Just to let you know- this blog is no longer active. I'll be keeping up my 101 in 1001 list until its completion, but will not be writing new posts. You can read the post below if you want the long version. Thanks for the journey to all my friends in the blogosphere!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What's up, blogger?!

I wrote a long post Thursday and it has totally disappeared! Not in drafts, published, anywhere. Either blogger ate my post or I'm going crazy.

Oh well! After a very rough couple weeks of testing and retesting at school, I'm now very happy with my students' performance and am finally relaxing for the first time in weeks. This 3 day weekend, I'm going to enjoy being lazy. I brought two books to the lake: my Kindle with the unauthorized Oprah biography for my guilty pleasure read and a HTML/web design book that I'm reading cover to cover to indulge my web geek side and get ready for my summer internship. I may go for a short run, but I'm not stressing about mileage or much of anything until Tuesday!

I hope all of y'all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Running in the Rain!

A few weeks ago, I received a facebook invitation to a 5K Fundraiser at my high school, on my high school cross country course. I thought about how fun and nostalgic that would be and tossed into the virtual trash since I live 4 hours from my hometown.

When I heard about the race again, however, I realized that I would be home that weekend for my friend's bridal shower! (Yay, Heather!) I decided that the 5K would be a lovely event with my mom and sister to round out my weekend and even had fantasies of my husband making it his first official race! (Oh, by the way, you should know: the former Mr. "I-don't-understand-the-appeal-of-running" is now officially faster than me. He does have the advantage of his legs being about a foot longer than mine.)

Saturday morning, however, I was glad that we weren't able to talk him into it. As soon as the starting gun went off, the rain fell down. It poured the whole race and created messy mud slides on the trails. I love running in the rain, (I first realized running could be fun during "dry practice" for swim team my freshman year of high school, sprinting laps around the track in a downpour, giggling with my girl friends) but I knew good and well that that type of thing is not my husband's idea of fun.

With the rain, mud, and hills (this is still my original home course and I know it's the toughest in the conference!), I had to adjust my time expectations. I was keeping an eye on the Garmin, watching my time and for signs of distress from being soaked, and decided early on that I'd be happy if I got in under 28:00. Even though I'm slower and fatter, I felt fantastic running around my high school course!

It was good to see a few people from my high school past as well. I could not believe my high school track coach remembered me and was happy to see me! (I was pretty sure he was still holding a grudge from me skipping out on track my senior year.) My cross-country coach, my true running hero and teacher, was not there, but I'm sure I'll get to run with him again someday!

One of the race volunteers caught a picture of me along the course and I think it's really funny because I'm pretty blurry but the dumpster is prominently center and in focus! Even that dumpster reminds me of high school cross-country though, because that's right where we would park (run 5 miles at practice, but too lazy to walk across the school yard to our cars?) and stretch at practice.

Anyway, it was a lovely little race and fun to revisit my running past!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Excuse me, Jillian, have you ever run a marathon?

You've heard me sing Jillian Michael's praises before, right? I have the book, the DVD, have watched approximately 5 seasons of Biggest Loser...yeah, the whole 9 yards. Even though she sometimes takes things to the extreme (i.e. yelling at people who are barfing and falling off treadmills with exhaustion.), I've always had a great deal of respect for her and her methods.

Until last night.

Last night, they aired the "Biggest Loser Marathon." They've done this for a few seasons now and in fact one of my marathon goals last October was to beat Tara's 4:55 finish from last spring. Each time, I've wondered how much actual marathon training the contestants have done. Most runners (like myself) devote months to preparing for their first marathon- building up to longer runs, trying out different fuels, drinking massive amounts of water, and rearranging their eating habits. They don't show any of this on the show. In fact, they don't show any of this (aid stations, water, GUs, etc.) along the run either. They completely downplay all the preparation that goes into an event like that. Bob and Jillian only seem concerned about the weight loss and don't question the contestants at all about their marathon training.

I know this season's winner, Daris, was taking his training seriously though. He smashed the previous Biggest Loser record by crossing the finish line at 4:02 last night. (Anybody want to guess what my new marathon goal time is?) It was clear that he had crossed over from "reality show contestant" to "runner" and I was happy to welcome him into our fold.

