Posts Tagged ‘health’

5 Things Making my Training Easier Right Now

Let me start this by making two important points:

I am a newbie.  I’ve only been working on my running skills – make that skillz – for about 6 months, and I know that there are a dozen things I haven’t learned yet.  Maybe even 13.

I am serious about adding cool accessories to my hobbies.  I can’t always spend tons of dough, but I get a serious thrill over finding a great deal on something that I’ve researched and I know will add either fun or ease to my running.

Wait, there’s a third thing!

No add-on in the world beats the simple act of putting on a pair of shoes and taking the time to get out there.  And incidentally, no add-on is going to do a damn bit of good if it just sits by your shoes in the entryway while you watch American Idol.  Basically, the best thing to do is to get out there and move it!  But since shopping is fun too, and I like to share ideas of things that have worked for me, I thought this list might be handy.

That being said, there are some things that I’m really glad I bought and have done me some good as an outdoor runner:

1. Proper Shoes

For most of us, this is a no-brainer.  A couple of years ago, I had decided that I wanted to start walking for more than the two minutes it took me to get from my front door to my car.  I went to a Twin Cities running store, a pretty well-known one, and from the moment I walked in the door I knew things were going to be challenging.  It was a not-so-great vibe, you know?  A sort of Sigh, another pudgy woman who thinks she’s going to be a runner type vibe coming from the tall, zero body fat 20 year old working the counter.  Needless to say, this did not inspire tons of happiness in making a major purchase.  They were perplexed when my foot was too wide for one of the trendiest women’s shoe, so they fit me in a men’s Saucony shoe.  I found out later that this was not a great solution, and consequently I went through a crap-ton of shin and leg pain before I finally put those shoes aside and went out to get a proper pair.

My cousin is also a runner, and she recommended a running store near her.  After the first 5 minutes, I knew that this place was a better fit for me than the first, in more ways than one.  Shoe after shoe came out for me to try on and run in on the store treadmill (I found out that I have a neutral foot after the store clerk watched me run and looked at my old shoes) until one was found that we were both convinced would get me through the next few months of putting in 22+ miles a week.

I swear, the fact that it was bright pink had nothing to do with me buying it.


I’m not that girl who had to be adorned in pink dresses as a child and I spent a lot of time in my teens trying to blend.  But these shoes fit me so well!  I’m learning to embrace the whole Hey!  Here I am! thing they have going on.

The Karhu Flow Fulcrum Ride

They are the Karhu (try it, it’s fun to say!  Car-huuuuu!) Flow Fulcrum Ride in Russian Pink.  There is this great feel to it, the raised heel kind of leans you forward and the mesh upper makes it super cool and comfortable.  I had to go up a half size (like the shoes aren’t noticeable enough, I had to get them bigger??), but now the fit is perfect and my shoes are one less thing I have to worry about when I’m getting ready for my long run of the week.

Take the time to go to a Running Retailer, I swear to you it will be worth it.  Shoes are one of the few things that we have to spend money on, so just suck it up, save up, and do it.

2. Hydration Belt

Okay, I know that a lot of runner hate to carry extra things on them when they run.  One guy said to me “I only bring water if I’m running more than 12 miles.  Even then, sometimes I just have my friends meet me with water.”.  Well, that is fantastic that he has friends that are standing by, waiting to help him reach his running goals – and that he is apparently a camel with no need for water.  I need a drink break every once in a while.  I run when other people are working or asleep.  I carry my phone and I hate armbands.  I needed a hydration belt.

I only wear it for runs longer than 6 miles, and I bought one with only 1 water container.  I know that someday I will need to add another container or buy another belt, but there was a helluva sale at TJ Maxx and this is what came home with me. (By the way, in case you didn’t know this, TJ Maxx and Marshalls have some great deals on running gear!)

Based on what my friends had told me they liked and after looking at all the online reviews, I knew I wanted to get a Nathan belt.  Luckily, that was what I found!  Any yes, mine is purple.  Apparently I’m the girl who runs with rainbows.

Nathan Hydration Swift Belt

So far, I have really loved it.  It holds my phone and a gel or energy chews in the zipper pocket, and so far the 10 oz container has been enough for me.  The little tabs on the front have bib holders for race day, and I haven’t had any problems with it moving around or riding up when I run.  You get used to the extra motion by your booty after a few paces (I mean it’s not bouncing all over the place, but you can feel that it’s there), and having things with you that you need makes it all worth it.  Love it.

