Monday, November 26, 2012

Butterflies Make Me Run Faster

Good news!  The butterflies do make me run faster!  I found an amazon credit we had and ordered the butterfly compression stockings.  They came today and I had my best run yet.

I also realized it's much easier to run if nothing is hurting.  The tops of my feet had been hurting for a while.  About a week ago, the pain was quite bad when running.  I came home, googled a bit, and found some stretches to try.  It seems to have helped (or maybe taking 3 days off) and I had a mostly pain-free run.

I am realizing that when I watch the time and push myself to run for a set time, I do better.  Someone had mentioned a run four minutes/walk one pace.  I decided to try it and it seems to be a great system for me for now.  I tried this for the first time on my Thanksgiving run (which I didn't have time to blog about).  It worked fairly well until I got too hot (I made the mistake of going mid-day on a very warm day).  I ended up walking most of the last mile, when my song of "four more minutes in the hot, hot sun...three more minutes in the hot, hot sun...two more minutes in the hot, hot sun..." stopped motivating me.

Tonight the 4/1 minute pace worked really well.  My app graphs my pace.  My graphs are slowly going from looking like this:

to this:

The blue line is my pace.  The green is elevation.  I'm getting more consistant and taking fewer walking breaks (the spikes).  The two big peaks are from stopping to stretch out my leg.  

It's not easy or fun, but I'm doing it.


Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 36:39 min:sec
Average Pace: 12:13 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.91 mph
Total Miles: 47 miles

Thanksgiving Stats:

Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 38:45 min:sec
Average Pace: 12:55 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.64 mph

Monday, November 19, 2012

On Clothes and Morale

This running business is hard.  Every once in a while I like to do something that scares me to death.  For example, in college I tried out for a play (and more terrifyingly got a part) and took voice lessons (ie had to sing in front of music majors).  Running is definitely one of these things.  I am not good at it, but it is good for me.  Theologian Stanley Grenz once talked about how he liked to play guitar because he enjoyed it, but he was not good at it.  It's good for me to be reminded that there are many things I am not good at.

That being said, tonight's run was my best time yet.  I realized that I tend to go faster listening to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me as opposed to This American Life.  I also tend to laugh out loud, which adds to the amusement of other Rose Bowl walkers/runners.  If you know of any other hilarious or upbeat podcasts (or audiobooks), let me know.

I have a favorite pair of pants to run in:

I bought a pair of Zaggora Flares impulsively a few months ago with a groupon.  I like them, mostly.  A week or so ago I noticed a hole on the outer thigh seam.  I emailed the company and they said they would send a replacement pair, but while I wait, I wear the holy pants.  This causes some anxiety/excitement.  I'm a little afraid that I'll be halfway around the track and the hole will start to grow and there I will be exposed and 1.5 miles from my car.  

Somehow my app messed up tonight, but it worked in my favor.  Every 5 minutes the lady's voice comes on (I call her Robot Monica) and says how far I've gone, my average pace and the time.  Sometimes I love her, sometimes I hate her.  Anyway, Robot Monica came on tonight at the 5 minute mark and said I had gone half a mile.  Well, that's kind of awesome because I haven't done a mile in less than 12 minutes yet.  I was inspired by my speed and pushed myself to keep it up.  Well, as I neared the end of the track I realized that the app seemed off.  Upon closer examination, the app messed up the first 5 minutes, but it did manage to make me go faster.  So I guess I'll forgive RoboMon.


Distance: 3.10 miles
Duration: 37:29 min:sec
Average Pace: 12:05 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.97 mph

Total Miles: 41

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Running Away

My favorite time to go for a run right now is 5pm.  It generally works out that Matt comes home from work and I run away.  He takes care of the girls and cooks dinner, while I have some quiet.  It's really an amazing arraignment (for me anyway).

Friday night is not my favorite run night, but I really wanted to try for a redemptive run (as in something to counter the awfulness of Thursday's run).  It didn't work.  Something is up with my stomach, which made running unpleasant.  I tried to push myself a little harder and I managed to run about 3/4 of a mile without walking.  Then I thought all my insides were going to fall out.


