January 31, 2011

Day 1

Saturday, I danced the night away. It was good times with good friends. By the end of the night though, and all day yesterday, my knee let me know exactly how it felt about that. Not happy. Not horrible. No real pain, just very uncomfortable. Getting up and walking was difficult until I'd been on my feet for a few minutes, then it was considerably easier. I spent a bit of time off and on, stretching. I used a vibrating massager on my ankles, which have a tendency to be tight. I've found clenching and releasing muscles helps reduce tension, so spent some time working my thighs and hamstrings that way. At bedtime, I positioned my feet as if they were in plantar fasciitis booties, resting with the toes and balls of my feet down and my heels in the air. I kept them like that for as long as I could stand it, then made sure I did not lie with the tops of my feet flat on the bed.

All this seems to have helped. I woke up early this morning feeling much better. Stairs were not a problem, though as usual my knee is not quite right. I packed my bag for a long morning at the Y, had a small breakfast and headed out.

Last week's experience with my Vibrams on the treadmill was not stellar. My feet hurt from the way my toes were pushed into the pockets as my foot caught the belt. I decided to revisit the Saucony Kinvara I'd purchased late last year. I've not worn these much. The tightness around the ball of my foot that the saleperson said was normal and preferred, is not preferred. I thought they would be better than the Vibrams, for treadmill running at any rate. They were ok, though I'm hoping to be outside for my longer runs, as they were progressively more uncomfortable.

I'd also hoped to do my little 2-miler in one shot. That didn't happen. I warmed up with a half mile walk, then kicked it up to 5mph and started running. My knee complained a little, but not enough to make me stop. What made me stop was my heart rate and breathing. I am so out of shape! I ran a half mile, stopped and stretched, then ran another half, etc. etc. My legs were heavy and fatigued by the final half, and I ended up walking the last .2 miles.

Interesting side note. My knee hurt less, the faster I ran. It had nothing to do with how long I was on my feet, and more to do with the length of my stride.

After a short cooldown, I went to my water aerobics class. After an hour in the pool, I went to my line dancing class. Both are nice, low impact ways to move. I was supposed to go to my parents' and work on the drywall Ninja and I hung Friday, but they are having boiler issues and I am having trouble with a paper due today. I will be over there tomorrow, after another 2-miler and an hour of yoga. I'm hoping tomorrow's 2-miler will be less disjointed.

Eventually, as long as I keep doing them, my runs will get better. Right now, I have to take care of my knee and keep plugging at it. The knee is a bit sore now. I will do the same stretching and moving I did yesterday. I am not willing to miss a run on this program (though I am willing to run on the elliptical, if necessary).

January 28, 2011

Speaking of plans

I've been looking at beginner, 12-week couch-to-half-marathon plans, trying to find one I believe I can handle on my way to April 23rd's Cleveland 10-Miler. I realize a 12-week program does not really mean beginner, since you really have to be able to run a mile or two at the start to get anywhere close to 13.1 in that time frame. I have to wonder at some people's definition of beginner or novice, though.

This one, for instance, starts with a 3-miler. Skip a day, and then do 5. Skip a day, and then do 8. Really? This is a beginner training program?

This one starts with fartleks. 4 miles of fartleks, with a mile warm-up and a mile to cool down. For those non-runners reading this, fartleks are a training session that incorporates speed, alternating with an easy pace that allows recovery before the next effort. So basically, you're running a mile to warm up, 4 miles incorporating some level of sprint, and then a mile to cool down. 6 miles, the first run. This is not my idea of a beginner plan.

I finally decided on this plan.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 2 20 min cross 2 rest 3 rest 9 mi total
2 3 2 20 min cross 3 rest 3.5 rest 11.5 mi total
3 3 3 20 min cross 4 rest 4 rest 14 mi total
4 2 3 20 min cross 2 rest 3 rest 10 mi total
5 4 3 20 min cross 5 rest 5 rest 17 mi total
6 4 4 20 min cross 5 rest 7 rest 20 mi total
7 5 4 20 min cross 5 rest 9 rest 23 mi total
8 6 4 20 min cross 6 rest 10 rest 26 mi total
9 5 4 20 min cross 5 rest 11 rest 25 mi total
10 4 2 20 min cross 4 rest 7 rest 17 mi total
11 4 0 20 min cross 3 2 0 race 9 mi total

It's actually an 11-week plan. This is perfect, since I miscalculated and really only have 11 weeks until my race. It starts out with several 2 mile runs the first week. I can run 2 miles. I will continue with my swimming classes 3x a week. I will take a yoga class on Tuesdays, which is also a run day. Cross-training will be core work. I really need to work on my core.

The race is only 10 miles, but a 13.1 mile plan will make those 10 miles easier. It will also make the Cleveland Half Marathon on May 15th that much easier. I will take a week off, then do week 10 and 11 again. By then I hope to have a June race on the books, a July one, and maybe an August race as well. My preference is a race a month. A race every 2 months would work, too. As long as I don't have enough time to stop training before my next race, I'm good.

