Monday, December 24, 2012

A bonus Christmas Eve post

I'm popping back in to write a quick version of "Friend Making Monday," a questionnaire I borrowed from Cathy at Living the Dream. So here are my quick and dirty answers to this week's questions....

1. I want faster again.
2. I've a full mile under seven minutes.
3. I believe...I could run a mile under seven minutes if I worked hard at training for it.
4. My mind often wonders if...I will ever lose weight. (This could also have a direct correlation to my ability to run faster!)
5. Last night I dreamed...but I can't remember about what.
6. This morning for breakfast I had...(okay this is bad)...pre-run - a cookie and a piece of Danish Kringle. Post-run - a piece of Kringle. At work - Starbucks egg white, spinach & feta wrap, grapefruit wedges.
7. My love life is...good.
8. I Too much.
9. When I was I was a child...I used to play school and I was the teacher and my sister and friends were the students.
10. When I'm in the kitchen...I nibble too much.
11. My favorite exercise is...running. Of course.
12. When I travel I...overpack.
13. My friends would tell you I am...quiet.
14. If I had to eat a a fast food restaurant today, I would choose...Gordito's (Mexican food).
15. My to travel to is England.
16. My home is messy 100 years old.
17. I read...lots of good books. Some mediocre books.
18. The last movie I saw was...The Hobbit. (Before that, Ted.)
19. Music makes faster!
20. All I want for Christmas is...honestly, there is nothing I want. I am happy with what I have already.

There you have it! Once again, Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas Eve

I couldn't let Christmas come and go without a post for almost three weeks! It is truly because I am still not able to blog from my iPad, and I have been too busy at work to use my computer there. Not that I would ever work on a blog post during the work day, of course. (I am my own boss, and I would never allow that. Ha.)

Anyhow, the trip to Hawaii and the Honolulu Marathon went well (in its way). I did manage to achieve a new personal slow (don't like the term "personal worst"), but I'm okay with that. I pretty much let it happen. I will tell the story soon, I hope. I do have a lot of good pictures from the marathon and the trip! And I have some travel tips for people planning to run the Honolulu Marathon in future.

After Honolulu I took five days off running to let my legs rest a little. I am back to running but still very slow. I'm letting that happen through the rest of the year before I start thinking about plans for 2013. Well, I'm thinking about them now, but I'm not putting them into place until January.

I am easily on track to go over 2000 miles for 2012. I will update on the final totals in a week!

Today is Christmas Eve (obviously) and that is my family's primary day of Christmas celebration. After I leave work in a few minutes I am going to head to my parents' house to hang out there before the festivities begin. Tonight we will have a traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve dinner with lutefisk and lefse. Not everyone loves lutefisk (a type of cod), including me, so we will have some other things as well. I made the lefse on Saturday (a soft flatbread made with potatoes and flour). Here is Eva helping me make lefse....(Eva and I are both wearing black shirts, not smart when you are working with flour!)
And now it is time for me to take off and get on with eating cookies my other tasks for the day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

And then it was December

I have been silenced over the last couple weeks by a non-working Blogpress app on my iPad. Since most of my writing opportunities are on the iPad, there has been very little writing!

I am now five days out from the Honolulu Marathon, and I feel like I am ready. For the running part, that is...hopefully the packing and trip part will be easy. Packing is always stressful for me!

I did my last "long" run on Friday, November 30. Eight miles at "goal marathon pace" of 10:18. I would have liked it a little faster but that wasn't happening at 6:30 a.m. on a rainy Friday morning. Actually I would also have liked it to be ten miles, but that wasn't happening at 6 a.m. on Friday morning! 6:30 a.m. start = 8 miles and still a close call to get to work on time.

Originally my last long run was going to be on Sunday, but I cleared Sunday just in case we went skiing. As it turns out, there was too little snow and too much rain for skiing on Sunday morning--which was fine with me. I'm just not feeling the ski bug yet. I still kept Sunday as a non-run day, though. My heel and ankle had been a little sore and stiff all week, so I didn't want to push it, since I had also run a little bit hard on Saturday.

On Saturday, December 1, I ran my last 5K of the year (probably my last 5K of the year), the Jingle Bell Run in Mount Vernon. I was not too excited about this run, as the weather was supposed to be rainy and stormy, and it was hard to get myself out of the car to check in, let alone do any warm-up running! But I twisted my arm, and got in just about two miles before the race began.

It never did rain, although it was windy at times, especially during my warm-up (and after-miles). I squeezed in just under two miles before lining up at the start. I had hoped to have a slightly faster 5K for my final race, but it was not to be. Well, my finishing time was faster, but that was because the course was a little short, just under three miles by my watch. My time was 25:28, so I figure if I had done the whole 3.1 miles I would have had the same time as all my other 5Ks this fall, around 26:30.
Afterwards I ran about 2.25 miles more, to give myself a total of seven miles for the day.

Then we went to my parents' house and I made blueberry pancakes.

My final week of running before the marathon looks like this...

Monday - about six miles (I did 7.37 at 10:18 average pace. 10:18 average means the first two miles at 11 minutes and the rest around 10 in order to try and shore up the average.)

Tuesday - cross train (elliptical at the Y--done)

Wednesday - about six miles with 4-6 x 400 m repeats. I'm not sure if I will do those intervals on the track or on the road. With all the rain we've had I suspect the track will be flooded or at least too muddy to run on. If I do them on the road they will be slower than on the track, I just can't help that.

Thursday - a few miles--5, 6, whatever--hopefully at marathon pace or faster. This is the day we leave for Hawaii. I'm working in the morning and we fly out in the afternoon.

I'm not planning on doing any running in Hawaii before the marathon. This is not ideal, as I would like to try a little running in the climate, but I do like to have two days of rest before the marathon.

My great paranoia of the day is fear of getting a cold. I am not feeling 100% right now. I am trying to fend off any lurking cold by drinking Emergen-C and tea with honey. (I started this morning.) I got a cold right before TCM--this cannot happen again!

A final note...the pictures from the Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon are out. Apparently I only finished the race, but did not run it, because there are no on-course photos of me! Here are a couple of decent pictures of me...the rest can remain unseen.
This picture is from about a mile in, when I ran by my parents and threw them my jacket (which was meant to be a throwaway, but now I can keep it for another use!).

Monday, November 26, 2012

NHBPM 22-25 (catching up again)

November 22 - Thanksgiving Day - Thankful post

Today I am supposed to write about what I am thankful for. I have read many blogs (and Facebook posts) where people are posting thanks every day in November (at least through Thanksgiving). I am glad I didn't do that because obviously it is impossible for me to keep up with anything on a daily basis!

I have many things to be thankful for. I am thankful that I am healthy, and that everyone close to me is relatively healthy as well. Several family members have various conditions or complaints, but nothing that really interferes with their lives or makes them suffer. I am thankful to have a good relationship with my family, and even though we have our squabbles and disputes, we have never had major feuds that cause long-lasting damage to our relationship. I am thankful for my boyfriend Rod, who is an important part of my life. I am thankful for my dear cat Libby, the remaining member of our feline family. (Yes, I include myself as one of the feline family.) I am thankful for my job that provides a good living, is fairly stable, and the great people I work with. I am thankful to live in Washington, where there are no hurricanes or tornadoes, and although there could be earthquakes, that the Big One hasn't hit us yet. I am thankful that I am able to run without having incurred any serious injury, and that I have continued to explore and expand my runnign experiences over the years.

November 23 - Clean out your fridge in written form. What's in there? How does it reflect your personality?

The alternative was to clean out your closet, and I just can't face that.

My fridge is always pretty full, but I try to eat everything I put in there. The only things that tend to stick around too long are ingredients I buy for a special recipe that only needs a portion. Unfortunately those tend to get shoved to the back of the fridge and eventually grow hair. Right now there's some evaporated and condensed milk in that category, and probably some sour cream somewhere. Every once in a while I throw out the junk. Otherwise...

There are a few bottled dressings and sauces, including barbecue sauce, Frank's hot sauce, ketchup and mustard. I always need to keep at least a jar of dijon mustard on hand. I always have a few containers of plain Greek yogurt. Right now I also have a bag of spinach, probably a few bell peppers, some cucumbers and apples, and leftover mashed cauliflower from Thanksgiving (I'll be eating it tonight). There's a carton of salsa that I hope is still good. My leftover food is low right now because of Thanksgiving and being in Seattle for a couple of days. Oh! There is usually an open can of cat food for Libby.

My fridge reflects my personality because it is usually stocked with healthy food, but there is also extra clutter that I can't bear (or be bothered) to clear out!

