Here’s What’s Happening

I’d been contemplating what to do with this blog. My thought was to write one last closure post about the move to Richmond before shutting it down. This is after all, a running blog and since I’ve barely been qualifying as Neighborhood Jogger these days, I’ve had nothing to say on the subject for over a year. I like writing though, and while I wished I could find another angle as compelling to write about, without running I’m somewhat speechless.

Life, however, in its infinite mystery, just managed to toss yet another twisty turn, delaying the end of this story.

I’ve been here a couple months now. It would be no exaggeration to say my life has dramatically improved since moving. From a fantastic apartment complete with sunny office, to my pretty and close-to-lots-of-stuff neighborhood, my first brand-new car (bought right after moving…I barely use it but am glad to have it), to my business becoming a force of its own in such a very short time, it’s like I hit the jackpot; I feel lucky as hell almost every damn day.

And though it’s probably a product of age, this is the first place I’ve ever lived where I thought, “Yeah, I could stay here permanently.” The only thing lacking is that I don’t get out-and-about yet, which is really more of a feeling that I should, rather than an actual need since I’m intently focused on work and am a weird hermit anyway, but it is a bit solitary. I’ll get there though, all the more due to this unfolding story.

I’ve been at it again since May, following that 7-month break due to weird body shit. In all this time, my runs have been very short (3.5ish) because there continues to be a level of labor/discomfort that keeps them from being fun. I sometimes stop for a few seconds to chill out despite the fact that I’m already traveling at a snails pace. I’m my usual non-racing weight and hormonally speaking, everything’s still working as usual, so there’s no obvious reason for it, but because my history contains stuff that has no rhyme or reason, I’m all, “eh…one more for the mystery door.”

Now, back in May 2013, I had stopped wearing a Garmin. That was the point where my runs had become increasingly difficult and I wanted to incorporate walking breaks without having to acknowledge exactly how crappy my pace had become. I’ve been freestylin’ ever since, oblivious to the time I leave the house in order to remain clueless of pace.

But in the past few weeks, inspired by several running friends who recently had great races and substantial jumps in their running after periods of difficulty, I’ve been motivated to run with the Garmin again, to face my paces and attempt to improve the situation.

It wasn’t a huge surprise to find out how slow I was going, so that part wasn’t really disappointing, but what remained troubling is the continuing lack of comfort in my runs. After 6 months, you’d think such small runs would at least feel somewhat commonplace.  I know that increasing the distance would certainly help, but I’m not about to go longer if I can’t at least feel ok with a 3-miler.

Over the past week, this stagnant situation came to a head with a string of dark days.  I missed the old Runners World forum participation and Facebook chatter, the race talk, the training banter, the excitement of having a goal to accomplish and the steps it requires along the way. While my design biz has been a substantial distraction, running has remained unfinished business. I’ve been waving off questions about it as “It’s cool, I just do it for exercise now, little runs a few times a week” but it’s not been cool. And when running is not fun to do, it’s easy to find excuses not to. “Oh look, a leaf is swaying, way too windy to run today!” (70 degrees, 6mph wind). Which just adds to the Reasons I Suck.

Starting Over
And then there was Friday.  Halfway through an aggravating 3-miler, I was on the edge of stopping to regather myself (when I do that, I pause my Garmin because I’m too much of an asshole to want that in my pace stats), but this time instead of stopping, I was all “fuckit, I’ll just walk and keep the Garmin going, what difference does any of it make at this point anyway?”  I ended up taking 3 walk breaks in the second half of that puny, pathetic run. Once home, I uploaded the Garmin into Sporttracks, feeling utterly defeated.

So how odd it was, after the upload finished, to see that my average pace (which included the walks) was one of my fastest I’d had since keeping track the last few weeks. Er…what? I sat there in amused surprise for a bit, and then did something I thought I’d never, ever, ever, ever do. Ever.

I looked up Gallowalking.

God, it’s so embarrassing just writing that. Run/Walking is for noobs! It’s for people who just want to “complete” a race! Blah blah, more judgmental blah.  But the truth of the matter is that what I’m doing now clearly isn’t working, something needs to change.

It seemed to me that if I decided breaks were not only allowed but necessary, then I could rid myself of the quitter mentality that plagues me, while recovery from the constant resets could surely get me over the distance hump and might even make the whole discomfort issue moot. Whoa.

So how to approach this run/walking deal?  I could do it like I did when I gave up the Garmin – running until it didn’t feel so great, then walking a bit – the only difference is now I’d record it on my Garmin and not berate myself. Pfft…like that could happen. Because if you walk due to having reached a point where you need to, you’ve already messed up. And I would never let such an opportunity to bitch at myself go by.

