Sunday, April 28, 2013

Absence.

I haven't been writing about running because...I haven't been running.

I didn't plan to take this long of a break, but it just sort of happened. I've been doing Zumba, kickboxing, and barre classes instead. They have been kicking my ass. I got used to the difficulty of running and I forgot how difficult other forms of exercise can be!!

Anyway, I am planning to take the dog on a short run later today to see if my legs will still work! I will leave you with three things I forgot to tell you about the half three weeks ago:

1. I finished in 2:27:XX, which was three minutes ahead of my goal time!!

2. I saw at least 3 corgis along the course! I <3 corgis!!

3. My favorite aid station was the unofficial aid station at mile 10, which was set up by some locals and they distributed PBR in cups that looked exactly like the water cups. They had to keep yelling out, "This is NOT water!!" I did not indulge, but several other runners did ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

SLO Half Marathon

I had an amaaaaaaazing half marathon. The day before the race I was a little anxious. I went on a super short run in the morning to shake things out. (and to see what it feels like to run in the morning...-___-)

I didn't get to bed as early as I wanted to. But I've heard that the night before the race isn't as important as the night before the night before the race. I don't know if that's true, but I consoled myself with that thought. I laid out all my gear so I wouldn't have to think in the morning. On top of the race, that day was also a holiday at my church and I had a shift at the hospital after that. I had a lot of crap to haul around with me.

My gear. I'm not very good at matching. Don't judge.

I was pretty excited for this race for a few reasons. I'm local so I didn't have to worry about parking/shuttles/bag check/getting lost. My lovely mother dropped me off and kept my 18 tons of stuff I needed for the day. Clif provided gels along the course. While I am not super picky about my fuel, Clif Shots are tied for first place in my book.

They're actually purple. But they look kinda blue here. Ignore my obese knees.

I got some compression socks at the Pro Compression booth at the expo. I was attempting to stalk Skinny Runner wanted to get some socks because I would be on my feet for several hours at the hospital after the race and that didn't really sound like much fun. I thought maybe if I squeeze the blood out of my legs, it would make it to my brain and I might be a functional human being the rest of the day.

Race day. I wasn't anxious at all. I ate my breakfast like a champ. (Toast and a banana is the winning combo for me. Sometimes the bread can be hard to get down but once it's down, it's down.)

At the starting line. The party is in the back, right??

I wanted to stay with a pace group because I'm still not very good at pacing myself. True to form, all of my runs leading up to this race have been at very inconsistent paces, so I was a little unsure of what pace group to go with. The optimist and the conservative parts of me were at war. Eventually the conservative half one and I stuck with the 2:30 pace group. (instead of the 2:15 group, which would have been rad if I could have pulled that off)

I loved loved loved this course. Hilly, yes. But amaze-balls nonetheless. Running through downtown that early in the morning was so fun. These are streets that I have explored many times, but that early in the morning, in the middle of the street, with no one else (except a bunch of other crazy runners) around was way. too. much. fun. After a mile, it hit me how amazing of an idea pace groups are. I don't have to worry anything. I can just follow the pacers, let them deal with the math, and look around at everything and everyone.

At the first big hill (which was really one big incline followed by two or three more rolling hills), I tried my very very best to stay with the pacers. I started to worry that I would burn myself out trying to stay with them. But for some reason, I didn't listen to that voice in my head and I didn't feel the desire to let off the gas. I just kept following.

The next six miles were a lot of rolling hills that led out of town and toward some wineries. This portion was an out and back, so we got to see the lead half-marathoners coming back. I was stoked that we got to sort of be spectators and participants at the same time. :)

Just before the turn around at the halfway point, there was a giant (to me) hill. By that point, I had already decided that I wasn't going to walk a single step of the race, and I stuck to it. (unless you count the one time I got stuck behind someone who suddenly started walking at an aid station and I almost completely bowled him over) So I had no choice but to keep running up the hill. Once I make the decision not to walk, I have to stick to it or else all bets are off and I would probably walk up all the other hills too. Luckily at the top of the hill cute guys were handing out Clif Shots and then I got to turn around and fly down the hill! (And watch all the other people suffering their way up!)

I had lost the pace group on the uphill and spent the next mile or so trying to catch up. It was around this time that I started to get really pumped up. I realized how good I felt, despite the wind and the hills. My hip and knee were starting to ache a little bit, but I knew it would be a while before it would force me to slow down. I just decided to ignore it and keep going.

As we came back toward town, we hit the last downhill and I used this as my chance to pick up some speed. We hit the 10 mile marker and I decided I could push a little, so I left the pace group behind. I was feeling pretty invincible at this point. I passed a lot of walkers and each time I did, it added to the sensation that I was flying. The crowd of runners had thinned out considerably, so I felt like all the spectators were there just to watch me. This is probably what Shalane Flanagan feels like when she's kicking ass. (ie every day)

Nothing could stop me. Not even the surprise bridge over the railroad tracks with a series of ramps at mile 11 or 12 could stop me. Nor could the surprise incline from the road onto a bike path in the last 0.1 miles. It's like I wasn't even part of my body any more. I could feel the discomfort in my hip and knee and I knew I was breathing hard, but my brain just didn't process it and didn't let it affect me. I was on top of the world and my modest mile splits and very human joints were not going to bring me down. In the last 5k of the race, I pulled 3 minutes ahead of the pace group. Whaaaat?? Hahaha :)

All I could think about was how amazing the run had been and how lucky I was to be out there and part of the race. I suddenly realized what Hungry Runner Girl means when she talks about getting bugs stuck in her teeth because she's always smiling when she runs. I'm pretty sure I was smiling for 95% of the race. (the other 5% was the ridiculous hill before the turn around...)

