Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marathon Check In

Yes, I know. My husband told me over and over "you're going to burn out on your blog if you keep posting every day."

I assumed that he was purely motivated from his jealousy that he couldn't come up with daily blog posts for his own blog. HA! I'm a better blogger than you!!!

Maybe I was for a few weeks, but then I became a lazy, or rather, school started, so I stopped posting. I justified it by saying that the purpose of the blog was to motivate me to get back into steady running, and since it served its purpose, I no longer intended to write posts. Well, now I want to post again to really get myself revved up for the next phase of my training. I have 10 total weeks until my marathon, about 6 weeks of hard training left, and 3 more long runs.

Yesterday, I did an 18 miler that really wasn't half bad. Even with walk breaks, I ended up at about a 10:40 pace over all. Last year, I was running faster than that on my long runs, but I was also getting injured left and right. An IT band here, a runner's knee there, where as this year, my soreness is pretty much gone after a good night's rest.

On a another positive note, my pace on shorter runs is picking up considerably. Last week, I ran 12 miles, all of which were under a 10, and the seven mile repeats I did were all under 9 with even a few 8:30 miles. So my shorter runs this year are actually ahead of where I was last year.

More importantly, I'm realizing that I actually enjoy some of this "speed" work. (not that I am actually speedy)

Another update, I have lost all but 3 pounds of San Francisco weight. I'm just dandy with the slow and steady approach and would guess that the rest will probably come off with the increase in training.

Here is a training plan for the next several weeks:

Week 1: M- 5 easy
Th- 6
F- 6
Su- 9 mile repeats w/ warm up and cool down
Total- 28
Week 2:
M- 4 easy
W - 6 with accelerations
Th- 4 at marathon pace
Sa- 21
Total- 35
Week 3:
M- 5 easy
T- 6 marathon pace
Th- 8 with accel.
Sat- 11 mile repeats at sub- 9 pace
Total- 30
Week 4:
M- 5 easy
W- 7 marathon pace
F - 4 with accel.
Su- 24
Total- 40

Hopefully, the busy holiday season at school will not derail me. Wish me determination!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Best Run in Weeks!

Here is a recap of my "long" runs the past three weeks as I have been coming out of recovery:

2 weeks ago: 6.25 miles. In shoes, significant plantar pain at mile five.

1 week ago: 8.5 miles. In shoes, significant plantar pain at mile six.

Today: 13 miles.

I know I got a little help from the weather today, which was only about 10 degrees above perfect instead of 30, but I'm still incredibly happy with the results. It was not entirely pain free. I started in my Vibrams and by mile 7, I had some moderate pain on the anterior side of my foot, but it was not enough to stop. After 9 miles, my energy level was still pretty high, and I had the great idea to pass by my house and grab the real shoes. Worked like a charm. The last 4 miles were felt really good. The only thing that was weird was the way it felt running in shoes compared to the Vibrams. You know how you feel when you have just been jumping on a trampoline for a long time and then you try to walk on solid ground? It was like that for about half a mile. Strange, since all the shoe companies like to advertise that their shoes will put an extra bounce in your step. Since when does adding a rubber ankle weight make you feel lighter?

Anyway, here is the thing that I have to accept at this point: I have to actually start planning my weeks now that I see that my feet are almost up to snuff. I am sooooo slooooooow right now. I have been doing my long runs slower because that is what Galloway says to do, but I have no excuse for my 10 minute pace on my short midweek runs. I am definitely going to have to bump it up a couple of notches on my Tuesday and Thursday runs. I am ready for more optimistic training. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kindness of Strangers

An interesting thing happened to me tonight on my 5-miler. I was at about the 3.5 mile point at a stoplight standing next to a man who seemed to be in his late-fifties to early sixties. I can always tell if a man that age is a real runner because he will inevitably meet the following description:

-Cotton 10K race shirt
-Said race shirt tucked into shorts
-Said shorts are slightly too short
-Socks slightly too long
-Nike Pegasus or some other old Asics standby

The only thing different about this man was that he was wearing a Garmin, so I knew for sure that it was okay to talk to him.

"Sure is dark out here," he said.

"Yeah, but I'll do anything to run in this weather."

And so began our half-mile of running chit chat.

I found it very odd that someone like this man, who was obviously a rich old runner, (He told me he had just been running in Paris the week before with his wife. uhhhhh....yeah, me too, I run by the Eiffel Tower like all the time!) would start running with me for no apparent reason.

When I chose to run the fork in the road where it takes off down a dark path under a bridge, he said "Are you sure you are going to run down there? It sure is dark. I sometimes worry about my wife running in these parts even during the day, but if you're going down there, I'll go with you."

And then I figured it out. He was doing it just to be nice, because he saw a younger woman running by herself at night. It seems that chivalry at least has a pulse.

Of course, his plan probably backfired, because now I feel even less threatened running by the bayou knowing that people like my mystery veteran runner are around. This still does not entirely counteract the fact that I have been sitting on the ground bleeding more than once on that trail with people passing me left and right, but it goes a little way to make me feel better about the world.

Thanks old-timer!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Morning Glory

This morning, I woke up at 4:30. Just woke up. No reason. No alarm......other than my stupid dog jumping on my face. The only time this ever happens is if he has diarrhea, so I figured I had to get up. (Then my husband got up instead.) Apparently, Beasley had an extremely urgent need to sniff the grass and take a tiny whiz on his favorite shrub. This was the big event that I got up at 4:30 in the morning for and then was just too plain excited for him to be able to go back to sleep. My friend tells me that this is just preparation for having children. If this is true, the husband and I might be the type of parents that you see on the news for dipping the nipple of the baby bottle in beer to make the kid sleep.

uhhhhhhhh......just kidding.......really.

Anyway, it wasn't worth just laying in bed for an hour so I got up. I contemplated a run for about two seconds, but then decided that was too ridiculous a precedent to set, and just went to work.

I did manage to fit in a jog at Terry Hershey today. I usually take the day off on Wednesdays, but I was actually smart enough to plan ahead and bring the ten pounds of gear that it takes to get me to run. The run sucked, to be honest. Probably would have been better if I didn't hate the sun so much, but it was hot and there is like 1 water fountain for ever three miles. Who planned that?

On a positive note, the foot is doing much better! I think I'm getting close to 100%. I was starting to get a little worried there, but it looks like things are going in the right direction. Phew!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

From Bad to Better

This weekend started out as total garbage. First, I had Friday night fever, literally. Me on a fever is a pretty tragic sight. I morph from an energetic, capable person, to a blob of emotions and lethargy. Last year, I tried to go to school with a fever once, and my kids were so freaked out that one of them got another teacher to watch the class and walked me down to the nurse. So my husband, being the genius that he is, knew what he had to do.

He rented me a Zac Ephron movie and got some takeout. Apparently, it worked, because I woke up this morning, feeling glorious. Maybe it was the 11 hours of sleep. Maybe it was Zac. I tend to think it was a little of both.

Zac Effron in 'Me and Orson Welles'

Me and Orson Welles is actually a really good movie, by the way.

Anyway, the weekend just got better and better. Went to a double feature movie today as members of my family are notorious for doing. (My dad once did 4.33 movies in one sitting. Madness.) THEN, even at 5:00 PM, the weather was faaaaaaaabbbuuulouuussssss!

