Friday, June 28, 2013


Well, today I experienced something I never thought I would.

I totally bonked!

Of course, I've heard about bonking (i.e. "hitting the wall") but this is something that happens to marathon and ultra- runners.  My longest run ever was 14 miles.
However, after today, when a marathoner talks about what it was like to hit the wall, I can nod my head, pat her on the shoulder and say - "I know exactly what you mean!"

From Runner' - Full article HERE

Q - So, how did I bonk on an slow 5 mile run?

A -  severe glycogen depletion.

Q - How does one suffer glycogen depletion on a 5 mile run?

A - extreme calorie restriction!

You see, I have been trying to lose this pesky 10-15 lbs of excess body weight for about a year now.  But I have two things working against me:
  1. I love to run hard.
  2. I love to eat.
I discovered a while back that not eating enough calories severely impacts my training.  In a calorie deficit, my times and distance would suffer.   So, now that I have decided to just run easy this summer (no speed work or tempo runs) I thought that this would be the perfect time to "diet" off that weight.

However, my second problem is that I really love food - and after 6+ years of pretty much constantly counting calories, I've gotten sick of that.  Then I was struck by a stroke of brilliance <- sarcasm font!
 I would stop counting calories and just limit myself to one meal a day.  
They call it "intermittent fasting".  This way I can eat a nice, tasty, FULL meal everyday, and not have to count calories - and still lose weight!  Win/Win!!

I started this diet on Monday - and had no problem with Monday and Tuesday's treadmill runs.  But today I am 4 days in.  I woke up hungry.  By the time I ran at 6:30 pm, I had gone 21 hours without food.

And the heat index was 101!

The run started out fine.  Great, even!  But things slowly began to disintegrate - and by the end of mile 4,  I had completely run out of energy.  I couldn't run another step.  My brain was foggy.  I tried to talk to my husband, but I couldn't think of the words - and what I did say sounded slurred.  I felt as if my head was about to explode, and it took all my concentration just to get my legs to walk because they felt almost as if they were no longer under my control.  I was extremely lightheaded, and all I could think about was lying down in the cool grass, curling up in a ball, and going to sleep.  Not all these things happened at once, there was a progression, but I can't remember exactly what happened when.

My husband went on ahead, and I managed to walk another mile (very slowly) before he picked me up in our vehicle.  Thank God I had a Kind Bar in the car... I downed that sucker like a one-year-old eats birthday cake!
My son Levi (now 7) eating his first birthday cake!

So... Now I have to figure out how to avoid this in the future.  I probably just need to eat a couple hundred cals. before my run.  Or run after dinner.  I just can't let this happen again!  Losing weight is so not worth this!

Q- Have you ever bonked?

Q- Have you ever googled "bonking"?  Apparently it has several different meanings (lol!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Don't Call It A Fanny Pack!

When I first started running, I had nothing but my smartphone (Droid Bionic) to track my miles.  I had already been using it for walking, and since I didn't always wear pants with pockets, I even had a Sport Belt (DO NOT call it a fanny pack!) that I used - the Nathan 5K Runner's Waist Pack.  Amazon conveniently reminded me that I ordered this belt in November of 2011- and in the past 18 months I have gotten very comfortable with it being around my waist.  It doesn't bounce - at all - but I do find that I have to wear it around my natural waist (see pic).  However, that has never really bothered me. 

After I had been running for a couple of months I realized I was going to have to find some way to carry water.  Brian and I run in a place that is mostly inaccessible by vehicle, and our courses consist of huge loops, so there was no practical way to stash my water along the route.  I tried carrying water bottles in my hand.  Ummmm - no!  That's when I discovered the Amphipod Snapflasks.  These water bottles fit on just about any belt and can be positioned horizontally or vertically.  And they absolutely don't leak.  I love them!

Everything was fine at first.  I used the Endomondo app on my phone to track my runs and listened to music on my phone as well.  But I started wishing I could see my pace and distance without having to pull my phone from my belt.  After some research (and by "some" I mean around 40 hours!), I purchased the Garmin FR60 watch. (HERE is the link to DC Rainmaker's in depth review.)

