Tuesday, November 19, 2013

prioritizing isn't always a simple thing

Wow.  I haven't been here since September 27.  That's just about 2 months!!  Where did the time go?  Hopefully you've found me over at the other blog, where I'm more consistent about writing!

Last time I was here, I was still really struggling to adjust to changes in the schedule.  My husband Gary's job starts either at 4 AM or 6 AM, depending on overtime, which means we need to be in bed and well on our way to sleep, not just chillin, come 8 PM on weeknights.  This meant shifting from running in the mornings to running after work.  I hated it for a long, long time.  But I kept showing up and kept asking God to change my attitude.  HE DID!  I'm actually enjoying running after work three days a week now.  

We've been working our way through the C25K (couch to 5K) program all this time, since that's a nicer, much less painful way to get Gary up to running 30 continuous minutes than just plunging into it.  With life cancelling some runs for other events, and my arthritic feet cancelling other runs, it's been a long, slow process, working our way through it.  We just finally advanced last night to this rotation:
  • 5 minutes of warmup walk
  • 20 minutes of run
  • 5 minutes of cooldown walk
Before last night, we still had little walk intervals in the middle.  Using C25K to get there was very effective for Gary, just as it had been for me.  No major soreness, no feeling like dying, no massive discouragement.  It's a good program.  

Along the way, I have been noticing myself getting fatter and fatter.  SOME of that has been a food thing - it's harder to be a veggie-consuming machine when our communal-type living arrangement means my meals consist of:
  • meals out
  • meals cooked by our friends with whom we live
  • meals in our room
Meals out are fun, but one loses a large degree of control over how stuff is prepared, even when one orders pretty healthy stuff.  Meals with our friends are amazing - their table is like another very nice restaurant - and they include meat most days and some really marvelous sweets and other carbish yummies sometimes (and I'm an eat what there is kinda girl, you know?)  Meals in our room need to be stuff that doesn't take refrigeration, as our mini fridge is very, very mini and is maxed out by breakfast stuff and stuff to pack for Gary's lunches.  So it ends up being canned soups, crackers, chips, etc.  

So SOME part of why I'm getting fatter is I can't be the veggie maniac I was in my very own apartment.  But MOSTLY why I'm getting fatter, I think, has been the reduced exercise.  C25K is great for getting someone up to running.  But I used to run about 50 minutes at a time, on my 3 run days per week, and then I'd bike maybe 50 miles most weekends.  The routines of married life have knocked out most of the biking miles.  And until yesterday, the C25K added up to about 15 minutes of running, with about 15 minutes of walking interspersed throughout it.  

Along the way, I was moaning to Gary about my body falling out of condition.  He swears it's not true, but I'm the one who buttons my jeans.  I'm intimately aware, even despite my refusal to step on a scale, when I am getting LESS fit.  In his well-intentioned efforts to give me a pep talk about this, he said things that my mind heard differently than his mouth meant to say, and HOO BOY did I get ticked off.  I sat quietly on the irritation, refusing to respond to it, knowing my husband is kind and doesn't set out to offend me.  After a couple of days, I got the truth out of what was said, which was:  I need to do what it takes, to help my body.  It's really that simple.

So for the last week what I've been doing is running the C25K part with Gary and then leaving him at home while I go out and run 20ish more minutes uninterrupted.  It gets me closer the the workout my body had become accustomed to doing daily.  It makes me late for supper and it takes 20 minutes of our very-little-time-together away, but I've returned to the place of being willing to do what it takes to love my body well, even when it costs such prices that I wish I didn't have to pay.  

It feels good to be back to running more.  My body is celebrating already.  I think it will help me with motivation to return to improving my food intake, even within the limitations of the lifestyle we have chosen for this portion of the journey.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

getting back on track after a derailment

It has been a week of noticing my weakness.  

Noticing my extreme reluctance and general bad attitude about changing our run time from pre-dawn to post-work.  Noticing my body not adapting quickly to the change. 

Noticing how slow I am in adapting to a new sleep schedule.  

Noticing how hard I have to fight to eat in ways that will work with the new run schedule and the new sleep schedule. 

And then today I was just WEAK and GREEDY all day long.  A coworker brought donuts.  Know how many I ate?  THREE.  Two in the morning, one in the afternoon.  THREE.  FREAKING.  DONUTS.  Cuz once I had had one, then I NEEDED more - such is the nature of the sugar junkie, and I know this, and I know the only way around it is not to start down that road.  But start I did, and oh BOY did I run hard down it.

Furthermore, I was in a lunch meeting where we were served A LOT more food than I needed.  Early in the meal, I reminded myself that I COULD just eat a small amount and let the rest of it go. 

But that's not what I did.  I ate it up.  All the spinach salad.  All the big bowl of pasta with breaded chicken and marinara sauce.  All the buttery garlic bread.  All the pineapple upside down cake.  All, all, all.  

I finally did better at supper, managing to eat in a way that shouldn't derail early sleep (I'm already 20 minutes past our bedtime, but hey, it will STILL be early when we get the lights turned out.) And hallelujah, thank you JESUS for my friend who made such a body-loving supper.  A nice end to the day!

So.  Tonight and tomorrow and all the days going forward, I can focus on the many failures of this week in my behavior, attitude, choices, etc.  


I can say that I have a fresh start right this minute.  I can refuse to speak condemning words to myself.  I can go as gently with me as I would with you.  I can do better NOW (which is the only thing I have the power to change - can't change the past or even the future - yet - but I CAN change NOW.) 

So that's what I'll do.  So long, suckish choices.  Sorry we hung out so long.  Hope I don't see you again soon. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

outriding fear

I used to be a lot more fearful than I am today.  I had a chance to reflect on that over the weekend as I rode my bike with G. 

First, we came to Credit Island, which was the first place that I gathered my courage to ride with traffic here in the Quad Cities.  Riding the Critical Mass in Chicago with hundreds of other riders had emboldened me enough to think I might one day manage to ride on the streets without the wall of bicycles on all sides of me.  So when I got back to Rock Island, I would put my bike on the rack on my car and take it to a park in Davenport.  From there, I could ride directly on the bike path to Credit Island.  It is a quiet road, but still I was terrified when cars and trucks would pass me.  I had to ride it a lot of times before I could consider riding other, busier roads.

We crossed the main Arsenal bridge, and I remembered my first time to cross – how I stood trembling, barely able to make myself get on and pedal, so sure I was that I would somehow slip and slide and fall over sideways, getting a head injury on the metal edges that are everywhere on all sides. 

We crossed the other, smaller bridge for the Arsenal, and I remembered countless rides across with terror of heights clambering inside my head and twisting my belly in knots.

We did a little sharp u-turn to exit from that bridge to head north-bound on the bike path, and I recalled how I used to have to stop and get off to make that turn, so sure I was that I would fall over otherwise. 

We crossed stoplights, and as I properly took the lane for maximum safety, I felt calm certainty inside, rather than the fearful notion I used to have that some driver was probably going to mow me down in a fit of road rage.

I stood on the pedals as we rolled down a big hill, and I remembered the days when I couldn’t even summon the courage to stand on them while riding on flat ground.

The thousands of miles I have ridden my bike since April 2010, when I first purchased Lulu, have been among the most empowering, liberating forces in my life.  I would never have gathered up what it took to start running, had I not started with biking.  My confidence and competence in all modes of travel – even driving – have been boosted immeasurably by my bike time.  My comfort level with my body has vastly improved – I am more graceful, more sure, and that has chip, chip, chipped away at my self-loathing over the years.

