Monday, July 30, 2012


Angsty posts are better than no posts, right?

After the awesome high of Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay the weekend before last (which of course, I haven't posted about) there was last Saturday, which was the Wildwood Trail Half Marathon in Forest Park.

Gorgeous day. Gorgeous course. Felt well-hydrated and energetic, ready to run.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, nothing at first. The initial 2 miles or so were hard, as they were pretty much all uphill, which I knew was going to be the case when I signed up. So that was difficult, aerobically challenging and a bit frustrating, simply because my hill training is pretty much non-existent.

Then, enter mile about 4, trudging a bit but keeping on pretty well, where I tripped on some hidden rock, root or lick of air....and down I went. Ugh. It was one of those falls where I stumbled long enough for the fully-formed acknowledgement that I was going to hit the dirt go through my head. The damage - not too bad. Banged my left knee, fell on both hands, but not hard enough to scrape the palms - just enough to make them sting and bruise a bit. Tore my bib at one corner so that it hung lopsided on only one bib clip on my water belt. Took a few minutes to regain my composure and went on.

I hit the turnaround - drank up, filled my waterbottles, grabbed a handful of graham crackers, and got some wind back, happy with the knowledge that all the hills were done and for the most part, it was all flat and downhill back to the finish.

So I just hummed right along until about mile 10, where, you guessed it: my second dirt snack of the day. This time, it was a quick and completely unexpected slam into the ground. I never even figured out what it was I stumbled on, but as it was on a slightly downhill slope, once my left hand hit the ground, the rest of me just sort of kept going, and wrenched my wrist into a very un-natural angle. Really hard. Again my left knee got the impact as well, this time there was missing skin but amazingly enough, it wasn't bleeding.

I was so stunned all I could do was sit there in the dirt, cradling my wrist and hand which was an explosion of pain, and swear up a blue streak. A very nice middle-aged man with a little dust-mop of a dog came along on the trail about 15 seconds after I fell, and asked if I was ok. I wasn't quite in tears at that point but almost; even so I managed to convince the guy I was ok. He refused to leave until I got up off the ground.

Dejectedly, covered with dirt and trying to hold my left hand in an elevated position, I continued down the trail, knowing full well that all running was done for the day, not looking forward to having 3 more miles to deal with before I could get any sort of attention. Holding my hand up seemed to help a bit, but it really, REALLY hurt. A couple of times I nearly burst into tears, but I managed to keep myself glued together enough to concentrate on just getting back down the hill in one piece.

One of the women I had passed about a mile before I fell caught up to me...a very nice person named Raven. God bless her....she stayed with me for the rest of the race, and she kept me talking enough to keep my mind off my throbbing wrist. She is one of those people who you can instantly fall in with and just start gabbing away about most anything, and we did - she was my "trail angel" and I am so grateful she was kind enough to stick with me and make sure I made it to the finish line.

I crossed the timing mats not even really caring that I was finishing except for the fact that now I could start dealing with the problem "at hand" - pun intended. We sat in the shade and drank a bunch of fluids and had some watermelon, and then Raven walked me to my car. She made me promise I was going to go get x-rays, but I had already figured out that was going to be necessary. Driving home was interesting, as my little sedan has a standard transmission, but I managed okay, steering with my left thumb when necessary (which was the only digit I could move at that point without sharp pain shooting up my arm).

About 4 hours in the ER with x-rays and an exam revealed no fractures but a "severe soft-tissue injury" which landed me in a snug wrist/hand brace contraption and the admonition for ibuprofen and ice. Lovely.

So, at least now my hand is already feeling much better, as I can attest to as I manage to type out this post halfway decently. But the thought of going out and running right now just bums me out, especially the idea of getting back on the trail. And clearly, until the trauma to the tissues in my hand has healed significantly, much of the Crossfit training is going to be on hold. Not only that, but I banged my knee up a bit more than I initally thought; it is slowly developing a nice bruise and is still tender and a bit swollen. My hand, I am calling the "Stay Puft Marshmallow Hand" - the knuckle bones of my pinky and ring finger are completely indistinguishable but I am able to flex and move the fingers without too much pain, which I consider a good thing. Still, I think I am looking at a fairly long period to full recovery.

Right now my attitude is not the best, but I recongnize a few things:

* Had it been a knee or an ankle with as bad a sprain as my hand suffered, I would have not made it down the hill without some serious help. That would have been....inconvenient at best, and horribly embarassing at worst.

* My new friend forever Raven came along right at the point when I was just about to fall apart. Funny how that happens. I love it when God smiles on me when I most need it.

* I can tell that my body is working hard to heal the injuries. I am grateful that I didn't actually break any bones, and I think I can give a lot of credit to the running, which has been proven in several studies to help keep the bones of middle-aged and older women nice and dense like they should be.

* I finished the race. Unfortunately, there was no bling for this one and the t-shirt is too small...but I did. not. DNF. And I did it in under four hours, which, all things considered, really wasn't too bad. I wasn't last.

And there you have it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The blog has been quiet.....

...but the brain has been going full-tilt.

I've been doing a ton of thinking of late about where I'm at as opposed to where I've been and where I dream about being someday. That's not to say that I haven't been thinking about these things for quite some time, as I have, but just that in the last couple of weeks, it's been some very deep and reflective evaluation. Aside from the larger life-milestone-accomplishment sorts of thinking (mid-life crisis, anyone?) - the majority of my musings have centered around what I am doing/should be doing/should NOT be doing to get myself to true "fighting form."

At the moment, I'm hunkered down under the covers, on the upswing from what appears to be a 48-hour (hopefully) surprise bout of the flu, which when combined with my severe lack of running for the last several weeks means that I will be DNS'ing the Timberline Half Marathon this coming weekend. This will be only the second race I have ever failed to start - with the first being a free 5K a couple months ago that at least didn't precipitate the waste of an entry fee. I'm not happy about it by any stretch of the imagination, but more powerful is my desire to not blow myself out trying to finish a course that I am ill-prepared to take on. In fact, I really wasn't adequately trained for the Rock-n-Roll Half on the 20th; for the majority of that run I was tired, somewhat dehydrated and after about mile 8, plagued with muscle cramps.

