Making it Work

It’s Thursday. My goal this week was to get through the scheduled training sessions, be consistent and to find a way to make it happen. Despite darkness. Despite cold. Despite ice. Despite schedules. Despite it all.

Monday was my deep water running class and my first strength routine of the season. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t do any strength work over the summer. But that’s behind me. The strength routine left me feeling amazing, frankly. I love strength training and my body thrives when it’s part of my routine.

Tuesday I ran 2.36 miles on my lunch break instead of the scheduled 3. We were in the middle of a bad freezing rain patch and the roads were icy, but I was happy with my 2.36. That night I went to the kick off party for Winter Warriors and feel excited for some great opportunities for group workouts, snowshoe runs and making new friends. It should be great!

Wednesday I ran 4.09 miles on the treadmill at a gym where I had a free pass. It was perfect as more freezing rain came through.

Tonight I rode my bike for an hour and did a halfhearted strength routine in the living room. Part of this week’s goal was to identify areas of weakness either in the scheduling or set up. The room where my bike is set up is very cold and the trainer creates wind. So I was very cold. That is something I will have to be better prepared for. Either pants or leg warmers are a necessity and a more comfortable jacket for the bike. The one I was wearing was tight in the shoulders and I couldn’t get comfortable. I was sweating with numb toes. Not a comfortable feeling. I also need to have a better plan for the strength routine following the bike. Because what I did today was not something that will take me far. Better than nothing, for sure. I biked 14.5 miles in the hour on the trainer. Just got on and pedaled. I will have better workouts in the future, but tonight was just about getting it done and observing things. I have some changes to make.

Tomorrow is a rest day and then over the weekend I will have daylight to do my two longer runs. Ok so technically Saturday is only 3 miles and Sunday is 6 miles – doable distances, for sure. I look forward to the 6 miles and getting in the mindset for long runs over the weekend. I think this schedule should continue to work out for me!

Do you have a home gym of sorts? I have my bike on the trainer and I have a curved dumbbell bar, 2 10-lb. dumbbells and a 10-lb. kettle bell, as well as a yoga mat, a yoga belt (great for stretching the IT band, a ChiBolster, and a massage stick. I would like to add a step so I can do some more powerful leg exercises on Thursdays, and I’d love a stability ball. Heck, I’d love a lot more but this is a good start.

I’m in the process of hiring a coach. In the early stages of research. Trying to define what I’m looking for so I can find a good fit, and meeting some people to see what they have to offer. And how much they charge. It might not be in the cards for this season, and if that’s the case, it’ll be ok.

I’m looking forward to a day off tomorrow. If for nothing else, balance.

Thanks for reading!

Dreadmill is Actually Spelled with a “T”

What was wrong with me today? I so badly wanted to run four miles that I opted for the treadmill over the icy roads, which were expected to be greeted by yet another freezing rain layer.

The treadmill is only dreadful if you let it be. Tonight I went in a little naive because I think it’s been several years since I’ve run on a treadmill. Yes, I hate them too.

Why does the odometer move so slowly? And why the blip am I in the same place I started 30 minutes ago? Gosh, treadmills certainly make you appreciate your freedom!

Tonight I had 4 miles on the marathon training agenda. The roads have been terrible and are getting worse tonight. I love Bend, but my God does the city need a better person in charge of snow removal and road clearing. I’m a New Englander and no one does it better than New England (except maybe Buffalo & Syracuse, NY).

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I had a free pass to Xcel Fitness, which expires tomorrow. Tomorrow is a cross training day (bike!) so I took advantage and used up my free pass for a safe 4 miles.

My brain almost melted. But what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Once you get used to it and you know how it feels and what to expect, your body and mind get better at handling the monotony. But it’s been a few years..

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My overall run was pretty slow, but in all honesty, I had to take two walk breaks to work out a nagging kink in my Achilles. The real workout was mental anyway. I so badly wanted to call it good, but I didn’t until it was good.

