I joined a running group to make friends, and instead I found a family

by Jordan Cooper

In August 2014, I decided to join a training group at Rogue Running in Austin, Texas. I had just gotten engaged to my now wife, whom I met on Tinder (which is a story for another time), and was coming to the realization that as I had grown in my relationship with her, I had lost some of the friendships I had previous to meeting her.

Although I graduated from college about a month before moving to Austin, my first four years in the Violet Crown could be viewed more as the “party” portion of my life than the four years I spent in college in my hometown in East Texas. However, most of the friendships I had made during that time were based more around going out and drinking than on something I could consider a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. As I moved down the path towards marriage, my time spent on the bar scene lessened, and I realized I needed a way to meet people that would be a little more conducive to my new, attempting-to- be adult lifestyle.

I learned about Rogue from a friend who had successfully run her first marathon while training with one of their groups. Previous to joining, I had casually trained for and successfully run a number of 10k’s and half marathons, which I did as almost a form of justification for my indulgent lifestyle. It was also somewhat meditative for me, the solitude of pounding the trails or pavement, so I was a little hesitant about running in the Texas heat with a bunch of strangers. I tried to maintain a positive attitude, especially considering I had at times in my life experienced the infamous “runners high” and figured if I could catch that sense of euphoria occasionally, that surely I could meet 1 or 2 people I might be able to bond with.

What happened over the course of the next few weeks, months, and now years is a laundry list of life lessons in connecting with people. Running in a group appealed to my competitive nature in a way I had not seen coming, and also reminded me of my past growing up playing team sports including soccer and basketball. I had not imagined a sport as considerably “solo” as running could be groomed and improved thanks to having a team or group around you, taking pleasure in your progress. I also learned that misery truly loves company, and that “embracing the suck” with fellow runners allowed me to overcome mental barriers to run distances I never could have imagined on my casual solo runs of the past. The accountability these connections provided gave me strength on those early Saturday mornings when I did not want to get out of bed to put in the work I had signed myself up for. Regardless of how I felt along the way, at the end of every one of those runs, I always felt accomplished and grateful for the kind words received from the cheerleaders around me.

Post-run stretches turned into hang outs, dinners, happy hours, holidays, and life events. I even took my turn at assistant coaching for a season. The bonds forged on the roads of Austin have turned into lifelong friendships and a sense of community and family I could not have imagined. As I spent the Fourth of July with over 50 runners who woke up early to run in the hills of West Austin before enjoying some amazing food and fellowship, I could not help but be grateful for the family I have come to feel a part of. As I train for the New York City Marathon this November, I know that I have the support of hundreds of runners who truly want to see me succeed, and it will be those smiles and handshakes, likes on Facebook, and good luck filled text messages that keep me going. I didn’t need an app to find friends; I just needed to go Rogue.

A Taper Madness Flowchart

A race report from magical and exotic Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Part 1

by Mandy Deen

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 6.23.00 PM

Get it guys? Guys, guys, do you get it? IT”S A TAPIR!!!

But seriously. The flowchart.

Should I go run?

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I don’t HAVE to, tapering is about rest, right? I can’t gain any fitness here.

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Maybe I really should go run, I haven’t been running much at all lately.

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You can’t seem to motivate yourself to run lately, I bet there’s something really wrong with your head. And you don’t want your body to get TOO relaxed before the race.

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No, You need more sleep, everything feels really draggy, and there’s no way you can sustain MGP for 8 miles much less 26.2 if you feel this way in a week!Stay in. Don’t run.

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Holy crap, you’re probably completely losing your ability to motivate yourself to go run, I bet you never have a consistent training program again and in fact stop running all together, but only due to incredible mental weakness. You big weakling!!!!

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…but I mean, I don’t feel too bad about these crazy thoughts and emotions, we all have them during a taper, right? Right?? RIGHT??? Just me?

That’s all for now, Part 2, The Pre-Race, to follow.

The Rogue Map of Austin

by Mandy Deen

We’ve all seen them, the hilarious google maps of a city, with quirky/snarky descriptive names written over neighborhood locations. Things like “Mall Zombies” and “Ex-Frat High-Rises” and other, much less PC things.

So, I had an idea.

