When Life Throws junk Your Way…

“Live for the unexpected.” Whoever said that I’m sure wasn’t rolling along the freeway and BAM had their tire blow out…if that had been the case I think their choice of word may have been more along the lines of, “F***” (eeerrr, I mean, “Fudge”…anyone who thought of A Christmas Story just now gets bonus points.)
sad runner
The thing is, life can be awesome and grant you the highest of highs, but it can also offer up some pretty extreme blows. The thing is, and although when you’re in the midst of a low it’s nearly impossible to pull yourself out of ‘yourself’ and remember this: we all go through junk, crap, shiznit…so you are not alone. Misery loves company, right?

Okay, the point of this post is NOT to be a downer, so wait for it because I do have a reason for this bleak intro and even tie it into running. One thing we love about running is that it is ever constant, it doesn’t change much. You can always count on a mile being a mile, a minute run is a minute run…even if you’d wish you’d covered more distance in that minute than you did. The times are non-negotiable, as are the distances…it’s very clear-cut, black and white. One reason I enjoy this sport is you can’t argue with the outcome…you win if you cross the line first, there aren’t any politics involved such as in gymnastics and scoring sports. You break tape = you win.

Life is NOT a constant. It throws you for loops, lippy-dippies, and the like. When life’s craziness collides with running that’s when things can get interesting. Personal case study: when life deals out say, an injury or a sickness, and it derails the ever-constant running (ie: missed runs) it royally cheeses me off, “Hey, Running, I thought you were a constant and I could depend on you…what in the heck?!”
racers at track
But running and life go hand in hand; and such is the case with everyone. This plays out in affecting our sport in a variety of ways: when athletes line up for the gun to a degree they are all equals despite what their PR’s are. Why? Because of life. We have no idea what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ and what they are dealing with…coming off of an injury, a flu, a change of coach, or another huge life stressor.

People can discount or ‘poo-poo’ at how much life stress can derail training plans and say that if it affects your running than you are just mentally weak…but that is a fallacy. Running is very mental and humans are creatures of emotion; while the better athletes may be able to more adeptly channel those, or compartmentalize, better than others that doesn’t mean they aren’t human in the end.

Why do I bring this up? A lot of reasons. One, because to put it out there that if you’re dealing with a life loopy and it derails your constant running, it’s okay to be cheesed off, but know that you’re not alone and that in the end the low will come back up, but to do that you have to keep your head up and keep plugging away. “Stay the Course.”

Second, remember that if your running performances are dipping and you don’t know WHY look to the obvious of course (resting, recovering, nutrition, sleeping, etc) but also look to life stressors. Have you moved, had a ton of deadlines stressing you out, a death in the family…you can’t ignore these and think they are no part of the equation. Factor that in, I’m not saying to skip the runs or workouts, but perhaps adjust them or adjust the times you want to hit…heck, chuck the watch and just go off of effort…give yourself some slack. (I hardly ever say that so when I do I mean it…haha.)
woman running
Finally, there can be a lot of negativity in our sport. Message boards can be toxic, as can outside observers who have no idea what is going on. As they say, “It’s WAY easier to look at these professional runners, or any other runner for that matter, and add in your two cents…but I’d like to see any of these nay-sayers get out there and race.” I’ll say it like this, “Spike up or shut up.”

I don’t need to step on a little podium, and I’m sorry…I have friends that race at a high level and are constantly under scrutiny. I’m a person who doesn’t really care if you hate on me, but bad talk my family or friends and it riles me up. :P Instead of bagging on people for a performance that an anonymous unknown deems is ‘below’ them, how about cheering them on for overcoming some ‘life junk’ and getting excited to see them bust it out of the gates next time?