It makes me wonder – what physical challenges will the Lord throw at me in the coming year (because YES I believe the bike was a God idea) to continue to stretch and grow me?

May I meet it with gladness and courage, even if only just barely.

Monday, September 23, 2013


G and I changed our plans to run at 3 AM.  Upon further review, we have decided it is worth attempting to run after work, despite my many and strong objections to running at that time of the day and in daylight.  My objections are not as strong as my aversion to rising at 3 AM.  So we're giving it a go.  

Today was our first after-work run.  Like all runs (for me) after being off running for a week or more, it was miserable.  I lose so much momentum when I don't run.  And then there were all the things I hate about running at not-before-sunrise:  sunshine, warmth, traffic, lots of other pedestrians/runners. On top of that was that my tummy isn't nicely empty like it is first thing in the morning.  So my belly felt HUGE and HEAVY and HORRIBLE and it slowed me down.  I will need to adapt my lunch, I think, to something smaller to accommodate this new run schedule.  

I can do that.  And I trust I will have a better attitude after a week, when I've regained some momentum.  Meantime, I will run and piss and moan and you can feel free to smack me when you see me for my bad attitude.  If you see us out on the street, my husband will be the one smiling and easily outrunning me.  :-)  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

gotta recalibrate

We got a nice bike ride in today.  It was a beautiful day and I was tickled to be out in it. 

We are still in the process of adjusting to my husband Gary's schedule at his new job.  Since I have to drive him at 5:30, we can't get up to run at 5.  We have taken a couple of weeks to adjust our schedule, getting up around 4 so we can do breakfast and devotionals and prayer before it's time for him to go.  I think we're pretty well adjusted to that.

Now this week, we'll need to push it back to earlier.  Not running is really not an option for me.  I can feel the difference in my body when I don't run, and I don't like it.  It looks like we'll be getting up around 3 in order to accommodate a run 3 mornings a week. I don't see another way, since I just don't realistically see myself running at the end of a work day. 

I realized last night while pondering all of this that I need to make another adjustment as well.  We go to bed at 8, to make the early mornings work out.  Eating supper after work means there is very little time between supper and sleep.  I've been eating too much, I realized, for that close to bedtime.  I need to cut my intake down by probably three quarters, or this belly is just going to keep growing. It has definitely been growing steadily with all the reduction in exercise, combined with all that eating like I'm on some kind of holiday, and that is not going well with me.  

So!  Here's to taking responsibility and making necessary changes. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

back to more movement

I am back to regular running, for about the last week, after being more or less "off" since the Bix (with a few exceptions).  My husband Gary wants to run with me, so this was the perfect time for me to help him get in the swing.  I downloaded a C25K app to my Iphone - C25K stands for "couch to 5K" and is a program by which one can move to running 30 continuous minutes within something like 9 weeks.  In theory, that 30 minutes is a 5K.  That has NEVER been true for me - I am such a slow runner - but still, it's a great help for learning how to run without stopping. 

Gary is a faster runner than me.  I can run for 2 hours without stopping, but it's all at a speed that isn't really different from walking.  Right now, the C25K app has us do 5 minutes of walking warmup, then 20 minutes of 1 minute running, 1 minute walking, then 5 minutes of walking cool down.  We walk together.  Then when the voice tells us to run, he shoots off ahead of me (though he keeps trying to slow down to stay back with me, which is noble of him but usually doesn't sit well with Grumpy Morning Karen - I tell him he doesn't need to do that in my friendliest possible voice, and then he does it anyway.  LOL)  

Last week, I didn't even try to catch up with him on the run parts.  I'd just regain the ground during walking and that was fine.  But it occurred to me that once we get to running 30 continuous minutes, we will not be running together AT ALL.  And I need to pick up speed, so that next year's Bix won't be another experience in the frustration of walkers sauntering by me, discussing their favorite pinterest recipes, while I die a thousand deaths inside.

So this morning, I was determined to keep up with him.  I need to get faster.  This is my chance!  And I should get a better workout, going faster.  The problem was:  it was a very muggy 72 degrees out at 4:30 this morning.  Perhaps you've been around long enough to know how badly I handle that much heat for a run.  I need it to be 52, not 72.  I LOVE 32.  72 is torture.  So for the first half of our running, I sort of kind of almost kept up with G, though I was sweating like a madwoman and blowing hard.  The second half....fuggedaboutit!  My butt and legs weighed 20 million pounds, and no amount of the mental push could make the body move a bit faster.  So he was back to slowing down to wait for me and I was back to trying not to glare at him or hold it against him that he's so much nicer a guy than I deserve!  :-)  

I'm going to keep trying.  Maybe Wednesday will bring us a cooler morning.

I also hadn't ridden much for the last 5 weeks or so - something like 2 bike rides total, one of them being the little 1 mile ride to work.  I have had a case of the crankies about that which kind of ebbed and flowed and yesterday BABY IT WAS FLOWING.  I was one grumpola after church, when I figured out that we might not have time for a ride.  Thankfully, we worked that out - we rode to and from the evening church service.  It's only 3 miles from here, and sometimes I wouldn't count that as a "real" bike ride, but when you've done NUTHIN' for so long, 6 miles of road time is a sweet, delicious treat.  I am so grateful that I have a husband who likes to ride!

So hopefully we are getting back into a swing of more exercise.  This body needs it badly.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

un-discipline brings its own consequences, thank God

Sometimes it is really hard to get oneself to exercise more, to eat less, to eat better.  Sometimes, though, a motivation is provided.

Since the wedding, I have been in "honeymoon mode," which has meant all manner of GOOD things, but has also meant I have more or less given myself permission to just wildly eat anything and everything and entirely too much of it, as well. 

All of that accumulated last night when I WAY, WAY overindulged at a cookout.  The food was delicious, the company was great, and I just ate, ate, ate, and ate some more.  I didn't just eat stuff that loves my body, though there was an abundance of that available.  I also stuffed my face with stuff that I KNOW will not go well with me.

So I went to bed last night physically miserable, and I stayed that way all through the night, and this morning I've been rubbing my belly and drinking hot water and desperately hoping the worst of it will pass soon. 

All of which will make it not hard at all to get back to running (which I've only done a little bit of, since the wedding) and back to body-loving food intake.  I AM READY.  My poor big round miserable belly is begging me to get back to better treatment.  

Back we go. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

back to it, feeling challenged

For this morning's run, I started working on my speed.  I told my run app that I wanted to do 15 minute miles.  I've done only a few of those, ever.  I had no expectation of actually achieving it this morning.  But you gotta start somewhere, right? 

It was not a fun run.  My right ankle bothered me enough for the first mile that I kept considering turning around to go back home (but then it got better).  My butt muscles were very sore all the way through.  Somewhere late in the second mile and early in the third mile, my lower back was throbbing.  For the whole run, my body felt like it weighed 9,000 pounds - I kept expecting it to lighten up as I loosened up, but it never did.  I was more out of breath than usual.

All of this surprised me.  After all,I rested yesterday.  It was a beautiful, stunningly perfect 50 degrees with low humidity out there.  And I only ran for a little under an hour.  This should be fairly easy! 