SOUTHWEST AUSTIN:

   swaustinrogue(1)

NORTHWEST AUSTIN:

NW

RUN FROM HELL:

rfh

EASTSIDE:

eastside

Im sure I’ve left out a lot, despite being quite scientific about it. But it’s the best I could do.

Cheers!

-Mandy

Lifecycle of an Injury

by Mandy Deen

Sometimes, when I’m out on a weekday run, I will notice a slight niggling issue crop up. I generally try and dismiss it from my mind, because lots of times after hard workouts, or higher mileage weeks, or tripping on the stairs at work in front of people, parts of your legs/body might feel twingy or different. It happens to everyone, and it’s just a part of the process. I generally try to refocus back on the Taylor Swift lyrics I’ve been re-writing/improving in my head for the past 2 miles and ignore it. Unless of course it’s one of the days where this issue keeps niggling and my level of sleep-deprivation anxiety is topped only by the humidity and temperature outside, and then I might have to conduct a series of calculations:

a) Where am I in my training program? Am I in the middle of a mileage ramp? Or is it a down week?

b) where am I in my neighborhood? How humiliating of a last x number of miles back is the walk? Do I still have water in my handheld? And if I short this run is it something I can make up or do I have to tell my coach/teammates about it?

c) what if something is REALLY wrong with me?!!?!? are there people around who will notice if I fall over? WHAT IF ITS A PULMINARY EMBOLISIM?????

By calmly taking stock of the situation I can usually be relied on to do the right thing and…just obsessively worry about it for the rest of my run.

Later I will consult one or two teammates about the issue, and they will either be very calming, and rational and suggest common courses of treatment, or they will confirm that it’s probably a goiter and then tell me to youtube goiters. And then tell me to NEVER YOUTUBE GOITERS. I still haven’t to this day, so you do what you want with this information. Send complaints care of Anna McGarity.

If the problem has not abated when I get up in the morning, I will then probably immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion and fire off a dramatic email to my coach containing everything little detail of this problem that I have thought about thus far and many phrases like: “I have broken myself!!!” and “this is all over, isn’t!?!” and the always applicable “BLERGPOCALYPSE!!!!!” Generally Coach Amy will respond very calmly, asking for further details and then giving a well-informed opinion that I just need to go easy/roll it out/take some ibuprofen.

However, occasionally the niggling issue is discovered to be something of consequence. This has only occurred once or twice in my running history, and each time it was like I had never been sick or injured before. The most significant time involved a diagnosis of a possible labrum tear in my hip and a month or two of physical therapy. There are certain things you realize, and then forget, and then re-realize every time you’re sidelined with injury.

There is NOTHING worse than having to argue with yourself about getting out the door and into a medium long run in 100 degree heat after an 8 hour work day, other than suddenly NOT being allowed to get out the door into a medium length long run in 100 degree heat after an 8 hour work day. Every single runner, cyclist, roller blader, or dog walker out on the sidewalks around 6pm is pretty much openly mocking you, especially because you’ll probably NEVER be able to run again.

Medicine is not an exact science.   I don’t mean this in a “Dr.” Leo Spaceman “we have no way of knowing where the heart is. See, every human is different” way. I mean that after several consultations and realizing how terrible I am at describing pain and symptoms, it is very likely that the medical professionals will simply begin running tests to rule out possible ailments. This also means that for a little while I won’t have a clear idea of exactly what is wrong with me, which as a big-picture type-A person, I will seek to establish a sense of control over the situation my researching the possibilities myself.

As a professional librarian, my access to academic and medical journals is far greater than the little voice in my head that says “you’re only going to scare yourself.” Think WebMD on steroids. Soon I will probably have located a general overview of one of the few conditions I have narrowed my symptoms down to, and I will be reviewing the diagrams of the surgery I probably need, and frantically searching for full-recovery percentages. This predictably will lead to another series of coach emails, and a general sinking feeling that I didn’t realize my last run was really the LAST run of my life while it was happening.

Physical therapy and injury recovery is very likely not a straight line and more like a nebulous cloud of confusing and ambiguous sensations that could seem to be progress but might still be signs of brokeness, depending on how much I’ve over-thought them. Also at a certain point I will have forgotten what normal feels like, which further complicates my understanding of my recovery.

