Geared Up

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This morning I geared up to run in freezing temperatures, something I have never really gotten used to.  Part of my gearing up was putting on my amazing hat.  It’s not quite Jayne Cobb level of coolness, but I am still quite proud of it.

 I am quite aware that this is a cheap, promotional hat.  However I received it at a Christmas Market archery booth after popping one balloon.  I know it was a pity prize, as I was supposed to hit four balloons, but I am still proud to run wearing a hat I won in a sport-like competition.

Stay warm everyone!

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Hug a Runner

Tomorrow (or today depending on when you read this) is Globally Organized Hug A Runner Day, also known as GO HARD.  Now, I know I don’t post about my running much lately, partly because my running hasn’t been much lately.  However, encourage everyone to get out there for the day.  Put down your reading, your writing, your whatever and be a runner for someone to hug.  If you can’t be the runner, get out there and enjoy a sweaty hug of your own.

Hit the trails, and hug a runner!

Orange You Glad

I hate winter.  I know we aren’t technically there yet, but it’s getting cold, which is winter enough for me.

It’s nothing personal against the season.  There are many things I do like; warm fires, big blankets, hot chocolate, and cozy nights reading or watching movies.  If I could spend my entire winter, sitting on the couch, watching the snow fall while I drank from a bottomless cup of cocoa, wrapped in blankets by the fire with a good book in my lap, I would be happy as could be.  But unfortunately, eventually I need to leave that couch and live a real life; in that real life, I am flippin’ cold and I don’t like it.

There is one bright spot in the cold abyss that is winter.

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Clementine season is here.  Yeah, I know the post is  called ‘orange you glad’, but ‘clementine you glad’ just doesn’t make sense.

Clementines are amazing little balls of easy to peal, vitamin C packed, yumminess.  Sure, I’d tried them before moving out here, but they never seemed like they were anything exciting.  I mean, it looked like the small, underdeveloped cousin of an orange.  Not very exciting.

Then, we saw how you could buy them here.

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They sell them in crates here!  It’s bulk shopping for fruit, not crap.  How amazing is that?  And my daughters will go through them rather quickly.  We have a basic rule in this house; you can eat all the fruits and vegetables you want, but you need to ask for anything else.  With this as a rule, it is not uncommon for us to go through an entire crate in one day.  I can’t even really complain; they are eating something healthy when they are hungry.

It has however gotten me to a point of slightly excessive clementine purchasing.  This trip I bought three crates; normally it is at least double that.  The commissary workers call me ‘The Clementine Lady.’  I had three people tell me the clementines were now in stock yesterday.

I guess it could be worse.  I arrived home yesterday to discover I had a rather large hole in the bum of my pants.  I flashed the entire store while grocery shopping and didn’t notice.  Yeah.  I think I’d rather be ‘The Clementine Lady’ than ‘The Woman who flashed her Bum.’

There are definitely worse things, than being known for buying a lot of fruit.

Run It Out

A while back I wrote a post, talking about how I was starting my running over.  I had been fit-ish, but injury and laziness had set me back to the beginning.  I would like to say it went wonderfully, but that would be a lie.

I’m not sure if anyone knows this, but it is hard to start over.  Knowing I had once been much more advanced, and being sent back to the beginners circle sucked.  And running itself can be hard, particularly in the beginning.  I hurt, I was tired, and I felt slightly ridiculous.  I used to run marathons people!  Maybe not a lot, but two does allow me to make that plural, I’m certain of it.  I was a distance runner, slow as I was, and slogging through two miles was suddenly almost impossible.

Maybe it’s ridiculous, but yes, I quit again for a while.  You can judge here, I judge me too.

Last week I decided I needed to get it back.

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My feet look tiny from up here!

While talking with a friend, we were discussing how for some reason we both do great work on Sunday afternoons.  For both of us, it seemed to stem from the same thing; when we worked all week, Sunday was the time we could set aside to catch up on homework for the week before it was due.  She would go to church, then home for homework, I would take my long run for the week, then homework.  It seemed our brains had gotten used to thinking well at that time of the week.

