Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Diane Israel on Recovery

I really like the article about Diane in Westword, and I got quite a few comments about what an inspiration Diane is. I couldn't agree more. In fact, I often feel that if Diane had not stepped into my life, I probably wouldn't be here. At minimum, she helped me through some unbearably difficult times.

Mostly when Daine and I speak on the radio, in public or in a podcast, we try to focus on recovery. I will share just a few key concepts that we both feel are essential in overcoming the illness.

Bits and pieces of the following are from my manuscript, though I changed quite a bit for this post. 

Recovery Concepts
In an interview I did with Diane Israel for my book, I found out that she began having eating problems around age 14, around the same time my eating disorder started. Our discussion around the causes and treatment of eating disorders was fascinating. I always seem to learn something new when I'm around Diane. She sees things so clearly and can define the issues around anorexia so well.

 “Perfection is the core wound of anorexia,” Diane states, “There is an underlying fear of failure that leads most addicts to seek control through other means." Both of us have talked about this idea of how it is when our outer world spins or feels like it is spinning more out of control, we want and try to grab control of our immediate surroundings. Diane suggests that if we can keep our central world predictable, even if it’s painful, it eliminates the fear of losing control. It may not be pleasant, but at least we know where we stand, where we exist.

For Diane, a turning point occurred when, after qualifying for the Jewish Olympics, she had a realization that she was too thin. it's funny how these observations that are so obvious to others can take time to sink in on a personal level. She states, “There were times as an athlete where I would do well, but overall, I was too depleted to consistently do well.” The day before her big race, she was so hungry that she ate a falafel sandwich. It didn’t sit well, and Diane explains that she just blew up in the race. Going in as the favorite and ending up with the bronze medal was not only a disappointment but a slap in the face. It made her look at her life and realize that she had been living in a haze. She admitted that she was going down the wrong path. 
She goes further and explains, “Sometimes the body, mind and spirit line up in ways we can’t explain. Often this occurs when we come close to death. Somehow coming close to the veil of death allows us to have these epiphanies. At these times there is an opening that we are finally able to allow, that can ultimately lead to inviting something else into our lives. For the addict, the tendency is to want to hold on to the addiction at all costs, so it’s essential to allow for the possibility of change when it presents itself, no matter how great the fear.” In my manuscript, I go more deeply into these concepts. 

Both Diane and I are forced to live with great regret. Knowing that we missed opportunities and chances for success due to our addiction is hard to face, yet both of us are growing and adapting. For both of us, our addictions once tended to and sometime still rule our lives, but each day we move more and more toward freedom. 

In terms of living with regret, it was Bobby McGee who reminded me that I needed to start where I am. So often, I jumped back into training trying to be the athlete that I was. He explained it in terms of a train being on a track. The train can't randomly jump to another track. It must start where it is. However, a train doesn't have memory, so it's probably easier for it to not go about regretting all the events that led it to be on the track its wheels are locked on, looking longingly at a different track. What I found was that I was running with all the fatigue of that poor overworked and over-trained girl in my past. Plus, there was just no way for me to step into being the athlete I was after all I had been though. My body was a different body, so I had to face the reality of where I was. It's a similar situation with an eating disorder. Often true awareness comes in the form of some kind of epiphany, breaking through all the denial that was masking a realistic perception of the self. That's when healing can begin.

It's impossible to go back. When I was in the hospital, many of the girls would express the desire to go back to a time when they didn't think about food. I never had this kind of period in my life, but I could somewhat relate, just in terms of my life not being so much like a constant nightmare at one point. Still, the only way out of that nightmare was to keep moving forward. Illnesses like anorexia seem to keep us stuck and spinning our wheels. As Diane points out, it takes courage to overcome the fear that can keep us stuck. Even acknowledging that fear is a step in the right direction though.

Oh! I have to steal the video GZ posted the other day. Wow. This kind of race makes me feel like I've been running flat paved roads my whole life! Jeez. Things like this and ultra running are events I can admire and respect, but would never attempt. Thanks for posting, GZ!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting Too Deep

This week a friend of mine posted a status update on facebook that was about making friends because of feeling a connection, and how sad it can be when one party decides for whatever reason that the connection, real or perceived, should be broken. I have talked quite a lot about how difficult it can be to let go. I still struggle with it. Sometimes "letting go" is hard to even define. I feel the same way as my friend though- that it's always sad when things were not as they seemed, paths must come to an end and saying goodbye is necessary. I used to be one who believed that doors should always remain, if not open, at least ajar. I'm learning that sometimes it's just better to close them, and hope that Alexander Graham Bell was right in assuming another one will open. Still, knowing this doesn't make it any easier.

I was not feeling well all last week. I'm hoping this week is a little bit better. I ended up not working out at all Saturday and got sent home from work with my boss saying I looked deathly ill. I think after having meningitis, unless I really am deathly ill, I get the feeling I "should" be fine, forgetting that it's OK to take it easy when not at that 100 percent optimal health level. I am feeling much better after another day of rest. Oddly, time off my foot doesn't seem to help much. However, with PT it is still making progress.

The other night, my cat was sprawled out on his little chair, looking like he was melting from the heat. At one point, his head flopped over, and I got a sick feeling as he laid there motionless. I ran over to him, and gently took his head in my hands, calling his name. He felt cold. My insides dropped, and, feeling shaky as the panic was flooding me, I said his name louder. I wanted to throw up. Then, he shook his head, as if waking from a deep sleep and meowed. Gah! What a relief. The little guy gave me a heart attack, but I'm just glad he is fine. Whewww.

It got me thinking about death though, something I really hate pondering. I write about death in my book, having come so close to the edge at times. Here is another short little excerpt from the unedited version. I am supposed to meet with my new editor today or tomorrow, so things might be changed around a bit in the final draft.

