Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pacing... what's that???

I ran with Heather today, which is always a good time (even despite the fact that BOTH of us were grumbling through the entire run). For a change we ran in my neighborhood so I got to show her all the high points of one of my local routes (aka potty breaks). We cut the run a little short today and only did one of the two killer hills that are on this route. We were both suffering under moderate physical discomfort and severe mental fatigue, so we opted for the shorter route. To add insult to injury (so to speak), Heather's Garmin died on us part way through our run PLUS I forgot to flip on my timer... so we were pretty clueless about today's pacing. Oh well. At least we got some miles under out belt... AND we both managed to break in our new shoes just a little bit more... I really hope they're ready for the half that is now in approximately 10 days!

Today's Run
6.12 Miles
Time ???
Pace ???

Better late than never...

Sorry everyone with Easter this past weekend, I was super busy for a few days. I managed to get my running in, but that was about the only thing I fit into my rather jam-packed weekend. Here are my distances for last Friday and this past Monday, for anyone who's interested.

Monday's Run
12.0 Miles (what crazy person runs 12 miles on their birthday???)
5.0 mph

Friday's Run
6.93 Miles
80 Minutes
5.2 mph

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Life size Barbie... Holy Cow!!!

Having spent my entire life on the little bit bigger end of the size continuum, I've always felt the need to be realistic about my weight and size expectations. Yes, I do want to be healthy and yes, I do need to lose weight... but it's not my personal goal to be 5'4" and 110 pounds. I just know that's not realistic for me. I try to encourage the same kind of mind set in others as well. Yes, lose weight if you genuinely need to. Yes, by all means be the healthiest person you can be, but don't live your life according to fashion industry standards. That's a sure fire way to end up feeling really crappy about yourself.

Anyway, when I saw this article today it piqued my interest... and then when I saw the picture, I knew I had to share... Do I think that Barbie is to blame for my self-image struggles? Probably not, but then, who knows what sneaks into our psyches and stealthily seats itself there waiting for the moment to blossom forth as a full blown neurosis??? So, I present this image and the accompanying article from the NBC Today Show merely as food for thought (There's a video toward the bottom of the page if you're interested as well).
Galia Slayen made a Barbie doll that stands about 6 feet tall with a 39" bust, 18" waist, and 33" hips.

I have some super hard-core feminist friends who would love nothing more than to burn every Barbie ever made. And although I'm not in that camp, I can't exactly say that I'm Barbie's biggest fan either. Yes, I did have Barbies as a kid and yes, I did play with them, but they were only a small part of my total experience as a kid. Hopefully, we can teach the current generation of kids to be healthier in body and mind... and maybe accept Barbie with a (huge) grain of salt.

Yea! I got a long run in this week!

Well, yesterday Heather and I decided to do our long run. We ran the same route we did the last time we got together... complete with our stop at McD's.  I really like this route even though it is quite a bit more than our 12 miles of running. And even though I wasn't feeling 100% on top of my game, I think we both did really well. Although I never count exactly how many times I walk during any given long run, I am pretty sure there was quite a bit less walking in yesterday's run than there had been the last time we did this route together.  I didn't have the killer run that Heather had.

If you look at her blog she was at a super cruising speed for quite a bit of it. During the road part of the run I'm pretty content to just let Heather go at her own pace. It makes me feel better that I'm not dragging her down with my own less than stellar pace, plus it provides a little bit of inspiration for me to see her out ahead of me and know that I have to keep going to catch up! Fortunately, she did slow down for me during the trail parts of the run so we could keep an eye on each other. Neither one of us is comfortable running these trails by ourselves... just seems like you'd be inviting trouble.

After the run I also didn't feel nearly as wiped out from it as I had the last time we got together. Yes, I was incredibly sore... in fact I can't remember the last time my hamstrings hurt so much, but I didn't feel like I was going to have to lay down on the sidewalk and let the pedestrians go around my limp body... which I did seriously think about on several occasions during our last get together. LOL!

