Posts filed under 'running'

That Time I Ran the NYC Marathon

It’s been a long time…but I actually have not forgotten about my blog. I think maybe I was purposefully avoiding it…. really avoiding this race recap. But here goes nothing…5 months later, in very broad terms about the race, and very specific terms about what I was going through, here is my recap of the NYC Marathon. Why? Because I blogged about all the training, and it needs a conclusion.  The NYC Marathon, and the Marathon Chapter of my life needs a final end.

I was originally set to fly into NYC on Wednesday, Nov 2 (before the Sunday, November 6 marathon) to get settled in American time, be early for packet pick up, relax with my friends, and be an utterly calm Zen Buddha master of life before race day. That didn’t happen. My MIL was moved to hospice the previous week so I changed my flight to half a week early (from Nov. 2 to October 28) and changed to fly into Chicago rather than NYC. (My return flight had always been from Chicago as I had plans to help my mother rehab hip surgery and spend time with my MIL post marathon.) I then spent the week in my hometown’s hospice, trying to support my husband and his family, trying to stay strong and sane while watching a loved one slip away, and selfishly, stressing about the marathon. I snuck away for a few runs but really wasn’t sure if I’d be running the NYC marathon or not. It wasn’t until Thursday evening that I bought a flight to NYC for the next evening (Friday). Sometime in the night Thursday, my MIL passed away.

 

My only picture at the expo.

I tried to support my in-laws the best I could on Friday and then got on a plane to NYC alone.   E had to return to Scotland for work as the funeral wasn’t going to be for another 2 weeks, and he hadn’t been home to Scotland in over 5 weeks (with work trips, a wedding, and being with his mother). It was a whirlwind of feelings I couldn’t process and I just trudged through like a zombie. I got to my brother’s Friday night, utterly exhausted, stressed, anxious. On Saturday morning I got up and got the bus to packet pick up. I had never been to a race expo alone (E has always been my rock…. I’ve never run a race without him cheering me on…ever). It was strange and exciting, but I was lonely and sad. I tried to put on a brave face and enjoy the experience, but I was numb.

 

That night my brother asked if I wanted to go out or pick up pizza- I opted for some chicken and boxed Mac n cheese. I talked to my brother about the schedule for Sunday, where he would be during the race, where I would meet him after. I texted my friends and cousin to arrange seeing them along my route. I stretched, and rolled, and hydrated. I took a xanex and went off to sleep at about 9pm.

I’m trying to remember the timeline of events of the morning of race day. Let me just tell you…. it was a long hucking day. My start time was 10:40am (I ended up missing my corral just by one so I think I started actually at 10:50 or 11). My ferry time was 8am. I think I left Hoboken to train to the World Trade Center stop at 6:40am. I then walked to the ferry…and almost missed it! Oppps! Once you depart from the ferry you are in line, standing, to get on busses that bus you to the start for over an hour. Probably closer to an hour and a half. Then once on a bus…. you are in the bus for about 30 minutes. Made only more excruciating if you have to pee. Which I did. And I mean, I REALLY had to pee. I almost bailed out on the bus. I was rocking back and forth and just trying not to piss my pants because that would make the upcoming 26.2 miles so very uncomfortable.

On the ferry, headed to Staten huckin’ Island

I made my way through this mob of people after about an hour and a half…it was miserable.

It takes so long on the bus (in part) because each bus needs to pull up at a specific spot where a mini police security team is set up. You exit the bus and immediately get metal detected, your bag searched, and possibly a small pat down. Once I get out of this I immediately darted behind a tree (honestly, about 6 yards from the bus door) and peed in someone’s yard. I had TP in my bag because it’ not my first rodeo. Thank god I managed to evade the police because after I did this…I watched another man try to do this and he was practically tackled by police mid-whipping out his junk because they want you to stay on the designated path in case he was going to pick up guns/bombs/heroine or whatever.

Let’s do this!

I then ran into my old co-worker from Qdoba. Who would’ve guessed the largest race in the world and I run into him. Admittedly, he was in a terrible mood. And I was super anxious. And we didn’t even get a picture. Nor did I get a picture when he passed me in Brooklyn ha! So I missed my corral, which was fine, just delayed the inevitable. And so there was some standing at the start of the Verrazano bridge, then there was the star spangled banner, and BOOM. Cannon fire and New York, New York streaming over the loud speakers.

Now my coach came up with very specific pacing for each mile. I created an AMAZING pace band from FindMyMarathon.com. Too bad it doesn’t do much good when your watch loses signal. But what’s worse is when you watch loses signal but you don’t know it and you’re sprinting to get your time knowing you are going way too fast but it’s too late and you want to hit that time on your watch. And then you get to mile 3 and your watch is saying you’re at about 2.3 miles. PROBLEMS. Math is not my strong suit either. So I knew I was too fast, but with all these different paces, there’s no way I could figure out and adjust as precisely. So I tried to stick to around 10:18 mile pace…and I did (even though I knew I was a few minutes early to every mile marker) until I couldn’t. Until I couldn’t push any more, and mentally and physically went from walking and running, from hysterically not being able to breath to solemn faced as I realized I missed my goal time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Highs and the Lows

So happy and naive….

  • Going over the Verrazano Bridge was exciting, sunny, and a bit windy. I tossed my gloves immediately. My first mile was a slower pace up the bridge and I was enjoying it, but when I was supposed to up my pace on the downhill my watch lost signal without telling me and I ended up sprinting ridiculously downhill until I get into Brooklyn and the crowds. I saw my mile marker was WAY off…and spent about 5 minutes stressing over it before decided to just try and maintain a 10:18 pace.
  • Brooklyn was amazing. So many people! This is the closest you’ll get to feeling like a professional athlete with hundreds of people yelling your name. My name was written on duct tape and I highly recommend you do the same. If I didn’t have my name on my shirt, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have finished.
  • Around mile 5 my headphones break. Just one of them. No sound comes out except crackling. So I am left running with one headphone in. Thank god there are 2 million spectators screaming my name because if there was a rural marathon I would have quit right then. Even that being said, there are a lot of points in the marathon that would have gone a lot better had I working headphones. I nearly always run with headphones…. especially mentally tough runs. My marathon playlist is an exact science to me. It takes weeks to perfect. I include motivational speeches at difficult parts (when I estimate I’d be on bridges, that last 3 miles). And with only one headphone, the NYC noise coming into my other ear is really too great for me to get an assist from my music.
  • I had most of my friends waiting for me in Brooklyn and they seriously made my day. I mean, I don’t even live in this city; I came to the race alone, and had 4 separate groups of people cheering me on. And can we talk about their enthusiasm and signage?

Mile 7 – On my right hand side was Katie Ly and her fiancé Jonathan

 

 Mile 8 – On my left hand side, my cousin Dylan and his girlfriend I basically ran straight across the road to see them as you can tell by my angle.

 

Mile 11 1/2 – My girlfriend Merima, who actually lives in San Fran, came into NYC to see me and a few of her friends who live there.

Miles 18 ½ and 23 – My brother and sister-in-law! My brother doesn’t do signs but he did suffer through the most crowded points of the marathon, see me at 2 different points, and then find me after the race…. which is no easy feat when there are 50K runners, 2 million spectators, and I am barely moving.

