Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chapter 2 Page 270 - TR 93 11 miles or bust

First - a HUGE welcome back to "C".  Seriously - I missed you!!!  10 miles, last week, was sooooo lonely.  And Saturday, at the race, she texted me to pretend it was 80 degrees and sunny (it so WAS NOT 80 and sunny).

I mapped out an 11.11 mile run for us in our small town.  Show of hands who lives in a small town?

I ask because other small towners out there will understand this - 11 miles in a small town is completely and totally running the entire town . . . twice!  From the furthest point north to the furthest point south - our town is only like 6 miles.   So . . .creating long runs that don't require a lot of BORING country roads (no offense to my rural friends like Susie @ Weighing In . . . .nothin' but love) is a HUGE challenge.  Now, before you all suggest that we don't just run straight - WE.DON'T.   We do a loop of sorts so we get a fair share of scenery change, I'm just saying that small downs don't offer much in the way of variety of possible long run routes. 

"C" and I  met up and we started off with a 3 minute walk so that we could get across the bring and not get taken out by the traffic then we began 2:2.  Now, because I had my good "don't even think about quitting" training partner with me - this 11.16  mile run featured ONE THING-constant 2:2 . . . there was no walking through an interval, there were no "sitting on the rock" moments, there were no breaks of any kind.  It was 2:54.03 of constant 2:2s.  Now, for all of you reading that very slow time - I know it's pretty disappoitingly slow; however, WE.DID.THAT.  That's our LONGEST run since we ran the Women's Half Marathon last November.  Tonight's run was a challenge - we are super sore (feet, calves, quads, and hams - pretty much everything feels like I just walked to California.  But . . . I am very proud of the accomplishment - thanks "C" for the constant pushing me to do it and encouragement.  Thanks for slowing down when I needed it.  And most of all -thanks for being at my side.  Way more fun WITH you than WITHOUT you.  I definitely wouldn't be a half marathoner if I didn't have her every step of the way (or at least most of the steps).

So cross of the 11 miler on this training cycle.  Next week is a step down week of 7 miles -do you know how easy 7 will feel after the 9, 10, 11 milers the last 3 weeks?  Ohhh yeah!  BRING IT!  We have long runs of 12, 13, and 14 (and a couple more 10's before our half) - but we won't focus on those right now.  Right now, I have ice packs on both knees, my night splint on my foot, and an ice pack on my lower back.  And tomorrow - tomorrow MGA will be giving  me a HOT ROCK massage.  OH YEAH!!!!

Quick shout out to Holly @ Rustbeltrunner and Kimberly at HealthyStrides who invited "C" and I to join them to watch the My Run tonight.  Sorry girls we weren't able to join you, but we thought about you a lot and hope you had a GREAT time!!!!  Next time - okay?!?!

p.s. after my shower (ahhhh, Calgon take me away - I know, I know - ice baths are better for me - yikes!), I noticed that I had 2 blisters (one on the side of my toe, and the one popped that popped on the bottom of my toe - sorry for the sexy foot photo).  So glad to be experiencing blisters once again!!!!
For those who are interested, HERE is the link to our first 10 mile run last August . . . oh how far we've come since. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chapter 2 page 269 - big girl clothes

I was lucky enough to be able to take today off.  I wanted to see some movies, but none seemed interesting enough to pay for.  I decided to do the next best thing - shop  . . . for running clothes.

To the best of my knowledge, everyone who reads this blog is lucky (and blessed) enough to be able to wear regular sized clothes (though there are some former big girls reading-hats off to you gals), but I am a big girl - and we all know I'm trying to stop being one, but alas, I suck at loosing weight and for now, I'm still a big girl.

Last year I upgraded from "exercise" clothes (you know the cotton t-shirt and french terry pants) to "real" workout gear (wicking and clothes with special features like MP3 pockets).  I was lucky enough to find big girl shirts and capris awesomely priced at The capris were a bit tighter than I prefer to wear, but they were the "biggest" ones I could find in all the land (except for some $80 ones from - which seems extremely expensive since the "perfect ones" from Kohls were only $8). 

My efforts today to find capris (also searchable on google as "knee pants") came up empty.  There were cropped pants, and they had some capris that weighed half as much as I do - no idea why they were so heavy, but that would not work to run long distance in.

A note to clothing designers -
Not all big girls want (or should) wear tight clothes . . . so bring back the "relaxed" fit (I'm talking to you Kohls).  This "fit and fabulous" isn't really all that fabulous.  Not all of us want to show our mommy muscles or our booty sweat or our belly buttons - there some who do and to them I say . . . you should get a friend and a mirror, but to each is her own.  For the rest of us - who are trying to be healthy, help a girl out!!!!!

Now, an observation.  I have seen LOTS of big girls wearing the tight spandex at races and thought "hmmm, maybe not the best choice", but today it dawned on me . . . that is very likely the ONLY true workout attire they could find.  To them - I now say "Way to bring the confidence and be your own person despite the shortfalls of the clothing industry".  For those of you who see me at upcoming races in my "too tight" capris - please know that I have spent probably a hundred hours looking for something more flattering.  Sigh!

p.s. Did you know that the local running store and the only sports store (Dicks) in the big city do NOT carry plus size clothes?  Does that seem wrong to anyone else?  Fat girls wanna get fit too!

p.s.s. Thanks to all who voted on my poll.  Looks the like the books will be taking a break for awhile and a change will be coming.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter 2 page 268 - Healing my heel

Everyone who has read this blog for any length of time, who knows me in real life, or has run with me even once . . . knows my plantar fasciitis is a REAL HEEL DEAL!!!!!