My schedule for the rest of the week is filling up like crazy, so I'm glad that we took advantage of the window of opportunity that presented itself yesterday. Now I can get through the rest of the week feeling accomplished for having completed this. Yea Me! Yea Heather... thanks!

Yesterday's Run
12 Miles (Run)
Approx 1.6 Miles (Walk)
Time: ??? Approx 2:25:00 - based on Heather's time and how far behind I was lagging!
Pace: 5.0

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sometimes little things can make me really happy!

My week is kind of topsy turvy this week, so I decided to switch things around a bit. I won't be able to run my long run on Friday, so I wanted to shift everything up so I could run it Thursday if I chose. Anyway, my decision to start my run week a little early was further reinforced by what a beautiful day it was for a run today. The temp wasn't too high and the sun was out. My only complaint at all would be that there was a bit more breeze than I would have liked... but that seems like maybe just complaining for complaining's sake, since you couldn't even call it wind, it was just a strong breeze!

Anyway, even on truly lovely days like today, sometimes it's nice to have little rewards for yourself for your accomplishments. My goal/reward today was to make it to a gorgeous spot on the river not too far from my house. I had already run most of my run by this point, so it was nice to be able to stop and take a couple of pictures before heading up the crazy steep hill to get out of the river basin (see the huge dip before the steep climb at mile 5.2... that's where this picture was taken).

I know to some of you stopping to take a picture might not seem like a huge reward, but this is a nice serene spot with almost zero traffic since it is a residential street. A great place to stop and just spend a Zen moment... besides, rewarding myself with a giant pizza and hot fudge sundae when I get home just seems a little counter productive!
I hope everyone has a great week and is able to get out there, do a little running, and find a nice (appropriate) reward for your accomplishment!

Today's Run
6.81 Miles
80 Minutes
5.1 mph

So much for staying dry...

Something really weird and a little embarrassing happened to me during my run on Friday... I ended up sweating so hard and so much with a bunch of it draining down in to my shoes that by the end of my run, my shoes were squishy... and no it was not from rain... I didn't go outside to run! It took so long for my shoes to dry after that, plus I ended up with a couple of spots of chaffing, so I might as well have gone out and run in the rain... Ugh!

Friday's Run
12.0 Miles
4.9 mph

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It just never occurred to me!

Well, I thought I would share a finding with everyone this week. For many people, they'll probably just read this and go D'uh!!! but it was something that I had never even considered before - that is finding decent workout clothes at various thrift stores around town. I was surprised, I guess, because 1) I had never looked for exercise clothes at thrift stores in the past - even though I do frequent them on a somewhat regular basis and 2) I forget that other people either fade in and out of their exercise habits or they might just not want to be caught in last years fashions or they might be growing or shrinking out of clothing. Whenever I get a new piece of workout gear, I generally tend to wear it until it is a little bit of overstretched, smelly, disgusting, raggy fabric. I would die of embarrassment to put my old gear in the bag going to Goodwill or the ARC... it would be tantamount to putting my old ratty undies in the bag! LOL! Anyway, for those reasons, it just never occurred to me to look... until this past week.

Finding this out this week has made me very happy. I like having a bit of a selection of workout clothes so I don't have to wear the exact same thing day after day after day, plus you need to change up your gear based on what the weather is doing outside... so it's good to have at least a few pieces to choose from... but I hate how expensive exercise clothes can be... I have a hard time stomaching paying $50 for a t-shirt that if it were made of cotton would be $9.99. Of course, I have tried sewing lycra fabrics before and it is a major pain in the patoot... so I'm guessing that is at least part of the expense. Still, I just don't have the fortitude or the financial resources to pay out that much money. I would rather put the $50 toward a race entry fee!