That's the plan.

January 27, 2011

Plan A, modified

It took a bit to put Plan A into action today, for my entry in the Baby Weight My Fat Ass Suck it up Buttercup Virtual 5K. First I had to update this:
can't run without the proper, up-tempo music
I was so glad to find everything on my iPhone (except the phone bit) still works, even though it is no longer on a network. I still haven't figured out how to put music on my new phone (or rather, how to find it once it's there) and my bluetooth headset is already paired with the iPhone. Turns out my pace program also still works, though I didn't use that today.

Once I had music, I packed my bag and braved this:
Guess you can't see the snow flying
I live close enough to the Y that it's silly to drive, and figured the walk would count as a warm up. I considered running outside, but that thought came after I was on my way, and I hadn't brought the right clothes for below freezing temperatures.

I got to the Y and changed into my running gear, including Vibrams. The picuture was sucktastic and blurry, and besides you all know what Vibrams look like by now anyway.

I decided an additional warm-up wouldn't hurt:
Half mile at walking speed: 3.8 mph
Then, the race began!
Mile 1 at cruising speed: 5 mph
I ran the first mile non-stop, which is an improvement over last week's run. I decided, because I'm out of shape, to break between miles and catch my breath (this is the modified part...). Who knew the pause button would clear the screen? After a minute to get my heartrate down, I started mile 2:
A negative split!
It looks like I ran faster in mile 2, but honestly I walked some. I tried to make up some time, which is how I ended running this mile at 5.1 mph.

Another short break, and on to mile 3.1:
This mile did not go well at all. My legs were tired, my feet were sore from pounding on the mill, and my big toe was rubbing in my shoe. Luckily no blister. I think I walked more than ran this one, but I did actually finish with a strong sprint.

I put compression socks on and walked home as a cooldown:
no snow flying now

Overall, Plan A did not go as poorly as I was afraid it might. My knee was sore, but did not actively hurt. I could feel my hip and back, but they also did not hurt. I was focused on foot placement, and on relaxing various body parts (mainly my hips).

This was a more comfortable run than the 1-mile I did a week ago, outside of my being out of shape and getting tired. You'd think I could have done core work or something while my knee was out of commission, but no. I have to start from scratch.

So now I'm looking for a couch to half marathon program. I'm signed up for a 10-miler near the end of April, which gives me 12 weeks to get back into racing form. I'm not looking for any particular speed or PR, just a way to get myself safely back up to distance. Any suggestions?

Oh, and it occurred to me as I got on the treadmill, if water running was Plan B, I also had a Plan C:
If my knee gives me trouble during the couch to half program, I can try water running, or use elliptical training until it behaves again.

While this wasn't my best (virtual) race ever, it was still an accomplishment and I'll take that prize. I now know I can run a mile nonstop, and I can run more than a mile without pain. Tomorrow I'll be in the water, and while I won't be running a 5K, I do plan to arrive early and water run a bit before class. Saturday, I'll run again, either on the treadmill or outside (depending on the weather). While I still have healing to do, it's time to step up my game.

January 26, 2011

To run, or not to run

I really, Really, REALLY want to participate in the Baby Weight My Fat Ass Suck it up Buttercup Virtual 5K, which has a deadline of Sunday the 31st. My problem is, I haven't been running at all. I ran 1 mile last week, which was the first time I'd run since November. That one mile, run in Vibrams, nearly crippled my calves for several days. I could run in my old Asics, but they are clunky and heavy and I'm afraid they will be hard on my healing knee.

The truth is, I am out of shape. Even if I run 3.1 miles on the treadmill, regardless of shoe type, I'm afraid I won't be able to walk for a week after.

I was thinking about running my 3.1 miles in the pool. That was until I did the math. 1 mile = 1,760 yards. The pool at the Y is standard sized, meaning 25 yards long. 1,760 / 25 = 70.4 lengths, or 35.2 laps per mile. Just for the record, I run about an 11-minute mile on land. I am far, far slower in the water. I'm thinking I would have to schedule the better part of my day in there, to water run a 5K.

My biggest problem is, I am afraid. Afraid I will hurt my knee, which is not yet fully healed. Afraid I will end up hobbling for several days. What I have to do is just suck it up and try. I'm not going to get back to the Y again today, but tomorrow I will go and run 1 mile. If that 1 mile feels ok, I will continue running and see where it takes me. If that 1 mile does not feel ok, I will switch to plan B and set my alarm for 5am Friday, so I can get my 5K done in the pool before classes start at 9. I should be able to do a mile per hour, right?

I actually kind of like that idea. It would be the best workout I've had in a LONG time.

I'll keep you posted.

