December 30, 2010

On the mend

I've taken a few weeks off from running since my knee was injured. But I'm easing back into it. I spent five days in my tiny home town visiting my parents for Christmas, and I just had to get out and run while I was there. Santa brought me some fun new running clothes - all pink except for my new favorite cold-weather pants, Nike thermals - and I couldn't resist trying them out! The day after Christmas, I set out for a short, slow run after taking two weeks off. It felt so good to get back out there! I ran a mile, and my knee felt pretty good, but I could tell it was getting tight toward the end. I didn't go any farther because I want to take it slow and make sure everything is healed. So far, so good.

Also, I should confess that I've taken a few weeks off from doing ANYTHING. No gym. No cross training. Nada. So needless to say, I've lost a lot of fitness/endurance/strength. That mile was refreshing, but I was relieved to quit because I was sucking wind and getting exhausted. Since I've been so lazy, that means I'm going to have to work extra hard when it's time to start training for the Bentonville Half. I may have to actually go to the gym and cross train! *gasp* (I know, I know...the first rule of running is don't JUST run. I know I should be cross training all the time to build up my strength so I can run faster and avoid injury, blah, blah, blah. I know all that, and I like doing other stuff besides running. I just really hate the gym!)

I'm so glad that my knee can handle short runs again because today, we had an unseasonably warm day. It was 64 degrees, y'all! Yes, the wind was blowing at least 20 mph and storms were brewing, BUT, it was the perfect day to run in short sleeves and capris. No gloves! No toboggan! And best of all, I got off work a little early because of New Year's, so NO HEADLAMP! It was like getting a little postcard from September.

I ran at the Bella Vista pond trail and just made one lap around the pond, which is about 1.8 miles. Farther than my previous run, but not too far. I kept my eye on my Garmin the entire time to make sure I didn't overdo it. I'm terrible at pacing myself, so my goal was to keep my pace between 11:00 and 12:00. I averaged 11:34, so I was pleased as punch with my warm day run!

In fact, I was so pleased that I was actually smiling while I was running, which got some strange looks from the other folks at the park. I know I'm slow, and I'm not anyone's competitor. I can't run far or fast. But just being out on the road is so nice that I don't care. I couldn't stop smiling, not because I'm good at running, but because I enjoy it and can finally participate again!

December 8, 2010

Down and out

I have good news and bad news.
The good news: I'm going to run the Bentonville Half Marathon in April!

I'll get to the bad news in a minute. I've never run much farther than 3 miles, but I think if I start now and train diligently, I should be able to handle 13.1 by April. Right? Sure. I was able to run a 5K, and I never thought I could. So I'm hoping this will work out too.

I have a good training plan, thanks to Mr. Hal Higdon, and I'm confident that if I stick with it, I can do this. The training plan is 12 weeks, and there are 17 weeks until the race. So this should allow enough time for repeating weeks when necessary or getting off schedule due to nasty winter weather. My only goal at this point is to be able to finish the race without collapsing. Unfortunately, the race director thought it would be fun to run the last mile UP the Crystal Bridges trail hill. See that squiggly line in the center of the map right below the number 12?

That's the STEEPEST, MOST TERRIBLE hill I've ever tried to run. I think they had to make it crooked because cyclists would probably reach 80 mph by the time they got to the bottom. Seriously. It's ridiculous. And to make this the last mile of the race is just plain mean. I tried running it once and vowed never to go back to that awful place. Yes, it's pretty and scenic and all that, but it is wicked steep! I guess I know where I'll be training now.

And now for the bad news.
Remember my one good run? Well, there are occasionally days like that, and then there are days like yesterday when you quit your run 2 miles early and cry tears of frustration all the way home. I had an awful run last night because my left knee is injured. It was injured by a chiropractor who was asked to fix my right hip. Confused? Me too. I've had a wonky hip for a couple of years, and running has aggravated the problem, but the problem has never stopped me from running. Still, it's an annoying pain that I notice all day while sitting at work, while running and walking, and now it even affects the way I sleep. So I went to a chiropractor who also does PT and is known for helping injured athletes. However, after three "treatments," my hip is no better and on my last visit, he somehow tweaked my left knee while stretching my right hip. I knew as soon as it happened that it was a bad kind of pain, but the damage was already done. It hasn't stopped hurting since, and when I try to run, I feel a stabbing pain on the inner side of my knee. Not cool, doc. Not cool. I guess on the bright side, I've focused less on my hip.

