Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Running Free

Usually Kris and I run on opposite days. It works great because Heather gets a good workout everyday. But today our running days fell on the same day. Kris has been getting home before me lately. So he and Heather were already well into their run by the time I got home.

I changed from my work clothes as fast as I could. I was hoping to get out soon enough that I could find Kris and Heather on their route. I grabbed the door knob to head out just as a sweaty Kris opened it returning from his run. 

Heather ran for her water bowl while Kris and I greeted each other. After quick, ‘How are you doing?’  and ‘How was the run?” I said, “See you in about an hour.” and tried to get out the door. 

Well, Heather heard this and came running. She still had her flash collar and leash on from the run she did with Kris and she was trying to follow me out the door! She was ready for more! Good gracious!

I left her at home. We exercise her a lot and we didn’t think she needed a double work out. (Ceasar Milan may disagree). 

I can’t remember the last time I ran without Heather. It was different running with out having to keeping track of her. It was a little free feeling. I just ran and didn’t have to think about anything. Which meant I thought about a lot of different stuff. But I did miss having her with me. 

I’m finding that the 10 minute warm ups are much better than the 5 minute ones. I had a great run. I ran a lot longer in one stretch which means I did a lot less walking. This got me thinking about my knees. 

I had mentioned in my previous entry that my knees had been hurting and it may have been because of my extra weight. However, I suspect my mindset was driven by the unusually high level of stress I’ve been dealing with lately. When I get depressed or stretched to my limit in some way, I get more sensitive about my weight. Too bad. 

Anyway, not only have I increased my mileage, but I am not taking walking breaks as much. I used to program a workout into my Garmin that would alert me to run for a certain time and then walk for a certain time. 

When I started to really feel good running I stopped using the Garmin and just ran free style. I ended up running more than usual. So on top of running longer distance and taking less walk breaks, I have also been running on cement much more than dirt lately. This is because the field we like to run in is just a nasty bog with all the rain we’ve been getting. 

All of this could certainly contribute to my knee pain. 

So, I think I’ll start using my Garmin again. I also might take my weekday mileage back down to 3 miles twice a week with two 2 mile walks on the off days and another 3 -4 mile run on the weekend until I build up more. 

That should help the knees and keep me on my distance target of 500 miles this year. 

I checked my current mileage for January and I’ve already ran just over 35 miles. I just have to do six over the rest of the week and I am on target for 500! 

Easy peasy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Eat or Not To Eat

My knees have been bothering me. Everyday. I haven’t ran since Tuesday and my knees still hurt. I don’t like this. I don’t want to  be stuck at low mileage for my whole life. But I don’t want to damage my knees either.

I’ll admit, I suspect if I got rid of only a portion of my extra weight  my joints would be less stressed and I assume I’d have less pain. But I don’t dare mention this to my husband because he doesn’t like me to talk about my extra weight.

My husband is a rare breed. He wants me to be happy as I am. He doesn’t want me struggling and straining to be different than I am. Boy do I appreciate that! He knows ‘dieting’ is extremely charged for me emotionally. He doesn’t want me living in a struggle.

He is constantly reminding me, “You are sexy and healthy as you are.” He says, “When you can’t climb peaks with me and ride centuries anymore then we’ll talk. But until then don’t worry about it.”

What about when your knees start hurting?

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I am so against dieting. Have you ever met a person who lost weight and kept it off for a significant length of time? I haven’t and I bet few of us have.

I feel like I’m being punished when I’m on a ‘diet’. Like I don’t get to eat yummy food because I’m fat. Skinny people get to eat yummy food because they don’t get fat. That doesn’t seem fair. I’m angry that I can’t eat all the ice cream, candy and french fries I want without gaining weight. What kind of messed up world do we live in?

I suspect my attitude is skewed toward food. I don’t get drunk, do drugs, gamble or participate in other harmful activity as a way to escape stress. I have suspected for a long time that food is used as a way to relieve life stresses. It fun and enjoyable to eat!