I'm gonna have to say that I LOVE this watch!
Why didn't I think of that??

It pairs with a footpod on my shoe to tell me my pace and distance.  I never have to wait for satellites (it uses an accelerometer), it is lightweight, waterproof, and I just changed the battery for the first time after 10 months of heavy use!  It does just about everything that my husband's huge Garmin 305 does - intervals, customizable pages, running partner, heart rate etc with the exception of GPS finctions (map and elevation)

There are some cons - namely, the buttons can be a pain to push, the watch is cheaply made and looks worn out already,  and I do have to re-calibrate the footpod every time I move it to a different pair of running shoes - but I would definitely (and probably will) buy it again in the future. (They have an updated model  - the FR70, which I skipped because it was only a cosmetic upgrade and at the time the FR60 was cheaper.)

If I didn't already have to carry water on a belt, I think I might have gone for one of the GPS Garmins.  But since I must use the belt - and I need tunes - the phone works perfectly for the GPS functions that my Garmin can't.

However, my beloved Bionic got lost (stolen really... if the person who "found" your phone won't return it despite texts and phone calls, isn't that stealing? *sigh*)  and I have been persevering with a Droid X.  (By persevering, I mean complaining incessantly because it keeps closing Endomondo and can't even play my tunes without hanging.)  Thankfully, I am due for an upgrade in one week!

That means I have been researching smart phones - which led to smart phone cases - which led to "Why don't I just get a whole new sport belt!"    Today, I finally made a decision and ordered the

Tune Belt Sport Belt

I'm excited at the thought of being able to access my phone controls without taking it out of the belt.  Can't wait to get it (and my new Galaxy S4) and take it for a test run.  Review is sure to follow!

Do you run with a hydration belt?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer is Kicking My Butt!

Well, it's June 21st - summer solstice and longest day of the year.
For South Georgians, that means that summer is just getting started.

And I already feel like giving up!

It is really hard for me to believe that I started running, last year, in this heat.  In fact, I can remember last August, laughing as I told someone that I'd never even run in temps below 80.

But this summer, I know better.  I know what it's like to run in temps below 70.  I know what it's like to actually "warm up" during the first warm up mile.  I know what it's like to run without sweat dripping into your eyes.  I know what it's like to slow down because your legs are exhausted, and not because your lungs just can't get enough oxygen through all the water in the air.

Yesterday was only 83 degrees.  That is relatively cool, and I actually felt quite excited to run.  My husband and I were just taking it easy - about an 11 minute pace.  By the end of the first mile I had to stop for a walk break.  By the 3rd mile, I was having to stop and walk every 1/2 mile.  By the end of mile 5, I had emptied my 21 oz. of water, and felt like I was gasping for air.  My mind was in a terrible battle.  It was telling me things like -

"You are not a runner!  You are just an over-weight wanna-be!  You have no endurance whatsoever!"

I honestly felt like crying.  I kept trying to remind myself of what a blessing it is to be able to run - of how much I love running and how awesome it is to be injury free!

Finally, I told my husband that I was feeling like a running failure.  He laughed.

"You know my friend Mark?  The one who runs all those marathons?  Would you consider him a real runner?


"Well, do you know what he doesn't do from June through September?"


That's right!  He only runs like 8 miles on Saturday mornings.  That's it!  Every time he sees us running past his office at work, he just shakes his head and calls us 'crazy'!"


Maybe I'm not such a failure.  Even if I was walking more than running by mile 6!

GLENN FREY - The Heat Is On by sofresh305

Monday, June 17, 2013

Race Recap: Run For The Pies 5K

a.k.a. I Fought The Heat and the Heat Won!

What I imagined the race would be like.
What it was actually like!

