Monday, January 26, 2009

Fabulous Fixations

Fabulous Terri has passed around the "Fabulous Blogger Award," in which you are supposed to name five things you are addicted to. Not too difficult, since I am a person of many obsessions, and narcissistic enough to enjoy talking about them. (Definition of narcissist: person who writes a blog about herself.)

Addiction is a loaded term, of course, and as someone who works with persons who struggle with drug and alcohol dependency, and as a person with food addiction issues myself, I am a little sensitive about throwing around the word addiction. So let me assure you that I intend this in the most colloquial of ways, with no intention of offending anybody with genuine addiction issues.
Okay, that brought the mood down, didn't it? On the lighter side, I am defining an addiction as something you are obsessed with, that you tend to overindulge in, that you would not want to go without, and in fact would have a hard time giving up.

The first thing I am not including on my list of five is running. Don't get me wrong, running is very important to me, I enjoy it (mostly) and the benefits it gives me, and I wouldn't really want to give it up. In fact, you could even say I am obsessed with it and possibly that I tend to overindulge in it.

However. The things I am including on my list are things that I would indulge in without question, at any opportunity, without any struggle. In fact the struggle, if any, would be in resisting these temptations.

Running, I must admit, is a bit of a struggle every time I go out. Getting out of bed, getting out the door; I really have to work at making myself go. Even races that I am looking forward to give me qualms and trepidations. Once I go, I'm glad I did. But running does not go down with the ease of a chocolate bar. So, while it is extremely important in my life, I'm not sure I'm quite addicted to it the way I am with these other things.

I would say, although I'm not putting it on the list, that I am addicted to the concept of exercise. That includes running, cardio machines, any classes I might take, as well as other activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, walking and hiking. I do have it in my head that I have to get some exercise almost every day, and in fact I have quotas of how much I need to do. If I do less I feel deprived and guilt-ridden. If I have to miss a planned workout, I am frustrated and concerned. Unless, of course, I plan to miss the workout in order to engage in some superior activity.

But enough. On to the fun stuff. Here are the five things I am addicted to.