Of course I have only theories about why it would be so.  Here is the best I can come up with:

  • I did just run the longest run of my life on Saturday.  And the pain from it was enough that Aleve wouldn't touch it until sometime yesterday.  And I was still sore at bedtime last night.  So maybe it was just still fatigue from the race.  Maybe I should have taken another day off. 
  • My compression pants were still on the drying rack, still damp from the laundry.  So I just ran in regular running pants.  I think my compression pants help my back with the work of carrying this gut that I need to lose.  That's probably what the back pain was about.  It was kind of a jiggle fest out there. 
  • Mondays are just always hard.  My body likes routine A LOT and I always go off routine on the weekend.  And I always pay on Monday.  So maybe it was just a Monday thing.  
So, my faster time wasn't really faster, even though I was intentionally pushing myself pretty hard, the whole run.  

I think, before I decide to be discouraged by this, that I will wait and see how I'm doing by Friday.  Maybe I will regain momentum and things will be looking up.

Pressing on...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

saltine challenge!

Okay technically today's blog is not about loving your body at all.  Today is just pure unadulterated silliness.  If you have no tolerance for silliness, do yourself a favor and navigate AWAY from this page immediately!

After church this morning, a deeply spiritual member of our worship team was sharing about "the saltine challenge" and I happened to overhear, stick my nose in where it didn't belong, and jump all over the challenge.  

Here's the challenge:  6 saltine crackers.  60 seconds.  Nothing to drink. 

Sounds easy, right?  Several of us were just laughing.  He insisted it's an impossible challenge.

That sounded ridiculous to me.  How hard could it be to eat 6 crackers in 60 seconds?  Come on!  And I wasn't alone - the sound guy predicted he could do it in 23 seconds.  As you can see, we are excessively serious and somber after church.  

By the time I left, a number of people had been drawn into the challenge, saying we would try it and report our results.  I was challenged to put mine on the blog.  (So, Joe, here it is!)  

So it happened that this evening when I ran upstairs to wash a few dishes, I saw crackers out (my friend Erik, whose house this is, is in on the challenge - I assume he made his first run at it today.)  So!  I took the challenge.  Easy peasy, Eh?

And the results are....


Holy smokes.  The guy who challenged us has done it in as fast as 1:12.  I don't suppose I'll ever get that down!  LOL

It's more fun to lose this race than it is to run behind those who saunter.  LOL

And now, you may resume your day.  Sorry...you can't get that 5 minutes of your life back! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bix - goal met, a bit of disappointment, and a next goal

Ahhh.  It is behind me.  I made my goal of running every step of the Bix!  Hallelujah.  We were blessed with an unseasonably cool day - really nice change from last year's run.  

Oddly enough, my pleasure at having reached the goal is mixed with a bit of disappointment, too.  That surprises me.  You might recall that I ran last year's race in 1:56:29.  That was running part of it, and walking not quite half of it.  

This year, I ran every step.  This year's race time:  1:58:47.  It's still under 2 hours, which was last year's goal.  And on its own, the time probably couldn't touch me enough to provoke disappointment.  But it is not on its own. 

The thing is, I run back near (and almost instantly AMONG) the walkers.  And hey - big respect to power walkers - they rock.  But it is ALWAYS humbling to be running along, giving it my best shot, and have someone walk by.  Today was worse than that, though...some of the walkers weren't exactly POWER walking.  For over a mile of the second half of the race, I was running behind a couple of women who, I tell you, WERE NOT IN A HURRY.  They were walking along, not winded at all.  How do I know they weren't winded?  They were talking animatedly, non-stop.  Pinterest recipes and such.  Sauntering along.  Like an easy Saturday morning walk.  No hurry.  

And I was BEHIND THEM.  And for OVER A MILE, I couldn't catch up with them, much less pass them.  That breeds disappointment - at least in me!  

It's not enough to wreck the race experience for me.  I am still very glad that I managed to run every step, even if my running is slower than other people's easy sauntering.  I'm still pleased to have made a goal and followed through.  I am also pleased that I noted as I crossed the finish line:  I could probably run 10 miles.  I probably had 3 more miles left in me.  Not EASY miles and I'd have been a pile of jelly afterward, but I could have done it.  (And no, there is no 10 mile race in my plans at this point.)  

I guess knowing I had 3 miles left in me means I didn't give the Bix everything I had.  I guess?  Apparently I did not push myself as hard as I could have.  I definitely never want to run it alone again.  It is easy for me to see that I run faster with a friend than without, and I certainly wouldn't have been so honed in on noticing the sauntering ladies, if I had been running with a friend.  

I've been wondering what I will do for my morning runs after the Bix.  For months, I've been training on 5+ miles per morning, 3 mornings per week.  It has been consistently making me late for work and crowding my schedule up too much, since it takes me a bit over an hour and a half to run that far.  I've been thinking I'll want to shorten the distance, post-race.  With today's results, I think I WILL shorten the run...and then use my "coaching" on my Map My Run app to train for running FASTER.   I raced today at my usual pace of between 16.5 and 17 minutes per mile.  Maybe I can get that time whittled down, over a year.  For sure, I would like to be able to pass sauntering ladies, next time around.

Yeah, there's almost definitely a next time around.  Not disappointed enough to quit. 

My placing for this race fell at:

10,308 out of 10,672 runners
5,017 out of 5,271 females
413 out of 438 females ages 45-49

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

three letter battle

I am sitting on my bed in my bathrobe, intently reading a text on my phone after my morning shower when I realize:  that little piece of wet hair is curving over, poking me in the face, and it might as well be a jagged blade or something.  The irritation is a low buzz in the background of my morning and I've been blocking it, but suddenly I am acutely aware:  my hair is touching my face it it is making me want to punch something. 
Oh man. 

Then I register more, awaking my mind to pay attention to my body.  A dull, heavy headache.  The insides of my ears slightly sore, as if I had been to a too-loud concert yesterday, or maybe spent the day in a swimming pool.  My neck aches a bit.  I can feel the seams in my robe and they too feel jagged, invasive, offensive - don't touch me!  My belly is heavy with a nasty concoction of cramps and just a touch of nausea.  The muscles in my legs are sore.  The dry skin on my feet and ankles is making an ever-louder clamor for attention - I am practically twitching with the need for lotion.

But the worst of it is that little wet section of my bangs.  It keeps touching - poking, bothering my face.  I push it back and it flops back down and pokes again.  Push, flop, poke.  Push, flop, poke.  I shake my head in frustration and another bit of stray hair, already dry and light, swings forward from the other side, sticking itself to my slightly damp cheek.  I almost let a growl of irritation escape my throat, even as I realize how off-the-charts my sensory overload is, how unreasonable my unexpressed response to it all.

That's when I know:  it's time for those dreaded 3 letters once again:  PMS.  Gah. 

The good news is that these days I know how to respond (or, largely, NOT respond) to it - how to choke off its attempt to wreck my mood, and accordingly my day.  Carefully I dry my ears and flatten that pesky piece of hair down (a much better tactic than pushing it back).  I find the lotion for my feet.  I rub my tummy (what a surprise it was, learning how much that helps!)  I bend and stretch and most of all focus on peace.  Be still.  Remain calm.  Don't rail against it or try to insist that I shouldn't have to feel this way.  Study the sunshine.  Write grats.  Take Aleve.  Drink hot water.  Above all else, DO NOT cooperate with any voice of body loathing, self-hatred, resentment, etc.  Don't listen to it, don't repeat its claims - not even silently in my head.  Don't fall into the pity pot.  Trust God. 

