Author Archives: drrupe

Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon Race Recap

“It’s just a half.” I replied somewhat flippantly, when a colleague asked if I was nervous about my upcoming race. What I wanted to say was “While I can run 13 miles in my sleep, I’ve trained painfully hard for this race for the last few months and I really want to finish strong and PR; but I’ve heard the course is super hilly and hard. So, yes, I’m crazy nervous!” However, they were not a runner and I knew they were just trying to make polite conversation. An honest answer would have likely been met with the same response I get when detailing my tempo run splits or taper angst with non-runners: the glazed eyes, furrowed brow and polite head nodding of confusion and non-interest.

When training for a marathon I check every box on my training schedule, because I have a healthy respect for the distance and I don’t want to die. Half marathons, not so much. While I always “train,” I don’t usually follow any type of schedule or speed work. However for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half, I followed the intense Hanson’s Method training plan and while it was the hardest I had ever worked for a half, my training was far from perfect. I managed to get in most of my speed work, but only hit about half of my tempo runs, which left my type A personality a little anxious as race weekend approached.

With the race looming on Sunday, half our gang drove up to Cincinnati on Friday. My son had field day on Friday, that I had promised to attend, so Shannon and I hitched a ride with her dad on Saturday morning… in his plane. I hadn’t ridden in a small plane in years and to be honest I’m a touch claustrophobic, so I was quite nervous at the idea of being trapped enclosed. I’m so glad I pushed through my fears, because it was so much stinkin’ FUN. With all the windows in the plane you could see so much better than a commercial flight. As we flew right over downtown Nashville, the Titan’s stadium and Batman building looked like kid toys. It felt like an amusement park ride. The flight was only an hour and half and when we landed, our friends were there to pick us up and whisk us off to the Expo.

I could totally get used to traveling like this.

I love a good expo, and the Flying Pig did not disappoint. The race shirts were adorable and we also got a backpack and poster. Next we walked around downtown Cincinnati, which had a great variety of hip restaurants and shops. We decided to eat lunch at Kruger’s Tavern. They had a fabulous (heated) rooftop patio where we relaxed and enjoyed our lunch. Later we headed back to the Hyatt, which was a perfect location for the race and across the street from the expo. That afternoon I did something beyond luxurious: I took a nap. By myself. On decadent hotel sheets. With no alarm set. It was heaven.

Expo!

Kruger’s Tavern

When I finally aroused, we headed out to Nicola’s, a quaint Italian place, for an early dinner. All the pasta and sauces tasted fresh and homemade. Our table was in front of a gorgeous picture window, that sadly overlooked a trash filled alley, but otherwise we had a great experience.  I had the gnocchi and while it was probably too rich of a pre-race choice, it was divine. The bread basket was an extra dollar, but I would have paid $20. It had a variety of types and flavors of breads and rolls, all fresh and warm. It was superb.

After dinner we went back to the hotel for drinks (of water for me) and an extended debate on what to wear for the race. The weather was predicted to be 38 degrees at the 6:30 am start and 42 at the finish. Perfect running weather, but a clothing challenge. I finally decided to wear short sleeves with capris, the only downside was that I forgot to pack a short sleeve shirt. Then with a sudden awful sinking sensation, I realized that I was going to have to do something obnoxious, something that would violate all my ethics, something truly mortifying: I would have to wear my race shirt  *I can barely even type it* on race day. I am a firm believer that you should never wear a race shirt unless you have completed the race, however my poor packing skills left me with no other choice. Before bed, I embarrassingly pinned my race number to my race shirt.

The 5 am wake up call jolted me from a deep sleep. It felt obnoxiously early, as it was actually 4 am “our time”. Regardless, I rolled out of bed, started up the coffee pot and choked down my bagel. We left the hotel a little later than planned because “she who cannot be named” was unhappy with her pre-race bowel evacuation experience.

We rushed to the starting line and slid into our corral as they finished up the last few bars of the national anthem. The first mile was a little crowded, but by mile two the crowds had thinned and I found my pace. My goal was 8 min/ miles. It seemed to take a few miles to warm up and the pace wasn’t as comfortable as I had hoped, but I simply concentrated on “running the mile I was in” and keeping the pace steady for the first 5 (flat) miles. I knew there were some big hills coming up, but when I actually saw the incline at mile 7, perhaps a few expletives might have escaped my lips. Mile 7 was one intense giant steep hill, but the crowd support was fantastic. A speaker half way up was blaring “eye of the tiger” and a guy with a megaphone and pink camo pants was holding a giant letter “F” and encouraging the runners to “Just F the hill”. It seemed to go on forever, but at the top we did get a little bit of recovery before the next monster hill.  The majority of the course from mile 7-10 was uphill. The view was beautiful, with green hills and glimpses of the river, but the hills were painful, physically and mentally. The real reward was that once we hit mile 10, it was all down hill, literally. You get to coast in the last 3 miles. I felt like I was flying. I finished strong and made up some time from my hilly miles. When I saw the finish line I knew I had hit my goal. I set a 3 minute PR on a difficult course. It felt amazing.

