Friday, December 30, 2011

Yahoo!!!!!

So those of you that have followed my blog (albeit somewhat spotty of late) know that I am a serious runner. Okay not a serious runner as in "I have to qualify for Boston this year" but more like someone who is seriously committed to getting out and trying to run one longer and two shorter runs every week. I do cross training on the alternate days, but that's not what today's posting is about.

I am happy to announce that today, with one day to spare, I met a goal for myself that has been a work in progress for all of 2011. Namely that I have run 1,200 miles this year or an average of 100 miles per month! I am so proud of myself!

This started out the year as a goal to run 1,000 miles for the year. For the first part of the year this seemed like a reasonable goal for myself. But as the months rolled along, I realized that my monthly averages started bumping up closer and closer to the 100 mile mark. They never actually hit that point, but they were certainly getting closer to it. So, about September I started readjusting my goal for the year upward... barring injury, and pushing myself just a bit, 100 miles/month was within my reach. Keep in mind, I'm only tracking my running miles... not my cross training day elliptical or walking miles. I figured although those miles ultimately help my running, they aren't actually running, so I didn't want to co-mingle the two.

December has been a little nerve wracking, mileage-wise. Even at the end of November, I was only at 98+ miles for an average, so that meant that December had to be better than 100. Yikes! Since October and November had vacations, a little back tweak and a little illness, those months did nothing to help my overall miles, plus the fact that most of my long runs have gone from 12+ miles to 13+ miles in the last few weeks all combined to make me cautiously optimistic heading into this month.

It's all come down to the last couple of weeks. At the beginning of last week, I still had 43 miles to knock out. By the beginning of this week I had whittled it down to 26+. For those of you keeping track, for me, that's one 13 mile run and two 6.5 mile runs or some similar combo. Well, today, I did 8 miles and popped myself up over my mark. I officially am at 1,202.0 miles! I am so happy, I feel like I need to do something to celebrate this long-term goal, but I'm not sure what. I'll have to think on it and let you know what I come up with...

Of course, now that 2011 is nearly over it's time to move on and start looking to 2012. After all, as the saying goes, there is no rest for the weary! Okay, not really weary, just a little stiff and sore from time to time!

Today's Run
8.0 Miles
1:28:57
5.40 mph
11:07 pace

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Me: Missing in Action

Yeah, okay, I admit I haven't been keeping up on my blogging very well of late. As much as I'd like to fancy myself a fabulous multi-tasker, sometimes my days just get away from me and I crawl into bed realizing that yet another sun has set without me logging in to keep you all apprised of what's going on in my life, with my weight and with my running.

Well, I am happy to report that earlier this week, I hit the 90 lbs down mark. I'm not sure why, but to me, 90 seems so much more than 80. Yeah, 80 is pretty incredible, but I guess the 90 means that the big century mark is just around the corner (sort of) and it's seeming like it might, just maybe, one day become a reality for me. Alas, my hormones and water retention are wreaking havoc on this fabulous 90 lbs landmark here, later in the week, but that's something that all of us girls have to deal with and I'll just keep in mind that this water weight too shall pass.

As for my running, I am happy to report that I have been keeping up on my miles. Most weeks I shoot for between 25-27 miles over the course of 3 run days. I'm still doing cross-training on alternate days and I'm actually working a little on building my upper body strength... a least a little bit. I don't know if anyone else experiences this, but my arms ofter get really tired when I'm running. I can try to shake out the tension, but that only goes so far. Mostly, they're just pretty achy by the time I'm done. I'm hoping that doing a little more upper body work will help remedy this situation.

What has been sucking up a lot (most) of my time lately has been my own modest attempts to make a little additional cash via eBay. I have set up my own resale store that focuses mostly on clothes, but I have a few crafting items and DVDs there as well. My DH would like to add books & CDs to the mix eventually, but that means that he has to conquer his own mult-tasking issues... so maybe sometime after the holidays this will happen.

The cool (and hopefully relevant) part of this eBay venture for those of you out there is that one of the areas I have been trying to focus my efforts in clothing resale is to find running & athletic wear that is in fairly good shape and offer it up at reasonable prices. When I was doing a lot of shopping for resale athletic wear myself I really struggled to find items that were in good shape AND that were affordable. So, now that I'M the one doing the reselling, I get excited whenever I find a cool piece that I can offer.

Of course, even more than workout gear, I have lots of regular everyday clothes too. I try to find a selection of items, including quite a few plus sizes because I remember what its like to be frustrated because I could never find anything at the resale shops for me. Anyway, for those of you interested, you can check out my (tiny) little corner of the eBay world here. I will also put the link on my links page for future reference.

Now, the next challenge is to master the multi-tasking just long enough to get the rest of my Christmas shopping done... Wish me luck!

Today's Run
7.0 Miles
78:10
5.37 mph
11:10 pace

Tuesday's Run
7.95 Miles
90:19
5.28 mph
11:22 pace

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where does the time go???

I am acutely aware of the fact that I've been pretty slack in my blogging this month, but I didn't realize that it had actually been almost the entire month that I've been away. Holy Cow! It's been a crazy month around here. We were out of town for a little bit in the first part of the month and I guess I've been playing catch-up w/ almost everything else in my life ever since and this is the one part of my life that has been neglected.

Well, even tho' it's not officially winter yet, it sure feels like it here in the good ol' Pacific NW. It hasn't been super cold, but when the temps are combined with wind and rain, it is certainly cold enough. That is, cold enough to drive this fair weather runner indoors.

I have been logging lots of hours on my treadmill lately in an effort to not run in the cold, the wet, or the dark. My DH works a schedule that includes three super early days each week and two later days for start times. In the last few weeks (since getting back from our trip earlier in the month, or maybe just slightly before that), I have taken to getting up at the super early time each morning, even those mornings that my DH doesn't go into work as early, so that I can get my run or alternate workout in before he even gets out of bed in the morning. This means on those early days, I am out of bed and on the treadmill by 4:30 am. Yikes!

The jury is still out on whether or not I will continue to keep up these crazy early workouts. They are pretty miserable for me. I drag myself out of bed, have just a little bit to eat to kick-start my metabolism and then start running before my body has completely caught up with my brain... or maybe it's my brain that needs to catch up with my body... I'm not sure which is lagging behind, I just know that the various parts of me are definitely out of sync at that hour of the morning and it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get out of the fog and actually feel like I can get through an entire 90 minutes.

The upside to this whole exercise in masochism is that I am completely worked out, showered & dressed for the day by about 6:30, so once my DH leaves I can get to work on whatever projects I have scheduled for the day. I've always been a person who loves feeling "ahead of the curve." When I worked as a facilities & project person in my previous life, I was to work by 6:00 am each morning because I like getting my brain mentally prepared for the challenges of the day before the work days officially begins for other people. So, doing something similar in my home life appeals to me on some level.

ON the other hand... like I said, running at 4:30 is crazy tough for me. I have a friend (you know who you are) who constantly amazes me by going for a run every morning even earlier than this. While I am completely in awe of this, I'm not sure I will ever get used to doing something similar myself. Yes, my day might be officially underway nice and early, but it might come at the expense of having a completely satisfying, accomplished-feeling workout. These workouts go a long way toward keeping me humble. I often end up playing little mind games with myself just to get through the thing... is this a good thing or a bad? I just don't know.

In the meantime, I just keep on keepin' on - getting my miles in each week and trying to continue on the path to improvement little by little each week in my treadmill bedecked winter cave.

Today's Run (an early day as you can tell from the fact that my pace was actually slower than my long run day!)
7.0 Miles
1:20:10
5.24 mph
11:27 pace

Monday's Long Run
13.1 Miles
2:29:45
5.25 mph
11:26 pace

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Maybe my brain is just oxygen starved...

So very few people in my "regular" life can appreciate what we runners go through on a regular basis in order to be runners. They know that anything over a mile is "a lot" and that we are some of the very few people that will appear in crowd of several thousand people without showering, without makeup WHILE wearing spandex. To most of the people in my "regular" life, this just boggles the mind. The only other people who might consider doing this (at least the no showering/no makeup thing) are those crazy campers... yeah, okay, I'm one of those too... so that's a second strike that makes me look just plain weird to the people in my regular life.

I guess all of this is to say that I wanted to share something with you all out there, my cyber running buddies that many people just won't appreciate. A few weeks ago I posted a blog about how I had multiple toenails that are receding. Well, on the up side of things, I'm happy to report these toenails are all still hanging in there. None of them has really receded that much further and I'm starting to reconcile myself to the fact that I may just have 1/2 toenails for the rest of my life as a runner. What I hadn't expected is what happened this week during my long run... my toes weren't particularly happy about Tuesday's run, but then they never are. Let's face it, 13 miles is a lot to subject any part of your body to and the toes are going to suffer, so I really hadn't given it that much consideration until I was done an peeled my icky, sweaty socks off. It was then that I noticed it... a blister in a spot where I used to have toenail! Agh! Talk about adding insult to injury!

