Posts Tagged ‘running’

Mapped

Half Marathon

4 more training team runs, 32 more sleeps, uncounted miles still to go. The map is up and the date is closing in. I am getting very excited.

Miles To Go

Knitting content has slowed to a halt, which means this blog has gone pretty quiet. My full focus has been on getting ready for the Instant Classic Half Marathon that is just about 6 weeks away now. Lunch hours are dedicated to either runs or cross training in the weight room. One or more evenings per week will find me doing more of the same at the gym. Saturday mornings are reserved for long runs with a team that is training for another half marathon on the same weekend as the Instant Classic. This Saturday will see me run my first double digit mileage ever.

The cool thing is now I am 100% confident that I will have no trouble finishing the race, short of catastrophic injury or illness (please knock on any wood you have handy for me), but for me, this was never about just finishing the race. I have a goal time I want to finish in, (2 hours 30 minutes; I fantasize about finishing in even less time than that, but I am trying to be realistic) and it is not an unreasonable time, but it requires not just a large quantity of training miles but some quality runs in my training for speed, efficient use of oxygen and glycogen, and mental stamina.

It is my brain that is my weakest point and to help overcome that lizard brain that complains when it’s too tough or hurts too much or makes excuses, I spend a lot of time visualizing my race, my training runs, and think silly-sounding thoughts like “I am so lucky I am able to run 6 miles” or “How fortunate am I that I choose to do this and enjoy it enough to keep doing it.” Sounds silly to type it out, but for few weeks, the cycle in my brain sounded like “This hurts. You are a sissy because you had to walk before 5 miles. If you had to take a walk break at 5 miles, why would you even think you could tackle 13?” And so forth, without end. Enough of that, thank you very much.

When I am not training, thinking of training, eating, or spending time with Grace, I prefer to be sleeping. These days, I am bushed by 8pm and often will be sound asleep before 10pm. Twice in the past week I have stayed up really late (midnight or later) and I have paid the price. My whole body, but especially my legs are tired all the time and I really have found that I need my sleep to recover. I haven’t been to an SCA event since early December and I don’t see my friends as much, either. Even when I do, I don’t have much interesting news to share. I can talk all day about lactic thresholds, VO2 max, speed intervals, what my preferred fuel gels are, and what types of cross training I like (weightlifting and yoga), but other than that stuff…I am incredibly dull company these days and prone to dozing off unexpectedly on Saturday afternoons, I am afraid.

This is my whole focus right now and I suspect it will only get worse as we close in on March 17th, but it is also February and the edges of winter are beginning to look frayed around here. You know what February and March bring every year?

Garden planning. Now that is something to definitely look forward too. I can’t wait.

Unapologetic

I was going to go to the Y for another murderous upper body weight lifting workout when I opened my bag and realized I had not swapped out yesterday’s cold weather running gear for clean, not soaking wet, short-sleeved, indoor appropriate anything to wear.

Rather than wear soaking wet, long-sleeved, outdoor, dirty clothes to lug around heavy weights, I bagged on my workout and decided to go for a walk. I headed east on Main Street and decided since I had my camera with me that today was as good as any day for another round of Photos Around Richmond. I think I only do this in January, when the city itself is not especially pretty, and when the weather is not especially fabulous, but then I am unlikely to waste a perfectly beautiful lunch hour trundling around with the camera.

As I headed east, I decided the top of the hill on Main Street where Rte. 5 and Main St. intersect would be my destination. Being a non-native Richmonder, I am not sure whether this is actually Church Hill or it is one of the other hills (I have also seen it labeled Union Hill on a map). Either way, this is where I was going. This is the hill I run up on my hill training days.


And this is how it looks from the runner’s perspective as you are just getting started going up.

Fortunately, today I was not running up the hill, just doing the aforementioned trundling (in 3 inch high wedge boots…my feet are very unhappy with this poor planning on my part). From almost the top, looking east, you can watch the James River drift lazily by.
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Looking back west, I could visually measure the almost exactly one mile between my current spot I was standing and the building I had walked from to get there.
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This gentleman is looking out over the City from atop his very tall pedestal.
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Everything below seems very tiny from my vantage point. I feel both insignificant and very large at the same time from up here. Cars look like Matchbox toys from up here and I can see all the way to the Chesterfield Power Station that is south of my house along the James River.
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And then I took this.

It is the first picture of myself since I turned 30. Unadulterated. Unaltered.
I got to the top of the hill feeling distinctly and intensely unapologetic about who I am. I did something silly today and wore some silly peacock feather earrings I bought for $2 last week. I like peacock feathers and I liked the earrings, and I didn’t care if they were fashionable enough to wear to work. I was feeling a bit rebellious and wore them.

