Category Archives: Running

The Joys and Pain of Running

For those of you who know us, it’s no secret Amanda loves to run and I hate it. My lifelong creed has been, “I don’t need to practice running away . . . I plan to stand and fight,” while one of Amanda’s lifelong dreams has been to run a marathon. No big deal, right? I could simply meet her at the finish line. However, there’s a catch . . . she doesn’t want to run it alone. Can ya see how that might cause a conflict?

Well, when you love someone, you make sacrifices. This is never truer than when you become a parent. In my mind, parents should put the needs and wants of their children before their own. Similarly, I think individuals in relationships should put the needs and wants of their partner before their own. At least it’s what I try to do, and, since Amanda loves to run and I love her, guess who’ll be running a marathon in February???

Back around the time we first met, Amanda was already signed up for a half marathon and I decided to run it with her. A bold move for someone who’d never run more than about five miles at a time in his life and who refused to run unless he was chasing a fugitive, but I figured, “How hard could it be?” Sure, I tried to supplement my fight workouts with running over the years, but after running a mile or two here and there, I’d get bored and stick to fighting. In any event, we ran the half marathon with no training (Amanda was too busy falling in love with me to train and I hadn’t had time to do any fight training since becoming a single dad) and we finished at 2:57:26.

Me and Amanda Half Marathon

Neither of us cared about our time, but when Amanda recently started talking about the marathon coming up in February, she explained that we had to complete it in under seven hours or we wouldn’t “finish”. Knowing how important it was to her, I decided to start running with her to prepare for it. It didn’t take me long to realize some things had changed since the last time I’d run.

I began experiencing pain in the front of my ankles that grew increasingly worse as I ran and there was pain in the front of my knee throughout the run. I ran with Amanda a few different times and started experiencing the ankle pain earlier in the run, which seemed to indicate it was getting worse. Certainly not wanting to cause permanent damage over “running”, I slowed my pace to a fast walk, which was equivalent to Amanda’s slow jog, and would jog intermittently. The pain returned when I jogged, but subsided when I walked.

Knowing I had to move faster than I was, I did some research online to try and fix the problems. The knee problem was fixed with a simple Patellar tendon strap. The ankle problem, not so simple.

I went to a popular medical site and learned what I was experiencing was possibly anterior ankle impingement. According to this website, I would have to have surgery or die. (Not really, but when you research your symptoms on the internet, doesn’t it always seem like you end up dead?) Other than surgery, the site suggested a long resting period and slow rehabilitation with a physical therapist. It also said something about the tibia rubbing against the bones of my ankle due to the angle of flexion . . . or something like that. I quit paying attention when they mentioned a physical therapist. I’m a do-it-myselfer and was looking for options I could do at home to solve the problem.

Unconvinced, I turned to one of Amanda’s books, THE EVERYTHING RUNNING BOOK and looked up “anterior ankle pain”. They suggested skipping the top lace on my running shoes, because it put pressure on the tendon at the front of the ankle (I forget the name of the tendon, so I’ll just call it the tendon at the front of the ankle:-). I skipped the top lace and went out jogging one day last week, but still experienced pain in my ankles.

Me and Amanda Rock and Roll Finish Line

That brings us to this morning. Amanda woke up bright and early to go running. She was trying really hard to be quiet as she slipped out of bed and returned to the room with a cup of coffee, but I’m a ninja and woke up when she thought about getting out of bed. I decided I would go “fast-walking” again and see if I could keep up with her quicker jogging pace. It took her about twenty minutes to get ready and I popped out of bed as she was walking out the door and still beat her outside.

We hadn’t gone half a mile when my “fast-walk” pace brought on the pain in my ankles. I told Amanda to just go ahead and get her workout in. As I walked, I began thinking about everything I’d read and considered what I was doing. I remembered reading that my tibia could be rubbing the bones of my ankles because of flexion. During my “fast-walk”, I had extended my stride and caused a deep flexing of my ankles. Although I’d been told all of my life to land on my heels and roll toward my toes when I ran, I decided to discard that philosophy. I began utilizing a shuffling motion to jog, landing flat-footed and taking smaller, quicker steps. This greatly decreased the amount of flexing in my ankles.

