Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm ready to grow young again

At 9:00 am today, we said goodbye to Opal. As I mentioned in a previous post, we knew the end was near. We had sort of decided that we would take her to the vet on Sunday night, the sore on her backside was getting worse by the day. Sunday morning came and we didn't really discuss what we'd do. We met with our running group and then Trevor worked the store. He asked me to give Opal a bath and check on the sore.

I got home around 11, Trevor would be home around 4. I waited as long as I could to give her the bath because I didn't want to have to look at the sore and I didn't want to have to make a decision. Around 2:30, after Opal took a long nap where she snored louder than ever before, I gave her a bath. She layed on the deck and seemed to enjoy every minute of it. After I got done rinsing her, I looked at it and immediately started to cry. I knew it was much worse and I hated what that meant. I brought Opal back inside and put her on her special blanket. We had a long talk about heaven. We talked about her life and how I didn't want her to be scared. I told her that when the time came, she should just relax and let go - Wookie, Gus and Joyce would be waiting for her. She started to clean her back legs - she wanted them to be ready when she got to heaven, because she planned to run and jump and play.

Trevor called to see how Opal was. I told him and he didn't really respond. He came home from the store and we decided we would wait until the morning. That way, we would have one more night with her. I think that neither of us really wanted it to be the end and so we were somehow hoping one more night would make her better.

Opal was obviously confused. She was up all night crying and barking. I think she was saying "Where's Wookie? Mom told me that I was going to see Wookie tonight". The morning came and I don't think that either of us really believe this was it. We gave her another bath, looked at her sore and finally came to the conclusion that it was time. I called the vet and let them know we would be there shortly.

Maggie and Buster said their goodbyes and we wrapped Opal in the same blanket in which Wookie made his final trip. Opal has never liked to ride in the car. Today, she layed calmly in the back seat with Trevor. I was so worried that she would be scared at the end. I could not tolerate that. So I was glad to see that she was peaceful and calm.

We got to the vet and took her into the room. Trevor said he was going to have them look at her sore, I think it was his final bit of hope that it didn't have to be time. The nurses came in and shaved Opals paw to put in the catheter. Again, Opal stayed calm. We sat on the floor with her and she put her head on Trevor's leg. At that moment, I believe we both knew. We had known before that, but were still in denial, still holding out for some sort of miracle. But at that moment, Opal was letting us know that she was ready. We have a wonderful vet who assured us that we have given her the best life a dog could have.

If you have been at this moment with an animal you love, you know how it feels, you know the impossibility of the situation and you know the amazing grace that is required to see this through to the end. As I told a friend who was going through this - it is one of the most important things you have to do in your life. It is heartbreaking to watch, but we are the center of her world so how could we not be there to comfort her, to let her know that its okay to go.

Opal was her daddy's little girl. Trevor loved her like I loved Gus - about all else. He would have chosen Opal over me and I have always been okay with that. It took a while for her to love me, but after a couple years, she did. Today, I thanked her for loving me. One of the most important qualities in anyone, for both me and Trevor, is loyalty. Above all else, we value loyalty. Opal was the epitomy of loyalty.

We have so many great memories of Opal. Her incessent barking and ball chasing. Her love for her red ball and green toy. Her furry ears and wirey coat. The way she bossed Wookie around. The way she would look at me when I was talking to her and say "I don't know what you are saying, but I like the way you are saying it", how she would walk slowly with me, while Trevor walked Wookie and Maggie and then Maggie and Buster in front of us. How she would cover up her food with blankets in her kennel and hid food all over the downstairs. She was a good dog, a great dog.

On the way home from the vet, I said to Trevor "All our babies are gone and it makes me feel so old". When Trevor and I met, Opal, Wookie and Gus were all so young - between 2 and 4. Now, they are all gone and I just don't know where the years have gone. 11 years have come and gone in the blink of an eye. I miss them all. I love the babies we have now, but I really miss the ones who are gone. I just don't know how we have moved forward without them. There are two qualities in Trevor that make me love him the most - we can laugh at anything and he loves our animals. Even though this is one of the saddest, most difficult days in our lives, we have been able to laugh. Of course, we have cried alot too, but having that little bit of laughter makes it easier to keep moving forward. And loving our animals, well, that goes without saying. We both share the same ridiculous love for these animals. We love them with every piece of our being. I know I couldn't love someone who didn't share that with me.