Half Marathon PR 1:45

After finishing I headed back to the hotel and jumped straight in the shower. One advantage to racing at 6:30 is that I was back to the hotel by 9 a.m. My friends also had great races, Abby set an amazing PR and Christina and Shannon had a fabulous time enjoying the race course. Once we all showered, we ate a fantastic brunch at Maplewood Kitchen and Bar, then road tripped it back to Franklin. It was a short but wonderful trip, with tons of laughs, coffee, blisters and love.

Cincinnati Flying Pig was a great race. I ran hard and hit my goal, but those hills were no joke. One of my favorite moments was as we ran across the first major bridge I looked over and saw a marine running with an American flag, with a budding sunrise reflecting off the river. It was one of those perfect running moments that makes you remember why the hell you do it. Why you get up at 4 am, deal with blisters and skip the wine. You do it for the stolen moments of gorgeousness, to feel your body pushed to its limits and to feel like a badass, running your best race at 41 years old.

 

Abby celebrating her incredible PR of 1:38

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Training

Tulips are blooming and April showers have empowered the grass to paint the landscape a vivid green. A sweet reward after all the bleak gray training runs in the early morning darkness of Winter. Spring is here and I am ready to race.

Done with using an entire load of laundry for one run!

The activities that bring me the most joy (other than being with my family) are running, travel and spending time with my friends. So this spring two destinations half marathons are on my schedule. Me and my local running group are planning to run the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon in May and then I’ll travel to visit one of my best friends and run the Seattle half marathon in June.

Friendships +Running + Travel = Best of Times.

Long run to First Watch for breakfast.

As we thought about our race schedule for the spring, we wanted to find a fun, close destination half. Even though I broke up with the Nashville Country Music Marathon last year, I almost caved and signed up after after I saw the medal for this year (it lights up!); but I stood my ground and decided to venture to Cincinnati, OH this year for The Flying Pig half marathon. The Flying Pig is know for great crowd support and party atmosphere but also for being a hilly course. Hopefully our Tennessee hills will have our quads in good enough shape.

 

Our initial idea was not to take this race too seriously and simply enjoy a girls weekend, but then after Chicago when we all made huge improvements in our time by doing the Hanson Method, we decided to try the same strategy for a half marathon. We have consistently been doing speed work and tempo runs and alternating our long runs between 10-14 miles a week, with total mileage between 30-40 miles. This is the most structured training plan I have ever used for a half marathon. It a lot of mileage for a half. I’m hoping to finish under 1:45 ( my PR is 1:48). Life, work, weather and vacations have caused me to miss far more workouts than I would’ve liked, but I have still trained much harder for this half than any others in the past.

Catching a gorgeous sunrise on an early morning run.

The Rock and Roll Seattle Half is late June, so I will have some time to recover in between races. I’m sure it will be a crazy hilly race, so likely I will try to enjoy the scenery and experience and not push for a super quick time.

Most of our long runs have been out and backs from our neighborhood, but we were determined to do a least one long run on the Brentwood Greenway. Sadly the weekend we decided to do it, there was a wee bit of flooding. We got lost due to trail closures and got chased by wolves (well we say a coyote on the other side of a field and it defiantly made us run faster). There were times it felt like we were doing a mudrun, but it was the most memorable 14 miles of our training.

The trail was a little damp.

 

Hoping that Cincinnati turns out to be a memorable race for all the right reasons. I plan to start out slow to save some energy for the hills. Hoping to run was my best half marathon, but even if I don’t, I’ve already had enough laughs in the the training to make the race a personal success.

 

 

 

5 Lessons I Learned From Writing a Book

Jessica and I at our first book signing. Feb 2011

I recently came across a bunch of pictures from our book signing and was reminded of this post which was originally published as a guest post on Jon Acuff’s (non defunct) blog. I pored so much of myself into the Pregnancy Companion manuscript, that thinking back to the excitement of the book signing brings a nostalgic smile to my face and fills my heart with warm fuzzies. So here’s what I learned from writing a book:

 

Three years ago, 5 days after bringing a new baby home from the hospital, I signed my first book deal. I was deliriously excited at two dreams coming true at once. In hindsight, I no idea what craziness lay ahead. Luckily, I learned a lot along the way.

  1. You find the time for what’s important

Writing a book is a staggering amount of work, but I’m used to hard work. See, I went to medical school for a zillion years. But working full time, with a newborn and a deadline felt overwhelming. I’m a morning person so I was up at 4 every morning to write furiously before work. Those months were fueled by caffeine and adrenaline, but amazingly worth it.