A few hours (or maybe a day, I'm not quite sure about the timeline) later, however, it was time for Daris to defend his title as a "weight loss contestant" and step on the scale. I cringed a little. I lost about 6 pounds training for my marathon and I thought that was pretty lucky. Many marathoners gain weight from all that necessary carb loading. The week of the race, however, as I geared up for the big day, I ended up gaining back a few pounds. The day after, the scale showed all 6 of those pounds back on. It was just a temporary increase from all that extra water and food, but that water and food got me through 26.2 miles!

So, I was not surprised at all when Daris had a 2 pound weight gain. He said (without really any regret or apology) that he had been more focused on the marathon than on weight loss. "Hurrah!" replied me and runners around the globe. Obviously, this guy has found a healthy activity that he's passionate about and will continue with in the future. He's already under 200 pounds and in great shape.

Bob and Jillian did not share our enthusiasm. Bob was livid and Jillian dropped something that had to be bleeped. "What do you mean it's hard to lose weight while marathon training?" "Don't tell me about how you are just running and gain weight. That doesn't add up. It doesn't make sense."

Beneath all their accusations, Daris' pride quickly morphed to shame and backpedaling. I was h.o.r.r.i.f.i.e.d. Bob and Jillian know that gym backwards and forward; they know all there is to know about weight training and cardio pump and "last chance workouts" but apparently they don't know _____ about running a marathon.

I've been lurking around the internet (obviously, this has been irking me!) and discovered that Bob has, in fact, run 3 marathons, but I'd be real interested in seeing his times. I cannot find any evidence that Jillian has completed a marathon. I did however find a lot more people irked by all this! Like Jamie, Tall Mom on the Run, Run, Momma, Run, J at Kissing Frogs, Amy, and Laura.

So, Jillian, let's see you lace up for 26.2.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why am I only attracted to bad runs?

I know I should be attracted to nice runs. I should be content to trot along quiet sidewalks and around neighborhoods, but I'm not. Nice runs are too calm, too quiet, and they just don't keep me interested.

Now, a bad run, however, I just can't resist. I know they're not what I'm supposed to be doing, but I just fall back into the same patterns.

Right now, I'm pretty out of shape and I should have got out on a nice run around the neighborhood and called it a day. Even though I knew I shouldn't, I let a bad long run talk me into going out tonight.

We were supposed to just go for 2 miles or so, but a naughty run can always talk me into going further than I know is right. At first, it was "just to the bypass" and then "it wouldn't hurt anything to go off the sidewalk and keep going" and then it just feels so natural and you just let one thing lead to another....and you end up doing something very bad, like a 5 mile loop.


Monday, May 17, 2010

A Salad a Day

So the running has exactly been stellar lately. I just am holding out until the end of "busy season" at school and then hoping to get back on track.

Usually when I'm not working out like I should, I tend to just let my eating habits go south as well. (I'm kind of an all or nothing kind of girl, if you haven't noticed.) The past couple weeks though, I've accidentally embarked on a healthier food track. It all started with a bag of lettuce that was past its expiration date....

I love to buy groceries on sale, in bulk. (I ALWAYS have at least 3 boxes of oatmeal in my pantry.) I know the Food Lion sales cycles and it usually works out for me. Even if we don't eat something before the expiration date rolls around, there's always the freezer. Meat, vegetables, bagels, it's all up there- bought at the peak of sales and lying in wait frozen.

There's pretty much only one thing that I can't freeze and that's lettuce. So when I discovered a bag of salad greens (only just a little) past the expiration date in my crisper, I had to take immediate action and pack a salad to take to school that day. And it still seemed to be okay the next day, so salad again it was. Then, when I shopped that afternoon, I just couldn't resist a buy-one-get-one-free coupon on two fresh bags of spinach and lettuce! At this point, I'm packing a salad each day for lunch just trying to keep a little ahead of the expiration dates.