The plus side to all of this? I got to run next to a pretty fine looking young chap. He could have chosen any treadmill, and he chose the one next to me. I ran twice as far, but he ran almost twice as fast (not even close, but it sounded good).

Here’s some advice I was given about treadmill running, which I will share with you. Always keep the incline at 1.5-2% (or higher if you are running a hill workout). Treadmills on their “flat” grade are not natural and cause bad form and can cause injuries.

The treadmill is doing some work for you. When you plant your foot on the ground, you have to push of and propel yourself forward. On a treadmill, the ground moves under you, forcing you to pick up your foot and move forward, or else you fall. So the treadmill does some of the work. Just keep that in mind with your pace. If you are stuck on a treadmill for significant workouts, increase the pace to hit your target.

Oh, and .. Don’t be a dork like me. If a good looking guy (or gal) gets on the treadmill next to you – SAY HI!

Let it Heal

I am a believer in healing. Be it physical through illness or injury, or emotional through loss or damage, I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of taking time to heal, and healing properly.

I am not one of those people who jumps from relationship to relationship. To heal from one bad relationship or breakup by jumping into another is the same as taking medication to mask the symptoms, without even paying attention to the cause.

I like to know the cause, pay attention to it, figure it out, and heal it.

Last week’s dog bite was much more traumatic than I initially gave credit for. I opted not to run so the puncture site and bruise could heal, and it took me longer to get restarted than I was expecting. I finally had a break this weekend. No obligations, so I could run during the day at any time – with the sun up – if I so chose to do; but I didn’t.

I couldn’t explain it then, but I just didn’t want to run. And so I didn’t. I made my first ever batch of homemade Mac & Cheese and its nutmeggy undertone was simply delicious and comforting, as the best comforting food should be.

I didn’t understand why I didn’t want to run until this weekend while I was writing an email to a friend. The last time I ran was the night Oscar attacked my baby girl, and I think subconsciously I was replaying that attack, and worrying/expecting it to happen again.

I had given myself a deadline. Monday would be my restart date, and I would be back on track with marathon training – just a week out. It’s OK; this is why I had given myself such a hefty head start to begin with.

Yesterday it took me an hour to drive my usual 25-minute route to Juniper Swim & Fitness, where I showed up to volunteer in the deep water running class. I passed four accidents on my way home, one of which was causing a 2-hour delay. I am not sure the driver survived, and if there was a passenger it would be a complete miracle if that person survived.

The roads were horrendous. If they were that horrendous to drive, chances are they would be very dangerous to run. It’s dark out as soon as I’m out of work. Dark out until it’s time for me to leave for work in the morning. So running in the dark, when it’s ridiculously slippery, and cars stand the chance of sliding into you when they otherwise would like to completely avoid you, is a time when I think fitness centers were our country’s greatest invention.

And so. After my deep water running class (which was amazing, and an excellent cross training activity — I highly recommend it), I lifted weights in the gym and felt stellar doing so. And I knew it was time I have a plan B for tomorrow’s run. On the agenda was 3 miles. I get 30 minutes at lunch, and so I planned to run as much as I could on my lunch break. I would need time to change twice, and I knew I would have to be careful of my footing.

Today I made it 2.36 miles in 27 minutes and change, on the icy surface. As soon as I turned onto the bike path, I had more forgiving snow-packed footing but it still wasn’t fast. Just so happy to be running.

And I decided something today, which was very liberating. I decided that I love my body. I don’t love it in a way that I think mine is better (or “hotter” than yours) or I want to flaunt it and show it off. I love it because its mine, and it reflects the many choices, good and bad, I’ve made in my life. And it has taken me many places in life. So I will continue loving it. While I don’t want to flaunt it off, I have decided I also no longer want to hide it, or dress in a way that declares that I am ashamed of it. I love my body, and I plan to always love it.