  1. The rewrites never end

“Working on my final round of edits today . Almost done!” was my facebook status about 900 times. I knew there would be edits, but by the 6th round, the thought of reading the manuscript one more time made me cringe.

  1. You can’t please everyone

The publishing experience takes this platitude to the extreme. I co-wrote a Christian Pregnancy Book. Mainstream Christian publications felt it wasn’t Christian enough (we actually mentioned *GASP* birth control). Secular media felt it was too religious. Different editors gave us opposite feedback. Eventually, we wrote the book that we believed would be most helpful to pregnant moms, and based on the response we get from them, we are pleasing the right people.

  1. Buy Books.

Previously I was a fan of borrowing books or checking out the library; now I buy books. All the time. I appreciate how extremely challenging it is to sell books. If I am ever at a book store and there is a signing going on, I stop what I’m doing and get in line. If the author has no line, I will stop and talk with him indefinitely, feigning interest in the subject, no matter how lame. “Oh a book about a civilization of bunnies, you say? How interesting!” Having been on the lonely side of a signing table, I know the awkward angst of sitting sadly with a fake smile hoping someone will stop by.

  1. My Definition of Success

I am an OB/GYN with a successful practice. My life has not been tainted with failure. When I got a book deal, I assumed that this venture would be met with the success that I’d grown accustomed to in life. Not because I was cocky, (OK, I’m a surgeon, so by definition I am slightly cocky) but because I felt it was a really great idea, and I was naive.  Despite the fact that everyone related to me thought my book was awesome, it was not the best seller I’d hoped it would be. It hasn’t even sold 10,000 copies. But it has helped people and genuinely made a difference in some women’s lives. That is why I wrote it and truly what is important to me. I had hoped it would impact women and be a best seller, but that is not the case. When I get discouraged, the royalty updates from my publisher go in the shredder. But the thank you notes from the people we’ve touched…those stay in a folder to remind me of my new definition of success.

Writing a book did not change my life or make me a millionaire. It did teach me that time management is key, that you can always find time for what’s important, and that success is best measured one person at a time.

Why I am Giving my Kids the HPV Vaccine

An immunization that could prevent cancer? It seemed like far fetched science fiction when I first heard the rumors as a medical student, but fast forward 15 years and now I  give it to my patients almost every day.

HPV (Human papilloma virus) infects the skin of the genitals and the throat, potentially transforming normal cells into cancer. It is also the culprit for genital warts. There are 2 vaccines FDA approved to protect against HPV and thus prevent these types of cancer.  Cervarix protects against HPV types 16 and 18, which are responsible for 90% of cervical cancers. Gardsil protects against the cancer causing types 16 and 18, but also prevents types 6 and 11 which cause genital warts.

The current recommendation is for girls and boys to get the vaccine at age 11. The virus is sexually transmitted, so the idea is to give it before the kids even start thinking about sex. If they don’t get it in adolescence, the vaccine can be given up to age 26.

I’m often asked by patients and friends if I plan to give it to my kids. The answer is absolutely yes and here is why:

It’s safe.

With nearly 57 million vaccines already given worldwide, Gardasil is a well studied, safe vaccine. The most common side effects are pain at injection site {duh} and fainting.  After getting the vaccine, it is recommended to sit down for 15 minutes to prevent the fainting side effect. Other common side effects include headache and fever. Allergic reaction to vaccines are rare. The data does not show any severe or unexpected short or long term side effects with the HPV vaccine.

I don’t want them to get cancer.

The HPV virus causes 12,000 cases of cervical cancer; 3,000 cases of vulvar cancer; and 8,000 cases of throat cancer each year. The vaccine has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing HPV 16/18 related disease if given before kids become sexually active.  Throat cancers occur most commonly in men, who get the HPV from performing oral sex on women who have the virus. Anal cancer can also be caused by HPV, but it is rare.

I’m not naïve.

We are raising our kids in church, praying for them, and teaching them not to have sexual relations before marriage. But honestly, this is a fallen world and I know a lot of “good kids” who have made stupid decisions along the way. HPV is spread by vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Actually, any genital to genital contact can spread HPV.

Statistically 80% of women will contract HPV in their lifetime. Even if my kid manages to make it to marriage without HPV, odds are his mate will not.

I don’t want them to get genital warts.

Genital warts are not deadly, but they are painful and embarrassing. I’ve gone through many tissues in my office as I’ve comforted sobbing woman after telling them that what they thought was a mole on their labia was actually a genital wart. Genital warts are also commonly seen in pregnancy, as the lowered immune state can lead to the dormant virus suddenly popping up as “cauliflower like” bumps all over their lady regions as they approach the delivery suite {the one time in their life where their lady parts will literally be in the spotlight}.

I don’t want them to get pre-cancer.

