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!

July 18, 2010


It was tough to say goodbye, but I've already found a replacement for Nike+. Trea discovered the RunKeeper app for iPhone and talked me into trying it out. For the bargain price of $9.99, I can use GPS to track my runs, and it doesn't require calibration like Nike+. RunKeeper shows me my route, displays my time, distance and all sorts of fun stuff. I call it the poor man's Garmin. Here's what a run looks like when I log onto the computer.
It's awesome because the app sends the info from my phone immediately, and I don't have to sync my phone to iTunes in order to track my progress. It will also upload my stats to Facebook and Twitter as soon as I finish a run. I might do that one of these days when my stats are less embarrassing. It seems to be more accurate than Nike+, which is good, but at the same time, it's disheartening. Nike+ told me I was going farther and faster than I actually am. Here's a screen shot of the app after a run. 14:07 was my average pace! Yikes!
In my defense, it was crazy hot and I walked a lot more than I normally do. However, even if I had run more, I'm still a slow runner. I just didn't realize how slow! But I'm glad that I have a new gadget that seems to be working. It may seem silly to spend so much time to find something to analyze my workout, but counting my mileage and tracking my average pace is what keeps me going. Seeing those miles add up and seeing my pace improve (in theory) gives me the encouragement I need to go out and run another day.

Yesterday, Trea and I went to our local Farmers Market for the first time ever! I can't believe we've lived here for so long without checking this place out. It was a beautiful Saturday, and we were up early enough to beat the heat. I think we were the only people there without a dog. 
We got some fresh bread, okra and the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes I've ever seen. Today, Trea made caprese sandwiches with these beauties on ciabatta, and they were amazing! When tomato juice drips down your elbow, you know it's good. Ah, the taste of summer!

July 12, 2010

That's it; we're through!

I think I'm breaking up with Nike+. It has totally let me down and driven me crazy. My run on Saturday, as my pal Kel would say, was E-motional, and today's run wasn't super.

Even though I only run for about 30 minutes, that's the only time I get all day for uninterrupted focus. My mind can wander to all sorts of places while I'm running around in a circle at the goose pond. When I started my run Saturday, I was already in a bad mood. It was a good day for mood swings I guess. I knew it would be my last time to run on level three before moving up to level four on PodRunner, and I was worried about finishing.

Trea and I got a very late start Saturday, so I was mad at him for making us run in the dark. Then I was mad at the people who let their giant 80-pound dog poop on the trail. I was mad that the front side of the pond smelled like goose poop and made me want to gag. These geese, by the way, are the reason I don't usually run all the way around the pond. I try to stay away from their hangout by the parking lot, but on Saturday we were out so late the geese had gone to bed. I took this picture today, and it does not do them justice. There are usually three times that many standing in the middle of the trail.
As I was running and getting annoyed and angry at every little thing that was wrong with the day, I noticed that I was running really well. I wasn't too tired. My legs didn't hurt, and every breath I took was satisfying instead of that awful feeling I get when I'm sucking wind and it seems like my lungs won't fill up all the way. So I decided to change my attitude. It takes less energy to smile than to frown, right? So I forced myself to smile for a second, and it truly helped my mood.

I remembered when I was in high school, I kept a gratitude journal. I used to write down three things each day that I was thankful for. As I ran, I started to make a mental list. My first thought was of my dad. His story is a long one, but I'll keep it short here. My strong, active, outdoorsy father was in a horrific motorcycle accident in April 2009. He not only broke most of the bones in his body, but he crushed and shattered them. Over the last 14 months, I've watched him struggle and work and sweat to relearn things that we all take for granted - like brushing your hair. This time last year we were rejoicing over his holding a cup without any help. Now I'm watching him learn to walk and fight with all his energy to not be in a wheelchair anymore. And I get overwhelmed when I have to run for three minutes at a time?! Dad is strong, and I can be too. I'm thankful that I can run, and I'm thankful that he can stand.

And right in the middle of all those deep, emotional thoughts, I inhaled a gnat right up my nose. And man, I was mad! But I thought, just keep going, just keep going, almost there. I'll be thankful for this sweatband on my wrist, so I have a place to expel that gnat. Yep. Thankful for the sweatband. Just keep calm and keep running.

