First 2.69K in New Kicks

13 07 2011


So – after a pretty wrenching trip home, and sleeping through the test I flew home for, I needed a bit of a distraction and recentering.

I laughed because it truly is the get your tush back on the horse thing. Even funnier was knowing that I had to go back to Sacramento to collect my kicks, so I was given the chance to try my new New Balance MR1400BO kicks.

When I went Brooks shopping with The Team. I found two pairs of Brooks T5 that have to be returned and they had a pair of the New Balances that Tammy was crowing happily about. They are lower heeled, which is good for racewalking.  I have been slowly lowering the heel as I find shoes I like. Since Brooks changed my favorite kicks, I am being pushed into a still lower heel.

I lowered my heel when I dropped from Racers to the T series. I was pushed into the lower heels when I biffed with a little help from my luggage being left on the tarmac in Orlando. This time it is because my last clean pairs of T6′ are in Sacramento.

I had a morning of doing what I can to lower my stress so I can go back to Sacramento and play with my friends! I also wanted to suss out just where I am.

I have gotten frustrated and not gotten back out there after frustrating races. This last one would have thrown me for a loop if I didn’t have some pretty strong minded racers as friends. Like I can keep them going, they put energy into me because, as Tammy said when we first got to the race park, “See Lizzy! You belong here and we need you!” (Yeah – she is grand at making me tear up in a good way!”

I needed to do a lap around Bible park for me, then go home, ice, eat, stretch, go do a couple more. Right now,  I am between sets.

I got to the park and looked around. I feel strangely sore, but it isn’t unfamiliar because since I have been out of shape, every time I fly back to altitude, I have mild shin issues.

I stretched, avoiding monsoon created mud puddles, and started. Didn’t feel good so I mentally listened to Nyle when she said “walk this pace first” as we were walking to the car.

I “tourist walked” a little then picked up slightly. Still slow, 00:22:45 for 2.69 km, but I thought about how every race is one lap around the park.

I did my lap. Going to do another. Going back to Sacramento to do 12 more …. for me.

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Be Smart Enough To Stop

13 07 2011



I can’t honestly say that my foyer into the World’s Master’s Track and Field competition has been a complete disaster, but it has been at least a learning experience. I met some amazing people who I do look forward to seeing again.

I learned first and foremost that I have been attracting some amazing friends who, like amazing friends do, see the gems in me that I am struggling to dig out.

I have learned to open up and just let things float. My conversations with teammates Tammy, David & Nyle have given me a lot of things to chew on on a lot of levels.

In the area of training and competing, they piggy-back on Ian and both the Susans with helping me see a path through and past the injuries and insanely slow process of retraining both physically and motivationally. They are also kicking me in the head (sometimes I wait for Tammy to give me a playful NCIS style head slap to get my attention, but since she has never seen the show,  it is probably a no go.) to actually cut through my coaching scar tissue and let Jim do his job.

As a coach-in-training myself, I know how frustrating it can be when a client is in their own way.The thing is is that the client has to make the changes necessary to bring out the best that is inside or it isn’t their win.

To make those changes, lifestyle and what is put into it has to change. People, events, habits, past, and viewpoint have to change to make the truly externals of diet and exercise to take root.

We all pay lip service to things. There are those who want the magic bullet of a diet pill, hooking up with someone with a lot of money, or whatever. If you know me, I tend to do things the hard way – and over think.

I now get it what Tammy was talking about with the people. There is drama everywhere and cliquey nonsense, but how many people can walk into the medical tent unable to breathe then make friends with the Safety Judge and help him keep all the male athletes hydrated, to helping out people from Russia to Mexico to Hungary without understanding any language more than Gatorade with a smile and laugh, to becoming the “mascot” of the Austrian Male Racewalk Team over a discussion of the history of Gatorade? I am about it from what I hear, but my buddy Nyle would give me a run for my money – but she was off trying to recover from her hard fought for gold medal win.

As the gang would say, it all is a different kind of hard. Tammy chased down Nyle in the race and that was a huge hard. Chasing a friend and teammate; wanting them to do well, but wanting to get gold too! I had the hard of being smart enough to stop myself so I can walk another day. Right now, I am back in the beginner’s blocks but with some baggage to have lost by the nearest airport representative!!


It is important to know where your boundaries are so when you kick down the walls, your cheering friends know where to stand!

Thanks Lauri for shooting this photo that I would prefer not to have shot but it is a huge part of my learning process … and now I know what a Safety Judge is for!

Learning Experience – but First Place anyway

27 06 2011



When Susan Randall called me last night after her 1:42:24 personal record 20K, I thanked her for pushing me into the Stadium Stampede. A 42:50 is far from a PB for me. In fact, it is slower than my training walks around the park. Also, I felt like I was passed by absolutely the entire field of runners. And there were no fast racewalk women there.

“Lis! First mean FIRST! Who care time??” Admonished a laughing Susan.

Yeah, I guess you are right. And it was ugly!

This was the first year the Stampede was a money race for the USATF, so instead of a little race for locals to help St.  Joseph’s Hospital that has a great group of lung challenged folks who come out for the Huff & Puff mile race, there were fast runners and minor confusion.

