July 31, 2016

The One Where Chandler Crossed the Rainbow Bridge

What started out to be a super fun weekend with my friend Caitlin ended up taking a very sad turn on Friday. Caitlin flew in from Boston on Thursday for a long weekend visit, and I was so excited to see her--it had been two years since the last time I saw her! I'll write all about her visit tomorrow, though, because I want to keep this post about Chandler.

On Friday morning, Chandler was showing signs of a urinary tract obstruction. An obstruction is an emergency situation, because if the urethra is blocked, the bladder could burst. Thankfully, the vet opened at 8:00 in the morning, so I asked Jerry to take him in right away (since Caitlin was visiting, I didn't want to have to change our plans). From what I'd read online, I was thinking they'd probably give Chandler antibiotics, and depending on how bad the blockage was, possibly keep him a day or two until he was better. It never occurred to me that it would be the last time I'd see him.

Caitlin and I went to the state park for a long walk, and about a mile into the walk, I got a phone call from Jerry. He was at the vet's office, and he told me that the red bulge I'd noticed on Chandler that morning was actually a tumor that had come out of Chandler's urethra. The placement of the tumor had blocked the urethra. The vet said that it was very likely cancerous, and that because of Chandler's age, the tumor's location, and the amount of pain Chandler was in, he would recommend euthanasia.

I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. It was the LAST thing I expected the vet to say. I knew Chandler was getting old, but I thought we'd at least have a few more years with him. I didn't know what to do--if I would have known he wouldn't come home, I would have given him his favorite wet food, and special treats; I would have cuddled and loved on him all night; I would have let the kids say good-bye to him. I thought about going to the vet right then, but Jerry said Chandler was in a lot of pain and they needed to do it right away. 

I kept asking if he was SURE that the vet didn't think there was anything else we could do, and the vet insisted that if it was his own cat, he would choose euthanasia in this situation. The vet said he would likely die over the weekend if we brought him home. Both Jerry and I were crying on the phone, and I felt so awful that I wasn't there. We agreed that having him put down was the best decision, and it was heartbreaking. 

The kids had stayed the night at my brother Brian's house, and I didn't want to ruin the fun time they were having, so we decided to wait until that evening to tell them. I was especially worried about Eli, because he adores our pets, and he's very sensitive to their feelings. 

Jerry spent a few minutes alone with Chandler before the vet came in to administer the injection. Jerry said once the vet gave him the shot, it was over with very quickly and peacefully. We chose to have him cremated. 

We had to make this decision a couple of years ago for Paolo, which was sad, but we'd only had Paolo a few years... with Chandler, the feelings hit so much harder. 

Jerry and I adopted Chandler from the animal shelter in 2003, shortly after we got married. He's been with us through everything, from bringing new babies into the house, who grew up to love him as much as we did, to bringing in other pets. Chandler was always the "constant" around here.

He used to watch Baby Einstein with Noah when Noah was a baby, and I think he liked the show more than Noah did. Noah loved having a cat, and Chandler became his buddy--even now, 12 years later, Chandler preferred to sleep on the boys' beds. Whenever the kids were sad, and wanted a pet to love on, Chandler was always the go-to--because he allowed himself to be cuddled, hugged, and petted. 

In his younger years, Chandler was agile and loved being outside. He could catch a bird mid-air, and a couple of times he even came home with a snake he'd killed. One winter, we had a really bad snow storm, and Chandler went missing. For four days, we looked and looked for him. I went around the neighborhood knocking on doors, passing out fliers, calling the shelter, hoping someone had seen him. On day five, once the snow started melting, I opened the door to go outside, and Chandler was there--fat, warm, and happy. I couldn't believe it! Someone had to have felt sorry for him and taken him in during the storm. After that, I started keeping him indoors only; I worried that one day, he wouldn't come back.

I'm not sure why he became such a fat cat, but it was a big part of his personality, and we loved that about him. 

I did put him on a diet after attending the "True Nature of Cats" seminar at the Purina headquarters--I fed him twice a day, and I stopped leaving out a bowl of food for him to constantly graze on. The other cats didn't have a weight problem, so I didn't want to keep them from eating. I discovered that Chandler was too lazy to use a puzzle feeder (a dish that the cats have to work to get food from--the one I had was made of several long, skinny cups that the cats would have to reach into with their paws and pull some food out.)

I left the puzzle feeder out for the other cats, and Chandler just ate at his normal feeding times. He actually lost five pounds over several months! The next time I weighed him, I saw that he had gained two pounds back, and I was stumped as to how that could happen. He was still eating the recommended serving. And he was using the treadmill regularly ;)

One day, I discovered what was going on: I saw Estelle and Chandler sitting at the puzzle feeder. I watched as Estelle reached in for a piece of food, and ate it. Then, she reached in and pulled out another... for Chandler. Back and forth, she would eat a piece, and then give Chandler a piece. She was feeding him because he was too lazy to get it himself!  I thought it was hilarious, and I realized Chandler was just meant to be a chubby kitty, so I stopped trying to make him diet. 

Chandler was the most easy-going cat we've ever had. Phoebe and Estelle can't stand each other, but each of them liked Chandler. And Chandler had a friendship with Joey, as well! There were several times I caught Chandler licking Joey's head. 

I'm not sure how much the other pets can sense about Chandler being gone, but ever since Friday, Phoebe has been hiding out in my bathroom underneath a bench--something she never does. And Joey hasn't been acting like his normal self, either--he's been much more mellow and quiet. 

This has obviously been a big blow to our entire family. I don't even think it has fully sunk in yet. Jerry took the boys out for a very fun day yesterday--mini golf, batting cages, and the movies--while I showed Caitlin around Detroit. It was nice to do something to take our minds off of Chandler, but now that we're getting back in the normal routine, it feels so odd. He is missed so much already!

July 26, 2016

News stories

There has been some huge news around here lately. Remember a couple of years ago (well, those of you that have been reading my blog that long, anyway), when I posted about a girl named Chelsea Bruck who went missing from a Halloween party a few miles from my house? It was a big story, and even made national news. As time went on, there was less and less hope of ever finding out what happened to her, but my hometown community made sure she wasn't forgotten about.

Her favorite color was purple, so people hung purple ribbons in their yards, on their houses, on telephone poles, etc., to show their support.

I was kind of obsessed for a while with the story, because it was so unusual for something like that to happen around here.

I would deliberately run down the road where she went missing, so that I could look in ditches and cornfields for parts of the Halloween costume she'd been wearing, or anything unusual. In the spring of 2015, a woman's decomposed body was found about 12 miles away in a wooded area--and unfortunately, it turned out to be Chelsea's. Her death was determined to be a homicide, although the police didn't reveal any more details than that.

Over a million flyers had been distributed since she went missing, showing a sketch of a "person of interest"--but nothing ever seemed to pan out.