  1. My BlackBerry. Call me Obama. I know now why some call it CrackBerry. It is compulsively addictive! Before getting the BlackBerry, my cell phone was utilitarian; sure I used it, but I wasn't on it all the time. I'm not one of those people who goes around with a bluetooth in my ear and appears to be talking to myself in the streets and elevators. I never really got into texting, because typing on the number pad was such a pain. But once I got that BlackBerry, with its complete keyboard and connection to my email, I never looked back. I can use the 'Berry at home in the kitchen, in court with the sound turned off, on trips where I can't use my laptop, even in movie theatres if there aren't a lot of other people around to be offended by the lit screen. And that little flashing red light that tells me I have a new message? It's like a jolt of adrenaline. I can't wait to check the message. (Of course, half the time it's junk mail. But still. It's a whole new world.)
  2. Shopping. I know this borders on a truly harmful addiction, but I do love to shop. Clothes, books, plants, antiques. I go through phases where I obsess on one category for a while, then "get over" that but move onto another. Antiques, for example. My house is pretty well furnished (okay, full), so I really have seriously cut out the furniture and home accessory shopping. But that bumped me right into clothes. When I lost weight a few years ago that particular obsession went through the roof. I know now that I have enough (too many) clothes (and shoes), so I've cut back immensely, but then there's books. (Which I will get to in a moment.) Like a "bad" addiction, successful shopping gives you such a rush. (I have, however, made good efforts to restrain myself and get my endorphin fixes from other activites. Like running. Etc.)
  3. England and all things English. If you're aware that I have another blog, you may gave gathered that I'm a bit of an Anglophile. I have traveled to England so many times that people have stopped asking whether I am ever going anywhere else, and just ask me when I'm going back to England. I'm on a mailing list to receive a daily exchange rate email. My first trip to England was in 1986, when I was a junior in college (and, like now, the exchange rate had dramatically dropped from around $2 to the pound, to under $1.50). But though my love affair with England didn't truly begin until then, the seeds were planted much earlier in my childhood reading, the books of E. Nesbit, and Betsy and the Great World, even Peter Pan* and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As an adult, I devour books that are not just English, but take me to England, from London Holiday by Richard Peck (an American), to the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher, the very English romantic fluff written by prolific Katie Fforde, and other popular writers such as Sophie Kinsella, Jane Green, Anna Maxted**, and Mike Gayle.*** Not to mention my beloved Bridget Jones's Diary and About a Boy, both of which are also amongst my favorite movies.**** My very favorite travel guide (I highly recommend it) is England As You Like It by Susan Allen Toth. (She also wrote another book called My Love Affair with England, which tells how she first fell in love with England, like me, as a college student studying abroad.) Why, you may wonder, am I so enchanted by England? Everything about it suits my tastes perfectly. Old buildings and houses and history that goes back a thousand years. English "country house" decor is my decorating style too. The amazing, beautiful gardens, and the English devotion to gardening. Acres of rolling countryside dotted with sheep. Beautiful china and porcelain (which used to be a steal, and maybe is again with the recent exchange rate—although I don't need any more—see above, shopping). The crazy road system, the one-track roads and road signs intended to perplex the Germans during WWII (this may be a myth)! Miles and miles of footpaths throughout the countryside, open to the public by law. The fondness for tea by one and all. The many, many different kinds of cream to be had, including the king of creams, the amazing decadent clotted cream, famous with scones and jam, but also commonly dolloped on desserts of all kinds (known as puddings). And all kinds of wonderful cakes, biscuits (cookies), and candy (English toffee, anyone?). Oh yes, they love their sweets in England. (Which makes it good that I only go there for visits.) Clearly, I am hooked. And I'll be back on a plane (British Airways of course) on March 9, bound for the Bath Half Marathon on March 15.
  4. Books and magazines. As you may have gathered, I am also addicted to reading material and reading, books and magazines of all kinds. I am addicted, I fear, to the extent where I amass more books, and certainly magazines, than I can get to. My study is full of stacks of books, awaiting organization, and/or reading, but probably not disposal, because I have a very hard time getting rid of books. I am happy to loan them out, though, so let me know if there's anything you want, and you don't have to hurry about returning it! I have also always subscribed to and bought more magazines than I seem to have time to read. A few years ago I let most of my decorating magazine subscriptions lapse (key word, most), but have replaced them with running and fitness magazines. The only magazines I do get through reliably (I bow my head in shame) are the celebrity gossip magazines, which I bring to the Y and read while I am on the cardio machines. I go through those like it's my job. Whenever I travel I pack plenty of reading materials, books and magazines, loading down my luggage, and even for just a short outing I pack along a magazine (and maybe a book) to fill in any down time or odd moments. I read when I watch TV, I read in bed at night, and often find my book dropping from my hand as I doze off.
  5. Starbucks lattes. Oh, I love them so. Nonfat lattes with sugarfree caramel, one shot of espresso per four ounces of beverage. (Yes, that means that a grande has four shots.) I try to restrain myself to one a day. Try. Oh yes, I think you would call it an addiction.*****

So there you go, five things that make my day—and without which my day might not happen! I am supposed to tag five other bloggers, but lots of people have already written about this one, so just feel free to jump on the bandwagon if you like!

*Particularly the Disney film and Disneyland ride, with their arial views of London.

**Please note, I am talking about the novels in this list of books, not the other titles!

***Clearly I am foreshadowing another one of my obsessions here.

****I am a connoisseur of movies that are not only set in England, but really evoke the England I love. I did an Amazon list of my favorite "English" movies, though I haven't updated it since 2007.

*****In a pinch I can substitute lattes from other espresso stands, but Starbucks have definitely got my number.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Message in the snow

I passed by this picnic table in Grand Avenue Park during my long run today.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Skiing is not running, but...

My mileage was a bit down last week, just over 27.25 miles. I know that's a decent number, but it's certainly below my 32 mile weekly target and I lost several miles thanks to needing to go to work instead of running long. My Sunday long run (that was just two days ago) was exactly ten miles and I felt every step. My ankle and achilles tendon have been giving me a bit of trouble since then.

This week my mileage is going to be down again, I expect, because I didn't run on Monday as I usually do, but went downhill skiing instead. And I don't regret it a bit! I don't usually get the opportunity to go day skiing (we've been going night skiing as it is cheaper, and fun), and yesterday was beautifully sunny with insanely blue skies. Plus, skiing gives me the opportunity to take advantage of the running and core muscles I've worked so hard on.

And since it was a holiday that not everyone gets, Steven's Pass was not even very crowded at all. Plus we spent most of the day skiing the backside and avoided the more popular lower lifts. We arrived at 8:30 a.m., hit the slopes when they opened at 9, and headed for home at 2:00. We spent the last hour on Big Chief, a moderately steep face slope that is great for skill building. (It also made me feel better about my skiing, after a couple of hard falls on the other side. My shoulder is feeling it today.)