3. Keep-the-girls-in-line Sports Bra

One day I was running down the street and I kept noticing that when I ran by men, there was a lot more checking out going on than I was used to.  Hey!  I thought, I must really be getting in shape!  Yeah, it could have been that…or the fact that the girls were getting a little too rambunctious in a sports bra that wasn’t up to par.  That is when I figured out that you can’t just go into a store and buy whatever sports bra looks cute and is on sale.  I mean, you CAN, but then you get the creepy ogling of the men, and the stretching of the boobs, and all kinds of bad things that you don’t want.  You are going to need a high impact sports bra, don’t kid yourself.

This one is the best and most comfy one I’ve found (that isn’t ridiculously expensive):

Moving Comfort Fiona Sports Bra

It’s the Moving Comfort Fiona bra, and it rules the school.  It has adjustable straps, comes in more colors than just black or white, has a back closure (no more sweaty contortions to get it off after a run!) and holds the girls down without making a horrible uni-boob.  I got 2, and as I said with making a good shoe purchase, it’s just one less thing to worry about.

4. Energy gels and chews for when the miles are starting to suck

Actually, for the mile before the miles start to suck, as it takes about 12 minutes to feel better after you use one.  This section is still a work in progress for me, I’m trying out different flavors and types that I like.  Anyone have any recommendations?

I didn’t start using them until I was running more than 7 miles, and I know that lots of people don’t bother with them until they get past 10 miles.  For me, I felt like I was going to punk-out and collapse on the street after mile 6 one day, and it seemed like a good time to give them a try.  Maybe once I get more used to running longer distances, I won’t use them as soon.

Anyway, I’ve tried the Honey Stinger Energy Chews in Limeade and a couple of the Power Bar gels so far, and I have a stash of others that I’m going to try out in the next few weeks.  They both did what they were supposed to, and for a 7.5 miler and a 9 miler, I can say that my last mile was the fastest one after using either kind.  Bonus!  On the negative side, the Power Bar gels had a serious Holy crap, that is a weird taste! thing going on, but the aftertaste was a little more tolerable (I tried chocolate and berry.  Not at the same time :)).  I’ve heard of some people mixing the gels with water, perhaps that’s why the taste was so…intense.  The energy chews were way more pleasing to eat, but there was kind of a storage issue with using them – once the bag is opened you either need to down all 10 of them at once or have a place to carry them where things won’t get sticky.  I used the pocket of the belt and just kept reaching back for a couple here and there after mile 6.

5. ___________ or maybe ____________

Okay, I don’t really have a solid fifth thing.  It’s just that a list of five is so much more satisfying than a list of four, and there were a couple of things  I was debating over, but they weren’t so easy to define.  Would it help if I gave you some of the contenders?

Like music.  For me, I really rely on music when I need to go farther than 3 miles.  On Sunday mornings when the sun isn’t quite up, I get a kick out of running while listening to American Roots on our local station 89.3.  Kind of a rootsy/bluesy/Americana twang thing.  And I’m always tweaking the playlist on my MP3 player – I’ve discovered that music I normally would make fun of can make great running music!  Right now my favs are Katy Perry, Lady Sovereign, La Roux, the faster P!nk stuff, anything by Foo Fighters, Flo Rida, and this great Gigamesh song made about that guy who was blissing out over rainbows.  Have you heard it?  It’s amazing.  If you are ever in my town and you see a woman running in pink shoes with a shit-eating grin on her face, it’s me and this song is playing.

The other thing I was mulling over was safety items: an ID bracelet with your name and contact info, a phone (I actually have needed it a couple of times), and unless you run to the same spot and back each time, some sort of GPS unit.  These things are super important to me, but it’s not such a fun list item.  Maybe fun is relative…like is it fun to have great shoes but no way to get help when you screw up your ankle by looking up at birds and missing the big stupid hole?

I bought one of those Road ID bracelets the other day, and I know it makes my husband feel better – especially when I go out when it’s dark and when he knows that sometimes I run on the road.  I picked the slim version, and bought a few different colored bands so I wouldn’t get bored with the same old thing.  This is why I don’t get a tattoo.