I kept thinking on that later.  Lately it seemed I could only sit and write well on Sundays when I do my homework, but that was not always the case.  When we first moved here and I was not working, I wrote all the time.  Granted, looking back it was not some of my best work, but the words seemed to flow constantly.  Of course then I was running constantly too.

Why it did not occur to me before that my best writing comes after my runs I don’t know.  It is logical.  Exercise wakes up the mind, gets the blood moving, and gives you happy happy feel good chemicals.  (I’m pretty sure that is the scientific term.)  Naturally when you feel that great, even through the soreness and exhaustion, you are more productive.

So, I’m trying again.  I’m only three runs back in, but I already feel better.  Well, not the first time, but in retrospect, three mile run followed by two mile walk is not the best way to start back in.

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Looking real cool with my head torch.

I’d like to think this time it will stick, but I know me. I’ll fall back a little a few times again.  At least for now, I can enjoy the benefits.  My second run in I solved the problems with two stories almost as soon as I left the house.  Silly me, I didn’t realize they should have been the same story, but my running shoes knew.  I’m just glad I set out and let them share with me.

Happy Running everyone, I am out the door!

In Hindsight

Do you ever have an absolutely brilliant idea?

This idea comes along, and just seems perfect.  You do everything you can to execute this amazing plan, because you know it will be fantastic.  Unfortunately somewhere between starting and finishing you realize it is the by far the stupidest thought that has ever crossed anyone’s mind.  Ever.

My stupid idea of the week is trips to the gym with my husband.

My husband and I have both been slacking off with our health a little lately.  I have struggled with a combination of oversleeping. and summer heat.  My husband hit a gym slump after leaving for work for a couple months.  Let’s face it, once the routine is broken, it is easy to grab onto any excuse and run with it. 

To help us both, I gave the brilliant suggestion that we go to the gym together.  If we’re counting on each other, neither of us will want to back out.  I’ll be able to use the cardio machines and do my normal toning, the only thing I have been keeping up with, at home as usual.  He will be able to use the cardio machines and weight room. 

As Big One is old enough to babysit, we occasionally take advantage of having an in-home sitter.  We decided the easiest way to go, without disrupting the children would either be before they wake up, or after they go to bed.  Of course, at the end of the day, we’ll be tired and more likely to refuse to go, so morning seemed like a good idea. 

Morning gym call is now 5am.  I’m getting out of bed at 430 so I can spend an hour on machines that go nowhere.  The first day wasn’t so bad.  The second day, I began to wonder what in the hell I was thinking. 

I’m not a morning person.    I get up early regularly, but only so I can wake up without anyone else bugging me.  It’s not because I like it, it is for the health and safety of those I live with. 

Today was our first rest day.  It’s based on his workout schedule, so I still have my toning later today, but I get a rest from the hamster wheel the gym is trying to convince me is fun.  I know in a few weeks it will be routine, and I will do it without thinking.  Today, in hindsight, I should have never have suggested I leave my bed.

What brilliant plan have you had, that didn’t turn out how you thought it should?

Something Stupid

I did something stupid recently. 

As I mentioned, last week I was in Edinburgh.  My family has a bit of an unofficial policy for our vacations.  We walk everywhere, and only take taxis if we are going to or from the airport.  It doesn’t mean we won’t take public transportation.  We took the tube in London, and the Metro in Paris.  It can be a little intimidating at first, but we learned how to figure out where we are going, and we do all right.  Generally speaking however, we walk everywhere.  We walk to the underground, and then from the stop, walk to wherever we want to go.  It’s not that we have a technical problem with renting a car or taking taxis occasionally.  It is more of a reluctance to spend any extra money on transportation when we could be using that for something else.

So, we were in Edinburgh, walking around fairly early in the day, trying to find the Waters of Leith.  It had already been a little bit of searching, since we had missed a turn and walked a little off course.  We were heading down a bit of a hill, after finally figuring out how to get where we wanted to be.  I took a step, and hit an uneven point in the sidewalk.  I came down pretty hard on the side of my foot and ankle.  It was quite painful to be honest.

