Thursday, August 25, 2016


I think I speak for most humans (women?) when I say, I have a hard time actually listening to my body. I have a hard time slowing down because I don't even know when I'm going too fast. There are things to do and days to meet and miles to run and people to take care of and .... then I'm staring at the hills of Yakima through the back two windows of an ambulance. Okay THAT'S dramatic, but it happened. 

Nobody can really pin down exactly why I fainted. My potassium was a little low. I have a very low heart rate and blood pressure. I was driving and so couldn't put my head between my knees to stop the faint. No red flags on any heart tests and actually no Wenckebach on the overnight monitoring. And to be clear that condition is benign and medically speaking not really supposed to cause fainting. But let's just say it's nearly caused it for me before and I've had others say the same thing.

But after spending a forced nearly 24 hours laying down doing nothing, I feel better than I have in weeks...maybe months. And that gave me the pause to examine the last weeks and see there were times my body was trying to get through to me. 

I loathe admitting low energy or any weakness. I push through with stubborn blinders on. Wake up at 4:55 to run 16 miles, load up two cars and throw a toddler party on a 95° day. Forgetting to eat enough or drink enough water until hours later because ...I have to set everything up! And then party time and all of that! There was no way around either the run or the party. But I could have drank more water, and refueled more strategically. I could have napped after, instead of inviting friends over. I could have found ways to make the life stuff less hard on my body.
Obviously my cake decorating skills really took a lot out of me ;)

Another lesson learned was that while we all know the facts, like it takes your body a full two weeks to recover from a long run, we don't often really physically see the full picture. For instance one of my tests was coming back out of range slightly, showing that my heart had been through something 'stressful'. Turns out that something was my 16 mile run. It had brought my ST (?) level .100th something out of range and came back to normal within 24 hours. My body was repairing itself from that run. My heart, everything was recovering and repairing. So easy days should be easy. Let your body repair for real. 

I'm not saying these things led to the fainting, no one knows, I'm just saying that taking the time to rest and think about ways I need to create balance is the silver lining I'm taking away from the experience. 
Lesson one: don't be bullheaded

  • Can't only act and think like an elite athlete when running, other lifestyle shifts need to happen (have a strategic fuel plan, a dedicated recovery plan, commit to sleep). 
  • Plan and pre-prepare nutrition especially for after big workouts and especially if the rest of the day is busy.
  • Recovery/sleep takes priority over fun or other things that can wait (staying up late binge watching Netflix, going OCD on the kitchen...).
  • Learn to manage stress levels, find techniques that work to lower stress. Jasyoga meditation FTW. (DYK stress can impair and slow recovery time?)
  • Just say no when possible/needed in these weeks leading up to NYC.
The cardiologist at Yakima was very thorough and patient in all explanations. He admitted the overnight was probably overkill after talking to me and understanding why some numbers had been elevated. But was a good full checkup, and good to have the heart on a 24 hour monitor. I asked if there was anything I should be changing in my lifestyle and aside from getting more electrolytes after hot long runs, nothing he could see. I was sent away with a clean bill of health. I'll be following up with my physician. But I feel great and with implementation of the life lessons hope to stay upright. ;) 
To do: install open air tubs for stress relief (Cherrywood B&B)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I'm thrilled to announce I'm racing the New York City Marathon this November! This is a HUGE, huge, HUGE bucket list life experience for me and I cannot wait to toe the line. Except that I can because of that whole getting in fighting shape thing...

Honestly though, that's the muted version of my excitement. Hard to do it justice. When I heard I'd been added to the lineup, I didn't stop shaking for hours. I had to verify three times it wasn't some late April Fools' joke. It's not! I am beyond honored and thrilled to be racing in November. 

And hello? You've seen the American line up, right? NYCM 16 just might be the cure to your Olympic hangover.
Kim Conley! (debut) 
Kellyn Taylor
Sara Hall!
Conley, Taylor and Hall all in the NYCM line up! (photo cred: image of sport)
Neely Spence Gracey!  

Molly Huddle! (debut)

Janet Bawcom  
(But wait, there's more! Read full line up here, minus my late addition. Get on it LetsRun: Sarah Mac Robinson 2:42:36.)

American only prize money for the first time in a decade should bring out a great race!

My training is going well, all detours aside. In reference to my previous blog I will say I was reminded that life and my body is to be respected...but not feared. I'm listening to my body and looking ahead - #mac2nyc to follow along! And of course, follow the blog for more to come as I gear up for November 6

Who else is in?! See you in November!   

Monday, August 22, 2016


I couldn't not post this complete story before moving on and continuing marathon training like, "oh yeah that whole ER thing, whatever." 

First of all some brief backstory. In the summer of 2003 I was training hard for XC season. Mileage around 80. As I finished up a hard 13 late on a really hot day I had to pause to cross a street and my heart just blitzed. It was the strangest feeling, like it was beating as fast as a hummingbird's wings. Then suddenly like it would never start beating again. I got on my hands and knees and put my head down. My heart found its rhythm. I walked home. 