Even more rebellious are the little stud earrings in my upper ear cartilage. I can’t remember the last time I wore earrings in those holes at home, much less to my rather conservative workplace.

I wear glasses. I have crows feet (too many years of playing outdoors in the sun without sunscreen). I have never intentionally plucked a hair out of my eyebrows. I don’t frequently wear makeup. The smile lines around my mouth have gotten very deep since I lost 120 pounds. My eyes can’t decide if they are blue or green, or gray. I do all kinds of unfashionable things, like wear my hair almost to my backside and only bother to color it once a year or so anymore. Or wear peacock feather earrings (actually, I think that is fashionable for the 13-17 year old age group right now…). I keep my toenails painted 100% of the time, but I have worn polish on my fingernails maybe 4 or 5 times in the past decade.

I run. I knit. I cook things my family likes to eat (we are having grilled Bessie Cow tonight!). I sing badly, but sometimes I do it out loud anyway. I sew poorly, but have enough basics to keep Byram and I at least somewhat decently garbbed in the SCA. I excel at washing dishes. I can plunge a toilet like no one’s business. I am either a horribly conservative democrat or a ridiculously liberal republican, depending on what day of the week it is when you ask me. Or maybe more accurately, I am a libertarian who appreciates some law and order, but really just wants to be left alone.

And you know what? I love all of those facts about me. I even like that self-portrait, taken at an odd angle with an odd, Mona Lisa-like look on my face. I love who I am and I don’t want to apologize for that.

Speaking of love…meet Melpomene.
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I am right at the half way mark with it and my progress has slowed (so typical of me). I came up a little short on yarn because I used larger needles than the pattern called for, but it worked out just fine. The first ball ran out just as I finished the last repeat of Chart B, so I just began the decreasing charts (Chart D) next and skipped over the middle point (Chart C). There should be no change in the effect on the shape of the scarf, just shortening its overall number of repeats.
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I adore the soft, solid texture the stitches create. I love the simplicity of the garter stitch short row sections, and enjoy the not too challenging, but not mindless twisted stitch patterns as well. I find the whole thing to be very soothing on my frayed nerves these days. The rich hue of the blue helps too. It’s a shame, but I couldn’t get a good true-to-color shot of the blue. Yesterday’s late afternoon sun threw off the color, and today’s lack of sun washes it out to gray when it really is an unapologetic sapphire blue.

The Girl In The Black Dress

My 2 year “surgiversary” is coming up on the 14th, in a little more than a week.

My friends sometimes tell me they forget how I looked before my surgery. Whenever someone says that, I am instantly reminded of this photo, taken almost exactly 3 months before my surgery, because this photo very quickly sums up exactly how I looked and felt.

Now, I look like this.

I haven’t forgotten where I came from. And I know where I could wind up.

When I let my weight run away with me, I felt like my whole life sort of got derailed. It was a horrible death spiral of my weight draining me of my energy, the lack of energy kept me from exercising, the lack of exercise allowed my body to hurt over the littlest things (like walking 2 blocks!) and kept my energy levels low, and I just kept eating.

I tried every diet. I tried supplements. I tried high carb, low fat. I tried low carb, high protein. Weight Watchers. Not eating. Whatever. Everything worked…for about 6 weeks.

I admit that I live in terror that my surgery will not be a long term fix either. Every time I strap on my trainers and go hit the pavement for a few miles, I feel like I am being chased after by that fat girl in the photo above with a dozen hot Krispy Kreme donuts in her hands, yelling at me, “Hey, remember how good these were???” And I do remember how good they were. And I could probably have one and maybe only feel mildly ill. But…and here is the truth about me…I couldn’t stop at one. Not “wouldn’t.” I mean it when I say “couldn’t.”

She is always there behind me, reminding me of how good things “used to be” and suggesting that “just this one couldn’t hurt, right?”

She’s good motivation, that old me. I am running away from her as fast as I can. If she catches me, that girl outweighs me by 120 pounds and I figure she would have little trouble wrestling me down and winning. I just have to keep running.

The scars of being morbidly obese will never fully disappear from me and I understand that now. I didn’t get that way just because I was lazy, or just because of my genetics, or just because I was clueless about what did and did not count as food, or just because of an unhealthy mental state. It was a whole series of things working together in a perfect storm against me. That storm is still raging but I have more tools to help keep it under control. I have more knowledge than I did, I have a better grasp on why I eat and am smarter about what I eat. I have found a form of exercise I enjoy enough to do several times a week, which helps combat my inherently lazy nature. And I put in the hard work I know I need to to help combat the genetics.