Can you guess the stupid thing I did?  Yup, I limped off and kept walking.  Not only for the rest of the long day, but all of the next day as well.

I suppose I could have said, ‘hey, that really hurt, I shouldn’t keep walking’, but I couldn’t do that.  If I had refused to keep walking around, it would have changed not only my vacation, but my families vacation as well.  So I kept going. 

After a few blocks the pain seemed to fade, leaving not much more than the ache I had been beginning to feel from walking up and down hills anyway.  I figured it was just one of those things.  It hurt in the moment, but I was able to walk it off, so everything was going to be fine.

Now, a week later, the side of my foot is in fairly bad pain.  It hurts to walk or stand for prolonged period of time.  It even hurt laying down last night when the side of my foot was laying against the mattress.  It feels like an injury I had about four years ago where I ran a 10k on the side of my foot due to poor form.  The doctor at the time said I had bruised the muscle underneath the skin, which was why you couldn’t see anything on the outside.  I hadn’t had any idea anything like that was possible, and I’m still not sure how it worked.  All I knew for certain was I was informed I would be doing no running for six weeks. 

I am continuing to do something stupid at this point, and I haven’t seen a doctor for my foot yet.  I know, I know, I know.  Not smart.  I’m still just kind of in denial at the possibility of a REAL injury.  So far I am choosing to rest and soak my foot for a few more days before I call a doctor, hoping I will feel better with a little time. 

I know, this might be the reason I have recurring foot pain.  If I see a doctor, they might be able to help me and get me back on my feet.  But, if I don’t see the doctor, they can’t tell me I am not allowed to run.  Denial gives me hope that I might one day get back to who I was, once upon a time.  So, I give myself a few more days of hope before I give in and ask for help.  It might be something stupid, but sometimes the hope is what I need.  

So there is my something stupid for the week.  What stupid thing do you do, even when you know better?

 

The More Things Stay the Same

 

I need to go for a run today, but I can’t seem to get out the door.

Ten minutes ago I managed to change from my pajamas into running clothes, but I haven’t managed my shoes yet.

I know every moment I spend sitting here writing this post is one more chance I have of not getting out the door to run at all today.  There is a limited window of time, after my daughters have left for school, after the local kids have biked through, and before the day becomes too hot for running.  That window is now, and it is going to close if I do not get my shoes on, and get out the door.

But I might stop and finish my coffee first.  I don’t want it to get cold.

And I should make a to do list for the day, so I don’t lose track of what I have to accomplish before the bus arrives again, bringing my little girl and her friend home for the afternoon.  As soon as I make that list, I suspect I am going to learn I don’t have time to run at all today.

I can’t say exactly why I am so reluctant to run today.  I know I am out of shape, but I am learning to love the wheezing sound I make as I trod along the road looking like the straggler from a heard of stampeding rhinos, the one who is most likely about to be picked off by the predator.  I know I haven’t gotten around to switching up my running playlist, but its not like I can’t run to the old list.

I know the reason I don’t want to run comes from a general feeling of restlessness that has been haunting me this week.

I had the week off from school, something I have not had since winter break, and something I will not have again until next winter break. I was absolutely certain I would be getting so much done this week, and all of my writing time could be spent on writing something I want to write instead of splitting the time with my homework.  Instead, I keep looking around as though I am forgetting something important.  It’s almost as if I don’t know what to do when I don’t have a homework assignment to put off until later.

This week is also my daughters last week of school.  As of tomorrow at about 1230, I have two girls home for the summer, both wanting something to do everyday.  We have a few things lined up, but in spite of the ample notice, I haven’t adjusted to the idea that my quiet writing time will be gone soon.  I think I am mostly in denial, hoping if I just ignore the issue it will go away.  It’s not working.

I have a pile of things to do in a corner of my mind right now that I can’t seem to break into.  I need to finish a going away present for one of my daughter’s girl scout troop leaders.  I have just begun making a new quilt for my bed, something that is a little more appropriate for the summer weather.  I recently found my old cross stitch supplies and am itching to try it out again.  I feel like I haven’t knit anything in forever, even though it has only been a couple of months.  I ran across some fabric I bought to make myself a dress almost two years ago, and really would love to get around to designing the stupid thing.  And these are just the projects popping up in my mind today.  I haven’t even scratched the surface of the projects that I know are down in my basement but I am not looking at every day.