Therefore, week one of half marathon training? Not going so good. In fact, not going at all. I got through ONE DAY before it all went kaput. I can't run. I'm terrified that this is an actual injury that's going to leave me sitting out a while. I talked to the doc about it today, and he apologized profusely and is a little baffled about the situation, but there's not a lot we can do except stretch, foam roll until I'm dizzy and rest, rest, rest.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, my husband is following the training schedule that I chose for the race I want to run. And I have to be nice and say, "Good job!" when he reports that he ran the prescribed number of miles at a 10:22 pace even though I can't run. And if I could run, I know I couldn't do much better than a 12:00 pace. Being a sidelined supporter is hard

December 4, 2010

One good run

I've been struggling to find the motivation to get off my fanny and run for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I'm slow and not a good runner, but also because it's dark and cold every time I get an opportunity to run. But on Wednesday, I decided just to suck it up, get out there and do it. I'm so glad I did. Running hurts and I've been so discouraged lately. But that one night, I had a good run. Besides, I've had so much fun shopping for winter running gear, it was about time I took the tags off my long pants, fun toboggan with the ponytail hole and my awesome C9 shirt from Target and gave 'em a whirl.

Wednesday was cold. Seriously COLD. In northwest Arkansas, it's almost always windy, which I hate and which always makes the cold feel colder. But on Wednesday, it was cold and perfectly still. No wind AT ALL. This never happens, y'all. It was 32 degrees, but it was a peaceful 32. I knew I would regret it if I didn't take advantage of the calm.

Trea was busy and couldn't come with me, so I left my comfy couch and ventured out into the cold darkness alone (sorry mom). I was excited to try my new cold weather gear, and for the most part I didn't get cold (except for my delicate ears, as usual). I bundled up in a long-sleeved shirt, vest and long pants. Then I spent a good 15 minutes trying to take a picture of myself with my phone in the bathroom mirror. How does everyone else do that and not look like a goob? I obviously still haven't figured it out.

I have mentioned this about a thousand times, but I can't stress enough how sensitive my ears are to the cold. If it's below 70 degrees, those babies have to be covered or I'm in for a world of hurt. So I was super excited about my new toboggan. I loved that it had a place for my ponytail!

Unfortunately, this hat doesn't have a bill like my running cap, so there was nowhere to clip my hat light. Dilemma. How to run in the dark without a light - and dressed in black? I did not think this through. BUT, I was determined to get out there and brave the cold and not let the darkness keep me from my run. So I headed out to a park that has lots of safe sidewalks and lots of lighting. When I've run at night before at this park, there have been volleyball games and soccer games going on, so all the fields were lit up like daylight. But not on Wednesday. There was no one else there. The soccer fields were dark and my car was the only one in the lot. It was perfectly still and perfectly silent.

I headed out and was surprised that I wasn't freezing. Especially with my nifty fingerless gloves/mittens, I was perfectly fine. My nose and cheeks were pretty chilly, but since there wasn't any wind, it wasn't bad at all. I decided I would just run for 30 minutes and call it a night. About 10 minutes in, I started getting warm, so I pulled back the mitten part of my gloves and let my fingers breathe so I could cool off a little. I ended up switching back and forth with the mittens closed and open, and was able to stay warm enough and cool enough. Sadly, my hat did little to protect my ears, so I may have to add some behind-the-head earmuffs to this ensemble (nerd alert!)

I didn't run far, but I felt good. This rarely happens. My lungs didn't burn. I had plenty of energy. I could've run farther, but I had told Trea I wouldn't be long and didn't want him to worry. It felt so good to get out by myself in the cold, still darkness and have FUN running. I had one good run, and that's what keeps me going back out there. Every now and then, everything works like it should - peaceful thoughts, strong legs, strong lungs and beautiful scenery. This makes the hard runs worth it.

November 26, 2010

Excuses, excuses

Confession: It's been over a month since my last blog post and two days since I went for a run. I have fallen off the wagon. Since I ran my first 5K on Oct. 2, I've barely logged 23 miles. Total. Can that be right? How pathetic.

I had big plans to run a Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day, but I didn't do it because I have slacked off so much lately that I can't even trot! Also, the weather forecast on the morning of the race looked like this. No thank you, wintry mix. 

I even had big plans to run a 10K in December, which is now just two weeks away. It's not gonna happen. My training has slowed to a crawl, and now when I go for a run, it feels like I'm starting over. I can barely run two miles without stopping for a walk break. However, I have become a pro at making excuses for why I can't run. I won't bore you with my sob story about how in just the last month, I've made two trips to visit my parents (at least 700 miles each round trip), two trips to Washington, D.C. for work and spent over a week with a severe cold. Instead of rambling on about how busy I've been, I'll just give you the top three reasons I talk myself out of running every day. 