About a month ago, the local police posted an actual photograph from the party of (what appeared to be) the person in the sketch on the flyer, and the man came forward. He wasn't necessarily a suspect, but they wanted to talk to him as a witness. I hadn't heard anything else after that, but I was surprised to see that they were still actively investigating.

This past weekend, out of nowhere, an arrest for her murder was made (not the guy from the flyer). I was half asleep in bed when I saw the post by the local news on Facebook, and my eyes flew open. I was shocked--and so, so, so happy that they made an arrest! The detective was quoted as saying he was "1000% sure" this man was the one who murdered Chelsea. Apparently, the suspect knew things that only the killer would know--things that had never been released to the public.

His girlfriend spoke to the press--saying that he called her from jail the following day, and told her what had happened, and admitted that he did, in fact, kill Chelsea. He was arraigned yesterday, and his name was released: Daniel Clay, a 27-year old man from the same city where I live. He told the judge that he doesn't want bond--clearly, for his own safety from the community.

As you can imagine, this news has caused a flood of posts on social media--everyone is thrilled that he was caught! I had honestly given up hope that they would ever find out who did it. There are still so many unanswered questions--why? how? when? was it planned? why her? Hopefully those answers will come out in court. He's being charged with second degree murder, so the police don't think that he planned it.

Another news story that I got caught up in last week was that a 20-year old girl named Sierah Joughin went missing (probably 30-40 minutes from here?). She was out for a bike ride with her boyfriend, and her boyfriend went back home before she did--and she never returned. A day or two later, her bicycle was found in a cornfield, and there were signs of foul play. I was checking the news constantly, hoping that they'd find her alive.

A man named James Worley was arrested for her abduction, although they still hadn't found her (it wasn't specified what led them to arrest him). Then the following day, a woman's body was found nearby, and the police said they "strongly believe" that it was Sierah (still waiting on confirmation from the coroner).

This case really caught my attention. She was a 20-year old woman abducted while riding her bike! I think about my safety a lot when I ride my bike (or when I run), but usually it's the fear of being hit by a car or something. When I read the story, I tried to think of what situation would cause me to let my guard down while out for a bike ride--and honestly, I think if someone stopped a car to ask for directions or something, I would probably stop my ride to tell them. It just seems like it would be difficult to abduct an adult on a bicycle.

Once I read about the suspect's past, however, it made so much sense. Worley was actually convicted of abducting a woman from her bike in 1990, under very similar circumstances! The woman managed to escape, thankfully. He did just three years in prison for it. But she explained how it happened: She was riding her bike when a truck passed her, going the opposite direction. A few moments later, the same truck struck her bicycle from behind, and she tumbled off the bike and into a ditch. The driver went over to her to ask if she was okay, and then struck her on the head with something. He put her in his truck, and even injured, she managed to escape. I'm amazed he only did three years in prison for that.

It honestly never occurred to me that someone would deliberately strike a cyclist in order to abduct them. I teach my kids all the time about what to do if they are approached by a stranger, in all sorts of circumstances--but this one that I never thought of. The only way to really avoid that is by staying on very public roads, or riding with a group.

I'm so sad for her family, and particularly her boyfriend, who probably feels terrible now for leaving her to finish her ride alone. I hope Worley never gets out of prison! And it makes me wonder if he's done this between 1990 and now. That's a long time between abductions. It's scary.

Anyway, I didn't mean for this to be such a downer of a post! I don't follow the news much, because it really is depressing to read these days. But sometimes, a story really grabs my attention, and these happened to be two of them. So, Friends, please be careful out there! Whether you're cycling or running or anything else.

To end on a positive note, check out this picture I took today--I think Joey looks hilarious! His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and something to his right had clearly caught his attention ;)

Also, my boys are nearly the same height! I didn't even notice until I looked at this photo.


July 25, 2016

Getting back to the norm

Well, I was hoping that this week was going to be so much better as far as my depression goes--not really the case. Last week, I decided to give myself permission (for a week) to just ride it out and not force myself to pretend that I wasn't feeling bad (usually, I try to pretend everything is fine until it actually is--"fake it 'til you make it"). I wasn't sure how this different strategy would work, but I figured it was worth a try.

Jerry went up north with friends for the weekend, and I was really glad he was able to do that--he felt bad going, but I told him I'd stay busy working on the bathroom. Through my week "off", I had no motivation to run, so I didn't; I wish I could say that I ate well, but it wasn't great; and the only real project I did around the house was working on the bathroom, which is turning into a much bigger job than I anticipated (taping, mudding, and sanding the drywall).

However, because I gave myself permission to have a week-long escape from reality, I did promise myself that on Monday, no matter how I was feeling, I would have to get back to the norm. Even if I just have to "fake it 'til I make it". So, this morning, as much as I didn't want to, I got out of bed and went for a run first thing this morning. It was super humid outside (77 with a 74 degree dew point, ugh). My pace was really slow--either because I hadn't run in almost a week or because it was so humid--probably a combination of both--but I just kept my heart rate under 146 bpm, regardless of pace.

When I got home, I took a shower and got dressed, then ate a healthy breakfast of bran flakes with blueberries and milk. As difficult as it was to make myself run, I (not surprisingly) felt much better afterward! I only ran a little over three miles, but I felt good about doing it--especially because I didn't want to.  Over the past month or so, I've learned that the longer I go without running, the less I want to run; and the more frequently I run, the more I want to. You would think it would be the opposite, but that's not so for me. Lesson learned: Run! Even when I don't want to ;)

I have a pretty busy week ahead--tonight is the boys' end-of-season baseball party (well, Noah's, but Eli was invited). Tomorrow, I think my brother is going to come help me with the bathroom. Wednesday, I have to get my house ready for a guest. Thursday, my friend/Ragnar SoCal teammate, Caitlin, is coming to visit until Sunday! I think that will be a great way to help me feel better. I have a big list of things we can do, but I'll decide for sure once she gets here and I can see how busy she wants to stay during her visit ;) She was supposed to come visit last fall, but her dad got very sick and was hospitalized, so she (understandingly) canceled the trip. I'm glad she was able to reschedule! I'm excited for Jerry to meet her.

Eli and I went to PetSmart a few days ago, and he asked if we could buy this little hideout bed for Monica. It was more than half-off, so I said sure. On the way home, I asked him which cat he thought would like it the most, and he said, "Phoebe. No, Monica. No, Estelle!" Then he said, "I feel bad for Chandler, because he's too big to fit into anything that's for cats." Chandler thinks he's much smaller than he is, though, so I wouldn't put it past him to try and squeeze in.

Later that day, I walked into the living room to see this:

I called Eli in there to show him that Chandler is ambitious, if nothing else!