This was a completely incredible experience. At a time when my enthusiasm for running and training was waning, this was the perfect pick-me-up to get me back on my feet. I am excited to keep running. I am excited to keep racing. I am excited to get faster. My body hates me a little today (within a minute of stopping running, my legs completely cramped up...) but I am still 100% over the moon with my weekend.

Today I am grateful for my patient and loving mother who puts up with my shenanigans,drives me before the butt crack of dawn to the starting line with nary a complaint uttered, and cheers for me with a cowbell at the finish line. She should be given sainthood.

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How was your weekend?

Did anyone have any good (or bad) races?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Half marathon!

My first official half-marathon distance race is tomorrow! (I don't count the first half of the marathon as my first half :P)

I'm alternating between being really excited and screaming in my head, "What did you get yourself into?!?"

The anticipation feels like the night before Christmas. Except that Christmas wasn't usually accompanied by dread and a foreboding sense that I am about to be in a significant amount of pain. (I'm just being a whiner. Ignore me. The race won't be that bad.)

I have to keep reminding myself that I am going to finish...I just may not finish as fast as I want.

I forgot to take pictures at the expo today. Because I'm really cool like that. Hopefully I will remember to take pictures tomorrow!

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Are you racing/Did you race this weekend?

What are your summer race plans?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Heart health and poor decisions.

Sometimes Google lets me down. Not often. But occasionally it happens.

Whenever I have questions about my health, I go see my doctor I check online. I don't have health insurance and I do not want to know how much an EKG costs without it; Google is the next best thing. Not really.

I have been having heart palpitations all. freaking. day. It feels like my heart is hiccuping. You know when you're in the middle of a bout of hiccups but you're not actually hiccuping and you can feel the anticipation in your diaphragm and you are hyper-aware that you're not hiccuping but one is on the way? It's that same feeling, but in my heart.

Apparently Google is not an adequate replacement for a trained and licensed medical professional because all it will tell me is that heart palpitations are either completely normal and harmless...or they might kill me. And it won't tell me which side of the fence I'm currently on. Thanks for nothing, Google.

Can you believe the nerve? (Obviously I am being sarcastic. Go see your doctors for an accurate and informed diagnosis, ladies and gents. And for the love of corgis, do not listen to any of my medical/lifestyle/hairstyle advice.)

So I was laying (lying? I can never remember which one it is. Damn. Useless college degree...) on my bed and staring at my running calendar:

I use a corgi puppy wall calendar to keep track of my runs. You're allowed to be jealous.

I was trying to decide if I should go for a run. I wasn't really feeling it since it felt like my heart was trying to bust free of my chest and run away. (That's a slight exaggeration) But I don't really have very much wiggle room left in my training schedule. (Read: none at all) The half marathon is in two (!!!!!) weeks. I decided that if I died during my run, I wouldn't need to worry about the half. And if I survived, then at least I got some sort of run done. 

Ladies and gents, do not follow my example. Sometimes I do really stupid things. Running while experiencing some sort of cardiac upset probably doesn't even make the Top 5 List of Dumbest Things I Have Ever Done. (#1 is driving in LA; #2 is believing the fraternity brother at the fraternity party that he would show me, and not my friends who apparently have bladders the size of swimming pools, where the bathroom is - he actually did, but hot damn that could have gone downhill very fast) It probably (hopefully?) wasn't harmful. But the safe route would have been to sit it out and consult someone who knows anything about cardiac-type-things.

Anyway, I decided to keep the run short since this is my first back-to-back run in about two months. And because my heart is on the fritz. But since it was short, I decided it should be fast. Kindly re-read the last paragraph where I mention that sometimes I do stupid things. We will see if I pay the price tomorrow.

Good news: I didn't die (Although whether or not that is good new is subjective) and I didn't notice my heart palpitations while running. Bad news: the palpitations came back once I stopped running. Damn.

Hopefully they will be gone tomorrow. Hopefully I will be alive tomorrow. Today I am thankful for cardiologists because someday when I have health insurance and can afford to see a doctor, I'm going to pay one a visit! Go visit your cardiologist for me! (Not really...unless you actually need to see your cardiologist...)




Saturday, March 16, 2013

Treadmill run.

I didn't take any pictures because I'm lame. Feel free to hate me.

I've been doing a lot of treadmill running recently. For a while it's because I was traveling and treadmill running is easiest when you're on the road. (Not the touristy type of traveling though, because then I would highly recommend running outside) And for a while when I wasn't traveling, I was just being lazy. (I live in an area that isn't super safe for runners, so I usually drive somewhere else to run)

Anyway, I think with the amount of treadmill action I was seeing (Oh baby), my mind was numbed to how awful it can be. Don't get me wrong - there are some great perks to the t-mill. Once you drown out the screaming in your head. However, after getting in a couple runs outside and then going back to the treadmill, all I can say is eugh eugh eugh eugh.

