Saturday, December 31, 2011

a full year

when i started writing this blog out, about my process of running. the pitfals & triumphs. I didn't expect to accomplish the things that I did. I ran multiple 5K's, one 10K, and one 15K race. My nike+ said I ran over 98 miles this season. I know it's more than that because of how many times I did not use my nike+ system.

it is crazy to me. along the way, the crazier fact was that so many people I knew started up running. in my last race I saw someone I used to date, someone who when we dated she thought i was crazy for my running & my food plan. She was faster than I was at my last run in December. While the competitive jerk in me pushed myself to try and beat her across the finish line, somewhere in my heart I let go of my anger. I am actually proud of her and her journey.

I've been letting go a lot recently. trying to find my way to a spot where i feel really good, really healthy. I've got a long way to go but i know I can put in the time.

I'll rest until mid January, then I'll start a treadmill walking program to build distance on my legs at a slow pace. This will go until April, and then I will start training for a half marathon. I'll run the Boilermaker again and try to beat my time. I'll run the Stockadeathon or the Hudson Half. I will run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January 2013 and the Disneyland Half in September of 2013. I will get my Coast to Coast medal. I will put in my strength training time and I will take the stretching class at Back In Balance.

I know that I can do all of these things, I just have to weave them into my life. I'm looking forward to BeRunning again because this time the goal race is one of your choosing. So my friends who want to run a 5K,10K, or attempt the Boilermaker with me, well i'm coming at you with information.

Emotionally, this year has been an awakening. I've been hurting since 2009 and I haven't dealt with any of it. Maybe bits and pieces but certainly not the big things. Cute girls just keep stepping in my path. I can't say that I will be rid of all that ailed me. I'm still trying to figure out the issues with my leg and back. still trying to settle with what I need here in the capital district. still trying to define my own version of self care and promising to be a little nicer to myself as the year begins.

it's funny that it's only been one year. 2008-2009 was personal trainers, 50lbs lost, and a car accident. 2010-Now was running, singing, and smiling. 2012, now that will be a great adventure.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Maybe I changed my tune

This past Sunday I ran my Fall Frun Run 10K race that I had been training for with the BeRunning group. While I went into running and training with a group open minded I found that I struggled with the process. Sometimes it was hard because of my speed, I ran with the same people week in and week out. I got to know them but I didn't get to know the whole group. (In actuality, it's a really interesting study in group dynamics because we never really went through Tuckman's theory of development.)

I'm an introvert, so until I know you and feel safe/comfortable around you I really don't show my personality. Which means, when we wait in a group at the beginning and end of runs, well I become an awkward 12 year old kid. So that also means I try to find the fastest route out of the awkward situation.

So I was going into Sunday's run with a shaky leg, the mentor I ran with the most was down in NYC supporting another BeRunner in the NYC Marathon, and everyone was faster than I was. Wicked faster than I was. I had the fear of coming in last inside my head.

Left and right we kept being asked if we were nervous. I responded each time, yes. I was nervous. Inside I knew that I didn't give it everything I could have in my training, that I had a few setbacks physically, that mentally I've been all over the place. I voiced my fear of coming in last and being slow to Jenika, a fellow participant. She assured me I'd be great and said she'd come back out to find me after she finished as long as I agreed to do the same for her if I finished before her. That made me smile. We both knew she'd finish first but she just kept trying to stay positive with me.

As a group we gathered and Fantastic George led us in a cheer to get us excited. It got us a lot of glances, which was neat because people were wondering who our group was. George said it would happen, but sometimes I let my skeptic win out.

I lined up with the other runners from our group and once again, taking the voice of Ed Tse in my head (and in my face!) "let's hang out to the side and let everyone else start". Then keeping the voice of Joel Tse in my head, I picked out a target for a "kill" (i know that doesn't sound nice but it's meant with love)

It didn't take very long for the entire group of runners to be way off in the distance to me. We hit a shady patch of the course running out to the road and i thought, maybe I didn't have enough layers on, or maybe next time bring your gloves. I use a GymBoss timer to give me my intervals. I was doing 7 minutes running & 1 minute walking. My legs were so heavy that the first mile made me feel like death. My left shin and ankle were tightening, I started to get worried. I was running and it was painful. I kept hearing Marey's voice telling me to relax from toe to crown, kept hearing Kerry tell me to slow down and keep my shoulders loose.

As I approached 1.5 miles I made my move. Purple hat & orange shirt had been in front of me. I knew that I was currently in last place. I knew that I needed to pick it up in order to get past them. I thought we might play "tag" like I did with the women in the Great Pumpkin but I passed them, chalked two kills internally and then went back to my leg.

I had passed the first mile clock around 13:50 which is pretty damn good for me. However, it also let me know I was running faster than my regular pace and that I had planed for a 15/16 min per mile pace. So I slowed it down and tried to relax while walking. When I got to the mile two clock Marey was manning the station. She asked how I was feeling, reminded me to relax and I kept on trucking.

Around mile 2.5 (i think) was our first hill. Now, I knew there would be a hill there. It wasn't super steep it was just longer than I expected. I ran a bit of it but then had to walk. Dorothea's voice was in my ear telling me not to be stubborn & prideful and just accept the walk uphill. The rolling hills after the big hill, well those sucked balls too, but I kept my arms pumping and kept looking back making sure I was putting some distance between me and purple hat.

