I left my title on the trail

Yesterday about halfway through this week’s Long Run (seven miles), which was actually the week’s only run that still went absolutely great, I had a title for this post come to mind and evidently it got left on the trail. (My empty Gu packets did not however get left on the trail.)

I finished the seven miles with zero negative input from Ye Olde Knee. Not a twinge, grimace, whine, or yap. The Secret was Pace.  (Wait!  That was my title!) Plain, pure, and simple! I started and stayed at a consistent 11:45 – 12:00 per mile pace from the beginning.  And intervals. Intervals are also key.  I ran to each half mile marker (about 5:30 – 6:00 minutes) then walked about a minute – long enough to take a sip of water and get my breath, but not long enough to let my heart rate drop completely – then started running again. And it worked like a charm!  So much so that I went ahead and downloaded the un-free ($4.99) Endomondo App so I can customize a 6:1 interval workout that will cue me when to walk and how long a minute is.

Next week we run eight miles and the week after that nine, and so on until Labor Day when we’ll be up to thirteen miles which allows for a taper week starting the weekend before our Half Marathon. And for the first time in a long time I can really see me doing this.

But!
One of my single greatest running accomplishments starts tomorrow evening at 6:00 pm. Tomorrow evening I will be wearing a bright gold singlet with five red letters on the back: C-O-A-C-H as a Volunteer Coach in the Women’s Running Training Program that got me started with this madness on this path.

This time last year I showed up in a gravel parking lot with about 600 other women milling around in the insufferable Mid-July Memphis heat wondering:
A) What on earth I was doing there;
B) What made me think I could run;
C) How far – or shortly – into this I was going to drop dead from a heat-and-being -overweight-and-out-of-shape induced coronary; and finally
D) When someone was going to come along and talk some sense into me instead of saying things like “I admire you for doing this Jules!” “I am so proud of you Jules!” and especially HCRP who kept insisting on saying “You can do this Honey!”
How was I gonna quit in the face of all that belief and pride and encouragement?
But then, caught up in what was quite obviously a protracted endorphin high or the after-effects of near heatstroke, the day after our first Run With Coaches I emailed the Head Coach of the Beginning Runners Group and told her I was already committed to being a Volunteer Coach next year. Which is now this year.
I did this for a couple reasons.
The aforementioned obvious endorphin/heatstroke thing.
Being impressed with the Volunteer Coaches who were giving of their (seasoned, farther-than-I-would-ever-run-ever-in-my-life-runners) time, and genuinely caring about my overweight, middle-aged, out-of-shape self and wanting to (hopefully) be (maybe a little tiny bit) like them someday.
But really mostly to put myself so far Out There with “this running thing” that I had absolutely zero opportunity to back out. Or quit running once the Graduation 5K was “in the books”.
I know me.
I’ve seen me start something with great enthusiasm only to fizzle out because there wasn’t a long-term end game.
So I gave myself one.
To be a Volunteer Coach would mean having more experience than “Oh, yeah, I did this last year but haven’t seen my running shoes since September but I’m sure it will all come back to me.”
Of course I wasn’t counting on this running thing to become everything it has.

Really, it hasn’t “become” anything.
It has simply given focus, direction, and physicality to things that have always been part of me.
The determination to do something no matter how difficult, inconvenient, or sometimes painful it may be.
The drive to keep with something even when I have every valid reason to “just let it go”.
The realization that The Goal I began with wasn’t so much The Goal as it was a stepping stone to The Next Big Thing.
The knowledge and understanding that the race I’m running is mine and that whether I’m first or last crossing the Finish Line isn’t the point. The point is that I kept going from Start to Finish and got there (in the words of Jeff Galloway) “vertical, breathing, and ready to do it again”.
I have learned:
That, like causes and battles, there are a million races out there and I simply can’t run them all. Mostly because there are only so many Registration Fees in our budget, but still . . . you have to pick your races.
That the races you can’t run, you can always be there to help with and cheer others on through.
That pace is everything.
That water is our friend.
That hills – even the steep ones – make the run more interesting and are less painful in the long run.
That it’s all about the shoes and supporting The Girls. And you will pay for cheap shoes one way or another.
That I can do this.
And if I can do this I can do anything!
And if I can do this, and anything, so can you.

