Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Swing and a miss...then a touchdown! (What sport is this, again?)

I have to tell you the truth. I didn’t run last night. I tried. I did. I came home. I purposely didn’t eat, because I knew if I did, I would be too full to run. So I waited until the sun got low in the sky, and I put on my workout pants. I put on my watch, my shoes, and my iPod, and I stepped into the warm afternoon air.

And nearly suffocated on the humidity.


It is just too hot in Florida to go running after work.

So I decided I would try for a morning run. Yes, I realize that I have previously spoken out against this. Vehemently. But I realized that it was the only way that I was going to make it without dying of heat exhaustion. I planned to tell my husband to get me out of bed on his way to work.

Which means I got to finish my book last night AND go for a run today.

My run this morning was not as successful as I’d hoped it would be. The first half went great. I was not happy at first. It took me 20 minutes to get out of bed, then another 10 to get dressed and out the door. I walked to the end of the block much slower than I usually do, and decided that I would probably just do five minute intervals, even though I should be above 10 minutes by now.

I dragged my feet at first. But then, slowly, I started falling into the right rhythm again. It was easy, natural, and I started to remember everything I loved about running.

The only other person I passed on the trail was a dog out walking his owner – the owner’s head lolled comically from side-to-side as she pumped her arms wildly trying to keep up with the huge Weimaraner. It made me laugh aloud. The sun was bright pink in the purple clouds. It was a little muggy, but so quiet and peaceful. It was truly lovely. I ran for longer than 10 minutes, farther than I thought I would, farther than I planned, farther than I needed to.

And then, during my first walking interval, my iPod froze. Again. I banged it against my arm. I shook it up and down. I jammed on the power button with all my might. But it was stuck.

Suddenly, running was the most difficult task in the world. My cankles (yes, cankles. I did not mistype. If you have seen my legs, you know that this statement is correct. I feel no shame in it, because it’s the truth) felt as if they had anvils attached to them. Each step was torturous. My chest heaved with every breath. The slight fog was no longer pleasant – it was suffocating, and I was swallowing the clouds whole. My loose shirt was not comfortable; it was a thick, cotton, voluminous balloon. I wanted nothing more than to hit the railroad tracks, the point where my run stopped and my cool-down began.

I managed to stick it out for another 12-minute interval and made my way back home. It’s amazing how much difference a small distraction like music, or someone to run with, can make. It takes my mind off the pain and puts it on something else, or at least lets me focus on what’s around me. I know a lot of runners scoff at those who need to use music, but I don’t care. It helps me focus. Maybe one day, all I’ll need to focus is the beauty of the run, the cool sweat on my forehead.

Until then, I need to figure out how to re-set my iPod.

I think I’m going to give the A.M. run another go tomorrow. I hate getting up early. But having the trail all to myself was awfully nice.

Not to mention avoiding the 100-degree weather.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back and ready for more...maybe.

Today’s the day I get serious.

OK, I know. I should have been serious, like…months ago. But what did you expect? I just got married. Then I was on my honeymoon. Then I was being lazy, wishing I was still on my honeymoon. Also, I was getting over being sick. Plus, I’ve recently discovered my love of all things Jodi Picoult, and try as I might, I just can’t put her books down to go do something more productive like…I don’t know…lead a healthy lifestyle? (I’m currently reading The Pact. Amazing.)

Excuses, excuses. I know. Please don’t say it.

But after much badgering by my new husband, my aunt, my best friend, and countless other fans of my little blog, I have decided to make the commitment to start running again. Today, it is a crisp and cool 91 degrees. But according to weather.com, it feels like 99 degrees. Sounds like a good day to run to me!

I’m going to need all the help I can get. So check in tomorrow to read how my run went…or to read how The Pact ends.

…or both!

I’d like to invent a device that you can strap to the front of yourself as you run so that you can read or watch TV while you workout. Sure, it could be dangerous. Watching TV or reading instead of watching the road might cause you to run into people, trees, small animals, and/or large bodies of water. But sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is motivate myself to get out and go when I know I’m at a really good part in a book, or when there’s a DVD at home waiting for me. This was especially tough when I was making my way through LOST. How was I supposed to go outside for fresh air when there were smoke monsters, time traveling professors, and nuclear bombs to worry about?