1. Running is HARD.
I run at a turtle's pace. Actually, that's not true. Turtles pass me like I'm standing still. And I usually quit before I reach my mileage goal because I'm out of energy. It seems that everyone else I know runs like a gazelle, and I become jealous and defeated before I ever put my shoes on.  

2. It's dark. All the time.
Since the time change, I have had a baditude, as Kelly would say, and I blame it on these cold gray days. It's pitch black when I leave work, and I feel like the day is over, when really it's just 5:30. Instead of hopping in the car and driving to a semi-lit park, I opt to collapse in a heap on the couch. With a pizza.  

3. It's cold.
I realize this list has become whine central, but seriously y'all, it's COLD. I fully intended to run today, but with a windy high of 47, I just couldn't make myself do it. No matter how much I bundle up, my ears ache and my nose tries to run away. Here in northwest Arkansas, we're right next to Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain - and it gets wicked cold.

Those three are usual suspects, but I can come up with any number of excuses on a given day. HOWEVER, I am determined to stick with this and keep running - through the fall - through the winter - but likely not through a wintry mix. Everyone has their limits.

And here are a few highlights from my super busy month! On one of my trips back home, I got to see my sweet baby niece turn ONE!

While I was in Washington, D.C., I visited lots of museums and took a nighttime tour of the monuments with Trea!

Here we are posing with Thomas Jefferson.

And while in D.C., I discovered the heaven that is Chop't. Thus, I almost ate my weight in a salad sandwich. 

Yet another reason why I must get back to pounding the pavement!

October 14, 2010

Three Things Thursday...and a special request

Several running blogs have a weekly series called Three Things Thursday. It's Thursday and I just happen to have at least three things to share, so who am I to not jump on the bandwagon?

1. I still have a lot to learn about running, so I look to more experienced runners who also blog and pick up tips and ideas from them. I always enjoy reading Chic Runner and Evolving Through Running because they're entertaining and instructional, and this week, I've snatched up some extracurricular reading ideas from That Pink Girl. She mentioned Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes and Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald, and since I know she knows her stuff, I ordered both books today. I can't wait till they arrive next week! If I spent half as much time actually running as I do reading about running, I would be AWESOME at it.

2. I have more races on my schedule! Even though I'm incredibly slow and would be happy finishing in the middle of the pack, I know I need a goal to work toward to motivate me to lace up my running shoes. So I'm running another 5K on Thanksgiving Day - the Turkey Trot  - mostly in hopes that the t-shirt will look like this:

Next on the list is a 10K at the Fayetteville Half Marathon on December 12. This is going to be a huge challenge, not only because of the distance, but also because of the course. The race starts and ends on the University of Arkansas campus - which alumni affectionately refer to as The Hill. Everything at the U of A somehow seems to be uphill, so I need to start training on hills now.

3. Ben Davis is a fellow Arkansan and runner, and his blog,, has recently achieved international fame. He posted a video on YouTube of his journey to lose 120 pounds by running. Within just a few days, the video had thousands of views, and last time I checked it was up to more than 841,000 views. Since he's been discovered, he's gotten a sponsorship from and gets free running gear sent to him from major brands, like Brooks. He's gotten so popular that he has started selling t-shirts with his slogan: do life. He's a nice guy, so I ordered mine today!

And now for my special request. Technically, this is a fourth thing, but this isn't something that belongs on a lighthearted numbered list. A coworker, who I only know as an acquaintance, lost her husband to a terminal illness this week. She's also 8 months pregnant with their first child. She has been on my mind constantly in recent weeks, and my heart breaks to think of what she's going through. She and her husband sort of remind me of myself and Trea. Trea is my best friend, and I love him more than air. I can't imagine losing him at all, and certainly not at a young age, when our lives together are only just beginning. So hug your spouse, your kids, your best friend or your parents. Tell them that you love them and be thankful for one more day with them. And if you pray, please pray for Hannah.

October 4, 2010

First 5K Race Recap

On Saturday, I RAN my first 5K! In May, I started running and blogging with the goals of getting in shape and eventually running a 5K. I’m so happy (and relieved) to say that I accomplished my goals and didn’t flake out. For my first race, I wanted to run the whole distance without walking and not finish last. I accomplished those goals too! I ran all the way, and I finished fourth in my age group. (89th out of 157) My official time that's posted in online results is 32:31, but I distinctly remember watching the clock roll over to 34 minutes right before I got to the finish line, so I don't think that's right. My unofficial time, according to Nike+, was 34:18, and seems closer to accurate. Either way, I’m happy with the way things turned out.
The race started at 8 a.m., and Trea and I got up around 6:00 so we would have time to eat and warm up. I postponed my daily gallon of coffee until after the race and opted instead for some water with Nuun and toast with peanut butter and jelly. I had a few sport beans with caffeine about 30 minutes before the race started, which always provide a little pick-me-up. When we left for the race, it was about 47 degrees outside, and I knew it wouldn’t warm up too much before the run was over. Unfortunately, I still haven’t bought any cool weather running clothes because just last week it was 80 degrees. So I went out in my tank and short shorts and froze until about mile two. I’m not a strong runner, and I know my energy is limited. I’m not one of those people who jogs three miles to prepare for a 5K. The 5K IS my three-mile jog. My warm up consisted of walking back and forth across a nearby parking lot a couple of times, so I never actually got warm before the race.