At the end of level three, there's a 4-minute walk to cool down. My legs felt so good I decided to see if I could run to the end of the music for 4 minutes - longer than I've ever run before. I did it! It was hard, but I made it all the way to the end, and I knew that I'd be able to move up to the next level after that little test. I couldn't wait for the Nike+ lady to tell me what a good job I had done. I just knew that I had set a new personal record pace with all that running. When I listened to my results, Nike+ lady said, "Workout time: 27 minutes. Workout distance: 0.00 miles. Average pace: 0." And I promptly burst into tears. Crazy E-motional. So much for being thankful and not sweating the small stuff.

Today, Trea and I ran for the first time on level four. Trea has already broken up with Nike+ because of its unreliable ways, so he was using a new iPhone app that tracks his route with GPS. We both ran our tails off! We ran slower today to try to pace ourselves because we knew it was going to be tough. Level four is two 3-minute runs and two 5-minute runs. Five minutes straight!! TWICE! And we finished! The run was so hard, and the weather was wicked humid, but it felt good to get through the end and not give up.

When Trea and I compared our stats, our mileage didn't match. His said he went 3 miles, and mine said 3.7 miles. That can't be right because he's faster and always runs a little farther than I do. He argued that his mileage was correct because his GPS app is more reliable than Nike+. When we analyzed how both programs work, I realized I had calibrated my Nike+ all wrong! Over a month ago! So you see that widget over there on the right? It's not true. I have no idea how far I've actually run. Trea thinks my total mileage is around 35 miles instead of 43. Unfortunately, he's probably right.

So, bye-bye Nike+. We had a good run.

July 5, 2010

On the road again

Trea and I have had a great holiday weekend. We relaxed a lot, tidied the house, and Trea worked in the yard all day Sunday. Now we are growing tomatoes, squash, oregano, parsley and basil. I can't wait to make a fresh salad!

On Saturday, I went to Rush Running to try to solve my ankle pain problem. They watched me run and recorded my feet with a handy dandy video camera that's mounted on the floor at the back of a treadmill. Then they played the video back for me in slow-mo and showed me that I overpronate. (For more info on what that means, go here.) Thankfully, my problems stem from having the wrong shoes for my stride or gait or whatever the running term is. Turns out I'm not incapable of running (for now)! I just bought some super cute Nike Pegasus running shoes in May, and they still look brand new. It stinks to have to buy another pair of shoes, but I was willing to try anything to get back out on the road. The folks at Rush recommended Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10's, and I LOVE them -- even though they made me go up a half size and they look like boats on my short legs. These shoes are supposed to stabilize my ankles and keep them straight. 

The sales guy even showed me some exercises I can do at home to strengthen my ankles and try to prevent any future issues. I LOVE Rush Running! The service I got there was a thousand times better than the "service" I got at Hibbett Sports, where I bought my Nikes. That conversation went something like:

Me: I just started running, and I'm not sure what shoes I need.

Hibbett: What kind of shoes do you like?

Me: That's the problem. See, I just started, so I don't know. I'm not sure what's right for me.

Hibbett: Well, let me know if I can get anything for you from the back.

Me: *Sigh*

Trea and I ran three miles today, and so far, I'm pretty much pain free. I still feel some pain in my ankles, but it seems more like leftover pain that hasn't quite healed yet. There weren't any shooting pains that made me limp this time, so that was nice. After taking a week off, I wasn't able to move up to level four on PodRunner. We stayed on level three, and I'll likely stay on that one until the end of the week. It's amazing how much momentum I can lose in only seven days. After sitting around for so long on the couch with my feet propped up, I barely made it through today's run. But I didn't quit, and my pace improved since I wasn't running weird to compensate for joint pain. My issue now is entire body pain, which means I need to get back on schedule and build up my endurance. It also means I feel incredibly old.

Speaking of old, I'm going to see Aerosmith in Las Vegas in a few weeks! I'm SO excited. To ensure I got tickets the day they went on sale, I joined the Aero Force One fan club. (Yeah, I know.) By joining the fan club, I got to buy tickets early, and they're supposed to be in the first few sections near the stage. Being a fan club member means I also get a super awesome t-shirt, which arrived on Saturday. Just one more reason it's been a great weekend!