All the tests were done, wires and treadmill stuff. I wore a full monitor for 24 hours. It came back that I have something called Wenckebach. They told me to just get down/lay down whatever when I feel "an episode" like the one I'd had. Likely exacerbated by my very low HR. That was the summer my afternoon resting HR was 35 at my physical.

So I've had this for years. I notice it when I get fit. I always have managed to keep things okay with the advice to get myself low when I feel the empty chest hummingbird bird wing feeling. 

When I first moved in with Owen years ago (after I'd stopped running for a year or two) it was more frequent at night when my HR would dip. He got me a pillow with a heart beat inside that could hold until my heart settled on a beat.

Flash forward to yesterday. I woke up super early because I was so excited for our overnight adventure in Zillah. Made oatmeal, blogged, then hit a easy run and core. Got in the shower, had a breakfast bar, packed the car, got a big PJ kiss and cried a little watching her wave with my mom from the window.

We were off. Coffee stop and busted out the Macrina GF biscuits I saved for trip. Stopped midway for water and snacks. Got to Yakima in time for lunch and found an amazing Mexican place hidden away. Had tacos and a bottled Coke. Then I offered to make the final drive to Owen Roe. Our first winery. 

I started to feel clammy, like I needed to throw up. I cursed the sick checker at Metro Market who kept touching her nose and then my food as she bagged. I better not be getting the flu I said as I merged onto the highway. Then I felt worse. I thought I better tell Owen we need to go straight to lay down. Then worse. I pulled off the next exit. My ears buzzing, clammy, I saw a gas station, pulled in. The last thing I remember is Owen saying, Ummm the parking is over there...and I was like he doesn't get it ... I can't...

Out cold. I woke to him on 911 hitting me on the chest. I was under waves trying to breathe. I could see the surface. The dry hills came into focus. It looked like the moon. I didn't know where I was. The steering wheel in front of me jarred me. I tried to put my head between my legs. My heart was a hummingbird. I opened the door to hot sun. I could hear sirens and kept hoping they'd make it time. 

And then it started to calm, my heart was beating. Soaked with sweat and still scared, but I was feeling more like a person alive. 

I felt to embarrassed to ride in the ambulance. Owen was having done of that. So stretcher to ER. To tell doctors and nurses the story. They told me I had to stay the night and I cried for the first time. I was confused and scared. 

Hearing Owen's side of it was awful. I was rigid, upright, eyes rolled back, he couldn't tell if I was breathing. He couldn't wake me for :30-:60 seconds, when I came to I felt like I'd been asleep for hours and days.

Finally the cardiologist was able to see me. As I explained the past few days and my history (stomach stuff yesterday, hard hot weather running, low HR, previous experiences...) the test numbers he saw started to look much less alarming. I relaxed for the first time in hours. He told us we'd be out in the AM no problem and on our way. 

I'm waiting now for a final test. Ultrasound of my heart. And I have a lot of questions about what I can do to make sure I'm living as healthy as possible. I'm still shaken by how it presented itself out of seemingly nowhere. It was a powerful reminder at the very least to actually listen to my body. And remember I'm a 33 year old human not a 23 year old or an invincible machine.  

I Tweeted about it yesterday after hours of boredom and another runner has it! And she's an ER nurse. I'm going to email Qs her way, and will publish here if of interest. 

Hoping to make my escape soon. The monitor all night has been normal, blood work coming back normal. The night nurse just came in to say bye as his shift ended and good luck in the marathon. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Tuesday, midday, I peeked ahead to see what was on deck for Wednesday's workout. My first training block with a goal race in months. Just a peek and I shut that screen fast. I knew I'll need a good dinner and an early bedtime. My knees were still bugging me from pushing it too hard with the stroller last Thursday so I also focused some roller time on my calves and hammies that night after my strides. 

Here's what this first Workout Wednesday looked like in real life...

Melatonin and bed, fell asleep hard. I've been sleeping 6 hours a night too many nights/weeks in a row. I'm trying to play catch up.

Screams of mama, mama, mama from PJ's room. I stumble down the hall to find her drenched in her jammies, shaking. She starts saying, "it's okay, it's okay" mimicking my comforting words before I can even say them. Pee and poop all over her and the sheets. Too many berries the day before?

Lights on, wipe down, new jammies, new sheets, sniff test all the animals in bed, load the washer, get her milk to calm back down. We attempt to cuddle in my bed so her mattress can dry. She asks for story after story. 

I find a new sheet and make her crib back up, cuddle her in the rocking chair in the dark. Tell more stories. More milk. Lay her down with the stuffed animals that escaped pooplosion. And stumble back to my bed. 

So much for extra sleep. 

