Pets vs People?

Once again I have read a horror story of a runner being attacked while running by a dog in someone’s yard while the owner was there and did nothing. The runner knew what to do and took an offensive posture and kicked and screamed at the lunging dog until finally the owner called the dog. No apology from the owner. This is absolutely ridiculous. However I can tell you that it happens regularly to runners and cyclists. And NOTHING is done to punish the irresponsible pet owner. This has also happened to me on my own street and I no longer feel safe to run past a certain point due to those dogs. I was told by a police officer that there was nothing they could do if the dog chases me and barks at me, only if I am actually injured. And if I choose to take action myself, I could get in trouble. In some states and cities there may be more restrictive laws and consequences but based on the stories in my running groups, there are plenty of places where there are not.

Here is the meat of this little tirade. EVERY time someone posts a story about being attacked, MANY people jump to defend the dog as I’m sure some of my readers will want to do now. I don’t really care about ‘judging’ a dog unfairly as I do not consider them to have the mental ability to know that they have been the victim of prejudice. My concern is that these dog defenders have very little to say about the rights of the VICTIM. We now live in a world where animals have become more important than humans. You can abuse, rape,molest, abort humans, but don’t harm a dog or else!! People are choosing more and more to have so called ‘fur babies’ than human babies. Something is wrong with this picture. If it was just a small subset of people doing this, and there has always been a small subset like that, I would not be worried. But I am worried about so many people saying things like they love their dog more than people, etc. This is just one result of the increasingly isolated lives people consider to be normal. Humans are meant to interact with other humans, even if they are introverts. People need people as the song goes. The more that people attach to animals while neglecting to seek fulfilling human relationships, the less they value human needs, feelings and life. It’s really weird! I do have my theories on what is causing this situation and there are many factors. Do I think that things will improve any time soon? Sadly, I don’t . I see it getting worse as fewer people seek out  marriage, children and even friendships. Everything is temporary, disposable and replaceable, even human life.

Dog kills runner? Too bad. On to the next story.

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Boston, Houston, Chicago. No fear!

What a difference a year makes! About this time last year I was agonizing over the decision to register early for the Chevron Houston Marathon. Even though I had completed one full marathon (26.2 miles) about 4 months earlier, I had not finished feeling strong and it took a long time to recover, so I was scared of doing it again. I was afraid of the physical pain, the recovery period, the months of training, running for hours alone on boring streets, the sheer size of this particular race, the concrete streets. But something told me to go for it, and I clicked REGISTER.

After that came the Boston Marathon and the bombing. I had watched the elites race live and it was so exciting! Then I turned off the TV or computer , I forget. Then my sister called and said excitedly, “Did you hear about the bombing at the Boston Marathon??” I was like, What? NO! I had FRIENDS there! I was freaked out. I turned the TV on and watched the coverage. Just typing this brings back the outrage I felt at that time and the sadness for the dead and injured and the runners who couldn’t finish or were scared and wandering at the finish line. I began trying to get information about my friends and thanked God that they were all okay. However one of them had been near the finish line getting her medal and she was deeply affected by the senseless act, as were many people.

As you may know if you weren’t on the moon at that time, runners were moved by the thousands to gather together to Run for Boston. In most cities and towns people ran one or many miles, bought t-shirts, raised money for those affected by the terrorist acts, and supported each other and the sport of running. Facebook groups were formed, photos posted by the thousands.  During this time, I don’t remember how, I connected with a woman in town that I just barely knew. We decided to meet at a park for the Run For Boston event and do some miles together. Well, a year later and we are still running together and have become great friends. I also made another great friend through her and we call ourselves the BAMRs, Bad Ass Mother Runners. We three began running regularly together during the summer and I became a much more consistent and disciplined runner thanks to having running buddies. We encouraged each other and we all got stronger.

Eventually, one of my two friends and I decided to train for and run the Houston Marathon together. So I was thrilled that I would not be doing those long runs alone as I had feared. We got up early and ran and had long conversations about a stream of subjects. We ran hills, and we did speed work. Along the way another friend in another state decided to fly down and join us for the race. Race day came and we were both slightly injured but we finished and I felt pretty good about it. I did take a little time to recover but not like the first marathon.

 

Return to the present. Today I got the email stating that I could register early for the January 2015 Houston Marathon. I immediately went to the website and signed up. Then later I got a much anticipated email saying I had been selected in the Chicago Marathon lottery and could now register. I will be signing up. Tonight it occurred to me how much I’ve changed since a year ago. I’m no longer afraid. I KNOW I am a strong, determined, disciplined person. I KNOW a marathon is difficult but that I can do it. I can handle the training and I have learned a few things about it that will help me. For example, I think 3 20 mile training runs is too much. And , I will not do too much speed work during taper.  I KNOW I can run with other people and not be shy. I might even join a group! I’m so thankful for the lessons of the past year and the people who had a part in them. I look forward to what this year of training and racing will teach me.

