Realizing My Crew

27 06 2011



So – where was I?

When I have done races where I bring non-racing yet friends, I usually worry about them. Just don’t like to feel abandonned. I didn’t mean to lose Trapper at the event, but I did – kinda. If you knew how impressive losing Trapper is, you would wonder how I did it. Trap is about 6’2″, dressed mostly in black, doesn’t handle heat well, and weighs someplace in the mid-300’s. I lost track of him anyway. I knew my adoptive kid brother would be fine.

He planted himself right at the finish line and watched “the crazy fast” runners finish 15 minutes after the start of the race. “WOW! There is nothing to them. Just skin! ” He had met Michael Blanchard earlier in the morning, and saw Mike blow on up to the finish. “He couldn’t be second! Even the guy next to me showing his kid said he was the first racewalker.” Well – that’s what happens with a monitored race where the monitors aren’t deep into the course or at the end.

When I was finishing, I knew the weakest links in my chain were my lungs, shins, and the heat. I didn’t feel dizzy, so I know the Hammer Endrolytes will be a permanent part of my routine.

I had finishing problems and kept it together thinking of friends.  Awesome Runner & Friend Heather Urata was using this race as her comeback after an injury pulled her out of her last Marathon. I looked up and there was heather and some of her friends doing a cool down lap. Hand slap and a little positive energy transmitted. I was almost done.  I also looked for who I thought was Elna Caine monitoring – I thought I saw her as I was going out, but maybe it was a hallucination.

I came up the exit hill and there was Trapper! He met me at the finish line. I checked in with the timer like we racewalkers were told to do during starting instructions. I wasn’t confident she cared at all, especially since she made a disparaging comment.

I do love my sport, but didn’t realize I was willing to fight a bit until I felt like we were being more discounted than usual.

I made my inquiries and it wasn’t like I was pushing for first place finishing, I didn’t put in a race performance I was really proud of, but I just don’t like the continued second class treatment of the sport.

Runners who have any understanding of the sport know it is truly a sport but general public and some sportscasters don’t think it is any harder than their mother’s power walking. Yeah I do get passed by power walkers, but that will change.

Trapper had my bag. I was not used to having a friend there, especially one who had an ice chest in his trunk and who remembered my water bottle filled with chocolate almond milk
for post-race. I enjoyed slurping this between hacks,  so it is another “permanent” part of racing for me.

I really give the announcer serious kudos for his explaining competitive racewalking as being different from regular walking and that we were going for awards. When things got clustered up and bad information was becoming rampant, this same announcer explained to me how our times were in with runners, but racewalk was teased out for awards. When I had a pissed off walker tell me that there were no walk awards, I felt confident this race representative would give me the straight dope. He did. I give him even more serious kudos for playfully & respectfully explaining racewalking before awards.

The Awards were a little confusing with the money race and probably me asking questions. They start with walk awards then move to running age groups.

When I won the race my first year (yeah again no fast women with Bob Carlson monitoring), Michael was the one to tell me I won for women, I was proud of my performance and won a nice leather notebook and a certificate to a local steak house. I still use the notebook. They had the Broncos mascot Miles there and I danced with the horse! People were just so calm and not having enough fun.

The next year, I cheered fast racewalk friends, and the walk awards were presented quietly and “dignified.”

I already knew I had won with a lousy time, so time to shake things up and have fun! Women’s awards first. If the gal who picked up the second place award wasn’t picking up the award for a friend like I would be for for Michael Blanchard …. well all I will say is she took advantage of no deep course monitoring as she ran around me with her stroller until I wanted just wanted no strollers in front of me.

First Place Women’s Walk – Elisabeth Shepard! Time for an energy blast on a sunny day. I didn’t tell folks I’d won, so they had fun too. The $25 gift certificate to Bolder Running Company is nice & finding out I won pre-season Broncos tickets on stage was super cool since I love football but can never afford tickets. However, truth be told, these were just flowers on the cake. The best thing for me was the loud cheers from running friends on the green, Heather & Crew from the beer garden, & the Huff & Puffers when I racewalked up to play with the folks on stage. I got Broncos pre-season tickets and the announcer and Anne Trajillo (Channel 7 Denver) laughed that the team better do a practice or something so I could watch. I laughed at the announcer because I was a bit a pest trying to make sure racewalk got in there. Friends around know my energy and enjoyed the show.

When I picked up Michael’s 2nd place award Ms. Trajillo laughed “Here she comes again! She has so much energy!”

Part of why I have so much energy is the good will from friends but also my having enough faith in myself two years ago not to give up and give chiropractic a second go.

