Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Roller Coaster Ride!

This has been a roller coaster week of emotions - probably for two reasons.

  1. I'm trying to diet.  I've gained 4 lbs over the past couple of months - not a lot, but I can tell it is affecting my running.  Plus, I keep imagining how much faster I could be if I dropped 10-15 lbs!  Anyway, I am trying to be smart.  I've upped my daily allowance of calories from 1200 to 1500 and I eat 2,000 on run days.  If I get really hungry, I eat more.  I'm not trying to crash diet or anything, but I probably shouldn't be doing this during a 5k training cycle.  I just feel tired all the time!  It hasn't really affected my training, but in my normal living I just want to sit on the sofa all day.  This leads to the house getting messy... which leads to me feeling worthless... which leads to depression.  UGH!  
  2. My husband has gotten official word that he is being furloughed.  This means that starting in July - until the new fiscal year in October - he will only be working 4 days a week.  This has really depressed me because It means that we will be unable to go on vacations, eat out, go to the movies, go to the water park, SHOP etc all summer long!  I know I should be grateful that we won't have to worry about the bills or food.  There are a lot of people being affected by this government-wide furlough who will be living on credit cards.  And it is temporary.  And we still have the beach.  So, basically I am getting depressed about a First World Problem.  "I can't have any fun!"  Waa-Waa.  O.K. - nevermind!

However, my runs this week have been terrific!

 Monday, my husband and I took the kids to a local beach and while they played in the water (with their adult sister) we tried out a newly opened running trail (Amelia Island Trail).  It was so much fun to run some place new and unfamiliar!  We had no idea what to expect, but it was quite nice (although it did cross quite a few roads)  We ran 6 miles easy and just chatted and had fun.  This is something we almost never do, since most of my runs are at a pace that makes it difficult for me to converse easily.

Tuesday, I did 1200 meter repeats at my 5k race pace.  It was hot and miserably humid - and I tried to give myself an out ("shouldn't I run slower in this heat?")  But Brian was there to push me - and I finished up averaging even faster than race pace!  This is the absolute BEST thing about running with my husband - he is an awesome motivator!  Sometimes I feel bad because I just slow him down.  And, the poor guy often has to run downwind from me!  But, the one advantage I offer is discipline!  We are out there - 3 times a week - no matter what!  He often starts out a run kind of whiny (don't tell him I said that!) but ends up thanking me at the end.

Thursday, Brian was back out there - pacing me and pushing me - and I finished my 4 mile tempo run at goal pace!  This is me rockin' my CW-X compression shorts!  I do love those things and am working on a review out soon.
HILL REPEATS?  This is all we got, folks!

And on a final, downer note, my Daughter-in-law miscarried.  I have been hurting for her because I know how it feels.  Sometimes, when there is a loss, be it baby or job or whatever, it is just so hard to stay positive and trust God.  But, when faced with a situation that we have no control over, that is all we CAN do.  I need to remind myself of this.
I am not alone.
We are not forgotten.
The problems we have can always be made to look trivial, because there is always someone worse off.  But God doesn't compare his kids.  He just meets us where we are and teaches us to lean on him and let him carry the burden - no matter how big or small!  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why does my sweat stink?

Before running took over my life I was a proper southern lady.  I never spit, farted in public, or wore see-through tank tops.  I avoided sweating in public via the liberal use of fans and anti-perspirant.  I did attend Hot Yoga classes for a bit, but perspiring was socially acceptable in that situation and my sweat did. not. stink!

Then I started running.

I remember the first time I smelled my "run sweat".  My husband and I were in the mini-van, driving back home from a run, and I said "Whew!  You stink!"
He said, "I thought that was you."
I responded that my sweat doesn't stink like that.
When we arrived home, I stepped out of the car, and right into my own smell.
That cross between cat urine and Windex could NOT be me!  I'm a delicate southern flower.
Well, apparently, a stink weed "flower"!

The more I sweat the worse the smell is.  Now that summer is upon us, I reek so badly that I refuse to get within 5 feet of another human.  Gone are the days when I popped in the drug store for a gallon of milk on the way home from a run.  I make my sweet-smelling husband do that. <- (there is something so wrong with that statement!)

The smell is so bad that it lingered - even after a wash.  So I recently changed the way I wash my clothes.  I now pre-wash, do a double rinse, and use  "Sport Wash".  So far my workout clothes - at least initially - smell nice and fresh!

In an effort to stop this smelly scourge, I consulted Dr. Internet.  This is what I learned:

Stinky sweat can be caused by:

High Protein Diet, (nope - love my carbs too much)

Too Much Stress, (nada - I am blessed with a pretty stress-free life)

Red Meat, (almost never eat it)

Bacteria Living On Your Skin, (then my sweat would always stink - not just when I run)

Not Enough Carbohydrate  (ummm, I could and sometimes do live on carbohydrates!)

