Monday, September 29, 2008

What a day

This is not entirely related to unblobbing, but the day seems to warrant this kind of reflection.

The less fabulous parts of the day:
  • Witnessed a historic drop in the stock market. Ouch. But we are in for the long haul and not losing sleep over it.
  • Our bank was bought - annoying. Husband says we should invest in companies that make bank signs and letterhead. They will clearly profit.
  • Got a letter from the old bank saying our credit card info, along with a zillion others, may have been compromised so we will be getting new cards.
  • Said goodbye to Dumpling (horse) who went back home after living with us (well, across the street) for the past 18 months. She will be missed, but kids have moved on to other interests.
  • Returned overpriced vented rain jacket to running store and found out I could only get store credit. Oops.
  • Grading poor exams - lots of bad writing, weak arguments, lack of evidence. It's difficult to grade such lame efforts.
More fabulous parts of the day:
  • Gorgeous, sunny, temperate fall day.
  • Had fun doing speed work on the track followed by a comprehensive leg workout that left no doubt that I had worked hard!
  • Spent considerable time completing many work-related to-dos for all three of my jobs! Got a date for the conference. Scheduled Honor System speakers. Finished grading for SES. Etc, etc.
  • Hugs from our brilliant and amazing kids. Laughs from hardworking husband. Love from the fuzzy cats and dog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Training Notes

I did my 8 mile "rain run" on Saturday and enjoyed it quite a bit more than I expected to in the gentle rain and 60 degree temperatures. There were a number of stalwart runners out there! Felt sore and tired for the day only, but back in good working order today. Maybe I am recovering more quickly now?

Tomorrow is my first go at "speed work" which includes 2 min intervals of running at 5K race pace with 1 min recovery intervals. Because I don't have a good sense of pacing yet, I had to figure out how to convert that to something meaningful. And being an engineer, I can't resist looking at these numbers in a variety of units! My running book shows how pacing changes from one race length to another, so I worked backward from an estimated 1:49 half marathon pace to figure out I *should*, in theory, be able to do a 5K in just under 24 minutes. So it appears that I need to crank out quarter mile intervals in just under 2 minutes.

Weight is holding steady at just under 130 lbs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back to clean eating...tomorrow!

Been a slacker and tonight was an ES class reunion at my house with much yummy food. I ate WAY too much fun food. Was it worth it? No, not entirely! Back on the straight and narrow tomorrow. I've been heading toward overall slack-ness and I am not prepared to regain anything I've lost.

This weekend I am heading to a wedding. My goal is to drink a lot of water and eat only small amounts of things that are smart choices. I do not want to have to report back on gluttonous tonight!!

So weak minded!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do the work

"Do the work, Leave the rest to God."

I had a rough run today. I ran from Shultz parking lot, then followed essentially the 5K Homecoming course I am running on October 5 -- up the Huckleberry to Country Club, down Airport, over on Gracelyn and Eaken, up Preston, down Draper, and over on Clay. About two miles in I just felt sluggish and tired and walked briefly up Country Club. I think I started too fast and I started to turn negative. So I slowed it down and eventually was rewarded by the steady downhill of Draper. I got my 32 minutes in, but it was not light, free, nor joyful. I realized that I was thinking/worrying about the 5K - could I run it as a faster sprinty kind of race? Could I pace myself properly and have a strong showing? Could I top what I did in Danville?

I guess I am kind of competitive in what I thought was a hidden and covert way, but my mom laughed at me and told me I could not be more overtly competitive. OK, so maybe I am, but it's in a REALISTIC sort of way. I don't have delusions, or at least I don't think I do, about what is possible and what is hardly possible. I do recognize that I am not exactly teeming with athletic ability, but I do have a solid work ethic. I tend to put boundaries about what I think is possible for me. Who am I to do that?

So what to do with all these thoughts? While I was home to shower before returning to campus, I had the newest issue of Runner's World open to an article about a Christian marathon runner named Ryan Hall who came in 10th at the Olympics (also American record holder for the half - 59:43). It said that his dad used to tell him, "Do the work, Leave the rest to God." I ran that through my mind, over and over. I am in this for the long haul. The races just organize my running. If I do the work, the rest will just will be whatever it is meant to be. Only God knows what is possible and it's not for me to set boundaries.