(I should mention, at this point, that I've only been a salad eater for a few years, and really only started "craving" salads in the past months. I think I was served a salad about once a year in my childhood, so it didn't really catch on. It's really amazing in itself that I'm making or eating these green dishes at all.)

Anyway, my students seem to be amazingly obsessed with whatever I'm eating, sometimes trying to get their little faces and hands alarmingly close to my food. I feel pretty lame and a horrible example when I get questions like, "Oh! What kind of Hot Pocket is that?!" ("Kids, it's a Lean Pocket, okay, that would be totally disgusting if I ate Hot Pockets on a weekly or more basis. Those 10 fewer calories are a really big deal.") or "Why can't we bring Mexican leftovers to warm up?" ("Well, kids, you have to be a grown-up to eat this much melted grease off melted styrofoam in the cafeteria. Oh, wait! I forgot you're eating cafeteria food.")

(It's obvious that I don't actually say those things, right?)

So, I always feel better when I pack something healthy and their little eyes light up just as much over whole wheat sandwiches, fish, or yogurt. It's been a real treat though, to field their questions over two weeks of salad: "Agh! Are you eating leaves? Did you forget that you're a teacher and not a giraffe?" ("Dear children, that's real greens with nutrients you see there, not the iceberg filler they put in your side salads.") and "What are those chunks of stuff in your salad?" and especially, "Don't you need to put some ranch on that, Mrs. ______?" ("No, kids, no one needs 3 packets of ranch dressing for one salad or really anything on this earth.")

I hope I don't sound like a food snob here (remember I'm the same girl with the Lean Pockets), but I'm just kind of fed up with this whole cafeteria food thing....but that's an issue for a whole other post. It did make me smile though when one of my students said proudly last week, "Look, Mrs. _______, I'm just like you! I'm having a salad and a bottle of water!" I'm a little bit less ashamed of my example now. Let's see how many more salads I can show off between now and the last day of school!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

Forgive my absence. I've been...
  • finishing up my third semester of grad school. (I was so thrilled to be able to turn in my assignments one day before the deadlines!)
  • Prepping my babies for end of year testing. (One of my fourth graders came up to me outside, running his little hands through his buzz cut panickingly, and said, "I just need a break! I need to go to the beach and just forget all about this EOG.")
  • attending my sister-in-law's graduation.
  • directing the first annual Farmers Market Fun Run and Walk!
The race was a big success and I'm so tickled about it! We had 116 finishers and filled out all our age groups categories 1st-3rd except for one. (Those males age 20-29 must be slackers!) Everyone seemed to have a really good time and things went smoothly. (Later, I'll post a detailed run down of how everything was organized/timed/recorded/etc. and what I've learned during the process.) All our volunteers (including my lovely sisters, mother, mother-in-law, and husband) were wonderful and many participants had lovely things to say about the event.

My favorite comment from the whole event though, was, "Running this was actually really fun! You might have turned me on to something."

Mission Accomplished! : )

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pre-Race Jitters!

I've got the pre-race jitters big time. It's not the usual fretting about my time or performance, though, in fact, I haven't trained at all. This race is my big event: my first adventure as a race organizer and director!
When I decided to put this event together about 3 months ago, I jumped blind into the deep end of race planning. Fortunately, I've had a lot of support and help along the way (and will in the final few days and race day) and I've been really excited about the response. 115 runners and walkers are registered for the 1st Annual Farmers Market Fun Run and Walk and there are 3 more days to sign up!

Even with all the planning and work that's been put in so far, I've still got butterflies about the big event. I'm laying awake thinking about all the "what ifs" and hoping and checking to ensure that all my ducks are in a row. I have many friends, family, and volunteers helping out, but there are just a lot of little things that I personally have to check off my list!

Even though I'm nervous, I'm very excited that race day is almost here! The t-shirts look great, we have wonderful sponsor support, volunteers are lined up, and most importantly, we have over 100 runners and walkers! I'll let y'all know how it goes!

