Friday, September 26, 2008
After I got home, before even sitting down, I jumped right into another project -- mowing my lawn. I was still wearing my heart rate monitor, and was pleased to see that my hr was around 130-140 the whole time -- not a bad little workout. When all was said and done, walk and yard work combined, I had about 90 minutes of activity for about 500 calories burned. I'll take it!
I'm running a 5K this weekend -- Women Run The Cities -- and if you are in the Minneapolis / St. Paul or surrounding areas, I encourage you all to come out -- it should be a great event!
On that note -- I'm closing up shop for the day and diving into a huge work project... I'm really glad I got my workout done BEFORE I got hit with this project. Inevitably, I would have cut things short and not had as good of a workout if I'd known what was next...
Off and running,
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It took me a long time to come up with this. After all, last year, I got paid to impart my marathon-training wisdom on the word wide interwebs, and that advice certainly wasn't 26 words -- it was more like 1000 per week. SO, being concise is not my strong suit, but here is some of the best advice I recieved last year:
Trust in your training.
*You'll note that each phrase, and especially the last 8 words of the advice, correspond with the specific miles of the marathon that is represented by the words (ie, "don't do anything different on race day" refers to that morning -- getting up, getting hydrated/caffeinated/fueled/stretched. "Trust in your training" refers to around mile 8 where you think, "I can totally do this, I'm ready for this." You get the picture).
For those who don't know, miles 18-26 are lovingly referred to as "The Wall," and it refers to the point in your race when your body has likely burned through it's glycogen stores... this is the point where many people drop out. In the Twin Cities Marathon, it has a lovely double meaning, as it's also the point where you start going uphill... basically until the end.
That literary device wasn't an accident.
Thanks, English degree. ;-)
Off and running,
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wowza. I guess a week of mediocre food and exercise choices adds up pretty fast. Except... I don't actually feel like my choices have been that bad -- great run, great bike ride... too many cocktails, clearly, but also lots of good times, laughter, and memories with family and friends.
Rather than dwell on it, I just decided to instantly make better choices -- namely, donned my walking clothes, leashed up the dog, and hit the pavement. Since my heart rate when walking the dog barely skims 100, it was hardly an intense cardio session -- but the meditative benefits were fantastic. It is a beautiful day. I left my iPod and PDA at home and decided to step away from technology for a while -- I always forget how refreshing this is, and as somebody who literally spends the entire day online, the space from "instant communication" is probably really healthy, and something I should do much more often.
When I walk on my own, it's a much brisker walk -- but with Gracie by my side, she actually slows me down. This seems counter-intuitive, but... you don't know my dog. At 3 years old and roughly 68 lbs, she is a ball of tighly wound, high-anxiety, thoroughly muscled energy. She is poorly leash trained (despite two sessions of of dog school and a private trainer), and just about tears my arm from my socket every time a squirrel comes within a 50 foot radius. Walking her usually involves BEING walked, and the only way I can keep her from pulling me right over is to slow down a bit.
After a 75 minute walk, she hasn't slowed down a bit. After two hours at the dog park, she's always up for more. On Saturday, I had the annual picnic with her rescue organization -- which involves about 100 dogs in a lake -- and after 2 hours of nonstop fetching, chasing, swimming, etc... she STILL was full of energy and anxiety on the car ride home. My dog would RATHER be constantly in motion than sit still. She is happier and healthier when she's able to run as much as she wants. If somebody gave her the option of running nonstop for several hours, or sitting on the sofa watching TV... no contest -- she'd run. So while she's motivated by food, she's even more motivated by her own need to MOVE.
This is how humans should be. Before the advent of televisions and internet; cell phones and PDAs... this IS how humans were -- not out of desire, but necessity. We were farming communities. Laborers. Manual agriculture work was a way of life, as was doing the dishes by hand, and washing the dirty laundry with a board, bucket, and scrub brush. There were stables to clean, wood to chop, and homes to take care of. Exercise wasn't found in a gym or an aerobics class, but simply through our way of life. And that's a lot of calories burned that we now hoard, sitting at our desks and watching TV.
Technology, while it has improved our lives in many ways, has also hurt our bodies.
My brother works for a company called MUVE, and based on the research of Dr. Levine at the Mayo Clinic, they've come up with a model to combat this problem -- rather than fight technology, let's make it work for us. The theory is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), and it postulates that daily trips to the gym and running marathons aren't necessary to keep us thin, but that those who are NATURALLY a slim, healthy bodyweight are those whose bodies are constantly in motion -- when Alan Greenspan replaced his desk with a podium, he was a prime example of this. Standing vs. sitting. Biking vs. driving. Safe your body, safe the earth.
