Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thinking About Going Vegan?

NYT Well - Phys Ed: Can Athletes Perform Well on a Vegan Diet?

Bottom line? Seems there's not enough research (personal experiences aside) to know but I found this quote from D. Enette Larson-Meyer to speak volumes.
"I like to tell people that if we got most Americans to eat one less serving of meat every day, there would be far greater impact from that, in terms of improving overall public health and the health of the planet, than convincing a tiny group of endurance athletes to go full vegan."

"I don't own my child's body."

A friend on Facebook recently posted a link to a thought provoking CNN article by Katia Hetterer. You can read it here, but the general message the author conveys is that occasionally, her 4 year old daughter goes on a hugging and kissing strike (which happens, as most parents of young children can attest to).
Her parents could get a hug or a kiss, but many people who know her cannot, at least right now. And I won't make her... I will not override my own child's currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.
 Not friends. Not extended family. Not own family.

How many times have I, as a mother, told The Munchkin to give someone a hug or a kiss? Many. As I read through the piece I reflected back on the many times that when The Munchkin shook her head no, said no and ran in the other direction, or just flat out refused on the spot,  and I said something to her that could have caused her to relent. For a child who has such a strong will (and a strong will she does have) this is one time when she will do as I wish or ask and not what she wants to do.

In short, I began to realize that I need to change my modus operandi. A long time ago I decided I wouldn't allow anyone to guilt The Oldest into feeling like she had to do something or had to go somewhere. She's an old soul and has more empathy in her pinky finger than many adults will be able to muster up over the course of a lifetime and because she's a people pleaser she's easily persuaded, guilted (is that even a word?), or made to feel like she should do something because it will make someone else happy. I never connected that telling her she needs to give someone a kiss or a hug could put her in equally a difficult position.

I work hard to nurture my two girls in the hopes they will become caring, strong willed, independent and intelligent women with both book smarts and people smarts. I want them to be resolute in what they believe and feel as though they can stand up or speak out when they feel they have been wronged. But mostly, I want them to trust their instincts - to believe in that gut feeling, to be able to know that they are doing the right thing without second guessing should they find themselves in a situation that makes them uncomfortable and to do that - it starts with my saying exactly what the author has: I won't make them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Salt Lick

Yuppers. This is about how I felt after my run this afternoon. Temps at run time? In the low 90s. Humidity? High. Me? Sweating like a mofo.

Ask most people who know me and I'm blessed to be the kind of person who sweats, but doesn't smell. I've been out for 2+ hour runs to return home, clothes soaking wet but no stink on me at all. Hooray for small miracles, right?

I do, however, seem to become quite the human salt flat once said sweat evaporates. Last summer I'd get the fine, telltale, white squiggly outlines on my skin that indicated salt crystals. I think the only thing worse was realizing my then 13 month old Munchkin would actually lick my shoulder after a run because of it.

I ran with a friend, Kara, today. I used to be a pretty solitary runner, but after running two half marathons with friends, and then a one mile "fun run" with Kara I've come to find I really enjoy having the company, conversation and companionship. Admittedly, when I pulled into the parking lot I couldn't help but wonder to myself whose brilliant idea it was to run 4 miles in this kind of heat (read: mine) and what the heck I was thinking. It's days like these that send me back to my initial months of running when my inner monologues were robust and I often wondered what possessed me to think I could ever become a runner. But then something happened. I actually began to enjoy running. I looked forward to it. I would run because I wanted to, not because I had to (which is another story for another time). And as much as I may have whined and complained a little throughout the four miles - I really did enjoy this workout.

Our miles were slow. 4 miles in 41:55 for an overall pace of 10:28/mi, that's about what I had been running in the spring on my long training runs pushing The Munchkin, but they were solid. I felt somewhat wimpy when I ended up downing the two bottles of water on my hydration belt but in these types of conditions is much better to be smart than to be stubborn.

I have speedwork on the schedule for tomorrow and I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to take it outside early in the morning, or if I'm going to go indoors in the afternoon and then get in a quick swim for active recovery. Week 1 of Marathon Training is almost over... already looking forward to Week 2.


