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Running

First Marathon in the Books!

After more than five months of training, I finished my first marathon – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona on January 14, 2018. I had never been more nervous for a race.  I had calls with my coach the day before and morning of the race. His last piece of advice to me was, “Breathe.”

Being around friendly fellow racers helped too. They all had words of encouragement when they heard it was my first complete marathon.

My race bib, shirt, and medal

Spectators Matter and Dogs!
The spectators for this race are awesome. Seeing their faces and hearing them cheer makes a difference. Some set up extra water stations; handed out orange slices, bacon, and beer; and held up signs. Hat tip to the spectators who made multiple appearances along the route. I was happy to see so many people with their dogs along the race route. Each one made me smile.

Your Backside Matters
More racers need to understand that their backside is entertainment for the people running behind them. I want to see more shoulder and calf tattoos and shirts with interesting backs. Several racers during the last 7 miles complemented the back of my shirt as they passed me. One said it was “dirty lie” because we were only at Mile 19. I responded that my shirt doesn’t say, “Last Mile.”

Watching so many people’s backs confirmed my idea of getting a variation of the Ignite Phoenix bird tattooed on my right shoulder blade and wearing t-back tank tops on race day.

How do these People Know my Name?
At several water stations, the volunteers cheered for me by name. I thought, “Do I know them? How do they know my name?” as I examined their faces for something familiar. And then I remembered, “Oh right, it’s on my bib.”

Still smiling after 26.2 miles and walking home from the light rail. Those numbers of my hand reminded me of when to take my gels.

“Coach, It Hurts.”
By Mile 20, I was in pain, and seriously contemplating whether I could finish the race without walking. I was afraid if I started walking, I wouldn’t be able to start running again. A frequent thought that crossed my mind was, “Coach, it hurts.”

During my training, I did a 23.8-mile run. Coach David said my body could handle the 26.2-mile distance, even if I had to walk the last miles.

I didn’t want to walk, or entertain that possibility, so I flipped from thinking about the pain to distracting myself by mentally going through gymnastics routines. (I was a gymnast for 17 years. I’ve completed many challenging runs with this trick.)

Mile 23 – 5K to go
At 5K to go, there was no way I was going to walk. Even exhausted and in pain, I could run a 5K. At the water station at Mile 24, a volunteer cheered, “Looking strong Ruth!” I didn’t feel strong, but appreciated it.

Mile 25 had the steepest hill on the course. I had some choice words for the organizers at that moment, and then I thought, “This is why I train on hills.”

Finish Strong
I had a good end of the race, coming down the hill at the end of the Mill Ave Bridge and turning the corner towards the finish line. I raised my arms and smiled as I crossed the finish line. Despite being in pain, I look happy in all my photos from the race.

I started walking after I crossed the finish line. I didn’t want to stop moving because I knew more pain would set in.

Post-Race Pain
Oh, and did it hurt. I had pain in my hips, quads, knees, and feet. I had been dealing with a sore ankle for the last week and taped it with KT Tape for the race. It did remarkably well during the race; I felt no pain until I took the tape off post-race.

I hurt so much after the race, I couldn’t get comfortable enough to nap after I got home and showered. Instead, I laid in bed for an hour and watched YouTube on my phone. I had Gatorade and chocolate milk after the race, and I didn’t want to eat for a few hours after the race.

The next day I had substantially less pain than I expected. Most of pain was in my quads. Surprisingly, I’m not going to lose any toenails from the race. I only lost one during training.

Got the Bug
I’ve heard marathoners are one-and-done or get the marathon bug. Even before this race ended, I was thinking about my next race. My goal for this race was to just finish. Now, I want to see if I can improve my time and feel stronger.

Here are my stats from this race:
Finish Time: 4:44:37
944/1852 Overall
344/809 Gender (Women’s)
63/141 Division

Undeniable Recap of 2017

2016 was bad. I felt as if that year couldn’t end soon enough.  But it’s as if 2017 started the year saying, “Hold my beer” and it went downhill from there. I had a lot of challenges this year including reconstruction at Castle Carter after my condo flooded, death of my childhood coach, being in a car accident, studying for the California bar exam, and processing my gender identity.