When I saw the mile 4 clock, it felt good to know I was on track to sustain 1 hour 36 minutes as my 10K PR time. I did the math, I thought I'd make it and have a slight chance to even beat it. Mile 5 left me feeling cold, we were getting back in shady parts, there were more cars on the road, the runners who have finished the race in 40 minutes are now running the reverse race route doing their additional run workout (which makes you want to trip them, I'm not going to lie to you)

leave no BeRunner behind
I started the journey back onto Shenedahowa's campus, I had forgotten that we had to run across a field. Just as I was not feeling the field I heard "YOU GOT THIS HOLLIE!" over a megaphone. It was coming from Fantastic George. I ran closer and saw Marey. I saw Jenika's orange hat, Jessie & Latticia, I heard Ed's voice. They all came back to run me in. I was loosing my breath at that point. The cold air was wrecking my lungs, burning with each breath.  Ed told me he was a zombie chasing me, Letticia started singing the U.S. States song, they all just kept me going.

A runnin rhino all the way to the end
We got onto the track and started the last bit of the run. My brother ran up on the side and started running with us as a group. Letticia knew what my 10K goal was, she kept giving me updates. Ed told me to push until i didn't think i could push anymore and that I could pass out after the finish line. Next Letticia told me I had 30 seconds to get to the finish to make my goal.

I started sprinting. I honestly have no idea where the energy came from. It hurt, i'm not going to lie. My lungs burnt and I was ready to cry but no one was taking my goal away from me, myself included.

Both sides of the finish line
George P. Kansas and I
As I started to sprint I could hear the group running with me start shouting & cheering and I was running to an even bigger group waiting for me cheering and jumping. I crossed the finish line at 1:35:55 (with the Ed Tse voice inside telling me yeah I did even better cause of my NET time!) I crossed the finish line and went right into hugs, high fives, and photos. I set a new 10K PR (personal record) of 1:35:29

I finally got it. I finally understood group running. I had asked a lot of friends to come out to the race and see me finish. Honestly, who wants to wake up early to watch someone finish a race right at the end? My fellow group of BeRunning runners do. They wanted to support me and they wanted to see me succeed on my own level of success. Not once did any of them tell me I shouldn't run a 10K, or that I was too slow. They just kept telling me that I could.

So to answer the doubts that I had when I told myself that I paid money to have someone remind me to run, that's not what you paid for Hollie. You paid for an opportunity to be introduced to some amazing people who showed you that runners come in every shape, size and speed.

So maybe I changed my tune and you know what? I feel FANTASTIC GEORGE!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin

This past weekend I ran The Great Pumpkin Challenge 5K, which benefits the Saratoga Bridges Foundation. It has now become an important race for me. Last year in 2010, The Great Pumpkin 5K was the first 5K I ever walk/ran. I completed it in 53 minutes. This year, I completed it in 46 minutes.

I was excited about the race because of a few factors. 1. I already knew the race route. I run in the park a lot, so I am really comfortable with knowing how much further I had to do. 2. I had my GymBoss timer and was testing out a run 7 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 minutes game plan. 3. I like the costumes people wear. 4. I knew there were going to be a few people from BeRunning there. 5. This race marked one full year of racing.

The race was chip timed so my time wouldn't start until I crossed the mats at the start line. So I let everyone start out and be all run & stop & start. The 10K racers start alongside the 5K racers so it can be intimidating and I tend to start out too fast. I ran into "Fantastic George" at the start line. We chatted while other participants started. His goal was the 10K in under or close to an hour. Mine, was to finish pain free.

I started out and I firmly believe I am an Iron Eagle. What does this mean? Well in Iron Eagle, music isn't allowed in the fighter jet cockpits. This kid knows he can fly and his mentor (CHAPPY!) knows he can fly, he just fly's with helps him focus. When he is reprimanded and the music is taken away, he just doesn't perform well. When he goes in to save his dad against all odds, he puts his tape in his walkman and fly's like you'd never believe.

See, that's me. When I have music & a tempo I can pace myself better. I know how I'm supposed to keep time with the music. Keeping time without my music, I often run too fast and end up cramping early. It helps me not be distracted, it helps me focus on breathing. In the 10K, I can't wear headphones. I'm nervous about running for an hour & a half without music.

At the Great Pumpkin race I started out well. I was burning/killing past so many people. I kept a steady pace as small children tried the sprint & stop to keep catching up to me. Other runners with a slow pace were doing a 3:1 ratio. So we ended up playing tag a lot. The two women I enjoyed playing tag with were the ones that I got stuck behind a stroller with. If you run in 5K's you'll sometimes see them. These mom's with jogging strollers. Well, sometimes those mom's are wicked fast. Other times, they are super slow and take up space on a path. So it became my pass a stroller. I kicked up my pace and jumped past them, then I slowed my pace back down and kept steady. Eventually, I hear my tag friends coming up behind me. It was awesome. Since I heard these women I knew that the stroller was way behind. I effectively passed a stroller mom.

I tried to set my sights further down the race route. As I saw the water stop approach my sight lines I saw my new goal. BUNSEN & BEAKER. Two people were dressed as Bunsen Honeydew & Beaker from The Muppets. I was close enough to catch up with them if I kept my pace. (which my Nike + app said I was at a 12 min pace, later I found out it was really a 14 min pace - still better than my average 16 minute pace) Yet, each time I started running Bunsen & Beaker started running. Each time I walked, they walked. I just couldn't catch up to them. Towards the last mile there was a group of 5 women that we were playing leapfrog. As I passed the woman who was part of the stroller pass crew I shouted to her "I know they arn't beating me technically, but hell I wanted to pass Bunsen & Beaker so badly"

I rounded  the area where I knew the finish line was. It was at this point that I don't remember who was around me. I knew to keep to the right because 10K runners were finishing on the left. I saw the finish line and I sprinted, full on sprinted, heart pumping going to fall out of my chest sprinted. As I sprinted to the finish line I heard Mary (a BeRunner mentor I ran with on Wednesday night) shout out "Yeah Hollie" and then over the speaker I heard "Hollie Miller coming in fast". It was neat.