There I’m done…sorry, this was a bit more of a multi-tangent post so maybe you’re still here, maybe not. In closing, take the loopies that mess with our adorably constant running world and know that in the end you WILL get back to the land of safe, black and white numbers…you’ll just have to work for it. ;)

1) How do you handle ‘life stress’ are you the kind of person who turns to running more or less?
Definitely more. If something is driving me crazy or even making me feel sad I’ll turn to a nice run…if I have a good run I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

2) How do you compartmentalize; if there are other stressors but you have a big race, how do you manage that?
Hmm…when I was racing I was pretty good at just shutting down and focusing on the race regardless. Usually I’m excited to race and just go…plus, back to the first question, running makes me feel better so I use that to help.

3) There are always negative people who want to tear down people at the top; on the internet it is worsened by the anonymity. Why all the hate…discuss?

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Running Skirts — Crossing a Thin, Frilly Line?

Happy Saturfarts to all! I hope you are having a great weekend thus far, and for those that raced do feel free to brag on your fine selves, I want to hear all about it!

Today, I think I finally need to bring something up. I hope it doesn’t offend any of my lovely lady bloggers because I think it’s something that may be a little touchy subject. Running skirts.

running skirts
Okay, let me start off by saying that since they’ve been around they’ve become more and more popular and I’ve seen lots of people wearing them and my tolerance for them has grown as such. I actually will go out and state that I’ve seen pictures of some friends wearing them and they do look cute, but here is my dealio with the whole running skirts thang.

When they very first were about to come out, I was working at the Nike World Headquarters up in Oregon and so I saw the wear testers doing the whole testing and fitting then first. Right away I said to a very good friend of mine (he’s a guy and shares my snarkness…we were probably twins separated at birth and a couple of years removed) “What in the heck is that??! What are they doing…those are the stupidest things I’ve ever seen…I hope they don’t actually start selling those things. I swear if those things take off I’m going to flip my top!”

Well, they did hit the stores…they did take off.

Here was my line of thinking, hear me out. This tomboy sort of saw them as yet another attempt to ‘girlify’ our sport. Here we go through all these great pains to be seen/treated as equals and now they go and bring back the skirt? I mean we already have to fight and scour shelves for any article of clothing that ISN’T in a pink or similar color palette.

On the competitive scene, girls already get plenty of flack over the fact that yes, we will forever run slower than the guys, but dang it that’s genetics and women pros are still stellar and deserve the same level of respect. They put in the miles (albeit generally less overall than the males but again that is mostly due to body composition…and if you totaled up the amount of actual time spent running versus miles the gap is even less), bust out the repeats, and can be just as gritty as the dudes. There have even been college/professional level coaches joking that, “Eh, it’s just the women’s races, they don’t count all that much.”

woman runner
So that’s where I saw the skirt as a bad direction for our sport. I will admit I did cringe when I saw a few professional ladies even wearing and talking about liking the running skirt. I dunno, that’s just me. I haven’t ever worn one myself so maybe I’m not giving them a chance out of just principle and being a dorkette….that and the fact that I don’t even own a normal kind of skirt.

I’m also super picky about running shorts, so there is the comfort issue. I think the skirt part would only keep getting bunched up and ‘eaten up’ by my thighs and that would annoy the heck out of me.

So am I just being way overly feminist about this issue, girls? Like I said, in the years since I’ve seen more and more people wearing them, some of them friends, and I don’t hold it against them necessarily, but I still don’t ever see myself donning one of those running skirts. That’s just me.

1) Running skirts, have you ever worn them, where do you stand?

It’s sort of funny that I pick THIS topic to go on a rant about, particularly since I’m not one of those people who tend to go all overboard with reading into social things and women’s rights. Haha.

2) If any guys are reading this, what are your thoughts? Do you think running skirts are stupid or do you think they are ‘cool’ or whatnot for ladies…obviously you might not want to wear one for other reasons.

3) Anyone race today, if so how did it go? If not, what was your workout?

Love affair with my treadmill today (a bit over 9 miles) followed by ab and core work.