We still have 5 sweet babies at home to share our love with. Their lives are better because Gus, Wookie and Opal paved the way. Opal had a little white spot on her head that I would kiss. Maggie has a similar spot, only its brown. I told Opal today that when I kiss that spot on Maggie, I will think of her.

I just know that the minute that Opal left this life, she was immediately running to see Wookie and Gus. And right now, I am sure they are all taking a nap in the sun. Together. At least that is what I hope.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


One word: Exhausted. That describes how I feel right now, how I have been feeling for at least a week now. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Opal is nearing the end, and that makes everything else in my life much less important. All I can think about when I am away from her is how little time we have left. I can't kiss her or smell her fur enough. I cannot believe that in the very near future I will no longer be able to do that.

We are super busy with the stores right now and our training group. We put on a 2.5 mile run today. We are also training for a triathlon in July. Things are really busy and we have very little down time. We aren't sleeping all that great because Trevor is down on the couch with Opal and I am in bed with 3 cats who all want to lay right on top of me because Trevor isn't there.

Opal has gotten worse the last few days, Trevor's been holding her food in his hand to feed her. She's starting to demand that now, so instead of even trying to get to her food, she barks as if to say "FEED ME!". This morning I told Trevor I was exhausted. He said he was too because he wakes up every hour to hand feed Opal.

We've been giving her a bath as often as we can because she has developed a sore on her backside from dragging herself around. When we were giving her a bath last night we realized the sore was much worse than we had realized. I saw it at the same time Trevor saw it and we both got silent and teared up. Just like Gus, her body is giving out. She is wasting away in front of our eyes and I think she is ready to go.

Tomorrow evening will probably be time. Just typing that makes me burst into tears. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of making this decision again for another one of our babies. I expect the next 24 hours will be especially difficult. There just isn't enough time.

Opal barks a lot. She always has and it drives us nuts!! This morning she was barking and it was driving me nuts. I was telling her to stop barking and then I realized that I didn't want her to ever stop barking.

She keeps telling me that she can't wait to get to heaven because then her legs will work again and she can run and play and lay in the sun with Wookie and Gus. Joyce (our petsitter who passed away in August) will be there to throw the ball for her.

I know this is all a part of life, but I hate it. I'm tired of it. I am exhausted by it. And I know Opal is too.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I don't know what's going on, but lately it seems like all I am doing is dealing with assholes. And its really pissing me off. Maybe I am to blame, maybe I am putting out the wrong kind of vibes or energy into the Universe. Maybe I am getting what I am giving. I have been doing some soul searching on that and wondering if deep down I really am a good person or not. But really, WTF is going on?

There is a baseline of assholes that I deal with on a regular basis, but when others start making their way into my life, I have to draw the line. Going along, to get along, can only work for so long. Eventually you have to put your foot down and say "enough is enough". I am at the point and honestly, it feel good to be there. It feels good to say to an asshole - "enough is enough". Trevor is at the same point to - we've hit our limit.

We are involved in way more things that ever before. Trevor commented that we need to back off from some things because when we get involved we care. And we care about things that really don't make any difference, things that wouldn't matter if we weren't involved. We find ourselves being in groups, on committees and boards with people who have no integrity and THAT is probably what we care about most. An issue that doesn't matter, all of a sudden starts to matter when decisions are being made without integrity. I am shocked at the things people will do and say behind closed doors. I am even more shocked that others will sit around in quiet agreement. All it takes is one person to speak up and say "that's not right", next thing you know, the rest of the group speaks up too and integrity wins after all. Lately, I have found myself being the person who speaks up first.

I saw a blog post about a book called: The No Asshole Rule.

Here's dirty-dozen list of everyday asshole actions:
Personal insults
Invading one’s personal territory
Uninvited personal contact
Threats and intimidation, both verbal and non-verbal
Sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems
Withering email flames
Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims
Public shaming or status degradation rituals
Rude interruptions
Two-faced attacks
Dirty looks
Treating people as if they are invisible

And here are some other good tips:
How to avoid being an asshole:

Face your past. The past is a very good predictor of future behavior. For example, were you a bully in school? If your parents and siblings were assholes, you may have caught the disease. Knowing that you’re an asshole is first step towards change.

Do not make people feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled. If you find yourself having these effects, it’s time to change your behavior no matter what you think of yourself.

Do not mistreat people who are less powerful than you. One of the sure signs of an asshole is treating people like clerks, flight attendants, and waiters in a degrading manner.

Resist assholeholics from the start. The easiest time to avoid becoming an asshole is at the very beginning. Don’t think that you can do “what you have to” to fit in and can change later. It won’t happen.

