Running a few miles in a "new" pair of shoes

If you're reading this, it probably means you were navigated to my blog through a random filter or unsuccessful search engine. Unfortunate for you, good for me. If you read my blog you will find out that I am a 20-something, overweight female who picked up a pair of running shoes one day and decided to go for a jog. This is where I document my journey toward becoming an avid "runner", whatever that is. It may seem like a silly experiment, and it is. But it's also more than that. I am running for health, happiness and strength. I'm running to live.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hush, dear. Easter Bunny has a hangover.

Ran today! Whoo hoo! Week 6, Day 1. I thought it would be easy (the longest stretch was only 8 minutes) but the damn heat nearly killed me. For some ungodly reason I thought it would be reasonable to start my run at high noon, just as it was reaching the upper seventies. Bad idea. I barely made it up the hill on my way home, and to make it worse I spent the 20 minutes immediately following my run in a humid and crowded laundromat so that I would have clean clothes to change into when I got home. Overall a good - if slow - run, and I'm happy to be back on a schedule, even if I had to backtrack a few weeks.

Because of the weather, I opted to wear shorts on my run for the first time (Give me a break, I started in December, okay?). I'm not going to lie I felt a bit self conscious at first and wished I hadn't chosen such a busy road for my run, but after about five minutes I was breathing too hard to give a damn how far my shorts were riding up or how ugly my knees looked. Besides, the busy street provided me with some good Easter site-seeing opportunities. The highlights? A little girl out in the front "yard" hunting for Easter eggs, tripping over one Easter egg, falling on her butt, getting up, and moving on without ever noticing said Easter egg. I also saw a fellow runner sporting a fine pair of fuzzy bunny ears, although I have no idea how he was keeping them on at his pace! By far the most outrageous Easter sighting of today's run, however, was the CREEPY, 6 ft. tall Easter "bunny" dancing about and taking pictures with dozens of small children ... OUTSIDE THE LIQUOR STORE?!?! No worries parents, you can pick up the pictures of your little tykes on Monday and receive a free coupon for your next liquor purchase!


This is the same liquor store that gives free "sample" shots of their liquor to curious patrons such as myself. That's one way to guarantee customer loyalty! I thought I was sweaty running in the sun, but now I feel for poor dude in the bunny suit. Someone had to draw the short straw..

Anyway, Spring break is now over and it's back to the daily grind for me. Five more weeks of the semester you say? I think I'm gonna puke.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Week 6 Rewind

We ran! It wasn't the best run of my life, but then I didn't have very high expectations so I was quite surprised that we got as far as we did.

Knowing that I have been stressed and feeling guilty about my small laps in running (Almost four weeks!!) Big_Shoes suggested we start today off with a run. The weather was beautiful, but we were both feeling a bit nervous, so we stuck with a familiar trail and decided to just see how far we could go. We ran for about 14 minutes (less than a mile and a half) before I threw in the towel. All in all, I was impressed with how far we did get, but of course it would have been nice to live in the land of no-consequences and be able to run a solid 30 minutes like before.

Even though we ran a reasonable distance (in our eyes) I was surprised at how much different the running felt! My lungs felt sore, my feet started dragging, and I couldn't seem to keep an even pace. Other than lamenting the sun beating down on my brow I did not even look up to notice the beautiful day or any of the interesting people out and about. In other words, it wasn't all that RELAXING. Which is kind of the goal. I will have to work back up to that point, where running is fun and legitimately enjoyable. But for now, I am just happy to have gotten my ass out there.

Since 14 minutes was a struggle (although in hindsight I wonder if it was more a mental struggle than anything) I think it will be best to take a few steps back and restart the C25k program at week 6. This seems like a long way back for me, but it's more important to me that I build a steady appreciation for running than to achieve any particular distance right of the bat. I hope to get my Week 6 Day 1 run in either tomorrow or Sunday, in between reading for classes and writing my Master's thesis.

This is the final stretch for me, in more ways than one, and I want to do it right!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Called out.

So it has come to my attention that several particularly attentive individuals have taken note of my bloggersphere absence – and since THEY were kind enough not to call me onto the carpet harshly, I will have to do the honors.

Why haven’t I been blogging lately?
Simple. I have not been running. Well, that’s not entirely true.I can recall several all-out sprints to catch the bus in recent weeks, but that’s not exactly what we are talking about now is it?I could just take the high road and leave it at that. Admit that I have been slacking off and renew my commitment to finish the C25k program. But that’s not what I’m going to do. Rather, I have prepared a lengthy list of excuses that I hope will mediate some of my own responsibility for recent sedentarism.

