Friday, March 29, 2013

It's alive!

So, when last I posted six days ago, I believe I said something along the lines of Things are Looking Up and Everyone, Including Me, Is Starting to Feel Better.

Yeah, well, as it turns out, those were the infamous famous last words.  What I mistakenly took for
getting over the hump in my cold actually turned out to be the calm before the storm, because at some point during that night I woke up with an insane earache.  You might be asking yourself, do adults still get these? Well, I can tell you, the short answer is yes.

The earache bugged me all day Sunday.  You know it's bad when all you want to do is sit on the couch and rub your ear.  Talk about looking and feeling like a kid.  The whole day I was reduced to putting hot compresses on my ear and taking copious amounts of decongestant and Ibuprofen to take the edge off the pain.  And, anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a fan of taking any kind of drug - prescription, recreational, over-the-counter - doesn't matter.  I don't like them.  So, giving in to the earache like that was a tough call for me, but truly it was the only way to get through the day.

Luckily, the pain didn't last that long.  By Monday morning it was gone.  However, six days later I am still dealing with a weird feeling of fullness in that ear and the fact that I cannot hear out of it.  So, I suppose this has manifested itself into a sinus infection, and maybe it would make sense to get antibiotics, but since I am not in pain - I just can't hear, am just blowing my nose a lot, and seem overly tired - I don't really want to go that route.  Besides, the past few times I have taken antibiotics have resulted in stomach upset. I don't think my little happy community of gut flora likes it when I commit genocide on it.

I am not a complete martyr, however.  I did call the nurse and was told the ear issue could last a week or so, and if it bothers me to go in to the doctor.  Okay.  So, in the meantime, always one to find the silver lining in everything, I am enjoying using the ear as an excuse to not hear things around me.  Kids arguing? Can't hear it.  Kids whining? Can't hear it.  Kids shouting Mom! when Dad is nearby?  Can't hear it.  Sadly, in the majority of these cases, I really can't hear, but if once or twice I might have heard something and pretended I didn't, then oops, my bad.

So, that's where I am at.  I am hoping it will resolve itself soon.  In the meantime, my training has gone into the toilet, as can be expected.  But weirdly, I am okay with that.  There is something about just taking the two weeks or so off and accepting that you need to rest that is relaxing.  It's mentally freeing.

Naturally, I am a little concerned about the 50K on the race schedule, which is coming up, but at this point it is what it is.  Hubby tried to make me feel better this morning by doing his pace calculations. He says to finish the race in 10 hours (the cutoff), all I need to do is power hike the 31 miles at a 3.1 mph pace.  Joy.  I can't say I can get too excited about hiking for 10 hours at this point in my race career, but if that is what it comes down to, then so be it.  Of course, hearing my lamentations of woe about walking 31 miles, Hubby cheerfully reminded me that I didn't have to do that.  His view?  If I can run 10 miles, then I only have to hike 21 miles.  I can only shake my head at that and smile.  Hubby is ever the optimist, and I love him for it.

So, this week's roundup isn't going to be that exciting.  I surely don't have the miles this week, but I have been slowly working my way towards getting myself back in the game.  Here's where I am at:

Saturday: 40-minute walk outside while the kids took a yoga class.
Sunday: Rest
Monday: 30-minutes on the treadmill, all of five minutes of which were running.  Legs felt extremely tired, so just ended up walking.
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 45 minutes on the treadmill.  Feeling a bit better, so five minutes walking warmup, then 40 minutes of 3/2 run/walk - 3-min. 5.7 mph run alternated with 3.5 mph walk.
Thursday: 40-minute walk with LG at an area nature center.
Friday: Today was the first day I felt halfway human on the treadmill.  Did one hour and ten minutes.  First and last five minutes were warmup/cooldown.  The hour in between was a 3/2 run/walk - 3 min. run at 6.0 mph alternated with 2-min. at 3.2 mph at 10% incline.
Because I think it is starting to FINALLY feel like spring, I will leave you with a couple of pictures from yesterday's walk.  It really was gorgeous out, and I am looking forward to many more days like this as it warms up!

Happy Running!
LG on our nature walk.
LG ankle deep in muddy snowmelt water. He about fell over in
shock when I told him, sure, go in the mud. Have fun. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Things are Looking Up

Yay! It's Saturday!  Hmm.  That doesn't mean that much for me this week.  With LG being home from school all week and both of us feeling run down, the only thing Saturday brings with it is E. home from school.  Oh yeah - YAY!!!!

I love my children.  Honestly, I do.  I think we can assume I don't really need to explain that to anyone.  However, after a week of being home together with LG, I am ready to hand off the entertainment baton to a 7-year-old.  And, make no mistake, LG is ready for that too.

Right now, as I blissfully sit here - uninterrupted - sipping my coffee and typing on the computer, they are in the other room playing a cutthroat game of Chutes and Ladders.  Bliss.