Maybe there could be some kind of sensor that starts beeping when I’m about to run into a small child or be eaten by an alligator.

Or maybe I should stop being so lazy, suck it up for 30 minutes a day (for now), and just run.

That sounds like a plan, too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I don't know what morphine does, but I imagine something like this.

Last night, for the first time in my life, I experienced the elusive runner’s high.

I think.

It didn’t last for very long, but let me tell you, it was – excuse my language here – fan-fucking-tastic.

I guess my motivational speech yesterday worked, because even though I wasn’t even ready to head out yesterday until 5:50, and I was expecting a guest at 6:45, I knew I couldn’t skip my run. So I laced up and headed out the door.

My intervals were eight minute runs, one minute walks. It’s longer than I’ve run continuously for more than three years. Eight minutes might not sound like a very long time, but it’s a lot longer than it seems, and one minute isn’t a very long recovery either.

The trail by my house goes through a nice little nature preservation area, behind some baseball fields, and over a major road. Usually I would hit the last baseball field before the bridge that went over the road and it would be time to turn back.

Not this time.

My runs were a little longer, meaning that my distance was further. And the farther I got, I started to realize: I was going to have to run over the bridge.

These pictures are very, very lame. The first one is the view from the top, looking down, and the second is a terrible one of the bridge from the road. I’ll have to take my camera out one day and take pictures for all of you. But trust me, these do nothing to show the true horror of how hard the bridge is to run. After it curves in that first picture, it still drops quite a ways before it hits flat ground again at sea level.

At first, I thought I would just walk up the bridge, then run down. After all, even riding my bike over this thing can be pretty tough, let alone actually propelling my short and stubby legs up it. But I didn’t want to wimp out, and glancing at my watch, it seemed that I had just enough time left on my current interval to reach the top of the hill.

My climb started pretty slow, I’ll admit. But once I got about half way up, I felt amazing. I picked up speed. Before I knew it, I was practically sprinting to the top. I finished out my minute and I felt amazing. I was on a bridge suspended over a highway, watching the cars and trucks pass below. I wanted to jump up and down. I passed a woman walking and couldn’t wipe the huge grin off my face. I’m sure she thought I was on drugs, and it felt like I was.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so good while I was exercising.

Then my minute of walking was up. It was back to running, and about two minutes into the new run I started to feel crappy again. Running was hard, and I forgot for a moment how great it felt to accomplish something that had once seemed so impossible. I thought about not doing eight minutes; since I had actually run up the hill, maybe I could get away with only doing six.

But I did my eight, and then instead of finishing with three, like I was supposed to, I finished with five minutes. I felt great.

I had to call my friend because I was running behind. I couldn’t put any makeup on for when we went out because my face was bright red.

But I felt great.

I hope that I can hold on to that feeling, and always remember how amazing it felt to stand on top of that bridge, as if I were on top of the world, feeling as if I finally was a runner.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Motivating the masses

Today I need some motivation.

I’ve hit a bit of a rut, and after a great week of training, I skipped Thursday, rode bikes instead of ran on Saturday, and skipped Sunday. I have very limited time tonight since I’m planning an AWESOME night out with my lady friends, so I need to basically change into my clothes and get going as soon as I get home.

I also know there are some other runners who are reading this blog. (I thought about doing shout-outs, but I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, or make it obvious that someone who had said they were reading my blog wasn’t actually reading, then when I said, ‘Hey, Sally, did you see that I mentioned you in my blog?’ Sally would get all awkward because, since she only said she was reading my blog to be polite, she hadn’t actually noticed that I mentioned her, and she wouldn’t know in what capacity, so she wouldn’t know what to say and things would just get painful.) So in my effort to motivate the masses, including the mass that is my lazy butt, I have gathered some of the most motivational running articles I could find.

The story of Matt Long. Are you kidding me? How could I ever complain about aching, say I don’t feel like running, or lay around all day when it’s nice and breezy out. Sure, this guy was a great athlete before his accident, but wow…there’s no excuse for an 8-9 hour marathon time for me, but he has a great one.

The Newbie Chronicles. A series almost as funny as mine. OK, actually they’re probably funnier, and very honest.