I think I use food as entertainment and rewards sometimes. Like on Fridays after a hard work week, I’m not looking forward to getting home so I can veg in front of the TV  or computer. I am looking forward to having a big dinner with ‘fun snacks’  afterwards. I love food! As in there are times that I MUST have candy or someone is going to die.

Something else I have noticed with food is that if I eat sugary or fatty food I want more of it. This is well established as fact in general. The more you eat sugar and fat that more you want it. Again, we live in a messed up world!

Usually I would say, if you work hard, eat healthy the majority of the time and you are healthy don’t worry about it. Enjoy your life! I DO NOT  want to be that girl that never eats a french fry or God forbid be afraid of carbs!!! I am so tired of that! Girls like that get on my last nerve. Eat a damn apple! It’s not going to hurt you!

But if my weight is impeding my running, should I try to lose weight?

I hear people saying, “Eat what you want, just not too much of it.” Not sure I can do that.   I eat big and if anyone suggests I have eaten enough I bite their arm off!

I love running and I love eating. Will I have to give up one for the other?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Warm It Up

I decided to try something a little different this week. My goal this year is to run 500 miles in 2010. In order to make this goal I am running 12 miles a week. That will actually cause me to over shoot my goal. But I wanted to build in some room for missed runs.

I’ve been running two 5ks in the middle of the week and a 10k on the weekend. I’ve noticed my hamstrings and knees are hurting after my weekend run. Not liking the idea of cutting back on mileage or messing up my knees, I decided to try spreading the mileage more evenly over the week.

So I decided instead of 2 5ks (3.1 miles each) I’d do 3.5 miles two days during the week and a 4 miler on the weekend. That way I’m not jumping my mileage up so much on one day. Sounded like a good plan until I got back from my run tonight and realized that I miscalculated. If I do 3.5 twice a week and a 4 miler on the weekend, I’ll actually be shortening my weekly mileage by a whole mile each week! (I don’t add too well).

So from now on it’ll be 4 miles three times a week.

But tonight’s run was a nice 3.5. A down side to longer runs during the week is that I have to spend more time running after I’ve already spent the whole day at work. I figured it’d take me about an hour to cover a good 3.5. But many people hit the gym after work for an hour long cardio class. So I figured I could do an hour on the road.

Unfortunately I’m working 10 hour days right now which means I’m lucky if I can start running by 7pm and by the time I get back, change out of my running clothes and eat, it’s time for bed. No ‘down’ time.

However, the stress relieving benefits of running make it worth it to go out after a long day of work. So I did. I managed to hit the road at 7pm and told my hubby I’d be back in an hour or so.

I am a serious multi-tasker. So I decided to call my mom while I was on my warm up walk. Well our conversation was going so well two miles had passed before we hung up. Oops! I thought for sure if I had done my regular 5 minute warm up and ran my regular pace, I’d take an hour to cover 3.5. (I run very slow!) So walking two whole miles I thought would cause me to take well over an hour to finish. Oh well. The point is to cover the mileage. Not speed.

So I started running resigned to the fact that I’d be out there awhile.

Well, I felt great! My body wasn’t sluggish and my muscles weren’t stiff. I dare say I was running a little faster than usual. Also, I was running for much longer stretches at a time. How could this be?

All the experienced runners will tell you, ‘It’s the extra long warm up. Duh!” Of course! My muscles were so warmed up and ready to go that they perform better. At the end, I tried sprinting as much as I could. I ended up clearing the distance in under 50 minutes. My overall pace was not much slower than my average.

So what was the lesson learned tonight?

Your warm up is your most valuable investment in your workout. I’ll be sure to ‘spend’ more on it in the future.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nice Holiday!

Today we had Monday off of work and I woke up to a rain storm. I love rain and I miss the thunderstorms from my mid-west childhood. So I was thrilled to have a rainy day off.