A quick history -
I first developed PF in my right foot following the last long foot march (in combat boots) at basic combat training back in September of 2000.  I thought my foot was broken - I had never experienced such pain first thing in the morning - wowzers!!!  Basic training ended shortly thereafter and I spent the next 3 years visiting a wide array of doctors and ended up seeing an orthopaedic surgeon every 6 weeks (for 3 years).  I had EVERY conservative treatment known to man (PT, cortisone injections, viox, celebrex, casts, boots, night splints, accupuncture, and massage- nothing really helped).  I was unable to run or even walk to maintain basic fitness.  This was really the thing that contributed to my 180 degree life change . .  . I gained an enormous amount of weight (completely unable to do any cardio - this was before elipticals were really "in" and swimming was out because pushing off the pool floor or walls was a killer, and walking/running was definitely way.too.painful!  After 3 years of unsuccessful treatment, a team of physicians said the only option left was to shave the top of my heel bone  . . . . UMMMM, NO THANK YOU!!!!!!! I just lived with the pain - every single first step (first thing in the morning, first thing after getting up from the couch, every single first step) was painful.  I eventually returned to low impact aerobics, but the "damage" (weight gain) was already done.  

In 2004, I seriously couldn't stand the pain any more.  I had relocated to Indiana and decided to see a podiatrist who works in the same building as I do.  HE.CHANGED.MY.LIFE.  He made me some $60 orthotics and I walked out of his office completely pain free for the first time in 4 years. 

In September 2009 I participated in a 10K training program and really got into "running".  The local running store put me in Brooks and said I was a neutral runner.  I had no heel issues - it was wonderful!!! Until . . . I got shin splints.  The running store re-evaluated my gait and changed my shoes to Pearl Izumi and said they were FAB because they were the only shoes to do what they do (I supinate a little) - and indeed, my shin splints were cured almost immediately!!!!  But the trade off - my heel returned with a vengence!!!!!!  KILLED ME!!!!!  I spent this past Christmas break with "C" trying on 15 different pairs of running shoes at the running store desperately trying to find "the perfect pair".  I settled on Sauconys which are much more comfy than the Pearl's, but haven't helped my heel.  

Now to present day - 
After being a 10 out of 10 on a pain scale for the 48 hours after EVERY SINGLE RUN (seriously, you should see me try to get up after sitting down . . . even if it was just a 5 minute pop-a-squat, horrific tearing producing pain).  It really has made me dread EVERY run because I know the level of pain that will follow for at least 2 days.  Well - last week I had ENOUGH!  I scheduled an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon and met with him today.  I knew exactly what I wanted.  First, I wanted an xray to make sure it hadn't developed into a bone spur - GREAT NEWS - still just plain ol' PF!  Second, I wanted a referral to PT so that my PT friends could scrape it which they SOOO think will cure it - WALKED OUT OF THEIR WITH A PT REFERRAL.  Third, I wanted confirmation that it's JUST PAIN and no matter how badly it hurts that running through the pain is okay (you know, sometimes pain is a sign you should stop because more serious damage is occurring) - GREAT NEWS - suck it up, Nancy - this pain is just a royal pain!!!  Keep on steppin!  I got a very unsexy night splint (since mine from 11 years ago is pretty dusty and old), had my PT eval already today, and going to be stretching it for 20 minutes a day (doc says that 1 out of 4 people can be cured by doing 20 min/day of heel cord stretching and nothing more).  He wasn't a fan of cortisone injections nor surgery (that's great news), though he did say a NWB cast would be in my future if things don't shape up (fingers crossed - I've got halfs to train for).  Stay tuned - 6 weeks of PT pain, countless sleepless nights of night splinting, and hours each week of heel cord stretching . . . hopefully resulting in a much more manageable level of pain (fingers crossed!!!!)

Some interesting things the doc said - 
1.  He, himself, has had a pair of shoes cause PF on him. . . . I knew the yellow Pearls were to blame despite what the running store said.

2.  He said there used to be a popular rehab technique that was extremely painful but used fine pointed ultrasonic beams directed at the exact insertion point that broke up the scar tissue.  It used the same technology that is used to break up kidney stones.  I found that interesting, but kind of relieved it's not readily available around "these parts".

3.  Run through the pain  - just keep running!!!

4.  Stretch before running because the books out today that say stretching before activity isn't necessary are WRONG!

and lastly . . . 

5.  Even though I'm a neutral runner, consider trying Asics Keyano (that's what "C" wears) - he says they hug the heel like nothing else he has ever worn.  He says they take a LONG time to break in!!!!!

Now for you - 
Have you ever had PF?  What did you do to get over it?  What's been the most painful running related injury you've experienced?  What did you learn about yourself, your running, or your character as a result?  Can't wait to learn from all of you so let the comments flow freely!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chapter 2 page 267 - your vote counts

Over on the right - at the top of my side bar, you'll notice my first ever poll.  In honor of my quickly approaching 300th post (I'm currently at post #283), I am soliciting advice on whether or not I should change the background of my blog from books to something else.  I originally selected the books because well, my blog is called My Story . . . Chapter 2 and well, those are book words.  I'm interested in hearing what you say, so please vote on my poll and then leave me a comment on this post if you have some suggestions for how to change it up.
Thanks for your vote, thanks for your comments, 
and as always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chapter 2 page 266 TR 92 Race Recap

Today, "my girl Ashley" (check out her new blog HERE) and I did the 30th annual Nutri-Run 5 Miler (this event also has a 20K distance).  It was MGA's first race and I was thrilled to be along for the journey.  She had never run 5 miles before let alone raced and she was strong and relaxed (or so she looked to be - you'll have to read her recap HERE to hear about it from her perspective).