Saturday at 7:30 pm, I finally ran the race I had been training for all spring.  I think I was a bit naive to think that I might be able to PR.  In fact, almost every article I read about racing in high temps went something like this:

  1. Try to acclimate
  2. Hydrate well
  3. Dress in light colored, sweat-wicking clothing
  4. Don't foolishly imagine you can PR this race!
But, I figured I was different than everyone else on the planet and maybe I, and I alone, could PR a 5K in hot and humid conditions. yeah -right. (Just a note - it was low 80s at race start!)

We arrived at the race about 1 hour before the start and paid to park in a lot close to the finish line.  In fact, I could see the starting corral  from my car, and that always makes me happy!  This was a rather large 5K with about 1500 participants.  It's called "Run for the Pies" because anyone running in less than 20 minutes for men or 24 minutes for women gets a pie.   Brian and I already knew we were not in contention for a pie!

Packet pick up was easy.  I went through my regular pre-race warm up and then stopped to watch the Elites race.  30 minutes prior to the start, there was a Nike Championship race for runners who could complete a 5K in under 17 minutes for men and 20 for women.  Everyone who ran under 16/19 minutes got a free pair of Nikes.  Their course consisted of 4 or 5 loops - which I imagine they just hated, but which gave the onlookers plenty of opportunity to onlook!  I was amazed at how effortless these young people made this seem.  It looked like they were just out for an easy run, when in actuality they were running faster than I ever have in my life.  The guy that won finished in under 15 minutes!

It was during the Elite run that I realized I was already dripping sweat.  Not a good sign!

Soon after, we mere mortals started our race, and everything seemed fine at first.  I stuck to my pace and didn't get too bogged down in traffic.  But then about 1/2 a mile in I noticed that my pace kept slipping below the 9:00 minute mile I was trying to maintain.  Then I hit the 1 mile mark and two things happened.

  1. I realized that my 9:00 pace felt more like 8:30
  2. I hit the stop button instead of the lap.
It was probably 1/2 a mile before I figured out that my Garmin was actually paused.  By that time my legs were lead, my lungs were bursting, and my brain was fried.  I had a moment of arguing with myself about "giving up", but in the end I realized that not having data was totally throwing me off my game.  And it was flippin' HOT!  I felt defeated.  So I just forgot the Garmin and started running by feel.  I would pick someone and stick with them for a while, then slow and walk for a few seconds and then pick another runner to pace me.  

I  could sum the second half of my race in one word: lonely.   I had kind of stepped out of my head once I decided to quit trying for a PR, and I realized just how alone I was in this sea of people.  I do not normally consider myself a "social" runner - but in this instance I would have done anything to have seen a friendly face!  When I think back, I realize that during races I am actually quite chatty.  After my 1/2 marathon I even came away with a few life stories!  However, no one in this race seemed particularly friendly - myself included.  It was just too darn hot!

When I finally saw the finish line the clock was ticking towards 30 minutes.  I knew I was at least 20 seconds behind the gun time, but just seeing that 29 made me sad.  I finished, walked towards the car, saw my husband and I think we both said at the same time - "That was horrible!"

We opened the back hatch and were sitting on the bumper - two red-faced, defeated, sweat-dripping,  runner-wanna-bes, when a father and son walked past.  They looked totally legit - and kind of happy.  So my husband asked them how they did.  "Pretty good" the father said with obvious pride.  Brian said something about the heat, and the father said "Yeah, we were both about a minute off our best times.  

In that moment everything came into focus.  If two good runners, young and old, were running slower, then what was I upset about?   In the end, my official time ended up being 29:18.  If I subtract 1 minute for the heat, and consider that I really didn't give it my best effort - then I feel certain that I could have finished under 28!

Time: 29:18
Average pace: 9:27
A/G Place: 25th of 74
Would I run it again?  Probably not.  It's just a bad time of year for a race in Florida.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Three Dads!

No, I don't come from a crazy dysfunctional family tree (ha!)

I just wanted to take this occasion (Father's Day) to talk about the three fathers in my life - my daddy, my husband and my son.