Walk away and stay away. Don’t be afraid to leave a bad situation. It’s unlikely you’ll change the assholes into good people; it’s much more likely that you’ll descend to their level.

View acting like an asshole as a communicable disease. If you have any sense of decency, when you’re sick, you avoid contact to prevent spreading the disease. So if you act like an asshole, you’re not just impacting yourself; you’re also teaching other people that it’s okay to be an asshole.

Focus on win-win. Children (young and old) think that the world is a zero-sum game. If another kid is playing with the fire truck, you can’t. As people get older they should realize that life doesn’t have to be a win-lose proposition--unless, that is, you’re an asshole.

Focus on ways you are no better or even worse than others. Thinking that you’re smarter, faster, better looking, funnier, whatever than others turns people into assholes. Thinking that you’re no better or even worse keeps you humble.

Focus on ways you are similar to people, not different. If you concentrate on how you and others have similar goals, desires, and passions, you’re bound to be less of an asshole. How can you treat people that are similar to you with disdain?

Tell yourself, “I have enough stuff (money, toys, friends, cars, whatever).” Discontentment and envy is a major factor in becoming an asshole. If you’re happy, there’s no reason to stomp on others.

How to Deal With Assholes:

Hope for the best, but expect the worst. One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with assholes is that they disappoint you--making you wonder the very value of humans. Lowering your expectations can help reduce disappointment. Don’t solely lower your expectations, though, or you will slip into cynicism (and possibly turn into an asshole too.) Continue to hope for the best.

Develop indifference and emotional detachment. Sutton may be the only author who has the insight and courage to recommend that being indifferent and detached may be a good thing in work environments. If it permits you to survive, then it is. In other words, don’t let the jerks get to you.

Look for small wins. Small victories can keep you going. Most assholes pride themselves in total control and absolute domination. Any victory, no matter how small, can keep you going. Rest assured that small victories can lead to winning the war.

Limit your exposure. You can do what you can to avoid meetings and interactions with assholes. This involves finding or building pockets of “safety, support, and sanity,” to use Sutton’s words. He cites an example of a nurse’s lounge as a refuge from an asshole doctor.

Expose them. If you are safe in your position, then calling assholes out is a good way to deal with them.

De-escalate and re-educate. This strategy requires that the asshole you’re dealing with isn’t a “chronic,” “certified,” and “flagrant” asshole. It means meeting asshole behavior with calmness (instead of either similar behavior or fear) and trying to re-educate the person about how he’s behaving.

Stand up to them. Funny thing about assholes: Standing up to them shouldn’t necessarily scare you. While I was an Apple employee, I was in a meeting with a highly placed Apple exec and Apple’s ad agency. The ad agency person showed the new television spots and said he’d give a copy to the Apple exec and me. The Apple exec told the agency person not to give one to me. I spoke up: “Are you saying you don’t trust me?” The Apple exec answered: “Yes.” To which I replied, “That’s okay because I don’t trust you either.” You know what? The sun rose the next day, and my family still loved me.

I hate assholes. I need to print this out and carry it with me as a reference. Or maybe I need to read the book. Imagine a world without assholes.....its easy if you try. But just like Imaging all the people living life in peace, this too is unlikely. Until then, good luck. We are outnumbered.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sweet Opal

A few months ago I wrote about Opal and her deteriorating health. You can read it:

Just like the other two who went before her, she is holding on much longer than we expected. Opal has always been very stoic. She never lets on that she is in pain, so its difficult to gauge the extent of her injuries or illnesses. For a while, she was struggling to walk and would fall now and then. She had a hard time waiting until she got outside to go to the bathroom. We knew she was going downhill.

We left her with a pet sitter at the house on April 30th - we were in Eugene for the marathon. She was able to walk a little when we left, when we got home she had lost that ability. We are going on three weeks now that her back legs have completely given up. She drags herself around now.

Many people say that we should just put her down and be done with it. That's not how we work and that isn't what we'll do until we are sure it is time. The others have told us when they were ready. Opal is not ready. She is more frustrated about it than anything else.

Opal is a follower. She has always loved to follow us around. She never just layed in one spot. If you got off the couch to walk into the kitchen, she got up and followed. She is very frustrated that she can no longer do that. If we are in the same room as her, she is happy. If we are not, she barks...non stop barking.