So, I tried to be a little brave today by going for seven miles. My left foot is still a little iffy, but I've been smart, so I thought I could handle it. First, I started out in my shoes. That was a bust. Within the first half mile, my foot was already hurting. So, I turned back for the Vibrams, and I'm so glad I did. I can't imagine how I was able to go so much further barefoot, but I'm sold more and more every day. I stopped at 6 and a quarter because I didn't want to push it too much, but it was still a successful day. I guess I will be sticking to the Vibrams until I'm completely healed. Woohoo!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Funniest Things I've Heard in the Past Week

Here is a compilation of the things that have really made me smile. Or, they irritated me at first and then made me smile later.

From the Guy that sold me the Vibrams:

Me- "I'm a little worried about the size. I may need to go a size up because my toes are kind of long."

Him- While looking at my feet, "Oh. Yeah, I see what you mean. That second toe is really something."


From a student at school when she saw my shoes:

With a very concerned look on her face,"Mrs. Brown, I don't think you are allowed to wear those to school."

On a note that was picked up in the 6th grade hall at my school:

"Trust me, I'm a skater."

On Youtube:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On the Road Again

Foot is not at 100% yet, but as I could not stand to go another day without running, I decided to take my Five Fingers for a little spin yesterday.

Verdict: I LOVE THEM!!!!

In my three mile run yesterday, I think I realized why my 3rd metatarsal is hurting. When I was running in shoes, even though I had a forefoot strike, I was stiffening the muscles when I would hit the ground. In the Vibrams, I had to allow my ankles and heels to follow through with the motion after the strike. It's kind of like catching an egg that has been tossed in the air: you have to move your hand with the egg to increase the amount of time in which the egg feels the impact so it does not have too much impact at any one point in time. If you just hold your hand flat and don't move it, the egg will crack.

Even after running, my foot feels a little better than it did yesterday. 2nd bonus: no soreness! I think that my muscles were already pretty well prepared for the toe shoes from several months of ball-strike, so I did not have the same problems as many others who convert. Success!

Hopefully, I will be able to post more this week than the past couple of weeks. The beginning of the school year sure has been crazy, but I'm starting to find some routine. So glad to start a new week!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fancy Feet

Says my brother in his favorite I-know-what's-best-for-your-running tone, "Oh, you will definitely just want the plain black ones."

My response:

Don't they just make you think of walking SPACE?

He also told me that I shouldn't wear them out in public.
Yeah right! I can barely make it out of Banana Republic without making up some excuse to wear the clothes out of the store. "I'm sorry, I spilled coffee on my other shirt. Can I just wear this out?" "I'm wearing this to an event in 30 minutes and I just need to pull the tag off so you can scan it. Do you think you can get the security tag off even if I have the pants on?"

With far fewer obstacles involved with shoes, there was no question what I would do. I wore my shiny new Vibrams out of the store and while I was getting groceries. I have silly funky shoes, and guess what: I want everyone to know about them. They are awesome, and they feel great to walk in, which I was not expecting. I have not run in them yet, because I haven't run since I got them. The pain in my 3rd metatarsal WILL NOT GO AWAY. I think I must have some sort of bruising that is just taking a while to heal. Today will make 3 full days with no exercise. I'm dyin' here, Jerry! I will give an easy run a shot tomorrow. I think I will leave my shoes on until then!

PS: Special shout out to my mom who made the purchasing of the Vibrams possible, along with a pair of new black skinnies. (My high school students will know what I'm talking about.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Done with the DQ

Last night, my husband and I skipped town to go to Arkansas. GREAT choice. It's like 75 degrees and negative 5% humidity. Unfortunately, it does not look like I'm going to get to run in it. My foot is still being weird. Booooooooo.

The drive to Arkansas is not all that bad- only a little over seven hours. But what really makes the drive special is our regular stop to eat really horrible food that I can only justify eating on a road trip. It's the one perk of driving all that way and should be kept as a sacred tradition. I can only assume that I must have violated some covenant to reap the punishment I received over the next 30 minutes.

We stopped at Wendy's, and for some reason, I thought "Hey, I'll just order a salad." Big mistake. We first went inside, and saw that the line was way too long, so we opted for drive through just in time for a Suburban full of people to pull in front of us and order what must have been a hundred dollars worth of food off the value menu. We.....waited.....for...ever. Finally, we got our food and went on our way. A mile at a time, I started realizing all that had gone wrong with our order. No ketchup. No Salt. Four chicken nuggets instead of five. Wrong salad. BLT Cobb instead of Apple Pecan. But they didn't even get the BLT Cobb right itself. They left the bacon off! They left off the single most important ingredient! And of course it tasted ridiculous with the pomegranate vinaigrette. That's what I get for trying to be health conscious on a road trip.

I said out loud to myself, "The only thing that can make this okay is if I get a blizzard from Dairy Queen," just as we happened to pass a DQ. I was so stunned at the Kismet of it all that the only reaction I could come up with was to point and shout incoherently. That's what Blizzards do to me.

I thought my husband knew me well enough to understand that "eeeeeee! eeeeeeeee!" means "Hey, babe, do you mind if we stop at that Dairy Queen?" but apparently he thought it meant "Swerve or we'll die!" Oops. We somehow made it into the parking lot unscathed.

We pulled up to the speaker and waited......waited some more......."hello? Hello???" When we got to the window we noticed that the cashier had taken her headset off. No big deal. It's not like that's your only job or anything.
Husband asks: "So are you guys not taking orders at the speaker?"
DQ Girl: "Yes, we are."
Husband: Confusedly, "Oh, um, we tried to order back there, but I guess you didn't hear?"
DQ Girl: "Okay." Silence.
Husband: "Well, I guess we'll get a heath and butterfinger blizzard."
DQ Girl: Says nothing and goes to the blizzard machine where three other high school girls are helping each other make one blizzard at a time. This must be the DQ business model, because I have never made it out of one in under 20 minutes.

Blizzard in hand, I think that everything has been made right. I have control of my life. People are inherently good. All's well that ends well. Until I take a bite and realize that she put chocolate syrup in my ice cream.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cure for a Broken Foot

Irritated at foot. Still hurting and starting to bruise a little bit. Hence, no running tonight or tomorrow. Check again on Saturday. To make myself feel better, I watched part of 17 Again. Ashamed. Mission accomplished all the same.

Good night, Zac.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ho Hum Hump Day

I knew it was going to be a rough day when I woke up this morning at 5:28 and hit snooze, only to hear the alarm go off 15 seconds later. STUPID alarm app! It's not supposed to go off again for ten minutes! Except that it had been ten minutes. I never fall back asleep when I hit snooze. I may lay there and worry about the fact that I have to get up in 10 minutes, and then be so mad that I spent 10 minutes worrying instead of sleeping that I hit snooze two more times, but I never actually go back to sleep. That is another one of those little habits that makes me all the more endearing to my husband. He can get over it. His first class on MWF isn't until 1:00 PM. Who lives like that????

My coffee this morning never quite got me past the friendly zombie state and by my 2:45 meeting, I couldn't finish a sentence because I would yawn in the middle and then forget what I was talking about pre-yawn. Completely worthless by 4:00, I collapsed on the couch when I got home about 4:30 and slept for an hour. FAIL! I hate naps, and now I have taken two in three days. Naps are for lazy college girls who OD on cheetos and peanut butter after a taxing 9:00AM class. UGH!