RACE LESSON #1: When you can see your breath, wear pants, or at the very least, capris.

When we picked up our goody bags, we got our numbers and our shirts. By chance, my number was 68, which was awesome because my dad used to drive a race car as a weekend hobby, and his number was 68. Any time he has to choose a number for any reason, he almost always chooses 68 because that’s the year he graduated and decided to stop getting older. :) It was just a coincidence, but I was thrilled to see 68 on my bib number.

RACE LESSON #2: Allow a good 10 minutes to pin on a number. It will not be straight the first try.

About 10 minutes before the race started, people were gathered near the starting line. The race director was giving important instructions through a bullhorn, and we couldn't make out a word he said. I checked my phone a noticed we still had about 4 or 5 minutes before the start, so Trea and I just stood around casually talking and not expecting anything to happen for a few more minutes. Then suddenly, a gun went off, and we heard through the bullhorn, "C'mon, let's GO! This is a RACE!" Oops. I started walking through the crowd, fumbling with my phone strapped to my arm trying to get my playlist and Nike+ to cooperate, and we were off!

RACE LESSON #3: Port-o-potties make me gag; avoid. I know this is unrelated to anything I've said so far, but it's an important point to note. Thou shalt not over-hydrate prior to a race. It's not worth the trauma.
Trea took off (too fast) at the start and I lost sight of him after the first few minutes. I found a comfortable pace and stuck with it. And tried to stay out of the way of wild children who would stop and crab-walk in front of me with no warning. And dodging baby joggers plowing through the crowd. The first mile was pretty flat and not challenging at all. The only challenges were the cold and the kiddos. By the time I reached the first water stop, I had warmed up and could feel my hands again. It was chilly, but the sun was bright, and it was a beautiful, clear day. Everyone passed me I finally separated myself from everyone, and I got a kick out of the race workers who were marking the course. There were hardly any spectators, and not a lot of participants, so the course was quiet. There were quite a few turns, so one or two workers/volunteers were at each turn pointing in the direction I needed to go. They would clap and cheer as people passed by, which I wasn't sure how to handle since I was on my own and they were only clapping for me as I passed by. Do I say thank you? Do I wave? Do I avoid eye contact? No, that's rude. I tried to smile or wave because I knew they were cold just standing there, and I was glad for the encouragement.
In mile two was The Hill. I knew it was coming. I drove the course ahead of time and was preparing myself for failure. This stretch contained at least 0.20 miles of steep incline that I fully expected to best me. But I knew I would have to report back to whoever is reading this, and I just couldn't make myself say I gave in and walked. So, thank you, whoever is reading this. Because of you and the beauty of accountability, I ran. By the time I got to the top, muscles were burning that I didn't know I had because I never run hills. My lungs were burning, and my chest was heaving. I could hear the sound of my breathing over my music.

I got a little relief with some flats after The Hill before I got to The Smaller Hill in mile three. I made myself slow down to barely a shuffle so I could recover and make sure I made it to the end. I almost walked on The Smaller Hill, but I again thought of whoever is reading this and persevered. And then I got passed by a woman pushing a baby jogger, which ticked me off, so I persevered harder. After that, I was home free. The rest of the course was mostly flat, and knowing I was almost done gave me a little extra boost. I crossed the finish line a little after the 34 minute mark. I scanned the crowd for Trea, knowing he had already finished and expecting him to be cheering me on. But there was no Trea and no familiar faces. After about a minute or so, I saw him walking from the direction of the car carrying our water bottles. He finished about two minutes ahead of me but had expected me to be farther behind him. He thought he had time to get our Nuun water and get back in time to see me finish. Unfortunately, he missed it, and we were both totally sad and disappointed.

RACE LESSON #4: Don't wander off until all racing companions have crossed the line.