Team Hoyt. This links to their bio page, so you can read about the amazing story of this father/son team. Dad pushes his son - literally, because his son is in a wheelchair - through marathons and triathalons. What an amazing bonding experience it must be for both of them. They've been doing it for a very long time, and Dad is still going strong at 65!

Dawn Dais’ Web site. A first-timer who wrote a book about her experience. She reminds me of myself, a little. Of course I don't have a book deal. Yet. (Hey! All you publishers reading this! Now's your chance! Email me with a multi-million dollar deal! I promise I won't let you down! Heck, at this point I'd probably do it for $20...)

And some completely cheesy running cartoons:

Since I’m currently in love with LOST:
And because I often wonder why I do it:

Source: www.savagechickens.com

And I don’t know why I think this is so hilarious, but…

Hopefully this works. I can feel myself excited already. And it's only 85 degrees out! Maybe by 5:30 it will have cooled off...

Or maybe I'm delusional.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Confessions of a fat kid

I have a confession to make.

This is totally not related to running at all. It is related to eating, however, which is my other hobby, and since eating is nearly synonymous with nutrition, I figure we can let this one slide.

The other night I went grocery shopping and decided that I could get myself a treat. I’ve been doing pretty well with my training, and I promised myself that I would work hard that night (and I did).

I headed over to the bakery department. For those of you who don’t live in the vicinity of a Publix…my deepest regret for your loss. The Publix bakery department is amazing. We would have gotten our wedding cake there if Jae’s cousin wasn’t a master baker.

After perusing my options for a few moments, I settled on the yo-yo.

The yo-yo is a delectable treat. My friend Katey and I used to get them all the time. Then we decided that one each just wasn’t enough, so we would buy a dozen cookies and some icing and make them ourselves. Then we got old and our metabolisms slowed down. Now we drink wine and eat salads.

Anyway, I asked the baker for one, filled the rest of my cart with fruits, veggies, chicken and whole grains, and checked out.

At this point I should mention that I live literally three minutes from my local Publix. I can walk there. I have ridden my bike there on numerous occasions. So what possessed me to do the following, I’ll never know.

I unloaded all of my groceries into my trunk until only one bag remained in my cart. The bag containing that glorious hunk of sugar and chocolate.

I brought it into the car with me, turned on the engine, and popped open the lid. Immediately, my entire car filled with the deliciously sweet smell of frosting. My teeth were falling out of my gums just thinking about eating this.

Waiting was not an option.

I picked up my cookie sandwich with one hand and took a bite. It was all that I hoped it could be and more. It was gooey and satisfying, and the icing was spilling over the edge of the cookie. It was hot out, hovering near 90 degrees, and the chocolate was melting fast.

But I was eating faster.

And then it happened.

I dropped the cookie sandwich.

On my yellow dress.

Melty chocolate chips and icing fell all over my car, my hands, and my soft cotton dress. As I continued to drive, my steering wheel was covered in the sticky mess.

Ugh. This is what I get for not eating properly. Or just not being able to contain myself.

Oh well. It was totally worth it.

In other, less delicious, news, I started the 100 push-up challenge! Sort of. I did the initial test anyway. Are you ready for this totally embarrassing number?


OK, maybe that’s not so bad. But I think my form was way off. I think I could have done more, but on the last one I thought my knees hit the ground before I came back up, and I figured that counted as a disqualification.

My wedding is in a month! Exactly 30 days from today. So maybe I should stop spilling cookies all over myself and start doing more pushups.

It’s a beautiful breezy day here. A nice day for a run.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Gettin's Hot In Herrrre

The famous poet and scholar Nelly once said, “It’s gettin’ hot in herrre.”

Man, was he right.

This weekend, I went for a run around 3:50pm. True, this is one of the hottest parts of the day, but I run on a trail that is pretty shaded (or so I thought), and there was a nice breeze out. Besides, it’s just Florida. In April. How hot can it be, right?

Eighty-six degrees, that’s how hot.

That doesn’t sound that bad. It’s not even 90! But let me tell you, friends, 86 degrees is really freakin’ hot.

To make matters worse, about half way through the run, my iPod froze. Again. (Forget all the nice things I said about it before; I am soooo ready for a hardware update.)