Aquajogging always feels really dumb, and NEVER feels like the workout the internet says it actually is (I’m probably doing it wrong). Also, the little old ladies who run the pool in the early morning always want to share a lane with the aquajogger, and the fancy Ironman triathlete guys never do. And despite my best efforts, my calf muscles will deteriorate at an alarming and depressing rate.

When you’re not running 6 days a week, it is actually hard to remember to shower. This is proven, Mom, not just my inattention to details.

Physical therapy is complicated and my amateur attempts to both understand (I have a Masters of Science in Information Studies! That probably means I can understand REAL science things!) and therefore control my treatment leads to even more emails with my PT who through great personal willpower, restrains her likely exasperation with my clumsy meddling and simple analogies, and responds with enough information to make me quit obsessing, but not enough information that I get even more confused about what’s going on. At least until I start thinking about it again.

Eventually, I know I’ll end up harness jogging on a treadmill. My inherent level of embarrassment in PT (or in anything) always starts out pretty high, like right up there with being made to do step aerobics in middle school athletics during off-season. (THERE’S NOWHERE TO HIDE, EVERYONE CAN SEE.) When it comes time for the harness jogging it is indeed as uncomfortable, bulky and idiotic as it sounds, BUT this is generally the last step before I’m released back onto my own recognizance, which is enough to make it a sought-after experience.

Generally, despite my darkest fears and visions of a run-less future, my body does manages to heal itself, or at least reconstitute itself into a form that allows further training and running. After a few weeks, I will have completely forgotten about how I almost didn’t ever get to run again and resume taking running for granted.

But until then, I have some histrionic emails to send. Thank you.

 

How to Place or AG for the first time

by Mandy Deen

Some of you who have been running with Rogue for a long time might be sick and tired of hearing your teammates/pacefriends/longrunningacquaintances/people you vaguely recognize only in pre-dawn gloom, go on and on about their verified running achievements (Placing in races! Winning age-group awards! Winning races!!!). I mean, honestly. Some of you who are new to Rogue might be highly intimidated by hearing all the victory stories and reading all the blogs. I personally was not told that either placing or age-grouping at some point was a requirement when I signed up. Don’t worry! I myself, a life-long hobbyjogger, have figured out a fool-proof way to place at races; please follow and apply as needed:

FIRST: You should probably decide that it’s something you want to try and do. That’s a good first step for any endeavor, but I thought I’d mention it in case it was news to anyone (some of you may be Aggies).

SECOND: Know what you’re up against and be realistic. If you’re a 25 year old guy, maybe try and pick a race that’s geared exclusively towards women. OR, try to be born with superior endurance genes and have developed these over the course of your life until you’re an elite and finely tuned athletic specimen.

For the rest of us, you can probably manage by picking a small or dangerous or far away race where the least amount of competition will dare to show up. This is probably the single most important step in this process; I can’t highlight this fact enough. This is also the most advantageous time to actually employ all your serious hipster tendencies you’ve been willfully restraining all these years. Go for the off-beat, indie, previously unheard of races. The handcrafted, artisan races, if you will.

Personally, I picked the Rogue Trail Series for a number of reasons. A 10k trail race is enough of a butt-kicker with just a smattering of fear-of-faceplanting to be a fun challenge, but not enough of a serious race that you’d have to actually train for it. Or so I thought. Also, far fewer women run trail races, so just by showing up I’m already top 30. You see?

THIRD: Show up. I firmly believe that approximately 80% of life is just showing up. Really, it’s how I got myself through school. The Rogue Trail Series is a SERIES, requiring participants to show up to not only a single event, but a SERIES of races! This is when it is really advantageous to either a) be a professional runner and therefore have the time and inclination to devote your life specifically to races, b) an athletically-deluded 30ish unattached person without any pets who can’t even be trusted to keep a rosemary plant alive. You’re probably going to be free all of those weekends, is what I’m saying.

FOURTH: Talk about it a lot. Like, obnoxiously. Mention that you’re in race-prep every chance you get until your family and teammates want to strangle you. Plot elaborate methods for further limiting your competition by giving faster people the wrong directions or misinformation about race times. Attempt to manipulate Rogue organizers into joining your plot.

