Time to Get Back in to the Groove!

30 08 2016

Well, now, it has been a while since I was writing this blog.  Interestingly enough, there have been people who have quoted the older posts.

I took some time off because I graduated from college, dealt with a lot of injuries and made a few discoveries about myself and my racing.  When I was first putting together this blog, I was chronicling, for the most part, a “middle aged” beginning race walker who chose to walk in running races. This was all fine and good, but then I realized something.

I wasn’t living my dream.

I was skirting around the edges, but not really doing anything real about it.  I was working on motivating others to find their dreams and live them, but I wasn’t doing it.

So, I decided to do it.

Actually, it was after a particularly irritating half marathon where everything started out OK, but I was just getting frustrated. Why can’t people accept that I’m walking faster than they can run and that I am genuinely polite about it? I found myself getting more sour through the event because I realized it really didn’t mean anything to me.

I wanted to focus on race walk events.  Judged Race Walk Events.

Then, as life does, things just kept cropping up, however I decided I would chip away and start making those dreams happen. No amount of wishing  was going to do anything, it is action.

So, I decided to start the blog. Register for events and learn as much as I could while trying to keep four jobs going and a remote sense of sanity.

This is a musing file. Will have race walking, but if I learned anything along the way, those speed bumps and pot holes of life make observing the wonderful world around us easier to do. As I type this, the world feels like it wants to rip itself apart. There is a lot of anger and frustration; dissatisfaction and separation. I can only hope that this blog about race walk, change, growth, the dog, and the fact it isn’t currently snowing in Denver helps folks.

Here goes. Change happens and I’ll be changing over time.

Cheers – Lizzy





Creating a Team

9 09 2011

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I am getting my cholesterol blood test results back today, so I took a look at some of my records on weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol I had recently filed.

I know meds help a lot of folks, but I was able to see that when I was properly training, my cholesterol levels were nicely balanced. When I was dealing with injury, insane & unresolved stress, and then over a year of stress-related health complications, my training was spotty, I felt crummy, and second guessed everything.

It has been a road back littered with the need to look at how to lower the background stresses and deciding what lifestyle changes need to be made in order to be healthy.

A lot of folks can be motivated by family & kids, but I am like thousands of folks who are single. I don’t have that “my kids-spouse-family need me to be alive” motivation. I do have friends, however.

I have always been behind my friends’ fitness activities. I know they are behind me, but I have actually had people say “you should stop racewalking because it is making you sick.” Not really. My life was making me sick.

Coming back, I have stared down what I can and cleared it. That is half the problem, the other half is getting my training on track.

It is hard by yourself. It is also hard when you question if you are a viable athlete. The mental issue I started to attack with a required Stress Management class. Coach Christopher Tetro was my weights 1 coach over the summer, and has been terrific. He reminded me to learn the lessons of being under oxygen in Sacramento. Maybe he knew part of me was really close to quitting.

Coach was also surprised when I decided to drop weights 2 with Coach Brian Cooper. I was going to use the time to muddle through the weights program I had scribbled. First day of class, Alena-Kidlet said I would love working with Coach Coop.

Coach Cooper is a hoot! I realized having him on one side and Coach Tetro on the other, I was surrounded by a couple cool coaches, but I didn’t realize how much until I got a post Virginia Beach email.

Before Labor Day weekend, I talked with Coop (sorry Dude, I type on the phone!) who said he had some direct ideas for me, he just had to talk to the swimming coach. Hu? In class, I ask questions and more often than not he said “for them yes. Not for you. For you …” I am learning for not only myself (endurance athletes) but for as many flavors of fitness seekers.

The email didn’t make me nervous. I have had kind of lip service help given, but realized there was a whole different animal when I got to Tetro’s class who said “welcome back. Oh we were talking about you and have ideas. “

I can see these two laughing and cackling over notebooks, rolling their hands “ah-ha … can we get her to do this?  BWAHAHHAHAAAA!!” Both know if they explain it, I can be directed into great times and finishes.  Neither knew me when I was healthy. They just know me now. And that rocks because they are working with what I am knowing some of my past potential.

Coach Cooper + Coach Tetro + Coach Lippek + Good Friends + My Attitude = AWESOME TEAM!!

I write alphabetical order, not importance.

Coop reminded me, as he gave me my assignment which is different from my class, every athlete needs a team.  The strength of my team depends not only on the quality of the advice I seek & questions I ask, but on the dedication and determination I bring to the table.

Look – there are reasons why programs like Team in Training, Team Challenge, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, DetermiNation, and other endurance programs work is that you get a team. You get out of it what you put in to it.

I always put a lot into things for others, and now fully ready to turn that dedication internally – with the help & faith in me of my awesome team – and their resources.





Realizing My Crew

27 06 2011

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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

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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!





100 Miles in Months not Weeks

22 06 2011

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“Ok – get off your own back, Shep! You have been injured and dealing with the general nonsense of cleaning up your life, so 100 miles on a pair of kicks over several months is ok, but not a permanent situation.  Just keep going!”

Sigh. Sometimes my “Inner Coach” has to remind me of things, and the fact that I am putting myself back together slowly is important to remind me of.

Yesterday, my goal was to walk 2x around Bible Park. When I measured it for Susan, it came out to 2.65 km by my Garmin. She was doing 4x around. We did upper body in Coach Tetro’s class, so at least my shoulder girdle was warmed up.

I probably didn’t eat enough because I felt kind of off. Having Susan out there got me out of my complacancy. I stuffed my waterbottle in the hole Susan found in the tree and took off.

I didn’t feel clunky, but just low energy. I still don’t have pacing in my muscle memory, so when I feel slow, I probably am a bit faster.

I noticed my focus was a bit off. A handful of things I need to get done. No. The thing I need to get done is the task at hand – my training! I just gave myself short goals and knew I would stop for about a minute for water at the tree.

I got back to the tree, gulped water with Hammer Grapefruit Fizz in it, and wondered about the second lap. I was tired but not dead.

Ok I was depressed or frustrated and not dead. If I stopped, it would be like doing an easy 20 repetitions and not pushing myself.

I tossed my 2010 Virginia Beach R&R tech shirt into the tree and with excess weight squished between Addidas brand jog bra and short bike shorts started out.

It was OK. I saw my downstairs neighbor walking his dog. Coming up a hill, I saw my friend and client Trapper Shaw leaning against a tree.  “YOU CAN DO IT!!! All night looonnngg!! Yeaahh!” I smiled and said “Meet me at the tree!!”

About 200 meters later, I saw Susan zipping around for her last lap. I could do this. Friends on the course. Tree (like finish line) straight ahead. What is different for me is friend waiting at the end. 

Walking back, Susan did notice that I was walking uneven – like my left knee hurt. Maybe I am compensating for the still present pain in my right posterior hip. Something to think about.

I did a lot of my racing flying solo until my Virginia Beach crew. Before that, friendly runners waiting were people I had ridden with. I mean no disrespect, just that is the way it has been.

Susan flies out tomorrow and I will have to kick my own butte to get out and train.  I also have to get up to the High Altitude Racewalk Team trainings. Maybe ask some runners to just use the same area for their training as I get used to 2+ km loops.

So, I will Shoe Goo my right shoe and maybe 100 miles will only take weeks again soon.