I ran with no pain until I caught up to Amanda. When I told her what I’d discovered, she told me she’d read somewhere that a runner with anterior ankle problems should land on the balls of their feet. (I know what you’re thinking . . . why didn’t she tell me that earlier? I thought the same thing until I realized how distracting it must be for her to watch my hot mess running around the neighborhood. And when I say “hot mess”, I mean covered in sweat from my ball cap to my socks–not a pretty sight.)

In any event, we ran 5.5 miles in just over an hour and I didn’t feel any more pain. It was a big relief to finally figure out the cause of the pain and solve the problem, because I really want to give Amanda what she wants . . . and she wants to finish the marathon in under six hours.

“So, then,” you might ask, “Wherein lies the “joys” of running for a person who hates to run?” The truth? The act of running brings me absolutely no joy. I hate it now as much as I ever did. However, the joy comes from spending quality time with the person I love, doing what she loves to do.

BJ Bourg is the author of JAMES 516 (Amber Quill Press, 2014), THE SEVENTH TAKING (Amber Quill Press, 2015), and HOLLOW CRIB (Five Star-Gale-Cengage, 2016).

The All 4 Run by Amanda Bourg

Today I completed the Virtual 4 Miler, the All 4 Run. I love virtual runs for two big reasons: convenience and motivation. I needed both today. I did not have the time to travel to an event and I needed to start running again. I had convinced myself over the last two months that the heat was just too oppressive for running, and it dramatically decreased my training.

I needed motivation and encouragement. Truth be told, I love bling, and I was determined to earn my medal!

I also want to be a marathoner. (Yes, that’s on my bucket list.) I don’t want to climb Everest or become a published novelist (my husband already beat me to this one, but I’m not a creative writer anyway). I’m a runner, and not a very great runner. I’m slow and not built for the sport at all, except in my aspirations. Marathon completion is not far-fetched, since about half a million people complete one each year. Kids have done it, and even people in their 90’s. But this goal has eluded me for far too long.

BJ and I are registered for my first marathon (yes, he got dragged into it), which is 34 weeks from now. I have plenty of time, but I want to keep my soles on the pavement until my glory day arrives.

I finished the All 4 Run 4 Miler at a time of 52:59. When I got started at 7:30 AM, the temperature was 80 degrees with a dew point of 75 degrees. (I know, I should have started earlier, but it was a vacation day.) Oh, and what was BJ doing while I was running? Writing, of course. But he did take time out of his busy schedule to take this picture:

In closing, I want to thank Gone for a Run and my husband for the motivation today.

Amanda Bourg

Crescent Connection Bridge Run 2015

Amanda loves to run and I love Amanda, so it’s been easy for her to check running goals off of her bucket list. One of those dreams was to run the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent Connection Bridge Run, which was set to begin on the West Bank of New Orleans and cross the Mississippi River via the Crescent City Connection Bridge. I’d already started enjoying our “run-aways” for a night here and there, so I hadn’t hesitated many weeks ago when she asked if I wanted to do the Bridge Run, which was set for June 6, 2015 at 7:00 PM.

Fast-forward to yesterday and we’re packing to head to New Orleans for the event. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn on South Peters and checked in around three. The first thing we noticed when we explored our room was that our window faced the Port of New Orleans. (We woke up this morning to see The Carnival Dream docked directly across from us. We got married on The Dream last year, so this was a special treat.)
The Carnival Dream
After we unpacked our stuff, we walked to Wolfe’s Restaurant at the Marriott (the address is 859 Convention Blvd., but we entered off of Fulton St.) and had an early dinner. Amanda is allergic to black pepper (which means she can’t eat anything cooked in Louisiana:-), and she asked the waitress if they could accommodate her condition. The waitress made two or three trips to the kitchen and back, promising to “figure it out”. Well, she did, and the chef made Amanda a great fried shrimp salad that was tasty, but didn’t hurt her stomach. The chef even came to our table to ask if the meal was acceptable. (I told Amanda he just HAD to see this “creature” who couldn’t eat Louisiana seasoning. He’d probably never heard of such blasphemy.)

