June 28, 2011

Oh yeah!

I have definitely found myself a running group. They do speedwork on a local middle school track Tuesdays at 6:30pm, mid-length runs Wednesdays (I'll have to skip these until our Wednesday summer group bike rides end, some time in August), and Sunday long/slow trail runs. Everything I want in a running group, including NO MEMBERSHIP FEES. This is a completely casual group.

I am so there.

As soon as my plantar fasciitis starts behaving itself. It's flared up enough I'm not doing any run today. Instead I'm stretching and icing and hoping it's better quickly.

June 27, 2011

Stepping it up a notch

In addition to my new training plan (which I love!), I've been looking around for a local running club. Superman and I have talked in the past about joining a running club, but finding one has been difficult. There is one on the west side that has a website and sponsors 2 races a year, but they are too far away for this East Sider. If you are at all familiar with Cleveland you know that no one ever, EVAR crosses the bridge. The West Side is a completely different country than the East Side.

All kidding aside, 45 minutes is too far to drive for a regular weekly run or two. I'll only drive to races if they are less than an hour travel time. I understand running stores might sponsor running clubs, but the stores I've been to in my area are also a ways away.

I did finally find the Northeast Running Club, which meets about a half hour away. They have group runs early Saturday mornings and early Tuesday evenings. They also do trail runs Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, at the crack of dawn. Superman and I have talked about trail running, but we have yet to try any. This club has a $20/year membership fee, which is certainly doable.

I keep seeing information about a running store closer to me than the ones I've been to, but I haven't been able to find it. I finally found the website, and with a little more digging found they actually have a running club. The Second Sole Striders may be exactly what I'm looking for. I've sent them a Facebook message and will stop by the store tomorrow when I'm in the area.

What am I looking for in a running club? I don't really know. People who may be able to help me improve. Workouts that may be able to help me improve. I don't have access to a track (the local school locks theirs). I done some research, but have mainly been winging this running thing for the past year and a half. Maybe running with other people will challenge me to run farther and/or faster.

Don't we all want to run farther and/or faster?

I'll let you know what I find.
My most recent race photo.
Obviously, still heel striking.
Obviously need some help with my form.

June 26, 2011

Just another day in the neighborhood

I went for a walk today, and found this guy (girl?) down by the corner.
I'd startled him (I'm gonna call it a him) in the midst of a roadkill dinner. He flew up probably about 3 feet in front of me, across the street, and landed on the fence. I crossed over the get a few pictures.
 I got a bit closer...
 and closer ...
 and closer still...
Then he flew away. He swooped around the school yard at least twice, trying to find an updraft to carry him to safety.
 He found the updraft he wanted.
Can you even see him? He was huge, at least a 4 ft. wingspan. He circled around the intersection, obviously waiting for me to leave so he could finish his meal. I tried to take a few more pictures, but with the phone and in the sun, I had no luck.

I left him to his squirrel, and continued my walk.

June 25, 2011

Sweat Your Thorns Off Virtual 5K (x3)

This weekend, Adam over the The Boring Runner  hosted his 2nd annual Sweat Your Thorns Off Virtual 5K.
Again, I'm a poor blogger and forgot to take any pictures. I also didn't print out the pretty bib Adam made up, mainly because my printer is a piece of junk and it takes about half an hour to get it to work properly.
Here's the pretty bib I didn't print
I had 10 miles on my plate for today, since game night is tonight and I learned my lesson about trying to do my long run the day after I go out to play. I considered taking the hill up to the park (I don't know why that's my favorite long run!), but after my last few attempts at 10-milers I decided maybe a flat route would be best.

I didn't exactly rock this. I'm not sure what's happened to my speed, but something certainly has. Every long run is slower than the last. That said, this run felt better than most of the long runs I've done the last few months. I wasn't huffing and puffing. I didn't really get tired until well into the 2nd half. I didn't stop until the turnaround, and I didn't walk until I was done.

I can't say I sweat my thorns off. It was perfect running weather - mid to upper 60's. I was salty by the time I was done, so I did sweat. It just dried quickly in the cool breeze off the lake. (At least I thought about taking a picture of the lake. I just didn't want to stop and pull my camera out. Yeah, that's the ticket! I didn't want to stop!)

The flat route was a good choice, as my Plantar Fascitis flared up. I've been having trouble with my heel ever since I started doing 10-milers in the Nike Free. I just didn't give myself enough time to get used to the lower heel on the shoe. My calves have been tight for weeks, and no amount of stretching has made them feel normal. Somehow, that hasn't stopped me though.

I think changing my gait because of my PF was enough to bother my knee, and when I stopped for a light at the 9-mile mark my knee told me it was done. I was ok with that. I finished with a 13:09 pace, which is certainly not my best. Hopefully the speedwork I'm starting to do will remind my legs what it's like to really run.

So, 5K x 3
Mile 1-3: 37:36
Mile 4-6: 39:37
Mile 7-9: 41:26

I'm aware a 5K is actually 3.1 miles. I consider the mile I walked home the balance. Hopefully one of those times will win me a prize (maybe for slowest 5K ever...)!

June 24, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

Almond Butter and Jelly Sandwiches are back on the menu!
Strawberries. Apple Juice. Fruit Pectin.
30 calories per tablespoon
Apple Juice. Dried French Plums. Apple Juice Concentrate.
Lemon Juice Concentrate. Spices.
30 calories per tablespoon

Pineapple Juice Concentrate.
(and/or while grape juice concentrate and pear juice concentrate)
Apricots. Fruit Pectin.
36 calories per tablespoon
Rye Chop. Whole Grain Rye and Wheat Flour.
Malted Barley Flour. Water. Salt. Yeast. 
110 calories per slice.
(made in a local Ohio bakery)
  No Sugar!!!