A lot of the runs we skiied were really long, so it wasn't a case of spending most of the time standing in line and sitting on lift chairs, and only a few minutes at a time actually skiing. We spent a lot of time actually skiing.

I don't like to go too fast, which is good really, because it forces me to do a lot of turns instead of just shooting down straight. Certainly that makes the skiing more of a cardio exercise and better exercise. There were a few runs where my legs actually felt tired at the bottom. That's probably because I wasn't skiing very well, but at least bad skiing is good exercise. When I ski well it hardly feels like work at all!

Here are some pictures from the day.

Me on the chair lift. No, I'm not nervous about heights at all!

Rod at the top of the Southern Cross chair, Glacier Peak behind him.

View across the mountains in the opposite direction.

The view from Big Chief.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Today* was my four-year yoga anniversary. My first yoga class ever was exactly four years ago, the Saturday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at the YMCA, with the same instructor who still teaches my Tuesday and Thursday evening yoga classes.

On that Saturday my friend Jenifer was visiting from Boise and she basically forced me to go to the Y with her. After spending a very long time on a treadmill (walking, I didn't start running until a year or so later), I followed Jenifer upstairs where the yoga class was starting.

Chris was the instructor. Like so many yoga instructors, she has a gentle, soothing voice and as she explained and described each pose she encouraged us to modify the poses if needed or use the props, foam blocks and straps, for assistance.

There are a couple of things I remember most clearly about that first yoga class. First, I really needed to pee but I didn't want to leave for long enough to go back downstairs to the bathroom. Second, I absolutely could not do the side plank.

Still, I must have connected with something, because I kept returning, using my January guest passes and then signing up for a YMCA membership at the end of the month.

As the months passed, I became familiar with the various yoga poses (warrior poses, triangle, and so forth) and found myself improving at the poses I could not do before. I don't know when exactly it happened, but I remember my triumph at mastering the side plank. It was around that time when I also accomplished a full body pushup. That's not something we did in yoga class, but one day I just decided to try it. (Nowadays I can do lots more pushups.)

One thing that took a lot longer to master was chaturanga, slowly lowering your body from the plank pose until you are hovering above the floor. It's kind of like a pushup, but harder, at least in my estimation.
I've improved a little in balance poses, at least the tree pose, although ever since I began having trouble with the achilles tendon and ankle on my right side, I have not done so well with balancing on that leg. And I'm pretty darn certain that since I have been running so much, I am far less flexible (particularly in the hamstrings) than I was even in the beginning!

I am not the most balanced yoga student. (And I don't mean just because I have trouble standing on one leg.) My mind tends to wander, and I think about non-yoga things. I check the time. Sometimes, a lot of the time, I treat it more as a physical exercise than a spiritual or mental one. I am more interested in the strength and flexibility benefits than the psychological ones.

But in spite of myself, I suspect that I get more out of yoga than simply strengthening my shoulders, arms and core, or stretching my tight hamstrings, calves and hips. I am sometimes tempted (and sometimes succumb) to skipping yoga class to spend extra time on the elliptical, wanting the additional cardio and calorie burn rather than the elusive benefits of yoga practice. I do try to avoid doing this. Balance must certainly include a fair combination of cardio (and running), strength, flexibility, and a tranquil mind. For that reason I try not to abandon yoga to pursue only cardio, in the same way that I would not give up running and do only yoga.

And I have to admit, one of the things that I do love about yoga is that rest periods are a mandatory component. Every yoga practice concludes with shavasana, a rest period in which you lie quietly on your back and relax for a few minutes. Sometimes the instructor will lead a guided (spoken) relaxation, or go around the class and do a shoulder or leg adjustment. My instructor Chris also inserts short rest moments into the yoga session, in which we lie prone on the floor for a few seconds after certain poses.

Some of my favorite non-strength poses open the hips or relax the back. My favorite hip stretch is pigeon, in which you bring one leg in front of you bent at the knee, stretch the other behind you, and relax forward into the stretch. You can do a similar stretch lying on your back, crossing one ankle across the thigh (as if you were sitting with your legs crossed), and pulling the lower leg toward your torso. And there are many variations of twists, seated, reclining, even standing (not my favorite type), where essentially your hips and legs go one direction and your shoulders and torso go the the other. I frequently do a type of twist lying in bed, rolling my bent legs to one side and looking in the other direction.

