Saturday, December 8, 2012

'Just' a 10K

Let's cut to the chase: It's Saturday night, and I'm watching "Pocahontas" on Netflix.

Wait. Wrong chase.


This afternoon, I ran a 10K and not only did I PR the heck out of that shtuff but I set my first post-baby PR.


Booyah! Official finish time: 52:40.2. PR's aren't pretty but they sure are beautiful.


The JP Jones Just Plain 10K is the final points race for the Fort Wayne Track Club, and it lives up to its name as just a plain 10K. The course is (nearly) three loops of my neighborhood park, with a single, unadvertised aid station and no awards. And for a hefty entry fee of $3 for track club members, you got hot soup, homemade cookies and a honey bear.


Mark and I have been planning to run this race for sometime as a way to keep us motivated during the holidays and as the weather cooled. Mark had initially wanted to run the heck out of the race but had stubbed and badly bruised his fourth toe earlier in the week. He so chivalrously decided to pace me to a PR. Except I wasn't so sure I could PR. I had looked it up, and the last (and fastest) 10K I did was 53:06 (8:36 pace) on Thanksgiving 2010 when I was seven weeks pregnant. I feel like I don't have the base I used to and I'm not doing speedwork consistently so I hoped to finish in under 55.

As the course was three loops, my goal was to go out at a respectable pace and bring it in each loop so that I could finish strong and happy. Yeah. About that. Let's just say those first two miles were the fastest, and the fifth was more than 30 seconds slower.


The course began on the east side of the golf course and at the bottom of a hill. Mean. Just mean.


Loop 1: We started out at a quick pace after cresting the hill and were moving along at what I thought was a comfortably hard tempo pace. The first mile flew by as we passed a number of people, including a spirited woman who wore jingle bells on her shoes. The second mile was even quicker but I knew that we/Mark/I was holding a pace that was no longer comfortably hard. It was just hard.


Loop 2: I knew this was going to be the hardest of the loops. The crowd had thinned out and though the sun was beginning to peak out, the wind was once again at our face. I heard footsteps behind us, and it turned out to be a fellow fitness instructor, who had also taught this morning. We chatted for a minute or so as she admitted to drafting off Mark, and she continued on strong. Once we turned toward the west side of the golf course and the sun shone in full glory, Mark and I both realized that we had dressed too warmly. In an impressive move, Mark managed to remove his middle layer (of 3) mid-stride.

Loop 3: Mark made a stop at the car, which was parked 10 or 20 feet from the course, to drop off his sweater and my phone. And then he decided to drop me. Not in a mean way, I promise. I had given him the option during the second loop to move on as my pace began to slow. The fifth mile, for which I was alone about 2/3, I decided to conserve and slow down. I wanted to be able to push at the end and not have my Subway lunch revisit me. It felt dreadful. Not just going slow but running. I was reaching the point that inevitably comes in any race or hard effort where you just want to say fig it and jog lightly when I was faced with a steep hill coming up from the river to the main trail. I powered up and, as I sighed with relief at the top, I heard someone behind me. I decided that it was time to push and hold off the guy for as long as I could. I checked my watch and with some poorly calculated math, I realized a PR was possible and it gave me even more energy to hold on.

My motivator eventually passed me in the last third of a mile, maybe, just as the finish line was in sight. I kept going and soon began to hear the chants of "Kim" from my gracious husband. The red, glaring numbers on the clock began with a 52. All I had to do was gun it and I would be a PR queen.


I nearly puked at the finish - goodness, I'm classy - and I had to walk a bit before I could think of water much less any of the delicious treats they had. And, yes, I had a cookie. Healthy Holiday Challenge be damned. I needed something and I couldn't stomach hot vegetable soup just yet.


By the way, my lovely husband finished with a 49-something - meaning he dropped a full minute per mile off his pace that last loop. And that's with running 3 miles a few times week. He's incredible. In the I want to kick you in the throat sort of way.


Because he placed eighth in his age group and I earned second. Boo-friggin-yah.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Just do it

It's amazing the difference a few days makes - especially in the Midwest.