Doing my dishes after breakfast, I drop a dish, and it breaks into many pieces in the sink.  Unsteady hands and an unfocused mind are both regular hangers-on during the dreaded time of 3 letters.  At many points of the journey, the broken glass would have been an occasion for tears, for an hour of inner complaint, for the derailing of a morning.  This morning I am purposefully, willfully patient and unsurprised.  I pick up the pieces of glass, slowly, carefully, knowing a hurry only results in cuts, which will only be another challenge to face.  I get every piece and my hands are unbloodied in the end.  When the dishes are done, I smile, on purpose.  Gotta celebrate victories.  It is so very much more important, at times like this morning, than it ever is on ordinary, easy, pain-free days.  Celebration and smiles are tools of survival and healing, and if you don't know that yet, I beg you to begin considering and praying through the idea. 

I'm awfully glad that PMS is only an occasional visitor at this point in my life.  Sometimes it skips entire years between visits.  Lately, it has come hanging around almost every month.  In truth, I'd be thrilled it if would just go away and leave me alone. 

But.  His grace is sufficient for me.  I discover this every time that I show up willing.  PMS doesn't have to leave, in order for me to be at peace...full of joy, even. 

Here's to learning that in ways that make a real difference on a workday morning. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

ugly effing run

I was having trouble figuring out how I was going to WOW myself this morning, for my last run before the Bix.  What could follow my 2 trips up Brady Street Hill and my 6 trips up Augustana Hill?  I've been busy and tired and I just didn't think of anything.  So I figured I would go for speed again this morning - see if I could run the fastest miles yet. 

And then I stepped out of my icy cool air conditioned house and into...the swamp.  The air was so muggy, so horrible.  For sure it weighed a thousand pounds.  The sun wasn't up yet and it was already 80 degrees.  I was out of breath in the first block of running.  THE FIRST BLOCK.  

Nonetheless, I kept moving.  And eventually I resolved that even FINISHING today was going to be a wow, what with the not being able to breathe, and the sweat gushing out of my pores.  

Finish, I did.  I didn't walk at all.  So that's a win for the day, though it feels like crap. 

I realized as I came down the street on that last block that had run me out of breath so fast when leaving home that for my entire run, I had been remembering old bad, painful, hurtful, discouraging, hard things from the many ways my marriage failed.  That's been smacking me from out of nowhere somewhat regularly lately.  I will be going along, happy as can be and then suddenly the memories will just start cascading and sucking me down.  I assume it is the voice of the Liar, doing his level best to steal my hope about my upcoming marriage.

But I'm not that person I was back then.  I wouldn't walk the same way through those trials.  I would respond differently.  I understand more about who I am and how God loves me.  I am way more in tune with what is about me and what is for sure not about me at all.  And furthermore, to say that my fiance is not my ex husband is stating it uhhh rather mildly.  They couldn't be more different.  

So.  Something wants to steal my hope.  And in the passages like that run full of awful memories, it's pretty damned discouraging.  


And that is my final answer.  BUT GOD. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

powerful words

I feel like I've come a long, long way in the journey of letting God teach me to love my body.  Apparently I still have a long, long way to go.  How do I know this?  Simple:  the voices in my head as traffic passes me when I am running.  Despite the fact that no one EVER calls out anything unkind, EVER...I still imagine it. 

I remember riding in cars with friends who made mean remarks about the way a runner's shorts fit or the whiteness of their legs or the jiggle in their caboose. 

I remember the endless number of mean words that women around me have used to describe themselves and others within my hearing.

I remember rude ways that celebrities get evaluated in popular magazines, no matter how thin and beautiful they seem to me.

I remember catcalls and dog barks from cars driving by me while I was out walking, minding my own business, twenty years ago.

I remember unkind words from the boy who made the most damage on my self-esteem, all before I turned 16. 

And I assume that at least some of the drivers going by are doing just the same.  Noticing the jiggle in my caboose and remarking.  Noticing the inelegance of my stride, the whiteness of my legs, the way I'm not shaped like anyone on modeling pages, and saying or thinking mean things. 

I mean, I don't obsess on it relentlessly.  But it still does make its way across my brain at least once, on almost every run I ever make.  I try to push it back.  I tell it that people seeing me slogging my way up those huge hills maybe RESPECT the effort, even as they see the extra weight.  I tell it that what others think of me is none of my business.  I tell it that I'm letting God change the way I love my body. 

And it lets go of me, generally.  Doesn't have the power to continually torment me that it had for so many years.  But...it does come back.  Pretty much every single run. 

I look forward to the day when I won't move through the world assuming that people are thinking or saying mean things about the shape of my body.  That will signal a really LARGE healing in me...one that seems very far away at this point.  I have a feeling that the change is another "inside job" - that it's not about, "I'll feel better when I get skinnier."  I've seen too many skinny people feeling huge to buy that lie.  It's about letting Him finish the work in me...and meanwhile, not helping those voices. 

You notice, I didn't provide any of the horrible words here.  Didn't quote anyone.  Didn't get specific.  That was intentional.  I'm DONE repeating those awful things aloud.  Done breathing life into them by purposely dwelling on them.  When they come, I will continue to shoot them down with all my might - and I will trust that one day, they won't be able to come near enough for me to hear anymore.

I believe it's possible.  Some of you maybe never had that narrative in your head.  Some of you have it so loud that you cannot possibly believe it could ever be silenced.  I'm praying for you (and for me) today about this.

Meanwhile:  all of this is evidence of the incredible power of words.  PLEASE stop and think about what you are sowing into someone's life with your words.  PLEASE help others to make kinder choices in what they speak...most especially into the ears of the very young. 

After all...it might matter...for the rest of their time here on earth.

another hill challenge morning

In my continuing quest to WOW myself enough before the Bix to overcome the mental hurdles, this morning I took on Augustana hill.  The challenge:  how many times could I run up it in a single morning?  

This morning's result:  6 TIMES!  Let's just say I am CELEBRATING!!!  

But also kicking myself.  I considered going for 7 and then I was tired and it was getting late (yes, I will be late for work again today due to the run.)  Monday's run of 3 laps up Brady Street Hill was a gain of 905 feet.  Today's run of 6 laps up Augustana Hill was a gain of 892 feet.  I COULD HAVE OUTDONE MYSELF.  Darn it!

But still.  Six is pretty dang good.  Focusing there with intention.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

i am a ballerina princess runner

For last year's Bix, a friend and great encourager informed me that I needed new running clothes - that it is a TRADITION to have something new for race day.  And then...she funded a new running outfit for me, which turned out to be MUCH NICER than the sweats I was planning to roll up at the knees. 

That wonderful outfit is still in great condition and Karen Is Very Cheap.  So!  My plan for this year has been:  a running skirt, which I can just wear OVER the outfit I have.  Sarah, who ran the Bix with me last year, pointed out tulle running skirts to me and they immediately made me grin.  So ridiculous.  TULLE - the stuff of princesses and ballerinas - for running?! 

But it's really perfect.  Light as air.  Cute and fanciful.  The internet supplied me with a wonderful set of DIY instructions.  Last Friday night after work, I spent $13 on tulle and a ribbon, and came home and made the darn thing all in one sitting.  It is only cutting and tying.  My carpal tunnel raged the next day from all the tying, but hey...IS THIS SKIRT FUN or what?!   The colors are hard to see in the picture, but it is midnight blue (with SPARKLES!), neon green, and...bum bum BUM...TEAL!  (You'd have to know how utterly I loathe teal and feel it should not exist as a color to appreciate the irony of teal in my skirt - but suffice it to say that lovely daughter Julia is keeled over with laughter about it.)

