No lamb, no garden, no immaculate conception but there IS something about me.


The Chilly Chili

This one time I was eating spaghetti and wiped my mouth on my sleeve which just so happened to be the brand new shiny white sleeve of the tshirt I had just received for running a race that day and I died a little inside about the fact that sometimes I'm a five year old.

So yeah, that happened 5 minutes ago and I don't really have a defense for it. Moving on...

Today was my first race since I started running again 2.5 weeks ago. It was the Chilly Chili which not only was the last race I ran a year ago, was not only the only race I have run every year since I started running, but most importantly a race that ends in a huge party and chili cookoff!!!

Gotta keep your priorities straight at all times, kids, otherwise you'll lose focus.

The Chilly Chili is also the first official race that kicks off the Syracuse running year so there are usually a lot of people that attend. I think somewhere near 900 people ran it today which is crazy considering it's winter. And 1:00 on a Sunday. And that there are such good BCBG sales going on at Lord and Taylor right now.

The race went pretty well considering I was finally able to run through 2 miles for the first time a few days ago. The weather was in the mid 30's which was MUCH better than last year when the day topped out at 6 degrees. I walked more than I wanted to, partly because I haven't been training on hills and partly because it was a mental thing. I finished with it as my slowest 5k to date but I still did it! And I am so happy I did. I'm pretty damn nervous about how many hours it will take me to run/walk my half marathon in 7 weeks (7! Ack!) but it'll be fun either way. I'm beyond glad to be back running even if I still do hate 5k's with a passion. My favorite part of the race was the little kids on the sidelines cheering us on, they get so excited when you slap their little hands as you run by. It's as close to being a superhero as I'll ever get :)

After the race my running friends and I hit the after party where I ate 11 different kinds of chili and somehow managed not to explode. The first time I ran this race 3 years ago was my first time having chili since I was a kid and I've since become addicted. My favorite one was a white chicken and sausage one and I wish I had the recipe because it was amazing! I'd eat it every day for a month, no joke. I was really cold after the party so when I got in my car I tried to change into a dry shirt and fleece without anyone seeing but I failed. Such is life I guess, there are worse things than a girl in a sports bra wrestling with her shirt in a Mazda3.

And that's all I got. I'm really tired because I had a rough day other than that so I'm giving the bun some time to run and chew things she's not allowed to and stand on my back while she tries to get on the coffee table and then I'm going to bed, maybe for a week. Well, at least until I have to get on a plane on Friday.


Crafter McCrafterson

The other day I was sitting on the couch looking at my Christmas lights that are still up that I had no desire to take down and decided they were boring. So last night the bun and I drank some wine, cut up a bunch of ribbon, chewed on the spools (after 2 glasses of wine I am not sure who did what in that list) and turned those boring lights into this:

I am pretty positive that I will never take them down now.

Fast forward to this morning. After I went for my run and picked up my stuff for my race tomorrow I decided that I couldn't live another minute without gold spray paint in my life. I went to Home Depot to pick some up (in case you were unaware a can of spray paint at a craft store is about $15 and at a home improvement store is about $4) and discovered that they put the metallic paint on the very top shelf. Because, you know, all those 6ft+ guys are definitely going in for gold spray paint so they should be kept in a convenient spot for them. Never fear though, I stood on a can of paint to reach it. Take THAT for problem solving, Home Depot! This picture is proof that I was standing on my tip toes on a can of paint and could still barely reach it (multitasking FTW!).

For the record I do not have chubby meat hooks. My hands are very small it just appears that this angle is the equivalent of the double chin camera angle for hands.

After proving that I wouldn't let "the man" get me down and deny my shiny paint needs I came home and did what I do every winter when I decide I want to spray paint something: I set up shop in the corner of the kitchen and went to town. Sadly, two things happened: 1) Neither can of paint is exactly what I was looking for so my current painting project will be tabled until I get some more and 2) The last time I spray painted inside I did not have the bun. After I found her hiding in the back of her cage behind her hay box with a glassy look in her eyes appearing as if she belonged on an intervention episode of Dr. Phil I decided that my days of spray painting inside are over. Which really is too bad because it was a good time while it lasted, Trixie even thought so. Once I accidentally got her tail as she was doing a drive by nosy cat inquiry and it was pink for a few weeks (which, come to think of it, was way more effective than that one time I tried to dye her paws pink with Koolaid when I was in college).

After I abandoned my spray painting I decided to get to business and finally frame some stuff I got for Christmas, rearrange my living room and rewire some of my surround sound speakers that the bun got to several months ago. The speakers came out ok-ish but my living room rearranging came out perfect! Yes, it's girly but it's my house so I can do what I want! Or something... So one wall is exactly what I want it to be and I only have three more to go.

I rounded out my evening by chasing Trixie around the living room until she bit me in the foot, building a cardboard fort for the bun to chew her way out of and buying a pair of bright red boots for no other reason than because I am going to DC for the first time next weekend and my app said it might rain. "Might" is close enough to "Will" for me which totally justifies the purchase of bright red boots that I may or may not have a reason to wear more than once a year. And don't try to convince me otherwise!

I wonder if I can get away with wearing them to work and somehow have them fall into the "business casual" catgory?

Now I'm going to shove a few fistfuls for mini chocolate chips at my face and watch Hook while I bead some necklaces and try to forget that I have my first 5k race tomorrow since I got back on the running bandwagon and have only 7 weeks until my half marathon.

The end. Keep it classy, San Diego.

PS: After writing this post I spell checked it and saw that Blogger tried to change the word "rearranging" to "rear raging". Probably the best part of my whole day, no lie, I almost died laughing.


My rabbit is more popular than I am.