MUVE outfitted a downtown Minneapolis office with treadmill desks -- literally, a treadmill set up so that you can work and walk at the same time. A place for your laptop, a place for your phone. You only walk around 1.5 MPH while conducting your business, and IT WORKS. The woman I met who had been participating in the study had lost about 10 lbs in 2 months... and made no other changes than spending about 2 hrs per day on that treadmill, walking at less than 2 MPH. Time she would have spent on her butt, she was on her feet.
I had a similar experience 2 years ago when I had the treadmill in my living room and would walk for hours at a time while watching TV. I mean, I was going to watch the shows regardless, it was more a question of whether I'd sit on my butt and get fatter, or walk on the treadmill and get slimmer. And you know, that first two months that I did that, I probably DID lose about 10 pounds pretty quickly.
It's really got me thinking -- I have a treadmill in my basement, wireless internet, and I work at home. There's NO REASON I can't try to outfit a piece of plywood across the handlebars so that I can work while I walk. Perhaps that is a project for this weekend.
When my dog is active, she's happy. She is sweeter, calmer, and less anxious. She sleeps better at night, and naps throughout the day. While she probably can't intellectualize the benefits of exercise, she knows she loves it, and she knows she craves it. Technology and exterior forces have not defined her quality of life: she eats healthy (because I feed her, and I control her portions), she moves happily -- "muve" well, eat well, sleep well, live well.
I'm not sure why any of us think that humans are any different.
Next up: a kitchen clean-out that will leave me with only healthy & whole fueling options. And then? A really good night's sleep.
Off and running,
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Time: 90 minutes
Distance: approximately 15 miles (didn't use my Garmin)
Route: home - Lake Harriet - home - Lake Nokomis - home
Calories burned: approximately 745
Avg heart rate: 138
Max heart rate: 160 (up a long incline between Lake Harriet and Home)
Theme of the ride: STRONGER by Kanye West
Work it, make it, do it,
Makes us harder, better, faster, stronger
Work it harder,
make it better,
do it faster,
makes us stronger,
more than ever, never over,
Our work here is never over.
N- n- now th- that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger
I need you to hurry up now
'cause I can't wait much longer
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Time: Ran 60, walked 10
Distance: approximately 5 miles
Calories burned: 768
Max heart rate: 171 (up a very steep river embankment, in the woods, emerging at the intersection of Lyndale & Minnehaha Parkway)
Average heart rate: 142
The Music: "New iPod, New Playlist" workout mix + 15 minutes without music. Theme of the run: Wide Open Spaces by The Dixie Chicks
There's a line by Kevin Spacey in the movie American Beauty -- something about "It's a beautiful thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself."
Today, I surprised myself. I woke up with a level of determination I haven't seen for quite some time -- and KNEW what had to be done. Without coffee, water, or breakfast. Without stopping to check my email, or read the paper. Without flipping on the weather channel or The Today Show... I rose, dressed, tended to the dog, put on my shoes, and RAN.
It was almost like I had a bigger force guiding me; knowing that I NEEDED today's run to get me back on track, back with the program. That if I stopped, faltered, even for ONE little second, even just to do the mundane, it would deter me from my goal.
My goal was a lofty one -- HAVE THE BEST RUN EVER.
It wasn't the best run ever, but it definitely makes the top 5, and was, without question, the best run I've had in AGES, perhaps since last year's marathon.
I had my new iPod, loaded up with a killer playlist. I had slept well. I was hydrated from the day before. Since I didn't bother eating or drinking anything before the run, I knew I wouldn't have indigestion or bathroom issues -- no potty breaks necessary. I could just run and run and run. And for the first 15 minutes, my body screamed at me, "I HATE YOU! WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? YOU COULD BE WATCING PROJECT RUNWAY AND DRINKING COFFEE!"
But once I eased into the run... once I gave it up and relaxed... once I admitted that, okay, maybe you're going too fast, so slow down a little and let your body catch up with your mind... it just flowed. My heart rate evened out, my body stopped hurting, and running felt natural again. Not clunky and jiggly and bumpy, but... comfortable.
Today was one of those days that I felt I could have run forever. Right now, I feel like I could go out and do it again. It makes me remember what it felt like to train for that marathon. And as I slapped my way down the trails and paths I know so well and love so dearly, life made SENSE again. I passed some familiar looking runners, many of them, no doubt, training for the upcoming marathon or 10 mile run. It's on October 5th, which means today is probably the start of the taper for many of my trailmates. We exchanged the head nods and "good mornings!" that only runners can share, that secret smile that says "yep, we rock, we know it, we're running in the morning."
As if there's any other way to more perfectly enjoy a fall morning in Minneapolis.
