September 15, 2012 § 4 Comments
I went to yoga this morning.
Sweaty, tough, beautiful vinyasa.
The sun salutations were plenty. One legged chaturangas, too. So many utkatasanas (chair pose), core cultivation, crescent lunging, crow (side crow is beyond me; watch superstar Kathryn Budig’s unbelievable video below) and twists.
My arms, back and sides were awaken. They are sleeping again now, but will probably scream at me tomorrow morning after a long night’s rest.
I walked out knowing that the addition of weekly guided vinyasa is going to help me build strength in areas that running alone can’t provide.
Will I have the stamina for both? This remains to be seen.
On the schedule tomorrow is any easy 6-8 miles. Compared to this morning’s yoga class it will be like a good old walk in the park!
Tell me running friends…. Do you incorporate yoga and/or strength training to improve performance?
August 31, 2012 § 13 Comments
Running is important to me, keeps me sane and levels my pre-diabetic blood sugar.
I am in no way a professional, rather a mere mama who likes to run, likes to learn, appreciates a good challenge and crossed the finish line at her first marathon (less than six months ago) feeling both elated and defeated simultaneously.
Having signed up for my next marathon, Miami 2013 ( Jan. 27), I continue to run and learn and hope that I can strategize differently (better) for a faster time and more consistent race (less tired/more energy at the twenty-mile marker).
My training for Tobacco Road was strictly running, little cross training, following the Novice 2 plan by Hal Higdon. The Higdon plan is pretty straightforward consisting of a four-day run week with the long run exertion at an easy comfortable pace. Walk breaks are acceptable, especially through water stations, though I worked hard to run without them.
In the months between my two races, there has been the time and opportunity to test out different theories, the latest being the Galloway method using the run/walk/run ratio.
I like Galloway. I like running with my 10:30 pace group (although our walk/run speed is closer to 12:30).
But my problem with the plan that has nothing to do with running and everything to do with what goes on in my head.
For starters, none of the Olympic marathoners I watched this summer stopped to walk. If they didn’t stop to walk then running an entire 26.2 can be done. So shouldn’t we try?
Unfortunately, I am not an Olympian and my ability to keep a pace that results in a happy finish time requires walking. Strategizing walk breaks, then, would be a good way to go for the next race. If I could just get my head to accept it’s okay.
Having just received the current Runner’s World magazine in my mailbox, I came across an article by Alex Hutchinson about the Hansons; brothers who run marathons and train Olympic runners.
Their philosophy is in, “cumulative fatigue,” teaching your body to run fast on tired legs and “push recovery,” meaning that if your hard runs are easy, then your preceding runs were not hard enough.”
This makes sense, but how can the average mama bear use this strategy in her isolated/no trainer on the payroll training?
By putting mileage on your legs and going out with a little bit of fatigue, you can prepare your body for going farther distances. This makes sense to me.
Push Recovery doesn’t seem as clear.
The Hansons’ plan calls for a “nine-day hard-easy-easy cycle.” What does that mean? Does that suggest you run for a total of nine days and rest for the next two? That your runs should be hard, then easy, then easy, repeated for a total of nine days?
So here I am, constantly learning and testing the strategies with the hope that I finish Miami strong and happy with my performance. Not a professional in any way, but a lover of the game completely!
Are you in training? What does your training plan look like? Do you know anything about the Hansons’ plan? Share!
August 29, 2012 § 11 Comments
When Ryan Hall dropped out of the Men’s Olympic Marathon less than a month ago, people accused him of being a quitter.
There are Pinterest quotes that scream, “Pain is temporary and quitting is permanent!”
I get that quitting can be bad, but it also can be good (and needed and safer and in Ryan Hall’s decision was an intelligent choice to save a career by accepting an injured hamstring).
I quit drinking Diet Coke well over a week ago when I realized that I was cracking a can every time I felt thirsty. I knew it was wrong, but I’m not sure it was because I felt so awful that I knew it had to be quit. It was a case of intellect outshining desire (damned desire) and in this case my brain won.
It was the first step in taking back some control of a diet that had spun away from me. I’d retreated back to the coping mechanism of using food during what’s been a tumultuous time in my life.
Entering day four without sugar hasn’t been as easy, but it also hasn’t been torture.
I am not having huge cravings and I’m beginning to feel what I think is hunger.
Five days ago the habit to return to the fridge/kitchen/pantry for energy and fuel and emotional strength left me feeling like a guinea pig on a wheel.
Once the wheel got going I could run and run and run, but I never felt satiated and never felt good.
But it saved me from having to think.
