December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse: Winter Solstice

The Moon
Bright orange with a silver scar
Lustrous against a black velvet backdrop
Surrounded by bright, swirling, Van Gogh stars
Undisturbed by city lights on the mountaintop
And pine shadows danced in the wind. 
The Moon eases through Earth’s shadow
Stars line up straight
On Winter Solstice, Heaven is aglow
Waiting since 1638. 
I am but a speck
Standing humbly in God’s presence. 

November 29, 2010

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses, AKA The Great Struggle

I didn’t run for two weeks.  My son-in-law was having surgery and my sister was coming to dogsit for them while I was at the hospital, which was in another town (excuse).  I had to clean house and get ready for her visit (excuse) and then I was out of town for a few days (excuse) and then I was back visiting with my sister (excuse).  So obviously, I just didn’t have time to run (excuse).

When I decided to get back on my running schedule, I was dreading it because I was not feeling in the least bit motivated anymore (excuse).  In fact, I had lost my Motivation over those past two weeks and couldn’t find It anywhere.  I’m sure that if I had lifted the couch cushion It would have been cowering underneath.  But since I had turned into a couch potato, getting up to look wasn’t really an option. 

In the course of two weeks I had taken one step forward and two months back.  My first day back was a fiasco.  I couldn’t run 2½ miles without stopping any longer.  Actually, I could barely run ¼ mile before I had to stop and rest.  (Sigh).  It sucks getting old. 

When I’m not eating properly, all of that delicious bad food works like a drug in my system.  It’s like a chemical reaction.  Anything heavy, sweet, or high in fat puts me into a food-induced coma that inhibits me from getting off the couch.   My head feels fuzzy and heavy, and I can’t think properly. 

And then it was Thanksgiving.  You just can’t eat right at Thanksgiving (excuse).  Seriously!  And of course, Christmas is coming, too.  Lots of fattening meals and candy, so I can’t possibly diet or watch what I eat at Christmas either (excuse). 

What really hit me this time (when I came out of my coma) is that I realized it was always going to be like this.  Even if I lose all the weight and exercise my butt off, I’m still going to have this lifelong struggle, AKA The Great Struggle.  In my weakened food stupor state, The Great Struggle was really depressing me. 

Luckily, I’m a very stubborn woman.  So what! if The Great Struggle was trying to get me down?  So what! if what I was trying to do is really hard?  And So what! if I don’t live up to my own expectations?  Even if I’m not very good at it, I can still keep going and do the best that I can. 

It’s not whether I succeed or not (yeah, right!), but whether I at least tried. 

Here is a quote that my daughter gave me: “Dead last finish”, beats “did not finish”, which greatly trumps “did not start.”
~author unknown. 

That about says it all!

And now that my Pity Party fell through, I think I’ve actually done something pretty amazing this year.  I’ve been running three times per week since last January.  I’ve really only missed three weeks out of the last fifty two.  I figure that I’ve probably run somewhere between 300 – 400 miles this year (I’ll have the exact number by the end of the year), as opposed to the zero miles that it could have been. 

I really have done alright. 

Just sayin’. 

P.S.  Yesterday’s run went pretty well – I’ve nearly caught up!

October 18, 2010

Running Music

Martini Magic

Some days running is easier than on other days.  Sometimes I just get in the zone and know that I’m going to have a good run.  Other days....not so much. However, I have noticed that if there is a good song playing on my ipod shuffle, it always makes my run a little bit easier.  So my thoughtful daughter Amber downloaded songs onto my ipod shuffle that she thought I’d like (being more technically inclined than I am with all these newfangled gadgets).  Here are some of the songs she downloaded for me:   
1. Chumbawamba (Pissing the Night Away)
2. Beer for My Horses (Whiskey for My Men)
3. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
4. Whiskey Girl
5. Margaritaville (But there's booze in the blender/And soon it will render/That frozen concoction that helps me hang on)
6. Friends in Low Places ('Cause I've got friends in low places/Where the whisky drowns/And the beer chases my blues away/And I'll be OK.)
7. Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off, and,
8. Tequila! 

  Are you seeing a pattern here?  Yes, they’re all drinking songs!  What the hell?!  Do I give off that vibe?  Or is it her vibe?!  LOL, I don’t know, but I do have fun running to some of these songs.  We did have may have had quite a few parties when she was growing up, and yes, alcohol was may have been involved quite of bit, a lot, on occasion, so I can see where this might be coming from.  

In all seriousness though, the music can motivate me and either make or break my run.  I have other songs on my ipod shuffle that don’t motivate me in the least, and in fact has the opposite effect, making me struggle to go the distance.  I try to skip those.  Songs that have tempos that match my pace and have a beat that matches my down-step are the best.  It’s like the beats per minute in a song match my steps per minute while running.  It’s like having my own personal pacer for company. 