The nap did help a little though. I managed to get my butt up when the hubster lured me off the couch with the promise of some Pei Wei. I actually cleaned a little and had a good run. 4 miles at a 9:20 pace and one mile of easy jog. The top of my foot was noticeably in pain by the end. I'm not going to get angry till I see what some ice and a day out of heels does.

Oh, and I decided, that I'm applying to grad schools. Not that I'm going for sure, but I will be applying. Done.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Music for Runners #2

I have an absolute gem for you.

If this does not make you want to get out in the streets and dance for miles, then you just weren't meant to run. Of course, it also reminds me of some ironical music that might be playing while a serial killer slashes people to death in a horror flick. You can't help but think that this dude is about to lose it at any second.

Ran 4 miles after a nap this evening. Yes, a nap. Monday mornings really aren't so bad, because I wake up with all the optimism of a new week. Tralalala! Going to get so much done! This is the week I will wake up early every day! I will prepare beautiful lesson plans! Tralalala!

Monday evenings, however, are the armpit of the week. Not a single good tv show, the week isn't even close to being half over, I'm tired because my sleep schedule has been so jacked up by sleeping later on the weekends, and the only thing I have to look forward to is Tuesday. Goody.
I kind of just have to shut my eyes and fight through to Wednesday night when life is good again. Here's to Thursday! I'll see you soon!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day of Rest and Confusion

No running today. I had a very taxing afternoon of doing grad school research and chatting on facebook with a friend.

I'm waiting for a sign to tell me what to do about grad school. On one hand, I have been wanting to get the heck out of H-town pretty much since I moved here. I would love to move somewhere that actually has a hill or tree that hasn't been artificially created by a landscaper and an average temperature less similar to purgatory's. I finally know what I really want my masters in.

On the other hand, I lovelovelove my job, and the places I want to move are generally expensive. The hubster will have his JD at the end of this year, but even that's not a guarantee these days.

But OHHHHH the running on the west coast, in Colorado, in Utah. If we are going to live somewhere impractical, it's pretty much now or never. ughhh. Someone tell me what to do.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

11 Down

I thought I had learned my lesson. Alarm clock rang at 6:30 this morning, just as I had instructed it to. Unfortunately, I did not follow the instructions so well. I got up around 7:30, which is respectable for the first Saturday of the school year. That would have been fine- nice, even - if I had left right after breakfast. It was so nice outside and would have made for an excellent run. Instead, I did this for three hours:

Beasley forced me to stay on the couch and snuggle with him. Who am I to resist his little face? Beasley also insisted that I eat cinnamon roles for breakfast, and then give some to him. Curse his Jedi mind tricks! He waves his little paw in the air, and suddenly I am subject to his every whim, further proof that I am not ready to have kids anywhere in the near future. If I can't ward off the manipulative powers of a dog, I don't think I can handle a toddler.

9 out of 11 miles weren't too terrible this morning, but mile 6 and mile 11 were about as miserable as any I have encountered so far. Mile 6 included nausea, hunger, extreme heat, little shade, and a weird bit of knee pain. I'm pretty sure I can thank Pillsbury's lack of complex carbs and general nutrition for that one. And of course, Beasley, who forced me to eat the cinnamon roles in the first place. He's trying to sabotage my running because he doesn't like to go in his crate when I go out.

Mile 11 was really just about fatigue. Whatever- I'm not going to apologize for being tired after 10 miles in 90 degree weather. It was what it was. At that point, I was a mile away from my apartment and in no mood to walk a 12th mile. So naturally, I called Adam, and after I threatened to destroy the X-box, he decided that he would come pick me up just to be sweet. This is why I love him. The rest of the day was pretty lazy and pretty good. Not a bad Saturday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today's Observations

1. There is no limit to the number of questions that sixth-grade boys can ask about a trip to Fiesta Texas regardless of the fact that it is happening well over 6 months in the future. If I here the words "What if" one more time....."What if you ride Superman so many times that you barf on the bus?" "What if someone in the park steals your money and you starve because you can't buy food?" "What if your friends are too scared or too short the same roller coasters as you do?"
This shouldn't be a revelation to me since I have met a few sixth-grade boys in my time, but I would still be there answering questions if I hadn't completely cut them off.

2. Parents have just as much trouble navigating a Junior High School as sixth-graders do. Should this make me feel more confident in sixth-graders or less confident in parents?

3. My legs do indeed still function when I'm not listening to my iPhone. Even after a 13 hour day at school, I got in a nice 5 mile run at Terry Hershey Park. I packed everything I needed for my run this morning, but I guess my 5:30AM brain can only do so much. I forgot headphones! Honestly, I surprised myself in even trying to run a little bit, much less five miles. It was actually very pleasant.

4. Fireflies actually exist in Houston. I saw some for the first time in Terry Hershey Park. Or maybe they were just mosquitos that turned radioactive after all the Houston Pollution. Either way, it was nostalgic.

Not a bad day, but, dude, am I glad that tomorrow is Friday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Coulda Got Ugly!

Do you ever feel like God pushes the universe just a teeeeny bit to your advantage to keep you from going postal on your fellow man?

Two things:
1. On the way home from school today (after being there for 11 hours), I was a point of delirium. I kept closing and reopening the exact same program on my computer because I would instantly forget the reason I opened Finale in the first place. 5 times I did this. And that is when I decided I a.)must leave and b.) must have a Diet Dr. Pepper and a snack to keep me alive on my commute home.
I pulled up to Walgreens to get some honey-roasted almonds and my cancer-in-a-bottle. Here is my thought process: "Hmmmmm, okay, I see regular Dr. Pepper. Nope, not over here. Why can't I find it? I know it's here. There are 5,245 different types of soda. They even have Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper, so surely...Who even drinks Squirt anymore? Is it possible that the manager of Walgreens is so stupid that they ordered Squirt and neglected the 2nd most popular diet drink on the market? I'm getting irritated....Where is it? Seriously, enough! Where is the Diet DP?! No. No! I don't want a diet coke, and if you so much as consider offering me diet Pepsi, I will END you right here on this cheap ugly tile! WHEREISMYDIETDRPEPPERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!@$##@%&$#$

oh. gee. There it is right there. The last one in the store. I'm okay. Nothing to see here, people."

I shudder to think how that might have turned out.

2. If you have read just about any post in the past month, you know how I feel about this weather. I'm not a hateful person, but this humidity makes me want to send death threats to weatherman Jonathan Novack. Or it could be the fact that he was such a moron on The Bachelorette. Either way, the guy could use a punch in the face. you see something interesting in the picture below? Something that is normal in places with regular climates, but nothing short of an act of God in Houston?

I almost felt like I needed a jacket, which is sort of messed up, but I don't care. Last night was the first official bearable run of the season. It will be the only one in August. There will be 3-4 in September, and it just gets more awesome from there. We are on the downhill slide!


The person who figures out what that acronym means wins a prize.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Got Schooled

Today was the first day of school. Holy-Moly-Donut-Shop (that's for you Scott) did those kids have some energy. Not the spastic, monkey-on-crack type of energy I was expecting, but the enthusiastic, I-can't-wait-to-learn kind. I adore my (former) high school students of course, but it takes at least a couple of weeks to get a pack of attitude-ridden 16-year-olds truly on board to all the weird, nerdy things that happen in choir to get a good sound. These 7th graders, on the other hand, seem to automatically assume that their teachers are people worth trusting and capable of having fun. I'm sure I will meet other challenges throughout the year, voice cracking being the least of them, but if only one day out of three is like today was, then this year is going to be fantastic.

