begged me to find a replacement. Fortunately, I was able to commission my friend and running buddy Chuck and his daughter Katherine to do all the heavy lifting help.

Aid station partner extraordinaire, Chuck

Aid station partner extraordinaire, Chuck

I have to say that one of the most amusing things that happened the entire weekend was that everyone kept asking where AJ was. Apparently, he has quite a fan base. Most people just assumed that Chuck was AJ (he’s not, obviously), and that was pretty entertaining for me. Anyway, Chuck was super critical to the operation since I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 pounds  thanks to the surgery. Also, he has a good personality for spectating, so we had a great time out there. We waited for the first runners to come through, knowing that they would not have time and/or desire to slow down  for all our treats, but I wanted to make sure Justin was in the lead since I had thoroughly jinxed him the day before by telling everyone that he was going to win the marathon. No pressure, right? Well of course, the first runner that came through was not Justin, and I immediately panicked and convinced myself that I had ruined his race and it was all my fault. Justin was close behind, and Chuck noted that the guy who was in front of him was a half marathoner – whew!

This is what it looks like when you run fast. I would say that I am interested in seeing what I would look like if I was ever running fast, but that would require effort.

This is what it looks like when you run fast. I would say that I am interested in seeing what I would look like if I was ever running fast, but that would require effort. Hi Justin!

As the faster runners came through, I made sure to call out to everyone I knew and cheer for them. I caught one Maniac, Tony, by surprise as I yelled out both his first AND last names, even though we’ve never met and he wasn’t wearing a Maniacs singlet. How? Powers of the mind. Actually, I just knew he normally runs about a 3:05 marathon and he was right behind the pace group and his bib said Tony, so I took a wild guess. He was pretty impressed by this, obviously. As much fun as it is to watch the faster runners go by, we were really excited for the mid-packers, because they would take our food and perhaps stop and chat or actually acknowledge us. We cheered for every Maniac that came through, and I tried to call out the bib names of everyone that ran by. Lots of people were very amused by my sign, which said “You are pretty and nice.” Added bonus – lots of the people that ran by told me that I was the one who was pretty. Unexpected ego boost? I’ll take it.

I was a little jealous when all my favorite people ran by without me, but I made the right call.

I was a little jealous when all my favorite people ran by without me, but I made the right call.

I was determined to stay out there for everyone on the course until the last person had passed our station. Things got considerably quieter on the second loop, since the half marathoners were all done by this point. Chuck and I broke out the beer to offer to the marathoners, and I felt myself getting epically sunburned and realized there was nothing I could do about it. Our little station became a drop point for Maniacs to leave extra clothes, arm warmers, etc as they ran by, and I was relieved to see Justin come through in first on the second loop! Looks like I hadn’t jinxed him after all.

Now here’s a random assortment of pictures from the aid station. People were super impressed by the individual packs of gummy bears (much easier and less gross than sticking your hand into a giant bag) and the pretzels were apparently a life saver. That’s one of the benefits of having a marathoner as a spectator – we know what you need out there!

T-Rex hat? Check. Luxurious hair? Check.

T-Rex hat? Check. Luxurious hair? Check.

Running partners in crime. We miss you, Kate!

Running partners in crime. We miss you, Kate!

Don't worry, Robin, we didn't let Katherine actually hand out beer. She wrote "good luck" on all the packs of gummy bears, though.

Don’t worry, Robin, we didn’t let Katherine actually hand out beer. She wrote “good luck” on all the packs of gummy bears, though.

Several of my Maniac friends were dealing with injuries and other issues that left them concerned that they might not be able to make the six hour time limit, which was causing me severe distress. I was really worried – I’d recommended this race to so many people who had traveled from all over the country just to come run it! What if they didn’t get an official time? What if they didn’t enjoy it? I felt a huge amount of pressure and responsibility, so I was extremely relieved to see Halbert and Scott, the two I was most worried about, coming past the aid station ahead of the sweeper car.

Scott is running a marathon in every state to honor fallen soldiers. Check out his facebook page!

