Posts Tagged ‘running’

Going To The Sun*

I know I talk a lot about the tough side of running. When things go wrong, physically or mentally, it tends to wind up here. Let’s shift gears away from that, at least for today.

Today seemed like an ordinary enough day. Work at my desk job for about 4 and a half hours, then head to the ladies room and change from business casual into tech-fiber casual. Hair goes up, hat goes on, headphones go in (all the purists now have a case of the hives over my iPod), and down the elevator 10 stories to the city streets.

It is finally, for real and for true, warm here. 76 degrees out, reasonable wind speeds, clear skies, low humidity. You know, like it’s Spring or something. A warm, sunny day called for bared arms and a route with no shade. I headed for the Richmond Floodwall Park. On the Floodwall, I have seen a bald eagle, a black king snake sunning itself in the path, countless Great Blue Herons and dozens of Peregrin Falcons. I don’t run this route as often in the winter, and I don’t think I have run the floodwall at all since late last Summer. This winter was just too brutal to face the very cold harsh winds coming off the river, and there are spots on the top that drain poorly, so with all the rain/snow, it would have been half a log flume up there. I just avoided the route, but I have missed it.

So today was the day and it didn’t disappoint. The sun was warm without being burning. Sweat poured without leaving me feeling light-headed with dehydration. I had a falcon take interest in my neon green tank top and follow me at distance for a bit. The music on my iPod was perfect for my mood. I added “Let it Go” from Frozen to the playlist last night, and that was like fuel on a fire for me today. Topping the stairs of the floodwall, the roar of the rolling river over-topped the sound of my music, and it was glorious.

The world around me is just starting to take on that lightest shade of spring green; it is also still brown and twiggy, but there is promise springing up all around. We’re still a long way from the emerald green of summer, but also the wicked heat and humidity that summer brings along with it. It was a perfect day and a perfect run.

It is days like today, miles like today’s, that remind me why I do this thing. Why when so many people make cracks about “being chased by a bear” or reproach me about destroying my joints, or warn of the risk of unknown heart problems, I can let all of that roll off my back, lace up my trainers and go out and log some miles anyway.

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

*The title of this post is a reference to Going To The Sun Road, on my Bucket List as a place to go for a run before there aren’t any glaciers left in Glacier National Park.

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Back To It

I didn’t run a single step between November 17th and December 1st. I walked some, I might have dashed across a cross-walk, but no running for the joy of running. Late in those two sedentary weeks, my body felt bloated and my mind felt cluttered. It was driving me slowly insane not to feel confident enough to go for a run. I never quite grasp how important running is for my mental health until I have to go an extended period without it.

This Monday past, I packed my green gym bag with a technical shirt, sports bra, running pants, socks and shoes for the first time in a long time and committed to starting my plan to get faster.

I am going back to the beginning, back to where I started. Couch to 5k. When I started running in April of 2010, it was in the basement of the parking deck of my office. I was too embarrassed to be seen doing it in public, so it was slow, sweaty walk/run laps in the darkness of the deck. At the very beginning, even the 60 seconds of running in the first week was too much for my terrible conditioning. I think I had to spend two weeks on every single week of the plan for a while, and I think I was hung up on week 5 with a 20 minute run for 3 or 4 weeks before I succeeded.

But ultimately, I did succeed and of course finally found my way out of the darkness of the parking deck and into the light of day. And I eventually went a lot farther than a 5k, too, but never at any speed much better than maybe an 11 minute mile.

I want to run faster but have not had much success just trying to speed up with the normal types of ways to get faster, all of which are variations on just run faster and run up hills. I remember that C25K worked for me and so I think it would work for me again, just running faster. So Monday, I put myself on the treadmill and walked at 3.2 mph for 90 seconds, and then sped it up to 7.0 mph for 90 seconds. Wash, rinse, repeat until 25 minutes are up. This was actually Week 2 of the plan, but my conditioning is good enough that I was able to skip Week 1 altogether. So 7.0 mph was challenging without being crushing, but I was glad too when I got my walk breaks.

Wednesday, I decided I could walk faster on my walk breaks so I set the slow speed for 3.5 mph and kept my run speed at 7.0. I was not sure how the run would go considering I had roller skated for 90 minutes the night before, but it went fine. I will finish Week 2 of the plan today at lunch.