In truth, I feel like I look huge in it.  I took pictures at 4:30 this morning as I was dressing for my run, and this side shot is the only one I am sharing.  Sure, it's gonna make you notice I uhhh "got back"...but the shots from the front look SO WIDE.  

I don't care.  I'm wearing the skirt, and gonna run with a smile.  After all, running every step of 7 miles on a hot July morning on giant hills...that's a feat WORTHY of 7.5 yards of tulle, eh?

Keep smiling!

just beating my chest and hollering a little here...

Ask me how many times I ran up Brady Street hill this morning.  

Go ahead, ask me!


Friday, July 12, 2013

a year's worth of fitness change

During last year’s Bix race, somewhere around mile four, my calves felt as heavy and hard as stones.  Around mile six, my (awesome, specially fitted, expensive running) shoes started to seriously hurt my feet.  As I crossed the finish line, I was struggling not to limp, and I wondered if I would find blood in my socks when I took them off.  All I wanted in life was 100 gallons of cool water to drink, and the promise that I would never have to stand, much less walk or run, ever again in life.  Though I had walked a little less than half of the distance, I had completed the entire seven miles.  Finishing was the only firm goal, and finishing in less than two hours was a great hope.  Both the goal and the hope were realized, as I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:56:29 (no, I don’t have that time memorized…I cheated and looked it up on the blog from that day!)

I limped home, showered, and drank like a camel stocking up for a Sahara tour.  I laid down on my couch to rest a bit – and that’s when the exhaustion really hit me.  I wasn’t maybe I should take a nap tired.  I was oh, sleep is overtaking me by force, and my thousand-pound legs will never be lifted again tired.  Throughout the sunny afternoon, I kept surfacing into consciousness with a vague feeling that I should get up and do something.  I would feel the awful ache – especially in my legs, but really all through my body – and before I could process further or attempt movement, I would tumble helplessly back into sleep, more or less against my will.  It was like I had been drugged.

Late in the day, I woke up enough to drag myself ten steps to the kitchen and eat, though my arms had now joined my legs in weighing 1000 pounds each.  I thought I might blog.  Then, I realized that thinking was too tall an order, and typing was out of the question, and sitting up straight was an unreasonable demand, and I went to sleep again.  Eventually, I did manage to write a bit, between rounds of helplessly being imprisoned by sleep.  But I didn’t “play” on the internet that day.  Didn’t even call up a movie on Netflix to watch on my iPHone.  Really, all I could do was sleep.

I did manage church the next day, but that was all.  That whole day too was a blur of pain and naps.  I had really given everything in me, finishing that race.  Neither my pre-race training of running 2.7 miles three times a week for about a year nor the hundreds of miles’ worth of nice long bike rides (30 to 50 miles each) that I had regularly taken had not been enough to make me strong enough to do anything more.

Fast forward almost a year.  I’m currently running roughly five and a half miles, three times a week.  When I first bumped my distance up to five miles, my body’s reaction was a similar yet lesser version of that race day reaction.  My feet hurt for the rest of the day, all day long, clear up to bedtime on run days.   Not that’s a little sore hurt.  More like I have to concentrate hard not to make feeble noises and pathetic faces with every step hurt.  Sore enough that I iced my feet, elevated my feet, downed Aleve relentlessly, and avoided walking if at all possible.  Sore enough that at work I took the elevator, even to go down just one flight of stairs, because the thought of the impact of walking down steps made me want to cry.  I felt exhausted all day, with everything in me crying out for a nap, and I struggled occasionally with nodding off at my desk momentarily in the midst of typing out minutes or taking notes or other activities that are generally enough to keep my mind awake and alert.  I would fall asleep at night with my feet still throbbing from the morning’s run.

But that’s getting better!  First, the exhaustion stopped happening, but the pain held on.  Then, the pain came down to manageable-with-Aleve level.  Then it came down to sore, but no need for pain meds level.  Today, after running 5.7 miles this morning…no thought at all about Aleve.  There’s a little soreness, but it’s so little that I don’t notice it unless I stop to ask myself while I am walking whether it hurts.  Scripture says our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, and I can testify to that LOUDLY as I watch the way my body heals itself over and over, no matter how I punish it.  How it gets stronger over time.  How hills that used to make me want to puke and/or die might still challenge me, but the challenge isn’t enough for me to dwell on how bad it was afterward. 

On race day this year, I can’t go into a coma afterward.  Instead, after the race (and obviously a shower) I will need to get in my car and drive 4 hours to try on my wedding dress.  Last year, this would clearly not have been an option.  This year, I don’t think it’s even going to be a hardship.  While I am still basically the same SIZE I was this time last year, my fitness level is a whole other world than it was then.

Makes me wonder what July 2014 will look like for me, fitness-wise!  Exciting days ahead!   

hill testing

Nice Friday run this morning.  Only 3 more runs before the Bix!  

I tested the "elevations" part of my Map My Run app today in an interesting way.  Ran up and down 4 big hills in the Augustana area.  I notice on the readout this morning, the first hill, though it's pretty substantial in person, just hardly shows up as an incline at ALL on the report. 

It will be good to finish with this training and get the Bix done.  Running longer...and then adding inclines...and then adding a DRIVE TO AND FROM, to maximize my incline time...means I just can't get to work on time for anything right now.  Will be nice to get back to something like a normal morning routine...just in time to get married, and then need to recreate morning all over again!  LOL

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

technology frustration

The saga of my last few runs before the Bix continues.  

This morning, I ran the 5th-from-the-last of my pre-race runs.  I am frustrated with my Map My Run app on my iPHone.  There are 2 problems:
  1. What shows on my results, as far as elevations, does not seem accurate to me, and
  2. I’m struggling to believe that the speeds being called out to me every 2 minutes for my “split times” in training modes are accurate.

First, elevations.  This morning, I was very intentional in seeking large amounts of hill action.  For sure, I went up-and-down a lot more often than the “climbs” readout on my run report seems to indicate.  The large portions of basically flat running that show up there – well, I just don’t understand them.  The only real “flat time” I spent on the run was the first mile, and part of mile 5!  The rest of the time was all on an incline.  Why doesn’t it read like that?!

Then, speed.  I’m relying on the app to help push me, when I slow down.  But I keep noticing that I don’t FEEL difference in my pace as it is so often called out.  MAYBE I’m so physically non-discerning that I can’t tell the difference between running a 15 min/mile pace and an 18 min/mile.  MAYBE.  But those random times when it says I’m running a 10 or 11 min/mile, or a 23 min/mile – I’m just saying – that is a REALLY wide margin. 

When I first used the app, I assumed I just have zero body consciousness, when it comes to pacing my run.  But the more these weird, wild times get called out, the harder I find it to trust the pace the phone is calling out to me.  Some of it just doesn’t feel rooted in reality. 

So, all of you out there:  have you tested this app?  Do you find it to be accurate?  Either way, I’ll definitely keep training, and probably still use the app.  But I am very curious about other users’ experiences with this technology. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

bedtime run

This morning at 4 AM, rain was pouring from the lightning-lit skies.  I rolled over and snuggled back under the covers.  No run for me.  

Normally that's not such a Big Hairy Deal, but I'm counting down days to my Bix race, and missing runs is kind of unacceptable at this point in the game.  I told Gary I would try again tomorrow, though I admitted if the storms were back, that would mean I'd have to find a treadmill tomorrow.