So, I will do the work. I will do the work when it's light and easy. And I will do the work when it's hard and uncomfortable. Regardless of what I am dealt for the day's run, I will infuse it with positive joy knowing each run is exactly what it is meant to be.

I want my testimony to be my work, my diligence, and my attitude in times of reward and times of trial. The outcome is immaterial.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Very FUN day of workouts

Today was awesome - a beautiful, warm early fall day with a heavy fog this morning. Started off the day with a warmup run around the cross country course followed by my first "hill workout" - 8 times up and down a hill by the duckpond. I liked that it was totally different than anything I've done to this point and it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is something I need to do more of. Then this afternoon I had a good all-around leg workout that included a lap of lunges around the gym track. I warmed up and cooled down on the bike so I wonder if that will help keep me from getting too sore - maybe it'll flush the muscles??

(Duckpond...near the scene of the crime...err...I mean hill. Found this photo online...can only do so much text before I have need for an image!!)

It was such a great afternoon, I parked by Sharkey's, walked to Harding Ave Elementary to get the kids, then we all walked to the library and back to stock up on books. Next on the agenda: hamburgers on the grill!

Yeah! Good day. Wonder how the bod will feel tomorrow??!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


So Jake asked what I listened to on my iPod. It's hard to describe if you are not familiar with the genre, but it's contemporary Christian music -- it would not be entirely out of place on MTV if the subject matter was more mainstream I guess. And although I'm not currently a church-goer, and I'm not an outspoken Christian, I do put my faith and belief in Christ.

My runs are very spiritual and give me time in my crazy and hectic life to reflect on life and love, family, friends, balance, and what I am giving to others. How I am reaching out? I hope I am doing so in some small ways through my teaching, students, neighbors, friends, and community, but I definitely fail more than I succeed. I pick myself up, dust myself off, ask for mercy, and move forward.

Having had two children, loving and being loved, seeing the work of God's love in my own life and the lives of others, and witnessing the miracles of our natural world, it's hard not to believe in God. Here is a sampling of some of my favorite songs at the moment:

I'm off to run at Pandapas.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Lately it seems that each time I've been in the gym I've seen someone ON the treadmill and ON their cell phone. And I mean ON their cell phone for an absurdly long time. Clearly they are not just taking a quick call with a car repair estimate or to find out their kid just threw up at school. You just know it's a stupid call where neither participant is fully present or listening. How can you? So you are having a half-a$$ed conversation and a half-a$$ed workout. Have people lost their ability to be alone with their own thoughts?

This week I get to create my own lower and upper body workouts within the parameters of 8-10 exercises at 1-2 sets of 20-25 reps. I enjoyed picking and choosing what to do and in an order that seemed to make some kind of sense going from more compound-types to more isolated exercises. Here's what I came up with and did:
  • Wall squats with stability ball (1x50)
  • Hack squats (2x25)
  • Leg press (2x20 @ 70 lbs)
  • Lunges (2 @ 25 lbs total)
  • Prone leg curls (2x25)
  • Leg extensions (2x15)
  • Stiff legged deadlifts (2x20 @ 40lbs)
  • Back extensions (2x15)
Thursday I plan to do:
  • Smith Machine Bench
  • DB Bench
  • Fly (machine)
  • Upright row (cable)
  • Lateral raise (cable)
  • DB Arnolds
  • Rear delts (machine)
  • Assisted pull ups
  • DB Grass cutters
  • Hammer row
I'm excited to start working toward the Roanoke race. On Sunday Jake sent me a draft of a 10-week plan to get stronger and faster. It includes hill work and speed work - I can only guess what that will involve. It also includes a 5K and something on Brush Mountain. I'm ready to push it and see what might result. Even though I am happy with the outcome of the Danville race as a first effort, I know I was not as mentally or physically strong as I would like to be and hope to be (and expect to be!). The next 9-1/2 weeks should be pretty cool!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Yeah! I ran the 13.1 miles and it was harder than I thought, probably in part because of the pretty high temperatures for September (upper 80's/low 90's by noon). I finished in 1:54:20 to come in at 51 out of 141 (see results at which amazingly put me at the top of my age group.

