Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The excuse of the day...

Step. Squeak. Step. Squeak. Step. Squeak. Those are my orthotics. The sounds drives me insane and makes me self conscious when I run. As if the only sound anyone can hear is the squeaking of those inserts in my shoes. I am pretty sure it drowns out the music at Lifetime. Outside, it drowns out the traffic of course. Sort of like the way you hear Godzilla waaaay before he steps on your high rise condo. The squeaking bothers me so much so that I have run without them during my off-peak months. Until my foot started hurting to the point where I almost had to stop running. Now they are back in my shoes. Admittedly, it is a minor excuse and it doesn’t really stop me from doing anything, just takes me back to elementary school where someone might make fun of me for something as small as a squeaky set of shoes. As I was running and squeaking around Stone Mountain the other day, I just tuned them out. I put on my IPOD and ignored them. If others around me could hear it, I did not care.

My other excuse has to do with nutrition. I leave the house at 5:30 AM to go to boot camp. I get ready for work at Lifetime then head to work. After work I have tennis 2 to 3 nights a week at a minimum. Some nights I don’t get home until 9:00 or 9:30 PM. I eat on the go and don’t always make the best choices. I tend to go for convenience. QT, McDonalds, Subway all the fine dining establishments. That is the excuse. It can be done. I can prepare things in advance on Sunday night for the week. I have done it. It is just an excuse.

I hear so many other excuses from others … One friend wants to lose about 75 pounds. She continually tries to diet. On again, off again. Every other Monday, she will e-mail me to say “today is the day”. She won’t start exercising until she loses 30 pounds. I know she could see success so much more quickly if she would toss in a little exercise with the diet from the beginning.

Another friend with various knee and shoulder issues took swimming lessons to try and work in swimming as an exercise that would be low impact. She only wants to go to the pool when there are minimal crowds because she doesn’t want people to see her in her swimsuit. I get that, I do. There are so many shapes and sizes and outfits that I see in and around the pool area, she really has no reason to be self-conscious.

I also hear of people who “don’t have time”. How bad do you want to achieve your goal of health? If it is important, you make time. Get up crazy early like I do, work out at lunch, work out after work. You have to make it a priority. If it were easy or comfortable, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. In my mind, there are plenty of things that might have kept me from getting on the wagon so to speak. In every case, my fear of it was blown way out of proportion. Sometimes you just need to get over yourself and try. Find something that motivates you. For me one motivator is accountability. I feel guilty when I don’t show up to boot camp because they expect me there. They also expect me to show up on time but I don’t feel nearly as guilty about that ... :)

If you fail, don’t let it be the end of the journey. Get back on track at the next meal or the next day if you missed a workout. In the words of the great philosopher, Kanye, “that that that that don’t kill me can only make me stronger”. Now put on those headphones and forget you have on squeaky shoes!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank you LaraBar!

I had a little package of yummy goodness waiting for me in my mailbox when I got home today! Someone at Larabar must have sensed that I needed some healthy snacks for the weekend and I do love me some larabars!

You will have to go to their website for the full details but just know that they are YUMMY. The ingredients are very simple, I think there are no more than 8 ingredients in a bar. The short story is they are fruits, nuts and spices. I had to crack into the German Chocolate Bar already. :)

My favorites are probably Key Lime, Pecan Pie, Cherry Pie and Peanut Butter Cookie. Of course, I have to add German Chocolate to the list as anything with coconut is an instant hit with me! The funny thing is they taste pretty much like you would think. The peanut butter cookie tastes not too far from a peanut butter cookie. These are not those chalky bars that are their neighbors in the health bar section of the grocery, these are good people. Go get thee some! YUM YUM YUM.

Enough of my gushing praise for Larabar... or maybe that is really all I have for today... I did go to boot camp this AM. So much fun as always. I don't know what I did before I hooked up with this group. What a great way to start the day. Busy day at work, glad to be home. I decided against the group run tomorrow as sleeping in sounded way too appealing. I may regret it when I have to run my 10 miles in the heat of the day but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right? I am seriously looking forward to my run tomorrow. I haven't been out to Stone Mountain in weeks, it will be good to get back to my running playground. I am charging up the IPOD as we speak.