I chose to put my name, a couple of contact phone numbers, my blood type, and an allergy I have.  There was this option where you could add an extra line and include an inspirational saying that motivated you, but all I could think of was the EMT who was going to be reading my bracelet as I lay all messed up and gory on the road, and thinking about the irony of me wearing an inspirational slogan like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “I am a survivor”.  Couldn’t do it.

So I hope this list helped you a little if you are looking for things to spend money on and were wondering what other people have been buying.  If not, then hopefully it was a tiny bit entertaining and made you smile a little.  If not, then I don’t know what else to tell you.  Maybe just go for a run?


I know what I’ll be doing for the next 10 months…

I had a realization of magnitude today at approximately 4:30 am.  In the dark early morning quiet of my bedroom, the cat sleeping by my head and the humidifier gently whirring, my eyes were thrown open and I was seized with a combination of panic and fear that only comes from reality slapping you directly across the face. 

I’m going to be running a 10k race in four weeks.

This morning was the morning that I lay in bed and made the connection that the race I had signed up for was no longer a floaty non-specific goal. Oh, it’s called a Polar Dash…isn’t that charming?  What a great thing to do sometime this winter!  It will get me some nice fresh air when I get bored of being inside, I had thought. 

But now the 10k was very present, very holy-shit-this-just-got-real.   I have four weeks to get it together for the race.  In January.  In Minnesota.  How had this all happened?  What was I thinking?  Had someone slipped me a drug at the exact moment that I was wandering around Facebook and saw my cousin’s announcement of  “Just signed up for the Monster Dash Series for 2012!”  and though Yeah!  That’s it!   Her posting had intrigued me, and I did some more digging on the  Team Ortho Monster Series website. I was blown away by the idea of signing up for a series of races that would take me through almost an entire year of goals to reach and training to keep me occupied.  I thought Whoa, what is this? A race series?  With tons of swag?  And medals

As a person who's never gotten any kind of sporting medals, these are my catnip.

I’m all over this, this is my wintertime thing.  Sign me up. 

And they did.  Or rather, I did, right after I gave them my credit card number. 

Now, before this whole thing starts to spiral out of control into a regret tailspin, let me just say:  I would have wanted to run in these races anyway when they came up on the calendar.  I would have seen the announcements in my email, and gone and registered for them at $35-$40 a pop like everyone else.  So it really didn’t cost me any more to sign up for all of them at once (and let’s not forget there are medals!  The lucite case only comes with the race series!  And the gear!  Don’t forget the gear!), it was just kind of a serious hit up front.

I’m not really sure what possessed me to do it.  It could be that it  happened right around Black Friday and I was itching to spend.  It could be because I had finished my second 5k with a slight improvement in time and I was feeling kind of like Yeah, things are just getting better and better…I should just keep giving myself big goals to reach, because obviously I can do anything I set my mind to.  Which, in theory, seems like a healthy thing to tell yourself – until you realize that your goals are fast approaching, the pay-up or shut-up phase has arrived, and you had better get your ass in gear. 

I mean, look at the swag they’re giving out!  Can you blame me?

So What do you Get? Well besides the bragging rights of finishing a fantastic race, Team Ortho Foundation prides itself on having great gear that we give to our participants. Some items you will receive early, but most you will get at the specific event (see Series SWAG Schedule below).2012 Event Gear for all race participants:
Polar Dash – polar fleece (unisex), medal, chip-timed for 10K and Half Marathon
Get Lucky — full zip hoodie (men’s & women’s sizing), medal, chip-timed
Minneapolis Marathon—performance shirt (men’s and women’s cut)
Minneapolis Duathlon — Bike Jersey
Monster Dash— Unisex Monster Dash shirt for 5K & medal ; Male/Female-cut 1/2 zip jacket for the Half Marathon and 10 MIle, plus a finisher’s medal.Plus Exclusive Series SWAG! People who sign up for the series get an added bonus:  the choice of a race series jacket or a Lucite display for your your 2012 medals.