So let's talk about this "fighting form" for a moment. What does this really mean?

What I am beginning to figure out is that I am nowhere near to this state of being....regardless of the running I've done over the last 3 years, my recent fascination with CrossFit, or the improvements I've (tried) to implement in terms of my diet - to be honest, in this particular area, I would give myself about a D+.

The month or so of CrossFit workouts I've done have thoroughly convinced me that my fitness level is paltry, at best. Sure, I can run for a few miles without stopping, and sometimes I can slog along for several miles/hours without becoming incapacitated, but as far as actual body strength is concerned, I'm practically worthless. My weight is still way too high (my apologies to the "fat acceptance" crowd, but being this fat is not acceptable!!)

Indeed, the only thing about which I appear to be consistent is my inconsistency. And as maddening as it is to constantly be falling off the truck shortly after I claw my way on, I still hold on to that slender hope and the stubborn insistence that I'm not ready to throw in the towel for good just yet.

Thanks in part to the ever-intrepid Cilley Girl, I've been directing a lot of my attention to Paleo and Primal-type diet information. Based on the sheer volume of success stories and the seemingly solid science that many of the Paleo/Primal advocates use to back up their claims, it appears more and more that this is the way to go. Grass-fed meats, fresh vegetables and fruit, raw, whole dairy (at least in some cases), spices, healthy fats (olive, avocado, nuts) - unadulterated by factory processes and preservatives and refined sugars and the seemingly counterproductive elimination of grains ....really and truly, this is the diet that ALL of us should be eating. No joke, folks!! Not only has it been proven, but it's just plain common sense.

I am really starting to recognize the ridiculous volume of sugar-and-chemical laden junk food that is simply *everywhere* - one can't even go to fill up their gas tank anymore without being bombarded with advertisements for and the presence of gallons of soda, dumptruck loads of chips, cookies and other salty snack foods, not to mention the hotdogs/nachos/hamburgers all camping out limply underneath heat lamps. Fast-food joints are liberally sprinkled throughout the suburbs, and even the grocery stores are stacked to the ceilings (at least in those ill-advised "middle aisles") with food that has been scientifically proven to be outrageously unhealthy. Junk food has literally become a staple in the modern American diet. It's cheap, it's oftentimes quite delicious, and it is not possible to escape it, at least unless one lives fifty miles out in the middle of the desert or on the snowy mountaintops. And - this isn't even scratching the surface on the mounting evidence that grains are not the heart-healthy staple that has been pounded into the collective dietary consciousness for the last century or so....

And it is just SO easy to keep shoveling it in one's mouth.

In any case, I am steering closer and closer to simply getting over myself - and the tough initial weeks - of commitment to a Primal diet. Besides, any diet where I don't have to give up red meat and butter is pretty much tops in my book. It's the sugar and the junk that needs to go.

The other thing occupying my mind lately is the process of finding a balance between running and CrossFit. I am adamant that I am not going to give either of them up, but I need to figure out how to fit them together so that I can keep doing my beloved half-full marathons while doing enough to make progress with my WODs and get good at "lifting heavy things." I know there is a way to do it, but I just don't know yet what it is. I'm going to start with the CF trainers and see what they recommend - and then the coming months are going to be a journey of finding out what works. As I see it, CrossFit should happen at least three times a week to have a real impact, and that leaves only two weekdays plus one weekend day for running, which in turn allows for one day of complete rest (which is pretty much non-negotiable.) The other option is doing the WOD in the morning and running in the afternoon three days, plus one day of just running plus the weekend run/race, and that might be beneficial - but it would be hard to do timewise. Sooooo.....I guess it's just going to be trial-and-error time for the forseeable future.

One way or another, it's time to get serious about all of this. It's nice to at least have the path illuminated - I now need the motivation and the power to step on it, start walking, and stay on it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. I know, you thought this blog was broken or I was dead or maybe I just ran off to join the circus or something. Well, none of the above are true. Life goes on, apparently. So for those of you who are still reading, here are the other two things for today:

2. Sunday = Portland RnR Half. It will be interesting. "A" goal is 2:55. "B" - 3:00-3:05.  "C" - 3:10-3:15. "C" is most likely, but I am trying to be positive here, and I am going also to try very hard to earn my "A". I'm looking forward to the bling and my personalized bib and the excitement of a big ol' noisy race with a giant expo and carbo-loading with all of my running peeps - Jenn, Kim, Ronda, are you listening....???? I'm also looking forward to connecting with a whole gaggle of Running Chicks (ya'll know who you are!) --  especially those with whom I'll be doing Ragnar Northwest in July. I've not been running much the past couple of weeks, but......

3. .....I *have* been doing Crossfit workouts 2-3 times a week. The kinds of workouts where sweat is literally dripping off of me onto the floor, where I can barely get to catch my breath and I doubt I could possibly ever in a million years manage even one more squat or kettlebell swing, but somehow I do. I am hoping that the conditioning I've been doing will make up a little for the lack of running. At least in any case, several of these workouts have involved 200, 400 and 800 meter sprints, so it's not like there has been zero's just that the non-Crossfit days during the week are supposed to be my running days, and with only a couple times being the exception (plus long runs on the weekend), I haven't followed through.

We'll see how this somewhat slacker strategy plays itself out on Sunday....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pear Blossom/Monument Peak

Time for an update.  :-P

At least I have two races to talk about, and it's a pretty big coincidence, I guess, that they were both 10 mile races, only a week apart, and that it is absolutely impossible that they could have been (or ended) any more differently than they did. These two Saturdays served as a sobering study in how extremely opposite two races of the same distance can be.