Of course, my brain, being the sick and twisted thing it is, took this to the next logical step... what happens if I start to develop a callous where this blister currently resides? I already have callouses coming up on the tips of most of my toes from blisters that used to come up there on a regular basis. Now, if one were to develop where the toenail used to be, would this one lone toe have a "callous helmet" of sorts covering the entire top of that toe? Hmm... There's some food for thought!

Anyway, I know that my running buddies will appreciate that sad irony of this situation and maybe won't see it as quite as "totally out there" bizarre as those "regular" people around me who don't choose to go pound pavement on regular basis... at least I hope this is the case!

Tuesday's Run
13.0 Miles
2:28:12
5.26 mph
11:24 pace

Monday, October 31, 2011

October's Monthly Numbers... September's too!

My DH took the day off work today, so up until this point I haven't run today... will probably put off my long run until tomorrow which is the start of the new month, so I thought this was a good time to go ahead and post October's numbers.

Okay, I'll post September's numbers too, since I don't think I ever got around to doing that last month... oops.

Neither month's numbers are that impressive in the grand scheme of things. In September I had the back issue which forced me to skip a long run and shorten a couple of regular runs, but I really can't tell you what happened in October. I guess skipping today plays a part in that... if I had run today, my mileage would be up closer to 110/111 for the month. Oh well. Like all things, one set of numbers is not going to dictate my life. My monthly average is still pretty good and baring catastrophe, I will pop up over the 1K mark here in the next week or so. Yea! 

October Miles: 98.3
Total 2011 Miles: 982.8
Monthly Average: 98.3

September Miles: 103.1
Total 2011 Miles: 884.5
Monthly Average: 98.3

Friday, October 28, 2011

Totally off topic... but I just had to share

My DH found these through his Google+ account. They are so wrong in so many ways...


If you want to see the rest, here's the link...
http://livedoor.blogimg.jp/digi7/imgs/3/4/34a42ea0.jpg

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Girlfriends' Half

Well, Sunday was the Girlfriend's Half Marathon. I guess as with most things in life, it was neither all good or all bad, but a mix of both. I had really hoped for a general leaning towards more of the good stuff, but I'll take a 50/50 mix, or whatever my personal blend was for the day.
For this run, they hand out necklaces at the finish instead of medals... cool!
On the really good side: I must say, I really like the Vancouver, WA runs I've done better than most of the Portland ones. Yeah, there are a few "can't miss" events in Portland, but overall, the runs in the 'Couv seem to be much more scenic, with less industrial areas to navigate... and so far, no trains to wait for. A common occurrence for many of the downtown Portland runs. Both the Girlfriends' Half and the Vancouver USA Marathon/Half had the majority of their courses along the Columbia River where there are many parks and running trails, not to mention gorgeous views of the river. Fortunately, for me, the hills in Girlfriends' were pretty insignificant compared to the VUM, but unfortunately, the worst hill is in mile 11-12, well after most of the gas tank (at least for me in this run) had been depleted of fuel.They also both wind through officers' row in Fort Vancouver; a scenic street lined with trees, historic officers' homes and a parade grounds that is now used more for Frisbee and picnics than it is for military exercises.

The weather on Sunday was great for running. It was slightly overcast with the sun coming out for a while during the race. The temps were in the 50's and there was only a slight breeze to contend with (of course, I felt it the most again during those last couple of miles). Most of us that live around here had been watching the weather with a nervous eye since it had rained cats & dogs for most of the previous two weeks. But the running weather gods seem to like the Girlfriends' Half... fortunately for us!

In other good news, I did make a new PR. My time was 2:43:32. Not anything too amazing, but it is about five minutes faster than my time for the Vancouver Half, so I guess I shouldn't complain. Too bad... I'm complaining anyway... My training pace for the last few weeks has been SO MUCH better than this. I was really anticipating coming in well under 2:40:00. I knew that 2:30 was probably asking too much, but everything pointed to 2:40 being a realistic goal. Alas, it wasn't to be. I prepped in the morning as I usually do for my training runs (not forgetting to take my coffee like I did for Hippie Chick) and thought everything was going to be fine. Nope. About mile 9 I bonked... hard. For most of miles 9 & 10, I ended up doing a pathetic combo of running and walking... heavy on the walking. I also had to play some serious mental games with myself to not break out the balloons and throw myself a big ol' pity party. I was finally able to convince myself that the whole point of the race, for me, is to finish... and even more to the point, to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. This became my mantra.... and eventually it kicked my brain's ass into gear. Thanks to this and the gels they were handing out on the course (blech! I hate how they taste, but it's a much more concentrated shot of stuff than my Shot Bloks), I was able to pick up the run again... at least much better than I had been. Much more running and much less walking.

The people on the course were fabulous. Both the event volunteers and all the fans lining the sides of the roads with their cowbells and noise clackers. It was great to have such awesome cheering and some really cool empowering signs for everyone to feel their strength and their fierceness (to use a much overused cliche). I was a little concerned when I first learned that we'd be using mostly public restrooms in the parks and in establishments that had volunteered their potties for the race (such as the restaurants along the way), but I am happy to report that my worries were completely unfounded. There were plenty of opportunities for potty breaks for anyone who need them. I only had to stop once and the restroom I stopped at only had three women in front of me in line... much better than the bathroom Heather & I decided to skip at the Shamrock Run that had closer to 30 people in front of us! Yikes!

The only crummy encounter I had with anyone all day was with the manager directing parking lot traffic at the Fred Meyer. And while she wasn't rude to me, personally, she was definitely harried and willing to share that put-upon attitude with all of us who got stuck while she directed cars out of the lot. Of course, this was pretty much during my "bonk" phase of the run, so I wasn't pre-disposed to cut her any slack on her attitude. I'm sure she had drawn the short-straw among all the Fred Meyer managers working that morning and was just really struggling with her happy face by the time I got to that point in the race. I might not have been any better had I been in her position!

There were lots of activities and festivities for anyone who wanted to stick around after the race. I didn't stick around as I was feeling pretty wiped out after the race and sitting around in sweaty race clothes with even just the slight breeze blowing was pretty miserable for me. I told Heather that I looked like a drowned rat after the race, and looking at the photos from the professional photographer pretty much confirmed this without a doubt. I don't know how those women do it who come across the finish line looking only slightly the worse for wear. That will NEVER be me. LOL! It took me a little bit to feel up to driving home, but once I did, I hoped in the car with heat on high to keep me from going hypothermic during the drive. Once I got home and jumped in the nice, hot shower, I began to feel like an actual human again. Yea!

To celebrate my accomplishment, my DH and a friend of ours took me out to City State Diner for breakunupper. I think that's what they call it when you cram breakfast, lunch & supper all into one meal. For those of you who live locally, let me personally recommend City State to you. It's off 28th & NE Burnside. It's a little loud and a little hip (lots of piercings & tattoos, but hey this is Portlandia, isn't it???), but they have awesome food. For me it was a great reward for a job (mostly) well done.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My new sports bra

Sorry to my SIL!!! I keep forgetting to post this, and I promised her on Saturday that I would!

After much research and consideration I finally laid out the money for a new sports bra. I ended up with a Moving Comfort Juno this time. Last time I purchased one it was a Moving Comfort Fiona and while I like that one quite a bit, I like to change things up from time to time.

Since I'm a woman with an ample chest (normally a 38D) and I do not like to have any bounce at all while I run,  I'm always looking for good sports bras that do the job without costing as much as the national debt. And while the Juno has a fairly high MSRP ($52), I was able to find it on Amazon for significantly less, especially in some of the less popular colors. I ordered what was called "Seaglass" (see picture). It was supposed to be an aqua-green color. Alas, it veers more to the green than the aqua. Oh well, it goes under my tech shirt, so it's not that big of deal.

The reviews for the Juno are pretty good. Most people on several different sites like the bra and highly recommend it for larger breasted women (C Cup +). The common complaints I read were that many people found the bra to run a bit small and that it could be a bit tricky to put on or take off since it is a hybrid sports bra (a racer-back bra with a series of hooks as well). I wasn't worried about the hybrid part of the equation since I've had similar bras in the past and have learned to get past that problem by hooking the bra where I want it in advance and then just pulling it on over my head like a traditional racer-back bra. The too small issue was another issue altogether, so I went onto the Moving Comfort website and filled in the measurements to get their sizing recommendation... they said I should wear a 40D. Okay... so I was willing to take their suggestion and order that size.