It doesn't help that LG's and my illness trends this past week were diametrically opposed. (Like my piss-poor attempt at a line chart? I probably could have hand drawn a better one.)

Sickness Trends
Just as LG was starting to feel better after his week of illness, my cold was starting to come on strong.  And, what happens when extreme boredom meets extreme exhaustion?  Well, I am not proud to admit a couple of meltdowns might have occurred on both of our parts.

The good news is though that everyone who was down-and-out is now starting to feel a bit better - even me.  I think I am over the worst of the cold.  In fact, the only one in our household who now is starting to feel a bit puny is Hubby, and that's bad news for him as today he finds himself many hours from home running a 30-mile trail race.  Hopefully, the sinus stuffiness he was experiencing doesn't manifest into anything worse, and he gets through his race fine.  I guess I'll know more later when he gets back.

So, with the body starting to feel a bit better, I may try a light rowing session on the ERG today.  If that goes well, then I would like to try running tomorrow - or at least walking - outside.  Some fresh air would probably do me good.  I think it's safe to say that the scheduled 20-miler is out, but if I could even get an hour in I would feel ahead of the game at this point.  Of course, even if it is just 20 minutes, it would still be better than nothing at this point.

Food Experimentation Update:

I thought I would report that I made that chocolate peanut butter recipe I had made up in my head, and the verdict was ... drumroll, please ... It tastes like peanut butter.  Huh.  Well, I might try to rethink that, but I just don't know how important it is to me.

As a final thought, I thought I would share this photo of me finishing the Disney Marathon.  This is the only running photo I have ever ordered of myself.  Usually I can't stand the way I look in running photos, but for some reason I liked this one. I think it was because of Mickey Mouse, or maybe it was the fact that Tinker Bell was following me across the finish!  (Okay, maybe it was actually the flash from the camera taking a picture of a picture....Still, it seems like a cool idea.)

Happy Running!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Getting Enough Sleep?

Well, this week has been a bust as far as working out goes.  With the kids being sick, and then me catching the cold of the century - I am miserable, by the way - there just hasn't been too much left over for exercise.  I did manage a couple of easy workouts before being sidelined, but the rest of this week isn't looking too promising.  I am missing an 8-miler today and I am thinking dreams of Sunday's 20-miler are disappearing on a wave of cold germs. So, here's the skinny:


Saturday: Rest day.
Sunday: 17K St. Paddy's Day Run
Monday: 1-Mile Run (very easy pace), followed by 30-minute row, then 10-minute walk.
Tuesday: Rest.
Wednesday: 40-minute treadmill walk
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest

Total Mileage: 11 Miles (wow)

Having this cold has really gotten me thinking about germs, immunity, illness, and exercise.  This isn't the first time I have been sick this winter, although now that it is technically spring it will be the last.  I wonder why I have been so vulnerable to germs this year.

Yesterday, while I was steeped in nasal congestion misery and capable of little more than sitting on the couch, drinking tea, and cruising the Internet while LG put together a Lego set theoretically too old for him (successfully, I might add!), I came across a site called  Now, I have not poked around on this site enough to know if it is truly worthwhile or not, but from what I initially saw I was intrigued.  One page on the site caught my eye in particular.  It was called Cold Home Remedies: How many of us know WHY we get a cold?

An idea that I have only recently started to embrace was the theme of the page; namely, most of us don't catch a cold because we are exposed to a virus, but rather because we are exposed to the virus AND our immunity is down.  So what might cause an ill-functioning immune system?  According to the Learning Herbs page, the following factors play a role in how you respond to viruses around you:
  • stressed or overworked? 
  • getting enough sleep?
  • eating well?
  • exercising enough?
  • resting or taking time for yourself?
  • Exposing yourself to too many negative influences, such as the media or negative people?
  • doing what you enjoy in life?
An interesting checklist that we all could go through once in a while.  Now, normally I would say that surely the reason I got sick was because I was stressed - the first question on the list.  It's no secret that I am somewhat of a stressed person.  For whatever reason I don't deal with it well, which I then try to hide, which then adds to the stress, etc.  But with my New Year's resolution to worry less, I feel for the first time in a long time that I really am NOT as stressed out as I used to be.  I think the daily attempts at meditation have helped a lot, strangely, and I miss the fact that I am not doing them now.  (It's hard to breath deeply when you can't utilize your nose and those deep breaths result in a coughing fit.)  I am trying to sit quietly still, but it's just not the same for this newbie.

Looking at the rest of the list, the one question that stands out is the one regarding sleep.  Strangely, I had just decided two weeks ago that I could probably use some more sleep.  I generally get between seven to eight hours a night, but I have still been waking up kind of tired.  I think part of the problem is not having a set bedtime.  But part of it might just be that I need more sleep.