We worked for four months to get to this point, and we both crossed the finish line separately and neither of us could cheer on the other. During all of our training, we've been at different levels and different speeds. We do everything else together, and we're running together as much as we can. But pretty much we just start at the same time and meet up again when we're done. I depend on Trea for a lot of things, and he depends on me. We rarely do anything without one another. And even though I was sad that he wasn't there at the end, it's kind of cool to know I did this on my own. I made it all the way, all by myself, and my legs didn't fail me.

My average pace: 11:03
Mile 1 - 10:18
Mile 2 - 11:25
Mile 3 - 11:51

Later that morning, Trea surprised me with a congratulatory cookie cake slice (and cookie taco!!). That's the kind of encouragement I love!

September 27, 2010


Today I ran my 100th mile! I am five days away from race day, and four months ago when I started trying to run, I never dreamed I would rack up 100 miles over the summer. I could barely run for 60 seconds without wanting to collapse. And tonight I ran 3.15 miles - without a walk break! ALSO! I wore pants today that I haven't worn in over a year. In the beginning I said, "I'm 29, and my pants don't fit." Well guess what, y'all. They fit! Sort of! Enough that I can tolerate them for an entire day of sitting and breathing! That's good enough for me!

The weather has cooled off significantly over the last few days, and it's definitely made running more pleasant. Tonight I went out in shorts and a tank at 61 degrees as the sun was going down, and it was more than a little chilly to me. Summer wardrobe was easy; I just tried to wear as little as possible. But now I don't know what I'm doing. The whole hot/cold/sweaty situation has me baffled. I started out freezing, but of course warmed up pretty quickly. I was hot and sweaty but my skin still felt like ice. Weird. I'll be experimenting with what to wear so I'm not too cold or too hot, but one thing I know for sure is when it's under 70 degrees, I'll be protecting my delicate ears with my ugly Bondi Band. I get terrible earaches and headaches when there's the slightest chill in the air, so I just have to not think about how ridiculous I look.

One of my favorite things about running is people watching. I know I've mentioned this before, but I love it when there are lots of people out so I can take my mind off my tired legs for a while. Lately I've seen deer grazing just a few yards off the path at the park where I run. Just tonight, as I was cursing Arkansas for the swarms of gnats flying in my face even though it was 60 degrees, I came up on EIGHT deer - babies and mamas - lazily grazing and completely unconcerned with the huffing, puffing, stomping human on their turf. And then I forgave Arkansas.

Seeing other runners also makes me feel better about what I'm doing. I always see people who are better and faster, and it makes me want to work harder. I'll see a runner farther up the path who looks like they know what they're doing, and I'll try to imitate their form before they leave me in the dust. The other day, I was struggling and not wanting to run at all. As I was trying to resist the urge to slow down and walk, I met two barefoot runners coming up the path the opposite direction. And I mean BAREFOOT. None of this Nike Free business. Bare skin on pavement.

They were FLYING! And they looked so happy! I almost tripped over myself gawking at them. There was no Garmin strapped to their wrists, no headphones in their ears. They weren't wearing approved, sweat-wicking running attire - or shoes - but they were running free and it made me want to run that way too! Not run barefoot, but simply run happy. To run for the sheer joy of running. I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I was inspired to speed up a bit. 

There are beautiful runners, who give me something to work toward, and then there are runners who make me laugh out loud. I sometimes forget that even though my music is blasting and I can't hear anything else, people can still hear me. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot keep from laughing when I meet Crazy Arms runner. I see this man at the park often, and I giggle every single time. Trea and I call him Crazy Arms because he flails his arms wildly and awkwardly as he runs. He's short with a bit of a tummy, and he runs crazy fast! Every time I see him, I think of Phoebe from Friends. Kudos to him though, for doing what works. Everyone is different. And he is hilarious.

In five days, I will run the Go Literacy! 5K for the Benton County Literacy Council, and I think I have about a 70/30 chance of running all the way without walking. I drove the race course the other day, and boy oh boy, the last half has some nasty hills! I've been so focused on just finishing my workouts and building up endurance that I haven't focused at all on strength training. I wish I had put in the extra energy to practice running hills so my legs would be stronger, but I'll just have to hope my training has been good enough. I usually stick to flat paths, so this 5K is going to be extra tough. Tonight is the first time I've ever run a 5K distance without walking, and the path was pretty flat. Saturday is going to be a beast. But it will be fun and exciting because I've never even attended a race before. AND! The race for literacy just happens to coincide with Banned Books Week. How awesome is that?

So wish me luck that I won't finish last, and I'll post a race report afterward. I get a cool t-shirt no matter what, so it can't be that bad, right?