So, I guess no one really knows.  Maybe it's just a by-product of my awesomeness!  Yeah!  I'm going with that!

Anybody have any suggestions or solutions?  Help!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Race Recap: Over the Edge 5K (with Kids!)

A couple of months ago my husband and I ran a very small local 5K that included a one mile fun run for kids.  My 7 year old son won that race, and decided that he was ready to graduate to a full 5K.  So, we started some light training with him and his 6 year old sister and I researched races to find one I thought might be appropriate for their first.

I decided on the "Over the Edge Family, Fun and Fitness 5K Run/Walk Event" in Jacksonville, Florida.
I picked this race because:

  1. Only $15 per person.
  2. No t-shirts, they gave out medals to all participants instead.
  3. From website: " After you finish the race stay and enjoy the thrill and excitement of watching more than 100 participants as they fulfill their quest to rappel 450 feet from the top of the EverBank Center building."
Friday night I got all the clothes laid out and sent the kids to bed early so that they would survive the 5am wakeup call.  Then I rechecked the website to get the address, only to discover that the race started at 9am!!  I had been certain it started at 7am.  Who in their right mind schedules a race in Florida - in May- that late in the morning?  I checked The Weather Channel.  73 degrees at the start.  Oh My!

The good news is that we had plenty of time to get up and get ready, and ended up arriving about 1 hour before the start.

 That's when we got the "bad" news.  No repelling!  That had happened the day before.  And then the worse news: the race course included two pretty steep bridges!  

Oh well!
We were here for the kids and they didn't care.  So we lined up.  Brian was running with our 7 year old son, Levi, and I was running with 6 year old Gracie.  At first she was excited and running fast, but then quickly started to fade.  I had anticipated this, but I also knew Gracie was more capable than she knew, so I kept encouraging her.  She did fall down about 1/4 mile in.  For a millisecond I foresaw an end to the race right then and there, but in totally un-Gracie-like fashion, she hopped up and kept going.  I think she was more embarrassed than anything else. 

 After that, she would not let go of my hand.  In fact, I'd say I mostly dragged her throughout the race!  We walked on the uphill parts and tried to run on the downhill - although if I had let her she  probably would have walked those as well.

I do have to say that for me, this whole race was an exercise in humility.  I mean, we were being passed by  women walking and pushing strollers!  I knew I should not feel this way.  After all, this was about Gracie, not me.  And I used to be one of those women!  But maybe that was the point.  I have worked so hard to become a "middle-of-the-pack" runner that it felt like a failure to be back among the walkers.  Yes, I obviously have issues!

On top of all that, there was a little 6 year old boy and his grandma ("I've survived 5 brain surgeries") that we kept leap-frogging.  She was wonderfully encouraging to Gracie - but every time they passed us I'd lean down and say: "Gracie, we cannot let that boy beat you!"  Apparently, I did not pass down my competitive gene to my daughter since she just looked at me like "why not?"

At last we turned the corner for the final stretch home.  Brian and Levi were there (wearing their medals) cheering us on.  As soon as Gracie saw the finish line she let go of my hand and flew like the wind!  There were a bunch of people clapping and cheering for her, and I saw this girl transform from defeated to victorious in the blink of an eye!
Gracie and I crossed the finish line in 41:45!  Not too shabby for a 6 year old's first 5k ever!

Levi had finished in 34:03

We got our finisher's medals and waited for the results.

To our utter shock both kids and my husband placed 2nd in their age groups!  Granted - there were only 2 in Gracie's age group - but she didn't know that and they were so proud of themselves!

In conclusion, I felt that this race was a perfect introduction to competitive running for my children.  It was nicely staffed, there were medals instead of shirts, and the field was small enough that they were able to place.  Let me tell you - they are mega-proud of those plaques!
Afterwards, there were cold water bottles and plenty of post-race snacks (bananas, bagels, granola bars)  And they handed out awards promptly at 10 AM.

Would I run with my children again?  Well, as Gracie put it: "It was fun, Mommy, but I don't want to do another 5K till I'm 7 or 8!"  I couldn't agree more!

Have you ever run a race with your children?
Did you enjoy it or just feel like they were holding you back?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Favorites: Astym Therapy Review

In a bit of a departure today, I am going to review a service instead of a product.  

Back in 2011, I developed a nasty case of what they now call Plantar Fasciopathy.  I tried all kinds of treatments - wearing a boot at night, buying expensive orthotic inserts and shoes, endless stretches and exercises, ice treatments and massage.  One thing I didn't try was rest.  I was (and still am) a recovering food-a-holic, and 6-8 weeks with no exercise seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.

After about 8 months of this misery, my Zumba instructor shared with me the success she was having rehabilitating her previously torn calf muscle using a therapy called Astym.  At that point I was willing to try anything, so I called and made an appointment.