My jar of happy memories

Thankfully, I started a new tradition of keeping a jar next to my bed where I wrote notes about things that happened in my life that made me happy or giggle. Even on bad days, I could look over at my jar that was filling with notes and be reminded that life doesn’t suck all the time. It was a joy to go through them while I wrote this post. Here are my top 5 events/activities from 2017:

Me and my skateboard

1. I got a Skateboard at CMWorld
Content Marketing World always does an excellent job taking care of its speakers. I look forward to this conference every year and I’m proud to be part of Team Orange. When they announced that Casey Neistat would be one of the keynote speakers, I started tweeting at them that I wanted an orange skateboard as my speaker gift. (They usually get us each a wireless mouse/laser pointer.) Shortly after I checked into my hotel room, the hotel dropped off a big box for me. It was a mini orange skateboard! I love this thing, not just because it’s awesome, but because it made me feel like part of the CMWorld family. Once I finish my marathon in 2018, I’m going to take a skateboarding lesson and learn how to ride it properly.

I love this tattoo

2. “Don’t Be What They Made You” Tattoo
I saw Logan in the theater. When I heard this line, I instantly knew I wanted it tattooed on my wrist. A few months later, Hollis at Iconic Tattoo made it a reality. This is a daily reminder and inspiration for me.

3. “But I’m still your Tranpa”
Accepting that I’m non-binary made me feel like I was a baby queer all over again. I felt especially vulnerable a few months ago and sent an email to trans entertainer and advocate Buck Angel, just an open invitation for lunch the next time he’s in Phoenix. He responded and signed it “Tranpa.” I wrote back and said, age-wise, we’re more like cousins. (We’re only about 7 years apart.) He responded, “Hahaa but I’m still your Tranpa ❤️.”

This warmed my heart. It matters to talk to people who “get it.” Buck is someone I reach out to when I experience dysmorphia or feel like I live in a world that wasn’t made for me.

Still smiling after running 20 miles – and rocking some mad hair

4. Running with David
I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2018. After getting a DNF at my last marathon attempt, I decided to hire a coach, David Roher. He lives on the east coast, so we communicate over email, text, and phone. He gives me my assignments and tracks my workouts via Strava, plus we talk about nutrition, stretching, injuries, and life in general.

David always has a word of encouragement when I need it – often to remind me that I have the ability to do any assignment he gives me and not to push myself too hard. When I finished my 20-mile training run a few weeks ago, I was pleased with my pace and by how good I felt at the end of it.

5. Ethics and Ice Cream
I had a flash of brilliance at the beginning of August to do a continuing legal education seminar looking at what Arizona lawyers were being disciplined for during the last few years to look for patterns and commonalities. I pitched the idea to do this for ASU CLE and call it “Ethics and Ice Cream.” They loved it and we scheduled the event for about a month later. I recruited fellow lawyer and comedian, Matt Storrs, and we reviewed all the Lawyer Regulation reports since 2015 and pulled off a successful event.

This event made this list, not because I created a CLE, but because I put this idea into action and made it work.

As I read all the notes in my jar, I noticed there were at least six notes that mentioned hugs or being the “little spoon.” Besides giving me a warm fuzzy trip down memory lane, these notes reminded me how important the people in my life are to me.

Rosie Dog – Go check out her Instagram

Firsts in 2017
Flying in/out of a city in one day (for Ungagged Las Vegas)
Standing ovation for singing “O Holy Night” at the Community Church of Hope Christmas Show
Love and Complements Rally
Interview on The Out House Podcast
Foods: Almond butter (meh), Vegan gourmet shreds (cheese-like, not bad), Cashew milk ice cream (best non-dairy ice cream), Almond milk yogurt (not food), Cashew yogurt (not food), Pumpkin seeds (so good), Spirulina (meh)
Events: ICON, Law Launcher, TBD Law, BlogHer

Minions make me smile

Celebrity Sightings
Tom Green
Joseph Gordon Levitt
Chris Guillebeau
Casey Neistat
Paul Risser
Minions

In Memoriam
George Seivert
Don Rickles
Andrea Esquer
Laurel Graver
Dorian Kreiling

Vampire Running

It’s been about three months since my last post about running, and I’m about a month away from the 2018 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. Training with Coach David has been going well. He still has me running three days a week: two 10Ks and a long run these days. Thankfully I’ve graduated from short sprints and 5Ks with negative splits. Coach David says I’ll curse he name sometime during my training, but I just don’t see myself cursing the person who’s trying to help me.