Yesterday, a friend that I work with happened to be in our break room at the same time I was heating up my lunch. I've known her for years - and she's known both of my girls, "My Princesses" as she calls them, since they were infants. Earlier this year she was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer - through her initial doctor appointments and testing she remained positive and happy, but outwardly she also projected an inner peace that only served to reinforce her grace and dignity. Being in the medical field she knew what lay ahead of her, and she was determined to tackle it head on.  She only returned to work one month ago.

As I sat down and waited for my food to finish in the microwave she took a deep breath and said very casually, "So I don't know if you've heard or not, but I'm going to have to go on at least short term disability but it looks like I may have to go on long term disability as well." I paused for a moment before speaking and automatically assumed that there had been some complication with her breast cancer follow-up that would require her to take some time off. Before I had the opportunity to open my mouth and try to say something that wouldn't seem trite or patronizing I felt like I was being hit by the full force of a right hook to my jaw. "I have liver cancer, Joy, and it's big enough that it's inoperable. My only option would have been for a resection and that's not an option because the cancer has spread too far, or a transplant and I'm not a candidate to be on the transplant list because it's too soon after my breast cancer."

What do you say to that?  I'm sorry? I'm sorry is bullshit and empty. I'm beyond sorry, I'm pissed. I didn't have words. I couldn't find words. There aren't enough words to convey what I was thinking at that exact moment. So instead, I walked over to where she was eating, gave her a hug, and cried. She said, "I have to believe there is a plan in all of this, you know?"

She has an amazing support network that includes family, friends, and coworkers. Her attitude, at least outwardly, is positive and in looking at her I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe and amazement at how collected she seemed to be. She's determined, but at the same time, knowing her for as long as I have, there was also a hint of concession in her voice - as if she intuitively knows what her future is going to hold.

So all of this, in combination with the news the other day that a runner - a wife, a mother of three that was newly pregnant - was murdered, has had me thinking about my own mortality more than usual. Thankfully not to the point that my anxiety runs rampant and I find myself spiraling down into a panic that only Xanax can stop - but thinking about nonetheless. As I lay in bed the other morning debating as to whether or not I ran ultimately what got me out of bed was knowing I could postpone my run, but there was nothing to say that with the extra time and thus getting out of the house earlier to head to work that I wouldn't be flattened by a garbage truck. I know there are no guarantees but this kind of news just serves to reinforce that and the need to make sure that I hug my girls a little tighter, I let all who surround me know how very much they are appreciated and loved, and that I live my life so that my memory, my legacy, is how I want others to remember me.

I'll be pissed off at the world for a few days as I process through the news and my anger. Then, as I always have, I will pick myself up - dust myself off - and figure out how to make lemon meringue pie out of a whole crap ton of lemons.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Mind Full

I've been trying to formulate thoughts into words - and piece those words into coherent sentences. This morning when I stepped through my garage door and into the humid morning air my mind was full of heavy thoughts. Tightening my grip around my pepper spray did nothing to calm the chatter, neither did pressing the start button on my Garmin as I began to run down the street.

Earlier this year a woman was kidnapped and murdered while out for a morning run. Her body was finally found three months later and two individuals have been charged in her death. Because her death came at a time when I was running primarily mid-day or in the afternoons, it shocked me but it didn't cause me to think twice about when I run, how I run, and where I run. Then, last night, a post appeared on Daily Mile - reminding us all, but women in particular, to be safe and prepared. It seems another woman - a wife, and a pregnant mother of three - was murdered while out for a morning run.

I find, as do most people I would hope, violence against women to be heinous. As I was running this morning I kept revisiting that collectively as women, sadly crap like this links us - across borders, across continents, across religion and ethnicity and culture- and it is deplorable to be victimized or terrorized because of our gender.