I ended up signing up the next 10 months of my fitness life to:

10k Polar Dash, Jan 1st

7k Get Lucky!, March 17th

Minneapolis Half Marathon (Yep.  13.1 miles.), June 3rd

Minneapolis Duathlon, August 26th (run 5k, bike 18 miles, run 5k.  I’m looking for relay team members for this one…I haven’t quite reached this level of self-delusion yet)

10 mile Twin Cities Monster Dash, October 29th (The promo trailer for this one is pretty cool, it may have been one of those things that directed my mouse to the Register Here tab)

Alright, so I spent a little time in denial earlier today.  But now I’ve flown through the other phases and gotten right to Acceptance!  I have four weeks to get myself in decent condition to run 6.2 miles without hurting or embarrassing myself.  It’s not completely far-fetched, I have done a couple 5k’s, and I have done a handful of five mile runs around the neighborhood.  But I’ve been pretty negligent on the cross-training front, and the losing-weight-eating-healthy front. 


It’s time to get serious now.  No more Yep, I’m totally going to eat all that pizza on my plate, I’m running, it’s fine! 

No more  Hey. I’m running.  I don’t want to wear myself out by weight lifting, too!  And adding yoga?  What am I, a machine?

I spent money on this race series, more than I really should have (right before Christmas), and it would be a disgusting waste to half-ass my way through all of them just because it’s easier to sit, and eat, and let myself be happy with only achieving as much as I’ve already done.   I’m pretty sure I can do more, I can be stronger, I can run with fewer walk-breaks, I can finish these races in a way that I know I’ve done the best I can do at this point in my fitness life.

I think I might need to make a training calendar.

5 Miles in the Woods – My Run in Pictures

There is a place that is a five-minute drive from my home that makes me remember why I began to run.

Every once in a while, I get too caught up in going faster or farther, and I begin to lose the spark I had when I was first beginning to run.  It starts to feel like a job; and not only that, it starts to feel like a job I am not very well qualified for.

When those times come, and I begin to think about giving up the whole sport altogether, some little voice reminds me that it might be time to go somewhere…unpaved.  And I get in my car, and I head to Lebanon Hills Regional Park to get back to the center of things.

Today was one of the last days in Minnesota when I could run outside before the snow comes, and when I found myself with a couple of hours without children or errands, I changed into my gear and got myself ready for a nice long run in the woods.  The temps here are in the 30’s, so I wear a long-sleeved tech shirt with a cotton T over it (to wick away sweat and keep me drier), and a light windbreaker over it.  I don’t go out anymore without my hat, and usually I add an ear-covering headband for good measure.

One of the really fantastic things about this park is that it is full of trails (and maps), so you can decide how energetic you feel each time you come and modify your distance.  Feeling kind of worn-out?  One lap around Jensen lake is about 2 miles.  Don’t want to do laps?  There is a path out and back that winds through a series of small lakes that will run about 4 miles.  Feeling really intense?  You could find trails to run on without repeating your path for 15 or 20 miles.  I haven’t quite worked up to that level, but give me time!

I recently finished a 5k in White Bear Lake called Fast Before the Feast – an event that is put on by Tri-Fitness, and after donating my bag of groceries to the local food shelf I found out that I had won some super awesome K-Swiss Trail runners in a drawing!  I am generally not one of those people who wins things constantly, so I was pretty stoked about the whole thing 🙂  After I went in to the store to claim them, I found out that they are great for trails and for snow, so I’m looking forward to using them when the weather turns…challenging.  So today was the inaugural run with the trail shoes, and I’m happy to report that they fit amazingly.  No blisters, no weird rubbing pain, nothing but excellent grip on those gravelly paths.  If anyone out there likes to run on dirt, I can’t say enough good things about them!  I also can’t say enough good things about Tri-Fitness’s store.  Not only do they have great drawing prizes (thanks again, TF!), I didn’t feel like a total imposter walking in and looking at running gear.  My experiences thus far in the fitness store world haven’t been what I would call welcoming (to my 30 something non-buff self), so I was really grateful that the person who was helping me actually looked me in the eye and gave me genuine tips for improving my running rather than just writing me off as another jogging suburbanite housewife.  Even though I live 30 minutes from the store, I’ll probably get my running shoes from them for as long as I live here.  I’m not getting anything out of recommending them, I just know how disheartening it can be to have a salesperson treat you like you are a waste of the time they could be spending with “real athletes”.  So thumbs up, Tri-Fitness.

Look, here’s the shoes in field action!

