Des News: Do You Need a Break?

My daughter and I taking a break.

Relationships are living, breathing things.  We grow and change.  We are not the same people today that we were last year.  Like you need a blog to tell you that.  So why is it so hard to accept that our relationship to running, or any workout really, is also dynamic?  I once told a friend that I was cutting back on marathons.  The love just wasn’t there anymore.  Her reaction was as if I’d told her I was allergic to chocolate.  She kept assuring me I would bounce back.  This was only temporary.  I would be okay.  Her advice was to sign up for more races until I found the love again.  Well intended, but seriously misguided.  I wasn’t complaining.  I wasn’t lamenting the loss of my glory years.  I wasn’t even quitting running.  I just didn’t want to race.  There was nothing deep and spiritual to read into this shift.  I just didn’t wanna and that’s okay.  I mean, I used to love those Brach’s circus peanuts and Kool-Aid.  Give me those now and I’d literally gag.

This week’s Des. News column is intended to help you know if you’re in a running funk- if you need to take a step back or take a break.   I also list a few things that help me transition into that break while maintaining my sanity.

Click on the link below to read the full column.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865686247/Knowing-when-to-take-a-break-from-running.html

We Arrived Alive!

Shelly and I at the end of our last organized century ride. Despite the our laughter, this really wasn’t fun at all. Don’t let the picture fool you. I was probably crying just moments before this was taken.

I’m still on summer break, and I promise new articles coming soon.  In the meantime, here’s a little update on my summer adventures.  Some of you know last year my friend Shelly and I were in a bad bike crash.  A piece of wood took us down and we sported the latest and greatest in slings and casts for the rest of the summer.  Another nifty souvenir from that fall was a newfound fear of cycling.  “Fear” isn’t a strong enough word.  Let’s try “terror.”  We’ve ridden a few times since that fall, mostly on a paved path designated for bikes and pedestrians only.  In other words, no traffic.  Our longest ride was around 40 miles, but it wasn’t about mileage.  Those rides were about conquering our fears.  Well, guess what.  We didn’t.  That’s right.  We didn’t.  We are still scared.  Terrified, even.

Wait.  Isn’t this story supposed to be about getting back in the saddle (pardon the pun), conquering our fears and coming out the other side better for it?  Yeah, real life doesn’t follow a script.

Last Saturday Shelly and I and our other cycling friend Lisa drove to Idaho to ride in our first organized ride since the crash.  We rode the Goldilocks Century in Nampa, Idaho.  We chose it for it’s fairly flat course, beautiful scenery, good support, and really good sandwiches.  Because of near 105 degree temps (but mostly because I’m scared) we opted out of the usual 100-mile distance we usually do and chose to ride the 80-mile route.

I was literally shaking when we started.  It didn’t help that as we waited at the start line, we heard two cars skid and collide in the intersection just feet away.  Twenty-five miles in we were met with a steep downhill, 12% grade, with a right turn at the bottom.  I’d rather climb than descend and I said more prayers on the way down that hill than I’ve said in a year.  The nerves dissipated a bit after the halfway mark, but I don’t think there was ever a moment I felt 100% comfortable.  In fact, I doubt I ever will again.

Me, Lisa, and Shelly at the end of this year’s 80-mile adventure. All bones, ligaments and tendons in tact. And smiles, too!

So what’s the point of this cheerful update?  I was scared, but I rode anyway.  Doing things that truly frighten us is the very definition of courage and I’m owning it today.  We were all scared at one point or another, but our seats didn’t leave the saddle until we crossed the finish line.

What’s next?  I don’t know.  Will I do another organized ride?  If you’d asked me Saturday, my answer was a definite, “No!”  Ask me today, I’m not sure.  But what I am sure of is that we have guts.  It’s days like Saturday that I will tuck into my back pocket and pull out as a reminder every time I’m faced with something that shakes me to my core.  We really can do hard things.

My Recovery Routine

 

Ali’s first downward dog.

Come to my group X classes long enough and you’ll hear me say, “What you do after a workout is just as important as what you do during.”  The older I get, the truer those words ring.  Proper recovery allows the muscles to repair stronger.  We are humans, not machines.  We need to replenish the well before we drain it again.  Physical and mental recovery from tough workouts will make us stronger in the long run, and really, that’s why we move.  We aren’t getting ourselves into shape to impress old friends at a reunion or strangers on the beach during our vacations.  We are getting in shape to improve our daily lives and increase our longevity.  Recovery is a critical part of our overall health.  Click on the link below to see what I do to recover.  Take a deep, cleansing breath and enjoy.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865672137/How-I-recover-from-a-tough-workout.html

From the Archives- Gimme A Break

Funny how little things change.  Six years ago I wrote about needing a break from the thing I loved most- running.  What started out as a forced recovery from injury has become a yearly tradition.  Each year during the holidays I take a break from running.  Sometimes it’s physically necessary.  Sometimes it’s mentally necessary.  It’s always a good decision.  This year I took over a month off to recover from a hysterectomy.  For the first time in almost 8 years, I have nothing planned.  No races.  No training cycles to jump into.  I’ll admit it feels freeing to do what I want.  I’ve been showing my spin bike a lot of love.  The road will be there when I’m ready, just like it was after I wrote this post.