The Boston marathon is next week. The terrorists couldn’t stop it. Instead, the race will be better than ever and runners more full of love and determination. I will be with them in spirit!

RUN ON!

3 hours of Bliss

As I stated in a previous post, every race is a new adventure. Yesterday proved this to be true as  I lined up with 164 other people who know how to enjoy life and attempted a new challenge, 25K (15.8 miles) of what I now consider a ‘not so easy’ trail as I had been lead to believe. I kept thinking that as I ran. “This is not an easy trail!” There were other racers doing 10K, 50K and 50 mile distances on the same course. Huge applause to those who did more than one loop of this and special awe to those who ran FAST. I wish I could just sit in a tree, or maybe a chair, in the woods and watch those speed-demons fly up and down those rocky hills! Yes, there were a few easier stretches, thank you!, but even those were mostly uphill, of course. The trails of Rocky Hill Ranch are made for mountain bikers. I have no idea how they can ride on some of that stuff. You literally have spots on the trail  that squeeze between two pine trees. Then there are multiple times where you run/slide/scoot/fall down a steep ravine and scramble up the other side. Most of my limited trail running is on dirt trails without rocks. This race had rocks and gravel mixed in with pine needles. It seemed odd and my feet started really hurting. I didn’t wear shoes with rock plates. Live and learn!

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The mechanics of the race

So let’s move to the interesting parts of the race experience! I went to the race with a friend. Due to a rough week, she hadn’t been able to run at all. She wanted to take it easy and just enjoy the race at her pace. I was feeling more competitive, but I made a couple of attempts to stay with her. I finally admitted to myself that I wanted to run faster than she did that day and so I took off alone. The trail is a single track , meaning single file running. I had let a group of runners pass me while waiting for my friend to catch up. My new goal became to catch up to and pass those runners. I started running as hard as I could at a pace that would not leave me gasping for air and also still be able to keep my footing on the rocks and ups and downs. This means I was running much slower than I do on the road, but fast enough to feel challenging. I kept it up until the second aid station, meanwhile passing a few people. At the aid station, several people stopped to refill water bottles and I was able to run past them since I had a water belt. After that , the course got more flat and less rocks, not easy but easier. There was only one guy in sight ahead of me and no one behind me. I felt a little spooked in the forest ‘alone’. So I determined to keep that guy in my sights. He had a Houston Marathon shirt on so I referred to him in my thoughts as Marathon man. “Where are you Marathon man?!” He was running fast and I had to really push. I kept losing sight of him in the dense trees. I was having a total blast chasing him! This was my favorite part of the race. Finally after at least 10-15 minutes I actually caught up to him, but not for long, he was too fast and slipped away. By then we had caught up to some other runners, a few here and there. I was able to pass a few more and also got passed by some fast guys, probably guys on their second loop for the 50K. I talked to a few people along the way as it got harder and more painful to run . There was pink shirt girl, older Mexican guy, friendly high-fiving guy who kept reappearing , and Crossfit guy who was talked into running the race even though he doesn’t run. The last section was the most difficult by far with more rocks,  steep climbs and switchbacks and seemingly constant up and downs.  Finally it was obvious by my watch we were getting close  to the end and I tried not to slow down even though it hurt . I was pretty ecstatic when we came out onto some smoother downhill trail and headed to the finish line that was still out of sight but not too far away. Forgot to mention that I nearly fell down a ravine when I stumbled and headed off the trail.  My legs were getting so weak that I had a hard time stopping myself. That was a close one but a funny memory now. The finish line was very anti-climactic being a small trail race. A few people along the final stretch yelled and clapped, and a couple of people congratulated me and I was given a medal at the finish line. Final time 3:07. Yes, three hours to run a little less than 16 miles. I can do that on the road much faster. Trails are tough!  I told pink shirt girl and older Mexican guy congrats when I saw them come in. Gulped down some flat ginger ale and coke and sprite. Grabbed  a couple bites of fruit, but knew better than to eat a lot at that point. I usually need a little time to relax before eating and drinking. Then I walked around and waited for my friend to come in. She wasn’t far behind and she had a good race without me. We were both cold and hungry and ready to go home and shower and eat real food so we left shortly after checking official results. I got 16th in my age group. I now have a PR to beat!

