Tuesday, January 19, 2016

...but I'm going to live!

Awkward ostrich ice broccoli dancing update! My knee is on the mend. I'm running through. I'm running again.

The MRI showed a lot of reasons I was in pain (pre-arthritis, fluid, a badly bruised fibula head...) but it's pain not injury as they say. And as soon as I could run through the pain without it affecting my stride, I was back on the pavement. Running on it. Not eating it. 

It was a setback but mostly it was a flashback. It all felt too familiar. Running high! Followed by running low. Out of the blue. Like sitting across from my coach at CSU finally making the cut and joining the team only to be a big accident the next morning and spending the rest of spring in a back brace. 

Maybe it was Mercury Retrograde making me relive the past and learn from it. Maybe I didn't appreciate running enough. Maybe I shouldn't walk to work before 6am. Maybe I should move to a climate with no ice. 

I guess what I'm saying is...



Monday, January 18, 2016

Like A Motherfucker

I train alone 90% of the time. And basically all my long runs before CIM were solo. Enter podcasts. I started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Magic Lessons at Tessa's Instagram advice (post). I did it all wrong and out of order and started with episode 5 which featured guests or coaches (I should really listen to this the right way). Anyway, one of them was Cheryl Strayed and she weighed in on a mom's dilemnia which was essentially was it selfish to focus on her writing when she should be giving her family 100% of her attention. Cheryl said you owe it to your family to write like a motherfucker.

Now when I became a mom, I became a mother runner. Or someone asked me if I was. I joked I was a mother fucking runner. But I like this better. I run like a motherfucker. Being a mother does paint my life in broad strokes. And it has changed everything, including running.

Either way this "like a motherfucker" term made sense to me. I know women who run companies like motherfuckers, who write like motherfuckers, who run like motherfuckers, who mother like motherfuckers...and I want to know more about them.

So I hope this isn't a one post series (and I hope your ears aren't burning ... but mofo doesn't have the same ring). Here it goes. Like a motherfucker.

My first guest is a woman I have admired and followed since her Olympic Trials Marathon in 2012, Becki Spellman. That's right... even before we made a proper pair of racing buns she ran for Oiselle. She is fast and fierce. And she runs and races like a motherfucker. She had twins just before me and is going to be running her third Olympic Trials Marathon in LA on February 13th. I admire her greatly and was really excited when she agreed to an interview. Read on to meet this rad mother runner.

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I cheered you on at the 2012 Olympic Trials marathon and here we are four years later. A lot has changed! You are back with Oiselle after a few years away. Who were you running for?
I was running for no one. I had help from the shop I was working in (Second Sole). I had made the decision to back out of Oiselle because I wasn't sure I wanted to stay in the sport at a high level. I was wrong, and definitely should have stayed with Oiselle.  A year later I joined Cleveland Elite Development. They are not a sponsor of any sort. Just a team of hard working ladies with big goals!

Becki in 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon
 You had twins just before I had PJ, how old are they now?
They are 1.5 years old this month (January 2015).

Nolan and Corra born July 3, 2014
Did you run when you were pregnant?
I ran until 14 weeks, when my doctor strongly suggested I moved to the elliptical. Late in the pregnancy when I was uber uncomfortable, I would "Wog" walk 3 mins, jog 30 seconds, in hopes of coaxing them out!

Did you know you wanted to qualify for the 2016 Trials during that time? Was the fire still there? 
I did!  My husband (Ryan) and I talked about starting our family, and decided in October 2013 that if we were pregnant by the end of December, it would give me enough time to come back and make the trials standard. When people ask how long we "tried" I joke that "it was probably around 10 minutes, but I didn't have a watch on it!" We got pregnant right away, and I severely overestimated coming back to real training postpartum.

Also you've qualified for the Trials twice before, every time must have it's own special story and place in your journey. Tell us about it.
Round 1- I trained myself into the ground.  100-120 miles a week, 2 workouts and a long run of 22-24 miles for 4 months. I got injured...so I pushed the race back from October 2007 to February 2008.  I thought I could run a decent marathon, but I didn't really know what that meant. The standard was 2:47 then, and at mile 24 I finally realized I was going to make it.  I almost cried, but as the finish line came to view I was all smiles and fist pumps!  I was a shocked to run 2:43. (Austin marathon 2008)

Round 2- I was running 95-110 miles a week with some more specific marathon training. Long runs actually getting down to marathon pace, and only one other workout most weeks. Really focusing on the long side of things, and good recovery between. I stayed healthy this go round by sleeping 10+ hours a night, and resting between runs a lot more. The marathon itself went pretty good, for 21 miles, and then I started puking.  I was running 2:36 pace, and really thought that was in the realm of what I was capable of. I was very upset after that race, but had the qualifier and what is still to this day my PR 2:40:17.

Round 3- I ran Columbus gave it all I could, and came up short, 2:44:44.  Or so I thought! On December 11th I was visiting my mamaw, and after finishing a tempo, I saw my phone light up.  I knew when I saw the number of texts and missed calls, that USATF had changed the standard to 2:45. I almost passed out, and couldn't hold back the tears of joy and relief.   I was definitely shocked I made it this time!

