Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't shoot me, please!

Have you ever noticed the runners who look so sleek and cool clad in all-black cold-weather running gear? Ninja-like from balaclava to compression tights, they look like they're probably as fast as ninjas, too.

I am not one of them.

Instead, I'll be super stylish this winter in my brand-new "Hotfingers Hunting" orange knit hat. Until I find somewhere else to run besides wooded trails and back roads, I have to stick to wearing the brightest colors possible, and with hunting season upon us, orange is the best color.

I came across the hat when I was looking around at an outdoor recreation store for pepper spray to carry with me on runs. The pepper spray was the jogger model, with a strap to put around your hand to make it easy to carry. With the pepper spray, orange hat, and iFitness belt to carry keys, phone, and extra fuel, I'm well-prepared to run safely this winter.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things To Be Thankful For

Every time I feel a little sore lately, I remember back to last year when I took time off from running to check to see if I had a stress fracture. Not being able to run drove me crazy. I remember that, because it reminds me of how thankful I am to be able to run. There are plenty of times when I'm lazy and choose not to, but the ability to get out and put one foot in front of the other is more valuable than I can say. So today, on Thanksgiving, I want to say how thankful I am for the ability to run. I'm not especially talented, and, compared to others, I'm not even that dedicated to training, but it's something I love to do, and I am so grateful for it. But that's only one of the things for which I am thankful this year. Here are some of the others:

There isn't much more to be thankful for in life than family and friends, although I admit that there are many times when I do not appreciate them enough. I had a wonderful time sharing the holiday today with family, and I look forward to many more opportunities to continue traditions and make new memories. Pictured above is one of my favorite family memories: an unexpected rainstorm during my cousin's housewarming party. A little rain couldn't dampen our spirits!

I've tried to come out of my little librarian bubble and be a little more social in the past few months, and every time I do, I remember what great people my friends are. There's nothing like a buddy for hanging out watching chic flicks, spending a road trip listening to Harry Potter audio books, or just talking.

(Cue Gollum voice) My precious:
I think that I'm thankful every single day for my darling, precious, fluffy little Yorkshire Terrier. She is annoyingly yappy, very disobedient, and stressful to take care of (with health issues like cataracts and seizures), but this little dog is so sweet and lovable that I am thankful for her even when she's running around the house with a stolen sock.

Last week I tried to take my bike for a ride on the trail and was stopped by a flat tire. Luckily I got that fixed on Tuesday, and you wouldn't believe how happy I was to be able to ride again. I was actually surprised how much I had missed using the bike, even though it was such a short time.

Summit Trail:
This is a trail that I explored for the first time on Tuesday. I am thankful not only for having discovered it, but to have so many opportunities to run trails so close to home. This one starts halfway up the mountain, so it does not take too much effort to reach the summit and take in the beautiful views from the ridge. I can't wait to try out some of the other trails in the park!

Sharing old recipes - and discovering new ones:
There's nothing that brings people together quite like sharing and enjoying food together. In the past month, I've been helping my mom type her collection of recipes, and I've often felt like I've been transported back in time to when my great-grandmother was alive and making meatballs with my mom in the kitchen, or when I'd visit my grandmother and she would put the entire bowl of her home-made cole-slaw in front of me because she knew that it was my favorite. I struck out with my standard stuffed mushrooms at Thanksgiving dinner today (they were bland), but I am not discouraged. In fact, I can't wait to try out many new recipes. I might even be bold enough to get fancy and try one of Julia Child's recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Bon Apettite!

Snuggly socks:
I really, really love warm, snuggly socks -- especially if they're made of fluffy material. They cushion your feet and make them so warm, all without making annoying flopping sounds like slippers usually do. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for snuggly socks.

Warm gloves:
Last spring I bought some biking gloves on clearance, and, since the weather had been too warm, I only just wore them for the first time on Wednesday. I am now in love. If it sounds like I have an unhealthy obsession with fluffy socks, that is nothing compared to my attachment to these gloves. Not only are they blissfully warm, but the padding is supposed to prevent your fingers from going numb from the vibrations of the handlebars! That is seriously good news, because I have Raynaud's Disease, which is constriction of blood vessels in fingers and toes (usually caused by the cold, or vibrations, such as a car steering wheel or bike handlebars) causing them to turn white and go completely numb. I am so thankful to have found a pair of gloves that will help me keep my fingers warm and toasty, that I've taken to putting them on even when I'm inside, just to feel how warm and cushiony they are. They fit me, but they are really big, and the palm side looks really technical with all of the different padded areas, so when I wear them I kind of feel like a combination between Hakeem Nicks and Darth Vader. No problem, though. They're amazing!

The Cowboys losing today's football game:
No explanation needed!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not exactly the fast track

So I'm not exactly on the fast track to my first marathon or a new race PR. Since my last post (in which I decided to build a base by working my way up to and then maintaining 20 miles per week), I set up and have been following a schedule combining running with arm/leg strength training, core workouts, and cycling. To fit everything in to a week with enough rest in between workouts, I started out at only 10 miles of running. It's a good start, but it will definitely take a bit of time to progress to where I would like to be with my running.

The first week of the schedule was successful, and I finished all of the workouts as planned. The second week was also successful, and I think that I can already sense a change in my fitness. Although one of my workouts was cut short, resulting in another 10-mile-week, I still got in almost all of the workouts as planned, and during my long run of 6 miles on Saturday, I felt stronger than I usually do. At mile 4, where I would usually be slow and shuffle-ly, I was holding pretty good form and a steady pace. Then I kept that pace up through miles 5 and 6, with a nice push for the last 100 m, which I was able to sustain right through to the end. It was a great, confidence-building run that makes me feel like I'm taking the right approach to fitness and running.

Yesterday was a rest day after the 6-miler, but the weather was too perfect for me not to be outside, and I decided to take the Trek out for a little spin on the trail. There have been some long gaps in between rides in the past few months, so I didn't think much of needing to fill the tires with air before every ride. This time I just needed to fill the back tire. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough. By the time I had ridden a mile, the tire was almost completely flat, so I turned around and walked it back to the car. I had stashed the air pump in the trunk, but I think it's too far gone and will need some professional maintenance. Of the two tires on the bike, the back tire was the newer one, so I'm a little bummed that I'll probably have to replace it again. Luckily I can still train on my indoor bike-trainer until the Trek is back in commission.

I don't know if I'll be in shape to run a fast 5k by Thanksgiving or the beginning of December, but I'm pleased with how my schedule is going after 2 weeks, so I'll stick with it.