She always slept downstairs and at night we could hear her pacing, she rarely layed down at night. It was like she was on patrol. She can't do that now and so when we go to bed, she barks. The last two weeks, Trevor has slept on the couch so that she will relax a little. This has resulted in a major lack of sleep for everyone in our house. But as Trevor said "its what we do".

Our life is full of routines. During the day, she stays in the living room. The main problem is the step between the living room and kitchen. She can't get up and down that. We decided to put her in the living room on the carpet because it seemed more comfortable. Every night when I get home, she has pulled herself over to the step and is waiting there for me.

I move her up into the kitchen and put her on another blanket while I clean up whatever has happened during the day and do my evening chores. She is very happy to be there with me. She'll sleep or drink water or just lay and watch me.

She has a sore on her back side from dragging herself around - rug burn. We have started giving her a bath out on the deck every couple days to keep that clean. Opal has never liked to be still. But now, she seems to love just laying on her side while I wash and rinse her. She lays her head down and is very peaceful. The warm water and having her mom and dad comfort her must make her feel good. We decided we will do more of that in her remaining days. Anything we can do to ease her soul, we will do.

Every day we tell her that its okay to just go to sleep, but she isn't having any of that. She gets excited when she sees us and is happy to take her pills with meat or cheese. She says "meat pills!!" when we open the fridge. She doesn't cry or yipe in pain. She just seems confused by it all.

Opal is 14 years old. Her collar, that she has worn her entire life, says "Crazy Dog". She has always been a crazy dog. These last couple years she has mellowed out and become less crazy. We love her so much. She is daddy's girl. He raised her from a puppy. I have known her since she was about 3. She used to say "you're not my mom", but now she says "I love my mom".

This is the third time we have been through this in the last 17 months and it does not get easier. It will be a relief when she is gone because its like having a puppy again. She needs constant attention. But we will miss all the things that she brings into our life, all the routines she keeps, all the barking and licking and toy chasing.

Opal is very wire haired, she isn't really soft, but her ears are. We always say that they ran out of material when they were making her and so they had to use some other dog's ears. I always told her that when she got to heaven she'd get to figure out where her ears came from. We talk about that alot. She can't wait to see. She also really misses Wookie and knows that he and Gus are waiting for her. Then, the three of them can all be together again.

We have Wookie and Gus' ashes sitting on the pool table downstairs and we are waiting for Opal to tell us she's ready to go get on the pool table with them. I hope the other two are laying in the sun right now, in heaven, awaiting the arrival of their girl dog. Our lives will not be the same without her.

We love you Opal, its time to let go. For all of us.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What I have learned from Oprah

So this is Oprah's last season. I think she has another week of shows and then an era will end. 25 years of Oprah Winfrey Shows. I have watched her for years. Sometimes she gets on my nerves, sometimes she says just the right thing and sometimes she puts something out there that sticks with me.

In the last few years, with the invention of the DVR, I have watched just about every show. I tape them all and watch them little by little. I find her shows make for interesting conversation in our house. For example, I was watching a show about men who were married but were actually gay. Trevor walked in the door and I said "are you gay? because if you are tell me now". He loves that. When I ask him a particularly ridiculous question, he will say "Have you been watching Oprah?"

Last night we were watching Oprah's show on her most memorable guests. That got me thinking about what I have learned from Oprah. Just off the top of my head, these are things that have stuck with me.

1. "Don't go to the second location". This made one of Oprah's most memorable and it is my #1. In 1991, she did a show on how to protect yourself. She had a police sergeant on and she asked him what his number one tip was. I will never forget this. He was sitting on the stage and as he started talking, he stood up and walked down towards the audience, as if he was about to say the most important thing he has ever said, and said "Rule number one—and frankly, it's probably, in my opinion, the most important: Never allow them to take you anywhere else. Never,"because crime scene number two is going to be isolated, you won't choose it, you'll be the focus of the crime." It gives me chills to read that now. Luckily, I have never had to use this advice, but I think about it all the time. Its better to fight and take the chance that you'll get away than be taken to another place where you will surely not survive (or something will happen that will make you wish you didn't survive).

2. Everyone knows that Oprah has struggled with her weight. There are two things that stick out to me about this. The first was when she was doing some diet that said she couldn't eat after 7 pm. Jerry Seinfield was a guest on her show and the night before, he and his wife had asked Oprah to go to dinner and she said no because it was after 7. Then, I read her story about her show with Cher and Tina Turner. She said that she felt so badly about how she looked that she didn't want to stand next to either of them. She didn't enjoy that show at all. Both of these stories made me feel very sad and made me think about my life and my body image. How sad to miss out on these amazing, once in a life time experiences because of her relationship with food and her feelings about her weight. I don't want to miss out on anything and sometimes have to remember this lesson.