January 25, 2011

A Letter to My Siblings

Last year, I started a 30-day letter writing challenge. I haven't kept up with it, but I haven't quit either. Today is my next installment. For those of you not interested in my letter, you can while away the time here. Don't believe you can keep any money you win, though. Sooner or later, the house always wins.

This letter has stumped me for several months, partially because I have 5 siblings. I didn't want to choose just one, and couldn't figure out how to encompass the entire experience that was growing up with them all. Warning: this is going to be a longish post. You still have time to go here.
I'm gonna catch it for posting this pic! How 80s can you get?
And btw, that's my Mom getting her masters in business, so YAY her!

To my dear siblings:

We certainly had a heck of a ride, growing up in that great big house together, didn't we? It's amazing now, to talk with each of you and hear how you remember things. Everyone has a different perspective. I thought I would share a little of mine.

Big Bro, you've always been such an enigma. The oldest, it was a joy when you decided to play with me. Even if you did tickle me so much I resist being ticklish to this day. Even if you did knock my loose tooth out. You taught me to swear. I'm pretty sure it was you who told me brown eggs were rooster eggs, a "fact" I never questioned. It wasn't until high school that I learned brown hens laid brown eggs.

I remember sitting on the stairs while your band practiced, and bragging to my friends about Mannequin Parade. Soon after, you moved out of the house. You were married. Our lives went in different directions.
Our adult relationship has not always been as close as I would prefer, in part because I've often tended toward hermitage. Thank you for being there the day half my electricity went out. Thank you for putting in my new back door. For the record, the back door is more air-tight than the front, which I paid to have replaced. Also for the record, I still look up to you. We don't always agree on things, but you are an inspiration, and I love you.

Princess, you chose me to share your room, and were my bestest friend for many years. You took care of all of us, making sure we were up and ready for school. I guess that's what big sisters do. When you started working, you didn't leave us little sisters behind. You invited us out for lunch, or a shopping trip. I think you learned that from Gram, and I love both you and her for it. You've always been the connected one, the one who calls to see how things are, the one who keeps the family communicating. You hold our traditions, as well as Gram's cookbook. You're also still the pretty one.
We've come round robin, you and I. After a long disconnect, you are now my best friend again. I talk to you more often than just about anyone, and I don't think anyone can keep me on the phone as long as you can. I value your opinion, and am your biggest cheerleader. I miss you terribly since you moved to Florida, even though it was the best thing for you. While you've hit a rough patch right now, I know it's only a bump in the road. You will come out ahead. You too are an inspiration, and though I say it every time we talk, I can't say it enough. I love you.

Little Big Sister, what can I say? I've been your protector, your friend, your Dear Abby. You have been my constant supporter, no matter what endeavor I chose to pursue. You've been on your own and away from the family the longest, and there certainly is a disconnect associated with that. You used to be the one I talked to most, but we've grown apart. This is not because I love you any less.
I have always been the dreamer. You were always the romantic. I could wish you'd stayed closer to the fold, but you found the love of your life in Illinois. It's been a hard road for you, but you've grown and blossomed along the way. You've found yourself in a way I'm certain you would not have, had you stayed nearby. I am happy for you. I should call you. You can tell me about the grandkids, and what the stepkids are up to. It's been too long.

Energizer Bunny, why do you have to be so perfect? I'm joking, but only some. I know you don't see it that way, and I'm sure there are cracks not apparent to me, but you have the perfect textbook life from my perspective. The doctorate. The teaching position. The family. You run. You climb. You always have time for everyone, and I'm not entirely sure you have enough time for yourself. Yet you make time for me.
We have only recently found our relationship, and I'm not certain why it took so long. Maybe because I was just too wrapped up in myself to notice my little sister. I'm certainly glad to get to know you now! You never did tell me what your February looks like, so we can make a climbing date. My knee is healing, and if it isn't quite there yet I can still belay for you, and we can catch up. Maybe we can get on Big Bro's calendar, too.

Dr. J., my relationship with you has been the most difficult. In the same way I ignored the Energizer Bunny, I ignored you. We've had some close times, and we've had some differences. There were times I felt you didn't respect me, and times I'm sure you were hurt by my actions. Through it all, I never stopped loving you. I never stopped being impressed by your intelligence and your drive.
You also have been out of state and out of the fold. You've been subject to my difficulty in reaching out. I've not always known what to say to you, or what we have in common. Somehow though, once we start talking, we find things to talk about. We should do that more often. I should call you, too.

Each of you is a part of who I am, and I'm grateful to know you, to have grown up with you. The thing about all of you, my siblings, is I know I can call you. We don't always communicate well, and boy does the family blow up sometimes when we disagree, but I know I can count on you. I know, no matter our differences, we will always be there for each other. I will always be there for you. I've heard of some families where this is not the case, between fewer siblings than we have. With all your different personalities and proclivities, every one of you is loved.