So, while I was out shopping for regular clothes this week (I have a closet full of clothes that just hang off my body... it looks really horrible and isn't doing much for my self esteem... I decided to glance around to see what workout clothes were also available at the same locations. What I have found is that some of the thrift stores in my area have a better selection than others. Some of my observations - although this is purely my first impression and is based on the stores I go to in my neighborhood... what you find in your neck of the woods might vary greatly.
  1. My local Goodwill is NOT the place to look for used workout clothing. Yes, they did have some, but not as large of a selection for a similar if not bigger stores than some of the other stores in the area.  My guess is that our Goodwill is usually pretty busy and their selection is probably more picked-over than other stores in the area because of that. 
  2. Don't discount a store because it is small... this week one of the smallest stores I visited... a private resell shop called The Dig on McLoughlin Blvd in Milwaukie... had proportionately one of the largest selections of athletic apparel. In fact, they had a whole section devoted to workout gear. The down side was that most of their stuff (including all their normal street wear clothing) was geared toward smaller sizes... mostly smalls & mediums with a few larges and even fewer XL's.
  3. Value Village had a decent selection (at least at the location I went to). It wasn't great, but it was better than GW and the clothing was generally in better shape overall. I really like VV's layout. They have stuff segregation by garments AND by size with a separate area for exercise clothing. 
  4. The best place I found this week was the Red, White & Blue store on McLoughlin. For a large scale resell/thrift shop they have some of the nicest clothes around and they had a bunch of workout gear. The two caveats I have for this store are A) they mix ALL their sizes together... so you have to go through everything and if you see something you think you might like, you still won't know until you look at the tag if it's something that is actually in your size... frustrating. B) Also, they accept CASH ONLY... no credit, no debit, no EBT, no checks, nada... just cold hard cash, which I rarely have on my person. They have an ATM onsite, but I refuse to pay $3 in service fees just to buy a $4 shirt! That being said, I found several workout shirts here this week... alas they are mixed in with everything else on the racks... okay maybe that's actually caveat #3. Still, if you're in the area, it might be worth checking out.
  5. Another thing to keep in mind is that most of these thrift stores cater to more generalized sizes; S, M, L, and XL. If you are wearing larger sizes 2X, 3X, etc. It will be harder to find stuff at these stores. But then, I feel like that's the case for ALL clothing, unfortunately. I find it kind of ironic that we are a country plagued with an obesity epidemic, yet the majority of the clothing still caters to those who perfectly conform to the prescribed height/weight charts... like everyone else is supposed to go around in mumus... or naked.
  6. You have to be a regular shopper at these stores to find the best stuff. I will admit that I'm not that disciplined. I go in from time to time and if I find stuff, great and if not, I usually don't go back for a while... which is probably the exact opposite of what I should really be doing since all of these stores advertise that they get new stuff in daily and you only find the really great things by going and checking out the incoming selection consistently.
I hope that others will find this post helpful and that it's not just me that was surprised by this... if everyone else really is going "d'uh!" could you all just keep it to yourselves and let me go on thinking that I'm helping out in some small, small, microscopic way? Thanks!
Today was a lousy run for me. I didn't feel real well during my run and haven't felt much better since the run either. Not sure what is going on, I might just be having an off day, who knows? Still, I did get on the treadmill this morning and although I didn't cover nearly as much mileage as I usually do, at least I pushed through and made it all 80 minutes... at least it's something!

Today's Run
6.0 Miles
80 Minutes
4.5 mph (Ew!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shoes for my fat little feet!

Yesterday, I started breaking in a new pair of running shoes... as many of you probably already know, this is not a particularly enjoyable task, but is certainly a necessary one... and with my half-marathon now less than a month away, I need to make sure that my shoes are new, but not too new!
My new shoes... and my old ones. I love these babies!

For the second time, I went with Saucony's. I run in the Omni ProGrid 9, which is a stability shoe. I have to say, I love this shoe. I used to be a huge Brooks fan... and I still really like Brooks, but once I put the Saucony's on my feet it was love at first step. So, I've had people ask me about my Saucony's and why I like them so much, so I'll try to give you a quick run down of the shoe and some things to consider when buying shoes...