Anyway, I knew that if I wanted to be able to enjoy the path before it gets itself covered in snow, today was the day.  I headed out, knowing that I wanted to cover about 5 miles and get around one of the larger lakes.  There are some serious hills out here, more of the constant up-and-down variety, and less of the gently rolling kind.  So my pace was slower than normal, but I looked at it as strength training 🙂  (and stopping to take pictures wasn’t really helping either).

I really love running on dirt trails more than anything else.  Treadmills remind me of that summer that I did temp work stuffing envelopes, and running on sidewalks near busy road puts stress knots in my shoulders.  To get outside, away from all the traffic and noise and crowds, that is the one place where I really feel alive and awake.

I love the patches of cattails by the water, the changes the trail makes as it goes from sand to gravel to dirt, and looking out for roots and holes to jump over.  I love that every person whose path I cross seems just as pleased as I am to be there, like we are all pretty happy with ourselves for finding this place and making the time just to be there at that moment.

I love that there are patches of path that have been made into bridges, as a safeguard against flooding lakes.  The curving lines of the paths against the jagged lines of the trees is something that I don’t think I will ever grow tired of seeing as I come around a bend.

Away from the housing developments and suburbs, you can actually see what nature looks like as the seasons change in a big-picture sort of way.  When I first began to run here in the summer, the lakes were full of ducks and zipping dragonflies, and now there are mounds of beaver dams all along the shoreline.

Even though the bright colors of fall are gone now, I still think it’s so beautiful out here.  Things never look in pictures the way they do in real life, and that is certainly true in this case.  I wish I had the stamina and the knees to be out here every day, but I guess I feel happy just knowing that I will be able to come here as long as I decide to keep exercising outdoors.

There is a bridge about 3 miles into this run, and the first time I ever crossed it I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the other side.  There are beams missing, and neither the beginning nor the end of the bridge actually touch the ground – it becomes a kind of stunted diving board that you jump over, hoping that today won’t be the day that the sucker finally snaps.  It’s bowed and uneven, and it creaks as I cross it.  Even though I am pretty sure that I will end up falling through one of these days, I still smile when I see it.  I’m not sure why.

I hope that there are places that you can go to feel happy and alive, especially when you are making the time to exercise.  It shouldn’t feel like a job, or a punishment, no matter what it is you like to do.

I can’t wait to get out here again, even after the snow comes.

Should I be a Juicer? The Food Saga continues…

The other night, I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” on Netflix.  I had been hearing from a lot of people that this movie was some kind of amazing experience, and people who had seen it were suddenly changed from the pizza-consuming, fast food addicts I had known them to be into vegans who lived mostly on the juice concoctions they made from their shiny new juicers.  For that kind of transformation to happen, this movie must be pretty stellar, I thought.  It needs to be watched.  So, after the husband left for his night-shift job, I put the kids to bed and got myself all settled with the ‘mote.  I was ready to be persuaded and educated.

I was already mostly on board with the vegan thing as it was, what with my lactose/gluten intolerances, my newly vegetarian husband, and the piles of books I had been checking out from the library about making myself into the healthiest person on the planet.  From Eat Right for Your Type to Sugar-Busters, I began collecting enough food information that I could tinker and toy with my diet for the rest of my life.

The piles of books by my bed can make walking in the dark challenging

*With my A negative blood type, meat and dairy were making me sick – I should be a vegetarian.

*Warm lemon water in the morning would clean out my kidneys.

*Pineapple would speed up my metabolism.

*I was a sugar addict who was totally enslaved to the roller coaster that was my blood-glucose level.

*My lack of a gallbladder meant that high fat foods needed to be given up for good unless I wanted to have shooting abdominal pains for a few hours.

*My TMJ muscle spasms were making me re-think the amount of coffee and chocolate I was eating each day.

I found there was a book for every ailment I had, every kind of food adaptation I wanted to make, and every mood I was in.  There were unlimited amounts of things to learn, and I spent a lot of my time trying most of them out.