Here's the blow-by-blow:

The half-M folks started the race with the 5K folks. As I watched a significant number of the 5K'ers slow or walk while I felt strong and unaffected, I must confess I thought I had this one in the bag. I felt pretty good for the first 6-7 miles. I tagged along behind a girl who seemed to be running at about my desired pace but I eventually discovered she was going perhaps more quickly than I was suited to and I hit the "wall"...something I had no experience with. And it brought with it negative mental head-games the likes of which I had not seen or dealt with. Meanwhile I'd been thinking for several miles that I really REALLY had to pee with no restrooms in sight. So I finally decided I had no choice and headed for the cover of trees to heed the call of nature. As I returned to the course, I hooked up with Mr. Police Officer from Richmond who had a pretty easy, relaxed pace and way of going. We struck up a conversation and my negative thoughts (like if I just sit down here and refuse to take another step, someone will eventually come and get me!!!) were soon squelched. He had some kind of cool GPS watch and he said he was shooting to come in sub-2 hours like I had hoped for. So I paced myself with Mr. Police Officer until mile marker 12 when I sent him on his way, cranked up the iPod again, and finished with what I had left. At that point I joined up with a girl in a running skirt (I have to try that) and we stayed together until the final stretch when she kicked on ahead of me. I was elated to finish below my goal time of 2:00, particularly given the hot and humid conditions. My legs were tired, but really the only big issue was that my stomach felt awful for hours -- probably because of the heat.

Although I have little to compare it to, this race seemed well-organized and well-done. I would definitely come back. It had great spirit and personality. At this point it's hard for me to imagine running one of those huge mega-races with thousands of people. I like these small and personable ones! Well done, Danville!

Robert and Spencer were there to cheer me on at the start, at the 3 mile marker, and at the end. Thanks guys! And of course, I owe a debt of gratitude to Jake, for the great training plan and preparation all the way around. My legs, arms and body never really got tired or crampy (just my brain!!). After I finished and I watched so many more people come through the finish area, I realized just how well he prepared me for this race in a pretty short span of time.

My goal for the next race (Roanoke on Nov 22) is simply to be mentally and physically stronger so it's not such a big deal and so I don't need others to help me turn my negative thoughts around. I want to be strong enough to do it on my own.

Now for the spiritual part of it. Call me a nut, but I really believe that on a daily basis, God puts people in our paths for deliberate reasons, just as he puts us in the path of others for important reasons. There are no accidents. I thank God for my well-timed pee break and for Mr. Police Officer and for Running Skirt Girl who I found in the final mile. Sounds weird, but they really helped get me to the finish. I hope and trust that I am in turn offering energy and encouragement to others in my own life. In the same way, I really believe He put Jake in my path on purpose too. I never would have dared to dream of running a half marathon on my own.

So tonight I am thankful and humbled, sore and tired, and at peace. I'm hoping to snooze past 3:30 am tonight and catch up on some much-needed sleep. After all, I'll be back at the gym at noon. No slacking for ME!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Runner Girl!

My friend Steve sent a nice encouraging note with this logo from a website I hadn't known about. I like the graphic!

I am excited to get this maiden voyage under my belt and see where I can go from here. Maybe that's why I'm not too worked up about it. I see it as a stepping stone and not an end unto itself...a good test!

I've been reading these philosophical books lately - the most recent is the Way of the Peaceful Warrior. The books focus a lot on the role of the mind and consciousness and gaining mastery and focus. I'm not very articulate here, but my goal for the race is less about time and more about keeping it together mentally - staying relaxed, attentive positive, joyful, and confident. And I want to find way to translate that to the rest of my life - establishing work/life boundaries and redirecting my energies to the family in a more balanced way. I guess in life I also want to be more relaxed, attentive, positive, joyful and confident.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

All done 'til race day

Today was my last workout at the gym before Saturday. Jake actually asked if I wanted to take Sunday off and I thought he was joking. "Are you serious? Of course I want to take Friday off." To which he responded that I don't have to take it off as mostly my legs would get the workout, so I suppose he has in mind an upper body workout. And of course I am not one to back down from a challenge so I will be at the gym Sunday!!