The pap smear has become increasingly effective in preventing actual cancer, but the real gem of HPV immunization is the prevention of cervical dyplasia or “pre-cancer.” There are over 1 million abnormal pap smears in the United States each year. Each one requires a colposcopy, where the doctor looks at the cervix under the microscope and takes biopsies. The biopsy shows pre-cancer up to 35% of the time. A cone or LEEP is then performed which cuts out a portion of the cervix about the size of a thimble. Then the woman needs repeat pap smears 2-3 times a year for several years. If the pre-cancer returns, then another LEEP or even hysterectomy is warranted.  The LEEPs are painful and multiple LEEPs can lead to pregnancy complications like preterm delivery.

Abnormal pap smears would not be eliminated by universal vaccination, but would be reduced by 70%. That would save significant anxiety, pain, and money for a lot of women.

Perhaps it’s the misinformed apprehension that some parents currently have about vaccines in general, or maybe just the fact that HPV is associated with sex that throws them for a loop, but currently only 33% of adolescents have received the full vaccination series despite overwhelming safety and efficacy studies. I bet if you ask the 350,000 women a year who needed cone biopsies or even the many who have genital warts, if they wished they could have had the vaccine, the answer would be an overwhelming yes.

I’m a Christian, a doctor and a mom. I love my boys and yes they are getting the Gardasil/HPV vaccine. HPV is a nasty virus that causes a lot of harm and emotional grief.  I don’t wish for them or their future wives to have any type of unnecessary cancer or disease.

Chicago Marathon 2016: Triumph of the “Hanson Method”

The Chicago Marathon 2016. 45,000 Runners going the full distance. The weather was 55 degrees of perfection. I had trained harder for this race, than any other. I stood on the starting line feeling rested and strong, with no excuses not to run my best race.

Shannon, me, Abby and Christina giggling our way to Chicago

Shannon, me, Abby and Christina giggling our way to Chicago

Marathon training for me is more about the camaraderie of the process. Seriously, who wants to get up at 4 am in the dark and run by themselves? I trained and traveled with 3 fabulous runners who also happen to be my dear friends. Our last marathon was also the first for Abby, Christina and myself (Shannon’s our veteran). When we tackled the hills of Nashville in 2014, our goal was simply to finish. I did complete it, but I crashed brutally into the “wall ” at mile 16 and never fully recovered for the rest of the race. Chicago for us was not about just finishing, it was about finishing fast ….at least “fast” for middle age suburban moms.

We read The Hanson Method book and followed the training plan excruciatingly well. It calls for 6 days of running, including intense speed work and blister making tempo runs. The plan packs in a ton of mileage but keeps the “long” runs at 16 miles every other week. We pushed each other to give it our all. I can’t can’t imagine training for a race alone, especially the grueling tempo runs. Even when we couldn’t physically train together due to our hectic schedules, we were constantly texting each other encouragement and/or complaining about how every last fiber of every single muscle in our legs was tired. Despite the intensity of the training we were all a little worried about the lack of the classic “20 miler” in our plan.

My last Tempo run

My last Tempo run

When we boarded the plane from Nashville to O’Hare on Friday, we left behind 10 kids, 4 husbands and all our responsibilities. We were all giggles on the way to the airport. We were going to Chicago. To Run a Marathon. Without Children! It was definatly helpful to go up 2 days before the race to have plenty of time to rest and hydrate before hand.

I was all nerves as we checked in to the hotel (the ‘W’ on Lake shore drive). The training had consumed so much of my most prized commodity: my time. As much as I wanted this opportunity to prove myself and finally have a few days of down time (yes, I consider running a marathon “down time”), there were many times I had felt selfish for choosing to run this race. Granted most of my miles were run before my kids/ husband even woke up, but working mommy guilt is often not logical. Regardless, I didn’t want my training to be in vain. I don’t get the chance to do this often. I wanted it to count.

I tried to follow all the rules including cutting out sugar and alcohol and keeping my caffeine to a minimum (one small cup of coffee… which for a busy OB/GYN isn’t nearly enough) the week before the race. I counted my carbs, which consumed 70% of my calories; which is annoyingly hard when you are not eating sugar. However, I did make an exception that was well worth it. Our dinner Friday night at Geja’s Cafe. I always eat at this quaint fondue restaurant when I’m in Chicago. It did not disappoint. The food, wine and atmosphere were spectacular.

Decadent dessert of chocolate fondue at Geja's Cafe

Decadent dessert of chocolate fondue at Geja’s Cafe

We rested surprisingly well, considering we all stayed in one room. The rooms at the W were quite small so I wouldn’t recommend 4 adults in a double, but we made the most of it. Saturday we slept in and ordered room service coffee. It cost a million dollars, but was worth every delicious drop. We scarfed down a breakfast of pancakes and then made our way to the expo. We walked a mile down Michigan Avenue to catch a shuttle from the Hilton. The skies were crystal clear and a brisk breeze wafted off Lake Michigan. It was a perfect day and the weather man promised race day to be its equal. The city was full of runners and you could feel the excitement in the air.