But really, when it was all boiled down, what I really learned from reading all those books and watching all those films is this: if you have enough time and are looking for a project to consume lots of mental energy, start looking into improving your diet.  It’s a never-ending balancing act between knowing things and actually doing things, with a dash of emotional attachment sprinkled on top.   For most people, women especially, you can’t usually just say “Eat the correct foods and be nourished”.  This whole dance begins between you and your self-esteem, and deprivation, and how you feel about your worth, and the always present shame spiral that comes from not following your new plan to a T.  It can be very binding, if you let yourself get really bogged down in the “rules”.  I had to go all the way down that road to realize it was probably better to get off of it altogether and give myself a giant break.

So anyway, all of this background is to say that I have been a target audience member for healthy eating styles for a hell of a long time, and I while I was open to learning about the benefits of juicing, I was reluctant to put my all behind another fad that would be unsustainable.

I watched the movie that night, and it was pretty good.  I got the message loud and clear, I believed in all the things that Joe Cross was doing, and I even called my mother to ask her if she still had her juicer stashed in the back of her cupboard.  There were parts of the movie that were pretty heavy on the cheese factor, it was a little too fast and free with the cartoon depictions (a la Super Size Me), but he seemed really sincere and I could identify with his desire to be healthy and free of his medical ailments.  He seemed to be genuine in his desire to make people healthier, and the premise of the vegan eating style made sense to me.  It essentially boils down to eating all fruits and vegetables (around a 70-30 veggie-to-fruit ratio), mostly from juices.  He spent the entire documentary drinking only juices for 60 days, and of course lost a shit-ton of weight.  After looking at his website, it looks like he does have plans for people who aren’t going to be on it for so long, and for people who want to eat actual food along with the juices.

So why am I so hesitant?  The juicer is here, mom brought it over and we tried it out.   I found out that carrot juice really stains.

Maybe it’s because the holidays are coming, and we all know it’s a dumb-ass move to diet around the holidays.  Maybe it’s because I know I will get through the “reboot” just fine, but I’m worried about what kind of crazy behavior I will have once it’s over.  Somehow I see myself diving into a pile of donuts – not even the gluten-free kind.  From the posts of the people on the reboot, they say all the food cravings end after 4 days, and that they have never felt so in control of their eating.  Maybe that’s the part that’s holding me back…it’s all starting to lean a little too closely to eating disorder-ville for my comfort.  Am I crazy for thinking that?  I mean, on the one hand, I can totally understand the correctness of eating just fruits and veggies for a short period of time to clean out your body and help get rid of all the junk we have clogged up in our systems.  But I’m getting a little hung up on the idea that they should be juiced only.  Why am I throwing away all the fiber and cellulose that is left in the bottom of my juicer bin?

Maybe I am laying some of my own food struggles on this movie, and it really has nothing to do with this guy’s food plan.  There was a scene where he is maybe a week in to the juicing plan, and he goes into a pizzeria.  He stands in the doorway, juice in hand, and talks about the smells of the pizza shop – the dough, the cheese, the meats – with a wistful look on his face.  You can tell he is longing for a slice.  He finally says, “I better get out of here”, and leaves.  That scene may as well have come from the 18,000 diets I have put myself on, and unhealthy way that I treated myself all those years, the cycle of deprivation followed by bingeing.  But that was just me, my way of making food an emotional issue, and it really has nothing to do with this man or his movie.

Maybe I will try adding juices into my diet, for a meal a day.  Maybe I can try to go on a full reboot once the holidays are over.  In the meantime, I probably just need to get back to working on treating my body well – it wasn’t a pretty sight around here over Halloween.   Besides, if I never started using the juicer, after all, I would never have known that I really like carrot juice with fresh ginger and a squirt of lemon.  It can’t be that bad.

Tomorrow I run my first 5K

I haven’t posted here in a while.  It seems like time has been going so much faster since the beginning of September, and I feel like I’m having to be really picky about the things I chose to do in my “down-time” (which really translates into an exhausted clean up of the house after the kids go to bed, followed by an hour of reading, tv, or blogging).

When my boys went back to school, my sickness karma kicked in and decided it was time to make up for all those months that I enjoyed being cold-free during the summer.  It was a doozy of an illness, too!  Full on hacking cough,

This is how my soul felt.

fever, stuffed nose, the works.  I totally lost the ability to smell or taste, which was not the end of the world, but made cooking food edible for others a challenge.