3. Another Oprah has taught me is the amazing depths of sorrow and grief that people can feel and how some people are able to dig out of that and others just sit in a pool of their own sadness. There are four shows that I vividly remember. One was a man who had left his car running the garage and his wife and two dogs died from carbon monoxide poisoning. I remember that I was on the treadmill at the gym watching this and it was so heart wrenching that I got off and went home. The other was a husband and wife who's 4 year old daughter was killed in an accident by a drunk driver. They were coming home from a wedding, in the back of a limo, and were hit head on by a drunk driver. The little girl was decapitated and to listen to her mother talk about that? Holy shit, how do you ever get over that. The mom talked about how they were stuck in their sorrow and they can't relate to anyone anymore because they can't talk about life with others when nothing will ever be as bad as that and nothing will ever make it better. Then, a family who's three children died in a car accident and how several years later, they had triples on the same day that their other children had died. And perhaps the worst of all of them was the man from New England, who's wife and two daughters were murdered by two men who broke into their house. God willing, I will never have to deal with any of these kinds of things. The lesson these stories taught me was that life can change in an instant and horrific things can happen to anyone.

I asked Trevor what he learned from Oprah and he said it wasn't what he learned from Oprah but what Oprah means in the grand scheme of things...You have either succeeded or totally screwed up if you are on Oprah. Good point. What will be the gauge for that now?!

I will be sad to see the show end, I do enjoy watching. I think she did a good job of using her power for good and even the times when she didn't, she realized it and did better next time. I wonder what her last show will be....Wouldn't it be awesome if it was her wedding?!! I think her last show should be her and Stedman tying the knot! That would be the way to go out.

Thanks for the lessons Oprah. I wish your OWN network was on basic cable because I'm not going to pay for a channel full of people who were great on your show once a month who will now have an hour long daily show to fill.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I have been with Trevor for almost 11 years now, married for almost 5. When I look back at my life before him, there are very few "boyfriends". I didn't date very much in high school or college. I don't know why, I just never did. But there was one. I thought he was the ONE. I met him when I was in college and he was 10 years older than me. He was my first real love, his name was Michael.

Michael and I dated on and off for a couple years, during and after college. He was an alcoholic, so our relationship was full of drama and uncertainty. When I was 21, I wanted to save the world, I wanted to help everyone. Looking back now, I can see that was the draw. I was drawn to him because I felt like he needed me.

Anyone who has a relationship with an alcoholic knows the drill. They care first about the booze, everything and everyone else comes second. He always said he would quit, he actually did quit a couple times. The truth is, I didn't like him as much when he was sober. That never lasted anyway.

He was very unpredictable. He turned my life upside down with phone calls at 2 am to pick him at the bar or in jail. All my friends thought I was nuts for dating him, but I didn't care.

When I was 22, Mike moved to Chicago. I went to visit him once and I realized it was over. We had talked about getting married and having kids. I planned to moved to Chicago to be with him, but on this visit I realized we did not have a future and that broke my heart.

I came home and cried for weeks. I was devastated. We saw each other on and off for another couple years. I moved to New Jersey and we lost touch. After I have moved to Oregon, he tracked me down. He was sober and on the "making amends" step of his 12 step program (that's when I usually heard from him). He was calling to tell me how sorry he was for all the things he put me through. If you have a relationship with an addict, you know how this goes too.

A few months later he called again to tell me he was getting married. A year or so later he called to say that he was having a child. That was the last time I talked with him. That was very early in my relationship with Trevor. I bet its been 8 years since I had any contact with him.

Mike's father owned a really popular burger joint in Boulder where I went to college. A few years back, I got my college newsletter and there was as story about Mike's dad and how he had just died from brain cancer. That made me think of Mike, I hadn't thought of him in years.

Every once in a while, Mike will cross my mind for one reason or another. I know I have googled him or looked for him on facebook before. Let's be honest, who hasn't done that with their first real love? I never found anything.

Last night, while I was driving home, I was thinking about my life with Trevor. I was thinking about how predictable and solid it is. We have no drama, we have craziness, no jealous fights, no staying out late with the guys, none of that. For some reason it made me think about how my life would have been if things had worked out with Mike. How I would have spent the last 15 years of my life in a very different way, all the ups and downs of life with an alcoholic and how relieved I was that I was living this life instead.

