Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Everybody's got their carrot. Mine, in case you haven't guessed, is races. It gives me training deadlines. I also spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I'm going to wear.

Anyhow, I'm still pursuing the goal of trying to run at least one race a month. And the inevitable has occurred--I'm running at least 3.1 miles several times a week now; virtual races are not really doing it for me any more. I'm wanting experiences.

I was hoping to participate in the Navy marathon weekend next month, but it just ain't happening. The medals are really good, and it's near a Naval base at which Mister did a lot of his Reserve drill time. However, since it is Reserve weekend, Mister would have to get special permission to drill there. Plus there is no race day packet pick up; if we picked up Miss from school and left RIGHT THEN, we might make it if everything went smoothly (and it never does). And there's no jogging strollers allowed on the course. Mister might-could get permission to do his PT with running the race; but then we're still trying to find someone to watch with Miss. Just one clusterfluffle after another. So I'm reluctantly letting this one go this time.

March is not lost, however. I am set to run Color Me Rad on 30 March during the 9:20 wave. I'm kind of excited how this event snowballed among my friends--at last count, Team Chunky Wonder Woman has 5-8 runners. (And more can still join! Please do!) This is going to be a lovely low-pressure kind of run; the point is to be together and get as colorful as possible. As far as I'm concerned, it's the perfect way to spend Easter Saturday by embracing joy. (But what shall I wear? More of this existential crisis later.)

The April race is still up in the air. I'm waiting on permission to attend this year's Texas Library Association in Fort Worth. On Friday, there's a 5K, and some of my fellow UNT alums would run with me. I figured this would be a good opportunity to wear my Tough Chik singlet. Because if anyone knows how to survive tough times, it's a librarian! (More of this existential crisis later as well.)

For May, it looks like I will be able to do the Texas Flower Country Women's 5K. This will be a destination race (about 3-4 hour drive away). But there is race day packet pick-up, so the time pressure will not be too great. And since this is a women only race, Mister will hang out with Miss at the flower center (the promise of barbecue brunch and mimosas helped). As far as I'm concerned, this will be the perfect Mother's Day gift, and I think only the Wonder Woman costume will do.

June is probably going to be the Electric Run. No scheduling conflicts (so far). Jogging strollers are allowed; because it's a night race, Miss will probably be okay with this. But what to wear ... I'm thinking at least a neon-colored WW tiara and bracelets may be in order.

So this should take me to the summer when things get crazy-hot. My work schedule may also change, as will Mister's Reserve schedule (maybe). As much as I love to plan ahead (and I do), I think I will have to be content with this.

In the meantime, RUN ALL THE RACES!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Today's Run OR Rediscovering Joy

I'm in meetings at work this week with people I haven't seen in a while, and they are being very complimentary. They tell me I'm looking great, they are inspired ... Sweet, really.

Dancing puppy Luna girl
Of course, all the time I'm thinking about how much this week has been made of pure FAIL. I haven't done my food journal for over a week now, I've been making horrendous food choices to comfort myself, I've missed many work-outs for one reason or another. So, yeah, feeling like a fraud.

The other thing this week has been made of is meltdowns. I've been dealing with so many both at work and at home, that I thought I'd top it off by having an extremely unattractive one myself this morning.* I knew a run sometime today was mandatory.

Weird thing is that I've come to a place where I crave rather than dread running. It doesn't solve problems so much as puts me in a better headspace to see solutions. Or helps me escape them for a while. I also knew that Luna is less likely to be wandering around at night if I wear her out a little.

So with my white dog dancing and prancing, the Bollywood workout station blasting on Pandora, I rediscovered a bit of joy in the gloaming. Traffic was a pain in some areas. Some roofers spooked Luna. But I kept a decent pace for the most part. Mosquitoes are beginning to make an appearance, but so are some buds on trees. I came home singing, and the dog came home tired. I count this a good run.

Now, hopefully a good night's sleep will help set me back on track.

* Granted, I was awakened at 3AM by an opossum banging around in our attic and agitating the dog. I never really got to sleep after that.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Navel-Gazing: You Are Wonder Woman

(Again, non-religious/differently traditioned people, please stick with me. This is for you too.)

There's a passage in Proverbs 31 that describes a Woman of Valor (or a Wife of Noble Character). This passage has tended to raise levels of anxiety in many of the women I know (including myself) because we see it as the Impossible To-Do List. But, as Rachel Held Evans learned from a friend in the Jewish tradition, calling someone eshet chayil (woman of valor) is meant to be an encouragement, a praise for milestones. In other words, valor doesn't come from being perfect; valor is in keeping going, especially when it's tough. 