I worked as a licensed veterinary technician for 5 years before my current job (I've been in veterinary medicine for 10 years) and somehow made it out with only one cat. If you ask anyone in the veterinary profession this is virtually unheard of. Veterinarians and their support staff tend to collect pets the way I collect Anthropologie plates: they always cost too much, you never know how they've gotten in your house, you always need more room for them and yet you love every single one. I think that I've been limited to one cat for a long time because mine is a special feline. Although she loves and adores me she would probably try to consume your heart should you ever try to touch her, even if she rubs against your leg first. It is an unwritten rule that if Trixie comes up to you in my house, you act like you would if a T Rex were to approach you: don't breath, move or blink and hopefully she will go away soon. She's been through a lot in her life so I cut her some slack especially since when my college house burned down when I was 23 and I lost my whole tangible life besides Trixie and the clothes I was wearing that day I realized what was really important (shout out, as always, to my amazing friend Talia who was able to save her while I was at work and oblivious to the fact that my life was literally going up in smoke).

Fast forward to May of this year...I wandered into a pet store with the intent of showing my ex chinchillas because I'd wanted one for a while. It was a small store so there were no chinchillas but I saw a very small cage sitting on the floor with two little rabbits. One was small and white with a dusting of grey and the other was bigger, fully white and kept bullying the smaller one. I walked up to the cage and the grey and white one ran up to me, stood on its hind legs and started frantically licking my hand. Weird for a rabbit, right? I took it out of the cage and as soon as I held it my heart melted into a disgusting puddle on the floor. Somehow in the 10 years of having one cat I've been able to resist any other 4 legged pet in my life but there was something about this little rabbit that made me have to have it. I named it Archimedes right then and there, Archie for short, and it was purchased for me as what I maintain was the greatest gift I've ever been given (even though to date the cheapest thing about it was the $39.95 price tag).

Archie's car ride home!

I keep saying "it" because I was convinced it was a male. Well, guess what? SHE'S NOT! And I payed to have her spayed which cost 10 times what she did so I would know! At first I was upset because I really wanted a boy although now I'm happy to have two girls. Honestly, I'm not sure it would have made much of a difference either way. She was only 8 weeks old when I got her and a whopping 300 grams. She used to fit in her litter pan (that is half the size of the one she uses now) completely stretched out!

So little!

Archie (more commonly referred to as "the bun") has proven herself to be an awesome little rabbit with a great personality. She is pretty small, I think she tops the scale at 3.5lb now, but she can still hold her own against Trixie (who pretends she hates her but does in fact love her). She is super sweet and loves to lick and groom both Trixie and I. She's hilarious because she knows exactly what she shouldn't be doing but just can't seem to help herself. For example yesterday when I got home from work I opened her cage and she came running out, happy with freedom. A few minutes later I noticed a bunch of bits of black plastic on the floor which lead to my tv/internet cable that she had obviously had some sort of vendetta against the night before. Without saying anything I just started taping it with the electrical tape that I always have handy now while she ran back into her cage, hid in the corner and watched me. She refused to come out until I convinced her to with a yogurt drop and then she licked my hand for 2 minutes. She KNOWS wires are off limits but she just can't help herself (I'd like to take this time to have a moment of silence for my tv HDMI cable, Wii sensor cable, MacBookPro power cord, 3 of my 6 surround sound speaker cables and the power cable to my tv.........................................) It appears that to the bun, wires are as irresistible as vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting are to me (or that frosting with the little tiny multicolored chips).

When she was young, shortly after severing several cables in the span of 30 seconds (bunny proofing happened a few days later)

So in a nutshell, she's a pretty awesome pet with a pretty good fan base on my facebook, mainly because she's just so darn cute. I had no idea how much personality an animal who is pretty much everyone else on the food chain's idea of a buffet could have and I am officially a crazy bunny lady. Oh well, there could be worse thing, right? RIGHT??

Cue gratuitous bunny picture spam:

Further proof of my craziness: After she was spayed she hated the hard plastic ecollar I was sent home with and refused to eat (something very dangerous for rabbits as they can suffer from GI Stasis) so I hand sewed her a soft collar which worked much better.

Crazy, I tell ya.
Now on to the point of this entire post: the bun is a big girl now and is ready to move from her lame-o 30"x30" Tractor Supply store wire cage and into a penthouse fix for a bunny princess. I am ridiculously undecided on which hutch I want to get her but I've narrow it down to two:

1) The dark, two story hutch is great. Lots of room to run and play, a portion of the lower level is wire which is great because he water bottle leaks and she refuses to use any other, and the upper floor has a lot of room. Downside: it looks a little Silence of the Lambs to me. I don't know why. Also, the reviews say the wood is a little flimsy.

2) I like the open layout on the bottom of the light hutch and it looks a lot better made but I hate the color of it.

I'm very torn about which one will be best but I am giving myself until tomorrow to figure it out. Then I am going to order it and not look back because my girl needs some fancy digs. Am I right or am I right?


2 miles never felt so good!

Something pretty awesome happened today: I ran 2 miles straight through.

A year ago I would have scoffed at this distance but given that a month ago today my life took a drastic turn that completely threw me off course and I was so depressed that I thought things might never be good again, I am feeling pretty darn happy about it.

I started the Couch to 5K program as an app on my phone two weeks ago. The first week I followed it the way I was supposed to. Last week I banged out the three running days in 2 days when I decided to run in the morning and afternoon one day. And this week I didn't get around to running until today because I started Zumba Sunday and although it was fun and much easier than I had thought, my back was miserable for 2 days (is this was being old means? Back pain instead of strained muscles).

I started out today with the intention of following the third week of C25K closely. The first week I ran in 60 second spurts, last week it was 90 seconds and today I was going to be bumped up to 3 minute intervals which I was worried about. But after I started my warm up and got past the ice at the lake I found myself skipping through the walking times on the app so that I could run sooner. Then on the second set of running intervals I started skipping through the breaks. Before I knew it I was done with today's "workout" and just switched over to my ipod to finish out 2 miles.

When I hit the end of the two miles I felt pretty overwhelmed. I'm just a few days away from my first 5k back since I stopped running a year ago, a race that I have run every year since I started running and which was my last race last year. Two weeks ago I thought that there was no way I was going to be able to get up to running a 5k in such a short amount of time but I think I just might be able to do it. And if I can't do it all the way through I know that I'm going to do the best I can which will be pretty damn awesome regardless.