I walked, got my half bagel & water, stretched and then walked back towards my car. While walking back I saw George entering the finish line area. I shouted for him and looked at the clock, it was about an hour & 5 minutes on the race clock but I know he started like I did, so his net time was probably an hour. Then I ran into Ed & Kate and some other BeRunner mentors, chatted a bit, and then I walked back to the car.

It was a great race. I had a good beer (Ten Penny Ale) as my reward and my legs were tired and just normal sore. My foot didn't go numb and my shin & ankle didn't seize up. Overall, I felt good.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Please come support me

Dear Friends,
I know that several of you have been keeping track of my running season and have been supporting me online as I face my challenges. I have been working with a group called BeRunning and have been training for the past eight weeks with them in preparation to run my first official 10K (6.2 miles) We found out the race route the other day and I was kind of excited that we'd be finishing on the track at Shenendehowa High School. This means bleachers. This is a request to help fill those bleachers.

But Hollie, I don't want to get up early.
Here's the thing, it will take me about 1hr 30mins to run the race. So if you get to the bleachers by 10-10:15am you are pretty much guaranteed to see me cross the finish line.

But Hollie, what will I do while I wait for you to hit the finish line.
You, my friends are a creative bunch. My suggestion is to bring blankets & hot cider. I mean, if that cider is spiked with brandy I won't tell anyone. Just make sure you have a designated driver.

But Hollie, you run all the time. I'll catch another race. It's cold.
I get it, I understand. It's cold, it's early. Bundle up, I'll be running in shorts. But here's why I want you there. We all have things in our life that are challenges to us. When we overcome those challenges, we want our loved ones to be part of that experience. I can't tell you what it does for a runner when you hear your name being cheered out as your approach & cross the finish line. A mentor cheered for me this weekend when I crossed at The Great Pumpkin 5K. It made me smile & push faster the last 25/50 yards.

But Hollie, I don't even live near you anymore.
I'll take care of a place to stay if you really want to come up (or down) for it. If you're randomly up for the weekend, well this would be a little early morning adventure. Perhaps we'll all go get some pancakes after.

But Hollie, I run all the time too and I want to run it with you.
O.K., all the race information is below.
SO my friends, please just promise me you'll think about coming and sitting in the bleachers to cheer me on. I know we all have busy lives and it seems really silly to have people come out early in the morning just to watch people run past you. But you can't blame a girl for trying.

To Benefit the Albany Medical Center Children's Hospital
Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 9am at Shenendehowa High School, Clifton Park, NY
The newest road race to hit the Capital District will be a mega-experience that you will one day gladly say you were there for the first! The course barely has 5 turns and features an epic finish on the Shen HS track! We'll be pulling out all the stops with technological fun, so come on down and see what we've been up to back in the lab! There will also be ample refreshments for you along with a live band and a true party atmosphere!

Here's the event website:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

heatwraps & snacks

Right now I've got a Thermacare heat wrap on my shin. It's just starting it's warming feature. It's cause I am attempting heat. Last night after my group run I iced my whole shin. It's annoying because I am in a good amount of pain after I run. However, when I run it doesn't hurt until I slow down or walk. Also, my foot has gone numb in the past two runs and my ankle seizes and makes my foot slap into the pavement.

Did I mention that the bruise/bump that I had concerns about way back when I started running last year has increased by two inches?

So let's review. Raised bump & bruise on mid shin. Pins & Needles that run from my big toe to the bottom of my butt. Throbbing on the top of the foot near a raised vein. Throbbing in shin coincides with throbbing on shin. All of this is occurring only on one leg. My left leg. Running about 1.4 miles is what agitates it. 30 minutes later the pain goes away. There is a dead leg throb that remains but it is nothing like the pain while running.

My podiatrist adjusted my insert to stop the front of my foot from pronating. Then he referred me to a vascular specialist. He wants to rule out a vein & circulation issue before moving on to testing for compartment syndrome. Both items have their scary aspects.

Vascular - it could be Deep Vein Thrombosis which my vein could clog and the blood clot could go to my lungs or brain and I die. Yes, it's dramatic and the worst case scenario. Best case is it is just the vein and I have surgery to burn & kill the vein and reroute to other veins. It might help the pins & needles and it might even help my headaches. Still, there is surgery involved. Well surgery & blood thinners, which will make me kiss alcohol goodbye.

Compartment Syndrome - muscles have these sheaths around them that expand & contract along with the muscle. Sometimes when you become very muscular the sheath does not stretch with the muscle, instead it contracts on the muscle and can pinch off veins & nerves. The pain is often misdiagnosed as shin splints. Shin splint pain stays for two to three weeks and does not get better when you stop the activity. For compartment syndrome they stick your muscle with a  pressure measurement tool, patch you up with a sterile dressing, and then ask you to perform the activity that irritates the muscle. Then they measure you 1 minute after stopping and 5 minutes after stopping. If the pressure is abnormal, then they perform surgery. What do they do? Oh, they cut the sheath that surrounds your muscle and if needed place a skin graph on your leg.

Still, my podiatrist is letting me run. Telling me, if it hurts than stop. I went out too fast with a different mentor the other night and I think that kicked my leg a bit too much. Today at work it's been dead & throbbing. Hence the heat wrap. And while I know yoga would be a good thing to help stretch it...i'm just not motivated today.

