Saturday, September 24, 2011

Am I okay with being slow?

I was out on a 5mi run one lovely morning.  The temps were not scorching, humidity was not choking and the sun was not quite that high in the sky.  I felt fantastic!  I felt like I was flying, barely touching the ground with each stride.  I remember thinking to myself, "My gosh I'm going so fast!"  At that same moment, I was passed by two people.  I couldn't believe it!  Really?  If I'm flying, they must be launching into orbit!  And then...I looked at my watch and it revealed to me the Turtle pace I was actually going.  But the Turtle beats the Hare, right?

A slow pace just feels good.  It feels like I can go on forever.  And when I'm done?  I have a high that carries me all day long.  All is right with the world!  But, there is one small problem.

I don't like to be passed, and I don't like to lose.  So, how do I reconcile this feel-good feeling with the nice and easy pace with this competitiveness I seemed to have developed?  What if I am a one-paced wonder?  Can I be okay with that?

In all honesty, I have not done any kind of speed work and I've made all my runs this month easy runs just to recover and get the mileage in before last week's 10K.  So can I get faster?  It's possible.  People say that intervals work wonders.  Kelly has me starting speed work on Monday, so we'll see if the legend is true.  For now...i'm off for an easy 5m.  It's precipitating today, so it looks like I am treadmill bound today.  Yes, I could brave the elements...but I'm a weenie baby when it comes to wet stuff falling from the sky.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Run for Green 2011 - Race Recap

Saturday, September 17, marked a busy day in Davidson, North Carolina.  Not only was it Green Day, where the Davidson Lands Conservancy brings together vendors and booths that highlight sustainable practices on the Town Green AND featured a release of a red shouldered hawk from the Carolina Raptor Center; it was also the Run for Green - 5K, 10K and Half Marathon.  Over 650 runners on a beautiful morning in the Piedmont.  What a great way to start the day!

Yours truly ran the 10K.  6.2 miles.  This was my first attempt at that distance and my first race since my stress fracture.  It was odd.  I wasn't really all that nervous.  I ran the route the previous week, so I knew I could make the distance.  I think that was a huge confidence booster right there.  It was a little chilly, around 52F, and I was questioning the no-sleeve shirt I had on.  I stuck with it though, just kept my jacket on until the last possible moment!

You could feel the electricity in the air.  Everyone was chomping at the bit....ready to get on with it!  You see, we were all chasing something; a place in the top 3, winning an age group, chasing a PR, running down a nemesis or as one of my friend's boyfriend enlightened ...sometimes girls in skirts makes boys run faster ;-) was time to go!  On your mark, set........BANG (or whistle in this case)

So, my running pal, Ellen, and I ran.  Fast at first, with everyone else down the quick hill to the 1st greenway, and then we steadied the pace a bit.  Faster pace for me, slower for her ;-) The first two miles went by like a blink of an eye.  Easy, fun...golly I felt great!  Some slight inclines here and there, but nothing dramatic.  We then got a nice big downhill to catch our breath...unfortunately, that nice big downhill will end up being the uphill from hell around the 4.5mile mark.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We started the 2nd greenway, and I think we both were feeling pretty good.  Every once in awhile I'd catch a peak at our pace.  Sometimes I saw 9:30, sometimes 8:30...there may or may not have been a 7:15 in there for a split second, but that didn't last long!  Passing mile 4, I began thinking that I should slow down or I wasn't going to make it to the end.  Around 4.5 or so, we met Patrick Johnston Lane (aka: uphill from hell) head on.  Or for me, it was head down and truck my big 'ol butt up it like the Little Engine That Could.  And I did!  Maybe I could have walked it faster, but I wanted to RUN the whole distance.  It was my own personal goal!

Now, from here on in, it seems there is nothing but inclines until the finish line.  And I'm not really making this stuff up.  Good news?  I only had one "omigosh-I'm-gonna-die" moment and that was with only like .75 to go.  At around .5-.25, I can't help but speed up.  I mean...that's what I do.  My legs just go faster. I don't tell them too.  I think they just want to be done, so they go as fast as they can go.  So they did.  I even passed someone going UP hill.
So a public apology:

 I'm sorry gentleman in black, I don't know what happened, I just started going fast.  It was a little rude of me, especially since I was behind you for pretty much the whole race.  But, I guess it is a race, and you were between me, the finish line and free beer.  Thanks for understanding. -H

Here are some pictures coming in for the finish, which came to be 1:02:11 at a 10:01mile pace.  Not fast compared to the rest of the field, but a PR for me, and better than my last 5K pace of 10:35. I'd like to take this moment to direct you to check out my leg muscles.  I now have some!  Awesome.

