Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Present to myself

So it's my birthday today. I used to hate my birthday being so close to Christmas when I was a kid, but now I don't mind so much. It just extends the celebrations. I am pretty darn spoiled and really couldn't think of much I wanted for my birthday. So I gave myself a surprise present today. I hit over 1200 miles for the year. This is no short of a small miracle because I was injured after April's marathon and held on until after the Wasatch Back Ragnar and then pretty much quit running altogether. I biked more than I ran. I had signed up for Mike's 1000 miles and wasn't even sure I was going to make that goal. But this is just some serious icing on my birthday cake! I really believe it was a combination of quitting the running and doing some hard cross training and then slowly getting back into it. And then discovering barefoot running has really capped my year off. I've never run so many days a week or miles a week and had my body feel so good. Yeah! Now what to do about next year's goals? I'm almost afraid to dream!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Trail Run

There were a couple of big highlights to my week. First I had a killer 9 miler where everything just seemed smooth and great. AND I saw another barefoot runner!!! In my little town! He was leading a pack of teenager looking boys. When I first saw them I thought it was probably the cross country team, but after watching them for a while the guy who was leading them had longish hair and a bushy beard, not like our track coach. When I first saw them I thought to myself, "Man that guy has a nice stride." That's when I looked at his feet and saw that he was wearing either Vibrams or socks. I couldn't tell. They were a ways ahead of me and though I tried to catch them, (yes, I was chasing down a bunch of boys just to talk about his footwear) I couldn't. They jaywalked, I crossed at the light and had to wait, and that's where I gave up the chase. Feeling so inspired, I headed to the high school to try barefooting it at the track. I made it a quarter of a mile. It was just too wet and cold. But the next highlight was that my heel was completely black. That little boost gave me a smile the whole way home.
Later that day I was at the running store with Heather getting some wool running socks for the in laws. This little running store is relatively new and they have a small supply of minimalist shoes which is better than most running stores around here. They had some Vibram look alikes that we both tried on. Since they were $45 we both ended up getting them as one more option. My husband asked me just how many pairs of shoes I needed since I was supposed to be barefoot. Good question since I had bought a $15 pair of water socks to see if those would be a good option. I'll have to elaborate on this in another post.
Anyway, we went for a nice little run on Christmas Eve morning in our new shoes. It was a cold morning, but relatively dry. My toes were cold for about a mile and then I must have warmed up and things were good. I liked how they felt and it was pretty close to feeling like I was barefoot. We did 8 miles and felt SO good!

Post run glow!

The last highlight of the week was my Christmas Day run. I woke up feeling like I had been run over. My throat hurt, I was coughing a nasty cough, and felt like I could sleep for a week. After watching the kids open gifts and eating a fantastic omelet and orange cinnamon roll, I headed back to bed for a short nap. I was going to head out for a short run when the husband asked if he could join me. Seriously? He hates to run but has been running about 2 or 3 days a week lately. I secretly think he's trying to see why I like it so much. Anyhow, I wasn't going to pass it up and we decided to try the trail that I love. Things have really melted this month and I thought it would be doable. I planned on the gorilla feet but brought shoes in case it was really snowy.

It was beautiful. There were no human tracks, only deer, rabit, and a small bobcat tracks. I have really missed that trail. I love it. It makes me happy. My feet froze for about 2 miles but I didn't even care. I was with my husband, it was Christmas, and I was in the place where running makes me happy. I love hopping over the streams, navigating the big rocks, climbing the hills, flying down the switchbacks, and feeling like a kid again. I NEED to find some more trails. I didn't take in much of the scenery because I was watching where I was stepping very closely. There's a lot of sharp shale rock in several spots and I was careful not to injure myself. That's one area where I don't know if I could ever go barefoot. But I'd like to try sometime! It was a really great run and although after I showered I went back to bed, I was glad I got out there.

This cold is a continuation of one from a month ago that seems to rear it's ugly head and then calm down. But the cough is what's really getting me. I got put on a steroid yesterday and hopefully that will kick it for good. We'll see!

Monday: 4 mile run (2 miles in socks)
Tuesday: 5 mile run in Evo's, cycling class, stretching
Wednesday: 4 miles run in Evo's, full body weights
Thursday: 9 mile run in Evo's ( 1/4 mile barefoot)
Friday: 8 mile run in monkey feet, full body weights
Saturday: 3 mile trail run in monkey feet

A Little Tweak

I'm getting so far behind! With the kids and husband home for a week and a half, the computer is occupied and when it's not I feel a little guilty indulging in the business of "me" time when everyone's here. But it's a quiet moment and soon I will catch up on my own posts and all of your lovely blogs. I hope everyone's Christmas was grand. Mine certainly was and though my schedule is messed up, it's great having everyone home. I wouldn't have it any other way!

