Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Long time, no blog

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post. I've been in a major, so-depressed-you-feel-like-sitting-around-with-your-mouth-open, funk. We've had a lot of major issues that have been going on for a long time, and I think I'm just plum out of optimism. I'm sure most people don't surf the internet looking for blogs that whine about their personal life, so I'll just give you a quick summary of the situation:

My husband was in the Montana Army National Guard for a little over four years as a combat medic. In June of 2010, while training for an upcoming deployment, he had a massive heat stroke due to a combination of dehydration and over-exertion. He spent three days in the hospital for a common complication from heat stroke known as rhabdomyolysis which causes muscle cells (in this case, the major leg muscles from running) to break down and flood the kidneys with toxins.

It was fully expected that he would be back to normal within a couple of weeks. His leg pain persisted for a couple of months. Then, in May of last year, he started to do P90x with me to get ready for an upcoming PT test and the leg pain returned along with the elevated CK levels that accompany rhabdomyolysis. We soon discovered that any physical exertion caused this reaction. He was told absolutely no exercise until this was resolved...only it hasn't resolved and has now progressed to the point where he is in pain all the time and can't stand for more than a few minutes or walk without a cane for more than a few feet. He was recently fitted for a wheelchair, but his VA doctor won't sign off on it (but that's a rant for another day). He was able to get a 10% disability rating through the VA (the rating explanation said it was 10% because it "didn't affect his daily life" - yeah, we're working on that) and we've been going from doctor to doctor ever since.

Long story slightly less long, he is in pain all the time and has a seemingly-deteriorating condition that three specialists and several doctors have no clue how to diagnose or treat. In addition to that, he was laid off from his job last August and hasn't been physically able to work for over a year. We hired a lawyer and applied for Social Security Disability, but just passed the 120 day mark with no word. Sigh. Loved one in pain + no money = STRESSFUL.

I don't mean to complain, I just wanted to give some context for when I talk about being stressed. Cody and I are generally optimistic people, and we're trying to look at things in the best possible light. Maybe we need to learn a life lesson from this. Maybe we will someday be able to help someone in a similar situation, etc., etc. But recently, I feel like I've just run out of optimism, and I'm really struggling to focus on the many positive things we have in our life.

One of the positive things in my life (aside from my faith and my family, of course)? Running! I've been clinging to my training plan like a life raft. Running is one of the few things that makes life feel normal and manageable. I can't fix any number of things that are stressing me, but I can stick to my plan and feel good about that. I am truly luck to have a spouse that "gets it." He knows how much running means to me and listens with endless patience when I rattle on about tempo runs and refueling, and doesn't bat an eye when I have to get up at 3:00 am to fit in a 10 mile interval run before work.

And just something to make you smile:

How do the non-runners in your life handle your training?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Surprise Chaffing and a Shoe Dilemma

This morning I was able to dive back into training. It was wonderful...well, it was wonderful when it was over. I had 12 x 400 intervals with a 400 recover and a mile warm up and cool down, for a total of 8 miles. I did the first six intervals at the same pace I did last week (supposed to be 5k pace), but after the first few, I noticed that I was winded as if I were sprinting, and 5k pace just shouldn't be that hard. So I slowed the last six down by about 30 seconds per mile and that was much better. I hate doing that, but I really don't want to overdo and get sick again. I still had some weird stomach cramping this morning. I don't know if that's left over from being sick or what.

You can't really tell, but I have orange socks, a yellow tank, and a green headband...super-stylish. Yet one more reason I love my treadmill.

Typically for runs that last more than an hour, I bring a pack of fruit snacks to eat. I totally forgot this morning until I hit mile 7 and started to feel a bit shaky. Of course, with one mile left, I'm not going to stop to grab something, so I persevered and grabbed a handful of gummy bears when I was done.

Breakfast of champions?

It used to be that I would use Bodyglide for anything over 6 miles, but lately I haven't been having any trouble with chaffing, so I didn't even think about it...until I stepped in the shower. You know that feeling when water first hits a chafe mark? There have been many times I was expecting that and I step into the shower with a bit of a cringe just waiting for that sting. I wasn't expecting it this morning, but ...surprise! That was a bit of a rude awakening. Apparently my newer sports bra isn't as broken in as I thought - duly noted.