1. Mid-Terms.You should have seen this one coming – several of my blogs leading up to my mysterious absence reference my looming exams and research papers and question whether or not I can continue to keep up with my running schedule under the added stress. Well, we have our answer – I could not. Somewhere underneath the stacks of my own research and the 60 exams to-be-graded for my TAship, my running shoes were buried.

2.Visitors. Big_Shoe’s had his favorite man-panion come to visit for a week over St. Patty’s day. After pulling several all-nighters for my mid-terms, I took full advantage of the excuse to get out into the city and play tourist.The sun was out, the air was crisp– but I somehow managed to ignore how perfect the weather would be for running and went to the beach instead.

3.Rain.What was that about gorgeous weather?It is a fickle friend indeed. After said sunshine we received four days of massive rain storms. I’m from Seattle, I can handle my rain. But this was beyond me. Anyone know how to avoid soggy shoes? Is there a rubber sock product out there I don’t know about?

4.Leaky Apartment. By day two of aforementioned rainstorm, my apartment was taking in considerable amounts of water. Note: I live on the second floor of my building. How does this happen?!It was coming in through the brick outside, which apparently has an enormous crack in it. Good to know. The walls were soaked through and massive air-bubbles popped up underneath the surface of the paint.We were mopping and emptying drip buckets every hour for two days, After the rain subsided, maintenance came in, threw some spackle on the walls, and told me we were good. I gave them the side-eye but won’t be able to test their handy work until the next storm (which is currently underway...)

That’s all I got right now, but I will be sure to update the list as more come to mind. Excuses are important, especially for a procrastinator like myself. You know what else is important? Mental health. And if there is anything I have noticed since stopping my running schedule it has been that I feel more stressed out, more overwhelmed, and less happy. It is difficult to wake up in the morning that I know is going to be a hard day and feel like going running.Even more difficult to come home at the end of that long day and tie on my running shoes.And at least right now, it feels like these hard days are not few and far between, but every day.I mean, it’s my university’s spring break this week and I am still worried about how I am going to get through the week, never mind get ahead. The good thing is, I can see an end in sight: August 15 the day I finish my degree and set off on my cross-country road trip.And while I do believe I will somehow get everything done between now and then, I am not sure that my mental health will make it through intact.The only solution to this, for me, is to recommit myself to running (and blogging!) for my own sake.30 minutes a day, plus 10 or 15 to blog and track my miles, is really not that much, and if it helps me to feel better about myself, more confident in my abilities, and more balanced in my life, than it seems like an investment that I can’t afford to pass up. Even if in every other part of my life I am accountable to someone else, I can at least be accountable to myself in this.

So what’s the plan then? That’s where it gets tricky. I honestly have no idea. At the moment, it is pouring down rain and it looks like it will continue for at least three days. I feel buried under a never-ending pile of books and articles, papers, assignments, grading and even when I dig myself out enough to look around all I see is a messy apartment and a looming list of deadlines. I honestly can’t say I will run tomorrow. Or even the next day. But I do want to get back on track this week.I am thinking that I will just get out there, set my timer, and just see how far I get.Depending on how long I can run, I will know how many weeks I need to repeat to get back on track to run my first 5k by this spring.Even if I am back at square one, I’ll be happy to have something that I am doing for myself that makes me feel good for a change.

So uh... give me another shot, okay? I promise to make it up to you!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh snap..

I've decided I need a camera. I read all of these blogs with great pictures and they are so much more FUN to read than my big ole blocks of text. Besides, how do you know I am running at all? I might just be blogging fictitiously in between Big Macs while I sit around in my underwear. I had a camera - admittedly it was 4 years old and already on its last legs - but it pooped out on me last Christmas. I'll have to get one before our cross-country road trip this summer. Just haven't figured out how..

Well even though I can't prove it, I did in fact run today. My longest run to date - in time and distance. I had heard through the Facebook grape-vine that a really good friend from back in the day just had a baby, so I decided to give my run a purpose. You see, Big_Shoes works at this wonderful little baby boutique called Magic Beans and since we obviously don't have much need for his 30% discount at this point in our lives, I'd never gotten around to checking it out.