Have a great night!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I am feeling inspired....

Today was just one of those days where you feel like your mojo has come back in full force. No particular reason just a lot of little things that fell into place and gave me a little jump in my step.

Let's see:

1. I was on time to boot camp! My alarm went off at 4:44 and I didn't hit snooze 8 times until I got which would normally cause me to be 10 minutes late to boot camp. I actually got up on time AND managed to not get sucked into the vortex of facebook, something that is always good for 15 minutes wasted that I didn't have to waste. Don't get me started on my sad addiction to FarmTown.

2. Boot Camp was awesome as always! On Thursdays, we are usually on the treadmills which is not nearly as torturously boring when you are in a group. I got in a 5 mile run varying between HR zones 2, 3, AT and 4.

3. During boot camp I had a great AHA! moment. Our coach, Herb, got to talking about food preparation and planning ahead. EXACTLY what I needed to hear. He had some great tips on prepping food on Sunday to make it easy to grab and go the rest of the week. Since I leave the house at 5:30 AM and some days don't get back until after 9:00 PM, there are a lot of meals on the go. More on this topic later as I plan to try it out Sunday. Very excited about the plan!

4. Lunch with my friend Tahreesa! One of my favorite salads at Ted's Montana Grill is the grilled salad with Bison. It is basically a big Bison patty on top of a yummy salad with greens, avocado, bacon, eggs. MMMMMMMMM. I realize the "patty" sounds like something a bison would leave in the field but you know what I mean ;) TOC finally got a new job and is moving to Omaha next week. Tears....

5. A great day at work! Much was accomplished and it was stress free as the boss-man is out of town. :)

See, nothing that life shattering, but maybe just starting the day off right gave me the positive energy I needed!

I read an article about "drowning in the details". The premise is that you have all these little things that are on your mental to-do list and you get bogged down. You know - - deadlines, meetings, facebook, twitter, e-mails. The author's suggestion was to spend a weekend in a monastery. Seriously. Apparently, you can spend $50 for a weekend and go enjoy some solitude. If you don't have the $50 (or whatever the fee is) you can work it off while you are there. What an interesting thought to be away from email, phones and, ahem, farmtown for the weekend. One of the suggested stops was the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY. They are into "toning down excessive self-concern". In layman's terms, NO TALKING. There is something so peaceful sounding about it. They have no charge, they only ask for an anonymous donation when you leave. I am not sure it is something I will ever do but just thinking about it seems peaceful in and of itself. I love that their web address is www.monks.org by the way...

In other news, one of my weekend plans is to catch up with the run club at Lifetime on Saturday AM. There is a 7 mile run which I am going to try to stretch to 10 miles and then maybe catch some pool time! Sunday is round one of playoffs for my USTA ladies team. We have a snowball's chance in H E double hockeysticks of making to round 2 but stranger things have happened :)

Last thing... Have you seen the movie, The Proposal? LOVED IT. Funny, funny, funny.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Peachtree Pics and Other Reflections on Running...

I don't usually order the official race photos unless they are particularly good or have something otherwise memorable about them. In general, I tend to look like I am moments from death or have one eye open/one shut or some other freakish expression on my face. I ordered a couple from the Peachtree this year mostly just because they were shots that had good memories asscociated with them. I should have bought the finish photo as it was particularly funny but couldn't bring myself to send the $ just to get blog material for your amusement. Instead, I will describe it for you. Sort of a reading for the blind service only I am not reading out loud, and well, you are most likely not blind. Of course after this build up it probably won't seem funny at all. Humor is a risk.

So you know how when you are running and they have the scaffolding with the photogs overhead? I haven't really perfected the art of when to wave, smile or at least look up and try to get a decent photo. You would think after the umpteenth race I would have figured out at what point I need to look up, flash a winning smile and either give the two arms raised in victory or the simple more subtle "V" with your fingers as if to say "I've got this, I have done it a million times, this is really no big deal because I am cool like that. Take my picture if you want to, everyone does". The reality is, I can't even get a good pic with the camera guys who are sitting on the ground right in front of me. This particular race, I remember thinking I had it figured out. I was feeling pretty good at the end and went for the arms raised in victory pose. I decided to go with one arm raised up. I can't remember why. Perhaps I was thinking it be a compromise between the WAHOO LOOOK AT ME I AM RUNNING AND HAVE TWO ARMS IN THE AIR and the too cool for school V finger pose. At any rate, the picture apparently was snapped as my arm was coming down so it looks like I have my arm around the shoulder of an invisible friend. I have recreated the moment in the pic below only subtract the furniture and the pile of books and add in a time clock, surrounding sweaty bodies and a big finish line. You get the idea.