You know another term for a Woman of Valor? Wonder Woman. 

If you got up and got in your work out today, you are Wonder Woman. If you got a 9 minute mile or a 19 minute mile done, you are Wonder Woman. If you didn't lose your cool with your kid or coworker (or both), you are Wonder Woman. 

Sometimes getting up at all means being Wonder Woman.

I read a blog post this past weekend about a gender-bent version of Slave Leia cosplay that really covered why I choose to wear a Wonder Woman costume at races. No, I don't have a perfect body--far from. Yes, wearing a costume draws attention to me and my imperfect body. But I refuse to wait until I look perfect (whatever that is) to look like a superhero. The act of suiting up often changes how I carry myself. I will admit to that moment when I get out of the car and wonder what have I done. But I have yet to participate in a race where I didn't make a kid excited or people didn't cheer me on ... and all because of the costume.

But more than me wearing a costume and running races, I honestly believe that every woman is Wonder Woman. Every man is Superman.* We do amazing things every day, and we forget that.

Eschet chayil. Woman of valor. Wonder Woman. Claim it.

* Or whatever your favorite superhero is, whatever publisher, Western or manga. Dude, whatever mental image gets you going.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Navel-Gazing: Taking on Mindfulness

Alex Ross. Of course.
Today is Ash Wednesday. For those of us who follow the Christian tradition, it is the beginning of Lent, or 40 days before Easter. Many people give up bad habits. Others take good habits on. It's like a spiritually sanctioned resolution reboot--which is really always seasonless when you think about it.

Stick with me, nonreligious/differently traditioned people; I'm going somewhere with this.

For 40 days, I'm going to make an effort to be more mindful.

I have a hectic life (who doesn't?), and I have noticed a tendency to be reactionary in many ways. I spout off whatever comes into my head (often laced with profanity). I let my body language and involuntary huffing speak before I formulate responses. I take on too much, then get angry when I'm given more. I eat or drink to soothe myself.

This season I would like to stop, consider, think ... then act.

Step one is to go back to a food journal. The intent is not to lose weight (although, like the running, I'm hoping that's a byproduct), but to consider the why before the bite. Already today has been a total FAIL in terms of my food budget. I ate a third brownie at a meeting in reaction to several people asking me to do things and be in several places at once (instead of, like, saying no or asking people to take a note or another solution that may have actually done something). It did, however, make me stop before indulging at a going-away party; I was full, so I didn't go near the food and decided to chat to people instead.*

So, yeah, mindfulness.

What I'm afraid of is obsessing (which is why I stopped tracking a while back). I want my brain to default to enough, pause, consider rather than REACT, YOU ....!!! I don't want this to be about being thin. I want this to be about being whole.

Gentleness in the journey, especially with myself.

* It may also have been prompted by receiving the proofs to my last race. It's not about the weight; HOWEVER, I looked super-bulgy and bull-necked. It has depressed me more than I expected.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Race Report: Rhythm & Blues 5K

Charity: APHON, San Jose Clinic, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Legacy

Finish Time: 0:41:18 Personal Record!!!

While I do take the time to run on Sunday mornings, I usually don't consider Sunday races an option since we try to attend church fairly regularly. This race, however, had some appeal. I figured if the race starts at 8AM and I take 45 minutes to finish (more or less), I could be home by 9:30; shower, cram breakfast, in the car by 10AM, in the pew by 10:30. Only doable, however, if I went by myself, and Mister and Miss took care of each other.

Crazy. Oh, yes. But Mister agreed to it in his most loving, enabling way.

If you can't run fast, run cute.
I was ready and in the car at 6:30 since I knew I had to worry about parking, walking to the site, getting my t-shirt, bag check, etc. There was a costume contest, but they wanted it tied in with the R & B theme. I couldn't figure out how to meld that with my personal Wonder Woman symbolism, so I just went all blue. (I personally thought it was kind of goddess-y with the silver moon and stars.) Great response to the outfit! I was surprised how many people got the whole WW thing; I'm guessing it's the iconic skirt that suggested it. One kid did ask where the red was; I told him it was all about the Blues!

I would have totally lost the costume
contest to these guys! Amazing!
It seemed like forever waiting for things to get started, and I wasn't impressed with the porta-potty situation.  I also wished there had been more water stations on the route, but I enjoyed the bands along the way.

I managed a really great pace overall. While I did walk, those intervals were not extended. First mile, of course, was amazing. Second mile, not bad. Third mile included one of the infamous Allen Parkway hills, but I managed. It also started sprinkling during the last mile, and by that time, that felt really good.