After checking the route and distance and trying to convince myself I could run for 28 minutes straight, I took off. My legs were a bit stiff at first, and for a few minutes I felt an ache in the front of my left shin, but it seemed fade. My mental endurance seemed to come in waves. I'd start to get tired and think about slowing down but then I would reach the end of a leg and get a second wind. And a third wind. And a fourth wind. Eventually, I saw a big green building in front of me and knew I had made it. I pulled out my cell phone and saw my timer hit 28 minutes even just as I was slowing to a stop in front of the Magic Beans entry. Total Distance: 2.8 miles.

After Big_Shoes spent about 40 minutes showing me around and explaining how things work (I had no idea babies required so many accessories!!) I finally picked out an adorable soy-cloth onesie, a natural wood infant toy, and my favorite book of all time: The Giving Tree, by Shell Silverstein, which came with a free Book-on-Disc. Hopefully New Mama will enjoy, but either way I had a lot of fun picking it out! By the time I checked out and had everything gift-wrapped (for free!) Big_Shoes was clocking out and we took the bus home together.

All in all, a fun and productive Sunday. But I still have a ton of research and reading to do tonight if I'm going to make it through this week!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adventures as a Public Nuisance

Okay. I'll fess up. I've been a slacker. Sure, I could cite the days of pouring, miserable rain and hectic scheduling but we all know those would just be excuses to help myself feel better about my five-day hiatus. As a girl who was born and raised in Washington state, you'd think I'd be less of a pansy about running in the rain, but no. Maybe if I had some water-proof gear... Running in squishy shoes and soggy socks isn't fun for anyone.

Even though the weekend weather forecast wasn't looking much dryer, I promised myself I would get back on track, rain or shine. Somehow that promise managed to slip my mind after one too many screw-drivers on Friday night (did I mention it was a long week?). It's no surprise then that I woke up this "morning" mildly dehydrated with a well-deserved hangover. Running was the last thing on my mind.

But after three hours, two Aleve, four big glasses of water and choking down a few scrambled eggs I had begun to feel slightly less nauseated. With the daylight hours ticking by and snow flakes starting to fall, I realized that "slightly less nauseated" was probably as good as it was going to get. So I stumbled into my running clothes and wandered half-halfheartedly into the snow.

Just a couple minutes into my run a creepy man started running up behind me. I gave him a few quick side glances and picked up my pace to avoid him, but he started running even faster to catch up with me. Turns out creepy guy was, in fact, my very own Big_Shoes who had apparently decided at the last minute to join me on my run. I have a feeling he was a bit worried about my mental/physical state and thought he should keep an eye on me. That was probably a good idea.

Ten or twelve minutes into the run I noticed I started to feel a bit ... funny. At first I wondered if I had stumbled on to some new kind of runner's high or something, but then it finally occurred to me that I wasn't high ... I was DRUNK! Yes, thats right, DE-RRUNK. In PUHB-LIK. I'm no doctor, but my best explanation would be that the increase in blood pressure probably caused a quick and sudden circulation of the small amount of alcohol that was left in my body. Luckily, there wasn't much left in my system so after slowing to a walk for a few minutes the feeling past and we were able to keep running.

Even after I redeemed myself, it wasn't the best run in the world. It was snowing pretty good and our clothes were soaked. I definitely did not get in 28 minutes of consecutive running that the C25K program requires, but I did accomplish much more than sitting in the dark on my couch all day, which is my usual strategy nursing a hangover. And it inspired me to get back on track and give it another (sober) go tomorrow.

Yeah so anyway. Full steam ahead.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Elusive Equilibrium

Three runs down, one more to go before I give myself a much needed day of reprieve. I finished my long Week 6 run today, and surprisingly I found it easier than the Day 2 run I did yesterday with Big_Shoes. Something about stopping for three minutes in the middle really messed up my tempo, and Big_Shoes had to really push me to finish the second 10 minutes. Today, I ran 25 minutes (2.69 miles) by myself with no problem.