I do what I can to be smart when I'm running no matter what time of day.
  • I always tell someone where I am going, what route I am taking, how long I expect to be out and when I anticipate I will be back. 
  • I vary my routes as well make sure that I don't run at the exact same time every day. 
  • I have a Road ID that lists my name, important medical information and emergency contacts.
  • I've started running with my phone and use an app that emails my husband every 10 minutes with my route and location.
  • I use headphones for music but I keep the volume low enough that I can remain observant of my surroundings. 
  • I watch shadows, listen for sounds, watch the faces of the people coming toward me - I make eye contact and acknowledge that I see them. I square off my shoulders and run a little more confidently.
  • I stay where I know there will be people - or people nearby
  • And this morning, I began running with pepper spray.
There's no promise that any of this will protect me - but the way I figure it because of personal history and the fact that I am a mom to two very impressionable little girls I cannot let fear dictate my life. But for a half second this morning, as I lay in bed after my alarm clock went off, I allowed that fear to creep in and I debated putting off my run until this afternoon. And then I got angry that I'd even be questioning whether or not I should run as the sun comes up and I hauled my behind out from beneath the covers.

At 5:30 in the morning, here on the western edge of the eastern time zone, it's starting to get light. Muted lavenders and blues, along with the occasional streak of peach or pink crossed the sky and a few cars drove past me on the main north/south route that I have to cross to get to where I run at this hour. It's less than a half mile from my front door a mega subdivision with paved trails running between and behind rows of houses - but I've never been more aware of my surroundings than I was this morning but I refused to let them rule my run.

I ran 3 miles this morning, each mile was progressively faster with unintended negative splits. I will continue to be smart about my runs and I have no doubts, at least for the near future, that I'll have to fight the insecurities and fears about running on my own - but if I cave, those who continue to commit acts of violence against women will win and that's just not an option.

Monday, June 18, 2012

To Plan or Not to Plan, That is The Question

June 18, 2012

Marathon plan called for Sunday off and 20-30 minutes cross training today. Usually on Monday's I both run and swim - and I did so during my half training without much trouble but I also know that a marathon is an entirely different beast. In the interest of being smart, at least for now, I cut out the run and stuck with the swim.

I'm still not entirely sure of how I'm going to proceed over the next few weeks while my running mileage remains lower than what I've been putting in. Before I decided to make the leap into 26.2 I spoke with Charlie at my trusted running store, Blue Mile and found that my average mileage of about 20 to 25 per week is my "base". I had spent some time building up to that over the course of my last half marathon, but continued to run longer every other weekend after in an attempt to keep up my fitness. Admittedly, after all the work that I've done to lose weight and get fit, there's also something intensely gratifying to know that I can call on my body to run 13.1 at any given point in time.

Charlie did advise that between my half and starting up marathon training it'd be okay to cut back on mileage some - part for the mental break of sticking to a training plan day in and day out, but also to give my body the opportunity to recoup and recover.  I still consider myself to be a novice runner, but what he was saying made sense to me so over the last couple of weeks I reduced my mileage pretty considerably (or what seemed to sot me).  Of course now... now I've got nervous twitches that somehow I'm not going to be able to build back up or that I'm going to struggle doing so. In my HEAD I know this is nonsense. The Type-A, overachiever in me debates that.

What I may do is throw in lower mileage, truly easy run one day a week (like Monday) and keep that up until my midweek mileage catches up. Of course, I think the best advice I got on Daily Mile came from Olu when he said:

I would follow the plan as closely as possible at least for the 1st one. There's nothing remotely intuitive of marathon training until you've done it before.

I'm realizing that everything I know how about running - fueling, hydration, recovery - is about to get shaken up, but that's okay.

So in keeping with my plan I stuck with cross training only and made my way to the gym where I spent close to 45 minutes in the cool, calm, waters of the lap pool. If there's one thing about swimming indoors during the summer it's that most people have made tracks to be outdoors, so there's less lane comedy or chaos. There's something amazing when it's only me - the water is smooth and my swim is more like gliding through the water than trying to power through it.

My choice of music changes when I'm swimming - I tend to favor Coldplay, Enya, maybe Enigma but by far what I listen to the most is Maroon 5. Thinking about Adam Levine waiting for me at the end of my lane doesn't hurt - but the music, particularly from the Hands All Over album, seems to be perfectly paced and sets just the right "mood" for me to find my Zen in the pool.

Being in the water is where I feel most at peace. Whenever I've found myself feeling particularly challenged, emotionally vulnerable or just having a difficult time in general I've turned to water - the shower, the tub, the pool, a lake, the rain, the snow. Water cleanses, rinses and renews. It flows along gentle and easy or churns and roars with power and might or freezes into crystalline beauty that floats from the heavens and covers the earth. Much like the road and the path have become an old friend that welcomes me back whenever I lace up my shoes - so too is the water, but it envelopes and surrounds and comforts.