A couple of weeks ago, my awesome mother bought me a pair of running shoes. She knows how much I love my new Brooks PureFlow 2's (and that we're super-poor right now), so she ordered me a pair of pink ones. I was really excited. My current pair are an 11 (don't judge, I'm 5'10") and they are amazingly comfortable, but a little bit short for long runs. Unfortunately, when I tried to run in my new ones, my feet were killing me after half a mile. I've tried twice now, but I think they are just a little too big. I was poised to send them back for the smaller size... but then I wore slightly thicker socks yesterday... and today I have two sore toenails. I'm torn. Should I try to break the new ones in a bit, or just make sure not to wear those socks again. Thoughts?

What are your favorite running shoes? ... favorite running fuel?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My morning in pictures

Unfortunately, I had a crappy run this morning. Today was my last planned easy run before I go back to my training schedule...and it sucked. I did four easy miles and I was super-tired and seemed to have a side cramp and a vague stomach ache the whole time. 
Me asking my feet "why?"
But, of course, I felt great when I was done...
I keep my house dark at 5 am so as not to wake everyone up. Hence the dark fuzziness.
Then everyone got up and I had this to greet me when I was done getting ready... 

My man and the pup
What time do you get up in the morning?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pictures and Race Report

I finally got the race photos from my first half marathon! I don't have a scanner, so I had to be really ghetto and take a picture of the picture - so please forgive the fuzziness... and the overuse of parenthetical phrases.
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It's a bit late, but in light of the pictures, I thought I'd do a quick race recap. On September 15th, I ran the Scenic Half in Sandpoint, Idaho (my first...awwww). Sandpoint is about an 80-90 mile drive, so my original plan was to get up at 4:30, but for some reason I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, "I don't really need to get up until 5:30." I didn't think about the fact that I had to pick up my sister first, adding about 30 minutes to travel time. Long story short, packet pickup was open until 8:00 and I parked the car at 7:55 and had to run about a third of a mile to the pickup spot. Luckily I wasn't the only one running late and they were still there. Of course, then I had to run back to the car to get my stuff. By the time I had my stuff and used the porta-potty (after a 10 minute wait), I got to the start line exactly two minutes before the gun went off. Whew! Fortunately, all of the worry about making it on time meant I didn't have time to be worried about the race. I was just happy to get going, so I cranked up my tunes and took off with a smile.

Mile 3 and still thinking everything is peachy.

The course was a ten mile out-and-back that then looped back to the 5k course. The first three miles were great. Pretty scenery along Lake Pend Orielle and then across the mile long bridge. Mid way into mile three was when the hills started. Good grief! I just kept thinking that I would get to run back down all of these hills. This is also about the time that it started to get warmer and I was going through my water faster than usual. 

Mile 11 and about to die...but I'm passing someone!

I was so happy to see the turn around! I was crazy-thirsty (not a problem I usually have) and about mile 7, I realized I only had about four ounces of water left. I hated to do it, but I decided to stop for a quick walk break. I ended up walking for about 30 seconds every mile until mile 11. I'm pretty sure it was 90 million degrees and I hadn't had water in 3 weeks (dramatic much?). At mile 11, I started to do four minutes of running to one minute of walking. Miles 11-12.75 were the longest of my life. I demand a re-measure of the 5k course because I'm pretty sure it was about 20 miles long. I was so happy to see that last stretch. It was gorgeous - crossing a little bridge and leading onto the City Beach park.

Finishing kick!!! AKA: I see water!

I had originally thought about what I should do for the finish line photo - the classic fist raised in triumph, just a big smile, etc. Yeah, by the time I got there, I didn't even care about the finish, I was just headed for the water table. Overall, I was hoping to average about 12:00/mile (I know, I'm a real speed demon) because that's what I completed my last 12 mile distance run at (with no walk breaks, thank you very much). My finish time was 2:49:40 which is just under 13:00/mile. While it's not what I was hoping for, I'm happy with that. I truly gave everything I had and with the hills (most of my training was on the treadmill) and the heat (again - treadmill...with fan), I think it went pretty well.

The race itself was awesome. The course was beautiful. With about 200-ish people running the half and about 600 people overall, the size was perfect. There was great course support with water stations at miles 1, 5, 8, and 11. There was an awesome MC playing music and providing commentary, including calling out everyone's name as they crossed the finish line. I will definitely be doing this again next year. I can't wait to do another one. I'm dying to do one by Silverwood theme park that is this weekend (it goes through the park that is decorated for Halloween), but alas - money is tight and I'm not really ready to part with my spare kidney. Maybe next year.