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Checking out the starting line on our way to the expo

The expo was ginormous and by the time we made it there, I think all the other 45,000 runners were also there. I would have loved to spend hours browsing the booths, but we were determined to save our legs. The convention center that the expo was held in was confusingly huge, and we had trouble getting an Uber back to the hotel.  When we finally did head back to the hotel, we got stuck in traffic. It seems that President Obama had come to watch us run as well. While that was nice of him; his motorcade kept shutting down the roads.

Christina ran her 4th Marathon in Chicago set a 20 minute PR

Christina ran her 4th Marathon in Chicago and set a 20 minute PR

The night before the race, we ate pasta in the hotel restaurant and headed to bed early. As much as I love Chicago, this was not the time for sightseeing or late nights out on the town. This was time for race prep.

With 4 marathoners sharing the same bathroom, this came in quite handy on race morning.

With 4 marathoners sharing the same bathroom, this came in quite handy on race morning.

Race morning I ate a bagel with peanut butter and banana, chugged as much water as possible, and headed out. The hotel lobby was packed with runners; the air was electric with race jitters. We were about a mile from the start and decided to walk rather than try to catch an Uber. In hind sight, we would have been fine driving, but I was worried about road closures and getting stuck in traffic.

Ready to Race

Ready to Race

We walked down Michigan Avenue then entered into Grant Park for bag drop and one last trip to the plentiful port-a-potties. Standing in the corral, I once again began to doubt my training. Per the Hanson Method training plan, I had never ran more than 16 miles… could I really run strong for 26? My mantra became “trust the process and stick with your plan.” I was determined to not go out too strong, so I had set my Garmin to alert me if I was going too fast for the first 20 miles.

Sometimes it seems that you are in the corral forever, but it was only a few minutes before I crossed the start line. As I ran through the city over the first few miles, the spectators were several people deep cheering on the runners with the typical cache of funny signs and encouraging mantras. But it wasn’t just the first couple of blocks, there was crowd support for the entire 26.2 miles. Not simply people standing there bored, staring at the phones and looking up at you annoyingly as you pass by because you are not their wife, but people cheering their heart out for every random stranger. I had read this about the Chicago Marathon, but I thought it had to be an exaggeration. It was completely true: the crowd support was amazing.

Me and Shannon before the race

Me and Shannon before the race

The first 13 miles my hips felt sore and tight, not painful but I was worried they would get worse. Thankfully they loosened up at about mile 14 and didn’t bother me anymore. I tried to keep my pace around 8:50, but my Garmin was off due to all the buildings. It was hard to know exactly how fast I was going. I was definitely conservative in the first half. Despite 45,000 people running the race, the course was not too crowded. I made sure I fueled frequently, taking in either a GU or gatorade every 4 miles. I loved running through downtown, across the bridges and down the middle of famous streets with the breezes off Lake Michigan keeping me cool. Mile 16 came and went in a blur, and when I rounded the corner at mile 20 I felt strong. I realized the the Hanson method had worked. I didn’t hit “a wall” instead I put a determined smile on my face and picked up my pace for the last 10K.

View of Navy Pier from our hotel

View of Navy Pier from our hotel

The last few miles I started getting texts from my family on my Garmin. I got an extra bolt of much needed adrenaline knowing that my family was cheering me on from 2 states away. When I saw the finish line, I started to cry. I had done it. I wasn’t sure of my time at that point but I knew I had ran my best race. I had trained hard and ran smart. I finished strong and ran the second half of the race 6 minutes faster than the first. At 3:54 it was a 30 min PR for me. That crazy Hanson Training Method had worked.

I did it! Marathon PR 3:54

I did it! Marathon PR 3:54

The volunteers at the finish line were so excited. I cried again when they put the medal around my neck, overcome with emotion and exhaustion. As I walked the famous 27th mile after the finish line, I felt euphoric. I was a real athlete.  A competitor. During those 26.1 damn miles I wasn’t a 41 year old mom, wife, doctor, friend or Sunday school teacher. I was just Heather, proving to myself that I could do something I never thought I could do in my wildest dreams: run a sub 4 hour marathon.

We all finished within 10 minutes of each other. After downing a celebratory beer, we hobbled back to hotel. The mile back felt more like 17 miles at that point. Fourluxurious showers later, we went out and ate our weight in Chicago style pizza. We slept like babies that night and headed home the next morning with new medals in our suitcases and giant grins on our faces.

We did it!

We are smiling because we are DONE! Abby also finished sub-4 with a time of 3:56.

I went to Chicago searching for marathon redemption and I found it. My first try at the classic distance in Nashville left me feeling defeated as I limped across the finish line. For my second try I trained harder, ran smarter and ran 26 glorious miles without hitting “the wall.”