  • Pulaski Bridge into Long Island – Everyone talks about the Queensboro Bridge. How it’s the most soul crushing experience of the marathon. Too bad I had pretty much hit empty on the Pulaski Bridge – THAT I deliriously THOUGHT was the QUEENSBORO BRIDGE. What did that mean?   That I had a lot more race to run, and a hell of a lot of more hilly hardships than I anticipated ahead. I had to stop and walk for the first time on the Pulaski Bridge. But I kept my walk speedy and stayed optimistic because once I got through it, was giving myself a pat on the back that the Queensboro Bridge wasn’t too hard. A mile later I realize that I hadn’t yet met the Queensboro Bridge and doom and panic hit me.

    Over one of those damn bridges.

  • Queensboro Bridge – Eff this bridge. I walked lots.
  • Manhattan – The finish line is in Manhattan but don’t be fooled. You are nowhere near the end. You still have to head up to the Boogie Down after all.   And 10 miles.   I am disheartened trying to return to a jog/run I can maintain. I don’t think I can hit my goal time but there’s still a small chance. The crowds are mental but I’m really down on myself. Can’t let my brother and SIL see me walk though so I pick up a run again. I see them and hug them and they are super encouraging and enthusiastic…. I try and maintain my slow run up to the Willis Avenue Bridge.
  • The Willis Avenue Bridge is a baby bridge (in comparison) into the Bronx. The Bronx actually wasn’t as desolate as I thought it’d be. But by this point there was a lot of walking. It was realized my goal time had slipped away and I just wanted to sit and have myself a pity party.
  • Back into Manhattan and here is the worst part. Worse than that stupid Queensboro Bridge. You’re running down 5th Avenue for the next 3 or so miles at an incline. Sure, it’s not a huge incline, but it’s enough of an incline to break you. I am walking tons. I see my brother and Carly again before I head into Central Park. Of course I make sure they see me “running” but I don’t think anyone would really call it that. They later tell me how they thought I had looked good the first time they saw me around mile 18, but when they saw me now around mile 23 I looked pretty broken. Hey, I’m just surprised they thought I looked good at mile 18. I have lost my goal time, and now I am just trying to pick my sorry self up the ground and beat my Paris Marathon time.
  • Central Park – is a lot of uphill, but some rolling hills and with that at least means some downhill. The park doesn’t have a load of spectators but the ones that do save me.   There is one man on my right, he’s a few yards in front of me and he sees me struggling. He’s looking me right in my eyes as he’s yelling, “Come on Lauren! This is what you trained for! You know you got this! You’re almost home Lauren. Think of your training!! You can do this!” For a moment, I thought this man must know me. He did not.
  • Central Park South – a wee stretch of road where the spectators are mental and you’re almost home free. I’m really trying to turn it up here.

  • Finish line – eerily quiet. They charge money to sit here and watch the elites finish so by the time I finish it’s totally empty. Sucks a bit.

I cross the finish line and everything I’ve tried to mentally muscle through for the last 5 hours, no 36 hours, actually 4 months takes over. I am at a point of hysterical crying that a volunteer grabs me, takes me to the side and hugs me telling me, “You did great Lauren, you did it.” I am so thankful for this volunteer but at the same time thinking, “Man, if you only knew.”

Done whimpering….I have survived.

I zombie shuffle through the maze to exit the marathon. I have a calm, collected weep going on, I’m tired but know if I stop I’ll never move again, I’m cold and I’m hungry. The sun is almost all the way gone. I talk to Daniel and when he finds out I’m not through the maze yet we change our meet up location to one closer to me. I get to the road and am looking for whatever street. I can’t function so I ask a police officer if I’m headed in the right direction. He says yes…but then asks, “Are you alright miss? Do you want me to come with you? Is someone meeting you?”

We end up taking the subway all the way back to Hoboken…the Uber fees are sky high and hey, what’s another couple miles of walking. Crammed in like sardines with a load of other runners crinkling in our foil blankets. Daniel thinks he’s funny complaining about how his feet hurt from spectate-ing, probably because he knows all the runners are too tired to punch him in his smug face haha.

I’m actually feeling better. Get home, shower, put some mousse in my hair and we all head out the door again back to the city for a dinner with my cheering section. Daniel can’t believe I am making it out the door again, but what’s the point of running 26.2 if you can’t celebrate. It ends up being a perfect night…everyone drinks too much, the food is amazing, we’re the loudest table in the place, and I’m pretty sure everyone of had tears in their eyes at one point from laughing so hard. It was definitely what I needed.

Given the fact I had just run a marathon and hadn’t actually sat down since 8 am….I look pretty good!

 

Just last week I had a friend ask me about the NYC Marathon because they were offered a charity spot to run it. It’s really hard for me to separate all the personal shit I was going through, and that affected my race from the race itself. I think the NYC Marathon was the biggest challenge I’ve taken on in my life. I was 48 hours out from my MIL dying, I didn’t have my husband by my side, I was emotionally and physically exhausted from international fights and hospital chairs, the torn labrum in my hip had caused me terrible discomfort throughout training and I knew that this had to be my last marathon. My headphones broke, I missed my goal time, and I walked. On top of what everyone experiences there- it’s ONE TOUGH COURSE! But hey, not only did I finish…I beat my Paris Marathon time.

NYC: 4:48:58

Paris: 4:54:38

Friday Faves: Podcasts

So my life has been a whole lotta running these past few months (and a decent amount of horsey-ness.) Which is a pretty good way of things, although I could quite frankly go for no running and more horse-ing every day but that isn’t my current situation…alas. I had decided pretty early on to get a coach for this marathon because I didn’t think I could knowledgably manage my hip pain and training. I like that my plan would be created weekly based on how I preformed and there was someone to respond to me when I had questions or pains and could alter what I should be doing based on my experience- but still be moving to get me across the finish line in Manhattan.

 

It’s not been what I was anticipating, but I have to say my hip pain has been pretty minimal. I think I’ve missed about 5 runs since June. Basically it’s all based alone aerobic endurance (lotta slooooooow runs) and much more weekly mileage. 5 days of running a week, and either 1 day of cross training or 2 days off…that’s not really a day off because that’s the day I work and ride at the stable. Because of the sloooooooow pace, I don’t really have anyone to run with. Evening running groups go at a faster pace (and my coach is very adamant about being sticking to this slow pace), most of my friends would rather go for a shorter distance, but faster, and it seems to physically pain E to run this slow- which I get. So a lot of slow solo runs… which means, I need to amuse myself. SO…. without further ado….my fave way of amusement on these long, slow, distances is Podcasts!

 

Serial Season 2

serial-itunes-logoI was late to the Serial game…and kind of late to the full appreciation of NPR game as well. I didn’t get into Season 1 until after Making a Murderer and The Jinx. But I loved it! I cleaned more and cooked better with it on. So I waited to start Season 2 for training runs and I have to admit, with no murder, I thought it wasn’t going to hold my attention. But I stuck with it and I actually really enjoyed it.

 

 

Accused

avatars-000247305943-o3mscu-originalThis is from the Cincinnati Inquirer and explores an unsolved murder in 1978. I wasn’t a fan of the narrator/journalist in the beginning, but I came to really appreciate her and feel she really is just a kind woman, trying to do her best, with minimum offense. Although I have to say, listening to this, alone in the woods probably wasn’t the best idea.