New goal! Work on getting a good race photo! LOL.

Some other photos from the Peachtree that weren't nearly as humorous... This is me and my Dad on the way to the start. He is clearly on a mission with no time to stop for a photo. This was his 29th Peachtree (his 10th wearing the lucky shirt you see in the pic). WOW. Well, WOW for the 29th Peachtree. Wearing a shirt ten years in a row... I suppose that gets a different kind of WOW. :)

Me shortly after the start with a couple of my friends from Bermuda. You tend to get to know people as you stand around in the corrals pre-race. It was kind of funny because they kept bumping into people they knew. I am from Atlanta and didn't see a single person I knew while waiting for the start.

Tennis has wound down quite a bit and I am looking forward to having my first Saturday in eight weeks free to get in a long run! The plan is 10 miles at Stone Mountain which I have decided will continue to be my training ground as I prepare for San Francisco. Normally, I would say the hills at Stone Mountain would be more than enough for any race but am afraid they might not do San Francisco justice. I have to draw the line at running up the mountain to prepare. I do have my limits! To help add to the excitement of getting in a Saturday run, the weather this week has been unseasonably cool in Atlanta. What is considered unseasonably cool, you ask? Try very low humidity and a high of 83ish all week. AWESOME!

Have a great week! I will let you know how the run comes out and leave you with this thought for the day... No workout can out work a bad diet, nutrition will always be the foundation. (Funny side note, this was a post from a group on facebook. Right above it was a post from Paula Deen reminding everyone to get in their Pimento Cheese recipes. LOL.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Good News on Friday!

Hubby had a dirt bike accident a while back that caused him to acquire the fancy internal accessories pictured above... The short version of the story is that he was on a muddy downhill right turn, grabbed too much brake (going from memory here...) and the bike went sideways flipped up in the air and landed on his leg. There were multiple fractures and not "clean" ones. Basically, the bone twisted instead of just breaking in two. Anyhoo... here we are 2 or 3 years later and it still causes daily pain to walk or stand. After he had some unusual ankle pain, I convinced him to go back the orthopedist. At some point within a few months of the surgery to install the plate and screws, the doctor had told him that "it was just going to hurt". Maybe Rick missed part of the conversation, don't know. When he went back for the visit Friday, the doctor said yes, it should have hurt for up to a year but after that the pain should have subsided. He suggested removing the plate and screws - Hallelujuah!

Here he is with the offending bike, a couple months after surgery (the first two months were spent lying on the coach... boring!)

He was a little skeptical of the surgery to remove the hardware but I think he is warming to the idea. Currently, he really can't do the things he enjoys. He can't skydive or do anything that requires jumping/landing. He really can't walk very far or stand for very long either. The recovery sounds much less involved than the recovery for the initial surgery. He made it sound like he would be in a walking cast of sorts post-op. I am pretty excited that he might get back to his hobbies. I know I would be crazy if I went from tennis and running and, and, and to nothing. SO.... GOOD NEWS!

And on the food front... off to eat dinner... my new favorite salad creation of the summer (somewhat borrowed from a version at Longhorn Steakhouse)

MMM, MMM, MMM, MMM, MMM! Romaine lettuce, Cucumbers, red onion, strawberries, blue cheese (or feta) and pecans topped with a little raspberry vinagrette dressing. YUMMY.

Have a great weekend! I am taking one final weekend off before I get back into marathon training mode for San Francisco - YAY! I am officially looking forward to the hilly challenge!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Slow Economy, Faster Runners

Sadly true. I have a friend whose wife is in the best running shape of her life. Unfortunately, it is only because she can't find a job and has PLENTY of time to run.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Longtime runner Ray Gobis posted a 3:09 at the Boston Marathon in April—his personal best. The cause wasn’t a new training technique or the perfect weather. It was because Mr. Gobis got laid off.