January 24, 2011


Two weeks ago, I received an email from the coordinator at Run With Your Heart Trail Challenge, which I am signed up to run on February 13th. I am unable to run, of course, because of my knee, so responded in the form requested in the email with an offer to volunteer. Superman also thought it would be a good idea to give a little back, and volunteered. We both have offered to stand outside for several hours in the cold and snow, two weeks from now.

We haven't heard anything from this woman. No idea if she's received our emails, or what the plan might be. I realize the race is two full weeks away, so there is time. I'm just a bit curious. Is this normal?

This is my first time volunteering for a race, and I realize putting one on must be something of a logistic nightmare. I can see people volunteering though, and when they don't hear anything, making other plans. Does this happen?

I just found out today Monkey Boy is coming home from Germany on leave, February 8th. His racing debut was at the River Run half this past September, after which he suggested he would leave racing to the runners. He told me a few weeks ago he might start training for a marathon! I doubt he's ready to take my place in the Trail Challenge, though. I also doubt he'll want to spend part of his leave standing out in the snow watching other people run.

I'm not welching. I volunteered, I've marked my calendar and I plan to be on the trails February 13th. Providing I knew which trail to be on, and what time to be there. Monkey Boy will probably want to sleep in anyway, after staying up all night visiting with his friends.

The knee is healing. I still get pains, but they are not nearly as sharp, nor do the effects last as long. Yesterday was a good stair day, today not so much. I'm contemplating running the Suck it Up Buttercup virtual 5K in the pool. Either that or breaking it up into a mile a day. That would guarantee me last place finish (which I still think there should be a prize for. At least a title!). I need to choose soon, as time is running out.

January 23, 2011

Sunny day, chasing the clouds away...

Welcome to Northeast Ohio. While sunny, it is still cold, snow-covered and icey. I think I'll be doing my Suck it up Buttercup Virtual 5K on the mill...

January 21, 2011

A shift in perspective

My BA is in Ceramic Arts. I had visions of opening a little storefront, where other artists could rent shelf space. I would sit behind the counter, sculpting and playing with my art while I tended the store and my children. I would set up painting and sculpting classes in the back. These visions lasted until about 6 months before graduation, when the relationship I thought would sustain me fell apart. 
My first piece, and what got me hooked on ceramics
There has always been an emotional component to my art
Improvements were made
Abstract. My senior final piece.
Functional art.
I could have been a starving artist, but there was no way I could make my children starve for my art. I put my dreams away, pulled out my computer knowledge, and went to work for corporate America. I still dabbled in clay, but when I hurt my back it became impossible to lift and knead anything. I stopped creating.

Several years later, I found polymer clay. I started creating again, and dreamed of at least adding to my income with my art. Turns out while I love to play, I suck at selling.
Guess I'm not alone in that...
The only place I ever sold anything was the holiday craft fair at my job. Creating became a yearly rush, to make Christmas presents for my family and stock for the craft fair. I would try to carry the impetus forward into the new year, but would always find myself burned out by January. I would stop creating, until September or so, and the mad rush would begin again.

Last year, I carried my momentum forward into February, with the help of Facebook. You can find my page here. On it I posted pictures of my ornaments and the new pieces I was making. Then, I'm not sure why, I stopped creating. When I was fired in August, I had no impetus to create for a holiday craft show. When I thought about pulling out my clay, I made excuses about shakey hands (my thyroid condition), and I denigrated my talent.
Dave Kellett @ sheldoncomics.com has it right. I should buy stock in Krispie Kremes
I'm telling you all this because of an encounter I had today. I met a potential new friend who has me thinking about my art again. She makes a living as an artist. She's not rich, but she's living the dream. She talked about maybe having me (or someone) help her with a mural she has a bid in for. She talked about having me (or someone) help her with another project. She called me an artist.

I haven't called myself an artist in a long time. I didn't consider the ornaments I make, art. I considered the other pieces I did, crafts. I know I'll never make a living making ornaments.

She woke my dream. I'm dreaming again of being paid to play with my art.

It's not a dream I believe in. It's like the way you dream when you buy a lottery ticket. Do you really believe you'll win? No. Do you plan what you'll do with the money, anyway? Yes. Right now I'm buying the ticket, and the ideas are starting to form. Not what I'll do with the money when I'm rich, but what I'll do. What I'll make.

I feel like creating again.

January 18, 2011

Heaven, I'm in heaven...

"Hello. My name is Jan and I'm a gadget-aholic"

I love gadgets. I love the idea of gadgets. I have spent a lot of money on gadgets in the past, and have to control myself when a new one comes out. You see, I tend to not use the gadgets I so fall in love with. The Wii I was certain would change my exercise routine? Dusty, with a list of excuses about how it takes too long between yoga poses, and how it just doesn't provide an intense enough workout. Loved that tennis for a while though.