As you talk about your wish to actually place at a running thing for ONCE in your life, you will feel a tightness in your chest and throat begin to develop. Don’t panic, this is just fear and anxiety, brought on by your life-long fear of public failure and history of under-performing when you know people are watching you. This is how you know you’re probably ready. As the race date approaches this feeling will intensify, and you will find yourself dismissing thoughts of the race out of hand. Focus on the fun logistics of the race, what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to eat after, how many beers are ok the day before. You probably won’t have even thought about the actual race until it’s 5:30AM and you’re on a dark highway headed towards Reveille Ranch. That’s the appropriate time for your Come-To-Jesus.

FIFTH: Rope a teammate into driving you out there to the race. Spend the entire hour and ten minute car ride chattering about life, your job, NPR stories, and what is the socially appropriate number of beers and breakfast tacos post-race (probably around 2 each for a 10k. Sneak a third if you can). Fall silent only when you have the your crushing realization that everyone you know knows you’re trying to place at this race. Remind yourself the 10ks are supposed to hurt, then try and make peace with it.

SIXTH: Arrive just as the 30k is starting. Spend 24 out of the next 30 minutes standing in line at the port-a-potty because you got impatient and switched lines when you should have stayed in the one you were in.

Screen shot 2014-07-04 at 3.57.01 PMSEVENTH: Spend the last 6 minutes prior to the start standing awkwardly off to the side, hyperventilating, looking around for your competition, and pretending like you’re not trying to elbow your way to the front. When the start sounds, go out WAY too hard, uphill. All your hyperventilation and adrenaline shoots through your bloodstream and you’re pretty much exhausted by the top of the hill (seriously? An UPHILL start?). Remind yourself that based on the tiredness and instability in your hill-running butt muscles that you probably should have tried and warmed up prior to the start. You saw other people doing that. Remember? They’re probably doing a lot better on this hill than you are. Spend the next 2 miles charging up hills and aggressively pushing forward, trying to pass people. Be sure that most of the other women got out ahead of you at the start.

EIGHTH: At mile 2 your breathing becomes unsustainable. Inwardly accept defeat. Of the paltry 5 people you managed to pass, only one was a girl, and the other 4 guys have already passed you back. Also, you never passed that little 8 year old kid. Slow down, spend the next 2 miles tucked in behind a guy with a “serious trail beard,” recovering. Convince yourself that you just lost all chance at placing for the race AND the series. Console yourself with the thoughts of beer and breakfast tacos. They get you, they don’t care how fast you can run. They’re your only friends.

NINTH: Experience a rebirth during the final 2 miles (this is completely unrelated to the fact that a) the main climbs are over, it’s generally downhill, and b) your body has finally warmed up and kicked over.). Respectfully pass Serious Trail Beard, charge on towards the finish and your friend the beer.

10386379_1435286356725055_1808594032217830950_nTENTH: When you have sufficiently recovered, follow the smell of bacon to where the excellent Rogue organizers are cooking breakfast for an army. Find the beer, and your other 10k friends. Find out how their races went, drink some cold water, watch the 30ks come through. Note how the 30kers are all in much better shape than you. Be happy to be finished and holding a beer, as there are some serious painfaces happening and the clouds have burned off. Discuss the course in detail with the other 10kers. Eventually wander over to the live-results tent. Disinterestedly find your finishing time and placement. Feel very relieved to see that you ACTUALLY finished in the Top 5!!!!! Wait anxiously for the awards ceremony. Make your teammate take lots of pictures of you with your award, and post it to Facebook immediately. Enjoy the rest of the 30k race by hanging out with other people and talking incessantly about your award. When you get home, sleep the sleep of the victorious for the rest of the Sunday.

There you have it. Ten easy steps.

 

The Church of Running

photo(17)by Candice Vasquez

“I believe Rogue is like the Church of Running and I’m a running evangelist. My
purpose is to convert each of you into running lovers. Which I can guarantee you will be
at the end of this class. I promise you.” -Jeff Knight.

If you know Jeff or have ever trained with Jeff than you know that “ I promise you” and “trust me” are his famous last words. If you are a Rogue Newbie get used to hearing these words A LOT, trust me, your life is about to change forever (see what just happened there?).