This week was a good one. We got a nice snowstorm in warmish weather and it just happened to be on my long run day. I was lucky enough to have Heather join me on this snowy 13 miler. We had a good time running out in the country and in the quiet that only snowfall can bring. We checked out the house that I love and want and picked out a nice spot for Heather to move out to as well! Dreams, people. I have them. They include a country setting, a couple of acres, a few neighbors (that I should be able to hand pick), a stream or river in the backyard, and lots of big trees to play in. A barn would be nice too, but we could build that later. It's a different dream than I would have had 15 years ago, but it's what I really want someday. Anywho... we had to run single file on the highway to get back and we ended up off the road in the 8 inches of snow for about a mile. Talk about an extra workout. And a good reminder of how to lift the legs. I think we should get extra credit for that mile!

I also made a discovery this week that may have saved my legs. I had been feeling tightness in my achilles and arches and still had sore calves from the snowman shuffle several weeks ago. I wasn't too concerned because it really wasn't bad, but had started rolling them out before and after every run. But I do have a history of injuring my self by running through pain. I'm smart like that. I started to even feel it during my cycling class. I wondered if I just didn't let myself recover from the race like I should have. So I happened to jump on the treadmill for one of my runs to see what barefoot felt like again. I only went 4 miles, the belt felt like it was getting warm and I didn't want any blisters. I got off and checked out the bottoms of my feet. They were a nice black all except for my heel. Well, the very edge was but not the whole thing. I recall having seen several pictures of feet and they are usually pretty evenly coated except for the arch. I went back and read my barefoot running book again and have come to the conclusion that I'm not touching down on my heel enough. The next run was my 13 miler and I made a conscious effort to make sure that I touched down on my heel. The difference was almost instantaneous. My achilles and arch do not hurt any longer and my calves are getting better. They still get sore when I push the miles or speed, but I think that's because my form slips. Hopefully that will get better with time. I still have to remind myself to touch down completely with my heel but I can't believe how a little tweak can make such a big difference. Yippee!

This is the scene behind where I want to live someday. There were people ice skating on this the last time I ran past. I think there may have been some ice fishers here until it warmed up.

Monday: 6 mile run in Evo's
Tuesday: 5.5 mile run in Evo's, full body weights
Wednesday: 7 mile run in Newton's
Thursday: weights, cycling class, yoga
Friday: 4 miles barefoot on treadmill
Saturday: 13 miles in Newton's

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Making an Attempt

I don't talk about healthy eating much because to be honest, I am not the healthiest eater. I have used the mindset of "I can eat whatever I want because I'm running" for years. It's funny, because that's why I started running. I ran to lose weight. My third child had come along and a year later the weight wasn't just dropping off like it had with the previous two. I was convinced the dryer was shrinking my pants. That is until I stepped on the scale for the first time in years. I was shocked. I honestly thought the scale was wrong. But now I knew why my pants were not feeling so good. I was NOT going to buy a bigger size of pants so I did my first ever diet/exercise plan. It was Body for Life. It was pretty simple but torturous. Really, the workouts were manageable. It was the strict eating that was torture. I didn't even have birthday cake on my child's first birthday. That was day 2.
After 8 weeks I had lost 18 pounds, found a new love of running, and looked great. I really never did sports when I was younger. I didn't consider myself an athlete at all. But now it made me happy. There were so many things I loved about it that the weight loss became 2nd fiddle to how good I felt. I was lean. And I didn't even appreciate it back then. I lost 2 more pounds and people starting asking if I was anorexic. Sad to say that I found that a great compliment.
After that I switched to more of a maintenance program and wasn't as strict on the eating although I continued exercising regularly. I gained back 4 pounds and stayed there for another couple of years. I felt really good. I think that weight/size is the ideal for me. Then along came child number four. I knew I'd be giving up running for a while. I don't have the easiest pregnancies. I'm hospital bed sick for 5 months (although I did manage to still lift weights twice a week during this time) and then I like to start having contractions 3 months early and get to be on bed rest for a while. I get about 2 weeks of good pregnancy time. But I couldn't wait to get back at it afterwards. So 6 weeks after I started running again. At little boy's 6 month appointment I found out he didn't gain any weight. Not good. I was told very gently that if I was trying to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight too quickly I could be affecting my milk supply. I cut WAY back on my exercise and focussed totally on making sure I was taking care of my sweet baby properly. At his year mark and after going through several tests at a Children's Hospital he was declared healthy, just a little underweight. He was to have butter on everything he ate, 2 tablespoons of whipping cream with all the whole milk he drank, and anything he wanted to eat. Apparently you don't have to worry about saturated fats until you're 2 years old. Long story short... he is fine now and I have no idea why he went through that. I don't think it was my exercising, he was just burning off everything he ate, and he ate a ton!
It was during that next year that I trained for my first marathon. It was a great experience and I was hooked even more than before. I gained 5 lbs that first marathon and haven't lost it since.
So now I'm here, 10 lbs from that lowest point and wishing that it wasn't torture to get back there. Since I've done it before, I know what it will take and I'm obviously not willing to be drastic again. So what to do? I want to just slowly lose it by being healthy.
I have one other little consideration that I need to look at whenever I'm unhappy with how I look. I have two daughters. One's 12 and the other's 9. I do not want to make them think about weight loss. I don't want them to self analyze their bodies and be unhappy with them. I want them to appreciate all they can do and how amazing they are. I want, in short, to be a good example of that and have them be healthy and happy.
Here's a few ways that I'm trying to be more healthy and I hope you share any additional ways with me.

