Pain in the neck- Take Two

yep, we are here again. If you recall almost two years ago I had Anterior Cervical Disk Fusion for a ruptured disk in the neck in C5-6 and C6-7. I had made great progress until recently. In March it was discovered the disk above and below the fusion are now herniated. My doctor has told me no running/jumping etc. I need to stay on low impact activities/workouts. I won’t bore you with the medical details but the main concern is C4-5 and C7-T1. My physical therapist and surgeon told me I need to avoid a multilevel fusion at all costs. My real wake-up call was this week when my PT introduced me to someone that has had a multilevel fusion and he told me she is miserable. People have asked me how I am feeling. I am ok. I had cut way back from the running events anyway due to life in general. Last year I had only participated in six events and this year I have only done four. Run Disney recently opened up Princess Half registration for next February and it was a little disappointing because I was hoping to register but you know what it is OK. I will miss the “energy” of the race events but to not have the “option” of going for a run to maintain my weight and fitness level is the most frustrating thing.

I have been fortunate to do 82 events since January 2011. If I never get to run a race again I am grateful. (1-Full Marathon, 21- Half Marathons, 5-10 milers, 1-15k, 10-10k’s, 1-8k, 33-5k’s, 1-mudrace, 4- Trail races, 1-Sprint Triathlon, 1-Sprint Duathlon, 1-70.3 Relay and 2-Paddleboard races. Experiences, Memories & Friendships made= Priceless!

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New Orleans Saints 5k, NYC Mini Oakley 10k, RnR Vegas Half, Jazz Half, Battleship 12k, Girls on the Run 5k, St Jude Memphis Half,  RnR NOLA Full Marathon, Ironman 70.3 Relay in Augusta, GA  just a few of many   🙂

This past weekend I went and spectated at the annual Happy’s 5k race and had a ball. I have a lot of fun, supportive friends.

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Now I just want to retain my fitness and avoid a multilevel fusion. Proper recovery, workouts, listening to my surgeon & physical therapist as well as good ergonomics at work will be key for me. (I have a “stand up” desk on order) I still have more places on my vacation list I want to see and experience. I am not going to let this slow me down too much. Heck, last month I went waterfall repelling in Costa Rica!

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Pura Vida!

Stay focused and stay healthy my friends.

Roll With the Wind-Ainsley’s Angels

  • To do for others that can’t.
  • To give each other a lending hand.
  • To give someone something to smile about.
  • To develop a special connection with others.

This is all the backbone of Ainsley’s Angels.

We have all seem them at the beginning of a race. Generally it is one Angel Athlete Rider with a disability to a team of three Angel Runners ready to push and cheer their rider to the Finish line.  I saw them recently at our local Mardi Gras Mambo race and thought how inspiring. I never thought possible that I could be fortunate enough to help participate as an Angel Runner. That is just for the elite runner right? Nope! If you can run and have the positive energy to support your rider than Yes, you can be an Angel Runner.

I heard of a local race event coming up that they would have a presence the Amazing Half/5k in Baton Rouge. I signed up on the Ainsley’s Angels site under my state as a runner and reached out to the chapter head. He was very responsive and encouraging to join the team. For this event I would be joining the team of #TeamNika with 4 other Angel Runners (all women) IMG_1193

We were ALL actually newbies but Nika wasn’t worried. She was a pro. She had done the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half! This would be a piece of cake for her. We got a quick tutorial on her bike (The front tire does not swivel so you have to be careful on turns and stay towards the right of the course for runners to pass).

Soon we were at the Start line ready to kick off the race.

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This would be an easy out and back 5k. The cloudy morning fortunately kept the rain at bay. I got to start the race with my buddy Francine. We took turns pushing Nika who made it super easy. I had looked up some advice on how to run and push at the same time (you concentrate on not twisting your hips too much, use the power of your legs and keep your chest forward. If you buddy up with one person pushing on each side alternate your arms that you are using to swing).

Jennifer, Emily, Sarah, Francine and I kept about an easy 10min pace and got Nika to the Finish line in 32:31. I would run with these ladies anytime!

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I highly recommend you checking out Ainsley’s Angels and signing up to be someones Angel. A special “Thank you” to Nika for letting us join you today!

For more info check out : http://www.ainsleysangels.org/

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Ready or Not!

I am feeling the urge to get back to it. Recently I have been looking at race calendars to see which ones coming up would be a good fit.