Trapper Shaw came to see his first race. He watched Susan train, so he knew what racewalking was. When awards came through, he couldn’t understand why Michael Blanchard was second because he was the first racewalker he saw – and as an avid video game player, Trap was able to tease out what he was looking for in a sea of runners. He still thinks we are crazy, but he had a great time!

I forgot my watch, and we went back for it. Knew I forgot to lay something out.  I also didn’t wear the cooling neckerchief that I wear in long races to keep me cool. I didn’t think I needed it.

I ran into a lot of folks. This is my first race back and it was a kick to see folks. I realized that no matter what I did, I am coming back.

I tucked myself behind Michael in tie sea of runners. They started us with them instead of lining up as the separation line between runners and walkers. The announcer explained the difference between walking and competitive racewalking.

I am still a follower, and that is why I tucked behind Michael. I asked him where the fast racewalk women were. He hadn’t seen anyone.

Race started and guess who started out entirely too fast up the hill around Bronco Stadium. More disturbing was realizing that my mouth felt so dry that I felt like I had been sucking on cotton – not spending my morning hydrating!

Yeah, Denver has been stupid hot. I have never handled heat well. This October Baby likes Spring and Autumn/Fall. I have to get used to it. I table grabbed a bottle of water from the finish line and sipped it through the entire race.

I couldn’t breathe. I told myself to let the entire field go because I was there for my own reasons. I needed to see where I stand.

It was good to get heavily passed. I pulled my head back to the business at hand – breathing! My lungs hurt and I was starting to cough up science experiments – and I wasn’t even a kilometer down!

The course switched last year, and it was actually better for me. The long front side downhill became a back side uphill, but the cracks in the sidewalk weren’t going to get me! The problem for me, however, was more elemental: heat and breathing.

I was trying something new – using a bandana for sweat collection and not wearing a hat. Michelle Evans (my hair goddess) cut my hair to the shortest length since I was in kindergarten in an effort to keep me cool and not look like a complete post-race mess!  It worked, but I was really surprised how the heat kept sapping me.

My legs and back felt pretty good. Legs were probably bored at plodding along so slowly, but when breathing is a problem and hacking fits hit about every 400 meters maximum,  you have to deal with the weakest link in the chain!

I never stopped hacking. I yakked at 4km. I was hacking up to the point and couldn’t stop. I stepped off course and tried to get the crap out of my throat and lungs. I would have to say I spent at least three minutes off course hacking. Who cares? The only time that counts is the official time.

My feet weren’t rolling along as easily as I would have liked,  but I already know there are a lot of weaknesses that will take time to strengthen. I am most concerned about not being able to breathe and the mucus overload. Just have to work with that. I did have focus issues, but when you have stop-and-start little kids, oblivious people under headphones, and stroller pushing people, you do have to keep defensive – especially when things aren’t right in your own race.

Where do I stand? I know I have a lot of work to do and I am thankful for friends reminding me I am still in the first steps of coming back.

First means first, Lizzy
And you know you were legal the whole way!

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!

100 Miles in Months not Weeks

22 06 2011


“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.

Separate Ways and Massive Thanks

21 06 2011

(I am on the train and seeing how hard it is to pop in a video on my phone from YouTube, so I might be editing!)

I start this post with massive thanks to Susan & Mike Randall, Dr. Joshua Doktor of Pyramid Chiropractic – Littleton, Maggie Olanie of Inner Glow Wellness, Coach Tetro, My Facebook Crew &, again, Susan Randall! My back is nearly back to normal and I truly will be doubling up my efforts to strengthen my abs & lower back!

Susan, Trapper, & I saw Kung Fu Panda II and it had a great effect on me. I have been personally ripping through a lot of my life and reprioritzing. I know stuff I didn’t deal with was coloring everything from my school to personal life to social life to career to racewalking. The fun part of the movie to me is to not be a red and white evil peacock!

It is interesting how complex Americans make simple things and how we completely ignore other things because they are, apparently, “too simple.”

I am walking in to a rather big race in a couple of weeks. I was hoping to have tons of miles under my belt and my body properly fit and prepared for the effort. As with many things, life intervened and I am not quite as prepared as I could or should be.

The “Overthinking” Lizzy was concerned about every little thing, made worse by the apparently genetic extra helping of fear of embarrassment. Yeah – this is coming from the gal who raced in Victoria’s Secret panties over a pair of compression shorts while 20 pounds over-fat!!!

Sure I am in a fast age group with my friend Rebecca Garrison – a speedy sneaker – in it. As of right now, I should be finishing behind 80 year olds,  but at least I am going to try.

I find it interesting how some with my “best interest at heart ” are telling me not to go and embarrass myself. Sigh.

What has that thinking gotten me?  Fear, doubt, and living far below any potential.

It is important to constantly challenge own boundaries. I am not saying “Be an idiot” but to keep things interesting by challenging own boundaries.

Often times, we spend so much time trying to beat someone else’s score or time that we forget we are in this for ourselves first. Sure, I am way behind my personal records/ personal bests – but I am also stripping away all the outmoded nonsense from all areas of my life that have brought to my attention my weaknesses or simply the facts of my past that I I am done with.

Separating myself from the outmoded has been an interesting process, as well as an uncomfortable one. I still rail against things,  but I also know that I am a strong competitor when focused.

Time to let many things go their Separate Ways because by realizing the strength I have gained and utilizing it is the only way to find Inner Peace.