Distance: 3.02 miles
Duration: 39:55 min:sec
Average Pace: 13:14 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.53 mph

Total Distance: 38 miles

Friday, November 16, 2012

Leaden Jell-O

Last night's run was more of a walk.  It was awful.  My legs felt like leaden Jell-O--heavy and wobbly and like they didn't know how to work.  My ankles hurt.  The tops of my feet hurt.  My stomach hurt.  It was quite unpleasant all around.

I'm not sure if it was because I was wearing different clothes or because I was hungry or because I had eaten (a lot of) chocolate earlier in the day.  Or maybe because I was tired or I had already heard the episode of This American Life or because it was raining a little or because I'm just not good at running.

For whatever reason, it was miserable.  But I don't want to give up because the last two "runs" were good, almost fun.  I think the good ones make the miserable ones worth it.  Or at least I'm going to tell myself that so I will keep going.

Side note: Good news!!!  A friend sent me a link to CEP sports compression stockings.  I hadn't been looking at these when researching compression options because I didn't they would be as compressive as the medical grade ones.  I did some research and found that they apply less pressure than the medical ones, which would be okay, but not ideal for now.  I looked them up on Amazon and Amazon in its infinite wisdom recommended other fun compression stockings.  That is where I found these:
Butterflies!!  Compression stockings with butterflies!  Now I just have to save up for these and the others that I put on my running wish list.  I'm pretty sure butterflies would make me run faster.


Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 40:30 min:sec
Average Pace: 13:30 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.44 mph

Total Distance: 35 miles

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Running in Circles

I went to see my friendly, fast talking doctor yesterday.  I wanted to see if she could give me any direction on how to deal with my fat leg.  She told me what I already knew: wear compression stockings, keep it elevated, exercise, and don't expect it to ever be normal again.  

That last part is hard for me.  I guess I always subconsciously assumed that eventually it would heal.  When I started this running thing, I started thinking about my leg more because running made it hurt.  Pain has a way of making you pay attention.  I did what I always do when confronted with a problem, I googled it.  In doing this, I found that there's a term for what my leg does: chronic venous insufficiency.  Basically, due to vein damage, I have poor circulation in my leg which causes swelling and pain.

So, tonight I shop for compression stockings...again.  I hate those stupid things.  There are approximately four million options.  All of them have pictures of octogenarians modeling them.  They come in about 25 different colors: white, black, navy, and 22 various "skin tones."  I wish they came in green, pink, lavender, or at least cobalt, something fun to offset the otherwise horridness of these inventions.  

The good news is I'm feeling much better while running.  I'm actually starting to look forward to my runs.  The lengths I go to get some time alone.  I had a good run today.  I like the cool air and the dark evenings.  I'm still no where near fast, but I'm faster than I was.


Distance: 3.01 miles
Duration: 37:34 min/sec (10 seconds less than my best time!)
Average Pace: 12:30 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.80 mph


Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Artwork

Last night when I was writing the post, I realized that I really needed to personalize this blog a little.  So, I did the only logical thing and did a google image search for "bear chasing woman."  I found this sketch that I loved on the blog of an author/illustrator named Stevie French.  She graciously gave me permission to use the sketch.

After fighting with blogger to make a new header, I asked Matt for help.  He kindly made the header for me, although he did deride me for not knowing the size of the picture or the width of the blog.  He also refused to let me consider a font other than Helvetica (I was able to talk him into Helvetica Neue).

I hope you enjoy this picture as much as I do.
This is what I picture myself looking like when I run.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

New Record!

I use an app called RunKeeper to track my "runs."  I love how supportive it is.  Every time I log a new activity, it sends me an email with my new records.  Today I got this email:

This is a RunKeeper FitnessAlert to let you know that you achieved the following milestones with your most recent running activity:
  • Most calories burned
  • Farthest distance in a week
  • Longest duration in a week
  • Biggest elevation climb in a week
  • Most activities in a week
  • Biggest elevation climb in a month
This makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something.  And I am.  I think.

In my three weeks of running (this is a new life record), I've learned that this whole running thing is as much mental as it is physical.  When I'm running without someone/thing chasing me, as soon as I feel the first twinge of discomfort I want to stop.  It's like I have the little angel/demon duo on my shoulders, but it's more of a Monica from Friends/Baloo duo.  Baloo sits up there saying, "What's the hurry?  Slow down, enjoy life.  Running only makes you feel bad." While Monica is screeching, "Why are you going so slow?  There are snails passing you!"