This is not a new concept.  In an article titled "Do women need more sleep than men?" on the National Sleep Foundation's website (January 28, 2010), it's stated that women need on average 20 minutes more sleep a night than men. And whether women actually need more sleep than men in general, according to a recent study by Duke University and reported on's "How Sleep Loss Affects Women More Than Men," there is a developing body of evidence that supports the idea that women's health is impacted more greatly than men's by lack of sleep. "Recent research shows that women ... who report sleepless nights have a greater risk for health problems than men." Lack of sleep in women can lead to a higher risk for such things as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and, yes, the common cold.

One thing that we as runners (even Average Runners!) have to keep in mind, too, I suppose, is that the running we do to our bodies causes a certain degree of stress too.  We all know that we need to incorporate rest days into our training plan, but are we getting enough quality sleep? I thought I was getting enough with eight hours, but that didn't take into account all the running (miles logged) I do - in addition to my day-to-day running around with the kids and such.  Taking that into consideration, I don't believe I have been getting enough sleep.

So, with that in mind, I was completely ready to ramp up my sleepy time.  Unfortunately for me, my determination came just as we moved our clocks forward one hour, and then everyone got sick.  So, setting a sleep schedule hasn't worked too well for me yet, but I have been trying to rest as much as possible. I'll get to that sleep schedule yet.  I plan on trying for nine hours of sleep a night and seeing how that goes.  I assume my body will regulate at whatever it needs.

As to the rest of the list, I think I am hitting all those.  I try to eat well, I certainly exercise enough, I try not to expose myself to negativity (which I suppose causes stress), and I think I am doing what I enjoy in life.  The one other point where I fail is resting and taking time for myself.  Although I do carve out this time for me, I can't get past that guilty feeling I get for doing so.  And, I guess that is stressful, too.

So, was lack of sleep what caught me a cold? Maybe.  Although exposure certainly played a role too.  Two kids home sick with strep certainly didn't help.  Add to that the time I spent volunteering at a small marathon in the area on Saturday - three hours of standing around in the cold.

This was followed by a freezing 10-miler on Sunday.  I am sure I wasn't up for fighting any germs come Sunday afternoon.  Ah well.  Lesson learned.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Day of Spring

Well, it's officially the first day of spring, but if you live in Northeast Wisconsin you wouldn't know it by looking out the door.  The ground is covered in a thick layer of white, and after yesterday's whipping winds the snow drifts across our driveway were inhibitive this morning, to say the least.  In fact, Hubby came in from his requisite snow blowing duty grumbling quite a bit more than usual, reporting that the 2-3 foot drifts were the worst he's had to snow blow all winter.  Add to that a temperature of 9 degrees and a windchill of 8 below, and that's definitely a harsh spring greeting.

Even the kids are getting tired of winter.
LG and I are stuck at home again today.  After optimistically thinking he was getting better yesterday, he proved me wrong.  It's not that he's sick sick, but he is not eating well and his energy is still low.  So, it's one more day at home for him to rest and recuperate.  Unlike yesterday and Monday, though, he does not have unbridled access to the cartoon channel.  Today really is for rest and recuperation.  That should hopefully bore him into wellness and a return to school by tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am not much fun for him either, as I seem to have caught some element of the kids' colds.  Either that or I read myself hoarse reading to the kids when they were down and out.  With a sore throat and stuffy nose and generally feeling a bit run down, I am unfortunately not in a position to spend a lot of time entertaining the little person.  After he's done resting here in a few minutes, though, maybe I can think of something for us to do that doesn't involve television or staring at the walls.  We'll see.

So, no workout for today.  With symptoms above the neck, I suppose technically I could run on the treadmill, but I really just don't feel like doing it.  Strangely, though, I feel a nice walk might do me good, so if LG is amenable to that I might give it a go later.

Otherwise, it's more cleaning, errands, and recipe experimentation for us today.  I didn't get around to the chocolate peanut butter spread, so I will definitely try that later today.  I need to whip up some peanut butter anyway, so why not?

Speaking of food, a little while ago, I was introduced to a site/blog called 100 Days of Real Food, and I was completely inspired by it.  As a whole food advocate but rather uninspired cook, I have really found this site incredibly fun to browse through the past few days.  Although Hubby and I tend to eat healthfully (in our minds) and eschew processed foods and junk for the most part, we are more lenient where our kids are concerned.  Dinners are more or less healthy for them, because they eat what we eat, but breakfasts and lunches tend more towards the processed crap that we ourselves won't eat.  Poking around 100 Days of Real Food has gotten me excited and determined, though, to see if I can't clean up the rest of their meals a bit more.

Of course, I am not perfect, and that is why I am playing with the idea of doing a cleanse of sorts....not a juice fast or anything extreme like that.  Rather, I am thinking for the first two weeks of April I will cut out the following and see how it goes: processed foods, sugar, dairy, alcohol, coffee, and gluten.  Will I have the courage to try that?  We'll see.  I am giving myself over a week to chicken out, but I do kind of like the idea.  I see it as a type of spring cleaning for the body.