Good things about Astym:

1) It actually works!  It did take me about 12 sessions (6-7 weeks) due to the severity of my PF, but after treatment the pain was gone and has stayed gone for almost 2 years!

2) You can keep exercising while you heal - in fact, my therapist insisted on it!

3) Your insurance may pay for it.  Mine did.  I only had the office co-pay so ended up spending less for this than all the other things I had tried (that had failed) before.

Bad thing about Astym:

1) It hurts!  Do not be fooled by the cute videos showing what looks like a gentle massage.  The first few passes do feel kind of nice - but by the 100th you are ready to rise up off the table and smack your therapist!   However, the pain didn't seem to linger after the actual treatment - so if you can grin and bear it for 30 minutes, you are good to go.  Remember - no pain, no gain!

Sooooo.... fast forward to June 2012.  
I had just started running and my right ankle (not the foot I already had Astym on) was giving me fits.  This was not surprising.  I had torn some ligaments in this ankle (on a trampoline) when I was 15, and it had been flaring up and giving me problems off and on for 30 years!  I knew that if I kept running, it would only get worse, so I made an appointment with my Astym guy, Bryan.
Three weeks and 6 treatments later I was fixed!  It hasn't given me one lick of trouble in the past year since!

Conclusion:  I am totally and completely sold on Astym for soft tissue repair.  Honestly, I don't know how it works - and I don't even care.  I just know that, FOR ME - it has been a miracle.

Every time I read about another runner with a chronic case of plantar fasciopathy, achilles tendinitis, patellar tendinosis, shin splints, i.t. band syndrome, ankle sprains - or any other kind of sprains I want to hit the caps key and comment: "GET ASTYM NOW!!!"  However, I often keep my mouth shut because after a dozen or so pitches for Astym, I'm sure everyone in blog-land thinks I work for the company or something**. (because, you know everyone reads everyone else's comments and they all KNOW!)  I kid!

But seriously:  What are you waiting for?

** I received no compensation for this ringing endorsement other than a pain free foot and ankle.  However, if the Astym Powers That Be ever stumble upon this blog and want to shower me with unlimited future visits I will gladly accept!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Good Girls Don't Spit!

I spit when I run.
I am sorry if this offends you (as it apparently did a couple that was running in front of me during a 5K last fall.  They actually turned around and glared at me like I was grossing them out.  Maybe I was.)

Anyway, that's not my problem.  I mean, I guess it is a problem that this phlegm or whatever builds up when I'm really working hard on a run - but no more so than needing to pee or fart or blow my nose.  It's just one of those things.

No, my problem is that I don't know HOW to spit.  I was always taught that good girls don't spit in public, so my experience has been limited to spitting out toothpaste.   Today, during my run, I had to spit.  It was windy.  I bet you're smart enough to figure out what happened next!   I just can't seem to get any distance on my spitting.  I've hit my shoes, or had a whole spit-FAIL where I was left with a strand of saliva hanging from my lip that I ended up having to wipe off.

So today, I was running and wondering... how exactly do you learn to spit effectively?  Is this something I should just practice outside in my yard?  Should I make a habit of spitting during every training run whether I need to or not?  Are there any other female runners in this hemisphere that spit when they run?  Am I really as pathetic as I sound?

When I finished my run, my children were waiting on me.  They had finished their Taekwondo class and were running around playing near the tennis courts while their dad did his post-run stretches.  I ran up and my 6 year old daughter yelled - "Hey Mom!  Say something funny!" and then took a swig of water.  I knew what was coming.  Gracie had discovered the spit-take!

I said "You have a booger in your nose!" and she spit forth the water with all the gusto of a 14 year old boy! Then she did it again, and again and again - until Brian and I were sick of coming up with "funny" sayings and said "enough!"

And that's when it hit me.  The secret to learning how to spit!  Now all I need is a water bottle and "America's Funniest Home Videos" !!

Do you ever need to spit when you run? (please say I'm not the only one!)

Tuesday Tunes #4

Each week I share with you some of the songs on my running playlist.  If you are into Rap, R&B, Country or Electronic Music you might want to look elsewhere - but if you like Pop, Rock, Alternative, or Contemporary Christian Music you might find something you like!

Many training plans and running form clinics recommend a running cadence of 180 steps per minute (90 steps on each foot per minute).  Whether this works for everyone, I don't know.  But, I do find that I am a far more efficient runner - no matter the speed - if I am taking 175-185 steps per minute.   Here are some songs that help me maintain that cadence.

"Bang Bang" by K'naan featuring Adam Levine - 180 bpm (2X90)
O.K. - Maybe this could be considered rap, but I love it!!

What could be more worshipful than using our "fearfully and wonderfully made" body, powered by the Lord Almighty, to run surrounded by the beauty of His Creation?!