November 24 - If I had more than 24 hours in a day....

I would sleep more. No question. I think that getting plenty of sleep is so important, yet I almost always cheat myself of sleep because it is the one thing that I can stint on without noticeable consequences.

November 25 - How have your goals as a person evolved?

Ten years ago I could never have imagined I would have goals like running a marathon or a 50K. Back then my goals involved things like antique collecting, home decorating, and gardening. (As well as career/job goals, of course.) I'm a little regretful that the home and garden goals have been put on the back burner as much as they have, actually. Now that I've achieved most of my running goals (not that there aren't always more to explore), I would like to move toward some balance where I fix up some of the things I've let slide with my house and continue to train and run as well. I tend to be a serially obsessive person...that is I give my all to one interest, then move on to something else. It would be nice to do a little bit of everything.

That takes me through the weekend...and I don't have the energy to start this week's topics yet!

I'll come back soon with a post about the weekend's running activities (Seattle Half Marathon), and my thoughts as taper progresses and the Honolulu Marathon approaches (less than two weeks!).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NHBPM #18-21

I have fallen a little behind because I didn't connect with the topics over the weekend. Then last night I was going to write, and the blogging app on my iPad kept crashing...what's up with that? I have no idea how to fix it. I am just going to mush all those days together here today with a hodgepodge of topics that may or may not be from the list.

My New Marathon Playlist aka My New iPod Shuffle aka I am a Technology Dunce
Remember my Election Day playlist that I did on my iPhone? Well I added a bunch more songs to make sure it was more than five hours long, then I wanted to figure out how to transfer the playlist to my iPod Nano which is easier to deal with than the iPhone for playing music on runs. (This is NOT going to be instructions on how to do that properly!)

My laptop that has my iTunes on it and my HUGE library of music that makes up the playlists currently on my iPod has died, and all the music is trapped, although our computer guy may be able to get it off sometime. We'll see. Anyways, I downloaded iTunes to the crappy laptop I've been using at work and plugged in my phone. What happened then was that all the music I have on the phone got backed up on the computer (good), but my actual Election Day playlist was deleted (I still have most of the songs, just not gathered together). The reason I didn't even get all of the songs (I guess) is because some of them are from home CDs rather than iTunes and apparently that doesn't get copied. Or something.

Anyhow, I reconstructed the playlist and downloaded a few more to make up for the missing ones. However, I didn't want to try to load it onto my iPod because I'm afraid I will wipe out everything else that's on there. So I made an emergency trip to Target and got a new iPod shuffle for this playlist alone (it's 100+ songs). While there I succumbed to Target's siren wiles and this happened....
Those gloves are touch screen friendly. And the scarf! Love. I wish it were going to be cold during the Seattle Half on Sunday so I could wear it. But it's not. It may be wet, though.

Alternative Treatments and Medicine
I am all in favor of alternative treatments and medicine, as long as it is not at the peril of rejecting life-saving medical treatments.

For example, I believe that obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type II diabetes (and pre-diabetes) should all be addressed with diet and exercise, either before turning to medications or in conjunction with medications if they are needed. I know this isn't a radical position, in fact I believe it is the standard of care for these types of conditions. I don't think that medications should be rejected, if they are needed.

I am curious about, but have never tried, hypnotherapy and acupuncture. I am all in favor of massage therapy and in support of chiropracture (though I've never tried it).

My bottom line position is that when a person has a medical condition, all the possible methods of treating it, medical and non-traditional, should be considered. However, I would be leery of any sort of wacky treatment (for example if Suzanne Somers endorses it) for a life-threatening condition.

Calling B.S.--again
I already used this topic some time ago, but today I am a little fired up and ready to take another swing at it.

Today my target is Mr. Eat This Not That, David Zinczenko. You know who he is, right? He's a writer for Men's Health, and he has made a new career out of his books which tell you how to choose the healthier options, primarily from chain restaurant menus, I think. He also appears regularly on the Today Show to blow the top off of everyone's fatty food restaurant meals (or home meals).

Now let me say that I do not mind him showing us the calorie bombs from Applebee's and P.F. Chang's and so forth, and actually most of the time he offers alternatives that are pretty good (besides not going to the restaurant, which would be my choice, usually). But his methodology really gets to me. (I'll explain in a minute.)

This morning he was on the Today Show to address Thanksgiving foods, of course. We all know that many Thanksgiving favorites are full of butter and carbs, no surprise there. But even Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie seemed a little frustrated with his examples of "this" and "that."

One of Zinczenko's gimmicks is to take the subject food item, and show a "comparable" other item that has the same amount of bad stuff in it. For example fat. The problem is, sometimes his comparison just doesn't seem to matter. Sometimes he compares fat, sometimes saturated fat, sometimes sodium, sometimes carbs, and only sometimes calories. And really, bottom line, only the calories matter. Or at least, you have to put the other things in context with calories. This morning two of his comparison items were a whole pile of Nilla wafers, and a bunch of gingerbread men. Who cares if your Thanksgiving dish has the same (something bad) as 20 Nilla wafers? There's no context there. Expecially since Nilla wafers and gingerbread men are not inherently bad!

So please shut up, David Z.

Health and Fitness Apps I like

I really only use a few. My main one is the Livestrong app (used to be Daily Plate). I track my food and exercise on it religiously. The exercise record is just for balancing with the food; I keep track of my mileage separately. Not in an app, but on paper! I haven't updated my runner's journal for months, but all my mileage is written on my training plans. It's going to be a job getting that stuff together if I want to figure out a total for the year!

Map My Run. I do have this app on my phone and iPad, however, to actually map routes I have to use the website. I'm not sure why I can't do it with the app. Isn't that what the app is for? I don't really use the app at all. However, the website is fantastic for planning various lengths of runs.

Garmin My Connect. I only use this on my computer...I don't know if there even is an app. I love looking at the data, and route and elevation and all that good stuff. I have also gone there to check my mileage on days when I forgot to write it down.

IPod. Obviously I have used the iPod app on my phone. I like it! :) I use this app to listen to audiobooks during long runs (and sometimes at other times). It does help pass the time, but I tend to run a little bit slower than I do with music. I like to switch to music for the last few miles to get a final kick.

Radio apps. I have the apps for a couple stations (NPR and a local newsradio station) on my iPhone, and sometimes I listen to the radio instead during long runs. I also use the radio app when I'm getting dressed in the morning. It's the 21st century version of a transistor radio (little portable radios we used to have back in the 70s).

Runner's Log app. I don't have this one yet, but it's a free download through iTunes over the Thanksgiving weekend. I might download it and check it out!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Peak Weekend

This was my last higher mileage weekend before the Honolulu Marathon. Now it's all taper, baby. And the Seattle Half Marathon next Sunday, of course.

Let's recap this mini-training cycle, shall we?

October 7 - Twin Cities Marathon

October 8-11 - rest and recovery (with cross training)
October 12 - first run back!
October 14 - Poulsbo Half Marathon (back on the horse)

From then on I was back to running four days a week. I cut back from five days a week during the summer ultra training. Since I've been doing 5Ks and long runs most weekends, that means two weekday runs most weeks. I'm mainly recapping the weekend runs here. During the week I've done some speed work, tempo, and marathon pace runs (also using the weekend races as tempo).

October 20 - 12 miles
October 21 - Goblin Gallop 5K (plus two miles warm-up and one mile after)

October 27 - Fall Fun Run in Monroe (5K)
October 28 - 15.6 miles

November 3 - 18 miles
November 4 - Get Your Rear in Gear 5K

November 10 - Fowl Fun Run 10K
November 11 - 15.25 miles

That brings us to this week, in which I squeezed in an extra run due to the day off on Monday. That was a good thing, since I kind of skimped on the distance of my other two weekday runs.

November 12 - 8.5 miles
November 14 - 6.25 miles with four miles at goal marathon pace (sub-10)
November 15 - 6.6 miles with 10 x 400
November 17 - 20.05 miles
November 18 - Green Lake Gobble 5K

This week I dealt with my mild frustration over rarely making my paces on the 4:15 training plan, by switching over to the 4:30 plan. I am happy to say that my paces are pretty much already consistent with that plan. Actually the marathon pace under that plan is 10:18...I'd still like to go closer to 10-minute pace (if possible) to allow for bathroom stops and other delays.

I'm really pleased with how my 20-miler went. The designated goal pace was 10:30. This was my perfectly executed pacing plan--

Miles 1-8 - average 10:30. My individual miles were all over the place (I had a one-mile hill on Ingraham) but my average after eight miles was 10:32.