Are you surprised that I feel a bit intimidated by next week’s plan? I will have a couple of 3 minute runs at full speed. And the Friday after Christmas, if I can keep up with the plan, there is a 20 minute run at speed. That is not just intimidating; at this moment, it just seems flat out impossible to run an 8:30ish couple of miles on the treadmill without stopping.

Now it is not currently my plan to suddenly become a 8:30 minute miler. It is my plan to get closer to a 9:30 to 9:45 minute miler. But since I am doing this on the treadmill (so I can easily control my pace), I am training at a faster than goal pace to compensate for the easier to run on surface. It is only a theory that this will work; in a few weeks, I will start running outdoors again and that is when I will see whether my theory translates to faster outdoor runs.

Stay tuned. It should be interesting.

I Didn’t See That Coming

Four years ago this week, I had just gotten my surgery date to undergo gastric bypass. Yesterday morning, I got up before dawn and made my way in Downtown Richmond with 19,000+ other runners, and a untold number of cheering spectators. I arrived just at the end of team photos, which I didn’t really care whether I was in or not, and walked around the Capital Square in the pre-dawn gloom looking for familiar faces.

All the weather prediction sites called for a 20% chance of showers. They were off by about 80%. It was a light drizzle for a while, until it became a frog strangler just in time for the 8k racers to take off. There was ankle deep water running down the gutters at one point. I had planned accordingly and grabbed a trash bag on my way out the door, so I was mostly sheltered under my plastic covering and a hat. At the expo, the day before, I had found a pair of neon green arm warmers for $10, and I bought them. They were the best $10 I have spent in a while. I was glad to have them. Nothing to be done for my feet; I would run with wet feet.

Like last year, I stood near the 8k start line to cheer those runners on, listened to the National Anthem and the energy of the day and the song got to me a bit. I love the emotions that get tied into the beginning of a race, but at least it was raining hard enough that no one could tell tears from rain drops. I walked up and down Broad Street in the rain in search of Mary Beth or Matt, two runners I knew in the half marathon, or anyone else that I happened to know. I did eventually find Matt in my own corral and was introduced to an old friend of his named Terry. It was nice to say hi to them, but I really really wanted to find Mary Beth to thank her for giving me this opportunity. I never found her in the crowd, even though she was in the corral just in front of mine. I only saw her once on Brookland Park while she was going back to Hermitage, while I hadn’t reached the turn-around yet.

My plan had been to use that amazing energy of the beginning of the race to close the gap between my corral and the 2:30 pace corral ahead of me. Unsurprisingly, this did not happen. Two minutes is actually a very long time on foot, and that was the time gap between corrals. I started as close to the very front of my corral (2:31-2:59 anticipated finish time group) and took off as soon as I hit the starting line. I still managed to maintain some control and managed not to blow myself up in the first mile.

The first 2.25 miles of the race are dull as rain, and the only really interesting thing is the signs the spectators carry and looking at the many thousands of people ahead of you in the human snake heading west on Broad Street. Also, watching the elite marathoners pass you is pretty humbling.

Last year, I ran into trouble on Boulevard overpass over the train tracks and I had vowed that this year, that hill would not leave me struggling so much. I controlled my ascent, took the decent easy, and conquered that hill, unlike last year. That said, the steep downhill set my left knee to aching, a theme that would follow me for the next 10 miles.

The Boulevard/Hermitage/Brookland Park miles were uneventful. The only thing of note was that I felt suddenly depleted very early and regretted not eating anything before the race. I took a GU a (Salted Caramel flavor, FTW!) at the 3 mile point, much earlier than planned, but it offered the relief I needed. I would also regret bringing only 2 GUs with me later. I hit Bryan Park, my least favorite stretch of the race at the 1 hour mark and hit the 10k mark at 1:09. That might be my fastest 10k time yet.

Right after the 10k mark, the wheels came off for a while. To give you some background, I have been hopping from one ailment to the next for 4 weeks. I had the flu, strep, then a head cold, which morphed into a sinus infection that was working its way towards an upper respiratory infection as of this week. I saw the doctor on Friday and had a Z-pack waiting for me to start immediately after the race. I was going between Dayquil, Nyquil, and behind-the-counter pseudoephedrine all week. The Sudafed would dehydrate me terribly, but on race day I opted to take one because I was just so miserable. Well, right after the 10k point, I discovered I was badly dehydrated and at the same time, the Sudafed that I had taken about 4 hours earlier had kicked out.