On Monday, I was more than excited to run. From the moment I left work to preparing dinner to playing blocks, I was counting the minutes till Miles went to bed and when I could lace up my shoes. I know a lot of it was the novelty of running in shorts and a tank in December but regardless, I couldn't wait to be out there.

Last night, Thursday, I had planned to run. But I was tired. I was cranky (and had been most of the day). Work didn't go well, and I left a smidge later than I preferred because of a last-minute problem. Dinner sat heavy in my stomach, and the idea of lying on the couch seemed so inviting. Instead of counting the minutes until Miles went to bed, I was counting the minutes until I could go to bed.

But at 7:05, just after I was sure Miles was down, I took Denali by the leash and stepped out for what ended up being a soothingly slow run.

So what made me get out? A few things.

Dress the part. While Mark bathed Miles, I slipped into my tights and shirt. Putting on your workout clothes is half the battle, and I knew if I was dressed for a run that I was more likely to go. I mean, how silly would it be to watch "Big Bang Theory" in a sweat-free pair of Pearl Izumi tights and a YMX top? Very, I think. Even worse, I would have felt ridiculously guilty lying on the couch wearing running gear if I had no intentions of running.

Compromise. I am not running on any particular plan and with very loose goals. I try to run four times a week, with midweek runs between 3 and 4 miles and a weekend run of 6 miles. I ran just shy of 4 on Monday and had planned to do the same. Instead, I told myself I could go out for 2 miles. I'm not sure when I last ran "just" 2 miles, and I knew if I got out there that I'd probably stay for at least 3.

Denali. He's a pain, especially when he doesn't get exercise. A few miles would do him some good and help make him more docile the rest of the night.

Running buds. I don't have any pals to run with in my neighborhood but I have lots of virtual friends. Well, maybe not lots but whatever. I checked Daily Mile and saw what everyone else had done that day, what they had battled, and I figured if they did it, so could I.

Updated thanks to a reminder from Kim:
By a strand. It's usually a good idea to shower after a run. Usually. Running would mean that I would need to shower at night and showering at night would mean that I'd have ready-to-be-styled hair in the morning. (Aka - I might not look like a hot mess at work.)

Committed. And I don't mean to an institution though that might provide me with some much needed down time. Anyway, I had made a promise to myself that I would run and I don't break promises - especially the ones I make to myself. I knew I would be disappointed if I didn't just even attempt a run.

So I did. And my mood was 38 times better for it.

What gets you out the door?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jolly old, St. ... err, Denali

Somebody sneaked into our house last night.


No worries - he was welcome. It was St. Nicholas, after all.


The Feast of St. Nicholas honors the life and deeds of Bishop Nicholas, who was revered as a gift-giver and protector of children. Growing up in a German-Catholic household in a German-Catholic area, the stories and celebration of St. Nicholas were commonplace. It was never anything extravagant - a few pieces of candy, an ornament and maybe a small gift - but it was something we looked forward to early in the Advent season.


I know Miles has no idea what is going on but I wanted to begin the tradition now and allow it to grow in the coming years. In his stocking was a book and a pair of holiday jammies to wear on Christmas Eve. (A Facebook friend posted that her kids pick several toys on St. Nick "eve" to donate to charity, which I think is an awesome idea and very much in the spirit of the man.)


Of course, I was not surprised to find that Miles gave no attention to his gifts. He was far more interested in Denali's KONG.

So much for my traditions.

What does surprise me is how much this child eats. At 17 months, I swear this kid puts away food like a high school football player.


Take yesterday morning. I made him his standard scrambled egg with broccoli and cheese. He had two graham crackers while I was cooking the egg and a quarter of a banana. A half-hour, 45 minutes later, he was asking for another cracker. I compromised with a fruit and grain bar.


We had some running around to do, and I am so grateful I had the foresight to stuff a string cheese in my purse. The stick was consumed as we weaved through the aisles at Walmart.


And if that wasn't enough, he saw me eating an apple in the car and insisted on having it.

Lunches vary for Miles but daycare is very good about giving him well-rounded meals. This week, I know he had meatloaf and rutabaga - one of which ended up on the floor. Want to guess which? Snacks are often fruit and crackers. The fruit sometimes ends up on the floor, sometimes it doesn't. The crackers ... well, they are always eaten.