I heard Oprah say that forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different. I know that I forgave Mike many years ago. He helped me become who I am today. I have never wished that I was with him now instead of Trevor. Never.

Today, I googled Mike again and the first thing that popped up was an article from June, 2009. On June 26, 2009, Mike died at the age of 45 from lung cancer. That....was shocking. It wasn't shocking that he died from that, he lived hard - smoked, drank, did drugs. I guess I had always thought I would see him again someday. I thought we would run into him at an airport or at a restaurant while we were visiting my parents in Colorado. I wasn't sitting around wishing we would run into him, I just expected that we would. But we won't, because he is dead. He left a wife and two little boys. I hope he found some peace in his family life before he went.

One of the first compliments Mike ever gave me was about my eyebrows. He said "you have the most amazing eyebrows". Such a strange compliment. Every now and then, when I am getting an eyebrow wax, the aestatician will say "you have really great eyebrows" and I will say "someone I dated once told me that" and I will smile at the memory of that strange compliment that really endeared Michael to me.

I am glad that I knew him. I am sorry I won't see him again and wish I had the chance to say goodbye. I know he would be proud of me and the life I am living now. I know I am.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Damn you Dr. Oz

The last two weeks, people have been coming into the store asking for strange things I have never heard about before. They all are the same. They come into the store with a little notebook and pen. They are middle aged, overweight women and they say "Do you have Raspberry root, white bean extract or Konjac root?" Trevor has had several people asking for the same thing.

Come to find out that Dr Oz did a show last week on metabolism boosters. It was really aimed at women over 40. I got online and watched the show today and it made me want to beat the crap out of Dr. Oz. When he was on the Oprah Show, I think he did a lot of good. Now he has his own show and filling up an hour, 5 days a week, must be tough. To me, he's lost some credibility.
The show started by saying that once a women hits 40, all bets are off. You can't lose weight anymore, your hormones are a mess, you have no energy and so its not your fault that you are overweight.

Then, they interviewed some viewers who talked about their issues. One woman, who was about 50-100 pounds overweight, said when she was under 40, she could eat a lettuce only salad every day for lunch and lose weight. Now, she eats 20 salads a week and loses no weight.

In my opinion, this has nothing to do with being over 40. The idea that whenever she wanted to lose weight before, she ate nothing but lettuce indicates to me that she never learned to eat a healthy diet that would allow her to maintain her weight. And the fact that she eats lettuce 3 times a day and isn't losing weight doesn't scream hormone problem, it screams too few calories and no protein.

I am also really annoyed that Dr Oz would pull out these very uncommon supplements that are available NOWHERE and tell his audience that they are the answer to their problems.

When someone comes in looking for these things and I tell them we don't have it, I always tell them about our meal planning service and give them our brochure on a healthy diet and ask them what else they are doing. They usually look at me like "who the hell do you think you are? Dr Oz told me to get this stuff, you are no Dr. Oz". Dr Oz also suggests eating a healthy diet and exercising but I don't see these same people running out to do that.

Oh Dr Oz....what happened to you? You sold out. I guess it was inevitable.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Recovery Week is now over

Its been a week since the Eugene Marathon and I am feeling back to normal. The soreness in my body seems to have passed. I worked out all week long and ran for the first time on Friday. It felt pretty good.

Tomorrow, we start training for the Rev3 Half Ironman Triathlon on July 10th. I am working on our training plan and having a little anxiety because we have a lot of training to do before the event and not much time to do it.

My running is solid. Its the swimming and biking that needs some work. I was doing pretty good on swimming until about January. I haven't been in the pool for a few months. I have a swim lesson set up in a couple weeks and after that, I will put the focus on the swimming. We really want the nice weather to get here so we can get in the pond instead of the pool.

Biking. Well, I haven't been outside on my bike since Ironman in August. That was the one time I have been on the bike since my crash. I have been riding my bike inside on the trainer and have pretty good fitness, but riding outside is a whole different ballgame. I know I am going to need to work through some mental issues with the bike. The crash was pretty bad and sometimes I think about it and feel sick to my stomach. I was never really very aggressive on the bike, but that crash will make me much more cautious and may take some of the relaxation out of riding. That is the reason I need to get my ass on that bike out on the roads and get rid of the cobwebs.

Add to this the new workout videos we just got called Asylum. These are pretty high intensity workouts and Trevor is super excited about doing them. I have done a few already and have to admit I am excited too. The one thing that concerns me is the time it will take to fit all this into our schedule.