I HATE TREADMILLS.  The thought of pounding out 5 or 6 miles on one just makes me want to go hide in a corner.  I am definitely an outdoors runner.  So, when I saw on the weather report that tomorrow looks like scattered thunderstorms all day and all evening...I took matters into my own hands.

I planned a bedtime run.  

The part of me that is always counting up my badass points liked the idea very much.  The rest of me went straight to pissing and moaning.  RUN at BEDTIME?!  But I was TIRED!  It had been a full day!  I didn't WANT to!  This is the conversation I had in my head while driving home (after a very full day) around 9 PM.  In the end, Karen Who Wants to Finish the Bix Well beat Karen Who Wanted to Just Sleep. 

It was a crappy run.  

It was 84 degrees out.  Too hot to run.  

We still have plumbing issues at our house, and my lazy butt didn't go to the laundromat over the weekend, so I had no comfy running clothes.  I had to choose between reasonably cool with a pocket for the phone, or comfy but horrendously hot or pocketless.  I went with the pockets.  Those pants were WAY tight at the waist, with unforgiving material.  Meant I had a big jelly roll hanging over the waist, wiggling and jiggling and cutting off my breath and giving me a side ache.  NOT COOL.  

It was way dark, between streetlights.  Dark enough that I had a constant concern about tripping and falling. And the headlights of cars were absolutely blinding me, some of the time (I run against traffic).  

I had shared a sub sandwich with my mom for supper at something like 7:30, and could still FEEL it there in my belly, threatening to spew out if I provoked it too much.

And then there was the matter of making others worry.  I knew for sure Gary was worrying (though as usual he had been only wonderful and understanding, when I told him my plans), and it seemed altogether possible that my friends with whom I live might be worrying, too  about me running around after dark.  Really...how long do I want to make people worry?

So I surrendered to reason.  Ran as hard as I could make myself run under all those conditions, but just for 2 short miles.  Then home to the shower, to let people know I was safely in, and to take off those darn tight pants.  

I'm still counting it a victory.  A night run is something I hadn't done before.  I challenged myself.  I didn't just make excuses and give up.  THAT is a victory! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

out hill climbing again, this time on Wilma

Deliciously slow but challengingly hilly bike ride today.  The fun of Map My Run is it picks out things and gives rewards. I am now "Queen of the Hill" for 2 of the hills I rode today, and the app also made note of 2 of the other more challenging spots. 

My victory today is that no hill defeated me.  In fairness, I did not try the 17th Street Rock Island hill on the way home, as I had done enough hills by then that I knew it would defeat me.  But I still climbed another killer hill in its place.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

fastest run EVER!!!!

I didn't run yesterday.  We are having some plumbing problems at my house, and showering wasn't an option before work, so running was out of the question.  

I can't be skipping runs, this close to the race.  So this morning I got up and out there to make up for that missed one.  This is more or less against my personal policy, as I don't run on weekends.  Weekends are for bike riding!  But I decided to make this one exception, for the sake of my upcoming Bix race.

I wanted to run the fastest 5 or 6 miles I have ever run.  So I drove down to the bike path, where there are no sidewalks, no curbs, no potholes, no traffic.  When I got there, I found the "coaching" function on my Map My Run app and told it I wanted to maintain a 16 minute mile pace.  Actually I wanted to run a little faster than that, but I didn't want to overwhelm myself.  And I figured, as long as she tells me when I'm lagging to slower than 16 minutes, it will all work out.  

I just ran the fastest 6 miles I have ever run.  This makes me feel like the QUEEN OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE! 

  • Mile 2, I did in 13:19.  Truth:  I YELLED ALOUD when she called out that split time to me, and I ran with a big stupid smile on my face for maybe 200 yards (unlike my usual running face, which generally communicates either "I am zoned out" or "I am dying.")  I ran faster than that in high school - I think I ran mostly 12 minute miles and once ran in 10 something - but I was also something like 75 pounds lighter then than I am now.  That is for sure my fastest run in adulthood. 
  • Miles 1, 3, 4, and 5 were all 15 something.  This pleases me greatly.  Especially mile 5, because by that point I was dying.  My hips hurt.  I just felt like I COULD NOT DO THIS.  You're wondering why, since I run 5 miles all the time now?  Probably a combination of the faster pace for the entire race..and the simple fact that I started out when the sun was already up.  It was blasted HOT out there.  
  • Mile 6 was exactly 17 minutes, and I'm not gonna apologize for that. I had literally given everything I had to give.  Had pushed and pushed and pushed some more, and I just flat did not have anything faster to offer.  
I realize what I'm reporting here would not be impressive to the long-legged, skinny people out there running twice as fast as me and more.  I realize there are people out there running marathons and triathlons and Iron Man competitions.  I realize I'm not impressive, compared to them.  But compared to ME...DUDE, I AM AWESOME!!!

And:  I gotta wonder, if those people strapped an extra 50 pounds to their butt (like I carry around every minute of my life) and maybe added some nice prosthetics to their thighs to ensure they rub together, like mine do, almost all the way down to the knees, with every step they take...what would their pace be THEN?  I think I'm not doing too badly at all, with what I've got at this time.  

Here's how I really know I gave all:  I got home, got in the shower, and tried to pass out.  Seriously.  Got dizzy and then dizzier.   Got black spots in my vision.  Had my hearing go all distant and fuzzy like it does right before a faint.  I was hustling to get out of the shower and onto my bed, before I could fall and hurt my head and then die of embarrassment when someone found me like that.

But no worries.  I've been resting, drinking water, eating breakfast, and I'm now ready to get on with the rest of my day.  

Still feeling like a rock star.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

measured vs. unmeasured

I've been using the "Map My Run" app on my iPhone for a few months now.  I use it every time I run, and some of the time when I bike.  The original reason I wanted it was to measure the length of my runs and rides, without having to come home and Google map it.  

I have found that it's really nice for other things as well.  It tells me how many calories I burned.  It tells me what the "gain" was - as in, how many feet did I climb on all those hills.  It tracks for my record best times.  

On the bike, it makes me ride faster.  The minutes per mile gets called out at each mile marker, and those come quickly enough that I am constantly mindful of them.  Each mile, I am working to ride faster than the previous ones.  That's good, when I'm riding for training reasons...but I have found that I leave the app turned off a lot for my rides, because I just want to ride for the joy and not always be racing the clock.

I have been very consistent with using the app when running.  But for the past two runs, I had accidentally turned the sound way down/basically off.  Both mornings I didn't notice until I was already running.  I don't stop, once I start.  And I wasn't wearing my glasses, so I couldn't fix it en route.  So both mornings, I just had to run around for as long as felt approximately right to me, and then stop.  Both mornings, I ran 5ish miles - not as long as I wanted to go, but long enough that I wasn't tempted to somehow talk myself into taking off running again to complete it. 

It has been a nice break, these last two runs, not being able to hear the app.  I didn't realize how much I tend to run with my ears tuned, alert, listening hard for the report of my "split time."  These last 2 mornings, I have kept my chin up more, and not spent so much time watching my feet on the pavement.  I have looked around at the view more.  I have had more fun deciding what my route might be.  Basically, it boils down to this:  when the app is on, I'm counting down to the question of, "How soon can I quit running?"  When I can't hear the app, I'm left to just enjoy the run and not focus on how much longer it might be.  