This is what I look like after running 20 miles. Look at that hair!

Last week, I coined the phrase, “vampire running.” I really enjoy finishing my run and getting home before sunrise. (Yes, I wear a snazzy reflective belt so cars can see me.) The world is so peaceful then. I rarely see other runners out with me – usually just the Uber self-driving cars, a handful of delivery trucks, and people who have to be at work before 7am. It’s nice to start the day running under the last few stars.

David’s been working with me on maintaining a steady pace during my runs. I’ll admit I don’t always care about pace, like last Tuesday when I woke up super angry and I just felt like hauling ass. Looking back, I can’t tell you why I was angry (maybe PMS) but I was spitting nails. I ran 6.6 miles with an average 9:04/mile pace.

Two days later, I was ready to be more even-keeled. I switched out my fast-paced running music for podcasts and ran the same 6.6 miles at 9:39/mile average. Looking at my data on Strava, I wouldn’t call it a steady pace, but it was less chaotic than the first run of the week.

Real conversation I had with Coach David last week

Last Saturday was my first 20-mile run of this training cycle. Even though David’s steadily increased the lengths of my long runs over the last 3 months, I was still nervous for this distance. And since I’m a vampire runner, I set my alarm for 3am so I could be out pounding pavement by 4:30am. (I have to feed and walk Rosie dog and get a peanut butter bagel with banana and a coffee in my system before my long run.)

Running during that quiet window when the night owls have gone to bed and the early risers aren’t up and out yet is wonderful. It helped me find my zone and I kept my most even pace to date. I chose I route that faced west for the first half, so I could maximize my enjoyment of the darkness, and faced east for the run home. I got to see the first light peaking over the horizon and then I watched the sunrise during my last few miles home. It was glorious. I finished in substantially less pain than I anticipated with an average pace of 10:31/mile.

One thing that’s changed since September is the temperature. Autumn finally arrived a few weeks ago and it’s actually chilly in the morning now. I had to ask Coach David about if/when I should switch to long pants and sleeves. (On race day, the expected starting temperature is around 45 degrees with an expected high of 65 degrees.) He said the magic number for that is 40, though he follows a different rule for himself.

Running Notes: Marathon Training, September 2017

As I said after the bar exam, I’m back to pounding pavement and training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Arizona 2018. This time around, I’m hired a coach – David Roher – who gives me my running assignment every week and monitors my progress. I also pepper him with questions about diet and nutrition.

For my previous races, I used the Hal Higdon program, but given my chest pains and heart issues with my last marathon (where I DNFed), I decided having more personalized attention would be best.

I’ve been training with Coach David for 6 weeks, and so far every week I get to 3 runs: 1 sprint, 1 race pace, and 1 jog. I wanted to share some thoughts from last week’s runs:

Why am I so tired? Oh yeah – I ran 10 miles this morning.

Sprint – 1.5 Miles
As a gymnast, the furthest I had to sprint was 72.5 feet down the vault runway. This is not that kind of sprinting. The goal is to run as fast you can and sustain for the whole distance. Finding my sprint pace has been a challenge; I keep starting out too fast. I figured the best way to make myself run at a consistent pace would be to use a treadmill – aka the human hamster wheel. So last week when I was in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, I made myself do my sprint on a treadmill in my hotel.

I’m not a fan of the human hamster wheel, but I set the machine for 7.2mph, and ~12 minutes later, I was done.  While I dislike running in place, I hope it gave my muscles an experience of running at that pace that I can replicate in the real world.

Race Pace – 6.2 Miles
I did this run in Cleveland too. In Phoenix, the sky is starting to lighten by 5:30am. Not so much in Cleveland. It was dark, raining, and 54 degrees outside. Thankfully the rain mostly subsided in the first mile, and I put my contacts in so I could see where I was going more clearly. I’m near-sighted so I don’t really need lenses to run, but I think it makes me feel more secure, especially in an unfamiliar part of the city.