The wind soon kicked up and a full on storm was raging. That's when my husband decided to take the dog to Bishop's Peak in San Luis Obispo for a hike. He invited me but I wanted to stay home and take advantage of the rainy day to read the latest Harry Potter book.

Besides, I hiked 6 miles on Saturday and took the dog for a walk in the rain just yesterday. (My bike ride got rained out and I wanted to get some exercise anyway). So I thought I deserved a break.

I had the time of my life curled up on the couch with the cats reading. Then the house shook and everything loose in the yard started blowing around. I looked outside and everything was absolutely grey. Then the power went out.

No worries. That just meant I didn't have to do laundry, or cook or run the dishwasher. So I went back to reading. The wind continued to blow and the rain came down in sheets. I remembered my husband and dog were climbing a mountain.

I called my husband not sure he would get reception and he answered on the second ring. I half expected him to tell me that it was too stormy to climb when he got there and he decided to stop in a dog friendly pub for a pint instead. But no. My husband said they were almost at the top and they were both doing fine. I could hear the wind blowing in the background.

My husband was in his element. He was fine. Dog was fine. I curled back up on the couch and kept reading....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Madonna Mountain

Kris dropped Heather and I off at the bottom of Madonna mountain today for a hike while he ran errands in San Luis Obispo (SLO).

For those of you who don’t live on the Central Coast of California, Madonna mountain is actually a large hill (though its real name is Cerro San Luis or San Luis Mountain and is one of the ‘Nine Sisters’ along the coast) situated between Los Osos and San Luis Obispo.

Heather and I were going to hike the Lemon Grove trail around the mountain and then meet Kris at the pet boutique downtown. It was Heather’s birthday the day before (I had forgotten!) and I wanted to get her a special treat.

When we pulled into the parking lot at the trail head it was packed. Lot’s of dogs, hikers and mountain bikers. But the mountain was big enough for all of us. We only passed a few other people on the trail. The trail (actually all the trails on the mountain) was hilly!! I climbed a lot!

But I had an advantage. I put Heather’s backpack on her and put both our water bottles and my tube of sun block in it. So I was hiking light and she was weighted down. Which brought our paces closer together. She was pretty slow at some points.

After a particularly steep climb we stopped and I gave her some water. She actually drank it! Surprise surprise.

Once we got around the mountain and joined the main trail back to the parking lot we ran into a lot of other dogs on the way up.

One couple had a little fluffy dog and I thought, ‘This is an awful big hill for that little dog to climb.” But I doubt its owners were going to hike the whole thing. I stopped and asked if our dogs could say ‘Hello’. The lady asked, “Is he a nice dog?”

What a stupid question! No. My dog is mean and I just wanted to stop and let her eat your little dog for a snack after her long hike!!! Duh!

“No, SHE is very friendly!”

“What bred is she,” the dumb lady asked.

I said, “The shelter said she’s a chow/border collie cross.”

“Oooh,” she said as if she was trying hard to be polite, “What a lucky find at a shelter.”

This lady’s energy was bothering me and now I was suspicious that she’s a dog snob and wouldn’t think to get her fussy little dog from a shelter.

So I said, “Oh they have all kinds of WONDERFUL dogs at the shelters. You’d be surprised at what you can find.”

She just smiled wanly and I said, “Well have a good day.” And I started back down the hill as the bitch continued up. (The lady I mean. Not the dog. The dog seemed sweet.)

When Heather and I got to the bottom we jumped on the trail that led to downtown SLO. We stopped so I could see if Heather needed another drink. It had been a long time since our last water break and I knew I was parched. But in true Heather fashion she wasn’t interested at all.

We walked into town and met Daddy who had finished his errands and was enjoying a couple beers at one of our favorite pubs. Then we took Heather to the boutique and picked out a new (girly) collar and a birthday bone. She met lots of nice people and I think she was happy to be back on flat land!