Let's start with the positive: I love (to a certain extent) being able to control the pace. It allows me to do something that sort of resembles speedwork. I don't know anything about pacing (I haven't run very many races, so I don't know what 5k, 10k, etc paces are for me) and I don't think I've run enough to judge effort (Is this 70% max effort? Or only 68%?), so my version of speedwork is just to run for a certain distance at a pace faster than I would normally choose. Seems simple enough to me. And I love that the treadmill has everything laid out in front of me.

Paradoxically, the thing I hate about running on the t-mizzle is that...everything is laid out in front of me.

I still have HOW MANY MILES LEFT????

And am I the only one that feels this way, or does it seem like it takes a lot more effort to run at the same pace (or in my case, a slower pace) on the hamster wheel than it does outside?

It just gets depressing. I hate looking at the display and feeling like I'm stuck in the land of slugs. (One of my classmates in college - seriously, guys, college - once called me a slug. And slugs aren't exactly quick. So I thought they were appropriate for this description. And yes, he called me this after he already knew I ran/hobbled/crawled/log-rolled a marathon. I don't get it.)

Since I'm not usually much faster than slugs anyway, I won't talk hard numbers. But let's just say that my warmup mile outside with a hill was at a pace that would be hard to maintain on the dreadmill. My overall pace for my run outside (which I'm choosing to consider a tempo :P) was about 1:30 min/mile faster than I usually do inside.

Is this all in my head? Or is there something about treadmills that messes with pace? I've heard that they're technically supposed to be easier than running outside, so I set the incline at 1.0% to help negate that. Is it because I'm expecting it to be hard that makes it difficult? Or is it because I can watch every 0.001 mile tick away?

Anyone else out there experiencing the same thing? Bueller? Bueller?

(By the way, today I'm thankful for my library card. My broke a** college grad butt can't afford my book addiction. Hollaaaaaa free books!!)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The scale is a liar.

Sorry I've been gone. I visited my sister for a belated birthday celebration and then got hit with the apathy bug afterward.

Anyway, I learned a couple of important lessons these past few weeks. The first one is about your diet while running, specifically things you eat before running. I don't want to jinx it (like I jinxed the Chafing Gods - it is Chub Rub City all up in here. But I'll spare you the details...), but I always thought I had a GI tract of steel. I usually never get heartburn (unless I eat an entire family sized bag of Flamin Hot Lays by myself in one night), I don't notice my stomach/intestines/etc when I run (I have never -knockonwoodknockonwoodknockonwood - had to crouch in the bushes/frantically look for a bathroom/waddle home), and with the exception of one unfortunate time eating Domino's pizza, I pretty much never have an upset stomach. 

I don't know how familiar you guys are with Asian food/Asian fusion food, but shabu shabu is my current obsession. My sister found a really good restaurant near where she lives. This place is not traditional Japanese in the slightest but it is delicious beyond reason. It is a hot pot style meal where they bring out plates of raw meat/veggies/seafood/horse and you cook it in pots of boiling water and dip it in sauce and enjoy! I don't like meat so I always get the vegetarian entree. It is literally (and I literally mean literally) a plate bigger than your face piled high with vegetables. Fiber mountain. I wish I had taken a picture. But with food, I devour first and ask questions later.

I ate the entire mountain. And then ran 7 miles a couple hours later. Not one of my smartest decisions. And I always wondered why/scoffed at the people that stopped eating salads a couple days before races. I understand completely now. Lesson of the day: don't eat 8764 grams of fiber and then expect to be in tip-top shape for your run. It wasn't even like I needed to run to the bathroom every 46 seconds. It was just a giant rock sitting in my stomach. I definitely didn't make it all 7 miles at once. I usually hate taking walk breaks, but this time I let it slide.

Anyway, moving on. Here is a picture of my other obsession:

His name is Xiao Liwu and I want to give him a giant hug.

I know for a fact that pandas are the coolest animal in the world. Part of my birthday celebration was going to see the pandas at the San Diego Zoo. I wish I had a bigger purse because I was definitely thinking about packing this little guy in there and hightailing it home.

So with all of my traveling/fiber-eating/panda-watching, my running schedule got a little messed up. But I reworked it. I'm getting nervous for the upcoming half marathon (SLO Marathon on April 7 - if any of you are going to be there, HOLLER AT ME!! I want to get cake at the Madonna Inn after!!) but there's not much I can do except run my feet off. So I was supposed to do my long run this last weekend. But then this little guy showed up in our laundry room:

I named him George. He's not actually little. He's kind of a tank.

We rescued him off a utility pole when he was a kitten and he's been hanging around ever since. For the past few months, he has been spending more time at the neighbor's house. I've been trying to woo him and convince him to spend more time with me. Trying to make a feral (but friendly!) cat love you = Sisyphean task.