I'm not even tired! Which means I can go ahead run even though I had thought I might need a day off today.

Other good news:
I have managed to lose a couple of California pounds. Still a ways to go, but now I have officially implemented my starting-school diet. This particular diet involves constantly being on my feet, shoving carrots and hummus in my face in the few spare minutes I have, and spending much of my day with my stomach growling until I can finally sit down to eat whatever dinner my husband offers when I fall in the door. This is less a kind gesture on his part, and more a matter of self-preservation. "Moody" doesn't quite capture the fire-breathing medusa I turn into when I'm genuinely hungry. To put on my "pros of teaching list": nothing sucks away the pounds like a hoard of attention-hungry students. Here's to you choir kids!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Runner's Cinderella Story

I have abandoned you, blog readers. (All I can think of right now is my husband's obnoxious voice saying "That's not what abandon means. According to __________ Law Dictionary, abandon means to leave without the intent of returning." He has started doing this lately. It is almost as endearing a behavior as a child who gains a vague understanding that America is a free country, and then insists "You are not the boss of me!" What a darling.)

I have abandoned you because I had my first regular work week and I'm exhausted. You would think that would worry me, since the kids don't even get to school until tomorrow, but I'm actually really excited. As much energy as teaching expends, the kids generate back. I'm so excited to begin the real work of teaching for the year.

I also have a lot of premature nervous energy about the marathon. Here is a little recap of my dream last night: For some reason, my husband was in a triathlon that was occurring at the same time as a marathon I was not participating in. I was cheering him on and running along the sidelines in the final stretch when someone handed me a number and told me to get in the race. I ran the last half-mile, and when I arrived at the finish line, the race officiators told me I should go over and take a picture for the paper with the other top-ten finishers. I was too afraid to explain that I was not a real participant but refused to take the picture. Then, I ran to hide in a building where the finishers were taking showers and I noticed a brand new pair of shoes in one of the stalls. No one was around so I took the shoes. It turns out that the pair of shoes belonged to one of the top women finishers and she started yelling that someone took her shoes. The next image I recall of myself, I was holding not one pair, but seven pairs of brand new shoes still in the boxes. She saw me, and asked me if I had her shoes. I mumbled something and she tried on every pair of shoes I was holding, but none of them fit. Much to my surprise, they all fit me, and she apologized for her mistake. Then Beasley jumped on my face.

I'm not big into dream analysis, but I do think this dream has something to say about the way I feel toward both shoes and running. To ease some of my insecurity of seeming like a poser-runner, I've decided that I need to sign up for a race before the Houston Marathon just in case I have another debilitating injury two weeks before the marathon. That way I'll at least have something to show for my training.

Here are the races I would like to enter:

1.) October 10- USA Space City 10 Miler
2.) October 24- Houston Warm Up Series Half-Marathon.

I don't intend to run these races full-out at all. Instead, it would just be a chance for me to actually take part in the running community in Houston while doing some training. Maybe I can find people who hate running here just as much as I do!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nothing to Say

because my IQ dropped too low to form a sentence due to the "professional development" I endured today. It's shocking to me that the very same educational leaders who tell us to make our classes interactive and engaging forcefully corral us into an arena for three straight hours of lecturing. They ask us to be green, yet pay to cool that arena to sub-zero temperatures. They talk about technology, yet don't really use any in the presentation. They talk about tough financial times while wasting money on traffic cops and security. They talk about classroom preparation, yet throw away an entire morning of work time the WEEK...BEFORE...SCHOOL...STARTS. ReAlLy???

When....oh when will the superintendents of the world start practicing what they accusingly preach at teachers?

Solution to today's disastrous waste of time: Put it online. Save gas. Save money. Utilize technology. And stop. Please stop. Wasting. Everyone's. Time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grateful to Run

When I was growing up in Arkansas, we had a great set of trails that went through the woods across the street from our home. When we took walks back there as a family, we would always stop at a pile of rocks affectionately called The Ebenezer. When we passed by, we would find a white rock- rocks that I thought must be very valuable crystals- and put them on the pile. For each rock we added, we had to tell God something we were thankful for.

Tonight I did my normal 6 mile loop for the first time in quite a while. I have run more than 6 miles at a few points in my recent training, but never my perfect 6 mile loop. I always walk the last third of a mile or so, and every time I do, I cannot help but be overcome by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I had forgotten how great that feels.

God is good to runners. I don't mean that God is good to runners because they run, but rather that a person wouldn't have the ability to run if God had not been good to her. I have shoes. I have a few hours of extra time. I have a place to run that's safe(ish) and enjoyable (when it's not 100 degrees). I have health. I have a good life that I don't mind prolonging with exercise.

I haven't defined an exact place that is my Ebenezer, but it's definitely somewhere between 5.67 and 6.0 miles. And tonight I thank God for running.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Christmas Came Early and Other Stories of Instant Gratification.

Or maybe my birthday came late. Either way, Houston heard my cry and gave me the awesome present of a spot in the marathon. Well, technically, I paid for the present. And I guess it's not really a present. I mean, I'm going to be busting a gut for 26.2 miles for absolutely no reason. I won't be going anywhere. I won't be running down deer for food like my ancestors. Just running for, fun?? Maybe I should avoid over-analyzing the situation and just be happy. Thanks Houston Marathon! Thanks for everything!

The marathon is 24 weeks away, exactly. My question has never been whether or not I could finish a marathon. Endurance has been my greatest strength as a runner since high school. To me, the big challenge is how responsible I can be for my training over the next four and a half months. Here are my goals:

1. Never try to replace a speed session with extra distance.

I don't like speed workouts. I never have, maybe never will. So sometimes I would justify skipping speed-work by adding more mileage and just running a little faster than normal the whole time. I could run 20 miles at a 9:30 pace, sure. But what happened when I tried to knock that down to a 9:00 pace? The drop off was huge! I think I could maybe do 8 miles tops without completely killing myself.

2. Never add extra miles so I can round up to a certain number of miles each week.

There is something so righteous about a 40 mile week. I mean that in both the Biblical way and the surfer-dude way. However, there were weeks when I knew I shouldn't add on 2 miles to a recovery run, but that was the only way I could escape from a taunting 38 at the end of the week.

3. Never substitute running for cross-training.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Part of the reason I love running so much is that I'm a highly accomplishment-driven person. Combine that with the instant gratification mindset that I share with the rest my generation, and you have an injury just waiting to happen. I want my miles now! I want to be in the best shape of my life right this second!

There is so much convenience and speed that we can purchase if we are willing to shell out a little more money. Faster cars, faster computers, faster internet, faster food. We pay for it, we get it. Instantly. In a time when things are increasingly digital and increasingly changeable, I forget that I can't just magically get a body upgrade. I approached my running last year with the thoughts "If I just try hard enough- pay the price- I can run any pace I want in this marathon." As inspirational a thought that might be, it's just not true. This is why I have grown to really root against the show Biggest Loser. It's not the safety issues that bother me. I understand that the contestants are monitored by doctors very carefully, and even though fast weight loss can be risky, it is far more dangerous for people that obese to keep the weight. My problem is that the audience doesn't see what really goes on in that gym. The contestants are on treadmills for hours and hours at a time. They sit interminably in saunas. They eat sugar-free jello by the case-load.

