silvery strands of thought

Race Report: 2011 Sunshine Run 10k

Time*: 1:11:54 (11:36 pace)

If you couldn’t tell from my previous post, I had some high expectations for this race. I didn’t meet any of them, but now that I’ve had about 15 hours to reflect, I’m happy with my showing in today’s race. Let me give you a brief run down–pun intended–of the race first.

Sarah and I started off strong, pacing between 10:30 and 11:00 minutes per mile. We walked at regular intervals, as planned. But pretty quickly I knew something was wrong in the calf department, and I ain’t talking bout no baby cows neither.

My calves felt like concrete, solid and hard. On a good day, my calves feel powerful. Hamstrings work really hard too, but I feel the power pushing out of my calves. Today, I felt solid, heavy, unforgiving.

I kept plodding ahead, though, taking a GU Chomps every mile as planned, walking when my watch said it was time. But I got dispirited.

Sarah and I always run races on our own. It’s only fair. I would hate to hold her back if she felt On at a race, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. So I ran at a pace that felt comfortable to me, but I needed her! At one point as we were passing Phelps Grove Park on the far side, I got selfish, stopped running, waited for get, told her what was going on and planned to run with her or keep as close as I could so that I could still get advice, inspiration, and companionship, but I felt bad almost immediately. I couldn’t ask her to stick back with me!

She pushed ahead and I kept at it, running as far as I could, walking a tenth of a mile, running some more, all the while trying not to think about how far I still had to go. I made running buddies with a local chiropractor who was also struggling and we pushed each other on, challenging things like, “Let’s run to that stoplight. You can do that, right?”

Right in front of Hammons Field, my new running buddy needed to walk, but I had to keep going, being so close to the finish line. I pushed myself some more to keep running, but that somehow gets easier and easier as the finish line gets closer.

And this finish line is a good one! It’s home plate at Hammons Field, and they read your name over the loud speaker add you get close to the finish line. What a rush!


So what is up with my calves? I’m sure part of the problem is that I’ve switched to Vibram Five Fingers full time. Proper use of them forces you to change your gait, which uses different muscles, namely, the calves. But I also stayed up later than I should have last night with race day jitters.

I’m two weeks out from my half marathon, so not much time to fix whatever is going in my calves and still complete the training runs I need to do. I have a strategy in my head, but I need to put it into a calendar and run it by my trusted advisers, Sarah and Pamela.

Any runners out there with any advice I should consider?

Before I end, I have to give a shout out to my Barnes Noble buddy, Keri, who took second in her age group with a time of 49:43! Way to go, Keri!

*According to my Garmin, my chip time is 1:11:54, but I haven’t seen the official time yet.

Race Tomorrow, Running Mind Tonight

The big variables are already set in stone: how will I fuel up in the days leading up to race day? How much muscle-building, body-rejuvenating sleep will I allow myself? How serious did I take my training?

Those factors get checked off before my toes get anywhere near the starting line. All these little things I’m worrying about now will only rob me of rest, so I’m just going to write ‘em out.

How hard will I be able to push myself tomorrow? I’ve just finished reading the most inspiring running book probably ever written, Born to Run by Chris McDougall. If the finale 50-mile race pitting the Tarahumara against the world’s best ultra runners, run in the Copper Canyon in 100° desert weather, doesn’t inspire me to give a measly 10k in beautiful Missouri fall weather my best, I don’t know what will.

How should I fuel? If I eat one Gu Chomp per mile in the St. Louis Half Mary, that’s more than two packets I’ll have to carry. Maybe I should try one every 1.5 miles? But is a perfect pre-race race day the best time to try out a new fueling strategy? Probably not, but then again, maybe so?

Should I go for the shirt-jacket combo, or just the long-sleeved shirt by itself? Hat or visor? The hat will keep my head warmer than the visor, but if I go shirt-jacket, maybe the visor will be okay?

Should I try for a negative split or a steady pace? There’s a small incline–enough to be a thorn in my side–just before the finish line. Do I meet it with speed or take it steady?

And then, the big question. Rob thinks I could do a sub-hour 10k tomorrow if I push myself. I’d emreally/em love to do that, but is it smart to push now, so close to the big race? My real goal is 11-minute miles, and I definitely think that’s possible, because training has gone really well…

And now I really have to go to sleep. Thanks for listening. And, Sarah? Sorry I told you to close emThe Help/em do you could get some sleep and then stayed up myself… Can I repay you in Gu? /p

The Great Fitness Blogging Experiment: Week 6

It took 6 weeks (and almost 30 years), but I finally learned an important lesson: if you’re going to make healthy choices, you have to be able to make healthy choices when life is going according to plan and when it throws you a curve ball or you’re just out of your element, and that’s what I wrote about in this week’s blog post over on Thrive Personal Fitness.

How do you deal with being out of your home and forced to eat out or can’t plan ahead? Leave your tips in the comments!