And yes, that's a membership card. It has my name on it. It's not like I'm gonna carry it in my wallet.

July 4, 2010


Two years ago on Fourth of July weekend, Trea and I decided to get a puppy. We first discussed the idea on Sunday morning after church. By that evening, we were on our way to Tulsa to get one. We did not think through what a huge change this would be in our quiet little lives. All the little lab puppies in the litter were running wild, jumping up, biting my shoes and going crazy - except one. A sweet little chocolate lab was sitting by herself, quietly watching the chaos. Trea picked her up and the decision was made. She was calm and timid and beautiful. And then we took her home.

After just a few minutes of peace, Bella came alive. She tackled our old, grumpy chihuahua. She chewed - and swallowed - everything that crossed her path. I once bought a new $10 toy and watched her destroy it in under two minutes. She had separation anxiety issues and would bark shrilly and fling herself at the back door when we put her outside. This went on for months. And months. I started working late just to avoid going home and facing that awful animal. I wanted to take her back to Tulsa. I wanted to take her to a shelter. I started imagining the flyers I could post on the bulletin board at work to try to get some other poor sucker to take this psycho dog off my hands. 

But Trea, who has immeasurable patience, never gave up on her. We took her to puppy obedience school and learned some training tips. Trea worked tirelessly, day after day, to keep Bella from destroying the house and to keep me from losing my mind. At some point during the madness when I wasn't paying attention, Bella became a dog. She can still have the energy of a puppy, but she finally knows her limits, and we love her. We still can't have a cover on the grill because that seems to be her favorite snack, and we have to be careful not to fall into the Bella-sized holes in the back yard, but other than that, she's a good girl.  

Just recently, we talked about getting another lab puppy for Bella to play with. But after looking back on the last two years and all we've been through, I've realized one lab is all we can handle. Plus, we can't afford to replace the back door again.

July 1, 2010


I'm injured. There, I admit it. I've been running for weeks with increasing pain in my ankles, and I can't ignore it anymore. I began with pain in my knees, but that's gotten much better. I still notice a little twinge in my right knee when I run, but it's not constant like it was for a while. I thought the pain in my ankles would be the same way. I thought I was in pain because I'm new at this and the pain would decrease as I got stronger. I think I'm wrong.

I'm not sure when it started, but it almost never goes away. I haven't run since Sunday, and I'm growing very impatient. I was happy about making progress and the potential to lose weight and get in shape. Now I feel like I'll have to start over when I'm able to run again - if I'm able to run again. Are some people just not cut out for running? I certainly hope that's not the case. It seemed to take an eternity to build up my endurance to handle a three-minute sustained run. The thought of stopping for an injury and having to start over makes me crazy.

I have pain in both ankles, but my left is the worst. It hurts all the time when I walk - except when I wear heels! Oddly enough, I wore flats to work yesterday and was limping and miserable. Today, I wore heels and felt fine. I made sure to rotate my ankles as I sat at my desk, in case they only felt better because my shoes kept them from flexing as much as walking in flats. That gave me no problems at all. I thought maybe I had rested long enough and was looking forward to going for a run this evening. But as soon as I kicked off my heels and put my feet flat on the floor, all the pain came rushing back. So instead of running, I'm on the couch with ice on my foot.

I've been reading all kinds of scary articles about sprained ankles, strained ankles, stress/hairline fractures, tendinitis, and trying to figure out whether I underpronate or overpronate. I'm very confused and getting worried about potentially making the problem worse if I try to run through the pain. I know the obvious solution is to go to a doctor, but I'm hoping rest and ice will take care of it. When I feel better, I'm also planning to go to Rush Running to see if I need different shoes to control whatever awkward motion is causing me to have issues. I still can't believe that I'm barely six weeks into this, and I'm already having problems. Just call me Grace.

One of my Twitter pals suggested that I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

I ordered it today and am looking forward to checking it out. It's about a man who tries to run but can't understand why he has excruciating pain in his feet. After seeing several doctors, he seeks out an ancient Mexican tribe that can run for days at a time - with no warming up, stretching or even decent shoes. According to him, running is natural, and we should all be able to do it pain free. Mammals have been doing it for millions of years - why not me? I guess I'll find out. Until then, I'll be on the couch. Pouting.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...