First my Dad.  
I am very thankful to God that we still have him - alive and gardening at the age of 71 - despite having had
My dad and youngest daughter.
type one diabetes for 40 years.  We lost two of my uncles at an early age to this disease, and so I know that I am blessed beyond measure!  My dad taught me two things that have shaped my life. 
  1.  He taught me to love Jesus and to cling to what is good.  
  2. He told me I was the smartest person he knew - and I believed him!  
You see - I never felt pretty, or talented, or even very likable.  But I believed I was smart, and smart people make good decisions.  They don't follow the crowd - they follow the path that the Creator designed for them.  They write their OWN story and never let someone else write it for them!
My dad is not without his problems - and there were many times in my life that I wished I could have a different father - one like "everyone else" had.  But I know now that he was exactly what God planned.  That without his influence, my story might have been very different.   That all the good and happiness and joy of the past 27 years might not have ever happened.  And even the thought of that makes me sad.

Then there is my husband, Brian.  
What a find he turned out to be!  I think that meeting someone and deciding to spend the rest of your life with them, is probably the riskiest thing one could ever do.  You have no way of knowing if they will remain loyal - if they will love you always - if they will be a good father.  Oh, you can try to make an educated guess based on how he is now, but people change and a lifetime is long.  So, how did I know 27 years ago, that this man would turn out to be a better father than I ever dreamed up in all my childhood fantasies?  Well, I didn't!  But God did, and I have never doubted for even a moment in these past 3 decades that He
Brian with sons and grandson.
orchestrated this whole thing!  Brian and I have raised 6 children together.  For much of that time he has worked two or more jobs.  And yet he always had time for them - not just time, but he was such an integral part of their lives that none of our now-adult children ever even had a moment of rebellion.  I'm not even kidding.  All that teen-aged angst and pouting and rebellion etc. completely missed us.   I've said many times that my children's teen years were the best.  In fact, we decided to have 2 more children when the first four children were all in double digits!  I know why.  My children adored their daddy so much that they just couldn't let him down.  Oh - we had a few mess ups.  But each time the offender was full of contrition and never repeated.  I know this sounds like one of those "Our Family is Perfect" Christmas letters (that I hate!), but folks always talk about the negative teenage experience as if it is expected.  It doesn't have to be.
Anyway - today I am so very thankful that the man I married really has been all he promised to be!

Finally, there is my oldest son, Joshua.  
Joshua's Family
He is such a treasure.  Whether we like it or not, older children DO influence the younger, and Joshua has always been so tenderhearted and so in love with Jesus.  He was also quite the handful as a child!  I mean, I questioned many times why God would send a bookworm like me such a loud, perpetual motion, NON-bookworm like Josh!  But he has grown into an exceptional young man!  He married a wonderful woman and they produced a son - a son I see being raised the same way that Joshua's own father raised him.  My perpetual motion machine is now channeling all that activity into being a successful employee, a loving husband and father, and a leader in his church.  He also leaves a legacy with his brothers and sisters of obedience to parents and faithfulness to God.  I'm just so proud of him.

And so, if you have made it this far without throwing up on the saccharine sweetness, you are a better "Christmas Letter" reader than I!!  But the truth is that these are my riches.  I don't have a lot of money or stuff.  But I am rich in Family.

And today, I just wanted to count my blessings.

Tell me about the special DAD in your life!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Just a Rambling Pre-Race Post

Tomorrow is a big day for me.
I'll be running a 5K - a 5K I have been training for since March.  That means the results matter.
To me.
The Run for the Pies 5K in Jacksonville, FL is at 7:30 PM.  Right now we are looking at 81 degrees and 60% humidity for the race - certainly better than yesterday when it was still in the 90s at that time - but still brutal conditions for a race.  
I have been running in and trying to acclimate myself to these temps for the past month, but I am trying for a PR here and so I know it is going to be difficult.  I'm aiming for 28 minutes.  I've trained for this.  I know I can do it.... in 60 degrees.  I pray I can somehow pull it off in 80.

I have my race playlist made out.  I don't actually need music for such a short race, but I use the songs to help me keep proper cadence.  This helps me maintain a steady speed.  Without the 180 beat per minute music my cadence and pace tend to be all over the map.  I added one new song to my 5K playlist.  It's a fun one!