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Take a Knee & Sleep Like a Baby

All week I’ve been talking about when to rest, and when to run. I decided a general rule of thumb is, if you have to ask, take a break. I have been sick for about a week and a half now, and definitely had no choice but to rest. I was so extremely exhausted. And then I got started, and am feeling pretty good. Tight IT band aside, it’s good to be on track with a training routine again.

In high school, whenever my coach wanted our attention, he’d tell us to take a knee. And I honestly feel like the universe is telling me to take a knee and listen.

I avoided the doctor this past week because I didn’t want antibiotics. For goodness sakes, I spent 2 months feeling really sick only to discover that it was an imbalance in my gut flora, and I followed a very strict no-sugar diet for two weeks, taking high doses of probiotics and antifungals to regain digestive health. An antibiotic would just throw all my efforts out the window. I was not game for that.

Then last night I was bit by a dog in my own home, and I was publicly referred to the doctor. (thanks, Twitter). And so I went. I am up-to-date on my tetanus shot, which is great news. And while the doctor recommended antibiotics, I requested that I just use them topically for now, and if things start to turn bad, I would take them orally. I explained my request, and she understood. And thankfully, she agreed that this would be a fine solution.

Since I was already there, I asked if I could have a cough syrup so I could sleep again (haven’t slept much in the past 3 nights) and she prescribed a robitussun with codeine. Jumping Jehosaphat — I can’t wait to sleep tonight.

The only way to know if my leg can handle running is to run. But since the muscle tissue is actually pretty sore, it’s also hovering around 20 degrees (it was 9 degrees this morning), and I can’t stop coughing to save my life, I’m just going to take a knee and sit this one out. Three strikes, and I’m headed toward that pillow.

I hope my dog wants to snuggle with me tonight because I still feel like carrying her around in my sweatshirt to keep her safe. I love that little fur ball to bits and pieces. I just hope I don’t have to love her as bits and pieces. I honestly thought that’s what was going to happen last night!

To Run, or Rest?

Last night in a household scuffle after my run, I was bitten by a fairly large (and momentarily aggressive) dog. It was not in good fun. I was defending my own dog, who was helplessly (and fearfully) hanging by her neck from the tight grips of his much larger jaw. Andi is 23 pounds, and sweet. Oscar is 80 pounds and, well.. serves as an excellent guard dog whose bark has always been worse than his bite – even now that I have proof.

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You can read more about the “attack” in my post from last night, Fear. But this post is not really about that, but about whether I should run tonight or let it rest a day. The photo above was taken immediately after I realized I was bitten.

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This photo was taken after I had a chance to clean it up and apply some first aid ointment.

This morning, it is very sore. I am aware of it just lying in bed, and walking feels like I have a muscle strain or something.

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This was taken first thing this morning, about 12 hours post-bite. It’s not done bruising, but there is a good start.

I don’t think it’s infected or really runs the risk for infection, but I plan to call my doctor today to find out when I had my last tetanus shot just to be sure. I know Oscar is up-to-date on his vaccinations but heck, I may even call his vet to be sure. He goes to the same vet as Andi.

I plan to pack my running clothes to run after work tonight. That way I will get at least a couple miles with the sun still relatively in the sky. I have a 30 minute commute home and it really cuts into the lingering daylight. But it will all depend on how things go today. On the agenda is 4 miles. I honestly wasn’t thinking of dog bites when I considered injury prevention.

Have you been bitten by a dog? This was actually a huge fear of mine when I first started running. When it happened last night, I didn’t even know it. Adrenaline.. But of course, I was not his primary victim.

Fear: Life’s Greatest Motivator

I got home from work knowing I had a 3-mile run on the agenda. It was going to be dark; I knew that. It was also going to be cold; for that, I wasn’t quite prepared. I got home and immediately got to work. Reflective clothing. Warm layers. One glove. Must locate my other glove. My headlamp. Nowhere to be found. A flashlight will do. To bring the dog or not bring the dog? No dog. She is a spaz around lights and shadows and I am on a mission.