I wrote the other day that we need accountability, and I still thing that's true.  Just like the app helps me ride my bike faster, accountability can make us more aware and more willing to try hard.  But on the other hand, perhaps sometimes we need to stop measuring our pace in life.  Sometimes we need to just let go and be in the moment, soaking it up and not counting how many more steps to the next stopping spot, nor studying our every movement to make sure it is correct.  

I suppose it's all about balance, eh? 

hello, i eat hills for breakfast

Helloooooooooooooooooo world!  I am awake, alive, and wound for sound.  Why?  Because I ran the Augustana hill twice, and then went and found another hill to run after that!  Bix day, I am coming for you, and I will not be defeated!  RAWR!!!  (If you hit that link, DO go down to the bottom, where it shows the elevations part of my run.  Best.  Run.  EVER!)

Also, on a fun note, I followed the unfriendly runner girl who never returns my "good morning" (in her defense, I can't see...maybe she's  got earphones in and can't hear me...reminder to self, stop taking offense on purpose!) after the second lap of the Augie hill.  I ended up crossing the college campus, which took me across the most wonderful bridge, suspended way up high across a wooded valley with water underneath.  I've not been on the Augie campus enough in the past to discover that bridge.  It was BEAUTIFUL and I intend to visit it regularly.  I'm so grateful for having been healed of my phobia of heights...it would have been hard, running across, before that. 

7 more runs before the Bix.  I'm pondering what is best to do next.  I wonder if Friday I might pick an all-flat zone and try to get the 5 or 6 fastest miles I've ever run in.  I'd welcome your ideas (as long as you won't get your feelings hurt if I end up not following yours!)

Monday, July 1, 2013

bix training mode

My Bix run is in 26 days.  If you've somehow missed this detail:  my goal this year is to run every single step of the 7 miles up and down hills that comprise the Bix.

The general rule for running is that you don't run during the week of your race.  Cross training is fine, but no running.  So that means I have 3 weeks of running left before the race (and I plan to ride my bike the week before).  TO ME, that feels like:  time to get intense with the practice runs. 

I've been picking up distance.  But it's a long, flat run from my house to any big hills.  So as I was falling asleep last night, I decided my strategy, for July:  I will drive my car to a hilly area, so that my runs can be focused on incline.  That's how I managed 2 runs up Brady Street hill.  My plan had been to run Brady and some other, lesser-but-still-substantial hill, like Main Street.  

But I had done some serious resting over the weekend.  Other than the Critical Mass ride on Friday night and a little walk with Gary Saturday night (2ish miles, I think), I mostly sat around talking to people all weekend.  The result?  I woke up this morning (on a MONDAY morning, even) without that old familiar so-tired-my-stomach-hurts feeling.  I woke up before the alarm.  I woke up ready to run, without having to push my butt out of bed for it.  

So when I got up Brady Street hill and then back down, via another side street...I was bouncing, still.  Ready to take it on again.  I was kind of laughing as I did.  Kind of impressed.  (Lest you think I'm trying to create an impression that I'm something I'm not - full truth - I was running nearly 18-minute miles, when doing that hill - I'm only a rock star as compared to MYSELF, not as compared to the general running community.  But that's okay.  I'm still impressed!)

But, funny thing:  I had turned my phone down, last night, while listening to a podcast and not wanting to disturb my friends.  I hadn't remembered to turn it back up.  So, I heard the MapMyRun app on my iPhone announce the end of mile one..very, very quietly.  I pulled it out of my pocket, but with no glasses on, I managed to turn it only DOWN, not up.  So I had no little coach voice telling me my split times and such for the entire rest of my time out there.  I just had to run around and run around until I thought it had maybe been long enough.  

Which is why I finished at under 5 miles.  I was concerned about not being late for work, so I ran back to my car...and that was when I discovered it had been a short run.

Another bonus:  my feet didn't hurt after.  I assume that was partly the rest over the weekend, and partly the shorter run.  All I know is, usually on run days, my feet hurt like heck all the way until bedtime.  Sometimes a couple of Aleve will send the worst of the pain away.  But it's pretty stubborn pain - it doesn't leave without  fight.  But today...my feet didn't hurt AT ALL.  Not even in the shower, after I got in from the run.  CRAZY STUFF!

Tomorrow is an off-day for the run.

Wednesday, I'm considering trying to run Augie hill twice.  While it is shorter than Brady Street hill, I concluded today that it is definitely steeper.  I suspect running it twice might make me puke.

We'll see if I work up the nerve to try it!

Two more runs this week - three runs for each of the next 2 weeks.  That makes 8 runs before the Bix.  

Gotta make 'em count. 

queen of the hill

Dear Life,

I just ran up Brady Street hill, TWICE IN THE SAME MORNING, on a Monday, even.

Whatever you throw at me today, life, I already won.  

The end.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

this training for the BIX business is fun

I broke the 6-mile barrier today for running without stopping or walking.  I didn't PLAN to.  The thing is, I'm trying to stay up around or over 5.5 miles, and usually I have to weave around the neighborhood AFTER Augie hill to add some distance.  To be honest, I don't FEEL like adding distance once I've run that hill...I just want to go home.  So, I added distance BEFORE the hill, and I made sure a good portion of that distance was on an incline.  And the accidental result was I passed 6 miles, by the time I got home.

My slowest mile was 17.01.

My fastest mile was 15:50.

The other 4 miles were in the 16+ range.  

So the only thing that could have made me happier than just breaking the 6 mile barrier would have been if I'd have also had a mile in under 15 minutes.  

Next goal!  :-) 

Friday, June 21, 2013

an ugly run is still a run

It was an ugly, ugly run morning.

First, I didn't want to get out of bed.  REALLY, REALLY didn't want to.  Took some serious pushing to get me up and dressed and out the door, and all along, I was trying to find reasons not to run.

Then my foot thought it might hurt.  But I stopped and loosed the laces, and that helped, much to my wanting-to-go-back-to-bed disappointment.  

The air was thick and muggy...felt like it added 20 pounds to me.  Talk about resistance. 

The street I take out to 30th is worse than any sidewalk, with its many broken layers and potholes. I tripped.  I did not fall.  That's good, because I might have come back home to bed, had I hit the ground less than a mile from home. 

Usually I don't get terribly sweaty until sometime during the 2nd mile.  I was wiping sweat frantically (to keep it from running into my eyes) within less than half a mile, and that never got better. 

The gnats were having a heyday.  Flying in my eyes, up my nose, buzzing in my ears.  I swallowed a few that I couldn't spit out.  Then one flew right into my throat, hitting a sensitive spot that sent me straight to gagging and retching.  This continued for most of mile 2, no matter how much I cleared my throat.  My body went into "producing mucous to repel it" mode, hardcore.  I finally had to blow my nose with my little mesh reflective vest, to avoid actually throwing up.  I was starting to panic - Augustana hill is early in mile 3, and I knew if I kept gagging like that while breathing harder, there WOULD be hurling.  Happily, it cleared up just before I turned the corner to go up the hill.  

Only one of my 5+ miles was at a pace under 17 minutes this morning (ironically, the "fast" mile was the one where I was retching and gagging).  You might say my butt was dragging.  I was one big body ache by the time I got home.

Still, in the end, I did it. I chose love - movement, perseverance, consistency, when I could have just given up.  

That is the value of learning to love my body, right there.  

And that will pay off, come Bix day!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

home grown kefir

Awhile back, my mom gave me a starter to make kefir.  Maybe you remember me mentioning kefir here before.  It is a fermented milk drink - sort of yogurt-ish.   The starter for it is also called the "grain" - it looks like a little glob of cauliflower, but is actually, according to my shortcut Wikipedia, "a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars." 