Wolfe’s at the Marriott
After eating, we got dressed for the run, walked to the pick-up point, and took a bus to the West Bank, where we retrieved my bib (Amanda had her bib shipped to the house) and waited for the race to start.
When the race gun fired, Amanda and I ran to the front of the line, passing up thousands of people, and made it across the bridge in record time. We received a hero’s welcome on the other side, were interviewed by national news media crews, given the keys to the city…

Wait a minute…none of that happened. Instead, we took our spots somewhere toward the middle of the line and walked/jogged to the other side. Along the way, we stopped a dozen times to take pictures (Amanda shot a nice sunset) and we even changed lanes multiple times. We didn’t care what the sign said…we’re outlaws.

Sun setting over New Orleans, LA
The run distance was four miles and it rose to more than three hundred feet over the Mississippi River. It was amazing to be up there in the warm evening air as traffic whisked by just several feet to our right. It was especially cool to stand over the grating and look down at the water so far below.

Along the way, we saw some interesting sights and witnessed people of all ages participating in the event. We passed a man and his son who each had a Go Pro attached to their heads. They looked excited to be doing the event. A little later, we stopped to take a few pictures and they passed us…they no longer looked excited to be there. The boy had “Go Pro hair”, but his Go Pro was gone. He was dragging his feet and staring at the ground, probably wondering why in the heck he had agreed to do it. His dad was trudging along, probably wondering why he hadn’t stayed home and cut grass instead. Another boy told his father, “Daaaaad! My feet are numb! They’re asleeeeeeep!” We saw several people stopping to stretch their legs or vomit, and at least two people fell out along the way. (I hope they’re okay. It was definitely hot, so anyone not accustomed to exercise and being out in the heat might have struggled somewhat.)

All in all, it was a beautiful day and a nice event. While I still don’t like to run, I do very much enjoy our “run-away” stay-cations.
Thanks for reading!

BJ Bourg is the author of JAMES 516 (Amber Quill Press, 2014), THE SEVENTH TAKING (Amber Quill Press, 2015), and HOLLOW CRIB (Five Star-Gale-Cengage, 2016).
© 2015 BJ Bourg

Love Made Me Do It

I don’t like to run. Wait…let me rephrase that; I hateto run. I don’t do it. Never have. Sure, I’ve had to run when I played flag football and soccer (during my two-year stint at this Christian school), I had to run during the police academy, and I’ve done many sprinting drills with my rifle and equipment for sniper training, but I’ve avoided running most of my life like one would avoid swimming in brain-eating-amoeba-infested water.
You see, I’ve been training to fight nearly my entire life and I’ve always participated in fight-specific training. I’d rather spar ten rounds (each round involves 3 minutes of fighting with a short rest period—usually 30 seconds) than run for ten minutes. For me and my specific needs, running is a waste of time. I know it’s a great form of exercise and many people love to do it, but it’s not my thing.
When people ask me if I run or if I would like to go running, I usually answer one of two ways:
1. Sure, I’ll run…after him if he’s got a warrant.
2. I don’t need to practice running away…I plan to stand and fight.
2nd Pro Fight – I’m the bald guy in the red boxing trunks
I provided the latter answer to my wife, Amanda, not long after we first met and were discussing her love for running. She told me how she’d already run a half marathon and wanted to run a full before she kicked the bucket. She also told me she was registered for another half marathon that was only weeks away. When I asked her the distance on a half marathon, she told me it was 13.1 miles.