I busted (no pun intended!) out the new bra during Monday's long run. Maybe not the smartest decision as you never know what kinds of issues you might encounter but I decided to risk it anyway. I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

My first impression of the bra when I tried it on Sunday night (well before my run on Monday morning) was that I was a little concerned it might be too big after all. I like my sports bras to have serious compression to keep everything rigidly in place. I don't give a flying leap about the possibility of uni-boob issues that many women complain of as long as there is ZERO bounce (who cares what it looks like??? I'm out there to run, not to worry about some fashion statement!). I adjusted the straps which helped my initial impression of it being too big and then after feeling a like an idiot with a few minutes of jumping up and down in my bedroom in the new bra, I decided to take it out for a spin on Monday.

The bra is a serious bra. It is lined with a fabric that is pretty heavy duty tech/silver infused. It forms the padded cups (such as they are) as well as provides an anti-microbial surface and additional moisture wicking. This is significantly different than my MC Fiona bra front, which basically consists of several layers of the tech fabric. As I mentioned above, the back is a t-back style with 3 hook/eye closures for an adjustable fit. The straps are hook/loop (aka Velcro) adjustable, similar to the Fiona. I love this kind of adjustments for shoulder straps, otherwise, I usually find myself so frustrated after a few times of adjusting traditional "slider" style straps that I actually end up sewing them in place!

When I started out running on Monday, I could feel just a little bit of jiggle at the very top of the bra. It is a v-neck shape, so it cuts just a little lower than I'm used to and while this wasn't really a bounce per se, it was a bit distracting initially. However, I must say within the first five minutes of my run, I completely forgot about the jiggle and didn't notice anything like that for the rest of the 2½ hours I was out. As for actual bounce, it was fine. I had adjusted the bra straps, as I mentioned and that seemed to do the trick. There was no bounce that I could notice and it was overall a pretty comfortable bra for me.

The only issues I had were two very small rub spots that didn't show up until well over an hour into my run. The first one was where the adjustment hooks are in the back. It seems like the fabric where the hooks/eyes are was fuse-finished, creating slightly hard (stiff) edges which started to dig in to my back over time. I'm hoping that with a few washings or at the worst, maybe a little trimming of the hard edges, this will resolve itself. The only other rubbing issue I had was with one of the shoulder straps. The placement of it once I adjusted it caused the tip of it to rest right on my collar bone. Once again, this issue didn't show up until well into my run, but I'm going to have to re-adjust the bra strap before my next run because a raw spot on my collar bone isn't pleasant.

Still, I have to admit that after a 2½ hour/13 mile run, the fact that I had only two very small raw spots from a brand new bra, was very impressive. I've had much worse chaffing from bras that were well broken in. So I think that is a testament to it.

One other note of caution before you run out and buy this bra for yourself is that it is a t-back style bra, therefore the shoulder straps sit much higher up on your shoulders, toward your neck, than a traditional bra would. This could become an issue for people who don't like bras that fit like this or don't want to feel the pressure of the support this close to their necks. I noticed it, but it didn't really bug me (aside from the already mentioned raw spot on my collar bone).

Well, my initial impression of the Juno would be a 4, possibly 4½ stars out of 5. I will try to check in again in a few weeks to let you know how we're getting on and to see if my review has changed any in that time.

Today's Modified (Long) Run
There's a half marathon coming up on Sunday, so I started tapering a bit today...
10.65 Miles
2:00:10
5.32 mph
11:17 pace

Trying to do a little catch up from last week...

Sorry for the late posting. These are my run times for late last week. I set another distance PR for my short run days on Friday. It was pretty cool, if I do say so myself!

Friday's Run
8.0 Miles (woo hoo!)
1:29:35
5.36 mph
11:11 pace

Wednesday's Run
7.1 Miles
1:20:27
5.30 mph
11:20 pace

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yea Me! A new milestone!

Whoo Hoo! As usual yesterday I did a long run. I hadn't really set out with a new PR in mind, but I felt pretty good while running and it just kind of happened. It was a PR for my long run only. It doesn't look so hot when compared to a daily run, but I don't care, it was still a milestone for me!

Yesterday's Run
13.0 Miles!!!
2:28:52 (yes, read it and be amazed with me, I actually hit 13 miles in less than 2½ hours!)
5.24 mph
11:27 pace



Friday's Run
7.1 Miles
1:20:01
5.32 mph
11:16 pace

Wednesday's Run
7.1 Miles
1:20:13
5.31 mph
11:17 pace

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chaffing: A fact of life

It seems like no matter how much you think you've prepped for a run, there's always a little spot somewhere that you forgot. For me, I most often find these little forgotten places when I jump in the shower after a run and the fires of hell (aka water) sear whatever part of my body I've missed. Still, no matter what, there are some things we can use to help prevent as much chaffing as possible. Here are just a few of the items that I like to use:


Nexcare Waterproof Tape. I was turned onto this stuff by my SIL. It's great stuff. It looks very similar to moleskin except that its slick on top instead of fuzzy. When you put it on you think, "this stuff is never going to stick through a whole workout." But amazingly, it does! It provides a great barrier for specific smaller patches that you know are going to be a problem (for me, its on my chest where my sports bra meets my boobs... I'm always struggling to keep that area rash-free).
Asics Chafe Free: It is a lotion that again I found via Heather. She gave it to me for a birthday present (Thanks, Heather!!!) and I really like it... much better than Glide stick for use with shorts. This stuff is a lotion that goes on and once it sets, it feels powdery smooth. There's less friction with this than with the Glide, which I have come to not like (at least in the thigh area) because my thighs come together and stick like super glue, creating an incredibly annoying sensation during the run. Just a hint: for those of us that suffer from ye ole thigh chub rub, this stuff is great to use for days when you want to wear a skirt too!
    Asics Capri's: Here in the Pacific NW, we don't have to wear shorts too many months out of the year to stay cool. Most of the time you can stay cool enough via your workout clothes. For the above mentioned chub rub, I love, love, love my Asics Women's Performance capris.  I have had these for a year now and they aren't even close to wearing out or thinning in the thigh area. They are awesome! 
     

    Boudreax's Butt Paste: Finally, let's face it, as I said above, no matter how much preparation you make, there's always some spot that escapes and shows up in the shower. For those, my favorite after-running-chafe treatment is Boudreax's. Yes, it is a diaper rash ointment, but it's great for all kinds of rashes. It seems to dry up the rash, to help it heal and it's nice and soothing to help with the itching and pain. Not only that, but it has a very pleasant smell (at least I think it is)!

    Well, these are some of my anti-chaffing ideas. I hope that they can help someone out there to take the sting out of their daily runs... at least a little bit!


    Today's Long Run
    12.80 Miles
    2:30:11
    5.11 mph
    11:44 pace

    Friday's Run
    7.00 Miles
    1:20:13
    5.24 mph
    11:28 pace

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    No, I'm not talking finance, I'm talking toes...

    Recession (noun): to move away; retreat

    No, I'm not talking about the economic situation here, there are far more qualified people to discuss this on untold numbers of websites & blogs. No, what I'm talking about today is the unfortunate action my toenails are taking. Now, I've knows quite a number of people to actually lose toenails - my SIL is among those ranks - but it occurs to me to wonder how many people have receding toenails. It also occurs to me to wonder exactly how far my toenails will recede before just giving up the ghost altogether. It's been a slow, morbidly fascinating journey into toenaillessness.

    I have been watching the deterioration of my toenails over many months now and today in an effort to take stock and try to keep them from snagging or tearing, I clipped & filed them down to where the quick(I use the term loosely) currently resides on each toe. Right now I have at least 5 toenails (yikes, I just realized that's 50% of my toes!) that are in various stages of decline. A couple of them have started to work loose at the sides, but all of them are much smaller toenails than they ever used to be before I started running.

    What I do find surprising about this is that it is my middle toes on each foot that are battling to retain their nails. I always figured that if I lost a nail it would be on one of my pinky toes as they are seemingly the most susceptible to abuse and my ugly little pinky toes tend to curl under, which I would think would put even more stress on them. My middle toes are unremarkable. None of them are longer than my big toe and I always just figured they hung out there in the middle and played only supporting roles in my ability to balance and propel myself forward. However, if the nails are any indication, this is anything but the case.