First off, for those of us who do not have little tiny bird bodies with weights to match, you might be tempted to step up to a Motion Control shoe... the general consensus is that for those of us "larger" runners, these are the shoe of preference. I would say to try them out first... If you don't need the heavy pronation control that a motion control shoe provides, then I would say at least try the stability shoe while you're in the running shoe store. They tend to have a little more "give" to them, and don't have as wide or rigid of a foot base, so your stride might feel more natural in these shoes. The Omni ProGrid's tend toward the motion control side of things, but they are ultimately, a stability shoe with a little more cushioning and less rigid support.

As for the Saucony's, they do come in wide widths which is essential for me. I've had a wide, flat foot (complete with short stubby toes) since birth. In fact, a friend of mine has affectionately termed them "Flintstone feet" (think Fred's feet as he's using them to power his pre-historic car). I rarely fit into a standard medium width shoe... so I was super happy to see Saucony offered this additional width. Along with the width of these shoes comes a nice open feeling toe-box. I don't have any problems with toe cramping (except during downhill runs which is a whole other topic). For the above reasons I have never fit into Nike's really well. They are just proportioned all wrong for my foot. Okay, they are better than they used to be back in the 70's & 80's, but they still just don't do it for me.

The Saucony's that I run in also seem to have good arch support... but not arches so high that they feel like they "dig" into the bottom of my foot by the end of a run. To illustrate: I have several pairs of Birkenstocks - all of which I can't wear for long days on me feet (contrary to what you might think) because my arches are killing me by the end of the day.

Finally, these shoes seem to be well made shoes. I haven't had any problems with the ripping out prematurely or the sole coming loose or my big toe wearing a hole in the top mesh fabric... all of which I've had happen with other shoes in the past.

Anyway, just some thoughts about my shoes and what you might consider when looking for your own shoes. Ultimately, remember to try on different pairs and run in them to see what works for you. Like me, you might be surprised that you don't fit neatly into a specific category... and that your thinking about your running shoes needs to be outside the shoe box...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It was an excellent day for a (long) run!

We had the best long run yesterday. I won't tell you that it was easy, 'cause after all, it was a long run, but it was so, so, so much better than last week's long run.

For starters, it was wonderful run weather. High's in the 50's, only slight breeze to cool us and barely a cloud in the sky. You couldn't not have asked fora better day.

Next, Heather mapped out a new route for us, so it was not the same series of two very long, very painful uphill climbs from last week. In fact, if you look at the elevation chart, you can see that there was really only one crazy uphill around mile 7. It was one of our few downhills from last week - only taken in the opposite direction. Fortunately for me, I have no shame when it comes to walking hills! Yes, I will try to run as much of them as I can, but when my heart starts to feel like it's going to jump right out of my chest, I don't mind walking for at least part of something that brutal.
Heather had originally mapped out a run that was slightly over 12¾ miles long. A little longer than we were really looking for, but we figured that whatever past 12 miles we weren't feeling up to we would just walk. Well, around mile 9 happened on a dog-leg trail that leads back to the main Salmon Creek trail. Since we were in need of water and bathrooms by this point, we decided to take the dog-leg instead of sticking to our original street route. What we didn't realize at the time is that this little "shortcut" trail was much longer than either one of us had imagined. We had seen it while driving by in the past and figured it was just a little jaunt to take you back to the original trail... but that was not the case! By the time we did this dog-leg and then ran on the Salmon Creek trail instead of the much more direct road route we had originally intended, we had ended up adding over a full mile to our route yesterday. This means something that started out being a little over 12 ended up being closer to 14 miles. Yikes!

Anyway, once we were back on the trail and had figured out that we were going to be way over out miles for the day, we resolved to run the originally intended 12 and then just walk whatever was left. This turned out to be fortuitous on our part... just past the 12 mile stopping point, the road we were on went up a very steep incline which would have been absolutely miserable to run up... especially by the time we were in mile 11 or 12 as we had originally planned it to be. Also, Heather reminded me that there was a McDonald's on our way home... past the 12 mile point, so we had no hesitation in stopping to pick up jumbo Cokes for the walk home... thanks Heather... I owe you one!

