Saturday, April 18, 2015

18 weeks to go...

No, I haven't fallen off the planet. I've been running, and visiting friends, and trying to survive the last little bit of this semester, and interviewing for jobs, and and and...

It's been hectic. Even so, I've managed to get in 35.6 miles this week, which brings my yearly total up to 418.1 miles. The icing on the cake: two of my runs this week were trail runs (YES!!!!!!) and I've been hitting my under 10 minute mile averages when I'm running on the roads. Running (for now, because what a fickle bitch it can be) is going well for me.

I have 18 weeks left until this race. My life is presently in a state of happy upheaval. I have no idea if I will find the time to train enough, but I'm loving my running (OMG Trail!!!!), and I feel like maybe it is loving me back a little.

As I was out on my run today, I had two realizations that I thought to share. First, one of my friends mentioned recently that running had given her more courage than she had ever had, and also more willingness to express her fire and passion (not her words, but I was a witness to that transformation). I started to reflect on my own experience with running after this. I have always been active. I was a fairly successful (and talented) equestrian in my teenage years and early 20's. I love the sport, I love the animals, I loved feeling competent.

For whatever reason, this never translated into the rest of my life. I didn't see myself as particularly smart, pretty, interesting etc. I dated guys who I knew liked me more than I would ever like them (for the most part). This sport that I loved and had so much confidence surrounding gave me very little in terms of confidence outside of the barn (maybe it was because I knew I always smelled vaguely horsey, which if you are an equestrian, is the best thing ever. If you aren't... it's fairly off putting).

When I started running distances, I found that running pushed me not only physically, but mentally. I started viewing myself as more capable in all aspects of life. At some point I realized how smart, pretty, interesting, and generally likable I am. I gave myself the space to be worth my own while in places other than the barn.

In a lot of ways, running has come to replace the horses. It isn't quite the same, but it really is something that if I dig into and commit time and energy, I will improve. I like seeing the improvement. Running has also taught me that I really can do more than I ever thought possible. It's pretty freaking sweet.

The second realization was far less profound: if you run with a back pack, people think you are a serious runner. I'm still not a serious runner. I'm just a happy woman, with some serious running to accomplish this year.

Get outside, go do something that you think you can't, and just watch how much you can grow.

PS- I start my internship at the Department of Community Health May 18. Wish me luck. It's my first real job in 3 years.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How do busy people do this?

I ran 6.3 miles last week! I'm awesome!

Seriously. How do busy people train for long races? Last week I had to travel to a city about an hour away twice. Leaving at 6:30 am each morning really cut into my run time. As a result. I did like zero miles almost.

So what did I do? I did some HIIT training and some other cardio based work outs, I did some push ups, some yoga...

Two things: this weather bouncing around between getting warmer and getting cold, it needs to stop. Second, I've got to start hitting higher miles.

But seriously. Busy people out there: how do you make time?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Keeping it (Mentally) Healthy

Last week I logged just over 37 miles, which was a great feeling.

I have a funny thing that happens: when I forget to be gentle or patient with myself, I see deer. Lots of deer. Deer when I drive, deer when I run, deer when I look out my backdoor. I haven't seen a lot of deer lately. One might argue that winter makes them more scarce, and the spring weather is encouraging them to emerge, but I feel like its an instantaneous form of feedback. If you look up deer as a spirit animal guide, you find they represent love, compassion, and gentleness, particularly toward the self. Tonight, as I sat here beating myself up about things beyond my control, the deer I had not seen in my backyard in ages just wandered through; it was an instant reminder that I deserve as much compassion as everyone else in my life.

Compassion and gentleness through this training process is the hardest part of the training. I used to be able to beat myself up, mentally and physically, in order to achieve my training goals. I can't do this any more.

Non-specific type eating disorders and exercise disorders are tricky and easy to disguise. I've told countless people over the years that my training requires a strict diet, a strict training program, a strict mindset. Half the time I wasn't training for anything, but if I told people I was, they wouldn't worry about my compulsive behaviors of tracking food and exercising to exhaustion. I've worked hard to stop these behaviors. So how do I know if I'm crossing the line back into to disordered habits and patterns?