Instead of focusing on how miserable the contestants are during the week, they spend 45 minutes of an hour long show on the stupid weigh-ins and commercials for Jillian's work-out videos. The other 15 minutes are physical challenges that look to me like some producer said "Wouldn't it be funny if we had eight 400 pound people do the limbo?"

So what happens to the psyches of Biggest Loser fans that can't lose 16 pounds in a week? "I'm a failure." "I'm just not, tough enough." "If Jillian were here right now, she would be yelling at me in her Rachel-Ray-meets-James-Earl-Jones voice." That, by the way, makes Jillian's voice the second most annoying on TV, just behind miss E-V-O-O herself. (My sister-in-law may be the only person that gets that reference.)

ANYWAY, this post is about me, not Biggest Loser, but I felt it was too timely a tangent to pass up. What I'm saying with all of this is that it takes hard work, patience, and wisdom to really reach a high level of fitness for those of us that aren't Kenyan. I want to work hard, but ultimately, my body has the say of how fast I make progress in healthy, sustainable change. New shoes won't help. Pain won't help. Just a little bit of time....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Smashing Success...

Smashing because I am smashed. Like roadkill. Success because I pulled through with 10 miles. For the sake of transparency, I actually was on the road for 10.25 miles, but I walked the last half mile. If you want to tell me that I did not actually complete 10 miles, I've got a roundhouse kick a la Chuck Norris with your name on it.

One of the reasons that I was really pleased with my effort today is that I really thought there was no way I was going to be able to go past nine once I made it to mile seven. It really wasn't until about 8.8 miles that I changed my mind. There was a glorious bit of cloud cover, and I got a nice cool swig of water at one of the fountains that is shaded and actually has water cooler than what one would typically bathe in.

When I looked down at the Garmin at 9.46 miles with a 3rd of a mile left to go, I felt so accomplished to have been able to go that far as hot and sunny as it was today. I was also proud that I made the smart decision to actually drag my butt out of bed at a decent time, 6:30. Big step for me.

This afternoon I will celebrate my first double digit run in over six months with some back-to-school shopping, one of the few highlights of this time of year. I will soon as I can move...

Friday, August 13, 2010

LSD no. 3

Sounds like a brand of hallucinogen doesn't it? If you read my earlier blog, you would know that I mean my long run is coming up tomorrow. My third long run in my marathon training, to be exact. If I were following Galloway's plan to a tee, I would be doing hills tomorrow instead, but seeing as I started my training a little early, I figure I've got some wiggle room. Plus, I will not get any LSD next week due to a meeting. While this meeting is not nearly as heinous as others I will attend between here and the beginning of the school year, I can safely tell you that I would still rather run 20 miles in 100 degree heat while carrying a fat toddler on my back than go to any meeting. No amount of fruit trays and pastry platters could ever entice me to go willingly to a meeting. Here's why:

Below is an inspirational message I heard today regarding the first day of school.

"If you feel butterflies in your stomach, persuade them to fly in formation."

I don't even want to begin to break down all the things that are wrong with this quote aside from its obvious cheesiness, but consider my gag reflex officially inspired.

On the other hand, I suppose it would be too much to ask that I love my job 100 % of the time. Every job has to have its downside. I thought the downside to teaching was the salary, but it turns out that I don't care all that much about money anyway. In fact, if someone told me, "Look, we are trying to tighten our belt. Would you agree to a 5,000 dollar pay cut if we told you that you would never have to go to another meeting?" DEAL!!! I wouldn't even have to consider it.

Anyway, I'm sure you will hear some additional complaining tomorrow. If not about teachers' meetings, then I'm sure I can find some weather to gripe about. There's always something right? Wish me luck tomorrow. I'm going out for 10, which I will be able to do provided I get up at 6:00 like I'm planning, but I would be happy with 9 if things don't go well. Good night!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Where is the iPhone 4?

The answer is: IN MY HAND! The video below should give you some idea of how I feel about the iPhone 4.
If you want to avoid some gratuitous profanity, only watch about one minute. That should be enough to help you understand anyway.

It occurs to me that I have really only written about running in passing the past several posts, so I will go ahead and give you an update.

This week:
Sunday: off
Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: 4 miles. 1 mi. easy, 3 MP
Thursday: 5 miles easy
Friday: X-train
Saturday: 9 miles

My Monday and Wednesday runs went very well. Knees are still feeling good. I think my incorporation of yoga is helping me stretch out some things. We'll see how it goes over the next few weeks. Could a yoga class be in my future?

On the downside, I left Garmy (the new name for my Garmin) at my in-laws the other night. I feel totally naked running without it. That feeling, by the way, is not a good one. Question: If a girl goes for a run in the forest, and the Garmin doesn't track it with GPS and record, pace, distance, elevation, and heart rate, did it ever really happen?

It feels like a "no" to me. I'm so used to documenting everything as a teacher. Conduct, grades, lesson plans, forms. I kept a notebook last year with every assignment my piano classes did. All JUST in case some parent got anxious about their kid having a 99 instead of a 100 and decided to say "Well, what are you doing in this class, anyway?"

I almost feel like no one is going to believe me when I tell them I am a runner. I don't particularly look like a runner. I haven't run a race in years, and therefore have no proof with HARRA. I don't run with people, just an iPhone. I have been "sighted" running before. A couple of students have driven past me, and I can only assume, pointed and laughed. So that gives me about as much credibility as Bigfoot (which may have been what the students said when they pointed and laughed, depending on whether or not I shaved my legs that day). The Garmin is my only proof. If someone doubted me, I would just point at my watch and say "See???Boo-ya." I need validation. I think that is the other reason this marathon is so important to me. This is the chance for me to put my money where my mouth is. Bring it on August 17.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birthday Report

Husband took the hint...iPhone 4 will be here on FRRRRRRIIIIIIDDAAYYYYYY!!!!!! He also made this:

That may look, to the untrained eye, like simple pudding and cool whip. Oh no, my friend. Husband don't play dat. It is a dark chocolate souffle, with whipped citrus mascarpone. Holy freakin' cow. Husband receives full marks for birthday preparations.

Post is short tonight. But you can bet you will be getting an earful of all the miracles iPhone 4 performs on Friday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All I want for my birthday is Peace.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Sorry, I couldn't keep a straight face for too long on that one.
I told my husband the same thing. He got kind of a blank look on his face as some survival instinct began to send messages to his brain: WARNING! WARNING! DOES NOT COMPUTE. DOES NOT COMPUTE. THIS IS A TRAP. After he processed the message he said something like "but you are too beautiful and thin to not have presents on your birthday." This is the sign of a wise and well-trained husband. In case you forgot, tomorrow is my birthday. I know- you're glad I reminded you so you could go get me a present right? I do love gift cards or a paypal transfer will do, but just in case you wanted to get me something more personal....

For the budget minded:
Accelerade. I can't find this stuff anywhere and I'm wayyy too lazy to order it online

For the fashion-forward:
The whole section of running clothes, particularly the new running dresses, at Lululemon. So cute, you can hardly tell they are running clothes.

For the Naturals:
Barefoot wear. (ironic) Little nervous about the world of VFFs, but I think I'm ready to go there.

For the rich and famous:
An iPhone 4. Okay, so this is not so much about making my running better as it is about making everything better.

For the miracle workers:
A smaller butt. Or, just get me an iPhone. I'm sure there's an app for that.

Okay, so this particular blog is really a target audience of one, but maybe it will give you ladies out there some ideas of what your significant other should buy you, too. (If you need some husband training tips, just shoot me an email and we'll chat.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why are the words "deprivation" and "depravity" so similar?