Scott is running a marathon in every state to honor fallen soldiers. Check out his facebook page!

As the last runner went by, Chuck and I (ok, mostly Chuck) packed up everything, and I headed back to the finish line to greet all the Maniacs who had finished and watch the rest of them come in. There was still a huge group waiting around at the State House, with everyone enjoying the sunshine and beautiful day. Even though I froze my ass off until the last 30 minutes at the aid station,  it was great weather for running.

The remaining Maniacs after the race

The remaining Maniacs after the race

After the race, everyone was hungry, but I was exhausted! Nonetheless, I knew it was up to me to find a good place for everyone to eat. I suggested Mellow Mushroom since it was only a block away and had plenty of pizza and beer, but when we got there, there was an hour wait for a table! Bah! I thought everyone would have left downtown by that point since the race had long since been over for the majority of the participants, but I guess not. We ended up going to Flying Saucer instead and managed to get quite a nice little group together. Justin even ended up walking over from his hotel after the race and hanging out with us – after he had won the marathon, stayed to pass out water bottles to marathon runners starting their second loop, and handed out medals to finishers.

Post race Linner (lunch/dinner, see what I did there?) at Flying Saucer

Post race Linner (lunch/dinner, see what I did there?) at Flying Saucer

We had such a great time after the race, and I headed home feeling like everyone had enjoyed the experience.  At least, I hope they did. This weekend really humbled me for a couple of reasons. First, it was really hard for me to make the call not to participate, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. How exhausted I felt after just standing around made me realize that I need to give this surgery more credit than I have been. My body is working really hard to put itself back together, even if I don’t always feel that way and sometimes feel like nothing ever happened. I need to have respect for my body and what it has been through. After all, I only get one. I felt more tired after this weekend than I ever have after a marathon, so that’s telling me something. I need to be smart about recovery.

Second, and most importantly, I have been absolutely 100% blown away over the past month or so by the amount of love and support I’ve gotten from all of you. Between my surgery and my blog series on eating disorders, I have been completely overwhelmed. Knowing that some people came to Columbia partially because of the recommendations I made about this race and partially because they just want to meet me in person is really amazing and, if I’m being honest, also a little weird – I just don’t think I’m that interesting, but I’m glad you do. Every time I meet someone who reads this blog, I honestly want to cry because it really just amazes the crap out of me that any of you care at all.  Although I may act tough or speak sarcastically, I am overcome by gratitude for all of you. I feel so lucky to have this network of people all over the world who send such encouraging thoughts my way. I don’t know why you want to meet me, but I’m glad you do. So please, keep meeting me/bringing me presents. Sorry in advance if I’m awkward about it.

The Hate Spiral Workout

I can never tell exactly how my posts come across, so just in case I’ve seemed particularly snarky or bitter lately, take comfort in knowing that I’m actually very happy. Yes, this is what I’m like when I’m happy…now you know why AJ never smiles. Anyway, my life is generally pretty rad and I really haven’t had a day where I hate everything in quite some time.

Today was that day.

I guess it was a conglomeration of factors, none of which are terribly important or relevant to this blog. Point being, I was in the middle of an epic hate spiral when I got home today, and the last thing I wanted to do was workout. Weird, right? I feel like normal people take their anger and frustration and use that energy to workout extra hard, but I’m not usually like that these days. Most of the time, being really really angry or upset just means I want to work out even less than normal, which is already a pretty low threshold. I know that working out pretty much always puts me in a better mood, but it’s still like pulling teeth to get myself out the door on days like today. I started blindly hoping thinking that maybe other people are in this position too, and it occurred to me that regardless of the reason someone doesn’t want to workout (be it blind rage or general lack of motivation), the problem is the same.

Napping > Working out

Napping > Working out

So, what should you do on a day when you really don’t want to do anything but you know that you really need to work out?

In my opinion, you should pick the least hateful thing possible. For me, that means something that doesn’t seem too intimidating but that will still make me feel like I accomplished something. In my super professional opinion, there’s no sense in getting sweaty if you aren’t going to make it count, so here’s some options for workouts that don’t completely suck on the days when it seems like the rest of your life completely does.