The emotional and spiritual side of the race

This is the part of running that keeps me coming back. The physical side is challenging and  exciting, but it’s exhausting and without these other benefits, I might not be willing to suffer so much. When you run for any amount of time over 15 minutes, you have to either listen to music or be able to entertain yourself in other ways. I didn’t take my music this race since I planned to be with my friend chatting. So as I took off without her I thought to myself, I have no music. The need for constant vigilance on the trail will keep you pretty busy or you will fall on your face. But there is still time to think. Yesterday I spent time praying for people I know who are going through hard times. I also thanked God for His constant love and care and blessings. I truly have a life that many people just don’t understand. It probably looks like a hard life to many and I often hear things like, ” You inspire me!”. They don’t realize that I am so blessed by my life. I love my six children. I love my daughter and don’t really think much about her condition, Miller-Dieker Syndrome. I love my hard working husband. Love my friends! And so on…. I also thought about the scene around me. What a beautiful place! As I said, pine trees, rocks, empty river beds, fallen trees, and at one point, we came out of the forest to the bluebonnet covered field in the photo below.  As I emerged from the woods, I remembered that the race director had posted a teaser on facebook about a beautiful view. Wow,  stunned silence. It was glorious and smelled so good. Many runners actually stopped and took photos during the race, it was that awesome. Then later I came to the edge of a high spot on the trail and was treated to a panoramic vista of green hills. Texas is a beautiful place in the Spring before the drought comes! I also had thoughts such as , I will pass you! And , please move so I can pass you. Thank you, great job! That was the polite thing that every runner said as they passed on the single track. Great job! Other times I talked to myself about not slowing down and doing my best. Do your best! became my mantra during those last hard two miles. What the f@ck ?!  was a frequent and sometimes verbalized thought as I came to yet another deep ravine. After all was said and done and I arrived back at mi casa, my thoughts were on food/bacon, rest, rehydrating and  reliving the race in my mind. Today I am reading about it on facebook and see how others are also reliving the experience and giving thanks for the help of friends at the race. I love facebook for that reason. It’s a great tool.

Now I look forward to the next race in three weeks. Until then my knee has a little time to recover. God bless you and happy running!!

Sugar cravings

Confession. I call myself Paleo, but I have been cheating on my diet with too much sugar! Every woman I know has this problem. The dreaded hormonal sugar cravings that strike just when we are doing so well eating clean. Sometimes I tell myself that it must be normal to crave sugar since everyone seems to do it. But then I listen to yet another podcast and hear someone saying how they no longer crave sweets. Heavy sigh. I look back over the last few days or weeks at what I’ve been eating. Way too many Haagen Dazs pints. Way too many Mexican Cokes. Way too many bags of trail mix with M&Ms and raisins. Ya know, raisins are nature’s candy! Meaning, too much sugar. So, waaa! I have to kick the habit AGAIN. Why do I even care? Because along with cheating, I have had a rise in mood swings, zits, period problems, and feeling hungry when I shouldn’t be hungry. That means I am having insulin spikes and my body is stressing. I’ve also been using GU again on long runs in preparation for my half marathon last weekend. I really want to become fat adapted and be super cool like Abel James the Fat Burning Man. 

Another reason I must not eat sugar is that I have a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Actually that is a really bad name for this condition. But that is only one of the many symptoms and many of them are much worse than having cysts on your ovaries. For example, PCOS causes infertility, obesity, acne, excess hair on your body, mood swings, and eventually if untreated, can lead to heart disease and diabetes. What is the common factor? Hormone imbalance, namely the hormone insulin is not reacting properly. High levels of insulin circulating at all times is not healthy at all and leads to the above.  So this should really be considered a metabolic disease and treated by diet but unfortunately many doctors know very little about it, or at least they did when I was younger and trying to get pregnant. They don’t know how to treat it. But that is a very common problem with doctors and women’s health problems. The best treatment is a Low carb, low sugar, high good fat diet and regular exercise and , for many, supplementation with natural progesterone . I’ve used this cream Emerita Pro-Gest for ?? years. Ever since reading What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause and other books about infertility.

I’m a DIYer when it comes to trying to fix my health problems, only after I got no real help from doctors. I did have one doctor who was willing to prescribe Metformin after ‘I’ told him about it. It seemed to help a little. But I stopped taking it after a while.

If you have hormonal imbalances, getting off the sugar habit is your best first step. That also includes going off of wheat because it acts like sugar in your body if you are carb sensitive. I would also avoid other grains. I do eat white rice but only with meals with plenty of meat. Yes, white rice is better than brown. Google it.

The good news is that the more times you kick the sugar habit and stay off it for awhile, the easier it gets to kick it if you start to cheat again. So I should be back to feeling good in a few days. By the way, this applies to high sugar fruits as well, like most of them. Eat clean!