Pre-Race Thumbs up  . . . optimistic it's going to a GREAT race!!!

MGA and her man:  a pre-race pep talk (aren't they the cutest couple!)
This hilly course is a staple of the "hard core" area runners as it is used as a training run for The Flying Pig (know anything 'bout that HealthyStrides ?) and for the Indy Mini.  It certainly was a challenge, but with MGA at my side, we tackled each hill one at a time . . . oh and dealt with the blustery wind (it was NEVER at our backs).  It was 26 degrees actual temp and a wind chill of 22 degrees and was otherwise a beautiful day.   "C" is enjoying spring break and sent me a text message to think like it was 80 degrees - sure, a whole lot easier when you're saying it from somewhere it was actually warm and sunny!!!!  Missed you "C" - you would have enjoyed the challenge of today's course.  Ohhhh, and "C" guess who was near us for the first 1.5 miles???  Remember the old man and his blind wife from the Run For Riley???  We talked to them quite a bit - very nice people.  They always do The Flying Pig each year - that's incredible!!! Very sweet folks - think we should do the Riley run again just to cross paths with them again.
race field moments before the start
"Take your mark, GO!!!!!!"

that's me waving - and MGA looking awesome in her shirt, capris, and
ear band that were all matching - very stylish for your first race!!!
Our final time was 1:13.02 which, of course, is a PR for MGA - GREAT JOB!  Because, I live in a flat area, I rarely get any runs/races under my belt that involve hills - but 2 of my last 3 races were hilly and I now see how much impact hills have on my overall time (and morale, and heart rate, and self-esteem, and enjoyment level).  We used the 2:2 interval and never skipped a single interval.  We walked through the 2 water stations and paused to drink because they were short staffed and it was windy - just didn't have it in my heart to throw the cup along the road a few hundred yards away. 

The race was very well organized, but was VERY different than many of the other races I have done.  They had small paint markings on the road to point racers in the right direction.  With a field of approximately 300, MGA and I were on our own for at least 3 miles.  Our last race-related person we saw was at mile 3 and there was a good 30 minutes when we didn't see anyone, or any markings - just a long (thoroughly busy open traffice) road ahead of us.  I can't tell you the number of times I thought "did we miss a turn?" "What if we missed a turn?"  A note to MGA - most races have much more 'in your face' signage. 
Finally, after nearly 30 minutes of zero contact with anyone (volunteers or other racers), we were passed by the race director, Casey Shaffer (great to see you Casey!!!) who told us to get onto the path and then turn left with the finish being just up there (you all know me and my skepticism of "just right over there").  Anyway, after crossing one more road, we were on the homestretch.  Thanks mom for these action shots!

That's our tiny selves coming up the blvd to the left of the girl in the red (see us?)

Now this is what I call "almost there!"  Finish line, here we come!

Done!!!!! (1:13.02)
At the end of the race, we got our chips cut off and were given a glass glass (does anyone else call them that?  you know, a glass made of glass, not a plastic cup) and a loaf of bread.  I have never received a loaf of bread at the finish line (or a glass for that matter), but since it was the Nutri-run in honor of National Nutrtion Month . . . why not! 
We went inside and were offered 2 types of smoothies - YUM!!!  It would have been very nice to have been given the recipes, but that wasn't  the case.  There was no race shirt and it was full of "real" athletes (of which, I'm NOT one - I'm just a  fatty recreational slow poke), but the atmosphere was relaxed and fun.  I would definitely do the race again so long as I had someone to do it with - it would have gotten TERRIBLY boring and lonely out there alone!!!!
Enjoying a chocolate-peanut butter-banana smoothie - de.lish!

At the end, MGA was greeted by her husband (aren't they cute!) and I was greeted by my official photographer, chauffer, and cheereleader - my mom (did I mention how windy it was)!  Thanks mom for ringing your cow bell!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chapter 2 page 265 - tomorrow's race preview

In honor of National Nutrition Month, the Fort Wayne Track Club hosts an annual race called the "Nutri-Run".  The race has 2 distances - 5 Miler and 20K.  "My girl Ashley" (see the bottom of my side bar to learn more about her) and I will be doing the 5 Miler.  Tomorrow's race is the 30th anniversary and is one of the most challenging courses in the FW area (I've been told). 

Since Nutrition Month is wrapping up, here's a little reminder of the importance of eating a rainbow everyday . . .

Here is a quick color guide of fruits and vegetables.
Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime
Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach

Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.
Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple
Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes

Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.
Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins
Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato

Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes and watermelon
Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes

White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches
Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chapter 2 page 264 - it's what temperature?

Monday, during my long run, it was 67 degrees with a heat index of 71 - it was very warm and sunny and just beaming with Spring's beauty.

Today, I awoke to grass that was completely covered with snow and it's 30 degrees.

I'm torn on knowing which is worse - winter where everyday is cold and snowy (but at least you know what you're in for) or spring where there are 40 degree swings in temp and on one day it's sunny/warm and the next it's snowing (you do not dare miss the nightly news' weather forecast, huh?). I do love that I live in state that experiences all 4 seasons.

What's the weather where you live?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chapter 2 page 263 - TR 91 photo proof

Yesterday, while I was resting upon the rock after 7 miles, I took this photo of myself and sent it to "C" who is enjoying a much deserved spring break. I offer it to all of you so you can see what it looks like just before you loose your mind (maybe you could carry a small mirror with you on your next run and give yourself a check every now and then - you know, just to make sure you aren't about to go crazy - SMILE!).