Short excerpt from "Training On Empty"

It seems a bizarre irony that someone so afraid of death would have taken her life right up to the edge for a possible glimpse of the other side. Perhaps I thought I was facing my fear. Somehow, facing the reality of dying never actually eased my intense phobia. If anything, it only made it worse. When I was in the throes of anorexia, I would often consider that any given moment could be my last. However, I was never able to let go of all the limitations I had placed on myself. I would think of all the foods I had missed tasting, all the life I had missed living, and all the people I had missed meeting. It took years to begin to reach any sort of balance and begin to sample life again. Just as I was beginning to emerge from my black, black past, I was struck with the intense feeling I was going to die.
There have been several times in my life when I have come face to face with death. The first incident was in grade school. I was at home playing with a friend and suddenly felt a terrible headache coming on. The headache was so bad that I had to ask my friend to leave so I could go lie down. The pain intensified quickly. Before I could even attempt to call out to my mom down the hallway in the other room, I became paralyzed from the severe throbbing pressure growing in my skull. It was as if my brain were going to explode. Any slight movement was far too painful to tolerate, so I stayed as still as possible for over an hour until my mom finally came looking for me. When she entered the room, I saw her panicked face as she leaned over me. My eyes had glazed over and we both thought I would be dead shortly. “My head,” I managed to whisper. She called the hospital, but the nurse told her there was an epidemic of viral meningitis going around. Chances were I was another case. The hospital was swamped. My mom was told to call back only if I didn’t improve over the next three hours and an ambulance would be sent. Viral meningitis is described as a swelling of the outer layer of the brain. It is extremely painful and can cause brain damage, deafness, blindness, and in some instances, death.  Fortunately, the pain lessened over the course of the night, and it was indeed as the ER operator had expected, viral meningitis not the similar but lethal illness bacterial meningitis. I recovered fully over the next few days and was back to my normal activity in less than a week. Many years later, I would be struck down again with this illness in a much more severe case. 

I go on to discuss my mitral valve prolapse and the panic attacks that occurred as a result. This all occurred before I ran a marathon. Well, I jogged it in 3:49 or something, but whatever. That's an aside. I still haven't come to terms with death. Basically it's one big fear that I tend to avoid. I get weirded out if I think about it too much, and often fear losing those around me whom I love. So I stay on the surface with thoughts around death, the same way I avoid thinking too deeply about infinity or nothingness. 

This is a really odd post. I'm not sure what is going on with me lately, but my head is completely in a fog. Sometimes when I'm not feeling physically at my best, I lose a bit of confidence all around. Sigh. Well, it looks like a nice cloudy day, which means a run would be good soon.I'll leave this sort of hanging, as my thoughts seem to be doing that quite a lot lately. 

My little Romo! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Diane Israel in Westword!

Darn- I wish I would have seen this earlier! Well, it's deserving of its own post. It's a nice article on Diane:

Diane Israel.

From the article:
["Are you Diane Israel?" a student asks. The Diane Israel who was one of the original pro triathletes, the Diane Israel who helped launch Boulder's tri-craze? Even at this gym, where it wouldn't be unusual to spot such Olympic hot shots as Matt Reed and Greg Bennett, or Ironman winners like Craig Alexander, Diane Israel's name turns heads.
Diane just smiles. To gear up for this visit to the gym, she got dressed as though she was going for a job interview. And she's been anxiously biting her nails as she's watched the cyclists pump away, since the scene brings up memories she'd rather not recall.
As Jon Bon Jovi sings, she doesn't tell the class that she, too, went down in a blaze of glory — and in many ways is still trying to find her way back.]

In other news, I am meeting with an editor next week. Things are moving forward.


All of a sudden things are opening up, and I'm feeling a little better. I'm still opting out of the race for many reasons, but I figure there will be plenty to choose from in the future. My stomach isn't quite 100 percent, but it's much better. My foot without the Aleve is doing OK, and I finally have some options with editing my manuscript, which is the biggest relief in a weird way.

I wish I had some fun or cool workouts to post, but this week was more just trying to hang in there. I did do one of my favorite trail runs yesterday. It's funny, because that run used to be my big, huge, gigantic long run, and now it's more like a longish, but doable one. Still, anything over an hour still feels like it's on the long side. I'm not sure why this is, but I have had two songs embedded in my brain for the last few days and carried them with me on several runs.

This one:
                                                          Best version of Mahna Mahna ever!

And this one:

Speaking of Muppet songs, this is kind of cool.

Last year, I went to run this 4 mile race, but I had missed it by a day. I did some kind of harder workout on my own instead after figuring out that the area was looking like a ghost town for a reason, not just because I was a tad early. It was listed on a few race calendars for a Thursday, but they switched the day to a Wednesday instead. They must have had some complaints, because it is back to the usual Thursday night, TONIGHT. It's an interesting race, as it's the oldest benefit race in Colorado. The course is fun with a nice downhill to start and hill to climb coming back to the finish, which is just a little bit past the start line. It's on both the street and dirt roads.There's another event going on tonight that caught my eye. I have some other things planned, but both these events are worth checking out. I have to run to the Humane Society today, so I'm going to cut this short and go do my foot exercises. However, I'll add one more charity event coming up in Sept: A 10 percent donation to the humane society will be given with the purchase of certain works by several artists at SmithKlein Gallery.

AAK! It's late.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Quickie

I'm not in the mood to write much lately. I hate when there's a big issue pressing on my brain, and my response is to want to crawl in a hole. Whatever. My point is that this will be brief.

After taking too much Aleve when I got the dose wrong, my stomach has been a mess. My foot felt great! I have also set new records sleeping. For example, I took a 2 hour nap on Monday, and also went to bed early. I'm off the Aleve, which is better for my stomach, but not so good for my foot. It seems to be a catch 22, but I'll take the foot pain over the storm in my stomach. I mention this, because I had planned to do a race this weekend, and that's definitely out of the question. Actually, I'm bailing for other reasons too, not just the unbelievable cost of the event or the foot or the angry alien in my stomach who, fortunately, seems to be resting more lately. I'm bailing because I just fucking am. Speaking of bailing, because I am off the Aleve, I tried to stick my foot in an ice bath. Yeah, I would rather stab myself in the eye with a chopstick than try that again. It almost made me cry, and I lasted about a minute before I couldn't take it anymore. I can't believe I used to sit in a cold whirlpool or ice baths in college. I think I was the only one on the cross country team who would wear a bathing suit with my winter attire on the top half in order to survive standing or sitting in the cold water. Still, no wonder I vowed to never do that again! Sigh. But the swelling does cause that nervy stuff to flair up, so it ends up being quite painful. It's better, but not quite there yet. Poo.