Running clears my mind, and today was no exception. The things that seemed dramatic and important last night and this morning suddenly don't really matter any more. The stressors of life are managable again. I used to quip that when I run is when I solve my problems, and today was no exception. And around mile 4.5, in the midst of a killer Madonna song, I spontaneously pulled the earphones out of my ears, and ran for 15 minutes... sans music. It was peaceful. There were crunchy leaves on the ground, and the trickle of the babbling rapids beside me. I caught myself practically muttering under my breath, conversations I needed to have, things I wanted to say. I planned out what I would write here. At that point, the run became a spiritual experience, and the iPod was no longer necessary.
You'll notice the little "ticker" at the top of my page -- I've sort of pro-rated the remainder of September... the goal is to in a total of 600 minutes of cardio (biking, walking, running, blading) by the end of the month. I'll have another goal of sorts for October, but haven't decided yet what it will be. Maybe I'll train for something.
When I was at my family's cabin a few weekends ago, my mom and I were out for a walk with the dog, when a woman passed us, running. My mom called after her, "Are you training for something?" and she called back "OH yeah, I'm always training for something!"
Today, as I passed a familiar point in my run, and exchanged a "good morning" and a head nod with a passerby, she called after me, "are you training for something?"
"Yep!" I responded. "Life."
Off and training,
Song of the day: Wide Open Spaces by The Dixie Chicks
Who doesn't know what I'm talking about
Who's never left home, who's never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone
Many precede and many will follow
A young girl's dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed
She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes
She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won't be coming back with the rest
If these are life's lessons, she'll take this test
As her folks drive away, her dad yells, "Check the oil!"
Mom stares out the window and says, "I'm leaving my girl"
She said, "It didn't seem like that long ago"
When she stood there and let her own folks know
She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The weather is perfect. I'm determined to take advantage of this week -- because winter is a'comin... and Minneapolis a cold one...
About 325 calories burned.
- Good music makes a huge difference.
- Running with a tummy full of way-too-much Chinese food is not fun.
- Running with heartburn... even less fun.
- Leaving the house and going for a run in order to avoid seeing your ex-bf online and to keep yourself from IMing him = very good distraction with positive side effects.
I'm running through a lot of anger right now and that is a very good thing.
I'm going to go to bed early tonight, and get up early tomorrow, and go running right away. It will be brisk and beautiful. And then I can get into work at a reasonable hour.
Off and running,
BUT -- I am sick of being totally private in regards to the running world! I want to TAKE IT AND RUN along with you, every Thursday... so I've created this separate blog.
For those of you who don't know me-- my name is Jessica.
- I'm 30 (eeeek, 31 in 2 weeks!)
- I live in MInneapolis.
- I've lost 65 lbs (and counting!) over a very long 5 years.
- I went through a really bad breakup almost exactly a year ago
- I have a big dog. Gracie. She is spoiled rotten.
- I ran a marathon last year -- the Twin Cities Marathon.
- I've run several smaller races (5ks, 10ks), and a half marathon.
- I'm trying to find my passion for this sport again; trying to find my spirit, after a year tougher (emotionally) than I can possibly imagine, I feel like I'm coming around the bend and back into the light.
- And I want to talk about it.
Today is September 18th. It's absolutely, intoxicatingly beautiful out in Minneapolis. I had a night last night that involved too many beers with some really fun girlfriends. And then there was some Chinese food. I keep trying to pull myself up and back onto this weight loss / fitness / nutrition bandwagon, but I keep falling off the end, banging up my knees and hands. Like always -- I pull out the gravel and hop back on.. but it's hard.
Hopefully this will help.
Last year, while training, I wrote a 20 week column for Health magazine -- you can read it here. When I go back and read my own words, I inspire MYSELF. At the same time, I feel so woefully out of touch with my body that I can't even believe I DID those things. I know that the running and writing were symbiotic and cyclical in a chicken-and-egg sort of way -- I'm not sure which came first or involved more passion, but they each fueled success in each other. I'd run to clear my head, and while running, I'd map out my column -- and the inspiration I found in writing the column made me want to run, made me want to succeed. I know I need both of those things in my life.
My newest writing endeavor is a book -- a memoir, about my weight loss, my body image, and a very dysfunctional relationship. Writing it is hard. Remembering is hard. Knowing people will know all my secrets is even harder. But I NEED to write this... even if just for me.
Similarly, I need to write about running again. I need to remember how it feels. So here I am. I'm going to pretend this is a column about running. I'm going to write it as though it is. And hopefully, through the murk and muck, the stress and emotions, the sadness and anger that spew out of my mouth at the most unexpected times... the writing will get me through it.
Once again, I find my personal mantra running through my head... the words of John Bingham --
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
So here we go again.
Without further ado:
My first official entry in "TAKE IT AND RUN THURSDAY," courtesy of Runner's Lounge!