 

 

 

Channel 33

avatars-000213792604-rmuj66-t500x500Bill Simmons, previously from Grantland, now has The Ringer…and they have a podcast network (and articles), and one of their podcasts is called Channel 33 – which is described as “a collections of shows covering pop culture, sports, and tech.” And you get a variety of shows downloaded to your phone from them…. some I delete right away (The Masked Man – which would be super if I cared about wrestling), others I keep if I have a long car trip with E (There’s one on college football and one on soccer I believe) that I know interest him, but I enjoy the hosts so everybody wins. The series I love are: Jam Session, Bachelor Party, and The Writers Room. They also have one off podcasts like a special about the new Iphone the day before it premiered, and one interview with the longest running editor of Sports Illustrated.

 

This American Life

thismericanI have a love-hate relationship with TAL. Another one from NPR. Almost always extremely interesting (I think there’s been one that didn’t hook me in within the first 5 minutes), but almost always leaves me in tears. Do you know how hard it is to cry and run? Pretty damn hard. I mean…I’m also a stressed out emotional mess right now with a bunch of my life crumbing around me but…I think I’d get at least a little misty eyed regardless. But it’s just so damn good. And then I get home to tell E about the story…and I start crying all over again. God, I love This American Life.

 

 

A couple podcasts I have yet to dive into but that I am super excited to start:

Undisclosed Season 2
undisclosed-season-2-logoThe conviction under examination at present belongs to Joey Watkins, a Georgia man sentenced to life in prison in July 2001 for aggravated assault, a weapons violation, misdemeanor stalking, and the felony murder of Isaac Dawkins in January 2000. Joey’s case was brought to the team by the Georgia Innocence Project.

Join the Undisclosed team every Monday at 6 p.m. EST as they dive into the details of Joey’s case — and try to unravel the events leading up to his troubling conviction. And then check out the Undisclosed Addenda–a discussion show about the case featuring Emmy award-winner and host Jon Cryer–every Thursday at 6 p.m. EST.

 

99% Invisible (recommended to me by a friend)

24267_a3241599invisiblecourtesyrgbf“Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?

99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.” For example: McMansion Hell: the Devil is in the Details, The Trend Forecast, Longbox, The Blazer Experiment.

 

 

Revisionist History

uploads_2f1464956596674-zye6snpaow-1199f5fc375124c66575217a8ac7dbd1_2fpodcastartwork-noshadow“Welcome to Revisionist History, a new podcast from Malcolm Gladwell (author of the Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, etc) and Panoply Media. Each week for 10 weeks, Revisionist History will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” For example:

Food Fight – Bowdoin College in Maine and Vassar College in upstate New York are roughly the same size. They compete for the same students. Both have long traditions of academic excellence. But one of those schools is trying hard to close the gap between rich and poor in American society—and paying a high price for its effort. The other is making that problem worse—and reaping rewards as a result.

(It) is about opening up college to poor kids, focuses on a seemingly unlikely target: how the food each school serves in its cafeteria can improve or distort the educational system.

The Big Man Can’t shoot – The basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain had only one flaw: He couldn’t shoot free throws. In 1962, Chamberlain switched to making his foul shots underhanded—and fixed his only weakness.

But then he switched back.

(It) is a meditation on the puzzle of why smart people do dumb things—why excellence is such a difficult and elusive goal, even for the best-intentioned.

Perils of Country Running

I do really love running in the country. Maybe because this summer was surprisingly nice and dry and about 90% of my runs treated me to beautiful sun shining on amber waves of grain, or wonderful brooding shadows across the Grampian mountains, or at the very least, super cute and curious cows, coos, bunnies, and ponies. But it would be a lie to say it was all sunshine and rainbows. And as much as I love the countryside…. the thought of running south from Lincoln Park along the lakefront path back towards are our home in Chicago- seeing the Hancock, and the Drake, and knowing our little high-rise is nestled in there, in front of the Bloomies building…well, it brings joy to my heart and a tear to my eye. The point? I guess that I adapt pretty damn well to love wherever life takes me. Except San Diego…I don’t know if I just didn’t give it a chance…but I get no warm and fuzzies thinking about there.

How can you not have all the feels when you see this city?!

How can you not have all the feels when you see this city?!

 

I digress.

Country running does have it perils and pitfalls. I thought I’d enlighten you to the somewhat funny and perhaps unexpected problems I encounter.

The biggest issues of country running can be put into one category:

 

FOUR LEGGERS

I know, I’m an animal lover. How could furry little beebeeies be the issue? Well, they are in a couple different scenarios based on the animal.

 

Dogs

  1. They lunge at me and I think I’m going to literally lose a hand or worse
  2. They are off lead trotting along with a massive stick and take out my shins
  3. They are on lead with an owner not paying attention and I am forced to hurdle them so I don’t trip
  4. They are either on or off lead and are complete spazes and while trying to get past them I accidentally step on them or kick them which makes me feel terrible
  5. They are so effing cute I have to stop running immediately and pet them.

Horses

Little paths with big horses...it was hard to get by.

Little paths with big horses…it was hard to get by.

  1. I’m running along a narrow path, maybe my headphones are in or maybe I’m just in the zone, I go round a bend and run directly, and I mean directly into your horse. This actually happened.
  2. As a mindful equestrian, I need to slow down or stop, remove headphones and have at the very least a limited discussion on passing, or move off to the side to let them pass.
  3. Horse shit. Enough said.

Deer

There is only one negative experience I’ve had with a deer running but I honestly almost died because of a heart attack. Seriously, he’s my hear rate monitor. Guess where I encountered the deer?

I’m running alone, in an unfrequented area of trail/path. My headphones are in, I admit. I am on the left side of the narrow path. I see bushes moving (LIKE A LOT OF MOVEMENT) on the right side parallel with me and stop and turn toward the bush (to look my murderer head on obviously) and a stag comes flying out of the bushes. I clearly frightened him while he was sleeping or something. I jump back as his little stick legs hit the pavement and due to it having just rained, the pavement is slick and his legs sprawl out and he’s sliding across, thrashing about until he’s dumped on the other side into grass where he gracefully finds his footing and leaps through the wood to escape me. I cannot emphasize enough, that had I been on the right side (thus closer to those antlers) I would most likely been impaled, or f*cked up on some level most definitely. Luckily I was on the left, which gave me a little extra space and thus time to jump away. I immediately called E because my heart was just racing, he didn’t answer but called me back a mile later…where I answer his call to talk. You can see that’s when my heart rate returns to a normal level.

I have to say it seems my heart rate monitor was very off or I was extreeeeemely chill on this day in general...but the spike's definitely accurate.

I have to say it seems my heart rate monitor was very off or I was extreeeeemely chill on this day in general…but the spike’s definitely accurate.

Although…I guess it could have been worse: Runner Hit by Flying Deer

When you google "runner scared deer" this is the image that comes up, bwahahaha

When you google “runner scared deer” this is the image that comes up, bwahahaha

Okay, moving off of four leggers. The next on the list of perils is…

 

Being Scared Sh*tless

scared-runner

I wear sports bras so am hoping my boobs do not look like that regardless of the speed Im going…

I know in the probability of me getting abducted or killed on a run is MUCH greater in Chicago…but I just felt safer running there. There were streetlights, and lots of people, and a decent amount of cops….