I've learned a few things about my body: it often tells me what it needs if I shut my mind up and listen to it. My mind likes to should me: "You should run ten miles today because you ate rubens this weekend and someone asked if you were pregnant today (I'm not)" "You should eat only 1600 kcal a day" "You should lose weight to get faster"
My mind is actually a pretty boring place when I think about training. I know I'm approaching the line between healthy and disorder when I start listening too carefully to what my mind says. My mind thinks the only reason I run is to lose weight.

My body tells me so much more though. Like I ran 37 plus miles last week, and my body is a little tired this week, so maybe taking a few days to rest and do some restorative yoga might be a nice gift.
My body tells me how much I need to eat; it will gently prod me to notice I'm hungry. My body knows so much more about itself than my insistent mind. My body knows I run because I like the strength and the clarity that come with engaging in the sport.

Tonight, my deer reminded me that listening to my body and not my mind is what helps me keep this training healthy, and forgiveness, gentleness, and compassion for myself are the necessary tools for being ready to run this 50 miler in 5 months.

I am not perfect, but I am still worthy. I am not going to win this race, but I will finish it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

300 Miles

You know that accomplishment that you should celebrate, but you're just too overwhelmed to do anything about it?



I hit 300 miles for the year on Sunday. I think I hit that mark halfway through a nine and a half mile run.

This sense of missed accomplishment is a theme in my life right now. Like I'm hitting marks, but they are buried among other things, so I don't notice them until long after I've hit them.

There is a point in celebrating those marks though. I'm feeling blah about it this week, but I know once I settle back into my normal routine, I will shout my 300 miles from the mountain top.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Outside... Finally!!!!

Friends: I'm way behind where I hoped I would be at this point. I'm at 259.35 miles for the year. Which if you think about it, we are only 8 days into March. That isn't too shabby.

Thing that make me crazy: My husband's dryer doesn't actually dry stuff. Which makes life a little difficult when you need your outdoor running jacket, and it is still damp, and now smells slightly funky because it was left damp overnight. I don't mind my own funk smell, but I hate damp laundry funk.

But you know... running jacket! Because we are finally getting some weather that will not cause me to die if I run outside in it!

So... while I'm waiting for my laundry to finish drying (and hopefully stop stinking), things to contemplate today:
I'm grateful for this shift in weather, and the time outside it brings
I'm grateful to be sharing this long run day with my husband
I'm grateful to see the sun shining
I'm grateful everyone has their puppy dogs out of the house and running

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March: No more passes

I'm logging my training miles, I promise. I just haven't bothered to count them up for the last week. I'm at like... 19 miles for the week or something. It's not great, but hey. I'm doing something.

Yesterday, I mentioned that since it is no longer February, I no longer get a pass at (insert what ever I was referring to here. Running, research, joy...), and the general consensus was that the weather still was crap, and what difference does it make that it isn't February.

It's MARCH. Simply put, even if it is only (barely) 5 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, it's NOT February. I even ran outside on Sunday because it was above single digits. I only made a few miles because I was still really effing cold, but I ran outside.

Even if the ice floe I've been stuck in hasn't started to break up and start moving yet, I'm feeling like the ice is starting to make those tell tale groans that indicate a breakthrough.

I was seriously considering giving this race up a week ago.  I couldn't see myself ever making it through. Maybe I still will. This is one of the nose-to-the-grindstone-est years of my program, and I'm supposed to start looking for a job, and I'm staring down the possibility of a relocation. At least I feel like maybe it's a possibility again, and the endless Michigan super cold winter will come to an end at last. With the end of February, and the possibility of spring, my optimism seems to have return as well.

Lovelies, I hope today brings as much success as it has promise (I'm proposing my thesis today, so wish me luck). It's March. No More Passes. Go out there and do something that scares the shit out of you.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Staying Safe

Weekly milage: 30.2
Yearly total: 212.45 miles

It's been friggin cold in Michigan the last few weeks, and it will continue in this vein until at least next weekend. Yay! Running outside has been nearly impossible. Yesterday it warmed into the teens by mid-morning, so my husband and I took advantage of this.

There are two things on my mind while I write this. First, cold weather running requires a lot of thought, layers, and willingness to accept you just can't be outside for long periods of time, especially if you are a sweater like me. Not a jumper type of sweater, but like sweat dripping off my face in spite of it being 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Long runs outside really are dependent on a little bit of cooperation from the weather gods (and this true in every season, I suppose). Staying safe in the cold requires one to plan an outfit that allows for the addition or removal of layers, wind speeds or chill, and the willingness to accept the days where the treadmill might be the better bet for staying healthy and uninjured.