The health things that have been kicking my ass the past 3 weeks and the fact I've put on 13 pounds...well it sucks the life out of me. Honestly, I think I prefer running on my own. I prefer music. I prefer changing my schedule around. I prefer it to be a want to not a have to.

I'm running the Great Pumpkin 5K this weekend. Last year it was (technically) the first 5K I ever ran. So it's the first race that I know the whole route to already. After that, Nov 6th is my 10K. My last race of the season will be the Troy Turkey Trot (if my friend tells me she registered). In my head I know I ran the boilermaker off of 7 weeks of training and had to rest the two weeks prior to the race. I know I can do the distance, I just want it to be fun again. I want to end my season on some high notes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

half way & half assed

Last week in my running group we had a 5 week in timed 5K again. How did I do? 50 minutes. that's right, i put 3 additional minutes onto my time.

we all have bad runs. bad races. it just majorly sucked that I did so poorly. What were my factors in "failure".
Well, I've half assed my training program. I just got into a yoga class 2 weeks ago. I rarely get my cross training in and my long runs on the weekend have been non-existent because of a lot of excuses.

It is hard to think about this group training, if I like it or not. The people are awesome but they are a lot faster than me. I mean, a lot faster. I know, I's OK to be a turtle. (you bet your sweet bippy ass it is!) it just does something to your motivation when week after week a group of people are waiting for you to finish.

During the timed 5K, I ran the first 14 minutes. No walking. Which really, that is what killed me. My leg tightened up, my hip ached, my head was pounding. So one of the mentors I ran with started timing 7 minutes running, 1 minute walking for me. She talked to me the entire time, which made the long time fly by, but it kept me from focusing on the rhythm of my breath, foot fall, and mental game I play.

I crossed the finish line and felt OK. proud that i completed it. but when i heard my time. that is when i wanted to get away from the group. I was angry at myself. Yes, there were things occurring that I couldn't change. Still, I was angry & disappointed. Another participant reminded me that it was OK and that we all have bad runs.

That night after the group run was one of the worst nights. So what's my big "excuse" - my IIH is acting up again. Stress does a number to the body. It's why my doctors want me to exercise, want me to loose weight. Stress, my body weight, and chemistry cause something very frustrating to happen in my brain. It sends messages to my brain to swell. That swelling causes an extreme amount of pressure & pain in my eyes and head. At best I am always working with a headache that never goes away. At worst, the throbbing is deafening and the sudden sharp pains that flash cause me to loose a bit of my cognitive skills. 

The night of the run I had been having what I call "lightening bolt" pain for the past week. I had missed a few days of work. I needed dark lighting and cool spaces. I wasn't sure how the blood pumping activity of running was going to affect my already blood pumping pressure. I had told our leader George, told him where my emergency information was, and I started the run. With that mentor that I was running with, we talked a lot. She commented on how I've lived a lot of life. I said that I had to. That's all it took for me. I started thinking about dying. I know it's a hard thing to read here but I started to think about it, get scared, and started hyperventilating.

I still want to beat my original 10K time of 10K in 1:38:28 - hell i don't care if i only beat it by one minute.
I still say I'm "Iron Eagle" and often just want to shout out CHAPPY. I run better with music. it lets me run for fun. it lets me run for me and it doesn't make me feel guilty.

I'm running a 5K this Saturday. this one is for me. this one is headphones on. this one is to prove that i can be better. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fantastic George!

At the beginning of our runs our group leader George asks us loudly "how's everyone feeling tonight?" our response is shouted just as loudly back at him "Fantastic George!"

Last night's run was 3.2 miles, yep a full 5K. It was so they could get an idea of our actual time and pace. Our group rules are strict with no headphones, no music. I've never run without it was difficult. I also started out a lot faster than I should. That always happens with groups. I mean I even started towards the back of the group. I did well with keeping up with the group the first time around but then my pace slowed, the air grew thicker, and I had to walk/run.

I know walk/run is not the end of the world. Hell, I do it in most races. It's just when everyone in the group you are running with looks ten times healthier than you, well you try to emulate their health as well.

My "winner" finisher's medal
The second time around a mentor walked parts with me and shouted out tips of relaxing my arms more and keeping my arms at my side while walking and use them to pump. So it was great. Also, they are an encouraging bunch - which is nice. I kept smiling & laughing the entire time so that is a real good thing.

At the end of the race they gave us out finisher's medals. Which is really nice. How did I do? around 47 minutes. So I am off from my last 5K time of 41 minutes. Still, I haven't run in 6 weeks and I felt like crap this morning. So I'm OK with the 47 minutes for right now. It's a good starting time. Ultimately, when I ran The Boilermaker my split time for the 10K portion was 1hr36min so my goal is come November to beat that time. I'd LOVE to run a 10K in an hour or 1:10 but beating my 1:36 is my success goal.

The rest of the week is interesting, especially with my rehearsal schedule. So it's yoga tomorrow, short run on Friday, cross training Saturday, and then a short run & strength training on Sunday. I'm not sure if I'll get yoga in tomorrow because 1. i don't know how to do it. 2. i don't have a gym membership and 3. I have rehearsal at 7pm tomorrow. Friday's run is no problem and Saturday is no problem. Sunday I'll just have to wake up early to get it done before I start Tech Sunday.

So in 10 weeks I should be slimming down, training my legs & lungs, building strength, and making some new friends.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

tonight is the "first day of classes"

I am slowly getting ready for tonight. I am nervous.

I am slow. I am currently run down. I struggle with the notion of me being a runner.