I have a gadget with glasses and headphones, called a "Mind Machine." You plug yourself in and it's supposed to take you to a relaxed alpha or beta state, with flashing lights and white noise. No idea where it is right now, but I know I have it somewhere.

I have a gadget you lay on your back and put your ankles into, called a "Chi Machine." It swings your legs gently side to side. This is supposed to loosen your hips, which certainly sounds like a good idea right about now. Unused.


I'm embarrassed to plug myself into these, even though no one would be watching. Even though they may (and this is part of the embarrassment, because I'm not entirely convinced they will) help. (I just found the Chi Machine on LiveStrong.com, so maybe it really does work!)
I have another gadget I've seen at the chiropractor, so I do believe it works. It's a Body Builder Force 10, or a TENS unit. You plug yourself in using these little paddles with gel on them, and it shoots mild electrical pulses into your muscles. I bought under the impression it would help me build muscle while sitting in front of the tv. This was about 15 years ago, and I did better doing sit-ups and push-ups during the commercials. There is an interesting article about EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) and training/recovery here.

Remembering that my chiropractor used one on my back to help loosen tense muscles, I pulled this gadget out and dusted it off. Over a month ago. I've been using the case as a foot rest under my desk since then. Again, embarrassed to plug myself in.

Until today that is. Today Baby Weight My Fat Ass announced she's putting on a Suck it Up Buttercup virtual race, and I want to participate. One only has to run a 5K. Just 3.1 measly miles. I told her I may end up walking those miles, but I really would like to run them. To do that, my knee has to heal, and the cause of my knee's problems needs to be fixed. That would be ITB and hamstrings so tight stretching doesn't seem to touch them. Well, stretching and pool work have helped, but you know I have a hard time with patience and moderation.

I'm plugged in as I write this. I've been kind of moving and stretching a little, and things feel like they are popping into place. It feels good. I know this isn't magic, and while I really want to try running the slowest mile ever today, I am perfectly willing to turn that into a longer walk at the slightest twinge. I am tired of wondering if I will ever run again, though. I will do whatever works to get better, even if it means plugging myself in like I am, or pulling out the hip relaxer do-hickey. What I have been doing so far (swimming, stretching) has helped. I am ready to take it to the next level.

I'll let you know how it goes. So far, stairs seem a little easier...


I ran a mile. I walked twice, more in fear of damage than because I was actually damaged. I wore my Vibrams, and stopped when I started feeling my heel drop too much. I focused on form. I did overlean once, which my knee did not like. It is slightly swollen now, but not any worse than it has been, so I'm not concerned. I will not run tomorrow though. Maybe Thursday.

Wheeeeeeeeeeee! I ran! I can run! Thanks BWMFA for providing the nudge I needed to suck it up. Now to not overdo...

January 17, 2011

The bathroom is done!!!

I started with this:

and turned it into this:

I sanded and mudded the walls until smooth, primered, then papered. I sanded and stained the woodwork. I glued and braced the surround. I laid concrete to level the floor, and laid tile. I replaced the toilet (it was only supposed to be pulled and put back, but I cracked the tank so they had to buy a new one). Today we put up the baseboards.

Next up is the hallway, both first and second floor. This involves mudding several cracks, and replacing some ceiling and wall over by the refrigerator nook. This area is directly below the bathroom, and has suffered water damage from a leaking tub/surround. When everything is all mudded and smooth, I will clean walls, primer, and paint. It should take several weeks, as there is a lot of area to cover and a lot of woodwork to tape off/paint.

On the knee front, I'm getting better and better. Still not 100%, or even 90% yet, but stairs are easier. That is my litmus test right now. I'm still swimming for at least an hour, 3x a week. I haven't been walking as much as I wanted, but I have been stretching daily. I also took a line dancing class today, which was great fun and showed me I can be on my feet for an hour, stepping and turning, without reinjuring myself. That class is Mondays, and I will be back next week.

I'm off to finish writing 2 papers. This week I'll be trying vibrating massage on my hips and hamstrings. I'll let you know how that goes!

January 15, 2011


Painting by Robert Oliver Skemp
"Rules are mostly made to be broken"
"You are remembered for the rules you break."

Douglas MacArthur apparently had a lot to say about breaking rules. I am a big fan of rules. I make them for myself all the time. "No cookies!" "Drink a full quart of water every morning, before drinking anything else!" They are always based on the best intentions, and always have my best interest at heart. They are also always broken. For me, rules are not broken like a bone, which heals stronger than it was before the break. No, for me rules are broken like the tape at a finish line (not nearly as triumphantly, but sometimes every bit as defiantly). Once broken, my rules can never be put back together again. Any further attempt at following the rule is not as strong. The only hope is to move on and focus on another rule.