Miles 9-13 - pick up the pace a little on the Centennial Trail, maybe 10:15? Actually my miles in this section were 10:00 or under. During each mile I ran easy for half a mile (10:15-10:30), then pushed it in the second half (9:30-9:45). After 13 miles my overall average was 10:20.

It would be nice to have picked up the pace again for the last seven, but I knew I would slow down, due to tiredness and shoulderless roads. So my plan was to do 10:30-10:35 or so. I didn't calculate but I think those miles did average in that range My overall pace at the end was 10:24.

Best of all, I didn't feel too tired at the end and I even had a slight finishing kick. And even though my legs got a little stiff in the afternoon and night, they were never really painful or crampy.

So this morning I got up early, picked up my parents and headed to Seattle for another 5K, the Green Lake Gobble. I was not excited about this. Not because of tired legs, but because of the depressing grey skies and steady rain which persisted pretty much until I finished. I said things like, we should just turn around, or go out to breakfast, and I was only half joking.

At least we arrived early enough to get a good parking spot. I put on a raincoat and ventured out to get my bib and chip. Then I huddled in the car until 9:00 (the race started at 9:30). So I didn't have time for a three-mile warm-up.

Instead I dressed myself in a garbage bag, jogged two miles along the lake, used the porta-potty, and threw my bag in the garbage just before I joined the crowd at the start.

I've always liked 5Ks at Green Lake. The route was mostly on the road circling the lake, and finished on the lakeside path. (The 10K included a second loop on the path around the lake.)

So my tired legs didn't give me any trouble, but they didn't go above and beyond either. I pretty much ran an 8:30 pace throughout. My first mile should have been a little faster, but I probably lost about ten seconds due to crowding at the start. I slowed a little in the third mile (even though I thought I was pushing harder!), but sprinted in the last .1 to finish at 26:31 chip time. Still haven't gone under 26 minutes this fall...only the Jingle Bell Run Mt. Vernon remains.

I'm not too horribly disappointed, though, I'm actually pleased to do this well on the day after a 20-mile. It wasn't the most fun trip for my parents, though. Because of the rain they didn't get out of the car at all at Green Lake. I think my dad still regrets that. As we drove away we could see the 10K runners still running around the lake. I was not sorry to miss it.

My planned long runs for the next three weeks are:

November 25 -13.1 miles
December 2 - maybe 10 miles
December 9 - 26.2 miles, Honolulu Marathon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Day 17 - My Strengths and Weaknesses

I kind of love this topic because I love making lists. And lists about myself? Double love. I think I'm going to make the strengths and weaknesses pretty general, and relate them to health and fitness where it makes sense.

And my weaknesses are not going to be job-interview-style know, things like, "I'm too much of a perfectionist." Actually, that one is pretty interesting as it used to apply to me but probably doesn't anymore. I think I used to be a perfectionist and want everything just so. Now in my middle age I am much more satisfied with good enough. Maybe it's because, being out of school, performance is no longer measured by grades, just results. Just get 'er done.

Okay, here we go. I'll start with the positive.


*I am an optimist. Seriously, I am a glass half full person and I pretty much expect things to turn out okay most of the time. This is in contrast to my mother who always expects the worst. "Turn out okay" are the key words here. I am not unrealistic. I don't expect things to turn out great all the time. but not ending in disaster? I'm all over that.

-->Health and fitness connection - I think my optimism is what gets me through all the marathons and races I do. As I said, I'm a realist (perhaps another strength), and I don't expect a PR every time (or ever, these days--perhaps a hint of pessimism there), but I am confident I'll get through it and pretty sure it will be in a way that's okay to me.

*I am easy going. I get along with most people, I don't anger easily (although I do get ticked off now and then), and I don't hold a grudge.

*I love vegetables and eat lots of them. This is a strength, right? Eating healthily must be much harder for people who don't like broccoli.

*I have very good taste. Believe me, I do. Life is much better when you have the ability to discern between what is nice and what is tacky. And how to use a touch of tacky to make "nice" more interesting.

*I am smart. Or intelligent, whatever you want to call it. I did well in school and I'm good at academic stuff. This makes life easier, especially when you are a little bit lazy (see weaknesses). And yes, you do use algebra in the real world. You don't use calculus, though. You probably could, but that would require remembering how it works, which I don't.

-->Health and fitness connection - ever tried to figure out how fast you would have to run to finish a race or run in a certain time? Ever tried to figure it out mid-race, when pulling out a calculator would be awkward? I rest my case. (This applies to the math element, not so much general academic ability.)

*I am a reader. Is this a strength? I think so. Reading adds such a richness to life. It is a pretty cheap form of entertainment, and can fill as much or little time as I wish. Reading makes me a more rounded, informed person.

-->Health and fitness connection - well, there are a lot of diet and exercise manuals and memoirs out there, and I've read most of them!

*I am kind-hearted. I care about people and try to help them when I can.


*I am lazy. Yes, I really am. I am trying to reconcile that with the running and exercise thing. Perhaps I am lazy except when I am running or working out? I like to be active. I like to walk and bicycle and do active things besides running. But I am terrible about activities that are not fun. I don't like to clean house, or do difficult yard work, and I like to park close to the entrance of a store. After a weekend long run I spend most of the rest of the day sitting around reading (or blogging or watching TV or movies). And one of my running goals is to improve so that my target paces feel easy. Yes...I am lazy.

*I procrastinate. This is probably a sub-category of lazy. I put things off until they absolutely need to be done...then I wait a little longer. Examples, bill-paying, cleaning (see above), anything I find unappealing I wait as long as possible to do.

-->Health and fitness connection - actually, this is one category where I don't procrastinate too much. Can you imagine if I waited until the very last minute to train for a marathon? Disaster. But I do procrastinate over getting up in the morning to run (contributing to my lateness issues). And I have seriously procrastinated over some fitness goals...getting back to weight training (six years since I've done it regularly), resuming yoga after my summer break (only a few months, but I haven't started yet), signing up for some personal trainer sessions (I've been thinking about it for a few years, but haven't figured it out yet).

*I am persistently late getting places when I have things to do beforehand. This means, mostly, getting to work a little late And after lunch. So twice a day. Sometimes three times if I have mid-day meetings.

Before I try to explain myself, let me add that I am never late to races (except for a couple of incidents with traffic). I always plan to be there really, really, early and the only thing I have to do before I leave is get dressed and grab my gear (all of which I laid out the night before). And I almost always over-estimate the amount of time it will take to get to the location.

With everything else, the exact opposite is true. On workdays, I always run or work out before I leave for work, and since I struggle getting up, I have less time than I need to run my planned distance. So I might cut the distance, but I still inevitably run a little further than I have time for. And I have to stop at Starbucks for coffee and a wrap on the way home. I get ready super fast, but drying my hair takes some time, and throwing my clothes on. Then I always underestimate how long it takes to drive to work (I live less than two miles away!), park, and get through security into the building. During the day I am dragged down by eating lunch, phone calls, people who need to talk to me, and again the amount of time it takes to drive short distances and park. It makes me tired just writing about it all.

-->Health and fitness connection - well, obviously, health and fitness makes me late to work. So, obviously I need to stop...going to work. Just kidding!

*I am a sucker for sweets. Cakes, cookies and candy are definitely a weakness for me. I think I manage it pretty well, but I would probably be better off eliminating sugar from my life entirely. Probably not gonna happen (entirely), no matter how many times I announcing that I am eschewing all sweets.

-->Health and fitness connection - I think this one speaks for itself.

*I am messy. I accumulate clutter. I am a poor (and lazy) housekeeper. I am a borderline hoarder, but what I hoard is clothes (too many), shoes (too many), running and exercise clothes and gear, BOOKS, mail that I haven't purged or somehow organize if I need to keep it. By hoard I mean I have a hard time getting rid of stuff and seem to be unable to store it in an organized fashion.

-->Health and fitness connection - My mother thinks I would be a better runner and lose weight if I purged excess possessions and cleaned up my life. She may be right.

*I shop too much and spend too much money on things. (Not individual things necessarily, but the collective "things" that I shop for.) Obviously this also contributes to the clutter and excessive stuff in my life. Sadly, there are many things I've bought that I have never even used (yet), or removed the tags and packaging from (yet). Some of the stuff will probably be given away or donated brand new. Which would be fine, if I just got my act together and did it (and/or got rid of old stuff to incorporate the new).