Show of hands who likes my bondi-band? It has a picture of a turtle on it and says "Wanna Race?"

p.s . I know this is probably one of the-most-unflattering photos of myself -but, my small town homies, and quite possibly Kimberly @ Healthy Strides, know this location. Look closely, my booty print is on the middle boulder!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chapter 2 page 262 - TR 91 ten miles of gratitude

Today, I did 10 miles!!! I used my iPod and did 2:2 for the first 7 miles like a champ. The 8th mile was a struggle - I did mostly 2:4. The 9th mile was a killer - I did 2:4. The final mile - seriously - I was literally dying. I walked almost the entire thing and if I had to guess, I would say my last mile time was about 21 minutes.

As difficult as the last 3 miles were,
there were 10 things I was certainly grateful for along the way:

1. At mile 4 3/4, one of my clients "Shakey" rode his bike beside me and chatted with me for 4 minutes. He will NEVER know how much that made all the difference.

2. As I approached the 7 mile mark, I began smiling and beaming with joy (probably the exact moment I had my mental breakdown) - I remembered what it felt like to run around the bases at the F4F (my first half) - I remembered the pride I felt and the joy I experienced. That really got me through mile 6.5-7.

3. I ate chews at mile 3 and 7 (had planned on eating them at mile 6 and probably REALLY should have, but waited until 7 in hopes that I could fill up one of my bottles of water and have enough water to help wash them down . . . total collapse of my inner toughness when I discovered the water fountain wasn't turned on yet - "L" & "C" know how much that really played into my struggle for the last 3 miles.

4. There was a large boulder with a perfect place for my booty at mile 7 - because I had no training partners to deny me - I.SAT.DOWN!!!! I was there for 4 minutes. I texted my husband and "C", ate chews, blew my nose, and ate the rest of my chews. Thank you rock - never forget the time we shared.

5. I'm glad that (God willing) this 10 miler will never be as difficult as it was today.

6. I'm VERY glad to have 8 more weeks before my half - no way could I finish it.

7. I've always known this, but it IS VERY TRUE - I LOVE MY TRAINING PARTNERS. I would never do more than 5K's and maybe a 10K if I didn't have them!!!!

8. Early on, I passed 2 of my co-workers who also happen to be my good friends. It was very nice to see them.

9. I'm thankful for my iPod (thanks Hubby for the Christmas gift).

10. I'm thankful for the extroardinary beautiful weather we had today (67 degrees and sunny when I started - 63 degrees and sun setting when I finished).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chapter 2 page 261 - TR 90

Are you sitting down? Probably you are since you're reading blogs . . .well, "C" and I FINALLY got in our FIRST long run together in this training cycle. I'm not going to lie - I've been freaking out quite a bit about the lack of long runs under my belt and the half marathon looming over my head (D day is 5/21). Well, worry no more . . . today, "C" and I did a 8.43 miles (Thanks "C" for wearing your awesome Christmas gift. The thing I'm most proud of is that unlike my first half training cycle where we would walk the first and last mile - we don't do that any more. We did start with a 6 minutes walking warm up and then we did 2:2 for the entire rest of the 8 miles. Once we got 8.14 miles complete, we began our walking warm down and did another .3 miles. We spent a considerable amount of time stretching afterward . . . pretty sure we're both going to be super sore tomorrow (sigh!). Oh well, it's totally worth it - we DID 8.43 miles (my previous longest run was back in early February and was 5 miles - the one I hurt my knee on, and "C's" longest long run was last week's 4.4 miler . . .maybe we should have done a 6 or something in there, but honestly - we were feeling REALLY good. By the last mile things got a bit harder, but both of us agree that for the bulk of the run we were a 3 out of 5 on our effort scale and the last little stretch we were 3.5-4. We didn't go fast on this run - we wanted to make sure we got the distance in and the time on our feet! Speed is for other types of training and for our 5K's - distance was tonight's goal.

I feel awesome about this accomplishment which in turn has returned my confidence for this entire training cycle and thus has given me more confidence in my ability to not totally tank at the upcoming half!!! I feel like a visa commercial - shoes $100, clothes $50, getting the long run in and not feeling dead PRICELESS!

Injury update - so far, my knees do not hurt (hooray), my shins are pretty sore, but they weren't bothersome during the run (nice!). I just happen to already have a chiropractor appointment and hour massage on the schedule for tomorrow so no matter what is sore tomorrow -no worries . . . my girl Ashley will knock them out!!! Speaking of my girl Ashley - I've put links to her website on my sidebar at the bottom - check her out! She's amazing!!!! She's running a March special - $10 off woo hoo! I guarantee it's worth driving here for (maybe not from another state, but definitely from FW).

Are you ever sore after you run? Does it hurt to stand up after you have been sitting? What are your "tricks" to combat stiffness/soreness?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Breaking news - "C" & I are celebrities

If you go to and watch the photos scroll just under the header- you'll see on the far right side a gal with a sun visor hugging a gal with a blue shirt . . . that's "C" giving me a finish line hug after my first half (the 2010 F4F). To the left of our photo is a picture of the 2010 medals and the cute little girl in the orange shirt eating an apple.

How special is that!!!! Yeah "C" for being so photogenic!!!!!

Chapter 2 page 260 - Committed . . . again!

Fort4Fitness 2011
Half Marathon (13.1 Miles)

Saturday, September 24, 2011 in Fort Wayne, IN at Parkview Field - Downtown


Yep, I've signed up so that I can still get the early-bird discount which ends on 4/15. I had a BLAST at this race last year . . . it was my first half-marathon. For those of you who live in the midwest, this is a MUST DO race - come to the Summit City and join 10,000 people run this very well organized race.