Had hoped for 2000m but it wasn't in the cards but that's okay. Was more important to hop out, collect The Oldest from kid care and spend some time pool side with her. She's growing and changing every day - I want to capture memories and moments and time spent with her while I still can because I know that it's going to seem like only a nanosecond and she'll be all grown up with kids of her own.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Early to Rise

Both of my girls tend to be early risers, but The Munchkin is more like me where she wakes up with the sun. With the light of day creeping into earlier hours, it's time for me to bite the bullet and find some blackout curtains. It wasn't even 5:15 when I heard my name being called over the baby monitor. If I weren't such a light sleeper I might not have even noticed, The Munchkin may have put her head back down and I might not be sucking down coffee like a crazy woman - but I am.

When I walked in to The Munchkin's room she was standing by the edge of her crib, flashed me a smile and said, "I run?"  The weather looks clear, but in checking the Weather Channel's app on my iPhone it said there was a 60% chance of thunderstorms around 7a and the map was showing a small blob of red and yellow off to our west. If it were me, out on my own, I would have chanced it - but the last thing I want to do is get stuck out in thunder boomers (though I suppose she is riding on rubber tires so maybe that would help ground her?) with her.

I love that she wants to run with me. Yesterday morning when I made my way upstairs to get her up she was still sleeping. I picked her up out of her crib and sat down in the glider - and as she usually does she tucked her legs up beneath her, pulled her arms in and curled up against my shoulder. After a few minutes of rocking she lifted her head, rubbed her eyes and said, "We run?"

The Munchkin & Murray

My training run yesterday was rough. It was in the mid-70's at our 7a run time and really humid. As I wrote on Daily Mile, it felt more like I was running in mid-July rather than mid-June. I know it's just a matter of time and acclimation to running in summer - I did it last year and I'll do it again this year - but the 4 miles really wiped me out. I'm certain that my being a little dehydrated in combination with having cut back on miles over the last couple of weeks didn't help and, as my husband pointed out, hopping into a car and driving for over an hour to a wedding we were attending only served to insult my legs and hips more. Even still, I kept telling myself that I can power me and a small human, by the strength of my legs alone, over four miles - heck, I can do it for more than 13.1 - and that helped me keep it all in perspective. 

Eventually I need to figure out my cross-training schedule. I'd like to add in some strength work, but I think my focus is going to be on swimming and possibly some time in on my bike as I start to work toward making a run at a 70.3 before I turn 40 a reality. But being early in my training and that today is Father's Day - today is a day of rest.

Happy Father's Day out there to all who are fathers or fathers in spirit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Marathon Training Starts NOW

Day 1: June 16

My alarm clock went off at 5:30 and my sleepy mind complained that it was too early for a Saturday. Not for a Tuesday or a Thursday when I've been trying to squeeze in early morning, before work miles - but most definitely for a Saturday. I hit snooze, lifted my head ever so slightly to peer out the blinds and thanked the powers that are that at least it was starting to get light.

Today is Day 1 of marathon training. It all starts here. I was hit with a couple of random thoughts as I was making the 15th trip up the stairs to get a random item that I left in the bedroom - the first of which is that I really must do better about laying out gear the night before because it's obvious that while I can get up and get moving, I'm pretty useless at trying to remember everything. I wondered what shoes I should wear and I eventually passed up on the Brooks Pure and settled on my NB 890 v2 Boston Edition (seemed only fitting). I ended up never finding my Body Glide and wondered what a non-runner would think if they overheard me say to another runner: "I got up at 5:30 this morning and I swear I thought I knew where I left my BodyGlide but for the life of me I couldn't find it!" And of course, there was that temporary moment of panic (the first of many, I'm sure) where I wondered what the hell I was thinking when I registered for 26.2.

I did manage to get all of The Munchkin's gear together last night. I have her sippy cup, grapes, cheerios and a bottle of water all ready to go. All that's left for me to do is tip-toe into her room and when she lifts her sleepy noggin ask her if she's ready to run. And run we will.

This is OUR journey to 26.2

Time to get The Munchkin.