Long story short, we ran two more quick errands on the way out of town and spent the rest of the day quiet together at home. (By the way, when Heather got home she ran to her water bowl and drank it dry!! Go figure!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Caution: May Contain Content Considered Gross by Some Readers

Ok, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I like simplicity. So when it was time to repack my gym bag I tossed in the nearest gym clothes I could get my hands on. Which in this case was a pair of grey bicycle shorts and one of Kris’ blue running shirts.

So what that I would be wear bike shorts to my weight workout? It just shows people at the gym that I do more than just lift weights. Perhaps, I’d show them I am a MULTI-SPORT athlete!

Well I ended up showing a little more.

I showed up half an hour early so I could get a decent run on the treadmill since I have missed some runs this week. (I am still on target to meet my 500 miles in 2010 goal). My knees are starting to hurt and my hamstring injury is starting to flare up as my weekly distance increases. So I thought I would just walk. But I couldn’t help it I had to run. I can’t stand just walking. (The endorphins aren’t half as good!)

So by the time I started working with my trainer, I had worked up a good sweat. Great! Except I noticed in the mirror the color of my grey shorts was uneven. Odd.

I looked closer and saw that I had the worse case of swamp crotch I have ever had! OMG! I think the padding in my bike shorts just soaked up the sweat rather than wicking away it like my running shorts.

I guess this is why you wear biking shorts for biking and running shorts for running.

Needless to say, I was mortified. But I am not one to ‘freak out’ over these things. After all, the gym is the one place where the more you sweat the better.

Besides, statistics show that at any given place only 1% of the people in the immediate vicinity actually notice you. So if you think along that line, if you are in a group of less than 100 people, no one (statistically speaking) notices you! There were only about 80 people in the cardio room at the time. So my chances were good no one knew I was there.

Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder what I looked like from behind. If it was as bad as the front, I’m sure I looked like I wet my pants!!!! Ugh!

By the way, if I was 5’ 10” and skinny, and a guy nudged his buddy and said, “Hey, look at that blonde chick over there. She looks like she peed her shorts!” His buddy would look over and say, “Yeah. She’s got nice t*ts.”

But when you are short and thick, the buddy says, “Yeah. That’s gross!”

Which is a shame because I actually have fabulous breasts!

But anyway, I was glad I wore one of Kris’ shirts because it made me feel covered up. So I could focus on my workout. Which I nailed by the way. I was surprised I did so well because I took a whole week off. But maybe I needed the rest.

So I survived my return to the gym after a week’s hiatus. I got in two good workouts, (running and lifting). So, you know, even in the swamp life is good!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

To Run or To Bike?

Well I was supposed to run my 10k yesterday to keep up on my mileage to reach 500 miles this year. But I haven’t been feeling good since Thursday and I was out of energy all day yesterday.

I was scheduled to do a bike ride with Kris today. So I was wondering if I could double up on the workouts today so I can stay up on my running goal without missing a ride.

Well being over tired to begin with, it didn’t make sense to me to double up when my body seemed to be asking for rest. Run and bike on the same day? Not today I think. So I had to pick a priority and running won.

I loaded up the dog and off we went for our weekend ‘long’ run. I packed about 32 oz of electrolyte water for me and about 12 oz of clear water for Heather. Don’t scoff that I packed a third of the amount of water for Heather. Trust me. We have ran enough together for me to figure out that the girl doesn’t drink!

I swear, I don’t know how she does it. She will run for miles and when offered she’ll often not partake. She’ll drink a lot when we get home. But she doesn’t like to drink much on the road. That is unless it’s hot out.

I was beginning to wonder why I even packed her a bottle today. I felt so HEAVY and slow! I was just plodding along. And I kept thinking how much water weighs and she’s not likely to drink it anyway. I knew this was going to be a long uncomfortable run.

I just did the best I could and walked when I needed to and ran as much as I could. The point was to cover the mileage so I could count it for the year’s goal. I didn’t have to cover it in a certain amount of time.