Miles eats whatever we have for dinner. Last night, we went to my in-laws and my MIL made tuna casserole and broccoli. Both devoured by Miles.


I am sharing Miles' eats as par of Brittany's Munchkin Meals and because I'll be accepting donations to feed my future Olympian. OK. Just kidding on the second part. Be sure to check out the other Munchkin Meals.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Forget that, eat this

If there is one thing I've learned over the years of trying to find a healthy lifestyle it is forgiveness. Forgive yourself for having a bad day. Forgive yourself for eating two pieces of dessert. Forgive yourself for hitting snooze and taking an unplanned rest day.

Of course, I say this with a belly bursting at the seems. The bland tuna casserole made with white pasta, which went against my healthy holiday challenge, sits heavy in my stomach. I almost feel sick, and the sad thing is that those extra bites weren't even worth it. (In my defense, I think I kept eating it in the hopes that it would magically get better.)

But rather than beat myself up for a less than stellar day, I'm going to move on and relish the rather inspired eats of recent days.

1. Hash made with green peppers, onions, broccoli, spinach and red potato with an egg on top.

2. Mini whole wheat bagel with homemade cinnamon almond-pecan butter and a sprinkling of trail mix.

3. Apple with trail mix (raisins, seeds and nuts)

4. Thai Fried Quinoa with marinated scrambled tofu (Figging amazing. I swear.)

5. Hospital salad with cottage cheese (no dressing) and Naked juice

6. Baby carrots

7. Cuban-style sandwich made with leftover roast pork, grilled onions and jalapenos on Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Flax bread. It was served with broccoli.

Of course.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Animal instincts

 Dear neighbor with the pit bull,

I am mad at you. Very mad at you. After all, it is your fault that I did not log the miles I had so hoped on Sunday morning.

I was running on a glorious fake winter day, courtesy of a gracious husband who took my toddler shopping for the holidays. I had set out with a loose plan of 5 miles but I felt good, and it turned into 6 miles then a 10K. I was on track to hit the 6.2-mark at my driveway when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw your stupid tan and white dog.

Your dog might be a nice dog. He might not be the pit bulls you hear about on the news, the ones who attack small children. But that's not a reason to leave him untethered and otherwise uncontained in the front yard. He barks - loudly - and runs the length of your property, obviously indicating his territory and, more than likely, his intention to protect it.

And it scares me. A lot. So much so that I fear running past your house will only further excite the dog and incite a fight. When I see your dog in this state - we both know this isn't the first time - I stop my MOTOACTV, slow to a walk and chalk up the run as done.

Even if I don't want it to be. Like Sunday, when I ran an asinine 6.14 miles.

So please, please, please stop being a crap and put your dog in the fenced back yard. The one I know you have.

Yours truly,



I like to believe I'm a good dog owner - I exercise Denali, give him good food and make sure he doesn't stink. I am forgiving, though, as I know things happen. You know, like a bored dog sneaks out the front door and explores the neighborhood for two hours. My runs lately, including Sunday's almost 10K, though, have left me with a few pet peeves.


1. No matter how well behaved/trained, a dog can and will leave a yard if given the right motivation. Shock collars and invisible fences are not fail-safes either. It is not wise to just leave your dog running around with the expectation that a) he will stay there; and b) no one will get hurt. Also, any passersby will not be hip to your dog's awesome abilities to stay in a yard and might be frightened by an exhibit of territorial rights. Example: A fancy house in a nearby fancy neighborhood has a Labradoodle with an invisible fence. The dog is nutso and runs the length of the entirely too big yard yard at Usain Bolt pace and I nearly crap my pants every time.

2. If you can't control your dogs around other people/animals/fire hydrants, find a place to exercise them that doesn't involve those things. On Sunday's run, again, Denali and I encountered a man riding his bike with three dogs. THREE. He was on the sidewalk, coming toward us, but went to the street to give us room. The three dogs were in the park strip, going absolutely insane as we passed. Again, near crapping of the pants. I was worried not only for my safety and Denali's well-being but that of the cyclist. They surely could have pulled him over and thrown him in traffic. Some might call it Darwinism but I try to be protective of my fellow man.