Music is especially helpful to alleviate boredom when you do most of your running on a treadmill like I do.  Since we live up in the mountains and I need a babysitter minder for safety outside, in addition to new snow dropping nearly every day during the winter, the treadmill is the most viable option for me.  I don’t hate it. 

So why does party music make us happy and motivated?  Maybe it’s the reminiscence of fun times with old friends, balmy summers and a cold drink in my hand that takes me to that happy place and makes me want to run.  After all, music makes people want to dance, why not run?  I’m just sayin’........drinking songs, for whatever reason, can be motivating.  ♪♫♬. 

BTW Amber, you forgot a few!  How about, I Love This Bar, Family Tradition, White Lightning, Whiskey River, Straight Tequila Night, Jose Cuervo, One Scotch One Bourbon One Beer?

Just sayin’........♪♫

There are some purists out there that enjoy running in total silence.  Some people say that music doesn’t motivate them at all, that the silence, putting on the miles and listening to the sound of their own heartbeat is what motivates them.  Seriously?!  LOL, I love silence myself when I’m outside enjoying nature, but when I’ve got miles to put on, and it’s hard, hot and sweaty work, give me some good upbeat music any day.  ♪♫♬.  Of course there are safety factors when running with headphones; traffic, verbal warnings, muggers....

October 10, 2010

10-10-10 AKA Marathon Madness

Barking Mad
What is the significance of 10.10.10?  While I’ve heard that it represents divine intuition and ambition that makes you feel motivated, it must also represent some kind of full-moon madness.  I don’t know if tonight is a full moon, but I don’t feel like howling at it, unless it’s with mad, hysterical laughter for what I’ve just done.  Or I guess I should say half-moon “marathon” madness, because surely I didn’t just sign up for a half marathon of my own free will!?  When I can barely even run two miles! 

So I’ve just got to blame this madness on 10.10.10.  This is another one of those “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” moments. 

Why, Why, Why, do I always think I can do everything? 

I'm just saying.... I must be barking mad. 

October 1, 2010

She's a Member of the Zipper Club

Today is my baby’s 28th birthday – hard to believe that 28 years ago today, I was in immense labor pain and lamenting the fact that I ever wanted children awaiting the birth of my bouncing baby girl.  Happy Birthday, Amber!

But her early life wasn’t so easy.  She was born with two holes in her heart (ventricular septal defect), which grew larger as she did, and required surgery when she was a year old.  Even though she was a cardiac kid, she wanted to run from the beginning.  In her hospital crib, still hooked up to tubes and wires, she ran and fell, ran and fell, from one side of the crib to the other, laughing her head off because she was wobbly and kept falling down.  She learned how to run, before she learned how to walk again, and she did it with such joyous abandon.  She never looked back.  T-ball, little league, gymnastics, soccer, 5K’s, 10K’s, mud runs, marathons and bull riding (the mechanical kind), she’s up for it all!  As you can tell, I love and admire her a lot!  She doesn’t give up.      

Cooling Off at the Mud Run
She joined the Zipper Club, a non-profit, support network for heart patients and their families.  Her only lamentation is that she doesn’t have a vertical zipper scar, but a horizontal zipper scar.  I told her that whichever way she looks at it, she has a zipper.  Hers is sideways, so what!  At the time, it was a new procedure that the cardiac surgeon (Dr. Lamberti) called the Bikini Cut, designed so that she could wear a bikini and most of the scar doesn’t show.  So the first thing she shared at Show-and-Tell in Kindergarten was her scar.  Yep, she lifted her dress right up in front of the class and shared!  She wants her battle wounds to show, LOL. 

The Mud Monster

Un-duct-taping the shoes after the Mud Run

Amber recently finished her first marathon – the Rock n Roll Marathon in San Diego, and did pretty well considering she made some first-timer mistakes; doughnuts for breakfast, no extra socks, no emergency tissues, and her biggest mistake, pouring water into her shoes because of the heat, and causing massive blisters. She still has scarring four months later. 

So next year, she wants me to run the half-marathon while she runs the full marathon.  She figures we’ll finish about the same time.  Plus, I train at 9200 ft. elevation (so very little oxygen up here!), so running at sea level in San Diego should be an advantage for me.  I envision us running, about to set a record for the Guiness Book of World Records for the fastest half marathon / marathon for a mother and daughter team.  A man runs up to me and tells me that we’re really close to setting a record, and says, “Maam, I’ve been sent here to pace you so you can beat the current world record.  Just follow me and keep up.”  And I sprint off behind him (not the real me, the skinny, healthy, fast me), more than up for the challenge.  You know, sort of like in the movies, when someone’s needed to save the world, and you’re the only one who can do it.  Of course Amber is right on track and doesn’t need a pacer, and we meet near the finish line and cross together, arms linked, with the crowd cheering us on.  Hey!  No laughing!  I can fantasize whatever I want.  This is my blog!!!  Have you never read Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll?!!!  The White Queen says to Alice, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  Well, me too!!! (Thanks for the quote, KelliJ.)