What is the last race you did?

Oh, the Horror!

In my last post, I was optimistic that I would be back to running over the weekend...yeah, that didn't happen. I ended up feeling crappy on Friday while we were out of town, and spent all of Saturday with a fever. Feeling crappy + stressed + not running = crankiness.

Fortunately I was back at it as of yesterday morning. I had an easy four on the schedule and it felt pretty good. I'm going to do another easy 4 or 5 tomorrow before I jump back into my training schedule. Luckily, I double-checked and the race I have my eye on is a week later than I thought, so I'll be able to re-do the week that I missed.

On the personal front, my fella's medical tests went smoothly. Now we just have to wait to hear from the specialist in Seattle to schedule an appointment. As with most things medical, it takes forever, but at least it's some forward progress. I guess it's like running - it's not always fast, but any forward movement counts, right?

The pooches were both quite happy with their respective doggy day care's. Little miss Lola was in heaven surrounded by her dog-mom, two teenage girls, and a kitten (apparently we now have to get her a pet cat - who knew basset hounds were so high maintenance?). She was so tired from the day's activities that she slept through the whole night and most of the next morning. I think Ace was just excited to have a day away from Lola - her high energy tends to interfere with the business of napping.

So far we don't have anything scheduled this weekend and I am really looking forward to three days full of running, lazing around, and some homemade breakfast food. I've got a couple of books that I'd like to finish before they're due back at the library. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that nothing else comes up.

What's your favorite weekend activity?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grrrrrr..... That's the sound of me not running

I've been sick since Tuesday. I thought I was just tired, and did my scheduled 7 miles of speed work - which felt okay. But afterwords I felt awful. Headache, feverish, stomach ache....grrrr.... Is this connected to having my third cold sore in the last 4 weeks due to stress? Probably. And what is my favorite way to deal with stress? Running. So I get sick because I'm stressed, but then I can't run which just makes me cranky and more stressed. Sigh. I'm going to send in a complaint to the powers that be, something's broken.

Anyway, I decided to sleep in this morning and see how I felt. My plan is to run an easy 4 after work if I'm feeling up to it, and see how it goes. Of course, I'd love to get back on plan tomorrow, but we'll see how I feel. Not running is definitely making me antsy. Maybe I need to find additional ways to process stress....any suggestions?

My fella and I have to go out of town tomorrow (3.5 hour drive one way) to the VA Hospital for some new medical tests (for him). Fortunately these ones are non-invasive, so hopefully we'll have a fun mini road trip with a "quick" stop at the VA Hospital. I'm hoping I feel up to a run before we leave, otherwise I might not be my charming, patient self while we have to do a lot of waiting around. 

I am really grateful that we have people to watch the pooches. The breeder who sold us Lola mentioned that they would be happy to puppy-sit any time. We've taken her up on the offer twice before for other medical trips, and I was a bit worried about wearing out our welcome, but Cody called and said that they are thrilled to get to have her for the day. Apparently the breeder's two daughters have the day off from school and are super-excited to get a puppy for the day. Cody's parents will watch our older boy, Ace. They can't watch the puppy because my mother-in-law works from home and also takes care of her mother, so adding a puppy to the mix would be asking a bit much. Ace gets along really well with their black lab, Sis, and they have a dog door out into their huge backyard, so the dogs can go in and out as much as they want. And let's face it, he's a mastiff...he doesn't do much. Ace does fine at home for a few hours, but the last time we had to leave him home all day, he was really depressed and wouldn't even go out into the yard when my dad went over to check on him. Wow, that was a really long-winded, detailed way to say that we're glad we won't have to worry about the pups while we're gone.

I'm going to keep a good thought, and hope that these tests actually turn up something to help diagnose Cody's condition. Once they get the results, we have to schedule a visit with the neuromuscular VA clinic in Seattle. We love Seattle, and the VA pays mileage (and hopefully hotel) when you have to travel to appointments, so hopefully our dog sitters are still feeling generous when the time comes :O).

Oh, and for anyone that might stop by, I will soon be (hopefully) adding frequent pictures. Not that anyone needs to see me, but who can resist wrinkly basset hound and mastiff  faces?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Best Run Ever!

Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but this morning's run was pretty awesome. As I mentioned earlier, I recently started marathon training with Hanson's method. Today was my first tempo run. I had a mile warm up, 5 miles at tempo (which for Hanson's is "marathon" pace), then a mile cool down. My "marathon" pace (I put this in quotes because I'm a bit skeptical that I'll be able to keep this up for 26.2 miles - we'll see, Hanson brothers, we'll see) is about 30 seconds per mile faster than I usually do my distance runs, so it shouldn't be a big deal, but I knew I'd be sore from Tuesday's speed work, and I've never run this much weekly mileage, so I was a little nervous.

I have to say, these guys really know what they're doing. I'm glad that I am reading the book as well as following the plan. I'm kind of a nerd, and it really helps me to know the reasoning behind the paces and distances. I was reading the chapter yesterday about tempo runs and how they are designed to push you just fast enough to improve aerobic fitness, but not so fast as to build up too much lactic acid. I was amazed at how great my legs felt. The pace was perfect.

So I went from not wanting to crawl out of bed at 3:15, to being on cloud nine after an amazing run. I'm sort of obnoxiously perky now. My poor husband had to listen to my chattering about how great my run was at 5:00 in the morning (I think I'll keep him, he's awesome).

So today = awesome run + my "Friday" + pizza night + wearing my new super-cute, super-cozy sweatshirt = AWESOMENESS!!! I wish everyone Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Real" Training and Bad Laziness

Yesterday marked the first major workout in my marathon training. By major, I mean different/more than I've been doing. Last week was pretty easy and was actually a little bit less mileage than I was doing for my half marathon training. Well, this week kicks it into high gear. I'm going from 24 miles last week to 39 this week! I'm a little intimidated. I think my previous weekly high for mileage was 29.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this in the past (yes, all of three posts now - it's been so long), but I work 10 hour days, 4 days a week. Yay for three day weekends, but that means I have to be to the bus stop by 5:55 am, which means that running higher mileage equals getting up EARLY. Previously, I would get up at 4:00 three days a week and at 3:30 for a longer run on Thursdays and then do my longest run on Sundays. Yesterday being my first "big girl" run, I had to get up at 3:00 - Yikes! Did I mention how much I am not a morning person? Of course, it just so happened that I had an awful night and only got about 3 hours sleep. I'm not going to lie, I seriously considered going back to bed, but then I thought "is two more hours of sleep going to make that big of a difference at this point?" and my wonderful husband reminded me how great I would feel when it was over...so I sucked it up and got on the treadmill.

The workout was 12 x 400's at 5k pace with a 400 recovery and a mile warm up and cool down for a total of 8 miles. I've only ever done 8 as a "long" run, so I was seriously questioning if I had 8 miles of intervals in my sleepy self. But I did and it was amazing! My legs felt great the whole time and I ended up finishing the whole 8 miles four minutes faster than my long runs. I was worried that I would be extra sore, but my legs just had that great "I had a great run" feeling.

That being said... this morning was seriously less awesome. While I slept better last night, I did get woken up at about 1:30 by a rouge wandering puppy and ended up hitting the snooze button too many times. I then rationalized that I wouldn't have enough time to get ready if I ran and slept in...this is my shame face. I will be doing my scheduled run after work - sigh. I hate it when I miss a run because I'm being bad lazy. Note: bad lazy leads to missing runs and not getting things done. Good lazy is fun and occurs after runs and important things are done. Grrrr, now I'm cranky. I'm going to remember this feeling next time I'm tempted to hit the snooze button repeatedly.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


So I woke up this morning feeling cranky. It was cold, I was tired, and I didn't really fancy going outside and running in the cold. But I splurged on the entry fee, so I couldn't very well skip it...sigh...so I went. And it was AWESOME!!!

The first few minutes, I was honestly thinking "why did I pay money to run in the cold (36 degrees)?" But then I warmed up and was able to enjoy the scenery and the feeling of my body being warmed by exercise and my face chilly from wind. My heart rate monitor is on the fritz, so I wasn't wearing a watch and just decided to cruise at whatever pace felt good. There were a few times where I felt like I could go faster, but I reminded myself that this was supposed to be an easy run and to just relax.

The course itself was pretty, but not very well marked. The road markings were in pink (for the "Paint it Pink" run), but after the 10k split off of the running path to side roads, there weren't any more pink arrows. I know I didn't take a wrong turn because they had someone standing there to make sure you turned the right direction. So I just followed the old orange markings that were there from a previous race. I caught up to someone else all dressed in pink, so I feel pretty confident that I took the right route. The final stretch was a long slow downhill that crosses two bridges over the river and has an amazing view of the mountains. This was the point where my legs felt strong, my body felt warm and the cold blast of air as cars past made my face delightfully chilly. I think endorphins may have kicked in here as well.