Teaching Ali the importance of recovery. She wasn’t even two years old, but she caught on quick!

Taking a Break

Too much of a good thing can be, well, too much.

Take chocolate, for example. Most definitely a good thing, but in high doses can cause even the biggest Willy Wonka fan a stomach ache. Ask my brother.

One Easter, when we were younger and ignorant of food pyramids and nutrition labels, my brother decided that if one bite of chocolate was good, the whole basket much be sensational. Halfway home from Grandma’s house, he was singing a different tune as we made an emergency roadside pitstop. I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say that he rarely overindulged on candy after that.

I may not have a problem abstaining from baskets full of chocolate- although it is still a fantasy of mind to live in a house made of donuts- I can, and often do, overdo my running.

Continue reading “From the Archives- Gimme A Break”

Surgery Recovery Update

Me, pre-op trying my best to look sad and despondent. Instead it just looks like a failed duck-lip attempt.

A week ago I was in the hospital’s pre-op room wearing nothing but a surgical gown and hospital socks accessorized by the latest and greatest in IV’s and patient bracelets.  It would be another two hours before my scheduled hysterectomy.  Up until this point I was calm, even happy to have this procedure done once and for all.  But sitting in the actual hospital listening to the doctor’s explanations, expectations, and directions I started to literally shake with nerves.

There’s a reason I keep certain parts of my life private.  For some reason many feel the need to share their own experiences, and often, in an attempt to bond and relate, can scare the living be-jeebus out of me with their horror stories.  It happened when I was pregnant.  It became almost a contest to see whose labor was the worst.  Guess what.  No one wins that contest.

So when I learned I’d need a hysterectomy because of fibroids, I only told a few people, and many of those only out of necessity.  I’m not embarrassed.  But I didn’t want to hear the gory details of a friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s procedure back in 1998.  Alas, it was not to be avoided.  As suspected, I was regaled with tales of woe.  It seemed that every story also involved vacuuming.  Weird.  Every woman in each story started to feel fine, decided to vacuum her house prematurely and was rushed to the hospital hemorrhaging along the way.  Some, I was led to believe, never fully recovered (said in a hushed voice, head shaking).

Days before my operation I asked my doctor about these stories.  I could tell this was old news to him.  He didn’t miss a beat and went on to explain why that was definitely not going to happen to me.  I was going to have a Total Vaginal Hysterectomy (TVH) with no incisions if everything went as planned.  If it was easy to do, he’d also remove my fallopian tubes just to reduce any risk of future cancer.  I got to keep my ovaries.  His Christmas gift to me.  Thank you.  Seriously.

He gave me a 2-4 week recovery, but no running for 6 weeks.  I could lift as much as a gallon of milk without worry.  I asked about riding my bike and teaching cycle classes.  He was fine with it as long as it felt okay to me.  I calmed down a little, checked out half the books in the local library, hooked up Netflix in the bedroom and was ready to go.

Fast forward back to surgery day.  I’m telling my experience because in the days prior to mine, I scoured the internet looking for others who’d had the same procedure I had and who were as active as I was.  My biggest concern was how to deal with being bedridden and how long it really would last.  I found almost nothing.  So I write my recovery story for future Kims in the
Gym.

Continue reading “Surgery Recovery Update”

What the Numbers Really Mean

My miles summary for 2016

Stories are made of words.  Glorious words!  But once in awhile, numbers have a voice, too.  In this case, the numbers are from my 2016 run log.  My running for 2016 is done (more on why later) and the numbers are in.  More than 2700, in fact.  It’s what those numbers represent that is significant to me.  Click on the link below to read my Des News column to find out why.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865669075/Every-mile-we-run-tells-a-story.html?clear_cache=1

How I Recover From a Marathon

Classic.  My friend Elfi and I obviously NOT enjoying life post-race.  Keeping it real.
Classic. My friend Elfi and I obviously NOT enjoying life post-race. Keeping it real.

When you ask people to name their talents, you usually hear singing, playing piano, acting, sewing, cooking and the like.  My talent is a little off-beat.  My gift is recovery.  Whether from a hard workout or a race, recovery is key to long-term health.  A doctor once explained to me that running a marathon is like little bombs exploding in leg muscles.  How they repair and recover are key.  There are some recovery methods that aren’t in my control: my body hoards water to help the muscles recovery.  What does that mean?  It means the scale goes up significantly the week after a race.  We’re talking around 5 pounds for me.  No need to worry.  The body’s just doing what it was designed to do.