All of this is punctuated with a little cabin fever.  I have so many things to do in my house, but I would rather be anywhere but home right now.  We haven’t traveled anywhere in a few months, not even a day trip and I am itching to see something new.  We’re taking a day trip this weekend, and an excursion to Edinburgh in a couple of weeks, but I just want to get out there now.  I want to take a train to Amsterdam, or maybe to London.  I want to take a long slow drive through the Netherlands to see the windmills and find this cheese shop I have heard about from other people around here.  I want to find a castle in Germany and buy a bottle of wine I might never drink just because the castle is on the bottle.  I want to get back out in the world instead of staying in my head.

It’s a crazy place in my mind lately.  There are so many changes happening for me right now, I can’t seem to focus on any of them.  I used to think I hated change.  It was a funny joke; the girl who hates change married to a military man making her pick up her life and move to new countries.  The truth is, I love those changes.  I love knowing we are going somewhere new, and looking up everything about that place.  I love making the plans for our new life.  I realized, I have no problem with big changes, as long as I have a little notice and I can plan for my new adventure.  I don’t even mind small changes sometimes, but I dislike surprises.  Tell me something is changing soon, don’t show up at my door and spring it on me.

What I struggle with are personal changes.  If I hate my new base, it’s not necessarily my fault.  I don’t get much of a say in where we go, or in many of the changes that occur when we get there.  I deal the best I can, but sometimes it just sucks.  When it does, I can blame someone else easily because it was not my choice to be there to begin with.  However, if I go out to train for a new race, and never get past the struggling and wheezing phase, it is all on me.  I didn’t push myself hard enough, or I didn’t fuel properly, or I drank three cups of coffee instead of water.  It’s all me and my choices.

When its all on me, I struggle to get out the door.  I put off running, because I can control my failure that way.   I might not be able to stop other changes from going bad, but I can stop this one by never starting.

They say you only find the power to change when it hurts more to stay the same, and maybe that is true.  I know there are things that hurt now, deep in the secret corners I try not to let anyone else see.  But I also know it will hurt so much more to be unable to change that pain.  I can live with the ache I currently have, but I’m not sure if I can live with the fact that I already am all I ever could be.  It’s as if I don’t fly because I am afraid I might actually leave the ground.  Instead, I stay the same.

Fueling Up

Most often when I write about my pursuit of better health, I stick to my running efforts.  This is not because it is the only thing I do, or because it is even the most important thing I do for my health.  It is simply because it is the most encouraging part of my health routine.

Let’s take a moment, and be honest.  I am a 31 year old female raised in America.  I have been told I was fat since I was in grade school.  Now I am not complaining because I was in fact a tiny, waiflike creature, who was tormented into having a skewed belief of my looks.  I was in fact chubby, and that chubbiness has increased with both time and circumstances.  The part I complain about is the fact that I was treated as worthless by some simply because I was overweight.  It was as though that was the worst sin I could possibly have committed in this world.  My body, processing food differently from others, was a much worse flaw to have than cruelty to others, thievery, or even closed-minded ignorance.  Obviously it would have been better if I had been drowning puppies or robbing banks; at least then I would have had something redeemable about me.

See?  This is why I don’t talk about food much.  It is too easy to be brought back to the anger and humiliation I experienced in the past. 

Back to my point.  Since I have been experiencing this lack of happiness within my body since childhood, I have been trying many different diets for almost twenty years.  None of them have ever turned my into the six foot tall willowy supermodel others seemed to think I should be, and most of them involved eating a small variety of tasteless foods.  It becomes a boring and depressing topic.