-->Health and fitness connection - Well, a lot of my shopping is for running clothes and running shoes. I have one brand new pair of Asics Kayano 18 that I will probably break out for the Honolulu Marathon. I have three pairs of the new Kayano 19 that I have designated my 2013 shoes. No. More. Running. Shoes. Right? Right?

*I have self proclaimed adult ADD. My concentration tends to flit from one thing to the next. Then, thanks to my middle-aged induced memory problems, I forget what I was doing before I got distracted. As a variation on this, I tend to need at least two activities going at one time. TV and blog/magazine/book reading (if I want to pay closer attention to the show, I play Bookworm on my iPad). Running and music or audiobook. Elliptical and TV with earphones plus blog reading (I need multiple distractions on the elliptical). It's a wonder I can sit through a movie in a theatre (it helps that it is dark, and if the movie is good...otherwise I fall asleep).

*I am obsessive. What I do, I overdo. Sometimes in a positive way (running and exercise), sometimes in a fairly negative way (food). Shopping, clothes, books, see above. I am pretty sure if I could manage to get myself hooked on house cleaning, I would overdo it. (What, you don't think so?) I must add that I manage my obsessiveness pretty well. Obviously I am not an over-exerciser, but I am obsessed enough to do it faithfully and adhere to a training plan. I have transfered most of my food obsessiveness to vegetables, and I have never been a binge eater, just an overeater. I spend too much money, but I am financially stable.

I think that pretty much covers it for the major weaknesses in my life. I don't think any one of them can be called a strength in disguise. (Although I don't mind the multi-tasking. The ADD tendencies and memory loss can be irritating, though.) The quality of my life would definitely improve by improving some or all of these weaknesses. It's in the works.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Day 16 - Write a post inspired by a picture

There is nothing about this Hostess Fruit Pie that is remotely related to health. Or good health, anyway. But this is not going to be a diatribe about corn syrup-sweetened, saturated fat laden, deep fat fried (I assume), sugar-coated calorie bombs. (The first ingredient listed was, however, blackberries. See? Real Fruit Filling.)

This is not a post about my questionable decision to eat a 470 calorie fruit pie for dessert after I've already exceeded a reasonable calorie consumption for the day. I didn't buy it myself or anything. I succumbed to peer pressure and ate it.

So what is it about? I's about my ambivalence over the announced closure of the Hostess brands company after more than a hundred years in business. I am sort of pissed that the company has laid all the blame for the closure on the union strike and inability to settle wage and pension issues. I am pretty sure that there were a lot of factors along the road to bankruptcy. That whole issue leaves a bad taste in my mouth (so to speak).

There are certainly plenty of bakery products in the world to take to take the place of Hostess treats. There are certainly better donuts, cakes and cupcakes, and pies to be found in the world. Of course there are some Hostess products that have no real world counterpart...for example, the Snowball, ding dong, ho ho, and of course Twinkie.

I think most people have some childhood memory of Hostess treats. I fear that they were frequently sold in schools. I remember getting packages of donettes with my friends. (Six little donuts in a package!) I liked the chocolate covered ones. My sister was partial to the powdered sugar kind.

I remember having ho hos and ding dongs at our beach cabin in the summer. Back then each piece was wrapped in foil. For either one, the preferred method of eating was to peel off the chocolate coating, then eat the chocolate sponge cake and creamy filling. It was fun, but was it memorably delicious? No. I remember the experience more than the taste.

My mother was one of the people out buying commemorative ho hos today. Rod ran into her at the store and he ended up getting the fruit pies for us. He thought they were sweeter than he remembered. Of course, he probably hasn't had one for thirty years. We agreed they couldn't compare with real marionberry pie from Haggens. Although you do have to give Hostess credit for making a blackberry pie. It's certainly not the most common kind of flavor.

As I said, I'm feeling ambivalent about all this, so I can't decide where I'm really going. A tirade about the contribution of Hostess to childhood (and adult) obesity? Well, there are certainly other products to fill the void, and I'm not sure if Hostess can take too much of the credit.

On the other hand, I don't feel especially bereft either. I know that I would prefer to find my indulgences in treats that are a little less mass produced. Hostess cupcakes are a little superfluous in a world with specialty cupcake shops springing up in every town. And let's not even talk about how unnecessary Wonder Bread is (another product from the company).

I stopped here on Friday night because I couldn't think of a good way to finish. I figured I could wrap it up on Saturday.

At lunch today (Saturday) Rod said he looked for Ding Dongs at the store this morning. A clerk told him that all the Hostess stuff was wiped out yesterday. It is amazing to me that the announcement of Hostess closing led to such a massive flood of buying. What is everyone going to do with all this stuff? Parcel it out over the years, given that Hostess has such a reputation of a long shelf life? (Note, our fruit pies had a freshness date of only a few weeks from now.)

There's always a feeling of regret when a long-standing business goes under. Of course I feel bad for all the workers who have lost their jobs. There is nostalgia for a product that has been around seemingly forever. But life will go on without Hostess Twinkies. My life won't be impacted one bit, in fact. The flurry of excitement that sent people to the stores will fade away, and eventually Hostess cakes will just be something you remember fondly from childhood.

Unless, of course, another company buys the Hostess brand products and brings back the Twinkie. What then, people who have packed your basements with precious Hostess goodies? What will you do with your Twinkies then?

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

NHBPM #14 & 15

Day 14 - Dealing with negative feedback in your community

I actually deal with very little negative feedback relating to my health and fitness. In fact, over the years the amount of positive feedback I have received has been tremendous. (Sometimes to the point of being uncomfortable, actually.)

As of this month it has been exactly eight years since I began losing weight. It's probably been seven years since I got to a point of substantial weight loss (and maybe six and a half since I've been in goal weight range). It's also been about seven years since I started treadmill running and six and a half since I went outside. (To run, that is.)

In the first two or three years I was frequently pulled aside and complimented on my weight loss, or asked how I did it, by people I knew and didn't know. Thanks to the "frequent flyer" tendencies of juvenile court clientele, many people will circulate in and out of the court system throughout their kids' teen years. Thus they knew me before, and after, and after the after.

Now so much time has passed that many people who are around now didn't even know me before. Every once in a while someone (usually a detention staffer, don't know why), will randomly comment on how I managed to keep the weight off. Occasionally someone will still ask how I lost weight, and I never have a good, magical answer for them. Luckily no one ever asks anymore if I had gastric bypass surgery. That was a rumor I had to quash many times back in the day.

Now lots of people know me as a runner and marathoner. You might expect some negativity about that, but no one has ever told me that I am going to destroy my body! They might comment how they can't run because of their bad back, or bad knees, but they are nothing but complimentary to me.

Day 15 - Preparing for the holiday

I am using one of the alternate topics for today, since it is one week before Thanksgiving.

I am a food lover, and Thanksgiving is a great, yummy food holiday. Eat whatever you want, I don't care. But if you do want to squeeze a few healthier foods in place of, or additional to, the butter-laden goodies, here are some simple ideas. Happily, turkey itself is a very healthy food (sans skin), so you don't have to worry about the main dish.

I know you can make healthier mashed potatoes, but my family insists on butter and cream, so I'll probably pass on the potatoes. But I may make one of my favorite alternatives, a good dish in itself, mashed cauliflower. There are a lot of ways to make this.. Here's mine.

Chop a head of cauliflower into smallish pieces and steam or microwave until very tender. In a bowl, blend with a few tablespoons fat free cream cheese, a little grated parmesan (optional) and garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. I use an immersion blender. This is also really delicious with some low fat cheddar mixed in, but I will be omitting the parmesan and cheddar due to cheese-sensitive family members.

I love Brussels sprouts roasted dark. I'll be using the Barefoot Contessa's recipe, light on the olive oil.

Roasted sweet potatoes. I might not do this, considering the mashed potatoes and cauliflower, but I do love it, and so does everyone else. Simple wash and dice some orange sweet potatoes, no need to peel. Toss lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary. Spread in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray. Roast at 425 degrees until browned and very soft. It doesn't hurt to turn once during cooking. Cook longer than you need to, to get them nice and brown.

Fresh fruit. I like to have a big bowl of chopped mixed fruit, such as melons, pineapple, grapes, and whatever else looks delicious and juicy. It's a nice counterpart to the salty Thanksgiving foods.

Leafy green salad. I'm not sure about this, since there's a lot of other stuff already, but I love my big pile of greens. We'll see.

What are we not omitting (besides the buttery mashed potatoes)? Dressing (baked in a casserole, we don't stuff the turkey), gravy, and pie. Probably one marionberry and one apple. With ice cream, obviously.