The hardest part of cutting out the refined sugar has not been the cravings. It’s been setting myself up to make better choices by having a fridge/kitchen/pantry stocked full of the right things.
In the midst of a hectic day, given the choice to eat a bag of Twizzlers over anything else, the decision too often made itself. Admitting is the first step to recovery and so I confess. This is how I tick. This is how I was made.
Will I ever eat a cupcake again? I’d be in denial if I said, “No.”
Do I hope I’m not in the position to eat one (or a box) for a long time? Oh God, on knees, saying prayers.
My biggest hope is that when I do decide to eat a cupcake (and let’s hope the cake part is moist and rich and the buttercream sings in its sweetness) that I will be able to stop there and not eat three.
A day at a time. A minute at a time. With faith that (for today) I can do this.
Do you emotionally eat? Do you have triggers? Ever feel like a guinea pig on a wheel in the kitchen (or anywhere else for that matter)?
August 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
My attempt to rise at 5:30 this morning was futile. My determination to run with the masses at a cool but ungodly hour had failed.
Instead, I drifted back to sleep after hitting the slide snooze, only to have a nightmare that woke me angry that I’d flaked on the activity and opted for sleep.
Subconscious punishment is the very worst kind.
Now that we’ve returned to Raleigh my eagerness to get back to a normal schedule is like a looming monster poking at me to get it done.
But Mr. Monster is not helping me get it done, rather scaring me into submission.
In order to get back to myself, closer to my healthy self (consistent running, yoga, mindful eating, consistent creative exorcism), I’ve got to just do it.
As my mother would say, “It’s like eating an elephant; one bite at a time.”
Elephant. Meet Monster. Now both of you, Shoo!
May 26, 2012 § 6 Comments
Adrenaline is coursing after a four mile run with the Galloway Group.
Today we ran one mile before an 80-85% push toward another mile marker.
I clocked my time at @9:15, slightly faster than I’d expected, probably because the last half mile was down hill.
I’m fairly certain that the 10.5 minute per mile group is the right one for me and I felt good (even up hill) with the group.
When I returned home the girls were just sitting down for breakfast with their dad.
I joined them and though probably should have refueled with a piece of Ezekiel bread and peanut butter, couldn’t resist the strawberry pancakes that Brian had already plated. Unfortunately, my fork couldn’t resist the sugar-coated lemon cake under cover in the center of the table, either. It, too, was begging to be eaten.
By the way, as I waited for the run to begin I spoke with two of the ladies from my group; Maria (the pace leader) and Kellie (e?) her marathoning partner. When Maria saw my name tag she turned to me and said, “Are you the blogger?”
“Yes, yes I am!”
Recognition for the blog and a fantastic four mile run all before 8:30 a.m.?
Perfect start to this perfect day!
April 25, 2012 § 14 Comments
I’ve succumbed to a bit of writer’s block since Sunday. Everything written has been tossed due to its scattered nature and ineffectiveness. I haven’t been able to get it together, though I’ve tried over and over again.
It’s a shame for a writer when the blockage rears its ugly head. There is nothing more frustrating.
I’ve been busy, too, and the abundance of good stories have led me back to the computer for try after try.
Yesterday I Skyped with my eighty-six year old grandmother whom I only met this past Thanksgiving, but whom I love like I’ve known my whole life. I’m learning to see my physical self a little more clearly through my relationship with my biological family. It was telling when Grandma complained about her medicines making it difficult for her to take off some extra weight she’d been carrying. It seems that our weight stickage is a genetic issue for all of us and I will probably continue my own struggle with the scale until I’m an old lady myself (rocking on a porch petting cats, no doubt).
On Tuesday I visited Target with my big girls who were being rewarded for their own tush wiping (finally) with big girl cups (the baby ones are being phased out). It’s a happy day when mothers finally get their kids potty trained. It’s a whole separate party when the kids no longer need assistance in the wiping department. A new sense of freedom all around.
Last night my husband’s friend Neal came over to install a couple of ceiling fans. I popped up excitedly when he entered the house with his daughters’ new husband, who incidentally is from Nepal. Vinod and Alecia met during her first year of college when she was visiting and volunteering in a Nepali orphanage. They fell deeply in love, these two from opposite sides of the world, and I’ve watched their story grow through uploaded images on facebook.
Neal’s daughter isn’t even out of college and yet he and his lovely wife Marcie have embraced this beautiful boy and the marriage of their eldest daughter. When Vinod called Neal, “Dad,” while handing him the proper screw for fan installation my heart melted a little. I love a good love story; a real one not found in a book. What moved me as much as the love story between the kids was the love involving the family. Baring witness to great parenting and the embracing of children’s dreams cannot be pushed aside or ignored. It’s an extraordinary love that when seen must be acknowledged.