I'm trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it's jogging or yogging. it might be a soft j. I'm not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It's supposed to be wild.

I’m trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it’s jogging or yogging. It might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.

1. The “Rage Against the Machine”

The “Rage Against the Machine” is my oh-so-clever nickname for the workout I do on my bike trainer on days when I just really don’t want to do anything. I intended to run today, but decided against it after a couple of days in a row – don’t want to overdo it, right Mom? I got on the bike trainer (which is basically just a little machine that holds your bike still but lets the back tire turn and applies resistance) and turned on a show I like that was an hour long. Now, I could have just peddled along steadily for an hour, but I wanted to do something a little more than that that didn’t require much thinking. So instead of just doing an easy pace the whole time, I rode at easy pace during the actual show itself and at tempo or sprint pace during the commercials. The commercials are long enough that this makes those segments challenging, but the parts of the show are longer, so I still get a reward and don’t get discouraged thinking about how much left I have to do. It’s not the most challenging workout ever, but you work up a good sweat and still get to enjoy your show. Switching back and forth and mixing up the pace keeps things interesting, and I can always convince myself to do this workout even when I really don’t want to do anything.

That awkward moment when you make a stupid face to try and make your face look skinny and you end up looking deformed instead

That awkward moment when you make a stupid face to try and make your face look skinny and you end up looking deformed instead

2. The “Everyone is More Flexible Than Me”

I belong to the local YMCA solely because they have a pool where I hypothetically swim during my hypothetical triathlon training. I haven’t been swimming so much lately because the idea of walking back to my truck from the gym with wet hair is simply too much to bear – and yes, I am that much of a drama queen – so I’ve been trying to make the most of my membership in other ways. One of those is taking classes at the gym – specifically yoga. Not everyone is a fan of yoga, and that’s fine, but I really enjoy it and I’m always glad I went, minus the hit my self esteem takes from watching people three times my age and twice my weight contort themselves into poses that I can’t even fathom. I may be the least flexible person in the world, by the way. But anyway, yoga class (or a yoga dvd at home) is great for feeling bad about your flexibility while simultaneously attempting to increase it. It’s usually pretty relaxing, stretching is allegedly good for you, and if you’re still really mad when you leave, at least you’re limber.

Sometimes, the flexibility of the elderly is so amazing that it moves me to tears. Nevermind, that's their excessively prolonged nudity in the locker room.

Sometimes, the flexibility of the elderly is so amazing that it moves me to tears. Nevermind, that’s their excessively prolonged nudity in the locker room.

3. The “Road Less Traveled”

When all else fails, I try to go for a run somewhere out of the ordinary, even if it isn’t very exciting. I generally run the same routes over and over again, and there’s a reason – I like those routes. That being said, sometimes I just need a change. I find that when I really don’t want to workout, the idea of running somewhere new can normally get me out the door. On those runs, I’ll take my phone with me so I can take random pictures to bombard you with via social media to remember the day. I find myself more alert when I’m running somewhere different because I like to take in the sights along the way. Plus, taking pictures and promising to enjoy the view, whatever it may be, takes some of the pressure off. If I get out there and have a killer workout, great! But more realistically, I won’t, and that’s ok too, because at least I got out there and did something. I very rarely regret running (yes, there have been times that I really didn’t feel better after I came back), so I will use that information to literally force myself out the door. Walk a little to take in the sights? Sure. Stop to take a picture? Why not. The only worthless run is the one you don’t go on.

And of course, when all else fails...drink.

And of course, when all else fails…drink.

Maybe these kinds of workouts are just taking the easy way out – I can see the argument for that. But I’m honest enough with myself to know that some days I just won’t push through and do something that seems impossibly out of reach. For days like today, it’s about winning the mental battle and getting out there and doing something. So yeah, I’m a wimp. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Leave a comment: What’s your favorite hate spiral workout when you just really don’t want to go? How do you get yourself out the door?