That's the thing about my rules. I break them, then move on to the next rule. In some cases, I revisit old rule months or years later. At that point, it may (sometimes, but not always) resemble an annual race, offering another strong run and another shot at the title.

I made myself another rule today. It's a rule I've made before. "Only eat when I'm hungry."

On the surface, this is a very simple rule. When I feel hunger, I can eat. When I don't feel hunger, I cannot eat. Simple, until you realize I have no idea what hunger feels like. For me, thirst = hunger. Sadness = hunger. Boredom = hunger. Fatigue = hunger. Acid reflux = hunger. I've had acid reflux so bad I curled up in a ball on the floor. I didn't know what it was. I only knew it happened when I didn't eat. For the last decade, I've put a lot of effort into making sure I never felt that again!

So this rule is a bit more complicated than one would think. When I think I'm hungry, I have to first figure out what I've had to drink lately, whether I'm tired or bored or sad, whether what I'm feeling is actual hunger or something else. I have to figure out what hungry feels like.

I (mostly) eat healthy foods. I just eat them too often. I eat too much of them. The flipside of my "Only eat when I'm hungry" rule is to stop when I'm no longer hungry. Most people apparently don't have a problem doing this. They eat a portion or two, know they are no longer hungry, may even feel a bit full, and walk away. Since I don't know when I'm hungry, it's really difficult to know when I'm no longer hungry. I also have no sense of full. My stomach doesn't send a message to my brain telling me stop eating, until I'm uncomfortable. At that point it's not my brain telling me to stop. It's not my stomach telling me to stop. It's the muscles around my stomach saying "She can't take much more of this, cap'in! She's gonna blow!"

At this point I'm afraid to eat. I'm afraid to not eat. I'm trying really hard to find some level of moderation, some happy medium between curling up in a ball and "she's gonna blow!" I'm currently not eating, until I feel something that might be hunger. This eliminates the tired/bored/sad eating. If I do think I'm hungry, I get something to drink. If I still feel whatever it is, I figure out when I last ate, and determine by that whether what I'm feeling is hunger. If I do believe I'm hungry, then I get a SMALL portion of whatever I want to eat. Then I walk away.

At least that's the theory. It's a more detailed plan than I've used in the past, on this particular rule. I wish it didn't have to be so complicated. I wish I didn't have to THINK about it so damn much. I've learned through experience that when I don't think about my eating, it's never good.

I'm hopeful for that "3 weeks to make a habit, 6 weeks to break one." I'm hopeful my issues are just habit based. If I can stop myself from stuffing my face for 3 weeks, I will get into the habit of stopping myself from stuffing my face. If I can stop myself from stuffing my face for 6 weeks, I can get out of the habit of stuffing my face.

I'm full of hope today.

How does food, hunger, and eating work for you? Is it something you have to think about?

January 14, 2011


 From merriam-webster.com: cynical - having or showing the attitude or temper of a cynic; contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives; based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest.

Also, and actually listed first:
captious, peevish.

Go ahead, click those links. I'm always surprised when I find out the real definition of a word I thought I knew.

While I do not necessarily consider myself a habitual complainer, I do tend to be cynical. I also tend to believe, for some reason, that nothing good ever happens to me. I don't know why, as this is in no way true. Superman laughs at me when I say I never win anything, and points out what I have in fact won. I still say it. I still believe it when I say it, until he reminds me otherwise. 

This is why I was initially distrustful of Megan when she commented on one of my posts, asking me to be a featured blogger for www.stageoflife.com. You see, I've always secretly wanted to be a writer. Well, maybe not enough to actually sit down and write... I used to write bad poetry on a Freenet usegroup, back when the boys were in pre-school. I loved loved loved my creative writing class in college, and wrote some short stories I thought were pretty good. I came up with a few novel ideas, and even went as far as outlining one. My problem is, I get the idea and get all fired up, then dig into it and realize writing is HARD. I edit as I go, and ultimately loose heart. The idea is put back up on the shelf, and I talk about that great book I might write someday.

So when I saw Megan's comment, at first I was all excited. Someone wants me to write for them! Then I was all "what is this Stageoflife.com anyway?" so I went and looked. Then I was like "she doesn't really mean featured, and this is probably just some spam way to get people signed up for their site." Do you see the cynicism creeping in? "She has ulterior motives" (don't we all?). "Nothing good ever happens to me, ergo this can't be what I think it is because if it was, it would be something good happening to me."

I started this blog in part to fight that type of cynicism. Learning to appreciate. Learning to see the good. So I pushed away my doubts and wrote Megan I was interested. She says anyone can post on the site, but featured bloggers get top billing beneath the editor's welcome, and can link to their blog. I'm not sure yet what area I'll be blogging under, but I will be blogging for StageofLife.com as Shebajc. Because I'm lazy (read: not really bright enough to come up with double the blog posts) I'll be posting both here and there, when I contribute.