July 23, 2016

A Cat-Lovers Giveaway!

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Muse cat food, a Purina brand.

Last month, on Father's Day, Jerry and I took the kids out for the day and attended an event in the parking lot of a pet store. The event was sponsored by Purina's Muse cat food--it was a "cat inspired spa tour", with offerings like "caticures", "meowssages", and temporary "cattoos". Meanwhile, there were some adoptable cats there who were looking for homes.

My family had a lot of fun! Even the kids got their nails done, and Noah got a massage.

They were mostly interested in playing with the cats, though. All four of us instantly became attached to a long-haired tortoiseshell kitty named Olivia. My kids begged to adopt her, but with three other cats (and a dog) at home, I had to think practically.

In the end, the kids ended up talking me into applying to foster her. That way, we could see how she worked out with the other pets. It only took a couple of days to get the paperwork sorted, and then we made the drive to the shelter to pick her up. (She was an "office cat"--living in the office at the All About Animals Rescue shelter. The employees adored her, and were sorry to see her go, but happy she'd have a home.)

Olivia (whom we've started calling "Monica") has been an angel of a cat! She is fantastic. It took a few weeks for her to get used to the other pets, but she's made herself at home. Even grumpy old Estelle has been tolerant of having another kitty around ;) And Monica has Joey wrapped around her poufy tail.

Anyway, all of this is to introduce Muse Natural Cat Food. When we went to the adoption event, Muse sent us home with some samples. And recently, they sent me a box of some fun cat-lover items as well as some more food samples! (With four cats, samples are very much appreciated, haha). To share the wealth, they offered up a box of the same items for one of my cat-loving readers as well :)

Almost as soon as I opened the box, my kids were digging though and pulling stuff out, so I didn't get a good picture of everything. Here is the best I could do after-the-fact:

Included in the giveaway are:
  • A Muse tote bag
  • A rolling pin with tons of cat shapes on it (I haven't used this yet, but I'm dying to see if the cats will imprint on the dough)
  • A food dish
  • A bottle of nail polish and a whiskers tattoo
  • A coupon for a free bag of Muse dry cat food (up to $20.99 value)
  • Four samples of Muse wet cat food
  • Some cat toys (my cats LOVED the cat nip "tea" bags)
  • A cat-themed coffee mug (unfortunately, mine arrived broken; but I let Purina know, so that hopefully they can carefully package the giveaway box so it doesn't happen again)
Fun, right?! I'm not really sure how to "review" a cat food, since I can't really imagine tasting it myself (although, when I toured Purina's headquarters, I was told that it's safe for humans to eat--and there are actually employees who TASTE IT to make sure it tastes good! I don't think you could pay me enough money to have that job.) Anyway, my cats seem to love it (I really should get a video when I open a can of wet food--all the pets go nuts when they hear and smell it!)

The giveaway is open to anyone in the United States. To enter, just fill out the form below. One entry per person, please. Duplicates will be deleted. I will randomly select a winner on Friday, July 29th at 2:00 pm ET.

July 22, 2016

All about fueling during runs

I've been asked several times about fueling for running, but it's not a topic that I'm super interested in, so I've never written much about it. You would think that considering fuel = food, I would LOVE this topic ;) But unfortunately, I've always had a bit of a negative viewpoint on "fuel" during runs, because I like to save my calories for post-run food!

Regardless, fueling for running is a rather important topic. There are no hard and fast "rules" to follow when it comes to eating before/during/after your run--if you read 20 different articles on the topic, you will likely get 20 different strategies. The best way to fuel, in my opinion, is however works for you ;)

Yes, that's a cop-out answer, so I'll write some of the common fuel types and methods here, just in case you really have no idea where to start.

When I first started running, I always liked to run first thing in the morning, and I would sit down to enjoy breakfast later--so I was running in a fasted state. I did this simply because it was comfortable for me. When I started getting into longer distances, during marathon training, I started to eat breakfast before my runs. My body got very used to that, and now I almost always eat first and run later.

There are a lot of articles out there about the benefits of running in a fasted state (to burn fat for fuel, rather than carbs); but there are also lots of articles claiming you should do the opposite. My take on it: Try both, and note how you feel during your runs. Then, do what made you feel best! Some of us do better when we eat beforehand, and some of us do better when we haven't eaten all night long. (Evening runners, of course, will have to eat before running.)

I will say that eating a large or heavy meal almost always feels terrible during a run. If you're going to be eating something heavy, I would wait until after the run; otherwise, you may get some serious tummy issues.

As far as what to eat before a run: Again, experiment with your favorite foods and see what makes you feel good. In general, lighter meals are best. Nothing with too much fiber--the fiber can give you stomach problems. Some runner favorites: oatmeal, bananas, toast with peanut butter, hot or cold cereal, etc. Basically, easy-to-digest carbs are great for fueling. I love Larabars with peanut butter, because they are very small (I don't like feeling full during a run) but they have a considerable amount of calories for their size (about 200-230 per bar, not including the peanut butter I spread on them).

Fueling during a run

Once your mileage starts getting up there, where you're running for an hour or more, you may want to consider carrying fuel with you during your runs. There are a ton of products out there that are marketed for runners, but you don't have to use them--you can use whatever floats your boat! Again, easy-to-digest carbs are great--especially when you're running. It's hard to digest protein and fat when you're running, and it takes a longer amount of time to get the energy from those nutrients. The carbs are used pretty quickly, which is why they are preferable.

Here are a few common products that are marketed for runners (or cyclists) for fueling during a run:

Gu (or other "energy gel" packets): Gel packets are literally a small (one ounce) packet of a gooey-textured simple carb. I happen to love the chocolate one (it has the taste and texture of chocolate frosting) and the peanut butter one (tastes like VERY sweet peanut butter). There are a ton of flavors, but in general, they have about 100 calories per packet, and contain other minerals and electrolytes. Here is a nutrition label for the Chocolate Outrage Gu packet:

Now, the directions on the packet indicate to have one Gu every 30-45 minutes of running. In my own experience, that is way too much Gu for my stomach to handle. I can have two per race, maximum, before I wind up spending five minutes in a porta-potty. Some people have no problems with the Gu, though, so again--you need to experiment with it to find out. (By the way, race day is a bad time to experiment! Do it in training.)

(Other popular brands of energy gels: Clif Shot, Honey Stinger, Hammer, Power Bar, Huma)

Shot Bloks (or electrolyte chews): These are my personal favorite fuel of choice. These are like large square gummy bears. I LOVE the margarita flavored ones, Shot Bloks which have extra sodium, too. Shot Bloks essentially do the same thing as the Gu (simple carbs with electrolytes); they are just in a different form. My stomach tolerates these very well!

