Road to Arizona 2017 – Monday Recap 20

monday-recap-300Lots going on here but most of it is resolving.  I’ve been fixing up my house to sell and it closed this week which was super stressful. The most difficult thing in terms of training is that a couple weeks ago I got a filling for a cavity (my first filling, actually!) After I regained feeling in my face I was having intense throbbing pain pretty much all the time for days.  Went back to the dentist, they said that it was a deep filling and it was possible that the nerve was dying but they wanted to give it time.

As a consequence I’m taking a shocking amount of Ibuprofen and still in pain a lot of the time and it looks like I’m on a one-way ride to Rootcanalville.  The good news is that being in this kind of pain for this amount of time makes a root canal seem like no big deal at all.

I’m also still dealing with cramping in my right calf, we can’t figure out how to fix it and it’s becoming a bit demoralizing – if I’m going to finish this IM under the cut-offs I don’t not have time to stop and stretch every few minutes, or to run and walk more slowly than I’m capable of.  We are currently trying magnesium supplementation and sleeping in boot things that force my feet to be flexed in addition to all the stretching, foam rolling, PT, massage, and compression sleeves Cross your fingers for me that this works:

This week’s workouts:

4/24/17 – Long Swim

Couldn’t get my tooth to stop hurting and every time I breathed or got some cold water in my mouth I would have super intense pain. I did not finish the workout.

4/25/17 – Run – Sprints

I always run these in the exact same place so that I can have an apples to apples comparison of progress.  Today there was a decent headwind and so I ran my sprints directly into it.  Despite the cramping I exceeded all my time goals and felt good about this run.

4/26/17 – Bike – Long Intervals

It is surprisingly difficult to get a bolt for my bike seat – the manufacturer still hasn’t shipped it to my bike shop, so we finally found one on Amazon.  It arrived today, so I’ll get it fixed tomorrow. For now I’m on the dreaded ass-numbing machines that are the spin bikes at my gym. Workout completed!

4/27/17 – Mid-Distance Run

Because of various scheduling issues I had to do this in the morning instead of at night. There are several downsides of daytime.  First, it’s hot. Heat is not my friend when it comes to speed on the run (it doesn’t seem to affect my bike speed very much but it definitely affects my run speed, and my basic will to keep moving forward at all.)

Second, because I live in Southern California it’s almost guaranteed to be sunny, and I’m a Buffy-catch-fire-in-the-sun vampire, not a Twilight-sparkle-like-diamonds-in-the-sun vampire. Also, during the day there are lots of adorable dogs that would otherwise be pet-able, but not during a run since spending 10 minutes every mile petting adorable dogs would be, while delightful, a sure way to end up with Steve yelling at me.

Finally, during the day there are people out. People who, despite my wearing a hat, huge sunglasses, and big ass headphones, think it’s a good idea to talk to me, often in ways that assume that I am trying to lose weight.  This is annoying on its face, but what makes it worse is that, for the same reason I can’t stop to pet cute dogs, I also can’t stop to educate these people (and you can’t see my well-practiced, practically patented “WTF face” very well behind the glasses) so I just yell something like “Who’s trying to lose weight?” or “My body is perfect” and keep going.

I definitely struggled with the heat in this run.  At least one good thing about being super slow is that the majority of my IM marathon will take place at night when it’s significantly cooler!

4/28/17 – Day Off!!!
4/29/17 – Double Long Run Day
This day has a shorter long run and a longer long run. Last week we did the longer one first, today he wanted to try to do the shorter one first. I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of these double runs – they are incredibly tough mentally and they seriously take up the whole day (or two days if you count the time I spend stressing about it on my day off.) But if they’ll help me finish the IM I’ll do them without (much) complaint.
Run 1: Again because of scheduling issues I ended up doing the first run at literally the hottest time of day.  A friend of mine who is a Bikram Yoga (ie: “hot yoga”) enthusiast once told me that the mistake students make in their first class is that they focus on doing really good yoga when what they should focus on is just trying to survive the heat and humidity. As I ran, realizing that I was doing exactly what every weather man/woman tells people not to do during the hot months, I adopted my friend’s first day of Bikram approach to this run and survived it. Not my fastest but not as slow as it could have been. I’m also changing my answer for “What one superpower do you wish you had” from flying to heat tolerance.
Run 2:  Captain Obvious says – Sunburn hurts.  Not sure what went wrong with my sunscreen during the first run, but it went wrong.  It was definitely better running in the cool sunless night air, but the afternoon run took more out of me than I thought it would and I was dead ass tired from the beginning.  At least it was dark and, after the first couple hours of dodging partying people it was my empty beach again.
4/30/17 Drag Queens and Spin Bikes
For Julianne’s birthday one of her clients got us passes to Drag Con and today was the day.  I was sore from the run so hours on concrete wasn’t that appealing, but the idea of Drag Con was (I’ve loved drag culture since college, we named our dog after our favorite three drag queens.) I got to meet my favorite drag queen – Latrisse Royale – and it was all worth it!
The spin bike workout was just a straight recovery ride, sadly no drag queens were involved.
Here are this week’s Selfies:
Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Road to Arizona 2017 – Monday Recap 19