All in all?  A fantastic day!  Probably one of my best runs.  Ever.  And what makes it even better?
You guessed beer.  Cheers!

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's almost tomorrow, already?

Rewind to July 16, 2011.  I believe I was in San Francisco at the Google Geo Summit, and I was stylin' and profilin' looking pretty sexy with my peg leg.  I was 2-3 weeks with my boot, looking forward to when I could walk without sounding like a creeper in a B horror flick.

On July 26 and still a creeper, I met with Kelly to go over my "come-back" plan.  "Kelly, I'm supposed to run a 10K in September, but I don't know how realistic that is."  With neither of us really knowing, there it was on my calendar for September 17.  5K or 10K.  On August 1st, I ditched the peg leg and started my way back to the gym, but according to Frank (the doc), still no running for 3-4 more weeks.  September 17 seemed far away, yet it was around the corner.

On August 21, I hit the track.  Now, 4 weeks and 38.5 slow miles later, it's almost tomorrow, September 17.

Tomorrow.  September 17.  Run for Green.  Time to get excited!

Tomorrow.  It's you and me, Mr. Road. 7:40 a.m.  I got your 6.2m.  You can try to stop me, but I'm coming after you and you're goin' down.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dear Dad,

I haven't written or spoke to you in awhile.  And to be honest, I don't think about you as much as I used to.  I don't know why.  I guess I've just been busy with life?  I do miss you though.  You'd be 68 today...

I really don't like this date.  9/11/1991.  9/11/2001.  It's 5:30 p.m.  on 9/11/2011 and so far all's quiet and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. you think maybe you could talk to the Big Guy Upstairs and ask him to make something absolutely wonderful and happy happen on this date?  Something that can erase all the sad?

Anyway.  I just wanted to write and say hi.  I love you and miss you.  Maybe you can visit me sometime when I'm sleeping...I could really use a hug.

Love you lots,
Your Pigwart

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Running as an Addiction

Hello.  I'm Hope, and I have an addictive personality.

I'm thankful and lucky that this has not led me down destructive pathways as it has for many, but I am an addict nonetheless.  Some of the addictions I've overcome border on trivial and idiotic, like Diet Coke and sugar; heck...I'm addicted to chapstick for heaven's sake.  True story.  If that little tube of lovliness is not in my pocket, and I need my hands get sweaty, my heart beats faster...I can't concentrate, I'm on high alert and get extremely aggitated.  But one of my addictions had become a bit too serious and I had to become a quitter.  As of 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 6, 2011, I have been four weeks smoke free.  (YAY!!!)

But I wonder.....have I again substituted one addiction for another?  Have I replaced one high for another?  Is running an addiction?

Easy answer, and I think most will agree, is yes.  Now, we know I'm not scientifically gifted, but let's think about it.  After we run for a significant period of time, chemicals are released in our body and when we're done, we experience a feeling of sheer invincibility, might be different for each person, but I'm confident in saying that this is the endorphin rush or "runner's high" that people speak so fondly of.  It's truly a remarkable rush.  It's...well, it's addicting.  We all know it.  Now, we may not talk about it, but we know it.  Even Nike picked up on it and incorporated it into a (brilliant) marketing tool:

So now I running a healthy addiction?  Most wouldn't think twice about saying "well of course it is!" But let's look at it a little deeper.  This rush.  It makes us do things we normally wouldn't do.  I think my mother would agree with me that no way in hell would I wake up a 5:00 in the morning to exercise.  But guess what?  5:00 and I'm up....I need my fix.  This rush.  It makes us keep coming back, no matter what.  I mean we push ourselves constantly, to run further to run faster.  We become obsessed with PRs and splits.  And then we push harder, punishing our bodies until we injure ourselves.  And then we are forced to stop.  Withdrawal symptoms set in; irritability, lack of focus, depression.  We crave the rush so badly that we may ignore the fact we are hurt, ignore the pain, and in the end just hurting ourselves more.

