Thursday, May 7, 2015

Runniversary: 4 Years Running Strong

This week in my personal history is one of the best, most life changing weeks of my life. This is the week of my runniversary, and the week of my handsome husband putting a ring on my finger and promised to keep me forever. I have to say that I love him more than I love running, but I am still pretty pumped about my runniversary. On May 9th, 2011, I went out on my first intentional run, and I have accomplished so much in the four years since then.

I completed  my first half, the Wadell and Reed Kansas City Half Marathon, in October 2011, and this week I signed up to run the same race a second time. I can't wait to return to my first half, only the second race I ever ran, and I am going to work hard over the next 5 months to hopefully set a new half PR for myself.

I raised money for ALS research with help from some very generous friends and family members in conjunction with training for my first marathon. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon with my Anything for 10 sister, Grace, in my grandma's memory in 2013. I had said after running the KC Half the first
time that I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 26. It was the runner's high talking at the time, but when my amazingly strong and independent grandma lost the ability to walk, talk, and eat before she passed away on my 25th birthday, I looked at my sister at her funeral and I said, "You know we are running a marathon before I turn 26, right?" She smiled and said, "Yes." And although it wasn't pretty, I finished that marathon. I spent the MANY training miles logged thinking about and talking to my grandma. Running was a way for me to grieve and heal. Did my grandma love running? No. But she was the absolute picture of strength and grace, which is something all marathoners need as a beacon.  I wrote "Anything for 10" and "For Grandma" on my race bib, and as I was about to cross the finish line, the announcer asked me what it meant, and then announced to the crowd that I was running in my grandma's memory one week before the one year anniversary of her passing. As the tears started flowing when the announcer spoke to the crowd, I thought I might not make it the last couple steps, but Mayor Michael Nutter grabbed me and pulled me across the finish into an embrace saying, "She's proud. Good job. Congratulations."

I ran three half marathons in two states in 45 days in the Spring of 2014, and I earned membership in the national running club, Half Fanatics, and I earned a Road Apple Award that same year. I set my current half PR at the first half in that Spring series, and afterward I got my first and only tattoo. It is a running tattoo on my wrist so that I can see it when I am out on the road, and it signifies love, life, run. It means that I need to remember to do those three things regularly, and that I need to run in order to love and live life fully. Running helps me to appreciate life and all that I am able to experience in life. I have met many amazing people in the running community since I started running, and I am thankful for each of them, and when I see my tattoo I often think of them as well.

I am a fortunate and blessed human being, and running reminds me to be grateful. Here's to many more years of crazy goals, meeting new people, connecting with family and friends, and logging lots of miles.


Monday, May 4, 2015

True Chronicles of a Bad Luck Runner 2.0

I've done a post by the same name in the past, but it seems that it is time for another installment. I may be one of the most unlucky runners out there, and quite possibly being fairly clumsy and a bit crazy may have something to do with that as well. You see, I might be the only person to get bursitis in my ELBOW from running. Now I suppose I should tell you the story because it will make more sense, but seriously, I just want it gone.

I have trauma induced septic olecranon bursitis. Pretty straightforward really. Bursitis in my elbow from a trauma (falling like an idiot) that is infected... I'm not entirely sure how the infection happened since I have no open wounds or anything, but nonetheless, I am on some aggressive antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain medications. And it's a good thing I didn't tell the nurses and doctors the full back story on the whole thing because they already thought I was an idiot for waiting 10 days after the initial fall to go to the doctor. To be fair, I went to the doctor when it really flared up and became painful...it didn't hurt all that bad until 10 days after the fall... thus my waiting 10 days. Geez, people.

There's the culprit!
So how did it happen? Well, you see... First you have to understand... gahhh. I am dumb. That's basically what you need to understand. I am a lot of fun though! My husband is so lucky that he gets to live with me really. I decided to do some hill climber sprints. If you don't know what a hill climber is, then do a quick Google search. And a hill climber sprint is just where you use something to put your hands on so that you can move across the floor as you do the hill climbers. I just happened to try doing this in our tiny temporary living apartment using a hot pad on our essentially concrete floors. Yes, that's right; I'm an idiot. Matt looked at me, and said, "Don't do that." Without missing a beat, I ran across the length of the apartment, and fell over onto my elbow when I got to the end and realized I couldn't stop, and I was about to hit the wall. Oh, the look on his face as he stood over me as I half writhed on the floor in pain and half laughed. Priceless really.