June 23, 2011

Shoes (and another thing)

I've gone through several brands and types of shoes since I started running. First, I bought a pair of Asics with arch support. I've been told I have high arches, which in my head translated into a need for support. These fit my wide foot, but the reality is I do not need arch support. Early in my running career I experienced heel pain, but did not associate it with the shoe. I wore through one pair and purchased another. By then, I'd upped my mileage to runs of 4+ miles. Whenever I ran over 4 miles though, my 2nd toe on either foot would start to hurt. I decided I needed larger shoes, and bought the same Asic shoe a half size bigger. I only wore that pair a few times because I found them heavy and clunky. Also, I started having hip and knee issues.

I decided the hip and knee issues were shoe related. Since I walk around barefoot most the time, I decided barefoot running was perfect for me. The only problem was the acorns and glass all over my neighborhood sidewalks. I bought a pair of Vibram Five Finger KSOs and started with short runs to get my feet and calves used to the lack of heel drop. It didn't take long to realize the Vibrams pinch my little toe on anything longer than a mile. They will make a great climbing shoe, but for me not such a good running shoe.

With the help of my local running store, I decided to purchase a pair of Saucony Kinvaras. These were too narrow, but the salesperson told me they were supposed to be tight across the ball of the foot. I guess I wanted to believe him. I wore the Kinvaras for several months before that tightness became a problem.

Apparently I was in need of a general sneaker, because with new running shoes, I retired my Asics to a run-around-town shoe. They were the shoes I wore with my jeans, when it was too cold for flip flops. It didn't occur to me until just recently that, if I refused to run in the Asics, did it make sense to walk around in them? I couldn't go for long walks because my knees would start to hurt. I'm not always quick on the uptake, and it was only a few weeks ago to make this connection. The Asics went into the trash.

I planned to work my way down to barefoot running, so somewhere along the way I purchased a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves. These sat in my shoe bin because I didn't have time between races to condition my feet and calves enough to run any real distance in them. I planned to wear the Kinvaras until after the Towpath race last weekend, then transition to the Merrells. When the Kinvaras made my feet bleed after the Cleveland Half Marathon, I needed a shoe I could run in right away. I had a race to prepare for in less than a month! Instead of breaking in the Merrells, I switched to a pair of Nike Free.

I'm wearing the Nike Free now, and feel in my calves and heels they are a lower heel drop than the Kinvaras. I'm not ready to transition to a no-heel-drop shoe, even with 2 months to train before my next race. In preparation for that transition though, I've started wearing the Merrells as my every day, run-around-town shoe.

A note about the Merrells. If you think a zero-heel-drop shoe with a Vibram sole is not enough protection, let me fill you in on today's events.

 I'm a poor blogger and forgot to take a before picture.
This used to be a paneled bar.
The picture doesn't include the 6 bags of garbage,
random bicycle rim, old computer, 8-track tape stand,
and 5 gallon wine bottle
that went up those stairs already.

Today I dismantled the bar in my parent's basement, and removed paneling from the side of the stairs. This project involved a crowbar, a flat bar, a hammer, and a small sledge hammer. There were lots of nails. Nails of all sizes. Nails of a size I've never seen before. The guy who built this bar was determined it would last the life of the house.

I stepped on a few of those nails. I stepped on some boards that had nails sticking out of them. In the Merrells. The nails did not go through the shoe. That says something about the tenacity of the Vibram sole on the Merrell Trail Glove. I'll be able to run on glass and acorns in this shoe, without a worry in my head for the safety of my feet.
I took this picture for Rose.
The one with my mouth open was just plain ugly.
She does the open mouth poses so much better...
This was a heck of a workout, on top of 6 miles (3 run, 1 walk, 2 run) on my new favorite path today. It was not hot today. That stripe across my middle is all honest sweat.

In other news, you might remember I told you about fellow blogger Michele over at Baby Weight My Fat Ass, and her adorable daughter Avery. Michele is still collecting  donations for Team Avery, to help fund Autism research. Suggesting you go HERE to help her out is one of the few things I can do to help. Please consider helping. It's definitely a worthy cause, and Michele is just a few hundred dollars from her goal.

June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

New Race = New Training Plan

I try to work out a decent training plan for every new race. I have 2 months to prepare for the Perfect 10-Miler, so there is time for improvement, where running a race every month there is not. The new plan looks like this:

Swim 1 hr.
Run (Treadmill)
1 m. warmup, 1 m. goal pace (12:00), 1 m. faster than goal pace, 1 m. cooldown
Bike 10-30 miles

Run (Outside)
5-6 miles easy
Swim 1 hr.
Yoga 1 hr.
Run 10+ miles

I know it looks like I don't have any rest days, but neither swimming nor yoga are very strenuous. I mostly do breaststroke, and the goal is to keep moving for an hour without pounding my body. The yoga is on the Wii, and is more stretching than sweating. I'm looking forward to the cross-training, and hoping it will alleviate some of the issues I've had with hips and knees.