The second thing on my mind is a very different type of safety. Yesterday, as my husband and I were running on the bike path close to my apartment, some kids thought it would be funny/clever/smart to pull an Airsoft gun on us from a railroad trestle and shout "Give me all your money!" These kids had removed the orange tip that helps indicate the gun is an Airsoft; it looked like a scary gun. Was I in any real danger? Probably not. Even if I had been alone, and this pack of 12 year olds decided to try to beat me up, I probably could have fended them off. As soon as I realized the age of the kids, and the fact the gun wasn't actually capable of hurting me beyond superficially, I immediately became frightened not for myself, but for these young men. What if they had done this to an off-duty police officer, or someone who carries while they run just because? What if, what I view as, a REALLY STUPID prank turned into a REALLY HORRIBLE situation? What if one or more of those young kids ended up on the 10 pm news as the most recent victim of gun violence gone awry?

Runners on the whole tend to be kind, nonviolent sorts. The reaction of the running community to violence that occurs in or around it seems to trend to surprised and saddeness that someone would attack runners, because what on earth would a runner do to deserve that?

This is how I reacted: I screamed and froze (stupid, right?). One of the young men said "Lady, this is just a joke, it's not serious!" I think he was scared of getting in trouble. I realized all of these young men were either Black or Hispanic, and I realized right then and there that there was a good chance if they pulled this again, the result would not simply be a slightly freaked out 30 something year old runner. My husband looked pissed. I almost waved it off and started to run again, but I stopped, turned back and spoke to the kids. I don't know if anyone has talked to them about the state of violence in this country, but I begged them to not do this again, and to please stay safe. I told them to never pull this stunt on the wrong person (whatever that means). And please please please stay safe. I don't know if they heard me. I don't know if they made fun of me after the fact, but at least I said something that might make them stop and think about consequences of action in the future.

Which brings me to where I am now: worried about the violence these young men could elicit by pulling a really stupid prank, and worried that I haven't been concerned about the possibility of violence to my own person while running. I'm not a stupid runner. I avoid the places I know I'm supposed to avoid after dark, and I wear bright colors if I'm running somewhere hunting is allowed. I've never felt unsafe when I run. Is this naivety? Is this a stupid one off thing that I never need to think about again? Should I get a giant dog for a running partner (actually, I think this is a good idea any way... but there are several reasons for this)?

Two things I wish I had done: demanded the kids go home and tell their mothers how much they love them, and demanded each one of them hug me. That's the runner in me, I think. Hug it out. It will be okay.

In this cold weather, promise me two things: you will dress in layers if you go for a run, and forgive yourself for not being able to be outside as long as you would like to be. As for violence, what can we do? Do our best to be kind, and hope that our kindness will always win out. A weak suit of armor, but something I still feel like I can stand behind. And maybe get a big dog that needs a lot of exercise.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oh Hello February...

Milage Update: I've logged over 150 miles this year so far. I took two easier weeks, and came back this week like I was shot out of a grenade launcher... sort of.

Which leads me to the title: February. I hate February. I don't even care if we have had more sun than normal this year, there is something about the way time moves in February that makes it nearly impossible to tolerate. Time is moving really fast on one hand. Some how it is already February 13, but it seems like we are stuck in this cold winter, where the days are still too short (they are getting longer, but the sun doesn't come up until at least 7:45 in the morning). February makes me feel like I'm living the movie Groundhog Day.

Staying motivated this month has been a challenge. I've had to be really forgiving, allowing myself to have a different schedule if necessary. For example: my sweet husband drove in last night for the weekend, and he is relying on me for gym access this weekend. He didn't want to get up early to go (which I don't blame him for, he got in late last night). Instead of being rigid, I made him promise to go with me in the afternoon. People! This is progress!

That being said, I'm feeling fairly on track with this training thing. I did an 11 mile run/walk on Sunday, and I ran most of it. I even griped a little (like a serious runner) about how my
 miles were too fast. I needed to slow down!