This song is around 174 bpm (87 x 2) - a little slow so I put it at the beginning to help keep me from going out too fast (ha!)

I do have a brand new outfit for the event.  A Brooks running skirt and mesh top.  I really like it, but the skirt is sooo short and the top is sooo sheer.  A little out of my comfort zone but I imagine I won't care once the race starts.

OK, this is a pretty rambling blog post.  I guess I'm just nervous and needed to write something.  Hopefully, in 24 hours, I will be celebrating a PR.  Hopefully.  But if not, I'll just blame it on the weather!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My June StrideBox Is Here!

OK!  I am officially loving the StrideBox!  This is my second month, and once again it did not disappoint!

I actually got the box at midnight.  Hubby and I had been out on a "date" so that my grown daughter could have some of her friends over without Mom and Dad around.   Her friends were still here - and I couldn't wait to open my box - which is why you get my outdated comforter as a backdrop :)

I was pretty excited when I saw the Foot Rubz - 'cause let's face it - middle aged runners need all the massage tools they can get!

sorry, I covered up the Pocket Fuel with the Get Out and Run Sticker.  I do like that StrideBox includes an inspirational sticker in every order.
But then I saw the Lock Laces and I actually did a little happy dance.  I have a pair of Lock Laces that I really like, and have been wanting to get another set for a different pair of shoes.  But they are 8 bucks!!  So, to have them included in my $15 box made me feel  - well - HAPPY!

Side Story:  I have a hate/love relationship with Lock Laces.  
After I broke my hand in January, I was unable
Lydiard aka Staight Bar Lacing
to tie my own shoes.  I had decided to go ahead and run the Zooma 1/2 marathon just three weeks after the accident, but I was worried that my laces might come untied and I would have no way of retieing them (save asking another racer- awkward!.)  So I ordered the Lock Laces and wore one for the first time on race day.  Remember what they say about NEVER trying something new on race day??  Well, I cinched the Lock Lace WAY too tight, and by the end of the race I had actually injured the tendons on the top of my foot.  Although I was still able to run with my hand injury, the foot extensor tendonitis effectively knocked me out of running for 6 weeks!  I have since returned to the Lock Laces - this time laced using the Lydiard Method and kept very loose - and I LOVE them.  So word to the wise - be careful not to over tighten these laces! - OK, end of side story!

Here is a listing of all in the box:
  • I think the PowerICE freezer bars are an excellent idea in the summer.  I sure wish I had had these after my long run - in 90 degree heat - on Saturday!
  • I have never actually used or needed anti-chafe cream.  But I LOVE that the Blue Steel Anti-Chafe cream comes in single use packs!  This makes it easy to take with me on long runs or races (where a sudden need for anti-chafe cream would be just my luck!)  And they included 3 of them!  Nice!

So, by rough estimate $28 worth of product in my $15 box - and several products I am very excited about - STRIDEBOX SCORE!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Race Recap: Vestcor Bridges 5K (My First Race) - July 28, 2012

*Note*  Since this blog is partly a running diary,  I am going back and doing recaps on the races I ran before I started blogging.

Vestcor Bridges Run 5K - Jacksonville, Florida - July 28, 2012

When I first started running (May 2012) I made a pretty bold statement ; "If I do this, I'm going all out.  I am gonna race!"
I had never even spectated a race before.  I knew absolutely nothing.

I had to Google "how long is a 5K"!

My husband, Brian, had been running for years, but had never considered racing, so, when I started researching our first race, I had no idea what I should be looking for.  I chose the Vestcor Bridges Run because it was an evening race - and at that point, I had never run in the morning.

I thought "bridges" might involve some uphill running, but, never having run uphill before, I really gave it only a cursory thought.  In fact, I think my exact thought process was:
"Oh-bridges!  That will be pretty!"  
See?  No clue!