"Holy One" by Casting Crowns - 135 bpm
Here it is!  One of my all time most beloved running songs.  This song is based on my favorite chapter in the whole Bible - Psalm 63 and I am convinced that Casting Crowns wrote this tune just for me!  I have this on every race playlist and have been known to dance around when it comes on during my regular runs :)  Today, I am graciously sharing it with you (ha!)

Our final category is reserved for those songs that always make me pick up the pace.
Songs that put a huge grin on my face and a spring in my step!

The Sunshine Song by The Candle Thieves - 178 bpm (2X89)
This little tune just makes me smile every time I hear it!

May you run happy today!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Today It's All About Me!

(My two youngest children, Levi and Grace)
I am a mom.
That is it.
I do not have another job or any outstanding skills.  No one says: "This is Mendy.  She's a wonderful cook (or writer or volunteer or nurse or accountant, or hair dresser)"  They say "This is Mendy - she has 6 kids!"

I was a bright child with a limitless future.  I really could have been anything I wanted to be.  When I married my husband, I was a college sophomore on full scholarship studying to be a mathematician.   But all I really wanted to be was a MOM.

So I became one.  Not a great mom, but an adequate and prolific one!  I've homeschooled all 6 of my children from kindergarten.  Two of my offspring are married and have jobs.  One even gave me a grandson!

My Grandson, Julien, spent Mother's day with his MiMi!

Another son graduated from college on Friday and has already been employed in his chosen career for 2 years.  I have one daughter with  a few months left of high school work and - of course - the 6 and 7 year olds.

Son #2 - college graduate!

Husband, Son # 2, Son #3, Son #1 and Adorable Grandson!

Daughter #2, Son #2, Daughter #3 and Daughter-in-law

I think my kids like me.  I don't quite fit the "mold" of a homeschooling mom.  I don't like to cook, do crafts, go on field trips or do science projects.  I've never been a smothering type mother, in fact, I border on neglectful at times.  Yet all my children are well-adjusted, like-able people who function well in the world and with those around them.  They all love the Lord and are active in their churches.  I am very proud of all 6 of them.

That is why Mother's Day - as contrived a holiday as it is - is very important to me.  It is the only day of the year where I feel like I really have done something worthwhile with my life.  The one day where I stand in amazement of all that I have accomplished.
Daughter #1 cooking Mother's Day dinner for me at her very first house with her new husband.

Most of the time, I just feel guilt.  Guilt that my house isn't clean enough, that my children don't eat balanced meals, that I don't make them brush their teeth enough, that I spend too much time on the computer, that I don't teach them foreign languages or chemistry or calculus like other homeschooling mothers.

But not today.  On this day, I look at the six awesome people that would never have existed without ME and I feel a sense of accomplishment.  And thankfulness.  Thankfulness that God has always been there to fill in the gaps that I have left.  To pick up the slack when I was too lazy or forgetful or tired.

Truth is, I was never called to be perfect.  I was called to be a mom.

(Updated to add that just now - at 10:55 pm on Mother's Day - I found out that my Son and Daughter-in-law are expecting a second child!   Perfect end to an awesome day!) 

Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful moms!

May you run happy today!

Monday, May 6, 2013

My May Stride Box Has Arrived!

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up to get the StrideBox.  This is a "monthly subscription box for runners that delivers an assortment of running accessories, gear, and nutritional products to your door each month."   The cost seemed reasonable - $15 (which includes shipping) - and the whole idea struck me as FUN!

Today I got my StrideBox in the mail!
Water bottle for size comparison.

First of all - this WAS fun!  I just sat in front of the box for a minute and savored the moment.  Then I opened it s l o w l y.   (It really is sad how easily I am entertained)


I took my time taking each product out one by one.  Most of the items were fuel for the run.  The box also included Pro-Tec Blister Bands, a water bottle cleaner tablet (can't wait to try this) and a "Just Keep Running" sticker.  

The most expensive item was a Klitch Footwear Clip.  Here is my son demonstrating this nifty item:

My husband was actually pretty excited about the Klitch Clip since it allows him to clip his stinky running shoes to the outside of his gym bag.  The Clip seemed well made and it was really cool to get a $15 (retail value) item included in my $15 box!

The Stride Box included a card listing each item and its retail value:
Which I thought was handy since I didn't have to look up the value of each item online to make sure I was getting a deal (ha!)  My rough estimate is that I got about $27 worth of products in my $15 box.  NOT BAD!

I am very happy with my first StrideBox.  It contained mostly products I have never heard of as well as a few I had been wanting to try.  Even if I end up not needing/liking some of the items, I still feel like I got a good deal.  Plus - the "fun factor" is worth at least a few bucks!!

Can't wait to see what the June StrideBox has to offer!

May you run happy today!