Does anyone else do that sort of thing?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nothing (That I Want) to Do on a Not-Quite-at-Death's-Door Sick Day

I knew it was safe to assume today that LG was feeling better when he came out of his room this morning announcing, "I'm ready for another day of watching cartoons!"  After a strep diagnosis and then a misfire on the start of his antibiotics due to a day of vomiting, followed then by fever, sleep, sleep, and more sleep, he finally started slowly coming out of his virus/bacteria-induced lethargy yesterday.

I have to admit that for only the second time in my parenting existence I was truly becoming a bit unnerved by an illness.  I just had never seen a 5-year-old so listless for so long.  I was really starting to wonder if I was making some huge mistake - that I should be rushing him to the hospital rather than letting him sleep, sleep, and sleep some more.  Around noon yesterday, I finally went in to try to roust him from bed.  He didn't really want to come out but when I mentioned the possibility of watching PBS Kids, he threw back his covers, rallied his small forces, and hobbled out of the room, saying, "I love cartoons."

Perhaps that is the advantage to not letting your kids watch too much TV.  It's only then maybe that it has the power to raise the ill from their sickbeds.  Perhaps it cures all ills too, because during the course of a marathon cartoon watching session yesterday, LG definitely started perking up.  Which brings me to this morning.  I have a kid who is basically better but can't go to school until he's been on antibiotics for 24 hours, so here we are at home with not a whole heck of a lot to do.  Have I mentioned the weather is horrible?  It's cold, snowy, and WINDY!  Here's a picture to give you an idea....

That's our mailbox back there...
Compare that to this time last year when we were spoiled by a freak warmup, and you can understand why I am disgusted with this now.

This time last year, enjoying the trails on a warm March day.
Luckily for me, today is a scheduled rest day, so I am not missing out on too much.  Miss Dog is the bigger loser in this because with LG home I can't take her on our rest day walk, which I have gotten into the habit of doing.  Of course, with the wind howling and the snow blowing, that probably wouldn't have happened anyway.

I am left here thinking that the day really has the potential to get sucked down the rabbit hole never to be seen again.  Seeing as I definitely am not 100 percent, part of me is only too willing to let it slip away.  I am trying very hard to rally myself and put some effort into an otherwise blah day.  The blog is Step 1 of that attempt. I figure if I shame myself publicly, I will feel compelled to do something.  Normally in these circumstances, I like to plan race schedules and such, but seeing as this is Day 7 of illness, I already did all that on Day 3.  I'll share more on that later.

So, things to do on a not-quite-at-death's-door sick day:

- Write!
- Clean house
- Do laundry
- Run errands
- Do strength exercises that I usually ignore
- Finally try that recipe for chocolate peanut butter spread that I just made up in my head the other day

Yes, folks, it gets as exciting as all this at the Average Runner house sometimes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Paddy's Day 17K + Sick, Sicker, and Sickest

Well, we're working on Day 6 of illness in the Average Runner household.  E. started the festivities rolling last week Wednesday when she came down with fever and a sore throat.  The next day, I took her in to the doctor's to have her diagnosed with strep throat.  Ugh!  As LG had been a bit off recently too, I had him tested as well, and he came away positive for the illness as well.  Double ugh.  So, they both were started on antibiotics, which went splendidly until Saturday when LG started throwing up.  Yesterday, although his stomach had settled, he did have fever, wasn't eating, and didn't want to do anything but sleep.  Today, no fever but as of this point still resting and not eating a lot.  To make things even more joyful, I started feeling a bit puny yesterday, which I no doubt exacerbated by running a 17K St. Paddy's Day event in minus 1 windchill yesterday morning.  After going to bed at 7:45 p.m. last night, I woke up at 6:10 a.m. feeling more rested but with a definite cold.  Tripple ugh.  So, that is the short version of my last few days.  Now on to the race recap.

I signed up for the local St. Paddy's Day 17K event at the last minute for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was that I needed to fit in a 10-mile training run anyway and I don't have nearly enough race shirts.  Add to that the fact that this event was practically in my backyard and not that expensive, and I thought why not?  What I didn't count on was that it would be damn cold.

When I woke up yesterday morning, the windchill was at -1.  I can't remember exactly what the air temperature was, because once I heard the windchill I became fixated on that.  It just goes to show how "hardcore" of a runner I have become that I just sucked it up, glossed over the worrying about the temperature part, and went straight on to deciding what I was going to wear.

What I came up with was a ridiculous amount of layering, as shown here.