Pear Blossom Run - Medford, OR
This was a big (a couple thousand) and very enjoyable race. The weather perfect - a bit overcast and cool. Pancake flat, except for one minor hill, all on city/country roads that were mostly closed to traffic, with multiple well-stocked aid stations. Plus, it was in my hometown, which was very nostalgic and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which in turn made me feel like I could run forever. I managed to run every step until about 6.5 miles, and better yet, I ran the first five miles in only 1:03, which was (is) a positively scorching time for me. The last three miles were tough, as it was beginning to warm up a bit, but I finished strong and killed my predicted time. There were still quite a few folks out on the course behind me.

Distance: 10 miles
"A" goal time: 2:15:00
Actual time: 2:08.53
Pace: 12:53

Monument Peak Run - Gates, OR
Remember this?

Much smaller run, less than 200 participants. Tucked well up into the foothills leading to Sisters, on the way to Bend. I started feeling pretty good, a smile on my face....and within 2 minutes of the gun was dead last, with the pack rapidly fading from sight. Managed to reel in two folks who ended up reeling me in (permanently) at around the 6.5 mile mark.

Mud, mud, and more mud. Nearly lost my footing multiple times, but only fell once at around mile 8, and it was a backwards fall on a downhill slope (which made the distance between my butt and the ground much shorter) and coated with about 6 inches of mud (which softened the blow considerably, but as a result coated much of *me* with mud as well!)

The singular aid station was actually at around mile 6 rather than mile 5 as it had been announced at the start. At a certain point, I'd decided they'd already taken it away since I kept going and going and wasn't getting there, and when I finally did get there, I almost broke down and cried because I thought I'd only made it to mile 5, and I was already exhausted and ready to be done. I spent about 5 full minutes at the lonely little unmanned table, extremely grateful that there was plenty of water left, but absolutely dreading the thought I'd only gone 5 miles, and at that point had already been out on the course about an hour and 45 minutes.

Shortly after the aid station I was passed by the two aforementioned runners who were completely out of sight within a few moments, and then I knew I was absolutely dead last, which hadn't happened to me for a very long time. I knew my time was ridiculous - on the climbs I kept having to stop and catch my breath, trying not to completely lose it in total and utter despair; I stopped A LOT and this was slaughtering my time. I mean, very, VERY rarely have I ever had to just stop and not move during a race. It made me mad, but when your legs are on fire and you simply are not sucking in enough oxygen no matter how hard you try, there's not much you can do.

The thought that not only was I last, but that they were probably going to take down the finish line and stop the clock before I got there was just humiliating. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, on a trail by yourself, you don't have a choice to do anything but to either turn around and go back (which would have been stupid in this case, because I was halfway already) or keep going forward. You can't just quit - unless you are so gravely injured that all you can do is wait for a sweeper crew that the race organizers *might* send out, you have to keep moving one way or the other!! So it was a sure affirmation from God Himself (and I mean it!) that I actually caught up with one other person at about the 8.5 mile mark. She was a lovely soul and we decided to stick together to the end, and we did. If it hadn't have been for her....

We were relieved to see that while all the other tables and food and whatnot were long gone by the time we finally staggered across the finish line, they hadn't stopped the clock so we still got official times.


Distance: 10 miles
"A" goal time: 2:30:00
Actual time: 3:32:58
Pace: 21:17

Worst. Pace. EVER.
Dare I say, worst race as well. Even as beautiful as the course was.

But there are certainly a few lessons to be learned here:

One, I need to get busy with some serious hill training. Like, immediately. Because in the scheme of things, this race was not nearly as brutal as many other trail races are - ones that I would like to do someday. This one was more than I should have tried to handle - I was not ready for it. Respect the distance AND the elevation!!

Two, I must never assume that a great pace with a certain distance is going to mean a great pace at that same distance later down the road. I knew going in that Monument was going to be more difficult than The Pear, but....see Point #1.

Three, I need to overcome my significant fear of running (and not walking/stepping delicately in order to keep my footing) when it gets really goopy. It must be mostly inertia that keeps the seasoned trail runners on their feet when slogging through water and sometimes-more-than-ankle-deep mud, especially on the downhill slopes, but I am so petrified of falling that I have a hard time just forcing myself to barrel right through it rather than slowing to a careful walk and stepping through it like there's a hungry alligator lurking in the slime. I must add, though, that the Monument course was a very technical course in addition to the mud - tons of roots, rocks and potholes - and that just made it all the more difficult.

Be that as it may, I am pretty sure I'll do this one again next year (in addition to Pear Blossom, which was cake and rainbows by comparison) --  but, as long as I keep hammering away, it can only get better, right?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter post

So, this post has two, to wish everyone a very blessed Easter. He is risen, yes indeed.

1 Peter 1:3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

The other purpose is to catch everyone up a bit on running and fitness and all that stuff.

The newest element I've introduced to the mix is Crossfit. I'd actually been intended to check it out for a long time, very intrigued with the concept and how it worked. The week before last, when I had a bit of time off, I decided to go check it out and the little baby mini-workout I was put through kicked my butt up one side and down the other. Strangely enough, I decided that this was *exactly* what I needed. So I signed up for the introductory "Onboarding Class", which is a series of six sessions that are designed to carefully introduce one to the major components of Crossfit.

So last week, I did three sessions and I'm pretty much hooked. This is hard stuff - very intense bursts for relatively short periods of time. Warm-up at the beginning is a good 10-15 minutes, but the workout itself is only about 30-40 minutes. Lots of weight lifting, about a bazillion squats. A healthy sweat + elevated heart rate + intense strength training = pretty good stuff. If I can figure out the financial end of it, I am definitely going to stick with it.

I've also really shaken up the eating plan. From the beginning of February or so I had been tracking all of my food and keeping it generally under 1800 cals a day, but not paying a whole lot of attention to the composition of those calories. I lost a bit of weight, but then it completely stalled out, for several weeks. So last week I really tightened it down - using a "mash-up" plan using concepts from the Zone diet and the Paleo diet - very low to no refined carbs (bread, pasta, rice, added sugars) and more significant amounts of protein and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil). And boy, does it work - at least so far: 9 lbs. down since last Sunday. All of the food I've been eating is stuff I really like, so I honestly don't think it will be difficult for me to keep this up, even incorporating it into lifestyle eating - which is entirely possible. I mean, how could it *not* be possible, if it means eating all sorts of veggies and fruits, not giving up the meats (which I love) and not having to worry quite so much about fats? I'm not even going to completely give up the grains - an occasional serving of rice or a peice of toast, or even having a small piece of birthday cake and a muffin every once in a while - the key, obviously, is moderation.