I mapped out my run on Google Maps the night before, but according to Strava, I ran 6.5 miles instead of 6.2, and at a faster pace (9:05/mile) than my previous race pace run (9:30/mile). Perhaps it’s easier to run faster when it’s 54 degrees outside than 84 degrees.

Jog – 10 Miles
Speaking of 84 degrees, that’s how hot it was when I started my 10-mile run at 6:30am. For the long run, my instructions are to just finish, preferably without walking. This was my first double-digit run, and to be honest, I was a bit nervous about whether I had the stamina for this distance. Remember, I’ve only been running for 6 weeks after taking a nearly 3 month running hiatus due to my car accident.

I picked a route that took me up into a desert park and around Tempe Town Lake, so I’d at least have beautiful surroundings. And since I started so late, I got to see lots of boaters and people walking their dogs at the lake – at least when I wasn’t blinded by the sweat dripping into my eyes.

It was a hard run, including hills in the last two miles. But putting one foot in front of the other, I finished with an average 11:11/mile pace and I didn’t walk. It was a win for me.

As far as I know, my plan is to do three runs a week and working my muscles every day with stretching, foam roll, and The Stick. I have no idea what my assignment will be one week to the next. Coach David decides it based on the previous week’s performance – he monitors my progress thanks to my data on Strava.

This week’s assignment: 1.5-mile spring, 6.2 miles at race pace, and a 12-mile jog. I’m so glad it’s finally starting to cool off in the desert.

Not Running is Not an Option

I’m at a point in my life where not getting a workout every day is not an option. Getting up early to go for a run at sunrise helps me feel calm and focused throughout the day. It’s so peaceful to start my day pounding pavement by myself with music or podcasts in my ears. Starting my day with a run helps with my entire demeanor.

Arizona Cactus Sunrise by WillHolmes from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

And have you seen a sunrise in the desert? It’s gorgeous!

I know I have no sense of moderation, so I have to be careful not to over train and take out my shins or my feet. As an act of self-care, I skipped running on Tuesday this week and went to the office early instead. By 10:30am, I hated everyone on the planet.

Lesson Learned:
Skipping Workout = Bad Idea

I know some people who run every day, no matter what, but I was pretty sure that’s not a good idea for me, even if I’m only doing 4-6 miles/day and 20 minutes of yoga for runners. I reached out to triathlon coach David Roher for his recommendation. (He wrote my training schedule for my last half marathon.) He suggested running no more than two days in a row and biking on my off days.

Based on David’s advice, I think this will be my workout schedule for a typical week:

  • Day 1: Run and yoga
  • Day 2: Run and yoga
  • Day 3: Bike
  • Day 4: Run and yoga
  • Day 5: Run and yoga
  • Day 6: Bike
  • Day 7: Fun Workout

I want to use my fun workouts to get my sweat on by doing things besides running. It could be walking around a museum or street fair, hiking, rock climbing, going to the ropes course, horseback riding, step aerobics – really anything goes as long as it’s a workout.

With all the client work, speaking engagements, new projects, and the California bar exam on my plate this year, taking time every day to move my muscles and clear my head is going to be essential for my sanity.

First (and Last) Trail Race

Last weekend, I did my first – and last – trail race.

This is my friend Kolby doing the same race I didn't finish. - still smiling at Mile 11.

This is my friend Kolby doing the same race I didn’t finish – still smiling at Mile 11.

To date, I’ve completed five half marathons (road races), and I was looking for something different to change it up a bit. Plus, one of my personal goals is to get more dirty, so the idea of running along dirt trails and through streams seemed like something I’d enjoy. Years ago, I did the Phoenix Summit Challenge – seven mountains in one day – so I have some experience doing speed work on trails. I figured this would be more of the same, just a little bit faster.

I was wrong.

I signed up for the Xterra Black Canyon trail race – a half marathon just north of Phoenix. The finish line is right next to the Rock Springs Café, one of the most popular pie shops in Arizona. We parked at the finish line and buses drove us into the desert to the starting line. I was excited to tackle this new challenge, but that excitement vanished in the first mile when I rolled my ankle.