In other news, I am looking for an editor. I've contacted a few, but haven't heard back yet. I'm sort of in a hurry, so if anyone knows somebody who is good, details please.

And finally something more interesting:

I really like what Bobby McGee has to say about racing. It's something that he tried to teach me long ago, but I'm just learning now. Of course there are all these trite sayings about "it" being about the process, but in terms of racing --and probably in other areas of life as well-- it's essential to focus on carrying out the task, not the outcome. Being attached to to the outcome or having expectations can lead to a disaster in a race. You can easily end up psyching yourself out. If, instead, the focus is on DOING or, as Bobby puts it, the execution, chances are things will go more smoothly. Of course, there are other factors to racing well- a calm mind, good visualization, proper training and confidence in that training, but by having attention in the right area, it can help make for better results (even though the end results are not the main focus).

OK, that's it for now. Hopefully I will be out of this funk soon and back to some posts with a bit more substance.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stealing Lyrics and Song Titles

The other day I saw a lady I know who is still struggling with severe anorexia. Truth be told, I'm surprised she is still alive given how bad her illness is, and I feel terrible that there's nothing I can do for her. There are times when I see her running, if one can call it that, that I want to tell her what a construction worker once told me when I was at my worst when he yelled at me to stop running and go eat something. How often does anyone expect to hear that? In this case, it's hard to comprehend how she can run at all. It's quite painful to watch, and she looks like she could break at any moment. As much as I can sometimes fret about not eating the right things, eating too much chocolate, occasionally thinking I don't look exactly right or complaining about my body in any way, I am forever grateful that I am no longer in the twisted nightmare of my illness. However I got spit out of the belly of the inferno, I'm glad I have landed in a new and  better place. It's heartbreaking to know what this lady must be going though, and witnessing her compulsion, as she shuffles along on her strange little excursion, makes me uncomfortable. I wonder what others think when they see her dragging along. Is it the same reaction as seeing an alcoholic living in the streets, begging for change to buy more booze? I wonder. Either way, it's hard to miss how much the pull of addiction affects her judgment when she's so thin that she looks like a concentration camp victim, yet is still out running.

Part of the reason I'm amazed that she is still alive is I know that she has been living at this unbearably low weight for many years. For me, I was bumping along rock bottom for maybe 4 years, yet my organs had started to shut down and I was having seizures. Things were dire, and I can't imagine I would have lasted much longer had I not thrown myself into recovery. I really doubt that I was at a lower weight than this lady, but for whatever reason, my body couldn't take it. I assume most people's bodies would respond more like mine and would not be able to linger without proper nourishment. Somehow, she is defying nature in her survival, and I'm glad. I still have hope that she will one day be able to turn things around. Call me an eternal or maybe even an unrealistic optimist, but as long as she's alive, I believe she has a chance.

I'm trying to pretend I didn't just find out that there's a book out called "Running on Empty," but I did. I actually considered using this as a title for my book, but I didn't want to steal a very popular song title. Oddly enough, it doesn't look like there's any mention about running in the book. I won't go into all that I find wrong with this blurb, and I don't just mean that someone dropped an "I" somewhere in that first quote. Think she used Wikipedia much there? Ok maybe it was some free online dictionary, but the definitions are pretty much word for word. Fucking hell. I am pissed. It's not so much that there's yet another book published about anorexia, it's that there's another book published about anorexia that contains the same information as all the rest, and the very information that's already found online! Sigh, but good for her. I'm glad she got hers out there, and if another diary about someone struggling with an eating disorder helps someone, that's all that matters. I will say that anorexia is really not about wanting to look good. That might be one small aspect of it, but the illness goes much, much deeper than that. I hope that is not the main focus of her writing. All this aside, some of the reviews look good, and I suppose I should actually read the thing before I make any judgments about it.

The Pikes Peak race results are in, and there was a new age-group record set for women in the twenty-something category. In the ascent, Kim Dobson ran an incredible 2:34:07 (I know! Faster than my old time of 2:39-sigh), and woa- look at 46 year old Lisa Goldsmith running 2:50:55 for third place in the women! That fucking rocks!! Matt Carpenter won the marathon.

In unrelated news, my tummy has been doing strange things lately. I don't know if it's the Aleve I have been taking that seems to help my foot quite a lot, or if it's something else. Either way, I need to figure out a way around it, because my innards are not happy.

I'm a tad on the grumpy side at the moment, so I'll leave you with a video from my favorite band, mostly because the lyrics are touching me today.

                                                            I don't care if it hurts
                                                           I want to have control
                                                           I want a perfect body
                                                          I want a perfect soul

Oh, I am on a computer where I can't seem to make comments again. I'm sure it's some kind weird glitch in the matrix, but I'm missing out on commenting on blogs and responding to comments lately! Poo.  :/

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's All About the Hill

Today is the Pikes Peak Ascent. There are debates all over the place about who is likely to win and what times will be run. There are lesser debates about what kinds of runners are typically good mountain runners. There's even one discussion about whether or not Kenyans are good mountain runners, as if anyone can determine this as a legitimate rule. With proper training, I assume most people can become better mountain runners. If you take a runner who is trained for running flat road races, and plunk him or her down in front of Pikes, sure, I doubt they would run as well as if they did a few mountain runs before hand. I don't generally get involved in these kinds of debates though. I will say that in one thread, someone tried to suggest that female runners will never be as good ultra or mountain runners as men, but there are at least a few examples of women winning these kinds of races outright. My post some time ago on Ultra Grrlz points to some outstanding women in the field.

Shoot. Every time I hear or see the word Kenyans, this video pops into my head. hehe:

Maybe by the time I'm set to publish this post, the results of this year's race will be available. It shouldn't be long now.

