Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kris' First Outdoor Run in Iowa

So Kris joined me in Iowa about a week after my sub-zero trail run. By the time he arrived, the temperature had much improved. However, it’s still Iowa and it’s still the middle of winter!

As Kris donned all the snowboarding wear he had schlepped to Iowa I ask Mom if she had a dust mask. When I handed it to him he said, “Nah. I don’t need that.”

I said, “Trust me. You can’t breathe that freezing air. This will let you breathe warm air. And believe me, your scarf will get soppy, gross and soon you'll be breathing cold air through frozen spit! NASTY!”

He looked at me skeptic.

“Trust me. Just take it. If you don’t like it you can take it back off.”

So off he went.

He was supposed to be on a 40 minute run and soon (to be honest) I got involved in some other activity and forgot to watch the clock.

“Mom? Did you notice when Kris left for his run?”

“No, but I think his been gone about an hour by now.”

An hour?? Couldn’t be. I did some fast temporal estimations and figured she was close to the mark.

Now I started thinking of all the thinks that could keep Kris from returning on time. Like:

1. Slipping on a patch of ice, cracking his head open and laying unconscious on the ground with no one to find him.

2. Breathing freezing air long enough for his lungs to fail and he’ll be laying unconscious on the ground with no one to find him.

3. Getting lost and succumbing to exposure then he’d pass out; laying unconscious on the ground with no one to find him.

It was #3.

Except for the part about laying unconscious on the ground with no one to find him.

He showed up…a little late…. But with a smile on his face.

“How was it?”

“Great,” he said. “Except I took a wrong turn somewhere. Not sure how I did that.”

“Well all the streets and houses look pretty much the same when they are covered in a foot of snow!”

“Yeah. But I figured it out. Oh, by the way, the dust mask? Great idea!”

I was happy he had a much better time running outside than I did. But I’ll admit the rest of the runs we did in Iowa were on the treadmill at the gym! 

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Iowa Trip

Well, once Kris joined me in Iowa I became much busier. So I haven't posted for a week. We fly out this morning. So I plan to start posting again later this week.

I'll share the highlights of the second half of my vacation in which there will be talk of ditches, West Des Moines police officers and strip clubs.

Tune in soon! 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Second Run in Iowa

Well, I had to run on the treadmill yesterday. I don't look forward to that since running outdoors is so much more enjoyable in my opinion. Unless of course you're in the middle of Iowa in the middle of winter. 

It actually wasn't bad at all. I had my i-pod going and the time when by pretty fast. It did seem to drag more than it does when I'm outside. But not near as bad as I expected. 

I enjoyed watching the other exercisers for one thing. There were a lot of people there for 10 am on a weekday. But there is just a TON of machines in their cardio room. So no one had to wait for anything. 

While I was on the treadmill, I saw four stationary bikes with monitors on them. I watched until someone got on one. Come to find out, they are those 'virtual' bikes where you can choose a route and it's displayed on the monitor as you pedal. I have heard that the resistance changes automatically according to the displayed route. So, if you are climbing a hill on the monitor the resistance will automatically increase on the bike. Sounds fun! 

I was in a hurry to get back home as my dad's buddies (collectively called the "Hog Bears") were coming over for their annual Christmas Egg Nog social at our house. I had to get home and cleaned up for their arrival. So I will have to try them out another day. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

First Run in Iowa

Well, I attempted my first winter run in  Iowa  today. 

You can't run outside in Iowa in the winter. 

Any Mid-Westerners reading this are thinking, "Duh!" But I wanted to give it a try. Just for the experience. 
God tried to send me a couple messages to tell me it was a bad idea. First, when I opened the door to go out side, I couldn't see through the glass of the storm door. It was covered with a quarter inch of frost.... ON THE INSIDE. Second, as I drove to my starting point I didn't see a single soul outside. Not one. Barren. But I wanted to see if I could run. (Who do I think I am? An Artic explorer?) 

Growing up in Iowa I knew the key to being outside for more than the time takes to run from the  car into the store, or workplace or any where else you have to go outside of your house, is to be sure there is no skin exposure. None. Any exposed skin will be damaged in a short amount of time. 