  1. When the sun goes down, it’s dark in the country. Real dark. Even with a head torch…it’s dark. Therefore, I can’t be running more than 20 mins post sunset time. And sometimes, it’s even too dark in the woods to run if it’s a grey day. No joke. I get freaked out.
  2. It doesn’t help now I’m really into unsolved murder podcasts…not helping the situation, I know.
  3. The lack of people I see on a run…it makes me super jumpy. I nearly pee my pants or have a heart attack (see deer heart rate pic) every time an animal runs out, or I get the sense someone’s behind me, or a bird flies out of a tree, or a cyclist sneaks up on me….it’s traumatic!
  4. The people I do so, can be a little unnerving. Again, I’m sure I was way likelier encountering weirdos with weapons in Chicago…but then again, I always had my posse of homeless friends within earshot I like to think and the possibility of carrying mace. I think I only did like 3x but still. Anyway, sometimes I’m virtually alone other than a troop of young boys that look like they’re up to no good. In football kit on a bench, drinking out of 2 liters of Strongbow, giving me the side eye. Scares me. Then there’s the incident that happened on my Sunday run. I’m about 5 miles out (11 miles into my run) and the path is sparsely populated due to crappy weather and being 5 miles out from the big central park. A guy on a bicycle rides past me going the opposite way and gives me a strange look. 20 seconds later I hear his brakes squeal and I turn around to see he had slid to a stop (it was wet and there were a lot of leaves). I take my headphones out of my ear to be more aware and pick up the pace. I make it around a corner and up ahead I see a man walking his dog and feel pretty relieved. The cyclist (who wasn’t in like workout/spandex cycling attire) had changed directions to be going the same way as me and shortly passes me. Up ahead I see him pull off to the right on a ramp to exit the path. As I get to the ramp, I look and he is heading up and off the bath. But I’m pretty alone again and freaked out so pick up the pace. In about 4 minutes I finally see someone else and feel a little better…and about a minute after that the cyclist passes me again. It was creepy.

 

Bugs (and spiders)

When I trained in the winter I didn’t realize what a big problem bugs would be in training during the sprint/summer.

  1. Running through spider webs sucks. You can’t get em off. You think spiders are in your hair. It’s really unsettling.
  2. Little bugs that get stuck in your eyes. It hurts. They’re hard to get out. And I’m temporarily blinded. This has happened at least 3 times in this training cycle.
  3. Big bugs that go down your throat. And then I’m left hacking either trying to get them out or go all the way down. Either way, it’s not pleasant and it happens all the GD time.

 

Ridden off the Road/Path/Trail

  1. I’ve written about the lack of driver’s consideration/vehicle right of way previously (find it here). But going further, running on super narrow, sometimes one-lane country roads with no gutter…it sucks! I do NOT wear headphones in these situations because I seriously would die. I also can’t do these runs without sunlight, and preferably, mid-day before people are commuting back to work. It’s really unnerving. More unnerving is when it’s about a lane and a half width, and I hear the car coming up behind me, and I am literally running on the edge where the road meets the grass/drop down to the ditch, and the driver decides to HONK AT ME. WTF IS THAT BUDDY?! I can’t get over any more, I know you’re there, and there is room for you to scootch over and pass without any problems. And even on 2 lane roads I find drivers are just unwilling to really move over despite the fact there is no one in sight coming towards them in the other lane.
  2. Now, there’s the issue of horses on trails getting right of way (see above).
  3. There are cyclists that go whizzing past me, heaven forbid they give an extra inch.
  4. I had some airing of running grievances (i.e. #sorrynotsorry) last week here…. and I won’t harp on it. But I’ll just restate it in case you missed it.

    Can't really just run past this guy...

    Can’t really just run past this guy…

 

And finally…

No water fountains! Gahhhh. The night before every long run I drive (or make E drive me) dropping water bottles in strategic spots for me to pick up along my run the next day. Hoping I don’t forget where they are, are covered in dog pee, or misplaced.  I know it’s only Scotland….but I can still get quite parched…dangerously parched you could say.

 

Apologies from “someone who runs”

I still don’t call myself a “runner” and definitely not a “marathoner”. Yeah, I ran 45 miles last week and will be running my second marathon…but me a “runner”? Nope. I’ve mentioned a Facebook Woman’s Running Group I’m a part of before…those woman are runners. They love running. They go crazy if they can’t run. It’s what they look forward to every day.

I am not that person. I predict after this marathon I take off another 5-6 months of running like I did after last marathon. And I’ll probably not miss it. Until I do, sign up for another race, and start running again.

But for these past few months of running and training, I’ve had a coach. Someone that tells me exactly what I’ll be doing every day in terms of training. Someone who holds me accountable. I have much more specific work outs than “10 miles Wednesday, 5 miles Thursday.” There and long slow distance runs of course, but there are tempo runs, and negative splits runs, and sprint workouts, and recovery runs. And I have this stupid little watch that tracks every second and shares it with her. I have numbers to hit! And I have never run so many miles, been so dedicated to following a schedule, or enjoyed running as much.

So even though I’m not a REAL runner….I feel I’ve been pretending to be one pretty well. And with that…I feel as pretend Runner Lauren, I have some apologies to make on behalf of Lauren, the Runner.

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I’m sorry I have a big stupid Garmin that I am constantly looking at whilst running. Even on slow days. On slow days I’m looking to make sure I’m going slow enough. They’re not just for sprints and fast people.

I’m sorry I get impatient at red lights and either a) prance around in one spot b) look grumpy with my hands on my hips or c) get over eager and step off the kerb before it’s my time and nearly die.

I’m sorry that non REAL runner Lauren always complained about people who don’t smile at her when she crossed paths. Now that I’m REAL runner Lauren, I understand how painful the 6th mile of negative splits into the wind are and that it takes all of my focus not to quit and I actually can not be bothered to pay you mind or use the limited amount of energy I have to move my lips into a smile or acknowledgement of our crossing paths.

I’m sorry to kinda-sorta totally contradict myself in saying that…I’m sorry if you saw me flicking people off if I run. Sometimes it’s a really nice morning, and we’re just out for leisurely jogs, and you look right at me and I say “good morning” or “hello” or “smile” and then you ignore me….and after we pass I kinda sorta flick you off in jest.

I’m sorry for the racist thoughts I had about your dog breed. I didn’t think I had it in me. But when your massive pitbull came lunging at me and you were calling after it for the first time I thought it was gonna end in my blood shed. I never think that when a border collie comes lunging…I’ll work on that.

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I’m sorry for not hearing your approach. I never have headphones on in my small country roads where cars could be approaching. But on the carless trails with 15+ miles to run, I need music. Or podcast. Or sometimes just my very own deep thoughts to amuse myself and I don’t always notice/register/realize you’re around the corner and I’m about to run flat into your horse’s face or that you’re about to zip past me on your bike. Most times the conclusion is I get a fright…but sometimes, the conclusion is an uncomfortable meeting of objects.

I’m sorry I talk about running so much. Do you think I actually want to? I swear, I don’t. But it’s all my tiny brain can think about a lot of the time. Have to say, pretty proud that I haven’t turned this in a running blog during this training cycle.

I’m sorry I complain about something I voluntarily do. But you do too. No one forced you to have kids/stop eating bread/go over budget.

I’m sorry I’m gonna eat a lot. Until I feel full. Which is never lately.