Another favorite simple pose is the sphinx. Gentler than cobra or upward dog, it has an amazing effect on the back. You simply lie on your stomach and prop your body up on your elbows. It is often done after plank and chataranga poses, and in addition to gently relaxing the back, it is a nice stretch for the abs, particularly if you have stressed them in a Pilates class the day before.

These days I go to yoga classes a few times a week. There are actually five classes I like, but most weeks I don't make it to every one of them. On Tuesday** and Thursday mornings (at 6 a.m.!) the class is pretty intense and strength building. The instructor seems to really concentrate on working the shoulders, and I think her goal is to build us all up to doing head stands. (Not. Gonna. Happen.) Tuesday*** and Thursday nights I go to Chris's class. As with the first class I attended, she mixes traditional poses, strength, stretching and balance work. It is still my favorite. (The picture is me with Chris after Thursday night's class.) A third instructor teaches the Saturday morning class that I attend when I can.

If I weren't already sure that yoga was a good idea for me, I would probably be converted by the articles I've seen in Runner's World and other magazines recommending yoga and core strengthening to enhance and improve running performance and recovery. So I'm validated. Plus, I hear, yoga will eventually make me look like Jennifer Aniston. (Well, I can hope, can't I?)

*Yes, I know this wasn't posted until Tuesday. I got too tired to finish on Thursday night.
**No, not this morning. Inauguration!
**Again, not going tonight. I'm still too wrapped up in the inauguration.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dinner off the cuff

I left the Y tonight knowing that I had already picked the last bit of meat off the chicken I roasted on Sunday. What to have for dinner? I really wanted to fix something without having to stop at the store to shop.

I decided to defrost a link of Aidell's Organic chicken sausage, 140 calories for the spinach and feta flavor (and they have many other flavors as well). Then I stopped at the store to buy some mushrooms. Okay, the plan wasn't perfect. But I really wanted the mushrooms.

I was originally going to put the sausage and mushrooms on a salad (my default meal), but I had a spark of inspiration when a small spaghetti squash caught my eye. I threw the squash in the microwave to cook it (I'd rather boil it but the microwave is much faster) and chopped up some onion and red bell pepper.

I cut the sausage into small pieces and browned it, then scooped it aside to saute the onions, peppers and mushrooms. Then I threw the sausage back in the pan.

I needed a sauce. So I opened a jar of tomatoes my secretary had canned. They were gussied up with garlic and onions but I'm sure regular canned tomatoes would be fine. I seasoned it up with a liberal dose of dried Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.

Instead of serving it on top of the spaghetti squash, which would work fine, I scraped some of the squash into the pan of vegetables. It didn't get as stringy-spaghetti-like as I've experienced in the past; I don't know if that's because it was small or because I may have overcooked it in the microwave. I just chunked it up a bit.

Finally, because I can't stray too far from a salad, I dumped it onto a pile of spinach, which wilted nicely. I topped it off with fat free feta cheese (pairing with the sausage, remember?).

It was quite delicious, including and especially the sausage. But this could also be made without the sausage, using plenty of mushrooms for quasi-meatiness (with many fewer calories) and generous seasonings (possibly some salt also) to add flavor.

I must admit that this admirably healthy dinner was just a counterpoint to the cookies and chocolates I have been eating rather freely during the day. A six-mile run doesn't create a license to gorge myself. Okay, gorge is an exaggeration (thank goodness). But I have been more self-indulgent than I should be. Spaghetti squash instead of pasta is at least one small step in the right direction.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Take it and run Thursday

Today's topic for the Runner's Lounge Take it and Run Thursday is "training plans." I'm not sure if I want to write a whole post about training plans, because I don't know that I have any great tips to offer.

I have followed a training plan twice, both times in the three months before the Whidbey Island Half Marathon. In 2007 I did Hal Higdon's intermediate half marathon plan (amended only to increase the length of the weekday runs to be comparable to the 5-6 mile runs I was already doing), and in 2008 I did his advanced plan. That one I tweaked a lot, not only to increase the weekday lengths but to accommodate my four day a week running schedule (his plan calls for five days). But I still did the tempo runs, long runs, and so forth as called for.

Coincidentally, just this morning (when I was running) I was thinking about whether I should come up with a training plan for my next half marathon, the Bath Half on March 15. That's only about two months away. But even though many plans (such as Higdon's) are on a twelve-week schedule, they also start out at a low mileage which I am way beyond. I could easily jump in four weeks along and do fine. In fact, I've sometimes postulated that two months is about the time it would take me to get trained up for a half marathon.