Brian and I drove down to Jacksonville the day before to pick up our race packets and we ooooh-ed and ahhhh-ed over what I now know to be a pretty pathetic swag bag.  There was some of that rub-on pain relief, a granola bar, coupons and flyers, and a cotton t-shirt.  And a racing bib!  Our first ever!

On Race Day (Saturday) Brian and I were more nervous than a couple of turkeys in November!  We paced around the house, wringing our hands and only stopping to laugh at ourselves!   We were so pitiful it was funny!  I remember thinking it was the longest day of my life!

We left for the 45 min. drive to Jacksonville, Florida around 4pm and arrived a good 2 hours before the start of the race!  We had plenty of time to drive the race course.  That is when we both realized how unprepared we were for the bridges!   I mean, really!  "Bridges" was in the title of the race!  How could I not have considered that they might demand a little extra preparation?

Brian found parking on the street just a couple hundred yards from the start and we went in search of the registration table (to get our chips.)  Brian thought we should go ahead and put on our bibs, but I was afraid that we would look silly walking around with them on so long before our race.  (I was wrong, of course, since the first couple we encountered had on their bibs.)

Before the 5K start in my snazzy waist pack and sweat rag!
We picked up our chips and went back to the car to put the bibs on.  I used the car windows as a mirror and had to take off and re-position my bib 3 times to get it just right!   I remember being a little surprised that runners used something as archaic as safety pins to attach the bibs.  I had expected something more high tech!

After a visit to the Port-O-Johns, we headed out for a little warm up.  And by "warm-up" I mean I jogged up and down the street feeling like the fakest runner ever!  I was just sure that everyone who saw me *knew* that I had no idea what I was doing - that I had "newbie" written all over me.

About 20 minutes before race time, Brian and I stopped and he just held me - in the middle of the sidewalk - and prayed.  He prayed that we would be at peace, that we wouldn't get injured, and that we would do all to the glory of God.  I remember feeling such calm after that.

10 minutes before start time, I followed the advice I had read online and headed to the Port-O-Johns for a last-minute pee break... only to find the line about 200 people deep!  I had no idea what to do!  I really had to go, but there was no way that line was clearing before the race start.  So, I ran back to my car, searched around until I found an old plastic bag, and peed in that!  (Thank the Lord for a mini-van with tinted windows!)  I made it back to the start line with only a couple of minutes to spare!  I squeezed in with the 10-minute milers (since that was my anticipated pace) just as the anthem started.   Then the gun went off and....


We weren't moving.
And then when we started it was just a slow walk.
I was completely confused until we passed the start line and suddenly I was swept along in a wave of people.
I pulled out my phone to check my time.  This was not a 10 minute pace!  I tried to slow down because I knew that I'd crash and burn at an 8:30 pace, but then people started whipping past me like I was barely moving.  I felt embarrassed.  And still confused.  Why was everyone going so fast?  Or was I going too slow?  I had lined up with the 10 minute milers.  Hadn't I?

I made it through the first mile pretty strong, (I think I stopped and walked for just a few seconds one time), but after that I encountered the Main Street Bridge.  Looking back at my Endomondo map, I can tell that I really tried to run it, but I kept having to stop to walk.  It was far tougher than I anticipated.  I did get a downhill reprieve for a bit, but at the start of mile 2 was the Acosta Bridge.

This is the point when I finally started noticing the other runners, and I realized that there were many fit-looking men and women who were struggling right along with me!  There was one 30-ish looking male that I particularly remember.  Perhaps because he was muscular and young - and running right in front of me.  I decided right then and there - half-way up the Acosta Bridge - that I was gonna beat that guy.  I struggled and pushed, and once I crested the hill, I ignored all the "take it easy on the downhill" advice and flew wide open.  Endomondo recorded an 8 minute pace.  I left muscle-guy in the dust and just kept on going.

The final mile was all in my head.  Honestly, I can't even remember what my body felt like, I just remember the internal conversation I was having.

 "I can't do this.  It isn't worth it.  Don't be a wimp, Mendy!  It will be over in a few minutes. But I'm gonna pass out!  I hate this!  I tell you what, if you finish this you will never have to race again.  I promise!"