I look on that girl in the black dress with pity and sorrow, but also keeping the same distance you would from a friend who is down with the flu. If I get too close to her, I feel like all the sadness, fear, and misery she carries in all that weight will rub off on me again.

That girl in the black dress was me, but is not who I am today.

And my task for the past 2 years, and will be going forward into untold years, is to simply keep out running her.

12 Goals for 2012

(I swear I didn’t specifically aim for 12 goals. When I counted them before making this post, I was pleasantly surprised by the symmetry though.)

– Knit 12 projects (1 per month) from yarn already in my stash and patterns in my queue or favorites list on Ravelry. I will get a post up about this soon.

– Run the Instant Classic Half Marathon on March 17th. The goal is 2:30, but being a trail race, I will accept any time between 2:30 and 2:45.

– Sew several new pieces of garb over the Spring and Summer, for all of the family. We all need new garb to get us through Pennsic, but especially Grace.

– Pre-plan monthly menus. That system works too well and takes nothing more than me applying some brain power to it. Saves us a ton of money and headaches when I keep it up.

– Find some way, some how, to find the funds to join a CSA (I want Victory Farms if they keep their system the same as the old owners). I will continue to fantasize about having the money to get a cow share from Faith Farms for milk.

– Run the 5 mile Dauber Dash on June 17th.

– Expand my cooking chops and learn new and amazing ways to eat unfamiliar vegetables. (See the CSA goal above).

– Work with Grace to continue to help her with her goal of learning to run along with Mommie.

– Run Warrior Dash on September 29th and earn a PR for that race (would like to do it in 50 minutes or less).

– Run the Richmond Half Marathon in 2:30 or less on November 10th.

Tighten up my nutrition to improve my performance in the races I have planned. I am shooting myself in the feet with my diet. I could do so much better if I was even more careful about what I put in my mouth.

– Present the family with beautiful handknit Christmas gifts that will keep them wrapped in warm wooly love.

I want to focus 2012 on food, fitness, and family, and improving the connections and relationships I have with each of those things.

The Neglected Blog Looks Back

I have had nothing to say. Nothing to show you. Nothing to share. Not that there hasn’t been an abundance of words, potential photos, or knitted projects, it’s just that it is the time of year where my brain is overwhelmed and I just don’t feel like talking. I have neglected the blog and I am sorry.

2011 has been a year for wild ups and downs. It will go down in my memory for several momentous occasions.

First, it was the year I found my feet. I started running in the Spring of 2010 a few months after gastric bypass, but it wasn’t until this year that I found the confidence to run races. It began in January when I learned that Warrior Dash was coming to Virginia and I signed up as a way to motivate myself. Then I discovered the SuperHero 5K; a perfect race given my ability, my fondness for superheros, and the charity appealed to me. In total, I ran 3 races this year, finishing the year with the Jingle Bell Run, and even before 2012, I have signed up for two more races, both 13.1 mile distances. I am already well into training for the half marathon I am running on March 17, 2012.

I will also remember it as the year I received my Pelican in the SCA and as a year in general where I gave most of my spare time to the SCA, at least up until about October. Between autocratting, gate keeping, and general event support staff, I put a lot of time, sweat, and work into the SCA. I have committed to making 2012 a lighter year for the SCA for myself. No jobs, no event staffing, no offices; nothing unless I am taken hold of by some bolt out of the blue and inspired to do something.

It was the year of car repairs and cash hemorrhaging in general. Things were looking up early in the year, but then the van needed work, then the washer gave up the ghost, then we bought a new t.v., then my truck needed $1000 in work, then the van again, then the truck broke down the day before Thanksgiving, and finally, the van needed a new radiator just last week. It has been brutal, but we have held on and received a lot of blessings too; just the fact that we aren’t deeply in credit card debt still puts us in a better place than we were 3 years ago. I hope things will improve in 2012.

Also in the hardship category has been the breakup of my parents’ marriage after 32 years. As I told my dad a couple of weeks ago, this has been a long time in coming, so long in fact that I just stopped believing it would actually happen. But at long last it has, and we are picking up the broken pieces of my family and trying to figure out how to make a new puzzle out of it all. Some pieces are missing. Some pieces don’t fit together anymore. For better or worse, I suspect it is only the glue that is Grace Elizabeth that is preventing total disintegration.