Next week is the first week of our 9 week training program. We'll see how that goes. I am really looking forward to it and I know Trevor is too. July 10th will be here before we know it. The really nice thing about this event is that it is so close to home. I also feel like we are doing it for fun - there is no pressure, its not the first one we've done and its not part of the road to something else. Its just something we are going to do - swim, bike and run with all our friends. No pressure in will just be much more fun if we are ready for it!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Eugene Marathon Race Recap

Prelude: I ran my first marathon in October of 2002. My time was 5 hours and 55 minutes. Between October 2009 and October 2010, I ran 5 marathons - 5:17, 5:19, 5:12, 5:04, 5:28. I trained for them, I ran them with all I had and was happy with my times. I had never trained with a specific finish time in mind, I always just wanted to finish with a smile. They were all hard, no matter what my finish time. I struggled through all of them.

This year, I decided I was going to train for a specific finish time. I was going to see if I could do better. My original goal was to finish in under 5 hours, so shave a few minutes off my personal best. Then I picked up a book called "Run less, run faster". They based your projected marathon finish time on your 10k time. So, on January 2nd, I ran a 10k to get an accurate time. Over the winter, I had been doing some cardio with Trevor on the stair machine and really felt like that was helping me run faster.

My 10k time projected my marathon finish time as 4:22. I thought "no way". Then I thought "why not". So I trained for a 4:22 marathon. My training included speed work, tempo work and long runs - all at very specific paces. It was the most challenging training I have ever done because I had to really focus on my pace. I couldn't just go run. This was good and bad.

One thing I am really good at is following a plan. I am very OCD about a plan. I missed a few runs over the 16 weeks due to injury and illness, but for the most part I stayed on track. With every week, I still wondered if 4:22 was really possible. I told people that I was training for a new personal best, but was afraid to tell them what it was because the goal was very agressive. Taking a few minutes off your marathon time is reasonable, a 5 hour marathoner taking 40 minutes off their time is not (to most people).

This brings us to May 1st, in Eugene.

It seemed the stars were aligning for me. I didn't make hotel reservations early enough and by the time I started looking, there was nothing close to the start line available. Then, out of the blue, a room popped up right by the start line, about 1/2 a mile away. The weather was shaping up to be amazing. All good things.

In all my previous marathons, I followed the same routine - ate the same things the day before, wore the same clothes. This time, everything was different. We headed down the night before the race. Our friends Angel and Jo picked up my packet since we weren't going to be there until about 9 pm. We ate at Chipolte on the way to Eugene - not my usual pre race meal, but I chanced it!

We got to Eugene around 8:30, stopped at Angel and Jo's hotel to get my packet and headed to our room. We got settled in, I layed out all my gear and got ready for bed. I was going to wear my skirt sport running skort and my lululemon top. I had trained in these but never raced in them. I got my ipod ready to go. I never raced with my ipod but had trained with it, so figured I would race with it too.

One routine that I kept was my prerace note. Before every event, I sit down and write out how the event went. I write about it as if it has already happened, I visualize how the day will go and put it on paper. It is always amazing how close that is to reality!!

I had a good nights sleep and wasn't too upset when the alarm went off at 5 am. We got up, I ate my breakfast and drank some coffee. I got dressed and headed down to the start line. Start was 7 am and we were so close that we didn't leave the hotel until about 6:40. I LOVED that!! I didn't have to wait in portapottie lines or anything!

Start time came, I said goodbye to Trevor - he was going to be my cheerleader and photographer all day long. I felt a little nervous, a little worried about my goal. I have been fighting an IT band issue and was afraid that would show up and ruin my day. I pushed those negative thoughts out of my head and started running.

One of my best strengths is pacing. I am really good at keeping a consistent pace. In order to meet my goal, I had to run 9:57 miles. I didn't want to start too fast and I didn't want to fall behind too soon. I did a really good job of keeping myself right on pace for the first couple miles. I felt good. There were alot of people and I loved seeing runners ahead of me as far as I could see!

The route was nice and flat. It was chilly, but not cold and the sun was shining bright. There were a lot of spectators cheering us on. The first 9 miles were through neighborhoods. I really enjoyed having my ipod, the music made the time pass quickly and focusing on each mile helped too.

Around mile 8, I saw Trevor. He didn't see me until I was right upon him. He said he had forgotten that I was wearing a green shirt and was looking for a pink shirt! He ran ahead of me and took my picture - saying "You are right on pace!"