Run when you can, walk if you must,
crawl when you have to;
just never give up. -Dean K.
I am not really supposed to be running until the pain and swelling subside. It's been 4 days of torture. I am supposed to be doing some pre-training training. Yes, I am training to train. I have some big goals for myself this summer and fall, so I need to start getting ready for that fall race goal now. Only I can't run, so I have been bummed. I decided to go for a walk on Sunday and I went out again tonight. If I can't run, then I will walk. There are some people who don't have the good fortune to be able to do that! And even worse, there are people who are able to do so and choose not to! I have big goals, yes, but life is really about the little things. I have been reminded of that lately. I often spend time thinking of or talking to my grandma when I run, and I have always been a bit of frantic person. I can remember my grandma frequently telling me just to calm down. "Don't make such a fuss." "It's fine," she'd say. She was a wise woman.

Don't make such a fuss. Life's about the small things.


Follow me on Instagram for more pictures from my runs and more ridiculousness from my life.
@mdickersonruns on Instagram

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ye Who Enter, Abandon All Dignity

I've said it before, and I'll say it again; you can't care what other people think if you are going to be a runner. From the clothes, to the races, to the time, to the money, to the absurd behavior, you just have to decide early on that you don't care what other people think if you want to be a runner. You have to get very comfortable with yourself, and with doing whatever will make you comfortable, even if those things might cause passersby, other runners, or even sometimes your loved ones to judge you.

I spent some time planning a course of action to hopefully train for a distance and course PR with my sister-in-law, and my brother sat in the same room begrudgingly agreeing to our demands as he likes to train in his own all-out-no-pain-no-gain kind of way. We have agreed to run the Kansas City Half Marathon in October, which was the first half we all ran together. And this time, Anything For 10 Grace, and possibly my husband's sister may even run with us. I was feeling good!! Of course I was! Writing in a planner takes far less effort than actually training!!

I eventually set out for my run this afternoon, and I was looking legit! Which by the way, is a sign that I was spending more time stalling than anything else. You don't need to look good to go for a run. The other problem with getting all decked out for a run, is that you can tend to look like a bit of a fool when you end up walking pretty much the whole thing.

I spent the first half of my run being scared out of my mind that every little stick was a snake thanks to seeing a picture of a snake that one of my friends from college encountered on a recent run. Then there's the whole not-running-consistently-lately issue. I haven't been running consistently, and when I go out to the trail, I am running down hill on fresh legs, so I end up running way faster than I should, so I am all worn out way early. So there I was a mile in, dressed to the nines, and I was walking along....because you definitely need compression sleeves to go for a walk.

I felt terrible. I looked ridiculous. It was a win-win obviously. And then I started thinking about all the ridiculousness that I had put out there for the world to see before. I have run red-faced to the finish line well after most others have finished their races. I have bundled up and run in the snow. I have gone for a run when it was flash flooding. I have been passed by POWER WALKERS. I have worn hydration belts, and hydration backpacks, and compression sleeves, and running hats with crazy hair trying to escape. I have pretended that I wasn't just walking and complaining at races when I got to the photographer (Thanks, Donna!), and I have embarrassed my husband by insisting on wearing my race medals all day after I finish a race no matter where we have to go that day. I have worn clothing that people should not have to endure the sight of! I have blown snot rockets quite unsuccessfully. I have done so many things because I am a runner that many people would be embarrassed of , but trying to get out there and get back into shape should not be the thing that makes me feel embarrassed out on a run.

I guess since I am headed back to the KC Half, it is time to get back to basics and tell myself that I can do anything for 10!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Runner's Rambles: On the Move...see what I did there?

Ok, I know that there are people who hate running. In fact, probably far more who hate it than love it, but on days like today I just don't understand how. Did I have an amazing long run with an effortless negative split? NO! Hahahaha! Let's be real here. I ran 3 miles. Slowly. And I had to stop a few times to stretch out my calf muscles. But here's the thing, I got to spend time outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery that is Spring. I got a chance to appreciate my mobility, which is not a given in life by any stretch of the imagination. I got to interact with other people in a community that is pretty darn awesome; the running community is typically an uplifting and encouraging bunch! All those endorphins, ya know?