Amanda's Holiday Booty Buster: I don't have a problem exercising. But it's in her challenge to eat 7 fruits and veggies a day that is proving to be the most beneficial to me. I am finding that when I fill up on good things, I don't have as much room for junk. It takes a very concentrated effort on my part to plan this out and it's been so good for me. Especially with all the good treats that are around during the holidays, it helps to be full on good stuff. Plus all those vitamins have to be good for me and should make my body run smoother. I'm all about that!

Fresh Eggs: This was really my husband's crazy idea that I just went along with. But it has really been a great thing. We first checked our city ordinance to make sure we could do it and then we took the plunge. We have 6 chickens in our backyard that I know what we feed them and they in turn give us an egg a day. We always have hard boiled eggs in the fridge for snacks and we have breakfast for dinner once a week to use our eggs. We also share with our friends and neighbors.

They were so cute in the beginning!

About 5 months later they started laying eggs.

The kids especially love them.

They all have names and they are like pets. They like my youngest and he carried them all over this summer. They don't like going through the sprinklers though.

Garden Fresh Veggies: This was another husband idea. We are using half of our backyard as a vegetable garden. It is a lot of work, but I slave drive the kids and everyone pitches in to help. Not only do we enjoy fresh tomatoes (my personal favorite) and peppers, but we can and freeze a lot of it to use throughout the winter.

We grew summer squash, cucumbers, broccoli, red and yukon gold potatoes, carrots, corn, tomatoes, peppers, swiss chard, spinach, onions, leeks, and beans along with rosemary, chives, oregano and mint.

Eggs and veggies make super good lunches. And I thought it was pretty cool that I just went out to the backyard and gathered all the ingredients to make it. It doesn't get fresher than that!

Apple pie filling

Pickle Relish

Spaghetti sauce


Ingredients: I read ingredient labels. While I don't eat clean, I do like to look at the protein and fiber content of foods that I'm buying for me and my family. Some of my favorites are Smith's (Kroger) brand. They are not expensive and are good. Carb control yogurt, instant oatmeal, wild frozen salmon, drink mixes, to name a few.
Limit treats: I know that if I don't have them in the house that I won't eat them. And I know that making fruit into a healthy treat can satisfy my sweet tooth and my kid's as well.
Fast food: This is not really as issue as we don't eat out very often as a family. But there are times when if I'm out shopping that I'll swing in for something quick. Since reading about the poisons that are in the wrapping of fast food, it has just given me one more reason to not eat the junk inside the wrappers. I'd like to make no fast food a goal for 2011 but I know that realistically if we're on vacation somewhere we're likely to eat out a few times while on the road. So limiting it to almost never seems more realistic.
Now this is where I could use your help. What other non drastic tips could you give me for losing 10 lbs over the course of next year? What things have worked for you? Or am I being unrealistic and I'm going to have to be drastic in my approach? Do you worry about your daughters having poor self image? What things do you do to be a good example to them?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sweating in my Evo's