I haven't put on any of my running gear (besides my shoes) for 6 weeks. So I feel like I am starting at the beginning again. I know I will have to start and stop a lot. Which makes me feel like "they're all going to laugh at me."

I know they are adults and they won't laugh but i wonder if they will question my actual ability to do the program.

Hollie it's a 10K training program. You ran a 15K. You survived it.

still, these are my worries.

I also downloaded the week schedule. Really, for the next two weeks all I have time for is the Wednesday night group work. But there is some cross training, some strength, some longer runs, and some yoga in there.

I'll feel better when Frankenstein:A New Musical is done because I'll have more time.

Last year, this is when I started training for the Turkey Trot 5K.

Since then, my life has been different.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Taking the next step

Those who know me in real life, know that i've been working on my fitness since September 2009. I trained with personal trainers, lost about 50 pounds and felt strong. I was sidetracked by personal injury and found my way to wanting to run by seeing my former students run in costumes during a Ragnar race. I found the Warrior Dash and showed it to my brother but I couldn't do it last year because of my shoulder. It was after seeing him run that race with an all uphill first mile, that I knew if I wanted to do it the next year i'd have to run a 5K. My friend Mary Beth heard how I was walking and that I did a 5K distance in about an hour. So she encouraged me to sign up for a race and to use the couch to 5K program. I trained on my own three days a week.

After running my initial 5K, I knew I wanted to keep going and run more 5K's the next season. I also had a great friend convince me to run a 15K. Yep, I'm a crazy bastard who went from 6 5K's to running a 15K, and not just any 15K but The Boilermaker.

Again, I trained on my own three days a week.

But now, I'm taking a big step. I joined a 10K training group. The distance is not an intimidating factor for me. I mean, I ran a 15K. During that race at the 10K marker I said "it's just one more 5K". The intimidating factor is....being social while I run. Being social, not listening to music, and facing my own innate need to compete when there is no competition. It's also being social with new people but Kathleen told me I can no longer use that as a crutch because I do musical theater and I know how to make friends.

So I did it. I took the plunge. I signed up for Be Running 10K program  It's a ten week program where we'll meet once a week on Wednesday nights in Colonie and I'll be assigned a mentor to walk me through all the training. The same group ran a C25K program for Fleet Feet, so they're good with the run/walk programs. I'll still have time to run on my own for long runs. It's just a little crazy to me. I started running last year around this time. I now have 5 5K's under my belt and one 15K.

Now, I'm taking a big girl step. I won't be alone. Which is freaky.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Singing & dancing replaced running & resting

So I haven’t’ written in a while. There is reason for this. Mostly it is because of my schedule with the show I am in. I’m in The WeddingSinger the musical – performing at Russell Sage College’s The Schacht Fine Arts Center in Troy, NY August5-7 and 11-14, 2011 Thurs-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 2pm

I’ve joked around with a fellow office runner that dancing in the show is my cross training. While I joke, it actually feels like it is. The past few weeks have been dance rehearsals for three hours a night in crazy humid situations. Yesterday was our first technical rehearsal, full wigs & costumes. It was a ten hour day. So I’m a little beat up today.

In actual running news, I’m checking out a 10K runners group. Ed, who has been at my two prideful running moments, sent me an email about Be Running.  Wednesday, August 3 · 7:00pm - 8:30pm at the Ciccotti Center - Colonie NY

I’m going to go check it out because really, I think I’m at the point of if I want to get better at running that I need some coaching and I need to learn how to run with a group. I’ve got a few 5K’s lined up for the rest of the summer and into September & October. So training for a 10K until October will be great, then I’ll feel a little better about training from October – January for a half marathon. 

I want to be back into running mode. I do. Still, I know I have to start from the beginning again because I now have the inserts. I know I also have to get back into good nutrition mode. That will come from not being busy every night of the week. I know that the summer has been hard for me to run in. That I prefer fall weather, which means running a month or so in the summer with my training going through August-December for a running season with major goal races. Then I can do a few fun runs during the summer and even think about taking on The Boilermaker again. 

Body image has also been what is killing me right now. Being sucked into spanks like materials under my costumes, while helpful, makes me feel unattractive when I am doing my costume changes. Seeing pictures of me where I am happy and jovial but am just not wearing the most flattering thing just makes me feel different. I know we all have different body image issues. I know I am not alone. I know women who I think are sexy and a healthy body size have their own thoughts and struggles too. It’s just that once upon a time I made a commitment to attack that and though I lost 50lbs, I’m at a plateau. So I have to fight harder to get through that plateau. I really want to go back to Fitness Together. I love the guys there; I love the work out set up. I just can’t afford it right now. My goal though with the 10K training group, is that I can afford once a week at FT and they would be my cross training.  They always helped me through my anger too, pushing me really hard and getting me to lift more than I thought I could. I want to get back to my 50 non-modified pushups in a minute too. That’s where I was before my accident and that’s where I want to get back to. 

So I’m tired. There is no way around that. I will be tired until August 15th when the show is completely over. I’m thinking of trying a 5K on August 20th, but I would have to leave right after to go down to the city for a wedding. I’m still debating the logistics.

Monday, July 18, 2011

When it rains it pours

Sometimes I do not get my life. It's odd. I do get and understand that when you are happy, confident, and loving to yourself, well people notice.

It's nice to be noticed. it's still weird though too.

The other day in my email the notice came that the official Boilermaker photos were in. I never order official race photos. Yet, this time I did. There was a good photo where I didn't look gross but I looked like a runner. A photo where I was running while laughing & smiling. Then there were photos from the finish hill where Joel ran with me. I got a collage of four photos.