A lot more has happened in the last month than I thought I could accomplish but I pushed myself and responded as I always do. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed, days that the last thing I could imagine doing was to take a shower let alone go talk to people, days that I thought I'd be happy to wallow in self misery forever but that got kind of boring and monotonous after a few weeks. When my dad died unexpectedly 2 years ago I remember being the same way except that every single day I forced myself to get up and run 10 miles whether I wanted to or not because sticking to that routine is what got me through it and I am so glad I have that outlet back in my life.

Also, this morning a (fabulous) friend of mine mentioned that she had recently lost 12lb too and that we deserved gifts so here's what I bought myself today because I'm awesome and I deserve shiny things! ;)


The shoes and nothing but the shoes.

The first time I ever had black toenails they woke me up in the middle of night because they hurt so bad. I remember that it was 2am, a few days after the first time I ever ran a 5k straight through (which was my third race ever). I took my nailpolish off and saw that both of my big toes looked bruised on the outer corners so I googled it to see what might have happened and what I should do. That was the first time I ever heard about black toenails, where the repetitive motion of running (usually in poorly fitting shoes) creates bruises under your toenails which then creates an incredible amount of pressure and pain. Well, incredible to me because I'm a wussy cake. Although I guess I'm not given that I looked up the remedy and released the pressure of them myself for sweet relief (I'll spare you the details but let's just say I can heat up a safety pin on my stove burner like a champ now).

The next day I went to see a podiatrist (who was a client at my work at the time) and he gave me confirmation that I did in fact have bruised toenails and also gave me his blessing to fix them myself from then on out. He also recommended that I go to the local running store and get fitted for sneakers because if I was going to continue on with this running thing I needed to wear the proper shoes. I almost scoffed at him because come on, they're shoes! And I'm a girl, I'm willing to rock ill fitting or uncomfortable shoes all the time in the name of fashion so what is so great about sneakers that I needed expensive, fancy ones?

I figured that going to the store was worth a shot though after some googling about it (told you I have to research everything) and my desire to never have black toenails again lest I *gasp* lose a nail! I'd read that that could happen and it was the LAST thing I wanted. I've pretty much kept my toenails painted at all times since the womb and it would not be cute to be missing a few. Also, did you know that when you run your feet hit the ground with the force of 3-4 times your body weight? And during a 10 mile run your foot can make up to 15,000 strikes? That's a lot of pressure and force put on the two little nubbins that keep me mobile I figured I'd give the running store one shot to keep the little buggers happy and healthy.

My first visit to my local running store, Fleet Feet, completely changed my running. I was there for an hour where an awesome guy named Brendan measured my feet, looked at the treads of my old shoes to see how they were worn down and had me run on a treadmill barefoot while he taped it. He told me that I was slightly overpronating on my left foot (which meant my foot was rolling on while I ran) and got three different pairs of shoes for me to try. I ran in all three on the treadmill and chose the ones that felt the most comfortable. He was very patient with me while I tried them, then retried them, then retried them again. I went home with a shiny new pair of sneakers and a wealth of information that I didn't even know existed. He talked to me about my upcoming races, how to prep for them, how he felt about my half marathon training (because he's also a coach) and made me feel like I was finally in this new world of running.

Ever since that first visit I have been a loyal customer. I get all my shoes and socks there and run with Fleet Feet in the summer and the winter when they have long run days on Sundays. I've been told by many people that I could get my shoes cheaper online but I'm not interested. I know that I could find them for $20 less on some website but Fleet Feet is not only a locally owned business, they are also more than just a store. I've met some amazing people and had some great experiences through them.

My first tip to someone who wants to start running is to start out slow and then slow down (as I've mentioned). My second tip is to find their local running store and get fitted for shoes. Will it cost a lot? Probably more than you initially want to spend. But if you think about the costs of  running (basically just shoes and then you can slowly add in good gear) then is $100-$150 every 6 months or so really that crazy compared to gym costs alone? Also it will save you so much in injuries. If you don't know what kind of stride you have (overpronator, underpronator, neutral) then you can cause a lot of damage with shoes that give too much stability or not enough, have too much cushion or not enough, have weird pieces that irritate your feet, etc etc. Your local running store should ALWAYS take your shoes back if they don't work out. As it turns out I do not overpronate, I'm a neutral runner (sometimes it's hard to tell if the issue is slight) so Fleet Feet took back my original shoes without a problem and started the process of trying shoes all over again until I found the right ones. NOTHING makes me more frustrated when I hear someone talking about getting running shoes at DSW or some other mall store. You might get lucky the first few times but start logging 40+ miles a week and see where you're at.

Your running store is also a great resource to meet other runners and to find out about local races. Mine have seminars and lectures on running or eating healthy or special women/men only nights that are great to go to. In general I am a solitary runner, I hate running with other people, but being so involved in my local running community has forced me to run with other people at times and it's been great for me.

Anyway, onto some common questions people ask me:

Do you wear inserts?
I do not because I am a neutral running which means I have a normal stride but your running store can help you figure out if you need them. I've been in there many times when non-runners are there for inserts because their podiatrist sent them in.

How long do you wear your shoes for?
I wear mine for about 500 miles or until I get a bruised toenail (yes, it still happens). All shoes (your everyday shoes included) break down in the insoles over time. You shoes can look great and sometimes even brand new but the insoles may be shot. Remember when I said every footfall of running is 3-4 times your body weight? Think about that for a second....horrifying, I know. Therefore you owe it to your legs and feet, the 4 things that make you mobile every day, to treat them right and replace your shoes when needed. A good rule of thumb if you're just doing everyday running and not training for a big race is to replace them every 6 months.

What kind of shoes do you wear?
In the spring, summer and fall I mostly wear Brooks Ravennas. I have no reason to change them so  I don't bother trying new ones. Every time I need new ones I try to choose a different color than I previously had but honestly, I don't care what color they are. I just want them to fit well.