Oh! In other news, I enjoyed reading your responses to my Running Barefoot post, which as I was corrected by Barefoot Johnny O, : ) was not necessarily about true barefoot running, but some almost barefoot alternatives. To the disappointment of my Vibram-wearing friend, I'm not ready to go that far yet, but I am interested in mixing in some barefoot or near barefoot training. That definitely won't be happening before Saturday though!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Running Barefoot

Caught your eye, didn't I? No, I haven't actually been running barefoot but I've spent a good deal of time (that I probably should be devoting to other matters right now) lately reading/thinking about it.

I probably spent more time than most barefoot as a child. As soon as it was suitably warm, we were allowed to play outside without our shoes and I can recall the feelings of many different textures beneath my feet: grass, rocks, mud, asphalt, and pretty much everything in between. I was frequently caught at the barn without my shoes on and you can imagine that wasn't always a great idea. Like the time I stepped on rusty barbed wire and my last tetanus shot was at a fuzzy undetermined date in the past. (My parents decided I'd probably be fine without the shot. I lived.) Or the time I was standing on a fence and a calf thought my foot would be tasty. (Calves are pretty harmless though; it's just a strange sensation to have your foot in a cow's mouth.)

My dad bragged about his barefoot running on his track team in the 70s and I marveled at the way my grandma could walk across hot gravel without anything between those pointy rocks and her feet. Being barefoot in the elements seemed like a way to prove your grit.

So, of course, I fell hard for the the new "barefoot running" trend of the Nike Frees when they came out in 2005. I was training for my first marathon, was in great shape, and raved about my light, flexible shoes that taught my feet muscles to be strong. I logged hundreds of miles in my first pair while studying abroad and one of my first purchases when I arrived home was my second pair.

Shortly thereafter, however, I started having problems with my knee. I desperately tried to train through it, but a month before my marathon, it was just getting worse. 17 miles into a long run, my knee hurt so badly all I could do was limp home and I had to admit defeat.

I was advised by a doctor with running experience (who may or may not also be my mom) to quit running for at least a month or two to let it heal. After my time off, I went to the running store to seek advice and the owner was horrified when I showed him my Nike Frees and described the training I'd done in them. He said they were definitely the cause of my injury and shoes like that should only be used for short muscle building workouts on a treadmill or track.

I banished the Nike Frees and the dream of near-barefoot running to the back of my closet and moved on with expensive, supportive running shoes. I haven't had any significant knee problems since and was able to go on and finally run that marathon last year.

So, you can imagine my horror when my when best friend and first long run partner caught the latest barefoot running craze: the Vibram Five Finger. I warned her and cautioned her and reminded her of my follies, but to no avail. She insisted these were different and even worth the stares you receive when you wear something that resembles reptile toe socks. I sighed and waited for the inevitable letdown or injury.

Well, she's been running in them for months now and is still loving her Vibrams. Injury free, which is wonderful, but I considered that some kind of lucky fluke of nature. Somewhere along the way, Sarah passed me her copy of "Born to Run" and implied there was some connection between the Vibrams and the book, but that it was mostly a story about running. I started the book months ago and would pick it up now and again, but it was a really slow story to get moving. I took the book to the beach yesterday though and have almost finished it today (like I said, I probably have other things to be focusing on right now, but I'm kind of a compulsive reader...once it gets good, I have a hard time stopping until the end.)

It turns out that "Born to Run" is not only a passionate story about running and its history, but a very compelling piece of propaganda for Sarah's point of view and this whole barefoot running thing. (I think she was well aware of that when she loaned it to me.) It's got me really, really wanting to ditch my shoes and just sprint off into the distance, despite my unfortunate falling out with near-barefoot running before.

The whole logic behind the barefoot running movement is that barefoot is natural, running is natural and running shoes are not. The rate of running injuries has increased dramatically since the advent of specialized running shoes and many competitive runners all over the world and throughout history train barefoot. There are some interesting ideas and research in the book and it's prompted me to explore around the internet on the topic too.

Anyway, have y'all read "Born to Run" or had any experience in the whole barefoot running department? I highly recommend the book even if you think trading in your padded shoes is crazy. I'm kind of on the fence about which side of the debate sounds crazier now, so, Sarah, consider this a win in your book. : )