The long run will increase by one mile every week, until 2 weeks before the race. I may switch up the speed work some Tuesdays with incremental intervals (starting at 5mph, increasing to 5.1, 5.2, etc., with a slower 13mph break in between). The weekend before the race will be a 6-8 mile long run, and that week will have no speedwork. Both weekday runs will be reduced to 3-mile easy shake-out runs. 

That's my plan, and I'm sticking to it.

June 20, 2011

Towpath 10-10 Race Recap (and other miscellaneous stuff)

I knew this would be a difficult race after the way my last few long runs went.

I knew this would be a difficult race after Friday's shake-out run turned into speedwork.

I knew this would be a difficult race when I didn't do the yoga I'd promised myself, Saturday.

And when I didn't get to sleep until after midnight.

And when I woke up before 5, unable to get back to sleep.

And when my legs were tight and my heels complaining when I got out of bed.

I mourned the lack of an almond butter and jelly sandwich and quart of creamer-filled coffee for race day breakfast, but stuck to my no-cane guns. Almond butter on rice crackers and a banana, it was. I'd made a coffee concoction with honey and rice syrup. It wasn't as tasty or satisfying, and I only had a little. I used the same concoction as fuel during the race. I may have to find something else.

This is the first race I've left packet pickup until race day, so Superman and I arrived early. We got my stuff with no issues, with time to walk the shirt back to the car. I'd found out earlier this week the Energizer Bunny signed up for the 10K instead of the 10-miler I'd expected her to run. It didn't make sense for us to ride together, then make her wait almost 2 hours for me to finish. This left me looking around for her before the start, but I didn't see her.

We walked just over a mile from the staging area to the 10 mile start, and the 10K racers had even further to go. They were calling "5 minutes to start" over the bullhorn as we walked up.
The 10 Mile starting line
I hadn't seen any porta potties at the staging area, so was happy to see a line of them behind the start. With chip timing (and knowing I wouldn't be setting any records) I wasn't worried about starting late. Several people in line for the potties apparently were, because they lit out of line and across the start at the gun. I followed at a more leisurely pace, about 3 minutes later.

I knew it was going to be a difficult race when Superman told me the first mile was at a 13:18 pace. I felt we were moving along quite a bit faster than that, and it turns out I was right. When I looked at my splits after, my GPS said we did the first mile in 11:40. We went out too fast, when I've been running 12:40 miles.

I knew it was going to be a difficult race when I was ready to be done by mile 3. I'm not sure what the temperature was, but I think the heat was exacerbated by freeway exhaust (pictured in the bridge over the start). The heat and muggy took my breath away, and not in a good way. Once we got away from the roads, I was able to enjoy some of the scenery. We saw bunnies and red-wing blackbirds, as well as some beautiful foliage.

The course was mostly flat, a down-and-back then up-and-around path. The only real inclines were 2 walkway bridges, each with a 7% grade. I walked up those bridges, and ran down the other side. The 10K runners were already passing us, as they had a straight shot from their starting point. This is when I saw the Energizer Bunny. She hasn't had a chance to run as much as she normally would, and was happy with her race choice. She said it was a good distance for her, and that she didn't fight herself or the race. Of course, I got that information later. All I knew in passing was she looked good, and I felt beat. 

I fought myself and the race for the next 7 miles. It did get cooler as we got away from the roads, which helped tremendously. I dumped several cups of water over my head, which also helped. I wrote a blog post in my head, based on the 13+ (14+) minute miles I thought I was running. It was not upbeat or happy.

Superman kept a steady pace, pulling ahead several times. He says he can only run so slow, which makes sense because when he suggested I slow down I told him slower was harder. I would catch up, then have to walk and he would pull away again. Ultimately I did slow down, because I had no choice. He pulled ahead and I couldn't muster the strength to catch up. He finished at least 5 minutes ahead of me.

There is no recovering from going out too fast, or lack of sleep, or lack of preparation. I think my fueling plan needs some work, as well. The only thing I know I did right was in hydrating all week prior to the race. My finishing time was 2:14:32, a good 10 minutes off my PR from last year. I knew I wasn't going to PR, mainly because I haven't been doing speed work. I've been running 12:40+ miles, not 12:00 miles (although my first race of the season was a 5-miler at just under 12:00 pace).

I should have taken an ice bath when I got home, but instead I puttered around then got ready to meet my parents and brother for a Father's Day lunch. Then Superman and I went strawberry picking. I now have a good 3 lbs. of strawberries in my freezer, which makes me very happy.
Still soft, even frozen, and so yummy!
I also have a tin full of sugar free, grain free brownies, which I made Saturday. These are delish, though a little heavy on the coconut oil. Next batch I will make with olive oil. Yes, I am already planning my next batch.

I decided not to bore you all any longer with my food angst. I might mention an especially yummy recipe (like the brownies), but all food related posts will now be HERE.

June 18, 2011

The Father's Day post

My Dad was not a Leave It To Beaver father. He, like myself and everyone I know, is not perfect. He wasn't at the dinner table every night while we were growing up. My mother soloed a lot of the parenting for the 6 of us. That said, he has always been a an influence and a presence in my life, and I have some very fond memories to carry forward. As they say, I would not be who I am today, if not for who my parents were.

My Dad got up at 5am every day for over 20 years, to drive 2 hours to work. Sometimes he drove farther if he had to visit one of the plants. Sometimes he wouldn't come home until after we'd all gone to bed. It's hard to move 6 kids, and hard to purchase a new house in an expensive market when trying to feed and cloth 6 kids. My parents could have continued looking for housing closer to where he worked, but opted instead to not uproot us all from school and friends. They both sacrificed for that choice. 