We got back to the house only slightly the worse for the extra two miles of wear. But I must say that despite the unplanned extra distance, I would gladly do this route again... especially if there's a McDonald's soda waiting for us as a reward on the way home!

Yesterday's Run
12.0 Miles
5.0 mph

Yesterday's Walk
2.0 Miles
0:39 (including the McD's stop!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You're joking, right?

Some days just feel like this. Fortunately, today wasn't one of those days, however, we'll talk again on Friday. Heather thought I loved last Friday's 12 mile run so much that I was just dying to do it again... and stupid me, I agreed. So we're off for another dozen miles complete with killer hills for our long run this week.

As friends of mine who are hard-core runners have been following my blog, they are coming up to me to say they are envious of the number of training miles I'm logging... especially if they've had to cut back on their own miles due to injury. Now, I'm here to tell you that this form of envy is the sign of a someone with a serious running addiction. Maybe there will be a day when I'll look at friends of mine who are training for a half or whole marathon with envy when they tell me about the grueling 12 miles worth of hills they are doing, but I've got to say that I don't see this happening any time in my near future. In fact, I don't even really see any even short term reprieves in my near future. Almost the minute the half is done in May it will be time to start training for the half we have signed up for in the fall.

Nope, for me, 12 mile runs are just a grim reality.
  • I have a goal. 
  • I want to reach my goal. 
  • I train to reach the goal. 
  • End of conversation. 

Okay, yes, I will admit that there's a small part of me... maybe |--| that much that likes being able to tell people about the distances I'm running. It makes me feel a little bit more like a "real" runner. But for the most part, if I honestly thought that I could run a half marathon (or even better a whole marathon!) by just doing 6½ to 7 mile runs 3 times I week, I'd probably be content with that. I'm actually getting to a place where my regular runs are feeling relatively good. Saying that I enjoy them might still be a bit of a stretch, but I certainly don't hate them either... Uh oh... does that mean I might be on that slippery path moving towards a running addiction? Yikes! Scary thought, isn't it???

Today's Run
6.81 Miles
80 Minutes
5.1 mph

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just a little news to perk up your day... yeah, right...

Well, I upped my minutes today. For those of you who don't keep track, I try to exercise five, but preferably six days a week. I run three of those days, with one long run a week. For my other five days that I'm not doing my long run, the mileage isn't the primary concern (although I am still trying to up my speed over time), but rather the time spent working out is my main concern.

When I started seriously working out a few years ago (when I started this whole weight loss adventure), I was barely able to walk at a steady pace for 30 minutes, now here it is over 2½ years later and I just moved up from working out 75 minutes a day to 80 minutes a day. On my run days, that is primarily running (with a few walk breaks scattered throughout).

Now, for those of you who are looking at this and thinking "Holy Cow! That's a crazy amount of exercise!" Well, there was a point in time in which I would have agreed with you. However, as many of you are aware, the exercise requirements, especially for people who are looking to lose weight, or maintain weight loss, have changed. Long gone are the days when 30 minutes 3 days a week was considered sufficient.

Let me caveat that by saying, that the American Heart Association still says that for cardio-vascular benefits, the 30/3 number is still valid. However, for those of us who need to lose weight, this doesn't hold true. Nope, for us 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is the minimum... Okay, let me caveat the caveat... DO NOT do the 60 to 90 minute thing if you are not an otherwise healthy individual... as always, doctor's advice is essential! 

But I digress... for me... since I AM in the "needs to lose weight" category, I am working (very slowly) toward a 90 minute a day workout, hence my reason for upping my total minutes today. I had been at 75 minutes for several months now (since probably around Thanksgiving), so this is really not a huge shock to my system, but is just another step on my journey to weight loss and better health.