The next lesson I learned: sometimes life happens. Sometimes feral cats happen. Sometimes logic and reason escape you and only leave you with enough time to do some speedwork instead of a long run. Just roll with it. I did my long run a couple days later. I have enough things in my life to stress about, I'm not going to add my improvised running schedule to that list. I run to be happy. Petting a fluffy, friendly cat also makes me happy. I'm lucky enough that I got to do both, even if it wasn't exactly how I planned it.

He is the heaviest sleeper ever. He also looks like he's dead. He's not. Can you see his tongue sticking out?

I finally did get my long run in. I was waiting for my mom to get off work so we could try out a new Zumba class so I went to the CVS next door to get some sort of sports drink. When I was staring at my options, I didn't feel like getting a sugary Gatorade. But then I saw this hiding in the corner:

Vitamin drink before.

It's like Vitamin Water. Except it actually has vitamins in it. And it's sweetened with stevia. I have no idea if it actually works. The bioavailability of vitamins/minerals is a little unclear right now (euphemism for: scientists don't know crap at the moment, but hopefully that won't always be the case) but at least I felt good about drinking it.

Vitamin drink after!

Anyway, apparently certain vitamins degrade in water, you the cap holds all the vitamin powder and you're supposed to shake it up before you drink it. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Finally, (and to put an end to this monstrous post) I have decided to stop weighing myself. I was feeling pretty good yesterday. I had done three pretty difficult workouts in two days, so I got the bright idea to check on my weight.

Highest. Weight. Ever. (Literally ever. Sigh.)

A frantic Google search seemed to indicate that there was a link between delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and weight gain. I weighed myself again this morning, and I was down 4+ pounds. Clearly my scale hates me. But more importantly, clearly body weight fluctuates a lot in a short amount of time. And perhaps most importantly, body weight is not a measurement of one's intelligence, goodness, morality, personality, or ambitions. It's just your relationship to the earth's gravitational pull. The earth and I are a little closer than we used to be. Oh well. So today I'm grateful for being grounded - for literally being able to have my feet on the ground running and also for being able to take a step back and get some perspective.

Thanks for sticking with this ADD post. I promise to make my posts more focused in the future.

PS - I'm bad at keeping promises.

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What is your favorite food?

What do you do to refuel?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Holy thigh chafing, Batman!

Two in a row! Woooh!

Random announcement: I signed up for the San Luis Obispo half-marathon!! Holler at me if you're running and we can go get cake at the Madonna Inn after!!! :)

I got a running skirt today. Well...it's not exactly a running skirt. It's a general athletic-type skirt, and I think that may have been my fatal mistake. The little shorts underneath ride up. All of my shorts have been riding up lately, so I opted to get a skirt so that I can save everyone else from having to look at my pasty white thighs. You're welcome. I think I may have tempted the Gods of Chafing when I talked (okay, bragged) in an earlier about how my skin doesn't chafe. There was definitely some thigh rubbing going on. It doesn't seem to have removed any layers of skin, but I don't want to press my luck.

The skirt in question. Purchased from Costco. I'm going to keep wearing it because a)it was cheap, b)I need new workout gear like nobody's business, and c)I like to tempt my chafing fate. And I literally spent 5 minutes maneuvering myself so I could get a picture without anything in the background. I clearly failed. I don't know how you guys can take pictures of your skirts/legs/shoes and have them look nice/not demented.

Last weekend was my birthday weekend. I ate at Panera for the first time in my life. Because I'm classy like that. I don't know how you guys do your birthdays, but in my family/circle of friends, the birthday person gets to eat wherever he/she wants. When I heard about the ooey, gooey, super cheesy macaroni and cheese at Panera, I decided I had to have it. There were many nomz to be had. I mostly just felt like revisiting my mac and cheese bliss, so I thought I would share it with you all.

Are you jealous? I'm getting jealous looking at my own picture. Mac and cheese is my kryptonite.

Also for my birthday (it was really for Christmas, but I wasn't around to get it, so it turned into a birthday present), the Significant Other's little sister got me panda headphones. I love pandas. End of story.

I feel like a 7 year old when I wear these. It's fantastic. Even though they don't fit in my ears very well (I have notoriously difficult ears), I wear them everywhere. Except while running.

Last, but not least, I enjoyed a chocolate soymilk after my run. I have heard that chocolate milk is the way to go for refueling after a run. I don't really like dairy stuff that much (I don't think I'm lactose intolerant, but it does weird things to me. In case you wanted to know. Which I'm sure you didn't), so soy and almond milk are my main squeezes. Two things that made me happy: Silk brand uses non-GMO ingredients (take that, Monsanto!! Go be brain-washed by Food, Inc. if you don't know what/who Monsanto is) and this particular product is fortified with Vitamin B12 (which can be difficult to find in non-animal-derived products).

Yum!!!


Basically this post is a long distraction. I had a super frustrating run today (back at sea-level though! Hooray!) and I was feeling the need to put things back in perspective. All of the things that I pictured and that I have enjoyed within the last week are from people who care about me. Having a bad run doesn't change who I am and realistically has very little influence on the larger portion of my life. What's important is that a)I survived and I got the miles in, b)I am surrounded by amazing people, and c)I have a good run coming my way!

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What are your favorite foods?

What do you do for your birthday?

Friday, March 1, 2013

High-altitude running.