I collected things and walked to the covered expo area to the Pyramid Chiropractic booth. Doc and I have probably a truly special relationship. He is chronologically another kid brother but professionally Doc (and his partner Jared Ottenger ) is a cornerstone to Team Shep.

Two years ago this very race, I met Doc. I was faster that year, but in pain – mental and physical – as well as unable to breathe. He has tried to learn the sport, given me the Evil Eye when I do stupid things, and been behind me in both the good & not-so-good races. He has listened and both partners have been hugely supportive of my changing to become a personal trainer.

Everything started with getting me out of the daily pain that wasn’t resolved with my last chiropractor.  He got me to one point, but the Boys took me further.

We are a team. They know I am going to do whatever they suggest and admit to when I get lazy. They know that when I have a nasty problem, it takes a lot for me to admit it.

Although I didn’t finish this race in easy style and was hacking up science experiments, I have an amazing crew of friends and professionals who love (or at least are entertained) by my energy.

Somehow after a lot of setbacks, I am realizing I have a great energy and attracting an awesome crew I can learn from. We aren’t threatened by each other, but learning from one another and being supportive.

So, to all those who think winning incorporates cheating or ignoring the rules of the game – have fun with your delusion.  Hard work, having fun, and a really good team who knows you might be slow, but would never resort to cutting a course or running while in a walk category is worth more than gold. It is the clear peace of mind knowing that everything is built strong!


Back on the Horse

25 06 2011


You know that old saying about getting back on the horse after being bucked off? That is what I am doing, ‘cept it is taking two years!

Two years ago is the last time I raced the Stadium Stampede 5K. It is one of a handful of racewalk monitored races that are close enough for my aging car to get to. What happened at that race was a product of my being stressed out, uncentered, and unfocused.

I started on the line with the racewalkers. I knew most of them and also knew they would easily leave me in the dust. The problem I was having was that I couldn’t seem to get up for the race, and, worse yet, what we thought at the time to be asthma was making breathing …. uh …. special to say the very least.

It was nice to see my lung challenged friends, but the event was a series of warning flags for me. First,  I had to pick up my number and they couldn’t find it. When I finally got my chip, the fastening zip ties repeatedly broke. I had a decent zip tie in the car,  but I had to find Bob Carlson to have my bib marked as Racewalk.  Fortunately for me, I ran into Bob in the parking lot and he gave me my sticker.

I remember starting out too fast and hacking even before the first kilometer. Passing the back end of the runners found me going really wide and not being focused. Then the cottonwood trees seemed to be shedding all over me. I usually breathe through my mouth, so not only did I get mouthfuls of cottonwood fuzz but gulps of pot smoke from, I guess, the homeless people under the turn around bridge.

Coming back, I felt like I had swallowed cement. Form was a mess. My knee hurt like crazy and, worse probably, my head was in a really sucking place.

What the hell was I doing? I have no business even thinking I can race because I can’t wrap my head around anything. I might as well have laid landmines. A friend of mine kept badgering me to quit racewalking and give up any thought of being remotely competitive because of my injuries.

As her voice flooded my ears, I truly stopped paying attention and caught my foot on breaks in the sidewalk where roots had pushed through.  I caught myself the first time, the second I landed on my bad knee and rear end.

What the hell are you doing Lizzy??

I could have just sat on my pity pot and watched the race go by, but I am too hard headded for that. I got up, disgusted, and plodded on.

Of course, since I was beating myself up and tripling my stress load instead of getting off my own back, my body reacted by stiffling my breathing further.

You see, it took until a year later for my misdiagnosis of asthma switched to vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) which is exacerbated by stress. By the time I got to the warning track around Bronco Stadium all I could think of was finishing and getting oxygen in me. Of course, I was told by the doc to take a hit off my inhaler – precisely the wrong thing for VCD.

I got through to see the finish line but I was truly on my last breath. I ended up crossing the line and folding over the railing trying to breathe. The kids clipping off the timing chip had no clue where any medical was, but I was rescued by Lynn Cole’s husband Lou.

Lou saw I was a mess. I also had pulled off a shoe – but that is a different story. He brought me over to the Huff & Puff area – where lung challenged friends filled their oxygen tanks.

I got the other shoe off and racewalker & friend Michael Blanchard showed me where there was a gal doing free chair massages. “Liz – everyone has an off race. ” I had already had an off 6 months of races and I was completely reconsidering continuing the sport in any competitive way.

The truly positive was that with the chair massage gal were a couple of chiropractors. When I walked over, the taller of the two was watching me waddle over in stocking feet in the mud. One of the rare times that I have to look up to anyone, but I reached this guy’s shoulder.