Speaking of hills, I was able to run up Flagstaff Mountain on the road yesterday. I did a tempo pace to the very top, starting at Chautauqua and going toward Gross Reservoir. I did it in 58 minutes, which isn't too bad! My pelvis was a little bit off, but the new insoles that my Dr. gave me are great! I do like them.

I was debating about posting this next part, but I will go ahead and confess. I saw a photo of me yesterday, and I guess I'm not quite over the whole body image thing. My first response was, "OMG- I look so fat!" Not that it stopped me from finishing the mini chocolate bar I was eating, but it was my first response. On the other hand, I sort of let it go, and decided that I will probably always be a little too hard on myself. Plus, I'm used to seeing a way too skinny version of me in pictures, not a more normal looking one. I definitely have a fear of cameras. In nearly all pictures it's obvious that I am turning away, begging the person behind the camera to not shoot. In ones where I'm trapped and forced to face the camera, I generally look like someone is standing near me saying, "smile or I'll shoot." Um..not the camera, I mean. It's like I get all stiff and uncomfortable when faced with someone behind the camera wanting to snap a picture.

All this aside, the main thing is that the run, despite me being tired from the start, went well. I do think that I am limping less. It would be cool to pick out a hill climb before the summer is over. I'll see if I can find one. I'm going to go for an easy jog in a bit here. For some reason, it feels like it has been a LONG week. I kept thinking yesterday was Saturday!

I had something I wanted to write last night. It was one of those thoughts that made me all excited, because it was worded in just the right way and interesting. Unfortunately, I completely forgot what it was before I could get to a scrap piece of paper or a computer to jot it down. I hate it when that happens. Now it's buried somewhere in my brain, lost in the clutter probably forever. By the way, I grew up pronouncing buried bUrried, not berry'd. People always make fun of me when  I say it, and as much as I would like to say it the other way, it slips out my usual way ALL THE TIME. However, I was once told that pronunciation is arbitrary. I suppose this is only marginally true, but it sounds good. I'm totally off topic here and completely wandering around in my head with not a whole lot to say...

I want to add that I hope GZ does well in his race tomorrow! I bet he will have all the results of both the ascent and the round trip posted on his blog. I just found out too that at the end of this month, there will be a running race up Pikes on the ROAD! Oh man, I wish I were in better shape. That's a bit too long for me right now, but what a cool idea. With my foot, trails are still a bit sketchy because of the uneven surface. But that's a BIG hill! Maybe another time. I will wait to see how others like it.

And to end this disjointed post, here is a video a friend of mine pointed out that features a very, very inspirational lady. Wow. I get choked up every time I see it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Update and Other Thoughts

The race results are in, and it looks like I was 3rd overall for the women, and the 1st old lady. The time was 21:41, which, all things considered, isn't horrible. Yikes though. I'm still having a hard time accepting that I am well into the master's division here and have a looonggg way to go in terms of speed. Maybe my immaturity has something to do with always forgetting my age? Hrm...Now I know if you drop a race like this in Boulder, I'd likely end up in the middle of the pack. However, I'm very happy with the way I ran. It was a conservative effort, but also about as much as my foot could handle. After a few really painful, sore days, it is feeling much, much better. Wrapping the thing up like a fat burrito seemed to help some earlier this week. Now I'm back to minimal taping jobs on it. As far as the race, I do have to face the fact that a 13 year old girl beat me, which made me sad, but, at the same time, it's cool to see a youngster running well. Oddly enough, I was joking with a friend of mine about being beat by kids while watching the Pearl Street Mile, when a boy barely out of his mom's womb flew by, running some ridiculously speedy time, placing among the faster runners of the night.

Tuesday, I jumped back on the stationary bike for a workout, just to be on the safe side, and forgot how HARD it can be! AAK! Wooo! Woooaaa! Man, those sessions can be a challenge, especially if fatigue is a factor at all, and I guess I was still a little tired. A visit to the foot Dr. left me hopeful at first, then grumpy when the new tape job he administered didn't work as planned. I go back Friday. I'm forever grateful to this Dr. though, because I know without the surgery, I wouldn't be running, period. He's a great guy. I'm just wanting a tad more out of my foot, but, ultimately, he thinks I will be able to bump up my training and even move the race distance up to a 10K soon enough. It's all a matter of what my foot can handle, and right now a 5K is all I can manage.

I'm having an issue with this very messed up book idea. The author must have some kind of brain damage to think that this is a good idea. Given the way the cover depicts the child, and after reading the synopsis, it appears that the message is clear: Fat is bad and Thin is good. Really, it could be stated in this way: Maggie realizes that only girls have problems when they are fat, and that true happiness comes  in the form of a size zero. Popularity and self confidence are just a number on the scale- a smaller number, that is. 

Come on...really? This couldn't have been about a little girl discovering that being happy and healthy doesn't have to be based on a size or fitting into a fucking dress? It states that the girl is depicted as dumpy- why? because she's not thin. What 6 year old (the book is aimed at 6-12 year olds) is longing to wear a smaller dress size? This is so incredibly messed up. And people wonder why eating disorders are hitting younger and younger children. Well, look at the pressure the media and people like this author put on kinds! Here is something the author should have thought about before creating a piece of work like this:  "
Nearly 100 children aged between five and seven in Britain have been treated for anorexia or bulimia in the past three years."  

Ahh, well. I'm cutting this short today. It has been a busy week, and I have a ton to do today, including a PT session, which I need.

The rose I got at the race is looking very nice. It opened up and has lasted much longer than I thought it would. It's funny how a little thing like a flower can put a smile on your face. Plus, any time I think of roses, the Little Prince and also my trip to France years ago pop into my brain. The roses in Monet's garden in Giverny were spectacular and smelled incredible. I like less perfumy roses-ones that smell more like fruit. Mmmm. Somewhere, I have a picture of my sister sticking her nose deep into one of the hanging roses. There was one we kept coming back to, because it was so stunning and smelled wonderful.

Monet's garden-Beautiful Rose bush

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Race Report?