I know I was trying for the whole write-a-post-once-a-week thing. But that obviously failed.

New March goal: blog more.

Okay. Glad I got that out of my system.

Anyway, like I mentioned in my last post, I went to Denver to visit some friends. I was a little nervous about running there. I have lived at sea level for my entire life so traveling to 6000 feet is always an interesting experience. When I visited last year (during one of my many breaks from running), I couldn't even get through a single mile. Completely pathetic.

So I went into this run with only a mileage goal in mind and ZERO expectations about pace, how I would feel, whether or not I would pass out and scrape my face on the treadmill belt, etc.

There is a gym in the apartment complex where I stayed, and what should have been a 2 minute walk took literally 10 minutes. It was basically a blizzard outside. (or at least that's what it was in my Californian mind) I was almost up to my knees in powder and there were crazy gusts of wind coming right at me. I can't breathe when wind is blowing on my face (apparently babies will hold their breathe when air is blown on their faces - I guess I never grew out of that?), so I pretty much had to walk backwards the entire way. I couldn't find the sidewalk and almost killed myself on some curbs, so I decided to walk in the street. Talk about a really easy way to get hit by a car. But I survived. I guess natural selection doesn't always work.

My view while running. This was the shallow end of the snow.


I'm going to preface what I'm about to say with a little explanation about my personality. I am the kind of person that will do exactly what I set out to do. I (usually) have very high expectations, so the fact that I don't go beyond what I originally planned is (usually) not a problem. But if I set a goal, no matter how easy or painful, I will do it, and not any more or less.

When I started running, I had decided to run 1 mile and take a 0.25 mile walk break, and repeat that until I finished my miles. When I got close to 1 mile, I realized that I actually felt really good (compared to how I felt last time I attempted to run in the Land of No Oxygen). So I decided to go a little bit further until I didn't feel quite as good. Straying from my original plan is fairly contrary to how I normally operate, but I decided to go with the flow.

On the next run, I decided to keep up the pattern from the first run. But by the time I got to the point where I took a walk break on the previous run, I realized that I was still feeling all right - so why not keep going? It was scary and exhilarating, but since I decided that I didn't have a good reason to stop, I didn't stop. And then on the next run, I pushed a little farther. And on the next one, I pushed a little farther. I may have pretended that I was Shalane Flanagan running a marathon...but you gotta do what you gotta do to get through it, right?? I can't be the only one who does this. It helped me destroy the (boring) treadmill runs and I walked away feeling like a badass.

Anyway, so this post is about the little voice in your head that says you can do it. It's the little voice that says, "Why not?" And it's the little voice that is probably a heck of a lot quieter than the loud, obnoxious part of your brain that tells you to play it safe, to stop when it hurts, and to be comfortable. Sometimes you just need to listen to the little voice that tells you to keep going. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own heads and we don't stop to look at the situation as it really is. I think sometimes, and this applies to more than just running, we need to take a step back and look at our reality, instead of our perceptions, and make decisions based on the current situation and not what we think or want it to be.

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Do you live where it snows? (Pretty much anywhere that isn't California or Florida...)

What do you do to beat boredom on the 'mill? I stare at one spot in front of me and focus on my music, my posture, and my breathing. I really wish I could watch TV on the treadmill, but for some reason I just can't focus on the TV and run at the same time.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Greetings from the Mile-High City!!

Apparently I only blog once a week. I'm working on making that better. We'll see. Maybe it will happen. Maybe not.

Anyway, for some reason I decided it would be a good idea to go from this...



 ...and this...

...to this. Hello, Denver!!


As a born-and-raised California girl, I can say with absolute certainty that I am freezing my cojones (if I had any...) off. It's like a giant slushie outside. But significantly less tasty and less fun. (Although I don't mind admiring the snow when I'm snuggled up under the blankets with a hot cup of coffee... :)

Anyway, some pretty crappy personal things have happened in that past day and I was starting to get really worked up over it. I decided hit the treadmill (no way was I going outside!!) not because I thought it would make me feel better, but because I decided that I need to step up my training and be a little more serious about it. Yes, I guess I'm technically coming back from an injury, but I think that having an injured mentality is holding me back. (Or maybe I've been watching too much Biggest Loser and I'm imagining what Jillian would yell at me?? I have very mixed feelings about the BL by the way. Maybe I'll talk about it in another post.) 

As I was running, I was pondering what I would write for this post. What am I grateful for today? I was so grumpy, I couldn't think of anything. Zilch. Nada.

I was really starting to let the crappy personal things get to me. But I always underestimate the transforming power of running. Combined with a few encouraging texts from my friend L, I was beginning to see how the bad things that are outside of my control shouldn't define me. I won't pretend that I'm an island and the things I say and do should have no impact on others, just like the things that others say and do should have no impact on me. But who I am as a person, what I choose to believe, to stand up for, and to fight for are completely up to me. And while I can't change some situations (such as the one I was in earlier today), I can change the way I perceive and the way I react to them. And sometimes that makes all the difference.

Perspective is an incredibly powerful tool. The difference between being in a rut and in a groove is how you see it. So today, I am grateful for my friends and the treadmill that both help me see things in a different light.

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What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm still alive and I have new socks to prove it.