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Mary Decker Slaney’s Birthday and Bringing ‘it’ to the Track

So today I think I need to start with a little tribute to one of the most amazing female runners…it’s Mary Decker Slaney’s birthday today and I was reminded of this by a FB friend who posted this AMAZINGLY inspiring 3000 meter race from the 1983 World Championships.

mary decker and ruth wysocki

Toonicized 1984 US Olympic Trials 1500m


Now, I’m a bit too young to have been lucky enough to really watch her races when she was the she-fire on the track, but growing up my mom made it clear that Mary was one of ‘those’ people. The people that to us distance runners, are true idols. Who, to the common mainstream public, may be their Kim K’s, Justin B’s, Harrison Fords…you get the picture. I’m also lame because I’m grappling for the ‘right’ kind of celeb to parallel to our distance running idols but am coming up short.

I’d like to think of Mary as more than a few notches above a Kardashian, so maybe a Jennifer Anniston or Reese Witherspoon, you know, more like an American Sweetheart type of thing.

I did this cartoon version of a picture that was taken by my photographer friend, Bill Leung, when he was there to witness the duel between Mary and Ruth Wysoki at the 1984 1500 meter US Olympic Trials. (A duel where Ruth actually made quite the upset for the win!) So in the real picture the photographer on the side wasn’t in it, that’s my little Bill tribute…hehe.

Anyways, Mary was one of those child phenoms that never burned out before hitting the pro circuit. She raced with guts, of course people are always quick to say ‘this and that’ about people, there are no shortage of negative commenters around, but there are no shortage of fans either. Regardless, I don’t think anyone, after watching races like these can argue with the fact that she is an inspiring and amazing athlete.

I did have the very fine pleasure of meeting and dining with Mary and her husband, and it’s so funny how runners have that duel persona. You can be gritty and fierce as heck on the track, but then cross the finish line and in ‘real life’ be the nicest person around. I’d say it’s more of a stark contrast with girls especially…though, don’t get me wrong because girls can be plenty catty if you catch the wrong set of ‘mean girls.’ Haha.

it's GO time

It's GO time...

My point was, even if it’s your best friend in a race, fire the gun and in competitive situations it’s every man for himself. Some people can argue with me there, “You shouldn’t try to beat your friends,” “Be nice,” and things like that. And if you are going into a race planning on just doing it for fun, then that’s fine, and in that instance it’s not necessarily a ‘race’ between you two.

But when you’re putting it all on the line, and in cases where you really are fighting for the win, the place, I don’t think it’s mean or rude to separate life on the track from that off the track. In fact I think you’re only doing a disservice to the sport and your competitors if you don’t give it you all. (There are always exceptions, if you’re there to pace a training partner to their PR or something like that, I’m not a total heartless jerk…lol.)

I’ve been perfectly happy warming up with my friend (it eases my nerves to have them there actually…I know some people are the opposite and don’t like to talk), knowing full well they too want the very same place as I do in the race, and really I’d have been really pi**ed if they played the ‘nice’ card and ‘gave’ me a win. It works both ways, if you beat someone you want to beat them at their best, not some charity case. So when the gun is fired, it’s ‘go’ time.

However, once the line is crossed, that is when the true signs of sportsmanship should be shown. That’s when the ‘nice’ runner emerges and you congratulate people if you did wind up the winner, and you put on a brave face if you weren’t. You hold it together if you had a horrible race and if you’re going to cry or throw a fit try to put a lid on the worst of it until you get somewhere by yourself. Because we all have those days, those disappointments, and in fact that’s where it can be a real blessing to have a friend/training partner that was in the race who you can cool-down with and talk to about it…because they’ll get it.

And here wraps up another long tangent filled post…I started out by wanting to wish a Happy Birthday to one of my running idols. I’d take that meeting with Mary and her husband (Actually that guy is hilarious!! He’s a stellar field event athlete in his own right and can actually rip a phone book in half too…so funny to see them next to each other with Mary being so slight!) over any ‘normal people’ celeb any day.

1) Who is one of your running idols?

2) Who is one of your any kind of idol?

I admire and respect a few people but not necessarily famous ones.