Sometimes I alternate them with Saucony ProGrid Guide 2's. I've had these for a while and they aren't really a neutral shoe but I use them sometimes because different shoes work different muscles and make your feet stronger because you're changing it up sometimes. I don't expect most people to want to do this so no worries, you just need one pair. I use them once every week or two, usually in the summer.

In the winter I wear Asics....I don't know what. They're some random number. The beauty of going to Fleet Feet is that they keep track of what I wear and the last time I bought them so that I don't have to remember.

L to R: Brooks Ravennas I'm currently wearing, old Brooks way past their prime, Saucony Progrid Guide2 (the ones I rotate into sometimes), Asic winter shoes

Why do you wear different shoes in the winter?
I live in the snow capitol of the country so my Brooks aren't heavy enough and the tread isn't deep enough to prevent slipping. My Asics weight literally a pound more than my Brooks (which means my butt whines every time I wear them at the beginning of the winter because they HUUUURT!) and the treads are super deep. If you want to run on ice then getting Yak Trax are an even better idea. They slip over your shoes and create grip when you run. I've never used them but I know a lot of people that do. I typically don't run when there is a lot of ice because I have a very hard time with temperature regulation since losing weight (it's a common thing) and if it's too cold I am way too miserable so I avoid it.

Asics on left, Brooks on right

What do you do with your old shoes?
I usually keep them for a while and either wear them around the house for painting or when I go to my moms and she makes me walk through the yard while she describes every damn plant she planted as if I care. I usually keep a pair in my car in case something happens and I need them (either I forget my shoes on the way to a race or someone else does and needs a pair or they get really wet). After they have really outlived their life I donate them to be made into playground ground cover.

How do you wash you shoes?
This is a ridiculous question. Mud is a badge of honor. Clean shoes mean you aren't working hard enough. I usually try to find some mud puddles to run through when I first get them, much like how a freshly bathed dog runs outside and rolls in dirt. One time a woman at a run said that my shoes looked too clean to have as many miles as I claimed they did and I literally almost threw down. That's just not an acceptable statement, ever.

What size sneakers do you wear?
My normal shoe size is between 8-8.5 (sometimes even a 7.5) but I wear size 9 sneakers to run in. The reason is because your feet swell when you run, especially long distances. That swelling can lead to your toes hitting the front of your shoes that can create blisters or black toenails. I've been known to squeeze my feet into too-small shoes for the sake of cuteness but I don't mess around when it comes to running.

Do you still get blisters or black toenails?
I've only had one black toenail since getting fitted for shoes and it was because I was about 200 miles past needing new ones. It was my own fault and I totally admit it. As for blisters I get them after every single race. My record is 9 after the Mountain Goat 2 years ago. I honestly don't even feel them when I'm running and if I do it's more of a thought of "oh, there's going to be a blister there later". I have a ritual of sitting down after a race and taking a pin off my race bib and popping them all because they only hurt when they aren't popped. I know it's gross but if you're going to start running, you're going to do gross things.

Do your shoes smell?
No, actually. I don't have stinky feet :) But I keep peppermint odor thingys in them just in case. They're little round balls and my cat likes to dig them out and throw them all over the house. It's a good time.

Why do you lace your shoes weird?
For the most part I lace them normally until the last hole and then I do them a special way that makes them tighter (I like them cutting off my circulation). I also always double knot them. Sometimes if they are irritating my toes or I have a painful blister I lace them in a way that pulls the front of the sneaker up and away from your toes (you can google it if you have that problem).

How long does it take you to break in a new pair?
As long as it takes to get them out of the box. I don't love new shoes, I like them about 200 miles in, but I just stop using the old ones once I get new ones.

What kind of socks do you wear?
I wear Balega running socks. Sometimes I wear Smartwool if it's really cold but Balega are my favorite. They are kind of expensive (I think I get them for $12 a pair) but it will make a huge difference if you get a lot of blisters.

Can I wear my running shoes for other exercising?
NO!!! If you go to the gym and hit the treadmill and then want to do something else, change your shoes. I know it's a pain but treat them well and they will treat you well, you don't want to put any more stress on them than your normal mileage. I went to Zumba for the first time today and I didn't have any other sneakers so I wore my Brooks and I felt guilty about it the entire time. I plan on going to the mall tomorrow, no joke.

I guess that is all I can think of to tell you for now. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask and I'll answer the best I can. Again, this is all stuff I've figured out as I've gone along and what works for me may not work for you. And if you are only going to run a mile every now and again then you probably don't need to get running shoes but if you're training for even a 5k I'd recommend it. Now get to a damn running store already! ;)


The dread treadmill, dun dun dun!

I was in Maine last weekend and while there I went to my happy place AKA Whole Foods. After I spent a significant amount standing in front of the bakery cases pawing at the glass and drooling at the various confections I finally started making my way to the cash register with my prizes (since you asked I got a boatload of mead for a friend from Maine Meadworks, a bottle of chocolate wine for another friend and a little paper sack full of the most glorious and luscious lemon bars known to man. I don't even like lemon but I got to WF just for those babies every time I visit. They are so amazing that I got one for me and three to take to my stepdad this weekend but they barely made it to Tuesday morning...I think he'll live). Anyway, I was on my way to the register when I saw a little boy sitting in a cart eating a huge red bell pepper like it was an apple. I can't stop thinking about him and how hilarious he was, enjoying his pepper the same way I tucked into that lemon bar on my way home. I wish I liked vegetables like that (at all, really) but it's just not my style.

And that's all I got for that story, I just keep thinking of running again as biting into that pepper. Others might look at me like I'm crazy when I'm really having a grand old time. And I'm ok with that.

Before today I last ran on Thursday morning. I had planned to run at the Back Bay when I was in Maine (one of my favorite places to run) but it was entirely too cold and I don't have the right gear for being outside in below zero temps. This morning I got up and started week 2, day 1 of the C25K which is 90 seconds of running alternating with two minutes of walking. I got frustrated about some things through the course of my day so I decided when I got back to my hotel to do week 2, day 2. It's going better than I expected and it hasn't gotten super tough yet so so far I think the program is great. We'll see though, I have a 5k in a little over a week and a half and I'm really hoping I'm ready. I need to hit some trails this weekend to make sure I'm on the right track.