I'm going backwards here, but did you race competitively in college?
I did! I ran for the University of Akron 2002-2006

Alright flashforward to ... now. You came out the gate after pregnancy with clear intentions to get race ready. What was the journey like those first few months?
It was hard, I was tired, and way too over zealous to get back.  I was back running 18 days post c-section, and 5 weeks later I was on the track.  Things went really well for awhile, and the gains in fitness seemed to show up daily.  I was running at 5am or 5pm or whenever someone offered to come watch the kids.  Every run was a tired, groggy feeling none the less. But it was working. During this time I failed to take care of getting my core strength back in working order.  I became injured in November, and was forced to deal with gaining the strength required to hold my body and work efficiently as a whole. My back which should have an S curve was a lot more like an L, and I was in a lot of pain.  So 3 months were spent working on correcting those imbalances and not running.

I know my kid was a horrible sleeper, I can't imagine life with her x 2, how did you get any sleep?
Sleep for me wasn't all too different from what I assume parents with a single kid experience. I am willing to say my kids are/were good sleepers. Ryan and I decided the way tackle the nights was when one kid woke, both of us got up, and took care of them simultaneously.  We tried only one getting up, but then that person was awake for 90 min-2 hours, and had to be up again in 1 hour to feed.  We found that together we could knock out both kids in 30 mins and get 2.5 hours of sleep between! Around 4 months, they started sleeping through the night. So I think we got off pretty easy in the sleep department. 

Are you at home with them full time?
I am.

That's a huge, all in job, how do you fit training in there?
I am lucky, Ryan works from home, so if he doesn't have a call or have to be on sight, I can run while the kids nap.  They usually take a 90 min nap in the morning, so I get in 8-12 miles most days at that time.  If they wake up, Ryan will turn on the porch light, and I will come in!  When Ryan gets off work around 5 pm I get in another 4-6 miles.  For workouts that take longer, or are more important, I try to get my in-laws to come watch the kids for 2 hours or so.  If they can't, then I do them when Ryan gets off work.

How is your training different after kids? Or is it?
I can't handle the volume I used to. I am not on my own schedule anymore.  I hit about 90 miles a week in the peak weeks of training. I have found that hitting 90 and running some workouts a little harder is pretty close to higher milage at slower efforts. Im tired a lot, with less sleep, and more active during the day when I am not running so I think the stress of that has a training effect in and of itself.

How has your relationship with the sport changed after kids?
It certainly has.  At first it was just an outlet, get me back to "normal". I realized this was my new normal about a year after trying to fight it. I can't explain the guilt.  I love spending time running, it makes me a better person, and it makes me feel alive and very happy, but there are days that I feel very selfish for doing it. I have come to realized this is more than likely just the way I am going to feel. It is ok to feel that way. I want to show my kids I am strong, gritty, and won't back down from a challenge to reach my goals. So I hope they grow up proud of the things I have accomplished in running.  The kids give me a good reason to push a little harder when I want to give in. If I am out here taking time away from them, I want to work a little harder to reach my goals.

You went for the sub 2:43 standard at Columbus, barely missing it. At the time what was that like?

Columbus I ran 2:44:44.  It was weird. I had not been in that position before. I was so proud of running a very tough, fully committed race that day.  Yet very disappointed to not have the standard. Something in me just said I would be on the start line in February.  You actually wrote something in your blog after CIM that reminded me of my feelings.  You said (not a direct quote) something along the lines of "if you asked me if I could do it I would have said no.  If you asked me if I would I would have whispered yes."  I felt like if you asked me if I could be on that starting line I would have said no, but if you asked me if I would be on that starting line I would have whispered yes. My heart just knew I would be there. 
Columbus 2015
Then the standard changed! A sub 2:45! And you were in. What was that news like??
Holy crap!  The walls closed in, my legs struggled to hold me up, I sobbed. I lost it. My mamaw was doing dishes and I scared the crap out of her. I hadn't let myself really dream it would change. Yet it had. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world in that moment. You were one of the first people to congratulate me.

Someone said, oh how sad for those people that knew they were in 2:45 shape but didn't try. But I have a feeling both you and I lined up for the sub 2:43 quite unsure if it was possible. Or maybe I'm putting words in your mouth...

This is true, not putting words in my mouth. My number one goal was to run as hard as I could for 26.2 miles with NO REGRETS after the race. I thought if things went well I would pull it off, but I knew I would walk away knowing I did everything I could to try.


After the news I imagine you sat down to sketch a very new plan, what was that like?
Yes, I changed my 16 miles that weekend to 20, and I was planning to race Jacksonville Bank 1/2, and now I was going to need that week for training. So I decided to race that on somewhat tired legs, with the goal of helping anyone I could. I felt excited that I had the down time to build back in some speed and then add strength over the upcoming 8 weeks.