Happy Thanksgiving in advance!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Day 13 - Book Report: What Is Your Favorite Book and How Does It Relate to Your Life?

I am a voracious reader. I have been, ever since I read my first "real" book, Little House In the Big Woods, at the age of six. (I hope you know that the author of that book was Laura Ingalls Wilder.) As a child, a teenager, and an adult I pored through books by the stack. I'll admit that in the last five years or so, thanks to the ADD-making nature of the Internet, my book reading has slowed a little bit in favor of skimming blogs, and Facebook, and online articles. Sometimes it takes me longer to finish a book than I used to, especially with the book (or iPad) dropping from my grasp as I doze off.

When I was young (not just younger, young), it was common for me to reread books I loved many, many times. Anne of Green Gables (and the rest of the Anne books), all of the Little House books, the Betsy-Tacy series, and anything by Madeleine L'Engle grew tattered from my multiple readings. (Sorry not to have links for everything, it's a lot of work and, remember, ADD.)

In adulthood I don't reread nearly as much. I read, I love (or like, or not), and move on. I might read a book again if it becomes a book club book, or I might just rely on my past reading to save time. Oddly, one type of "Re-reading" I have been doing is listening to the audiobook of a book I've already read. I quite enjoy that. Actually, I am sure I would enjoy re-reading some of the books I especially loved as well. It's just that there are so many unread books, queued up in my Kindle app, in stacks around the house, and on bookshelves where they will probably remain unread as I browse Amazon for the latest discovery.

All that is a longwinded way of saying, I don't think I can pick a favorite book these days. A favorite should be a book you turn to again and again, year after year, like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail reading Pride and Prejudice every year. (I can't choose P & P. It's become a pop culture cliche. But it is lovely, and worth reading, if you haven't.)

If you look at my Blogger profile, I list a bunch of favorite books, and looking at them makes me smile. Yes, I loved them all, and you should check them out and read them if you haven't. Most of them are novels, with a few travel memoirs and a couple of health books and a cookbook.

The list is missing a bunch of the running and other types of memoirs that I have become hooked on in the last few years. I may go in and add them, although I'm not sure where "books I really liked" become "favorites." It's a very fine line.

So I am going to modify the topic just a hair and write about one of the favorite books I read this year. Conveniently it just came out in paperback and it is also available on Kindle.

Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and the Greatest Race Ever Run, by Matt Fitzgerald.

This is the story of the 1989 World Ironman competition, and the cutthroat competition between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. It is also a thorough biography of each of their lives from childhood up to the race, as well as some time afterward. It is exciting and gripping, even if you are not a triathlon participant or follower.

I was actually vacationing in Kona when I read this book, and I loved connecting the events in the book with the real locations on the island. (I spent a lot of time studying maps!)

While I still had no desire to do a triathlon myself, I was inspired by the toughness and ability to endure and overcome suffering demonstrated by the characters in the book (not just the two protagonists).

I recommend this book as a thrilling, exhilarating read!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

NHBPM #10, 11, 12

Playing catch-up here!

Day 10 - Should people post about their health, or their families' health, on Facebook?

The other category was to write about something funny, which I really wanted to do, but I couldn't think of anything. Funny fail. Actually, I wanted to repost an email from my mom that I really found funny, but couldn't get it into the blog post. It was called Einstein Was Right, and showed people hunched over their phones in various social settings, then ended with this picture:

I found this funny because I'm one of those social idiots constantly on my phone and iPad.

Regarding posting about health on Facebook...I'm okay with it. Personally, I wouldn't put anything more serious than a cold (but how I would whine about that), just because I would probably choose to keep a serious health condition to myself. Or maybe I wouldn't. It's hard to know until you're facing it. As far as my friends' posts, comments on their health conditions don't bother me. It's like a church prayer list, if you know their troubles you can pray for them or wish them well. Occasionally you get TMI, but it's easy enough to skip over things you don't want to hear about.

Day 11 - Write about a favorite thing that's not health related but likely improves your life.

Okay, I hate to admit it (considering the picture above), but that would have to be my iPad. (Hangs head.) I've always been on the hunt for a laptop that is easy to carry around, and while not quite a laptop, the iPad hits the mark for portability, and you can use it almost the same as a laptop. Web browsing, email, all the apps from my phone, and I can watch movies and shows on the iPod and read books on the Kindle app. I love my iPad.

Day 12 - Call BS on something that is just ridiculous.

I thought I might have trouble with this one, but turns out there are so many possibilities. I'm going with one I just read about a couple days ago--Pepsi's new "fat-blocking" soda.

This is just so nutty I don't know where to start. This "Pepsi Special," to be sold initially in Japan, is made with dextrin, an indigestible form of dietary fiber, which presumably will prevent the body from absorbing fat (not that pop has fat in it anyway). This is based on the theory that high fiber foods keep the body from absorbing so much fat.

That may be a legitimate theory (though it hasn't helped me much, and I eat tons of fruits and vegetables and other high fiber foods). But under any circumstances, is a sugary soda pop a comparable food choice to apples and oatmeal and beans?

Now, I'm not completely dissing soda pop. I like real Coke on trail runs, and I can't completely wean myself from Coke Zero and other diet pops. But it seems foolish and crazy to promote pop as a diet aid. I think we all know the perils of trying to make treat food "healthy." We just eat more of it. (Snackwells, anyone?)

And what might be the side effects of turning Pepsi into All-Bran? Better not drink it before a run!

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Saturday, November 10, 2012


Day 9 - Community Care Package

Today I am supposed to create the perfect care package for someone.

How about, instead, I give you a picture of the spread from our Book Club dinner. The book was The Help (easy since we'd mostly all read it) and our theme was "Ladies' Lunch" or tea)."

From the top left...cherry tomatoes, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and lox, cherries jubilee jello, crackers and goat cheese, curried pea and almond salad, smoked salmon quiche, another fluffy jello dish, ham and turkey roll-ups with cream cheese filling, and a mix of cucumber and salmon tea sandwiches. Not pictured was dessert--chocolate pie, of course!

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Thursday, November 8, 2012


Day 8 - Write a letter to your health

Okay then.

Dear Health (sorry I don't know the best way to address you):

I want to thank you for being there for me for the last 47 years. I hope you'll stick around for 47 more.

I think our relationship has been pretty positive over the years. Sure, we had some rough spots at times. When I was young, a really little kid, we had a few go rounds with strep and bronchitis and ear infections. There was that week or two of chicken pox--thanks for that. I seemed to get at least one bad cold every year.

But there are so many worse things that can happen to children that you spared me from. Juvenile diabetes and other serious medical conditions. Certainly there was nothing I could do to prevent them, I was just fortunate, and lucky.

Thanks for not developing any allergies, either. I am so happy to be able to have cats (and dogs, should I want them), go out into nature without hay fever or (much) fear of bees, and eat pretty much any darn thing I want without risking an uncomfortable or dangerous allergic reaction. (Nuts, milk, shellfish, bring 'em all on.)

I apologize for the many years that I neglected you. There was that long period of time between law school and about 2004 when I didn't really exercise much at all. I fed you with things that weren't the most beneficial, and jeopardized your well-being by gaining a lot of weight.

Thank you for hanging in there during those years. Thanks for not breaking down and giving me knee or back problems. Thanks for keeping my blood pressure normal, and cholesterol and all those conditions that can develop with obesity. Thank you for fending off type 2 diabetes, or even pre-diabetes.

I hope you're enjoying some of the things I'm trying to do for you. I know that the running is a little hard on my legs and feet at times, but I hope you're getting some cardio and health boost out of it. I've been feeding you lots of vegetables and protein and fruit. I hope it makes you feel good and increases your ability to fend off disease. I think that the large quantities (hopefully not too large) of clean, nutritious foods balances the treats and indulgences that I am unable to completely eschew (e.g. dark chocolate kisses and mini Reese's cups).

I really appreciate that you hardly get colds any more (except for that one right before the Twin Cities' Marathon, but I forgive you). I promise that I'll try to be kinder to you by getting more sleep. And I'll help protect you from the flu by getting a flu shot soon.

Dearest Health, I truly want us to stay together forever and ever. Let's make a pact--I'll take care of you, and you take care of me.

All my love,

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Day 7 - Redesign a doctor's office or hospital room

Really...I got nothing. I think doctors' offices and hospital rooms vary so much depending on the facility. Probably people who are unfortunate enough to spend a lot of time in medical facilities have a better idea than me. What I do like to see is comfortable seating--for the patient in a doctor's office, and visitors in hospital rooms.