Well, I'm not sure if I can call that a race, but I will anyway. It was my first race in about a year. Because I know my foot has its limits, I opted for a 5K to test the waters. The Aids Walk/Run in Denver is one of those races that's kind of the opposite of the Pearl Street mile, where everyone is out to run hard and fast. Here, everyone was out to be supportive and run for a cause, which ended up being perfect for me. There wasn't a huge crowd, and people were generally nice, except for one snotty lady at the start. It figures that in a sea of sweet little bunny rabbits, I'd seek out the dragon. Well, whatever. I was feeling all insecure before the start, not knowing at all where to place myself- on the front line or WAAAAYYYY in the back, so I asked the lady I was standing next to what kind of pace she was expecting to run. That got me the big stink eye along with a smirk when she replied, "there's no pacing in this race," and then rolled her eyes at me. Her response was just fine, facial grimaces aside, but not at all what I asked. I said thank you, and moved forward to run with the boys. Jeez.

As far as the race? Well, I got through it. I forgot both how short and how long a 5K can be. The good news is that I had a fair amount of gas left at the end. I probably should have pushed it harder. My heart and lungs and even my legs were fine. My foot, on the other hand, was maxed out and hit its limit. Still, it held up OK. It was a little bit sore and stiff after the race. I got a little worried, but it seems better now. My tummy did fine during the race, but is gurgling and grumbling and making me run to the bathroom every few minutes. I'm not sure if it's nerves or something else, but I'll be glad when the waves in my stomach are calmer. Lunch is sitting OK, so that's good.

The course was awesome! I made a great move on the first big hill, and wish I would have kept that confidence and strength throughout the race. Unfortunately, I found myself drifting into a comfort zone several times. I was also overly aware of what my foot was doing. When I ran through the first mile in 7:39, I at first wanted to cry. Then I wanted to laugh, but in the end, I wanted to address Mercury and beg for some fucking turnover for my legs! While I was at it, asking Zeus to drop another big hill in the middle of the course would have been a good idea. Mile 2 was 14 something. Here's the thing though- I have no idea what my finish time was. My watch showed 21 something, but at the awards ceremony, they announced 1-3 in 21:05, 21:06 or whatever, and 3rd as 23 something. Either my time was way off and I completely tanked on that last mile, or something is screwy with the results. Oh! I forgot to add the funny part- as I was heading for the finish, with way too much energy left, there was a mascot who got on his knee and presented me with a rose. heh. It was cute, so I played into it, slowing down and thanking him.

Now, I know whatever I ran, whether it was 21 something or 23 something, it was slow. On the other hand, I had fun, and my foot held up OK. I have some fitness in there. I can sense that. I just have absolutely no sense of pace. My confidence needs a boost too. I'm thinking I should probably do some speed work once my foot is really ready for it. Mostly though, I can't wait to jump in a hill climb! I love racing. I can't wait until I'm in better shape. It was really fun. Of course I'm disappointed in my time. I'd love to run like I used to, and kick out under 6 min pace consistently. But considering all I have been through, I'm thrilled I got to both the start AND the finish line!

I'm not sure why I thought of this, but when I went to watch the pearl street mile, I saw a guy dressed up as Scooby Doo. I also saw a bumper sticker that said "What would Scooby do?" As far as running form goes, I would say I look more like Velma than Scooby. I need to work on the forward lean. Which one are you?

Argh- computer issues. Scooby doo with the gang image will have to wait. in the meantime, here's a link to it. Oh here we go, only now I can't comment! Grr. I'll have to wait until I get to another computer with less issues. Oy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pikes, Revisited at a Distance

The Pikes Peak Ascent is coming up this month. The event takes place on the 20th.

I'm trying to figure out how to write this without sounding like a pompous asshole. I don't mean to be. It's more that I think running Pikes Peak and setting the record at age 16 was something kind of cool. It's the one moment in my life that makes me actually feel proud, and that's definitely not common for me. Maybe the fact that it was somewhat surreal, almost dream-like in nature has something to do with it still standing out in my mind as something big. It was one of those rare moments where everything fell into place- hard work met opportunity, and luck was sprinkled in there somewhere.

Every year the Pikes Peak Ascent is held, I hold my breath and get a funny feeling in my tummy. I can't help it. That was once my race. Yeah, I'm no Matt Carpenter or Scott Elliott (did you know I finished 2 minutes behind Scott in '83?), but it was still a race that was in my blood, one that forever called me from the first time I heard about it. In '87, I was poised to shatter the women's record. That was before I ended up in the hospital weeks before. Saying it was an off day when I attempted to run to the top of that mountain anyway is putting it mildly, and it's one of those races that still leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth, just like getting 2nd at state in the 2-mile after someone sat on my ass and out-kicked me did. I mean, it just wasn't supposed to go down that way! But life is full of all kinds of weirdness, and one has to move forward, let go and follow all those other bits of advice that are generally and often frustratingly true. These days, even though I'm not in any kind of racing shape for even a low-key 5K, I always look at the women's results for Pikes, and when the times are slower than 2:39, I breathe a little sigh of relief and experience just a bit of undeserved satisfaction. It's not as if I have had anything to do with the race lately. I'm well aware that I probably couldn't even get myself up the mountain in any kind of reasonable time frame, but I love that my bold and maybe reckless effort in '83 has remained one of the fastest times for women in the history of the race. I think it's in the top 5 fastest times or so?

Here are my stats for the years I ran. I'm also one of these blue dots. I still hold the age group record for age 16. I only ran the race three times, but all three times, I was under three hours to the top.

Hee ~ What a dramatic finish!

There are countless debates on how to train for that race. There are all kinds of debates about altitude training too. My training wasn't as scientific or specific as Matt or Scott's training, I'm sure. In fact, I had never set eyes on the trail until race day. My training plan was simple: one big long mountain run per week that was generally up and down a 14Ft peak, a few medium trail runs and occasionally some speed work. Though this race is a hill climb, obviously, there are plenty of sections that are less steep. If you can't open up and move on those sections, it will affect your time. This is the same reason why the Vail Hill Climb is so difficult, especially if you are out of shape, as I experienced last year. In that race, the switch-backs are steep, but then the ground levels out a bit. It's quite a bit of changing gears. In shape, I loved running that race, because I could shorten my stride on the turns and open up, pushing hard on the flatter sections. Out of shape, it's more like struggling up the steep parts and trying to recover enough to keep moving forward on the flat sections. ick. I have to confess too that I dropped out of that race once years ago when I was trying to make a bit of a come-back. I got to about mile two, and, in addition to feeling completely overwhelmed, just sort of felt like crap. It wasn't happening that day, so I turned around, jogged back to my car, had a good cry and went home. I'm not the runner I once was.