Added my medal to my "wall of glory" in my closet

Added my medal to my “wall of glory” in my closet

Marathon Training: Chicago Here We Come

I am on week 13 of my preparations for the Chicago Marathon and I’ve reached the point in my training where I have begun to doubt my sanity. I’m averaging about 50 miles a week, by rising so early that the glowing digital numbers of the clock often make me cringe when I set my alarm. I dream about GU and rest days. My foam roller is my best friend. Actually, there is no doubt, I’m likely insane.

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I ran my first marathon in Nashville a couple years ago and made all the rookie mistakes.  When my running buds decided to put their names in the hat for the Chicago marathon lottery, I couldn’t resist the chance to run the windy city and hopefully redeem myself on a flatter course. When all four of us got bibs we were ECSTATIC.  However we quickly calmed down and realized we had to to actually start training for this monster.

The commitment that it takes to put in miles to properly train for the most honored of distance races, is not something I take lightly. Last time we went with the good ol’ Hal Higdon training program. At the time I felt like the training was going well, but due to combination of heat, hills and going out too fast I crumpled at mile 20. I wanted to try something different this time, so I decided to go with The Hanson Method. This plan skips the super long runs and instead embraces the philosophy of “cumulative fatigue” (I often insert some more colorful adjectives to this term under my breath when I’m on my 54th mile of the week, but since my grandma might read this, I’ll leave those to your imagination). By spreading the mileage out over the week and focusing on speed work and tempo runs the Hansons hope to train your legs to improve their lactic acid threshold (that’s fancy talk for teaching you how run with stupidly tired legs). There is only one rest day and they down play the need for crosstraining and weight lifting (so no crossfit for me lately).

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How do I like this training? After a particularly painful speed workout, we recently googled Mr Hanson’s home address to determine the feasibly of toilet papering his house but alas, luckily we were too stinking tired to follow through on our plans with all the cumulative fatigue. Joking aside, the training seems to be going well. My legs are tired, but nothing hurts and I’m rarely sore. I’m actually really enjoying the the challenge of the speed work. Even though the mileage is higher, the plan seems to work better with my schedule since my entire Saturday is not wasted on running. I guess we’ll find out in October how well it really works.

Despite a full schedule I have only missed 1 run so far this summer. Usually when I’m on vacation, I don’t always run everyday if I’m walking a lot, but this summer I stuck with the plan no matter where we ventured. On a recent trip to NYC I ran 10 miles one morning only to walk an additional 11 miles around the city throughout the day. I slept quite well that night.

Birthday run in NYC. We ran through the "Highline trail" and then along the Hudson River trail.

Birthday run in NYC. We ran through the “Highline” and then along the Hudson River trail.

Run though Central Park.

Run though Central Park.

Felt very safe running in Central Park. However, it was far hillier than I expected.

I felt very safe running in Central Park. However, it was far hillier than I expected.

Running through Pigeon Forge on another weekend trip I ran past this quaint old mill at sunrise.

Running through Pigeon Forge on another weekend trip, I ran past this quaint old mill at sunrise.

I have 2 new pieces of running gear that I AM CRAZY about. First is my Garmin 235 and second are my perfect running shorts. If I know you IRL you can skip this next paragraph because I am sure I have already told you how much these items have improved my running life whether you wanted to hear about them or not.

My old Garmin went to GPS heaven (which is ironically difficult to find) right as I started marathon training. I got the Garmin Forerunner 235 as a replacement and I love it so much that I want to marry it and have little Garmin babies. It is a combination running watch/ smart watch. I can and do wear it all the time. It tracks your heart rate on your wrist and sends your texts from your phone. You can program it with training runs and it will prompt you with a vibration if you get off pace. I have found this especially helpful for a tempo run.

Recently I discovered that it can also predict your “race finish time” which I found a little presumptuous, until a friend who has run a million marathons told me his watch accurately predicted his PRs. When I checked my predicted marathon time my jaw hit the floor. MY WATCH THINKS I CAN BQ (that’s qualify for Boston, for you non- runners… not that any non runners would read a entire paragraph dedicated to praising a fancy running watch). I have very mixed emotions about this. While I’m pleased my watch thinks so highly of me, I do feel now feel a little pressure to up my goal time. I was originally planning to try for sub 4 hours, but now I know that my watch thinks I can run 3:36! I feel like an Olympic gymnast who’s coach tries to push over her limits; not caring that I have sprained ankle, but demanding I do the vault anyway.

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Being blessed with “athletic quads,” I have a hard time finding running shorts that I can tolerate, let alone really like. Most traditional running shorts chafe and a lot of biking style shorts are too short for me. My new Lulu Lemon Speed track shorts are the perfect length, comfortable, don’t chafe and have pockets on each side that are the perfect size for my smaller water bottle. I have now bought them in every color.