So after my big whine in my last post about the coldness and not being able to run barefooted anymore, it kind of warmed up around here. The mornings have still been in the 30's but in the high 30's and even the roads dried up. I've decided that if it's wet I'll be shod for sure. But if it's dry and not too cold, I can suck it up for a few miles at least and enjoy the freedom that is barefoot running. Even if it is cold barefoot running.
Saturday I headed out with some Powerade Zero because there wasn't anything else in the house and I was too lazy to go the store before my run. I didn't even think about taking raisins or anything else. I wasn't even sure how far I was going to go. But I ended up doing a good 13 mile run in my Evo's. The furthest to date. Actually I should say 11 miles because I ran a mile barefoot and then another mile in my socks. I have been kind of concerned about the fit of my shoes. They are snug. Not the normal thumbs room in the toe area. And I was worried about loosing toenails. I've done that before and while it's not painful, it doesn't look pretty and I'm all about my toes looking good. ha! ha! Anyway.... they were good the whole way. One thing that IS weird is that my feet don't usually sweat. But they do in the Evo's. My socks were wet and that's not something I'm used to. Sure I peel the rest of my clothes off of me. My husband has often commented that it might just be easier to cut them off. But it was a weird feeling pulling wet socks off.
Here's another awesome part about that run; I didn't get the long run feeling in my legs. So either my body is getting used to the mileage OR my legs are not fatiguing as quickly because of my new running style. I'm tending to lean to the latter. I didn't even have fuel and that's not normal for me. My feet still get feeling tired. And this week my calves were particularly sore. I think that was from the race last Saturday where I was running much quicker than I normally do. The rest of my lower half got really sore from a change in my weight routine. That lasted all week as well and sitting and standing were a chore. I just keep thinking that it's making me stronger and that's a good thing.
Cycling class was a killer this week as well. I do enjoy that class a lot as it's always a good intense interval and it goes by really fast. Plus it's about the only cross training I'm getting right now. I wish I could make it to two classes. Things have just been crazy at nights and I haven't been able to work it out. Maybe once January hits things will calm down a bit.
Quick side note: If you have kids, go and hug them. Right now. No matter what they ever do or how snotty they can be, chances are that they're growing up in a normal home with love. I've been reminded that not all kids get that chance and it's just not fair. So go hug your kids really tight. I know I have been.

Monday: 5 mile run in Newton's (2 1/2 miles in socks)
Tuesday: 5.5 mile run in Evo's (2 miles in socks)
Wednesday: 5 mile run in Evo's, full body weights
Thursday: 4 mile run in Evo's, stretching, cycling class
Saturday: 13 mile run (1 mile barefoot, 1 mile in socks)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Give Away Galore!

How'd you like a chance to win free shoes? Well over at Running and Rambling he's sporting several giveaways right now which include several pairs of new running shoes. Check out the winter picture contest and the VIVOBAREFOOT shoe giveaway. He's also got a glove giveaway so head over there and enter! Or not. That only improves my chances... heh heh.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I am a wuss

I am learning all sorts of things about myself while trying to become a barefoot runner.
First, I am self conscious. I hope when I am out running in my bare feet or socks that no one notices. I know this is bad. I know that I shouldn't care and really I don't or I wouldn't be even doing it. But when people DO notice, I'm not sure how to respond to their questions without getting into an hour long conversation. Then there's the city worker that sees me running barefoot and looks at me like I'm stupid and asks, "Aren't your feet cold?!" What I want to say is, "more than you know buddy! It's 32 degrees out here and my toes are going numb and any second now I'm going to stop and put my socks on for a minute to warm back up." But no. I don't want to appear stupid or anything so I simply say, "they're not too bad. They really warm up after a while. As long as I keep moving." Lies.
So now, number two: I've turned into a liar as well. Like when people ask me if it hurts. I want to say, "YES! My feet sometimes feel like they are raw. And when I stepped on that rock that I didn't see, oh man. That was pain! And the different types of ashpalt... there are more painful kinds than others." But no. Instead I say, "When I build up the mileage slowly it doesn't hurt. You get used to it." And it's mostly true.
Number three: I am a wuss. Since the temperatures were in the teens I didn't even attempt barefoot or sock running. But after reading a few hard core barefooting blogs, I decided to give it a shot. I overdressed so the excess heat would head down to escape out my feet. I checked the weather. 32 degrees. I decided to wear socks. It had been 2 weeks after all since I had been barefoot. I headed out. It was slightly snowing. The ground was wet with puddles. I passed the bus stop where two of my children were waiting. One called me crazy and I wondered what he thought about his friends seeing his mom out in socks in this weather. About 1/2 a mile in I started to question my own sanity. My socks were completely soaked and were sloshing with each step. My feet were feeling raw already. But I continued. At about the mile point I was almost in tears. My feet were very cold. The raw feeling was going away as was all the feeling in my feet. I contemplated calling a friend to come pick me up. I started hoping for someone I knew to pass me and take me home. But even if someone did pass me, they'd never stop and offer me a ride. I stopped for a minute to walk. That did not help and I knew it would only make getting home take longer. So I pressed on. I thought my feet were starting to warm up but I was mistaken. I think they were just getting to a more numb point. The snow started to turn to bits of hail. As it stung my face I thought to myself, "perfect, that completes the experience." I started counting the blocks until home. I dreaded looking at my feet for fear of blisters. And once I finally made it through the door, I let the tears eek out. Not only was I in pain, I was disappointed. I was a wuss. I changed socks, put on my Newtons and headed back out to complete the 2 1/2 mile loop again. My feet had started to sting in the house and I knew that once they fully warmed up it was going to hurt.
After I got home the 2nd time and examined my feet, I was surprised to find 0 blisters. They just felt horrible. The stinging did come and baby, it wasn't pleasant to warm those little toesies up again. In looking at all three of my issues, I think they could be boiled down into one. I have some serious pride. I don't want to look stupid, weird, bad, or call for a ride home even though I'm in major pain. I've got some things to work on personally as well as physically.
So, I think my barefoot days are over again until spring. Maybe if it was dry it would have been better. Maybe if we get a nice warm spell I could try it again. But for now, I'll stick with the Evo's or Newtons. I wonder how water socks would do in the wet and snow. Any advice?
Oh and before I forget... because I already did once.... I found a great way to make a blue slushy. Just take a water bottle, fill it with blue Powerade, go for a nice long run in 12 degree weather, and presto! You have a blue slushy! This really happened last week. CRAZY, huh!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snowman Shuffle