Why You Should Have a Running Partner AND Why You Should Run Alone

A lot of people, usually non-runners, are so amazed that I can run! I sometimes try to convince them that they can too–I have two secrets that I bestow on those awestrucks–but they hardly ever believe me. It’s like they think runners are a special breed of human. But really! You need an incremental training plan and a running partner. Shoes optional.

I’m not going to go into the simple training strategy that got me from barely being able to run for two minutes to running 26.2 miles straight. I want to talk about the little bit of magic that is the running partner. I’ve mentioned it before, but as I was running on my own while my running partner was sick a few weeks ago, I had a revelation.

Some days I really need Sarah, but some days, I really need to run on my own.

I’d say more often, it’s the former, but the latter affords the opportunity to see where you’re truly at. My Number 1 Main Hurdle to running or working out regularly is ME. I am really great at talking myself out of a run. I mean it. I’m a pro. But knowing that Sarah is waiting for me at the park, that she got up this morning to run. With me. It really holds me accountable. Maybe not everyone needs that, but if you are having trouble sticking to your routine, then maybe you need someone to count on you too.

Once you’ve established your routine and you won’t skip out on run just because your running partner won’t be there, go for a run on your own.

When you’re on your own, you get to put yourself to the test. Your mental strength is an important part of running. When you run alone, you get to see how strong you are becoming. Sometimes, I hear Sarah pushing me on. Sometimes, I push myself. But either way, I find out what works when I want to quit. I can’t run every race or every run even with Sarah, so it’s important to know that I can do it.

So go ahead, get started. Find someone who shares your goals or at least your pace. Set up an incremental training plan. Run with your partner for a while, then run alone a couple times a month to see how strong you’ve become.

The Great Fitness Blogging Experiment: Weeks 4 and 5

I’m a couple weeks behind  in sharing these posts with you, but I know you’ll enjoy them all the same. Here’s a post in which I have a conversation with myself about sugar, and here’s a post where I share how I tried to cope with Real Life happening while still trying to maintain the healthy changes I’m trying to make in my life.

Wordless Wednesday: Chalk Graffiti Hearts

chalk graffiti hearts

Tuesdays with Linden’s Favorite Links | 13-Sep-11

I got a big kick in the pants last Friday, a kick that knocked me into depression and frustration over where I’m at in life and the direction my career is headed. So what do I do? I clean, of course.

It always makes me feel better, and why wouldn’t it? Instead of walking into my work space to see a cluttered desk, I see lots of clear space to work in. Instead of cringing when I walk into the kitchen because of the piles of pots and pans (i.e. handwash-only items) left over from a week of preparing several new recipes at home, I walk into a sparkling kitchen. The work itself makes me feel better even. Then, I spent some time polishing up my organization and workflow processes on Sunday afternoon.

So today I’m going to share some links with you that inspire and guide my cleaning and organization.


FlyLady: I’ve talked about FlyLady before, but I’ve been finding recently that when I feel weighed down by life, I can still “do anything for 15 minutes.” I’ll make a list of three or four tasks I need to get done, set a 15-minute timer, and just go on auto-pilot. At the end of the day, my depression isn’t compounded by the fact that I didn’t get anything done today.


Craft the Perfect Calendar and To-Do List This Weekend: This post inspired my Sunday-afternoon workflow makeover. It’s chock-full of links to other great productivity posts, so read it through, then read it through again and read the linked posts.

How to Use 6 Calendar Views to Be More Productive: I’ve already separated my personal and work calendars, but this post suggests I go a little further. Sounds a bit like creating horcruxes, but definitely not as bad. Anyway, I’m not sure I’m going to follow this method, but this post really got me thinking.

Upgrade Your GTD Calendar and Keep Up with the Times: If you’re a GTD fan, you need to read this post. Again, I don’t think I’ll be using this exact method, but this post helped me think outside the box as far as modding popular methods to fit how I think and work.

The Great Fitness Blogging Experiment: Week 3

In this week’s Great Fitness Blogging Experiment post, I share the story of a tough week, fraught with depression and fighting (and winning!) my conditioned response: stress eating. Go read it over on the Thrive Personal Fitness blog.

My Roofscapade

This post is really hard for me to write because this is an embarrassing story. But I figure that you’ll enjoy it and that eventually I’ll be glad I recorded this escapade. Or, in true 21st century fashion, I could call it the roofscapade.

So last week, Rob needed some pie plates, and I needed a beverage shaker bottle. At Bed Bath & Beyond, I saw some stuck-on dial thermometers, and I bought two. I’d been wanting one on my office window and one on the kitchen sink window.

On Friday, I decided that today was the day I’d figure out how to get that thermometer on my own window. I can’t just pop out the screen and put it on because I can’t suction it to the top pane when the window is open, thus covering the top pane, and I can’t put it on the bottom pane when the window is open because then it won’t have room to slide past the screen.