Why am I worried that I am doing so well on the treadmill but might not do as well in the 5k? Because a treadmill is a cake walk. I'm sorry to break your heart and dash your dreams if you think you can run a 5k on a treadmill and are going to be able to go do the same thing on the road or a trail but it's just not true. There are some reasons why:

1) A treadmill has a soft track. A road has hard pavement that will give you bruised toenails, ITB issues, shin splits, all sorts of fun things.

2) A treadmill moves at the rate you set it at. The road is lazy and just sits there forcing you to do all the work.

3)You know that incline feature on the treadmill? Ha! Roads don't read the memo about you being "ready" to incline at a certain point of your run, it does what it wants. And all those roads that you drive every day that look flat? They are deceitful, deceptive rats.

4) There's no tv on the road which means you can't watch Hoarders to keep your mind off of how many minutes you've run.

I guess if you read this list you would think that I love treadmills but I do not. I need the road, the fresh air, the twists and turns, the puddles, the cars driving by, the change of scenery, the incline, the decline, the challenge. Treadmills get so monotonous and it feels like your're running nowhere but it gets the job done. I know a lot of people call it the "dreadmill" but I refuse. Being negative about something doesn't help you face it any better. If it's cold out or you have an injury or it's 9pm and your're in a random hotel and feel the need to log some miles it's a good substitute. It's also great for doing speedwork. And you might even like it more, who knows? They both have their place in running so use them together and you'll be aces.


Statement of Intentions

I have to admit that when I was losing weight and afterwards it was a topic of discussion that I just didn't bring up. People who knew me before would mention it and it would make me uncomfortable. When I started my new job I rarely told anyone because how do you? "Hey, if you'd known me 2 years ago you would have wondered how I could walk to the car let alone run half marathons now"? And forget dating. My biggest fear was that a guy I was dating would find out my "secret" before I found the right opportunity to tell him. I've made it my resolution (not New Years but for life in general) to stop being ashamed of who I was and am. I was still the same awesome funny redhead who covers too much stuff in glitter and buys impractical shoes on impulse as I am now. I'm just a different version of myself, mostly the same but with a lot of improvements (and a lot more to go).

In the last two years I've had a lot of people who do know ask me how I lost weight and call me an inspiration. That word makes me squirm a little, like I don't deserve it or don't know what to do with it. I'm just a girl who lost some weight, I didn't do anything special. I didn't cure cancer, find a way to incite world peace or discover a way to eat frosting without having even one calorie count (lord how I wish I had). I've been through a lot in my life that most people don't know about and I've quietly been able to rise above it and move forward without anyone but my closest friends and family being aware of it. My mantra is to always have a Plan B. When Plan A gets blown to bits, Plan B is where I find comfort and motivation. I am always ready to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. I don't think of myself as a pessimist but more of a realist. Anything in your life can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye and you need to be ready to pick yourself up and carry on because tomorrow is a different day. Maybe not a better day but definitely a chance to build the groundwork for one.

All that aside I think sometimes I don't give myself enough credit. I remember watching the Biggest Loser  a few years ago and having it be one of my favorite shows. I would sit in front of the tv eating dinner that contained far more calories than I ever put a thought to and I would wonder, what if that was me? What if I could go on a show like that and a few months later emerge a completely different person? What if I could have someone wave that magic wand and everything in my life would change? But I never thought in a million years that it would actually happen. I was comfortable in my ways and was relatively content (or so I thought) so I saw no need to change, nor did I have a clue how.

When I think about what I've done, losing 120lb and becoming a RUNNER, I sometimes feel like it was all a dream and someone else did it. But then I realize that it was me, I did it through research and trial and error and most importantly patience with myself. I was the epitome of the saying "What could you accomplish if you knew you couldn't fail?" because I had no idea how far I could take it or if it would even work. And for that reason I am writing this blog. I want other people to know that they can do it because I did it. I'm no one special, just a normal every day girl. I didn't follow Weight Watchers or drink special shakes or buy expensive gym memberships. I didn't follow any special plan or have a personal trainer or a nutritionist. I just slowly figured out what I should eat and when and then found an exercise that I truly liked to do.

Now I am ready to help anyone who wants it. If through this I can help keep myself motivated and motivate someone else in the process then I'm in it for the long haul. If you need to lose 5lb or 105lb or you just want to run a 5k, maybe my words will help you. I myself am a huge reader of blogs and find a lot of strength through the words of other every day ordinary people. I don't always have the right answers or the answers I have are what works for me but I will try my best to help because so many have helped me without even knowing it.

One more thing: don't think that this blog is going to be all serious and uptight because that's not how I roll. Hopefully this is my last serious post for a while, too much makes me twitch.

That's me wearing one leg of my old shorts. No joke.


Habits (the kind you do not the kind you wear)

I came *thisclose* to putting on my left running shoe first this morning which would have been freakin disastrous. Right always goes on first. ALWAYS. It's the the way it's supposed to be and to do otherwise would be to upset the laws of nature. Don't try to convince me that I'm a weirdo and you don't have set ways of getting dressed in the morning. I know the truth.

My point is that we are all a creature of habit in one way or another and I need to get back in the habit of getting up early to run. When I first started my job 2 years ago I went through 3 months of training that they call boot camp, basically because I wasn't home more than 1.5 days a week for the entire 3 months and was in and out of week long intensive classes. A few months before I applied for my job I signed up for my very first half marathon. As luck (ha!) would have it my training schedule for the race started on my very first day at my new job (in Maine, no less). That means for three months I got up every morning at 5:30 am, went down to the fitness room of whatever hotel I was in, and logged some miles on the treadmill. When I was home on the weekends I would do my long runs on Saturday mornings, even though sometimes my plane didn't land until midnight on Friday night. I wasn't sure I could manage it all with training for my new job and training for my half marathon but I not only was I able to, I found that running every morning really helped clear my head and prep me for what I was going to be learning or doing that day. Even after my race and work training were done I would still get up early to hit the fitness room and log some treadmill time until I stopped running last winter. Habits are a tough thing to get into but the good news is they are even tougher to break.