Trevor made his way back towards the start area - he was going to meet me around mile 16. On the way, he saw our friend Angel - on her way to a personal best (and it was her birthday!)

Around mile 9, the full marathon and half marathon routes split. The crowd thinned out a bit after that. We were running along a great path by the river. The sun was shining and I was getting warm. I realized that my hands were swelling. That concerned me a bit. I had an electrolyte tab and planned to put that in my water bottle the next time I filled up.

I was still on track timewise. Averaging about 9:54. I was chugging along, thinking all my marathon thoughts - about all the people I know and love - all the people who have inspired me, cheered me and I was feeling a little alone. Around mile 13, I heard someone cheer my name. Our race bibs had our names on them, so that wasn't unusual. Then I realized it was our friends Trish, Melissa and Doug. They had made the two hour trip from home to cheer me on. They told me I looked great and that they would see me at the finish. That made my heart hurt. I have such great friends. blessed am I.

I kept going, knowing I should be seeing Trevor soon. Just after mile 15, we went across an overpass and there I saw Trevor.

He again told me that I was right on pace. I showed him how my hands were swelling and asked him what I should do. I had an electrolyte tab in my pocket. I gave that to him with my water bottle and asked him to handle that for me! He did and I really appreciated it, my hands weren't working right.

He ran with me a bit and then as we made the turn to get back on the path and off the road, he said goodbye and he'd see me at the finish. This was when things got tough. Mile 17 and I thought "why the hell am I doing this? What's the point?" Then I smiled, because that thought goes through my mind at some point during every marathon. I thought "good. got that over with". It started to become a mental battle. The route was amazing - a quiet path along the river. I knew the turn around back towards town was at mile 21. I wanted to get there, then only 5 miles left.

I had done 4 - 20 mile runs during my training, so 20 wasn't such a big deal. The swelling in my hands seemed to subside a bit. It was really getting warm out. I was loving my outfit. Usually I have to mess with my race belt (that holds my race bib) and pull my shirt down and readjust. I didn't have to do that AT ALL during this run. I really liked that!!

Mile 21 and we head back towards town. I was really struggling. My pace was still right on. I kept focused on each mile, knowing every mile was one closer to the finish. Around mile 23, I wanted to walk. I thought "I'll walk one mile and then run the rest". This went on until about mile 24. I was just about ready to walk, then I came over a little rise and saw Trevor. Damnit. Now I can't walk...

He showed up at just the right time and said he was going to run the rest of the way with me because he didn't know how to get back otherwise! He was telling me how great I was doing and how I was right on pace and I was going to do it.

He told me about the women at breakfast this morning who told him that it wasn't possible for me to take 40 minutes off my previous time. Then he told me that if we could bottle my determination and sell it, we would be millionaires. I loved that.

We had picked up the pace. Mile 21-23 had slowed to about 10:15, after I met up with Trevor, we got back under 10. We made the final turn off the path and toward the finish. Trevor left me to get to the finish line. I got to the 26 mile marker and its amazing how that last .2 miles can seem to go on forever.

Jo and Angel were there cheering me on and Angel ran with me for a bit. I made the turn into the stadium and saw the finish line. I was about 50 feet from the finish line when I realized that I was actually going to do it. My time was right around 4:23, a minute slower than my 4:22 goal. I was overcome with pride and I was saying "I did it. I did it, I did it, I did it!!" as I crossed the finish line.

I got my medal, tried not to pass out or throw up as I waited in line to get some pancakes! I met up with Trevor and all our friends. I started to get cold and needed to get back to the hotel, warm up, sit in an ice bath and eat!!! We said our goodbyes and headed back. Trevor went and got a small pizza while I was soaking in a cold tub!

We started for home around 2, stopped at Red Robins for a yummy lunch and arrived back home around 5. The rest of the night was spent on the couch.

I am so damn proud of myself I almost can't stand it. I asked Trevor what he had thought about my goal going into today. He said "I had no doubt you would do it, but I did think it was aggressive." I love that he had no doubt I would do it. That makes one of us!

I had that 4:23 marathon in me all the time, I just needed to let it out. This was such a good lesson for me. We can do SO much more than we ever give ourselves credit for. As I told my friend Tina, this just goes to show that you can achieve a ridiculous goal, if you put in the time and train for it. Next up, personal record half ironman triathlon in July. I had said this would be the year of not just doing it, but doing it better. I'm off to a great start!!!