There are so many personal categories to fill when picking a race:

  • Do I have a family conflict with the race date? Does hubby have work?
  • Does my daughter need my car that day? Does she have work or a test?
  • Can I sign up race day? Is there parking? What will the weather be?

and then the self doubt creeps in……

2questionsI know, you are probably thinking that I am thinking too much about it and I should just pull the trigger. Your right. We tend to defeat ourselves with our mental state.  So what I probably wont PR since I have done a race in five months.So what I haven’t been running 3 times a week regularly. Why do we put so much doubt in ourselves? It is true what they say it is mostly mental. Why do we talk ourselves out of it with self doubt before we even get out of the door?

Let’s shut up the mental game by keeping it light and fun!

  • Buy yourself those new shoes or pants you have been eyeing
  • Freshen up your track list or podcast and zone out
  • Download a new app such as “Zombies, Run!”
  • Pick a change in scenery or sign up for a new race

Remember why did we start this to begin with?

  • To look better naked?
  • More all around self confidence?
  • Drop a pant size?
  • Be more social?

So commit yourself by signing up for something ahead of time, get back out there. It just may not be as scary as you think. After all I am sure your faster than a  Zombie!

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It’s not you it’s me. My temporary breakup with running.

My last race was on my birthday, October 16th almost two months ago. I haven’t been able to pull the trigger to register for another one since then. This is normally the high season with races booked for the next 4-5 months out. Today was the Inaugural Mississippi Gulf Coast Half/Full Marathon in Biloxi and it was the perfect morning. About 36 degrees off the coast for a gorgeous sunrise, warmed up quickly for the perfect race morning for many runners. A race that I had my eye on but where was I? at home. Granted my daughter and I had the best evening last night and I would have missed out on it had I went to the race. That’s just the thing though. My daughter is about to be 17 and is a Junior. She will be off to college in about a year and half. She borrows my car often to go to work and is loving her first job. I seek opportunities to talk about life lessons where I can because I feel like our window is narrowing. This week she got in a Texas A&M jacket. I really have no idea where she will end up. This week she will find out if her application for National Honors Merit was accepted. My job is almost complete. She is almost an adult and can spread her wings. No tears on my part as of yet but I just feel like I need to stay close to home. So yes, this part of my life of races and training is temporarily on hold. Don’t get me wrong I am still working out and running but my miles are limited to 3-5 at a time on the treadmill at a nearby gym in between a couple spin classes and weight classes a week to try to stay fit. Since my miles are maybe a total of 10 a week I don’t feel like I am in Half Marathon shape so even the races for fun that are coming up after the holidays I am hesitant to sign up for. I admit I miss it. I have a twinge of guilt. I miss seeing friends that I probably will only see at races. I miss the start line feeling, I miss adding more bling to my collection, I miss the adrenaline rush where your thoughts become crystal clear if not just for a moment. I know the roads and races will be there for when I am ready or when the opportunity arises. Until then my music playlist will be charged and my ASICS ready.

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A month before this race I pulled the trigger to register even though I had not participated in a race since New York plus my weekly long run had not consisted more than 6 miles but this one falling on the day of my birthday (October 16th) would be a good opportunity to shake out the legs and reunite with some friends.This race offered two distances to choose from a 10miler or Half Marathon but I thought due to my lack of mileage that it would be a safer bet to stay with the 10. (Boy did I call that right!)

Packet pickup at Varsity Sports went smooth as always. It was like reuniting with family due to the warm hugs and “How have you been ?”  The sugar skull shirt which would be this year’s theme was perfection. Notice my custom race bib 🙂

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My sister in law lives 30 minutes away from the race held at Fountainebleu State Park so I drove in the day before and made some Halloween themed birthday treats with my niece and nephew which was the perfect pre-race activity.

The morning of the race I had my race day nerves as always but relished in the fact that I wasn’t doing the Half today, especially since the start temp was looking like a muggy 70 degrees. Right before the canon start of the race I got to see a few friendly faces and we were off to a much familiar oak tree covered path with historic homes I had ran a time or two. This time since it was my birthday I had a goal. I knew it was a bit ambitious but I really wanted one of those sugar skull age group medals. I felt pretty confident that most people would be running the half and I didn’t want to place top three as a default but I truly wanted to earn one.  Wouldn’t you?

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The miles ticked by and I admit I was getting whooped. Fortunately I saw some family at the mile 5 Girls on the Run sponsored water stop and that made me push on. From that point on I would look at my watch when my pace slowed. I would mentally tell myself to keep going. When I heard someone coming I admit I breathed a sign of relief when it was a guy or an elite woman on her way to the end of the Half distance course. The race signs couldn’t come soon enough for my taste. The sun was coming out and I was ready to be done and hopefully collect my age group win.