I was proud (and still am) of what I accomplished that day. Hell, that entire week, weekend, and following week. I know I am a fighter and I know how to push my limits and survive them.

When I got into Oswego for the wedding, I also got my phone conversation with Champ. It is easier knowing she is still reachable. Time differences are still something to get used to. It will also take some getting used to being a constant part of someone's life from a distance. I am excited for her; seeing someone you care about right on the verge of a great adventure... It's where my developmental theory loving student affairs self just smiles and knows when people have to go through their journey's  and challenges to get to "the other inside" of themselves.

I stated on my facebook,
"Spent the last 48 hours being reminded of love & friendships. It was an excellent reminder. In fact, it was just what I needed."
 I know who I am. I know who I love. I don't know what will come of any of it but I know I am not afraid of this. I know I am lucky. I know those who receive my love are lucky.

My life is odd and when it rains, it pours.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

We're still fighting it

Only Boilermaker Injury
I am not one to believe in Karma. I am however one to believe in negative energy and that if you promote negativity, more negative things happen; which is the case this week.

After the Boilermaker, I went into blister care 101. It was the only amount of physical pain that I was in. While I did the steps of sterilize the needle, poke & drain, Neosporin & bandage, witch hazel and air at night, my skin still cracked. So I have a lot of new baby skin on my foot. It’s painful.

That is not where my negativity comes from.  It comes from waiting. It comes from feeling just the tiny bit empty because something is missing, more like someone. If you know me, you know my tattoo and you know I don’t believe in something being missing, I believe in ebb & flow.   In the long run, this is just the ebb. When in an ebb my thoughts go dark and it is sometimes hard to get out of them.

I don’t depend on people. I just don’t. It takes a lot for me to ask for help and I have gotten better at it over the years.  Still, I’ve had this person who I talked to about everything and really the distance would be OK if we just talked. It’s the silence that is killing me. I know it’s needed for re-adjustment there and here.  It’s just the feeling like you’ve lost someone, someone important.

I also have a hard time pretending. I used to pretend all through high school that everything was great. When people asked “how are you doing?”, I’d say fine, great, super but I was really miserable. I’ve always given the advice to sit with what you are feeling. Well for the past four days I’ve felt angry, sad, hurt and numb. My friends are great because they check in with me. My cast mates are great because they try to get me to laugh.

Still, everyone sees it, this sadness behind my eyes.... 

I’ve been trying to get my blistered skin back into shape so I can start running three days a week again. This morning at the doctors my diastolic blood pressure (pressure while the heart is relaxed) was 20 points higher than normal.  I need my stress to go down and I need my physical activity to get back to normal.  I know it will help with my anger and it will keep me away from "bad things" ;alcohol, fast driving, food binging, and hitting things.  My anger management skills are being tested daily and when my schedule or things I’ve been looking forward to just fall through, well I start to unravel. 

So since plans fell through,  I’ll go to the batting cages today and just hit something with a bat. Each ball gets labeled with an emotion (or sometimes a person). I’m supposed to say it when I hit it. Often small children at the batting cages are scared of me. I say it makes for a teachable moment.

I have come a really far way from who I was, a not confident, obese, depressed girl who waited around for life to happen to her. I get scared when I revert back to that. It takes a lot to fight it. But I’m still fighting it.

This weekend I’ll go back to Oswego, for my college roommates wedding! 

I just want an Oswego sunset or a trip to the water behind Johnson (or Breitbeck Park) I’ll be around fraternity brothers and good friends. I’ll be Dapper Dan in his best summer suit and bow-tie. I’ll still be a little damaged and sad but I’ll be fighting it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Boiler Up!

15K race recap

We left for Utica on Saturday afternoon. Prior to our departure I was a huge bitch to everyone in my path. My family knows when I am stressed out to just stay out of my way. Well, everyone but my father knows this. He just decides to ask questions I’ve already given answers to right when I am desperately searching for something I need to pack.

We got en route and drove right to the packet pick up at the race expo. Our clan we were staying with at the hotel was running late so a plan of photo id pictures sent via text message to us allowed us to pick up everyone elses bib’s & goodie bags.

D. had called when we were there and while we were picking up other bibs she managed to find me. We figured out the actual math and it was 3 years since we had seen each other. While picking up bib’s Paul asked if there was any spots that opened up so he could run the race. While he went off to do that D, her dad, & I went through the goodie bag line. I was picking up goodie bags for five people, when I hear “Ms. Miller!” Pam from Oswego jumped out and gave me a huge hug. She and I haven’t seen each other in 10 years. We talked quickly and then I exited the line and asked D. if she saw what just happened. I told her it was Pam. She said, “Pam from Oswego?” and I said “yep, I think I'm a little more nauseous now, then being worried about the race.” Pam was my first girlfriend and truly I haven’t seen her in over 10 years. She looked exactly the same, she looked good, and the hug was solid & true - reflecting on it now, I’m glad I ran into her.

D. & her dad left and I caught up with my brother. We made our way to the hotel and passed out everyone’s bibs & stuff. Then we headed to Lombardo’s and the pre race feast began. I got to eat everything that I had avoided for the week. Pizza, french fries, some antipasti and a huge Arnold Palmer.

Dinner was spent asking questions like what if I have to go to the bathroom while running? How do I take the water cups & drinks and run (pinch the cup) and pointers like take the ice and stick it down your bra.

After dinner we all just relaxed. The other gang played some frisbee outside. I got to have a nice conversation with Champ. Then we went to bed.