I feel like the Michelin Man in this outfit, but it was as close to warm as I could become without over dressing.  What I ended up with was insulated tights, running skirt/capris, compression socks and regular socks on the bottom.  On top I had arm warmers, SmartWool shirt, shell jacket, long-sleeve technical shirt and short sleeve technical shirt.  Finishing touches were a green fleece scarf, Breath Right gloves under Saucony's wind breaker glove/mitts, and - because I couldn't find any of my wicking or Breath Thermo lids - a cotton hat.  For the most part, I feel I was dressed as well as could be expected.  I was still miserably cold, but at least I was in a position to survive this debacle.  The hat was a bit of a fail only in that by the end of the race it had frozen solid and was causing some discomfort to my ears which were pressed up against the ice.

Hat frozen solid.
The race itself was fine.  In nicer weather, I might have even been able to enjoy it.  The venue - Tanners Bar and Grill - was a great place to stage pre- and post-race activities.  There was plenty of room and it appeared that they had all sorts of games going on.  The course was perhaps not the most scenic, but a lot of that might have been due to the weather.  The 17K wound through familiar neighborhoods and incorporated several out-and-backs to get the mileage in.  The best part of the run was being on the CE trail - a paved recreational trail - for about four miles.  The trail, which is not maintained in the winter, extends quite a bit further, and in nicer weather - with no snow on the ground - could potentially make up the bulk of the 17K's distance.  Unfortunately, though, unless the race directors wanted to take on the clearing of an entire winter's buildup of snow over many more miles, it's not possible to do that.  As it was, the race management did make sure the shorter section of trail that we utilized was cleared and salted.  There were plenty of water stations serving water and Gatorade and volunteers (some dressed as leprechauns!) pointing the way at every corner.

As for my race, I definitely wasn't at my best, but probably not my worst either.  I woke up already feeling a bit of a scratchy throat but not really drained of energy, so the decision to do the run was easy.  I didn't wear a watch at all, as I had half a thought to join a couple of friends for the run.  As it was, though, I didn't find them at the start so ended up running alone.  Without the watch, I am sure I started out too fast, but - as usual - I made up for it by slowing down in the second half, which was punctuated by several nice hills.  I walked the uphills and raced down the downs to the best of my ability and took occasional other walk breaks as I got tired.  In the end, even though I felt I had done terrible during the run, my 10:25 average pace was really right at what I have been doing for the past couple months of training.  In fact, it's on the speedier side of my long run paces, so I guess I can't be too disappointed or surprised.  After all, it's unreasonable to expect that I will actually get faster until I start adding some speedwork to the mix.

So, I guess in hindsight I am happy with my efforts.  At the time, not so much.  Finishing yesterday's race, I was pretty much done.  I was tired, cold, and all I wanted was to get home, take a hot shower, and finally have my first cup of coffee for the day.  So, uncharacteristic for me, I crossed the finish line, entered the backdoor of Tanners, walked through the venue, walked out the front door, got in my car and went home.  I didn't look for anyone to talk to, I didn't grab any post-race goodies, I just left.  In fact, I was so out of it that I was halfway home before I even realized I hadn't even disconnected my key from my water bottle before driving.

Ah well, next race is the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in the Milwaukee area.  With any luck, I won't be coming down with a cold for that one and will be able to enjoy the day with some lovely running friends.  Until then, the training continues.

FRIDAY ROUNDUP - several days late

Synopsis:  I think last week I started feeling the effects of piling on higher mileage.  I definitely was a bit tired and even took Monday off of running, even though I should have run.  I feel a bit guilty about that, but not much.  By Friday, things were perking up a bit again, but that was just in time to start feeling a bit under the weather.  With sick kids, two runs were on the treadmill....In fact, I didn't get out at all last week, really.  Hmpf.  Winter should be over by now, shouldn't it?
Saturday: All of 10 minutes on the rowing machine.  I just wasn't feeling it.
Sunday: Half hour (3 miles) running outside, followed by THREE HOURS running on a track at the Y.  I am hoping that all equaled about 20 miles, but no way to know for sure.  Not beating myself up about it though.
Monday: 40 Minutes elliptical + 1 hour power yoga class. (Was supposed to run six miles but was too sore from the day before, or maybe running in circles for three hours just turned me off of running for a day.)
Tuesday: Attempted walk of Miss Dog, but too icy, so nothing....
Wednesday: 4-Mile run on treadmill
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 8-Mile run on treadmill (with walking hill climbs interspersed throughout) 
Total Mileage: 32 Miles 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Can Running for Three Hours Really be Fun?

I once heard this gruesome tale about a man who had been in a motorcycle accident.  Immediately after the accident he was fine, but when they took his helmet off, his skull fractured.  Apparently, his helmet was the only thing holding things together.  Now, I don't know if this story is true or not, and since I heard it decades ago, I have no way of going back and checking.  It apparently stuck with me though, because after all these years that is what popped into my head on Sunday when I peeled off my compression calf sleeves.