Part of the difference, I think, was that I just truly needed my run today. For myself. I woke up this morning to a pile of emails that included several from my boss. I had made an error on the website for work, and although it was a simple misunderstanding on my part, it apparently caused a lot of commotion. After reading the emails, realizing my mistake, and knowing there was nothing I could do from home on a Sunday, I felt a surge of panic. I have never been one to carry around a lot of anxiety, but since starting my Master's program (in a new city, 3,000 miles away) these little private moments of panic have seemed much more frequent. There are a lot of people putting their eggs in my basket. And then every so often it hits me that I have more on my plate than I can possibly accomplish and rather than just concentrating on checking one thing off my list at a time, like I would normally do, I just seem to become paralyzed with fear and guilt. These periods of stagnation - sometimes minutes, sometimes hours, sometimes days - only exasperate the problem. In the last couple of weeks, the side-affect of all of this (besides an ever-growing pile of things to do) has been the return of stress-induced headaches that I have always been prone to but have been under control for the past three years.

So you see, I really needed this run. Running didn't do the dishes, write my paper, fix the website, or get me back in my boss's good graces. but it did give me a chance to breathe. And dammit, that's important too, right? I find that I am constantly trying to find this mythical balance between who I am, who I want to be, and who I am supposed to be, but balance - like happiness - is not an achievement, it is a moment in time. And whatever is perfectly balanced, will always come unbalanced again. I just need to convince my inner self that that. is. okay. The world will not end if I let one ball drop. Or three. Or four.

Running is, by far, the most selfish thing that I do at this moment, and I really do believe that everyone should be truly, unabashedly selfish for at least a few minutes in every day. I used to paint, and I loved it. I could follow whatever whim I felt like following and I didn't have to end up at any predetermined outcome. It was purely and luxuriously selfish. But I have not had the space, time, or funds to paint in a long time. Running is the closest I have come to regaining my sense of self that I have when painting. The equilibrium that is so elusive in life is so easy to find out on that bike trail. For a few minutes, everything seems perfectly simple, and there is only one direction to go and only one way to get there. And even when I go home, and back to my fears and problems, even the chaos that is my inbox is somehow less intimidating, and I can suddenly handle not having everything under control. Of course, this too is only a moment in time, not a permanent, achieved state. All the more reason to go running again tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Four in a Row and a Pouch to Go

So since I have yet to save up enough money to get fitted for running shoes, I decided to reward myself with the next best thing: One of these!

I found this pouch on Tall Mom's blog, who just happens to be doing an awesome giveaway featuring this and a few other awesome products. Alas, I am too lazy to jump through the hoops to win hers, so I went and bought my own. Being the fiscally conscious individual that I am, of course, I Googled to find a coupon code for $1.00 off, (I do this for EVERYTHING, by the way) which brought my grand total to $5.48, including shipping. A bit of a splurge, perhaps, but I'm tired of trying to store my house key and bus pass in my bra, glove, or the bottom of my shoe. Compared to these sweaty alternatives, the Shoe Pouch will be much more safe and SANITARY.

You'd think that since I have enough time to surf the bloggosphere for cool gear that I can convince myself I need, that I would find more time to run on my week off. Not the case. Well, the time was there, I guess. But everything else managed to get in the way. On Monday I had one of those nasty hangovers that drag on all day. My head was killing me and I was pretty dehydrated so I decided to wait it out and hold off on my run. Perfectly acceptable, I tell myself. I'll definitely run tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes, and I wake up, put my running clothes on, tie my shoes, and then notice that within the ten minutes it took me to do those things it has begun to snow pretty hard. A storm was in the forecast but I decide to go out anyway and hope to beat it. How much snow could possibly fall in the 30 minutes it takes me to run anyway?

A lot.

Five minutes in and I could barely see in front of me, the sidewalks were covered and my feet were soaked. Miserable and grouchy, I looped back and jogged home. The entire outing was about ten minutes. Barely enough to get my blood pumping in those temperatures.

Fast forward to today - the sun was shining and the sidewalks had finally cleared enough for me to get my Week 6, Run 1 in. It was a good run, but my legs felt excruciatingly slow. I attribute that to the six-days of laziness/bad weather that kept me sitting on my ass for most of a week and skipping breakfast this morning. To get back on track (and get the most out of my last few days "off") I plan to run tomorrow and Sunday as well. Which basically means I'll be squeezing Week 6 into three days, and starting Week 7 on Monday. Much more intense than any running schedule I've been doing thus far.

This little plan of mine could go one of two ways. In the first scenario, I enjoy all four runs, improve my time, and get back on track with my regular running schedule. In the second, I get completely burnt out from running, have the worst W6D3 run of my life, and skip out on the fourth day, putting myself even farther behind schedule. Only one way to find out - I'll check back in Sunday to let you know how it goes. Assuming, of course, I can make it to my computer at that point.