I started running and turned out of my coldusac onto a very dark 15th street. The road is closed due to construction but traffic still finds its way. It was dark. My flashlight was only so helpful. It actually casted more spooky shadows than uncovered creepy boogeymen.

You know, I was going to write a really good post about running in the dark and how my fear motivated me to run a relatively fast pace (for me, lately). I was going to tell you that I was impressed with my average pace at the turnaround and then on the way back it was more uphill, and in my head I understood why the faster pace. But when I got back home, my average pace had decreased. (Faster).

I was going to tell you that just last week I was sick in bed and could hardly stand up to get food. And today I was running in the dark at a faster clip than I’ve done all summer. I felt good except for a tight IT band.

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I was going to share this photo with you of the tunnel I ran through twice. Creepy, shadow-casting tunnel.

And I was going to tell you that when I got back I enjoyed a very nice soak in the hot tub. Heck, I was even going to share this photo with you.

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But then, when I went inside and the two dogs followed me, Oscar attacked Andi and latched on to her neck. I have never seen a look of fear like that on my 23 pound border collie as Oscar (half German Shepard/half Golden Retriever) – all 80 pounds of him – lurched her neck. She cried like I had never heard.

And mama bear reacted. In hindsight, my reaction may have made it worse. But what else do you do when your baby is being attacked?

You stand between the bullet and your baby.

When he finally let go, after I practically strangled him with his chain collar, Andi laid on the ground, limp. I pushed my rear end in front of him and scooped her up, and ran into our bedroom and shut the door.

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My roommate came home as soon as he could make out my panicky, hyperventilating voice that Oscar attacked Andi and I don’t know that she is ok. At that point I didn’t realize I had been bitten, but it didn’t take long for the pain to set in. He came home immediately, and calmly talked to Oscar and helped me assess Andi’s situation. She is covered with saliva, but I am the only one with broken skin.

I know this is going to affect my run. Right on the meaty part of my inner left upper leg. But this is the season of no excuses. Tomorrow I have a scheduled 4-mile run but given the tight IT band and now this, I might flip flop my next XT day and bike tomorrow instead. Not sure yet. We’ll see how it feels in the morning. It’s definitely going to leave a mark.

Well anyway. That’s how my night was. Andi is back to hiding under the bed but she and Oscar have already greeted each other. Oscar gave her sweet kisses on the head. The attack was certainly unexpected. Her and Oscar are BFFs for sure.

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This is Oscar and Andi, BFFs and ball mates (photo was not taken tonight – no one in this house is smiling right now).

So I find it interesting that my post about made up fear in my head turned into real fear. A fear I never want to experience again. I love my baby. And now I regret leaving her at home. :-/

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On My Way

I allotted 18 weeks for my marathon training program, which gave me an official start date of December 28th. Marathon training can be finicky. 18 weeks is a long time for things to constantly go as planned. Injury, illness, overuse, life in general all find ways to interfere. Right now I know I don’t have a strong base under me. Perfect recipe for injury, overuse, illness and life to interfere. So I decided to spend the next 6 weeks building a stronger base and developing the good habits I will need to maintain in order to get through the following 18 very important training weeks.

So today was day 2 of my training “head start”. Yesterday I peeled myself out of bed and ran 4 miles. Today was a cross training day – my scheduled deep water running class and my first of many strength workouts.

Tomorrow will be my first real test, because I will either have to run in the morning or run in the dark. I guess both will be in the dark. It’s been a cold week here. I saw my first snow flurries today. They didn’t last long, but it was a sign of what’s to come!

Some of my other good habits that I need to keep up: Natural Calm magnesium supplement at night, daily antifungal supplements, stretching before bed, healthy lunch and post-work snack so I am energized for the workout, and lots of hydration. I get good sleep most nights (magnesium certainly helps), and Andi has been the best thing for me in terms of bedtime and early morning rising!

I know it’s early, but I am excited. It feels good to have a plan.