The next thing I need to figure out is incorporating a reasonable running schedule into the Crossfit schedule. And making sure I don't lose momentum with the new eating plan.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A race report and....what's next.

Oh my goodness - so much happening in my running life!

**My third go-round with the Shamrock Run 15K is now in the history books. The medal this year was big, heavy and felt sweet indeed hanging around my neck. I felt great the night before, thanks to my lovely running peeps Jenn, Kim, Ronda and Donna and a fun meet-up/pre-race carb load:

Pasta! Awesome Friends! Purple Couches!

Race day was cold and dreary, and threatening snow. At least, it wasn't windy. Jenn and I stuck together and ran a fantastic race - I ended up taking 10 minutes off my time from last year. And - by far - I felt better during this race than I have during any other for a really long time - from start to finish. Our goal was 2:09; we crossed the line in 2:11 and change. I didn't even care that we'd missed that mark - I was simply ecstatic to finish as strongly as I did.

Heavy Medal!

**I've filled out the rest of my "racing" year quite nicely, with a few more events still on the fence waiting for a decision. This spring and summer will be liberally sprinkled with half marathons and a couple 10-milers, with the "Big Kahuna" being the Seattle Marathon in November. The most recent development - as in, today - is that I am now on a Ragnar team and will be running the Northwest Passage relay from Blaine to Bellingham, WA in July! I am crazy excited about this - never done a relay of any distance but have wanted to for some time.

**About a week ago, I crawled out on a serious limb and signed up for the Monument Peak 15K. This one is going to be all about elevation gain and mud, given the chart helpfully provided on the website, and the fact that it's only about 4 1/2 weeks away:

I am feeling the need to feed my trail running beast, though, and I don't want to wait until Timberline in June. I would be lying if I said I wasn't genuinely concerned about my ability to finish this race - it could very well end up being my first DNF. If I waited until I thought I was ready to tackle a challenge such as this, though, I'd probably never do it. I am hoping beyond hope that I'm not biting off more than I can even hold in my mouth, let alone chew. We shall see.

**I am still tracking all of my food, and although it's a serious pain in the ass, it really is helping. The weight is coming down, and little by little, I can feel my running workouts get stronger as I slowly get lighter. Only a few pounds from now, I will be at a weight I've not been at since about 2006. It's still hard to wade through the moments of weakness - I imagine it will always be hard to some degree - but it is wonderful to see this all paying off. The thought of getting to a "normal" weight - which to me will be my optimal running weight (whatever that is) is so exciting to me. One should never harbor regrets, as they serve no purpose other than to make one feel guilty and bad about themselves - but honestly, I really do wish I'd picked up this mantle 20 years ago. I mean, really picked it up rather than pretended at it, which is essentially what I think I did for the most part.

It is beyond high time to see what I am capable of doing, and capable of being. The rest of this year is going to be the test.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Banner Days

Even on the treadmill, sometimes it just all falls together in such a way that leaves you wondering why there was ever a time in your life when you didn't run - which for me, is a good chunk of it.

This morning, at o'dark thirty, as I climbed on the deck and situated my stuff, I was feeling tired, unmotivated and for some weird reason, a bit nauseous. All sorts of excuses were formulating in my head, but I plugged in the warm-up and started in.

I started out by bargaining with myself....since I wasn't feeling all that good, I would just do a nice, easy 4.2 - 4.3 mph and walk if I needed to.

After a few minutes, I was feeling a bit better so I modified the bargain - maybe bump it up to 4.4 for a while and then see how I felt.

About five to eight minutes of that and I was feeling even better, so up I went to 4.5 and more or less resolved to finish out the hour at that pace.

A little more time ticked away, and then on a lark I decided to increase the speed every few minutes to the point where it was just starting to get uncomfortable and see how long I could maintain it. Ultimately, I ended up at 4.8, a 12:30 minute mile pace, and held it for about fifteen minutes, bumping it up to 5.2 for the last minute or so that got me to 5K.  I recovered for a minute or two at 4.0, and then finished out the hour - a while at 4.5, then the remainder at 4.6.

It was fantastic - like my lungs and legs were all having one big party down there, with the exception of a slightly cranky ball joint on my right foot, but even that gave up after a while when it figured out how awesome the rest of me was. I might have even been able to do more, but I didn't want to push it too hard with a really tough 15K coming up this Sunday. Even so, giving how I felt at the end, I am pretty confident I could have coaxed even a bit more speed out the legs. Slowly but surely, I will get that sustainable 12-minute-mile back in my repertoire, and then....who knows?  :-)

I was one hot sweaty mess when I was done, which only served to fuel my feeling of accomplishment. Best of all, I was energized, not the least bit sore and absolutely ready to take on the day.

More runs like these, especially on those days when the treadmill is really the only option?

Yes, please!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ft. Vancouver recap (and a bit of motherly pride!)

Last Sunday was the Ft. Vancouver Run, wherein I ran my first 10K in quite a while.

My one and only goal for this one was to run without stopping. In other words, no walking. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. To this end, as my "no walking" goal included no walking water stops (and I still have yet to perfect the "Dixie Cup Shuffle") I carried my trusty Nathan handheld, filled to the brim with low-calorie grape Gatorade goodness (I LOVE that stuff - really!)

And....I did it. A couple of times I slowed to the point where switching to walking would have been barely noticeable, but not a single walking step did I take, from the time I started across the mats to the time I finished. My time was wholly unremarkable - 1:28 and change - but time was not my goal, so I am pretty satisfied with myself.