Yep – that was when I met Dr. Josh Doktor & Dr. Jared Ottenger of Pyramid Chiropractic. Most people would be offended when one of the first questions asked is “So when was your car accident?” ( Answer: 20 years before) After a quick consult, I asked when they wanted to see me and Doc said “Tomorrow morning. Bring all your shoes and insoles.” I brought in a huge box.

Doc, Doc Jared, & I started that day on a long journey to put me back together. It has been a long road, but I have had a lot to learn about myself. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for “the Boys” I probably would have given up racewalking and my medical adventures of the past couple of years would have felt worse.

Flash Forward: I went to get my number today. Thursday, I looked at the entrance form with Coach Tetro because they changed the run into a money race. I signed up for the walk instead of the run.

First issue was that the walk bibs didn’t have the timing device (protected by a wad of Styrofoam ) attached. “Don’t worry about it. I am sure you can get one on race day.” Hu? Ok – I can pitch a fit like the best of them when necessary. Personally, when you read “race goals” you will realize that isn’t really necessary.

Second: She couldn’t find my number in the walk. Two separate colors, but no number? Sigh. The numbers are filed by last name. Nope not there. Then she looked in the run – again not by last name and couldn’t find it.  Ok – first I find out that my favorite race shoes (Brooks T6) are going to have to be found on line until Brooks realizes that the off center phase is irritating. Then I find out that I am on the list but no number.  I took matters in my own hands and flipped through the “S” section in the run. There I was.

Third: The number is not going to lie flat with 1/4 inch of Styrofoam “protecting” the chip.

I have no clue why they give away white tech shirts. They are unisex and completely see through!  The logo is pretty. This may go to my Aussie teammate David W. Smyth!

Most folks wouldn’t put a race on top of leaving for a goal event,  but since my training schedule was completely trashed by my back and illness, I just have to get back on the horse.

Race Goals: I think any fast folks who aren’t going to Sacramento are going to be at this race. Since I skipped the Bolder Boulder, this is going to be my first Colorado race in at least 10 months! I can’t expect to win the walk portion, but I am going for completely personal reasons. It also needs to be mentioned that I truly suck at 5K’s. I like my distance. The thing is, I have to get better at all distances if I am going to feel viable in this sport.

My 6 Things:

1. To be around people and still hold a pace I am comfortable with. I tend to go out too fast. I have to waddle my own race.

2. To push myself to see how my VCD is going to react in the heat.  Last year was a wash because I couldn’t breathe.

3. To focus on the task at hand and not be distracted. I have spent the year and a half helping others. Time to coach myself.

4. To finish reasonably happy.

5. To get my friend and client Trapper Shaw to a race.

6. And most importantly – have fun & not hurt myself.

And – give Doc a big sweatty post race hug!

Friday … four steps forward … one step back … I’m still ahead! ;-)

17 07 2009

Well … today marks the first full week of full-time wearing cookies and the second day wearing them for ‘straight line’ walking …


I saw Dr. O today. He said I’m making really good progress and understood my being frustrated with my inner knee being painful again. I isolated it kind of at the top of my very tight (for me) hamstring. Ok … stretch and get back. Did I mention their website www. … One of the things that a probably frustrated Dave McG has probably spent the better part of a year suggesting to me is that I need to get fixed and by someone who understands Athletes … because that’s what I am … an Athlete. Since it’s taken forever for me to consider myself an athlete again … I’ve gone whatever route I can afford. Some stuff has been pretty good, but when I finally hit “I’ve had it” level mid year, I decided that if the doc doesn’t have an interest and understanding of athletics … I’m not going there. These guys are both young and very in to their sports … and they’ve had their hands full with me, but we’re rounding on a month soon and I’ve felt the changes. I know there is a lot of work to be going on with, but Dr. O and Doc are definitely earning a huge spot on Team Shep … it’s making it easier for me to really tune in to myself and care about my getting better simply due to the fact that these guys care. When you’re doing a sport like Racewalking and really getting close to just giving up … and one of your doctors (Doc) reminds me “Ok, the next thing you’ve really got to pay attention to with the new ortodics is your big toe, it’s where you roll off of and we’re making changes …take it easy. Do your training, but don’t do your first miles in the ortodics on a track – straight line like a treadmill, ok?” The guy is a former track runner … but he has read everything I’ve given him. I’m not willing to go sub-standard in any area of my life anymore!

Where was I? Oh yes — it’s Friday!