I confess that I always assumed that divorcing parents would be vastly easier to manage as an adult than as a child. In fact, I thought I would have no emotional fall out whatsoever. I was categorically wrong on that front. This is hard. It hurts. And there is not a quick end to the hurt in sight, but I will push on to do right by all of my family, even though that balancing act is difficult at best and leads to hurting others sometimes at worst.

2011 was the year I began to earn some culinary chops. I have enjoyed experimenting with food, flavors, cuts of meat, and preserving food. The surgery I underwent almost 2 years ago has totally transformed my interests in food. Gone are the days when fried chicken and French fries made a meal, and all for the better as far as I am concerned. Yes, almost everything I cook has to have some kind of sauce with it for my own benefit, but the great thing about sauces is you can cook the same type of meat 10 times (hello boneless, skinless chicken breast) and have a different take on it every time. I have truly begun to enjoy cooking to the point that I frequently prefer it to eating out at a restaurant a lot of times.

It is also the year where I began to really care about what is in my food and where it came from. Websites I follow like Well Preserved and Fooducate have opened my eyes to possibilities and problems with our food. Sites like Food Freedom and Farm to Consumer Legal Defense have opened my eyes to the incredible power wielded by the large food corporations and how they influence government policy to their own fiscal benefit, though frequently to the detriment of the general public (remember, this is the year that tomato paste made pizza qualify as a “vegetable” for the purpose of school lunches).

It was not a big year for knitting for me. My Corrie Vest was the only really impressive project I succeeded at. The well-intentioned Self Created Sock Club flopped in May when it was supposed to be a pair of socks for my dad; this was simultaneous with the discovery of the divorce. Between the insanity of getting ready for Sapphire and the tumult of the early days of the divorce proceedings, I just couldn’t bring myself to knit his socks. And once I was off a month, I never got my sock mojo back. I have a new plan for 2012 and for knitting that I will describe in a forthcoming post.

It has been an incredible year with my daughter. Watching Grace become a little kid who can write her name, her numbers up to 10, who can spell C A T, who can color in the lines, who can draw pictures, and can remember and sing entire songs back to us has been uplifting and amazing. She has been the light and joy in my year.

I feel like I am ending 2011 a very different woman than I was when it started. I feel much older, more care-worn than I was 12 months ago. It has not been an easy or light year in any way, which doesn’t expressly mean it was a bad year overall, just a very intense year across the whole spectrum. I feel like I changed more in just this year than I have ever before, in some ways for the better, and in other ways, not so much.

I am closing out my third decade of existence very soon as well. My twenties were an awesome set of years, to be sure, but I am entering into my thirties in better health than I have ever had and with an amazing family I didn’t have at the beginning of my twenties. I don’t know where I will be at 40 in the same way I could never have predicted where I am today when I was 20, but I hope and pray that the coming decade will a decade of action and doing. I want to use these years to do rather than to hope to do. I will never be any younger than I am today, every day, and I learned very acutely this year that if you want to do something, you better hurry up and do it. Opportunities come far less frequently than excuses.

On that note, I will be closing out 2011 by running seven miles on Saturday morning. That is something I definitely could not have done on 12/31 a year ago. I can’t wait to see what I can do a year from this Saturday.

I wish you and yours an amazing 2012.

Jingle Bell Recap

I like reading race recaps and I can’t be the only one, so I do try and submit my own, partly for the amusement of others, but also partly so I can look back on these moments, good and bad, and remember where I have been.

I picked the Jingle Bell 5K because it was for a good charity (Arthritis Foundation) and because the price and date were compatible with my needs. Because it was themed, I had promised that if I met my fundraising goal, I would wear something themed for the day, thus with the jingle bell antler headband and the bells on my shoes.
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There was no communication that I could find on where the race was starting at the mall, so we just followed a car that had euro stickers for half, full, and 50K races on it, figuring they probably had something like a clue.
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One factor that had not occurred to me until Saturday morning was that the mall itself would not be open yet. I had been counting on there being warm stores for Byram and Grace to wander around in to stay warm. Fortunately, Panera Bread did open and they had warm drinks and a loveseat by the fire that was perfect for them.

The race itself did not feel especially organized. I know the Richmond Road Runners put out a desperate plea for volunteers last week, but there was not much communication on the website and the one email I sent with a question about packet pick up only was answered late on Friday. That is the downside of doing charity runs. It is all volunteer work and I can’t complain about that, really.