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I’m sorry I belch. It’s not lady-like and I’m sure it’s gross to see and hear and possibly even smell?   But there’s a lot of sloshing. I have to consume fuel when partaking in stupid physical activities for hours on end and sometimes my stomach’s not too pleased to process it in a timely fashion.

I’m sorry about the tissues. I have chronic runny nose when my heart rate is elevated. And I snot rocket. I’m more sorry if you get hit by a rocket. I have to do both…snot rocket to maintain the status of my chronic runny nose, and every 3 miles or so I blow my nose for a full clean out. I’m sorry its gross. I’m sorry sometimes my tissues disenigrate and I sorta-not-on-purpose litter.

I’m sorry I look like a d-bag in my Oakleys. I am aware how I look. I am aware that with some extreme sporty sunglasses you would anticipate me to be faster. But the truth is, I am not going to run in my Gucci sunglasses. These sunglasses stay put on my face or atop my head. There’s no slippage, they don’t touch a lot of places on my face so there’s no chaffing or rubbing. I am sacrificing my appearance for functionality. Trust me, I’d rather be in my stylish sunnies.

Of course runners are dorks.  It's not like the captain of the XC team was ever the most popular kid in your school.

Of course runners are dorks. It’s not like the captain of the XC team was ever the most popular kid in your school.

I’m sorry I haven’t put on a real bra or pants in days. I just can’t be bothered when I know I have to change into running stuff anyway.

I’m sorry I haven’t washed my hair. It’s just gonna get sweaty and gross again….

I’m sorry I’m not Super Fun Wild Lauren. Runner Lauren and Super Fun Wild Laure live on different universes. They both can’t be at the same place at the same time. But I will be your sober driver.

I’m sorry that all I’ve done is complain about running but now that I’m tapering and running less, I’m complaining even more!

I’m sorry you think because I’m running slow it would be acceptable for me to stop and clear the way for your massive stroller/suv/horse. It’s an aerobic run. And it’s 16 miles. I’ll move over a little, and you move over a little. We can make it work. Share the road or go to hell.

I’m sorry if I’ve pretty much told you to go hell because you and your 2 friends, with your 3 combined strollers, handful of toddlers on bikes and scooters, and dogs don’t feel the need to make any effort to move in the slightest bit to let someone else. It’s common courtesy ass hat.

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6 Weeks!

I guess in lieu of an insane amount of running posts, I’ve just gone MIA. But we’re 6 WEEKS OUT from the New York City Marathon and it’s pretty much all consuming of my life. Making any sort of plan requires assessing how I think I’ll be feeling after that days run, what I can fit in that day considering the run, as well as looking at how horrendous the next day’s run will be.6c62b21759d87fd7672bcba8794db8d1

This is 6 weeks out.

6 Weeks out from the Paris Marathon I was limping so badly I could barely walk and had to take 2 solid weeks off. I’m not there! So that’s great! Since my last check in (see My Body Tells Me No) I rebounded really well after taking a few extra days off. I was able to do two really hard weeks back to back (42 and 44 miles respectively). But then I had a little flare up again and was forced to take an extra 2 days off. My coach changed my schedule around and made the rest of the week a recovery week so overall it was just 20 miles. Now, last week I had a hard week. 42 total miles, 2 speed workouts, 16 mile longest run which was less than 24 hours after a pretty grueling 8 mile speed run….that killed me.

We are now trying to stay ahead of my hip pain and after such a rough week are calling this a “recovery week”. I’m not too excited. Still 33 miles, but I got to do a 3 mile run today (ha! A 5k! I can’t remember the last time I ran ONLY 3 miles), one speed workout, and then some medium length (8-10 miles) sloooooow runs to get the miles in but hopefully not piss off my hip. After the hard week my hip wasn’t making really any noise (a 1 out of 10 pain scale) but my glute and hamstring are all knotted up in all kinds of bad ways. Hmmm I remember this (see It Hurts).

I am getting into a sports massage Friday and hoping that I don’t adopt a limp again. It’s funny that my hamstrings and ass go crazy, but then my hip feels fine. I know they are all related and that my left leg is doing crazy things subconsciously to keep my hip pain free. Come on body, just hold out, 6 more weeks! Only 3 weeks until TAPER TIME!

On top of that….I dislocated my shoulder again this week. So I’m in a fairly decent amount of pain there. A top of the physical pain, the increased miles and running obsession, the school year is back in session so I am back in Thursday night classes ( 3 ½ hours including commute) and volunteering for Riding for the Disabled (3 hours). More horse time always makes me happy, but I’m feeling the strain on my schedule. But on top of that, I’m dealing with a boat load of personal stressors and dissapointments.

But hey, we’re 6 weeks out.

screenshot-2014-06-10-19-22-09Although running and training has in some ways added to my stress and busy-ness and grumpiness, it’s also helping me a lot. In this training period there have been a handful of times where I haven’t wanted to run, but I did, and actually had a good GREAT run. And I have never been one of those people. Before, if I didn’t want to run and forced myself out, I’d trudge along and be miserable. But now, running has been like therapy to me. I’m not going to lie….I adore my Aberdeenshire running landscape, and it hasn’t been cold and I’ve actually only ran in the rain 3-4x somehow in the last 4 months….which sure helps my fondness of running! Actually, I can’t even remember even a handful of bad runs in the last 4 months…definitely remember 3-4 bad runs…but otherwise, they’ve all been so nice!

And I’m kicking everyone’s ass on fitbit! #winning

And up until last week I was eating as normal (no crazy cravings or eat-a-thons) and was weighing in a few pounds less than pre-marathon training. I can’t say that now…now I’ve hit the I’m-training-for-a-marathon-and-I-need-to-eat-EVERYTHING phase and will surely be at the normal weight for race day unless I can get a grip (doubtful).

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So 6 weeks out.

And a husband that’s going to be gone for over half that amount of time. There will be blog posts…oh yes, there will be blog posts. But don’t be surprised if it get’s a little running obsessive. It’s just 6 weeks….and E is leaving me at taper time. What else can I do then but have absolute meltdowns of impending marathon doom and document everything I’m eating? Get ready y’all.

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My body tells me no

But I won’t quit, cause I want more.

But not too much more. Just 10 more weeks. Then I’ll quit any and all marathon attempts.

Remember when I said I was marathon training? And then promptly didn’t talk about it for 3 ½ months? Surely you thought I wasn’t still pursuing the NYC marathoning because…well you know….Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 10.23.46 AMBut I have been training! I have actually been running a sh*t ton! I started training with a coach the week of June 14th. I decided to get a coach so that I’d have a more individualized plan in general, but more importantly so I can talk to someone specifically about my hip issues and the plan can be altered as it needs to due to pain. I actually had to take off running about a week and a half early on because of arch pain (how random) and it was great to have her there to suggest my cross training and what I should do and maintain. I also went to a PT as well as a podiatrist. They couldn’t actually figure out what’s wrong, but the confirmed it was muscular so that was good. And that is pretty well healed. Seems to just bother me on trail running when the pavement is really uneven or rocky.

I had decided to see how this coaching and training was going and (gasp!) not talk about running until I was feeling good that I could take on the 5 boroughs. 2 weekends ago I had a 15 miler (my longest thus far) and thought this would be the deciding run. To be honest, I haven’t booked my flight yet because I’ve been worried I won’t be able to pull through and run it. Even though I’ve been really impressed that I’ve been running about 35 miles a week for the last 5 weeks, I wanted to get a long run down. And my 12 and 13 milers weren’t proving to be an accurate indicator as they went poorly (for reasons other than my hip).