Momma of 3 on the Run, in case you're reading this, I vote you and Heidi come for the weekend - "C" and I will make sure you have a GREAT time.

Top 10 Reasons for doing this race:

1. It's only $40 for the half marathon (there are also a 4 miler and 10K distances which are cheaper).
2. The L/S Tech shirts ARE awesome (last year they were quarter zip - NICE!)
3. The course is flat and fast and features music at various locations.
4. The finish is outstanding - run into the baseball stadium and around the bases and cross the finish line at home plate while you are on the jumbo-tron and they announce your name over the stadium PA system. You're a rock star for a few seconds!!!!
5. The race expo isn't packed with vendors, but it does have a LOT of health and wellness vendors there to present a ton of health education on a wide variety of topics
6. The race is truly designed for EVERY level of athlete - from super athletes to recreational walkers - everyone can have the race at their level.
7. If you're from out of town, there are several great hotels within a 3 block radius (one is brand new).
8. The National Guard soldiers are at every intersection - it's such an amazing feeling thanking all of them for their service.
9. Everyone from race volunteers to participants to event organizers are super friendly!!!
10. Drum roll please . . . I'll be there! SMILE!

Want to learn more or want to join me?
Click HERE

Chapter 2 page 259 - HDL info & update

I'll save you the full out recap of my lifestyle revolution (feel free to browse the archives if you've missed hearing all about it). A few days ago I posted my 5 week cholesterol/triglyceride progress report which, after all, was the kick in the pants I needed in order to redirect my lifestyle to a more healthful.

I could NOT be more pleased with the 50 point total cholesterol drop and 60 point triglyceride drop that I have achieved in just 5 short weeks; however, I was completely shocked and saddened by the 12 point HDL drop that accompanied the other good numbers. I am fairly well versed in what HDL is and ways to increase it, but I googled to see what made it lower so quickly and reviewed ways to increase it.

Let me preface this explanation by saying I was a middle school teacher so . . .
For those who are a little less familiar with HDL, here is some background info. HDL a.k.a. "the good cholesterol" acts like a pac-man (told you I taught MS) and goes around gobbling up the LDL a.k.a. "the bad cholesterol". The more of the HDL you have, the better. Much research supports the claim that a low HDL level can be a greater cardiovascular disease risk factor than either higher total cholesterol or high triglycerides. (sigh) HDL is not easy to increase, by that I mean you can do everything perfectly and still end up only increasing your HDL level by a few points (that said, every single point higher is that much more protection against heart disease).

To increase one's HDL there are a few tried and true practices:
1. Loose weight - I've lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks and have a LONG way to go; I've joined I'm a Sleeper Baker's 10 pound challenge . . . did you?)
2. Exercise (at least 150 minutes a week) - I usually get this in especially since I'm a super slow runner - ha! As I ran alone on Tuesday, I kept thinking "I'm raising my HDL by doing this."
3. Don't Smoke - no problem, never smoked

4. Consume healthy fats (mono & polyunsaturated) - flaxseed, olive oil, canola oil, fish, walnuts, almonds, pistachios to some extent - this is my down fall, I just don't use ANY oil EVER in my cooking and I rarely eat nuts, but I have now added a handful of nuts daily and will continue to do so. I'm not a big fish fan and living in a SMALL midwest town, it's not all that plentiful/available. You may remember, the doc advised taking fish oil which I may have to do, but first, I'm trying to alter my diet to see what impact that can have.
5. Eat 1 square of dark chocolate daily (must be at least 70% cocoa) - I HATE dark chocolate, but I figure if anyone can make dark chocolate taste good, it's gotta be DeBrands so I'm going to stop by the DeBrands shop and get some . . .consider a square added to my daily routine starting soon- yuck! I told "C" I might eat it with my nuts, that might make it easier to gag down. Isn't the bar cute - it's scored into nibbles, bites, & chunks (photo source)
6. Drink 1 6 oz glass of red wine daily (for women, men can have 2 glasses) - I have decided to try to do this at least 4 nights a week. I'm not a big alcohol drinker and I've come across mixed recommendations on this - those with elevated triglycerides should not drink wine . . . uggg what to do??? I might let this one slide. I don't enjoy the taste, but I do LOVE helping my heart. We'll have to see if this one becomes a permanent part of my lifestyle revolution or not.

7. Limit refined sugar intake - refined carbs "gobble up" the HDL - I've come a LONG way in the last 5 weeks with this one. I used to be a sugar addict. I could tighten things up a bit more, but I'm scared of going off the deep end and jumping head first into a box of donuts or something so . . . for now, I'm really trying to enjoy treats in moderation.
8. Increase fiber intake - I'm doing this by choosing whole grains over enriched/bleached flours as well as by ensuring I consume 5-9 servings of fruits & veggies daily.
Here is a photo of my nightly "snack" (I have done this 5 for 5 nights this week):

photo: 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries, 1/4 cup of plain walnuts, 6 oz red wine . . . can't you just feel my HDL skyrocketing??? SMILE!

I've spent a lot of time reading up on my HDL and came across the following information in more than one place so I'm really hoping it is the explanation for my sudden HDL tank-a-palooza:
"Sometimes, a temporary drop in HDL occurs when major changes have been made in
the diet and total cholesterol has been lowered significantly. For most people,
HDL levels will rise again if the diet changes are maintained." source

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chapter 2 page 258 - TR 89 Race Recap

Today was the 5Kilt Race . . .
The BEST part of the race was that "C" and I finished the 3.14 miles in 40:27 which according to DM is 12:52 min/mile . . . that's REALLY FAST for me. It's worth noting that just 2 weeks ago we did a 5 K and our time was 43:59 (which was a crappy time for us and the course was VERY hilly - but still, we were nearly 4 minutes faster today - woot woot!)