Still, I kept getting slower and slower.  I really was running out of training!  Suddenly I heard a "Whoop!" and looked up.  It was my husband!  He had come back to run the last tenth with me!  We ran it in - side by side - me grimacing and Brian cheering me on!

My final time: 31:27  (not bad for a girl who had just started running 2 months before!)

Afterwards I remember being unable to talk and slightly in a daze.  I visited the potty - then walked around a little aimlessly until my husband spotted me and brought me a bottle of water.  It seemed like it took me forever to come out of my stupor.
Then, as we sat and ate post-race cardboard flavored pizza, I started planning how I would run the next race!

One thing I did know - it would not involve a bridge!

Time: 31:27
Average pace: 10:09
A/G Place: 9th of 26
Would I run it again?  Probably not.  Too hilly, hot and humid!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trail Runner? Who, Me?

Over the past year I have developed a very structured running schedule.  Tuesdays are speed (track), Thursdays are stamina (tempo), and Saturdays are endurance (long run).

 But Sunday runs are all about having fun!

My husband has to be at church early on Sunday mornings (he's the worship leader) - so AM is out.  That leaves the PM, and, since our 18 yo daughter has a life, this means we have to take the kids along!

For a while, we were using our Sunday easy run as practice for the 6 and 7 year old (when they were training for their 5K), but lately I've been trying to find interesting places where they can ride their bikes while we run.  

Last week, I remembered the state park that is nearby - Crooked River State Park in St. Mary's GA.  Even though we have lived here for 24 years, I've only been to this park once or twice - and not at all in the past 20 years.  This is one of the most surprising things that has happened to me since I started running - I am turning into an outdoorsy person!  Didn't see that one coming!

Anyway, I did a quick Google search and found out they have "trails" there, so I thought Sunday evening would be a good time to try it out.

We arrived with kids in tow, paid our $5 parking fee, and proceeded to the longest trail - the Palmetto Trail. It was listed as 1.5 miles and according to the park ranger we spoke to, had the least tree roots.  That seemed important with little kids riding bikes.

How did it go?

Well... we did have fun.  This was my first time EVER running on a soft surface (mostly packed dirt and sand.)  It was actually a nice relief for my ever-present foot problems.  Of course, that may have had less to do with the surface and more to do with stopping every 2 minutes to help a child through the softer sand, or pick them up and brush them off after a tree root crash! 

 The trail was very curvy, so we could never see ahead more than a few yards - which made for a rather exciting run.  Would we encounter a critter?  My kids were hoping for snakes (yikes!), but all we came upon was one lazy armadillo.  We did send the kids ahead of us, though, to scare off any potential serpents.  No, I do not feel bad about that!

The Palmetto Trail  - We started at the X

We finished up at the Crooked River picnic area, had a bathroom break, and then turned around and went back.  My final Garmin miles read 2.9, so I guess the trail was labeled pretty accurately.  We were all very hot and sweaty, but the kids enjoyed it and we got in our run.

But today I've been thinking.
About trail running.
I've read other runners accounts of running trails, of course, but I always thought that was something I had no interest in.  Now, I'm not so sure.  I loved the whole adventure aspect of it - what's around the next curve?, what critters would we see?, should we turn left at the fork or right?  We encountered so many little side trails as we ran along that I would have loved to have explored - but with kids along that just wasn't possible.    So, I'm making plans to return sans kids - maybe to this park, or perhaps another.  Who knows.  Maybe I'll turn into a trail runner.
And to think.... 13 short months ago I ONLY exercised indoors with air-conditioning and fans!  

Do you run trails?  

Why or why not?


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Best Foods for Runners?

"Hello. My name is Mendy and I am addicted to junk food!"

Seriously - I've been known - during a certain time of the month - to live off a diet of mostly chocolate and french fries!  Even when I am in weight loss mode, I still find that much of my "low-calorie" options are things like pretzles, low-carb ice cream and protein "candy" bars.

 Lately, I have been feeling yucky.