My Dad never got over his parents' divorce, and vowed to never put his children through what he went through. He kept that vow. I know my parents' relationship was not always made in heaven, but they stuck it out. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year.

My Dad was the driving force behind family camping trips. He would come home early on a Friday and round us all up. We had little notice to pack a weekend's worth of clothes into a pillow case, load up the trailer and station wagon, pile in with the dog in back, and head out. I didn't realize until I was older that I'd actually already visited all the surrounding states, and a few farther afield.

My Dad's love of trains allowed us to distinguish our home from all others on the street. Directions to my house included the epitaph "It's the pumpkin orange house, 5 from the corner, with the train on the front." He gave up his model train set (which filled an entire room) when I was about 7, converting the 3rd floor from that into living space for myself and 3 of my sisters. This allowed the older children to have their own rooms, something precious for a teenager in a house of 8 to have.

My Dad's love of science fiction fed my own. He subscribed to Asimov's Analog, a magazine of science fiction short stories. I would steal the new edition before he got home, reading it cover to cover before putting it back in the mailbox for him to discover.

My Dad shared his quiet moments with us. I will always cherish the summer evenings, sitting on the front porch watching a storm roll through, sharing a square or 2 of the Hershey's 1/4 lb. bar he favors.

My Dad is a sensitive guy. He once stayed up all night, writing a letter to let me know how much he loves me, because an altercation we had led him to believe I hated him. Truth is, I was just trying not to cry in front of him....

My Dad is very intelligent. He got in on computers early enough for us to have one in the house before there were hard drives or mouses. His interest in technology led him to management of an entire IT department. It also offered us one of the first Atari video game systems.

My Dad is still a pretty incredible guy, and there's a lot more to him than I'm putting in this post. He is a font of knowledge on how to fix things around the house, on history, and on current events. He's slowed down with some medical issues, but hasn't given up. He does what he can, and he plans for the future.

I love my Dad.

Dad, I love you.

Happy Father's Day.

June 17, 2011

Are You Aware Of Your Tongue?

This is me. All the time. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am aware of my tongue, aware of my teeth, and aware of the taste and the inside of my mouth. It is difficult to distract myself from it, and any distraction I do manage does not last long.

I know when my teeth are sensitive it's my thyroid, but I'm aware of them even when they are not tingling. I have no clue why this is so. I tried to Google it, but came up with nothing. Maybe I didn't phrase my question properly.

I wonder sometimes if this is why I eat so much. I have been known to eat or drink because I don't like the taste in my mouth. Sometimes I chew gum, and lately I've been trying to brush my teeth to change that taste.

I have a completely different obsession with food, where I'll start thinking about what I want to eat when I'm not even hungry. That happens a lot when I'm bored, like when I'm driving long distances. I don't know if the 2 are related, although I can see how the constant awareness would bring the subject around to what I can put in my mouth.

Do you have mouth awareness? Did I just give it to you? If I did, I'm sorry. Don't knock my block off.

Some Things I Just Don't Talk About

Every time I get an email from Dr. J, she tells me she feels like she knows what is happening in my life because she reads my blog. To some extent this is true. To some extent it is not. There are some things I just don't talk about here.

My addiction to World of Warcraft
I don't have cable, and my television only gets switched on when I'm having a karaoke party. World of Warcraft (WoW) is partially why. While everyone is settling down to watch their favorite evening shows, I am logging on to run with my guild, fighting bosses and winning epic loot. I have an entire group of friends from all over the world I know only through their character names, chat and vent (like an on-line conference call) conversations. I've also brought several of my real life friends into this world. I talk to them more in game chat than I do on the phone or in person.

I don't talk about this because if I said we went up against Nefarion tonight, only the people who play would understand what I'm talking about.

My Thyroid
I have mentioned that I have a thyroid condition, but I don't talk about it much. I try not to talk about any health issues, unless it is directly related to something I'm already talking about. No one wants to hear, and it's easier to pretend it's not an issue if I'm not always bringing it up. For the record, I have a hyperactive thyroid that causes my eyes to bulge, my heart rate to occasionally increase, and my ankles to periodically swell. The bulging eyes affect my vision, but not horribly. Water retention in my legs and feet affect my runs occasionally, as does the increased heart rate. These are not constants, and running actually helps keep the symptoms in check. I have medication. It's just one of those things.

I also have arthritis in my lower back and hip, which occasionally interferes with my running. I blame this for my knee issues as well. I have my good days and my bad days. Just another one of those things I've learned to live with, and carry on without letting it interfere too much in what I want to accomplish.

I am in a Masters of Information Systems program with the University of Phoenix online classes. I started February of last year, and expect to graduate November of this year. This is not your normal Masters program, and honestly I don't know if it will be accepted as well as a diploma from a brick and mortar school. It's not something I talk about because it is pretty much the same all the time. The classes change every 6 weeks. The first week we answer questions and get to know each other. Then we write a paper a week, answer questions, talk about each others answers, and work toward a group project. So, 5 weeks out of 6 I am writing at least one and sometimes two papers. 4-6 days a week I'm reading and responding on the boards. I'm not going to know how to act or what to do with my time when I graduate. I'll probably fill that slot with WoW...