I have been in a limbo of sorts moving to Missouri this week. That may seem strange since I was born and raised in MO, but I am now living in pretty much the only part of the state I am unfamiliar with, and it is not the place I think of when I think of MO and home. It also seems strange to know that I have no return flight booked for Philly, and that is the other place I learned to call home. I got engaged, moved to Philly, got married, made some amazing friends, and spent my first year of marriage in Philadelphia. Now I am living in temporary housing outside of St. Louis, my worst nightmare as a child (slight exaggeration), just waiting to really settle into our new home in late May, and trying to forge my career path here. Seriously in limbo all around, but I still have running, and I should be thankful for each run even when they are slow or difficult.

One thing that is helping me get used to the idea of living in eastern MO is that St. Charles is ADORABLE. Seriously, I love the historic district and all the little parks I've seen, and I am pumped about being able to run on the Katy Trail. I hate gravel trails, but I might get used to this one! I even had another runner on the trail give me a high five on my run today!! Remember what I said about the running community? Eh, eh? And I needed that high five right about then. I may be in limbo, but I am still so fortunate, and running helps remind me of that. I. Just. Love. Running. Come on people, drink the nuun-koolaid! Fall in love with running! Ok, ok... just fall in love with something that will keep you healthy and loving life because right now you can, and one day it will be too late.



Talk about Rails to Trail!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Oh, hey there!

It's been weird. I haven't posted in quite some time, so let me just give the rundown, if you will, of where I've been and where I'm going!

It appears as if I never explained that I got injured and sidelined with physical therapy in the fall, which knocked me out of running the New York City Marathon. I was devastated. I did however, get to watch my sister-in-law run her first half marathon this past fall! It was my first time as a pure spectator at a race, and it was inspiring and gratifying to cheer on my sister, brother, and all the other runners that day.

I left my job at a running specialty store in PA to go back into teaching, but in a whole new area than ever before in my teaching career. I am loving my job teaching preschool!! I never thought I would say such a thing, but I love it!

So where am I headed? Well, first of all, back to Missouri! My husband is being  transferred to St. Louis, and I am pretty excited to be moving to the St. Louis area! And that's another thing I NEVER thought I'd say, especially with the quickly approaching start to regular season Royals baseball.

So, my running? It's been sporadic and inconsistent at best. I signed up for two spring races that I have run before, and I originally planned to return with hopes of improving my personal course records, but I have since transferred my bibs to friends who will be in the area since I am moving before the races. I am excited to start exploring a new area to run when I move in a couple weeks, and I am looking forward to setting some race goals for myself for the fall. I am also excited at the possibility of meeting up with family and old friends at races back in MO!!
I am loving the spring flowers instead of snow on my runs!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Race Recap: Bird In Hand Half Marathon

Holy crap. That sucked.-- This is a summary of how this race went, but you can read the whole post if you want the fine print.

It was a lovely humid 90 degree day in eastern Pennsylvania today. Juuuuuust lovely. And by that, I mean that it was actually awful. As soon as we stepped outside our front door this morning at 5:15 am, I felt the wave of heat and the heaviness in the air from the humidity, but no worries! I didn't have to deal with the humidity for long! The scorching sun seemingly burned off all the humidity by about mile 3 of the race. I wanted so badly for this race to go well. I was looking forward to another Amish Country run because the scenery is beautiful and this race is very interesting because of the Hot Air Balloon race that takes place on the same day, and there are Amish kids manning the water stops, and I needed a recharge for my marathon training, and I was running with my weekend running partner, Kristen, and I just... I just... I just wanted to have fun and run well. Why is that too much to ask?

If I haven't clearly conveyed this yet; it was stupidly hot. Now, I asked my friend Mark yesterday, "should I take my hydration belt?" "No!" he says. "They have water stops," he says. Mark gets angry when it is in the 60's and he has to do a long run!!! MARK!!!! IT WAS HOT AND I HAD NO WATER!!! I was shaking my fists at Mark for a while during this race today. That's the last time I listen to you, Mark! They did set out coolers of ice for the runners between water stops, and there were several kind Amish families who brought their garden hose up by the road to spray runners as they ran by, but there was no shade on the course, and it was HOT (in case I haven't mentioned that), and it just didn't go well.