    I guess I should be grateful in some ways. My toenails are not going through any kind of catastrophic event where they come loose quickly (and painfully). They're not bleeding, they're not painful at all, and for the most part they've stopped blistering. Still, I have to wonder if the receding toenail(s) is enough to be able to wear the "Toenails are for Sissies" t-shirt as a badge of honor. Technically, I still have all 10 nails, they just cover significantly less area than they once did. Hmph.

    Yesterday's Run 
    7.70 miles
    1:29:29
    5.16 mph
    11:38 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run (although it wasn't pretty, after last week's back incident, I guess I should just be thankful to be able to run a long run at all!)
    12.40 miles
    2:30:15
    4.95 mph
    12:07 pace

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Back in the Groove

    Well, fortunately, my back pain didn't last too too long. By Tuesday I was feeling about 75% better and by Wednesday I felt like I might be up to a short run. I ran, but I could definitely feel the muscles and nerves tweaking in my back and down my leg (sciatic nerve???), so I slowed it down and ended up walking for most of Wednesday's workout. I had no ill effects from Wednesday's workout so I decided to try again. That day I ended up running a little over 5 miles. Then by Friday, I was able to run my full 7. It wasn't a pretty 7, but I think that had more to do with my attitude than with anything physical going on.

    My back is still a little twinge-y so I know I'm not 100% yet, so it remains to be seen if a long run will happen on Monday or not. I hate to miss a second week of long runs with Girlfriend's Half coming up in just a few weeks, but I guess it's better to miss a long run or two now, than to be down and out for the long haul. It's just frustrating. I still don't know what, exactly, happened to me to make my back go all caddy-wampus like this, but then that's the way it happened the last time my back went out too. They say (the royal "they") that most of the time it has to do with twisting and lifting all in one motion... our backs definitely don't like that particular movement. I don't remember doing that last weekend, but who knows?

    Anyway, I'm glad to say I'm back up and running... both literally & figuratively... sorry for the pun. I couldn't resist!

    Friday's Run
    7.62 Miles
    90:03
    5.08 mph
    11:49 pace

    Thursday's Run
    5.30 Miles
    60:19
    5.27 mph
    11:23 pace (not bad, considering!)

    Wednesday's Run
    3.0 Miles
    Don't ask about particulars!

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Agh! My Back!

    So, I don't know what happened... yesterday morning I noticed my back was a little stiff... Was it the vacuuming and mopping I did on Saturday? Was it the entertainment unit I helped my DH carry out to the curb for a fellow Freecylcer to pick up later in the day? Well, I can't tell you exactly what I did over the weekend to tweak my back, but by the time I woke up this morning, my back was in full-blown pretzel mode. I suspect that had it been x-rayed there might've been a big "L" shape in my lower spine! Getting out of bed was torturous, feeding the cats was near comical, and now, any movement that requires some kind of transitional movement of my core (standing to sitting, bending over, squatting, etc.) elicits an riot of muscle spasms in my lower back.  Needless to say, my long run did not happen today... okay, let's be frank, a short run didn't happen today... even a stroll to the mailbox might be optimistic - that remains to be seen.

    One thing I did learn through a little online research this morning is that back muscle spasms are fairly common among runners. Of course, it is much more glamorous (?!?) if you can throw out your back while actually running instead via some vague arbitrary household activity as in my case, but nonetheless, this is an occurrence frequently experienced by those of us who run. Unfortunately. While the ever dreaded back spasm can happen for a myriad of reasons, there is one suspicious cause that seems to be a contributing factor if not the sole reason for our (my) woes. And that is the lack of focus that runners give to core strengthening exercises. We (I) get so caught up in improving our times, improving our strides, gaining that little bit of extra distance that we  (I) often forget that doing core work is also an important aspect of our conditioning - leaving us more susceptible to the ever dreaded back-out-of-whack. Oops.

    On a personal note, something else I discovered this morning is that I'm feeling a little bereft without my Monday morning (long) run. Strangely, it has become something I look forward to and while I can't say that I love the stupid thing while I'm in the middle of it (I'm convinced that a 12-13 mile run is not something to love), it has sort of become the benchmark by which I start my week. Instead, today I'm relegated to the time honored traditions of rest, ice, heat, ibuprofen, & stretching and I find myself actually missing my run.

    It's strange how the transition happens so slowly and subtly that you don't even notice it. When you first start an exercise program, you (okay, I) start out dreading every step that you take but then somewhere along the line it becomes habit and while you may not precisely look forward to it, or even enjoy it, you know that you're doing what's best for your physical and mental well-being. Then one day, wham-o, you are restricted from doing that which you have, over time, incorporated into your life until it becomes a part of who you are (i.e., my running). It's only at that point that you realize exactly how much it's come to mean to you, how much you take it for granted, and how much you miss it when you can't do it. Sniff.

    Seriously though, with a little focused attention to the care of my back, I hope to be up and running again (literally) by later in the week. Viva la Ibuprofen!!!

    Friday's Run
    7.0 Miles
    1:21:01
    5.18 mph
    11:34 pace

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    August Miles

    Well, it looks like my averages are creeping up. I was surprised to see how many miles I ran in August. It was a bunch more than I did in July, but I'm certainly not complaining!

    Here's hoping September is another good one!

    August Miles: 125.5
    Total 2011 Miles: 781.4
    Monthly Average: 97.7

    Remember Hydration!

    Since today is maybe the hottest day of the year (at least so far) here in the Pacific NW, I thought it was a good opportunity to remind everyone about hydration. Once again, this is  "do as I say, not as I do" advice as I can sometimes be a bit lax in my own hydration efforts and my runs definitely reflect that... see below and my run from today which was actually slower than my long run on Monday! Agh! I struggled to get a full 7 miles in and it was nowhere near a personal best time for me. Anyway, I digress.

    When you hydrate properly before a run and then during a run (or whatever is your workout of choice), you will perform better and stave off dehydration and it's effects. According to the April 2010 Journal of Athletic Training, dehydration causes your body's blood volume to drop which in turn can impact its ability to transfer heat efficiently which then forces your heart to beat faster thus making it difficult to perform at your peak aerobic form... who knew???

    Along with effecting your performance, dehydration in milder forms can also cause muscle cramps which will also impact your workout. In more severe forms in can result in heat exhaustion or worse, heat stroke. Your body can go into shock and it can even cause kidney failure. So, in an effort to avoid even the least of these problems, take some elementary precautions and preparations for your run/workout.

    One to two hours before your workout, try to drink 8 to 16 oz of water or sports drink to make sure your body is fully hydrated when starting out. Then, during your run, you should make a point of drinking 3 to 6 oz. of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. For days that I run on the treadmill, this is pretty easy for me to do... I just watch the timer. On days that I run outside, it's a little tougher, but I still usually have my running watch timer going and I just try to keep it to drinking on the 20's or a little before (20 minutes, 40 mins, 60 mins, etc). Be sure to drink small amounts frequently. This will help your body to better absorb the fluids that it needs and will also help your tummy to keep from sloshing (Ew! I hate it when the happens!).

    Of course, these are just general guidelines. Many athletes will take the additional step to determine their own body's specific needs. You can do that by weighing yourself (naked) before your run and then weighing yourself after your run (go ahead and hydrate as you normally would during the run). Once you determine how much weight your lost during the run, you will know approximately how much fluid you sweated off during that run, thus how much more fluid you need to be consuming. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should gear your fluid intake so that you lose no more than 2% of your overall body weight during a workout. Anything greater than that will begin to affect health as well as performance.

    For more information on this topic, check out the Runner's World online article. And whatever is your sport of choice remember to stay hydrated!

    Today's Run
    7.0 Miles
    1:22:19
    5.10 mph
    11:46 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run
    12.0 Miles
    2:20:49
    5.11 mph
    11:44 pace

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Patience can be tough!

    I just wanted to send out a little reminder about the virtues of patience in your meeting weight loss and/or exercise goals. As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with the TV show "Biggest Loser." I think it is fabulous that they inspire people to eat healthier and to lose weight AND to get off their behinds to get moving. This is something that we all know is desperately needed in this country.

    What I don't like about the show is their portrayal of unrealistic weight loss. 99.9% of the country do not have the luxury of having access to professional trainers and the ability to work out for 5 to 8 hours a day. And yes, folks, this is what the contestants on the Biggest Loser do... essentially, weight loss is their career for the weeks/months that they are on the ranch. I wish the producers of the show would do more to promote realistic weight loss goals amongst the general populous. Unfortunately, this isn't what makes up compelling television.

    Let's be honest here. Real-life weight loss and fitness achievements are hard, tedious and sometimes boring work. Do I love my workouts every single day? No way. Do I eat healthy at every single meal? Hardly. Still, I persist because I know that these things over the long haul will get me to my goals.