It’s funny how the words can flow when I get a grip on what’s been bothering me causing decent writing to get stuck in the deepest corners of my head.
Christine, from Love, Life, Surf posted a piece that I read this morning about being labeled.
This week, I too was faced with one of the labels that I can’t seem to come to terms with.
This is the crux of my issue; the source of the block.
On Monday I went to visit to my doctor who has been there for me through ultrasounds with absent heartbeats, D&C’s, crazy pills and way too many tears. That much history gives someone enough knowledge about a person to have frank conversation.
Needless to say I was anxious about the visit.
That morning I put on mascara, which I never do because it hurts my eyes, in an attempt to look together. This was dumb, because all the reasons that I’m not together were imprinted in my file; proof of my past heartbreaks and medications and the reasons for them all permanently etched in black ink.
Everything was going fine until she went to check my weight.
“You don’t want to know what you weighed a year ago, Martha. My experience with you is that you eat when you’re sad. What’s going on?”
She’s efficient, my doctor, I must give her that.
Without missing a beat I put on my biggest smile in an effort to convince her that I had everything under control.
“I’m not sad!” I exclaimed.
“I ran a marathon!”
“I’m not taking Metformin anymore!”
“Brian and I are getting along!”
“Yes, we’re having sex!”
“Yes, I’m getting sleep!”
“No, I’m not depressed!”
“I’m blogging! I write! I’m doing things that make me happy!”
It all came out so fast; a high pitched attempt to convince Dr. Polly that I was totally A-Okay.
Driving home I was shocked by not only my behavior, but that feeling deep inside that pointed to self-loathing.
Am I a fraud? I blog about healthy living, yet I was just faced with all the ways I’m not.
In my anger I began to repeat the mantra, “I am more than a number on the scale!”
She hadn’t come out and labeled me fat, but the silent judgement rang in my ears.
The more I thought about it, the more anxious and angry I became.
I got home and the typical response to those kind of feelings took hold.
A chocolate chip cookie here, a bowl of ice cream there, a handful of marshmallows have no fat, dark chocolate is good for you, have a little more.
Food as comfort. Dammit. There it is.
Jenny C. may not be happy with me at my weigh in this morning, but it will be good to talk to someone about this pattern that I so easily slipped into in the moment my control of life seemed unmanageable. The moment that it wasn’t shiny and happy and not just perfect.
Perfection. None of us fit that description.
Happiness. It isn’t possible to be so all the darned time.
Managing. Living the best we can and recognizing our weaknesses.
Forgiveness. Believing that we deserve it, even when all signs point to the lack of perfection.
I am a work in progress.
I am more than a number on a scale.
I am a writer. I am a mother. I am a daughter and a wife. I am strong. I run. I care about people. I don’t lie. I am fair. I have worth.
With the post finally written I’m going for a run.
I feel best when my body is in motion. Somehow when moving the labels have less ability to grab hold and the fresh blood that surges through my body gives me renewed peace and comfort to be exactly who I am.
April 21, 2012 § 10 Comments
I rarely take my hair out of its place atop my head. Always in a knot, put there when it’s wet, it’s easy and it works.
Today it was tied as it always is, but came down during yoga and the dance that ensued.
I used to dance.
I used to rave and club and watch strobe lights turn the faces of my friends the most beautiful shades of blue and green and red; yellow, orange, and pink.
The early nineties in San Francisco were a playground for a free bird like me.
I pierced my nose, danced all night, had cocktails at the End Up for breakfast and wore platform shoes with mini skirts and knee socks. I drove around in a small white Mercedes and cut my hair as short as Mia Farrow with long whispy pieces by my ears.
Life is different today and that time of my youth is a long distant memory. In between play dates and pre-school pick-up, there’s not much opportunity to dance anymore, other than the occasional kitchen pajama party with the iPhone on full blast.
Unless I can manage to attend Carson‘s springtime fire generating vinyasa class, which I did this morning, my dancing feet don’t get much time to do their thing in the presence of people above the age of four.
The class was packed with wall to wall mats. The chatter of eager and waiting yogis was like cheerful music and I tried to record the sound with my phone, though when I played it back the energy that had felt palpable was missing. The waft of incense welcomed me and I found a spot in the center of the room.
I had a feeling there would be some dancing. Fire practices generate heat and the best way to do so is to move. The faster you move the more heat you produce. It’s not a rocket science, really.
The class itself was filled with lots of chaturangas and forward folds, utkatasanas, a few inversions, and a good bit of chanting.
The final movement was a dance called tandava kriya (Shiva’s dance).