My Job
I don't talk about my job because currently I don't have one. I've been out of work since September of last year. This has given me the opportunity to focus on school, and also to help my parents remodel and renovate their house. If I were working full time that would not be possible, and I am very grateful for the chance to spend this time with them. I have applied for positions that interest me, but am not focused on finding a new position until my schooling is complete, or until my dream job comes along. The definition of dream job keeps changing though...

My Boys
Both my boys are out of the house and living their own lives. I chat with Monkey Boy (in blue) periodically on Facebook, we sometimes text, and we occasionally use a walkie-talkie program on our phones called Hey Tell. He is in the Air Force, stationed in Germany and flying all over Europe. Ninja (in red) is a little closer to home, living with his Dad about 30 minutes away. I talk to him on WoW more than the phone or text. He has a job, but is not exactly happy there. He has a girlfriend who takes up the rest of his time, so I don't see him often. I miss them both, and am proud of the men they've become. 

I don't often talk about of my friends, because they all live far enough away I only see them once in a while. I don't talk about my siblings for mostly the same reason. We have phone conversations. I sometimes go out to karaoke, or my family gets together for a holiday picnic. I probably should photograph and blog about those things. 

So. What do I talk about? My diet. My running. The remodeling project. Superman shows up periodically. I don't really have a whole hell of a lot else to say. I would take over the blog title "I am boring" if it wasn't already in use (by a more entertaining person than I). 

I wish sometimes I was funny, or interesting, or at least had more intelligent tidbits to share. Then I think, it is what it is and I am what I am. I write this blog because I know how I felt when I found a blog I wrote years ago, that I'd forgotten about. This is like leaving my diary open on a park bench. Anyone can come along to read, but it's still my diary. I never expected to have any followers, and while I'm happy to get comments and opinions, I would still write without them.

June 15, 2011

The Taste of Fail

That is what I have in my mouth regarding the sugar free challenge. It doesn’t taste very good. I did not last 2 days keeping to the original criteria. I did not last a week before I had a treat. I certainly didn’t last the month I originally planned.

I believe I failed because I was overly ambitious. Before I started the challenge, I ate a LOT of sugar. Candy every day. Sugar in my coffee. Frozen yogurt frequently. Diet Pepsi regularly. The challenge was to go from this to absolutely no sweet whatsoever. My body and brain rebelled.

This post
spoke strongly to me. Amanda from Run To The Finish (the one who started this whole sugar madness) invited Alisa from www.GoDairyFree.org to guest post. In it she talks about giving herself a sugar allowance, and about not feeling guilty for cheating every once in a while. She also included some sugar free recipes that I can’t wait to try, including Grain Free “Brownies”.

I have not given up. The challenge has made me think, make me look at my habits, and at my diet. What I’m coming away with is that yes, I am addicted to sugar.
Specifically I believe cane sugar is the culprit. I don’t like how that addiction rules me. I don’t like the guilt, nor the constant frustration over my weight. I don’t like the sense of failure because I said I wasn’t going to eat sugar, and found myself overruled by sugar cravings.

I am attacking this from a different angle than the all-get-out attack on sweets in general. I am taking the “how do you eat an elephant?” approach, e.g. one step at a time. The least I can do is stay within the FDA’s recommended maximum recommended daily allowance for sugars. I'd already eliminated High Fructose Corn Syrup several months ago. The other major step is to eliminate cane sugar. Not sweets. Just cane sugar.  One step at a time.

Aunt Gertie (formerly known as Princess) has caught the bug that got me started on this whole thing. She does not eat much sugar because she does not each much in the way of processed foods. That said, she decided to take a closer look at her diet, and found she was above that recommended allowance for sugars.

Aunt Gertie introduced me to My Fitness Pal, which is an Android phone app and a website much like Fitday or Sparkpeople, both of which I’ve used in the past. The site helps you track food, water, and exercise. You enter your age, weight, and activity level. It tells you how many calories you should eat based on your weight loss goals. What it also tells me is how many sugars I’m eating. I like the breakdown at the bottom, which makes it easy to see if you’re above or below your goal.


Today’s Fitness Plan. Not the healthiest day, but within the calorie allotment. I entered all this from memory as I didn’t plan to start my new plan until tomorrow. 
I am not trying to lose weight this time. I came to the realization that I won’t ever be skinny, mainly because I have no desire to be skinny. I also will most likely never be anything but “overweight” (as the Wii tells me every time I log on to do Yoga). I’m ok with overweight, as long as I’m not obese.

Weighing less would make running easier. I won’t knock it if it does happen. Weight loss is not my goal here though. Superman has reminded me in the past that I eat healthier when I keep track of what I put in my mouth. Eating healthier and the prospect of life without a monkey on my back is what drives this choice.

It’s time to start keeping track again.

This is an hour and a half long, but interesting if you want to know more about what sugar and fructose do to the body. Obese 6 month olds? Watch and learn.

June 13, 2011

Changing Perspective

It’s become something of a joke between Superman and I, that I don’t actually enjoy running. I’ve said all along that I like being able to say I ran 10 miles, but the act of running those 10 miles sucks.

But I can run them, which is what I like.

But it’s really hard to do, and it’s uncomfortable, and sometimes it hurts.

Only recently, my runs haven’ t always sucked. Even when they end up painful and disappointing and I walk, I still classify them as “OK.”

This is new.
It's all about perspective
I can now run 6 miles nonstop, and consistently call that a “good” run. “Good runs” were not in my vocabulary until just recently. Yeah, they’re still hard. I’m still tired when I’m done. I may still be disappointed because I didn’t go as fast as I thought, or I didn’t go nonstop. Those things don’t ruin the run for me anymore.