And I guess you can't be a slacker and end up like this (JRP in photo from last weekend - hope he doesn't mind I put this here). Those are killer abs. I have killer abs too. I mean they kill me every time I try to do anything with them! I'm sure my abs are awesome too, underneath it all! Somewhere. Maybe! Or not!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

When I run I feel....

...strong, purposeful, focused, blessed, fit, happy, loving, calm, honest, natural, athletic, balanced, empowered, awake, relaxed, light, spiritual, loved, challenged, independent, steady, grounded, clear, efficient, God-filled, content, healthy, unencumbered, awed, free, beautiful, energized, alert, able, blessed, confident, amazed, protected, encouraged, joyful, fluid, accomplished, humbled, and aware.

I will admit I also sometimes feel scared, intimidated, unsure, sluggish, distracted, or bored. Those are usually short-lived.

Eat Pray Love

OMG, I LOVE this book on every level - the witty writing (seems to be a recent theme for me), the unflinching honesty, and the exposed emotion. I'm not all the way through it, but this is one I will read again, maybe right away. You may be wondering what this has to do with a fitness blog, but the whole second part is about the author's 4-month stay in an Ashram in India and her struggles to quiet her mind and learn to meditate. I have to confess I can relate to her fragmented, straying, dialoging mind. (FUNNY reading how her mind works) And anyone who practices meditation will probably string me up for this, but I see great commonalities between the discipline required by running and that needed for meditation. When I am on a long run and want to be done, it's not because I'm that tired or any part of me is ready to give out, it's because my focus is waning. I'm ready to be something else...move on...entertain me!! That's when I remind myself I really don't want to be doing anything else. The author talks about how we brood about the past and worry about the future and spend so little time in the present, in the now. That's what running does for me. I have no choice but to be in the now and I want to extend the time I spend in now and find ways to get that without my running shoes on. Great book, HIGHLY recommended.

By the way, I have to slip in that Jake won 3rd in his class at his first bodybuilding show Saturday in Atlanta so here's a nice shout-out to Jake - congratulations!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

T-minus one week and counting!

Note to self: leave the legumes for mealtimes that do not immediately precede a run.

I had made curried yellow split peas with tomatoes (yum) and ate leftovers for dinner. I might as well have eaten a brick as it seemed to turn to stone in my stomach just in time for an evening run.

Despite the stomach issues, I still ran with my fastest pace yet - an 8:35 mile for 6 miles, just half a hair better than the 10K a month ago, so I am improving! However, my runs have felt tough this week and today was no exception. I'm sure the stress of school, lack of sleep, and having played tennis five days in a row are all contributing factors. I plan to take tomorrow completely off and have a light Sunday.

During my run I asked myself what my concerns were for the race next weekend:
  1. That it will pour down rain or worse yet, it'll get canceled. Right now the long-range forecast is for rain and I don't mind some, within reason. But will my shoes get squishy? Will I get wet and cold?
  2. That my iPod will stop working during the race!
  3. That I won't sleep at all the night before.
So I guess if those are my big worries, it's not so bad. The rain won't stop me, nor will a non-functioning iPod, and there's no reason I can't complete the run even if I get zero sleep. I'll just try to get to bed early this week and bank my sleep.

I am prepared physically and mentally. I have worked diligently toward this for this for the last 4-1/2 months. I know what to do this week in terms of activity and diet since we used the 10K as a dress rehearsal. I will run a relaxed, confident, and well-paced race. I will finish and finish strong!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two new favorites

These are two of my favorite things at the moment...gum and tea. The tea is just incredible. It satisfies any chocolate craving that might crop up. I had to go to their website to verify that it's essentially calorie-free. I add a packet of Splenda (and a dash of skim milk) and I go to town! It's SO good that I had three cups last night and I've had two already tonight.