Finally I was heading back to Fountainebleu State Park towards the race finish chute where the race director knew me by name. I looked forward to get my shout out by Mike. I was finally done! I got freshened up by switching t-shirts and got to see my friend Becky come across her Half Marathon finish about 15 minutes after me. She is a rockstar! I got to give her a congratulatory hug and checked online for my results. Did I place? YES!  2nd!!!!!

Happiness set in and we headed to get some mimosas to celebrate!

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Celebrating with friends is always the best post race activity!

Race festivities were wrapping up and it was time for me head home to have my birthday brunch with my family. Another Broken Egg did not disappoint complete with a brunch Bellini cocktail made with ABSOLUT Vodka, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, fresh peaches then topped with Wycliff Champagne. They even threw in complimentary Biscuit Beignets (Southern style with powdered sugar & honey marmalade) YUM!

Cheers to a banner birthday!!!!!

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Cross Training for Variety

I admit it, I haven’t crossed many finish lines as of lately. Heck I am not even signed up for an upcoming race. Usually I am scheduled a year in advance on my race calendar. ( Yes, runners generally have a separate calendar)

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What I have been doing is hitting my local gym 4-5 times a week and LOVING it! To be back in a group environment again doing Spin, Tabata or even good ole treadmill ( better known as the dread mill) to work on incline training and it has been MARVELOUS! For me it is a boredom buster to throw in something different. I can disconnect my brain and just follow the instructor. Plus it helps to improve my overall fitness such as core work to ward off those pesky injuries like my I.T. band or weak hips.

 

Am I getting the itch to sign up for a fall Half Marathon? YEP! Have I picked one yet? Nope! but its coming….In the mean time I will be at the gym because sweat is sweat no matter if its on the roads or off. Just enjoy !

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Racecation NYC style at the Mini 10k

Going to New York has been on my list for quite some time. I always thought it would be a weekend girls trip but hubby mentioned to make it a week long family vacation and do some sightseeing. Which NYC race would I chose? I decided that it would need to be during the summer so my daughter could come and since I have always wanted to run in Central Park I set my sights on the  NYRR Mini 10k.  This is an all women race and 2016 would be the 45th year with 8,833 running (a record if I am not mistaken). I took a look at the landmarks on the race map and got even more excited ( Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tavern on the Green,  American Museum of Natural History, Central Park Zoo, St. Patrick’s Cathedral ).  I decided to make the race the beginning part of the trip instead of the end and that was a smart move for my legs with all the walking we would do around New York. We flew in on Thursday and I easily got my race packet at the annex which wasn’t far from the hotel.

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Got my race bib,  YAY!!!!!

We decided to stay in the Hell’s Kitchen area of NYC at the Washington Jefferson which was just a short walk to Times Square, the race start at Columbus Circle and a short subway ride to the majority of the sightseeing during the trip. This worked out quite well.

Race morning on Saturday came quickly and so did the temperatures. Race start at 8am was 62 degrees but would quickly rise to 73 but I didn’t mind because I was finally going to run in Central Park!  I was ready, phone in hand ready to take pictures along the way to document the experience, though it would forever be in my memories. To make it even more special a social media friend I have had for years “Angie” agreed to meet me in real life and run the race by my side and show me the sights along the course. She met up with my daughter and I right before it was time to get in our corals for the wave start.

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Selfie at the Race Start

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Over 8000 ladies!

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Almost our turn for a little run in the park!

 

The race sights along the route did not disappoint. I even got to see the life-sized bronze statue of Fred Lebow (runner, race director, and founder of the NYC Marathon) .  You have to watch carefully for random decor on the statue. Today would be the same flowers that would be given to the ladies at the end of the race.

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As our 10 kilometers were nearing the end I texted hubby so he would be ready to take an epic picture of Angie and I at the Finish. We collected our race medals, carnation and pink bagel (yes, they were dyed pink!). Angie had plans right after the race so we said our goodbyes and I promised to return the favor if she ever decides to come to New Orleans for a racecation 🙂

 

Here are a few tips to ease your racecation planning alongside a family vacation:

  • Pack your gear separately in your luggage: I packed my running clothes with a short checklist in a seperate 2 gallon Ziploc so on race morning I could easily pull everything out. I also packed shorts & capris since I was unsure what the temperatures would be for race morning. Don’t forget the body glide & Biofreeze!
  • Charge up your running watch ahead of time and music if you decide to use any.
  • Wear your running shoes on your travel day since they are more bulky in your luggage.
  • Hydrate -Hydrate-Hydrate before race morning. This will help your energy level after the race so you can do some sightseeing.
  • Pack your portable stick/roller. Your legs will thank you!
  • Enjoy!!! This is what you came for. Just go with it and don’t worry about a PR.

 

Thank you New York for the memories!!!!

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