On the "don't need a plan" side is this. I've been running half marathons and long distances regularly (my last half was on December 7th) and I can pretty easily get myself up to distance, I am sure.

On the "do need a plan" side is this. My times in my last couple of half marathons have been increasing quite a bit. So clearly just running a lot is not enough. I have also slacked off a bit over the holiday, and really need to kick my ass back into gear. Finally, I am aware that my times in the two Whidbey runs have been my best, and almost my best, half marathons overall, even though it is a hard, hilly course. So there must have been something to the training plan scheme.

So I think that decides it, doesn't it. I need to come up with a training plan for Bath. Consider that a project to be done. (And really, creating the training plan is kind of fun. It's the implementation that's hard!)

Since it is Take It and Run Thursday, I'm going to go back a week and also post for last week's topic, which is Best Blog Post of 2008. Of course it goes without saying that all my posts were great, brilliant even. But I am particularly fond of this one. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More of that nostalgia stuff

I just read and laughed over Sarah's post about all the outdated stuff she remembers from her "youth." It was right after that my secretary sent me an email with this 1977 J.C. Penney catalogue excerpt. Crack me up! (But I do remember that stuff....)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Good to be back

Yesterday (Sunday) I was a few minutes into my run when this song came onto my ipod.

I'm a big proponent of music for inspiration, and in my case that means any song with a catchy tune and a title or lyric that speaks to me. So I don't consider it a small thing that "Good to Be Back" came on just as I'm starting my first real run since the snow and ice has melted away, and my first long run (more than six or so miles) since the Vegas Half Marathon almost a month ago.

Now, by "back" of course I just mean running, not running fast, or well, or easily. My legs were, in fact, just a little looser than lead, and I couldn't believe that the entire trip down to the marina (see picture in previous post) was less than three miles. (Well, actually I knew that, it just seemed like much further.) Luckily, the rest of the miles seemed shorter (you didn't know that the further along in a run you go, the shorter the miles become?), and once I passed about the six-mile mark the half-miles were clicking away just like that.

My only distance goal was to do at least eight miles by the time I got to Starbucks, and luckily for me, I actually hit 8.88 miles when I stopped there. (Actually it was 8.87 so I jogged a few more feet to bump it up.) With the walk home my total was just under 9.4. I was happy with the distance and choosing not to think about the pace.

Even though I do have speed goals for the year, I am determined not to be discouraged by slow runs. I often think back to a quote from one of my running journals, basically that you can't run too slow, but you can run too fast.

And while running slow might not make for new PR's, I try to keep in mind that speed and PR's are not the only reason I run. If they were, I might as well just quit right now. Which I don't plan to. I am fully aware, and remind myself regularly, that running slowly burns as many calories per mile as running fast does. And although I have heard and read that exercising just to lose or maintain weight is not a good reason, I don't necessarily agree with that. I mean really, if running did not help keep me somewhat thin, would I still keep doing it? I like running, but there's lots of other things I like doing too. For example, reading, watching TV, napping. If running was only as effective as those pursuits at burning calories, which do you think I would choose? Weight maintenance (if not loss) and fitness are the little extras which keep me running, even when the weather or tired legs would make me rather stop.

So I was out there yesterday piling on the miles, and I was out there this morning for another six (running on an inch or two of new snow from last night). I'm back. And it is good.

Blogging from the road

This is really just a test post to see if I can successfully write posts from my Blackberry. Just to make myself blog-ready at all times. This picture is from the Everett Marina taken yesterday during my long(ish) run. I didn't want to take the time to try to post then (even though that would make it truly "from the road"). So instead I am sitting here in front of a computer today tapping away on the 'berry. At least I can check my results immediately this way!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolution 2009

So it's 2009.

2008 ended well, though not exactly as I had imagined.

I thought I would be substantially over my 1500 mile goal for the year, as I was on track to hit it in mid-December. But with the combination of short miles around the Vegas half-marathon week, and really short miles during our two weeks of snow, I only managed to squeak over the 1500 mark on Christmas Eve, then added 5½ miles on December 29 to bring my total for the year to 1509 miles.

I didn't run on the last day of the year, as I decided to sleep in just a little to rest up from the big night before watching the Holiday Bowl (go Ducks), plus I was running a 5K on New Year's Day, plus I was going night skiing New Year's Evening.