Here's how I make my kefir each day:  put the grain in a mason jar.  Add a cup of skim milk.  Top the jar with a coffee filter, secured with a rubber band.  Put the jar on my shelf, away from direct sunlight (no, not in the refrigerator!)  In 12-24 hours it is thick.  I stir it and pour it through a mesh sieve, to strain out the grains - which I put in a clean mason jar with more milk for tomorrow.  The stuff I strained today, I put in the fridge with a lid.  the stuff I put in the fridge yesterday, I pull out, stir, ad some cinnamon and honey, and drink with my breakfast.  

Kefir is a slightly sour and somewhat bubbly drink.  Some days, it is kind of yummy with the honey and cinnamon stirred in.  Some days, not so much.  Either way, it is absolutely drinkable, though my mom does all sorts of creative things with fruit and a blender to make hers nicer - appealing, even.

So why do I drink milk I've let sit out at room temperature for a day (or sometimes more)?  Becaause it's crazy good for me!

  1. Probiotic - intensely so - up to 4 times more so than the kefir that can be purchased in the store.  Good for the gut.  
  2. Full of B vitamins and the elusive vitamin K2, which helps with metabolizing calcium.  Also full of calcium and phosphorus.  Good for the bones. 
  3. Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-tumor in effect.
In other words, it's like taking a preventative medicine, almost, as far as I can tell.  

And couldn't be easier to make.  I recommend!  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

lessons from running, for life

I have been running for about 2 years.  One thing I have noticed for sure:  the discipline and practice of running regularly lends itself to all sorts of lessons for life. 

Decide in advance, if you want to be consistent.  This morning, there was resistance in me.  I woke up considering reasons (read: excuses) not to run.  It is very easy to come up with perfectly reasonable sounding rationale to skip a run, most any day.  When I was first at this, I had to trick myself.  I had to do stuff like: 

  • make my bed the very instant I got out of it, before I even went the the bathroom, in order to help discourage me from deciding to get back in bed
  • lay out my clothes the night before, to avoid becoming overwhelmed with clothing decisions and giving up on the run
  • get dressed as fast as I was able, and push myself out the door before I could think twice about skipping
  • never turn around to go back inside once I had stepped outside, even if I realized I was missing something - too easy to sit down and decide not to go
  • write a blog, so if I bailed out, I would have to say so and feel embarrassed

By deciding ahead in those little ways, I managed to push, pull, cajole, and otherwise manipulate myself into doing the right thing, even if I didn't feel like it.  After doing it long enough, it became more an engrained habit - something I don't WANT to avoid.  Still, lots of mornings I make my bed before I go to the bathroom, and I push myself out the door before I can decide to think about it. 

Improve in small increments.  Starting running by using the C25K (Couch to 5K) method was brilliant.  With the mixture of walking and just short bursts of jogging, I could manage, and the improvement was so gradual over the weeks that I got better without being in pain.  Though I took a BIG jump in increment re: the distance I run recently (from 2.8ish miles to 5ish miles per run), within that framework I am only pushing for small increments of improvement.  Adding a hill here or there.  Pushing myself first to get under 17 minutes per mile, then 16...and today I finally reached my current goal of getting ONE of my miles (not all 5 of them..just ONE) to be under 15 minutes per mile.  Truth:  I shouted for joy when my phone reported that goal being met this morning.  It doesn't feel heroic, aiming at small increments of improvement.  It often feels like "not enough."  But the little successes along the way carry me much further than when I used to make giant goals that would consistently turn out to be unreachable before I ran out of steam. 

It's an inside job.  I am very surprised at how much of running happens in my head.  I mean...what a physical thing to do.  Feet to pavement.  Swinging arms.  Breathing.  I wouldn't have guessed that the MENTAL is such a big part of the equation.  When I want to pick up the pace, I do it from inside my head.  I just repeat the word push push push push inside my head.  That's all.  And my posture improves, my steps lengthen and quicken, my pace picks up.  I never think about my leg muscles or push harder with my butt muscles or whatever.  Just the word and the gathering of force, there inside my head, and somehow my body responds to that in a way whose connection I do not yet really feel. 

The contest is all within me.  I don't need to compare myself to others as I run - that is almost sure to leave me feeling discouraged.  I stay focused on doing better than I did before, and ALL THE TIME I am excited about running, tickled with my progress, pleased with my body.  It's okay that others can run twice as fast as me, easily.  It's okay that others are about half my body weight.  It's all okay.  The contest is all within me.  As long as I am striving to better where I am in comparison to where I have been, it's a win.  It's enough.

Oh, there's more, but it's past my bedtime.  Those are some good lessons that I carry forward, beyond my running, into my writing, into my workplace, into many other realms. 

It's good stuff. 

(This was yesterday's blog - I didn't have a decent internet connection last night when I wrote it.)

Friday, June 7, 2013

recovering faster

Didn't fall this morning.  :-)

Tried a different route, going down 17th street hill and through downtown so that I could run back up the 20th street hill. In my wanderings to try and make sure I got a full 5 miles in, I accidentally got 5.8 miles in.  WOO HOO!!! Bring on the Bix!

My body is recovering more quickly from my runs these days than it used to.  When I first bumped up to 5 mile runs, I was just flat out TIRED for the rest of the day, not to mention severe foot and leg pain for the rest of the day.  Part of the solution is I'm more consistent about taking some Ibuprofen or Aleve after the run.  That helps with the pain part.  But the TIRED part - my body is managing that.  I am less and less tired after each run.  

We really are fearfully and wonderfully made.   

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

if you don't like braggin'...skip this one

It was another adventure run this morning.  Having conquered one of the 38th street hills, I decided to run the opposite direction and take a whack at another 38th street hill...the one at Augustana College.  It's still not as big as Brady, but it's nicely close in quality and size.  

Things that made it an adventure:

Coming down 30th street hill, the stoplight halfway down turned yellow right as I stepped into the intersection.  Not wanting to have to stop for the cars there waiting for their green, I gave myself a giant mental PUSH and HOLY COW I was surprised at how fast I scooted through that intersection.  Felt like I knocked 20 years off of me in those steps.  I find it interesting - fascinating, actually, that going faster is about a mental push, not a focus on straining muscles.  That is not what I always thought.  

At the bottom of the hill, down across from the railroad tracks, I fell.  Third fall ever while running.  And...like the other 2...it was on a sidewalk.  DARN SIDEWALKS!  Most of the impact was on my right knee and hip and the heels of my hands...I felt myself going down this time.  It was a slower fall.  

You know those annoying people who gotta show you their owies, like no one else ever got hurt before?  Yeah.  I'm one of those.

The good news was I was able to get right back up and start walking quickly enough that I can't find the stop on my run readout.  And I was back to running within a few seconds. 

That just made me mad, basically, and determined that the Augie hill would not defeat me.  Turning right, up, up, up I went.  Did I slow down?  YES.  Did I stop or even walk?  NO.  I think you know what that moment is called, even without me naming its obnoxious name.  :-)

When I got near the top of the hill, it started a nice, light rain.  That was a relief - it was 61 degrees out and I needed the cooling down by then.  Not miserable rain.  Just enough to make me almost laugh at the trifecta of badass factor points I earned today:  fall, hill, rain.  WIN!  And to top it all off, only one of my miles (the first) was over 17 minutes, and also one of them was under 16. 

I can't believe I ever thought running wasn't fun.