I went a little MIA for a while. The last couple of weeks have been a little difficult for a variety of reasons. The simplest explanation is probably that I get stuck in my own head a little too much. I missed a few runs in the process, but I have decided that this is a lesson in learning how to not beat myself up. I'm going to keep moving forward.

So to the point: this post is about the people who believe in me, even when I don't necessarily believe in myself. I was having a bummer of a day when a family friend invited me to spend the afternoon with her. Maybe she knew I needed a boost or maybe it was a coincidence, I'm not really sure. We ended up at a store that sells crazy socks (cupcake print, cats, Mona Lisa, Valentine's day - basically things that you didn't know you wanted on your socks until now). She said she was proud of me for finishing the 5k so she bought me a pair of running socks. They are super comfy (breathable, soft, nice arch support without squeezing my feet to death) and I didn't take them off for at least 4 days. My hygiene could probably use some improvements, but my feet don't smell (I promise) so changing socks every single day is pretty low on my priority list.

My feet again. Despite the fact that these socks are called Smart Wool, they are made of merino wool, 
so they are not thick and scratchy like you would expect. They are surprisingly thin and keep your feet cool.

I actually don't own many pairs of running socks. I didn't even know it was a thing until fairly recently. Excuse me while I brag a little - my feet are low-maintenance (besides the whole overpronating thing...). I do not chafe and I do not get blisters when I run (which means I can wear any of my socks when I run - great for being on a budget and simplifying one small portion of my life). I ran a marathon in cotton socks without any problems (related to my feet that is...but everything else from the knees up was a whole lot of ugly...).

Anyway, back to the point - one pair of socks completely turned my day around. And it wasn't even that I got socks out of the deal; she could have given me a hug (or a corgi or a panda) and it would have had the same effect. Knowing that someone was thinking about me and was proud of me without judgments or qualifiers was a huge bright spot in my week (year...) and I am so grateful that I have people like that in my life.

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Do you run with special tech gear? Or do you try to keep it low-maintenance?

What was the last nice thing you did for someone else?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kaiser Permanente Half-Marathon & 5k race report!

My brother and I ran the KP 5k in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Super Bowl Sunday!! I thought it would be a great excuse for me to eat more Super Bowl snacks ;)

 The race start. I love Instagram. I feel like it almost makes up for my lack of photography skills.

I was a little nervous going into this race. I've been trying to deal with some shin splints for the past few weeks and last weekend I had a flare up. I took the week off from running and went for the elliptical-yoga-strength path instead. I knew I would finish the race in one piece so I wasn't anxious about that. But I was worried about how fast I would be able to go and how well my shin would hold up.

My brother can run much faster than me but he stuck with me the whole way :) We finished in 31:22. It wasn't a true 5k though. The race organizers wanted the 5k and the half to start and finish together and in order to keep the half a certified course, they had to extend the 5k to 3.2 miles. So according to the race organizers (who inexplicably calculated the pace based on 3.1 miles), I ran a 10:XX pace. But according to my calculations, I ran a 9:48 pace. And according to my brother's calculations, we ran a 9:3X pace. He used a GPS app on his phone and apparently we did so much weaving that we actually ran 3.4 miles. There were a lot of walkers that we had to go around. Weaving doesn't usually bug me that much, but it made it harder to stick with my brother.

Overall, I thought it was a nice race. Golden Gate Park is beautiful and the net downhill course was nice. I thought I was going to die during the race, but I didn't. Always a good thing. And then I felt awesome after :) I do like when there are crowds of people cheering for the runners, and there weren't very many crowds at this race. I saw more disgruntled runners and cyclists who were trying to get in their daily workout and were annoyed by the presence of the race than people who were cheering. But it was okay because the 5k is short and just when I was sure I was going to keel over, I was at the finish line.


I decided to try out KT tape on my shin. It's the stuff that the US women's beach volleyball team made really popular a few years ago. There haven't been any studies that say this stuff actually works. But I've spent long enough in the research field to know that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The tape has really mixed reviews; some people swear by it, others don't. I decided to give it a shot because I didn't have anything to lose (other than $12 to buy the roll of tape). And now I'm contributing to the mixed reviews. My shin didn't bother me during or after the race. However, I don't know if that's because I took this week off from running or because of the tape. My shin usually doesn't start bugging me until I start doing back-to-back runs, so I think I will use it this week and see what happens.

So today I am grateful for my brother. He's a solid running buddy (even though we don't live in the same city - we still share updates on our training and keep the other person motivated) and we've been having a lot of fun going through the ups and downs of training together. He's interested in some longer distances, so we may have a 10k or half on the horizon!

Lastly, let's have a moment of silence for my headband. I had a purple, stretchy, all-around-fantastic headband from Lululemon and I dropped it some time between leaving my brother's apartment and when I was tying back my hair on the bus on the way to the starting line. It served many purposes, the most important one being that it kept my headphones on my ears. I hope someone picked it up and is giving it a good home...

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Have you run a race recently? Have any races coming up?

How do you calculate pace - do you go with what the race organizers say or what you recorded with your watch/Garmin/phone/whatever? Do you use the length the course is supposed to be? Or do you use the distance you actually ran according to your Garmin/phone/whatever?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Super awkward and a misbehaving shin.