Go check them out. Tell me what you think.

January 11, 2011


photo courtesy of Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
The stuff the of the Gods. The harbinger of life. Some animals can go for long periods of time without water. Some insects can lie dormant for years. However, no being on this planet can survive and reproduce without liquid of some kind.

When I drink water, I get an "ahhhhhh" sort of feeling. Nothing quenches my thirst quite the same. Why then is it so difficult to make myself choose water over other beverages? Why do I choose food over water (and usually not healthy food either)?

I cannot drink tap water. I do not like the taste, and the chlorine that keeps the bugs out also upsets my stomach. I have issues with the environmental and possible health effects of bottled water, as well, though I will drink bottled water over tap any day. Somewhat more cost and environmentally friendly, I purchased a Brita water pitcher last year. Still, I choose diet soda or tea over water most days. Diet soda is horrible for you, and studies have shown you're actually better off drinking regular soda, if you're going to drink soda. Not that regular soda is good for you. The tea I drink isn't good for me, either. It would be, if I didn't add so much creamer.

The pitcher has been sitting half full for over a month...
I know "they" have decided drinking caffeinated and carbonated beverages still gives you the liquid your body needs. Still, I walk around barely hydrated most days. I know I should drink more water, less (or no) soda, half a gallon to a gallon a day, yada yada yada. 

I've made a lot of healthy changes over the years. My diet is close to vegetarian, with a far more good food choices over bad. I still struggle with the hunger vs. thirst equation though. I know I overeat salty foods because I'm actually thirsty, not hungry. For that matter, I also eat when I'm bored, when I need a break, several times during the day when I'm not really hungry. Eating is a habit, and it's hard to stop and think "do I really need this" before I put something in my mouth. It's hard to overrule the angry, defiant, and self destructive voices that say yes, even when I don't. Being good to myself is hard!

I am working on my first quart of water for the day. I am working on being good to myself.

3 miles walked today, and the knee felt better a mile in than it did at the start. That hamstring tendon does not like to sit!

January 10, 2011

Easy going

An hour in the pool today. 45 minutes of water aerobics, and 15 minutes of water jogging before my knee informed me it was not happy with that activity today. Actually, it had been complaining here and there throughout, but I finally decided enough was enough and got out of the pool. I am not going to push it too far, since that is what got me into this mess in the first place.

I did not do any damage to the knee. I know this because of how stairs felt at my parent's. I was up and down several times, carrying sawhorses and pieces of baseboard, with only minor discomfort. We sanded the baseboards and bannister with medium and fine weight sandpaper, then took them downstairs for pre-stain and stain. Wednesday will be another coat of stain, taping the existing woodwork, going over it with steel wool and staining that. Friday another coat of stain on the baseboards, and Monday the bathroom will be finished! I'll post pictures.

I planned to go for a 2 mile walk today, but even though my knee was ok throughout the construction, it was not happy after sitting on the car on the way home. I decided today is a stretch day. I've already spent some time trying to work out my hips and hamstrings, and will spend more on breaks from finishing my paper. I may still go for that walk tonight, but not if the knee still feels quirky.

This moderation thing is hard!

January 9, 2011

Will I ever learn?

I did something stupid today, and got lucky it didn't bite me in the behind. I walked 3/4 mile down to the store (not the stupid part). On the way, I focused on relaxing my hips, focused on my form and how best to place my feet (again, not the stupid part). The stupid part was when I decided I needed to try this form I was focusing on, in a jog. It was the slowest, ugliest, 50-lb-overweight, 43-year-old-woman-who-can't-run jog/shuffle imaginable. It also DID NOT HURT!!!

I only went a block. Less than a quarter mile. I was so lucky I didn't screw myself up, but again it's good to see light at the end of this tunnel. I am completely back to square one, where I started this time last year. I was out of breath almost immediately. My knee was sore by the time I made it home again, but not in a painful, I'll regret this tomorrow way. I feel I'm getting stronger.

The walk was a full mile and a half. What was that about moderation? Yeah. I ain't got none. Tomorrow I'm back at the pool for an hour and a half, then to my parent's for sanding and staining the bathroom woodwork. I've got a 2 mile walk in mind when I get back home, which can easily be shortened if necessary, as it's an out and back. In addition, I've made a mess of catfish and the fixings for fish tacos, and I have 2 spinach quiche in the oven (more spinach and cottage cheese than quiche). That will provide me with breakfast and dinner all week. I have leftover turkey soup in the freezer for the days I'm home for lunch, with fruit, yogurt, and avocados for snacks. It may sound boring to some, but my food plan works best when I have a schedule for the entire week.

I'm off to work on a paper, which is due no later than 2 am Tuesday morning.

Feeling positive...

January 8, 2011

It's working! (is it working?) It's working!!