September 14, 2010

Obstacles and Solutions

I'm only 18 days away from my 5K, and I've struggled the last couple of weeks, worried that I won't be able to run the full race without walking (and without finishing dead last). It's been really tough lately. It's also been hot and dry, until just recently. The pond at my favorite running spot dried up and made the park and trail awful to visit. My mysterious ankle pain returned, even though I've been wearing my professionally-fitted running store recommended shoes. My RunKeeper app stopped working and I got frustrated that my mileage wasn't being recorded accurately. I've struggled through the right gear and fuel so I don't flake out in the middle of a run. I still don't have it all figured out, but today I finally had a pretty good run and feel better about things.

Running requires fuel. I need to be hydrated, but not drink too much. I need to eat so I don't feel weak with hunger during a run, but I can't eat too much or I'll feel sick. I've been drinking water and avoiding Gatorade because I didn't want to add any calories to my day. But I've decided G2 has a fraction of the calories in Gatorade, and it makes me feel tons better, so it's worth it. Also, I've learned peanut butter and crackers are little miracles before a run in between work and dinner. It tides me over without making me full. A friend recommended that I eat Skittles, which I think is a fantastic idea, since I already have a mild addiction to them. I'm slowly getting this fuel thing figured out and learning what my body can and can't handle.

When my RunKeeper app started acting up, I was so upset. I knew Nike+ didn't record accurate mileage, and I was at a loss over what to do. Somehow spending over $150 on a Garmin just didn't seem appealing. But then Nike+ e-mailed me and said they had changed their cheating ways and wanted to get back together! For only $1.99! So I downloaded a new Nike+ app on my iPhone for two bucks, and I don't need the shoe sensor anymore.

It works through GPS and some other magical technology that can even track my mileage when I run INDOORS! I don't know what Nike+ is thinking, providing such a great app for practically peanuts, but so far, it's working great. The GPS has been accurate when I run outside, and it kinda blows my mind that it knows how far I'm running inside at the gym. I am loving it! I love it because it works, but hearing a silly congratulatory message from Tracy Morgan when I do a good job doesn't hurt either.

Overcoming Weakness
My ankle pain returned a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't as painful as it was before I switched to my Brooks shoes for overpronators, but it was still noticeable and getting worse each time I ran. So I finally gave in to the idea of barefoot running and all the amazing stories I read in Born to Run. Born to Run is a book that would make the laziest of sloths want to get up and race around the countryside. It's filled with inspiring stories, but it also contains compelling arguments about why we shouldn't wear giant, thick-soled protective shoes. Because we truly were born runners. All humans can do it. All humans can't do it well, as I'm proving, but everyone is capable. In Born to Run, the author says that if we encase our feet in protective padding, our feet can't get strong. And our feet can't tell our legs and our brains how we need to move so we won't get hurt. So I took a chance and got some new shoes. I'm not running barefoot by any means, but I got a pair of Nike Free running shoes, which is a slimmer, much more flexible version of other Nikes.

I ran on Sunday for the first time in my Nike Frees. It was totally weird. For the first time ever, I was very aware of my toes. Instead of striking on my heel and slapping my toe to the ground as I do with my huge Brooks shoes, which look like boats on my feet, I can now control and change the way my foot hits the ground. The shoe is flexible enough that it lets me run however my legs need to run, and it makes my feet and legs work a lot harder. There's no two-inch sole to spring me forward anymore. I didn't run very far because I didn't want to overdo it. But today, I tried my usual 30-minute run in them, and I didn't have any ankle pain. I did, however, have serious foot and calf cramps. I had to slow down and walk a few times because my muscles were so tense and tight. They're having to work so much harder than before, and it was too much for me to handle. I'm thinking of switching back to the Brooks on some runs because I don't want these Nikes to throw me off for the race. I have a hard enough time as it is when everything feels "good." Getting new shoes less than a month before a race is probably not the best idea, but I want to do whatever I can to get stronger. So far, I think Nike Free is the way to accomplish that.

My Route
I have a place where I like to run, but I haven't been able to go there lately. It's been too hot to run outside at all, but my place in particular has been extra awful. It's a pond filled with geese, but the pond dried up and the geese stayed. There was an unpleasant smell and what little water was left turned green. It was a sad sight. But it finally rained! And rained and rained and rained. And now the pond is full and there's water flowing under all the little bridges along the path. I'm going back to my safe zone with pretty views and semi-flat running path. This place makes me happy.

My Motivation
I haven't quite finished the PodRunner program, but I'm finished with PodRunner. I can (sometimes) run 30 minutes without stopping, and I still need to work up to 35 before I "graduate," but there's only so much techno dance music I can stand. So now I'm working on the ultimate playlist to keep me going when I want to collapse. My taste in music is probably pretty odd compared to most people. I like songs that are slow and mellow almost all the time. So my iPod library is not meeting my needs when it comes to motivational running music. When I'm cooking or driving, I love Death Cab, but that just won't cut it when I'm running in the summer heat and gasping for air. I downloaded some new songs, and I was in love with my playlist today.