I just want to preface this post by saying this is as awkward for you as it is for me. I'm not really used to taking pictures, especially not for a blog, and super especially not pictures of myself to put on a blog. But here we are now, you all get to admire my leg.

If you've read any of my other posts (you only have 4 to choose from...), you'll know that I started my blog to vent frustration over shin pain. Naming my blog after the tibia in question was (and is...) a way to remind myself that I'm not superhuman, I have to listen to my body, I need to take care of myself, and if I don't, then I really will have a broken tibia. I tend to have an all-or-none attitude - I jumped into marathon training from next-to-nothing fitness-wise and completely ran through a knee and hip injury. I never said I was smart. But I am stubborn. This time around I'm working on increasing the smart and decreasing the stubborn.

Anyway, the point being: I am now finding myself struggling again with my shin again. I took some time off running a few weeks ago. When I came back, my shin was a little tender, but not painful. After a few more days, it felt fine. But now I'm experiencing discomfort in another region...

 The newest angry spot on my leg. Sigh...

This has been uncomfortable for maybe a week. I've never noticed it during my runs, but I've noticed some irritation after. If you can't tell, it's on the lateral side of my tibia, not directly on top of it. I've been icing it and I haven't been too concerned about it. But today I took my dog on a pretty long walk and it seemed to get irritated from that.

And the old region is a little irritated too now.

The old angry region. Double sigh...

So here is the dilemma: I am super paranoid about stress fractures. I have a 5k this weekend and I have my eye on a half-marathon in April and a full marathon in June. I am completely set on making it to the starting line injury-free. I do not have health insurance, so I can't go see a doctor. Instead, I am accepting anecdotes, words of wisdom, words of support, and any informed opinions that you may have. It's not quite the same as a bone scan, but that's what is in my price range right now. Dear readers, what do you think of this predicament?

And since I am actively working on showing gratitude for things in my life, here is a short list:

1. I am grateful for my socks. I like to buy the seasonal socks at Target (the 2 pairs for $5 deal - the other pair is blue with snowpeople). Even though I'm kind of bummed about my leg acting up, my socks do make me feel a little bit better. Yes, I am a child on the inside.

2. I am grateful that my friend's dad is a physical therapist. I may have to go find him and trade him some homemade cookies for his expertise.

And 3. I am grateful that my mom has an elliptical so I can get some low-impact exercise in. :)

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Have you ever had a stress fracture and/or shin splints? What did it feel like?

What races do you have coming up?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Carrying things and calf knots.

I have been ruminating over the ever-present runner problem of how to carry all your stuff on a run. I used to not carry anything when I ran, but I learned the hard way (several times) that it's a bad idea to a) not have your phone and b) not have a reliable way to carry your things (phone, gels, keys, etc) that doesn't involve wearing a jacket because it's the only garment you own with zippered pockets. I thought about getting an armband. But I hate armbands. And if I get a new phone (some day...), I would have to buy a new armband as well and I don't really want to do that.

Enter Spibelt.

Sorry about the terrible picture quality. I know zero things about photography. But I do love polka dots. :)


A quick Google search turned up this baby. Spibelts are glorified fanny packs. But they are so amazing that it's okay. It stretches to fit whatever I want to carry, which means no more losing my car keys because my jacket pocket has a hole in it. The Spibelt doesn't bounce, it doesn't move (usually), and it comes in lots of ADD colors for ADD people (or just plain black for the grownups). You can buy them online or I found mine at Dick's Sporting Goods (I still laugh a little on the inside whenever I read/hear/say that name. I am 7 years old apparently...).

I lost his mate on the way to a laundromat in Madrid. I am disturbingly attached to my socks 
and didn't want to throw the loner away. Yes, everything I just said is completely true...

The next amazing thing to come into my life is my sock buddy. I know, you're so lucky to get this view of one of my socks. Go find a (clean) sock, fill it with rice, knot/sew/use a hair tie on the end, pop it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, sing your praises of me. On one of my runs earlier this week, I felt a knot pop up in my calf. It was sudden, unexpected, and mildly uncomfortable. It felt like someone stuck a fork in my calf and tried to wind spaghetti around the tines. After I was done with the run, I couldn't feel the discomfort any more (duh, you don't use your calves when you're sitting and watching Arrested Development), so I didn't do it anything about it. I've just made a huge mistake...

I went for my run the next day and...oh hey there calf! You feel 10x worse than yesterday! The first thing I did when I got home was try to spend some quality time with my foam roller. But my calf was in so much pain that I couldn't even roll - I just ended up sitting with my calf on the foam roller and scrunching my face through the pain. I decided I needed to try to relax the muscle first. I alternated between my sock buddy and the foam roller over the course of the next day and a half and my calf is feeling pretty good! Hooray for new running gear and for (hopefully) many more hassle-free and pain-free miles!!

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How do you carry your stuff on a run?

Do you listen to music when you run or do you prefer au natural?

Friday, January 18, 2013

I am grateful for courage.