I guess I should tell you a little about who I am and what led me to write this
post. After the last five weeks I have affectionately gained the title FKIC or Fat Kid In
Charge. Before you go all Conservative Liberal and blow a gasket, I was the one who coined this term and LOVE it. When I’m not referring to myself as FKIC I go by Candice and fate actually brought me to Rogue–yep, good’ole fashion fate. Per usual I was working late one day and a co-worker just happened to walk out of her office wearing her Rogue Running shirt. We got to chatting about what it was, how she loved it, how things
functioned and what her future goals were. This is when the wheels started turning.
Let’s Marty McFly for a moment to 2011. I had just lost 30 pounds I was now
under 200 pounds for the first time in what felt like forever. I was working out, eating
right and finding a passion for running. I ran the Turkey Trot in November 2011 and was
“training” (I use that term loosely) for Cap 10 K. Well, I was about to be hit with the biggest shock of my life. I couldn’t quite figure out why I had lost all of my energy, my weight had plateaued at 187 and no matter what I tried I couldn’t run two feet without feeling like I was going to bust a lung. I should also probably mention that I’m an asthmatic who likes to pretend that she isn’t one.

You might want to sit down for the next piece of news… You probably won’t believe what I am about to tell you anyway but it’s all true; I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried. Turns out the reason that I couldn’t get my shit together was because I was five months pregnant! I had no idea. But that’s a whole different blog entry – let’s fast forward. It’s February of 2013 and I still can’t get it together. I’ve paleo’ed, I’ve given up wheat, dairy, beer, AND my beloved Dr. Pepper. I have even managed to go “run” a few times. But my accountability wasn’t there. I knew in the back of my mind that I want to run again-I wanted to spend time talking to myself and just being. That is really what running is for me. So I hopped online and checked out Rogue.

I instantly thought “ OH, I got this, this looks great! There’s a girl my size on the front page – if she’s not red faced and dying maybe I won’t die either!” which quickly turned into “wait, how do I even know that she is a Rogue and not some random photo from the internet?” Somehow I managed to find myself on the half marathon page–umm yeah right, I was looking for the Fat Kid section, the one where running 1/2 a block is a huge feat. I eventually found it and roped my best friend, Lauren, into joining the Intro to Running class too.

It’s the first day and I’m 45 minutes early because there’s a 100% possibility that traffic will suck and the risk of being late isn’t worth the anxiety. Lauren and I make our way into the building and that’s it, game over. I should also mention that I’m the Chatty Cathy friend and Lauren is the reserved friend. Insert awkward standing around, the super runners are gathering and talking about their recent run from Antarctica to the Great Wall, how it sucked more this time than the last 7 times they ran it. Everyone is friendly but you don’t know what the hell you are about to get yourself into.

We meet Jeff and he thinks the blonde girl is Candice and the brunette girl is Lauren, even though he introduced us to 7 different ladies in our group. We will also spend the next three weeks with the wrong names. NO JOKE 3 weeks! As we were waiting for class to get started we began chatting with some fellow running mates. I fill them in on what I know and even go so far to quote my co-workers saying “they don’t push you”, “you run at your own pace”, “no one will make you run more than you can”. Yeah, i should really learn to keep my big mouth shut…

We’ve been welcomed, we’ve grabbed out maps and our course is the “The Wiggle.” We are about to run down a back alley, along the rail road tracks and meet up on a part of “Lamar” I never knew about. And here is were I got myself in trouble. Jeffery said “ I don’t want anyone running alone, you must have a partner.” It might have had something to do with the fact our group was female only. So when Agnes, a fellow FKIC was trailing behind I had to slow down and wait for her. We weren’t supposed to run alone damn-it! Agnes hadn’t run in 13 years and was struggling so I pulled out my cheerleader hat and nicely pushed her on.