But other recovery methods are in my control.  Click on the link below to see what it is I do to get myself back in the game of life post-race.  Remember, what works for me may not work for you.  This isn’t a “how-to”.  It’s just me sharing what has been successful for me.  Enjoy.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865663863/Kim-Cowart-How-I-recover-from-a-marathon.html?pg=all

Race Report- Top of Utah 2016

Top of Utah Marathon
Female Master’s Winner and new course record holder with 3:06

Strangely enough, this is my first race report of the year.  Usually by this time I’ve run 6 marathons, a few halfs, a relay and a random 10K here and there.  This year, nothing.  Unless you count the century bike ride that abruptly ended at mile 23.  It’s been a heckuva year.

Full disclosure, those days of running races every weekend are over for me.  The desire is no longer there.  Weekends spent tapering and recovering, packing and planning don’t sound even remotely fun anymore.  What sounds fun is a nice long run early Saturday morning starting at my doorstep and ending on my front lawn.  Long run promptly followed by lunch and lounging around the house.  Absolutely dreamy!

That said, I only signed up for three marathons.  Two local and one in Amsterdam (coming up in 4 weeks!).  My first race, Utah Valley, was canceled after Shelly and I crashed our bikes at the Little Red Riding Hood century ride.  Grade 3 AC separation and a fractured right hand kept me from toeing the start line the following week.  I was a little disappointed, but not really.  Not a fan of that race or it’s 3:30 am wake-up call.

For the next few months I focused solely on recovery with my eyes set on the Top of Utah Marathon.  The recovery went well with only a few speed bumps along the way.  I clawed my way back to what I felt was the best shape I could be in at my age (41) and given the physical challenges of the past year.  With a couple weeks until race day, I felt as ready as I could expect and was excited to see the outcome.  I had high, albeit secret, expectations.

Top of Utah Marathon
Ready or not!

I should know by now never to let my expectations get high.

Continue reading “Race Report- Top of Utah 2016”

From the Archives- Boston 2012

Boston 2012
My friend Tracy and I at the Boston 2012 start. Notice the absence of any warm clothing. Ugh.

This is an article I wrote for the Deseret News the day after I ran the 2012 Boston Marathon.   It was a special day since my parents and my grandmother were all out to watch me run.  My grandmother had never seen me race before.  Sadly, my grandpa had already passed away.  I thought of him a lot and of how proud he would have been to watch me run.  It was an awful race.  80 degree start.  90 degree finish.  Factor in the heat radiating off the pavement at the end and, well, it was ugly.  It’s the only Boston Marathon where I’ve sought medical attention.  I was woozy and sick to my stomach at the end.  The medics doused me with water, forced me to eat a bag of magical potato chips and VOILA!  I was better!  Kind of.  It was a long and rough recovery.  Because it wasn’t the greatest of days, I immediately made plans to return in 2013.  I’ll post that recap later.  For now, enjoy.

Continue reading “From the Archives- Boston 2012”

Crash Recovery Update

Crash recovery update
Shelly and I hiding our fear with smiles before our first ride back post-crash

Crash recovery update.

It has been almost three months since Shelly and I had our big crash and the results are still coming in.

The good news: we’re back on our bikes.  We had our first ride last Friday.  I was more nervous for this ride than I was before giving birth to my oldest daughter.  We chose a relatively safe route- Legacy Parkway.  No vehicular traffic.  But let’s get real.  We didn’t have our big crash with a giant SUV.  We had our crash with a piece of wood.  I was paranoid of everything, and it turns out, rightfully so.

Only two miles into our ride we encountered a dad and his daughter on a scooter.  Shelly and I slowed down to around 6 miles per hour, made eye contact with the dad, verbally let them know we were about to pass.  Dad pulled daughter over to the right side of the path.  Not trusting anyone, I continued to ride slow.  Just as I was about to pass them, the daughter pulled out on her scooter right toward me.  I swerved left to avoid her, yelling at her to get over.  Dad started yelling.  Shelly was yelling behind.  I’m certain I closed my eyes and accepted that I was about to even out my shoulder injury by falling on my left.

But I didn’t.  I stopped a little further ahead.  Dad was still yelling at his daughter.  Shelly and I rode on shaking in our bike shoes.  Not the best way to start our first ride post-crash.

We decided the goal that day wasn’t to ride hard and fast.  The goal was to ride and survive.  Conquer our fear, if you will.  I wouldn’t say we conquered our fear, but we faced it and that’s good enough.

crash recovery update
We survived our first ride.

Scary as it was, it was nice to be back, although I’m not sure I’ll ever feel totally comfortable again.  The idea of riding on major roads again terrifies me.  A little fear is good.  I have a lot to live for.

Shelly’s arm is healing nicely.  No more “Frankenshelly”.  She looks good and has an awesome scar to tell the story.

I’m about 75% better.  The shoulder burns bad when I run and effects my neck and back, too.  Surgery is definitely a possibility.  The cost is holding me back.  I have a consultation appointment with a surgeon next month, so we’ll see.  I could always sell my bike to offset the medical bills!  Kidding.  Maybe.