(Working on my fitness about a year and a half ago)

Fast forward to this morning: I had a good rest day yesterday and knew that I needed to get back into things today even though I'm in Buffalo so I got up early, put my shoes on (right first!) and headed down to the fitness room for the first time in almost a year. There is rarely another person in there when I am (and I have never seen another woman) but of course 10 minutes into my C25K program a (really hot) guy came in and got on the elliptical. I'd like to tell you this makes me self conscious but I could care less because usually they do their best to run faster than me and after a few minutes try not to make it obvious that they are trying not to die. It's pretty entertaining even when I myself am trying not to die because I rarely use the treadmill for mileage and instead use it for speedwork. Sure enough as soon as I was done and was out waiting for the elevator (usually I take the stairs but my room is literally right across from it) I saw him come out beet red and trying to catch his breath. That 15 minutes of hard labor really must half kicked his butt ;) Moral of the story: dont pay attention to what anyone else is doing. I have seen people who look fast and fit move at a snail's pace and I've had people look like they ate a bag of Doritos five minutes before the race murder me.

BTW, just a little tip: don't weight yourself on the hotel scales in the fitness room. Everyone and their mom gets on those things and nothing good will come of it. Nothing. Just say no to overused scales.


5k! Coming soon!

There was no running for me today. I needed to leave my house by 8am to drive 2.5 hours to my first appointment so to go running would have meant that I would have had to go to the lake in the dark and the cold. And although I think I am a pretty fearless chick I just don't like running alone in the dark in a heavily wooded area. The lake is pretty safe but I don't even want to think of the squawking I would hear if my mom found out. Plus it's crazy cold that early in the morning around my house in January so no thank you. I thought about running when I got to my hotel tonight but my back has been screaming at me for 2 days so I decided to just get in bed instead (so hello from bed!).

I'm in bed already because I've been really tired lately and I think it's because I still can't eat very much. I've lost 11lb in 2 weeks because I can't eat. This seems awesome in theory but it's really not. When you don't eat enough your body goes into starvation mode and burns muscle instead of fat (eek!). It's frustrating to not want to eat at all when I know I need to. Not even chocolate sounds good to me which is blasphemous but it means I've been almost completely sugar free for the last 3 weeks (this is not a bad thing). And let me give you some proof that my body is ticked that I started running again and can't eat: according to the scale I am 2lb heavier than I was 3 days ago. This is physically impossible but it always happens whenever I start exercising after a period of nothing. It's like my body freaks out and says "NOOOOOOO!!!! I need that fat!!!" but listen here, body: I've beat you into submission many times before and I will do it again.

Oh! I have exciting news! I signed up for the Chilly Chili 5k on January 29th today. This will be my third year running it and coincidentally the last race I ran last year. At much as I hate 5k's AND races that start late (it starts at 1pm) this one is really fun because after you cross the finish line there is a big chili cook off with a band (inside!). The first time I had ever had chili was at this race two years ago and now I'm obsessed with it. Last year it was 6 degrees outside which is way outside my comfort zone and it took me 3 days to thaw enough to sit down but given our current state of No Snow I'm hopeful for a warmer day.

Totally off topic but have you ever worn something and then wonder what the heck you were thinking when you see yourself later in the day? That was me today. I don't know what I was thinking this morning (other than being mildly distraught over a stupid thing I discovered) and I can't even plead that I didn't have anything clean because I did laundry yesterday. I feel bad for anyone who saw me today because really, I was one step above couch wear. I have no idea what I packed to wear tomorrow but I'm hoping it was better than what I concocted from my closet today. I swear I am the only person I know who can make head to toe J Crew look like it came from the thrift store some days.


Day 2: Why do I need to take a day off?

I had planned not to run today because I was convinced that I would wake up completely unable to move however I woke up much more mobile than I anticipated (and pretty sad in general) so I thought a run was in order to clear my head. I drove to the lake and did 2 miles (IN. THE. RAIN!) per the C25K program. It's nice to know that even though I am run/walking I am able to keep things at about a 10 minute mile pace. I chose not to push for 3 miles because I shouldn't have even been running anyway and I didn't want to push myself too hard (ha! I say as I am mentally calculating how MUCH walking I will end up doing at my half marathon in 11 weeks). I push myself harder than anyone else could push me and I'm eager to get back to some real miles, the walking is killing me, which is why I can feel this program getting thrown to the wayside soon. I handled today's schedule with much more ease than I thought I would so I'm interested to see how I progress and I anticipate trying to push through a full mile by the weekend. Bad, bad, I know, but do as I say not as I do ;)

During my run  today I lost my keys on the trail for the first time ever. I was beyond ticked when I noticed because I was already mad that my phone kept bouncing out of my pocket and dangling by my headphones and then I had to backtrack (IN. THE. RAIN.) to find my keys half buried in a big patch of mud. I'm not sure if you've read between the lines yet but this girl doesn't like to run in the rain. I'm not one of those people who will wax poetic about how awesome it is and how it makes you feel alive and like more of a hardcore runner because you're the only one out there when everyone else is at home all warm and dry...all of that is crap. I am wet and am neither showering nor swimming and that is not acceptable especially when you factor in having to drive my soaked self home. With the heat on. While wearing COTTON. EWWWWW! For the most part I'm glad I went but that rain, it was a dream killer.

Someone asked me yesterday if they should run everyday when first starting out so here is my answer to that*:

It's important not to push yourself too hard when you first start running because your recovery time is just as important as the time you spend running. It gives your muscles a chance to relax and rebuild and you should take one day a week to do nothing at all (really!) and alternate running days with other activity (whether it's a different kind of cardio or strength training). When you start hitting higher mileage then a recovery day can be an easy 3-4 miles instead of taking a day off. When I am double running (running in the morning AND at night) my morning run is usually the one I push hard on and my night run is the recovery run. I know that some people do it the opposite way and are able to push harder in the afternoon but I have never been much of an afternoon runner, mainly because I can't have ANY food in my stomach whatsoever when I run and the afternoon has pretty much shot that idea out of the water.