Three Bloks are the equivalent of one Gu packet, and the Bloks come packaged in groups of six. One of the benefits to these over a gel is that you don't have to have the whole serving at one time (I suppose you could only eat half of a gel, but the leftovers would be sticky and gross to carry around). I like to eat one Shot Blok every mile or two rather than eating three of them at once.

(Other popular brands of electrolyte chews: Gu Chomps, Honey Stinger, Power Bar Energy Blasts)

Sport Beans: These are made by Jelly Belly, and are literally little jelly beans (that apparently taste a little saltier, because of the added electrolytes). I've never actually tried these, because they seem rather inconvenient to me (it's hard enough to pop ONE chew in my mouth while running, so I can't imagine a handful of jelly beans). But they are another popular option to try.

Gatorade (or other electrolyte drinks): Again, these are essentially the same as the above products, just in liquid form. The electrolyte drinks have sugar for energy and added electrolytes. As a bonus, they also include water (when taking the above products, you have to drink water with them). If it was more convenient to carry, I would probably use Gatorade exclusively for long runs--but I don't like to put it in my Camelbak. However, during races that offer it, I typically will drink Gatorade throughout the entire race, and carry no fuel.

Important: You don't want to chase your solid fuel with an electrolyte drink--having BOTH at the same time will probably upset your stomach! You can alternate every 30 minutes or so (have a gel, then Gatorade 30 minutes after that, then gel again, etc.) if you'd like.

It's also important to time your solid fuel for when you'll have water available to chase it. If I'm using Gu, for example, during a race, I will look up where the water stations are on the race map beforehand. Then, when I know a water station is getting close, I'll go ahead and eat my Gu so that I can chase it with some water from the water station.

Some natural fuel options: Some people like to make their own gels, drinks, or bars to make them more natural than the products above. I've carried dates before, which worked out well, but I've never tried making the recipes for other options. You can Google recipes--there are a ton out there! You also don't have to limit yourself to these forms of fuel--you could carry candy, fruit, cookies, dry cereal, homemade energy bites, or anything else that gives you the energy you need. When running for a long time, though, you just want to make sure that you're getting enough electrolytes.

To put it all in a nutshell: If you're going to be running for a while (an hour or more, generally), then you need to ingest something with calories to give you energy--it can be whatever form you'd like that works for you. A general rule of thumb is to have 30-60 grams of carbohydrates for every hour of exercise. This varies by person, so like I always say, it's best to experiment to find what works best for you.

Post-run refueling

This is something I've read very little about, so I won't get into much detail. I just listen to my body--a lot of times, my stomach is upset after a very long or difficult run, so I really don't want to eat afterward. If I'm hungry, I eat what I'm craving, because I believe my body knows what it needs. If you're concerned about weight, then it's important not to overestimate how many calories you burned during your run. It's easy to justify pigging out after you've run 20 miles, but the truth is, you probably only burned around 2,000 calories on that run.

... and that's all I've got! :) Hopefully this will be helpful if you're new to fueling during your runs. When it comes to fueling, there really aren't any set "rules" that apply to all of us--we just need to experiment and listen to our bodies, and do what works best for us as individuals. Good luck!

July 21, 2016

New therapist and new running goals

Today was my first appointment with my new therapist. It took a while to get in to see her, but she was highly recommended by a friend of mine, so I waited almost two weeks for the appointment. I was a little nervous to go, but nothing like I was for my first appointment with my previous therapist. Having already been through it, I knew what to expect.

I immediately liked her. (We'll call her "C" on my blog; I'll refer to my previous therapist as "N"). When I was seeing N, I always felt pretty awkward--she was VERY stoic, never showing any emotion at all--and I assumed this was just how all therapists were. It felt awkward if I would joke about something, and she didn't laugh or smile.

She also liked what I call the "awkward silence technique"--not talking at all until someone feels so awkward that they break the silence. It's very effective--and even knowing that it's a common technique to get someone talking, I still almost always caved in and filled the silence (ironically, the silences caused me a lot of anxiety regarding my appointments with N--and I was seeing her to help with anxiety, haha).

It got to the point where I was dreading my appointments. I just didn't feel like I was getting anywhere in therapy, even though I did learn a lot about myself. I don't think that seeing her was wasted time at all, but I found myself dreading my appointments so much that I finally "broke up with" N. At my friend's recommendation, I made an appointment with C.

What a huge difference! C smiled when she introduced herself, and I immediately felt comfortable. I loved that she smiled and laughed when appropriate, and sympathized at other times--I felt much more comfortable with someone who showed some emotion. I don't think that N's approach was "wrong" in any way--she's very knowledgable at what she does--but our personalities definitely clashed.

C asked me questions about what was going on with me and got some background information. There were no awkward silences, which was a relief. She was very compassionate and understanding, and best of all, she gave me hope that she can help me manage or overcome my depression and anxiety. The hour-long appointment flew by, and I scheduled a few more appointments (her schedule fills up very quickly). I'm actually really looking forward to my next appointment! I'm so glad that I didn't give up on therapy altogether. Like my friend told me, finding a therapist is like dating--you have to go on several first dates until you find one that you mesh with.

We're having a bit of a heat wave in Michigan right now. As I type this post, the dew point is 80 degrees! Just walking outside to let Joey go to the bathroom made me get all sticky. I wish it would thunderstorm, because we really need the rain right now, but so far we haven't had the storm.

I've been trying to think of some running goals to aim for this fall, and there are so many possibilities! A few ideas:

  • A sub-1:50 half-marathon (something I've been thinking about for three years)
  • A sub-23:00 5K (a 7:23/mile pace! crazy)
  • No time goal, but just train to finish a half and run it for fun
  • Continue to heart rate train, and see if I can get my "easy pace" lower
  • Run an ultramarathon (haha, just kidding!)
When I was training for my recent 10K PR, I was loosely following a schedule on RunBritain.com, and I really liked it. It was different from any other plan I'd followed before, and it worked really well. RunBritain has a plan for a half-marathon (for a 1:35 finish--haha!). I could modify that a little, and use that to try and train for a 1:50 half-marathon. Then again, though, I loved training for a shorter distance, and I think doing 5K-specific training might be fun. 

Right now, I'm leaning toward a hard 5K. Then, if I decide I want to run a half-marathon, I could always do that as part of training and just run it very easy (it wouldn't be until November, and I have no idea how I'm going to be feeling then). It feels kind of exciting to think about running goals again!

July 20, 2016

Week 49 Weigh-in

Week 49? When did that happen?!

I can't believe it's almost been a whole year since I started calorie counting. A year ago, I was around 160 pounds and dealing with a frustrating stress fracture of my fibula. Since then, I dropped down to my lowest weight ever (my lowest recorded weight is 121.5 on March 1st of this year); trained the hardest I've ever trained and crushed my 10K goal; felt the happiest I'd been in a long time this spring; then crashed and dealt with post-race, post-goal-weight emotions that I wasn't expecting. It's been a whirlwind of a year (well, 49 weeks, anyway).