I stopped sweating. My head was thumping. My face was on fire but my body was shivering. I felt feverish and weakening. Being only the halfway point of the race, this was a very scary feeling. When I hit the party zone in the park, I wasn’t sure I would finish. I contemplated asking for help, but pride and (I know how this sounds) the race medal kept me silent. When I hit the 7 mile point, I walked for 2 or 3 minutes and took on 2 cups of water plus a Powerade. And I vowed to keep going.

The water helped immensely. At every water stop after that, I grabbed two waters and a Powerade. At the 8 mile marker, I grabbed an AccelGel and tucked it under my sports bra strap as a just-in-case, knowing they tended to have an adverse affect on me, but knowing I might need the extra energy. It was the spectators on Pope and Fauquier Avenues that really kept me going during those rough few miles there. I was in awe of their excitement and their willingness to come cheer us on in the crummy weather. It kept bringing my mind back to Boston and the fact that the dead and injured there were almost exclusively spectators. That made me even more grateful for their presence.

I took my second GU on Brook Road at Mile 9 or so. I had gone too long between gels so the effect of the second one was particularly noticeable. Brook Road felt like forever, just as always. It always, whether in training or racing, feels like a blessing to turn on Lombardy after the long stretch on Brook. Still, when I hit the 10 mile marker, which is celebrated with a “5k Fun Run Race” sign and lots of cheering spectators, any darkness in my mind was dispelled and pure joy replaced it. This was FUN!

Of course, this also hurt and I still had at least 30 minutes left to go, but none of that mattered. I was ready to go. On Lombardy, by the Kroger Store, I heard sirens behind me and knew that the leading marathoners were catching up. It is an awe inspiring thing to see a man run past you, a man who has run about 24 miles so far, who left about 10 minutes after you did, and only has a little more than 2 miles to go. We cheered for him and for the others that would pass us. The turn onto Grace was especially well-cheered. I thanked as many of the spectators for coming out as I could.

And I ran. Oh my goodness but it is a LONG way between Lombardy and 3rd Street. Turns seem to make the distance pass more swiftly. Grace to Third, Third to Franklin. On Franklin, a band was playing “Lonely Boy” by the Black Keys and I started singing it out loud. I didn’t care. I love that song. Coach John, the Big Cooter, met me between 4th and 5th Streets and asked how it was going (he knew about the IT injury). I told him I had been suffering for a while, but I was not quitting now. He ran with me to 5th, encouraged me to take it easy going down the hill on 5th Street to Browns Island because steep downhills are IT killers, and I promised (knowing I was lying) to take it slow.

Onto 5th Street, the last turn until the finish line. All downhill. I was overwhelmed with excitement, hope of seeing my family, and the feeling that things weren’t as bad as they had seemed about 6 miles ago. I had no clue what my time was; I left my watch at home. I let the downhill take me and started going all out.

It is a surprisingly long way between Franklin and Tredegar. I ran and ran and ran and wondered when the heck this would end. I looked for my family, but once I hit the MeadWestVaco building, the going was too steep and the runners in front of me too slow for me to do anything other than watch where I put my feet. I sprinted down the hill in a gut churning effort to cross the finish line. I remember raising my hands over my head at a point where I thought my photo was being taken. I crossed two lines; I am not sure which actually marked my finish point, but I didn’t stop hauling ass until I was underneath the finish line structure. And then very happily, I slowed to a trundle, wondering how long it would be until I had a medal in my hand.

I received my medal, but then I realized it was water that I wanted more, though I was too queasy to drink too much. I received my fleece blanket, which I gratefully wrapped up in, and made my way to the food tent, because there is nothing better than a slice of cheese pizza after a race.

I waited for my family at our appointed spot, but due to bad luck, they had not seen me cross the finish and had no idea I was done. It was about 40 minutes and a borrowed phone call later before we were reunited.

 photo 100_9357.jpg

I had no idea what my time was and I wasn’t stressed about it. I simply didn’t care for the time being. I figured it was around 2:40 to 2:45 and I was good with that, especially after the awful 3 mile stretch between Bryan Park and the 10 mile mark. Once reunited, we went over to Legend for a post-race beer and soft pretzel. My knee hurt very badly and did not want to bend; I had anticipated this, but it still hurt a good deal. I limped home, content with my day.