You just ran a solid 1:16 half marathon, firmly establishing you are fit and ready! Was that a confidence boost? Was it the race day plan?
It was a confidence boost.  It was the 2nd fastest 1/2 I have ever run.  The race day plan was to put myself in position to help people if I could.  After about 2 miles I knew that running with the lead pack would be short lived so I decided to help women stay strong if they stared to fall back. I maintained very even splits, and was really happy with the way I ran the race, and stayed in each mile.  I was so happy to hear so many people ran the OTQ upon my finish!  It was a truly unique experience, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. I was happy to prove to myself I was as fit as I felt. 

Half Marathon in 1:16
What's the plan the next few weeks?
I am looking like 3 more 90 mile weeks and some long runs of 20-22 miles, and then slowly back off the mileage over the 2 weeks leading to the trials. Today I have 22 cutting down to 6:25 for the last 10 for example.  I don't get my workouts from coach until the week we are in them so I don't ever really know exactly.

Race day?
Race day I want to run smart. I think I am in close to, if not, in actual PR shape so I want to be running around 6:05-6:10 pace for the first 10-16 miles and try to run a faster second half.

Are the twins coming?
They are not. Ryan's parents are going to come to our house and stay with them. It is logistically a lot easier to have them stay at home for this one. Hopefully 2020 ;)

Speed Round
Favorite workout? 

Mile repeats, long enough to work, and feel accomplished, short enough to go fast!
Coffee or Tea?  

Coffee is my comfort food, has been since I was a kid.
Race day power outfit? 

Give me spankies, I want spankies (aka briefs), and a loose enough sports bra to breathe comfortably!
Ideal rest day?  

Coffee, take the kids to the park or zoo, and have a beer with dinner!
Summer or winter? 

SUMMER, I love the heat.
Ocean or mountain?  

Ah, this is a good one. The mountains make me feel comfy and cozy, and the beach makes me feel like I'm at a 24/7 chill party. I love them both! But I suppose I would choose beach.
Sweet or salty? 

Salty! Cheese dip please!

Follow Becki's journey to the Olympic Trials Marathon in LA and beyond at her blog Morning Runs with Becki or on Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Trust No Broccoli

I’m blaming the broccoli. The broccoli that spilled over my backpack, forcing me to spend a whole day smelling like a giant fart and then Fabreeze my beloved Hershel bag. Making me take an ugly tote to work the next early morning. So that when I planted my funky right foot on hidden frost I fell like a weird giant ostrich protecting a tote, which in my split-second-mind was my baby. Making my leg bend in half…sideways…leaving me like some 89 year old crying on the pavement at 5:45am while a biker and four cars tried not to see me. Why I lay on the cold pavement and thought of every stupid knee surgery and broken vertebrae and the Trials in 36 days and wondered who to call to scrap my broken leg off the sidewalk until I finally could move, stand and limp into the office. 

This weekend I took a tour of the pools here in Seattle, quite nice but not very accommodating to the aqua jogger. And have nearly been kicked out of my home for being a super annoying injured runner without a diagnosis. The mood swings Owen is enduring weren't part of our marriage vows. Going from "I'm fine" to quietly sobbing without warning. Luckily PJ reminds me not to sulk too hard. 


I have an MRI in 30 minutes, here's hoping I'm embarrassed in a few days by my current 'devastation'. It just all feels too familiar.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Training on Vacation in 1 Scene


It's somewhere between 11:30pm and 3:45am. It's day 4 of family Florida Christmas vacation. I'm doing squats in the dark of our bungalow on the beach holding Penelope who cannot, will not be anywhere but my arms. But only if I am standing. I am praying to all the gods to let me be able to gently just rest her little body...down...into the pack n play...just like this...waaaaaahhhhhh uppa uppa uppa maaaaamaaaaaaa!! Squat, squat, squat. Maybe some warrior pose with light side to side rocking? Or maybe I can just sit down in that chair...just like ...this .....waaaaaahhhhhh uppa uppa uppa maaaaamaaaaaaa no no!!!!

Finally, just before 4am,  queen toddler allows us to fall asleep in bed with her pushing me to the very edge of the king sized mattress. Little hands and arms and legs somehow all touching me. At 6am she's up again. Poking me in the eyes. Saying eyes, eyes, eyes. Even then I'm proud she can correctly identify that part of my corpse...I mean body. I text my dad to come take this monkey to early bird breakfast. She's swept away babbling about poo poo and I fall asleep for two hours happy I'm not on poo poo duty and that her grandfather requires no sleep and that her chubby cheeks are wowing the snowbirds at the diner down the street.

When I wake up I tell Owen to take the bed (he's been sleeping on the couch with a wicked cough). I drink yesterday's coffee black and cold. Eat a bowl of instant oats. Then go trolling for a sibling to accompany part of my long run. My brother is game and we set out into the humid morning. I'm doing 16. He does 10. The last three are death by sleeplessness and boredom and Florida humidity.

But every day and mile matters. It's setting in that I'm going to run the marathon I've dreamed of running for over a decade, and that I have 6 weeks to get ready. It's scary and thrilling. I don't know what to expect. But the ride will start soon and I'll be on it.