    Sometimes it can be easy to give up when your goals aren't coming as quickly as you would like. But I am here to tell you that your goals will come if you just keep on keeping on. I hope that I am testimony to that fact. To date, I have lost around 85 lbs and today I set a new 80-minute distance PR, but it has taken me 3 YEARS to achieve these milestones, not 3 months as they portray on BL.

    I had someone (I don't even remember who now, it's been so long ago) remind me once that you didn't gain all your weight quickly, so why would you expect to lose it quickly (and keep it off)? That is my no-calorie food for thought for the day. I'll try to keep that in mind the next time the scale or my sports watch aren't giving me the numbers that I had hoped for. :o)

    Today's Run
    7.09 Miles
    1:20:00
    5.32 mph
    11:17 pace

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    The Buddy System

    As many of you already know, several weeks back I had a scare with hypothermia and had it not been for the fact that my DH was home sick that day, I don't like to think about how differently that day might have turned out. As it was, he was able to get me warmed back up and today I am fine, but it has caused some changes in the way I conduct my workouts every day.

    The thing I wanted to focus on today is the fact that no matter if you prefer to run alone or if you just happen to work out alone most days due to the fact that no one is on the same schedule or running pace as you doesn't really matter. What does matter is that you find yourself a running/workout buddy. Now, I'm not saying you have to give up your solitary endeavor. I know for many people, running or working out is the means by which they release the stressors of the day and get some quality alone time inside their heads. This is okay, in fact, it may even be necessary.

    What I'm advocating is a running buddy of a different sort. In fact, your buddy could be your 90 year old wheelchair bound Aunt Gertrude. This isn't about someone who can go out and match you mile for mile. No, this is about making sure there is someone that has some idea of your whereabouts while you are working out and could contact help on your behalf if you don't show up at a specified time.

    Since my hypothermia scare for me, this means contacting my DH (via email) as I'm heading off to do my run and letting him know an approximate time that he should expect to hear of my safe return. I then email him upon my return. I do this even on days when I stay in the house to workout on the treadmill or do cross-training. I've now learned that just because I'm in the house doesn't mean I'm necessarily out of danger. (My hypothermia scare didn't hit me immediately... I had made it all the way to the bathroom in the house and had started to strip out of my workout clothes before the full force of it hit me.) If he doesn't hear from me in that amount of time, he calls my cell phone (which I always carry with me now) to see if I'm able to answer it. I know my sis-in-law and my brother have a similar system set up via text message.

    It doesn't matter how your buddy system works... who knows... You might even actually want or be able to find a real live buddy to run with you, the main point is to have a system worked out with someone who can be a reliable way to save you from yourself (hypothermia, for instance, can impair your judgment) if it ever becomes necessary.

    Yesterday's Run
    7.04
    1:20:03
    5.28 mph
    11:22 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run
    12.80 Miles
    2:29:59
    5.12 mph
    11:43 pace

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Much Bigger Victory

    Well, it finally happened... I think when I get frustrated about something I should just jump on my blog and kvetch about it incessantly. Just kidding... I wouldn't want to subject everyone to that kind of torture, still all of my complaining last week seems to have finally budged my weight loss in the right direction. I finally broke the plateau I'd been struggling with for a few weeks.

    What's even better is that as of yesterday I hit a pretty major milestone... 30% of my total body weight lost. Yahoo! Although, I must admit that it seems kind of surreal to think about. That's nearly 1/3 of what used to be me just gone... poof into thin air... okay, maybe not exactly "poof" but you know what I mean. There's a full third of me that no longer exists. And I must admit it's the third of me that I don't miss... not even a little bit! LOL!

    Anyway, I hope everyone is hanging in with their workouts through the summer. Ours has finally kicked into high gear here in the Pacific NW, including some nasty humidity the last couple of days, which has made for some pretty miserable workouts, but I've been trying to persist. However, as you will see from today's numbers, the heat is definitely impacting my pace... but then it's supposed to... working out at full capacity during the heat and humidity is just a recipe for disaster.

    Stay cool!

    Today's Run
    7.25 Miles
    89:15
    4.87 mph
    12:19 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run
    12.61 Miles
    2:30:01
    5.04 mph
    11:54 pace

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Little (teeny tiny) Victory

    Yea! Today kind of made up for yesterday. I find that the highs and lows of my journey usually (not always) balance out in the end. No, my weight is still not really budging, but as a consolation I had a really good run this morning. I had a new personal best which does help to make up for the stubborn weight issues.

    Like I'm always saying, it's about celebrating the little accomplishments, not living your life around the big ones. So I will take my own advice today.

    Yea Me!!!

    Today's Run
    7.12 Miles
    80:02
    5.34 mph
    11:14 pace (a personal best)

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Frustrating moments... yes, I do have them!

    I know I'm always trying to encourage everyone to have a positive outlook on their workout/running/weight loss journeys and that I'm always promoting the long-term outlook over the short-term fix. But I must confess, I too get tired of plateaus and exasperated with my seeming lack of progress from time to time.

    For instance, my weight has been sitting at the 80 lb down mark for several weeks now. I jump up or down slightly with hormonal changes and water retention, but it's not really not budging significantly from this mark. I know, intellectually that my body is continuing to change and that one of these days, the scale will adjust accordingly, but in the meantime, it IS frustrating!

    My running was feeling that way about a couple of months back. I didn't think I would ever break the 7 mile mark on my daily runs, but now, fortunately, 7 milers are pretty commonplace and I'm getting comfortable adding even more to that distance, so I know that all plateaus are just temporary obstacles as long as you persevere. Still, it is tempting to give up when the scale or the stopwatch or the GPS mileage tracker don't seem to budge week after week after week. I know that I have many moments of weakness when I just want to throw in the towel or let my scale reading affect the rest of my day. Fortunately, these don't last too long, but it is still a battle that I DO face on a regular basis.

    Just thought I'd share my little reality check with everyone, so you know that I'm not some perpetually optimistic do-gooder who never has moments of doubt or worry. Believe me, I do! Maybe the lesson here as seems to often be the case is "Do as I say... not as I do!" LOL!

    Yesterday's Run
    7.71 Miles
    90:03
    5.14 mph
    11:42 pace

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    This one caught me off guard!

    So, out of curiosity, I tried on a pair of Size 12 pants today... Surprisingly, they fit! I was pretty astounded as a size 12 was what I was wearing when I was a college senior... more than 20 years ago. It's pretty exciting.

    Alas, there are a couple of mitigating factors. First off, these 12's are made of stretch fabric, but they weren't tight in the legs and hips (a little tight in the waist, but who's complaining???), so that seems insignificant. The other caveat is that I still weigh more than I did in college... but when you consider that I am working out on a daily basis for up to 90 minutes, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Don't forget, muscle weighs more than fat, so a person in shape will often weigh more than a person of the exact same size who is not in shape (remember to keep this in mind when the scale is frustrating you). So my guess is that I will get to my college clothing size but still weigh a bit more than I did back then due to the fact that I didn't work out regularly while I was going to school.

    Yes, I do still have much weight to lose, but once again, it's good to be able to celebrate the little milestones that you find while on your journey.

    Today's (Long) Run
    12.65 Miles
    2:30:00
    5.06 mph
    11:51 Pace

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    True Confessions

    I've been debating sharing this secret with everyone for a bit, but have decided to go for it. After all, if you can learn from my experience and save yourselves any kind of pain along the way, then my job here is done. :o)

    Lately one of my sports bras has started chaffing to the point of rubbing me raw every time I wear it. Unfortunately, it's the only sports bra I have at the moment that has enough 'bounce control' to be able to wear it during running. So, what's a girl to do? Yes, I admit, buying a new sports bra should be #1 on the priority list, but I do have a hard time spending money on a new one when the old one works really well with the exception of this one quirk.

    Anyway, my remedy to this problem seems so logical now, I'm not sure why it took me so long to think of it. What I've been doing is wearing a tech tank top under my bra as a kind of liner. This seems to actually be working really well. I haven't had any chaffing at all since I started doing this. When I run outside, I throw on a tech shirt over everything so that people don't look at me like I'm crazy (who's to say I'm not???). It's a little warm to wear that 2nd layer this time of year, but usually I go out early enough and we've had a cool enough summer here that it's not too bad. Then, when I run on my treadmill, I usually don't bother with the additional shirt and just go with the completely goofy look of bra on the outside. Besides the additional layer of clothing in the warm of summer, there really haven't been any other downfalls to this approach.

    Now, I'm thinking I should create and market a line of bra liners to capitalize on my great idea! LOL!