Because of my aggressive (overenthusiastic) last week, I listened to my body (o.k., mostly just my tired feet) and took it easy. I think that switching to my minimalist shoes completely and then PRing on mileage was not the smartest thing to do in the same week. This was PRing even though I've trained for 5 marathons previous. Like I said, overenthusiastic. I could just be THE queen of stupid. But it wouldn't be the first time I've called myself that and so I decided to, for once, be good.
Monday my feet were still a little achey and so I did some yoga and stretched for a good long time after a hot bath. Felt so good. Tuesday I was ready to be back at it. I woke up, got dressed, looked at the weather, put on another jacket and headed out in the 6 degree weather.

Even the frost tried to grow on my hat!

Beautiful, but the coldest this year. Luckily the weather got back into the balmy 30's for the rest of the week.

I also ran my first ever 5K today. I did run the Santa Run last year and it was a 5K but we just did it for fun and the pictures. My goal on that run was to not sweat. We were staying for a parade afterwards and I didn't want to be cold. Being that it was my first 5K I knew it wasn't going to be fun. I hate going balls to the wall right from the start. There's no time to speed it up in the end and it's all about pacing. So I hear.... I was SO nervous. I woke up with my heart racing and feeling like it was in my throat. This was the worst case of nerves I think I've ever had. Even worse than my first marathon. I was almost to the sick point. Trying to calm myself down was feeling impossible. Deep breaths wasn't working. I couldn't sit still.
I had already decided to run the 2 1/2 miles down to the start line to warm up. I figured that would help. So I put on some nice calm music and set out. The music worked wonders. I was able to relax and get in a nice rhythm. I have been using some imagery from my barefoot running book to help me relax during runs that is a little silly but really works for me. It's a stick image of myself only my legs and arms are made of well cooked spaghetti noodles. My core and head are nice and strong but my arms flail around and my legs look like something from a cartoon where they are flailing around in a running motion. Told you it was kind of silly, but it works. I've had to use it for my shoulders in particular as they have been getting sore on long runs from carrying my water bottle. Relaxation is something I'm still working on. Still sometimes it's so real that I don't dare look down because I'm scared that one of these days I might hallucinate and see spaghetti noodles for legs and that I'll collapse on the side of the road. See it works in a cartoon image but I don't think it would work so well in real life. Anyhow, I was nice and relaxed when I got to the starting line and somehow I managed to hold onto it until we lined up for the start. We were off and I tried to be just slightly uncomfortable. The first mile and a half were all uphill. Then a nice downhill part and then another slight incline to the finish. I felt surprising pretty good. I really can't wait to do another one and see if I can improve.

More pictures of my form. I've got the husband trained to take multiple pictures of me coming in so that I can examine my form afterwards! It looks like I might be landing more to the outside than I should.

My cute little cousin Jacquie was there. It was her first race and she got 1st in her age division!

I finished in 26 minutes, 40 seconds. Good enough for 2nd place in my age division. What can I say, we're a small town.

Monday: yoga
Tuesday: 4 mile run in Evo's, full body weights, 1/2 cycling class
Wednesday: 6 mile run in Newton's
Thursday: yoga, full body weights, cycling class
Friday: 5 mile run in Evo's
Saturday: 5.5 mile run in Evo's including the Snowman Shuffle