Only the first mile was marked for distance, which I thought was really weird. Why only mark one mile? It worked out really well that my fella decided to take the dogs to the park to run around for a bit while he was waiting. This happened to be part of the course, so he waited with the pooches to cheer me on. As I came around the corner, I thought "what a big dog...wait, that's my big dog...and my man!" So that was an awesome surprise.

Afterwards, I had no idea what my time was, so I asked the gal that was recording times and found out that I had beaten my previous PR by a full minute without even trying! That felt pretty stinkin' awesome. My last 10k was in June and I trained specifically for it, so it feels great to know that my training for longer distances is helping out in shorter races too.

When we were done, Cody asked what I wanted to do and I told him I wanted a hot shower, pajamas, and a good movie. I was still grinning from ear to ear and thinking that this morning was a perfect snapshot of why I love running. I started out cranky, had an amazing run, and now I can have a wonderfully lazy day because I'm relaxed and happy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Unexpected Race

There is a "Paint it Pink" 5k/10k tomorrow. I saw the sign a few weeks ago, but didn't really plan on going. With money being tight, I didn't want to shell out $20 for the entry fee. Then, at work, three different people asked me if I was going to be doing the run on Saturday, and it made me feel really good that people expected me to because they know I'm a runner, so I decided to splurge and do my scheduled easy 6 with a group of other people. And you know what? I'm kind of stinkin' excited about it. Since I'm trying to stick to my training schedule, I've promised myself not to go for a PR and just take it easy and have fun. I am a little bit bummed that by the time I signed up for the race, they were out of t-shirts - boo. I do love me a race t-shirt, but what can you do?  Well, I could tackle someone about my size and steal their t-shirt, but that would probably be poor form...right?

On the lazy side of things, I had an awesome morning hanging out with my man and the pooches. We had to go out of town for a doctor's appointment, so we left little miss Lola with her first family (the breeder and dog parents) and Ace with my in-laws. This worked out really well because Lola's former people get really excited to see her and their kids get a "rent-a-puppy" and Ace didn't have to stay home alone all day. Lola must have had a pretty full day playing with the kids and a kitten, because she slept all night and most of the morning. It was awesome, we all snuggled up on the couch (we have a huge, sectional) and Cody let me watch wedding shows all morning (I know, I'm a dork).

Now I'm gearing up to go for my "easy 4-miler." I don't particularly like running in the evening, but my lazy day got away from me and I have to make sure to get it done. That's why I much prefer running in the morning. Then I feel accomplished and relaxed the whole day. But sometimes the call of the couch is hard to resist.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Meet Lazy Runner Girl

First of all, let me just clarify what I mean by "lazy runner girl." My favorite activity in the whole world is...doing nothing. Unfortunately after my fella and I got married, between working, doing nothing, and refining the art of "being cozy" (which largely consists of eating pizza, junk food, and watching movies)... I gained about 80 pounds in a year...oops.

The shortest version of that story (I'll elaborate some other time) is that I re-discovered my love of running and have since lost 71 pounds. Running is keeping me sane during one of the most stressful times in my life and allows me to still enjoy pizza nights once a week, and treats like chocolate and cupcakes frequently enough that I don't want to kick my co-workers, or smack random strangers in the grocery store.

Now I enjoy my favorite lazy activities (like reading and snuggling on the couch with my pooches) most after having a good long run in the mornings. Work, and life in general, are just a little bit easier after spending some quality time on my treadmill. In short, running makes my favorite thing...being lazy... enjoyable because I'm relaxed and I don't feel guilty because I've already burned off the candy bar I plan to eat later :O).

I recently finished my first half marathon and started marathon training using the Hanson's method. I am lovin the higher mileage and can't wait to run my first marathon!

Some facts about me in general (other than my love of laziness):
  • I am 28 years old
  • I've been married to the man of my dreams for 8 years
  • I work at a hydro-electric dam as a budget technician
  • I have a eight year old, 150 pound mastiff named Ace and a 5 month old basset hound puppy named Lola 
For all that love running and sarcasm, come join me!

 Me & Lola, Me & Ace, Kisses!