It must be because it is depraved to deprive oneself. At least that is the conclusion I would like to draw after one day of no added sugar. (Don't mind me, I'm just being dramatic.) But when one of my friends started talking about the kickin' new cupcake place in town, my left eye began to twitch, my hands began to shake. I started to wonder if I could stand to admit to the internet that I was too much of a wimp for even one day. I think I need a sponsor. SERENITY NOW! (I prefer the Seinfeld version of the serenity prayer.)

Okay, so it wasn't that bad. This is difficult for me, however, because I am hardly ever one to work in absolutes. I'm not a person that is willing to say things like: "I will never miss a day of exercise." "I will never eat a doughnut again." My dad can do that. He said the other day "One day's worth of an excuse leads to a week's worth of excuses." I told him he should put that one in his pocket for his next motivational speech.

There is a season for all things. I believe that most of the time, we should operate in a season of moderation. That's healthy. I also believe, however, that there are times to feast, which we clearly have mastered in our country. We deserve to stuff our faces with our families and celebrate what we have without feeling guilty. We need full-out vacations, not just a series of half-days. Unfortunately, if I am philosophically in favor of this feasting concept, I also have believe that depriving has its place. The truth is that, sometimes, we find ourselves in a situation that demands some rigid standards. We need to re-center and focus ourselves so we stop taking the feasts for granted.

I think that's a far more important goal than losing weight. I was really spoiled all summer, and I don't feel guilty about it AT ALL. But for the time being, I think it's important that I find pleasure in things other than indulgence. Like the feeling I had after my run. (My slow run. I made sure to run at a recovery pace.) The feeling of a clean house. The feeling of starting a new school year in a job I love. Who needs sugar?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I am not a Fatty...

I was really hoping to avoid this, but I think I'm going to have to actually buckle down on the weight thing. Before any girl that I'm close with (so, 3 of you) goes into the obligatory "OH MY GOSH, YOU ARE SO SKINNY" mode, please understand that I realize that probably no one in America would say that I'm fat, save the gay guy with the fake Swedish accent on America's Next Top Model. (I don't know if there actually is such a person since I've never seen the show, I just assume.) However, I do know that there is a certain window on the scale in which I feel comfortable, healthy, and most importantly, light on my feet. As embarrassing as it is being open about weight issues on the INTERNET for ALL of my readers (so, 4 of you) to see, it pains me more to actually do something about it.

I could wait until school starts to actually do something about it, but that is like the teacher equivalent of a lazy New Year's Resolution Setter. Plus, I have all of these relatives that are losing tons of weight with exercise and really healthy eating. Seriously, my dad is managing to lose weight despite the fact that he has to eat out like two-thirds of his meals and is constantly traveling. My sister-in-law has two young children and a part-time job. How does someone lose weight when they are constantly surrounded by chicken nuggets and pudding? (just kidding, Emily, I know that's not what you feed your kids.) I'm a total wimp if I can't do this over the next couple of weeks. All I have is some light teacher training. What's my excuse? "Oh, yeah, about that, I haven't really been able to lose weight because I've been really busy sitting at Barnes and Noble blogging. It's just not a good time..."

So for the next two weeks, here it is:

1. No sugar other than fruit.
2. No snacks other than vegetables. What this really means is no triscuits. KILL ME.
3. High fat dairy only in extremely small portions. (I have a feeling that I'm going to have to avoid HEB. I will NOT be able to handle the temptation of cheese samples.)
4. Eating out will be a salad or sushi- the raw kind, not the tempura-fried, mayonaised-out kind.

Exceptions with be my birthday, and my long run when I will have cake and gatorade respectively. That's it. Now, I'm going to push publish and commit. It's not that hard, I will just press the button that says publish. Now. Do it. Press.....the.....button. PRESSPUBLISHYOU@$%^&WIMP!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Procrastinators Can Still Get 'er Done

Here is the timeline leading up to my run this morning:

Last Night 10:00 PM-

me: "Hey babe, we need to go to bed kind of early tonight so you can go for a ride and I can go for a run before it gets too hot. We should try to get up around six."

husband: "Okay, but I want to watch a little TV first."

12:00 AM-

me: "Okay, we have to go to bed now...";

husband: "Should I still set the alarm for 6:00?"

me: "No, let's shoot for 7:00."

7:00 AM-

alarm: "beep!beeb!beep!" there is some stumbling around and it goes quiet.

7:55 AM-

me: "Hey, what time is it?"

husband: "Only like 7:30."

me: "Crap. Oh well, I can still be out by 8:00."

husband: looks at phone "Oh. oops. It's 7:55."

me: "ugh. I can still be out by 8:30. I guess. Actually, no...I'm just going to go tonight. Too hot."

8:30 AM-

husband: "So are you not going on your run?"

me: "Shut-up, okay! I'll go if I want to go! I don't have to go in the morning if I don't want to! Leave me alone!"

8:45 AM-

me: "ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Laptop shut. Butt off couch.

9:03 AM-

I walk out the door.

Today's long run was not quite as enjoyable as last weeks ride through purgatory. This week I made to an even lower level with 8 wobbly miles of sweltering sun and sweat. By the 5 and a half mile mark, I reached into my packet to get a mini-Clif bar, (Those are a great alternative to Gu, by the way. You can fit three into a little running pouch perfectly and they taste good.) but genius here didn't pack any. It's not that 8 miles is un-doable without a snack, but I really could have used a boost at that point. I dragged myself through the next couple of miles, salty wet mess that I was. During the last half-mile, I looked down at my Garmin no less than every 5 hundredths of a mile, just in case I happened to black out and wake up at the 8 mile point. No such luck. Finally, mile eight came, not with a bang, but a whimper.

Lessons Learned:
1. For every 30 minutes I sleep in, the run becomes 15% more painful.
2. There are 8 things I need to get me through a long run, not 7. Pack a snack!
3. Every step of extra shade is worth two steps out of the way.
4. I need my own alarm clock.

I'm really glad I got it over with this morning, and pleased that I held up as well as I did. Now I can concentrate on all the things I really need to do for school since I have finished my run and my blog, but first I want to share a video.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Farts and Frustrations

It wasn't me, I promise! No really, it was my 14 pound dog. How is it that Beasley, with his scrawny little body, can produce enough gas to contaminate an entire apartment? If a rotten egg and a skunk had a baby and then dipped it in sulfur, it would smell just like my dog's gaseous emissions. I'm going to have to take my laptop somewhere I can actually concentrate.

That was the farts part, now for the frustrations.

1. My knees were stiff when I woke up this morning.
2. I'm not supposed to run or cross-train the day before a long run, but I'm going to feel like a wimp if I don't.
3. I have only lost one pound in 10 days.

The knees thing is my fault. Last night I ran at Terry Hershey Park for only the first time. (I know, how am I a Houston runner if I have never been?) I went out too fast considering that it should have been an easy night after pushing too hard on my last run. I also disregarded Galloway's rule that says you should add 30 seconds to your pace for every 5 degrees over 60 degrees, so that would have put me just over a 12 minute mile. I definitely have a mental block about the whole pace thing. Every second over a 10 minute pace becomes exponentially more humiliating.

As for running today, I know it's just not even an option. I WILL NOT DO IT. I know it will ruin the chances of a good run tomorrow.