T-Rex Rantz – Volume 3

Would you believe I actually keep a list on my phone of things that irk me? I guess that’s not terribly surprising, since the world is full of things that are stupid and therefore annoying. T-Rex Mom used to laugh at me when I was a kid because I am easily annoyed by many things, particularly the inane actions of other people. I like to think I am not so easily annoyed now, and I think the fact that I haven’t posted an edition of T-Rex Rantz in quite awhile is proof of that. While laying in bed the other night, I started thinking about Kim Kardashian and just got really irritated, for obvious reasons. It got me on a train of thinking about other things that make me crazy, which then turned into me asking AJ what things annoy me. He named a reallllly long list of things, so maybe I’m not as patient as I like to believe. Without further adieu, here’s a list of shit that I currently cannot deal with.

1. Celebrity Nicknames

Originally, I was just going to write about celebrity couple nicknames, like “Kimye” (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West), Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) and “Bennifer” (remember when Ben Affleck was engaged to Jennifer Lopez? I KNOW.), but then I realized that all celebrity nicknames are pretty much annoying. Jennifer Lopez started this trend with the ubiquitous JLo, and although that sounded ridiculous at the time, at least she was the only one, so whatever. Now it seems like every “it” celebrity has to have a nickname – we’ve got LiLo, KStew, and now JLaw. And this is where they have gone too far. I officially now have to take a stand, because Jennifer Lawrence is AWESOME.

She fell at the Oscars and it was somehow the most endearing thing ever

She fell at the Oscars and it was somehow the most endearing thing ever

She deserves to have her full name used, dammit. She is not in the same category as the JLo’s and LiLo’s of the world. First of all, she is hilarious. Second, she loves food and talking about how much she loves food. Third, she can actually act. She even won an Oscar because she can act. So please, media people, stop the madness. Give people back their names. I promise we can still follow along with your stories even if you use the bigger words. For the record, yes, I realize that I obviously could just stop reading mountains of celebrity gossip, but then how would I know what is going on? How will I know what Tia and Tamera’s (remember Sister Sister? I DIE) tips for bouncing back after baby are? I would not.

Yeah. They have kids now. It depresses me too.

Yeah. They have kids now. It depresses me too.

2. “Fitspiration,” aka inspirational fitness quotes and pictures

Flame away if you want. I’m ready for it. But seriously, if I see one more scenic picture of a runner and some inspirational quote typed over the top of it, I am going to lose my mind. I’m not actually 100% sure why I hate these things. I can’t tell if it’s because I like too many running pages on facebook (and am friends with too many runners) and therefore it seems like my newsfeed is constantly flooded with them, or if it’s because I don’t like inspiration, or if it’s because I have no soul. It may very well be a mixture of all three. Maybe it’s because it is pretty much never a normal looking person in the pictures that is out there running and looking like they totally hate it, because let’s be honest – for your average runner, during pretty much every run, there is some point that comes where it just sucks. It hurts, you’re tired, you can’t breathe, you’re hot, whatever – you just don’t want to do it anymore. Does that mean you stop? No, so how about we start typing some quotes over pictures of those people instead of super hot fitness models? I obviously am not volunteering myself for this even though I have an excellent patented hate look while running. If anything, seeing pictures of really fit people literally freaking frolicking up a mountainous trail with a 12% grade just makes me feel like there’s no point in even bothering to run. NO ONE FROLICKS UP MOUNTAINS. STOP YOUR LIES. Side note: My rage extends to all fitness pictures, not just those pertaining to running, but I’m not exposed to those unless I go on Pinterest, so it’s not as hate-inducing.

Is "choose not to be annoyed" an option?

Is “choose not to be annoyed” an option?

3. The Match.com marathon commercial

Admittedly, I’ve watched a lot of television while recovering from surgery. As such, I have seen a lot of commercials, but only one really makes me insane. You know the Match.com commercial where the woman is a marathoner and she goes on a first date with the guy and he’s like “Anyone can run 26, it’s the last 0.2…” and she finishes with “that really kills you!”

No. OMG, no.