Finally, today I felt like Monica started to win the battle.  I was pushing myself to go faster and farther without walking.  As I ran, I had a mantra going with the rhythm of my steps "I am strong.  I can do this.  I am strong.  I can do this..."  It's slowly getting a little easier.


Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 37:43 min:sec (4 minutes less than my best time!!)
Average Pace: 12:35 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.77 mph

This was by far my best run around the Rose Bowl.  I did stop twice to stretch out my bad leg and my app automatically pauses.  So it technically took me a bit longer than it says, but I'm pretty excited about this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not What I Expected

I went for another street run this evening.  It was a wretched afternoon with much wailing and gnashing of teeth over math homework.  I was ready to leave the house when Matt got home.  I started out with good music from my all time favorite band Waterdeep.  I was looking forward to 30-40 minutes of reflection and calm.  I was less than a block from our home when I was jolted from my bubble of serenity.  As I approached a bus stop, I saw a young woman appearing to mistreat a toddler.  I saw this through the mesh of the bus stop and I'm not sure what I saw.  The young woman looked angry, the toddler was very upset.  As soon as I passed them my music stopped abruptly (I messed up putting it on my phone).  I stopped and stood suddenly encompassed in the street noises, wondering if I should talk to the woman or call the police.  All I wanted to do was take that little baby and comfort his screams, but that probably would have been the worst thing to do.

I'm not proud to say that I walked on, not knowing what to say or do, not sure of what I saw.   

It was not the peaceful, contemplative run I had hoped for, but I did have plenty of time to pray for the young woman and her toddler.


Distance: 2.68 miles
Duration: 36:47 min:sec
Average Pace: 13:44 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.33 mph

Total Distance: 26.3 miles

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Roosters and Horses

Today as I was driving three girls home from school, the oldest had a Chinese zodiac calendar and was asking what year everyone was born in so she could figure out their animal.  She discovered that Eleanor and I are roosters.  One of the other girls discovered that her mom is a horse.  This mom happens to be the friend that convinced me to train for the half-marathon with them.  She is good at running.  I am not.  I think it's because she is a horse and I am a rooster.  Have you ever seen a running rooster?  It's not pretty or graceful.  But I am very good at crowing.

Tonight's run was okay, not great.  I went around the Rose Bowl again.  I've picked up a bad habit of touching the posts Monk-style.  So, basically, when I run, I look like a combination of Phoebe and Monk running like a rooster.


Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 41:28 min:sec
Average Pace: 13:32 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.43 mph

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two Weeks

I tried something new today.  Realizing that I have 3.5 months to somehow figure out how to run for 13.1 miles, I decided that I would have to step up this training game.  So, I put on my cute shoes for the second day in a row.

I went back to the Rose Bowl.  Nothing exciting happened.  I still haven't run a complete mile, but I'm getting better.  My leg was bothering me a lot more tonight than usual, which is frustrating.  I'm hoping to go visit my friendly doctor soon to check in and see if she has any ideas for helping with the circulation issues.  For now, if you see me wearing a compression stocking, don't laugh.

I'm two weeks into this.  My legs have gotten over being sore for the most part.  I wouldn't say that I'm having fun yet, but it is slightly less unfun.


Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 41:04 min:sec
Average Pace: 13:33 min/mile
Average Speed: 4.43 mph

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Think I Found My Bear

I had my best run yet tonight.  It was on the verge of fun.  There is a football game or something at the Rose Bowl today (meaning the track there is closed), so I had to map a route around where we live.  My goals in making the route were to go uphill first and to avoid as many traffic lights as possible.  When I was thinking about where would be best, I was planning on going in the afternoon.  Somethings happened and I wasn't able to go until it was about 7pm and dark.  I considered changing my route due to this, but decided that it was still early enough that the sketchy parts should be fine.

When I got back, a neighbor saw me and asked where I ran.  When I told her the first thing she asked was, "Did you see any drug deals?"  I thought about it for a second and answered, "Maybe."

I don't think I really saw any drug deals, but it was a more interesting run than around the Rose Bowl.  I felt like I had people cheering for me.  Once a man called through his car window, "andale andale!"  The people in the "sketchy" neighborhood were so friendly.  The women and children greeted me with smiles (they could have been laughing at me).  The drivers pulling into the drive through liquor store waved me in front of them so I wouldn't have to wait.  The people smoking at the bus stops politely held their cigarettes as far away from me as possible.  The man on the bike said encouragingly and heavily accented, "run, run, run!"  I wasn't afraid.  I was encouraged.  I felt happy.