So I was completely covered. Long leggings, wool socks with the leggings tucked into the, two layers of gloves (the outer layer being ski gloves), three layers on my head, sweat band around my ears, ear warmers and a stocking cap. Then I had a neoprene face mask that covered every inch of my face below my eyes. It has slits for my nose and a series of holes for my mouth. My forehead was completely covered with the aforementioned ear and head layers leaving just my eyes which I protected with my favorite pair of Oakley sunglasses. 

The sun is very bright in Iowa and it reflects off the snow and ice. So you definately need sunglasses even in the middle of winter.

So I turned on my Nike+ band so I could track my distance and I set my i-pod on my running playlist while I was still sitting in the car. It's very hard to do those simple tasks with ski gloves on and I was not about to go about my preparations out in the elements. I would leave that solely to the time running. 

So I was finally ready and I got out of the car and started running. 

It was invigorating! For the first 60 seconds. That's all the time it took for the frigid cold to seep through my layers and hit my skin. Ten seconds after that, it was reaching my bones! I aimed to finish a short loop in the sports complex where I chose to run. But as I kept running I kept recalculating a smaller and smaller looped route because it was obvious I was not going to finish my usual distance! 

At one point my legs felt frozen through. I couldn't feel my muscles flexing or even any fat jiggling. I felt like the liquid metal morhping guy from Terminator 3 when he was freeze dried. I was afraid that if I slipped and fell on the ice, I would shatter into a hundred pieces just like he did. Only there was no heat source to melt me back down so my pieces could find themselves and reconstruct. I was careful not to slip. 

Another interesting phenominon was that my favorite Oakleys were freezing and the bridge of my nose where the glasses were touching my face, was aching with cold. So I had to pull the glasses forward and off my face. I had the bows of the glasses stuck between the many layers of my ear coverings. So the glasses were able to stick out at a straight angle so I could see through them while they blocked the wind and stayed off my face. 

As I turned back toward the car, the wind hit me straight on and in full force. Unfortunately, I had my easy piece of the run behind me. I had to run hundreds of yards into an icy headwind before I reached the safety of the car.

About half way to the car, there was a dumpster that I took shelter behind for a few seconds so I could get a little break from the freezing wind. It was not much of a break. But it was enough to fill my lungs back up as my breathing was feeling more and more shallow as I went. 

I came out from behind of my little shelter and the wind was just as bad. So I tried to put my head down and run in the direction of the car. Tough to run without looking where you're going. 

Another challenge at this point was I was feeling like I wasn't moving any air through my lungs. Even though I was gulping deeply I didn't feel like I was breathing. I concluded that my brocules had frozen and were no longer working. I looked up and could see the car still 50 yards away. I knew I was going to pass out from my mild suffocation, lay there on the field unseen until I froze to death only a few feet away from the car. 

"What a shame," I thought. 

Since I was losing my breath I wanted to walk the rest of way. But I wasn't sure I could last out there during the extra time walking would take. So I kept running. I spent a few more unpleasant minutes out in the piercing wind but made it to the car!

Once I was safely inside, I check my Nike+ band. I had run for 9 minutes 20 seconds, covered .71 miles. Not stellar. But my pace was pretty good. Must have been that last desperate 'sprint' to the car. :)

When I returned to my parents house, Dad asked me how cold it felt out there. I said, "About 1."

I will be doing the remaining runs while out here in Iowa on the treadmill. Painfully boring perhaps, but a lot less painful!

By the way, once I had thawed enough, my dad and I checked the weather. The windchill factor was -20 degrees with a temperature of.....1.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Last Run in California

Well tonight was my last run in California for a couple weeks. I'll be flying out to Iowa for Christmas. There is a chance I could catch a decent run in LAX because I have an hour and a half layover. However, this would be very cruel to who ever is my seat mate from LA to Denver. Not sure I should do that.

Once we touch down in Des Moines, play time is over. Running will become suddenly very serious. Have you ever ran in sub-zero temperatures? Yeah, I didn't think so. Me either. Like I said in a previous post, no one runs in the winter in Ia except that one guy. And I imagine he is much better out fitted than me! I only have two pairs of full length leggings and only one pair is lined. That pair happens to be a hand-me-down from my dad who, of course, lives in Iowa!