While I have learned many tricks for supposed healthy eating over the years, none have been particularly effective in weight loss.  I’ll be honest, weight loss is not my main goal.  I’ve been there, and it is not an encouraging place to live.  I want to be healthy.  I want to wake up and have the muscles and energy to go about my day, clean my house, run errands, play with my kids, go to school, and do my work without needing fifteen energy drinks to keep me moving.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

Honestly, I know I can be healthy without being skinny.  At the peak of my fitness, sadly almost two years ago, I ran a marathon.  I was going to school full time, working full time, having my family, and running 30-40 miles a week.  I felt amazing, but I was also about fifty pounds overweight.  I know, some people might argue that I was probably not as healthy as I thought I was, but during that time I was given not only a clean bill of health, but managed to impress the cardiac specialist who ran me through a stress test.  (It was a slightly weird thing involving severe chest pain caused by stress and a complicated family history with heart problems.  Basically, my family and all of our doctors take any chest pain extremely seriously, and we get to do all the fun tests just to be sure.)

I was incredibly healthy, but I have one major health weakness, one that has contributed to my current health situation.  I have a sweet tooth.  It’s not even one particular food that I get a craving for; I love it all and am seldom satisfied by one piece.  I don’t want one rice krispy treat, I want the whole pan.  It is partly a question of will power (of which I don’t have much) and partly something that most likely goes back to those wonderful latent self worth issues from childhood.  They really are the gift that just keeps giving, aren’t they?

So, with all of this in mind, my sweet tooth combined with my absolute love of having flavor in my food (it doesn’t matter too much what flavor, just something), I am making attempts to change how I view my food.  I’m trying to view my food in it’s intended purpose, as fuel.  Just as with a car, I run better on the quality fuel I was meant to have.  Go ahead, try stuffing your gas tank with cookies and see if it runs.  (Just kidding, please don’t actually do that.  It is not a good idea.)  The rule I’m trying to work on is simple; eat to live, don’t live to eat.

Of course, that doesn’t mean food has to be disgusting.  It just means I am trying to keep it simple, and mostly things that are close to how they began in nature.  For example, this morning I had a simple fruit and yogurt sundae bowl.

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Okay, so it’s not very exciting.  A sliced up banana, a few strawberries, and a container of Greek yogurt.  I’m not a hundred percent sure what flavor the yogurt is.  I’ve been buying it for a while, and it tastes fantastic.

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The apricot was obvious, but I never quite got around to translating the other flavor.  (Though, I just did for this post.  Apparently it’s apricot-poppy.  Very good.)

Anyway, that is my exciting healthy eating post this morning.  I think it is now quite obvious why I don’t bother with that very often.  Maybe I’ll do another one someday, with something more exciting than fruit and yogurt.  Or maybe I’ll leave this topic to those with better recipes than I have in general.

 

Thoughts From My Run

I should have run yesterday.  Then I would have been done a while ago

Leap over the dead frog.  Haha.  Leap frog.

Am I holding my feet right?  They don’t hurt yet, so maybe.

Why is this song playing?  What playlist is this?  Did Lily mess with my phone?

Eh, screw it. Come and get it, na, na, na, na.

Okay, walk.

Avoid the dead bird, walk around the dead bird.

My armband is itchy.

Holy crap, is that a body?

No, just weirdly shaped hay.  Who would leave hay in the shape of a body on the side of the road?

I probably would.  Then I’d watch people jog by and laugh.

Running time.  Alright, let’s go.

Holy crap is my arm itchy.

Is this arm band held on by Velcro or tiny fire ants biting it onto my skin?

How is so much of my daughter’s music on my running playlist?  I need to fix that later.

Look at that army Humvee.  It totally looks like it could be a tank.

I would love to drive a tank around.  Just try to cut me off now punk.

I’d never have trouble finding a parking spot.

I wonder if a cop would give a tank a ticket.

Aww.  Squished hedgehog.  I like hedgehogs.

Is a tank manual or automatic?  If you have to shoot, automatic would probably be easier.  But then, I doubt the driver is shooting the big gun.  It might be manual to better go over weird terrain.

Eh, the gas mileage probably sucks.

Man, I have been running a long time.  Did I miss where it told me to walk?

Keep breathing.  Stop breathing and you’re dead.

Ugh, rabbit road kill.

Man, I am out of shape.

Don’t say that.  Negative comments like that are detrimental to your progress.  Round is a shape.