“Other people might go into a cocoon or something. Me, I’ve done the opposite,” says the 47-year-old Mr. Gobis, who lost his job in November as director of operations for a printing company. With his new-found leisure time, he has amped up his regimen to 60 miles a week and joined a competitive running group.

Americans might be poorer, but they certainly aren’t slower. With the economy in the doldrums, more people are discovering that without those 12-hour workdays, they’re able to pursue fitness goals like never before. Marathons, triathlons and road races are filling up in record time.

Some evidence suggests that laid-off marathon runners are actually helping push up the level of competition within their age groups. Olympic-level competition could even go up because more elite athletes coming out of college are opting to pursue their athletic goals rather than look for work in a dismal job market.

Runners in the 2008 Boston Marathon, which like other endurance races, has seen the number of entries increase since the recession.
The effect on races around the country is difficult to quantify. But by one benchmark, marathoners have gotten faster. Athlinks.com, a Web site that tracks millions of race results, says 2009 has seen marathon times improve in nearly every age category. Using the 2010 Boston Marathon qualifying times as a baseline, the site looked at marathon results to see how many runners would qualify today based on previous races. The conclusion: This year alone, 4.6% of marathoners have run times that would make them eligible for Boston—a 39% increase over 2008.

Curiously, performance times in the past six years peaked in 2006, then slipped in 2007 and 2008. Troy Busot, who runs Athlinks, says that could be because the job market was bad enough in 2007 and 2008 that people had less time to train and were under more stress. “I think quality started to drop when people were like, ‘Uh oh,’ and had a little bit of anxiety,” says Mr. Busot.

Then in late ’08 and into 2009, extensive layoffs gave runners more time to train and, in some cases, less stress. “I guess the ones who don’t have a job will get faster and the ones who are desperately clinging to a job will get slower,” he says.

Adding to the significance of the speedier marathon times is the fact that 2009 has seen a big jump in participation, up 5.1% this year, according to Athlinks. More participation means more beginners, and slower times. Simply speaking, times should be slowing down, not speeding up.

Participation in marathons and triathlons can be costly, too. The New York City Triathlon, which costs $225 to enter, filled up in 22 minutes this year, compared to eight hours last year.

“People need structure in their lives,” says John Korff, director of the race. “They can’t just sit around all day.”

Zach Goldman, a triathlete from San Diego, describes himself as “funemployed.” Mr. Goldman, who was recently laid off from his high-paying commercial real-estate job, says he has enough time to train nearly full time and enough money saved up to travel the world racing and figuring out what he wants to do with his life–which is probably not commercial real estate. “That wasn’t all that fulfilling,” he says. “I’d like to do something more meaningful with my life,” he says—ideally in a career that will allow him to train longer hours. Mr. Goldman is currently in Israel, competing in the Maccabi Games, an international competition for Jewish athletes.

Rob Vermillion, executive director of the Oregon Track Club Elite, which trains Olympic hopefuls, says elite track-and-field athletes coming out of college these days are more likely to pursue their athletic careers because the job market is so slow.

“The economy is so terrible that they might as well run,” he says. As a result, Mr. Vermillion says the team, which caps membership at 20 people, has had to cut world-class runners who would in all other years make the cut with no problem.

To Mr. Vermillion, the economy may be a good problem. Track events in the Oregon area have become much more competitive because of the economy, he says. “I would be willing to go out on a limb and say the overall quality nationwide has improved,” he says, “and naturally, increased competition increases performance.”

When Chris Bennett was training as a runner, living in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1999, he had to make a tough decision: Live the life of a pauper to continue training and have a shot at one day winning a gold medal, or go into business during the IPO craze of the late 1990s. “You were giving up millions in stock options to chase the Olympic dream,” says Mr. Bennett, who eventually gave up his running career for a big paycheck in finance. Nowadays, he says, the decision is a lot easier–young athletes should just go for it, he says. “You’re not giving up as much because the economy is so bad,” he says.

Of course the full effects of the economy on amateur athletics are still a bit murky. And if the hiring outlook improves, the high participation levels could be just a small blip on the radar screen.