Now back to reality.  If I can ever get past my two-mile hump, I might just do that half marathon next year. 

Happy Birthday, Amber!

September 28, 2010

The "Long Run"

My personal track

I keep hearing the term “Long Run” come up.  I did a little research to see how long a “long run” actually is, and from what I can tell, it’s anywhere between 10 – 15 miles all at the same time, consecutively.  No, really!  This may sound funny, but my “long run” is three miles, so there is an obvious discrepancy here!  My daughter calls it the “easy three.”  Well, not for me, smartypants! 

We live at the end of our street on a cul-de-sac.  Our house is the only one on our street, by the way.  And since my husband has a bad back and can’t run, I guess you could say that I’m the fastest kid runner on my block!  Oh, yeah!!!  Of the two-legged kind, anyway.  Let me say that my husband is my biggest athletic supporter ( oops) fan.  We live in the mountains and my paranoid over-protective husband doesn’t want me to run outside alone without protection from mountain lions and bears.  And believe me, I’m easy prey because I’m not about to outrun anything!  Even after 22 years of marriage, my husband still sort of likes me.  So he sits on a stump with his shotgun halfway up our street, while I run up and down eleven times, or approximately three miles.  Of course, the dogs have a great time running up and down too, blasting by me and showing off, looking over their shoulders with their tongues flapping out of the sides of their mouth and telling me to hurry up.  Impudent little mutts! 

Well, I’m all about comfort, and that’s how I ended up this way, but that’s another story and beside the point.  Back to Comfort.  My husband takes the card table and sets it at the top of our driveway on the side of the road, in the shade, and I set up my own Watering Station, so that every loop of the street that I take, I can stop and refresh myself.  And I really need it too, because our street is on a steady incline!  Both Ways! So I run almost up to the top, have a short little breather, and run back down the hill, toward the Water Station.  Basically, I have my own personal track, which is pretty awesome.  And at this time of year, our street is gorgeous! 

Here is what I have at my Water Station:

·         Bottled water (I like Dasani)
·         Iced green tea in a Rubbermaid container with lots of ice (and a bendy straw)J
·         Squirt bottle with cold water (ahhhh, feels so good)
·         Box of Kleenex
·         Chapstick (I like spearmint or mango)
·         Peppermint sports inhaler (they say mint is motivational, and I need all the help I can get!  BTW, it’s only peppermint oil)
·         Mints
·         Bear Spray (in case the shotgun doesn’t work)
·         Pocket notepad and pen (to mark down my laps, because I’m totally capable of losing where I’m at in the process)
·         Handheld tape recorder (because I think of the damndest things while I’m running, but my memory sucks, and if I don’t note it down, I’ll forget.  I may run like an elephant, but I don’t have the memory of one)

Now, my Watering Hole is at home, so I don’t need to bring everything and the kitchen sink.  But if I ever get past a three mile long run and have to run elsewhere, I’d bring other things such as ice packs, snacks, BandAids, Sunbrella and sun screen. 

I’m just saying….the more comfortable you are, the less you’ll mind running.    

September 20, 2010

Running With My GrandDog

Chance in full gear

When I was dogsitting a while back, I decided to take a run with my granddog, Chance.  He is an Olde English Bulldogge (rescued at 6 months), weighs about 80 pounds and is the sweetest, laziest dog you have ever seen.  I absolutely adore my granddog. 

Even though he is a lazy lay-about, if he suspects that he might be getting out of the house, he is all over it.  He’ll follow you from room to room with that cute, inquiring little wrinkle on his forehead, looking imploringly at you with his big brown eyes, and wondering if he could really, maybe, hopefully be going for a walk. Or in this case, a run. 

So we set off on our two-mile run, with me carrying a bottle of water to share between us.  If you know anything about bulldogs, you know that they don’t have a lot of stamina (perfect, I thought, because I have no stamina, either), they drool a lot, they have tender paws, and thin fur.  But I figured, hey, if I can run two miles, he can run two miles!  According to my daughter, he has run a 5k before. 

My first problem was that it was a warm day and he drank more than his half of the water!  Then I was out there dying of thirst, and of course I had to give him all he wants, because that’s what one does for ones granddog.  And not only that, but he totally slimed the bottle, too!  And then he started limping.  He does have shoes, but I didn’t bring them because, well, it’s only two miles, right?  As a matter of fact, he has his own wardrobe; shoes, rain coat, life vest, cooling vest, backpack – he has it all. 