“Come on, you can do it”, “you got this”, “just a little further”, “you’re almost there don’t
stop”–Yep I totally Tony Robbins’ed it up. Oy Vay. Well we all survived and it was a good
quick run. I however was already letting that little voice in my head start to tear me
down. I was disappointed in myself and I couldn’t let it go. I planned on redeeming
myself on our Saturday Long run but that was a BIG ’ole bust! Lauren and I were late so
we walked 2 or so miles in the freezing rain.
! Now it’s on to week two and I’m going to make this run my bitch. That was an
epic fail!!! I have never been in so much calf pain in my life. I thought muscle was going
to rip off the bone. I literally tip toed my way up some random street to meet up with Jeff
and the water cooler. He could see that I was in pain, he was even kind enough to ask
me if I wanted a ride back. UMMMM… no. I was going to waddle my ass back come hell or high water. I’m pretty sure this was the moment that Jeff knew I had inner strength hiding underneath all of myself doubt. Luckily, we were learning about Trigger Point exercises that evening which meant I could really get some good productive pain going.  When Saturday rolled around I managed to over sleep and bailed on our long run.
After a disastrous Week Two, I knew the third was going to suck. Surprisingly it
wasn’t that bad and I survived with a little bit of pride in my run. I Trigger Point-ed
before the run and again after the run. This little routine is something that I have learned I can NOT skip. My body needs it if I want to have a good run I need to be completely stretched out.
Week Four would normally be the end of the class but since ours ended right in time for Cap 10K, Jeff added an extra week for those running the race. I of course was one of those suckers. Week four DID NOT go so well. It was “HIlls Week”.. not much had changed in my body liking hills so I was in pain, and I had made the decision to leave my job of three years and was stressed out to the max. I really needed the run to clear my head; that’s pretty much what happened. Lauren had to miss the class so I was on my own but that was okay; I needed the alone time. Per usual I was bringing up the caboose of the group and Jeff knew something was wrong as it was taking longer than normal for me to meet up with them. He ran down to find me huffing and complaining about how my calf hurt again and I was on the verge of tears. I managed to hold them all in until our very last hill circuit. That’s when I lost it. I held it together long enough for the rest of the group to start back to Rogue. Every emotion that I had held in from the start came flooding up and out. There was no stopping it, there was no hiding that I was disappointed in myself.

I can’t say enough about how great a coach Jeff is – he was there when I needed someone to believe in me. The truth is he always had faith in me, I just didn’t have faith in myself. He took the time to talk me down from the ledge and guided me back to place of strength. After I got it together I started back to Rogue to finish up the evening. On my way back something happened that I never told anyone. I was crossing a street in front of a strip of store fronts when this bouncy blonde came running in the opposite direction. Instead of giving me the usual runners head nod, she smiled at me with immense encouragement. It was almost as if she was saying “hey I’m proud of you for at least being out here and doing something”. I needed that moment more than anything in the world!
So, now I think you’ll better understand why I came up with Fat Kid in Charge. From that breakdown moment on Nelson Hill I knew that I wanted to do more, be more, accomplish more. I want to be there for someone else as they have their breakdown and help lift them up just like Jeff had done for me. Let’s be honest when you are overweight no one really understands the head games you play with yourself and how hard you are on yourself. You don’t need any help from society to tear you down. I ran my grand idea by Jeff and we’ve set a plan in place. We still had one more week after all!!

I made it to week five and I was still alive. Our work out would be a “typical” pre-race workout of straights and curves. Not to horrid. I still couldn’t figure out why I could run one side of the straight and not the other. HA, well that’s because Jeff and picked a street with a slight incline. After the last five weeks I had quickly learned ALL streets in Austin have an incline. Get used to it!! After Jeff and I quickly talked about what wasn’t working, he said “ you’re doing great on the straights, you’re staying tall, you’ve got good strides, you can do this, I’m watching you do it, you got this girl”. Oh boy did I ever, I ran that straight from point A to point B without stopping. I’m pretty sure that I yelled “YES” out when I reached the curve section. I couldn’t have cared less who heard me. I had just did something I didn’t think I could do and I did it well. Three more laps, a quick water break and it was time to head back. Jeff suggested we walk down the hill to 6th Street then run back from there. That is exactly what I did!! For the first time in five weeks I ran all the way back to Rogue. I wouldn’t let Lauren stop; we were almost there and I was determined to make it. It’s these small moments that help make the next run easier. No one, not even your self doubt, can take these away from you. Of course Jeff was proud and excited for us, he always knew we could do it after all.
Our month with Jeff and Rogue was over it was now time for us to run Cap 10K.
It was cold, rainy and EARLY in the morning. Jeff had promised to be at miles 1.7 and
mile 3 something. We knew if we were going to walk it was NOT going to be at either
one of those spots. After a “quick” bathroom stop we were at the back of the race when
we hit mile 1.7, there was no Jeff. Lauren and I figured that he figured we bailed on the
race and left. Well we hit mile 3 something and still no Jeff. We laughed and joked about him leaving us behind as we kept trekking to the finish. As we hit mile 5 we re-set our goals and talked about what it would take to finish. My knee was on the verge of collapse but that wasn’t going to stop me. I had just spent the past five weeks training for this moment, I wasn’t going to let it go. An hour and forty five minutes from the start of this race Lauren and I crossed the finish line. It was pouring down rain at this point and it was the most cleansing moment I had ever had. Once out of the rain we plotted our next move: FOOD. We earned a good meal, a hot shower and a nap.
The soreness had begun to set in, yet somehow that hadn’t fazed us as we were already
planning out next race. We were officially Rogues on the hunt for the next race! I hope that this has given you a grasp of what you are in store for, or maybe it has helped you feel like you aren’t alone in the crazy running world. If you aren’t sure what to do next or if you are searching for a way to feel apart of the crowd don’t worry, I have some helpful hints for you.