For the most part, I was using a big tank of a guy in a maroon shirt to keep pace. When he walked, I would pull ahead. When I walked, he would pull ahead. He finished before I did, but I wasn't far behind. When I ran into him afterwards at a water station, I thanked him for keeping me steady. He said that he was using me as his pace keeper. It felt good to help each other out. Then he told me that this was the first race he had done since his half marathon.

So I kept pace with someone who has run a half. Which means someday I could do a half. There's hope! There's hope!

I didn't feel like fighting crowds at the after-party (and couldn't really partake in the free beer--pity!), so I headed homeward for the second part of my race. I ended up home by 9:20 to a freshly cleaned family. I showered, ate the pancakes Mister made, and was in the car ready for church a little after 10 (although I almost forgot to brush my teeth). We were in the pew at the end of the Prelude and in time for announcements. Achievement unlocked!

And the medal? Yes, I wore it to church. And to lunch. And to Half Price Books. I earned it, dammit! I also earned a beer tonight and a rest day tomorrow. Makes me wish I didn't have to go to work.

I guess that's what the Blues are all about.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

(Virtual) Race Report: 3W Heart Throb

Charity: Athletes Serving Athletes
Finish Time: 0:44:13

Running has been a mostly solitary activity for me. Much of this is by choice--I work as a public servant and I'm mommy to an amazing but very talkative girl; running has become a mental reset and moving meditation time.

The other half of this equation is that, even though I post my times, to run with someone else makes me feel vulnerable--there's no way to hide how short my intervals are, how out of shape I still am.

So when a friend offered to run this race with me, I took the risk to be vulnerable.

I met her at a park. Mister watched our collective children play while we hit the nearby trail. The view was lovely! (I totally geeked out with a hawk that swooped close to us.) The conversation was wonderful. And, yeah, I felt pretty lame walking as much as we did, but she never made me feel bad about it. It was the company that mattered.

I am convinced that the first step to amazing things is vulnerability.

All this to say, thank you, Antoinette, for offering, for prodding, for tolerating, and for just being plain fun. Let's do this again!

Speaking of friends, one of my dearest friends ran this same race several hundred miles to the north of us. Natalie and I have known each other since we were twelve. Even though we don't see each other as often as we like, every time we do, it's like picking up the conversation where we left off. Funnily enough, our journeys toward fitness have converged as well. I'm proud of her--I always have been. Today, though, I felt another special tie.

There's a very old song that's been going through my head several days now:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver and the other gold.

You both are good for my heart.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Today's Run OR Training for the Zombie Apocalypse

from  Blackest Night
I finally got around to trying out the Run, Zombies! app. I have to admit this made me a little nervous. When I run in the morning, it's dark. It's just canine and me. I'm already on the alert for other people, cars, etc. So, of course, folding in zombies is a marginal idea. On the other hand, I fell in love with the concept when it was first on Kickstarter. I found out that the game could now be synced to Runkeeper, which was one of the things that held me back.

I also found out that for a limited "resolution offer," the app is 50% off.

So, yes, I downloaded it last night and tried out the first mission this morning.


  • The app is supposed to work with an already existing playlist on your device. I tend to either listen to NPR or Pandora when I run. I tried it with Pandora, and it worked okay as long as I didn't mind the music and the story overlapping. I will, however, need a develop one. (Suggestions welcome.)
  • All the dialogue is done by British actors. I'm not sure why this was a shock (I have a vague memory of a friend mentioning it). I just pretended I was in a special episode of Torchwood.
  • You "pick up" supplies along the run automatically. Which leaves me to wonder--either I've got a TARDIS for a backpack, or I'm pretty fast holding crutches (among other things). And if I picked up an ax, why can't I use it as a weapon? Upper body work out!
  • I left the Chase Mode off this time (where moaning prompts you to pick up the pace), mostly because I didn't want to be pushed before I knew what to expect. I suspect that it didn't record my mileage as a result. While I could adjust the log on Runkeeper, I am unable to edit the Run, Zombies! 
  • That being said, the story does prompt you to run several times--one toward the beginning (after a moderate warm up), one toward the middle, and a sprint at the end. I'm guessing this pattern runs through all the missions. This is actually really great for me, since I have the tendency to burn all my fuel at the beginning. Knowing that my survival depends on pacing will be a huge boon to my skill set.
When I told Mister about not using the Chase Mode, I told him I was scared that I wouldn't be able to keep up the pace, especially at the end; I was most likely brain-food. 

He asked the obvious: "Why does that matter?"