Let's start with other good things about the race . . .
-the tech shirts were pretty neat (see pix below)

-we met up with Holly from Rustbeltrunner and her Hubz (sorry Holly, the photo I took of just you didn't turn out)
-"C's" daughter "K" joined us. Her fiance "T" was suppose to as well, but he was busy investing in his future (we were thinking 'bout you "T" and wishing you all the luck . . . of the Irish!)

- "C" and I wore matching shirts and we all 3 had green beads. You can click on the photo above to zoom into the shirt design, but yeah, that's a monkey wearing a kilt (cute, huh?)

-I painted my nails a very St. Pattys' day shade of green (ignore the ugly hands - they were FREEZING!!!)
-There was a leprechaun (sorry for the impromptu pix) and a bagpiper (sorry for the blurry pix)
-I enjoyed the course - it was pretty flat, across a scenic bridge, only a few turns . . . definitely FAR better than other downtown race courses I've done

-there was beer and food after the race (this will be discussed further under the not so good aspects of the race)
-After the race, we watched the Firefighters "Green the River" which is normally poop brown
-the sun was shining brightly (I heard last year was a complete rainfest - sigh!)

Now, onto the less delightful aspects of the race . . .
-There was a lot of uncertainty (where to check in, where the race ended, how to get your food/drink post race, what time the food was available, what time the river greening was,etc.)

-There were no bibs - but the packet directions said "attach bibs. ..." so there was a lot of confusion about whether we were suppose to have them or not (is not having bibs a new trend? This is the 2nd race in a row without bibs - just curious)

-THE WIND!!!!!!!!!!!! 15-25 mph with 35 mph gusts!!!!!!!! The first mile was directly into the wind, the second was pretty much into the wind (there was only 1/4 mile or so with the wind at our back - that was awesome)

-The water station was undermanned and off the street . . . not convenient at all so we skipped it

-The race cost $25 which included 5 tickets (never really found out how much a ticket got you, but "C" & "K" did get a can of soda for a ticket - no idea how much the stew "cost" but it wasn't worth waiting in line with 300 other people in an extremely chaotic and crowded tent. I think I would prefer to pay $15 or $20 and then pay for my own food and drinks

-The pre-race announcements were not remotely audible - I'm pretty sure that some of the info was important like . . . the main road was NOT closed so we were to stay to the right (totally didn't get that memo until a car whizzed by me) - who knows what else was said (maybe they explained the tickets and food, but no one in the back heard a single syllable)

-Where is the finish line?????? Sweet golly, we turned the corner and broke out into a sprint thinking it was near the starting line (and when I say near - I mean within 5 feet of, all runners define "near" very differently - you know that some of you define "near" as 1 mile or so). The finish line wasn't marked and no race volunteer said a word until we were literally at the END.OF.THE.ROAD . . "Oh turn right down the sidewalk" - it was still a little bit down there . . .I had kicked it into high gear way back when we turned onto the final street . . . ugggg - very little left in my tank!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Chapter 2 page 257 - prayers for Japan

My heart aches for the Japanese people today. I know a family over there and wish them, and all of their countrymen, my heartfelt prayers.

Please join me in keeping the
Japanese in your prayers!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chapter 2 page 256 - TR 88

Well, I've got it . . . my second cold-like illness this winter. I really can't ever remember having 2 colds in one year let alone just a month or so apart. Uggg - sigh, hurry up spring!!! A co-worker once described that first day of a cold feeling as PUNKED - isn't that spot on!!! I feel so punked!!! I wanted to do nothing more than come back home, pop on my jammies, and slide into bed, but alas, I had to work (but I'm taking tomorrow off to REST!!!).

I had forgotten my blackberry at home this morning (felt totally naked ALL.DAY!) so I had no choice but to meet up with "C" for our afternoon run. It's all the for the best. If I would have had my phone, I would have totally texted her and skipped the run. As it turned out - I felt a lot better during the run then I had all day, AND it's always so much fun to run with "C" - we talk and laugh and get sidetracked (with our jaws not usually our trek, though that can happen too sometimes). We did 4.4 miles using 2:2. We walked the last 1/4 mile, but everything else was totally 2:2. It wasn't the fastest overall pace, but at times it got pretty quick. At one point I said we're going awfully fast, "C" looked at her Garmin and it said 13:10 . . . yep, can't pull anything over on me. I know FAST when I feel it :)

We're running the 5Kilt on Saturday so after our run we got our plans straight. We have matching shirts featuring a monkey wearing a kilt (in lieu of us wearing kilts). "C" bought us some leprechaun hats and green beads - should be a blast! Stay tuned later in the weekend for a race recap (we're looking forward to see Holly from Rustbeltrunner and her hubz there, as well as the NP student interning with me this semester, "M").

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chapter 2 page 255 - lifstyle revolution update (cholesetrol edition)

As you all may remember (or click HERE for a refresher) I began a lifestyle revolution back on January 28 as a result of my doctor's phone call saying my triglycerides were a little high and that I should take fish oil to lower them. Fish oil is super healthy and the benefits are tremendous, but I just couldn't wrap my head around taking it daily (not at the young age of 35). I decided to completely change my eating habits for 3 months (at which time the doctor wanted to repeat my blood tests) and see where things stand. After 3 months, if they were still high, then I would keep my new lifestyle and add fish oil (I should say that my doctor isn't aware of this plan . . . it's more of just in my head and I've gotten the green light from some other health care providers whom I work with).