Sluggish/tired/depressed and my eating has been out of control. 12 days ago I gathered my nerves, put on my big girl panties, and stepped on the scales.

Whew!  Only up 4 lbs.

 But that extra weight was slowing me down.  I run with water bottles on a waist pack during the summer, and I figured this was like carrying 8 extra bottles during every run!  So those pounds had to go!

I fell back to my tried and true 1200 cal diet - but now that I'm also running 25 miles a week, that's just not cutting it.  Running makes me hungry. Legitimately hungry, not just head-hungry,  and when I start denying myself food while being actually hungry, I binge eat.

A few weeks ago, I ordered a book I thought might help - "Racing Weight" by Matt Fitzgerald:

This is not a review of that book.  I haven't had time to really study it and, while I did get some good info from it, I think I need to take a baby step approach to changing my present eating rut.   One thing it did impress upon me was the need to "clean up" my diet and eat healthier,  The problem with a non-foodie like me is that I don't know where to begin.  When I look up "simple" healthy dishes, they almost always contain ingredients I've never heard of and multiple steps.

My definition of easy is - peel back cover and heat in microwave for 4 minutes!

Which leads to the two sites I stumbled upon.

#1 - The Best Minimally Processed Foods For Runners
I placed the graphic for these foods on my sidebar.  but they are :
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Black Beans
  • Salmon
  • Berries
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Lean Beef
  • Almond Butter
  • Quinoa
  • Coffee
#2 - The Best Foods for Runners (Runner's World)  This is an especially helpful article because it includes items readily available at your grocer and ideas for simple preparation.  Helpful if you are an anti-cook like me!
  • Almonds
  • Eggs
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Whole-Grain Cereal With Protein
  • Oranges
  • Canned Black Beans
  • Mixed Salad Greens
  • Salmon
  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Frozen Stir-Fry Vegis
  • Whole Grain Pasta
  • Chicken
  • Frozen Mixed Berries
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Low-Fat Yogurt
There is a bit of overlap in these lists, but both contain a lot of the foods that I already use and love.  So, I decided that for the next several weeks, I will concentrate on eating as much as I can from these two lists - and try very hard to leave off the junk.

I am now on day 12.

Day 1  - was fine.   I had cocoa-roasted almonds for the first time ever.   What a revelation!  When I finished my 100 calorie pack I actually stopped.  I felt satisfied.  Hmmmm.... there might be something to this almond thing.

Day 2 - I craved junk all day.  I only gave in a very little and had a few Skittles.  Please tell me I am not the only one who craves Skittles!  Sour Skittles are the best!

Day 3 - I had a headache all day.  I suspect this was my body's way of rebelling against me for taking away the junk it has learned to live on.  But, on a positive note, I sent this text to my husband:
"I just ate the best baked sweet potato I've ever had in my life! Absolutely nothing on it mmmmm-mmmmm!"

Day 4 - I cooked salmon for the first time ever.  In fact, I cannot remember ever even eating salmon before.  It was absolutely delicious!  I used this super-simple (really!) recipe. 

Day 5 - Everything suddenly fell into place.  I felt great and I finally lost that constant desire to eat.   I did eat ice cream after dinner, but it was planned and within my calorie limit.  (I am eating 1500-1600 calories on non-running days and 2,000 to 2,500 on running days)  And it was *real* ice cream - not the fake stuff.

Days  6-12 - I have now created several meals using two ingredients I had never purchased before: quinoa and black beans.  It is ironic how much can change in less than 2 weeks!  Except for being more tired than usual, I am feeling healthier, much more in control, and my runs have improved dramatically!  This morning was hot, humid, and miserable - but I ran my long run at an average pace 10 seconds faster than just last week.  For me, that is huge!

I haven't stepped back on the scales, but I really don't have to.  I feel better and that is what matters.  I believe I will get over the tiredness after my body has more time to adapt.  Or when I up my calories again.  By then, maybe - just maybe - I'll be a lean, mean, running machine!

Are you happy with your diet?
Do you have any super-quick and easy recipes you care to share?

May you run happy today!