Sunday, June 29, 2008


Improvements can be seen in many ways. I like tangible things - like better numbers, faster, farther.... Sometimes those numbers are harder to interpret than others. Yesterday I did my second HR test. This one in a 5k in the humidity. The first one was in controlled environment on a treadmill in January. This was the first time I was running a race as something other than a time trial, a chance to get a PR. This was not what this race was about. I had to start off slow, get in a groove, save my energy for the all out effort I was going to put in for my HR test. So I didn't get a PR in the race - a whole minute slower than my PR earlier this year. BUT I did improve. I ran a whole .1 farther in the 20 minute HR test than I had earlier - or almost 10 seconds faster average pace... in nasty conditions. Hey! That's not bad. Now, I want a do over in better conditions cause I think I can do better :)

There's always room for improvement, but we have to take the time to enjoy the accomplishments along the way. If we don't enjoy and appreciate what we've done then what's the point? We're always living for tomorrow and that's not healthy either. It's great to have goals, but every once in a while, let's just sit back and enjoy today. Enjoy the journey of accomplishment, the small steps of improvement, the hard days when nothing goes as planned, the rainy days, the sunny days, and everything in between.

Here's to now.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I know this will sound silly and just a little bit needy, but I'm going to put it out there anyway.

I want to go to camp! I know I can't hang with any of these awesome triathletes out there - except my sister - but that's ONLY on the run. She'd kick my ass on the bike and drown me in the pool. Oh, she'd pull me out and make sure I was still breathing so she could tell me how great I did and how much she beat me by :)

I just want to go to camp. I swear I want to go so bad that I'm willing to take up triathlon.

Ok, that's going a bit too far. I have been thinking about it for a while - triathlon that is. So much so that I've been out on the bike several times over the last few months - for the first time in years. AND... big pause for effect.... I've signed up for swim lessons!

Wish me luck. Maybe one day I'll grow up and figure out what I want to be :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Abundance and Loss

Over the years I've thought a lot about food - what should I have for dinner? Which fabulous restaurant(s) will I visit in the next vacation city of choice? How about dessert? Is there any chocolate cake? I've never been fat, but my BMI and body fat percentages are higher than I'd like. They are certainly higher than they should be for running. So when I asked my coach what it would take for me to qualify for Boston, to get faster, I wasn't too surprised when she said I needed to really focus on my diet. Not diet as in, starve myself per se, but diet as in LIFESTYLE CHANGE.

Not surprised, but disappointed. I would have been happier with a response of train more hours, do doubles, get new shoes. Anything but change my eating habits. But there it is.

And I wondered as I have before, why is it that if there is a brick of cheese in the house, I think about it until it is gone, I fear for it's little life that it will get moldy and I will have to throw it out. Why is it that if there is pie/cake/chocolate (you fill in the blank with something that is fattening and/or sweet), I must finish it - maybe not in one setting, but certainly in two or at the outside three?

In a moment of enlightenment I came up with the following theory. This problem has gotten pronouncedly (is that a word?) worse since Dennis died. Then I would sit down with a box of Hershey bars (you know that box they sell at Sam's of the regular sized Hershey bars?) and that would be dinner for today and lunch and dinner for tomorrow. Then it was time for a new box. I moved away from the Hershey bars over time - though they are still a source of comfort in extreme stress. But I haven't gotten over, in fact in some ways it's worse, that need to "finish the box." So I think maybe this has something to do with loss and abundance. I had an abundant life - from the outside it probably looked damn near perfect. From the inside, it almost was. And in an instant it was taken away from me. I went from everything to nothing... or so it certainly seemed. And not to trivialize any of this, because it is far from trivial, but I think that I am using food as a crutch. Ok, I know I use food as a crutch. What I really mean is I think I look at that bag of cookies and think in my subconscious somewhere that I have to eat them all right now before they're gone. Enjoy life right now while it is here because you never know when it will all be taken away.

Now in my rational brain, I know this just isn't true. No one is going to eat my food if I don't. It will be there tomorrow if I want it to be. If it goes bad for whatever reason, I can buy new. It can be replaced. But I think I'm onto something here. I think maybe this can be the beginning of the end for me. The end of my obsession with/dependence on food. I know it's not over. I know I still have a lot of work to do in this department and I know that work will continue every day, but I think I finally have at least part of an answer.