So instead of focusing on the musical stylings of Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, all I could think about was the sweltering heat. The sweat pouring down my face. The ever-approaching feeling that I was going to pass out and die from heat exhaustion, which wasn’t at all helped by the fact that I had just read an article on RunnersWorld.com about that very thing happening to someone who was in much better shape than I am.

But somehow I powered through and made it home, plopped on the floor, and begged Jae for a cold glass of water and an ice pack for the back of my neck. I cooled off quickly and felt really good; I had actually gone pretty far. Still, lesson learned: DON’T RUN WHEN IT’S HOTTER THAN 80 DEGREES.

Unfortunately, I live in the Sunshine State. It was 78 degrees on Christmas. So my window of opportunity for running in cool weather is very, very limited.

The way I see it, I have two options: early morning or late evening. The problem with early morning is…how can I put this without sounding totally lazy…OK, there’s no way, I guess I’m just lazy…on Sunday, I woke up to the sound of the ice cream truck driving through my neighborhood. Think about that. The ice cream truck doesn’t exactly make a breakfast run (although that would be glorious). As it is, I have to be at work at 8am. I love that I live 10 minutes from my job, so I can leave at 7:50am, meaning that I can get out of bed as late as 7:40 if I really want to. Usually I get up around 7:30. And even that’s a struggle. You’re telling me that you want me to try and get up at 6:15 just so I have time to eat, run, and shower? And what about later, when I’m up to 15 miles? My wake-up calls are going to be at 5am!! No way.

So last night I gave the late evening run a try. I headed out around 8pm. All was well. The air was cool and crisp, the sun was low in the sky, and I was feeling great.

Until the sun went below the horizon and the hobos started emerging from their respective hiding places all around Kapok Park. Yikes. Maybe I waited a little too long. The good news is I had to pick up the pace because the path along the rail road track isn’t lit, so I got some nice sprints in at the end of my last interval.

Perhaps 7:45pm is the ideal time, for now at least. Once my distances improve, I’ll have to move to 7pm, but that might be too early still. Especially because by then it will be July or August and that is way hotter than April.

Who knew you had to have a meteorology degree just to be a runner?

Friday, April 24, 2009

I blame Jim Halpert.

Jim Halpert put my arms in Jello.

That's right, I said it. My favorite prankster from The Office, the ever delightful, always adorable Jim, put my arms in Jello.

There's no other explanation for it.

For those of you who are not fortunate enough to be fans of The Office (a situation I suggest you remedy immediately), here's a little background for you:

On one of my recent runs, I was adjusting the volume on my iPod when I happened to notice that my left arm was flopping up and down at a most unsavory rate. That fat sack of skin between my elbow and my armpit, which I like to call my "Hey, Sally!" waves and flaps in the breeze and with every undulation of my body.

So every time my foot hits the ground, my fat underarm bounces again. It's actually quite mesmerizing.

My only explanation is Jim Halpert. He snuck into my room in the middle of the night, knocked Jae out with a sleeper hold, and put my arms in Jello.

...OK. I have one other explanation.

I need to do some arm workouts.

As much as I love the idea of John Krasinski sneaking into my room in the middle of the night, knocking my fiance unconscious, and covering me in a surprisingly refreshing and highly underrated dessert, that is not the reason that I have such flabby arms. I just need to do some tricep extensions. Or bicep curls.


That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I think I have decided to take on the 100 Push-Up Challenge!

I should admit that I've done a bit of research on this, and not very many people have actually finished the challenge. But some have, and even the ones that haven't have made it up to 50 or 60 at a time before they gave up. And considering that I can do about, oh, 15...on my knees...right now, I would say that's a pretty good goal to have. But I want to do real ones, on my toes. I haven't done my initial test, but my best guess for how many I can do is...3. Pathetic, but honest.

I think it will be good for me. Overall health and tone will help improve my stamina and make me a better runner.

Plus, with all the hypnotic undulation that's going on in my arms, I'm definitely going to run straight into a tree or a lamppost one of these days. And that wouldn't be good for anyone.

But, John, if you're reading this, please don't think that you're not welcome to come and wrap my arms in Jello any day. Because you certainly are.