One area where I believe that many hospitals have really upped their game is hospital menus (and cafeterias as well). Swedish Hospital in Seattle and Overlake in Bellevue both have great menus. Just don't get put on a soft food or clear liquid diet!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day run

I'm taking a break from the NHBPM topics today. I'm not feeling the "news style" post and I can't think of a time I "had to take the high road." I'd like to think I usually take the high road, but nothing special comes to mind.

I remember four years ago running on election morning and replaying Bruce Springsteen's Living in the Free World again and again. This year I thought it would be fun, and inspirational, to have an entire playlist of songs for Election Day running. Luckily I was able to do it quickly and easily on my iPhone.

So quickly and easily that I ended up with way more music than I could play in any morning run! We're talking 57 songs. Oops. I put it on shuffle this morning and played it through 7.25 miles. That was more than 72 minutes because it kept running even when I paused at lights and such.

For fun, here's the songs that I thought would be good on Election Day. About half I already owned and I downloaded the rest (an investment, but good to get some new songs in my repertoire. I'll use this playlist again (maybe even adding some and using it for the Honolulu Marathon.)

The order is as I downloaded them. Obviously shuffle is critical.

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
Bright Side of the Road - Van Morrison
Don't Get Me Wrong - The Pretenders
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Don't Stop Running - Y & T
Empire State of Mind - Jay Z
The Final Countdown - Europe
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash (not election related, I just like it)
Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
Holding Out for a Hero -
Human - The Pretenders
I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash
Livin ' in the Future - Bruce Springsteen
Long May You Run - Neil Young
Long Walk Home - Bruce Springsteen
Ring of Fire - Social Distortion
Rockin' in the Free World - Neil Young
Run - Eric Clapton
Run - Indigo Girls
Running Free - Iron Maiden
This Will Be an Everlasting Love - Natalie Cole
We Are the Champions - Queen
The First, the Last, My Everything - Barry White
All Dressed in Love - Jennifer Hudson
Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen
Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow) - Fleetwood Mac
For Once in My Life - Michael Buble
The Promised Land - Bruce Springsteen
Racing in the Street - Bruce Springsteen
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours - Stevie Wonder
This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
This Land Is Your Land - Bruce Springsteen
Waiting for a Miracle - Bruce Cockburn
Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
I Shall Be Released - Bob Dylan
We Take Care of Our Own - Bruce Springsteen
Land of Hope and Dreams - Bruce Springsteen
American Land - Bruce Springsteen
I Gotta Feeling - Black-Eyed Peas
Tonight's the Kind of Night - Noah and the Whale
Keep Marchin' - Rafael Saddiq
The Weight - Aretha Franklin
Even Better than the Real Thing - U-2
The Best Thing About Me Is You - Ricky Martin & Joss Stone
Got to Get You Into My Life - Earth, Wind, and Fire
Love You I Do - Jennifer Hudson
You've Got the Love - Florence + the Machine
Your Smiling Face - James Taylor
I Was Here - Beyonce
Roll With the Changes - REO Speedwagon
I Got You - Wilco
Let's Stay Together - Al Green
Let's Stay Together - Maroon 5
Everyday America - Sugarland
You Are the Best Thing - Ray LaMontagne
Hawaii Five-0 Main Title Theme
Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Diana Ross

My final thought for today--it's a good day.

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Monday, November 5, 2012


Day 5. List of 3 things you're thankful for/excited by/inspired by.

This is the alternate topic. The main topic is "Health Activist Soapbox." I'm not sure if I'm much of an activist or soapboxer (?), so I went with the alternative. (I love lists!) Maybe I'll climb up on a soapbox at the end, we shall see.

I am going to keep this list health related. Obviously there are many, many things I am thankful for besides these.

1) I am thankful for the provision of health care reform that requires insurance plans to provide birth control for women at no cost. As a woman and an employer that provides workplace health insurance, I have always found it astounding that insurance plans, which pay for medical expenses relating to pregnancy and childbirth, were not simply giving away birth control in their own financial interests! Our plans have always covered birth control with a co-pay, but I don't know if all plans did. Obviously I know that pregnancy is not covered in full, there are big copays and deductibles and so forth--it is hugely expensive for both the woman and the insurance company's portion. The cost of birth control is a bargain. Insurance companies should be thrilled to take it on.

2) I am excited by winter squash season, especially kabocha pumpkin and delicata squash, which are not available year round like acorn and butternut squash. Delicata squash fries for dinner tonight! I've already made Kabocha pumpkin soup once, and can hardly wait to have it again. And here's my newest obsession...

Pumpkin Hummus
1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 cup canned pumpkin puree, or 1 cup mashed kabocha or other squash
Minced garlic to taste (I want to try roasted garlic, but haven't yet)
1 teaspoon cumin, or more to taste
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, or more to achieve desired texture

If you are using mashed squash instead of canned, blend up the squash in a food processor with some water to get a puree texture (the cooked squash is dryer than canned, especially if it was roasted in the oven. Add garbanzo beans, and process till smooth, adding olive oil. Blend in garlic, cumin, and salt to taste. Serve with raw veggies, pita chips, crackers, or whatever you want!

3) I am inspired by weight loss memoirs and athletic memoirs (mostly running and triathlon-type), and movies like Spirit of the Marathon, NOVA Marathon Challenge, Ultramarathon Man, and Hood to Coast.

Perhaps in a future post I will do a reading and viewing list, but that would be lengthy and unwieldy here. I'll just share a few of my most recent reads for now....

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs
My First 100 Marathons by Jeffrey Horowitz
14 Minutes: A Running Legend's Life and Death and Life by Alberto Salazar
Eating Ice Cream with My Dog by Frances Kuffel (currently reading)
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll (currently listening on audiobook, about 3/4 through, and I've only been listing on long runs--otherwise I'd be done by now, I'm sure).

So there you have it, three things. As for the soapbox thing--I think I pretty much got on that with #1.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012


November 4, day 4. How do you decide what to share? What do or don't you share?

That's pretty easy. I share everything, if I think it's interesting and will make a good blog post. If it's about running, exercise, healthy living, weight loss and gain, or food, I'll write about it, if I want to. I don't filter that stuff. Obviously, I don't write about everything, because that would be too time consuming and wordy and really really boring.

I know there's a division in the so-called healthy living blog world between bloggers who are cautious about anything relating to weight loss, so as not to be a trigger for disordered eating, versus weight loss and maintenance bloggers, who know that some type of restriction and restraint are necessary to lose weight and maintain. (Not everyone can be an intuitive eater.) I fall into the second category, unashamedly (although not a weight loss blogger). I have no reservations in saying I want to lose weight (about 10 pounds, for now), that I track my food, and that I am restricting desserts and limiting carbs to (hopefully) help myself with this.

Okay, I guess I do limit how often I say that stuff because I try not to be a broken record about it. But I think it's okay to say it.

I also have no compunction about mentioning my bathroom breaks, bathroom emergencies, and desperate sprints to the nearest bathroom (I think those three are all the same thing). I might not go into detail about what might happen if the bathroom is too far away, but all that sh*t stuff is a real part of running.

There are many things I haven't written about, but not because I wouldn't. They just haven't come up yet. Maybe they will as a future topic in this month of health blogging.

Obviously, I limit this openness to myself. I don't write about specifics of my work. I don't write about personal stuff of friends and family. I don't write about political stuff, though I'm not going to hide my leanings (liberal).

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Saturday, November 3, 2012


Saturday, November 3. "I don't know about this, but I'd like to."

VO2 max

VO2 max is the the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual. That is a direct quote from Wikipedia. I don't understand it enough to put it into my own words. If I tried to further describe how it is measured and calculate, I'd be even more confused.

What I do understand: the more fit you are, the higher your VO2 max is. Super fit athletes and Iditarod racing dogs have a very high VO2 max...but the dogs' are more than double even the greatest athletes.

I've read about some informal testing methods based on running, where basically the faster you can run, the higher your VO2 max will be be. But there's got to be more to it than that, since running speed is not totally dependent on cardiovascular fitness. Some people are just faster than others, regardless of fitness. Sure, they'll get faster if they get fitter, but speed is relative to the individual.

What I'd really like, of course, is to get my VO2 max tested. In other words, "I don't know what my VO2 max is, but I'd like to."

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Friday, November 2, 2012

National Health Blog Post Month

I read about NHBPM on another blog and decided to give it a shot. For each day in November there is a health topic for you to write about. They also offer an alternate topic for each day, in case you don't like the main one. Here is the link if you want to check it out.