The farthest I’d ever run was about five miles, and 13.1 miles seemed an impossible task for someone like myself who hated to run. So, in my mind, I immediately ran through all the reasons why I couldn’t do the half marathon with Amanda—all the important things I just knew I had to do that day, like clip my fingernails or fold my socks.

As we continued talking, Amanda said she planned to walk it, because she hadn’t trained for it and she didn’t want to hurt herself. Being the gentleman I am—and realizing instantly I could walk that distance on any given day even through the mountains—I offered to walk it with her. She was elated. I couldn’t believe something as simple as walking beside her for a few hours would make her that happy, but there she was—giddy with excitement that I’d agreed to do something I hated just for her.
On “race” day, Amanda bounced out of bed way too early and dragged me out from under the sheets. We showed up at the Heart and Soles event in Houma, LA with our walking shoes strapped firmly in place and gathered at the starting line with the other folks who had nothing better to do that day. Someone finally popped a cap in the air and everyone started running like they were the ones being shot at. As for Amanda and me, we walked…for about a hundred yards. She turned to me with beautiful brown eyes that sparkled and she was bouncing up and down, nearly jumping out of her skin. “I’m so excited! I want to run,” she said (paraphrasing).
I was like, “Sure, let’s run.” I knew she hadn’t trained for it, so I figured, “How far could she go?”
13.1 miles and 2:57 later, Amanda and I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, having jogged our first half marathon together and my first ever. I can’t remember ever laughing that much in my life. The images of Amanda doubled over trying to run while she laughed hysterically (I’m just a funny guy, I guess) will forever be one of the fondest memories of our first months together. At 42, I did something I never—and I mean NEVER EVER—had the urge to do, but it was very cool and it’s something I would never have experienced had it not been for Amanda.
Amanda and me at Houma Heart & Soles 2013
Now, I must admit to enjoying a conversation I had with one of my friends after the event. He told me he hadn’t known I was into running and he described all the weeks of training he and his wife had undergone in preparation for that day (it sounded boring and time-consuming!). He then asked what I’d done to train for the half marathon and asked if I’d done any other races. Lying to make others feel better is not in my DNA, so I shrugged and said, “I’ve been eating chocolate brownies, drinking milk and watching TV.” (Of course, they weren’t just any old brownies—they were from Duet’s Bakery in Galliano, LA and they’re the best!)
This event definitely brought Amanda and me closer together and I proposed to her about six weeks later. As you can imagine, my jaw landed solidly on the floor in front of my boots when I applied for our marriage license and saw the license number—it was identical to the bib number from my very first racing event with Amanda. At that moment, I knew without a doubt I’d made the right decision.
My half marathon bib and our marriage license
Now, I’d love to be able to sit here and write that the half marathon changed my view of the sport and ignited within me a passion for running, but that would be a lie. I still hate to run, but I love Amanda more than I hate running and I happily attend race after race with her. If the event is more than ten minutes from the house, we leave the day before and make a romantic night-away out of it.
Flying over the finish line at the 2015 Rock and Roll Series 10K in New Orleans
Some of the racing events we’ve done since then include the 2014 Houma Heart and Soles 5K, a Moonjoggers virtual 5K (M’s Run: Klingons Against Cancer) , the Rock and Roll Series 10K and the Crescent City Classic. Although running is not my flavor, these events provide a great opportunity for Amanda and me to spend some quality time together and just “get away”, while also contributing to good causes. We’re not trying to set records—unless there’s a record for last place—but I think these events are a great way for couples,and even families, to visit with one another, enjoy the views, and get the old heart pumping.
Striking a pose at the 2015 Rock and Roll Series 10K in New Orleans
Take it easy one and all and thanks for reading!
UPDATE: Holy crap!!! Amanda just registered us for the 2016 Rock and Roll Marathon!
BJ Bourg