I refuse to believe that this is an actual date, because we (marathon runners) have all heard that joke like…4000 times. Per day. Since we started running marathons. And it’s not getting funnier, so we’re not still laughing at it – at least not genuinely. Maybe she is just being nice and wanting him to not feel awkward, but I prefer to believe it’s a conspiracy and she is not a real person. Either way, it makes me cringe. Also, I’m not sure what she is doing with her life, but it is totally possible to meet people while running marathons and working and doing other things normal people do. Just ask AJ. He is basically beside himself with joy that I found the time to meet him.

AJ, ever the enthusiast.

AJ, ever the enthusiast.

4. My dog simultaneously hating AND being afraid of every other animal on the earth

I love my dog. It is a universal fact that he is the cutest dog on the planet. Anyone who has ever met him, whether they like dogs or not, has agreed with this statement. He once met a friend of mine who had been terrified of dogs his entire life, and within ten minutes, my dog (a Rottweiler, no less) had completely won him over. As adorable as he is, my dog is a total asshole. I rescued him when he was 4, and after behaving totally normally for 2 years and getting along with my other dogs (who now live with my ex), he attacked one out of nowhere. To make a long story short, he’s gotten worse since then, and now he can’t be around any other dogs or animals. Sometimes he doesn’t seem to notice them, other times he’s afraid of them, and the rest of the time he acts like he’s going to rip out their throats. And honestly? I’m over it. He’s a great dog with people, never destroys anything in the house, super cuddly, all of that – just not good with other animals. For a long time, I told myself it wasn’t worth dealing with because he is getting old – he’s 8 now – and he doesn’t have to be around other dogs if I don’t want him to be. But it sucks not being able to take him hiking for fear that we might see another dog on the trail. We can’t bring him to bonfires and outside parties where other dogs will be. We can’t get another dog because he’ll eat it. I’m thinking about getting a dog trainer to work with him intensely, but I’m worried I’ll never trust him around other dogs. Sigh. It just really bothers me that a dog can be so perfect in basically every way except this realllllllyyyy big one, and he’s not exactly helping out the public perception of Rottweilers. Oy vey.

He doesn't look like a vicious killer, right?

He doesn’t look like a vicious killer, right?

5. The word “brilliant”

I realize this is absurdly specific, but I am so over the word “brilliant.” It is entirely overused, especially in reference to music, and I can’t take it anymore. Think of your Facebook newsfeed right now. I am 95% sure that you have a person, probably just an acquaintance, who thinks everything they are into is “absolutely brilliant.” That obscure soft-core metal band’s latest song? Brilliant. Random indie film that no one saw except this particular person? Absolutely brilliant, and a crime against humanity that it isn’t released to the public, but drivel like Gigli makes it to the big screen. This person probably has strongly held political views and would describe their party of choice as…you guessed it…brilliant. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have strong opinions or that they shouldn’t like obscure things. I personally like to believe I am a hipster in my own mind (my friend Lauren just fell over and died at that sentence). However, I  do think we need a new word to describe things that are original. That is all.

Let's all work together to expand our vocabulary, k?

Let’s all work together to expand our vocabulary, k?

Leave a comment: What are you ranting about right now? Or, if you once had a dog that hated other animals  that now loves other animals, please leave me an encouraging story.

10 Things I Didn’t Know Before I Had Surgery

So as you all know, I got the long-awaited stomach surgery back on February 19th. I’m pleased to report that I haven’t had acid reflux a SINGLE TIME since then! I’m stopping short of calling this a miracle since my recovery isn’t over yet, but considering I hadn’t gone a day without reflux in several years, nearly two weeks seems like an eternity! When I was weighing the pros and cons of surgery, though, there were a few things I either failed to consider or chose to ignore, presumably because I tend to be kind of singularly focused when I decide I want to do something. So, here’s a list of things I wasn’t exactly expecting, because you obviously care to know.