    Today's Run
    7.0 Miles
    1:20:19
    5.23 mph
    11:28 pace

    Wednesday's Run
    7.0 Miles
    1:19:37 (another new best - for this distance)
    5.28 mph
    11:22 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run
    12.71 Miles (new personal best - for this time)
    2:30:00
    5.08 mph
    11:49 pace

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Sweat, sweat, go away!

    I have to admit that despite us having one of the coolest summers on record here in the Pacific NW, I will not be sorry to see the heat (what little there's been) going away... at least as far as my runs are concerned. For most of this week, I felt like I could not consume enough water to slake my thirst. Unfortunately, the need for drink also has to be balance with the need to not slosh while I run... a very uncomfortable predicament, as I'm sure many of you can also attest. I'm not sure the disappearance of the warmer temps will eliminate the urge I have some days to drink until I feel bloated, but hopefully it might reduce it, at least a bit.

    My DH found a little piece of information, which in retrospect, is really a "D'UH" thing, but I don't think most of us think about it or even realize what is really happening. When the humidity is higher (I suspect it has been for most of this summer), your body continues to sweat BUT the air's ability to evaporate your sweat is greatly reduced. This leads to an inefficient cooling mechanism for your body and thus you can overheat much more easily the higher the humidity. So, that's just one more thing for everyone to keep in mind while they head out during these warmer, muggier months.

    Did I mention I won't be sorry to see the heat go away? Unfortunately, me and my tomato plants are of differing opinions on this matter... let's hear it for green tomatoes!

    Friday's Run
    7.64 Miles
    90:00
    5.09 mph
    11:47 pace

    Wednesday's Run
    7.0 Miles
    82:57
    5.06 mph
    11:52 pace

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    July's Monthly Numbers

    So, here are my numbers for July. Alas, I was out of town on Friday, so I didn't get one last run in for the month, but it was a decent month nonetheless.

    July Miles: 97.7
    Total 2011 Miles: 655.9
    Monthly Average: 93.7

    As long as I keep this pace up I'm well on my way to a 1,000 mile (or maybe even 1,100) mile year. Yea!

    Monday's Run
    12.07 Miles
    2:50:03
    4.83 mph
    12:25 pace (yikes!)

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Make the time!

    For the last couple of days I've been thinking about the normal excuse that many people have that they just don't have time to work out on a regular basis. Although, I think this excuse is losing momentum, there are still enough people out there who use it to get me to thinking in terms of time commitments to working out vs. longevity. I'm not sure that I'll be able to clearly explain where my brain is coming from on this, but bear with me while I try!

    I found a citing that said that men (numbers are just slightly different for women) over 50 who exercise even moderately can add an average of 1.3 years to their life. If we think of this in terms of hours that is 11,376 hours that you have added to your life span by adding some kind of cardiovascular exercising to your day. Even if you deduct 8 hours every day for sleeping over that 474 days (1.3 years) you have still gained 7,584 hours of waking life!

    If you exercise 1 hour a day for 5 days a week that is a mere 260 hours of exercise a year. Think about it, you would have to NOT exercise for  29+ YEARS (7,584 hours ÷ 260 hours/year) to make up for the amount of time you would gain in longevity from actually stepping up to the plate and logging those miles on the street, in the gym, or wherever you choose to be physically active. To my mind, it's a pretty staggering thought. (I hope my explanation here makes sense!)

    The even better news? Research suggests that if you are more than just moderately active, the numbers jump to 3.7 years of additional lifespan... or in other words, an additional 9,920 hours of waking life! Hmm...

    Yesterday's Run
    7.67 Miles
    90:00
    5.1 mph
    11:44 Pace

    Sleeping on the job

    Wow! Sorry guys, I didn't realize it had been  over a week since my last post! Last weeks' runs were all really good, and this week started out pretty good as well. Plus, no bouts of hypothermia, so that's like a bonus right there!

    Monday's Run (long run)
    12.63 Miles
    2:30:03
    5.0 mph
    11:53 Pace

    Friday's Run
    7.0 Miles
    80:13
    5.2 mph
    11:27 Pace

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Sometimes the small stuff is important!

     I just love reaching goals... no matter how small they are. In fact, I would strongly recommend setting small goals that are fairly easily attainable. You'll be surprised at how many of these goals you will meet just in the course of your daily life. If you set some smaller, bite-sized goals, they will come zipping at you at a pretty steady pace and before you know it, without even realizing it, your bigger goals will just fall into place.

    As you all know, last week, I met my own goal of running 7 miles in less than 80 minutes. I am happy to announce that yet another goal has come to pass this week - that of losing 80 pounds. Yes, I still have a ways to go, but a few years ago I would have never dreamed of being able to lose even this much weight. Fortunately, I have changed my way of thinking. I scaled back my goals so I wasn't thinking of losing 80 lbs as the main objective. In fact, my first objectives were pretty humble... to be able to walk 20 minutes without my legs feeling like they are going to fall off and to make sure that my weight showed downward progression more days than it showed upward progression.

    And all along I have continued to set small goals in both my running and my weight loss. Those small goals keep coming fast enough that they really motivate me and inspire me to go further. It's strange to me now, but motivational speakers, weight loss experts and fitness trainers all say this like it's some kind of mantra, yet for some reason it never really sunk in. In the past, for every pound I lost, I looked at it as 1 lb out of 80 instead of just looking at that single pound as an achievement in and of itself, worthy of celebrating (don't go crazy, it's not a shopping spree/Caribbean vacation worthy celebration - no, usually it just consists in sharing my news with someone and basking in the achievement for just a few minutes). Now, I prefer to look at the small goals achieved and (almost) completely ignore the big goals. What's the old saying? Mind the small stuff and the big stuff will take care of itself... I don't know why it's taken me so long to really understand this... but I have to say I'm thankful that I have.

    Today's Run
    7.67 Miles
    90:05
    5.1 mph
    11:45 Pace

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Whew!

    Today was long run day. I am happy to report that I did not have any repeat of last week. In fact, nothing of the sort. I had a really good run, very conscientiously cooled down afterward and was able to happily go on with the rest of my day. Yea!
    I've been thinking a lot lately about how ubiquitous running really is. It seems like most people who I talk to who find out I'm a runner tell me how they too were a runner at one time or another in their lives. I think that running can really be boiled down to some pretty primary elements and that's part of its universal appeal.

    For starters, it seems most of us move with our feet to one degree or another every day (unless you are physically unable to and then often feet are replaced with wheels). Running (or even walking) propels you forward. It is like the physical manifestation of achieving some goal whether that be to run a distance, walk to the store, or even walk around while shopping inside the store to seek out those things we need. We all have goals in our lives (no matter how small) each day and in order to achieve these goals we walk or run.

    We have it innate within ourselves to walk or run. We have had the need to traverse distances since the beginning of the human race. Whether we are seeking shelter or food or going to see our neighbors or even just engaging in recreation, doing activity that involves forward progression with our feet is inherent. Even if you go everywhere in your car (God, forbid), you have to actually get to the car first... on your feet.

    Then there is the ease with which most of us walk or run. Aside from a good pair of shoes, running (at least for short distances) really doesn't require any special equipment. You throw on your shoes and head out the door... and whammy, you're getting aerobic activity, burning calories, and building muscle. There are no complicated rules and it doesn't even really require that you find anyone else to go with you. Granted, it can be a lot more fun with a running (or walking) partner, but it's not required.

    Finally, there is an appeal in covering a distance as some kind of an achievement. Think about it... if you're a runner what is the first thing that ANYONE asks you when you tell them about your running. It is invariably "how far do you run?" Running (or walking) is very easily quantifiable. You can know almost immediately these days, through the aid of GPS or MapMyRun, exactly how far you've gone. You can tell people that distance and they can immediately understand what you're talking about. Think about it... when your talk about something like basketball, I would venture to guess that many (most?) of us don't know what a "Pick & Roll" is, why it's important in the game or even how to recognize one if we saw it. That is never the case with running.

    Is there really a point to all my ramblings here? Well, probably not, except to say that running (or walking) due to its universal nature is really something we can all partake in. For many people getting out and pounding miles and miles of pavement every single day might not be their idea of fun, but that doesn't mean that they can't do it... at least in some form. To this end I would encourage everyone to get out there and move their feet. It doesn't have to be far and it doesn't have to be pretty, but I promise when you're done and you've achieved some quantifiable result that you hadn't achieved before (whether you express it in terms of minutes or miles), you have some result that you can share with others who will understand exactly what you are talking about... and they will be proud of you... and, more importantly, YOU will be proud of you.