The most important part is to listen to your body and not your head. When you're first starting out it's so easy to push too hard and either burn yourself out mentally because you want too much too fast or worse, to injure yourself. If you are trying to follow the Couch to 5k plan (or one of Hal Higdon's plans, which I highly recommend if training for a half marathon or marathon) then it's important to follow what the plan says. Now that I am doing C25K I can see where it seems to be a little weird to be running along and then stopping 60 seconds in, especially in front of other people. You might feel like you can do more but don't! The program is teaching you how to pace yourself and build base miles. Building mileage is important if you're trying to make it past one mile. I've had a lot of people over the last few years ask me how I can run more than 3 miles at a time and the answer is 1) pacing and 2) building base miles). If you can bang out a mile but then feel like you're going to die you're going out too hard, too fast. I feel very strongly that if you can run one mile you can run two. If you can do two then you can do three. And once you hit three the sky is the limit. Three is my magic number because it's the exact mileage that I settle into a run, I hate every single step until I pass that three mile threshold.

*I do not claim to be an expert in all things running. What I am is a person who over researches everything she is interested in to the tune of owning at least 20 running books (and I've read them all cover to cover, most several times). I get Runner's World Magazine, read their blog, attend talks at my running store and follow The Man (aka Hal Higdon) on Twitter. I just like to be knowledgeable about every interest I have and share what I've learned along the way (which is why I have the awesome ability to talk for hours about absolutely nothing. It's my favorite skill ;). I am constantly learning new things and tweeking what I do (in everything from running to how I put on mascara in the morning....I'm not right). Everything can be modified to fit what you need and what best fits you but this is what works for me so I'm hoping this blog is a good starting point for people who want to get into running and don't know how.


Running, Day 1: Back in the Saddle

About a month and a half ago I tried to jump right back into running cold turkey. My running store has runs in the winter called the Cold Feet runs (in the summer it's the Hot Feet runs, natch) that start out at the store and pretty much go any distance you want. The guy who heads it up, Fred, is amazing and actually won the New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon last year and is heading to the Olympic Qualifiers in a few weeks. He usually laps us all several times over to make sure we're doing ok and give encouragement and it's a great time to get some mileage in with some friends. They're held on Sunday mornings for most of the year.

Anyway, about a month and a half ago the Cold Feet runs started up again and one of my running friends texted me to see if I wanted to go. Of course I did because I was dying to get back into running but mentally didn't know how. I am now going to give you the synopsis of how the day went:
-I arrived
-I was nervous but felt I could do ok if I walked some of it if I felt like I needed a break.
-I made it the first half mile and felt better than I thought I would.
-The second half mile I wanted to die so I slowed down, then walked, then eventually turned around and cried all the way back to the store, got in my car and drove home never to return.
-The end.

What I did was fall into the trap that every new runner does: to push right out of the gate too hard and too fast. I KNEW I wasn't conditioned for it and had an extra 50lb to contend with but my pride got the better of me. The best advice I have ever been given (and continue to give) is to start out slow and then slow down. You may think you're in decent shape but running (especially outside) will humble you in a way that not much else can. You need to give yourself time to adjust and build up your endurance which I didn't do and I was essentially bitch slapped in the face by my own inability to recognize my shortcomings.

Today I started out with a different approach. I have never used the Couch to 5k program but have recommended it several times so I decided to download it onto my phone and see how it did with pacing me. And truth be told it did great. It kept me from pushing too hard too fast because it starts out at a 5 minute warm up walk then alternates 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. I kind of screwed it up because I didn't know I was closing the app every time I hit a button on my phone so I ended up running more than I needed to and did 3 miles instead of the 2 that the app would have taken me through (I was planning on doing 3 miles anyway, I need to start out at a decent distance and build up) but it worked out great in the end. I felt great, my head started to clear and I finally got some of the much needed clarity that I have been so desperately seeking for the last year. I can't explain what running does to me but it somehow grounds me in a way that nothing else can which is why I love it. And today was an amazing day for living in the snow capitol of the country: 40 degrees and not a flake on the ground.

There are some things that came from the run though:

1) There is a snowball's chance in hell that I won't hurt like a mother tomorrow. I already do, my sedentary body is screaming for the couch and my back is beyond ticked at me. I think there is a little man with a pitchfork in there jabbing me every 30 seconds or so to remind me of his displeasure at my wanting to exercise and NOT sit around eating pretzels and watching Top Chef.

2) I don't know how long I will actually follow the app. It's going to be great to get me started again but I can see myself getting annoyed in another week or so at having to only run in short bursts. Who knows though, I may stick with it however I have a half marathon on 11 weeks (oh yes, you read that correctly) and while I don't know how much I will be able to run of it I am determined to do my very best possible (more on that in another post).

3) I broke 2 cardinal rules today. First, I ran wearing all cotton. Cotton and running combined are the devil. Usually there is absolutely nothing cotton that I am willing to wear running right down to my socks. I have the most sensitive skin known to man kind and cotton just gets wet when you sweat and then it's trapped creating all sorts of chafing and coldness and overall unhappiness. My discovery of wickable material and Smartwool socks are one of the greatest things to ever happen to me but sadly, I don't fit into any of my running clothes right now as they are all a size small and I refuse to buy larger gear. Therefore, for the time being, I suffer. And second, I ran with my phone. Normally I won't even run with an ipod let alone my phone which gives people the ability to text me and send Words with Friends requests and all that business that distracts me and breaks my stride but I needed to do it for the app (another reason I will probably abandon it sooner rather than later). Sure enough, someone played a word against me right in the middle of a point when I was running and I cursed the fact that I had my phone.