Given the 3.5-hour run I did on Sunday, and given the lower leg issues I have been feeling lately, I couldn't help but wonder if I would experience something similar once the compression gear came off - an instantaneous shattering of bone - as though the sleeves were the only thing holding everything together.  Luckily for me, this didn't happen.

Since that fear didn't pan out, immediately following the bone-shattering daymare I started thinking about my toenails.  I really should have cut them a week or so ago, but I have been neglectful of that particular grooming ritual, and as a result they are a tad longer than I would like - especially for a long run.  After running, I could feel that my toes were a bit sore at the tips and I was half worried I would take off my socks and see the dreaded black toenails.  I mean, I have never actually had black toenails, but my husband has and there is a first time for everything.  When I did take the socks off, lo and behold several of my toenails were black, but as it turns out that was just the fuzz from my black SmartWool socks.  The relief was palpable.  (Okay, not really, but I thought that sounded cool.)

All of this begs the question, Why do we do this again?  I mean, a 3.5-hour run?  Really?  I can almost understand people's reaction when you tell them that and they look at you like you have two heads.  It does sound crazy.  In fact, I think it goes right over "badass" sounding and really just sounds insane.

So, why do we do it?  Are our lives so boring that there are no real challenges out there for us anymore?  Do we have to put ourselves through such torment to find peace within ourselves?  Or is it that on some weird level, we really just enjoy this?  I am starting to think the latter.  I mean, how else could I run a half hour outside and then three hours on a one-tenth-of-a-mile track? I mean, really!?

The thing is though that I rather enjoyed the experience.  I really just enjoyed the rhythm of the run, the company of a friend for 2.5 hours of it, and the feeling of getting it done.  Did it always feel good?  Obviously not!  However, it felt better than the lethargy I feel if I sit on a couch for too long, and there is something to be said for that.

So, how am I feeling today?  Two days later?  I am still happy about getting that run done.  After skipping yesterday's run in lieu of the elliptical and yoga, I actually feel good today.  In fact, the lower legs are even less unhappy than they were last week. Go figure.  Of course, will I go out of my way to run the track again?  NO!  But, that's fine too.  

Happy Running!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mind Games

"I know some good games we could play,"
Said the cat.
"I know some new tricks,"
Said the Cat in the Hat.
"A lot of good tricks.
I will show them to you.
Your mother
Will not mind at all if I do."
 ~ Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

In celebration of Dr. Seuess's recent birthday (March 2) and because it was only because of mind games that I got out the door to run yesterday, I thought I would share the above quote with you.

I can't say what really dragged me down mood-wise before yesterday's scheduled run. Perhaps the habitual lack of sleep lately is getting to me, or maybe it's the fact that I have been having lower leg issues (I know, it's always something with me), perhaps the lack of trail running is starting to get me down, or - just maybe - I didn't feel like running. (Gasp!)  But the truth is that facing my run yesterday morning, I felt I would rather have headed out the door for a root canal than lace up my running shoes and pound the pavement.  In fact, the only way I could get myself out yesterday morning was by playing mind games with myself.

So, what were these magic mind games? Well, I will share, because who knows? Maybe it will help you someday.  So, here they are in no particular order of importance:
  1. First of all, I decided NOT to wear a watch yesterday.  I did still carry it, though.  (I just can't get away from having some record of my runs.)  Although the watch was on me - and recording - I  had it zipped up in my running jacket's pocket.  Because it was not easily accessible, I wasn't tempted to pull it out and analyze pace, distance, etc. every third step.  In fact, I only looked at it twice after reaching certain geographical markers just to see how much time I still had before needing to meet the school bus.
  2. Next, since I was less than thrilled with the idea of figuring out yet another route to run through my all-too-familiar neighborhood, I decided to run all of them.  True story.  In heading out the door, I challenged myself to trace every street, cul de sac, and walkway through our neighborhood.  Before long I was caught up in my own little game of Pac-Man or perhaps, given the sassy skirt I chose to wear, you could call it Ms. Pac-Man.  The rules were simple: cover every street at least once, minimizing the number of repeats.  With all the curves and dead ends, it turned out to be just enough of a mental challenge to keep me focused, as I tried to remember which streets I had hit and which ones I had missed.  By the time I was done with half of my subdivision, I had logged 7.85 miles.  Not bad.  Who knew there was that much mileage to be had in our little enclave?  I didn't.
  3. Thirdly, and this is very important.  I gave myself permission from the start not to do the eight miles that were on the schedule.  Going about my little game, I decided I would only do it so long as it was fun.  Luckily for me, it remained fun for the duration.
  4. Tangentially to playing my personal game of Ms. Pac-Man, mentally gobbling up the imaginary dots on the roads as I went, I also did some pretend trail running, opting to run the unpaved shoulder of the road when the opportunity presented itself.
  5. Like the idea of pretend games?  Try this one: run along the very edge of the road and pretend you'll step off of a cliff if you cross the line.  See how long it takes before you get a bit psyched out by that.  (Speaking of psyched out, when did people stop saying "Psych!" in conversation to indicate they were just kidding? Does that date me?)
Bottom line for yesterday: the sun was sunny and the game was funny and the temps were mild enough that I didn't have to wear anything that read SmartWool or Breath Thermo or the like.  In fact, I only needed two thin layers.