monday-recap-300Not so much Monday, but a Recap nonetheless:

4/17/17 – Bike, short intervals

Cut short when I broke my bike seat.  The full story will the subject of my next video blog.

4/18/17 – Run – sprints


The sprints when well, I exceeding all of my time goals. I realized after I parked at the beach that I had forgotten  my headphones and I didn’t want to go back so I decided just to practice being really bored.  The intervals definitely felt like they lasted longer. Also, maybe it was just because I had watched Criminal Minds right before heading out, but I was very keenly aware that I was alone on a dark and pretty desolate stretch of beach.

4/19/17 – Bike – Long Intervals

Bike is still not fixed so I did this on the dreaded spin bike. So. Uncomfortable.  The workout went by pretty fast but by the end my entire ass was numb. I miss Phyxius.

4/20/17 – Mid-distance run

This was one of those runs where how hard I was working didn’t seem in any way connected to the speed I was going.  I was close to my targets but I didn’t hit them all which I hate. In perspective I’m upset about a run that happened at a speed that I couldn’t even approach last year so it wasn’t the worst run ever for anything, just not what I hoped for.


4/21/17 Day Off

4/22/17 – Long Run Day – Double Run

This was the biggest mind fuck so far in this journey.  My coach decided to split the long run so that we can get more mileage in with less risk of injury.  So I had a long run, followed by 5 hours rest, then mid distance run. Thinking about it all day did not put me in a good mental space – I like the sense of calm and accomplishment that washes over me when I finish my long run every week and I know that, in that moment, it’s the longest possible time until my next long run. The idea of fighting through a long run just to do another run in a few hours was not a pleasing one, but I’ll do what it takes to get the speed and endurance I need, so bring it on.

The first run went absolutely terribly.  I was having trouble meeting my speed goals despite putting in the same effort I usually do.  (The only thing different was that my new shoes are a size larger and my feet were slipping around in them, but I’m not sure that would cause this kind of issue?) I got so frustrated that at one point I put my head in my hands and yelled “what the fuck is happening” and then realized that someone was coming up the gangway from his boat staring at me so I yelled “Have a great night, sir!” in what I hoped was a reassuring voice.

I also forgot what it’s like running during the busy time at the beach.  So much pot smoke. I have no problem with people smoking pot, but I’m not interested in smoking it, in no small part because the smoke makes me nauseated. So every time I ran through a cloud of it I would feel more sick. Having to weave around people – progressively more intoxicated as the night wore on– as well as kids hopped up on sugar and vacation and sometimes riding bikes or scooters with wild abandon added additional challenges. They have every right to be there, of course, but that didn’t make it easier. I am also still  dealing with calf cramping which is really becoming a morale killer. I finally sat down on a bench to try to stop the cramping and I called Julianne for a quick pep talk.  All the difficulty was made worse by realizing every few minutes that I not only had to get through this run, but I had to come back and do another run in a few hours.

As I was pushing myself through this run a couple of times I passed a group of 4 or 5 people running and one of the dudes gave me a high five both times – not in a condescending way, but in a “We are also running in the middle of the night” kind of way. I cheered for them and they cheered back and it definitely lifted my spirits.

I finally got to the end. I went home, changed clothes, noted with sadness that my right little toe was really blistered again and that my left achilles was hurting. I stretched, made myself some food, did some work, contemplated excuses that I could give Steve for not doing the second run, and started to get ready again – taping my feet, etc.