I'm bringing my ski clothes so I'll have good thick gloves and stocking caps. I've asked my mom to see if she can find me a dust mask. Believe me, you do not want to go out in a Iowa winter without covering your face. It will freeze. That's why you wear scarves. Except scarves get really soggy when you breath through them. Imagine someone who is breathing HEAVY through them. Yuck! The dust mask is a much better option.

So I have my head, face, and fingers covered. But I haven't figured out what to do about my feet. I have two or three pairs of wool socks. I hope that's enough. But I think I need to count on my feet getting wet. I thought about running in my snow boots. But that's really stupid! So I am hoping the running for 30 minutes in damp shoes won't be long enough to get blisters and that the running will warm my body enough to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. We'll see.

Wish me luck. Come back and check out how it goes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Running with Kris and the Built in Leg Massager

I love running with Kris. I should put "with" in quotes. Since he has such long leg and mine are rather stubby (actually they're a little stubbly too) he runs much faster than me. So we'll start out together and do a walking warm up. Then at the 5 minute mark Kris' watch beeps and we're off and running! Kris off in the distance and me plodding along.

If Kris and I are running in the neighborhood, he'll run out until he's about to lose sight of me and then he'll double back. We are on different running programs. So he has portions where he stops to walk. I'm at a place in my program where I am running for the whole work out. So if he happens to be near me when it's time for him to walk, we'll get several minutes to work out side by side. I really enjoy that. We talk and unplug from the day. We get to pay attention to each other with nothing to interrupt us. And we are sharing something we both love.

Then Kris' watch beeps again to tell him it's time to run and off he goes!

On Sunday we both had long runs to do. So we went up to the North side of town to run on the levy. There is a gravel and asphalt trail that runs along the levy that is a little over a 10k. Since it was the middle of a Sunday and the levy runs along the edge of a neighborhood Kris and I felt safe to run separately.

The route is an out and back. So I knew I'd see Kris on his way back. I have never ran the whole levy before but I knew about how long it was. I started looking for Kris when I was about 2/3 of the way to the turn around point. He never showed up!

There's no way I could have missed seeing him. So I must not have been very far behind him. That was encouraging. There's no doubt I have been running faster this last week. My pace stats show improvement. But I was surprised I hadn't fallen more behind him.

Another thing I didn't see was the turn around point. I was getting tired and I had expected to be at the half way point by now. Where was it!

Hey! Here comes Kris!

"Kris! Where is the turn around??!!" It must be way up there if he's on his way back. He must have hit the turn around way ahead of me.

He pointed behind him and said, "It's just up there. You are right behind me!"

I looked up and sure enough I could see it! I wasn't as far behind Kris as I thought! Wow! Cool!

So I stopped briefly at the half way point to do a quick stretch and walk while I downed half my bottle of sport drink. Then I got back to running. I was feeling good!

Until the last 3rd of the run. Fatigue started to set in! My leg muscles were feeling real good. But I was feeling that drowsy tiredness of overall fatigue. Then my hips started hurting. What is that??? They've never hurt before! What the heck??!! Especially the right one. I thought about stopping to walk. That is was a smart runner would do. But I had never cleared the whole levy before and I wanted to clear the whole thing running.

So I kept running. You know, I could've just made the goal of clearing the distance of the levy and save the goal of RUNNING the whole distance for another day. But I was so close! It was in my reach even though I knew it would be a struggle. I kept running.

Or rather shuffling. But the rules are that if I am doing any more than actual walking it counts as running! So I kept shuffling.

I imagined Kris was done with his run now and was doing his stretches. I was hoping he'd come back to see where I was because I could have used some cheering on. I kept shuffling.

I saw a bike rider in the distance. I wondered if it was the same one I saw on my way out. Sometimes that happens on running routes. You'll see someone on one part of the route doing their thing (walking, running, riding) and then bump into them again on another part of the route. I always enjoy that.

This biker may have also been a runner because as we passed each other on my way out he smiled and gave me a thumbs up as he passed. I was hoping it was him but also hoping it wasn't so he wouldn't see me struggling. I quickened my pace just in case. And sure enough I saw him morph from a grey spot in the distance to the same biker I saw on my way out. I tried to hold my posture up and smile so I didn't look so tired as he rode by.