3) Race day, I know people race for many different reasons and so depending on the reason I think the ‘rules’ or protocols are different. When you toe the line do you take your friendships with you, or is it understood that it’s every man/woman for themselves but once you cross the line you’ll happily cool-down with a competitor?

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Grunting on the Backswing and Pictures of the Snot Queen

Yesterday I met a woman and got to talking, it came up that I was a runner, “So I hear you’re a crazy, crazy runner. Like you run a crazy lot.” I laughed and told her that, “Yes, I’m crazy but not because I run a lot.”

She looked fit and trim so I asked her if she was a runner, she laughed a lot and told me that there was no way she’d run but she really liked tennis. Cool beans, I told her my Po-Po plays a lot of tennis. It then came up about the whole tennis grunting thing.

She was telling me that there is a big controversy now about people who say players should limit their grunts. My response? “What, it’s tennis, not golf or something.”

In my book, if you’re working your butt off and giving your all into your sport you probably won’t be looking pretty the whole time. Same goes if you make a noise or two. I admit if someone was running behind me and starting gorilla grunting I’d be a little peeved, that can get a little annoying, but I think the difference is that the motions and exertions are different enough between running and tennis so that if you’re on the court and you bust a big thrust, hit the ball hard…let the grunts fly.

(Warning: this is gonna soon turn into a horrible running photos post, so proceed at your own risk)

Actually, when I was younger my brother and I used to watch tennis (forced into it by Po-Po) and we’d perfect our grunts. To the woman, I sort of paralleled the tennis grunts to running. Can I have a raise of hands of people who have had really beautiful running photos taken of them?

If you’re raising your hand, you are a stinker and ruining my point. At least for me, the few running shots I’ve got fall into these categories: 1) My quad is in that awkward landing point so it makes my muscle look like it belongs on the hulk 2) the same sort of position was caught on camera but this time it’s so that my face is sort of sagging on impact, like it looks as if my flesh is sort of melting off of my face 3) for some reason I’m always fiddling with my hands or fingers and 4) facial expressions are always the best, when I look back at some of these pictures I wonder if I’m as disturbing to the crowd as I am to myself viewing the pix.

How do I manage to swing my arm across my body and make my left leg swing behind me? Bad form girl!

The thing is though, when your running, at least for me, and racing the last thing I’m thinking about it how I look. I’m trying to zone out really and, if anything, focus on keeping my form. Heck, I’m also a grossy who spits, I’m sure boogers have worked their way out if my nose is running, when it’s really hot I get this white salt all over me, I’m one hot mess. But I’d worry about that after I cross the line.

Not even enough words for this one. Yikes. PS-arm thing, total waste of energy and horrendous form

Running races hurts, especially the closer you get to the end, so I’m the first to admit it’s possible to look like total he!! and the only thing that really matters is getting to that flipping line ASAP. People bag on runners looking all crazy, wild eyes nearly all white as they dig for that final gear down the homestretch, I don’t mind agreeing that yes, it is not gonna win America’s Next Top Model, but what’s more important to me is, “Did they win?”

So ya, I love to laugh at my own horrible looking self the few times I’m caught on camera (thankfully I’m actually a vampire and so you won’t be seeing me turn up on film anytime soon) and I really don’t care that I look like shiznit…all part of the game.

Deadly triple threat: melting face, gross quad, funky arms. Don’t blame the photographers. PPS-Sorry, these pix are archaically old

Do I think we need to start strapping muzzles on and silencing these grunting tennis players? Heck no, in this instance I think it’s just natural to make a sound when you whack a ball full force. Grunt away.

That said, I think the sounds/cases of what’s acceptable behavior is different between sports and activities…the creepo ‘I think I’m the Most Macho Man Ever’ gorilla grunting at the gym is totally different…let’s put a muzzle on him!

1) What say you? Grunting in tennis, okay or not?

2) Horrible running pictures, if you send some to me, I’d love to do a little montage tribute! But regardless, what do you usually look like?

3) Do you have that grunter dude at the gym? If so, what is your stance on all that noise?


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