    Today's run
    12.45 Miles
    2:30:00
    5.0 mph
    12:02 pace

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Jonny Corndawg offers some advice

    Don't know exactly how my DH stumbled upon Jonny Corndawg, but he's become a common name around our house of late. He's kind of folksy and quirky and that goes over well around here. Anyway, I like this song and thought it was appropriate for my running blog. Hope you enjoy.


    The other thing that got me thinking about Jonny Corndawg as well is the fact that he ran a marathon earlier this year. There is a short (15 minute) documentary following him on a show tour of his that ended in Big Sur, CA where he also ran his marathon. He sings the "Exercise" song in this documentary as well. I won't embed the documentary, but you can find it here. It's kind of fun to watch him go through his training and pondering why anyone in their right mind would run a marathon.

    Today's Run was really great. I met a new personal goal: 7 mile in less than 80 minutes. Here's how it broke down...

    7.0 Miles
    79:51
    5.3 mph
    11:24 mile

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Yipee!

    I'm happy to announce, after Monday's little "mini-crisis," that today I had one of my best runs... ever! I must confess to having been more than a little nervous about setting out today. I didn't know if my body was up to a run... plus, I had actually psyched myself out a little bit - fearing that I might have a repeat of Monday without the benefit of my DH being around. Fortunately, I took the ol' "get back on the horse" attitude, knowing that if I didn't run today, I would just sit around and think about it.

    As a precaution, I did send my DH an email both before and after my run to let him know when I was finished and that I had made it without passing out.

    I made sure I was well cooled down today before I stopped moving... and no more refrigerated beverages immediately after my run (no matter how refreshing they might sound)! LOL!

    Anyway, here are today's numbers. Yea, me!
    7.0 Miles
    80:30
    5.2 mph

    That's an 11:30 pace for those of you keeping track... pretty much an unheard pace for me!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    My cautionary tale

    This quick little winter interlude is just a quick reminder that hypothermia, especially for those of you who engage in intense workouts is NOT just a danger in the cooler months. No, when you workout vigorously you can fall subject to it at any time of year. I discovered that the hard way yesterday.

    I did my long run, and was feeling pretty good throughout the entire 2½ hours, but was tired enough by the end of it that I really didn't think to cool down properly. I stopped running and then didn't walk at all. Then, to make matters worse I thought that some nice cold Gatorade sounded really refreshing, so I downed about 1/3 of a big bottle of that. By the time I got to the laundry room to do my normal post-run strip down I was starting to have blackness swimming before my eyes. My balance was really off and then within just a few minutes I started having the worst abdominal cramps I have had in decades. I couldn't gain control of any part of my body and I was SCARED.

    Fortunately for my, my DH had stayed home from work sick yesterday. So after I realized that I wasn't going to be able to move from my current location (by this time on the toilet), I yelled at him at the top of my lungs. He came racing down to me and the minute he touched me he said my body was freezing. He immediately wrapped me in blankets and threw a skullcap on my head. It took me about another 20-30 minutes before I was able to stop my vision from fading in and out and for the cramps to subside enough to move. It was at this point that my body temperature was up enough for me to actually start shivering again (one of the symptoms of more serious hypothermia is that your body ceases to shiver in response to the cold). After another few minutes my DH was finally able to get me up to the warm shower and after about 30 minutes in there I was feeling significantly better. I spent another 30 minutes in bed with the electric blanket on and by that point was finally feeling well enough to get out of bed and do some light activity. However, I felt a little light headed & woozy for the rest of the day, not to mention that my digestive tract remained slightly off kilter until well after I went to bed in the evening.

    Now, I share this horror story with all of you as warning to not take hypothermia too lightly, no matter what the season. Even if it seems like it's hot outside, your body still cools rapidly at the end of a strenuous workout and can even cool to the point of some degree of hypothermia. Come to find out, more people actually die of hypothermia in the summer than in the winter, so please do as I say and not as I do...
    1. Don't forget to cool down properly... bring your body temperature down slowly by continuing to move even after you've finished your workout... this will help to avoid your body's urge to overcompensate for the fact that it has been overheated during the workout
    2. No matter how refreshing it sounds, resist the urge to drink cold beverages immediately after your workout. Instead, drink room temperature to lukewarm water or sports drink in slow sips. Do not drink too much at once or this could cause nausea
    3. Make sure to remain well hydrated & fueled both before and during the workout. 
    4. If you or someone you are exercising with begin to experience any of the symptoms of hypothermia (faintness, dizziness, shivering, disorientation, lethargy, clumsiness, stumbling), quickly take steps to warm their body up with by drying them first then covering them in blankets, hats, jackets, or whatever is available. Warm body core first and then move to warm the extremities (arms & legs)
    5. Lie down to keep from fainting 
    6. Seek medical treatment
    I am happy to report that I am feeling significantly better today, but it was a hard won lesson that I wouldn't wish on my enemies. Heather suffered a similar experience during the Portland Half Marathon last fall, so she and I compared notes and both agreed that it was one of the worst experiences either one of us has ever had, but unfortunately it seems to be an often experienced initiation rite of running. However, please as I always advocate, pay attention to your body and what it's telling you. Hopefully not everyone out there will feel the need to go through this miserable rite of passage that is really best avoided in the first place.

    Yesterday's Run
    12.15 Miles
    2:30:00
    4.9 mph

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Cross training, indeed!

    I spent a couple days of the holiday weekend at my folks' mountain cabin with my DH, parents and my brother.

    Anyway, my brother and dad talked me in to going on a hike with them on Saturday and since I really needed to get a little exercise/cross training in, I decided this would be a great opportunity. We decided to tackle a hike rated as "difficult" on the USDA Forest Service site. Not sure what exactly classifies something as 'difficult' according to the government, but their assessment was right on target.

    There are a LOT more switchbacks than what are shown on this map!
    Now, I have to tell you that I went into this with my eyes wide open as my brother has done this hike previously and warned me that it is brutal, but still the reality is sometime so much different than what you have built up in your mind. This hike as it turns out is 2,200 feet of elevation gain spread out over 2.8 miles - this equates to a 15.3% grade... an incline you would never dream of taking a motor vehicle up or worse, down... even if it were paved!

    Fortunately, the trail was really beautiful. Lots of shade not to mention the fact that all the Rhodies were in bloom as was the Bear Grass and some other plants which me, not being a green thumb of any sort couldn't identify. We even ran into snow about 2/3 of the way up the trail.

    It took us almost three hours to reach the end of the trail (it's the nominal summit - the real summit is another mile & 500 feet of elevation of bush whacking so we opted out) which is a precipice at 4100 ft. that used to house a forest service lookout post and has a nearly 360º view that overlooks the North Fork of the Santiam River Valley as well as offers a great view of Mt. Jefferson and surrounding peaks. Despite it being a little hazy we could also make out some of the mountains of the Coast Range such as Mary's Peak. All in all a wonderful view and worth the hike.

    Dad & Me with Mt. Jefferson in the background
    I think one of the mistakes that many people (us included) make is that we don't really take the return trip into account when we're making our way up the slope. You just think about how after 3 hours of uphill, you'll finally be able to go downhill. But what you forget is that downhill, especially steep downhill, can really take a toll on your body physically. Yes, you don't have the cardio-vascular workout that the uphill presents (all three of us were soaked w/ sweat by the time we reached the top), but you use an entirely different set of muscles that don't get exercised as regularly (let's face it, most of us who run focus on the difficulties of running uphill, not down). For my dad, as hard as the uphill was, the downhill was worse because he was completely spent by the end, but it still requires a steady foot to not hurt yourself while traversing uneven trails or even worse, a couple decent size rock fields. For my brother and I, although we fared better, we were still pretty drained when we got down off the mountain and here it is two days later and I'm still feeling it in muscles that I don't normally feel.
    Kent (my brother, aka Heather's husband) & Me
    Still, it was a really enjoyable day and a great way to get in a bit of cross training that I don't normally have the chance at.

    Here's hoping everyone has had a happy and safe Independence Day!

    The dog ate my homework

    And if you believe that, I might have a bridge to sell you as well!

    Actually, I really don't have any excuse for my lack of posts last week except for the fact that BOTH Wednesday's and Friday's runs kind of sucked eggs... to put it bluntly. I made it through my run both days, but that's about the only positive thing that can be said for either day. The only thing I can even guess at is that the temperature has been increasing over the last week or so and the humidity was pretty gross last week as well.

    I read in the copy of Runner's World that I received just yesterday that you should decrease your pace by a full minute per mile for any humidity over 60%. Wow! That might explain the week. The humidity has been running near 80% here all week. So I guess the lesson to be learned is that if you don't voluntarily slow your pace down, your body will involuntarily do it for you resulting in said crappy run! LOL!