On the other hand, by doing it in a structured way from the very start of the run, you avoid reaching that crap point to begin with. The more I thought it about it, the more I realized I needed to do this for real: the Galloway way. sigh

But when I looked at his suggested ratios of running to walking, I balked. “3:1? 4:1? OMG, you must be kidding, I’ll do 8:1 or 9:1. After all, I’m a Real Runner!”  But then I remembered I’m currently a Truly Shitty Runner and if I’m going to do it, why not go all in? I have absolutely nothing to lose – certainly no existing fitness – and hell, I’ve regressed to a beginner state anyway so would it be so bad to leave my ego and expectations behind? 4:1 it is!

So yesterday I went for my first official run/walk and it was just as I imagined it’d be, only better. Pace ended up being irrelevant because I got to explore a trail I’d been dying to run but hadn’t had the opportunity because it’s 2.25mi from my house (I haven’t run farther than 4mi since October 2013). It turned out to be a one-person-wide, “geez, there are steep jutty rocks here, oh shit a guy on a bike, where am I supposed to go!?” trail with lots of ups and downs – huge fun!

In the end, I went 6.33 miles. A genuine blast of a run in a new environment, twice the length of my normal crap runs (ok, technically just 5.3mi of that was actual running, but that’s still more than I’ve done in a year), where I felt I was working but could “legally” recompose, and without once entering a bad headspace. Win!

So this is officially my new running experiment. Let’s see where it takes me.

The Circle Of Garmin
7 years ago, while in the midst of Couch To 5k (the venerable learn-to-run plan that turned this sloth into a runner), I bought my first Garmin. Though I was still in the thick of the run/walk phase, I already knew with certainty that I’d be into running for the long haul, so I happily plunked down a large chunk of cash for a Garmin 305.  I’ve since had two 305’s and a 205 due to their unexpected deaths and while Garmin stopped making both models years ago, my current 305 still works just fine.

But there I was yesterday, in an odd sort of deja vu, once again sitting at the computer making a similar purchase: the Garmin 220. The situation was tinged with irony because in 2007, it was bought with excited expectations of leaving the run/walk phase for continuous runs, whereas yesterday it was bought solely as a commitment for trading continuous runs in favor of run/walking. It’ll help because the newfangled Garmins have vibration alerts, so I’ll be able to avoid the immense amount of interval beeping required for all that ::snicker:: Gallowalking.

On a last and other note, as mentioned in the Richmond section above, I take alone-time to the extreme though I know it’s not the healthiest way to be. My hope was to eventually join a running club, but at the level I’ve been running at, I wasn’t about to pursue it. But now, with a little greasing of the wheels and motivation to get back in the game, it won’t be long before I’ll feel comfortable enough to join one of the many Richmond running groups.

In the meantime, look at what I’m doing right here…writing a blog post! Talking! sort of

So here’s to fresh starts, of which I’m guaranteed plenty due to a shitload of walking breaks ahead.

18 thoughts on “Here’s What’s Happening

  1. BackpackDad

    Glad to see you back online, and glad you’re covering more miles. Welcome to the southeast. Lots of mid distance runs and run/walk events, all times of the year. Consider Roanoke Rapids Half Marathon and 8 mile run/walk just south of the VA/NC border. I’ve found most mid distance events down here are pretty welcoming of run/walk folks.

    1. Flo Post author

      Thank you! Sweet of you to pop in. I’ve got quite a ways to go before even contemplating a race, but I’ll keep those in mind! Great to have the inside scoop. :) Cheers!

  2. BridgetteH

    Yay a post from Flo!! I’ve got my fingers crossed for you! I can sort of relate to starting over…after more than a year of dealing with various hamstring injuries, my tempo pace is not much faster than what my long slow run pace used to be. Oh well, ANY running (walking/crawling) is better than no running, right? Keep posting!!

    1. Flo Post author

      Aargh on the injuries! May your road back to fabulous running be a short straight line. Seems like every time something sucky happens, we learn one more tool to adapt. Thank god. Thanks for the crossed fingers, I’ll take ’em! :)

  3. Ewen

    Great read Flo! So happy that you stumbled upon and are giving serious Gallowalking a go. Nothing wrong with walking (or ‘interval walking’) at all! In fact I might give that a shot myself to get my standard 8-10k run up to a long run again. And I can take photos during the walks! Yes, hook up with some local groups – the social side of friendly easy running groups is great and you can explore more places in your new home town.

    1. Flo Post author

      Ewen! Thanks for the support, darlin’. If you decide to use it for building distance, I vote “Yes! Great idea”. It’s really fun and makes it like a game because you can adjust on the fly: do a harder run interval, take a slower walk or use a couple intervals to work on form, etc. Agreed on the benefits of the group scene, I’m definitely going to give it a go once I get settled in with longer distances…won’t be long!