For my other little cheery piece of information I give you this: studies suggest that once you have lost the weight you will still need to do at least 60 minutes of exercise almost every day to maintain that weight loss. I guess this is just our body's way of telling us, that it takes that phrase lifestyle change very seriously. Long gone are the days of dieting (and exercising like a madman) to lose 10 or 20 pounds only to abruptly quit everything the minute the goal is met.

Looking back, it's amazing that we ever believed in that kind of mentality. I think the old saying of "If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got" rings true here. If anyone thinks they can go back to daily Big Macs or only 30 minutes of exercise, then expect to get what you always got in the past... In other words, by not changing expect all those pounds that had once disappeared to come back to haunt you in the not too distant future.

Today's Run
6.80 miles
80 minutes (yea!!!)
5.1 mph

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My malfunctioning brain

 Well, yesterday was long run day... finally. After putting it off all week since I hadn't felt real well earlier in the week, it was finally time to pay the piper.

First let me tell you, I have never EVER run 12 miles before in my life.Yet,  I think my brain is becoming somewhat distorted in it's thinking because there's some part of me that says 12 miles isn't really THAT long is it? To my oxygen deprived brain it just sounds like some little jaunt that you might do on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. Believe me, I don't know what it is about my brain that is starting to think like this. I think it's kind of like when you start gaining weight. Your brain somehow adapts over time and you begin to convince yourself that you're not really that big... even though you've got 10 pairs of pants in your closet that no longer fit and you can no longer stand to look at pictures of yourself that people have taken... and in case you're wondering, yes, I do speak from experience on this point of warped reality as well.

Anyway, I am here to tell you that my body and my head are on completely different planets when it comes to the reality of 12 miles. My brain says "no biggie," my body says, "Are you kidding me? 12 miles is absolutely insane!!!" 

I went out with Heather yesterday and we ran the 10 mile route that she and my brother usually run and then we tacked another two miles on the end of it. I will confess, Heather had showed this route to me ahead of time and although it struck me as a little hilly, it didn't really register until we were out running exactly how hilly this route is. For the first 7+ miles you do nothing but either go up or go down... only tiny bits of flat... and I should also say that there is much more UPHILL in that 7 miles than there is downhill. The ups are slow and steady, drug out over several miles, where the downs are short and steep and over way too quickly to get any kind of serious recovery time... I took this elevation graph from Heather's blog. You can see from the giant downhill WALLS how quickly it goes down vs. how slowly it goes up!

 I think the amount of hills in the first part of the run contributed to my need to walk a large portion of the last couple of miles of the course... not to mention the really crappy pace we ended up with overall. My legs were really achy and I was feeling muscles I have never felt during a run before.... Yes, yes, I know this means that I need to do more of this to build these muscles up, but still, it was pretty surprising to me to find out there were still running muscles that I had never before tapped into hard enough to feel them complain.

Happily, the first part of the run went relatively well for me. Okay, yes we did have to stop at the local Target store for a potty break, but other than that we plugged along keeping pretty well to our plan of walking only once (for approx a minute) every mile for a brief recovery period. Once we hit the flat part of the run I was pretty well spent. From that point on it was probably more of a 50/50 run/walk mix. Thanks so much to Heather for pushing me through. I know I killed her time, but I really appreciate the support!

The weird thing is that my brain is back to playing tricks on me. My husband says he is totally impressed by this distance... and I know somewhere in my past I would have thought this was an amazing feat but despite the fact that my quads ache today and the soles of my feet are somewhat tender from a mileage they're not used to, my brain is still saying... "Oh, 12 miles isn't really that far is it?"  Now, I'm starting to wonder if my brain and my body will ever get to the point where they're on the same page. Like with the weight gain/loss thing, I am beginning to suspect that my brain may never be in sync with my body. I'm not sure there's anything I can do about changing this little idiosyncrasy of my brains functioning, but maybe the fact that I'm aware of it will at least help me keep everything in perspective... at least I can always hope!

Yesterday's Run
12.02 Miles
2 hrs 34 mins
4.7 mph (yuck!)