I told Kristen by about mile three that she should just leave me behind. I seriously felt like I wasn't going to make it already at that point, so I kind of gave up most of my hope. I noticed at one point that I was even starting to hallucinate, or at least I thought I was. Remember last week when I thought I saw an ambulance, but it turned out to be a horse trailer? Well, I thought I saw a camel standing by an ambulance. Yes. It was so hot I saw a camel....but thankfully the camel was real, and so was the ambulance, which means that I hadn't completely lost it. They also gave out Rita's Water Ice at one point in the race, and it was amazing.

The best thing to come out of this race was that I met another kind person while running. When a race is going terribly, I usually try to find some other person around me who will carry on a conversation, and then help push me till the end. Today, I met Donna. Donna is an amazingly kind woman who seems to find the best in people and situations despite the fact that many other people in her situation would probably be very unhappy people. She cheered me on, and she cheered on other strangers as they passed us or as we passed them. She even SHARED HER STINGER CHEWS with me!! That is a big freaking deal in the running community! For real! This woman gave me some of her chews! We both agreed that one of the best parts of running is finding that throughout the running community there are so many different people, each with their own stories about why they run, and I am thankful that she reminded me of that because that will hopefully be my fuel to kickstart my marathon training back up for real!

Lastly, I just want to do a short rant about how the finish sucked most of all. You would think that after such a terrible race and the punishing heat, that I would just be elated to be done, but no. I cross the finish line, and a young girl smiles and says, "Congratulations! Here's an ice cold MILK!" Now my first instinct was to punch her in the face, but I didn't go with that first instinct, so no worries. I looked to my right, and a different girl hands me a bottle of water that she took right out of a cardboard box sitting on the ground, not in a cooler full of ice. It was 90 degrees!! Who wants freaking ice cold milk?!! I don't care how cold it is!! I want ICE COLD WATER!!! I just ran a freaking half marathon!! UGHHHHHHHH. Well, I survived anyway. And I got my Road Apple Award, so I guess it's all fine in the end. I just wish I'd had a better experience.

 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lessons Learned: Just go!

I took a whole week off. In the middle of marathon training, right after doing the same distance long run that did me during marathon training last year, I took a whole week off. I felt sort of tired, but not particularly sore, and I had a little knee pain... so I got lazy and semi-justified taking a whole week off. I didn't set out to take a whole week off, but it just sort of happened. It turns out that was a bad idea. Bad.

I knew I had to force myself out of bed this morning for the Church of Sunday Long Run at Valley Forge Park, so I reluctantly and slowly got up and headed over to the park. Standing around before we ran, I admitted that I hadn't run all week, and it was increasingly apparent that we were going to have a small group today because of the holiday weekend. I also admitted that I would probably end up only running 5 miles instead of 10 because I knew it would be easy to quit after one loop on the Martin Trail at VFP. Terry suggested I follow him over to the Schuylkill River Trail instead to do a loop that was about 9 miles. My watch only measured 8.5, but that's fine with me!

We headed off toward the trail, and Terry and Rick ran a very slow warm up mile over to the trail so that I could keep up with them. Mind you, I had to run my little heart out to keep up, but I did. Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit there, but you get the idea. It is a very good thing they stayed with me to get me to the trail because I likely would have been deterred by all the "road closed," signs and construction equipment! Never mind those! We forged right ahead! Hahaha And we even passed an entire HS girls Cross Country team! Ok, exaggeration again. They were standing around stretching after their warm up, and they promptly left me in their dust once they started running.

It's a good thing that there was beautiful scenery because I hate gravel trails, and I had a really rough time after all those lazy days I took this week. I walked so much today that I'm really not sure that I should even say that I went for a run, but I guess I get what I deserve for being lazy and pigging out all week. It was so hot and humid that I almost considered taking my shirt off while I ran, and the only other time I felt that way was Labor Day weekend last year during my last long run before bailing on marathon training and skipping straight to the marathon! Yikes! I really got a taste of why I should not skip training runs, and I told Terry on one of his MANY paperclips back to find me (thank you!) that I will think of how I felt today every time I think about possibly skipping a training run again during this training season!! I mean, at one point, I thought there was an ambulance up head of us that's how bad this was! It turned out to be a horse trailer, but I wouldn't have minded an ambulance at the time.

When I finally made it back to the parking lot, I told Terry and Rick that my run was miserable, which Terry already knew, but he pointed out that I finished it, and for today that was all that mattered. Now from here on out, I need to keep training and make sure that finishing a short run like today's isn't the goal!! It's ok to have an off-day in the sense of not having a good day, but there are training days and rest days. There is no more room on my calendar for taking-off-days!