Overall today was a great first day back. My heart feels a tiny bit lighter than it did this morning and the world is a little bit clearer which is how I know I'm doing the right thing. And honestly, with running around with views like this how could I feel any differently?

It takes time.

Yesterday was a heartbreaker. I packed up all of Alex's stuff and I swear I almost had a nervous breakdown about it. All of his little odds and ends around the house, all of the notes he wrote me referencing our future life together, the ring pop he asked me to marry him with. All of it is in a box in my kitchen and I plan on sending it to him soon. Next up is to take down the Christmas tree, another task I have been dreading. I am waiting for this to get easier and I know that it will but just when I think I have a handle on things my eyes start leaking of their own accord and I wonder how I can magically fast forward time to a year from now. I know that the ease will come, my heart will start hurting a little less and start healing itself a little more but I can't rush it. And you have no idea how much I wish I could.


Rockstar in the making.

In late 2008 my boyfriend of 2 years and I parted ways. It was a mutual decision that was for the best but it was still pretty painful. When we broke up I lost some weight because I am not a stress eater, I am a stress non-eater. Before I knew it I had lost 10lb which was probably the biggest weight loss I had ever had. I spent the majority of my life overweight but it never really affected me. Sure, there were times I wished that I were smaller but for the most part it didn't hinder anything that I wanted to do. At the time of the break up I was at my all time highest weight of 257lb. Man, that hurts to put out there on the internet but there it is. At 5'2" I was a rolly poly meatball and thought that since I needed to make some changes in my life, I would start by seeing if I could lose weight. I didn't have a goal or a plan, I just wanted to see how far I could take it. I had no fear of failure because I had no idea what I could accomplish so the sky was the limit.

As it turns out, I am pretty darn good at losing weight. Before I knew it I had lost 60lb without ever once exercising. I made small changes in my diet such as cutting out soda (I used to drink a 2L bottle of Caffeine Free Pepsi a DAY) and fast food. I was pretty proud of myself and slowly started adding in walking around the lake near where I worked. After a few months that walking turned into trying to run for 30 seconds at a time and then one minute. I would run/walk a mile every day and it became a great way for me to clear my head and focus. Eventually, after 4 months or so, I tried running an entire mile and I did it! I was beyond proud.

Around the time I started running I met a guy that I fell head over heels for. In hind sight it was a completely one sided situation but at the time I didn't know any better. I was thrilled that a guy who I thought would never give me a second look 60lb before was actually giving me the time of day so I accepted a lot more in our "relationship" than I should have. My weight loss slowed down during this time (because I was in love) but I kept my running/walking schedule every day at the lake. At the end of the summer I got the dreaded phone call to tell me that he had met someone else. I was beyond crushed in a way I had never been before and in an act of desperation and grasping at straws to put some sort of sense back into my life I signed up for a 5k. I had only ever run that one mile straight through once but I decided I could do it. I was determined.

And do it I did. I started training every day at the lake and by the time the 5k rolled around I was able to run the whole thing almost completely through. I crossed the finish line crying and to the song "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera. It was a pretty defining moment in my life and one of my proudest to date.

After my 5k I felt on top of the world and started entering every race I could. It was October so there weren't many but I ran every one I could find within an hour's drive. My third 5k I was finally run straight through and I never looked back. I gradually increased my mileage until I started training for the Mountain Goat Run that is in May. It's a brutal 10 miler known for being almost completely uphill (and we have some serious hills here in Syracuse). By this point I had reached the weight I would stay at for the next year or so (138lb) meaning that I had lost 119lb total and had gone from a size 22 to a size 4-6. That thought still amazes me. After the Mountain Goat I ran my first half marathon in Lake Placid and it was an amazing day in my life that I will never forget (especially since I got a stress fracture in the middle of it and still finished the race. I didn't find out until a week later why I couldn't even walk when I crossed the finish line and slowed down. Adrenaline is a powerful thing, my friends.)
(The picture on the left is at my highest weight and my least favorite picture of me ever. The one in the middle is at 60-70lb down, one year later. The one on the right is at 138lb on my way to Lake Placid for my half marathon the next day).

I spent the next few months running many races except for 5k's which started to annoy me (more on that later, I'm sure). Then at the end of 2010 I started having some heart problems. My heart rate would get so fast even during easy runs that I couldn't breathe. I would have to start walking just to get it to calm down. My dr wasn't concerned but I pressed him so I wore a device called a Holter Monitor for 24hrs. That showed that even during my easy runs my heart rate would get up to 190bpm even though it should be nowhere near that high unless I was really pushing myself (my normal resting heartrate since becoming a runner is 40bpm. Normal adults have a resting HR of 60bpm). My dr was still not very concerned but I pressed him again and he sent me to a cardiologist for an ECG and sonogram. That showed that my heart structures were normal and the issue could be "electrical" per my cardiologist and that was all he said before leaving.

I was scared because of how my issues were getting worse and I was having a fast heart rate even at home so I decided to take the winter off from running. I did ok with maintaining my weight despite no exercise but then I met Alex in April and went from zero to in ridiculous love in about a week (I am sure you can see where this is going...girl in love, depressed because she can't run, cake...yeah). Before I knew it I had gained 50lb and was absolutely miserable about it. I had worked so hard to lose weight and in addition to that I had lost all of my running conditioning so I couldn't just get back to it in a way that I was used to. Running had become something of a religion to me, there is absolutely nothing I love more than a crisp fall day, sneakers in the middle of their lifetime (I only wear them for 500 miles) and a good trail. Those are the days I live for, to spend 10 miles with nothing but me and nature.

I am absolutely positive that my weight gain and inability to run played a big part in the disintegration of my relationship with Alex. But as much as I am aware of that I can't turn back time so the most I can do is focus on myself now and do what I do best: bounce back into a better version of myself post breakup. This will be my third time around and I know the potential I have for greatness. And to be honest, as heartbroken and crushed as I am right now I can't wait to meet myself in 6 months. I've already lost 10lb and I start back at the gym tomorrow. And after this breakup I am going to emerge a rockstar...just wait.