*First, VOLUNTEER!! Immerse yourself in the culture. Rogue has some great programs and running events that they are always looking for volunteers for. I personally have worked aid station duty for two trail races and it brings me tons of confidence when the day is over. You will be amazed at how many runners tell you thank you for being there and working the race.

*Second, don’t be afraid to talk to people, especially your coach. I promise we don’t bite and we have all been where you are. And know that if you ever need someone to talk to or (old man pace) run with I am always available.

*Thirdly, stay hydrated. Yeah.. I’m still working on this one, but I can tell you that giving your body what it means makes things so much easier.

*Lastly, HAVE FUN!! That’s the whole point of this after all. Have fun, relax and just let you body do what it wants to do. Trust me it all works out.

Oh, and Welcome to the Church of Running. Once you go Rogue you don’t go back!!!
Happy Running,
FKIC

Why I Run: A Tribute to the Boston Marathon

by Angie McDermott

July, 2009 – Austin, TX

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. The jack hammering continued on the left side of my forehead, as I long for my lovely salad days that have long sense wilted into rotting, smelly leftovers shoved to the back of the refrigerator.

So there I was 49, recently divorced with two adolescent children and I’m in bed contemplating my life as I dealt with my first shingles attack on the upper left side of my swollen, disfigured face. Heartbroken. Defeated. My body had all it could take and simply served up a disease that would stop me in my tracks. The last three years had been a nightmare as I watched Jeff, my “forever guy”, slip into the abyss of addiction and surrender to its edges.   A painful divorce followed and seven months later he was in the hospital fighting for his life. The crushing stress led to my outbreak. Jeff died ten months later.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.   “Gratitude….I must focus on gratitude,” I told myself.   So, I started making a list of the things for which I was grateful – my almost daily practice during my soul-searching days leading up to the divorce. Max and Mackenzie, my children, were always at the top of the list, followed by my large supportive extended family, loving friends, and dear colleagues. Even this well-worn list could not comfort me now. I needed new. I needed happy. So, I started to make a list of things that I loved to do – things I jettisoned out of my life when just making it through the day seemed like a miracle. Running.   I had always loved to run. On Sundays, I would sneak away to jog a three-mile loop around the lake, which became my sanctuary – my place to recharge and regroup.   I had always wanted to run a marathon, but had never quite gotten around to it. I grabbed my computer. To my amazement, the Austin Marathon was scheduled for February 14th – my 50th birthday seven months away. It felt like a sign…a big blinking neon sign…”THIS IS YOUR MARATHON!”

I immediately signed up for a training program with Rogue that would start in early September. I liked the name…it fit my newly found attitude. One night a week I would gather with my small running group at a nearby high school for a “quality” workout. Saturdays we would run with all the other small groups for a long run.   I hung back with some of the ladies around my age. We were chatty, slow and steady. The 30-something men were always ahead. The more I ran the stronger and more confident I became.   I started keeping up with the guys. Warming up one day, someone suggested I should try to quality for the Boston Marathon – every woman/man’s Olympics.  I shrugged it off as crazy talk, but then checked it out. At that time, I needed to finish before 4 hours and 10 minutes. I would have to average a 9:32 pace. It started to feel possible. What if? Ten-mile long runs turned into 14, then 16, then 18, and then 20. What had seemed impossible started feeling doable….not easy, but doable. My initial goal of “just finishing healthy” slowly shifted to qualifying for the Boston Marathon my first race.