So 2 weekends ago- I ran 15! And it went great! Not only did I run 15 on Saturday, I ran my 5-mile recovery run on Sunday. Felt pretty good. But there was a little feeling of unhappiness in my hip and I said to E, “Pretty sure my hip is gathering the troops to stage a coup.”

Monday was on off day. I was in the car driving somewhere, and all of a sudden I felt a little twang of angriness from my hip. I decided to just ignore it. Tuesday I ran 10 miles. The first 5 went great and when I turned around my hip sent out a couple twangs of angriness and I realized my weekly 35 miles are not going to be so easy anymore. I finished my run and emailed my coach- something I do every Tuesday letting her know how my week went. I mentioned that my hip is getting angry, a pain level of 1-2 that just rears up sporadically. Then E and I had planned to go golfing and in the hour drive, my hip went nuts. It got worse and worse as I sat in the car and I immediately emailed my coach letting her know.

She gave me Wednesday off, Thursday I was to run 8, and Friday off (Friday is always off because I work and ride), with 10 on Saturday. I felt better Thursday morning but not good enough…so I told her I thought it best if I took off Thursday as well…. it’s a “recovery week” after all and I needed it. Friday my legs were so knackered (I got in over 25K steps) from work, riding, cleaning (for a party on Saturday) that I wore my compression pants to bed…but my hip was feeling decent. I ran my 10 on Saturday, and a 4-mile recovery run yesterday. My hip is achy. Today I have a 6-mile fartlek run and then I’ll be off tomorrow (Tuesday) with another 15 miler this Thursday.

I’ve reached out to my hip doctor here (side note: I have appointments with the Blackhawks hip surgeon and my old shoulder doc at Northwestern Hospital n December for 2nd opinions) to talk about a cortisone shot. Although I haven’t found anything positive about it’s treatment of pain online…I’ve actually only heard about how getting the shot is the single most painful thing anyone has ever had. Which right now top of my list is getting an IUD, followed by falling off a horse, with a close third place of dislocating a body part. So we’ll see if I end up going down the cortisone route.

Otherwise…just wait and see how I can manage. I’m not buying my flight yet. Which sucks. Also sucks because I want to buy this long sleeve but refuse until I know I’m really running the marathon.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.58.21 AM

Last year, when the pain was so bad I could hardly walk (a horrible limp) and had to take over 2 weeks off moving at all, then had to slowly build up mileage which resulted in no real taper, and no run longer than 16 miles (with a 3 mile walk after) and back to back 10’s. But I did all that, and I ran the marathon, and I was fine. I mean, sure I was sore post marathon (as EVERYONE is), but my hip didn’t freak out like crazy. So I’m thinking (or hoping) that if I do my long runs, and scale back the recovery weeks in between, take off more days when I need to…. it won’t get so bad where I’m sofa-bound for weeks at a time.  Time will tell.  Until then, happy running.

New York State of Mind

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An old favorite….

In early 2015 while happily training for my first marathon (in Paris), after a particularly great training week I decided to register for the NYC Marathon. A couple months later I was barely walking a month out from the Paris Marathon and got the email saying I was in. Panic/despair/depression ensued. See here.

After, I somehow made it through the Paris Marathon, despite being grounded barely able to walk for over 2 weeks a month out. I had regularly been going to the PT anytime pain came up, getting sports massages, stretching, seeing all the quack doctors I could…. I kept being told that it was a muscle imbalance. So post Paris Marathon I decided to defer my NYC Marathon entry the 1-year that is allowed and I pretty much took a year off of running…focused on horseback riding.

Now 2016, I start doing some sprint work, half-ass train for a 10-miler that I wasn’t able to do due to family emergency, and start increasing my days on pavement. And I feel, just slightly, that little twinge of pain I recall from the year before. I decide to go into another PT and tell her what’s wrong and ask for some stretches to stay ahead of the game. Within 5 minutes she tells me she thinks I have a labrum tear, there’s nothing she can do for- go see a doctor.

Easier said than done.

In Scotland, even if you have private insurance, you have to get referred to them by a NHS doctor. So I made an appointment, I couldn’t get in for a couple weeks, then once I got her referral, I couldn’t get in to the Orthopedic guy for another few weeks, then I needed an MRI, that took another few weeks to book, and concluded with another few weeks to get back into the consultation.

Diagnosis: Labrum Tear, Labrum Cyst, and Ligament Teres Tear.

I haven’t had long to process this…an hour or two actually. But here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking I’m going to train and try to run the NYC Marathon. While my original plans were to get as close to 4 hours as possible…I am going to chill out on the time goal, and like a degenerate 5th year high school senior…just try to walk across the stage and get the diploma….errr finish the race and get that medal.

But hear me out, I’m not totally being an imbecile. Basically, due to my history – Both shoulder dislocations COUNTLESS TIMES with torn labrums (spoiler alert- a couple weeks ago I also ripped through my previous shoulder surgery and they are recommending another surgery, post on that in the next few weeks), 2 knee dislocations, my overall hyper mobility…and now these tears in my hip…If I do have the surgery for repair, I will need the surgery again at some point- even if I never ran a marathon again. It’s just the error of my body…my ligaments suck and fall apart apparently. Also, running a marathon will not further damage me for later in life. It cannot be proven it will make me more likely for later arthritis or any other issue. Of course, putting my hip through another round of marathon training will at the time have some impact- the pain will return. I already talked to the doctor about a little cortisone support for the race- he’s down for that. I’m also looking for some professional coaching support to create a plan more tailored for me…. thinking no run more that 15 miles, and more back to back 10 miles type of situation.

I don’t know. Scary to sign up for another pain of marathon in general, without the actual injury pain. Also wish I was a little more conditioned at this stage in the game. But my registration is already paid, there’s no further damage to do, I might as well give it a try.  So, let’s begin focusing on those stupid, cheesy, Rocky Balboa-esque quotes for the next 5 or so months.  Here’s a good start.

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Finding My Fast

So it might seem I’m abandoned all things running in the last few months (along with abandoning this blog)…I haven’t. Okay, December I definitely abandoned all things running (but I had the best intentions!). It’s true that after the Paris Marathon in April I pretty well quit running. I was doing more lifting and Les Mills classes at the gym, and would run maybe a couple times every fortnight or so. But I was burnt out and had a lot going on.

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Then, on November 2 I was in a cold sweat. I had to officially cancel my NYC Marathon entry (which I obviously wasn’t running but had this weird mind battle with officially cancelling) to ensure that I would get my guaranteed entry in 2016 (guaranteed WITH paying the $350+ AGAIN). Once cancelled, it was hard to ignore the fact that my next marathon was pretty much exactly a year away. I needed something to bring me back to running, but I didn’t want to do the same old run schedule that marathon training is and becomes. I needed something to motivate me but not let me get bored, antsy, or burnt out. Thus, I decided to train for my fastest mile.

I looked at and considered a couple different plan: this one at Competitor, this one on Women’s Running (intermediate), and this one at Nike. And ended up choosing the Nike one….I mean, who doesn’t need a little Bugs Bunny inspiration? It started with an out of shape timed mile- just under an 8-minute mile. And from there I set the goal of a sub-7 minute mile (which would be epic for me…I understand people run marathons at like a 5min mile pace for 26 miles straight…I am not one of those people) and calculated ideal pace times for the 5K (8 minute mile) and 10K (9 minute mile which I know shouldn’t be that much slower but leave me alone). Then I set out to do my work. The plan has you doing speed workouts 2x a week and wants you to do a long run on the weekend, and any other runs you want under 5 miles.