I got out of the car really hurting – the first 10 minutes were incredibly slow as I was limping.  The pain worked itself out and the run wasn’t too bad. I got to see the sunrise, which was lovely, and it was cool outside and the run went by pleasantly.  My blisters and achilles hurt, but my legs felt surprisingly fresh.  I felt like I could have done more miles which I foolishly added to my notes for my coach.  I also told my coach that it felt like Groundhog Day but instead of a light-hearted comedy, everything hurts and I’m dying.

4/23/17 – Swim

This was a really tough swim. For some reason I just couldn’t catch my breath. It was speed work and I was having to take extra rests but I got it done and met my time goals.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Road to Arizona 2017 – Monday Recap 18

monday-recap-3004/10/17 Speed Run

This is a new workout.  Medium length intervals as fast as I possibly can with slow walking in between.  This week I had absolutely no cramping during this workout which meant that I was the fastest I have ever been – even at 1/3 of this interval time.  It was glorious.

4/11/17 Bike – Short Mixed Intervals

This workout has changed as well.  Now there are more intervals, and some longer intervals.  All of which are too be done at absolutely maximum effort.  I pushed really hard – like, kick my ass, big puddle of sweat on my floor, wven my little asshole dog looked worried about me hard.

4/12/17 Mid-Distance Run

This is the same as it’s been – the same intervals that I do on my long run, just done slightly faster.  Didn’t feel great (I had a filling done last week and I’m about to go back for a third time to try to figure out why it hurts all the time.)  Still, I met most of my time goals (a couple of the walk intervals were a little slow one of which may or may not have been because I stopped to pet the cutest, biggest pitbull I’ve ever seen. (Sorry Steve!)

4/13/17 Bike – Long Intervals

The long intervals are two minutes longer every week so they have become significant (the rest time, however, has stayed the same.)  I pushed myself as hard as I could and after one of the long intervals I had to jump off the bike to keep my little dog from killing himself (he had pushed his stairs away from the couch and now wanted up on the couch and so, right at the end of the interval, decided to put his head super close to my pedal and then yell at me.) As I jumped down my legs were legitimately wobbly.

4/14/17 Day Off

4/15/17 Long Run

I’ve been breaking in some new shoes.  They are the same that I was wearing before (Saucony Echelon 5) but a half size bigger to try to stop the situation that has left my right little toe as more blister than toe.  This was their first long outing.  Unfortunately not only didn’t they fix the toe blistering issue, but my feet were slipping around in them.  It wasn’t noticeable on the shorter runs but as this run went along it became really uncomfortable.  A rough run but another in the bank.

4/16/17 Recovery Bike

Uneventful recovery ride!

This week’s selfies:




Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Celebrating Slow – Slow Jogging

celebrating-slow-200-x-200Slow athletes have some amazing stories – there’s a lot of inspiration to be found at the back of the pack.  Slow athletes deserve to have places to tell our stories, and to have (and be!) role models. The Celebrating Slow Series is a place to do just that. If you have a story that you would like featured here, e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.

Today Maggie tells her story of being a slow jogger:

To be honest, I’m not sure when or why I decided to start jogging in 2011. Or jogging again, I should say. The first time, I was about 17 (I’m 46 now). I just started walking with rest stops, which led to walking and jogging with rest stops, to jogging the whole way to jogging faster. Though I didn’t know what a BMI was, I was certainly in the obese category. But I wasn’t doing it as a mandate from the doctor or anyone else. I don’t remember this being any big deal to anyone around me. I didn’t tell too many people. And I never thought about speed. I am not competitive, not even with myself. So I just continued for myself, to feel better and stronger (well…I would be lying if I said it wasn’t also about losing weight to look better. I was a teenager girl feeling insecure around my thin friends who wore brand-name clothes and had boyfriends).

Fast-forward to 2011. I started jogging again. I don’t really have a good memory of “why.” All I know is that I have always had this desire to jog. I like it better than walking. I like exercising outside. And I like the rhythm of the jog.

As I was jogging again, I had awesome days when I was excited to get my running shoes on. Days when I got home feeling strong and proud. Other days when I would be doubled over with back pain. And days I would be in tears.