February 14, 2010 – My 1st Marathon in Austin, TX

I was a nervous wreck that morning. The kids and I stayed at a downtown hotel so that they could watch me finish. It was cold…low 40’s – perfect marathon weather. What was I thinking when I put on a singlet, two long sleeve shirts, AND a jacket? I started out with the four hour pace group. Feeling crowded behind the pacers, I went out in front for some space. When I looked over my shoulder a mile or so later, they were no longer in sight. I had made two classic rookie mistakes – going out too fast and over dressing. My temperature continued to rise as I struggled up the hills. At the halfway mark, my pace group passed me up as I threw down one of my long sleeve shirts….sweat soaked it slapped to the ground. Another layer of my life peeled away. I saw my coach at mile 18. He had that “Oh my, she looks awful” look. My brother met me at mile 20 to run me in.   I burst into tears as I saw him. For the next 6 miles we played “what doesn’t hurt.” “My ear lobe doesn’t hurt.” “Does your nose hurt?” Max met us at mile 25. He pleaded with me to speed up. “You only have one more mile, Mama.” It felt like 20 miles. I missed qualifying for Boston by 4 minutes and 13 seconds.

Mad, defeated, and in need of the medical tent, I finished. Lying on the cot with my loving family (mother, siblings, children), around me, I was hooked. While my marathon goal was not reached, I had achieved something far greater. Running had helped heal me. I reclaimed my life, my power, and my strength.

January 30, 2011 – Houston, TX

I qualified for Boston a year later in Houston.   Seconds after crossing the finished line I was escorted to the medical tent (again!) by two adorable young men. I had made my qualifying time with seven minutes to spare.

April 16, 2012 – Boston, MA

The day before the race, organizers were sending emails warning us of the heat. It was to be the second hottest Boston marathon on record. (The record was set in 1905 when the temperature reached 100 degrees.) Our wave started at 10:40 am. The temperature was 87 degrees. I dedicated the race to my father who died 40 years earlier on this day.   I’m not sure if it was the heat combined with my amped up emotions or if it was real, but almost every dead person I knew visited me during the race. My father showed up first within the first six miles. “Not now, Daddy.   Wait until I need you later on. “ Jeff, my ex-husband who died two years earlier showed up next. We had a long closure discussion. I pleaded with him let me go. “Please let me go.” It was then that I realized it was ME that needed to let go. I struggled to breath through my weeping, grateful for the sunglasses that concealed my tears.

We kept running.   I hit the wall before the base of Heartbreak Hill at mile 20. My heart broke again as I climbed the one mile hill.   So much had happened, so much grief to carry. So, I let it go. I just put it down. It was all I could do to move forward. As I made it to the top of the hill, I spotted a group of adorable young men cheering everyone on with enthusiasm. I needed a little of that energy so I jogged closer to them to receive my high fives.

My death march with my dead relatives continued for the next five miles.   In my mind’s eye, they (my ex, both grandmothers, my grandfather, stepfather, and uncles) were on their feet in the grandstand cheering me on with much enthusiasm. Relieved to be finished, I stumbled forward. A kind volunteer wheeled me into the medical tent. Reeling from the emotion of the day, the tears continued to flow. As always, my biggest fans – Max and Mackenzie waited outside the tent.  I missed re-qualifying by three minutes, but the Boston Marathon became my new symbol of strength and healing.

IMG_1525April, 2014 – Austin, TX

Fast forward to today. Max, Mackenzie and I are thriving. We’ve come a long way since the dark days of 2009. We are strong, persistent, and powerful.   Life has opened up for us in new and magical ways. I re-qualified for Boston twice in 2013 with a personal record in Austin and again in New York (and finally no longer in need of the medical tent).

My first Boston marathon played a pivotal role in my healing. It feels so right I’ll be running the 2014 Boston marathon to be part of the healing from the tragic events of last years race. I’ll be proudly and fearlessly wearing bib number 23242.

As I top Heartbreak Hill this year, my heart will be healed (well mostly).   It turns out that the adorable young men on the top of Heartbreak Hill were Boston College boys. Max, a freshman at BC, will be among them as he and his new buddies cheer me on. As I see his sweet face at the top of the hill, we will celebrate for just a moment before I race off to finish what we started. Perhaps it was supposed to turn out like this all along.