Of course, later I became curious about my actual finish time. It was late in the day before the results were posted, so the anticipation had a lot of time to build.

I am not kidding when I say I was completely shocked to see that my finish time was 2:35:37. That is 6 minutes faster than any of my previous races. No, it wasn’t the 2:30 I am dreaming of beating, but I hadn’t even dreamed that this race would be faster when I had been sick for so long, and injured to boot.

I remain overjoyed by the time I managed to achieve. It was such an amazing day. I cannot say enough good things about the volunteers and the spectators. I love this race and I plan to run it again next year, though I am contemplating running the full distance (albeit, not too seriously). I could not have done this without the support of my Crew and my FaceBook friends, and even the random people who cheered my by name (from my bib) throughout the race. I am grateful to have the chance to even attempt such distances and I look forward to future accomplishments.

What Race?

Hey, I have a race coming up in less than 72 hours! How the heck did that happen???

Not for nuthin, but it does sort of feel like this race has crept up on me unawares. The 14 Mile Run loomed large for me the entire training period, and then right after that, I came down with a series of illnesses and injuries, and just getting (and staying) healthy has become my biggest focus. Race? What race? I am still hacking and coughing; thanks a lot post-nasal congestion.

What to wear? Who knows?!? Richmond is doing its normal meteorological mood swings, with today’s highs being in the low 40s, and Saturday’s highs being in the low 70’s. Getting a grip on how fast it will warm up on Saturday will play the biggest factor in my personal version of “What Not To Wear” (Half Marathon Edition). I have in fact completely changed my plan on race day clothing at 3:30 a.m., only 4 hours before a race. I am not wedded to anything until I walk out the door.

Like I opted to do in March, I am going to leave my beloved stop watch at home; it will be much better for my brain not to be processing numbers if the knee pain ramps up and the pace starts to click down. I am going to run in my old but very trusty Adrenalines. I am deciding about my fuel belt right now. On the one hand, it is darn convenient not to HAVE to slow at fuel stops, especially as it warms up. But not wearing it is very freeing and my arm movements are more natural when I am not trying to avoid smacking my forearms into my water bottles. Natural arm movements cut down on upper body muscle fatigue.

I will not check a bag this year. I understand that they have sorted out that little inconvenience this year, but honestly, it won’t be a hardship for Byram to bring me my heavy Navy hoodie along with him to Brown’s Island. That is really all I need. I had zero need for my wallet or my phone (not a smart phone so no reason to carry it) at any race I have previously run.

Friday, I took 4 vacation hours and I will go get my packet from the Expo, meander around there for a bit, and then probably swing by a GoodWill and buy the warmest clothes I can find that are half off for the week. These I will wear in that pre-race hour while I am waiting and shivering in the pre-dawn fog, to be discarded and donated to local homeless shelters right before we hit the start line. I might also try the trash bag trick, since I have heard it is effective, and the forecast is calling for fog and high humidity. Friday’s dinner needs to be a KISS meal. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Chicken. Broccoli. Rice or noodles. Lots of water. Not a massive spaghetti dinner. Not something new and unusual. Not even a trusted restaurant.

One nice thing: my lack of focus has meant that I am not in pre-race freakout mode like I normally would be. I am calm and just looking forward to the atmosphere of race day and getting this one done and on the books.

To Do:
Clean and decide about my fuel belt
Charge up iPod
Centrally locate all my technical gear and start deciding what to wear
Figure out post-race meeting spot
Locate if possible GU Salted Caramel gels (!!!)
Try to get more sleep (ha!)
Get warm donation clothes
Chill out and enjoy this race! It has been MONTHS since I raced and I am really looking forward to this one.

I probably won’t have time to write again. Check back for a post-race recap!

Friday Freak Out In Progress

I did something I don’t normally do. I went to FaceBook and made a post specifically to garner some encouragement. I love my FB Friends. They are very good to me.

Tomorrow morning is just another Saturday morning Half Marathon Training Team run. Only it isn’t just another Saturday morning Half Marathon Training Team run. This day, October 19, has been looming larger and larger for me ever since I opened my Training Manual and turned to the Intermediate Schedule and saw that the Intermediate teams would run a 14 mile route.