Right now, I'm still trying to find that balance--not the super-focused, determined-to-crush-all-goals, me that I was in the early spring; but also not the lost, unmotivated me I've become recently. It's hard to find a nice, happy, medium! But, I will keep trying until I find her.

My Wednesday Weigh-in this week:

 I've been hovering right around my goal weight. Considering I've been super emotional lately, I am very happy with that ;)

I came across a post yesterday that seemed like it was written just for me, in this very moment in time. It's called "What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Losing a Lot of Weight", by Nick Eckhart. I could really relate to a LOT of what he'd written, and I felt much less alone. One thing that stood out above all else for me was this:
"When my goals were superficial or external, I lived in a perpetual state of disappointment. It was mentally exhausting, and my happiness was wrapped up in trying to achieve that elusive “after picture.” I didn’t take time to celebrate any of my achievements and instead continued to focus on what I wasn’t accomplishing.
I’ve since developed self-compassion and have embraced being imperfect (a.k.a. human). Find out what makes you feel good and celebrate those things now instead of focusing on what you don’t have or what you’re doing wrong."
 I let that sink in for a moment, as I read, and then I re-read it several times: "I didn't take time to celebrate any of my achievements and instead continued to focus on what I wasn't accomplishing." Wow. That's pretty much what I've been doing since I started losing the weight seven years ago! I'm always focused on what's ahead, and I rarely celebrate the here and now.

And one more quote, which really sums up how I feel having been so public with my weight loss (as a blogger):
"When I lost weight, my value was reinforced through the attention I got. I still worry that if I were to gain weight I would lose my value, disappointing myself and everyone around me. The problem with this thinking is while a healthy lifestyle is a part of my life, it’s not who I am."
I never really stopped to think of it like that, but it's true--every time I received a compliment on my weight loss, that compliment was reinforcing that I was more valued at a lower weight. Also true: I do worry that if I was to gain weight, I would lose my value and disappoint everyone. It makes me wonder how many people who have lost a significant amount of weight feel that way?

Something that I've been stressed over lately is that my weight is no longer at my lowest point--after my 10K, I gained 10 pounds--which actually put me back at my goal weight. Setting everything else aside, if I stop and ask myself, way deep down, "Are you happy at this weight?" The answer is yes. I am not my thinnest, but I feel really good at this weight, and like it said in the article, "it's a part of my life, it's not who I am". Nobody made me feel devalued, and most people have been nothing but helpful and encouraging; but I think I naturally felt that way because my weight was no longer at it's lowest point.

Reading that article made me take a step back and detach myself from that part of my lifestyle--looking at myself as just ME, who I am, right at this moment. Not as a "weight loss success story" or a "runner" or anything else--just ME. In general, I am happy with who I am. I have faults, just like anyone else, and I have goals of things I'd like to improve; but in general, I am happy with the person I am right now.

The biggest takeaway from this article, for me, is that my value has NOTHING to do with my weight. I know people say that all the time, but it never really sank in for me. My thoughts and ideas are the same, regardless of what my weight is at this moment.

On the flip side, if I was to gain back ALL the weight I lost, I wouldn't be the same person. I wouldn't be able to run a sub-50 10K. Hell, I wouldn't even be able to bend over and tie my shoes without getting out of breath! I wouldn't be able to run races with my kids, or be a very active parent (as evidenced from my past). And because of those things, I wouldn't be happy. In that way, I do feel my weight plays a part of who I am--to an extent. But for now, I'm healthy and I'm happy with how I look and feel; and unfortunately, I haven't really taken the time to stop and think about that over the past few months. Reading that article was very enlightening for me!

July 19, 2016

Running and family stuff

I really haven't felt much like writing lately. You can only say the same thing over and over so many times, before it gets mundane. However, I've been thinking about some new goals to work on, so hopefully I'll find a focus soon and I can write about progress with that.

On Saturday, I did the "Zoo Run" for my Cookies Summer Running Checklist--the "Zoo Run" was where I needed to spot five different animal species during my run. I managed to do it in three miles--I saw a deer, rabbits, squirrels, a cat, and, of course, birds.

Sunday was National Ice Cream Day, and I was looking forward to my "Ice Cream Run"--mapping out a route that finished at an ice cream shop, and then literally run for ice cream.

I spent all day Sunday working on my bathroom walls (the seams of the drywall were covered by these thin strips of wood--hard to describe, and of course, I didn't take pictures). I took all those down and started prepping the walls to join the seams properly. It involved a ton of scraping and sanding.

Anyway, by the time I was done with it for the day, I really didn't have any desire to go run, even if it was for ice cream. So, I skipped it--which is a bummer, because it was one of the few runs on my list that had to be done on a particular date--but I was exhausted from working in the bathroom.

My brother, Brian, took the kids to an airshow in Toledo on Sunday. They were SO excited to hang out with him. Since he lived in Minnesota until just recently, the kids had never really gotten to hang out with him unless I've been with them. They had a blast at the airshow.

Then, they went back to Brian's house to stay overnight. Brian sent me a text that night about a conversation between the kids as they were brushing their teeth:
Noah: "Eli, you need to brush your tongue!"
Eli: "Your tongue isn't even made out of bone, you idiot!"

Hahaha! Brian said the kids cracked him up with all the funny things they said. Kids really are so funny--I think as a parent, I sometimes feel immune to it; but to someone who isn't around kids all the time, hearing the things they say is hilarious.

Last night, we were invited over to Renee's house to hang out with her family. She has three boys, and two of them are Noah and Eli's ages, so they had fun playing pickle and some yard games while we adults were able to chat. The time flew by, and before I knew it, it was after 11:00! Jerry had to get up for work at 3:45 this morning, so we headed home. We had a lot of fun though!

I have a pretty busy week ahead, but today I didn't have anything going on, so I got ALL of the laundry done and I did some deep cleaning. I'm hoping to finish up working on the bathroom over the weekend (Brian is supposed to come over and teach me how to do it).

I'm going to do a weigh in post tomorrow, and then I'm going to make an important (to me) goal for the week--to track EVERYTHING and keep my calories reasonable. Lately, I've really slacked off with tracking my food. I know how easily it goes from not tracking here and there to not tracking at all and eating way too much. So, I want to stop that before it starts.

Tomorrow, my family is getting together for Noah's birthday dinner (his birthday was last week, but it took a while to find a day that everyone was available). Noah chose Anson's (our favorite pizza place). I'm looking forward to it! I haven't seen Nathan in a while. I just wish my sister was able to be here, too. Now that Brian lives in Michigan, the only one "missing" is Jeanie. Anyway, my plan is to have two small slices of my favorite kind of pizza (the Reuben) and water to drink. (I'm stating that here so I'm more likely to follow through, haha).