This was my first regular level Allegro Reformer Pilates class. Allegro Reformer is a bit different than what I’d used at Pilates at Cherry Creek. They’re designed to be completely mobile and are maybe 2 inches off the ground. I’m actually pretty impressed and if I was in the market, I’d probably get one for my house as it can be popped in a corner and be a strange sort of modern art sculpture. Unlike what I’d had before, it’s a very chatty class. The routine is a bit different, so I felt a little lost here and there.

 Anyway, since I had that going on, I figured I’d beat the heat and work out on the track – paying attention to what my feet are doing. It’s a little safer when my leg doesn’t feel right. I can isolate what I’m feeling in a very safe environment vs. being out on a walk someplace and having a problem. A cop out … not really. If I didn’t have stuff I’ve got to get done tonight and this weekend, I’d go from the indoor track to pilates to maybe weights then the pool. I’m hoping to start that pattern next week. Today, I just didn’t have the time.

I did my heels and toes around the track and it was extremely hot … and it started getting full of folks. I bailed out and noticed the treadmill I like was free. If you know me, you know I’m not big about Ultimate Direction Sport Bottle - 20 with headphones, but when I’m on a treadmill, all bets are off. Today’s tunes was the Roll The Bones album by Rush. I set the treadmill for 60 minutes, but kept an eye on the track because if it started to empty out, I was diving out there. Setting of 2 incline, I took off … 3.07 miles and exactly 40 minutes later the track was dead. I was off that death-by-conveyor-belt-necessary-evil as one sweaty mass of Lizzy. I keep a bottle of Gatorade cocktails with me at all times because I sweat … like … oh a shower?!  I just kept the music in my hand (I’m so old school … I have a portable cd player) and started in on the 6.5 times around the track. I know I started out too fast but it just felt pretty good. I wanted to push that last mile because this was the first time that I was doing any non-treadmill walking in my cookies and I wanted to give the tootsies a work out. Counting laps on my fingers … going in to lap 5 I was really hot. I laughed at myself “Come ON Lizzy …. it’s only 2 more laps and a smidge …. you LOVE this!!!” Ok – I don’t love going around in circles, but one of my goals is to wrap my head around it! I guess I did because I was fairly shocked that my watch read 12:40.

The toes that have been a bit of a nightmare over the last 10 months complained a little, but not a lot. That spot at the top of the hamstring, was problematic, but didn’t grab or anything. I was a bit concerned with feeling clunky, but that’s just going to take time to work out. I did my last mile for the total of 4 today … I think today was 4 … watch it be 5 … I didn’t have my notebook with me. I felt good. My legs felt a bit like lead, but I attribute that to being on a treadmill. The clunky bothered me. Overheated, but that subsided pretty quick.

Downstairs to the Allegro class. This is a lot different than the Pilates Reformer I’ve done in the past and I do like it a lot. The group is pretty chatty and that’s fine. It’ll take me a little while to get used to the routine, but it’s really going to be good. The problem was the room was really hot … ok – I’m probably the age for Mental-Pause but we don’t have any clue via my mother and my sister and I aren’t on terms which would discuss things like menopause … the other gals were having problems too, but I was probably off on my hydration again. Of course, I feel like I’m lowering the water table of Denver by feet lately, but who cares. We were going in to an arm series and I was feeling woosy. I put myself into a Child’s Pose (folded over on myself) to get things back and that didn’t exactly work. I tried to keep up and I stared at the instructor … the next thing I knew I was on my side on the hardwood floor. They said I slow motion crumpled. I wasn’t out for long. One gal had a cranberry pamogranit juice drink – better than nothing, eh? It pulled me back but I missed the rest of the arm series. Next set was flat on my back and I was OK.

How I put it on my facebook: Lis Shepard is back from pilates and 4 miles indoors. Positive: 3.07 miles in 40 minutes then the track opened up and 1 mile on the indoor track in 00:12:40. Positive: feet felt OK! Negative: passed out about 45 minutes in to Pilates class. Positive: reformer only an inch or so from the floor … Positive: the new protein stuff a gal gave me did the trick … so four positives and one sucky. I like those odds.

I’m serious … four positives and one negative … I’m still ahead!

Before any of you get up in arms – one of my closest pals immediately got a hold of me via facebook and we just got off the phone. He got me to think precisely about what I’ve been eating and how warm my house is. It’s 91.5 inside and 81.5 outside according to my atomic clock … there’s something seriously wrong with this picture. Last year, I was sleeping out on the balcony but I don’t have a reasonably comfortable lawn lounger so that’s part of why I’ve been sleeping in the heat indoors.

I’ll really watch the hydration and I’m downing *more* protein … I just have to be careful because if I eat too much, I’ll simply yak!

Until tomorrow! Dizzy Ms. Lizzy … literally!