So, for the last 5 weeks, I have REALLY limited my consumption of white flour (I don't avoid it all together because my life just couldn't roll like that, but I definitely make an extra effort to limit it). I have also really tried to increase my fruits and veggies to at least the minimum of 5 daily and usually I get the max (9+ servings). The F&V have been the hardest part. Not that I dislike them, but because you can't just get 9 into you day without some concentrated planning and on-point decision making.

As part of my job, one of our benefits is that we can get a free lipid panel (HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol) screening one for free once a year (it's our "birthday gift" - woo hoo, party on man! - it's not exciting, but it is generous). I hadn't used my 2010 birthday gift, so I thought that on Monday it was about the half way point in this 3 month experiment and I thought it was high time to "check in" on my efforts. I was confident that it would be down a few points, but . . . .check this out -

January 11th tests
March 7th tests

Total Cholesterol - down 49 points (isn't that a rock star drop?!!!! woot woot!)

Note: It's preferable to be below 200

LDL ("bad" cholesterol) - down 24 points
Note: It's preferable to be below 100

HDL ("good" cholesterol) - this one is EXTREMELY disappointing (post about this coming soon) - down 11 points (YIKES!!!!!!!!! - already started a plan to focus my efforts for the next 6 weeks on getting this back up)
Note: It's preferable to be above 60 (here, the more the better!)

And now, the whole reason I'm doing this,
Triglycerides - down 61 points!!!! (oh yeah! Kickin' some trig booty!)
Note: It's preferable to be below 150 (as you can see, mine are still considered high, but so much improvement -woo hoo)

So other than my HDL tanking (it's always been 46-48, ALWAYS!) which I am definitely going to spend the next 6 weeks working hard on - I'm THRILLED!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chapter 2 page 254 - TR 87 speedy mcqueen edition

Holy smokes bat man - check out my DM (thank goodness it can do the math for me!)

I did 4 miles in 54:26 . . . that's 13:12 m/m. This is ME we're talking about. I'm NOT that fast!!! I'm glad this run turned out to be "fast" (by my standards) because I surely felt out of

I decided the best way to get my run in and to get Pacer a chance to run a little was to run home from my office (I mapped out a 1.77 mile route, but ended up taking the slightly less traffic and slightly longer 2.06 mile route) then pick up the dog and run back to work . . . and then drive home.

I didn't have my SPI belt (actually can't find it right now . . .mayday!), so I used my single bottle holder because I needed my keys and phone . . . and a bottle of water (it was 54 degrees out when I started). I didn't have any gum or jamz (sigh), but set off doing 2:2 at a pace that felt a little too fast, but I was feeling a little panicked about some impending rain. Early in my run, "L's" oldest daughter passed me. She honked enthusiastically which was awesome. Later in my run, I think Susie from Weighing In which was super exciting. I really think it was her, but if it was someone else, please tell me who you were. For now, I'm giving credit to Susie because she made my run. She enthusiastically waved at me. What a complete surprise . . .in fact, what were you doing over there???

I arrived home after 27:40 and picked up the dog. I gave her a few minutes out side to try to pee so that wouldn't be an issue during our run and I decided to change my shoes from my Pearls to my Saucony's (since I thought I was only running 1.77 miles, that's a safe distance to try the potential knee-hurters once again). We were off after a short 5 minute stop or so.

I picked up my ipod while I was picking up the dog and blasted my jamz. Because I couldn't hear my beeper, I tried to do 2:2 and for the most part was pretty close (give or take 30 seconds here or there . . . at one point I ran 4ish minutes straight - I had a goal to get to the stop sign by the park dang it!!!!!). I felt the pace was much more managable with the dog, but probably just was super distracted by the traffic, keeping her safe on our first run together, the impending rain (thankfully it held off - but it sure looked ominous), the intervals, and of course, my jamz. I think that's why I like races so much . . . all the distractions, you forget about the wheezing, the pain, the sweat, etc. The return run to my office with my pup was definitely not boring.

When I got home and put in the mileage and time into DM - I was super excited!!! "C" better not get any ideas . . . I'm not really fast . . . I don't want to be fast. I just want to finish and have a GREAT time in the process - absolutely nothing else matters to me (not time, not awards, not PRs). Tonight's run did prove how far behind I am on my May half training - "C", we HAVE to get the miles under our feet !

Thanks for reading and celebrating my awesome run with me!!!!!

Chapter 2 page 253 - I'm a Sleeper Baker's Biggest Loser Challenge

Molly at I'm a Sleeper Baker has created a challenge between her neighbor and herself to loose 10 pounds in 11 weeks. She has invited others to join her. I'm super excited about this as I think it will be just the added accountability I need to keep pushing me on the right path of my lifestyle revolution which began on January 28. Her challenge begins 3/9 and runs until 6/1 so check it out HERE if you want to join us.

Thanks Molly for sharing your 10 pound challenge with the rest of us in bloggy-land! Good luck to you and everyone committing to shed 10 pounds.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chapter 2 page 252 - chocolate cravings

I've been trying to write this post for a couple of weeks. I desperately wanted to include photos of my homemade treats, but with the new puppy . . . no such luck.

As part of my lifestyle revolution, I've returned to some of the "treats" I used to eat when I was much skinnier.

Here are some of my favorite chocolate craving fixes:
1. Chocolate drizzled frozen banana slices

How to make it:
a. cut up the banana into slices, place on wax paper
b. melt 10-15 chocolate baking chips (any flavor you want - my FAV for this "treat" is the pb & chocolate chips) in the microwave for a few seconds
c. drizzle the melted chocolate onto the banana slices
d. freeze for 2 hours
e. enjoy - delicious!!!!!