I knew it the moment it happened. There weren’t any pops or snaps; I felt the ligaments in my right ankle stretch like a rubber band pulled to its limits. I kept running, hoping the pain would dissipate in a few minutes. That hope turned into anger with every step as the pain persisted. There were only four aid stations in this race. Thankfully the first one was at Mile 2. As I rested for a few minutes, I told the volunteer I was injured. He told me they could get me out and that there was another jeep at the next aid station.

I didn’t want to end my race at Mile 2. I got up before dawn and drove an hour to do a trail race, damn it!

Knowing that the next aid station was only 2 miles away, I pushed on – sometimes walking, sometimes jogging. I was so pissed – angry that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race and angry that I was injured. I warned the runners around me, “I’m going to scream. I promise it’s not about you.” And I proceeded to scream and curse for the next 2 miles whenever my frustration bubbled over.

My ankle hurt with each step. Despite the pain, I considered finishing the race. Then, I remembered something Rocky told me years ago. He reminded me not to kill myself while I was training when the goal was a bigger event. This was supposed to be a fun race, and I had other things on the horizon where I needed my foot to work. So, at the next aid station, I dropped out of the race and hitched a ride back to the finish line with the volunteers. By the way, riding on a bumpy road with a swollen ankle is not fun either.

I have no intention of doing another trail race. It’s too bad I don’t like trail races – everyone I know who does them, loves them. I’ll stick to running on the road and hiking in the mountains – once my ankle heals.

It’s been a week since the injury, and I can walk again, but my ankle still hurts. I hope I’ll be pain-free and running again in another week.

First Race Back

Last January, I DNFed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. After taking a few months off to figure out some health stuff, I decided it was time to get back in shape. I started jogging a few days a week and as I built up my stamina, I decided to sign up for another race – the Runner’s Den/Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon.

Race Day Shirt - One More Mile

Race Day Shirt – One More Mile

My goal for this race was “Just Finish.” I tried not to care about my time. I just wanted to get a race under my belt.

The race started at 7:30am. I had to get up extra early to walk the dog, put in my contacts, and get breakfast into my stomach by 6:30am so I’d have plenty of time to drive to Scottsdale, check my gear, and find my spot at the starting line. I was so grateful they had heaters near the starting line. It was only 40 degrees outside before sunrise, and I was cold standing in my shorts and race shirt. I opted to wear the same race shirt as Rock ‘n’ Roll to re-christen it with a good race.

My half marathon PR is 1:52:04, but I opted to line up with the 2:00 pacer. Given my training, 2 hours was the best finish I could have – maybe. By Mile 2, I wasn’t cold anymore. By Mile 4, my pacer had passed me and was out of sight. I tried not to think about it, reminding myself, “Just run your race. This race is just the beginning.”

I Finished!

I Finished!

As I jogged along, I started thinking about my ideas for 2016. Some of the theme words that crossed my mind were “simple,” “adventure,” “sunshine,” “dirt,” “happy,” and “calm.” I suspect next year will be just as busy as this year, but I want the scope of my activities to be more narrow, with more time and energy for recreation and seeing my friends.

I finished the race in 2:03:49 – averaging 9:28 per mile. Beside sore quads and toes, my body felt good coming across the finish line. As I was getting my stuff from gear check another racer thanked me for being a good pacer for him. I think I passed him around Mile 10 and he must have stayed with me for the rest of the race. I love that part of racing – using other racers to keep pace.

When I got back to my car, the thermometer informed me that the temperature had only risen to 48 degrees. My fingernails were purple. It felt so good to get home to a hot shower and a nap.

Yoga Review: Easy Yoga – The Secret to Strength & Balance

Part of my half marathon training is a weekly stretching session. (Yes, I stretch before and after each run too.) I generally suck at stretching, so I’m borrowing yoga DVDs from the library each week to force myself to do it.

PC YogaThis week I did another Peggy Cappy DVD, Easy Yoga: The Secret to Strength and Balance. It should have been called “Yoga for Patient People.”

This workout is from Peggy’s Yoga for the Rest of Us collection, so it provides instruction for people who have limited mobility or balance as well as people who can do regular yoga. Because of all these modifications, everything took longer than other yoga workouts. And Peggy has you breathe between everything – which may be a standard yoga practice, but her video seemed excessively long.