Here goes, November 1-2.

Day 1. Why I write about my health.
My blog is both my outlet for creative writing (meaning non-work writing, not that I make stuff up), and my personal health and exercise journal. I would like to think that a few people read and enjoy my writing, but since I make no efforts to increase readership, mostly it's all for me. I use it as a record of what I do, and also a place to hash out my concerns and frustrations about my health and fitness. (Mostly, I admit, revolving around my weight and running abilities.)

Day 2. Write about the weirdest thing about your health.
I'll admit, I think the weirdest thing about my health is that I believe I have an abnormally low metabolism. I have no tests or proof of this. However, I exercise a lot, eat a pretty low amount of calories (considering the exercise), and really am having a hard time losing even a pound. I suppose I could be eating a lot more than I realize.... I promise I won't make every single topic about losing weight.

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It's Thursday again! (It was, yesterday.)

Thursday seems to be the day when I realize, "gee, I haven't written a blog post for a while!" and turn myself to getting something down before the weekend. It also helps that some of the crush of the work week has dissipated, and I've also (hopefully) gotten a few good runs in since my last week's post.

Rather unintentionally, I've fallen into the pattern of running twice on the weekend (a long run and a 5K race the last two weekends) and then just two weekdays (e.g. Tuesday and Thursday). I'm not entirely opposed to continuing this for some weeks throughout the late fall and winter. On the one hand, it is a little burdensome to devote both weekend days to running. But on the other hand, dark, wet, stormy, dark early mornings are so difficult for me. Just getting up and out there is hard, but then when I do I am even slower in the dark than I am during daylight.

Well, I have double weekends on tap for the next two or three weeks, then we'll see.

Last Saturday was my second Halloween 5K, the YMCA Fall Classic in Monroe. The weather was even worse this week, so once again my sister and her kids opted out. So there I was, alone in my costume again. (Although my parents came.) Actually, I was glad she canceled. The weather was so ugly--only light rain but blustery--that I just wanted to do my 5K and leave (and not wait for the Kid's Run).

I did a two-mile warm-up wearing a plastic poncho. It was a little warm given that the outdoor temp was probably in the 50s. I ditched the poncho before the race began.

I had really hoped to go under 26 minutes, but didn't (although I improved my time from the week before). I ran my legs off as best I could, but crossed the finish line with 26:26 on my watch and a 26:22.8 chip time. I ended up fifth in my age group, which tells me all the fast women were elsewhere (probably the Snohomish River Run). If I'd been in the 24s (which I've done frequently before) I could have been second or third. (Not first, that woman was fast!)

Here we are at around the 2-mile point; I am in green at the back of the photo behind the guy in red. I would soon pass the octopus head lady.

The finish line stretch.

Crossing the finish line with the dancing runner!

That evening my sister had a little Halloween party so Eva could show off her fancy costume.

I couldn't resist putting my wings on Gretchen's dog, Nissa. She was amazingly cooperative.

Sunday morning I headed out for a 15-mile run. 15.63 miles, 10:15 average pace. I considered adding .37 mile to make it sixteen, but after standing around mentally debating it, I took a few more steps and my legs said no thanks, you are done. So I was.

I tried to stay away from the treats on Halloween and I pretty much did. not entirely. I've been dipping into the dark chocolate kisses that I bought to make these witch's hats. (The bases are fudge stripe cookies, with a ring of decorator icing and a kiss.)

My mom came over to keep me company on Halloween and we got almost 130 trick-or-treaters, including this bumblebee.

Here is the bumblebee last year....

I bought Swedish fish, Sourpatch Kids, Skittles, and Starbursts. Leftovers will be for long runs! Although I didn't have all that much in the way of leftovers. At one point I got worried about running out, and reined in my generosity considerably. At least for the bigger kids. The little ones still got two or three. I didn't run out.

I decided that in November I would up my game in the weekday runs. I'd only been doing 6-6.25 miles on weekday mornings...this month I'm shooting for 7-8. Realistically that means getting up at least half an hour earlier (because I've been straggling into work way too late).

On Thursday I followed through with eight miles, six of them at marathon goal pace (9:45). Actually, five of the six were around 9:30. That makes me pretty happy. (The irony of being thrilled with a 9:30 pace....)

Tomorrow (Saturday) I have 18 miles on the schedule!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Back on track

And back to the track this morning, for the first time since before the Twin Cities Marathon!

I think that my plan to restore a little moderate speed to my legs before the Honolulu Marathon is proceeding well. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am incorporating some of the Run Less Run Faster elements to work toward a 4:15 marathon pace. Obviously, I will not run a 4:15 marathon in Honolulu, barring a miracle of some kind, because:

  1. Using some of the RLRF methods for a few weeks is not the same as following the whole plan for 16-18 weeks, or even 12 weeks, which I think is the minimum to realistically making it work.
  2. The heat and humidity of Hawaii is going to play a big part, especially as I am now getting accustomed to running weather of 40s and 50s, and expect it to get colder by December.
  3. I am not actually achieving the paces recommended for a 4:15 marathon...I am working towards them.

But as I also said a couple weeks ago, I am training for a faster marathon to try to avoid a further increase in slowness, and especially, the horror of a 5-hour plus time. (I honestly think that 5 hours is a perfectly respectable time, but I know I can do better. Some people would find 4 hours shockingly slow...I would be thrilled with that.)

Last week (as opposed to this week) my plan called for three tempo miles at 8:11-8:15 pace. I think I already wrote that I did them around 8:30. That tempo run turned out to be a good test run for the 5K I did on Sunday, though.  I had great fears of not even breaking 30 minutes (again, the horror!), but I did manage to blow that basement goal out of the water and even break 27 minutes (about 26:45). Isn't it great that I had set my expectations so low that sub-27 made me almost happy? That was about an 8:30 pace. So there you go.

On Saturday, though, I did a long run of 12 miles in just under two hours--that's a 9:59 pace. I call that great success, as I had 10:14 as my goal pace for that run. (The original RLRF plan also called for that run to be 18 miles, but I am ramping up to the long distances still.)

This week my speed work was supposed to be 6 x 800 at 3:58 each. Thanks to laziness and the horribly dark mornings, I didn't get out early enough and I had to knock it down to 5 x 800 (half miles). I didn't really have time for even that many, but that was my compromise between getting it done and getting to work. Once again, didn't meet the set goal, but did do okay (in my estimation)...4:14, 4:15, 4:11, 4:07, and 4:02. It's tempting to think that the next one (had I done it) would have been under four minutes, and maybe it would, but that last one was done with an extra kick knowing that it was the last. I was exceedingly happy to even get that close to four minutes. Next time!

On Saturday I have another 5K. My goal is sub-26. I know that a minute improvement over a week is a lot, but my other 5Ks earlier this year were sub-25, so I'm not asking for anything that I'm not capable of. So we shall see....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Slow is the new fast

I have become shockingly slow this fall. It's not new, it was developing all summer, and I am pretty sure it is greatly influenced by all the trail running and volume running and long slow distance I did preparing for MRTR. I do subscribe to the theory that when you train slow, you're training to be slow. Not that I could do anything else in a 50K. It's okay. I accept this.

It is a little galling, of course, to have that transferred over into shorter distances where you have certain expectations of being average, rather than below average. Ahem, Twin Cities Marathon, I'm looking at you! Then the following Sunday I did the Pouslsbo Half Marathon in 2:12:57, which is about three minutes slower than last year (when I ran it one week after 4:15 in the Portland Marathon). It's okay, though! My only goal for Pouslsbo was to be under 2:15, and I rocked that. Hurrah.

I suspect I may be experiencing a bit of running burnout. Or training burnout. Or both. I did cover a lot of miles over the summer. I hate that it is getting harder to run at the same time as we get dark, cold, wet mornings...which make it harder (for me) to run.

But wait! Doom and gloom begone. I have a Plan. Well, maybe it's just a plan. Here is my big picture plan (subject to change, of course).

1) I will train for the Honolulu Marathon (December 9) using some of the Run Less Run Faster plan. I will try to train for a 4:15 pace marathon. I do not plan to run a 4:15 in Honolulu...I just hope that my efforts will get me closer to a 4:30 than a 5:00. Right now I do not know if I can manage the speed work paces recommended for the 4:15 time...I would actually be happy if I managed to get close to those paces.

2) After the Honolulu Marathon I am going to take some running rest for the remainder of December. I have no idea what that will look like. I don't want to give up running completely (except maybe I will take a full week off after the marathon). I am also very leery that this rest time will coincide with the holiday season. I don't want to completely eschew yummy food to accommodate a reduction in running! So, details remain to be worked out. But I think I need a little training break.