I was pretty diligent with the two speed workouts for 5 weeks. But I wasn’t doing any other running. In my defence, those 2 speed workouts a week really crushed me. My whole body hurt (a lot more upper body than I expected) and I felt so fatigued all the time. We would do the workouts at the only (level) track in Aberdeen at the Sports Village. One day was so windy, rainy, and icy that we did the workout inside on a treadmill. Otherwise the workouts would be late at night or E would drive up immediately after work and I’d meet him (hard to plan eating around), we could maybe get one lane, sometimes not even, and it cost £3.70 each time, for each of us (E was my pacer as he was the only one with a running watch at the time…and I’m rubbish at pacing myself). There is one other track in Aberdeen at Hazlehead park, a 500m track that goes uphill in one direction (and a nice downhill in the other) but it often has a lot of people on it and because it is pavement, becomes icier more frequently.

I had big plans for my speed work in America. I put in every workout on my calendar. I planned to use the gym and a treadmill mostly, but a couple runs I preferred on the high school track. As it turns out, when I was home I never put on my running shoes once.

 

Church.

Church.

Well I am proud to say that I got back on the Find Your Fast plan and started from the beginning the first Monday I was back here in Scotland. This time around I’m doing pretty much all of my workouts on a treadmill (at 1% incline). It’s not ideal, I actually hate treadmills. But it’s a short workout and saves the trouble of getting to (and paying for) the track, especially when I feel I can’t do track workout without E…I know I’ll puss out. He tends to tell me I’m slower than I am so I push myself much harder…. Oh well, gotta work with what I got. I am happy to say I haven’t been feeling AS completely knackered after these workouts so that’s good in a way, but bad in a way. Don’t get me wrong; my body still hurts. And I am getting in another 1-2 runs on top of that- at least one distance run- building up to 10 miles as I have a 10 miler race on March 6. I am trying to push myself and on my last couple of sprints do them at a faster speed….I figure that’s got to good to push it then when I’m already fatigued right?

We did manage to do minute long hill repeats outside this week. Of course on one of the windiest days in Aberdeen, Storm Frank I think, and I am running uphill directly into the wind. I’m not happy to say I didn’t accomplish 7 minute mile pace up hill, into the wind for a full minute. But I got the 8 and 9 minute mile paces (repeat these 3x each). Oh well, working on progress.

So let’s see how this one goes. 1 full month of training down, 1 month to go. Doing speed work I’ve never done before. Can I get a sub-7 minute mile?images

Dhanakosa Meditation & Yoga Retreat

Clearly, I am still not blog focused. I’m pretty much tying myself to my computer right now to type this retreat recap up. I’ve been busy with my client, American Woman’s Association stuff (like prepping and hosting 30 women at my house for breakfast and coffee on Wednesday morning….yes 30), and golf. While the Indian Summer tried to disappear Mon-Wed, it was back today and a couple of us got together and played 9 holes, it short sleeves, in October, in Scotland! How great is that? What wasn’t great…I swear I am getting worse at golf. Oye.

So….my meditation & yoga retreat….IMG_1671

At some point last spring I started googling meditation retreats. I’m not sure what exactly possessed me to do so. But I did use to meditate pretty religiously and even did a couple 6-week block sessions of guided meditation that worked on different techniques. What led me to meditation was my FGM (Fairy God Mother aka shrink) who didn’t think I should just be drugged when I was sad. So I guess maybe I was feeling a bit sad, overwhelmed, run down and thought I should get back to meditation. Or maybe I just saw some Real Housewives of Wherever and they went on a fab retreat….who knows.

I probably was in over my head before I started. I swear when I originally googled only 2 retreat places came up in Scotland that were a reasonable drive. I didn’t want a flight, and I didn’t want a greater than 5 hour journey. Now as I google, man it seems there are tons of these places. And it also seems like there are a lot better options for me. Anyway, the one place originally found was super luxurious and expensive, and the other one, the one I went to, Dhanakosa, seemed more practically priced but no massages. I was okay with that…I thought.

Now maybe I’m using better search terms or have a better understanding of what I’m looking for. But now in the greater google search I have found centers that seem to be fairly priced, more luxurious, not vegan, only 3 nights, AND options not to have roommates. Not sure on the atmosphere, but already these are seemingly better options that what I chose.

I went at it a little aggressive. Doing a full 7-day retreat that focused on yoga and meditation…even though I have no experience of yoga, and do not aspire to be a yogi or supplement a workout through yoga. I am just keen on yoga to help my meditation and help me relax and stretch. I guess I also just had unrealistic expectations. While I didn’t fully know what to expect in this, I was looking at it like sleep away camp or a Natural Helpers retreat…or even a weekend long church retreat. It wasn’t any of these things.

Sleep away camp at Camp Tecumseh was the best week of my life every year as a kid. I went knowing no one, had a super scheduled day, rode horses for half the day, made great friends, never had drama….I just always left feeling better and more confident than when I came in. In high school I went to two Natural Helpers retreats (not sure what it is- this site gives a pretty nice explanation) I first went as a student experience it, and then as a senior in high school I was a leader helping other students. Then, in college E and I went as the college leaders. We both loved the program, loved the weekend retreat, created great friendships, grew on a personal level, and came back feeling better than when we left. Even during my brief Jesus-y phase, I went on a couple weekend retreats and drank the kool-aid, made great connections, and left feeling better and more centered than when I came. I just thought this would be the same, but it wasn’t.

A lot of people who were at the retreat (about 25-30 of us) had either been at this center before or been to other meditation retreats before. There were only a couple people who were totally new to the whole process with me. At the end of the retreat, most people talked about how this was the most social retreat they had ever been on…which left me stumped. I wanted to have hugs and a massage chain and write letters to each other about how amazing we all were and we didn’t do ANY of that. What the heck, this isn’t social.   I didn’t even get past surface level stuff with more than 5 people!

The daily schedule was something along the lines of this:

7 Wake up bell

7:30 mediation

8 meditation

8:45 breakfast

10:30 yoga

1 lunch

3:45 optional extra yoga

5 meditation

6 dinner

7:30 Varying evening meditation and/or talk

To boot, I had 3 roommates to share one bathroom with and you had daily chores. Roommates are awkward. Not them as people, mine were actually quite lovely, but having roommates is awkward…especially as grown women, having periods of silence, and sharing a bathroom on an all vegan diet.

I said optional extra yoga in the schedule but everything was optional, you could do whatever you wanted. Only one day did I do both meditations in the morning, because it was just too much. For the normal 10:30 yoga session the retreat was split into two groups, you chose which leader you wanted to go with after they talked about their yoga. It was pretty much a full 2 ½ hours though, all the way until lunch. The yoga group I was in…well it wasn’t the yoga I expected. To kind of sum it up, for 2 ½ hours a day we kind of rolled around on the floor and pretended we were seaweed. Okay, we didn’t pretended to be seaweed the entire time, but that happened daily, and we really did just kind of roll around on the floor for the entire time…trying to feel our bodies and move fluidly. One day I decided to really embrace it hoping for great results…and despite my best efforts, had to ditch the next day on the whole experience because I kind of had enough.