Perhaps that is what contributed to the mood enhancement I experienced?  Surely it helped.  Or maybe it was the endorphins?  In the end, whichever way you cut it, I was happy I had gotten out and done this.  A definite lesson was learned yesterday.  If you are dreading doing a run, you really do still have to get out and give it a shot.  Sure, there are days it may not work, but then again, there are days like yesterday where it just might.

Finally, because I like to form habits and maintain them for as long as humanly possible, here is week three of my Friday Roundup.  Read through it.  There are some real nuggets of wisdom in there.  Psych!


Synopsis: Kind of an up-and-down week for me.  I accomplished what I set out to do, but because of a change in this weekend's plans, my planned long run on Friday was pushed back to its regularly scheduled timeslot.  If things happen for a reason, then this was definitely a good thing as my lower legs have been unhappy with me lately.  I think the iffy footing we had for so long (read: lots of ankle turns), adding a hill workout, and ramping up in mileage have taken their toll.  I am taking each day at a time right now.
Saturday: 10-Mile group run. Of course I was the slowest in the group, but I had a couple of folks hang back with me, which was nice.  I don't understand why people get all freaked out by the idea of the group run because they think they are too slow.  If you can run by yourself, you can run a group run slow, because essentially they amount to about the same thing.  I got lucky this week.
Sunday: 6-Mile run
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Yoga class - Power Vinyasa (hot).  First time in a long time and I noticed it.  Experienced soreness in my shoulders, arms, hips, hammies, and quads - just about everything.
Wednesday: 4.4-mile group run.
Thursday: 40-minute walk with Miss Dog
Friday: 7.85-Mile Run
Total Mileage: 28.25 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Happy Bellies Guilty Treat

Earlier today, the kids and I stopped at a little, hole-in-the-wall outfit called Happy Bellies Bake Shop to pick up a post-dinner treat.  It's not something that I have done too often, because it is a little out of the way for me.  However, after treating the kids to some paint-your-own-pottery with a friend, I figured why not.  After all, the bakeshop is right down the hall from the pottery place - on the way to the restroom, in fact - and it wasn't like E. was going to let me leave the premises without at least making a pitch for sugar - or maybe, in this case, agave.

Happy Bellies bills itself as offering fresh, handmade, and all natural baked goods.  Since I am constantly on the lookout for a natural way to fuel my sugar addiction - naturally - I didn't need to be sold too hard on the idea.

When I say that the bakeshop is a hole-in-the-wall operation, I mean that in the nicest of ways.  Considering that the "storefront" is wedged somehow in between its kitchen, the restroom, a yoga studio, and the pottery place, you could hardly call it palatial.  In fact, its whole display area is about the size of an old East German Trabant, which means of course that it is about the size of a Cadillac's trunk. Not digging my attempts at humorous analogy?  Trust me, then.  It's small.  Of course, that doesn't make the cupcake display any less tempting.

After tormenting myself for all of about point-three seconds on the fact that they didn't have any vegan goods (sold out but more coming tomorrow), I ended up walking away the proud, if not slightly guilty, owner of three cupcakes (one black & white and two cinnamon), one ginger cookie that they threw in for free, and an almond butter-chocolate chip granola bar for LG.

Seeing as these were gluten-free, I wasn't exactly sure how the reaction would be from my sugar-addicted, sweet-tooth afflicted children, not to mention Hubby, who - while trying to cut back on gluten for distance running purposes - does seem to have a refined taste when it comes to baked goods.  As it was, results were as follows:
Hubby: "It's okay." (But he says that about everything.
E.: "It's okay." (Said as she shoveled the crumbs into her mouth.) 
Me: "This is freakin' delicious!" (Okay, I didn't actually say that out loud, but I thought it!)
Maybe my tastes are not quite up to par with a 7-year-old, or maybe I am completely sold on the fact that these things didn't taste like my version of homemade gluten-free, but I truly thought my cupcake - the cinnamon - was really good.  In fact, I ate every last bite.  And, to make matters worse, I am actually contemplating going there tomorrow to snag a vegan version of the venerable cupcake as well - for research purposes, of course.

In my defense, I should have taken a picture, and if I were a good blogger, I would have.  Unfortunately, however, it seems our cupcakes were not destined to last that long.  Sorry.  If you want, though, you can check out pictures on their website.  It's worth a peek around.