New shorts accompanied by what has to be the best running shirt ever.

New shorts accompanied by what has to be the best running shirt ever.

While my first marathon training took place during a crazy cold winter, this time I’m training in heat and humidity. Even in the wee hours of 5 am when we are often out pounding the pavement, the air already feels like jello. Well, hot jello. I guess it feels more like pudding, but you get the point. I’m not sure which is worse, running through pudding or tundra; but I’m definitely learning the art of electrolyte replacement and hydration.

The car gets really stinky when you've just ran 16 miles in 90% humidity.

The car gets really stinky when you’ve just ran 16 miles in 90% humidity.

We have 7 weeks to go and I’m feeling ready. My planned pace is 8:50 which would give me a finish of 3:50. Faster than my original goal, but not as crazy fast as my “smart” watch wants me to run. This pace has felt comfortable in my tempo runs. Plan A is to run negative splits so I may start out a little slower, so I can finish strong.  Plan B is to finish and have fun.  Regardless, I looking forward to running down Lake shore Drive in October.

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned from My Dad

Kendall Patterson 1953-2015

Kendall Patterson 1953-2015

I lost my dad last year.

He was the rock in my life that I took for granted; not realizing the true weight of his presence until he was gone.

His death was surreal. I can still feel the plastic of the ICU waiting room chairs as the trauma surgeon began to say words that I couldn’t process. The phrases ricocheted in my head, as my mind refused to accept the grisly truth. The bullet had torn his abdominal aorta. The team did everything they could, but the blood loss was too great.

He was gone. No warning. No chance to say goodbye.

The year that he died, I felt like I was stumbling through a numbing fog that would be randomly interrupted with intense raw painful sorrow. My grief was like a wound, ripped open repeatedly by the most random memories. This year the fog is lifting. The wounds are still aching, but slowing healing as I begin to come to grips with the reality that this is the new normal of my life.

There are a million things I miss about him, like the way he greeted me as “Daughter” in a mockingly formal clipped tone with a half smirk and a side hug. I miss his almost daily phone calls, “just to check in”. My heart hurts when I think of all the times I swiped “ignore” on his calls because I was in the middle of something. I told myself I would call him later, but often never quite got around to it.

I have found comfort in his memories and meaning in the lessons I learned from him through the years. My parents were divorced so I lived mostly with my mom (and wonderful stepdad) growing up, but was extremely fortunate to spend the last 10 years living in Tennessee near my dad. He and I were always connected, but I’m so thankful that he was able to have to a close special relationship with his grand kids these last 10 years as well. In honor of father’s day I wanted to share some of the lessons learned over the years from my no where near perfect, but pretty wonderful dad.

 

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

 

1. Birthdays are special

Dad and Tom at one of Ryan's birthdays

Dad and Tom at one of Ryan’s birthdays

I was raised in family where birthdays were a pretty big deal. Everyone gets to feel special on their birthday. I assumed all families were this way until I got married and my husband found it strange that all of my extended family sent him birthday cards.

My dad used to call me crazy early on my birthday. He said he wanted to be the first one to wish me “Happy Birthday”, but really he was just being ornery. He did this to everyone in the family. On HIS birthday, he also called me obnoxiously early so I could get “The privilege of being the first to wish him a Happy Birthday”.

Everyone in our family, not only felt the pain of his loss on his birthday, but we all missed that brief dependable 6 am call on our own birthdays as well. On my husband’s birthday last fall, he mentioned sadly as we headed to bed that he didn’t get any phone calls to wish him happy birthday. Sure there were texts, cards and Facebook messages, but that special early morning old school phone call was painfully missing.

Dad the jokester

Dad the jokester

2. Lonesome Dove is the best

My dad was a true cowboy and he was obsessed with all things horse related. He had a rule that he would only watch a movie if it has horses in it and the mini series Lonesome Dove was his legendary favorite.

He knew the story word for word and could quote every clever Augustus McCray line perfectly. He even had a horse named “Lori Darling”.

Much to my teenage annoyance, he made me watch the mini series many times when it premiered. I reluctantly agreed that it was a tolerable story, but honestly didn’t think much about it until he left us.

Last year I read the book. It was beautifully written ( I really hope he read the book while he was still alive). I didn’t really plan it but I finished the book and then watched the miniseries on the week of the anniversary of his death. Hearing Robert Duvall deliver all the witty lines that I heard my dad say over the years was oddly comforting.

My dad's love of Lonesome Dove inspired one of his friends to make this sign which is an homage to the series. The sign hung in his barn for years and now it hangs in my house to remind me of my dad.

My dad’s love of Lonesome Dove inspired one of his friends to make this sign which is an homage to the series. The sign hung in his barn for years and now it hangs in my house to remind me of my dad.