Even as I increased distance and time, I continued to hover around an 18-20 minute mile. I was gaining confidence though and feeling proud of my progress. And loving the strength I was feeling physically. I joined a “Couch to 5K” group at a local running store. Oh but I was slooowww…yes the slowest. Everyone was thinner than me. And the majority had certainly not gotten off any damn couch to join this group. I was embarrassed but perhaps it was my non-competitive spirit that kept me going. Yes, you read that right…I have a non-competitive spirit…yes I do.

It was in August 2011 that I did my first organized run/walk event. I wasn’t yet doing 3 miles. But I was able to go a couple miles. So I found a 2 mile event in my hometown and asked my sister Anney if she would do it with me. (FYI, she is a life-long athlete, a Health and Phys Ed teacher and a veteran marathoner). I almost cried when she said she would do it with me. And I did do it. I jogged at the same speed or slower than the walkers. Yes I was embarrassed about my speed. But I finished in about 40 minutes. My niece Kyrsten and my Dad were there, taking photos and cheering me on. I was about to explode with excitement.

I did my first 5K a month later in September 2011. I finished. The barriers blocking traffic from the route were coming down as I got to the finish line. This time my friend Chris did the 5K with me. He encouraged me to speed up at the end to finish 2nd to last, before a man walking with his dog. As I passed this man, I wasn’t sure if he was a registered participant or just a guy out on a Saturday morning walking with his dog.

Anyhoo, in November 2011, I did my 2nd 5K…a Turkey Trot that was my “Couch to 5K” graduation. I finished. My speed was consistent…still doing around a 20 minute mile. I finished last but I felt proud and strong. No matter how slow I was, I was non-competitively proud of my ability to slowjog for an entire hour. Months earlier, I wasn’t even exercising.

In December 2011, I tried another 5K. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I didn’t eat anything the morning of. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good slowjog. Chris and I stopped to look at the animals at the zoo where the run was taking place. We somehow got off the route too. So we weaved our way back to the car. Yes, I felt bad. But I knew it was poor preparation. So I tried hard to focus on the fact that I was up and out of the house to exercise early on a Saturday. Again, compared to not exercising at all, I was making progress.

I kept slowjogging consistently through the spring of 2012, when I stopped. At that time, I was downsized from my job. My Dad’s prostate cancer had started spreading to his bones. I was spending more time visiting him. Depression and anxiety were creeping in. Little did I know how bad it would get over the next 3-4 years. After losing my job in 2012, I was out of work for about 6 months. I found a new job, but after 5 months, I was given an improvement plan, citing what I thought were completely false and bullshit reasons. I didn’t defend myself…I felt doomed. I quit in March 2013. Depression and anxiety continued to mount. In the next 2 years, I sunk deeper as my Dad continued to get sicker and weaker. He passed away in 2015. After that, I started to stay inside most of the time. Not exercising. Not cleaning. Missing work, missing deadlines, disappointing colleagues who were also long-time friends. I gained a lot of weight making exercise and even daily tasks hard, struggling to breath after walking a half block. My mental and physical health were at a crisis point. My sister Colleen, her daughter Christine and my sister’s husband Tony moved me across the country to Seattle to live with them. After a long hard year, I am seeing the light. Exercising. Eating healthier. Making new friends. Working to re-launch my career with a new job. I am back on the path to my trustworthy “Couch to 5K” program. Extended and modified to my current level.

I’m here in the present on this journey. I appreciate my sisters and their families and folks like Ragen. I look to all of you for inspiration and collaboration.


If you can’t get enough of the awesome inspiration from slow athletes, check out the other entries in the series:

Ultra Slow Ultramarathoner

Swimming in the Slow Lane

Running Through Molasses

Swimming Slow in Open Water

Personal Victories While Cycling Slow

Have your own story to tell?  I would love to feature it here. E-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Road to Arizona 2017: Monday Recap 17

monday-recap-300This was an interesting week.  I had decided to do my long run as part of a local group run on Friday morning, and I had some serious massage and physical therapy scheduled throughout the week to try to permanently fix this annoying calf cramping, so my week was geared toward that.