The skiing was great, plenty of fresh snow (it was snowing lightly, and blowing, the whole evening), and I really felt like I was getting my ski legs. I've been skiing on new skis that are longer than the ones I used last year, and the first trip out I was incredibly clumsy for the first eight runs. (Oh yeah, I was counting.) But I'm accustomed to them now, and although that didn't prevent me from some klutzy moves and a couple truly spectacular falls, I kind of felt I was skiing pretty well. I was enjoying it, at least, so who cares how "good" I really was!

The night turned less good, however, when we got home around 11 p.m. and discovered that the hot water heater tank at my boyfriend's house had been leaking. This led to distress, (understandable) bad temper, and frantic efforts to turn off the water supply and stop the damage as much as possible. Not exactly the way I had intended to spend the last hour of 2008.

This morning, with some guilt*, I left him at home figuring out repair and replacement of the water heater while I headed off with my mother to Seattle for the Resolution Run 5K. This was my first race since Las Vegas, and as I mentioned above I had not been doing a whole lot of running over the past couple weeks.

The weather, too, was quite inauspicious. Cold. Raining (alternating between light rain and heavy mist). Dark and grey.

I was not thrilled with the prospect of this run. From the looks of other people arriving in the parking lots at Magnuson Park, I was not alone.

We arrived really early, and got good parking near the start and finish area, so I was able to huddle in the car for a long time. Finally I got out and started jogging around for a warmup. My legs felt good, probably due to the extended rest period they had been having! (That's about all that felt good. My mental state was marginal. Although it did improve after some running.)

When I joined the crowd of runners gathering around the starting line, I planned to station myself in the eight-minute mile group. But I ended up between the seven-minute and eight-minute mile signs. That probably would be a feasible objective on a better day for me. I knew that I wasn't going to be running sub-eight today, but I had plenty of experience being slowed down by surrounding runners in other races. Today I figured other people could pass me and perhaps being in a faster section would encourage me to run a little faster.

All I could really think of was, thank goodness this was a 5K and would be over in less than half an hour. Once it finally started, that is. As usual, the race started almost fifteen minutes after the official start time of 10:30. All those last minute arrivers checking in. I had the Garmin ready to go at 10:30, and after keeping it paused for more than five minutes, I lost the signal and had to reset it. Luckily that only happened once and I was able to press start as I crossed the mats.

As expected, people were passing me in the first mile. I vowed not to look at my watch, and I didn't, much. I did happen to look as I passed the one-mile mark, and the time was 8:35. Not my fastest, for sure, but not bad.

In mile two we had our only hills, a couple of short uphills and a downhill. I also had my biggest delaying crisis, when my ipod fell out of my mysteriously open pocket, jerked out of the earphones plug, and had to be picked up by another runner who handed it to me. I ended up stopping just briefly to plug in the earphones and restart the ipod. I figure that this little interlude cost me some time.

The other interference was puddles and mud. I had worn my regular running shoes, rather than the trail shoes which are somewhat water resistant. So it wasn't long before my feet were wet and shoes were muddy. Veering through muddy patches to avoid deep puddles probably slowed me a bit as well. The second mile, I later learned from Garmin, was almost exactly nine minutes.

In the third mile we had a couple of out and back sections. Then we finally went into a straight stretch to the finish line.** I was able to pick up the pace a bit for that section, I think; especially, of course, in the final .1 mile! My final time on the Garmin was 27:40 (the clock was a little more). I'm still waing for the chip times to be posted, but I think the Garmin was pretty right. (This picture is a rare shot of me actually stopping the Garmin as I cross the finish mats.)

That's not a very competitive time compared to my best 5K's this summer, but it's not bad considering the conditions today and my lack of condition going in. I'm okay with it. Obviously I can, and hopefully will, do better on another day.

Which brings me to my goals for 2009. I'm keeping it simple. Each goal has two parts, the "realistic" part and the "wildest dreams" part.

Here are the race times I would like to achieve.

Realistic—break 25 minutes.
Wildest dreams—break 24 minutes.

Realistic—break 52 minutes.
Wildest dreams—break 50 minutes.

Realistic—break 2 hours.
Wildest dreams—break 1:54. Or 1:55.

Distance for the year: 1600 miles. That would require 32 miles per week over 50 weeks.

Weight loss
Realistic—lose 10 pounds ASAP.
Wildest dreams—lose 20 pounds. Or 30? (Maybe a little too wild.)

So there you go. Nothing too outrageous.

Oh yeah, and get more sleep. In fact, I'm a little drowsy right now....

*I would have been totally useless at helping with the repairs, however.
**Anyone who wanted could veer into the lake for a polar bear plunge. Not me, no thank you!