This week's theme of TIART is to share our favorite running blogs -- I gotta say... I"m out of the loop. When I lost my motivation to run, I also got sick of reading anything about running. Whereas it used to comprise hours of my day, now I didn't care to read another single SYLLABLE about running. Seriously. BUT... the one running blog I never stopped reading was Nat's. Nat is great, because she runs slow like me. ;-) But slow and steady wins the race, right? She manages a husband, a kid, a job, and her fitness... and NEVER gives up. Gotta love that.
And then there's my personal hero -- the guy I hope to meet someday... the one who inspired me to believe that I could do it too, even if I had to start by just running to the mailbox and back... that I would get better, I WOULD get strong. And he was RIGHT. I followed John Bingham's training plans from Marathoning for Mortals, but possibly the best training advice he ever gave me was in the book The Courage To Start. The penguin is my guy.
And quite frankly, at the risk of sounding completely conceited, my own running blog at Health.com is one of my very favorites. Because it's ME. ANd because I can't believe I did it. But every time I reread those words, I remember... I remember that I am capable. I am strong, both mentally and physically. I am healthy. I am proud. And I am surviving.
It was actually NEXT week's theme that got me motivated to start this blog:
"How to Conquer the Marathon in 26 words (or less). Share your advice for how to conquer the marathon in 26 words or less - 1 for every mile."
It's a perfect topic for me -- a nice mix of literary / creative skills, and running. Which is just what I'm all about.
So thanks to Amy and Tom -- not only for starting this amazing space for runners, but for pulling me back up on the wagon.
Off and running,
Thursday, September 11, 2008
By DAVE BARRY, Herald Columnist
No humor column today. I don't want to write it, and you don't want to read
No words of wisdom, either. I wish I were wise enough to say something that
would help make sense of this horror, something that would help ease the
unimaginable pain of the victims' loved ones, but I'm not that wise. I'm
barely capable of thinking. Like many others, I've spent the hours since
Tuesday morning staring at the television screen, sometimes crying,
sometimes furious, but mostly just stunned.
What I can't get out of my mind is the fact that they used our own planes. I
grew up in the Cold War, when we always pictured the threat as coming in the
form of missiles - sleek, efficient death machines, unmanned, hurtling over
the North Pole from far away. But what came, instead, were our own
commercial airliners, big friendly flying buses coming from Newark and
Boston with innocent people on board. Red, white and blue planes, with
``United'' and ``American'' written on the side. The planes you've flown in
and I've flown in. That's what they used to attack us. They were able to do
it in part because our airport security is pathetic. But mainly they were
able to do it because we are an open and trusting society that simply is not
set up to cope with evil men, right here among us, who want to kill as many
Americans as they can.
That's what's so hard to comprehend: They want us to die just for being
Americans. They don't care which Americans die: military Americans, civilian
Americans, young Americans, old Americans. Baby Americans. They don't care.
To them, we're all mortal enemies. The truth is that most Americans, until
Tuesday, were only dimly aware of their existence, and posed no threat to
them. But that doesn't matter to them; all that matters is that we're
Americans. And so they used our own planes to kill us.
And then their supporters celebrated in the streets.
I'm not naive about my country. My country is definitely not always right;
my country has at times been terribly wrong. But I know this about
Americans: We don't set out to kill innocent people. We don't cheer when
innocent people die.
A DECENT PEOPLE
The people who did this to us are monsters; the people who cheered them have
hate-sickened minds. One reason they can cheer is that they know we would
never do to them what their heroes did to us, even though we could, a
thousand times worse. They know that when we hunt down the monsters, we will
try hard not to harm the innocent. Those are the handcuffs we willingly
wear, because for all our flaws, we are a decent people.
And now we are a traumatized people. The TV commentators keep saying that
the attacks have awakened a ``sleeping giant.'' And I guess we do look like
a giant, to the rest of the world. But when I look around, I don't see a
giant: I see millions of individuals - the resilient and caring citizens of
New York and Washington; the incredibly brave firefighters, police officers
and rescue workers risking their lives in the dust and flames; the
politicians standing on the steps of the Capitol and singing an off-key
rendition of God Bless America that, corny as it was, had me weeping; the
reporters and photographers who have not slept, and will not sleep, as long
as there is news to report; the people in my community, and communities
across America, lining up to give blood, wishing they could do more.
A GOOD COUNTRY
No, I don't see a giant. What I see is Americans. We may have the power of a
giant, but we also have the heart of a good and generous people, and we will
get through this. We will grieve for our dead, and tend to our wounded, and
repair the damage, and tighten our security, and put our planes back in the
air. Eventually most of us, the ones lucky enough not to have lost somebody,
will resume our lives. Some day, our country will track down the rest of the
monsters behind this, and make them pay, and I suppose that will make most
of us feel a little better. But revenge and hatred won't be why we'll go on.
We'll go on because we know this is a good country, a country worth keeping.
Those who would destroy it only make us see more clearly how precious it is.