And, as a bonus, many of my awesome running peeps were there:

Now, you might notice in this picture the extremely bored-looking young man standing next to me. This is my 9-yr-old Nicholas. He decided a little late into the game that he really wanted to run the Kid's Race (1K), but I was not able to sign him up officially, as the kid's numbers had all sold out. However - the very nice folks at Energy Events let him run anyway, assuring him that if there were any medals left over after all the registered kids had received theirs, he could have one. As you can see, there is one hanging around his neck, so that was a total win.

Trust me when I say he was a lot more excited at race time:

In true, die-hard Runner Fashion, he even wanted to carry my handheld!

Obviously, a 1K isn't a very signficant distance, but when one is only 9, and has limited sustained running experience, 1K is a terrific beginner's stretch.

Right before the finish line - love the concentration on his face!
Just admire that beautiful mid-foot strike!

I was so proud of him. He clocked in at around 4:30, which, if he were to maintain that pace, would put him at roughly an 8:50 minute mile or so. Not too shabby, eh?  ;-)

Bring on the bling!!

He has told me he wants to do more, which makes my heart sing. I am really excited about introducing him to the Running World, and I am thinking of ways that I can help keep it fun for him while building up his stamina. And actually, this wasn't even his first race - last year, he did a Mother's Day kid's run, and before that, he did the Kid's Shamrock Stride - but up until recently, he hasn't shown tremendous interest.

As a sign of commitment - mostly to myself - I even had him fit for real running shoes, which we purchased at the packet pick-up for the race. Then we went to Target and got him his shirt and shorts - so now he is completely outfitted (in Dri-Tech, even!) and ready to rumble.

I am looking forward to the day when he will totally smoke me in a 5K.  I have a feeling it won't be too much longer from now, and that's just fine by me.

Next up - Shamrock 15K!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Friday Five

  1. Almost didn't pry myself out of bed this morning to go to the gym, but common sense won. As per usual, didn't regret my 4.3 mile run even one little tiny bit (even if it was on a treadmill.)
  2. It's getting lighter earlier, and staying lighter later. This is very exciting, because that means it won't be too long before I can stop having to run on the treadmill all the effing time.
  3. As a corollary to #2, I really should invest in some reflective running clothes, and this. And stop being such a weenie about running outside before it gets light.
  4. Sunday is the Ft. Vancouver Run. I am doing the 10K, and my goal for this race is to walk only through the water stops. Even if it means 15-minute miles while I'm running. Psychologically, this would be a big deal to me. Nicholas is going to run in the kid's race, too. And - bonus! The weather is supposed to be partly sunny and nearly 60 degrees. One cannot ask for better running conditions, oh no they can't!
  5. And last but not least - but the most exciting/nervewracking/only potentially disastrous thing - I have signed up for the Seattle Marathon on Nov. 25th. As in, the Full Meal Deal. The Whole Enchilada. All Nine Yards (or in this case, 46,112 yards!) The course is hilly, although not treacherously so, and the really sweet spot is the out and back on the I-90 floating bridge:
Sorry, Jenn - but this will be made of all SORTS of awesome!

I think I said at one point in an earlier post that I wasn't going to do a full this year, but....I reserve the right to change my mind. 

So, yeah - there ya go.

Happy Running, Friends! Get some good miles in this weekend (especially on Sunday in the great weather!)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Child - she's baaaaack!

My Inner Child has been making appearances lately.

It's important to note that when I speak of her, it is not a touchy-feely warm sentimental thing, like wanting to be carefree and innocent and go make sandcastles at the beach. Rather, she's that small, petulant and often quite vocal part of me that makes decisions as a spoiled child would - not very wisely - and who, when she gets mad, throws tantrums. (I think most of you are probably familiar with her, because her siblings probably reside in *you* as well!)

Yesterday morning when the alarm went off at 5, I lay there under the covers, debating about going to the gym. The evening before, the plan was to get in at least 3-3.5 miles on the treadmill, and perhaps a bit of upper body work with the weights. As I staggered into consciousness, hitting the snooze button two or three times, I realized I was already grumpy about the day and still really tired. I really, really, REALLY didn't want to go, and The Child was coming up with all *sorts* of reasons and excuses as to why I didn't have to. Eventually, I let her get her way - reset the alarm, burrowed back down under the covers and went to sleep.

When I got up the second time, I felt guilty that I had blown my chance to go work out, and immediately went into a negative spiral about anything and everything. Life, it sucked, and all I wanted to do was go back to bed for the rest of the day. Then I made the mistake of stepping on the scale and spent the next few minutes cursing at it was not a number I wanted to see, and everything just sort of viciously cycled upon itself as I got ready for work.

I spent the rest of the day being generally crabby and bummed out, and made some really poor food choices, all the while letting The Child justify why I could just go ahead and eat whatever, because, you know, I was having a crappy day so why not eat crap to make it better.

Oh yeah, right. It was one of those kinds of days.

Well, today, I was determined to have none of that. I got up (more or less) when the alarm went off, got the workout clothes on, told The Child to STFU, and ferried my butt to the gym amid whirling snowfall in the dark of the morning.

I muscled my way through a 3.6 mile sweatfest in about 50 minutes on the Dreadmill. I didn't have time to do weights, but by golly by gum, I got my sweat on and pushed my heartrate to a nice, consistent 150 BPM for the duration.

On my way to work, I picked up some good, healthy things to eat, including a nice chicken caeser salad for lunch (dressing on the side, of course.) I feel physically great and mentally strong, and very pleased that I ignored the petulant whining and did what needed to be done this morning.

And The Child, well, she was sent back to bed - for as long as I can possibly keep her there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oxygen optional

Went for my first run today in nearly a whole week, with sincere hopes of having gotten over this chest cold enough so that it wouldn't be a wholly miserable affair.

On deck was a supposedly easy 3 miles with the Runner Chicks to see if I might be interested in joining their half marathon training program.

The forecast was for wind and rain this morning, but when I woke up it was snowing off and on. Glorious! Jenn and I met up at 9am at Road Runner Sports, mingled with the other runners among the shoes and gear and clothes, and after a few moments of introductory remarks and instruction, off we went. It was chilly but dry until about a mile and three quarters in, when it started in with a heavy, sloppy mix of rain and snow that kept up all the way back to the store.