On top of that, the ground in front of my window is uneven, so I can’t put a ladder beneath it–the easiest, most straight-forward way to access the outside of that window.

My only option is to climb up on the roof and stick it on from the outside.

Well, Rob worked Friday night, but that wasn’t gonna stop me. I’m not afraid of heights. I don’t need help to do something other people might think is risky. I’m not scared.

I get the ladder, prop it up against the house, and climb up, thermometer in hand and a paper towel with some Windex on it tucked in my pocket.

Our roof is really steep, so I decided to crab-walk across the roof so I’d have a low center of gravity. I get about 70% of the way to the window and I realize that my office window is just far enough away from the roof with nothing to hold onto that my little plan wouldn’t work.

So I crab-walk back to the ladder, at which point, I realize that I had set the ladder too steeply. Two fears overtake me at this point:

  1. Because the ladder is sticking up over the roof, I’m afraid that standing up tall enough to step over the ladder will make me lose my low center of gravity and I’ll go sliding off the roof.
  2. Because the ladder is so steep, I won’t be able to climb down; climbing over the ladder (if I don’t fall of the roof ala Fear #1) will send the ladder falling backwards.

I’m paralyzed. What the heck am I supposed to do?!

There’s no way I’m jumping off the roof. I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon, and I don’t want an injury to ruin this for me! I could sit there until I could get the neighbor’s or some passerby’s attention to come rearrange the ladder and then spot me. Or I could wait until Rob came home, but he wouldn’t be home until at least 11:30.

At this point, I believe I may have whimpered a bit.

I spent some time willing the neighbors to get thirsty and go to their sink and look out their kitchen window and see me. I prayed they’d go outside and check on their boxer, Evony, who, along with Rowdy, were watching me intently. Rowdy even got a bit worked up, pacing the deck below me and whimpering herself a bit.

I alternated between waving towards the neighbor’s kitchen window so they’d know I wasn’t just hanging out on the roof for funsies, and burying my face in my hands, sobbing.

Finally, I took a deep breath and weighed my options. Banish my (probably) irrational fears and climb down that ladder. Catch someone’s attention. Wait until Rob got home to rescue me. Jump off the roof.

None appealed to me, but I convinced myself enough that the ladder fears were myths to scoot from my perch on the corner of the roof back to the ladder—twice—so twice I crawled to the ladder, realized I was wrong, then crawled back to the spot I’d found on the corner of the house, the spot where I could sit most easily on our steep roof.

I peeked over the east eave, trying to spot the highest ground I could jump to. I tried to remember anything I’d heard about jumping off a building onto the ground without serious injury, but I was pretty sure that all I recalled was movie stunt crap.

I weighed my options again. I could stick it out on the roof until Rob came home. I would crab-walk over to the satellite dish, prop myself against it, and just hang out. That could work.

But I could not waste 6 full hours just sitting on the roof! I had work and relaxing to do and a puppy to feed. Besides, I’m not one to sit on my ass waiting to be rescued.

I resolved that jumping off would be the safest, considering the obvious dangers of the ladder. I decided to turn onto my stomach and slide as far off the roof as I could, getting my feet as close to the ground as possible, then pushing off the roof and hopefully avoid ruining the darn gutter, which was totally in my way.

It still took me several minutes to work up the courage to jump, then several more minutes to make sure my plan of attack was the best way to get down off the roof and avoid breaking a leg. Finally convinced, I turned over and slowly lowered myself, then pushed and landed! Rowdy was on me in an instant, licking my face and almost knocking me over.

I stood up and assessed myself. I only felt pain in the top of my feet, just in front of where my leg joins my foot. Not bad.

So, dear, reader, I survived this adventure without a single scratch. And I even learned a few things along the way.

  • A higher point of view knocks several degrees off of the angle of a ladder leaning against your house. Compensate for this while you’re on the ground or find yourself in my predicament.
  • No matter how independent or confident or self-sufficient you think you might be, don’t climb up onto a roof without someone else there.
  • If you’re taking a risk, you’d better be taking your cell phone. That’d have come in mighty handy when I was up on that roof.
  • (Rob, this one’s for you.) Who needs a stick-on thermometer anyhow. I have a smartphone that will tell me that, and there are two computers in this house that can also tell me how hot or cold it is out there. Not to mention the local radio station, KSMU, that reports the temperature every half-hour.

Oh, speaking of smartphones, I briefly considered taking mine with me up there, but I thought that was stupid. What if I drop it? If I keep it in my front pocket, it would limit my mobility because I wouldn’t be able to bend as much. Why do I need it any way? It would have saved me a lot of grief if I’d brought it. Still, I would have had to weigh which friend I could call who would give me the least grief or be the most understanding.

So… just in case I’m in a bind again, who wants to be my emergency life saver?

Wordless Wednesday: Looking Out the Front Windows