Again, this is new.

So, I did run 10 miles yesterday. And it was hard. It was the first successful long run since last month's Cleveland Half Marathon. My stomach started cramping early on. My back was tight from sitting at my desk all day Saturday. My back being tight causes other issues, like knee and breathing problems. I started flagging about mile 5, and had to walk a few times between 6 and 9.

Still, it was a good run. Not a great run, but a good one. It was the first long run this year without a knee brace. It was my first long run in the Nike Free. I know why my stomach cramped, and I know why I had other body issues. That is all correctable in the days and hours leading up to the long run.

This run tells me I am ready for next week’s Towpath 10-10, where I'm running the 10-miler with The Energizer Bunny. If I can correct the issues from yesterday’s run, I will be able to run the race non-stop, which is still my biggest goal for racing this year.

June 9, 2011

For The Record (Three Things Thursday)

There's an awful lot of garbage out there that doesn't have any sugar in it.

There are also a lot of names for sugar in ingredient lists, geared specifically to sound healthier than sugar:
cane juice crystals, dehydrated cane juice crystals, unrefined cane juice crystals, raw cane crystals, washed cane juice crystals, Florida crystals (a trademarked name), unbleached evaporated sugar cane juice crystals, crystallized cane juice, and unbleached crystallized evaporated cane juice. There are also products with such names as organic dehydrated cane juice, unbleached sugar cane, evaporated cane juice, and evaporated cane juice sugar. (Tragedy of Commons).
My first reaction when hearing “evaporated cane juice” was “isn’t that… sugar?” It is. All of these products are still sugar. They metabolize the same as sugar. The companies using these euphemisms are trying to trick you into believing their product is healthier for you than sugar. They are lying to you. Personally, I don’t like being lied to.

Also, it’s really easy to make your own taco seasoning when you discover the one you purchased contains sugar.
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (I used real garlic)
1/4 tsp. onion powder (I used real onion)
1/4 tsp. crushed pepper flakes (didn’t have any so left this out)
1/4 tsp. dried oregano (who knew?!)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

I promise I'll stop talking about sugar (or the lack thereof) soon.

June 7, 2011

Fueling Long Runs

I’ve been doing some research to figure out how to fuel my long runs without sugar, and am completely stunned by the emotional opinions out there. Some say you shouldn’t fuel unless you’re running at least 2 to 3 hours. Some say you should fuel every 40 minutes. Several are somewhere in between. Many are emphatic and shout down those who disagree with their stance.

Much like any other fanatic, I guess.

Ultimately, it boils down to what works best for you. Personally, I like the grazing approach of taking a bite or sip every mile or two. That has worked best for me so far. It has the added benefit of giving a constant flow of fuel, as opposed to a spike at 40, 50, or 120 minutes. That said, I don’t think about fueling a run unless it is longer than 6 miles (which as of today is about a 1:20 run).

Taking a bite brings up another issue, because biting requires a more involved digestion process than sipping. Digestion is kind of sidelined during exercise, and takes both energy and oxygen to function. This means if you’re going to eat solids on the run, you have to slow down. I’m already slow as a turtle so I’m thinking that’s not my best option. I’m also wondering if this is part of why I crashed Saturday. Granted the solid food was run through a blender, but it was still solid food. I still had to digest it to get any energy, and that digestion started at the bottom of 3 miles of hills.

It also takes longer to convert solid food to energy. If I wanted to wait for my energy, I wouldn’t take fuel at all. I would just let my body feed on my copious fat stores. So maybe an almond butter sandwich is not my best option, at least for the distances I’m currently running. I’ll revisit this when I start getting into Ultras (yes, that is in the long term plans).

So I’m back to “How do I Fuel My Long Runs Without Sugar?” The truth is, the best fuel for long runs *IS* sugar. It is digested quickly and easily for immediate energy. It doesn’t have to be refined, white sugar though. This Saturday’s long run, I’m going to try a new recipe, found on Unprocessed Life, who got it from Cynical Dirt Doll, who is actually now the Pigtail Ultra Runner. It doesn’t exactly fit the sugar-free spirit of the original challenge, but I’ve changed that already and I’m comfortable with this change as well.

So, unprocessed energy gel, which I now have the ingredients for but haven’t tried for taste. I intend to add coffee to mine (and make it in smaller doses!).

3 ounces brown rice syrup
1 1/2 ounces honey
1/2 ounces blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon warm water
Mix together
Feel free to add coffee or whatever else tickles your fancy!

Energy bars I plan to try, from the same site (though I’ll probably forgo the coconut… and maybe add some nuts and protein. I am simply incapable of sticking to a recipe!):

1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried figs
1 cup dates
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup almond, cashew or peanut butter
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar

Put apricots, figs, dates and raisins in the food processor and process until sticky and forms into one big ball. Put the dried fruit mixture into a bowl, breaking it apart a bit. With a wooden spoon, mix in coconut. Next, add in nut butter and honey and stir until well-combined. You can roll them into 1-inch balls and put them in a pan, or if you want a true "energy bar" you can also press the mixture into a shallow glass dish. Place the balls or bars into the fridge to firm up.

What do you use for fuel?