It also totally halted my active life.  No lifting, running, yoga (upside down poses sounded like torture) for a week and a half.  I had just finished Stage 1 of

NROLFW, and even though I was excited to get going on a new stage – begone prone jackknife! -, it just wasn’t going to happen.  So I laid down a lot, become friends with my heating pad and pillow, and caught up on missed episodes of Sons of Anarchy.

Just as I was coming out of this cold-stupor, a friend of mine asked me to run with her in the Twin Cities Marathon 5k, coming up on October 1st.  I said “Yes!  That sounds great!”, and thought it would be a good motivator to get me up and off the couch again.  What I didn’t factor in was how close it was to October 1st.  You see, one of the things about being a (mostly) stay at home mom is that you shed the need to stay on top of things like dates and calendars – unless it has something to do with your kids needing to bring something to school.   So in my head I felt like it was still weeks away from the 5k, but in real-time it was only about 10 days away.  Ten days away after a long sickness and an interruption to my exercise program.  But I didn’t really put together how far behind I was until I went for my first post-cold run.  Let’s just say, it was a wake up call to how tired I had gotten and how quickly things can start to go backwards when you take a workout break.

Fast forward a week, and tomorrow is the big day!  I’ve been running every other day, about three miles each time, and I started Stage 2 of NROLFW.  The runs have been getting better and better, but I really wish I had another week to get myself comfortable.  As of yesterday, I’m averaging about 14 minutes a mile, with a walking break thrown in about every three-quarter mile.  I’m hoping to be able to do the 5k in around 40-45 minutes, but I’m nervous!  It’s going to be hilly, it’s near our State Capital and I haven’t run this course before.  In fact, I’ve never run in any event before!  I totally have pre-event jitters (What if I can’t find parking? What if I forget my papers? What if I am late/can’t find it/get lost/wear the wrong clothes/etc/etc/etc).

 I’m starting to remember this feeling, it’s pretty similar to the one that sat like a brick in my stomach as a teenager in junior high gym class (performance/body anxiety and just hoping to god that I don’t come in last).  I realize that this line of thinking is really un-productive, and so I’ve been countering it with thoughts like:

  • I’ve never done anything like this before;  just by signing up and showing up to run I have accomplished something.
  • I never thought I could run at all, much less in an actual event, and doing this 5k is just the beginning of my fitness future.
  • As long as I finish the race upright, and feeling like I enjoyed challenging myself, it has been a huge success.

And finally, this one (a little less optimistic, but still helpful):

  • Just assume now that I will be last.  Get over the fear of it, and if there is any other result besides coming in last, it will be like a special bonus.

    I'll be part of this crowd tomorrow!

I’ve been reading 5k running books.  It may not have been the best plan, because it gave me a clearer picture on how far behind in training I am, but it did teach me some important tips for tomorrow.

  1. Don’t eat anything too heavy the night before.  It sits in your stomach for a half day, and who wants that for a morning run?
  2. Eat 2 hours before you run, but nothing too fatty or multi-grainy.  I’m thinking a small cup of coffee, a banana and maybe some toast.
  3. Bring some kind of replenishing drink, a protein and a carb to eat after it’s over.
  4. Just try to have fun and remember it’s my first time!

I hope it goes well. 

More than that, I hope I can chill out and just have a good time.  I signed up for this because it sounded fun and challenging, not because I thought I needed some special torture in my life.  8th grade gym class is over, and this is something I can do.  I got this.

My first time being a Gorilla Yogi

I have a friend named Heather who is living out the cool-urban-tatooed-pierced lifestyle that I always pined over in my adolescence but never quite made it into as an adult. 

This may be how I feel on the inside...but yeah, I didn't turn out to be that kind of girl.

It seems as thought I have been forever cast as the suburban friend to all nice hipsters and punks that cross my path, and I’m trying to learn to be cool with that instead of wishing I was a different kind of person. <Sigh.> 

 Anyway, this friend had mentioned to me that she was part of a group of people who met monthly and had entire yoga classes outside in really public areas of the twin cities – parks, busy streets downtown, zoos, anywhere!   They were called Gorilla Yogis, and the next meetup was in July at a very busy public park.  I immediately got all excited and wanted to jump right on that bandwagon – I love all these things! Yoga AND being outdoors AND non-mainstream activities?? I’m there.  But then I wondered….Am I going to feel secure enough to get out there in my spandex and join in with people who were probably going to be a lot more fit than me?  My old junior high gym class insecurities popped up, and my “doing physical things in front of people who are thinner than me” monster who has been following me since I was 13 woke up.  I suddenly felt disappointed and kind of tired. 