Now, Jerry and I are going to take the kids to see The Secret Life of Pets!

July 16, 2016

Tips for running in the summer heat

Unless someone has actually been to Michigan in July or August, they usually tend to think of my home state as being cold--crazy frigid winters and tepid summers. Temperature-wise, Michigan doesn't have many days over 100 degrees during the summer; but the humidity here makes it feel much hotter.

There is a reason that humidity sucks so much for exercise. Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air; and sweating during exercise is meant to keep you cool by evaporating off of your skin. Well, when the air is full of moisture already (humidity), the sweat doesn't evaporate from your skin. This results in a drenched-in-sweat body that can't cool off because there is nowhere for that moisture to go.

Even more important than humidity, however, is the dew point. The dew point is the temperature at which the air is saturated with water vapor. The higher the dew point temperature, the more uncomfortably sticky and humid it feels; and the closer the dew point is to actual air temperature, the more uncomfortable it will be.

Here is a chart from a Runner's World article for various dew points:


Another issue with high humidity and/or dew point is that water molecules can displace some of the oxygen molecules in the air--which makes the air feel thick and hard to breathe.

All of this is to say, I know what it feels like to run in hot weather, even though I live in Michigan. I hate it when people get in arguments over which state is hotter or more miserable--all states have badass weather at some point! I used to avoid running in the heat as much as possible--I would choose the treadmill on days that were too hot. Since I've moved my treadmill to the garage, however, it's just as hot in there as it is outside. So, I've learned to just run in the heat and deal with it, and dare I say, actually enjoy it?

Here are some tips for running in the heat that have worked for me:

*Wear minimal clothing. I used to hate running in tanks because of the loose skin on my upper arms, but during the summer months, I don't give a shit what my arms look like. It's much more comfortable to wear a tank! I also like my super thin (but supportive) Under Armour Heat Gear capris.

*Wear moisture-wicking clothing. Wearing cotton when it's hot and humid just holds on to the sweat, making your clothes heavy and saturated. If you wear clothes that are moisture-wicking, the clothing won't get bogged down with sweat.

I would NOT suggest wearing a pink bra underneath a yellow top, however...

*Run early in the morning or late in the evening, when the temps are cooler. Even when it's super humid in the mornings here in Michigan, it still feels better than running with the sun beating down midday.

*Drink a big glass of ice water before heading out for a run. I always do this, and it cools my core temp, keeping me cool longer after I start running. Having an ice-cold smoothie for breakfast before a run works, too!

*Stay well-hydrated throughout the day, every day. There is nothing worse than the post-run headache that comes after running in the heat while dehydrated. It's inevitable for me! If I'm not well-hydrated, I will get a terrible headache after running in the heat. This can be prevented by always being hydrated.

*Get your head wet before you head out to run. Even just a small squirt of ice water is enough to help keep you cool for several minutes. If you carry water during a run, try squirting some on your head--it feels amazing!

*Carry ice water with you if you're going to be running more than 30 minutes or so. My favorite way to carry water is with a hydration vest (for long runs) or a handheld bottle (for short runs). I'm not a big fan of the belts, because I think they hurt my back after a while. Here are my favorite brands/models for all three:
Handheld water bottle: Amphipod Hydraform 10.5 oz handheld (they come in larger sizes, but I think 16 oz is the maximum that is comfortable to run with--otherwise, they tend to get heavy). 
Hydration belt: Amphipod Full-Tilt AirStretch Velocity Waist Bottle Holder (this holds 20 oz) 
Hydration vest: Camelbak Marathoner hydration vest (this holds 2 liters!) I wrote a whole review of it here. I was very surprised that I liked running with a vest--I expected it to be bouncy and uncomfortable, but it was great!

*Wear something to prevent chafing. Sweaty clothes are notorious for causing chafing. It's miserable to get home and jump in the shower, only to discover several places on your body became chafed during the run. I've tried several different products--Body Glide, baby powder, etc.--and my favorite anti-chafe product is actually Aquaphor. Aquaphor looks like Vaseline, but it's definitely preferable over Vaseline for chafing. Aquaphor is absorbed into your skin, where Vaseline is not; and Aquaphor contains minerals that promote the re-growth of skin tissues. (My plastic surgeon actually suggested I use it on my lower body lift scar.) I bought a big container of it, and it has lasted forever--a little goes a long way!

*Wear a sun visor. These are great for keeping the sun out of your eyes, but because they still expose your head, you can stay cooler than you would with a hat.

*Slow your running pace down--a lot. It's kind of amazing how much more comfortable it can be to run in the heat when you don't push the pace. Since I run based on heart rate, I've noticed that my heart rate is higher in the heat--so I have to slow my pace down to keep my heart rate from getting too high. Sometimes, this means running an 11:30 or 12:00 minute mile. Even though my pace is slow, I know I'm getting a good workout, because my heart rate says so! ;)

*Try to plan out a route that will be cooler--along a body of water, in the shade, or on a nature trail through the woods are great options.

*Make sure you wear sunscreen! This is especially important to me. My best friend from high school passed away in 2014 after a long battle with melanoma, caused from tanning. Melanoma is nothing to mess with, and I will do everything I can to prevent going through what Sarah did. Even a short run can cause skin damage (burn or tan), so sunscreen is super important.

*For the really unbearably hot days, have a back-up plan--I used to use the treadmill when it was inside the house (now it's in the garage, which is very hot and stuffy). My other back-up plan is the indoor track at the rec center. I wouldn't want to do a long run on it, but 3-4 miles is fine.

I've been running for over six years now, and this summer has been the most enjoyable as far as running outside goes. It's not that we've had a cooler summer (we haven't); but, I have tried to embrace the heat instead of dread it. Slowing my pace and training by heart rate has helped tremendously! I'm not training for a race right now, so it's okay for me to keep a slow pace for all of my runs, and maybe that's why I've enjoyed it. I've also been working on my Cookies Summer Running Checklist, which has made the runs more enjoyable as well.

Anyone else have tips you want to share about running in the heat? What makes it more bearable for you? (I envy the people who have pools, and can just jump in the pool after a run! I always follow my summer runs with a cold shower.)

July 15, 2016

Starting a new binge-free streak

Thanks for all the support on my last post! I'm still not feeling back to normal, but I'm doing better than I was last weekend. This past week, I've spent pretty much equal time between relaxing and staying very busy. It was the last week of baseball for the kids, as well as Noah's birthday, which kept us busy; other than that, though, we didn't have much going on.

I've been doing really well with my eating habits the last few days, which is good. Early this week, when my depression was the worst it's been in a long time, I did something I hadn't done in almost a full YEAR--I binged.