June 5, 2011


I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about food and my diet since I wrote Friday’s post. Thank you to everyone for your input, by the way. I think I finally know how to go about this. It turns out I actually do know how to do this sugar free thing, for just me. I do the same thing I did before, meaning I make one large meal and split it up over the course of the week. Glop is sugar free! 8)

Because Glop was frequently unappetizing, I’m working on finding other ways to cook besides just throwing everything into a pot. Right now, I’m throwing everything into a 9” cake pan. This week’s main meal is a gluten free pizza crust, topped with onion and green pepper sautéed in garlic butter, chicken tenderloin, chopped tomato and spinach, topped with black beans, a dusting of paprika and a pinch of parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the powder).


The iced tea is now a combination of green, white, and regular tea. The citrus is in the water, instead of the tea. I’ve decided I’m not willing to fight my caffeine addiction at this time, and that my caffeine will continue to come from coffee. That choice means I will still use sweetened creamer. My creamer is now sweetened with evaporated cane juice as opposed to sugar, and I am using it much more sparingly than I have in the past.

Even though it’s only been a few days, and I haven’t been completely sugar free, I’m feeling the effects of my reduced sugar intake. Friday night, I put away dinner half eaten because I was done. I became full at breakfast today, too. That simply did not happen in my world prior to last week. I knew I didn’t get the “full” feeling, but I didn’t realize it was due to my sugar intake.

I am eating healthier and drinking more water. I’m also not obsessing about my next meal, or about getting a little hungry. I’m thinking about what I’m eating, and how I can eat better. This is a good thing. I can see this lasting longer than 30 days.

What I haven’t figured out yet is how to fuel my long runs. I had 7 miles on the calendar Saturday, and they did not go very well. The first 4 miles went fine enough for me to decide I would run 8 instead of 7. Then right around the 4 mile mark I crashed, and I’m not sure why. I’d thrown a banana and a handful of frozen berries into the blender with a splash of water, a spoonful of almond butter, and a dash of salt (it tasted better than it sounds). That was my “Gu” and I took a swallow every mile, just like I would have if it really were Gu.

Part of the problem may have been my reduced caffeine intake. It may also have had something to do with a new stride, which left my thighs and hip flexors sore in a muscle-building sort of way (my knees normally hurt after a long run, and they did not after Saturday’s). It may just be that I haven’t really run much since blowing my feet up the weekend before last. I missed last week’s long run, and have only been doing 3 and 4 milers for the past 2 weeks.

I’ve put the same 8 miler on the calendar for next weekend. I haven’t decided how I’m going to fuel it, but am tempted to return to Gu. I only use it on long runs, and so far it’s the only thing I know that works. I might be more willing to try changing up my fuel strategy after the race on the 19th. I don’t have another race until August, so there’s time to experiment.

Open to suggestions here…

June 3, 2011

I am an addict

I’m having a really hard time with the sugar free challenge today. Not so much because of the sugar free, but because of how my stomach is reacting to what I’ve been eating. 
My stomach is not happy. It has not been happy for the last 2 days.

I think my stomach is not happy because the amount of iced tea I’m drinking. I know I have a caffeine addiction, and I can seriously feel the effects of reduced caffeine and sugar. I am exhausted. I am sluggish. My runs/rides are affected. I haven’t worked out a good solution for fueling exercise, and today’s run sucked ass. That is not going to work, with a race in 2 weeks.

I had 2 pieces of bread with breakfast this morning, trying to get my stomach to calm down. I really do think it’s an acid thing, and tea with lemon certainly has acid. The bread, of course, had sugar (and gluten, which I’m not supposed eat because of my thyroid, which has also been acting up lately).

I have only had one cup of iced tea today. I tried to make coffee with just half and half, not my usual coffee candy creamer. That didn’t work. The good news is my coffee now has about one serving of coffee creamer, instead of the half bottle I normally use. It’s still sugar though.

I think my stomach is also not happy because of the dramatic change in food sources. My diet so far this week has predominantly consisted of leftover burgers from Memorial Day (each with a slice of cheese and no bun), leftover salad (including tomato, summer squash, celery, and several different types of lettuce), and smoothies consisting of spinach, various frozen fruits, and a protein mix. I bought a whey mix, but it caused some uncomfortable bloating. I tried a straight soy protein today, which does not appear to have the same affect. At least there’s that.

I also gave in to the diet soda monkey that’s been beating me about the head and shoulders for the past 2 days. 2 sips last night and 1 this morning. That’s all it took to shut the monkey down – a sip. Obviously this is a mental addiction. Knowing I can have it makes it ok to not have it… I hope.

I need a better meal plan, but that in itself is a problem. Dr. J emailed me yesterday, mentioning among other things how she and her husband have been eating healthier. She is a big fan of Martha Shulman, who publishes recipes in the New York Times. These recipes are apparently delicious, and lean heavily toward vegetarianism. I’m sure they are wonderful. I’ll probably never know, because cooking for me is an occasion. I rarely turn on the stove, and I simply refuse to cook every day. If I do cook, it has to be something quick and easy like the eggs I made this morning. I only do long and involved for holidays, and most the time not even then.

My abhorrence for cooking is why I made what I called glop for so many years. Mother’s Mess. Toss one of everything from the refrigerator into a pot, add garlic and spices, then simmer. Throw the results over noodles or rice. Garnish with cheese. Most of that was vegetarian as well, but without the boys here to help me eat it, it’s just not happening. One pot was enough for 3 of us for the week. It was only appetizing half the time anyway. I went through my freezer and threw a bunch of it away several months ago, because I knew I’d never eat it. I miss my boys cleaning out my freezer for me…

I don’t necessarily eat a lot of processed foods, but I do eat a lot of quick meals. I don’t know how to quickly prepare more substantial fare (for just one person) that doesn’t include salad dressing, bread, yogurt, or dried fruit.