Sweet Pea - Amos Lee
All Cause of You - The 88
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
Bad Sun - The Bravery
Help I'm Alive - Metric
Crossfire - Brandon Flowers
Out of the Blue - Julian Casablancas
Good Life - OneRepublic
Why Don't We Just Dance - Josh Turner
I'll Stop the World and Melt with You - Modern English

September 8, 2010

Santa-Cali-Gon Days

Three years ago, when Trea and I had just started dating, we decided to hop on his motorcycle one Saturday and drive to Independence, Mo., to visit the Truman Presidential Museum. And because Trea was driving, we spent the entire day experiencing the journey, rather than focusing on the destination, and when we finally arrived at the museum, we barely had time to look around before it closed. As we were leaving, a museum employee asked us if we were in town for the festival.

Me: What festival?
Him: Santa-Cali-Gon Days.
Me: Santa what?
Him: Santa-Cali-Gon Days. Y'all should go. It's awesome.

OK, random stranger, you talked us into it. We went to the festival, and we LOVED it. We had no money and had not planned on staying the weekend, but we decided to be spontaneous and just go with it. There was a carnival, carnival junk food, tacky crafts and Mark Chestnutt in concert! We had a fantastic time. And since 2007, we've been reminiscing about our perfect weekend at Santa-Cali-Gon Days and dying to go back.

So to celebrate Trea's 30th birthday and to relive the good old days, we spent Labor Day weekend in Independence. We stayed at a breathtaking bed and breakfast -- a 110-year-old mansion that was the highlight of our trip.

We had a lovely suite, complete with a sitting room.

And we woke up each morning to fresh brewed coffee right outside our door.

And went downstairs to a full three-course breakfast at our private table.

And then we went to Santa-Cali-Gon Days.

Because where else can you get chicken on a stick.

Practice your dart skills.

Win a sweet prize for your girl.

See Scooby end it all.

Test your manly muscles.

Stir funnel cake batter with a DeWalt drill.

AND ride a ferris wheel.

Only at Santa-Cali-Gon Days. 

It was just like it was three years ago.

We went back to the Truman museum and saw the replica oval office.

Just like three years ago.

We love Independence, Santa-Cali-Gon Days, and, of course, Harry Truman!

August 30, 2010

Go Literacy!

I registered for my first 5K. I'll be running the Go Literacy! 5K on October 2 in Bentonville, benefiting the Literacy Council of Benton County. Somehow, August flew by and this race is only five weeks away! Yikes. I am all kinds of nervous.

When I set my goal to be able to run a 5K, the idea was to actually RUN the whole time and not walk. That's where it gets tough. I'm on level 7 of PodRunner, which is a 5-minute warm up, 25 minute run, and a 5 minute cool down. I've tried this three times, and I've only managed to finish once. The first time I tried was super tough, but I ran the full 25 minutes. But the last two times I've gone out, I end up walking here and there for a minute or so, which sends my confidence and mood plummeting. I should add that Trea runs the whole 25 minutes every time and is out of sight immediately, not to be seen again until we meet back at the car. Again, this does nothing for my confidence or mood. Nothing pleasant, anyway.

PodRunner is a 10-level program, and I have five weeks before the race. So I should be able to finish up just fine and be able to make it, right? Sure. We'll see. The month of September is packed with birthdays, business travel and fun travel, so it's going to be a real challenge to stay on track (no pun intended) and run three times a week.

I'm beginning to wonder if I can actually do this. I don't mean run a 5K; I'll deal with that. I mean, I don't know if I'm cut out to be a runner. I've had a few runs during the last few months that felt really good. I was excited to be out, enjoying nature, happily people-watching and trucking along to the end, slow and steady. But the majority of the time, I struggle with finding the right balance of fuel and sleep so that I don't end up a hot mess on the trail. I start strong, but after about 10 minutes, my feet feel like lead and I start thinking how stupid it is that I'm running in circles instead of taking a nap. Everyone - and by everyone, I mean Trea - makes it seem easy. But I'm having to really push myself to keep going - even when I'm burning up and drenched in sweat, but my skin feels cold and tingly. I don't think that's normal. When I feel like that, I take a walk break. But should I? Should I keep running through the cold tingles and push myself harder? Maybe that's what hard work feels like. Or maybe it's a warning sign before heat exhaustion sets in. I'm really not sure.