Just over 2 months of progressively less and less movement. 2 classes of water aerobics. I am not back to normal, but I was able to walk a mile comfortably at my old pace today. This is not magic. I knew all along I needed to move to feel better, but every time I tried to move I hurt my knee again. The water classes are definitely working, allowing me to move without straining my knee.

Now that I can walk, I need to get out and walk. 1 mile a day until that mile is completely pain free, then adding distance slowly. As much as I want to be back up to speed and distance, I've learned my lesson about pushing this particular injury. Pushing will only set me back. I will not even attempt to run until I have a completely pain free day. Even then the run will start slow. Slow and short.

Lots of thoughts bouncing around my brain tonight. Sitting over the holidays has made my waistline uncomfortably tight, and the added weight isn't good for my knee either. I've been in binge mode ever since Thanksgiving, without my usual January fast. It's time to start planning my meals again. It's past time. I'm a grazer, and when given free reign will eat the wrong foods all day long.

I'm starting to feel like me again. Time to start taking care of me again.

January 7, 2011

Nerves and tendons

This comic hit a nerve in me today. I've wondered for a long time why it's so hard for racers to carry their water cup to the bag/box/can, which in my experience has ALWAYS been available after water stops. Does it really take an extra second to veer across the road from a chosen course? At worst, they could make the volunteers' job easier by tossing their cup in the general direction of the person holding the bag. This does happen, sometimes. At least near the water stop, volunteers clean up the mess.

While I'm at it, why can't runners put their empty gel package back in the pocket from which it came? I don't know how many empty packets (and sometimes water cups) I've seen on the side of the road, where no volunteer will even think to look. That is littering, and reflects poorly on the sport.

It's not just the participants, either. Why do race organizers throw all the clothing discarded at the beginning of a race into the trash? I know some races donate to homeless shelters or Good Will. Why don't they all? They have to gather everything up anyway. If you're not going to let the racers retrieve their discards (which I also don't understand), does it really have to go into the trash?

These are questions that have plagued me since I started racing. I hear runners talk about fresh air, beautiful scenery, and the environment. Then I see how they behave on race day. Can someone please enlighten me? I just don't get it.

On a completely different note, it appears my pool work is working. Yesterday I was able to climb stairs with almost no pain at all. Today, while I've had twinges both in and out of the pool, I was able to walk down to the store and back with only minor discomfort on occasion. I'm afraid to be hopeful, and afraid to push for fear I'll damage my knee again. That said, it's nice to see a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.

January 5, 2011

Baby steps, and getting up again

Ninja and I were approved for a scholarship at the YMCA Monday, and I took my first pool class today. I arrived about 15 minutes early and did slow laps until the class was supposed to start. The regular instructor is apparently having some medical issues, and the sub was a little late. The Pussy Posse (as Beth at SUAR calls them) encouraged everyone to start without her, so we were jogging short laps by the time the instructor showed up. I like these women. They are here to move.

I decided before going in that I would work through whatever issues I encountered, as this feels like my last chance to get back on my feet. It appears all of my tendons are affected by whatever is going on with my knee. I feel the arthritis in my hip and lower back daily, but it's more discomfort than outright pain, and the knee is not as bad as it was. I am no longer taking ibuprofen regularly, as the inflammation is gone. Stairs are still uncomfortable, and an attempt at a 2 mile walk the other day was aborted, but the 24/7 pain is gone.

During my warmup I felt pain in the hamstring tendon behind my knee. This is what stopped my walk the other day. I reduced my range of movement, and the pain subsided.

My quad tendon and Iliotibial band also tend to give me issue, right around the knee

It was good to move, and while I had to be careful a few times, I had no real problems beyond the warmup pain. This is definitely a low-impact workout, but as with all workouts you get out what you put in. I feel my arms as I type this, and I know I will feel them more tomorrow. I felt my trunk during some of the exercises. These are areas I tend to neglect, so it's good to give them some attention.

Because I feel I'm reasonably fit, even after sitting on my arse for the better part of 2 months,
I chose to use the barbells and to push the routine.
After the water aerobics, I stayed for the water jogging. Turns out this class is the same, just in the deep end with a belt. The same instructor does both, and the sub was unfamiliar with the class. There was a list of exercises posted on the wall, so we followed those as best we could. It was just the sub and myself, for some reason. I cut the exercises short to do some stretching, which felt wonderful.

Overall I spent an hour and a half moving in the pool, before heading to my parent's to pull a toilet and pour cement to fix the bathroom floor. I may just be hopeful, but it feels like stairs are easier. That is the first big test, before distance walking and ultimately running again.

I will miss tomorrow's yoga class, due to an eye appointment, but will be back Friday for more water adventures. I also have plans to use the weight room. They have a contraption on which one does reverse sit-ups, which I like to play with. They also have Pilates balls, on which I love to stretch.

These are, for me, baby steps. I will get back on my feet. This will not keep me down. How does that song go again?