Shifting from leg to leg to beats times two, elbow to opposite knee and back, twisting slightly at the waist to the thumping of drums, my pony started to fall.
I pulled out the elastic and my mess of a mop fell down in front of my face.
Back and forth I hopped from foot to foot, elbow to knee and so on. I closed my eyes tuning out anything but the drums. One, two, switch. Back and forth.
After a minute, my pounding heart insisted on slowing, which gave me a chance to look around. I brushed my hair out of my face and opened my eyes to find the entire space filled with dancing yoginis; heated hearts pounding together, lots of free pony tails, tendrils falling around shoulders.
It was freedom. A moving meditation. Letting go.
For a moment on my mat the young, wild, and free twenty-something me had a chance to escape.
I recognized her underneath all that flying hair.
We were connected and time was suspended.
I didn’t realize how much that girl had been missed.
She was an awful lot of fun.
And boy could she dance!
March 23, 2012 § 12 Comments
I had planned on hitting the road this morning for my first run back, but the pollen that poofed from the pine trees in Raleigh is too thick, covering everything living and dead with a coat of yellow dust.
Instead of pushing it and risking a sinus infection, plus the fact that overall I feel a little “spent,” means it’s a good time to take it easy and do a little cleanse.
Cleansing typically means a hiatus from the gunk that is consumed too often. This equals less empty calories ingested overall as the organs moves to absorb the easily digested juices and nutrients from the whole foods that are being consumed (in my case only at lunch). The body begins to reboot by flushing out the yuck that has been festering inside. It’s a process that takes a little while, which scares some people off. I, having done this once before, have seen the benefits first hand and am excited to give it another go.
With less calories being consumed from sources that are considered to be a problem for some (dairy, red meat, wheat, caffeine and sugar), comes what I describe as the lovely day 1 headache.
Instead of complaining or fixating or reaching for the coffee to make it go away, I have spent my morning at Whole Food collecting the good stuff (more chia, almond milk, flax meal, beautiful greens, etc.) and have an afternoon play date scheduled where I’ll spend my time holding a very small and sweet newborn.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and total health will not happen overnight, but every little step is one closer in the appropriate direction.
March 10, 2012 § 8 Comments
I have taper brain. I’m scattered, anxious, nervous, tired, hungry and unable to make too many decisions.
It would be wonderful to be able to write something substantial describing the past few days, but it’s too much of a challenge.
All I want to do is run. I dreamed of the race last night.
It was sunny with a sideways drizzle and I realized I needed the long running pants I tried at Lululemon on Thursday. I didn’t buy them, because of taper brain; the making decisions part. I’m going back today to complete the arsenal of race day gear.
It’s early now, but I think it best to dress and go.
Eight miles are on the agenda for this Saturday before the Expo.
The kids will be with Peach today. The husband and I have a date.
I hope we don’t kill each other. The last time we tried to enjoy each other’s company ended in a yelling match. He thinks I love the marathon more than him. I tried to explain taper brain, but it’s hard for people to understand who haven’t experienced it. It’s hard for me to explain and I’m going through it.
Nine days to go.
I can’t think in a straight line, but one thing is clear. I haven’t been this excited for anything in a long long time!
January 8, 2012 § 1 Comment
Once upon a time I hired a personal trainer. Her name was Michelle and she looked exactly like Sheryl Crow.
Michelle was the first person to teach me some of the basics regarding running and weight training. Real weight training like the boys do. Free weights equaled liberation!
I had never been in better shape than I was during that time, nor have I since. Michelle was a genius. But her genius was not just in the art of sculpting a body; she had a gift for teaching the keys to living a healthy life. She taught lessons that stuck. I wish I knew where to find her today if only to say, “Thanks!”
I remember once, after canceling a few appointments due to illness, Michelle pressured me to come in and see her. I dragged my sicky self to her studio, below street level at the end of Polk Street (in San Francisco) that wasn’t scary. She eased me into some leg work, a bit of free-standing arms, finished off with floor crunches and assisted stretching. In the end I felt new.
The lesson was this: When you’ve been immobile for even a short period of time, the muscles in your body get used to that state. And fast. They need to be moved so that their memory is revived and can then assist the rest of the body, which speeds recovery.
On day four of this dreadful sickness I am reminded of her lesson. As I re-enter the land of the living, tomorrow will be the day the muscles get the tiniest challenge. Maybe I’ll hit the mat for some easy breezy vinyasa? Maybe I’ll do a little Pure Barre crunchy work/upper body planky work? Maybe I’ll just walk the neighborhood and finish Vendela’s book. Only tomorrow will tell.
Even though I won’t be completely back on track, it’s good to have a plan.