1. I took food with texture for granted.

After surgery, I was on a diet of just clear liquids for a couple of days. Not so bad, since I really didn’t want to eat anyway. After  those two days, I was allowed to go on a “full liquid” diet, meaning I could eat anything that basically was either a liquid or a really soft food, like grits. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love grits, especially when they’re made the old fashioned way. I love pudding. I love milkshakes. I love mashed potatoes. But I swear, by day 4 of eating only those items, I would have killed someone for food with an actual texture. I just wanted to chew something! Even now,  I still can’t eat anything that requires a whole lot of chewing, but I have at least graduated to rice. Side note: I’m not 100% sure I should be eating rice. This diet is very nebulous. I really hope my surgeon isn’t reading this.

Cupcakes are on the no-go list.

Cupcakes are on the no-go list.

2. Bread is my favorite food.

I’m not allowed to eat bread for at least a month after surgery because it soaks up liquid and expands in your stomach, which could cause my surgery to fail. I never really thought much about bread until I wasn’t allowed to have it anymore, and I have tragically come to realize that bread is my most favorite food ever. It is a component of basically everything I eat! Sweet delicious pizza, I cannot eat you. Pimento cheese sandwiches, I cannot eat you. Cheeseburgers? I must order you without a bun, drawing looks of disdain from the employees at the restaurant in my tiny town, where the concept of  low-carb and gluten-free diets is unheard of. I seriously have come out of this experience with so much respect for people that can’t have gluten, because I really don’t know how you ever eat.

I've almost killed AJ over pizza about 6 times since I had surgery. He lives in fear.

I’ve almost killed AJ over pizza about 6 times since I had surgery. He lives in fear.

3. Sitting up is harder than walking.

While T-Rex Mom was here taking superior care of me, she forced me to go on nature walks (which are actually just walks around my neighborhood, but that sounds boring and less likely to discover something cool) pretty much every day. At first, I would be completely exhausted and out of breath, because my stomach and diaphragm were all swollen, which made it really hard to breathe. Now, I can walk for a couple miles at a time, but sitting up straight? Forget it. My core has pretty much told me to go to hell and stay there. I went to work for a couple of hours on Friday (gotta keep the boys on track) and I had to sit up for a combined total of 3 hours and it was like the most rigorous workout I’ve ever done. Remember when I used to run marathons all the time and now I can’t even sit up continuously? Fail. Thank God for my recliner.

4. Lots of things are heavy.

In addition to not being able to eat or drink pretty much anything delicious, I’m also not allowed to lift any object over 5 pounds for about 6 weeks. You know what weighs more than 5 pounds? EVERYTHING USEFUL. As if my coworkers needed another reason to think I’m high maintenance, this means I can’t carry my laptop for work, so if I need to use it in the office, I will have to have someone else go downstairs and get it out of my truck for me. I can’t vacuum because it’s too heavy to push. I’m not allowed to walk my dog for 6 weeks because he is a giant and sometimes tries to eat/kill animals he sees while out on his walks, and he pulls really hard. I can’t carry the laundry up or downstairs. On the bright side, you know who can do all of these things? AJ. He’s obviously my surgeon’s number one fan, at this point.

5. I used to eat a lot of food.

The surgery has made my stomach about 20% smaller, and holy cow, what a difference that is. I’m supposed to be eating small meals (about 1/2 a cup of food 4-6 times a day) and when I’m done with them, I am SO full. We went out to get mexican food last night, where I had to order the ever-exciting refried beans and rice and a cheese quesadilla that I actually maybe am not supposed to have. Normally when we go to get mexican, I eat the chips and salsa, get a giant margarita, 2 chicken tacos and a quesadilla, or maybe more. This time, I ate less than half a quesadilla and 1/2 a cup total of beans and rice and I was pretty sure my stomach was going to explode. On the plus side, this makes me a cheap date. On the minus side, I am now deeply concerned about how much people must have been judging the vast quantities of food I normally eat. Sorry, everyone who has ever seen me eat.

Me in my past life

Me in my past life, minus the hotness.

6. I’d rather drink Sprite than beer.

Much like bread, I didn’t realize how much I liked soda and beer until they were voluntarily given up ruthlessly taken from me. I can’t have alcohol or carbonated beverages for at least a month, and I’ve got to tell you, you don’t realize how much you hate water until it’s pretty much the only thing you can drink. I’m actually a huge water drinker, but it never bothered me before because I always had the option of drinking something else, like my beloved Sprite. Now, not so much. I’ve found that I’ve been craving soda much more than beer, though, which is odd but probably good. Unless it means I’m a sugar addict, which it might. Must do more research.