This is actually a pretty interesting theory I've got going on here and I could probably keep writing on and on.  But, I'll spare you!   I guess i just want all my friends to be careful.  Run.  Always run. Please do! But always be mindful that any addiction, no matter how "healthy" you think it can be, can also be as destructive.

Now...I'm off to run my 5.5m  ;-)


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Food for Thought

As my mother would be happy to tell you, I'm not really a cook.  But, sometimes I come across some things that even I can make! Now surely there are other kitchen challenged folk out there, much like me, eager to travel down their path to healthy living and healthy eating.  Those of us with the best of intentions, but not always the best ideas.... So, I thought I'd give Food for Thought a spin.  My intention is to offer things I find, some tricks I come across and maybe some great substitutions you can make.  Now.  I am in NO WAY an authority..I am the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Queen after all, but I'm trying to learn.  So...maybe we can learn together?  Let's give it a whirl!

Salsa Chicken with Spanish Rice was on the menu last night.  After a long day at work, school or errand day, you can't go wrong with this, honestly.  It's easy to put together and even harder to screw up.  My kind of meal!  Now, I prep all my stuff first, like the chopping and the slicing and the portioning and the seasoning and the...well you get it.  So get your prep done, throw it in the oven and simmer it on the stove!  We've got two recipes we're about to cover, but you can do them simultaneously.

Salsa Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast        1 cup salsa
4 tsps (or so) taco seasoning mix           1 cup (or so) shredded cheese
2 Tbsp sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased baking dish.  Sprinkle taco seasoning on both sides of chicken breasts and pour salsa all over it.  Bake at 375 F for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is tender and juices run clear.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with cheese, and continue baking for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Top with sour cream if you want.

hope's notes:  I portion out 4 oz raw chicken before baking. I make my own taco seasoning (lower in sodium!) and use low/reduced fat cheddar cheese and usually NOT the whole cup (it's a lot when you think about it!) and skip the sour cream (use fat free if you need it!).  Recipe source: I think.

Spanish Rice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil                       1 cup uncooked white rice
1 medium onion, chopped              1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups water (or chicken broth)     1 (10oz) can diced tomatoes & green chilies
2 tsps chili powder                        1 tsp salt

In a deep skillet over medium heat add vegetable oil.  Add rice, onion and green bell pepper.  Saute until the rice is browned and the onions are tender.  Stir in water (or broth) and tomatoes and green chilies.  Season with chili powder and salt.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed.  Makes 4 servings.

hope's notes: I substitute brown rice.  For this, you'll probably need to increase the liquid and simmer longer than 30 minutes.  I haven't mastered it yet, so if you come up with a good combo of liquid and time, let me know!  Also, I go the extra virgin olive oil route and use water, but if you choose to use broth make sure you go the low sodium route.  Recipe source:

Add a nice green salad with fresh veggies and a balsamic vinaigrette, and viola!

For the next Food for Thought entry, I'll try to take pictures :-)


Monday, September 5, 2011

Progress Update

So.  Today marks the third week back to running after that pesky little injury.  I had a nice 4 miler on Saturday morning.  North Carolina is still a little muggy, but it was a pretty day in the Piedmont.  I'm not one for personal photo ops, but I recognize that they add a little somethin' somethin' (and I'm secretly beginning to like it but don't tell anyone).  So I may look it, but I'm really not in pain.  My hand was all sweaty and almost dropped my phone.

Today?  I'm up to 4.5 this morning! (and the crowds roar with applause and cheers).  The goal?  To run this dag nabit 10K next Saturday slow, steady, healthy and happy.  Feeling pretty good people, feeling pretty good!'s possible that I may have picked up (I hope) a few readers over from the Do Lifers (LOVE THEM) on Facebook.  Which would really help since I feel like I'm talking to myself all the time....

So, I'd like to take a moment to say: Welcome, laugh, tell me I'm dork, laugh more, and let us all Do Life together...because THAT my friends, is what it's about, don't you think?

Today I leave you with my Top 5 random thoughts (in no particular order)

  1. Tornado warnings are interesting on a college campus.
  2. Do those Tempur-Pedic pillows really help? 
  3. Stability balls are still dangerous.
  4. Did you know that you can make clothes out of thread recycled from plastic bottles?  
  5. I love Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.  (citrus mix to be 100% exact in case you wanted to send some)