Finally, just before the halfway point I decided to stop to adjust my shoe that had been bothering my right foot the whole run. I decided while I was stopped I might as well take a good slug of my drink. When I was done I decided to grab Heather’s bottle and see if she would drink.

I reached behind me to yank the bottle out of my waist pouch. I couldn’t reach it. I slid the pouch around to my front and discovered it was empty! What the? Obviously Heather’s water wasn’t too heavy or else I would have noticed when my load lightened up.

I decided to offer her some of my electrolyte water. There was nothing in it that would hurt her. Though I wouldn’t recommend a steady diet of the stuff for dogs. So I offered her some and of course she didn’t want any. Ok. Let’s go.

For certain pieces of the route I would drop Heather’s leash. She is really well behaved. But I keep her on the leash if we’re running on or next too the busy streets and if there are other people around. Even though I know she behaves; other people don’t and some people get nervous when they see a loose dog. Besides, it’s really not responsible to take your dog in public off leash.  

I’m always surprised when I’m out with Heather and people move out of her way or cross the street to avoid walking past her. If they read her body language it is clear that she wants to say ‘hello’ and is of no threat. But I don’t think the average person or the average dog owner is very versed in canine body language.

Heather is always disappointed when someone doesn’t stop to say “Hi”. You can see it in her face. Maybe if you don’t know her, she looks scary with her dark coloring and shaggy hair. She smiles constantly. Maybe people are mistaking that for a grimace???

So while I was running toward the entrance to a multipurpose trail and saw another lady walking two little dogs, I called up to Heather so she would stop before she reached the lady without me. Of course she stopped and waited for me. I picked up her leash and we started jogging together  toward the trail.

I could see the lady keeping an eye on us as we ran toward the entrance of the trail. We were going to reach the entrance at about the same time. She moved her dogs all the way to the far end of the trail and kept looking out the corner of her eye.

What was she worried about? Maybe her dogs are aggressive and she’s trying to keep them away from Heather? Or maybe I just looked a little spooking in my running gear?

I always wonder what I looked to people on the street. I wear lycra pants or shorts and running shirts should be form fitting and mine certainly are. So I imagine people can see all my rolls through my clothes. (I’ve mentioned before how I feel like I look like the Michelin Man’s little sister in my workout clothes.) And I can only imagine the hypnotizing power I possess as I run down the street, my fat rolls undulating up and down my body.

On top of that I usually wear a hat and my sunglasses cover half my face. So I recon it’s even hard to tell if I’m a guy or a girl. And when people see my short wide frame they probably wonder how I can run at all. Like bumble bees. According to the rules of aerodynamics, the bumble bees shouldn’t be able to fly at all. But you know, us wild animals have their own spirit and we must do what we will do.

So as we jogged past, I smiled and said, “Hello there.” And she smiled back and said, “Hi”. So you know, we’re cool.

There’s always a lot of people on the trail so I had to keep Heather on the leash. We passed a couple other groups with dogs, a speed walker, a couple bikers, and another jogger. One of those skinny, built to run joggers.

By this time in the run I was feeling much better. Probably because I had lost some weight by losing the water bottle, my body was super warmed up by now and with half of the 10k behind me, my endorphins were pumping full strength!

Heather and I came in at a moderate pace. Better than I expected based on how I felt going out.

So I took her in the house and of course she drank her whole bowl of water in one gulp. I kicked off my running shoes and grabbed my biking shoes and told my husband I was off to find my water bottle.

I had a suspicion of where it’d be and sure enough it was there. I thought I must have dropped it while running on grass because I didn’t hear it hit the ground. And there it was just waiting for me.

So I snatched it up, secured it in my bottle cage and turned around and biked home. My bike ride today was a whopping 2.98 miles. But technically speaking, I both ran and rode my bike today. J

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Good Dog!!

Wow! Another great run tonight. I still can’t believe I love running!

I am so not built like a runner. I only started running a couple years ago to keep up my fitness during biking’s off-season. I told myself I would put my nose to the grindstone and just tough out a couple runs a week for the few winter months and be done with it.