The PJ alarm is going off, yelling mama, mama!! We're up for the day. At least we both got an extra hour in the morning. 

I have a launch for a client, so it's Sarah & Duck for PJ while I push the assets live. Make her a smoothie, make coffee and oatmeal for me.  

Get her ready for a day at her grandparents, play, pack bags, get dressed. 

Ship her off to the grandparents for the day. Wednesday is my only full day of childcare. Finally eat the oatmeal cold and clean the kitchen. 

Finally look at the workout for real and map the route on Google Maps. Still getting a feel for my new city. Workout is 2 mile WU, 5 mile tempo (6:05s), 4 mins rest, 6x :30/:60 on/offs, 2 mile CD. Gulp, feels over my head. Try to convince my nerves that they are excitement. Decide to run down to Ruston Way to get on the flat, the hills in my 'hood have been beating up my legs

Take some time to digest oatmeal, drink water, plan the day, do laundry...and some fear based dragging of feet. 

9:30AM - 9:45AM
A shot of espresso and Jasyoga Align your Stride


Out the door. 

The warmup is pretty much straight down hill, I run the steepest grades backwards. Get to Ruston Way path and have another .5 before I need to start. Legs are feeling heavy, and beat up. Remind myself that doesn't mean much. 

Garmin beeps the 2nd mile, and I start dropping the pace. Trying to settle into the 6:05 goal pace for the 5 miles. 

6:00, 6:09, 5:59, 6:00, 5:59

Still learning how to feel out the right pace, I don't like looking at my watch every millisecond so run mostly based on feel and check in occasionally.

The :30 pickups feel awkward at first, but then like a nice relief. And the cool down is straight up hill. Oomph. 

Done with workout, time to make like Rihanna and work, work, work, work. 

Pick PJ up, make dinner. 

Owen is home and I leave for second run, 4 mile shuffle

Jasyoga Booty Lock Mitigation. I'm off PJ bedtime duty because Owen works late tomorrow. Trade!

More work, work, work, work and a huge helping of Risotto and steamed kale (+ ice cream bar). 

Friday, July 29, 2016


Recently someone asked me where I was with my running, what's next? Or more accurately a lot of people have asked me that, but in one conversation I actually stopped bullshitting and accidentally answered the question. I've been waiting for voices.

In real life, I've joked a lot about where I am. Like, there's only so many "it's sucks but I'm still doing it" blogs the universe can really handle. Blogs where I try to tie every sad sack run up in a pretty bow and sell it as the dream. Dammit, that's what my journal is for. Or not.

Last summer and fall I talked so much about voices I started to worry if I was one step away from moving to an island and opening a healing crystal shop. But the voices actually existed. And now I'm starting to understand they were muses.

I'd like to argue two things about muses. They aren't only assigned to artists. And you can't sit on your hands waiting for them. Do the work, day in and day out and trust they will talk to you again.

The muses didn't visit me often or at all after my life flipped. Maybe it was because my life goal (the Olympic Trials) had been firmly checked off, or because the race itself hadn't lived up in performance based measure. Or because I "left" the people that I'd credited with handing me my racing flats again. Those all may have contributed, but bottom line is I had to find who I was as my own runner and person. What was the definition of success to me? 

So how did I fan my tiny flame with no voices or muses? Honestly I borrowed muses. I found (faster) friends to run with, I listened to their muses second hand. And I was lucky enough to write a series leading up to the Olympic Trials for Freeplay Magazine Online. I chose the athletes I wanted to feature, when writing the interviews I got to sneak in my own burning questions. Hoping others may have the same ones.

Whether the answers came back written or the interviews were conducted over the phone, I could hear echoes of the voices these women were hearing. It was plain to see, hear and feel the muses that were with them. I was lucky enough to watch many of their races unfold live. I sobbed as I watched Steph's last lap, when Kate Grace won the Olympic Trials 800m, when I saw the news that Abbey made the 5k after Emily and Molly pulled out to focus on the 10k, and through all of Ashley's FloTrack interview.

I've learned a lot through second-hand muses. Here's the short list. 

"Let go of the fear of failure. It’s really easy to be motivated by fear and not love. Strive for love."
Abbey D'Agostino

"The other success is trying to inspire people along the way. To be human. To be brave and open with my goals." 
Stephanie Bruce

"I can’t control what other people do. I can only run my hardest."
Stephanie Bruce

"If you’re climbing a mountain. You could look at the top the whole time and just point that way. But you could also start at the bottom, and look at the area right around you, and just always follow where the ground is going up."
Kate Grace

"No regrets. In the moment of truth, did I go for it?"
Kate Grace

“Trust yourself more. You are enough.”
Ashley Higginson

"A successful race for me will be to put myself in a position to go for it and have fun."
Sara Slattery

As far as my muses, I just mind have finally heard them again after months of silence.