The weight thing is also my fault, but it will be okay. First of all, I was out of town for a couple of days and then, the day I got back we had company come in. So I feel that any loss is probably good considering the circumstances. The start of school will also give me a huge boost. Just looking at a class full of squirrelly, pubescent choir kids kicks my metabolism into gear. In past years, I've lost 5-8 pounds in just the first couple of weeks. In fact, I think I just won't worry about it and let the school year do its work. I've really wanted to give these new Doritos a try, anyway.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Triangle Pose Method

Here's the thing: I hate cross training. I don't know why I bother to put two days worth of it in my schedules, because the truth is, I'm probably just not going to do it. Last week, I took the optional cross-training day off and ran on the other one. Yesterday was also supposed to be cross-training day, and instead, I totally overdid it in 90+ degree weather at close to marathon pace. (It's the Chapin thing again.)

I'm not going to try to be tough and say "Nooooooo, my knees don't hurt at all." I want this blog to help keep me both on-track and honest. If you don't believe that, read my first 2-3 posts where I share my weight and give close-ups of my feet. Ha. So, given my mild knee pain today, I decided that today MUST be legitimate cross training day.

I did yoga.

Oh, how it pains me to listen to new-agey crap! Ex: "Listen to your life force." "Bloom on your sitting bones." (What???) "Open your heart." Okay, sure, but let close down my brain, first.

It pains me even more when that new-agey crap actually works. I really thought that I had been working out my core muscles through ab workouts before. But it turns out that I am actually kind of unstable. (My husband is thinking "well, yeah, I could have told you that.") If I can't hold downward-facing dog in my living room, no wonder I am having trouble with tripping and falling over stupid stuff-or nothing- all the time. It turns out I have bad posture too. How did I not know this? After this morning's yoga, my knees actually feel much better. I feel stretched and tall. Sigh. I would be really stupid not to make this part of my routine. Just don't tell anyone that I'm "opening my heart" though, or I'll have to introduce your face to my warrior pose.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Running Music for Hipsters

I am a music lover. Partly because it pays the rent and partly because the combination of my iPhone, headphones, and armband case increases my chance of finishing a run by about 123%. I have never been much of a music lover for music's sake. I love the way that music serves me by making everything I would be doing anyway much more bearable. Example: I like teaching. If I wasn't a musician, I would still be a teacher, but the fact that I teach music makes teaching AWESOME.

This is why I pick the majority of my music based on whether or not it will be suitable for running. I would never buy music from a band like Muse if I just sat in an office all day, but it's like they write music specifically for runners. "Time is Running Out"- what better song to sprint to? "Knights of Cydonia" with it's galloping horses gives me an instant pace boost. I've listened to those songs so much while working out that I actually have a conditioned response of a raised heart rate just thinking about them.

My next purchase will certainly be Arcade Fire's new album The Suburbs. You can preview the the whole thing here on NPR's website. Musically, the word I would choose to describe the album is "pulsating." It rises and falls in tempo, but there is a nice forward motion throughout. If you just want a song to scare you off the couch, you couldn't do better than to buy "Empty Room." You'll know what I mean the millisecond you press play. I also love Win Butler's voice. He's got Dave Grohl's clarity and articulation minus the screaming and poor lyrics. Perfect Balance.

My only irritation with "The Suburbs" is the overdone theme. We get it already. The suburbs suck! We know! We got it in 1999 when we watched American Beauty thanks to Sam Mendes (someone else who can't seem to stop talking about how awful the burbs are). Ben Folds told us again in 2001 with Rockin' the Suburbs. The suburbs have been the subject of every hipster's angst for the past 10 years, and frankly, it's just not revolutionary anymore. It's also a bit insulting to my intelligence to have this theme reiterated to me by someone whose music sounds so (pardon my French) mainstream.

But whatever. The music is lively, nicely layered, and great to run to. So buy it. If you're like me, you never remember the lyrics to anything anyway.

Belated running schedule for the week:
Sunday: 4 miles EASY
Yesterday: off
Today: X-train
Wednesday: 3-4 miles at MP (marathon pace)
Thursday: 3-4 miles EASY
Friday: X-train
Saturday: 8 miles

Monday, August 2, 2010

If William Wallace Ran Marathons...

Mel Gibson's kilt is apparently not the only thing that needs censoring lately.

then running might become more of a spectator sport. Not so much because of any increase in entertainment value as an increase in shock value. If you ever wondered what it might be like to watch a Scotsman run long-distances, now you have your chance with the running kilt.

What I want to know is this: Whose chafing got soooooo bad that he thought this was necessary? And now Seattle and Chicago have created races to celebrate it? Can someone explain how the kilt is mechanically superior to a good pair of running shorts? Actually, no...don't. This reminds me of the time the Scotsman visited some of my relatives in Panhandle, TX:

A Scot wonders into a West Texas cowboy bar. Two old cowboys are playing pool when they see this strangely dressed fellow. One of the cowboys points his pool cue toward the Scot’s kilt.

"That shore is a cute little dressey," the cowboy says.

The Scot, offended responds, "Would you be lookin’ at me kilt?"

The cowboy replies, "Well, you shore will be kilt iffin you keep wearin’ that little dressey ‘round here."


Today is an off-day for me. Running-wise at least. New training week begins tomorrow!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chapin Family Endurance

If you are close to any Chapin family members, you've probably realized that one of the genetic commonalities is that we don't really know when to quit- when to quit making jokes, when to quit arguing, when to quit singing loudly- So it only makes sense that that level of persistence has manifested itself in a physical way through running. All four of my immediate family members have been into distance running at some point or another in varying degrees. Here is a brief profile.

Mom: My mother used to run and bike all the time when I was growing up with her longest race a half-marathon. A broken collar bone, however, made it fairly obvious when she should "quit." She's still a frequent exerciser, though her greatest feat of endurance has probably been putting up with my dad.

Sister: Melanie has also run a half-marathon and spends the rest of her time chasing around two crazy sons. (I love my nephews!) Regardless of what kind of shape I am in, she can kick my butt on hills. She is the exception to the Chapin stereotype in that she not only knows when to quit, but also knows when not to start.

Dad: My dad has run plenty of ultras, including one attempt at a 100 miler. He had to pull out at the 68 mile mark, but that's about 10 times more than most people ever run in a single stretch, so I think he did pretty well for himself. He did get to cross the finish line with my brother in the 2009 Arkansas Traveler. See pic below.

Brother: Thomas is really establishing himself as a long-term ultra runner. Last year, he completed the Arkansas Traveler 100 Miler. Most people can't even fathom that, even fewer are able to attempt it, and about half of them are able to finish in any given race. If there is indeed a correlation between knowing when to quit socially and knowing when to quit physically, then it makes sense that Thomas will probably become the most successful runner in our family. All the same, I might still like to train for an ultra as a brother/sister combo someday.

Honorary Endurance Athlete: My Granddad.

My granddad is 92 and going strong. If anyone besides the Kenyans had a concept of distance running in 1950, I think my granddad would have been right at home in the company of marathoners. When I was in Panhandle recently, a girlfriend and I went walking while he rode his bike. At one point he said "You know, I sure could ride a lot straighter if you girls would speed up." We took the hint. Looks good, doesn't he?

So, you see that I have a lot of familial inspiration to draw from. I hope I can keep up the Chapin family tradition with a solid distance race!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

7 x 11

Seven is my lucky number for a lot of reasons. First, because that's the average number of gadgets that it takes to get me out on a long run on any given day. I feel like a less-busty version of Laura Croft: Tomb Raider when I head out on Saturdays.