3) My spring marathon will be in May or June (haven't picked one yet). That way I can do some base building in January, maybe even February, and do the bulk of my training in the late winter and spring (instead of the dead of winter!). I will probably use Run Less, Run Faster, and really try to successfully execute the 4:15 plan.

4) The further out in time I go, the more tentative this plan gets. But I do have some wanna-do marathons and half marathons in September and October. That means I may go back to volume running and weekend doubles over the summer. But NO 50K and probably less trail running. Although I really enjoyed those shorter (half marathon) trail races and I'm not ruling out doing a few. Maybe I could even try to run faster on trails? Dream on.

So I am transitioning into the RLRF stuff even as I finish recovering from TCM. Based on the "plan," I should have done the Poulsbo Half at a 9:59 actual average pace was 10:09. That was with about half the miles under 10 minutes, half around or just over 10 minutes, and one bigass hill mile at 11+.

This morning I did my first little stab at speed work. I didn't want to get up, I didn't want to go out, and I didn't think I could eke out any kind of speed whatsoever. But I did force myself out of bed and out the door, and told myself just to run hard (during the speed miles) and we'll see how it comes out.

I will say right now I didn't hit the RLRF pace. The speed portion was supposed to be 3 x 1600m at 8:11 (I figure about 8:15 for a mile). I did about 2.3 miles warm-up at slug pace, then switched into "speed" mode. I ran those three miles as hard as I possibly could. My heart hasn't pounded like that for a long time. I did about 2-3 minutes recovery in between miles, which is more than the plan calls for but it worked for my route. I didn't run 8:15 miles.

But I did the first two at just over 8:30, and the last one at 8:40. (Confession, the first two miles were slightly downhill, and the last was slightly uphill. Hence the times.) So, I was 20-25 seconds off pace. But I'll take it. I haven't seen a lot of miles in the 8:30 range for a long time (since the July 4 10K, probably). Yes, it was a little disturbing how much work it was. Yes, that is the pace I ran for my PR half marathon three years ago. was kind of good to feel the hurt. (The lung hurt, that burning gasping feeling of running fast.) For single mile repeats, that was not fast. was not nearly as bad as I feared (like I didn't know if I could go under 9-minute miles). I consider it a baseline. I have another set of 3 x 1600 on my plan later on (late November, early December), and we'll see if I can get a little faster by then. Maybe under 8:15...a girl can dream, right?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

TCM - what happened?

Well...4:59:21 happened. An 8-minute personal worst, and way off my most reasonable goal time of 4:30. Damn.

I am making peace with it, although it will always rankle. One thing though--I still haven't gone over five hours. I say that with great caution, because I have the Honolulu Marathon coming up in December, and if I don't improve somehow by then, and you throw in the heat and humidity of Hawaii...who knows what will happen.

There were some good things about Twin Cities Marathon. Actually, almost everything was good. The problem was me.

The weather--just about perfect. After four days of crazy wind which made the cold temps feel even colder (and would certainly be a problem for running), the wind was practically non-existent. The overall temperatures warmed a bit, starting at 30 but into the 50s by midday. It was sunny enough for sunglasses after we left the buildings of downtown Minneapolis, and that combined with very light wind, made it a great atmosphere for running. It was cool enough that I kept my throwaway jacket on to mile 13, though.

I started out well. I think the first eleven miles went pretty much as I wanted (could have been a bit faster, of course). I was running from 10:05 to about 10:30, though my bathroom stop at around mile 8 slowed me to an average of around 10:30.

A word about early bathroom issues. I easily got in my three times before the race, first in a portapotty then twice inside the Mall of America Field stadium (yes, we got to wait inside!). But I drank a whole grande Americano that morning, and the cold works voodoo on your kidneys, so....I already felt like peeing in the first few miles. All the potties on the course had lines, though, and I couldn't bear waiting, so I plugged on for a while. Luckily around mile 8 I saw a single PP off course, and the non-running lady there let me go ahead of her, so I had a quick (and very satisfying) stop. Maybe two minutes, maybe a bit more running off and on the course. My next stop would not be so easy.

At the start I was pretty near the back of my corral, but although it was really crowded I didn't really have a I said, my first miles were my best.

The course itself was great. It wasn't just pancake flat (which I don't love). There were periodic small hills and a couple pretty long ones, but all the uphills came with downhills so that was fine. We ran through downtown Minneapolis, through some nice residential areas (beautiful, big, expensive older homes), and alongside four lakes and the Mississippi River. I probably didn't take in the scenery as much as I should have--I was too wrapped up in running. But luckily we had driven twice around Lake of the Isles on Friday, so I got some lake scenery and fall foliage in already. Also, it made that part of the course feel very familiar to me!

Above--three views of Lake of the Isles, not necessarily where we ran though. We definitely didn't go past the Lutheran Church, above.

After about eleven miles I slowed down a bit, as I mentioned. I was running a little under eleven-minute pace through mile 15, and about 11:23 in mile 16. The reason it was over was because I was contemplating another bathroom stop. I tried another single off-course PP, but after waiting a bit for someone to come out, with no result, I moved on. I thought I blew a minute there, but if so, I was going faster in that mile than I thought.

The bathroom was a pretty strong need, though, and after the mile 16 marker I made the bad (in retrospect) decision to wait in a line. During that wait I sent a text to my mother and took a picture to commemorate my bad judgment. (Not a picture of the potties.) That mile was a horrifying 17:46. I only knew that when I checked my splits afterward. I had not been looking at my watch much because I thought it would just make me feel bad. The really unfortunate thing was that there didn't seem to be lines anymore after mile 18. I probably could have held out that long. In hindsight.

I was kind of in the slow mode by then and was running 11:30s through mile 20. But it got worse. Miles 21-23 - over 12. I picked it up (ha) in miles 24-26 back to the 11s, and I will say on my behalf that each successive mile was faster (11:48, 11:18, 11:01). Of course this was mostly downhill. And my last half mile to the finish was at 9:48 pace (which was an all out effort).

So I was super slow. I never felt especially tired (except mental fatigue with running), my legs never hurt (they just felt leaden), and I had none of the achy back and hips that sometimes develop after mile 18 or so. I assume my extra gentle pace minimized pounding.

I guess there are a few factors that could have played in.

For one, I am just four weeks after the 50K. I feel pretty recovered, but at the very least my long, slow 50K training has really had a dampening effect on my pace.

Two, I am a lot slower these days in general.

Three, I have had a cold for the last week. I am definitely on the almost-recovered side of it, but it is possible that my body is a little weakened. Also, I have been blowing my nose a lot, and probably not rehydrating well. Despite my multiple pee stops, my body may have been a little dehydrated.

Four, my weight. I'm not going to dwell on this (right now), but I know that the 5-10 extra pounds I'm carrying (and maybe more, who knows? I seem to be gaining on a daily basis) are not doing me any favors with running. I hesitate to blame this alone, though, because I think it's possible to be at least moderately fast at a less than ideal weight. Plus, the "2 seconds per pound per mile" does not begin to cover the slowness of my pace.

Finally five, fueling. Maybe I didn't do a good job of it? I don't know, I am sort of lax with fueling and I've still had plenty of good races. I had a pretty good breakfast, so I didn't take a Gu until mile 9 (which is about right for me anyway). Then I started feeling a little nauseous around the halfway mark, and Gu didn't appeal. I accepted a piece of banana around mile 15. Then I managed another Gu around mile 18 or 19.

Soon after I took a Jolly Rancher from someone, and that bit of genius got me through the race. Spectators were handing them out along the way, and I grabbed enough to suck on one every mile (they lasted about a mile). It was a little bit of sugar and something to make the miles go by. I ended up with three leftover, which I ate later in the day.

I really pounded hard down the hill at the finish (though my pace barely reflects it) in order to finish under five hours. My total distance was 26.58 miles, thanks in part to my veering to bathrooms. That extra .38 mile made all the difference, I am sure! Ha.

After the finish I was less happy than I usually am, and felt almost teary as I made my way to pick up my finisher shirt and drop bag. Then I met my dad at the "T" meeting point. He took a picture to commemorate my finish, but unfortunately couldn't manage to include the dome! (He did get plenty of sidewalk, though.)

Well, this one has the dome, but a lot of strangers as well.

After that we hobbled back to the hotel, where I collapsed on my bed and ate salty potato chips. After a while I took a shower and ordered some nachos for a late lunch/snack.

And so ended marathon #10.

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