I guess I’m going to have to learn.

June 2, 2011

Three Things Thursday

My garden is starting to fruit. I’m so excited! I have sunflowers (top left), strawberries (top right), grapes (bottom left) and raspberries (bottom right) blooming! I didn't take pictures of the peppers, because they're just too sad. Two of the three green pepper plants have definitely survived transplanting, though. I’m still hopeful for the 3rd, but without any leaves it doesn’t look good. I have 2 peppers already, but they are spotted from lying on the ground. The peppers were in topsy turvys last year, so grew upside down and are now planted sideways to be above ground. I’ve finally got them on stakes, lifting them and trying to convince them to grow up instead of sideways. My grapes now have a trellis to climb, as well. My blackberries are not doing anything, and I’m afraid I may have purchased nothing but sticks. Like the one pepper plant though, I am hopeful.

Iced tea is not a substitute for diet cola. This is day 2 of the sugar free challenge, and diet cola is the only thing I’m craving. Understandable, since I’m pretty sure I’ve had it every day since junior high. I weaned myself down to half a bottle (12 oz.) before this challenge started. You’d think that would be enough. Apparently not. I don't usually eat a lot of salt, and found salted nuts may help a little. I'm hanging in there, but it's hard.

I have just over 2 weeks to get comfortable enough in my Nike Free to run a 10 mile race. They are so different from the Kinvaras! I have done 2 short runs in them, and plan for another short run tomorrow. Then it’s long run Saturday, since we’re going out singing Saturday night. I will not make the same mistake as last time, and run on Sunday after staying out late and playing with alcohol. Yes, there will be alcohol involved. I haven’t figured out how to make it sugar free, but one way or another I will!

Blogger comments issue

Having lost one of my precious followers (now down to 16), I know this won't get very far. I saw someone the other day who is still having issues though, and I think that person visits at least periodically. Can't find the post now, so you all get the benefit of Still Running's discovery.

I followed Jamoosh's advice and changed my comments page to full page form placement. That should have fixed the issue on my page, at least. I know it worked for the spammers, but I guess that's a necessary evil when blogging. BTW, I wasn't able to add Jamoosh's new addy to my blogroll for some reason, and of course he's deleted his blogspot account (I totally would have left it for posterity, and because this is kind of a diary for me). If anyone has the address to his new digs, I'd appreciate a note.

So, how to fix the comments issue. I only had the issue for a day, but some people still can't leave comments. I don't know if this will work for everyone, but Barb at Still Running says it has to do with the "keep me signed in" box on your login page. If you uncheck it, you should be able to comment normally. Knowing my browser clears that box regularly, that could by why I didn't have any issues past the one day.

Go try it. Let me know if it works. I hope so!

June 1, 2011

Day 1 of the Sugar Free Challenge

A little over a week ago, Amanda at Run To The Finish proposed a 10-day Sugar Free challenge, which Superman and I accepted. Today was the first day of the challenge. For me, I have to cut out coffee creamer, diet soda, yogurt (both frozen and regular), candy, trail mix, salad dressing (including mayonnaise), and anything else that might have sugar. Those listed are just the things I eat normally.

I can’t drink coffee without creamer, and I can’t drink diet soda, so I have to find my caffeine elsewhere. I’ve been transitioning to iced tea, weaning myself down to a single soda a day in preparation. Today was the test.

I am tired! I don’t know if this is because of the caffeine or sugar deficit, but I will be going to bed early today.

Admittedly, it also may have to do with what I did today. I know it’s National Running Day, but I did not run. Instead, I got my bicycle from my house to Superman’s. That trip took an hour and 45 minutes, and looked like this:
bike route
13 miles, almost all uphill. This was the first time I had the bike out this year, and it was hard. We won’t talk about the guy who crowded me to the curb, yelling at me to get on the sidewalk. Instead, we’ll talk about how I only have one speed on the bike – asfastasIcan. That does not always translate into a speedy ride, but it does leave me huffing and puffing and tired at the end. Even more so because I did not have any sugar for fuel to convert to ready energy. That part of the challenge is going to be difficult.

Superman gave me a ride home on the motorcycle on his lunch hour (lucky guy works from home half the time!). I had some housework to take care of before getting my car in for an oil change. Then I headed back to Superman’s for dinner and another ride.

Last year, every Wednesday over the summer, Superman and I rode with his friends from the bike shop where he works (his 2nd job over the summer). The ride is usually 20 to 30 miles, in and out of the valley. This year’s first ride was posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, but it has been difficult finding time and the appropriate weather to get my bike across town. Apparently it’s also been difficult to get the rides organized. We showed up tonight and the shop owner was the only one there. The three of us saddled up and went for a short ride. It looked like this:
 bike route 2
10 miles, with admittedly easier elevation. I’m feeling the combination of rides at the moment. I’m also feeling shortchanged on caffeine, and probably sugar as well. I have successfully avoided sugar, though my main problem seems to be the soda I crave.

I went sugar free about 20 years ago, but it was not as strict and I was not active in the same ways I am now. I drank my diet cola. I just didn’t eat candy or deserts. This time, I’m curious to see if the iced tea makes a good soda substitute. How am I going to deal with karaoke night? How am I going to handle my long runs, and my upcoming race?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.