I thought about it for a few more days, and I realized that one of the major things I really dig about yoga is the ability to let my body dictate how far into the practice I am able to get.  That is to say, everyone who was going be at an event playing up how great yoga is was going to be working at their own pace and doing things as they could – it is a practice that centers on the self and your own improvements after all.   Also, I figured it was going to be pretty hard for anyone to be judgy or snooty when we all have our asses up in the air doing our best downward dog. So why not?  I decided to go, and my friend and I showed up on the day of the event with our yoga mats, our water bottles, and yes, our spandex. 

It was great. 🙂  The energy of the crowd was more focused on having fun and doing fantastic yoga in front of the packs of families and seniors walking by than it was on ranking their fellow yogis on how good or bad they looked or practiced.  It was, in fact, so supportive that I didn’t even get self-conscious when people would stop on the sidewalk and take pictures of us, or when old men would sit on park benches and watch the group of 50 or so people all standing with their hands in prayer pose.  I was good!  I felt happy to be there, and glad I knew how to do most of the poses from my workouts at home.

That is, until I did something crazy to my right leg.

I was happily moving from pose to pose, enjoying my flexibility and the camaraderie of group yoga, when something inside my hip got very mad and let me know about it.  Here, this is a picture of me at the event:

No.  Not the super fit woman in black leading the class.  Look again.



Yes, there I am in all my pink and black outdoor-yogi glory.  This pic was pre-injury, and I’m looking pretty relaxed and flexible here.

10 minutes later, as I was transitioning into Warrior 2 position, there was a loud and concerning *POP* that came from my right hip joint and I’m pretty sure I made a noise like “aaahck”.  Thank goodness I had already made it into the next pose, the shock of whatever my body had just done left me standing there with my arms spread out thinking “I wonder if I’m going to be able to stand up straight with everyone else when it’s time to move?”.  Luckily, I did manage myself out of the spread-legged pose as the class moved into a standing forward fall.  I had no idea what could have made the horrible sound… my hip joint? A tendon? A ligament? A hamstring? And why the pop?  I still have no idea.  But I do know that once the class was over and I was relaxing on my friend’s couch a few hours later, I was considerably more sore and stiff and sporting a noticeable limp when I got up to go home.  Pretty hot.

So now here I am, a month and a half later, and I am really missing my yoga!  I have tried to coax my body into it slowly by breaking out an old favorite yoga DVD, but that right hamstring is having nothing to do with it.  My left leg, no problem!  I can stretch and bend and lunge all day long.  But that right one…well, she’s still mad at me for trying to do yoga on lumpy grass and overextending myself.  I can’t decide if it’s better for me to try to stretch it slowly and work my way back into it, or leave it the hell alone and just focus on the nice easy movements that come with running.  It appears that moving my leg forward and backwards = no problem; moving in any sort of leg spreading/triangle shaped pose = massive ouches.   Maybe pilates is the answer!  I remember a nice stretchy pilates band in my workout room, that sounds just about perfect for a gimpy leg.   Hmmm…

There is another Gorilla Yogi event coming up, and I hope I will be able to go.  But if not, I can’t wait until next spring when I can start it all over again.  If things go as planned, I will be a smaller version of myself and I will try to remember to take things nice and easy so as never to hear a horrible pop coming from any part of me again.

Today’s Running Progress!! 10 minutes faster :)

This morning I woke up extra early because I wanted to go for a run before the kids woke up.  I knew that it had been about a week since I had time to get a run in, and I really wanted to get out there before the afternoon heat came – one less reason to have an excuse to stay home and sit on the couch.  So I dragged myself out of bed just as the sun was coming up, and drove to a nearby lake armed with my water bottle and my HRM.

Here’s something I found out: it’s so beautiful outside in the early morning!  There was a fog hanging over the lake that hadn’t been burned away by the sun yet, and it was just me, the rabbits, and the early morning birds on the path.  I started out with a fast walk, for around 3 minutes.  Then  did something I haven’t been able to do until today – I ran all the way around the lake!  It was a big deal for me.  Continue reading