I had paul set his alarm in case mine didn’t work. Good thing too, because mine didn’t work. We woke up at 5:40 got dressed and were out of the hotel by 6am to drop off Steve at the 5K start line. Then we went and parked at the finish line and took the shuttles to the start. This was the first race where I had to do that. It was just pure insanity. Highly organized but still pure insanity. I was intimidated by runners who were more fit than I was. One kid was running it barefoot. I saw D. in the start corral, we hugged, I told her I loved her and hoped to see her at the end. We got to the start line corral and Ed suggested we just wait. It was good too because from the race start gun to when I crossed the start line was a good ten minutes. During this time my Champ texted and said she was at the start. It filled me with so much love to see her there.

I started the race at the back of the pack. Ed, Paul & Kate all are faster runners than I am, so they put some distance between us in the first mile. I’m not going to lie. The first mile was the hardest. I saw the pack her further away from me, I felt i was running too fast, my side was cramping. I felt lame for having to walk within the first mile. A race official saw me and told me to drink a lot of water, smile and just have fun.

The one thing I must say is the city of Utica fucking rocks. All along the race route the people were so great. So many smiles, high fives, Popsicle stops, ice stations all that were just spectator provided. The race was so well organized and there was music and entertainment the entire route.

My nike+ app was going and I had it give me time updates instead of mileage updates so I never knew where I was in mileage until I saw race signs and clocks. After I past the 5K distance I knew the mile 4 hill was coming up. I walked that bitch. I was perfectly fine with walking it. It was also at that time that we heard the winner ran the race in 43 minutes. I was just on mile 4 at that time. Downhill, I ran the whole way. I turned the corner and then was onto mile 5.  I’ve never run past 4.5 miles in all of my training. I just ran 5 miles. I was half way through with the race.

I approached the 6th mile & 10K distance at a rate that I never imagined. 1 hour 38 minutes. When I passed the 10K marker I thought OK Hollie, this is where you said you’d at least be happy with yourself but seriously it’s just one more 5K. Mile 7 is another incline I needed to walk it. I was still walk/running but I needed to walk the hill. All along the route little kids were clamoring to hand me my waters, EMS were checking in with me to see if I was doing OK. I was in a race with two men in their 70’s and one power walker in her early 40’s.

Mile 8 I rounded the corner to the factory and was like WHAT THE FUCK, there’s no shade like you said there would be son. My battery on my phone crapped out and I had to run the rest of the race with no music. No music, dead legs, and swelling hands were all piling up on me. Then like a vision from and oasis there was Joel coming towards me. He handed me his water bottle and showed me how to power walk to make my arms pull me forward and do the work for me. I kept walking and he jumped out and got me a cherry snow cone from the people on the side of the race. It felt good & cold and I was so hot that it was awesome. The whole way getting to mile 9 people kept saying it’s all downhill, or it’s almost finished. We got past mile 9 and Joel said OK, it’s .3 of a mile, that’s like 6 city blocks. I picked up my feet and trotted down the hill. Joel left me and told me it was all me across the finish line. As I approached there was Champ on the right cheering out my name.

I crossed the finish line and Ed congratulated me on finishing my first Boilermaker. A race official came up to me and said this was your first time? I replied yes. She said thank you for running and congratulations and I’d like to shake your hand. So she did.

I finished the race with a net time of 2:34:46

From there was was getting to the post race party. I needed salt very badly. I had stopped at all 20 water stations, so I was hydrated but I lost so much salt through my sweat that my fingers were swollen and I couldn’t make fists without my hands shaking. We found Paul, I drank a beer, and then we ate our lunches in the sun. Champ suggested I get a massage before we left and she went and signed me up for one. It was one of the greatest things. While walking back to the cars we stopped in the Saranac gift shop for some discounted brews but we lost Steve in the crowd.

My legs were OK but my feet had blisters so it was hard to walk. We got back to the truck and I got my bag and Paul drove Champ & I to her car. We stopped at the first rest area and ran into my brother there. I got the best chocolate milkshake and pretzels i’ve ever eaten. Champ had to run back in after and she ran into Joel.

The car ride home with her was so nice. We knew it would be the last moments we’d have together before she left. Our goodbye at my house was hard. I honestly miss her already. She kept smiling at me and told me how proud of me she was. I still love the fact she woke up ass early and drove an hour and a half and had her own crazy misadventures to see me in this race.

I got inside and my mom started to help me with my blisters. My left foot is OK but my right foot had a blister the side of a silver dollar. I took a three hour nap. Our parents went and got food for Paul & I and then my mom and I watched Life as We Know It. It was good and I didn’t have to think (like in all Katherine Heigl) movies. However, there was a scene where her character drives as fast as she can to the airport. That’s when I cried. There is a huge part of me that wants to do that tomorrow but I'm in training from 10am-2pm and her flight is at 3pm. So I’m just going to take tomorrow easy. I’m going to let myself feel everything that I feel tomorrow.

So what’s the next race? Silks & Satins 5K in Saratoga State Park in about two weeks. I have the rest of July before I make my decision but the next big race may be The Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January. I’d start training for it in August. I’m pretty settled on doing it but I just want to let myself come down from my runner’s high.

Race Day 

The above link should let you track me during the race. While I'm writing this ahead of race day, I can predict that I'm really nervous.(it's also posting my split times on my Facebook & Twitter @Holliemiller)

I'll try to be using my Nike + so people can cheer me on through Facebook but i don't know how long my phone battery will last during the race.