Mid-Distance Run

Mistakes were made. I ate lunch and then did my run 8 hours later without eating again, I didn’t bring food with me because it wasn’t a long run. I experienced what I think was my first official bonk.  I made it to the end, but not particularly impressively.  Also, it was windy and I was attacked by the nature – a big palm leaf was blown off the tree (I assume) and landed on my head.  I screamed and did a ridiculous dance of terror.  Of course one of the police cars that patrols was parked nearby. The officer jumped out and ran over, he tried to ask if I was ok but had a hard time because he was laughing so very hard.  I couldn’t blame him, it was a truly ridiculous dance, and if you can’t be fast…be funny. He apologized for laughing and told me he sees me out there all the time and he really admires my dedication.  (I’m also aware of my privilege here – this interaction could have gone very differently were I a Person of Color, or homeless, or more visibly queer, or trans, or a member of any number of marginalized groups.)


Long Bike

This was a long ride on the trainer, so in addition to working on my biking I also got to work on my overcoming boredom skills.


Short Run

This went fine.  Easy peasy.


Planned Day Off


Long Run

I’ve been getting faster on my long run every week for a while now.  Today was a break from that trend.

I had decided to do this with a local running group, which meant starting at ass o’clock in the morning.  It was on a beach path, and was run on in two loops, it was a different path than I usually run.  It was really tough and gave me a chance to try out some new challenges:

Let’s start with the good news: everyone in the group was super cool and supportive, I finished the run.

Now let’s talk about the challenges:

Sleep (or not): I generally go to bed late and wake up late so I had walked back my sleep times so that I would be able to go to bed early and wake up early (really early.  Why does this stuff start so damn early?)  I laid down feeling tired, and then my brain said “Hey, want to think about every bad run you’ve ever had and everything that could go wrong tomorrow?” And I was like, not really, no. So my brain said “Great, let’s do that.” I was in bed for 8 hours. The last time I looked at the clock before I finally fell asleep it was 45 minutes until the alarm. I woke up with a pounding headache and a strong desire to turn off the alarm and go to sleep.

Wind: We left the parking lot, turned onto the beach path and the wind literally knocked me back.  The guy next to me said “Are you fucking kidding me with this wind?” which made me feel better – at least I wasn’t over-reacting. One weather forecast said 18-20 mph gusting winds. Whatever it was, it was right in my face for the first, and most of the third, sections. It repeatedly blew off my hat which was held down (in theory) by my headphones. I haven’t worked that hard to go that slow since Kelrick and I were on the bridge during the Seattle marathon. My right calf cramped hard immediately and kept cramping for nine miles which is definitely a new record.  Then it gave me a few miles off, then cramped some more for the last mile and a half. As a fun bonus I breathed in roughly a barrel of sand.

The sun: This makes me so glad that I’m slow enough that most of my IRONMAN run will happen after dark. As the sun came up I felt like I was in a horror movie  -John Carpenter’s “The Sun” I was running in the shade, but I could see it coming for me. I was covered in sunscreen (SPF 4000 or something,) I had a hat and giant sunglasses to cover as much of my face as possible, but the clouds I had hoped for were nowhere in sight so it was to be “fun” in the sun for most of the run.

False flat and slanted path : As I turned around for the second quarter I realized that I had been going at a slight downhill for most of the section, but hadn’t noticed because of the wind. Now I would be going slightly uphill for most of the next quarter. And I was going directly into the the sun. Not a huge deal, not what I’m used to. I missed my usual flat path. Also, this path was slightly slanted on both sides which gave me an opportunity for new and different blisters and pain.

Blisters and pain: Sweet fluffy lord was I in pain, starting almost from the very beginning and getting worse throughout. It was only a mile more than I did last week but it was like a whole new world. Halfway through I felt like I had felt at the end of last week and I only halfway done, and was way, way off pace. The third quarter (when I had to turn around and go back into the wind) was just demoralizing. Walking on a tilt had irritated my left ankle, and my left foot was cramping almost the entire time, my right calf was cramping, both knees hurt which almost never happens, my back was killing me, and two of my toes were more blister than toe. By the last couple of miles I was changing my stride to try to recruit different muscles which resulted in new and different pain and soreness.

I had been using the trick of choosing short term goals (just get to that next water fountain a half mile away, just get to that tree a quarter mile away) but with a mile left I was really struggling even with those short term goals so I literally put my head down and just counted did 10 steps at a time.