3. Retractable leashes are the dumbest things ever. Don't use them. Seriously. They don't offer any control over your dog, and your dog doesn't need to walk 20 feet in front of you. Unless you are having a quarrel but that's another story. If your dog needs that much room, go to the dog park or buddy up with someone who has a fenced yard.

4. I might get flak for this but oh well. I can't let my dog be an "outside" dog so you shouldn't get to make your cat be an "outside" cat. If you do, and my dog lunges for it, knocking me to the ground, and eats it ... well, not my fault.

Have you had any frightening animal encounters? What are your pet peeves?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fake winter, is that you again?

December 3. 61 degrees at 7 p.m. Attire: New $2 Columbia tank and Target shorts.


Even more insane? I was tempted to ditch the tank and just wear a sports bra + shorts halfway through the nearly 4-mile sweat fest.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A healthier mindset

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been 342 posts since my last confession.

I've been keeping something from you. Something almost monumental: It has been two weeks since I last a Diet Coke. Fourteen days since the effervescent bubbles passed through my lips. Three hundred thirty-six hours since I filled my body with aspartame.

I know this might come as a shock to many of you. I have unapologetically pledged my love for the sweet, refreshing beverage but I assure you that it wasn't a rash decision.

Wait. Maybe it was.

A friend of mine shared Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Healthy Holiday challenge on Facebook, and I couldn't help but be intrigued. The challenge was designed for devotees of Fuhrman's plant-based Eat to Live lifestyle to recommit during the holidays. While I've never had any interest in the plan - it is far too restrictive for my liking though I admire and support people who can do it - the challenge was posted just after I questioned whether my eating habits could be considered healthy. As I thought about it - and later accepted, a day later, - I hoped it would allow me to focus on whole foods and, just possibly, retrain my brain and stomach to crave a more plant-based lifestyle.

Among the goals for the two-month challenge:

• Eat at least one large salad every day
• Eat generous amounts of cooked green vegetables, mushrooms, and onions
• Eat beans every day
• Eat at least three fresh fruits every day
• Avoid white flour
• Avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners
• Use oils sparingly

Easy enough, right?

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Not only did the challenge start the week of Thanksgiving, when I would be traveling and craving my favorite Cincinnati foods, it made my already open eyes even wider as I realized just what ingredients some of my favorite foods contain. Peanut butter? It has sugar. Any salad dressing, even the best, have oils. Many wheat breads have white flour, as well.

Beyond that, it solidified my awareness that I was dependent on sweet flavors - if not addicted. I put stevia in oatmeal, sugar-free syrup on pancakes and honey on sweet potatoes. I craved chocolate after lunch and Diet Cokes after a hard workout. I immediately went for a Skinny Cow after dinner. Looking back at my food tracker, I easily logged 300 empty calories from mini chocolate bars or so called diet-friendly ice cream treats.

Adhering to the guidelines of the challenge required almost drastic changes to my diet, palate and meal preparation. I could no longer rely on processed foods - at all - and I would have to retrain my brain from healthy eating, diet style, to healthy eating, quasi-nutritarian style. Among them: I've had to learn how to enjoy oatmeal without sweetener; find suitable beverages that don't involve sugar or sweeteners, artificial or natural; make my own nut butter or go to Fresh Market for the freshly ground; get creative with snacks, especially night-time; plan and prepare lunches for the week; and hit up the grocery more often for fresh vegetables.

It's been overwhelming at times, to say the least. I've felt lost about what I "can" eat and unenthusiastic about drizzling vinegar on a bowl of greens rather than using the fork-dip method with my beloved ranch. Thanksgiving was a buffet of white flour and sugar at which point, I gave in and ate as many vegetables as I could and picked select foods to indulge in. Joining the challenge did give me a free membership to Dr. Fuhrman's recipes but his eating plan is nearly vegan, in addition to being salt- and oil-free, and the recipes have tested my comfort levels and budget.

At the same time, it has been gratifying to reach a point where I no longer need sugar and feel proud of the way I am eating. I'm adjusting the challenge to meet my needs and own goals (oil is OK and meat one meal a day) but feel like it's something I can do for two months. Longer? We'll see but I'm hopeful.

Oh, in case you were wondering: I still miss Diet Coke. Like, really, really miss it.