What was that cartoon with the round people?  Rolie Polie Olie.  I wonder what happened to that.

FINALLY, walking.

Ah, I can rest.  Cool off.

Running again already?

Alright, count it out.

One, two, one, two, one, two.  Just a little farther and I’ll be walking.

Yeah.  For like two fracking seconds.

Another Selena Gomez song?  How did three get onto my running playlist?

That dog is looking at me funny.  Does he know I’ve listened to three of her songs now?

Yeah, he knows.

I’m pretty sure he is judging me for it too.

Alright, last time running.

You can do this.

OW!  SHARP ROCK!  DAMN YOU MINIMILIST SHOES!!!

It is getting hot.  I should have run an hour ago.

I need to start waking up earlier to run.

Maybe I can survive another month until the girls are out of school.  Then I can get up at the same time and run instead of getting them ready for school.

It is really hot.

Alright, walk again.

Walk around the unidentifiable road kill.  Wait, that’s five, BINGO!

I need to use the bathroom.

If I was a guy, it would be socially acceptable for me to take care of this problem behind that tree over there.

Stupid gender discrimination.

Whoa!  I totally know how the next scene goes.

Run, got to get this down before it disappears forever.

Move, move, move, move.

Cooldown?  But I have to get home!  Please can I run a little longer?

Alright, power walk it in.  The house is in sight.

I love running!

Adding Up

It has been twenty-two days since the end of Lent.

Twenty-two days since I promised I would start a new challenge to follow my forty days without chocolate.  As I am now slightly over halfway done, it seems like a good time for an update.

I freely admitted during my deprivation that I wasn’t entirely certain I could make it.  Sometimes I wasn’t certain I even wanted to make it.  I wasn’t doing it for a religious reason, and there would be no technical ramifications for my failure.  The only one holding me accountable was me, and I was a cruel taskmaster.  I had to be; no one could see what I was doing, and there was no tangible benefits to life without chocolate.  I didn’t lose large amounts of weight, or gain the ability to fly.  It was a matter of will power.  While I have never had a large amount of will power, I am stubborn enough to not want to admit defeat.

I was counting on that same stubbornness to get me through an add in challenge.  I had taken something that was not good for me away, now it was time to add in something that was.

I wanted it to be something simple, easily taken with me if I needed to travel and not time consuming.  I considered promising to run a mile everyday, but as I was already having trouble there, it seemed a poor choice.

Instead I went with five easily done exercises, just a few reps of each.  Everyday now I jump rope for fifty jumps, do twenty squats, twenty-five crunches, ten push-ups, and twenty reps with a thigh master. Yes, I have a thigh master.  No, I’m not sure why.  The entire routine takes about two minutes.

I wasn’t entirely confident when I selected this routine.  I considered cutting the add in down to three weeks, in order to make sure I could do it.  It’s not because any of it is particularly hard on it’s own, but because I wasn’t sure I could keep pushing myself through exercises I was not any good at for forty days.  I could barely do one push up on my knees on day one, and I stopped halfway through my jump roping in order to use the ladies room for the first week. But I pushed through.

And I can see a difference already.  My pushups are still done on my knees, but the last one isn’t as difficult as it was to begin with.  I can feel the slight muscle definition on my arms, and the firming on my legs.  I can almost always get through my fifty jumps without missing a jump, and my crunches are something I easily zip through.  Overall, I am calling this a success.

I know I can’t attribute everything to this little add in.  It’s not the only thing I am doing, and I did miss a day.  (It was only one, but I completely forgot until I was in bed half asleep and I was not getting back up.)  All the other work I am doing is certainly adding to the success of this experiment.  But it’s nice to see results from hard work.

So many things I do are long term projects.  Writing, school, raising children, training for races; these all take years of my time.  Nothing is quick and easy, and nothing guarantees results.  To take on a project that is allowing me to feel the difference after three weeks is gratifying.  I’m not sure if I’ll keep it up after the forty days, or if I will try another challenge, but I can say I am happy I tried this.  Sometimes you need a win, and I feel like I am getting one.

If you challenged yourself to add something to your day, everyday, what would you add?