He smiled at me again and this time he said, "Good job!" as he passed. How nice! I love nice people. That was so much nicer than saying, "Damn girl you look like you're dead but forgot to fall down." :)

So I kept running. Well, I think I declined back into a shuffle once the nice biker was out of view. But I kept going. I imagined Kris was done with his stretches and was probably sitting in the car reading and waiting for me to show up.

I kept running. But I became aware of a strange happening. Sometimes when I run I can feel myself jiggling. Most of the time I can't. I'm not sure if it's the terrain or perhaps for some reason I am running with a different gait. But sometimes I can actually feel the fat jiggling around. Well this day I suddenly was aware that not only was the fat jiggling but it was specifically the fat in my legs jiggling in waves that were moving vertically up and down my thighs.

It was like I had a built in leg massager as I ran! I'm not kidding! It was the weirdest thing in the world! And it couldn't have happened on a better day! This was my hardest run so far. So there was no better day for this phenomenon to happen! How odd! So let me tell you, I enjoyed it as long as I could.

I tried not to think about how I might look from behind. I figure if someone was running behind me and didn't like the view, they would just be more motivated to run faster so they could pass me and put my jiggling ass behind them. I'm all about motivation and encouragement. :)

The time seemed to drag on but I knew I was making progress and when I was less than half a mile out, I see Kris walking toward me. Yeah! I could use the encouragement! When we met up, I said, "Struggling. Need cheer."

Kris said in his subtle, quiet smiling way, "You're almost there."

I smiled. Kris and I are very different in some ways. He is quiet and I am a total spaz! If the tables were turned and he needed cheering I would be cheering like a psycho pom pom girl on crack!

"YOU CAN DO THIS!!! YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!" Clapping my hands loudly. "YOU OWN THIS ROUTE! THIS IS YOUR ROUTE SO TEAR IT UP!! COME ON YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU'RE LOOKING GOOD! YOU ARE STRONG! LET'S DO THIS!" And on the ranting would go until he got to the finish.

I do this with my bike teammates too. Usually when we're cranking up a nasty hill or we're doing a long distance and someone's dragging. It always works too.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if it's because the cheering is actually encouraging or if they just want me to shut up.

So I kept shuffling and decided I needed some musical help. I kept hitting the skip button on my I-pod until a hard fast-paced song came on. I turned up the volume and just raced it the rest of the way. Sometimes that's the only way I'll finish. By just plowing through it as fast as possible to get it over with. It worked this time.

I really felt great! Tired but great! This is why I think runners get 'addicted' to running. The endorphins are amazing! I took a few minutes to try to breath again and then did some really good stretches. Then I folded my sweaty body into the car and rode home in a nice warm (natural) chemical haze......

Saturday, December 6, 2008

BMI Part 2

So in my last post I mentioned my BMI was 30.9. BMI is a factor of weight and height to come to a measurement to make you feel like there is yet another area of your life where you are not good enough and must improve.

Well I looked up a BMI chart to see what a BMI of 30.9 meant.

A BMI of :

18.5 - 25 = Normal
25 - 30 = Overweight
30+ = Obese

I'm obese! What???!!! I am overweight. I won't argue that with anyone. But obese? That was a surprise!

I've called myself a big girl for years and my husband hates it when I do that!

"You are not big! What are you talking about?"

So we have had many arguements about why I qualify as a big girl.

Me: I shop at plus size clothing stores. I've gained 30 pounds since we met. I have to wear XL size in my bike jersey and shorts.

Kris: Stupid sport gear companies make clothes for those skinny ass atheletes. An XL in a bike short is like a med in regular clothes. Big girls don't ride centuries, bag peaks or run form miles. Last time we rode our bikes I had to work to keep up with you! You're not as big as you think.

So I took my BMI information to him.

(Are you all thinking I'm crazy to try to convince my husband I'm fat? Yeah, I know. I am a strange one. But I think that's why he loves me. :) )

"See," I said, "30.9. Obese!"

"BMI? Bullsh*t Measurements for Idiots! That's what that is. They only consider weight and height. There are many more factors to health. That doesn't mean shi*t."