Running is going well. My eating habits on the other hand... need some work. I'm using February as an excuse to eat all the chocolate. Every last bit of it. My adviser stuck his head in my office yesterday and asked if he was the only bad one who ate cookies. I said "No. If there is sugar I will find it". I've been eating my greens, yes, and eating lots of lean protein, but there has been a lot of chocolate and wine to go along with them. Running a lot has been my excuse, but I'm sensing some weight creeping back on, and that isn't what I need as I'm increasing miles.  I need to maintain this weight.

I don't believe in denying, but I may need to do a sugar fast. Just a week off of it will loosen the grip that it has had on me. My husband was talking about doing a high lean protein and veg, low everything else short term diet. Maybe it isn't a bad idea for a week or so. Just to get back into the really healthy groove I had been in.

But I really love chocolate and it is February. Maybe I will start with limiting my chocolate to only between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

Also, I've decided that my Zumba class I take on Thursday nights for fun totally counts for three miles (I don't count them in my milage total, but I mentally add them to my total exertion for the week).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekly Milage Update and You Live and You Learn

I ran 31.8 miles this week, which brings my yearly total to 100.7 miles. Not too shabby.

One of the kickers about running gear is it is often fancy. Like you should fully explore your new water system before taking it out on a winter day for a run, otherwise you won't find the pocket where the water reservoir is supposed to sit. If you miss that, the reservoir will leak all over the pocket you've placed it in, and even though you won't get wet, your back pack will be soaked on the inside.

At least that is what my husband learned today :)

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Total miles for the year: 68.9

The requisite post about self care, otherwise known as Actually, rest days are important for recovery, but that doesn't stop me from thinking this way sometimes.
(Thank you Pinterest)

So now we are all inspired by Arnold and his commitment to being big, here are some thoughts on self care.

Rest days ARE important. This is one of my biggest struggles with running. I love physical activities of all sorts. Most of my hobbies are some sort of physical activity, and when I have to be on a training schedule, making time for the things I love doing and acknowledging that
my body needs rest gets a bit tricky. Yesterday I convinced myself that my favorite yoga work out totally counted as a rest day. I had forgotten about the very very very very challenging core sequence called "Abs with a rolled up mat". My abdominal muscles are very sore and inflamed today, thank you very much.

Part of my self care is acknowledging that there will still be a million different forms of physical activity that I can participate in after this fifty miler, so when I open an email and see "Best New Strength Moves for Sexy Beach Arms!!!" I don't immediately run to the gym to try out the newest (not new at all, typically) moves to develop my arms. I have also gotten better at realizing that I can focus more on upper body stuff on my non-running days to give my legs a well-deserved break.

I have committed to getting massage regularly. This is probably easier for me than most people, as I was a massage therapist in a former life, and have friends with whom I can trade, but I still pay for a massage once a month. I highly recommend massage, especially if you feel your ilio-tibial bands tightening down, which usually manifests as knee pain commonly known as runner's knee. In my experience, myofascial release techniques can help prevent some common running injuries, like runner's knee.

You can do some of your own self care massage using a foam roller. Foam rollers can be found at most gyms now, and at most major chain stores. Here is a good looking guide to foam rolling from

Being a former massage therapist, I have a few techniques up my sleeve that I can use on my, including massage cupping.

(This is my ilio-tibial band with massage cups on it. There are magnets with opposite polarities inside of them. There were also more cups on my glutes, but I figured I didn't really want my butt on the internet)

This is what I use when my fascia is really locked down, and foam rolling isn't hacking it. If you do find a massage therapist, I recommend finding someone who has training in massage cupping; it is far more tolerable than skin rolling for releasing superficial fascia.

Keeping myself functional is key right now. Massage, stretching, foam rolling, and rest days are just as important as the time I spend running.

But cross country skiing is finally a possibility...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Update on total miles for 2015

I've decided I'm going to keep track of the number of miles I run this year. I'm going to post a weekly update giving you that total so far.

Here it is
I've run 40.6 miles so far in 2015.

Keep it coming!

Food food food food food

Running makes me even hungrier than normal.