I have a tendency to think that these long runs aren’t a big deal because I’ve done the full 26.2 miles, but the truth is that I walked all of that (including all the training,) and I walked it slowly.  What I’m doing now with the run/walk intervals is much more difficult. In a lot of ways though shorter than my marathon, this run was physically harder.  I didn’t quit. Of course there’s no shame in quitting, but in order to meet this specific goal I need to be able to be suffering and not quitting, and also going much faster than this. Still, another small victory on the road to the IRONMAN, and I’ll take it.


Planned Day Off


Bike – All Out Intervals

In some good news, I recovered faster from this week’s run than last week’s run (owing, I think, to the ice bath that now sits permanently under my desk so I can alternate icing my feet and ankles, and the cold showers followed by hot epsom salt baths as recommended by my massage therapist – it worked great with the bonus of tons of discomfort added to my downtime.)  These bike  intervals went really well.

Here are this week’s selfies:


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Road to Arizona 2017: Monday Recap 16

Ok, so this is now the Tuesday, no wait, it just passed into Wednesday, recap. But a recap nonetheless…


Bike – Short Intervals

My coach took away more of the rest and doubled the intervals at the beginning.  This workout continues to kick my ass and I continue to love the hell out of this workout.


Mid-Distance Run

This run went ok, not as fast as I wanted to go but I got it done.


Bike – Long Intervals

These intervals are getting looooooong and maybe a bigger challenge than going that hard for that long physically is the mental challenge of keeping the focus.  It’s easy to get distracted or let my mind wander and find out that I’ve slowed down a bit, vs looking at the watch every two seconds which keeps me focused but makes each interval seem three hours long.


Swim – Sprint

Sprints are less boring than long swims in the pool, but I’m still pretty excited about getting back into open water.

Mid-Distance Run

SO FUCKING FRUSTRATING.  The calf cramping was back, but this time it was accompanied by a really sharp, really intense pain in my right achilles.  I was afraid that I was going actually create an injury that would require a break in training so I ended it early.


Day Off


Long Run

I knew that I had two disastrous runs this week.  I wanted this run to go well.  I fueled carefully during the day, I got extra sleep, I made sure I was hydrated.  I set time goals for my run/walk intervals that would make me 12 seconds per mile faster than last week. I started off and my body felt really good.  My calves cramped at the beginning, but after about 30 minutes they finally let go. I checked my time and I was averaging  24 seconds per mile faster than last week.   know it may not  seem like a lot but for me it is – I’m pushing as hard as I can on these long runs and everyone is longer than the one before so any increase in speed is a positive thing.  I figured it wouldn’t hold, but was nice while it lasted, and moved back to my main watch screen to focus on my goal times… or maybe just a little faster?

In good news, I’ve found a food that I can tolerate while running (if you’ve been following for a while you know that gels, chews, and even sports drinks often upset my stomach.)  It turns out that salted roasted sweet potatoes work.  That’s kind of good news, but in bad news eating enough sweet potatoes to get the calories I would need would cause…other problems, so the search for additional nutrition continues.

Still I was eating bits of sweet potato, drinking water, and feeling great until I had about three miles left and then the wheels came off.  Pain cave. And my calf cramps came back.  Damn it. I tried to ignore the pain and instead hyper focus on the pace of each interval.

With about two miles left I stopped to stretch and quickly checked my pace.  I was still holding at 24 seconds per mile faster than last week. Holy shit! I told myself that I could do this – all I had to do was hold on to this pace for two miles.  Two miles is nothing, I lied to myself. I took off for my next run interval and a pain shot through the little toe on my right foot so bad that I thought I had broken it.  I stopped at a nearby bench but because of the sprinklers it was covered in water.  Blergh.  So I balanced on one foot as I removed my shoe and sock.  There had been a situation developing with my right little toe and it had just leveled up.

It started as a small blister on the bottom of my toe, but over all of my runs has grown until it was really more blister than toe – it now travels all the way up a toe and forms a little hat for my toe at the top. I’ve been trying different stuff to deal with it with limited success, but compared to the blisters I used to get on the balls of my feet this is so much better that I wasn’t super worried about it  For this run I had used anti-blister goo, then pre-wrap, then leukotape. The whole thing had started to dislodge and the pain was because some of the tape and pre-wrap had lodged themselves under the blister.  I had no choice but to pull it all off which meant a really uncomfortable final two miles.