So we rested on a bench, and two little boys rode up on their bikes with their cute little helmets and told me that my dog looked really tired, and looked at me totally accusingly, I thought.  Like my dog was dying and it was my fault!  Yes, Chance had drool on his face, but that’s because he shook his head and wrapped it completely around his nose – that’s what bulldogs do! They slime and drool.  But all I could say was, we’re almost home – bulldogs get really tired.  We haven’t gone that far, for Heaven’s sake!  No, I didn’t really say that last part – didn't want to scare the kiddos. 

I’m just saying....Maybe bulldogs aren’t the best running companions.

Happy 4th Birthday, Chance!

September 15, 2010

Is 4 mph Really Running?

The subject came up recently when my daughter was training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego, her very first marathon.  The rules say that you have to complete the marathon in 7 hours or be disqualified, so she calculated that she needed to run an average of 3.74 mph throughout the course.  A speed-walker can do that, right?!

Now, when I think of 3.74 mph, it makes me think that I can do a marathon too.  If I could only get beyond this 2-mile hump I’ve been on for 6 months, I think I could wheeze breeze my way through that 26.2 mile marathon, no problem!  Of course, a 3.74 average means no stopping for any reason whatsoever!  No easy feat when so many other obstacles conspire to trip you up.  Like blisters and heat stroke.  Fatigue.  Diarrhea.    I’m just saying.... 

Okay, I might have to wait awhile for that marathon.   So, to get an idea of where I’m really at, I finished 108 out of 116 on my last two-mile fun-run with the PPRR’s, so needless to say, I am not fast.  With 6 months of running under my belt, you’d think I could do better than that.  When I run at home on the treadmill, I’m even slower.  My comfortable pace is 4mph; that is the pace that I can still talk at, while running if I really have to.  Because that’s what I read somewhere; your running pace should not be so fast that you can’t still talk comfortably. 

But my real question is this: is four miles per hour (4mph) really considered running?  I know there must be speed-walkers that go faster than that, so I really, reallly wanted to know if I was running.  It’s important, right?  After all, I’ve been calling myself a runner, however slow I am.  So I did some investigative running (requiring no actual movement on my part, other than finger action over the keyboard), and found this definition of running on Wikipedia (the italics and bold are mine): 

Running is a means of terrestrial locomotion allowing a human or an animal to move rapidly on foot. It is defined in human sporting terms as a gait in which at some point all feet are off the ground at the same time. This is in contrast to walking, where one foot is always in contact with the ground, the legs are kept mostly straight and the center of gravity vault over the legs in an inverted pendulum fashion. The term running can refer to any of a variety of speeds ranging from jogging to sprinting.

So here you have it!  I really am running!  Because when I’m running, at some point, both my feet are off the ground.  And not just when I fall down, either!  WooHoo!

September 10, 2010

Why is Running So Complicated?

Why is running so complicated these days? Even when I look up the definition of running in Wikipedia, it’s hardly recognizable as that thing we learned to do so naturally since just about the time we learned to walk. Have you ever seen a baby run? They just do it instinctively on their short fat robot legs that barely even bend at the knees. They toddle back and forth with their arms spread out for support, and grin and laugh at how clever they are. Sort of like how I run now, at 50, only I’m not nearly as cute, and it hurts more when I fall down, and it takes longer to recover. In my own defense, though, I do not pucker up and cry (but I do moan and groan quite a bit).
What I really wanted was an uncomplicated way to lose weight and get in better shape, without having to go to a gym or hire a personal trainer. So I joined a running club (I’m there without fail to run two miles on the first Saturday of every month!) and subscribed to a popular running magazine. So now its official; I am a Runner. Please note the capital “R”. And I swear I don’t understand half of what my fellow runners are talking about! Take these abbreviations, for example:
  • PR/PB:      Personal record and personal best – pretty straight forward. I get this.
  • LSD:         Not the drug, but Long, Slow Distance runs.
  • Master:      Runners over 40 – hey, that’s me! The first time I’ve ever been master at  anything. I  love running!
  • Pick-ups:   Not the attempt to pick up someone of the opposite sex, but accelerations done during a run;   and  they are of shorter durations than Fartleks(?!); and,
  • Fartlek:      Not a typo, I did not mean Fartlets (although at my age, sometimes when I run I have those too), but Fartleks; which is variable pace running – a mixture of slow and moderate running, with short, fast bursts.
There are so many other terms and abbreviations that you could spend a lifetime trying to figure it all out. No offense to the diehards out there, but life is way too short. I just want to run, which I do three times per week. Two hard sweaty miles on the treadmill at 4 mph, which is pretty much my PR and PB. (And yes, 4 mph really is running, I checked – more on that later!)
No LSD, Pick-ups or Fartleks for me, because I am Master!