There are certain things I won't do by myself. In college, I refused to go to the dining hall by myself. If I couldn't find someone to go with me, I wouldn't eat. It seems completely ridiculous now. I don't have any friends where I live, so the only time I leave my house is when I need to do something. This has been negatively affecting my mood lately, so I took a bold step and decided to go out and do something just for me. Just for fun. And just because.
Standing at the bottom and looking up.

This is Bishop's Peak. The trail is 1.6 miles one way with about 1000 feet gain in elevation. On the way out to the trail and for part of the way up, I felt so timid. I was so self-conscious of myself and the fact that I was alone. I don't even know why. Maybe it's just habit. When I got to the trailhead, I almost turned around and drove home. I decided that since I took the time to go all the way out there, I should at least check it out for a little bit.

The view from halfway up. 

As I started climbing, I realized that most of the hikers came by themselves. I wasn't special and I certainly wasn't abnormal. Apparently people do lots of things by themselves and this is normal and considered healthy. (I'm only kind of sarcastically saying that)

Blurry. I thought someone was behind me and I didn't want to stop walking while taking the picture.

It was so calming to spend some quality time outside. It gave me the chance to deeply appreciate how beautiful nature is and I felt so much more peaceful after my hike. I realized that stepping outside of my comfort zone can be a truly wonderful experience and I should probably do things like this more often. I need to learn how to be more comfortable with myself and how to have the courage to stand up by myself.

This experience allowed me to be grateful for having the courage to go out and not only face something that makes me uncomfortable, but to embrace it and to find the positives in the situation.

And then, in typical Me Fashion, I was so cold by the time I got back to my car (Did you hear about the cold spell that hit the southwest and all the weak-blooded Californians were complaining? Yeah, consider me one of those Californians - I was freezing my butt off!!) that I couldn't feel my legs very well. I ended up smacking my shin with the car door because I couldn't tell where my legs were. I hit the shin that has been bothering me too. Smooth.

In running news: I did 2 very tentative miles on Sunday to test out my leg. It was still a little irritated, but not painful. I decided to rest after the hike (apparently climbing over rocks and jumping doesn't feel very good with shin splints...) but I went for 3 miles on Wednesday. With some yoga sessions mixed in there, I'm feeling pretty good and I'm pumped to knock out another run tomorrow!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

A New Perspective.

I wasn't feeling particularly inspired to run today, but I figured I should test the waters. It's been 5 days since I last ran. I was trying to find the balance between giving my leg enough rest and not losing fitness (I don't have much going for me in that department right now...)

This was just one of those really frustrating runs. I hopped on the neighbors' treadmill just in case my leg started bothering me again and I could jump off immediately. Back when I was marathon training, I ran through my knee pain until it got so unbearable that I had to stop. Often times I would reach that point when I was 6+ miles away from the carpool and it took me for. ev. er. to walk back.

But anyway...it just felt like everything was wrong during this run. My leg wasn't bothering me like it did on my last run, but it just seemed like little muscles all over my calves and ankles and feet were getting really fatigued. I couldn't keep a steady pace. I was weaving back and forth on the treadmill. My shorts were riding up (an unnecessary reminder that my thighs were rubbing together).

In general, I'm feeling really discouraged. I'm frustrated that I'm slow. I'm frustrated that my leg bothers me. I'm frustrated that I've gained weight. Gah.

I've been thinking about what direction I want to take my blog. I'm not always cheerful; I think I've displayed that quite well in my modest 2 posts. But with that being said, I want to use this blog to focus on the positive aspects of life. I want to highlight things that I find inspiring, humorous, and uplifting so that it will help me be more appreciative of life. I truly believe that by complaining out loud (or in writing...), we are only enhancing our own misery, and this is a habit that I would very much like to break.

So to turn the mood of this post around: I am grateful for the ability to run. I am grateful that I have the time, resources, space, and general safety to be able to do so, even on the days when my run is not going well.

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What helped you improve your form?

What do you do when you're having an awful run?

What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My First Lie.

Okay okay. My tibia isn't actually broken.

I know, what a great start, right? I'm already lying to you guys.

So my tibia isn't really broken. I have a shin splint. Not as exciting, amirite?? (But probably better for my broke, uninsured butt...er...leg)

But seriously. I'm feeling a flair for the dramatic this time, because this time, unlike previous times, I am actually fessing up to something in my body being not quite right. And this time, unlike previous times, I'm taking a break from running to allow my body to heal.

That last sentence sounds like my life should be so very zen. But I'm actually really grumpy. And I'm stubborn. Past me would have ignored the discomfort and kept running. Current me is (trying to be) smart. It comes at the expense of also being very frustrated. And that's why I'm here - so I can string various words into nonsensical sentences and release them into the blogosphere in hopes of finding some sort of mental, and in the mean time hopefully physical, release from this current predicament.

Here is a picture of my shoes. I think they're the reason my leg hurts.


I actually really like them. Significantly less now that my leg hurts. But I'm sure our relationship will be repaired as soon as I'm back on my feet.

Real quick, about me: I'm a 20-something recent college grad. I love everything related to running, pandas, corgis, baking, and vegan food. I'm not vegan though. I've been running casually for almost 6 years, but I still don't consider myself A Runner. Writing is not something that comes easily to me, so hopefully I get better as I keep my blog updated!!

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When did you get into running? When was the last time you were injured?