    Anyway, for those of you keeping track (including me), here are the numbers:

    Friday's Run
    7.0 Miles
    87:37
    4.8 mph

    Wednesday's Run
    7.13 Miles
    90:00
    4.8 mph

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Weather so thick you can cut it with a knife

    I had decided as of yesterday that instead of a true long run this week, I would do something between my normal run and a long run. So, to this end, I tried a little experiment today. I ran for two hours with the intent of seeing how far I could go in those two hours. While, the distance wasn't as great as maybe it should have been, it wasn't too bad when all was said and done.

    Today was a super humid day here in the Pacific NW and it warmed up fairly early today, so any workout not done in a hermetically sealed air conditioned environment was pretty miserable. I don't know why it is that on a humid day it feels like all the moisture is sucked out of your body the minute you step outside. On the surface, that seems counter-intuitive, but it felt that way to me today. I was so thirsty through the entire 2nd half of my run today. And then, to make matters worse sometimes I'm really bad about rationing out my water/Gatorade consumption so I end up drinking way too much and feeling sloshy and bloated. Yuck.

    Anyway, I guess given the weather I really shouldn't complain about my results for the day. According to Jeff Galloway, runners should slow their pace down by 30 seconds/mile for every 5º over 60º F. If you think about it, that's slowing your speed down by quite a bit when the weather starts to heat up. I guess I should just be thankful that I don't live in TX!

    The weather guys are predicting rain for tomorrow. Let's hope it comes to pass... it might actually help break the humidity around here!

    Today's Run
    9.8 Miles
    2:01:00
    4.9 mph

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Late Week Meltdown

    Well, on Thursday, my body finally lodged the protest that was long overdue. I had been keeping up my normal training schedule all week, running a little over 7 miles on Tuesday and doing my full cross-training schedule on Monday and Wednesday. Come Thursday about 5 miles into my run my body said "NO MORE!!!" I made it to 5.25 miles, but that was it. Running any further than that was just not a possibility. My knees were complaining and my muscles were stiff and aching. Okay, okay, I can take a (none-too-subtle) hint. It was time to give my legs the bit of rest they deserved after running the half on Sunday.

    I did manage to do a full cross-train yesterday, but have taken today completely off from working out altogether. Now the real trick will be getting back on track tomorrow! Wish me luck.

    Thursday's Run
    5.25 Miles
    62:13
    5.1 mph

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    The Ongoing Journey

    I was hanging out chatting with my family at my brother & SIL's house on Sunday (Father's Day) after finishing up the Vancouver USA Half. My family were all being their totally supportive selves with regard to my running and my weight loss efforts when one of them asked me "So what changed?" (to motivate me) to which my SIL pipes up and says "What hasn't changed???" And if I think about it, yes, so much has changed over the last couple of years that the me of today barely resembles the me of a few years back. And this is both physically AND mentally.
    I've lost just a little over 75 lbs to date. I still have a ways to go, but wanted to share my progress along the way.

    I've been thinking about this a lot for the last couple of days trying to figure out exactly what switch got flipped on in my head this time that had never been flipped before... at least not completely like it has now. In the past I always wondered what exactly it took for those people who get so motivated to do whatever it is they set out to do... Do they have a "eureka!" moment or do they just forge ahead or what?

    Well, I can't answer this question for anyone but myself. I had always hoped that there would be an Eureka moment, thinking that would make the lifestyle change easier. Alas, that never really happened for me. It just seems like there were a series of events that all kind of converged to make me what to change things about my life.
    1. I lost my job... as much as I still rebel at the idea, the harsh reality of the matter is, it IS harder to get a job when you're overweight. There's a preconception that somehow your weight will hinder you from getting the job done. 
    2. My blood pressure was off the charts. My primary care provider (who is also a friend of mine) was freaking out when she saw the numbers. Stroking out was not out of the realm of possibilities.
    3. My blood glucose had started to creep up. My mother is a Type II diabetic, as was my grandmother. This doesn't bode well for me. I need to curb that trend if at all possible. While I may still become diabetic someday, I'm hoping to put it off as long as possible.
    4. I had started doing a run/walk couch to 5K program about the same time that I found out my SIL & brother had started running. Even though they were still living in Cincinnati at the time, it inspired me to push forward. Now that they've moved back to the Pacific NW, it's great to be able to run with my SIL, instead of just being a sideline observer.
    5. Finally, I'm now in my 40's... and it was depressing me to think about being perceived as an inactive, frumpy, middle-aged housewife who doesn't do anything interesting. Call it a case of mid-life crisis, but I did NOT want that to be my lot in life. I had to get out of that rut.
    I can't say that any one of these was the single deciding factor, but I know that they all played a part in influencing how the changes in my life came about.  Now that I'm on my way towards my goal weight and my goal of being able to (eventually) run a full marathon, I look forward to being able to help others on their journeys to physical and mental well being. I feel like I've gained so much from traveling this path that I want to be able to share it with others and hope that I can, in some small way, inspire them to achieve their own goals, no matter what they might be.

    Yesterday's Run
    7.14 Miles
    90:00
    4.8 mph

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Vancouver USA Half Marathon

    I ran the Vancouver USA Half Marathon on Sunday... let me say I have almost entirely all positive reviews for this event. The organization of this was awesome. I was really impressed with it, especially considering it was their inaugural event. Someone obviously had some event planning experience somewhere...


    Thanks to Heather & her Garmin for this route map!
    The course was mapped out along the Columbia River. The marathoners got to see a bit more of the river than us half marathoners, but still it was a pretty nice route. We went through Fort Vancouver, around Pearson Airfield and through several parks and along a few trails right next to the waterfront. They had a good number of runners (my SIL says she thinks she heard in the 3,000's). Big enough to have a good vibe to the race, but not so huge as to be constantly bumping into people and having to dart in and around traffic. They had their porta-potties and hydration/first-aid stations positioned about every two miles, so there was never really any need to panic about making it to the next stop for whatever need you had. They also had LOTS of volunteers and cheerleaders throughout the entire race, as well as some bands at various points along the race. It made for a very fun & festive atmosphere. Then, at the end they had lots of munchies and drinks for all the finishers... Heather & I weren't really hungry, but we both walked away from the race with liquid-filled sloshing tummies. LOL!

    Personally, I was really excited. After last month's Hippie Chick, I needed some personal redemption. Yesterday, I felt really good through about the first 9 miles of this run... okay, the huge hill at mile 6 kind of sucked, but then huge hills always suck for me and the fact that it was a long (nearly a mile) huge hill didn't exactly help matters. Still, I felt mostly okay through miles 9 and 10 and it was only about mile 11 that I started feeling like total crud. I dropped my fuel belt water bottle twice along miles 11 and 12 and almost died to have to bend over and pick it back up. My pace was a little slower than I would have liked, but not bad considering I took two bathroom breaks along the course. Unfortunately, my official time isn't showing up on the results board (did I block my timing chip w/ my fuel belt??? I don't know what happened), but my unofficial time is 2:48+ which is about 15 minutes less than what I did at Hippie Chick. For me, this is huge. I feel vindicated and I now have a better idea of where I'm really at and what to shoot for come the Girlfriends' Half in October.


    To make the day even better, Heather finally broke her personal goal of running a Half in less than 2:30. Let me tell you, she actually smashed that goal. Her final time was 2:22:38. Yea Heather! Congratulations!!!

    My only two complaints for the entire day were (relatively) minor. First, my brother had originally signed up to run this race. Unfortunately, due to an injury he wasn't able to run yesterday, but they wouldn't let him transfer his registration fee to next year's run or to anyone else for this year, so basically, it was a lost fee for him. I know that some of the larger events are starting to allow transfer of your registration to the following year if you are unable to attend the current event. I think that VUM should seriously consider this in the future. My second complaint is pretty nit-picky... it is that for the registration fee you only were given a t-shirt, not a tech shirt and Heather said they would not allow her to change out sizes once she picked everyone's stuff up at the Expo. The t-shirts are way oversized and since they couldn't be changed out, probably won't get much use... and certainly not the kind of use they would have gotten had they been tech shirts...  There were tech shirts available for this event, but they were available for purchase only. Not a huge deal, but still, it would have been nice.
    My SIL (center) along with my niece and brother who came along to support our race efforts. Thanks guys!

    Anyway, if any of you are looking for an event to do next June, I would definitely recommend this run. I look forward to doing it again next year and I think Heather is planning on shooting for the full marathon! You go girl!

    Yesterday's Run
    13.1 Miles
    2:48:??
    4.7 mph