Alternatives to the basic above description:
a. Drizzle chocolate syrup instead of melted chocolate chips (that's more of what is shown in the photo above).
b. Check out this white chocolate, kid-friendly, and fun alternative below (source)

Cake (yes, that's right - make a cake)


How to make it:
a. select ANY boxed cake mix (seriously - ANY . . . chocolate, white, cherry, lemon, Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, Jiffy - anything - does NOT matter!!!!)
b. select ANY can of soda (diet or regular or anything in between) - I prefer using room temp soda because it keeps the cake together a little bit more, but it does NOT matter
c. pour both the mix and can of soda into a bowl - use a mixer to mix completely
d. pour mixture into any cake pan that is listed on the back of the cake mix box (13X9, cupcakes, 2 round cakes -whatever . . . you guessed it, it does NOT matter)
e. bake according to box directions for the type of pan you're using

Alternatives to the basic above description:
a. It's deliciously moist when left untopped, but here are some suggestions if you just have to "frost it": sugar free pudding made with skim milk, fat free/sugar free cool whip (they have even have chocolate flavored), chocolate syrup, powered sugar, fruit, or even icing if you aren't too concerned about calories
b. For a special Easter treat - try a white cake mix with an orange soda.
c. For the 4th of July celebration - try a strawberry or cherry cake with Cherry 7 UP.
d. Go crazy - any cake, any soda - I usually have a diet coke (or diet mt. dew) and chocolate cake

One last thing about the cake & soda:
a. One cupcake (or 1/24 of a 9X13) is only 1 weight watcher point (the old system) - how can you loose with that?!?!?

3. Hot Chocolate (home-made)


Recipe (makes many mugs full so store in an air tight container until needed):
2 cups of non-dairy creamer
1.5 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweeted cocoa
1/2 cup dry milk
1/4 tsp salt
Mix well. Store in air tight container

How to make it:

a. 2 heaping spoonfuls mixed with 8 oz of hot water
b. stir
c. top with marshmallows, cool whip, or spray cream (shave chocolate on top for a fancy touch)

Alternatives to the basic above description:
a. add a little cinnamon in the mix
b. stir with a candy cane
c. use chocolate syrup to rim the mug - turn mug upside down and dip in toffee pieces (found in the baking aisle with the chocolate chips or crush up your own Heath bar)
d. garnish rim with a strawberry (like restaurants serve water with a lemon wedge on rim)

Chapter 2 page 251 - TR 86

On Friday, all 3 of were able to get together to run/walk 2:2 for 3.77 miles. We ran through some of the most fragrant pine trees I've ever smelled. It was delightfully warm - 54 degrees - (though, I was overdressed and very hot). It had rained all day and all later that night, but for our hour we were together, the rain had stopped. "L's" got a lot of life drama and as hard as it is to make time to run, she was thankful she was able to join us. "C" and I are thinking of you "L" and hoping things all continue to work out for the best.
After our run, "C" and I went to a local Mexican restaurant - yum! It was a great time. Thanks "C" for picking up the tab . . . you're too kind. We were able to plan out our upcoming training for the next week and look ahead to the 5Kilt race next Saturday. It should be a lot of fun.
Hope you had a great run this week!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chapter 2 page 250 - hot rock goddess!

As I have posted numerous times - I have found a GEM in our little town. Her name is Ashley Peterson and she is a gifted certified massage therapist! I have experienced many of her talents including therapeutic massages, hot rock massages, and active isolated stretching sessions. Each time, Ashley has provided me with tremendous relief from my aches and pains, reduced stress, and educated me on my muscular issues.

Here are 2 examples of how she has performed amazing feats -
1. You may recall that right after Thanksgiving I fell. My right ankle was really sore and I assumed I had sprained it. I had a massage already scheduled and during the session she said my muscles around my shin were really tight. She worked on them and "pow" my ankle pain was completely gone. It turns out that I hadn't sprained my ankle at all - just tight muscles from the fall.

2. As you know, my right knee has been hurting for the past month or so. I had gone to the orthopeadic surgeon and given zero guidance. I had a massage already scheduled and once again, Ashley found that the muscles on the outside of my right knee were really tight and pulling the fibula out of place a bit. She massaged it (not going to lie - it was very intense) thoroughly and on my next run, my pain had decreased by 50%. During a second massage, a week later, Ashley once again targeted the outer knee muscles and my pain is virtually gone.

I have pretty good insurance and as such, it covers a chiropractic adjustment and hour long massage (even upgraded to a hot rock massage) for the same co-pay. I've introduced Ashley to a few of my friends and they think she is amazing as well.

You can check her services out for yourself by clicking HERE.

Those of you who are near this lil' burg absolutely will NOT be disappointed in your 30-60 minutes spent with Ashley. Everyone needs a little "escape". Ashley will provide you with the perfect stress reduction, tension freeing, and overall feel-good time ever.

Need a creative gift to buy someone who has everything - consider a gift certificate for a massage from Ashley. Need a thank you gift for a friend, your child's teacher, co-worker, or neighbor - an Ashley Peterson massage gift certificate would be one gift thoroughly enjoyed. Have a friend who has a lot of pain from arthritis, athletics, or other medical issue - consider giving them an Ashley Peterson massage gift certificate. Know anyone pregnant or who has small children and could really use a relaxing massage - consider giving them an Ashley Peterson massage gift certificate. I've purchased several gift certificates over the past couple of years - once a Christmas present for my boss, a couple of times as a "just because" gift for friends, and several birthday presents for friends and co-workers.