  4. Vern


    Way too critical on yourself. As I approach my 6th decade, running is not the same as it once was. The first mile sucks, taking much longer to get into the groove. Injuries are commonplace and frequently get in the way of race plans. I find my mind wandering back to past races and thinking, how did I run so far and at that pace. Running is a cruel sport, we can chart our physical demise in minutes and seconds per mile. I’m not an advice giver but for you, I’ll make an exception. I know it sounds cliche but take each run as a gift, no matter how short or how slow. Welcome to Virginia, I think you’ll like it here.

    Vern in Va. Beach

    1. Flo Post author

      You’re a fellow Virginian! Howdy neighbor. Oh, I don’t know about critical, I just have a need to find sense in things. It’s a hobby. :) I’ll take your advice to heart.

    2. Michael

      I agree about it being a “cruel” sport.At our ages , it’s all about staying injury free and staying aerobically strong while injured. In the last 25 months, I’ve been able to “train” for a total of 13 months due to two bouts of AT, a 6 month crapola of hamstring issues , and a calf issue (now resolving). Luckily, I’ve done my injury down time on an elliptical (my own) as well as a spin bike(my own as well). Utilizing cross-training like this, I’ve been able to get back into the running/training groove fairly quickly…at least in an aerobic sense. The physical pounding that running actually places on you is another matter, and you must go at this is tiny baby steps. The kicker for me has been, and will probably always be…the fact that I always try to return from injury way too soon. I’ve been into this sport for 55+ years, but am still incapable of knowing when to go easy when I should go easy, go hard when I need to go hard, and to do nothing when I need to do nothing.
      Yo, Flo! you’ll love the G 220. I NEVER thought I’d be able to replace my duct-taped-to-Hell 305, but the 220 ha turned out to be all the 305 ever was, and then some. Hang in there! BTW: You’re graphics are wonderful! Great sense of color and design. But, really…making a living designing cup cake toppers?! Gotta love it! An inspiration to all of is in so many ways! :)

      1. Flo Post author

        Michael, you sweet thing, I’m aglow with all your lovely words, thank you!

        I cannot believe you’ve been doing this crazy thing for 55+ years, that’s hugely impressive – you have my utmost respect. And though it still may be a guessing game for you, I’m guessing you’ll be at it for several decades to come(I’d say another 55 years, but I’m not that much of an optimist). But dang, sorry to hear you’ve been out of commission for that many months total. Good on you keeping up the fitness, it’s not easy to stay motivated when things aren’t working right, so great job getting through it. Here’s to the last of the calf crap going away asap and a string of good training for you after.

        Yay on the 220! I’m so excited, it arrives tomorrow. Glad you’re a happy customer. :)

  5. Jim E

    Hey Flo! Purchasing a new Garmin? I like the sound of that. Also looking forward to your Gallowalking adventures.

    1. Flo Post author

      Hey Jim! :) So far so good. Hope all is well with you these days, too. Must peek in on 3:20 to catch up on your doings.

  6. Adrienne

    Welcome back! You know, it is really hard coming back-as I’ve bad to do over and over again, but I keep telling myself to stay in the present and do what works for me. it’s not really flashy, but man, its great to just be able to run at all:)

    1. Flo Post author

      You speak the truth. girl! That’s the best way to handle it, by staying in the present. When things are rough, you can’t help but compare yourself to the past but once you’ve tapped out all your lows, the little inner wins can be as satisfying as new PRs. :)

  7. Peggy

    Such a great post – thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you are loving Richmond – great move for you. It was time for us both to get out of Philly. I can relate to many aspects of your story (like going from being competitive and racing to barely feeling like a runner, the whole take breaks on runs, stopping garmin to not affect pace, running not getting easier when I think it should, and missing the banter of our CA runners world forum). It’s a sign of maturity to break away from our stereotypes of what a runner should be, finding what works personally.

    1. Flo Post author

      Peggy, thanks honey, I do feel a lot in common with you for how our trajectories have gone, running-wise. I’m thrilled to see that life Down Under is going so beautifully for you, that was quite a move! I don’t think either of us will miss Philly. :) Hugs to you, girl.

  8. Elizabeth

    Great to hear from you, and it’s good to see you getting pumped about running again. No shame at all in Galloway. I met a woman on a plane once who ran a 3:30 marathon on Galloway. It can work for anyone! Next time I am in Richmond I will be sure to meet up with you!

    1. Flo Post author

      Yay on the 3:30 Gallowalker. I honestly have thrown all my judgement aside and am open to whatever it gives me. From the runs I’ve done so far, I’m freaking thrilled over it. So I’ll probably pretend to continue to be sarcastic about it (because I have a caustic, cynical rep to uphold), but in reality, I’m jumping up and down with excitement for how it’s letting me feel again…like a runner!

      You better come visit me! It’d be great to sit down with some drinks and gab. :)

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