The odd thing is, I didn't even beat myself up for it. I was so close to surpassing my binge-free streak from 2009-2010 (365 days); but last weekend, I felt really overwhelmed and unhappy. And, in the moment, eating took my mind off of it. I felt better for a couple of hours.

Now, of course, I completely regret doing it; but still, I'm not dwelling on it. It happened, it's over, and now I'll just start a new binge-free streak. Binge eating is something I've always dealt with, and I'll probably always have to deal with. I feel very accomplished for the long binge-free streak I had, so I don't feel like I "failed".

In the past, if I would binge after not doing it for a while, I would then have a "screw it" attitude and continue bingeing for several days or even weeks. This time was different, though. I immediately got back on track. I even took the kids out for ice cream on Noah's birthday with my parents, Brian, and Becky, and I didn't order anything. It would have been so easy to just say, "one more day" and order a large flurry; but I knew I could live without ice cream just that once ;)

Anyway, I really don't want to make a big thing out of the binge. It happened, it's done, and I've been eating really well the last few days. The most helpful key to being on track has been planning out what I'm going to make for dinner, instead of waiting until the last minute when everyone is starving. Also, I've been back in a good daily routine, which is always helpful.

My running has been going well, too. After running with Stephanie last weekend, and seeing that my foot pod wasn't correctly calibrated, I felt like my sub-8:00 mile at the rec center last Friday didn't really "count". I was curious if I could still actually run a sub-8:00 mile--outdoors, using GPS.

Yesterday, even though it was 75 degrees with 83% humidity, I headed out to try for a sub-8:00 mile. It's interesting how much has changed in just three months! In April, I ran a 10K at a 7:55 pace; and now, I wasn't even sure if I could manage one mile at that pace. But considering I scaled back my training a LOT, it was to be expected.

Anyway, it was tough, but the mile actually went by pretty quickly. I started off too fast, and I almost threw in the towel after just a couple of minutes; but I forced myself to slow down and stick it out. I really needed to do well on it, if only to feel better mentally.

As soon as I reached one mile (7:51), I slowed to a walk for about a minute to catch my breath. That mile was hard! But I was really happy that I managed to do it. It was so humid that I was dripping with sweat after only a mile. I ran the second and third mile pretty slowly, but my heart rate was still high (either from the humidity or the fast first mile I did). When I hit mile three, I was about 4/10 of a mile from home, so I decided to run hard for that last portion. I managed a 7:30 pace for that last (almost) half-mile! It was a great run, and I felt amazing when I was done.

That first mile was actually faster than the one I'd done in the rec center (which used the foot pod to calculate distance), so even if the foot pod was wrong, I'm happy to see that I still have a sub-8:00 in me.

I've been thinking lately about possibly training for a half marathon in November. It's been a year and a half since I ran my last half-marathon (the Santa Hustle in 2014, when I got injured). I've LOVED training for shorter distances, and it's so nice to be injury-free. But, I really do miss working on goals. I'm curious what my new therapist will say about it (my previous therapist thought it would be good for me to not set any running goals this summer). I liked the idea of learning to maintain my weight without having goals, but clearly it's not working out for me! ;)

I'm not sure yet if I want to train for a half-marathon, but it's crossed my mind. If I don't do that, I'll probably train hard for a 5K (PR) this fall. I'm still about 16 weeks away from the Monroe Half (my hometown half-marathon), so I have about a month to decide what I want to do before I'll need to start training. Right now, I just want to get my head in a good place and continue working on my binge-free streak!

July 12, 2016

Getting real with depression

Sorry I haven't written in a few days. I've been going through a tough time (not necessarily with food, but just in general with depression) and I don't really have much to write about here. I think I still need some more time, so I'm going to give it a few more days after this post. But here is a quick recap of the last few days:
  • I quit my run streak yesterday. I never intended for it to turn into an actual run streak, but I really felt like running a lot lately, so I just went with it. Yesterday, though, I felt some twinges in my knee, so I decided not to push it. It just confirms that my body needs rest days! The streak lasted 15 days, which was the longest I've ever done. 
  • I really liked having that routine, though, where I would wake up, eat breakfast, go for a run, shower, and get ready for the day. So, I think I may continue doing that same routine, only I won't run every day--I'll go for a walk or a bike ride 2-3 days a week instead of a run. That way, I can keep the routine, but not get injured from daily running. 
  • I went for a long run with Stephanie on Saturday morning. We ran a route that I hadn't run in a long time, and it was her first time doing it. It goes right along the Raisin River, and then around a park. It's a great route!

  • I decided to turn off my GPS on my watch and see how close my foot pod came to the distance shown on Stephanie's Garmin. The route we ran was exactly 6 miles, and my foot pod ended up counting 6.55. That's a pretty big difference! When I ran quarter-mile laps at the track, the foot pod was spot-on. But, over the course of 6 miles, it was inaccurate. Back to the drawing board with the foot pod. 
  • Noah's birthday is tomorrow, and Jerry and I planned to get him a cell phone for his birthday. We'd been telling the kids that they could get a phone when they were 13 (Noah is turning 12), but he is truly one of the last of his friends to get a phone. So, we decided to get one for him now instead of next year. 
  • We got the phone activated on Sunday, and we decided to give it to him yesterday (we were just too excited to wait). My mom really wanted to be there when we gave it to him, knowing how excited he would be, so my parents stopped by after baseball last night for ice cream sundaes and for Noah to open his gift. His reaction was perfect--he was SO surprised and excited! (It's an iPhone 6 with a LifeProof case.)
  • Monica is adjusting really well to her new surroundings. She's been much more playful and less inhibited the last several days. I even found her and Estelle sleeping next to each other on my bed, and they looked nearly identical if not for Monica's long hair. 

  • On Sunday night, I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, when I heard some commotion outside. It was about midnight, and it sounded like people arguing (but in odd voices). I looked out the window, and there were about eight raccoons in my driveway! They were standing in a circle, "arguing" with each other. It was so odd! They get into our trash all the time, but usually I don't see them--just the garbage they leave lying on the ground. I opened the front door, and they all looked at me, and then scurried into the woods. 

A few notes regarding depression:

Writing about depression on my blog is very difficult for me, because depression (or mental illness in general) has such a negative stigma surrounding it. The main reason I still write about it now and then is because I get emails from people thanking me for sharing--SO many people deal with depression on a daily basis, and it really does help when you don't feel so alone. 

I've had clinical depression since I was a young teen (I think about 12 or 13). I go through phases where it feels like it's in "remission" and I don't have symptoms--sometimes several months or even a year long--and then I have times where it feels really bad. This is one of those really bad times, and it's hard to write about without sounding like a Debbie Downer, so I've just chosen not to write at all. 

Thankfully, the really bad times don't last very long--anywhere from a week to six weeks, usually. And I always remind myself that it will get better (it always does) so I just have to wait it out. 