I did do the extra yoga session one day with the other instructor and I liked that. I guess it was Ying/Restorative Yoga where you held a pose for a while and focused on your breathing. That was nice and only an hour long. Lots of lying, no seaweed.

It took me until Wednesday morning to have a really good meditation session, but all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning before leaving I was in the zone. Despite going batshit crazy on Thursday evening, leaving the retreat center, and going two miles up the road to connect to wifi and drink two large glasses of wine (sacrificing one meditation session which I think was totally worth it- because I should not there is no contact with the outside world.  Not only is it frowned upon, but I didn’t have any service within a 5 mile radius of the center…I even ran up a mountain to try and get a signal and couldn’t.  It was rough.  I missed E & Stella-girl). But even once I got my meditation on, I just felt unfulfilled. Repeat retreat offenders seemed to really get a lot out of the experience. And a lot came with some pretty big stuff to work through…to come to a big come to Buddha moment. Maybe I just didn’t go deep enough?

There were also 2 days were we were silent from about 8pm until 9:30 the next day, and then another day we were silent from 8pm through the entire next day and then the next day until 9:30am. So like 36 hours of silence. I didn’t expect this, but it actually didn’t bother me in principle. What bothered me was on the 36 hours of silence it was the 5th day there, the temp dropped, the house was cold, I was reading a depressing WW2 book (I guess at hardcore retreats no book or music (I listened to music a couple times on a run) are even allowed), the vegan gruel we were fed was getting to me, I just really felt like a prisoner.

The retreat was a £75 booking fee and then “free” made possibly by other’s donations. On the website it lists suggested donation amounts and explains you’ll have a chance to make your donation on the last full day and they take all forms of payment. But I wasn’t expecting such a hard push for donations, I mean I fully intended on paying the suggested donation amount because after all it was 6 full nights room and board beforehand. I knew they’d say something, but it was a full blown kind of rehearsed super hard push…it was intense. I guess the center is a non-profit and they said it cost £30K A MONTH to run the ‘estate’. I do not see how this is possible. And I asked two different people what do they do and what the money goes to…and the answers were vague at best. After the ask for money, it was immediately followed up by doling out chores from the staff that live there full time…while they kind of stood and watched us all work. This is in addition to the daily chores we had to do. When the time came to donate is when I snuck away to the hotel. So Friday morning I went up to donate and right away there was a, “Oh, you’re Lauren” because they kept tabs on who had donated and who hadn’t. It was just kind of weird and aggressive I thought. And a lot of money that I couldn’t see what it went to…the place is kinda shabby, we did chores, the houses are paid off. It kind of seemed that we are funding a community of people to hang out and not work. I just kind of felt like I was getting jipped. Then after I donated I came down and had MORE chores to do before we left, including stripping my own bed and changing the sheets. The guests did literally all the work. Which is fine…but then why is the donation request so how? Where is the money going?

Unfortunately, that ending put a really bad taste in my mouth. But I want to end on a good note because it wasn’t an all bad of an experience. I just kind of had to dig really deep to find the good.

Cons

  • Didn’t feel like there was a lot of free time between the schedule and chores.
  • Wasn’t a fan of the yoga.
  • Didn’t feel the leaders “lead” enough. I was looking for more direction and/or feedback.
  • Didn’t have any sort of big come to Buddha moment.
  • Kinda felt I was funding a group of people on extended vacation.
  • Vegan food pretty well sucked about 60% of the time.
  • Midge Bites
    I had over 60 bites...that I scratched so hard in my sleep I bruised. It was miserable.

    I had over 60 bites…that I scratched so hard in my sleep I bruised. It was miserable.

    Midge bites- wah!

    Midge bites- wah!

 

Pros

  • Everyone was super nice. Or at least amused the hell out of me. I couldn’t even be annoyed at anyone because I found them all so delightfully quirky.
    • Even made some new friends who I’d love to see again. Certainly I wish everyone well.
  • Beautiful location.
  • I learned a little about myself.
  • Benefitted from having such a scheduled day after my normal haphazard days.
  • Got back into running- ran 4 times in the beautiful location- even twice at 6:30 am.
  • Had a lot of reading time.
  • Got back to meditation. Not that I’ve done it since, but it can’t hurt.
  • Really got to connect with nature…it felt good.
Sunrise over the loch

Sunrise over the loch

 

My tips for you if you go to this center, or possibly any retreat

  • Get there early for first dibs on beds.
  • Get there early for first dibs on chores.
    • You do not want any dishwashing. Trust me.
    • Toilet duty isn’t bad because you get to choose when you do it.
  • Bring eye mask, earplugs, and drugs to help you sleep.
  • Don’t forget your towels.
  • Bring extra stuff if you’re driving: bathing suit for a morning loch swim, extra deodorant, extra socks, whatever.
Morning run around the Loch

Morning run around the Loch

of course i took pics of sheep

of course i took pics of sheep

Baby Steps to Interval Training

Remember when I used to run all the time {and spin and lift}?! Yeah, me neither. Sad face….

I’ve gone on some occasional runs {sadly, my goal of recording all of my running miles for 2015 is a failure as I haven’t recorded any of my runs post marathon since they’ve been so erratic}, a handful when Megan was in town since she’s marathon training, 1 or 2 run clubs, a couple trail runs to explore my new hood….nothing really concrete or with any goal in mind despite declaring I was going to run a trail run {turns out now I’ll be in Croatia} and a half marathon in October {really don’t see that happening but….}.

So it’s time to start getting my shit together. Trying not to overload myself especially since there are plenty of things/guests/trips fighting for my time. But let it be known- I ran 2 days in a row! Baby steps, I know.

But maybe you’re like me and looking for some baby steps as well?

slow-motion-is-better-than-no-motion-85364166

Despite getting through the Paris Marathon without stopping to walk, I am having a hard time running without stopping. A lot of times it’s at the top of the hill, but sometimes I just burn myself out and want to stop. And that’s outside. On a treadmill if I run more than 15 solid minutes it’s a miracle. I don’t know what it is but it’s just so damn boring. But sometimes you have to run on a treadmill! Due to weather, or time commitments, or location. So I decided I needed to start doing some intervals to:

  1. Burn some more fat
  2. Keep me amused on a treadmill
  3. Stop me from taking mid-run breaks

And so, here is my first crack at an interval workout. My active recovery is really slow, which is nice and what I need to keep moving. It might feel a little too easy in the beginning, but you should feel it by the end if you’re at my fitness level….which is not totally out of shape, but pretty far from in shape. So if you’re taking baby steps, I recommend this one.

 

Minutes MPH KPH Incline Notes
0:00-5:00 4.0 6.4 3 Warm up
5:00-6:00 6.0 9.7 1
6:00-7:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
7:00-9:00 6.5 10.6 1
9:00-10:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
10:00-13:00 6.5 10.6 1
13:00-14:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
14:00-16:00 7.0 11.3 1
16:00-17:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
17:00-18:00 8.0 12.9 1
18:00-19:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
19:00-20:00 9.0 14.5 3
20:00-21:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
21:00-23:00 6.5 10.6 3
23:00-24:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
24:00-27:00 6.0 9.7 3
27:00-30:00 4.0 6.4 1 Cool down