3. Do What you Love

My dad was a hard worker. He toiled for years on the GM assembly line full time during the days, while tending to his farm in his spare time. He was an outdoors man and needed to be outside for his sanity. He hated the assembly line, but nevertheless put in his time, providing for his family until he could take early retirement. He enjoyed several years of retirement/ farming until he went back to work at something he enjoyed, helping his friend and cousin at Lewisburg Heating and Air. I am so glad that he took those years off to enjoy his farm and spend extra time with the grand kids.

Dad worked for years on the line at GM

Dad worked for years on the line at GM

He always encouraged me to find a job that I really loved. “You spend a lot of time working, you don’t want to be miserable”. This simple but wise advice was key in my choice to be an OB/GYN.

Dad having fun with the boys on the farm

Dad having fun with the boys on the farm

4. Enjoy nature

When I think about my dad, I usually picture him sitting on the porch. It’s sunrise and he’s holding a steaming cup of coffee, watching his cows mill around the field in the morning mist. Sometimes, I see him in the afternoon. He’s sitting with his chair kicked back on 2 legs enjoying a sweat tea or a natural light, while he jokes with friends or watches the kids run around the yard. Other times, I think back to the many hours that he and I spent on horseback, riding on one of the many trail rides we did when I was growing up (he had me riding a horse before I could walk). All my favorite memories of my dad are when he was outside, because that is where he was happiest.

Trail riding

Trail riding

6. There’s no place like home

There are many traits they say I got from my dad. It’s said that I walk like him, I work hard like he did and I know I mumble like him (half of our phone conversations where the other person saying “What?” over and over). One thing I didn’t get from him is my wanderlust. While my dad loved nature, he loved the nature in Tennessee and had no desire to travel any where else. Well, the only place he wanted to go but didn’t was Montana, but other than that he was perfectly happy to stay home. All. the. time. He was content with his farm and his life. The only power strong enough to pull him away was family (mainly grand kids).

Each summer dad would have sevreal loads of sand hauled in to his spring fed pond to create "Papa' beach". The boys would spend hours playing in the sand and the best part for dad was that he didn't have to go all the way to Florida.

Each summer dad would have several loads of sand hauled in to his spring fed pond to create “Papa’s beach”. The boys would spend hours playing in the sand and the best part for dad was that he didn’t have to go all the way to Florida.

Love the look on dad's face as he watches Carson on the pony.

Love the look on dad’s face as he watches Carson on the pony.

7. Carry Cash

My dad always carried around an obnoxious amount of money in his wallet “just in case” he needed it. I on the other hand rarely have a twenty and put everything on my credit card. This frustrated him excessively, especially when I would travel. I would usually stop and get a some emergency cash to appease him if I was taking a road trip (he would always ask if I had enough money…. even when when I had a real job). This year since he’s gone I always think of him when I hit the atm before I travel. One of the many mundane things that remind me of him.

We had a million bon fires at the farm. Perfect crisp fall evening, where we roasted hot dogs and eating way too many smores.

We had a million bonfires at the farm. Perfect crisp fall evenings, where we roasted hot dogs and eating way too many smores.

8. Family first

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 is the scripture that I read at my dad’s standing room only funeral.

In his life and his death he put his family first. He loved us all fiercely and completely. He cared for us all and gave sacrificially to provide for his family

He was always looking out for us. I never needed to check the weather, because I knew dad was glued to the weather channel and would call me if a storm was even remotely close. He was fairly obsessed with the weather. Once on vacation, after my dad had spent an hour watching the weather channel, my son Ryan asked him ,”Papa why don’t you just walk outside and see what the weather is instead of watching it on TV”.

I knew that my dad would do anything for me or my kids. I remember a few months before he died, we were staying at his house and I woke up at 2 am to the smell of bacon cooking. I drug myself into the kitchen to see what was going on, only to find Carson perched on the counter and my dad bent over the stove. When I inquired as to what the heck was going on, I was informed that Carson was hungry and wanted bacon and eggs. The fact that it was 2 am did not seem to bother either of them.

The time we went to see Willie Nelson perform a benefit concert in a field in Leper's Fork.

The time we went to see Willie Nelson perform a benefit concert in a field in Leper’s Fork.

I keep rewriting this post, each time failing to find the perfect words that his memories deserve. But these are the stories that have brought me comfort and put a teary smile on my face. I want to share them with others who also loved him, if I can muster the courage to actually hit “publish” on this post.

This father’s day I’ll celebrate the wonderful father that my husband has become and the blessing of my (step) father who did most of my raising. But every father’s day from this time forward will always be bittersweet. I will always greatly miss my dad, but I am continually thankful for the years that he was a part of our lives. 

 

The power of grandchildren even got my dad to go to

The power of grandchildren even got my dad to go to Disney

Orange Beach

Orange Beach