Goals for the day are to go as far as I can without injury. Miracles include actually finishing Mile 4, Mile 7, and the entire race.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

This little broadcast shows you how insane i am.

my heart literally ached with pain when i realized how many hills there are.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Two is less than three

Hydration Station
There has been a wave of panic that has washed over me and my friend D. as we found out that the original race allotment time of three hours is now only two hours.

I would have to run & keep my 13 minute mile pace through the entire race to make it even close to two hours. Did I mention it's supposed to be hot and humid Sunday?

I've been prepping all week for the race. I've stayed away from alcohol, have stuck to one caffeinated beverage a day, and have stayed mostly healthy with my food choices.I wanted to be very hydrated before the race. I know it will help. It will make stopping at all the water stations easier because I'll just be working on replacing what I'm loosing in the race.

Race Route
In looking at the route I know the tough part of the race is in the first four miles. Take a look at the difference in elevation for miles 2.5 through 4. It's going to be awesome right?


So yes, I'm scared shitless. Dragon told me even if I don't make the time that I can finish out the race on the sidewalk. My podiatrist begged me to not injure myself. I'm more concerned with heat stroke. I wish it was today's weather for the race because it would be perfect.

So one last thing. I am pretty sure you'll be able to track me while I'm running.

Then if you go to sign up for live runner tracking. I'm U50517LAB but you can search for me by name too. It won't track me after 10:00 am but by 11am I should be posting my results from my timer on Facebook & twitter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Can't is a dirty four lettered word

I want to say that I can't do it. That I can't take it. I want to say these things. It is taking all my energy to concentrate on my breathing so I don't have another panic attack. It is taking all my energy to not say "I can't".

What is causing such panic you may ask?
1. A 2nd round interview for an amazing opportunity.
2. The fact that every hour outside of work is scheduled for this week.
3. The emails from The Boilermaker people - all week long.
4. The fact that I'm taking on 9.3 miles without as much training as I wanted.
5. Trying to spend as much time with someone I love before she leaves.
6. That I am so confused about all the emotions that have been shaken up this last week.
7. That I haven't run on my inserts yet because the doctor won't clear me to run until the 7th.
8. The idea of failing during the race.
9. The worry of being alone, or more so lonely.
10. Getting this new job and leaving everything, start new, and try to succeed.

So what do I do?

My release of running is making me scared. I can't drink this week. I'll be dancing for 3 hours a night Tuesday - Thursday. I am tired of crying. I am nervous about admitting so many things and I don't want to do this alone. I need support - to help me survive.

I think about the interview and I know that I will be alright. That they will either like the answers I give or they won't. That my writing sample will be well written or it won't. I think about the last things I will say. They will be well received or they won't. I think about the race and know that it will be extremely tough and that I will finish or I won't. I think about moving forward with my life and if it's what I want. I have no control and that kills me. I can't focus. Things race too quickly in my head and heart and then I can't breathe. So much of what I've learned since 2004 and being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder has been how to accept not knowing. How to breathe and work through and create a plan.

Today my office mate helped me. He created my plan, the next 30 hours will be focused on dancing & my interview. After that I can pick the next thing to focus on. It however is damn hard. I am thankful for Lil Pup being in town Thursday. Thankful for Clarabell Casablanca just letting me cry on her couch and then realize that a beer needed to be put in my hand. Thankful for D. being just as freaked out by The Boilermaker as I am and knowing we'll both get through it.

I want to not say can't and it is so hard but this is who I am. I have survived so much. So much. So can't is a dirty four lettered word, and I my friends am a lady.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Keep moving forward

Oh remember that plan to bike during my off time, yeah that didn’t really go as planned. I did dance at rehearsal and that for me is staying active.

I got my professional inserts the other afternoon and I have been prescribed five days of “powerwalking” before I can run on them. I looked at him and said “what if I have a race in say 18 days …is that doable?” He looked at me and smiled and said yes but that I might have some hotspots on my feet and to bring some duct tape. I will also be tea soaking the feet I think to try and build up some toughness. 

I want to run. I’ve got too much angst building up inside and I just need to zone out, to focus on one thing to distract me from another. 

I’m trying not to compartmentalize and trying to just be in the moment and not worry about everything that is filtering around me. I want to keep fighting for my dreams but my current life around me keeps getting easier and easier and more stable.  It’s a problem that most people dream of. I’ve even dreamed of it.

I read a quote this morning. If you're torn between staying and going, go. If you were meant to stay, you wouldn't be thinking about going.” - Cecily Morgan

I want to run. Not run towards, not run away from. Just run. 

As The Boilermaker approaches some things have fallen into place. Friends have helped me secure a hotel room closer to Utica so I won’t be waking up at 4am to drive there. I’ll get to check out the race expo on Saturday. My running Yoda will be in close proximity. I’ll see my soul friend for the first time in almost five years (has it really been that long?) My champ for the past 5 months will be there cheering & smiling and my brother will be there dealing with my stress & short temper. 

While The Boilermaker isn’t the end of my season, it’s a testament and while it will be a bitter-sweet day, I’m starting to process through it all and try to keep moving forward.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Right now I’ve got “I believe I can fly” stuck in my head. My office mate has "The Charles in Charge" theme song in his head (mostly because I got it stuck in his head). Lately since I can’t really run, I’ve been dreaming about the Boilermaker. I like to think its fancy visualization techniques but really I’ve never seen one bit of the race course so I’m just imagining what the finish line will look like. 

That’s the coolest part for me though. That I’m visualizing crossing the finish line. It’s not pretty but it’s a finish. 

In my head while I'm dreaming I’m singing “if I can dream it, then I can do it. WOO!”

Its lame, I know this but it makes me smile.

So thanks R. Kelly.