 

 

Every Race is a New Adventure

Life goes along routinely for weeks, then one day , you change one thing and from then on, you lose the routine. Same way with training for races. While training for the Houston Chevron Marathon, I had a plan, I followed it with some changes to accommodate other people’s needs and my own body’s aches and pains. But I felt good that I was moving forward with the plan. Since then I have felt a little lost about my goals. I want to reach a certain goal in a 5K, sub 27:00, but I also want to keep my long runs comfortable at a distance of 10 miles so I can run a half anytime I feel like it. So I have to achieve a delicate balance of speed work, long runs, easy runs, strength training, cross training and rest! I know you other runners understand. And then I have three friends I run with that are trying to deal with their lives and keep up their training and I want to run with all of them. Running with my friends makes it so much better! But sometimes I sacrifice a speed or distance goal just to run with someone. Or I might do a trail run which is a great workout and fun, but not fast. So , all this to say, I was not really sure how my last race would turn out.

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Plans had been made for this race, The Biggest Loser Half Austin, but life had other ideas. So what I thought was going to be me and my fast and wonderful friend rocking this race together became me running it alone. I had big doubts!  Could I do it without her speed pulling me along? Was I out of shape from so many easy runs? Was the lack of cross training in the last few weeks going to hurt my time?  Had my cheats on my Paleo diet ruined me ? Darn corn tortillas! So, I went to the race with a big question mark, but also determined to do my best. I read in a book called Second Wind, that the Japanese runners encourage each other with the phrase, “Do your best!”. I keep thinking of that during my race, haha!

How did it go? I know you’re dying to found out, so here is my report.

PR city!! 1:55:56, 5th place in 45-49 age group, unbelievable! God was with me. The weather was perfect. Some other friends showed up. My sister dropped me off at the race so I didn’t have to walk from the parking lot. I had good luck in the portapotty before the race, if you know what I mean. This was a Biggest Loser event. That means it was not very big and there were lots of beginners. That made me feel like an elite. Hehe! I was able to line up in the first corral! So awesome! The first corral was for 10:00 pace, lol. We took off. I was concentrating on not going out too fast so I looked for a person to follow. I found a lady doing a perfect 8:50 pace. I stayed with her for a long time, it really helped. Once she slowed to get water and I waited for her and told her that I wanted her to lead because she was  my pacer. She laughed! She did end up finishing a little ahead of me in the end, but her help was greatly appreciated. I lost her when I slowed to eat my gel and take water. So then I found another runner to pace with. I also just kept the main group of about 8:45 pace runners in sight. There was also a race official in a bright pink shirt on a bicycle that was encouraging me at each mile. After I would catch up to her, she would move on up the road another mile. I started thinking of her as my ‘pink angel’. Thanks , whoever you are!

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I had told myself that even though it wasn’t hot outside, I had to make myself drink water and take a gel at approximately one hour in . I did that . At the half way mark I was feeling good and felt like I could keep up that pace til the end. I did walk briefly  for water breaks but otherwise, I ran the whole thing! My avg pace was 8:51. I had two slower miles while drinking and eating gels. I could go on and on, but I will just say I felt pretty happy at mile 10 when I saw that even if I dropped down to 10:00 pace I would still get a PR and sub 2:00! I was getting tired and I told myself, these last miles are the ones that really count. They show how badly you want that goal time. Don’t poop out now! Push, you’re almost there. Stay focused on form and not tensing up. It’s a huge mental game. If you’re reading this and you’re not a runner, just think of anything hard you’ve had to do that require much determination and perseverance.

So lessons learned . You may be better trained than you think, but be sure to get your speed work days in so you feel confident. Pacers are very helpful! Fueling properly works. I used Salted Caramel Gu and Chocolate Outrage Gu, as well as Endurolytes pre-race, and plain water. I ate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar and half a banana pre-race and water. The day before I ate rice and grilled fish twice. Also chocolate turtle candy, turkey lunch meat, banana, pork jerky, Cherry Larabar, Coconut water, pineapple juice and maybe a few other things. I don’t eat gluten, so no bread. Another lesson, I need to believe in myself more! I discovered I could run fast even without my fast friend beside me. The race itself helped me along. I also made sure to remember my friends and family in prayer along the way and devote my run to those who can’t run. I ran with a thankful heart that my husband and children allow me to enjoy my sport without guilt. I thanked God for the stream of blessings he pours out on me daily.

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I look forward to the next adventure, this weekend! My first 25K Trail race. Very few expectations, other than to have a blast. Will let you know how it goes!