The truth is, I don't know the best way to train for Pikes. I'd like to think that what I was doing at age 16 would work these days. I don't know if it's necessary to study the mountain, live at high altitude and meditate on nothing but Pikes Peak. I'd like to think that my results show that other kinds of training schedules work, but I didn't win the thing a million times. I also didn't run it a million times. Still, I was considered one of the top mountain runners of my time. Maybe I'm far from an authority on the subject, but I liked the training I did leading up to that race. I did eventually go over the edge, but before that I was loving the trails and the training I did for that race.

Unfortunately, here I am now, hardly able to run all that normally. I don't know. I'm a little on the frustrated side with training, even though I had a great run Tuesday after kind of bailing on Monday. My foot was a little bit stiff and sore the next day though. I keep having to remind myself that I had 4 months off from the sport, and couldn't even really walk in December. Then in Jan, I could only walk if I wore my sister's big North Face boots. I was trying to imagine how that was going to look in the summer. last year, despite the fact that I jumped in 2 races, I was pretty out of shape too, only it was for different reasons, mainly not training hard.

I got through watching the race last night. I had mixed emotions. Part of me wanted to be running, and part of me was glad I wasn't running. It went much better than expected though, and hanging out with awesome people after only made the experience better. I'm in a good place lately. If I can just be patient and keep training as much as my foot will allow, I think all will be well. Despite all the worries I have been having lately, I'm feeling generally good about my life, my decisions and where I'm headed. That's rare for me. I may never run anything like Pikes again, but I'm OK with that. I just want to run without too much pain!

Good Luck to all of you who are running Pikes this year!  

Pikes Peak

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interview with the author of She Was Once A Runner

I have mentioned the blog She Was Once A Runner to quite a few people. While there are many similarities between what I went through and what the author did, our stories are not identical, obviously. From the comments she receives on her blog, it becomes quite clear that these issues are some that many collegiate and high-school runners encounter. I feel that sharing this information can help others come forward, ask for help, perhaps do things differently, and maybe even avoid getting in too deep.

I would like to thank the author of SWOAR for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope that people find this interview helpful.

1. How old were you when you started running? 

I decided to start running in 5th grade .  I would leave the house and run around the block until my legs felt like rubber.  I eventually joined Spring Track in the 7th grade.  Races were mixed gender then and I thoroughly enjoyed beating most of the boys, and all the girls, in my age group. I don't remember what my times were, but they were good enough for me to move up to High School Varsity in 8th grade, and things took off from there. 

2. What made you decide to write a blog, and is the story true?
 I started She Was Once a Runner as a way to encourage me to sit down and write every day.   The blog caught on really fast, despite zero advertisement on my part.  I really appreciate those that put up links on forums, because people have been leaving genuinely sincere comments on the blog, including former teammates of mine.   The experience helped me realize that not only does this story need to be told, it needs to be told in a different format.   I feel that posting entries on the blog breaks up the fluidity of the plot, which doesn't do the story justice. I am currently trying to figure out where I should go next with She Was Once a Runner . (Feel free to email me ideas, readers!)   
I am not sure why people doubt the validity of this story.  To make up something like this would be exploitation, in my opinion, which is why I have changed names, and made certain characters a composite of more than one teammate.

(Note: I also get this question in regard to my manuscript. I think because there have been published memoirs such as "A Million Little Pieces" that turned out to not be entirely true, people tend to question anyone writing about themselves. In my case, with over training and the eating disorder, truth really can be stranger than fiction.)


3. In your blog, you mention the atmosphere of competitive collegiate running. How do you think this atmosphere contributes to eating disorders?

When the best runner(s) on your team is allowed to compete with a serious eating disorder, it will no doubt create a toxic team environment.  She Was Once a Runner exemplifies that level of toxicity pretty well, in my opinion.  I have no doubt that there are positive, encouraging college teams that treat each other like sisters/brothers, but I'm willing to bet those teams also detect issues like anorexia and bulimia early on, and nip them in the bud.

4. Do you think there are more injuries in college runners than in professional runners? In other words, is the sport one in which injuries are common in general, or is there something about the way people train in college that contributes to more injuries?
I'm no expert on training, but personally, I never experienced a running injury until college, even though I had trained really hard in high school. I upped my mileage quite a bit in college, and never took days off, but in addition to that,  I had to race really hard every time I toed the starting line.  In high school, I didn't have to race hard until November rolled around.  I'm sure that the combination of high level training and racing hard every two weeks caused me to get injured, but I also didn't know how to rest, plus I had amenorrhea. I'm willing to bet that pro runners are more inclined to listen to their body, and avoid chronic injuries.  I would suggest subscribing to Lauren Fleshman's blog for more insight.

5. Do you plan on trying to compile your blog entries into a book?

I would love to compile my entries into a book, but I have no idea how to go about it.  I'm not opposed to self-publishing, but it would require a lot of time and effort on my part to do something like that, plus, if people didn't buy the book, I'd be stuck with a whole lot of paperbacks in my closet!

6. Where are you now in terms of moving forward from any issues that occurred in college?

 I don't think I suffer from any of the issues I faced in college, anymore, which is probably why I can now write about them.

7. Do you feel there is a way to prevent eating disorders in college and high school runners?

Preventing eating disorders is difficult, but I think that writing honest accounts of one's own experiences can help, especially since it's an issue that, I feel, gets swept under the rug in the running community.   I also think it needs to be communicated to younger athletes that they need to think long-term if they want to have a career in this sport.  Sacrificing your health at a young age will only debilitate your body's future.  Also, the athlete needs to surround his/herself with a positive support network of people.
  Avoid enablers! 