So, ever since demolishing this cupcake, I have wondered if this can really count as a step in the direction of healthier eating or not.  I mean, I certainly can justify it to myself, but should I?  Can buying and gorging on a gluten-free, natural-ingredient baked bit of heaven really be considered following the letter of the healthy eating law?  Or would it be more of the spirit?  Ah well, I will think on that one.

In the meantime, I will wrap myself in the comfort of the fact that I probably burned off about 400 calories earlier in the day running.  Despite a gimpy lower leg the past week or so, the run felt fairly good.  Given the givens, though, I am a bit nervous about foam rolling tonight, since that has been where I have noticed said gimp.  With any luck it will feel fine, or maybe the sugar (agave?) rush I received earlier will mask any discomfort.  If that is the case, then I may definitely need to prescribe myself another cupcake tomorrow.  Vegan, of course.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Finding Inspiration

Where do you find inspiration?

There are so many places you can find it if only you open your eyes and look.  And, more than just look, see.

I think, for myself, the hard part of finding inspiration is that I so rarely recognize it even when it is staring me in the face.  You see, despite all the gazillion Facebook things that are shared, I don't regularly find inspiration in words on a screen.  Sometimes, I do.  But not regularly.  I find inspiration in people.  And the best type of inspiration comes from myself.

I like to let my past successes - no matter how minor - fuel my future endeavors.

I keep mementoes of difficult races around my computer desk, so that when I am feeling a little down, I can just look up and see what has already been done.  They remind me that, although far from perfect, I am capable of accomplishment, if I set my mind to it.  I have several items set up to create a positive inspirational environment for myself: a medal from my latest marathon (that I wasn't sure I could do), two race bibs from difficult races, a picture with running friends, even a mousepad I had made up from a family mountain adventure.

My favorite, though, is probably this one:

I love this $6 poster I bought in Manitou Springs after successfully finishing the Pikes Peak Ascent Half Marathon a couple of years ago.  It reminds me that I can still do things that are amazing - at least to me.  And, after all, who else do I have to impress?  It might be cheesy, but I find it works.

So, what are you proud of in your past running life?  Do you have a memento of it sitting out in the open to remind you of it periodically?  If not, dig out that old medal or race bib.  Frame a picture you like and then put it out where you can see it often.  Let yourself be inspired by your own past accomplishments.  You can do amazing things if you set your mind to it!

Happy Running!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Roundup

It's Friday!  Oh, yay!  I was sitting here in front of the computer, a couple of blog ideas turning over in my brain, trying to decide which one to pursue when I realized that very thing.

It's Friday! Yay! 

And, of course, for you that means it's time for my weekly recap of the week's running events....


Hey! Wake up, there!  It will be fun.  I promise!  Here goes:


Synopsis:  Another week of goals met.  Hurrah!  I guess I shouldn't be so excited about something so mundane, but I have really learned not to take these things for granted.  The aches and pains were kept to a minimum and I feel I am finally getting into a rhythm with this training plan.
Saturday: Rest (Kind of a misfire here.  I was supposed to row, but I felt too achey and wanted to give everything a rest before the next day's long run).
Sunday: 17-Mile long run
Monday: 5-Mile run
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 5-Mile group run
Thursday: 4.73-Miles outside with middle two miles being hill repeats (7 ups/7 downs).
Friday: Rest (but in reality will probably walk the dog) 
Total Mileage: 31.73
31.73 miles.  Wow.  I don't know if I have ever logged a mileage week that high.  Of course, since my record-keeping is piss poor, I wouldn't know, would I?  I am pretty sure, though, that generally I have always topped out in the high 20s.  To know that this is the new normal is a bit daunting and scary, to be honest.

On the other hand, it's exciting too.  I hope I can keep it up, and for some reason I believe I can.  A friend of mine told me recently - when I expressed self-doubt about my running - that it can take several years to really get your body used to running long distances, and I took a couple of breaks to have children, so really about now I should be really just getting used to this stuff.  I don't know if that is true or not, but it did make me feel better. I hope it's true.

Anyway, it wasn't a bad week considering how sore I felt the week before.  Maybe things are coming together somehow.  I am trying hard to listen to my body (not pushing it when it's had enough) and ignore it when it seems to be talking crazy talk (peeping at me with these little aches and pains that disappear after a day).

In addition to the running, of course, I have also kept on track with my core and strength work, even fitting in a couple of sessions right before bed rather than to let it slide.  And I have been faithful to my foam roller, rolling out every muscle I can reach in my legs at least once a day.  My foam rolling routine has gotten to a point now where I feel I could put together a Foam Rolling 101 class.  The routine is pretty intense.

So, that's my week.  Ending on a fun note, I ordered myself a pair of compression socks in time for St. Patrick's Day.  I feel a little guilty spending the money, but I am signed up for a 17K on St. Paddy's Day, and I am Irish, after all.

Feeling left out?  You can order some too!

Go to and enter Coupon Code SOM3 to save 40% and get free shipping.  The offer expires March 18!

Happy Running!