1. Heart Monitor- I don't really use this device up to its full potential, but I feel more hardcore when I'm wearing it. I will work on gaining some practical use from it this training season.

2. Sunglasses- Okay, so I forgot to wear them in the picture, but that's a fair representation. Since I don't plan to EVER get up earlier than 7:00 for a Saturday run, these are extremely necessary.

3. Headband- My bangs are an awkward length, so unless I want greasy, sweat-soaked strands burning my eyes, I have to wear one. It also makes me feel like I look less disgusting.

4. iPhone- My husband LOVES this because when I overshoot my distance, I call him to come save me. I inevitably interrupt something very important that he's doing, like playing Madden. Oops. I love it because my Pandora app is my saving grace from boredom. My current station of choice is Yeasayer.

5. iPhone Armband- It smells like butt after hundreds of uses, but it still works like a charm. Anyone who is still holding their MP3 player in their hand while running is insane.

6. Hydration Belt- They seem over-priced, as most running gadgets do, but it's worth every penny. There are actually plenty of water fountains on my 7 mile route, but those little water bottles more than served their purposed today as I frequently doused my head to keep my brain from frying.

7. GARMIN 405- One of the best gifts I have ever gotten. (Thanks, hubby) I love this thing. Pace. Heartrate. Elevation! Lap time! Distance! and sooooo much more. Then it wirelessly sends the information to your computer and puts it on a fancy-pants graph. You can break your run down by the second! IT'S AMAZING!

Today, it was extremely hot. 85 degrees and a billion percent humidity. I slowed myself down, got through successfully, and actually feel pretty well recovered. 7 is also my lucky number because anything over 6 miles means that I have to vary from my routine 6 mile loop, and is just over quarter-marathon mark. It is also Here is my split break down:

1. 11:03
2. 11:09
3. 11:11
4. 11:08
5. 12:01
6: 11:04
7: 11:03

Considering the heat, I was very pleased with today's times. I know that those are slow times, but I feel like I actually used my brain today and didn't go out to fast and crash. Thank you, Jeff Galloway, for your handy walk breaks. I feel almost certain that I would have totally bonked and done maybe 4 miles max in that heat without them.

First real week of training was a good one.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I need some LSD!!!

Okay, so I'm sure I'm not the first to have snickered at my own "cleverness" with a title like that, but as far as runners are concerned, Long Slow Distance jokes never get old. Running nerds can hardly carry on a conversation about their training with out using at least one drug-alluding cliche. "I'm addicted to running," "I love that runner's high," "I'm baked. That last speed workout was a killer."

I'm not sure what this says about the running community. Maybe it's to help us fit in a little better with the "cool" kids. When someone at the office says "Dude, bro. Last Friday was off the chain! We got so wasted that I skipped right over the bedspins and woke up the next day with KISS makeup on my bro's dog bed," we needed something better to say than "Oh yeah, I wasn't there. I had to wake up early on Saturday to run fartleks." With or without the lingo, I still doubt that running will ever be the thing that everybody's doing.

I'm a little discouraged about my LSD tomorrow. It's hard for me to say that 7-8 miles is my long run when it used to mean 20 miles. Darn you, sprained ankle, runner's knee, IT Band, and LA Fitness, darn you all! There should be some ebb and flow in training, but I hate that I let my endurance slide so far back when I had come so far. The progress I was making was so exciting last year. Every other week was a new first. My first double digit run. My first eleven mile, twelve mile, thirteen mile, and so on. I don't get to have any firsts this time until I've run 21.1 miles....On the flip side, I would normally have quit after a series of set-backs and slow months like I had Feb. through May. Frankly, I have quit running more times than I have started it, but not this year. Even under the influence of San Francisco's enchanting food and night life, I still managed to increase my mileage a bit.

In other discouraging news, tomorrow is going to be positively unbearable weather-wise. High of 98. Or is it that the humidity is 98 percent? Oh wait, IT'S BOTH. At least you know that I have no ulterior motives in my training, because the only things that are going to get high in those conditions are my core body temperature and mosquito bite count.

Click on the link below for an audio clip to represent how I think my run is going to feel.....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Houston: Best for has-beens, worst for wannabes.

I am in San Antonio at the TCDA (Texas Choral Director's Association) conference, which is basically an excuse for choir directors to let loose right before the school year swallows up our time and identity. If you think you have experienced some real entertainment in your life, but have never been to a Karaoke joint in San Antonio last weekend of July, think again.

Despite the wonderful opportunities to gather material with which to blackmail my colleagues, (think inebriated, half-operatic versions of "I Will Survive") I decided to go for a night-time run in the city's fantastic McAllister Park instead. My run was mostly in the dark, so I don't think I could tell you many specifics about the park, except that it was huge, full of wildlife, and had fantastic trails. RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A FREAKIN NEIGHBORHOOD! The drive was maybe 15 minutes max from my downtown hotel room, but was a veritable nature preserve. I would not be caught dead without a trusty MP3 player to drown out the noise of Houston traffic on any of my home town runs, but the sounds of crickets, birds, and other living things that can't survive in H-town were so lovely, I actually turned the iPhone off. The high point of a very short-lived run was when I saw NINE deer grazing in a field just as the sky turned to black. I hoped I could capture the silhouette of the scene, but the light of my phone alarmed the deer. They ran off silently in a perfectly spaced, single-file line. Beautiful.

This further confirmed my ever-strengthening feelings that Houston has just got it all wrong. I thought Austin was the only city in Texas that really cared for its green space, but as I researched San Antonio's park system, I see that I was completely mistaken. That leaves Houston on par with one of my least favorite cities in the the world, Dallas. Houston was not born ugly, we made it that way. There are tiny remnants of recreational, un-manicured nature left, such as the Ho Chi Minh trails in Memorial Park, and I suppose we could even count some of the nature paths in the Woodlands, but that's pretty much it. Anyone who wants local options as a runner, hiker, mountain-biker, or nature-lover, is pretty much SOL.

This is not to say that the athletic scene in Houston is altogether dead. (We are only the second-fattest city in the nation now, right?) If you are a former high school quarterback, baseball player, or basketball star, there are plenty of ways to relive your former glory through professional sports. (Or at least we think that at the outset of each season. Maybe next year, Astros.) Sports bars abound in Houston, so it's simple to get that rusty drinking arm back into shape.

But for the rest of us who care to train for a sport in which we can actually participate, there is so little to hold onto. I realize there are other quality-of-life issues at play. Barefoot running may have gained so much ground in San Francisco because people can't afford to buy shoes in the first place, and now it just happens to be en vogue. However, our priorities as a city skew waaaaayyyyy too far in the direction of buildings and business while nature and health fall to the wayside. I am happy to have dug out an enjoyable running route or two. I thank God for my proximity to Allen Parkway just about every run, but I'm not sure how much longer I can appreciate the repetition. My running soul thirsts for green, while my brain demands a steady job. Sigh......Will I ever have both?

In other news, had a great run last night. Half-mile warm up, 3 miles at marathon pace, half mile cool down. I felt solid despite the heat and the extra, uh, Animal Style 2x2 I'm still carrying around with me. It was very encouraging. Still keeping my fingers crossed that I will actually get to put that training to use in the Houston Marathon. August 17 can't come too soon. Until tomorrow....Good night!