He's right. I just do the mission over again, I guess; it's not like it's real.  But that's the fun of it--it feels pretty real at the time.

I'm not going to use it every run. I'll save it special for Thursdays when it's difficult to get up early and my time is abbreviated. (You can choose either a half hour or hour mission to complete.) I haven't played around with the base building component either.

Anyway, I can totally sense the sexual tension between the communication officer and me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Today's Run OR Time to Level Up?

But seriously.

You know that playground that was huge when you were a kid that wasn't so big when you visited it later? That's what's been happening with my running lately. Landmarks seem closer, segments seem more runable. I'm not sure what snapped in my head, but there's been a definite change in how I've been pushing myself.

I'm also finding myself getting hungrier for mileage. Maybe it's the self-righteous running charm bracelet that I've started (oh yes, I did because ... shiny). Maybe it's that I've run several 5Ks already. Maybe it's that the second most frequent question I get after telling people about my running* is "So you're running marathons?" Even though I'm proud of what I'm doing, I find myself saying, "No, it's just a 5K."

I'm tired of "just."

So I'm back to asking myself if it is okay to reach for the 10K if I can't complete a 5K without walking some of it. Of course it is--that's what I would tell someone else, that's what I've been told. But do I believe it? Here's the thing: if I'm working on just speed, I think I'm always going to frustrate myself. I'm just never going to be fast. But I can go the distance. I'm pretty sure I can walk forever, and I know I can walk a 10K.

I guess the next step is to find out what my baseline time is--try myself out with the distance (I'm guessing about an hour and a half at this point). Then a training plan. Then sign myself up for one and see how it goes.

I'm feeling as crazy and scared about this as I did when I was considering just running. And then running a 5K. Which means a repeat when I'll be thinking about 10 miles ... and a half marathon ... and ...

Insanity. Pure insanity.

* First most frequent question: "You run?"

Saturday, February 2, 2013

UnRace Report: Run Free Race

I dreamed I ran a marathon ...

Charity: Groupon

Finish Time: 2:53:36

What a gorgeous day for a run--70s and clear! Very green course in many neighborhoods.

Of course, this being a marathon, I had to suit up.

And, of course, my family was there to support me. Little Miss was so excited to see her mommy run

I can't believe what great time I was making ... it was hardly like running at all!


The water stations were well placed. Although I think one of the sponsors heard something other than "run."

 I can't say that I minded.

All in all, a strong finish.

Who knew that the combination of wishing and hoping (what the experts call "visualization") and cake (what the experts call "carb-loading") would pay off! Time to put the self-righteous sticker on the car!

Alas, it was just a dream ... or was it?!?!

Happy Groundhog Day!

Friday, February 1, 2013

January in Review

Miles Covered: 60.1
26.8 miles walking
33.3 miles running

If I were travelling from Hobbiton to Rivendell, it would be Day 3--I would have reached the area of the Marish with fields, meadows, hedges, gates, and drainage dikes. The cry of a Black Rider has been heard a couple miles back during lunch.

Sandy Hook Memorial Cumulative Half Marathon (Virtual)
I Tink I Can 5K (Virtual)
Princess in Training 5K (Virtual)

It was just a year ago (probably right around this date, if I'm reading my Runkeeper data correctly) that I just started walking regularly. Or thinking about walking regularly anyhow, as all I see recorded for the month is 1.2 miles. It's cliche, but I really have come a long way, baby. When I finally did make the decision to exercise regularly, it was to improve my mental health rather than manage my weight. I have to say that I am still of that opinion, and it has made a difference.

Speaking of weight, I posed a question on my Facebook pageI've always been up-front about my age, but I'm thinking about coming clean in regards to my weight. Like maybe a once a month picture with the caption "This is what #lbs looks like." Embarrassing or inspiring?

I'm really tired of that number having power over me and how I feel about myself, since we all know that: A) it's just a number; and B) there's always more to the story--my height, my fitness, etc. If I yell it loud and proud, then maybe I can move on (and it gives me accountability not to let it creep the other way). The best argument I've gotten against doing this is that once it's on the Internet, it is there FOREVER. It also opens me up to a lot of trolls. 

I'm always looking for people with stories like mine to keep me going. I tried to read Run Like a Mother, thinking it would fill that need. But when one of the contributors was complaining that she was oh-so-overweight at, what, 150 lbs. or somesuch, I yelled, "Bitch, that's my goal weight!", and threw the book across the room. However, when the Slow Fat Triathlete writes about doing triathlons at 215lbs, I truly am inspired to get up and get going.

What would happen if I just admitted to the number? What if everyone did? Could we redefine what "fat" is?