Throughout the first half of the run, I kept up with Jenn but felt as if my lungs were filled with cement. I needed to hack up crap really badly, but couldn't get enough air and cough hard enough to get it up. After a while I let Jenn go and finally managed to settle into a pace I could handle without constant walk breaks. I wish I had taken a picture of myself when I was done - I was so rockin' the "drowned rat" look - absolutely soaked to the bone.

It was a frustrating run overall, because 3 miles should be a piece of cake. But I talked myself through it and was reminded that recovery from illness is just that - recovery - and not a state of being at 100%, and that the body is only going to do what it is capable of doing at any given time. At least I was able to get out there and run in any case, so I shouldn't complain too much...

Not sure if I am going to join the training program. Jenn has already joined, but I wouldn't be able to make many, if any at all, of the Tuesday night training runs, and many of the weekend runs would be pre-empted by races I really want to do. Not sure if I want to pay 80 bucks for just a few group runs and a shirt.

In any case, in spite of the soggy weather and the challenged lungs, I had a nice time.

Next week, Ft. Vancouver 10K. I bought a box of Mucinex on the way home, and I'm hoping it can get my lungs cleared out by then.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Spirit of Adventure

Having been planted on the couch for yet another day, waiting for this stupid creeping crud to go away, I starting digging into the Internet for info on 2012 races. I'd already started a list a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't paid much attention to it recently, so I thought this would be a great time to see what I could find and beef it up a tad.

The list has 18 races on it now, but it's only a tenative collection with the exception of six (6!) races I am already signed up for:
* Fort Vancouver 10K (next weekend)
* Shamrock 15K (March 18)
* Sellwood Scamper 5K (March 24 - it's free, so why not?)
* Rock-N-Roll Portland Half Marathon (May 20)
* Timberline Half Marathon (June 2)
* Bald Peak Half Marathon (June 23)

Needless to say, if I sign up for everything I found, I will be a very busy bee for the rest of the year. My list will also involve having to make a choice here and there, as it would be pretty much impossible to do back-to-back half marathons (Sat and Sun) on opposite ends of the state, and that's not even considering the kind of training that would involve.

I picked several local races as well as a few that would involve some travel and hotel-room purchasing. One race that I've been wanting to do for a couple of years now is the Pear Blossom 10-miler in Medford, my hometown. This one is in April, and the timing perfect for Rock-N-Roll prep.

Another one requiring some travel is a particularly brutal-looking trail run in September called the Cle Elum Ridge Run near Cle Elum, WA - a 25K with a 3900 ft. elevation gain:|
Just looking at the elevation chart makes my chest hurt - this would by far be the most difficult race in my entire life (should I decide to accept the assignment, of course!)

Thing is, though, I think I'm ready to start taking on these kinds of challenges. The thought of hills like this terrifies and exhilirates me at the same time - a bizarre, twisted feeling that surely only those crazy enough to consider for even two whole seconds the idea of running straight uphill for miles on end can feel. I don't doubt that I'd probably be entertaining murdurous thoughts every step of the way up those inclines, but I have done enough running (on hills, even) to know that the feeling you get when you know you've done it far outweighs anything you might say or feel or even do out on the course.

As far as a primary goal for this year, I am thinking hard about a late fall marathon. I've done Portland twice, and I'd rather do something different this time around, so I have put the Seattle Marathon over Thanksgiving weekend on my radar. This would be a good one to do, because I could plan the whole holiday weekend around it with my brother, my aunt and uncle and cousins and potentially my Mom. I've broached the idea to Charles, who thinks it's a great idea, and I am going to run it by Mom to see what she thinks before I sign up, since we spend every Thanksgiving with her. It's cheaper than Portland, and one gets to run on the I-90 floating bridge, which I think would be a total trip. Plus, plenty of training time between now and then. Which had better involve serious hill training, 'cause the Seattle course ain't flat, oh no it isn't!

I used to think I wanted to eventually run Boston. As a qualifier and not as a charity runner, even. This is an admirable goal, but honestly....assuming I was to make it within the next five years, my qualifiying time is four hours flat. The kind of training that would be required to get from my current marathon PR (7:10) down to 4:00...?  Oh, my. So - let's face it - at this point, I don't think I will ever be fast enough to qualify, and I have finally decided that's okay. Because....I'd rather run for distance than speed, and I've also figured out this has pretty much always been the case.

So, this is my new long-term goal, for starters, I'm thinking next year.

And then this before I turn 50.

Ambition, anyone?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And then, there are the brick walls this case, in the form of a hellacious cold - head AND chest.


I felt it coming on Friday afternoon. Saturday at the Heartbreaker Runs Race Expo, I was congested and tired, slightly achy. Sunday morning (race morning) - I didn't really feel worse, but I definitely did not feel better. It was cold, slight drizzly and we had an early start - 7:40am.

Still, I had a relatively decent run, considering it was uphill for the first mile and a half. Jenn stuck with me as I gasped and wheezed my way up that effing hill, nearly hacking up a lung every hundred feet or so. But then it was all downhill from there, and we came in at 43 and change. Obviously, nothing doing with my desired goal of 40 or less, but considering how I was feeling, I guess it wasn't bad.

Meanwhile, my old "running partner in crime" Donna took third in her age group for the 10K, and Ronda got herself a PR in the half. It was great to know at least a couple of us had a really terrific day on the road! I was wondering, though, if perhaps I should have DNS'd this race, because I think it might have made my cold worse. I did manage to make it through Monday at work but felt like total and utter crap the entire day.

And - presently I am camping on my couch, sniffling, sneezing (EPIC sneezes - the ones that are literally painful) and coughing. I had a midterm this morning, so that's pretty much all I showed up for on campus. I went back to my office after the exam and was very kindly ordered to go home by my boss. Who am I to argue when it's the boss telling me to clear out?  LOL!  In any case, I had been kind of thinking I'd leave early anyway. I highly doubt I'll be heading in tomorrow either.

Lest it really need to be said, I didn't hit the gym yesterday, or today. Definitely not going tomorrow. It is aggravating to think I'm not getting up on that treadmill and sweating it out, but I am pretty convinced my body is telling me that doing so would just not be a good idea.

In the spirit of self-disclosure, I have also been eating about as well as I feel. Crap. There's a piper to pay, I'm sure. Hopefully, this will only last another couple days and then I can get back in gear and get some serious business done.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Movin' right along!

Survey says.............still going strong with Operation Get My Act Together!     ;-D
Diet dialed in pretty tight; journaling every single bite, getting my sleep-addled carcass to the gym at oh-stupid-thirty every morning. I even had a smattering of ice cream with half a brownie last night, and still came in well under 1700 calories for the day.

Down 6.6 pounds.

Mileage so far this week:

Sunday: 3.1m  (Fanconi Anemia 5K)
Monday: 2.85m
Tuesday: 2.29m (strength training day)
Wednesday: 3.55m
Today: 1.53m  (overslept and today was strength training day, so didn't have time for decent cardio. Barely broke a!!)

Tomorrow, I get to make up for today's lousy workout - I plan on making the treadmill my you-know-what.

And oh, speaking of strength training....I spent way too much time on both Tues and Thurs futzing around with the machines and not nearly enough of actually using them. One would think I've never used the stupid things before, but I still need a bit of reacclimation. That, and I really need to get up earlier.

Sunday is the Heartbreaker 5K...but I am seriously toying with the idea of upgrading to the 10K when I pick up my packet on Saturday. I can utilize my time-honored tradition of treating it as a "$35 training run with a shirt" rather than a race, as I tend to do with about 99% of my races. Someday, I will actually race, but this will not be that day, even if I stick with the 5K. If I do, I will, however, try to do at least as well as I did this past weekend...about 42 minutes.

But I won't'd be cool to come in under 40 minutes. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I scanned this picture tonight.

This was taken at about mile 8 or so of the Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon back at the end of October, where I managed my second-best-ever PR for a half - 2:57:10.

Obviously, I am not running fast. I am not anywhere near even the mid-pack.
Obviously, I am not at my goal weight - or anywhere near that either.

But, I love the look on my face.
I love the definition in my legs, in spite of the lack of definition elsewhere.

I loved this race, I really, really did.

So I am posting it.  ;-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rubber, Meet Road

So....I didn't work out yesterday morning, therefore I spent a sweaty 50 minutes on the treadmill after work last night.

I didn't work out this morning either, but I didn't have time to go to the gym after work. In any case, I probably need to chill out for a day or so anyway, and I say this with complete confidence that it is not an excuse. Going from zero to a hundred in only a week can be asking for trouble.

When I woke up this morning, I could feel the outer, prickling edges of The Mood.

Yes, that mood.

The same mood that tends to creep in at fairly predictable intervals after I've decided this will be the last time I have to go on a serious weight loss regimen. The mood that numbs me into no longer caring about what I shovel in my mouth, because by God, I am sick of having to think about it, and it's just not fair that I can't have that huge handful of M&M's and a cheeseburger and a nice big bowl of ice cream without unwanted consequences.

But I thought about my goals, and I thought about what I would be thinking if I caved in. And I read an inspirational story I found on the web.

And then I put on my big girl panties and ate sensibly for the entire day.

I won't run again until Sunday, when I do the 5K.

And then next week, it's Game On, Continued.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mid-Week Check-Up


After two days of working out + (very!!) mindful eating + journaling (exercise log AND food log) - I am already down 3.4 lbs. - !!  Water weight For The Win. The fat cells have been officially put on notice.

The eating has been a bit tough while my stomach and my brain figure out what's going on. Yesterday, I was so hungry in the afternoon I could've eaten shoe this morning, I upped the calories and protein for breakfast a bit to see if that helps. My goal is to keep it under 2,000 cals a day for now, with a more specific target of between 1500-1700 - I think this is perfectly reasonable. As the weight really starts going down, so will my calorie range, but that's another day, another post.

It takes a lovely 5am wake-up call to get to the gym. Including this morning's workout, I've logged a touch over 8 miles and sweated lots. And I'm not overly sore, which means that I'm not overdoing it. 8 miles doesn't actually sound like much, but since I've not been in a consistent, daily running habit for well over three months, easing back in seems like a grand idea. Bob and Jillian would scoff, I'm sure, but screw 'em - they aren't the ones who would have to gimp around the office all day long!!  ;-)

Sometime very soon I will be incorporating strength training into the routine, just as soon as I figure out how to make myself get out of bed a bit earlier. Next week, I think. Then I will be gimping around the office for a while, no doubt!

In more running news - this weekend is the 8th Annual Fanconi Anemia Run - my third year in a row!  I'm only doing the 5K distance this time, instead of the 12K - definitely erring on the side of caution. Thw following weekend, I've got the Heartbreaker 5K as well...yeah, yeah, another 5K. In any case, I've also signed on for the 15K distance for the Shamrock Run next month - which of course, includes the Killer Terwilliger Hill...not so sure I have erred enough on caution's side for that one, but we shall see.

Run fast but run wise, friends!  Onward!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Starting Over, Part Eleventy-Bazillion

I guess I'm just going to keep posting these kinds of particular posts until I get it through my concrete-like skull. They say repetition is the key, so my apologies if I sound like a broken record. I don't want this blog to be full of nothing but "new leaf beginnings" - but until I can get myself into a groove where I will stay, I suppose this is what it will be.

As if I had a choice.


Interesting thought, that. As. If. I. Had. A. Choice.

Funny thing is, it's all about choices, from the moment you get out of bed until the moment you lay your head back down again for the night.

You can choose to have a bad atittude, or a good one.
You can choose to listen to the voice in your head you know will lead you astray, or to the voice you know is the one of reason and truth (and depending on which voice you choose, you will have a whole other host of choices in front of you, needing to be made.)
You can choose to let your cravings and your moments of weaknesses rule, or you can choose to stand strong, to be strong.

Every single choice will lead to a consequence. The question becomes: what consequences with which are you willing to settle, and what consequences for which are you willing to fight? about me? Well, I might feel differently in the morning (and I accept that, and will deal with what comes) - but right now in this moment, there are some very specific things for which I choose to fight.

And, they say, if you are going off to battle, you need weapons. Strong ones. Ones that, if used properly, won't fail you. I am thinking of starting with these:

If you don't write it down, it didn't happen, right?
These haven't been used much lately. Boy, does that need to change.

Neither has this.

Of course, these weapons will work - in their truest sense - only if I also have this stuff in my arsenal:
This is what shopping solely on the outer aisles of your local grocery store looks like.

In this beautiful little picture I hijacked from the 'Net, you will likely notice the complete and somewhat conspicuous absence of chips, cookies, Outback Steak House Bloomin' Onions, chocolate, french fries, cheesecake, pizza, Captain Crunch and whipped cream. This isn't to say that those things are all I eat, but the core issue with them is that when I do eat them (which is still probably too often) - I am not capable of eating them in moderation, because they are all powerful trigger foods for me. So while it is important to indulge once in a while, I think that for now, abstinence is simply going to have to be my mantra. What will I choose to do?

And as for my running life.....well, I just need to find it again, dust it off. I know it's there. Every once in a while, I hear it squeak pitifully, and for a split second, I almost remember how awesome I feel when I'm out there, doing it, nearly every damned day. How I feel when I'm done, sweating buckets and sometimes sore as hell, but glowing and breathless and full of endorphins. How I feel when I cross the finish line of a race that kicked my ass, but it didn't really kick my ass, because I made it across those timing mats. And oh, hey, in case I forgot, Running On Purpose is a running blog. A blog where I talk about my running life. The running life which currently is lying under a ginormous wet pile of ridiculous excuses. What will I choose to do?

I think ya'll probably get the picture here.

This is going to be hard, and it's going to suck, and the reason I know that is because I've been there before, and on top of that I have disappointed myself so may times now that the thought of trying to do this again is almost too much for me. Part of me feels extraordinarily foolish for even blogging about it, because my perception is that everyone around me has heard it before, over and over and over and over. And perhaps they have seen it before, but only for a few days or a few weeks. And when it's particularly bad, maybe only a few hours. And then, nothing has changed, I'm back to skipping runs and workouts and stuffing my face and gaining weight and essentially flipping myself the bird, because that's pretty much what it amounts to.

I am SO SICK of failing. This is a battle I have never truly finished. All my life. Indeed, the only things I seem to be capable of finishing are those stupid slices of pizza, or those galldarned sugar cookies in the kitchen next to my office at work. To me, the finish line will be the day I see the numbers I want on the scale and can finally move into a maintenance phase. I have no earthly clue what it means to maintain my weight, because - and I mean literally - I have NEVER been there. Ever. E.V.E.R.

So, ok, fine, whatever, yadda yadda, yawn blahdeblahdeblah..thdioadhwjke38i9orbngd.

May this be my last "new leaf beginning" post - and every post after this a progress report of my successes, rather than my failures. Or even, if they must happen, a post about my "two-steps-forward-one-step-back" days, because...they will happen. But...better than three steps back, by my reckoning.


What's it going to be?

Time to choose.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Staying on the positive side

Last night, I found a really inspirational website that lit a bit of a fire under me. As a result, I vowed to get up early this morning and go work out, and by golly, I did - not as early as I'd intended, but hey, I got my feet on the floor and out the door; a good half-hour sweatfest was certainly better than none.

I have no clue how long this particular streak will last - of course, I can't even really call it a streak just yet. But lately, my motivation has been so elusive and I've made so many not-so-stellar choices with my diet and exercise that I've grown quite cynical that these "fits of clarity and hope" will ever last, even from hour-to-hour it seems sometimes. I am sick to death of going out gangbusters for a day or a couple days or even a week or so, and then, kind of like heading off a cliff (or shooting myself in the foot) - failing to follow up and power through those days and moods where I couldn't care less if I never ran another step or never put down the damned fork, for the rest of my life.

So, what triggered today's determined attitude? The website for sure, but there are a few other candidates too - ones I've already been sitting with for several weeks: 
  • It could be the roughly 15 lbs. or so I've gained since the end of October (and not entirely ironically, my last race - the Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon)...
  • It could be the fact that I have gone for a run only and exactly four times, not counting today, since then.
  • Or it could be finally getting myself off the near-constant sugar-high I've been on since Thanksgiving - egg nog, pumpkin pie, chocolate, and all of the other creamy/salty/fatty stuff I've been inhaling like there was no tomorrow.
  • Quite possibly, it was the shiny, seductive lure of making my year-in, year-out resolutions to properly deal with my weight issues once and for all....the promise to make this my best running year get stronger...even just to write more often (well, I'm *here*, aren't I?  LOL) - this may have something to do with it as well.
 So who really knows?  It's probably a combination of all of the above.

This morning, I managed two sweaty and somewhat labored miles, with a quarter mile walk each for warm-up and cool-down. I couldn't handle less than a 13:30 pace without significant stress (and I REALLY didn't want to push the envelope given the current state of my training)  --   but I ran the whole two miles without stopping, or walking for that matter.
I have decided to take this as a positive sign - another little piece of ammunition in my arsenal against apathy and lethargic "don't-care" attitudes. Supposing I can keep getting back to my feet after knocking myself down - and I harbor no illusion that I won't do so again, probably multiple times, in the future - I just might have a fighting chance of reaching my ultimate weight goal, and of running the sorts of races I can only dream about right now.

On a bit of a whim, I signed myself up last Friday for a 5K "Resolution Run" coming up on January 21st. It's been a long time since I've done a 5K, but really, this is where I need to pick it up - almost-at-but-not-quite the beginning. I hope this will be the "starting line" of a really great year to come - physically, mentally and anything else that comes to mind.

And oh, just in case you might be wondering, blogging here a bit more is definitely on my hit list too!