Usually, when my depression goes through a bad bout, like it is now, I tend to pull away from my friends and become as reclusive as I can. This time, however, I've been doing my best not to let that happen. I went out for lunch with Andrea on Thursday, dinner with Sarah on Thursday night, ran with Stephanie on Saturday, and made plans with Andrea and Renee for next week. Caitlin, from my Ragnar SoCal team, is going to come visit in a couple of weeks. And I have plans to meet up with a blog reader for dinner in Detroit next month. I'm hoping that by making all these plans and staying busy with friends, I won't let my depression take over.

It's interesting, because I was just looking through some past posts on my blog about taking breaks from blogging, or when I've had bad bouts with depression, and it typically happens in July! I never realized there was a pattern before, but July must be a bad month for me, for some reason. It's odd how quickly it snuck up on me this time, though--I felt on top of the world just a few months ago. 

I stopped going to therapy, because my therapist and I just weren't meshing very well (I didn't feel very comfortable being open with her, and I found myself dreading my appointments because of it); but, I made an appointment with a different therapist that I will see next week. I didn't really feel like I was getting anywhere with my previous therapist--I loved that I was learning things about myself, but I wasn't noticing any real improvement. I know it takes time, but I'd been going for over three months, so I would have expected something to have changed. Anyway, this new therapist was highly recommended by a friend, and I liked her from the short phone conversation we had, so hopefully we click well. 

Speaking of which, I've gotten several emails from blog readers who are interested in starting psychotherapy, but are overwhelmed about choosing a therapist. I felt the same way, which is why it took me so long to finally do it! But a friend of mine said that choosing a therapist is like dating--you may have to go on several "first dates" before finding the right one. (And even though things didn't work out with my previous therapist, I still feel like it was worth the time I spent with her--I learned a lot about myself!). 

I have a lot going on later this summer and this fall, so I want to be in a good place mentally when things start getting busy. August 2nd is when the From Fat to Finish Line documentary is being released. Angela, the producer and film company owner, decided to turn From Fat to Finish Line into a brand, and she's asked me to join the team. Rik and I are both certified running coaches, so we'll be writing training plans and leading online training groups--a dream job for me! ;)  I don't have a ton of details yet, but I'm excited for this new project. 

I'll also be coaching cross country starting mid-August; and then over Labor Day weekend, Jerry and I are taking the kids to Virginia Beach. Then school starts when we get home! It's crazy--I feel like summer just started, but it's already halfway over, and the rest is going to fly by. I think that staying busy will be a good thing, though.

Anyway, I'm glad that I took the time to write this! Like I said, it's hard to write about depression, but writing this post actually helped me feel a little better. Hopefully, I'll be back in the normal swing of things soon. 

July 08, 2016

Indoor track (and another trailer for the documentary)

After my last post, I took the boys to their baseball games which lasted all evening. We didn't get home until 8:30, and Joey had been cooped up in the house while we were gone, so I was going to take him for a quick walk around the neighborhood. I started thinking about the unintentional run streak I had going on, and at the last minute, decided to run a mile with Joey instead of walk (to keep the streak alive).

In the six years I've been running, that was the longest run streak I'd ever had (like I said, I'm not a big believer in running every single day). It was hard not to continue it, though! I made sure to go nice and easy, and it was only a mile.

It's been crazy-humid in Michigan this week, which makes for miserable running weather. Lately, I've been dealing with the heat really well--I was running in 85 degree temps, which is great for cold-loving me--but the humidity was only in the 40%'s, so it wasn't that bad. This week, even when the temp is just 75, it's too humid to be enjoyable.

Yesterday, Jerry was off work, so he took the boys to practice in the morning. When they left, I decided to go use the indoor track at the high school recreation center. I don't normally like running on it, because it's a very small track (1/12th of a mile), and the constant turning can wear on one knee--but since I've been running such short distances lately, I figured 2-3 miles wouldn't be too bad, and I could listen to a podcast.

One of the runs on my Cookies Summer Running Checklist is a track run (indoor or outdoor), so I got to check that one off the list. I was the only person on the track the entire time! It was super quiet, which was really nice. I had forgotten my headphones, so I just zoned out while I was running in the silence. (It sounds terrible, but it was really enjoyable to be that quiet and just hear a light tapping of my shoes on the track.)

My fist in that picture seems to be saying, "Go get 'em, Champ!" or something like that. Also, my shorts were blue, so it looks like my body is cut off at the waist, haha.

It was actually just as hot in the rec center as it was outside. I wish they'd crank up the air conditioning in there, or at least have some fans going. But, it was nice not to have the sun beating down on me. I'll probably go there often over the next month or two.

Today was another humid day, and the kids were scheduled to run as well. So I took them to the rec center, and the three of us ran on the track. Eli was scheduled for 1.5 miles, and Noah was scheduled for 3. It was fun to be able to run "together", but not have to stick right next to each other.

Normally, I try to do some sort of speed work on Thursdays*, but running intervals on the track is really bad for my knees (the indoor track is just too small for running that fast). Instead, I decided to run a warm-up mile, a tempo mile, and then a cool down mile.

*Just as I was typing this, I realized that today is FRIDAY, not Thursday! Oh, well, I didn't do speed work yesterday, so it worked out anyway.

I felt really good during the warm-up mile, so I decided to aim for sub-8:00 on the tempo mile. It sounds like it should be easy, considering I ran a 10K at that pace just three months ago, but I've only run a few sub-8:00 miles since the 10K.

Surprisingly, the second mile went by really quickly! The pace felt difficult, but not too difficult, and I actually felt like I probably could do another mile or two at that pace if needed. My heart rate for that mile was 165 bpm, which is just what I would have expected. After that mile, I slowed down to run with Noah, because he still had over a mile to go. Eli even joined in for another half mile with us. When we were done, we were all dripping with sweat because it was hot in there. It was a great run, though!

This afternoon, the back of my heel felt kind of sore, and I thought maybe I developed a blister or something (if feet gross you out, you might want to close this post now). I took off my sock, and noticed a piece of hair stuck to my foot (the hair wasn't growing there, it was just stuck there). When I tried to brush it off, I realized the entire thing was stuck underneath my skin! It was like a grew a layer of skin on top of it.

I ended up having to use a needle and tweezers to pull it out from under my skin. I instantly felt relief, and it wasn't even sore anymore after a couple of minutes. So weird! I imagine maybe the hair was inside of my sock, and somehow got stuck to my foot that way. I don't know. (It was pretty satisfying to pull it out, though).

Sorry if I grossed anyone out, but I just thought it was odd enough that it was worth mentioning here! Haha.

I'll leave you with another new trailer for From Fat to Finish Line!

And here is a behind-the-scenes teaser video:

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