How surprised I was to end up loving it!! Even tonight I got home late for work and I wasn’t looking forward to having less time in the evening for relaxation. But I wanted to run. It was so worth it. Even though it meant getting back late and not having much time before bed.

It was great! I ran well and the night was gorgeous! Perfect temperature and the stars were so bright! And even an hour afterwards the ‘afterglow’ is still burning strong.

And then the icing on the cake is that Heather really made me proud on the way home. We were walking back through the neighborhood. I don’t have her on the leash anymore. She behaves so well now that I just carry the leash with me.

Heather was trotting several yards ahead of me when I saw her perk up her ears, look across the street and trot faster. I looked across the street and saw a guy I’ve seen several times walking his two large labs. They were heading our way and of course I didn’t want Heather to bolt across the street to say “Hello”.

So from several yards away I yelled, “Heather! STOP!”  and she stopped.

Then I yelled up “Heather! SIT!” and she sat.

Then I yelled, “STAY!” and she waited for me.

I didn’t hurry up; in fact I didn’t change my pace the whole time. I just kept my casual stride as I called commands up to my awesome dog who obeyed perfectly and immediately.

I walked casually up to Heather and took my time attaching her leash and then said “Ok, let’s go!” And she jumped up and walked with me the rest of the way home.

All in front of our neighbor guy. Who incidentally was working hard to keep his excited dogs from running across the street to see Heather. Let me tell you, I was a proud mama!! J

We practice what I call ‘remote commands’ when were in the field. And I was so glad to find they work under ‘real’ situations. There is nothing like having a well trained dog! (She got many treats when we got home).

We both had a nice run tonight. Heather decided to nap next to my running shoes when we got home….ZZZzzzzzz

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

If you have been reading my blog you know my husband fueled my running interest by getting me a Nikesport band for my birthday a couple years ago. It really opened up running for me. It was such a great motivator. You can set a goal (you racing against yourself) or join a challenge (you racing against other runners on the Nike site). Soon running just became fun! Then it became a necessity.

My husband also started running. He used a Garmin to track his running. I liked the extra features the Garmin had so I got one too. So I joked about having two tracking devices. (One on each wrist). What a dork!

Well, Kris expressed interest in having a Nike sportband this Christmas. So of course Santa brought him one. :) So now he's a dork too! :)

He got on the Nike site and found the Challenges. He signed up for the 210 in 2010 challenge. All the runners who sign up for this challenge strives to complete 210 miles in 2010. No problem. That is only 4 miles a week! Seriously, that is a breeze now. So I signed up!

Then Kris found the 500 challenge. This challenge is to complete 500 miles in 2010. Wow! How cool would that be to say you ran 500 miles in a year! 500 sounds like a lot! Let's do the math: 52 weeks in a year into 500 is 9.6153846153846153846153846153846 miles per week. That's less than 10 miles a week.


So I signed up!

So, I figured out that if I run 2- 5Ks during the week (which is about what I do already) and a 10k on the weekend, (which I haven't been doing) I could get in 500 in a year and even have a little wiggle room for a couple missed runs. Sounds good.

Right now I am meeting two nights a week with a trainer at the gym. In March when the time changes I'll be riding two nights a week and long rides on the weekend. I was off my bike most of last season due to an injury and I just got a new bike. So I don't want to miss riding again this season. I wonder if I can keep up with the running goals and the riding. I am already prepared to drop the trainer appointments because I know something has to give when I add the riding.

But I am really hoping I can keep up running and riding at the same time. I thought I might do another century this year. But wonder if maybe I should focus on one large goal at a time.

So far this year I am on target to make my 500 mile goal. But it's only Jan 4th. Stay tuned to see how I do. Who knows, maybe I'll even beat Kris to the 500 mile mark!!! Wish me luck! :)

PS. We found another challenge "2010 in 2010". Challengers run 2010 miles in 2010. I'd like to see who wins that one!