But the changing economic landscape could forever alter the way Americans view recreational and competitive athletics, as more people discover the joys of training and competing.

IDEA Health and Fitness, a fitness-industry association, says average gym membership went up 18% this year, to 3,394 from 2,866 last year, at the group’s member clubs.

Even in Michigan, where the economy has been particularly harsh, a new business promoting multisport events is holding its own. Eva Solomon says she thought she was “an idiot” to leave her stable job as a grade-school teacher to start a company, EST Events, during the worst economic crisis in a generation. But she figured things like triathlons were “recession proof.”

The first event she and her business partner put on, the “She Rocks” women’s triathlon, nearly filled up, with more than 400 women participating.

“I was blown away when I got home from the race and within two hours, I was getting letters from people thanking me for asking them to pay $80 to swim, bike and run,” she says. For the company’s next event, Ms. Solomon is considering offering a discount for people who can prove they’ve been laid off in the past six months.

Claudia Becque was distraught when she was laid off in January. Then she ran a 2:44 marathon time, slashing 14 minutes off her previous personal record—and close to Olympic level.

She’s now employed as a clinical research specialist for a medical devices company in Chicago. But her month of rest, relaxation and hard training have gotten her thinking: Maybe she should stay unemployed. She’s considering moving to a part-time job with her company, and all her friends are pushing her to do it. “Claudia, this is a sign. You need to just run.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Four more shopping days until July 11th!

you got it.... my half-birthday. :) Those of you who scoff at the notion clearly are just jealous that you did not think of it first. Yes, as you might remember from last year it took me 39 years to get it to catch on but when it did... wow! I am pretty sure I won't be getting another Wii but I will always have the memories of my 39.5 birthday!

The Peachtree gave my desire to run new legs, so to speak. I was kind of teetering on the edge of falling off the cliff an dam now once again inspired! I have given serious thought to simplifying many aspects of my life lately. I started with giving up my sweet teammates from my Fall ALTA team to join a new team closer to home. (The old team was 45 minutes away which made for a long drive home after practice and matches). I have also made the decision not to do Augusta. Some of it has to do with the training and trying to incorporate it into my daily life which was pretty full already and some of it just has to do with my effort to slow down and simplify a bit. No more hectic life for me! (or at least this year anyhow...). I may do a sprint Tri in August but am just not feeling the momemtum to work for Augusta this year. I love running and am going to focus on the Nike Marathon in October (both training and talking my company into a plane ticket! HA) and then Disney again in January. I truly missed tennis when I took a break earlier this year and realized that my true love is tennis with a lot of running mixed in! I have a 15k in my sights as well as several half marathons to round out the year. I have decided that the half is my favorite distance. Not too short, not too long but you feel like you accomplished something when you are done. I would say it is just enough to work up a sweat but in Atlanta in July just stepping outside makes you work up a sweat!

On tap for the rest of the week, lots of tennis practice and hopefully a run at Stone Mountain over the weekend on my half birthday :)

Oh - update on the basal cell... I decided to go with the cream instead of going back to the dermatologist. Mostly just me not wanting to add another thing to my schedule. I did manage to dig up a couple of reviews from people who had no issues at all with it so that was good enough for me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The 40th Annual Peachtree Road Race

(or somewhere thereabouts). That is the advertised number. My Dad seems to think that might not be accurate. Potato, Potah-toe. Personally, I like that this is the 40th because it coincides with my age. I am 40, this is the 40th, I don't know why but I can make a connection with it. One of those memory association things, I suppose.

This is the 2nd year that I have run the race with my Dad (his 30th race!). The plan was to meet at his house at 5:15 AM for a 7:36 start. Yeah, it seems early considering we are only about 30 minutes away but this is one of those races where you need to allow plenty of time because the crowds are insane. (insane in number, not necessarily insane as in "mental" although there were a few people I saw that made me wonder...). The start time for the race was 7:36, the last time group was estimated to cross the start line at 8:57ish. WOW. Of course, I have had issue getting up lately and the 4th was no exception. I managed to get in the car at 5:13 and try to shove a half of a peanut butter sandwich down on the way over to Dad's. I probably finished about a quarter of it which wasn't a brilliant plan. No early morning hydration, no food to speak of... A couple of marathons under my belt and have become seemingly complacent with the important pre-race rituals.