Knowing this date was coming was just sort of sitting there in the back of my mind, but as each week has gotten longer and as the long runs have gotten more difficult, the number 14 started becoming more and more intimidating. My brain is being overwhelmed by “Ohmigawd this is gonna hurt!” and I know I am setting myself up in a bad way just by being this anxious about the distance.

I was so miserable after last week’s 13 mile distance that I didn’t even walk back all the way to the Stadium where I could go pick up my new team shirt. I just limped straight to the car. I was too pitiful to let a free shirt draw me up that hill any further. I just keep thinking “If that was bad, how much worse is 14+ going to feel?”

It doesn’t help that the route covers some very familiar territory, including the location of actual race finish line (at only the 6 mile point; how is that for a mental sideswipe?), running directly past my place of work (or the starting and finishing point of every lunch time outdoor run I make during the week), and the dreaded long slog west on Broad Street (the first 2.5 miles of the race).

Yes, I can feel myself psyching myself out.

I feel unprepared. Hell, I am unprepared. This feels as big as race morning and I don’t have a plan in place like I would for race morning. Breakfast or no breakfast? How many GUs should I carry? What clothes will I wear? Those are questions I would have answers for if this was race day. And I don’t.

See? I am freaking out. So I am writing this out; getting it off my chest, actively seeking support even if it is just a shout-out from a bud on FB, and making it a point to ask myself the questions above and think up answers for them.

Some people I have talked to have asked why we run a 14 mile distance training run for a race that is only 13.1 miles long? The answer is simple: it will make race day easier to handle mentally. You know you can beat the distance and then some. Boom. Instant confidence builder. This one day with one extra mile isn’t going to do anything for me, physically, but as you can see from the freak-out I am undergoing right now, once it is over and done, I will have achieved something new, something I have never done before and that is why we run 14. It is good for your brain.

Maybe that can be my mantra tomorrow. “This is good for my brain.”

We’ll see.

I am still pretty nervous.

PS: This was my 99th post. My 100th post will be about my longest run ever. I like that.

“‘Til The Lights Go Out”


I have been trying for weeks to write a post. Probably 2 dozen half posts have been written and then I lose my train of thought, the message I am trying to convey gets stale, work considerations take over, or I just realize what I have written is not very interesting, and the words vanish off the screen.

So as it stands, I am 47 days from my next half marathon. Last week, between Sunday and Saturday, I logged 30 miles, which might be the most miles I have ever run in a week. Maybe not though.

Saturday, I ran my hardest long run in a very long time. Probably the combination of the high mileage and a weight training session the day before contributed to PAIN. My legs hurt so much at the end of the run that I am forced to admit that I just leaned against the van to hold me up at the end. I was completely wrung out.

Adrenaline can come out in the form of the “runner’s high,” which is an enjoyable feeling. It can also (in my experience) come out in the “crash and burn” feeling. Emotions and pain come out. Not fun. That’s where I found myself Saturday morning; crashing and burning.

It’s all good. That happens. I came home and discovered that I had run the route at around my goal race pace. Well, rock on. I maintained my desired race pace for 2 hours. I just have to tack on a couple more miles at that pace and I will achieve my desired outcome in November. It’ll hurt. Of course it will. I don’t think I have ever finished a long distance race where I didn’t hurt by the end.

I went through some dark times on Saturday morning. Every time I finish one of these really difficult runs, I learn a new way to help me push through and I learn more and more that my limits are mostly in my head. My difficulties began when I realized I missed a turn with the intermediate team and dropped some distance off my overall run (I didn’t know it at the time it turned out to be less than a half mile lost, so not a big deal). Mentally, I took it very hard. “What?! Lame ass, you cut your run short! You are SUCH a slack ass. Why even bother running if you’re just going to cheat!” My brain hates me. I suspect it is an evolutionary response to help encourage self preservation.

I wanted to quit and I was on Monument Avenue where every single intersection for almost two miles offered me the opportunity to turn left and head for home well before it was time. I can’t express how hard it was to not make one of those left turns in shame and defeat, but limp my way home and end the pain and discomfort.