Funny how the human mind works.

Nothing much

Today we get the staples out. Just a couple more days of cone head and then we're onto more recovery. I won't feel quite as guilty leaving him if I don't have to put the cone on his head. He's still limping and not using his leg as much as I'd like, but I'm sure it's all normal. He is using it more each day so that's all goodness.

And I know I've been remiss in writing about my training. I have to say it's mostly because there isn't much to report. I haven't run much since the race. I'm back into a routine, but it's slow going - not just the increase in mileage, but my pace. I feel like a slug, a toad. I can't seem to get the rhythm. I can't seem to keep my heartrate down. Blah! This weekend is a 5k that I'll use as a new heartrate test. What will it tell me?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I want to play

We're 5 days post surgery and today the boy said, "Mom, I want to play." He picked up his toy and tried to run (he was on a leash so that didn't work). He saw his "cousin" rolling on the ground, moaning and tried to charge her, engage her in play. Again, he was on a leash so this didn't work. But I have to say, even though his leg isn't fully functioning yet, his mind has come out of the drug induced fog and now he's ready to play. Only problem is, he can't.

He still has one week until staples come out (which means 9 more days of cone head - got to do two days post removal). Then another 6 1/2 weeks for his post-surgery x-rays that will tell us if the bone is healing as it should. Then, maybe then, we can go on a short walk, no playing, no darting, no running off leash... for another two months AFTER that check up if the check up goes well.

Have I mentioned I'm going crazy?

I just about lost it this morning when I heard a thump in the bedroom. I can't be sure, but I think he attempted to jump up on the bed. Damn it! Did I forget, did I really forget to close the door? For crying out loud! So I've been watching him like a hawk all day. Is he limping more? Is that screw by the ankle more pronounced than it was yesterday? Is he in pain? He's a dog. I can't ask him. Well, I could, but he can't tell me. So I'm just going to wing it... and keep that darn door closed!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 3

Otherwise known as stir crazy. I never truly appreciated how independent my dog has always been. Now if he wants to go to the bathroom, he has to be accompanied by an adult - only one around here is me. If I want to give him some relief from having the cone on his head, I have to be constantly vigilant so he doesn't sneak a lick or a nibble at the staples. And since I can't be constantly vigilant at night, on his head goes the cone. Then he scrapes around the house looking for a place to get comfortable. I'm tired.

On another note, I actually ran yesterday for the first time since the marathon. It was good, but not great as far as pace v effort goes. It was great as far as attitude. I have secretly been dreading running again, dreading the thought of more training, another routine, another big race with high personal expectations and goals. I went through the motions all week doing my cross training, hating every step and pedal stroke. Then Saturday morning rolled around, time to run. I looked down at my running shoes and felt myself grinning. I couldn't wait to go out for a run - a nice easy zone 1 run, no expectations. Just trying to get my legs back under me, see if I still enjoy it, see how I do in zone 1. It was great! A little humid of course, but so nice to be out on my feet, in my running shoes. No terrible aches and pains. Just me and the sun and the grass. Beautiful.

I just might be able to do this after all.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Imagine if you will....

You have major surgery where they put metal objects in your leg, keep you in an enclosed area with strangers or no one overnight (knowing you hate enclosed spaces), shave off your hair, give you drugs, put a cone on your head, and send you home. In the meantime, they've told your caretaker that your diet needs to be restricted so you're getting no good treats and your movement needs to be restricted so you're only allowed outside for mere moments at a time. Now imagine you can't tell anyone what you want or how absolutely crazy these circumstances make you.

This is the little bubble my dog is currently living in. He went through surgery well. He's putting more weight on his leg than they usually see. He wants to run, and of course chew off those annoying staples in his leg. And oh man, is he unhappy! He can't possibly understand why mom hates him suddenly or who the awful food nazi is who replaced his mom. Dog food? All I get to eat is dog food? And carrots? I mean carrots are great, but what about those dog cookies in the cupboard or that plate you just finished? Can't I just have a small lick? A little taste?