Why do I argue with him? Why must I get him to admit I'm a big girl? Here's my best guess:

For most of my life it has been very clear that it's not ok to be heavy. My first diet started before I was even a teenager. It was terrible to measure every thing and pass up 'teenage' foods only to quit and not lose any weight or lose a little only to gain it back plus a couple of pounds. With every failed diet and every extra pound it was clear that I was a failure and not as good as I should be. As the years moved on and the failures increased it became more and more clear that I was not good, strong or desireable. I was just a fat slob that failed failed failed. I was lucky to have men interested in me since I didn't have much to offer them.

So I think I want Kris to acknowledge that I am a big girl and it's ok. No need to deny it or make exceptions for me to be exempt from that label. I'm a big girl and he loves me as I am. Failures and all.

I was a sad little girl trying to conform to what culture and people around me said I should be.

It wasn't until later adulthood when I had to face some tought life events that I finally looked closely at my life patterns. It was at this time of my life I had to rely soley on my self. And that is when I finally gained some honest perspective.

I found that I had a lot more than I realized to offer people. "Lucky to have men interested in me"? When I looked back on my life, I was never without a partner. No matter what I weighed. There were times I had to turn guys down because I was already involved with someone. Lucky men were interested me? Huh! Where did that thought come from? I had a lot to offer.

I found that I am a strong woman who can take care of myself just fine. Those failures of diets started from a little girl restricting food to a growing body. Yeah, not good odds that would go well. All that did was start an unhealthy cycle.

I can do every activity I want to do. My weight doesn't hold me back.

Like Kris says "Anybody who can hike for 8 and a half hours straight, climbing 3000 verticle feet over 10 miles isn't obese!" (Yeah I did that).

Obese or not, I am finally happy. I love who I am and what I have to offer my employers, my neighbors, my friends, my family. I will never diet again. No good comes from it for me. Only negative memories and a feeling of 'wrongness'. If my health starts to go downhill, I might think about making some adjustments so I can continue the activities I love.

But until then, I'll keep running with a big ass smile on my face and a big ass behind me!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


So, I've had a BMI of over 30 for awhile now. I think my highest BMI was 31. This week it was 30.9. I measured it a few days ago.

My husband went out a couple months ago and bought a scale. Why he got a scale I don't know. He's 6'2", about 170ish pounds, 5% body fat. He doesn't have a weight problem (except maybe when he has to wait for me to get ready before we go out.)

But he didn't get just any scale. It is the mother of all scales! Not only does it measure weight, it rotates displays of other measures like body fat percentage, body fat by pounds, hydration level, current bone mass and I think it can tell if Kris or I are ovulating.

You also program into the scale your gender, age and height so it can be more accurate. You can program up to ten people so everyone in the family can track their own body composition exactly. (You know, if someone has ten people in their family they are probably not paying attention to the ovulation tracker. ) Hhmm.

Another function of this scale is that it has colored LED indicators in the face. If you are in the healthy range for your age/gender/height of the item it's measuring a green light will elluminate, if you are below the healthy range a yellow light appears, if you are above the healthy range (i.e., unhealthy) you'll see a red light.

The first time I got on that scale, it started rotating displays of multiple aspects of my body composition, I thought the cops had driven into my living room there was so many red lights flashing! Good God! The neighbors ran over thinking there was an emergency in the neighborhood.

Actually, my bone mass and hydration always seem to register in at least the healthy range. So nowadays when I use that scale I see all three colors flashing as it rotates through my stats. Kris is thrilled. When we have friends over on Saturday nights, he plays his favorite dance tunes, sets me on the scale and it's just like the G*d damn disco!

Word must be spreading because the crowd at our house seems to grow each weekend. I'm not sure because I can't see the front door from the vantage point of the scale, but I think our next door neighbor is collecting cover charges.

I know Kris did not get that scale for me. He hates it when I weigh myself. "You are healther than most people. Why do you care what the scale says?"

"I don't know! I just know women aren't supposed to weigh much."

"Bullsh*t! You ride centuries, run for miles, and hike peaks. Any fat on you obviously isn't holding you back. Stop whinning and have another skittle."

Did I mention how much I love my husband!:)