Eventually, I saw someone who I have seen here at the office; he is on the same team I am and we work in the same place. I decided it was time to make an introduction. His name is Greg, he works in Insurance and he works closely with a few of my lawyers. We chatted a bit and it really did help pass some time and get my mind out of the negative spiral it was caught in. As I passed Sheppard Street, which was the same street we would ultimately loop back to and use to reach our finish point, I crossed the intersection knowing I had committed not to give up and finish the distance, with roughly 3.5 more miles to go.

I turned up my music, I sang out loud, I talked out loud. I recalled Grace’s birth (her birthday was last week so it came easily to mind) and reminded myself how much that hurt but how I couldn’t quit until it was done. That became some sort of mantra in my head. “You couldn’t quit until she arrived and you won’t quit until you get back to the Stadium. Period.”

I told Grace later that she was my inspiration to keep going when it felt too horrible to go any further.

The last mile was all downhill on Douglasdale but it is a steep uphill (from any direction) to get back to City Stadium. Whatever was left in the tank I poured out and sprinted as fast as I could without throwing up all the way up the hill to my van.

Where I cried. I admit it. Tears happen.

I survived, I came home, discovered my much faster than expected pace, and plunked myself into an ice bath that did indeed relieve my pain and left me more than able to get up and go for the rest of the day.

A difficult, grueling, painful run does not have to qualify as a failure. They are chances to break through barriers and overcome what you didn’t think you could. I don’t even think crying in the parking lot while my driver’s side door was the only thing keeping me on my feet was a failure. It was the byproduct of an intensive education session. I learned I could keep going (even sprinting to success) when every fiber of my being was ready to quit. I learned that I do have the strength of will to not turn left and go home early when it didn’t feel like I could go any farther.

I learned that 47 days from race morning, I truly am capable of running my desired race pace for 2+ hours. Isn’t it amazing how a mentally crushing run can turn out to be an incredible confidence builder?

The MOS Plan and What Now?

(This has turned out to be a massive brain dump and I am posting this because I have deleted every single other post I have typed recently; a quick way to get into the habit of muzzling oneself.)

I am being almost literally crushed by the sheer volume of paper on my desk that needs to be scanned into our shared drive so the attorneys can all access this discovery.

So on that note, let me take a few minutes for some “me time” and blog, instead!

As is typical for me after a major race, I have gone radio silent. Not that I haven’t typed up probably a dozen blog entries since 3/16, but for whatever reason, I either find I don’t want to convey what I typed or what I typed doesn’t convey what I actually mean.

The week after the race, I was so jazzed about it that I almost immediately signed up for another half marathon taking place on April 13th, the Dismal Swamp Stomp. I felt amazing, knew I was in great shape, and I wanted to run a flat course and see what time I could come up with.

Real life sent me crashing back to sanity and I have relented from that madness, but I haven’t quit pretending I am training for it. Last Saturday, 15 minutes short of exactly one week post-Instant Classic, I was back at City Stadium with the hardiest of the former Shamrock Training Team who felt like coming out post-race. I put in 6 surprisingly fast miles and came home thrilled. This year’s post race recovery has been a dramatic 180 degree turn around from last year’s recovery. I am hoping to manage to get 7 miles in this Saturday morning before real life requires my immediate attention.

Like I promised myself before the race, I have also gotten back into the weight room, getting back to my Michelle Obama Shoulders lifting program. It is exactly what it sounds like; a weight training program designed to give me an awesome looking body from the waist up.

Bench presses, push ups, deadlifts, rows, military presses, shrugs, raises, and so forth. Some planks and birddogs, too. At least that is one half of the MOS plan. The other half is diet, where currently, I am failing miserably. I’ll get that under control eventually. I’ll get there, just not today.

So what am I driving at? I don’t have a specific goal. I want something but I can’t quite figure out what it is. I know I want to get stronger, fitter, faster. I want to blow last year’s time at the Dauber Dash straight out of the water. I want to have arms and shoulders that are worthy of wearing sleeveless shirts.

Bah. I don’t know. My dander is up and I feel the need to do something out of the ordinary. Maybe I should take up BotN/ACL as someone suggested? Maybe I should just go back to SCA fighting as my husband suggested? Maybe I should look harder at that MMA dojo as the She-Bitch in the back of my brain keeps suggesting? I don’t know. If the suggestions I keep getting are any indication, maybe violence is the answer?

Maybe I just need to focus on getting my shoulders to look like I want them too and getting my miles under 10 minutes?