I feel for him. You see, we're both trying to lose those pesky 5-10 pounds that have snuck up on us in the last 4 or 5 years. The difference is he has someone (me) to control his food for him so he's got it made IF I can be strong. The difference is, I have to be strong for both of us. Heaven help us! Don't come visit anytime soon cause we'll have our cranky pants on nice and tight for a few weeks while we adjust. I have a feeling it's going to be a painful adjustment period.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Surgery today

No, not me, worse. My dog, known in our family as my "son" is having surgery on his knee today. He hasn't run any marathons, but apparently those sprints after rabbits, squirrels, deer and such have caught up to him. He has a torn CCL (ACL in people terms) and hopefully no damage to the meniscus. He's getting a metal plate and screws put into his little leg. Poor thing. And worse, recovery is 8 weeks of limited activity followed by gradually increasing physical therapy and activity for another 8 weeks. I am somehow supposed to keep a border collie from doing anything except going out to go to the bathroom for 8 weeks!

I have to say when I asked the doc what he meant by limited activity/leash walks, I was disappointed to hear, "You can take him out in the backyard on a leash to do his business then it's back inside." Willie is used to walking 4 miles a day. There's going to be some serious withdrawls, depression and overall moodiness in my house for the next few months. Just like there would if it was MY knee. The worst part is after a few days, he's going to think he's fine and I have to be the bad guy. How do you explain to a dog that he can't go for a walk?

And it's not like he can drown himself in ice cream and french fries. To add insult to injury, he has to go on a diet. He needs to lose 5 or 6 pounds and he's not going to be getting any exercise. YOU do the math! That's going to make for one unhappy puppy! Well, two if you count me. No more trips to the neighbors for treats. No more licking plates. Not even full serving sizes of dog food for crying out loud.

It's going to be a long summer.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Home again

It sure is nice to be home again... even though the weather is a bit less than desirable. Had another fun drive this afternoon in thunderstorm, tornado weather. Luckily I didn't see any hail or thunderstorms, but some of the time the wind was 50-60mph and the rain was coming down sideways at times. So to say it's a bit humid would be an understatement... and lucky us, it's going to be like this all week.

I love to travel, but sometimes it's just so nice to get home and sleep in my own bed, eat my own food, lay around and do nothing in my own space. Today is one of those days. Now if only someone would bring me some groceries....

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Take a deep breath

We often read about people taking things they've learned from training and applying them to every day life. I've read these things in the past and thought, I wish I could do that. I wish I could apply things that way, feel like I've learned some big life lesson that makes me a better person, a better employee, a better world citizen. But I've also realized that I've taken things I've learned in life and applied them to my training.

I've learned over the years since my husband died that I'm no pansy ass :) I've learned that I'm tougher than I ever thought possible and for this marathon I finally figured out how to use those things I learned in life and apply them to my race. It was a wonderful feeling to not give up on myself. And now I think, I can reverse that learning and apply it more consistently throughout the other areas of life. I still miss him and I still wish he was by my side in all of these adventures, but I know I can do things myself and still gain pleasure from them. I also know that he gives me strength in any number of things I have undertaken since... just because I knew him.

So I got a little off tangent there, but I guess it needed to be said. At any rate, this week I took something I learned in training and racing and applied it to real life. You see, I went on this drive across the country. No big deal - just the state of Oregon, only 400 miles or so. It should have been a piece of cake. Beautiful country that I stopped to enjoy and take pictures along the way. It sprinkled off and on at the start but no big deal. About 2 hours into it, it started to pour. I don't mean kind of rain, I mean the kind that you can't see much past the front of the car with the windshield wipers going at warp speed. And of course it being a rental, it was a car I wasn't familiar with. And being Oregon, it was a mountain road I wasn't familiar with... filled with semi-trucks. So while I hung onto the steering wheel for dear life, I thought to myself, "You can do this. Just focus. Just a little bit farther. Just BREATHE!" And I did. Mind you, I got off that road as soon as it was safe and had a nice long lunch in hopes it would pass. It did for a while, and then another hour or so after getting back on, it was the same thing. Nothing to do, but keep going. Take a deep breath and keep the forward momentum going. And I did. It was scary, but I did it... all on my own.

And now, I'm here in Boise with some family. They are a trip. I'm grateful to be visiting and to be entertained. I'm grateful to be able to see more of the west that I love so much, but I have to say breathing has a whole new meaning here.