I was pushing as hard as I could, I kept imagining myself celebrating in the parking lot for meeting this milestone time and that vision helped me keep pushing.  I finished having run one more mile than last week and averaging 24 seconds per mile faster than last week.  I celebrated in the parking lot.

Then the real pain hit.  I don’t know if this is everyone’s experience but, for me, as long as I’m moving the pain is bearable, but when I stop running all of it hits me.  I could barely make it to (and into) my car.  My legs were screaming in pain. I occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t have pushed so hard.  My legs hurt for hours, after pilates, resistance stretching, icing, a hot shower, Bengay, and a ton of tumeric, I was still hurting. I couldn’t even sleep because the pain kept waking me up. Maybe I could have been happy with just a 12 second per mile improvement over last week.

This seems like a good time to remind everyone – this is something I want to do for my personal reasons.  It has nothing to do with health.  I don’t recommend that anyone do this. Doing this doesn’t make me – or anyone else – better or worse than those who choose to do other things in their free time.


Bike – Recovery Ride

I was still hurting.  Usually I feel better after this ride but that was not the case today, I got off the bike and my legs started to buckle. Ugh. Another week closer to the IRONMAN and I am working as hard as I can.

This week’s selfies:

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Tale of Two Long Runs

two long runs vlog 7This week’s vlogs are about my last two long runs.  Long runs are always my most difficult workout, no matter how far I’m supposed to bike or swim it’s not as difficult as the weekly long run. The last two have both been memorable – and educational – in very different ways. Below you’ll find the video and the transcript. You can subscribe to my video blogs here!




Welcome back to the vlog.  Today I want to talk about my last two long runs.  Which have both been really memorable, but for very different reasons.

Last week on my long run there were two big changes.  The first was that I was going to, no matter what, run through the calf cramping. We were going to see if that maybe helped the calves to release faster than stopping and stretching every few minutes which was taking about an hour to have any effect.

Second, I was changing my run plan.  So normally what I do is take it easy for about the first two miles to try to cut down on the cramping, and then I do shorter run intervals with longer walking, then about half way through the run I start doing my long run intervals.

For this run I decided that I was going to do the first mile easy and then I was just going to do the long run intervals the whole time.

This meant running more than I had run ever  in any long run. And I was not even close to sure that I could do it, but I figured I wanted to see what I could absolutely do and the only way to really do that was to push hard from the beginning. I figured could always walk, or you know, crawl to the finish if I had to.

On the first mile my calf felt pretty good.  But that easy mile was gone in an instant and it was time to start running. So I took a deep breath and I just took off.

The right calf started cramping up a bit, but per the game plan I just ran through it.  But since I wasn’t stopping and stretching I was constantly cramped, and being constantly cramped meant that for the next few miles both my runs and walks were slower than normal which was really frustrating, but I kept pushing.

Finally it felt like the muscle was going to pull or rip so I stopped and I just took a few seconds to stretch it out.  It worked!  The cramp faded and I was able to pick up the pace.

Then the miles actually started to go by pretty fast.  I looked down and realized that I had been doing the long run intervals for one mile more than I had ever done them in the past and I still felt pretty good.

That went on for a while and then, with about three miles left it started to get rough – I was hurting and tired, and I had started muttering to myself.  Now, don’t misunderstand –  it wasn’t that I was consciously talking to myself, it was more that I became aware that I was talking out loud.  Simple phrases like “You got this.” And “don’t stop.”  And “come on push.”  And then at one point I heard myself say “Really fucking hard!” I was momentarily confused and thought maybe I lost it, and then I realized that I was talking to the motivational speech that was playing on my ipod.

My run list is a mix of songs and workout motivational speeches –  it turns out  I run a little better when people scream problematic platitudes about wolves and sheep at me.  The motivational speech guy had asked ‘How hard do you work when the lights are off and noone is watching.”  Considering that’s when most of my work happens, my answer  of “really fucking hard” actually made sense. So I figured I was still ok and I kept running.