I will admit there were several times I checked my phone because I was bored. The video is 76 minutes long, and I felt like we barely did anything during that time. I didn’t even finish the full workout. The last section is a guided relaxation, but by then I had reached my limit of my patience, so I turned it off.

I think I am done with Peggy Cappy’s workouts. She is not a good fit for me. I reserved a different yoga DVD for next week. Even though it is a basic yoga workout, I hope it will be more challenging than Peggy Cappy’s.

Years ago, I did power yoga where you move fairly quickly from pose to pose. That was more my style. Perhaps I will look for a power yoga workout next.

Yoga Review: Yoga for the Rest of Us

I’m training for my fifth half marathon this fall. Since I DNFed my last race and I have a history of leg problems, I’m trying to be diligent about following my training schedule – including stretching.

Yoga for the Rest of UsAnyone who knows me knows that I suck at stretching. It’s so boring! Even in my gymnast days, I was never that flexible compared to my teammates. I was powerful, strong, and I just muscled my way through everything and they would bend themselves in half and take a nap. Every year, my gym put on a show in June – four performances over three days. The team kids were in every performance and we were expected to warm ourselves up on show days. I remember my last show weekend; even with a stress fractured back and sore knees, my “warm up” consisted of two standing back flips – one tuck, one pike.

Now that I’m getting a bit older, I don’t bounce like I used to. I still think stretching’s boring but it’s a necessary evil but my legs and back will thank me for it in the long run. My half marathon training program prescribes a stretching workout once a week, so I’m doing it with yoga DVDs.

In playing to my strengths, for this training cycle, I’m getting a different yoga DVD from the library each week. I hope the novelty of a different workout each week will keep me entertained even if I feel pathetic trying to stretch my ex-gymnast body.

I opted to start slow and easy with Yoga for the Rest of Us.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: this is an exercise DVD geared towards older people. If you don’t mind the possibility that the 60 year-old on the screen might have more balance and flexibility than you, it’s a good place to start. The good thing about this program is no one was a super-skinny contortionist that puts your efforts to shame.

A lot of yoga DVDs tell you that you can modify the poses using a yoga block or a yoga strap; this DVD showed you how to do it with a chair – something everyone has. It was a good stretching workout for getting back into my yoga groove. I definitely felt muscles that I haven’t stretched in a while and I built up a decent sweat during the sun salutations.

Overall it was a good workout for my first yoga session of race training, but I’ll probably need something more challenging in the near future. I’m glad there are super easy yoga DVDs like this because my impulse would probably be to start with an advanced power yoga routine that would make me feel self-conscious compared to the lithe gumby people on the screen.

EDIT: I just found out that the race I was training for was canceled. That’s a pisser. Doing yoga once a week is probably still a good idea. If nothing else, it will help with modeling.

Day 66/90 – Living in KT Tape

Day 66 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Wearing KT Tape on my foot and leg is keeping my pain under control and allowing me to go running.

My Leg in KT Tape - I always prefer Black

My Leg in KT Tape – I Always Prefer Black Tape.

I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, but I’m back in KT Tape.

I’ve been running more lately to get in shape to train for a half marathon this fall. I found a new 4.2-mile route through Papago Park that I love, but it has more hills that I’m used to doing. Even though I’ve been diligent about my running form, my feet and legs hurt – especially on my left side. When I roll the golf ball with my foot or roll The Stick across my lower legs, the pain is a 9 out of 10.

Last night I put the shin splint and plantar fasciitis applications on my left leg. They’re making the pain much more manageable. This morning I did a 4-mile run on a flatter route and the pain wasn’t as bad. Every day now I stretch my calves and arches multiple times at work and every night I use The Stick and foam roller on my lower legs. Thank goodness I’m a masochist because this stuff hurts.

The only downside of living in KT Tape again is I can’t be barefoot except when I’m in the shower. I wear socks all the time to help keep the tape in place longer – even when I’m sleeping. The upside of living in Phoenix is it’s so warm at night that I don’t need covers in bed so there’s less of chance of snagging my tape on my sheets.

I hope stretching and running on flat ground for a few weeks will be enough to bring my pain under control. KT Tape is awesome, but I prefer not to live in it full-time, especially with my race being 4 months away.

In case you missed it: Day 65 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I’m falling back in love with singing and serenading myself in the car.