I'm a hungry person to start, so when I run regularly I have to eat a lot. The trick to eating as much as I do is to pay attention. I don't strictly count calories for two reasons: 1. I hate counting calories; the act makes me totally twitchily irritated. 2. I was diagnosed with a non-specific type eating disorder a few years ago. Part of the recovery is not counting  calories, not weighing yourself, and talking a lot about how much you have cut back on exercise. Real fun stuff. I can tell you that the last thing you want to do after working hard at recovery is to go back to counting calories. Every once in a while, when I notice my weight slipping to a range that means new pants are imminent unless I lose a few pounds, I will count calories for a week. That is all I have patience to attempt, and it sufficiently resets my concept of how much I need to eat. I typically don't have to do much more.

This paying attention thing, how does it work? I have to confess, my style of paying attention is fairly simple: eat when I am hungry (which is all the time), and I shoot for an 80/20 split over the course of the day.

What do I mean by 80/20 split? I mean 80% of the time the food I'm eating is providing essential nutrients and is made of things that are pretty healthy. I eat a lot of vegetables. I drink green juice (which is getting easier every day, if you haven't noticed. Even V-8 Juice brand is making a green version with no tomatoes for those of us with heart burn). I focus on whole grains, lots of colors, lean protein sources. 20% of the time, I'm eating something that maybe isn't so healthy. I love chocolate. I love wine. I love any type of food that comes in dip form.

Here are the most important things to remember about food in my world:
Normal eating isn't being perfect every day. Normal eating means some days you eat more, some days less. Some days you eat all the servings of vegetables you are supposed to, some days you eat donuts. Normal eating is less about striving for perfect food days every day (and we can talk about the pain and stress of trying to have perfect food days, if you like), and more about eating things that make you feel good with out guilt.

Fuel is essential for a good run. I NEVER have a good run when I realize I am really hungry before I start. A little hungry? Fine. I can make it. Hungry hungry never makes for a good start. I putter out after a few miles. This totally seems like a duh moment, but I swear I used to always run on an empty stomach. It was part of my eating disorder, and I've finally realized that it just doesn't work.

My renegade nutritionist who helped me through the first part of my recovery gave me the gift of knowing that perfect isn't what I need to achieve; she also gave me the gift of telling me she eats Poptarts. When you are as caught up in being perfect as I was, hearing a nutritionist say she eats Poptarts is a revelation.

Oh, there is one more piece: working at maintaining a grateful heart. When you are grateful for the food in front of you, it becomes less about trying to be perfect, and more about appreciating the moment. I'm not very good at this. I'm inclined to be critical of myself. It is a practice though, and I'm trying to make this practice a part of my training.

Stay warm out there (unless you are somewhere warm, then stay cool).

Friday, January 2, 2015

Treadmill Blues

I ran/walked 8 miles on a treadmill yesterday.

I hate treadmills. In order to stay on a treadmill for more than five minutes without completely losing my mind, one of three things must happen: I must either have a really good book playing on my headphones, or I must turn off my human brain and go into robot mode, or I have to mess with my speed every few minutes.

Yesterday I was all settled in with my book, listening happily to Amy Poehler's  Yes, Please!, running along while my husband watched the disaster that was the first three quarters of Michigan State University's Cotton Bowl Game (which some how, the last quarter stopped being a disaster for MSU, and they won. We did not watch that part, of course. I firmly believe if we had been watching, they would have continued to suck, because my presence at a television exerts that much influence) from his treadmill.

And then my headphones stopped working.

In order for me to stay put, this means one of two things must have happened in order for me to run 5 more miles on a treadmill. Robot mode was achieved for about 3 more miles, and then I messed with my speed for the last 2 miles. It was... fun?

I so prefer trail running. Treadmills are good for me because they force me to run at a consistent speed. I know exactly how long I've been on that treadmill though. The advantage to treadmills right now is that is friggin' cold outside, and I'm a little more of a cold sissy than I am a hardcore trail runner.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to getting home to Michigan, where I know of trails on which I can run and get some good training time outside.  Which leads me to the second point of my post. My husband is my main support structure in this race. My husband lives in Madison, Wisconsin. My husband and I don't live together.


More so than anything right now, I'm feeling a mix of sad and happy because I'm leaving in two days to head back to Michigan. I'm going to plan a bunch of trail runs for myself to help me keep my chin up, because this, dear readers, is too hard.

If any one in the Lansing area wants to trail run with me, let me know. They won't be terribly long, but they will be fun! I've heard we've had like zero snow.