With a couple miles left though, things were not looking good for the home team. I was holding my long run intervals but I was deep in the pain cave.  I looked at my watch during a walk interval and I was walking a full minute per mile slower than I wanted to be.  I heard someone yell “Goddamn it Ragen hold the STANDARD!”  And I was like wait – I yelled that.  It surprised me almost as much as it surprised the couple having a make-out session on the bench near me.  I have no idea where it came from, thats’ not even something I normally say, but I seemed pretty serious about it so I picked up the pace.

One mile left and I’m making bad decisions.  I finish a run interval and I felt dizzy and looked at my heart rate and it was way too high. I also realized that I was not going to make my goal time (which was not in any way realistic,) but I wanted to come as close as possible so I didn’t want to slow down, but I was also aware somewhere in the back of my mind that was still making sense that passing out would not improve my speed. So I slowed down a little and my heart rate came down.  Mercifully, I finished the run.

I achieved my goal of holding the long run intervals the whole time.  That’s a significant victory not just for training, but psychologically because it reminds me that I can do more than I think I’m capable of.

I was 17 seconds faster per mile than last week. That’s not as fast as I wanted to be so initially I was a little bummed, but I consoled myself that that I wasn’t resting all through the run, and I was  slow during the miles that I was cramped, and that the run was a mile longer than last week, and decided that 17 seconds would do.

When I got home though, I looked at my past weeks of workouts. looking at the last 5 long runs I’ve gotten faster every week and I was actually one minute and 17 seconds per mile faster this week than I was five weeks ago when I only ran half this distance.  Suddenly, my time on this run seemed better.

Fast forward to last week’s long run.  After a rough week of training because I was sick, I once again found myself at the starting line for a long run.  My PT had done a thing where you scrape at muscles with a dull metal blade in order to break up any adhesions in the fascia and as I started off my calves felt really good.  I had decided to cut down the time I took it easy from 1 mile last week to a half mile this week.  This time though, that half mile dragged on as my head was pounding and my stomach ached.  But still, too soon it was time to run.  I momentarily forgot about being sick because my calf felt fricking great – it was like a festivus miracle out there.  The calf was healed, at least for this run.  But the rest of me…not so much.

This run was going comically slowly and I kept thinking that it would be completely reasonable to just quit given how shitty I felt.  But I had missed a short run earlier in the week and I really wanted to get this done.  Also, I checked my overall pace expecting the worst and somehow I was only, like, 10 seconds per mile off my pace.  I kept going.  In addition to hurting, my stomach’s rebellious streak meant I couldn’t take in any nutrition, or really more than a sip of water every couple miles.  That wasn’t causing a problem yet but I was pretty worried how it would feel, you know, miles from now. But there was nothing to do but keep running.

Finally almost exactly halfway through the run my stomach started to feel better.  I checked my pace.  I could still make my goal of being faster than last week, I would just have to be faster the second half of this run than I was the first half.  That seemed do-able.

The time was still going by incredibly slowly but at least I was past half way which gives me a big mental boost.  I think of the first half as every step gets me closer to the half, and then the second half every step gets me closer to the end.

I was making good time but I realized that when I had thought it would be no problem to do the second half faster than the first half, I somehow forgot that legs get tired the more you run.  Right, that is definitely a thing.

My heart rate was too high, my head was pounding, and my stubbornness kicked in, I did not want to do all this work only to be slower than last week.  I could do this.

I thought I had timed it so that when I’d get back to my car the run would be over.  Except on long runs I lose the ability to math – not just to math hard, to math at all.  So when I switched the screen of my watch to show the distance it said I had .2 miles left.  You might as well have told me that I had to run 20 more miles.  I was like 20 feet from my car, which was down an incline, so .2 more miles meant turning around and running up the incline. Now generally this incline wouldn’t even be noticeable but the way that I felt it seemed like I needed two sherpa and supplemental oxygen to get back up.  But I was not going to short this run, not even .2 miles.  Fuck it.  I turned around and headed up the incline deciding to forget the intervals and just run the rest of the way.

Gasping at my car with my hands on my knees I checked my watch. 14 seconds per mile faster than last week with an extra mile of running.  When I tried to smile in triumph for my selfie I started crying, the picture actually shows the transition between the two which I thought was perfect for this run.

That’s all for this week, remember that you can subscribe using this button right here so that you never miss a video, and you can follow my IRONMAN journey at


Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments