Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31st, 2010 – 6.62 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This is it! The final run of 2010. It was the longest run I’ve done since the Rock n Roll Half Marathon. It took me a little while longer to recover from that race because I really hurt myself the next day. I had the day off so I wanted to get a longer run in.

The weather was great! This is how winter is supposed to be. Crisp and clear, palm trees swaying in the breeze and 63 degrees. You really can’t beat winter in Southern California.

The idea was to do the typical 4 minutes on and 1 minute off workout but I decided I would run half the route, then do the 4 and 1 thing. Once I got to the half way point I decided to just keep running. I tried to keep my heart rate between 145 and 160 so I didn't hit The Wall before I finished. That didn't always work out.

It felt really good for most of the run. Once I got to the 5.75 mile mark, I started to feel tightness in my back. I think my posture had been off, so I dropped my shoulders and straightened my spine but I think it was too little too late. This is going to hurt tomorrow.

For now, it feels good and I was happy to get home to see these lovely faces.

The interesting thing is that my time wasn’t much better than my 4 and 1 time. I’ve always heard that but I didn’t quite believe it. This was the first time I’ve ever run the full course. I’ll be tired tonight but it was early enough in the day so I should sleep like a rock. I expect to be completely knocked out when the clock strikes mid-night, so I’ll say it now: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 28th, 2010 – 2.14 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This run was rather disjointed and much more rigorous than the RunKeeper implies. It was another mid-day run from the office. The office goes dark between Christmas and New Years and only employs a “skeleton crew” of which I am a part.

The dress code is beyond casual for this week. Really, if I wanted to show up in my pajamas, no one would care. As it was, I showed up in my running clothes, with no make-up and brought only another shirt to change into. So the plan was to eat at my desk, use my lunch hour to run a quick 5k and then just wallow in my own filth for the rest of the day. Who cares, right? I’ll be the only one there?

Well, nothing ever goes the way we plan! When I got to the office, we were fully staffed. Several people had decided to come in for a few hours just to take care of the few things. Ah, hell!

Well, what’re you gonna do? Nothing to do except say “Screw It!” and strut your stuff like you’re dressed for the Queen. So that’s what I did.

It was interesting actually, no one batted an eye. I’ve shown up for work on a random day wearing a tiara and no one said a word. I showed up yesterday in what equated to gym clothes and no make-up and not a second glance. I guess people expect all levels of crazy when it comes to me so very little surprises them. This is well with my soul because I tend to do whatever feels right at the time and rarely spare a thought for what others might think.

As for the run, it really was nice. The day was beautiful. There was a trail I noticed while I was driving and I wanted to explore it. As it often happens, the trail didn’t lead where I thought it would and it was going well off from the direction I expected, so I got about .75 mile in and turned around. It was a hilly run and I expected it to empty out into a park that I knew what at the top of the hill. When I corrected and got back to the paved sidewalk, I started climbing again. After about 150 ft, I came up to another trail head and took that one.

This one did lead up to the park that I knew was just over the crest. It was a *lot* steeper than I thought it would be so it was quite a workout getting up there.

It nearly bested me, but finally, wearily, I slayed the dragon and found myself on the green belt at the park. Whew!

It was rough… but it was so much fun, I turned around and went back the way I came instead of taking the easier route back through the park. The ground was still quite saturated from the previous day’s rain so I had to be extra careful around the slippery parts, but what a great run!!!

This is me at the top of the hill waving at the gully. I’ll do this again very soon!

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27th, 2010 – 3.79 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s run was great. It was chilly but dry so it was perfect for a run. It was another out-and-back route so it was easy. Even the first mile wasn’t bad.

It’s the end of the year!!!! I wanted to post this as my end-of-the year run, just in case it’s the last one of the year. I have a 3 mile sprint scheduled for tomorrow but you never know.

My goal at the end of last year was to make myself a runner. I’m not the best or the fastest but I’m the best I can be right now. Now that I know I can go the distant (for the full marathon is NOT on my bucket list. I am thrilled to pieces with the half), I need to work on the speed. My next race isn’t until March and I am focused on a PR. Not so much that I’m willing to injure myself, but I am ready to do the research and make the effort.

This is the picture of a sweaty, tired, happy middle-aged woman. She is determined. She is strong. She is healthy. She is focused. She is forward thinking. She is a RUNNER!

And she is SUPER Hot!

2010 was GREAT!!!! For many reasons, but at this moment, it was the Year of the Runner.

Be well, my friends and Happy New Year!!!

Christmas Eve 2010 – 5.11 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

We were supposed to get rain on Christmas so I wanted to be sure to get a decent run in on Christmas Eve. It was really nice. Such a beautiful day! The rain is a bit of a drag, but we can’t complain. The rest of the country seems to be getting pummeled by snow and wind. Travelers are stranded all over the globe it seems.

However, for the folks living in SoCal, the day was glorious and perfect for running. I didn’t have any distance goals today, but a timing goal. I was going to do an out and back route for 40 minutes total. It was all the time I had before I had to get home, make holiday wreaths and clean the house before my In-laws started showing up for the Christmas Eve hoopla which we were hosting this year.

There wasn’t anything remarkable about this run except that I had been having some muscle pain and sciatic issues for several days and it wasn’t going away. As soon as I laced up the Asics and took that first step, all the pain was gone! I’d waited 5 days for the pain to subside before I decided to just run through it. Turned out, my body was reacting to the inactivity much more negatively than it did the activity.

The first mile was as usual. Just terrible. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do the full 40 minutes, but once I worked the kinks out, it was a nice smooth, easy, relaxing run. The first half was a bit of hill work, so the coming back was excellent.

A great gift. Speaking of great gifts, on Christmas, I got a copy of “Runners World – Complete Book of Women’s Running” by Dagny Scott Barrios from my Father-in-Law.

What a good guy! I have been reading bits of it every chance it get, which is not really as often as I’d like with the husband, kids, work, church, home, skin & hair care, the reading of other great books and of course workouts. But I’ve enjoyed every word of it so far and I can’t wait to share anything that is particularly helpful.

One thing I was really interested in learning is whether or not I’m in the right shoes. I learned that I overpronate so my foot collapses inward too much upon landing. I knew that, just didn’t know what it was called and it seems that I am actually already in the correct shoes and use the proper heel cups to alleviate the pressure on my arches.

Guess my father was right when he said common sense was one of those helpful tools. I was a little disappointed because I still have aches and pains when I run. I was hoping I would learn some mystic secret of the running gods and would find the Shangri La of footwear and be able to run like the wind with zero discomfort if I could only find the right shoes.

Turns out running hurts sometimes. Deal with it. Even the pros get stiff and achy. Blast!

Ah, well…. My father also told me that anything worth having is worth working for. And being awesome is *so* worth working for.

Friday, December 17, 2010

November 16th, 2010 - 3.12 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This run was interesting for me. It was the first time I ever attempted a run during the work day. This had the potential to go really well or be a complete disaster. I wanted to try it for several reasons (1) to see if I could get a decent workout with all my work stuff so heavily on my mind (2) to see if I would rest well that night because my previous run had me tossing and turning all night. That was a drag (3) to see if I would be able to swing the whole thing without smelling like a high school locker room for the rest of the day and (4) to see if I would be able to get that immense clarity of thought for the rest of the workday that people are always talking about when they exercise in the middle of the day.

(1) My first goal was to get in a full 5k distance and do it slowly. I wanted to take 40 minutes to do it. I’ve read that for weight management, anything less than 40 minutes is kind of a waste of time. I’d already decided that I was going into maintenance mode and I would work on speed in February. I know I can do this distance in about 30 minutes, but I really just wanted to take it slow. It was insanely boring and it was much harder to focus on my form for some reason so I chose to get into the music pumping in my ears. Not a bad workout. Mission accomplished. B+!

(2) I slept like a rock!!! So in that respect is was a huge success. I think it was far enough away from bedtime that the “high” didn’t keep me awake. I finished work, put dinner on and set it to cook while I ran to the grocery store, baked 3 loaves of Amish Friendship Bread and crashed with perfect timing. A+!

(3) A friend at the office gave me little bottles of Candy Cane scented shower gel and body lotion for Christmas and I have large bowl that I keep in the warehouse, so I used it as a basin and gave myself a pretty decent douche (calm down freak! Douche means shower!) in the handi-cap stall of the ladies room so I left the whole experience smelling like a rose (or a candy cane). A+!

(4) I don’t know if I got any real clarity, but I was very glad I did it and had a really nice day. After I was done, I went into the warehouse and took a few minutes to do a really thorough stretching session. I think that helped with the clarity of thought because right after a workout, my mind is going a mile a minute and I really need to take the time to come down. The stretch really helped with that and I woke up the next morning feeling *much* better than I did after my last run. So I guess I’ll have to stretch for the rest of my days. I can’t just tear down my body without any damage control like I used to. Getting old sucks.

All in all, it was a pretty good run but the best part about it was being done with it.

So after my stretch, I sat at my desk for a few minutes to check a few more items off my To-Do list before I rinsed myself off. I figured there was no use in trying to get myself cleaned up until my heart rate had regulated itself and I stopped sweating like a horse. It’s a good thing I work in a casual office…. And I look fabulous in my running skirt.

November 15th, 2010 - About 1 Mile Walk

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This was a very nice outing. Chris and I took the kids and Sarah out to see all the pretty Christmas lights. It was a stroll with a lot of oohing and Ahhing. Super cute.

Strangely, it was more painful for me than my last run. I don’t know if my body was protesting my severe aversion to post workout stretching. I really hate to stretch. I never do it. Or if I need to phase in my new shoes. They have almost 350 miles on them now. My heels and right ankle were killing me. I was pushing Jayda’s stroller and Chris had Sarah’s leash. Jordan was happily running around on his own.

It was a pleasantly cool evening. No moisture in the air. Very typical of a late fall evening in SoCal. I didn’t record this mile because it wasn’t a workout. Just a pleasant outing with the kids and my best guy. But I wanted to blog about it cuz I love my life and my kids are cute.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 12th, 2010 – 2.87 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s run was nice. The whole family went to the dog park to let Sarah run around with some of her doggy friends. When we were ready to leave, I put on my reflective gear and told them I’d see them in about 3 miles.

It was a nice run. Very nice neighborhood. It was a nice easy run. It was mostly downhill so I was just getting the miles in. The temperature was perfect and the night was beautiful. Many of the houses had elaborate light designs. The kids would have loved this run, but it would have been a stroll for me. Maybe we’ll walk it together later on in the week.

Christmas in Southern California is just as magical as it is in the coldest and snowiest of places. The twinkling lights and the smell of harth fires make a chilly night run very pleasant. We don’t often get snow, but it certainly gets cold enough. Going forward, I will be donning my running cap, arm warmers and gloves and wearing my thick socks.

It's far from miserable to live here but I do prefer the warmer weather. Running at night makes me miss the spring weather. The long days and warm nights are great. The smell of jasmine in bloom and the sound of the crickets chirping. All good stuff.

A friend of mine told me about the Wee Mee app, so made myself a Wee Mee. I couldn’t find any running clothes, but this is my Wee Mee on a running trail. I just thought she was cute. Reminds me of my little girl.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 10th, 2010 – 3.51 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s run was good. It was the first run I’ve done in 5 days. I really didn’t want to go, but it had been so long, I really had to get it under my belt to kick start myself.

It seems like December isn’t going to be any better than November. Since the time change, I haven’t been very motivated. I have to admit that it felt really good to be out there. The temperature was very comfortable but it was late, so it was almost completely dark.

The night before, I went to the Girl’s Potluck at the office that we do every Christmas. There was a gift exchange and the lady who drew my name outdid herself. She only had $20 to spend and she did a FANTASTIC job. Personally, I think she went over the limit. I won’t mention her name but she is just the sweetest little thing. She gave me a Fila runner’s tanktop with the media pocket, a tube of Performance pain gel and this cool little flashlight. This wasn’t even on my list but about 2 days earlier, I saw a lady running in my neighborhood with a little flashlight and I thought, “What a good idea”. I was able to keep it steadier than I would if it were on my chest or head and it was nice to have it in my hand so I could turn it off whenever I didn’t need it. It makes it difficult to take Sarah because with a flashlight, pepper spray AND Sarah’s leash, my hands are pretty full.

I believe December and maybe even January will be all about just getting the miles in. Just maintenance runs to stay conditioned. I’ll start trying to really add speed in February. My next run isn’t until the end of March and I need to be able to just get the run in without worrying about increasing my speed. I am discovering that I am better than I thought I was. When I compare my finish times to when I first started running and it took me 45 minutes to run a 5k. I am far from the best, but I’m glad to be showing improvement.

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 5th, 2010 – Say No To Drugs 5k Race

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This run was not about a PR or form or performance of any kind. It was just a great way to start the day and an awesome time with my mother-in-law. It was a 5k on the Universal Studios Backlot in Hollywood!!!

We did this run last year and mom paid my registration fee for me both times. Now that is just the greatest gift ever! We ran it together and had a great time.

The energy of the crowd was great and there was a wide range of skill levels. This is me running with a group and looking around enjoying all the famous movie sets…

This me chillin' at a saloon...

I just had to get a pic of this kid. A CamelBak for a 5k? Really?

I saw a guy taking Cliff Shots right before the gun went off…. for a 5k?! You’d be done with the race well before they kicked in! Especially the guy I saw! He was super fit and looked like he could have finished in 10 minutes!

This run could have been a touch more organized because all the runners from elite to walkers all started at the same time so we spent a lot of time and energy dodging and being dodged. I’m sure that’s a major faux pas but I’m not so elite or snobby that it diminished the run for me at all. Although many of the runners who reviewed it afterward had a lot of negative comments about it. To them, I say “Lighten Up!” It’s clearly a family oriented event with many enticing sets where people want to stop and take pix..

Here is me with Mr. Potato Head (around Mile 1)…

This is me in Whoville...

… and it’s quite hilly. Here is the Psycho house on the hill….

Norman Bates was there taking pix with fans. That was cool!!!

I thought Mother might be lonely so I went to visit. I knocked but she didn't answer...

And you can’t beat a 5k where you get a T-Shirt, a fairly decent goody bag AND a medal!

I can't say enough about this run. It was great! Next year I wanna take Jordan. He is always so envious when I come home with a medal. He always wants to wear my medals……

…but he wants one of his own.

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 25th, 2010 - Turkey Day Dash (5k)

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

The only thing that can make Thanksgiving better is starting it out with a nice race where you get to PR! WOO-HOO!!!!

It was a very crisp and clear day. We started in the Oaks Mall and huddled in the atrium to keep warm before the start. The course was relatively flat and it was an easy run. I remembered to breathe deeply so I never felt tired or winded. I kept it steady and took advantage of every decline, no matter how slight. When I came up to one, I increased my speed and let gravity carry me as long as it lasted.

It was a great run and I was able to shave 1:45 off my best 5k time. I was able to get through it without injuring myself or aggravating any past injuries, so I’m calling it a win. This was the first run I’ve ever done, where I took the time to buzz around the Results Table so I could see what my official time was but they were taking so long, I had to leave. I figured I could find them online later. Bad choice. I still haven’t been able to find it!

As usual, I ran into some wonderful strangers and spoke to many people. I was very envious of all the Garmins I saw. I have one on my Amazon Wish List but I seriously doubt that I’ll get one. I couldn’t spend that much money on myself right now. With birthday parties, property taxes, Christmas, home owners insurance and our anniversary all coming up in a manner of weeks, I couldn’t ask for such a thing. Maybe if we do well enough during tax season, I'll consider it. For now, I'll just be saving my pennies!

In the meantime I will be praying for the motivation I'll need to get out in this cold (or "cold" for Southern California) weather to get the miles in. I have another 5k next weekend. The "Say No to Drugs" run in Los Angeles. That should be a *lot* of fun. I'll be going with my mother-in-law. She's been training for months so it will be nice to be with her when she PRs.

Gotta love the Fall!!!! If I had the means, I would do a race every weekend!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 22nd, 2010 – 0.75 Walk & 2.40 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s workout was good in a couple of ways. Chris came with me to do a warm up walk. That was really nice. It was about three quarters of a mile and we took Jayda and Sarah. It was very pleasant. I love hangin’ with Chris. Doesn’t matter what we’re doing.

After we were done, I dressed out and did a quick 2.40 Mile sprint in my neighborhood. I would have done an even 3 Miles, but my RunKeeper crapped out on me for some reason so I didn’t know how far I’d gone. I knew it wasn’t 3 Miles, but I was ready to stop.

It was great to run the neighborhood. Soon it will be very pretty. My neighbors go all out with the Christmas lights. Maybe then, I’ll be able to get both kids out there.

Running in the winter is awesome out here. So many things to love about it!

(1) No sunscreen! Only when I run at night, of course. Yep, Sistas need sunscreen too! And I am always fighting against breakouts in the summer because sunscreen is so oily. Even the ones that claim to be oil free!

(2) The Temperature! In SoCal, it is never too cold to run. Arm warmers and running gloves are the most you’ll ever need in winter (maybe a hat, but you’re always wearing one of those anyway, right?). However, in summer, if you don’t get out there before 10am or after 7pm, you ain’t goin’! Not if you don't wanna risk heat stroke. Although it is cool that sunset is well after 8:30pm.

(3) Early sunrise! On that rare occasion when I go to sleep on time and wake up early, the sun is up! So I can get my run in before I start my day! Gotta love the 5:30am sunrise! In the summer, it is decidedly dark until 6:45am. What’s up with that!

And (4) No Brush Fires!!!!! (usually). I can’t tell you how many runs I had to cancel last year because the air quality was so bad. The air quality is never going to be as good as Big Bear, Hume Lake or Arrowhead. I’m sure the fireplace blazes aren’t all that great for you and the smog in L.A. is legendary. But none of that puts the brakes on open air exercise like a 4500 acre brush fire and they happen every year!!!

We *rarely* hit freezing temperatures and below zero just never happens. Our “Rainy Season” is 5 days. On the whole, I definitely prefer the warmer weather, but you couldn’t ask for better running weather than fall and winter in Southern California.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November 20th, 2010 – 3.64 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Today’s run was interesting. I feel like I have been really pulling off the running and I really need to keep it up because even though I have a serious lack of desire these days, it makes me happier than any other type of exercise. Really…. It actually makes me happy. Causes temporary bouts of happiness and when I am being short with my kids or dear sweet Chris, a run gets me right back on track and I’m back to my normal, pleasant, upbeat, amorous self.

It took about a half mile for my body to remember what it was supposed to do. After that, everything evened out and it started to feel good. Then it started to rain!!!

Do you turn around and head back home when it starts to rain?! HEAVENS no!!!! Running in the rain ROCKS!!! You start to feel like a hard-core bad-ass when you run in the rain! It was great! After a short time, the water starts to weigh down the running pants and the arm warmers, but it’s all good.

I didn’t get the 10 mile run I wanted to do, but I knew I wouldn’t. I would have certainly hurt myself if I had. Even 6 would have been too much. I have been having some trouble getting back to where I was since I injured myself. But I am working my way back to it. The change in the weather might be an issue. Can’t wait to get back to my old self.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15th, 2010 – 3.03 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Another morning run! This is becoming a habit! I‘ve always wanted to be “That Lady”. You know, the one who is so committed to her workout that she is out there early in the morning, running like a maniac? Yeah, her! She looks great, her form is impeccable and nothing gives her greater joy than getting out there and pounding out 3 miles before the day gets started.

Well, now that I have been “That Lady” for a few mornings, I’ve discovered that she would rather be just about anywhere else. She would much rather be in bed right now. Getting that run in in the morning is a necessity if she wants to get it in at all. However, I gotta say, I am *so* glad I did it…. and not just cuz it’s over now.

I didn’t run at all over the weekend. I was having a dull pain in my right ankle and lower back and it didn’t let up all weekend! Chris borrowed an electric saw from a friend so we used it to cut down some trees that had taken root in our backyard. We tried to cultivate them and see if they would grow into some nice shade trees, but they were more fern than tree and seemed to just be giving the ants direct access to our attic so we decided to chop ‘em down. Doing all that work didn’t help my knees, ankles and back. So I took both days off.

By Sunday night, I knew I had to get a run in no matter what. It had been two days and I was starting to go through withdrawals. So I got up this morning, strapped on the Asics, grabbed the dog and hit the road. The moment I started my stride, there was no pain. None at all. I’ve had this experience before, where not running is more painful than running. It seems to be happening more often than not lately.

The weather was beautiful. I decided to take Sarah to the creek. I wanted to see if I could get her to run without her leash like Sean always does with Girl. I took her off for about 20 seconds. Once I saw a man with his dog, I knew the experiment was over. She was *so* bummed. I was bummed too. I was hoping to be able to get a good run in and let her do her thing. I guess I need to get up a little earlier if I want to avoid all the dog walkers.

Running the creek is a good run because it’s an out-and-back run as opposed to a loop. So if I get to a point where I need to get back so I can make it to work on time, I can just turn around when half my allotted time is up.

It was a great run. I got home and woke up the house so we could get our day started. It’s always nice to get it in before work.

Some more happy news: I was able to add more beads to my charm bracelet! You may recall that I was working on filling up a charm bracelet with beads to commemorate the races I’ve done. So here it is!

End bead: L.A. Cancer Challenge – 5k
Clover: Run Thru the Orchard, benefitting Open Air – 5k
Green: Gator Run, benefitting the Troops – 5k
Shoe: Wounded Warrior Half Marathon
Pink Daisy: Strides for SIDS – 5k
Red Hearts: Love Run, benefitting Sr. Concerns – 10k
Cloudy W: WipeOut! – I just thought that craziness deserved a charm.
Wooden Bead: Lions Club Run – 5k
Blue Flower: The Great Race of Agoura – 5k
Sunglasses: The Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon
Red w/Crystals: Say No to Drugs Run – 10k
End Bead: Love Run, benefitting Meals on Wheels – 5k

I have several more to buy to fill in the rest, but it just warms my heart to see all these beads and baubles dangling on my wrist. They remind me of something I’m really proud of and I hope when my little girl is older and I pass it on to her, she will appreciate it as much as I do and be proud of her ole Mom.

Friday, November 12, 2010

November 12th, 2010 – 3.12 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This morning’s run (Yes, another morning run!) was also just OK. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I usually do. The weather was great! Fall in California is a beautiful thing. We don’t get all the colors, but the hills are beautiful and usually recovering from whatever brush fire ravaged the area in the summer.

I did a little hill work today and it would have been nice to just run a flat course and enjoy it. Having to work for it is kind of a drag. But I was determined not to log any junk miles this time.

Mile one was pretty good. It was flat and easy. I happened to take the morning off because the lady who looks after Jayda took the day off so Chris and I split the day. So I wanted to get a run in before he and Jordan were off to school and work. It was nice to see all the poor schmucks who were stressed out about getting to work on time. Knowing that I was a schmuck just yesterday and would be again on Monday did not diminish my joy of being off this morning one jot!

At the beginning of mile 2, the climbing started. I wanted to take it with as much speed as I could muster but the hill bested me almost immediately. I need to get more hill work under my belt for sure.

I got to the half way mark, turned around and ran the rest of the way. It was refreshing and I was able to handle it without aggravating any old injuries. It was a good honest workout and I'm glad I got it done. I'm calling it a win.

In other news, a friend of mine asked me to join her at the Thousand Oaks Turkey Day Dash on Thanksgiving morning. Well, you just can't beat that, so I'll be running a quick race before I pop my bread pudding in the oven!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 – 3.75 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This morning’s (Yes! I dragged my bones outta bed in the morning) run was just OK. I didn’t enjoy it very much at all. I took Sarah and she made it a tempo run, which is something I really need to start doing. Unfortunately, I am at a point in my fitness where it’s no longer OK for me to “Just Finish”. I’ve done 2 half marathons and countless 5 and 10ks, so now, I really need to be working on a PR every time I race. This means I need to work on speed now that endurance is reasonably in hand.

This was the first run I’ve done in quite a while (about 6 days) and I really wasn’t looking forward to it. But God had given me a poke this morning and as usual, if He brought me to it, I knew He’d bring me through it. The entire time was miserable and I just kept thinking of how glad I would be when it was over and how thrilled I’d be that I had done it! I could consider myself a success today, even if I didn't do a single useful thing for the rest of the day!

I had a Bazi Energy Shot this morning. I’d never taken one of those before a run and I was interested to see if it would give me the boost I needed. I’m not sure that it did. I’ll run without it tomorrow and see how it goes.

Mile 1 was not too bad, which was good for me. Usually I really don’t like mile one. It was at a pretty decent pace for me so after I got to that point, I walked for a bit because I knew I wanted to recover enough to be able to sprint once I got to the turn around point.

Mile 2 and 3 were good. I was feeling fine and most of it was a pretty good pace for me. However, I just really don’t think it helped my time all that much. It still took about 40 minutes to complete the run, which is how long it takes me when I’m at my normal steady pace.

I know I should be working on speed and striving to do better and beat my last race time, but it really does seem that working on speed robs me of the joy I get from running. I find myself wondering if it’s worth it.

Should I stick to a snail’s pace and be a happy little runner, but feel that tiny sting of regret at the end of every race when I know that I could have done better? I keep hearing the famous Steve Prefontaine quote. Go ahead, you know it! Say it with me: “To Give Anything Less Than Your Best is to Sacrifice the Gift.”

Or should I strive for perfection on every run and berate myself when I don’t quite meet my standards but swell with enormous pride every time I do?

Oh, it’s so hard! If you’re a runner, you know the ecstasy of blasting through a plateau or setting a new PR. Also, if you’re a runner, you know the bliss of just ...... going. Just losing yourself in the act and loving God’s creation and being grateful for a healthy body and a good run.

I really don’t want my ambition to ruin the joy of running for me. Yet I don’t know if I can stand to remain mediocre.


Friday, November 5, 2010

November 5th, 2010 – 3.75 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s run was really great. I know I say that a lot and they are great in general, but this one was great in particular. Last night Chris and I decided that Jordan needed more activity and less television. You can’t argue with that…. but I did anyway. I really didn’t want to sacrifice my run to parenthood! Running is how I get away from all the things that bind me. It’s not that I don’t love my family. I love them madly, but my run is what makes it easier for them to live with me.

Despite my whining and complaining about it, I was forced to take the boy with me on my run. This was not the first time Jordan had joined me on a run. There have been several times when he was misbehaving in school and I have taken him on runs as a form of discipline. I thought it was a fine idea, but I was concerned that I was setting him up to hate running and really, when he is old enough, I would love to have him as a steady running partner.

For now, when we run together, I play the role of Drill Sergeant and he whines and complains the whole time. This time was no exception really, but I expected it so it didn’t frustrate me like it normally would. However, overall he was really great.

I was feeling a little sting in my right heel and ankle, but it wasn’t too bad. I was determined to get a decent workout tonight. I knew we were going to run about 3.65 miles and that’s a lot for Jordan, so we did it in 4 and 1 intervals. He did GREAT!!!! He ran every interval and when we got to the last half of the run, where there is a slight decline, I had him pace me. It’s much easier to get a decent workout if I‘m not constantly turning around to make sure he’s still running.

I went into Drill Sergeant mode and pushed him whenever he was slowing down and on the last 60 seconds of each interval, I really had him kick it up! He hung in there and there was a time or two when he was really making me work for it. I was really proud of him!

I had been thinking that I really need to focus on speed work and if he can do again what he did tonight, he would be a huge help to me.

At about the last 100 yards of the run, we were headed toward home. I told him, we would walk to a certain corner and then sprint as fast as we could back to the house. When I said “Go!” , he was off like a shot and I could tell that he was considering this a race and he had no intention of being beaten by his Mommy.

Well, he did get beaten by his mommy but I had to kick it up to a 6:37 mile pace to do it. He was really moving! For him to do that after having already run over 3.50 miles, I thought that was pretty good!!!!

I was so proud of my little dude and we had a great time. I hope we can do it again soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 4th, 2010 – 3.50 Mile Hike

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

I have been (semi) good about resting and not getting much running in while I am supposed to be submitting to this doctor-ordered rest. But tonight Sean offered to do a hike instead of our normal run. I had to take him up on it because I’m starting to go a little stir crazy. I mean really, you wouldn’t like me if I didn’t run. Also, I am starting to get really annoyed with myself and the limitations that my flesh puts on me.

Well, until the next life, where I’ll get my perfect body, I’ll just have to make do with the one I’ve got now. Don’t get me wrong, as bodies go, it’s pretty fantastic and I’m grateful for the temple God’s blessed me to walk this world in, but at the moment, it’s letting me down big time!

We started this hike with the understanding that I was at about 80% and may not be able to do very much. Sean was *really* cool about it and offered to do a trail that he often does with his dog, Girl. It has some elevation but was relatively flat. The entire loop was about one mile which sounded perfect to me. No matter what went down, I was positive I could do at least one mile, so we set out.

Before we started I strapped on my ankle and knee support, thinking that would do just fine. The knees were great but the ankles and heels were in excruciating pain by the time we were done.

But it felt *so* incredibly good to be out there. We were at a brisk enough walk the entire time. I have to thank Sean for hangin’ with me because I know there were times when he wanted to just break and run and just leave me there. I wouldn’t have blamed him. There were times when I could barely stand it, I wanted to run so badly. But it became obvious almost immediately that I was not in good enough condition to run and what I thought was 80% turned out to be more like 40%.

We did the circuit 3 times for a grand total of about 3.5 miles. It wasn’t a total waste. Even a bad workout is better than none at all. It felt so great to be out there. Did I mention that already? The weather was awesome and the temperature was perfect.

At the moment, I’m unreasonable enough to think I may never get to do another half marathon again, but we’ll just keep praying about it and working toward getting better.

November 2nd, 2010 – 1.30 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This was a very short run. Tonight is election night! My polling place is about a half mile away from my house so I decided to lace up the Asics, strap on the reflective gear and do a short tempo run out there and back. I am still recovering from my last major run and doing my best to follow the doctor’s orders, but I am finding it very difficult to be ordered to rest. I think I am actually more tired than I would be if I had been getting more exercise.

Anyway, My AT and heels are still very tender and this short run let me know that I am not yet recovered but it felt *so* good to get out and run for even a little while.

I suppose I could be addicted to worse things, but I am at a point where I am willing to suffer through a little pain just to get a decent run in.

I think this is very unfair. When I was younger and taking my fitness for granted, I never had these problems. Now that I am making an effort to build a better machine, it’s breaking down on me. What?!

Ah well, I will continue to recover and take as long as I need to to do it. I knew that I should not have been out running and I did it anyway, so I have very little sympathy for myself. So I won’t complain about the pain. However, I am proud of myself for getting out there to do it and I’m proud of myself getting out there and rockin’ the vote.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1st, 2010 – Tried It. Loved It!

I still have about 5 days of rest if I want to follow the doctor’s orders. So I have been keeping myself busy with some homemaking projects. Yesterday I ironed all the laundry so my son doesn’t go to school looking like he’s covered in wrapping paper the day after Christmas. Tonight, I tried a recipe that I heard about on TV. If you know anything about me, you know that I *love* dessert, I love to bake and I have absolutely no use for a boxed cake mix. However, this recipe intrigued me, so I gave it a try. For the record, I still believe that baking from scratch is the superior method, but this one rocks pretty hard.

Apparently, the Hungry Girl has a new cookbook coming out called something like “Hot Couples”. It’s a book of recipes that are super easy and only have 2 ingredients. There is a recipe where you take a boxed cake mix and add a can of diet soda.That's it. Nothing else. I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake and Diet Cream Soda. I just mixed it up, poured it in a Pyrex dish and baked it for 33 minutes. That was it! The kids licked the bowl and were none the wiser.

It didn’t rise the way it normally would, but it was nice and golden.

I let it cool and put a store-bought icing over it. It was light and moist and yum yum good. It cuts the the fat and calories by a ton and really, no one will know the difference. It works out to be 171 calories per serving. That’s only one mile! You can enjoy treats at Christmas time and not even worry about it.

I thought this was great, so I wanted to share. You can experiment with the flavors and come up with something that you and your family will love. Here is the video that was on TV.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Product Reviews!!!

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

I love product reviews… for anything… books, clothes, food, vehicles, appliances, gadgets, housekeepers, teachers, neighborhoods, you name it. Unless I’m buying something I’ve bought a million times before, I always prefer to read a few reviews before I purchase. Of course, I’m no Kobi Bryant or Michael Jordan so these folks aren’t going to make any money off my opinion and there may not be a soul anywhere who cares to know my opinion, but I’m going to give it anyway and I’ll tell you why.

I read reviews from elite runners and runners I admire, but I gotta tell ya, I’m a middle-class, wife/ Mom and recreational runner. Therefore, a review on a $200 pair of running shoes or a $70 running skirt is useless to me. I am not at a place where I can spend $200 on shoes and $70 on a running skirt, and no vendors are sending me free stuff to try and review. Now, a heads-up that I can get a $70 running skirt at TJMaxx for $12 or a $120 pair of shoes on sale at Kohl's for $30 is news I can use!!! Otherwise, I need reviews on products that are within my reach. So I offer my reviews just case there is someone out there just like me.

The ProTec Achilles Tendon Support turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I put it on based on the package’s instructions and walked around my neighborhood for a little while. I wanted to use it as much as I could before the half marathon so it wouldn’t be brand new to me. It was excruciatingly painful. For a moment, I thought I wouldn’t be able to run the next day, but the pain abated the moment I took it off.

I think it’s better suited for support during rest periods. I intend to use it after my next run and review it again. That’ll take some time, as I am out of commission for two weeks. I believe they are good products, I just happened to use it at the wrong time so I’m going to give them another chance. These retail for about $20 each and can be ordered online.

Performance Pain Relief Gel. I got a couple of samples of this stuff and found it to be convenient and effective for temporary muscle pain relief. It heats up quickly and relaxes the pain away. It absorbs quickly and needs to be reapplied every half hours or so, depending on your needs. It is reasonably priced and readily available so you can be generous with your applications. I’ll give this one a thumbs up. It won’t transfer or stain your clothes like Tiger Balm can and it doesn’t have a petroleum jelly base so you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores or the toxins that can be associated with petroleum based products. It can be had at CVS or online and retails for about $13.

The SpiBelt Small Personal Item Belt is a winner, for sure! I really liked this product. I also have a CamelBak running belt that has a 22oz water bottle holder that I really like. However, sometimes, I just don’t need it, so it’s nice to have this smaller belt. It’s waterproof and stretches, so it can accommodate quite a bit for such a tiny little pouch. I was able to load up an iPhone, a first generation iPod Shuffle, lip balm and salt packets in the pouch. On the outside it has strips that held, Gu, Sports Beans and my arm warmers when I was ready to strip those off. They also offer little bungee cords that hold your running bib so you don’t have to poke holes on your shirt or shorts. They come in an array of colors and patterns, but only the solid black ones seem to be waterproof. That’s kind of a bummer, but I was able to get mine with this really cool hot pink zipper.

These can be had online for about $20. Thumbs up! I highly recommend these.

Asics, Arm Warmers. These are the first I’ve ever worn. They were reasonably priced and they did the job. I live in Southern California and arm warmers are not needed for most of the year. I they are 80%CAT POLY 20% spandex and make no claims of moisture wicking or light weight. For arm warmers, they are a little bulky and they are not very cute. If I had buckets of money to spend on running gear, I would get some that were moisture wicking, dry-fit, had the thumb holes and pockets for my gels with cool colors and patterns. But these were certainly good enough. I will use them over and over again through the winter and be satisfied. They wash and dry well and they seem to hold their shape. These are definitely OK and worth the price. They can be had online for about $10.

Fitness Headband. I’m not positive that this link is the actual vendor who was at the Health and Fitness Expo where I got mine, but they look very similar. They didn’t give me a card or brochure and I really wish they had. I *really* like this headband. I purchased another one from Go Headband and I really prefer this one. The fit is about the same, but I found this one to be more effective in absorbing sweat. Also, I’m a big fan of girly prints and vibrant colors and these definitely fit that bill. They can be had online for about $8.

So there you go! There’s my review on products that I use or will use regularly. I hope it helps!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27th, 2010 - My Doctor Benches Me!!!

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This just in! I went to see the doctor today. The verdict is in and it looks like I've got some soft tissue damage.

The X-ray tech was making some noise about bone spurs in my heels. I told my doctor that I had absolutely NO time for bone spurs. He upgraded me to a little tissue damage. You can't be who I am and do what I do and not expect a little soft tissue damage.

He sentenced me to 2 weeks of ice and rest. I asked him if I could run the L.A.Cancer Challenge this Sunday. He said "absolutely NOT!" and was not one whit allayed by the fact that is a mere 3.1 miles.

I trust this man with the health of my husband and children and for them, I follow his instructions to the letter and without question. However, today I found myself negotiating a lesser sentence for myself. Just one week perhaps?

He wasn't feeling it.

What am I going to do with myself for TWO WEEKS?!?!?!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 24th, 2010 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

I’ve been training for this for 10 months and it was to be the crowning jewel of the year! The hardest thing I’d ever done and after this one, I could hang up my running shoes forever because I had arrived. And no matter what my time was, I would forever and always be my own hero and I would never have to prove myself to anyone! Because if I could complete this run, I was a bona fide bad-ass and would have the medal to prove it!

Such was my dream at the beginning of the year when I subscribed to “Runner’s World” Magazine and set out to train for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October 2010. It was a lofty dream and I wasn’t positive that I was up to the challenge. All I knew was that I was going to try... And if I failed? Well, I’d fail doing my best and even so, I will have done something that 99% of Americans didn’t even have the sack to attempt.

Well, here I am, at the other end of this dream, this amazing feat, with medal in hand (hanging on the mirror of my dressing table, actually) and it’s time for a little reflection. What did I expect to accomplish, besides the Half Marathon itself?

For one thing, I expected to be done. Done with running. Done with training. Done with researching. Done with reading articles and blogs of better runners to glean whatever tips I could take from them. Done with this fantastic event, that only super heroes do. Done and on to the next thing, for I must always be “Up to something”.

Little did I know that I would be forever changed. I figured I would be changed physically. How can you train all year for a major run and not drop a few pounds and fit better in your jeans? Well, I haven’t dropped any weight, in fact I’m a little heavier. The jeans look fantastic, though.

But that’s not what I mean. As I flip through my journal, browse my own FaceBook page, glance around my bedroom and even my cubicle at work, I’ve discovered that running has become a part of my walk and conversation. It has become a major part of my life. Over the year, I have inadvertently encouraged others do things they’ve never done before. I have become this bigger-than-life person to my kids. I’ve shown myself that I can do anything I commit myself to. I have become this reluctant hero to many people.

And the truth is (DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..):

I suck at it! Really! I’m not being modest. I’m terrible at it. My fastest 5k is 30:00. My fastest 10k is 1:16. My fastest Half Marathon is 2:45. If you know anything about running you know these times are atrocious!!

Before I started training, I wrote a list of things I meant to accomplish. I won’t bore you with that list right now, but I can tell you one thing for sure. “By the end of October, I expect to suck royally at this” appears nowhere on that list!

But to suck so badly at something so grand is an honor and a privilege. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon ended up being my second half marathon of the year. I did the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon last month (yeah, last MONTH!!!). It was surreal to be around so many truly talented runners. I’m just here, in the way, doing my thing whenever I can find the time to bang out a few miles here and there. These people do this for a living and they are masters at their craft!

Here is a picture of a Master! Jacques Sallberg won the race in 1:06. $1,500 for an hour's work? Not too shabby.

We were separated in numbered corrals based on the expected finish time we entered when we registered. I was *waaayyy* back in corral #17 with the slow pokes. Believe it or not there were 4 corrals BEHIND me! The elite runners and the runners in corral #1 were probably coming up on mile 5 before the turtles in #17 even got to the Starting Line.

The course was relatively flat. It got hilly in some places, but for the most part it was really comfortable. Here is the course map:

Right at the beginning of the race, I realized I had forgotten my shades AND my watch. I’d never done a run without shades or a watch, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. I wouldn’t be able to time myself effectively so I wouldn’t know how I was doing until the race was over. I had trained all year to go 4 minutes on and 1 minute off and had no way to know when my intervals were up.

There was nothing I could do about that at the time. So all I could do was get started. I wore my cool new headband with the smiley faces on it so I would still have a smile at Mile 10 when I was hitting The Wall.

It was unreal to be running up a freeway onramp in Los Angeles. They cleared part of the freeway for this run! That’s huge! You just don’t do that in Los Angeles unless the President is in town (which is he was on the day I went to the L.A. Convention Center for packet pick-up).

There was nothing at all unpleasant about this run. It was a beautiful morning and the temperature was great. I started the race out in arm warmers but removed them at about mile 9. I expected to hit The Wall, but Mile 10 came and went with no trouble. I knew my form was off but it was good enough to alleviate any back problems so that would be a marked improvement over my last half marathon. Chris was there for me at the end to get the snapshot with my medal. Cheese!

So in the end, the major achievement wasn’t the Half Marathon, but the passion that ensued from training to get there. I never thought I’d get to the end of this journey and find it far from over. I never thought I’d come to love running as I do. I never thought I would come to depend on it to keep me balanced and free from stress. I never thought I’d be so proud to be so bad at it. Cuz as long as you keep moving, you’re good enough!

So for now, I'll be sitting in an ice bath. Then I’ll recover, and it’s off to the next race!