I pulled into Dad's driveway around 5:22. He was waiting in the garage. Oops. I knew that my 7 minutes might throw off the plan! We decided he would drive to MARTA and off we went. A short wait for the train, a change of trains at Five Points and we were off at Lenox around 6:45. Not too bad. There were loads of people there already so we made our way to our corral and the port a potties. I was in time group 1B, Dad was in time group 2 which worked out well because we are in the same pre-race staging area. We parted ways at the line for the port a lets and agreed to meet up post race.

By 7:15 I was in line and decided that sandwich wasn't doing much so I downed one of the GU gels I brought along. I turned on my IPOD and took in the sights until the race started. The usual sights, loads of people in red, white and blue. The occasional man painted from head to toe like a flag, an older lady in a super short mini dress made of metallic streamers and a guy running in a poncho and sombrero. That last one just looked painfully hot. The weather could not have been better for the race, it was cool 70ish for the start and like a nice spring day at the finish. Love it.

I crossed the start about a minute or two after the official start and just set it on cruise control. I decided I was just going to finish and not go for any personal bests, just enjoy the race. The course this year ended at Piedmont Park so it was a downhill finish and less hilly overall that last year. I may be a bit jaded because cardiac hill seems like nothing to me after logging so many miles at Stone Mountain. Overall, it was a great race. My time was just under 57 minutes, I got the coveted shirt and another race is in the books!

The only negative this year was a really long walk back to MARTA. It seemed like a mile or more. I am sure it was just the way we were routed so hopefully they can improve that for next year. I wasn't really into working up another sweat after I just finished the race. Call me crazy.

The rest of the weekend. Well, it was just that... lots of rest and I LOVED every minute of it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cancer Schmancer and other 4th of July fireworks

At the rate I am going, this may turn into a medical blog :)

For the past few years, I have been going to the dermatologist annually for a skin cancer screening. I have more than my share of freckles so it is quite the process. Typically, they find something that looks suspicious and send it off for testing. So I got a call yesterday about a skin biopsy I had done last week. It turns out it was cancerous. Funny, because the doctor didn't seem to think it was anything. I was the one that insisted it be tested. I guess we know our own bodies better than they do - or at least when something is not normal. I am insanely religious about sunscreen now. Not so much "back in the day". I think this is from my spending every waking hour poolside in my youth before we knew about sunscreen or perhaps from my brief addiction to tanning beds. I know....

Luckily, basal cell is really not a big deal and from what I understand, the chances of it spreading to other organs are next to nothing (if not nothing) so for you fans of Grey's Anatomy who are thinking I will start hallucinating and talking to dead fiancees like Izzy, it ain't gonna happen. They gave me 2 choices, I can have it cut out or burn it out with some kind of prescription. I opted for the prescription. Well, I opted for the prescription until i got it filled and did a google search on it like any other self respecting, self diagnosing individual. The crem is called Aldara and has some crazy reports of side effects. I do believe I might call on Monday and go for the cutting off/burning/freezing/whatever it was option. The area is the size of the end of a pencil so how bad could the scar be (and am not sure I really care about a scar anyhow).

All this made me think that I never updated on the whole thyroid thing... (is it just me or did I start falling apart when I hit 40?). I decided to take a gamble and let it ride. The risks associated with removing the thyroid were more than I wanted to deal with right now. I go back in October for another ultrasound and possible biopsy.

Tomorrow, I am doing my annual peachtree road race with my Dad. In Atlanta, that is THE race of the year. I heard that more than 10,000 who sent in entries were turned away. The race caps at 55,000 entrants so you can imagine the wait time to cross the start line if you are in one of the last corrals. Luckily, I did a qualifier race and am up near the front. I won't be lining up with the Kenyans and other runners of great speed but not too far behind. I managed to get into time group 1B. The weather is supposed to be "coolish" tomorrow with a high around 88. To some, that might sound high but for the past 2 weekends we have had temps around 96 or 97 so 88 as a high is quite exciting. Not enough for a jacket but exciting nonetheless ;)

Have a great 4th!