8. Do you still run? Do you compete anymore?

I cycle a lot more than I run.  Having said that, I would like to eventually train consistently enough so that I can experience a marathon.

9. What would be the one big piece of advice you would offer to young athletes going into a college program?
My advice to someone that is looking to earn a college scholarship is the following:  1) Review the team's performance history.   Avoid schools where you notice a pattern of athletes who did well for a season, and then disappeared.   2)  Do not get overwhelmed on your recruiting trip.  Remember that the coaches and staff are trying to "sell" their school to you, and are only going to focus on the positives.  Also, don't do anything stupid on your recruiting trip (get drunk, stay up real late, have a one night stand ), because the team will snitch on you ( I never experienced this first hand, but I definitely saw recruits lose a scholarship opportunity because they did one, or more, of the three things I just listed). 3) Don't be afraid to ask the coach training questions.  You want to work with someone who has an individualized program for each athlete.  Avoid coaches that have a 'what works for one, works for all' mentality. 

Monday, August 8, 2011


I just got through 4 weeks of running 6 days a week. My first year of college, I ran 6 days a week without fretting about it. Now I look at what everyone else is doing and think what a slacker I have become. But I like having a day or two off in my schedule. I get tired easily, and my emotions can get the better of me. Plus, I still have the occasional sharp pain in my foot that makes me want to vomit and fall to the floor, but it doesn't grab me as often. Still, I wish it would just go away. I've done a few longer runs over an hour and some harder sessions. I still feel very out of shape though. And it's true, even with only 6 days of running, I am tired. I think I'm just going to putter around on the trails today and not force anything. Either that or I'll sneak back to bed, and take a nap!

A friend of mine and I are going to go watch a race on Thursday. I'm actually nervous about watching a race! It's crazy. I'd almost rather be running, but I told myself I wouldn't race until those sharp pains are gone and my foot feels at least a little more normal. This is going to be weird.

Though overly simplified, this article is a good one. I wouldn't say it all comes down to loving and accepting your body, but that's a HUGE part. Disordered eating can come as the result of being fearful, having control issues and not being willing or able to express emotions. However, loving and accepting your body does help in terms of dealing with the symptoms of disordered eating, and it's true that you're less likely to abuse your body no matter what's going on if you love and accept it.

I had my last day of therapy on Friday. I am so glad I decided to go there in the end. When I was in the throes of the issues that led me there, I was too much in shock to respond to my own needs, so when this place called and asked if I needed to talk to anyone, I immediately resorted to my "I'll do it myself" attitude and offered them a quick but polite no thank you. A few months later I was like, "um..what was I thinking?" My therapist said I have made progress both in terms of seeing things accurately, setting boundaries and also reacting or, in some cases, not reacting. The great thing about this place, aside from it being affordable, is that I can now go to group meetings if I feel the need. In the end, growth is possible. There are still tendencies to revert back, engage in old patterns and put aside what I have learned, but I have the tools to avoid that and also see things more clearly. It's kind of the same with an eating disorder- sometimes it's tempting or there are urges to revert back to a different time, but with some conscious effort, keeping on the right path becomes a more desirable option.

I'm on a computer with a mouse that doesn't really work. It's becoming more than a little frustrating.

Well, my brain seems to be on vacation, so I'm going to cut this short. I am hoping to get a nice interview with a woman who has her own blog and has gone through some similar issues. Hopefully that will go down soon. I'd like to share her story, because I believe the more people are willing to talk about these things, the more it helps other who are struggling not feel so ashamed or alone.

My brain is here. Please do not disturb.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh no.

Yikes. My period finally arrived. What a rough month it has been. Between the hormonal stuff, working extra and my foot, I feel like I want to spend a few days in bed avoiding the world. Since I'm so used to being on a short cycle and occasionally getting "the bleedies" (do people really say that?) every two weeks, having this one arrive a full month after the last made it feel like I was late. Well, there was the time line and then the fact that I had all kinds of hormonal side effects that were overly exaggerated this time including but not limited to:

* A zit so large that it looked like an alien was trying to crawl out of my head.
* Cramps, OMG cramps. I get them both before AND during my period. It's double the excitement! 
* Prolonged bottomless pit syndrome with probably waaayy too much chocolate consumed, which might not be too horrible a thing, as this article pointed out, but didn't make me feel good about my willpower or lack thereof. 
* Grumpiness to the point where I wanted to kick random people in the shins, especially the bratty kid on the trails who was pretending to shoot me with a stick that was supposed to look like a gun. Fuck that shit. 
* Sore and swollen body parts.

Speaking of those particular body parts, I went shopping for a bra with a little extra support, hoping I could find something like the Brooks running bra that I found a few years ago that's simple but supportive. I started missing the days when I didn't need much support. In fact, for most of my running career, I didn't even wear a sports bra. Instead I wore a regular little lacy one. I think sports bras weren't all that popular until the 90's. Anyway, while on my quest for some support for my poor boobies, I found that there are now padded running bras. This instantly made me scratch my head and think, WTF?!! I guess people want to look good while running, and that's totally fine-look good/feel good, but a padded bra? Really? There are also one shoulder running bras. Huh? That would drive me crazy. In art I like asymmetry, but on my body, asymmetry would completely annoy me. I predict that soon Nike will start selling lipstick, eye shadow, fake nails and hair extensions for runners. I walked out with nothing.

On a somewhat similar note, I noticed that Victoria's Secret is now geared toward teens and tweens with only a few adult options. Do tweens really need padding? I guess the catalogs are different, but I felt inundated by pink polka dots when I walked into the store, and the sizes are all screwy.  I barely fit in a medium there. I'm not a big girl, so something's not quite right. I think even older women these days are "supposed to" have the body of a 14 year old boy, but buy the padded stuff to counter that? I can't quite figure it out.