You see, they're smokers. I, as an athlete, am decidely NOT a smoker. Never have been. Can't really stand the stuff. So I'm trying not to be a whiny baby, but I'm going to have to go into detox when I get home. Do you know how hard it is to hold your breath for three days? Can't be done, but on the other hand, I haven't been able to take a deep breath since I got here - it hasn't been three days yet, but I'm dying. I can literally feel my airways shrinking, my fitness level dropping, my eyes burning, my throat burning. I don't understand the appeal, but I do understand why many smokers are skinny. Food mixed with smoke tastes like shit. Who wants to eat?

So while I'm enjoying the scenery and looking forward to a tour around town (OUTSIDE), I am also desperately looking forward to going home and taking a shower and disinfecting all of my clothes. There are some things that won't be allowed in the house for a while - like that pretty leather jacket and my suitcase. Yuck!

Until I can take a deep breath, please someone, send me some oxygen, say a prayer or something. Good thing I'm not running this week. I hope I have enough air to do my workouts when I get back.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In my travels

Yesterday was pretty fun. I spent the day touring around Portland - first in the car to get a lay of the land and then on foot. I went to this bookstore that is apparently famous here. I could see why. It doesn't have all the old world charm of Elliot's in Seattle, but it is HUGE. It's an old building, laid out a bit like a library with really tall shelves crammed with books - used and new, on THREE levels... and these aren't just small bedroom sized levels, these are rambling, color coded areas of pure literary bliss. So I bought a few used books to read throughout the rest of my trip - and the best thing - no sales tax in Oregon. Cheap on top of cheap. :)

Of course the bookstore wasn't the highlight of the day. I had a fabulous lunch at a local micro-brewery. Apparently Oregon has more micro breweries than any other state - or something like that. My sister and brother in law would LOVE it. The beer was very good and so was the food. My wandering continued and led me to the Chinese gardens - right in the middle of the city. This was a place that made me think of my mother. She would have loved the meandering paths, the blooming orchids and other plants I simply can't name, and the tea room complete with several periods of antique Chinese furniture - and tea of course.

But I still had more to do. I was on the hunt for something chocolate, not just any old chocolate. I wanted dessert - and some good red wine to go with it. Where to find that on a Monday afternoon? I stumbled across the answer to my prayers, a chocolate and wine shop. I kid you not! Sweet treats, or something like that. It had chocolates (you know, cream filled, nut filled, fruit filled... and better yet, it had chocolate desserts. Flourless torte, pies, cookies, mousse. I had a to die for chocolate mousse and a lovely Carmenere from Chile. It was the perfect combination and a great place to spend the afternoon reading a good book and people watching. Never let it be said that all the good people watching takes place in the midwest. There is some good material here too!

Now today I'm off to Boise in the rain. I'm hoping to stop at a few wineries on the way and sample the fares. Don't worry, no swallowing today. I have a long way to drive, but I do want to taste and local wines and see if there is anything worth bringing home. Now, hopefully I don't have any mountains to go over today cause I heard there might be snow at higher elevations. (It's not very warm and it is raining pretty heavily.) Going to be a slow drive east.

Happy trails....

Monday, June 2, 2008


I made it back to Portland. It was a long slow drive with many stops to stretch my legs and explore. Stopped at this cute cafe in the middle of nowhere and had a FABULOUS lunch with a nice glass of wine. I went exploring wineries and discovered that Napa doesn't have the market on snobbery. I never would have thought it, but I found a snobby winery in Oregon. Oh well, I guess it can't be perfect :)

Still sore today and I'm suffering not only from cramps but some pink eye type thing in one eye. (Looked beautiful at breakfast this morning.) But none of that stopped me from heading down to the pool first thing this morning. I just needed to get moving a little bit and I'm definitely not up to running yet. (My quads are still making me walk like Frankenstein.) I haven't been in a pool in two years??? And I've never been a strong swimmer so this was sad, but I found I can actually breath on both sides - although I have no endurance AND I sucked up half the pool water through my nose. (Got to figure out how to stop doing that) Maybe I'll sign up for those swim lessons when I get back home.

In the meantime, today is going to be about exploring. I'm looking forward to finding out a little more about this city... see what it has to offer and if it's anyplace that I might be interested in hanging my hat. I sure liked the coast and the areas in between. With work up in the air and the distinct possibility that I'm going to be putting the house on the market when I get home, I might just need a new place to call home. I sure do miss the West and you can't get much farther west than this.