At one point I was running up a street that had several apartment complexes on it.  I found myself in the middle of a spread out group of five guys in hoodies.  My first reaction was fear, but reason kicked in right away.  I instantly thought of Trayvon Martin.  If I learned anything from that drama, it was that fear is more dangerous than a hoodie.  So, I continued on without fear, but I did run faster.
This is Eleanor as a chubby toddler (and me and Matt).


I missed a turn and my run was almost a mile shorter than I had planned.

Distance: 2.41 miles
Duration: 29:38 min:sec
Average Pace: 12:18 min/mile (woohoo! best yet by far)
Average Speed: 4.88 mph

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Fat Leg

Eight years ago my leg turned blue and doubled in size.  We were living in Indonesia at the time, teaching at an international school.  After a terrifying day and night, we flew to Singapore for medical treatment.  I was hospitalized for a little over a week while I was given blood thinners to try to dissolve the clot that had formed from my hip to my knee.  The pain was intense.  I left the hospital in a wheelchair and used a cane for some time after that.  My memories of this time are sparse, but vivid.

A few days in, after some of the swelling went
down and the color was more normal 

Before we left for Singapore, Matt sent a couple of emails out to friends that we thought might have connections to people in Singapore.  The morning after we arrived, my hospital room filled with strangers coming to offer Matt a place to stay, meals, transportation, internet.  It was pretty amazing.  At a time when I felt most vulnerable and scared, we had people surrounding us, being God's presence to us.  We knew hundreds of people were praying for us.  Somehow, in a hospital in a strange country, we felt taken care of and acutely aware of God's presence with us.

Hospital bed picture and Matt with very short hair

After a few weeks, the constant pain in my leg subsided, but it has never completely gone away.  Through both of my pregnancies, I would regularly wake up with that leg cramping.  When I exert my calf muscle, it aches and complains.  It's a constant reminder of my limitations and of God's faithfulness.  Sometimes I like to think of myself like Jacob, who wrestled with God and afterward walked with a limp.  

The Wees, who graciously hosted Matt during my hospital stay
and me as well for the few days after I got out of the hospital
before we were cleared to travel back to Indonesia

Every time I try to run, I feel the catch in my leg.  The pain always takes me back eight years and 10,000 miles to the hospital room where I wrestled with God.  I asked why? and how? and what now?.  Every time I feel the pain, I am reminded of the kindness of the nurses, the good doctors, and the countless strangers who heard we were in need and came to our aid.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012


One of the hardest parts of this training is finding time to run.  Last night in a fit of determination, I set an alarm for 6am, laid out my running things, and went to bed early.  When my alarm went off this morning, I pulled myself out of my nice snug bed and started to dress.  It was very dark and cold out.  I went back to bed.  I decided I could go for a short run while Matt was home for lunch instead.  I think I'll try the early morning approach again after the time change this weekend.

This lunch running plan presented all sorts of logistical problems.  It was my turn to pick Eleanor and her friend up from school and they got out at noon today.  I should have eaten a light lunch at 11, but I didn't.  So, I picked up the girls, came home, scarfed down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and immediately went for a run before Matt had to go back to work.  There were so many mistakes involved in this plan:

  1. Eating right before running.
  2. Running in the mid-day sun.
So, I guess there were only two mistakes involved in this plan.  

For the sake of saving time, I just went on the sidewalks around where we live, as opposed to driving to the Rose Bowl and using the track there.  Eleanor saw me leaving and said, "I don't want you to be one of those women running on the sidewalk listening to music in headphones."  I think I'm already starting to embarrass her.  I did not enjoy the street running.  Besides the logistical issues of having to stop to wait for lights to change, I felt like a spectacle.  I also look ridiculous.  


Distance: 2.93 miles
Duration: 45:39 min:sec
Average Pace: 15:51min/mile
Average Speed: 3.78 mph

Not a good run (mostly walk).  I'll try again soon.  I like to think it's so much slower because of having to stop at almost every block to wait for lights to change.  I'll tell myself that anyway.