I read Runners World and get grandiose ideas of training for a half marathon and traveling to beautiful locations to run in gorgeous places I've never seen before. And then I go out on a local trail and have to stop for a breather on a 2-mile run, while everyone else blows by me. I'm not sure running is for me.

But at least until October 2, I'm going to rock my new Nike booty shorts I got last week at Academy and keep on working until I can run my 5K. Go Literacy!

August 10, 2010

Stay cool

This August heat is intense, and I've been trying all kinds of things to stay cool and still run three days a week. And I mean CRAZY things. Like getting up early! And going to the gym instead of running outside! It's insanity!! Those of you who know me know that I do not get up early. I don't do anything early. The fact that I'm able to hold a job that requires me to be anywhere before noon is, I'm sure, shocking to my parents who spent over half my life dragging, bribing and threatening me to get out of bed. I am a night owl. So why does my alarm go off at 4:40 a.m. two days a week? Because I must run before the sun comes up and before the weatherman starts saying things like "heat wave" and "heat index." Getting up early is challenging, but running when it's under 80 degrees is so worth it!

And last week, I discovered that I can tolerate the gym. Who knew?! I LOATHE the gym. I've always been one of those people who will drive straight through the gym parking lot and go home when I can't find a good parking spot. (Others do that, right?) But when it's 97 degrees and the heat index and humidity are out of control, I will try anything. It turns out that the indoor running track isn't all that bad. I can't imagine ever running on a treadmill and not injuring myself because I'm such a klutz, but the indoor track is OK when I'm in a pinch. True, it's boring as can be and I have to run 10 laps to equal a mile, but I just can't argue with air conditioning in August.

I've really buried the lede here, but I did the unthinkable Sunday. I ran for 20 minutes without stopping for a walk break!!! I don't even have enough exclamation points in my little computer to express how awesome it feels to know I can actually do this. Granted, I haven't stayed on my training schedule because it has been extra hard for me both to do the work and also to make time for it in my life. I've been running for close to three months, but I'm only on week six of a 10-week program! However, even though I'm taking the remedial route to build up my endurance - it's happening!! When I started running/walking intervals in May, I could barely run 60 seconds at a time. Now I can run for 20 minutes. It's a turtle's pace, but at least I can finish. Right now, my focus is not on speed. I'm only focusing on pacing myself to make it to the end of each workout without giving up.

Last week was SO exciting! Level five of Podrunner interval training has three iTunes mixes, and you're supposed to run only once to each mix to complete your three runs for the week. (Most weeks only have one mix, so up until now I've run to the same mix three times in a week, and my running goal has been the same for all three workouts.) However, this past week - level five - looked like this:

Mix One:
5 min. warm up
5 min. run
3 min. walk
5 min. run
3 min. walk
5 min. run
5 min. cool down

Mix Two:
5 min. warm up
8 min. run
5 min. walk
8 min. run
5 min. cool down

Mix Three:
5 min. warm up
20 min. run
5 min. cool down

I can't believe I did that! I almost didn't even try mix three. I thought I should probably repeat mix two just to make sure I could handle it and very slowly work up to mix three and the dreaded 20-minute run. But I felt good and rested, and I ran at the gym so overheating wasn't an issue. This week I'm supposed to work up to 25 minutes of sustained running, and there's no doubt I can do it. Most of the time running is a huge challenge for me and by the end, every step is labored. But I have had a few glimpses at what strong running feels like, and Sunday on mix three was one of those days!

I think it helped that I got my first issue of Runners World last week, so I was totally inspired by all the stories I read.

What was even better is that I just started subscribing, so I got the August issue in the mail and then the September issue came in the mail the very next day! I was glued to my new magazines all weekend right up until the big 20-minute challenge. I know I still have to work up to a 5K and a 10K, but my triumphant run and shiny magazines have me thinking crazy a half marathon. Can I do that one day? Why, yes, I think I can!

July 21, 2010

What I do when I'm not running


I have a fabulous camera (Nikon D60) and a beautiful dog. But no matter how hard I try, I can never get a decent picture of Bella. I have friends (you know who you are) that take beautiful pictures and their dogs sit patiently, very still, while they're photographed.

Bella stays at my heels with a toy begging to play.

She's also very interested in tasting the camera.

When I give her commands to make her pose, she refuses to look at me.

So I have to make a funny noise to get her attention.

A few days ago, I finally learned the trick: immense patience and a massive zoom lens.


Trea has been working every weekend lately, all weekend, to make our yard beautiful. He built a new flower bed and has planted tomatoes, basil, parsley and oregano. (The squash didn't survive.) It's so exciting to be able to cook with things that we've grown!

And soon we will have basil year round!


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