I can't drink alcohol OR Sprite, so this argument is really pointless. To water!

I can’t drink alcohol OR Sprite, so this argument is really pointless. To water!

7. Recovering from surgery is not like a vacation.

What? You already knew this? Ok, so maybe a gigantic teeny tiny part of me was really hoping this whole recovery process would be really fun and relaxing. I get to stay home and be waited on, watch tv, take naps, all the fun stuff that I never have time to do normally. No pressure to wake up early, no training schedule to follow, nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. First of all, my mind conveniently forgot to consider that I would be in pain. Second, I’ve been working from home pretty much non-stop since I got out of the hospital because there just so happened to be tons of things I needed to do for work that can’t wait. Third, I am exhausted. Between the nature walks, working, and oh yeah, my stomach trying to heal itself, I feel like the walking dead. This has been decidedly unlike a vacation and more like a prison labor camp. I’m making a mental note to temper my expectations for the next time I have to have surgery – and knowing me, there will be a next time. This way, I won’t be disappointed when the hospital isn’t Club Med.

Surgery recovery is not my best look.

Surgery recovery is not my best look.

8. I do actually like running.

Once again, you never know how much you care about something until you don’t have it anymore. It’s easy to get burnt out on training sometimes, especially when you don’t feel like you’re particularly good at the thing you’re doing. However, I’ve found that I really want to get out there and go for a run, even a short one! Normally, I don’t bother doing short runs because I can’t convince myself that getting sweaty and only doing 3 miles is worth the hassle. Now, 3 miles sounds awesome! I’m not cleared to run yet and probably won’t be for awhile, so nature walks it shall be. I did buy a really sweet compression shirt for when I can get back to it, thanks to the suggestion of a reader who said it would keep my incisions from bouncing around too much. On an unrelated note, I have never owned a compression shirt before, and dear Lord, that is not my best look. It’s like Spanx for runners and it is just really not doing me any favors.

Oh, you thought I was going to post a picture of me in a compression shirt? That's cute.

Oh, you thought I was going to post a picture of me in a compression shirt? That’s cute.

9. I drink an unreasonable amount of water in my normal life.

I drink about 100 ounces of water a day, normally. This is mostly because I get dehydrated really easily and also because it’s just good for you and gives you luminous skin or something. Well, I failed to consider that I would not be able to drink as much water as normal because of the swelling and the fact that I get full so quickly now, and I never bothered to tell anyone how much water I normally drink. This miscalculation landed me back in the hospital receiving IV fluids a week after surgery, and now I have to work really hard to drink even half of the water I used to. Given the alien looks I got when I told the doctors, nurses, and my mother how much water I normally drink, I’m thinking maybe I should cut down anyway since apparently this is not a normal amount. Meh, who knew?

Sorry I'm not sorry for being so effing adorable.

Sorry I’m not sorry for being so effing adorable.

10. I seriously need to step up my house cleaning.

If you’ve ever met me in real life, you know I’m a person who is pretty much always doing something. I’m not good at sitting still and I’m not very good at relaxing. Doing things and being productive is my idea of relaxing. T-Rex Mom is like me on steroids. If you think I’m always busy, you should meet her. She was here taking care of me for about 10 days, during which time she cleaned my whole house. And yes, it took her pretty much the entire 10 days. Clearly, I need to clean things more often. I’m not a person who likes a lot of clutter and most of my stuff is organized, so it wasn’t that everything was a mess. I just hate doing things like cleaning dog hair off of the blinds or repainting the baseboards in my house. I’m not home often enough to care, so these things slip by the wayside. However, my mom just disinfected my entire house and pretty much repainted all the trim, so maybe I’ll make an effort to keep it that way. Probably not. I’ve got hypothetical marathons to run – once I’m allowed to start running again, of course.