Byram had the camera and used it well.
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I saw race numbers in the 600’s on people but it didn’t feel like there were that many attendees. I also chose to line up fairly close to the front this time, unlike the CASA run. I knew I wasn’t the speed bump this time and wanting that sub-30 PR, I needed to get out of traffic as quickly as possible.
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Byram and Grace were able to be right next to me at the starting line. The race marshal yelled “Go!” and we were off.
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I was pumped and being at the front with the faster runners, I broke out very fast at the start. I knew I was too hot but didn’t try and pull it back until we were about a quarter of a mile in. My MP3 player’s ear buds quit that morning, so I was running without my musical companions, just the raucous jingles of all the bells the runners were wearing. Those bells turned out to be a hazard because in almost no time, they were flying off shoes everywhere and were like little marbles all over the course. I lost my little bells on the Big Mama-Jama hill.

Oh, the hills. I suppose that whole commercial zone was built into a bowl around the James River. The steepest feeling hill was the Big Mama-Jama I mentioned above, but that one was relatively short and brutal and over, with a lovely fast downhill when we turned around in a cul-de-sac at the top. Then, up another hill, through an office park, and back down a gentler slope, until we got to the run-killing half mile hill. MapMyRun shaded the hill when I mapped the course for its elevation change. The course leveled out a bit, but still was slightly an uphill battle the rest of the way in.

There were cars in the course, as I suppose there had to be since we were running through a mall at Christmas time and an apartment complex is right next to the mall. The police were very friendly, but one driver was not. Sorry we ruined her day. The bells were a nuisance on the road as well, and fortunately I only stepped on one, and even though it was right in the middle of my instep, it wasn’t as painful as it could have been. My main complaint was that the Dog Walk took place in the last half mile of the race route, so after the hill from hell and being close to gassed, I had to contend with walkers, dogs, people pushing wheel chairs, and kids. I managed, but I wish that maybe they had marked off a separate route for the walkers and dogs, or timed it so they were in that section while the racers were off in the office parks and off the mall property.

Without music, I focused intensely on a visual I had in my head of the race clock at the finish. I kept imagining it with random numbers like 28:50 or 29:10 or even 31:52 (though I kept banishing that one). The hills were so painfully slow and I felt time slipping away from me. I began to make myself accept that I had not accounted for such a hilly race, and maybe this wasn’t the race for a PR. As I turned back into the mall parking lot for the end, I spotted Byram and Grace pretty easily and tried to smile at them, but just as I saw them, I realized I could actually see the clock.
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It had something in the upper 28 minute on it and I lost any focus or control on my pace and breathing. I WAS going to make a sub-30 minute 5K if I would hurry the hell up! I pushed hard and tried to sprint for the finish but I really was gassed. I am sure I looked like I was running through mud, but it felt like I was flying. As I passed the clock, it read 29:30 as I hit the line and went into the longest chute ever, and they were yelling “Don’t slow down! Keep going!”

Ugh. It took me a minute to regain composure and controlled breathing but by the time I hooked back up with the family, I was beaming. I saw 29:30 as I passed the clock. I made my goal.
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I don’t know if I will run this race again. I disliked the course, and it had minor annoyances like the water station had its trashcans so close you only had time to grab a cup and splash water in your mouth before passing your only opportunity to toss the cup. I would encourage them to place the can a good 40 or 50 feet beyond the station in the future (I know how minor such a nit is to pick). It would have been nice if there had been water at the end of the race too. It was halfway across the parking lot and not in the direction of where we were parked. The dogs and walkers were a bigger annoyance, but not unbearably so.

It was inexpensive, very local to me, and I liked the DJ and the fact that Panera opened their doors, making life nicer for my family. I certainly appreciate the cause as well.

I learned my lesson about the end of the race though. Losing my focus and control left me feeling completely blown up after the race and I am not sure I gained any benefit in my speed. I also learned that gloves would be a lovely thing for all these Saturday morning training runs I am about to embark on. I hate when my hands are so cold they are stinging. Yeah, they were warm by the end, but it took a long time. I love my ear warmer sweatband! Yes, I might look ridiculous, but see the picture of me and Grace walking above and realize…I already DO look ridiculous and that is okay. Other than my hands, I was well prepared for the cold and also for the inevitable sensation of TOO WARM later on. I love that my pull over hoodie has a zipper for venting purposes and I had it all the way down at the end, and it came off after the race.

It was a hard race but a wonderful feeling to achieve what I set out to do and run the race in under 30 minutes. I am thankful for my family and their love and support. After the race, Grace told me she wants to learn to run with me. I could not be more proud.
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