As long as I'm complaining here:

Adidas running groupie attire-it doesn't have to function, as long as it looks good! Yes- my shoes are history. I'm pissed off that I spent what I did, and was only able to use them for about a month. Grrr. I could see if I were training hard, but this is just as I'm getting started running again. Before anyone goes on about how great Adidas is, I KNOW some people like their stuff. I get that. I'm just frustrated that the last few times I have gotten crap. I used to run in Adidas for years, but that was L O N G ago. Since then I have had shit luck with their products. I'm switching back to Nike.

My left foot.

If I sit for long periods, I develop frankenstein foot, lumbering around without much mobility in the thing. I've never been all that coordinated, and with a frozen foot, my movements are anything but graceful lately. I think I have discovered some of what is going on with my foot though. There is definitely nerve stuff going on, and some compensating that makes other parts of my foot and body hurt. I'm worried about two spots, because I get super sharp pains. At times I think oh no, another stress fracture? But I don't think it is. I just hope it's nothing too drastic. Damn, I sometimes feel like people should have a limited pain quota. Similar to bees that fly a certain amount and then die, people should only be allowed to experience a certain amount of pain. Maybe croaking at the end of that limit isn't such a great idea, but I'm sure I could iron out some details to make this pain distribution plan among humans workable. I think I have filled my pain quota, thank you very much. Maybe PT will help later. In the meantime, running has been not as fun. I've been super careful to watch and avoid any sharp pain while running, but there are times when I'm walking or standing when the pain grips me and stresses my poor little brain out to no end. Oddly, resting it doesn't make it feel a whole lot better, and if I do some rehab, it can sometimes relieve at least a bit of the pain. I think the bulk of it is definite nervy stuff going on in there. Oy.  But there's also something else going on -maybe a little strain- on the opposite side.

This is me lately

I've had to make some hard decisions this week. Sometimes I don't know what the right thing is to do. I'm not talking just about my foot anymore here. In general, I try to do what I feel is right, but that becomes quite difficult when the answer isn't obvious or emotions get in the way. Maybe in some situations it's OK to do what feels safe. Sometimes tough choices make my heart ache though.

In conclusion, here's an image I really, REALLY like:
This is awesome! 
I hate making fun of bands, but Creed and Nickelback just don't do anything for me. OK, ok there's that one song (figured you out) by Nickelback that doesn't completely suck, but I still can't stand the band. I'm not saying that just to be cool either.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The C-word

I used to think that someone calling me fat would be the worst thing ever. That was until I got called the C-word. Someone calling me stupid ranks right up there too, but that's because it takes me back to my childhood. Do I think the word should be eliminated? No. I just don't want anyone calling me one. I used to joke with a few friends of mine about cunt being a term of endearment, but that was before someone yelled, "You fucking Cunt" at me. Since then, I find no humor in the word, and repeated use of the term doesn't soften the blow. It's odd how words can sometimes feel worse than a shove or slap, not that physical violence is any better, of course. It's not. A harsh word thrown in your face is the gift that keeps on giving, much harder to get over than people would imagine, especially with an OCD brain.

I have a hard time not cringing when watching people like this girl speak. Anyone who doesn't understand what feminism means shouldn't be allowed to have a discussion about it. Plus, does she not realize that shakespeare was dead in the early 1600's? She says that the C-word didn't become offensive until then, but, Honey, that was a long, looooonnnnggg time ago. It always saddens me when people forget that feminism is a movement promoting and defending political, economic and social equality for women, and break it down into this false idea that women want to be superior or to dominate. I like that the host in that clip points out that she obviously wouldn't have the rights she does today without feminism. Ultimately, in this country, the C-word has been accepted as obscene, degrading, offensive and shocking. Apparently, it's not quite as bad in other countries, but it has never been considered a kind word anywhere. 

I'm not the only one who has issues with this word though. In a VH1 series called Undateable guys calling girls the C-word was ranked the number one reason a guy would be undateable. Yup- I'd have to agree. It's true that the etymology of a word has much to do with how any word is perceived, but there's much to be said about how the word is delivered and the intention behind the delivery too. I was recently in an interesting debate about gender and terms that could be found offensive. The guy I was discussing this with said that some of his female friends are offended when anyone calls them guys. I would find it very difficult to be offended if someone walked up to a few of my friends and me and, with a smile, said, "hey guys," especially considering that the term guys has traditionally included women. On the other hand, if people find it offensive, I suppose it's their right. 

I suppose it all comes down to the fact that words have power. 

I feel kind of bad that I sort of poked fun at those three authors in my other blog post. Still, I had to laugh when I heard one of them say "mouses" (which is actually a word, but probably not the one he meant) and then "mices" in an interview about a prank that was done with mice. Yeah, I know. I make mistakes too. 

I can't figure out why, but I never seem to get tired of this song:

I was going through all the proposal stuff for my book, and had to laugh at what I wrote. I love it though, so I'm leaving it as is, despite it being a little bit on the self indulgent side. Oh well. 

Training on Empty
An Anorexic’s Tale of Self Abuse.

Description: Karen Carpenter meets Sea Biscuit meets Dr. Phil. This is the story of my life. On paper, I should be dead. At age 13, I became anorexic and struggled with the illness for over 20 years. While I was anorexic, I also became one of the best athletes in all of Colorado. My sensational high profile running career fizzled out, and I succumbed to anorexia so severe that I wasn’t expected to make it. However, I survived. This book takes a hard look at the causes of anorexia, the day to day struggles, and some theories on how to recover from this devastating disorder. It delves into the complexities of the illness and covers the difficulties that can arise once recovery has begun.

Body: 37 chapters. Starting at my weakest moment where I could hardly stand on my own two feet, I look back, moving through childhood, puberty and into adulthood, reflecting on my career as an elite athlete and the traumas that led to my illness. This story focuses not only on actual events, but on the emotional responses as well. It incorporates philosophy, physiology, spirituality (and sometimes lack of spirituality), and heartfelt truth all rolled into an intriguing story of surprising survival. The story is true; only the names have been changed.

Conclusion: Unlike most books on anorexia that leave the reader with little hope, this book offers inspiration. Far from just another story of a girl refusing to eat, this true story provides information on how to get well and heal both the body and the spirit by finding inner strength. 

That's some serious shit!!!  hehe