See? I was born for this Coach thing!

So. This is how it happens . . .

Step One: One is awarded with an Inspiring Blog Award.
Step Two: One thinks up about a bajillion other things to write about.
Step Three: One’s Writing-About-Running Muse promptly skips town, apparently on some sort of retreat with one’s ability to formulate an intelligent thought.

I’ve been running.
In fact, on Saturday, June 23rd I ran my first 10K.

But about a week before that I had an epiphany.
Or reached a conclusion.
Or set a goal.
Or maybe I just surrendered to the inevitable.
Whatever I did, I also put it Out There. Because I’m me and that’s how I roll.

A couple weeks ago (hold on, let me check Facebook…) Sunday evening, June 17th HCRP and I were enjoying a glass of wine after dinner sitting out back on our deck and discussing our training schedule for the (then) three months leading up to our Half Marathon in September. Somewhere in the conversation I heard the somebody say “Something tells me that as soon as I cross the Finish Line of my first Half I’m going to decide I want to do a Full just once to say I did.” HCRP just looked at me and said “Possibly.”  The Queen of Potential Hyperbole marries The King of Understatement.  These are the conversations that are spawned by that.

And sometime the next day I decided to just give up, give in, and go ahead and set The Goal. Or surrender. See above. So I put it Out There on Facebook. And now that my muse has dragged her sorry self back from wherever it was she’s been the past couple weeks I’m putting it Out There here.

We’re running the USAF Half Marathon this September.
We’re running the St. Jude Half Marathon this December.
We’re running the New Orleans Half Marathon next March.
And then we begin training to run The St. Jude Marathon – FULL MARATHON – in December 2013.
And I say “we” not “I” because HCRP has decided he may as well do the St. Jude Full next year too.  Frankly, I’ve been expecting him to announce his intention to do a Full since he finished his first Half last March.

And I have a feeling that The Point won’t be in actually running the marathon, but in deciding to do it and everything between now and that particular Finish Line.

So there you have it.
I’m going to run a Full Marathon.
Next year.

For tonight I have to get to bed because tomorrow morning’s three miles aren’t gonna run themselves!

I’m not gonna get all Sally Field here . . .

and title this “She likes me, she really likes me!” See? I totally didn’t title the post that!

I’m not gonna lie, I love getting comments.
The best thing about having a Smart Phone – other than being able to track my runs via GPS – is getting my emails right there in the palm of my hand 24 / 7 / 365 so that when a comment is left here on my little corner of the blogosphere I know instantly! And I can come bask in the glow of the love and adoration.

So you can imagine my shock, surprise, and yes I got all choked up when I read this comment not so very long ago:
Hi again, JFT aka Jules (or so I see)! I nominated you for (which means you receive) an Inspiring Blog Award. Your blog is one that immediately caught my attention and still holds it. I love your insights into the practice of running and the runner’s mind. I’ve provided a link on my blog to yours. Follow the rather flexible rules of the award (outlined on my blog) if you will. In any case, this gave me the opportunity to let you know of my continued support of your blog!
First that I was nominated at all, but also that I was nominated by a blogger who is what I consider A Real Blogger.

There are, of course, responsibilities that incumbent upon the recipient of such an honor. The rules of this award state (according to Holly’s exhaustive rules and possible rewrites) that I must:
1) Nominate fellow bloggers for this award and state why;
2) Give seven personal revelations about myself that would not ordinarily appear on my blog; and
3) publicly thank my nominator (I am still blown away, seriously), providing a link to that blog.  THANK YOU HOLLY!!!

First up my nominees for The Inspiring Blog Award

Pot of Manna is, in addition to being a very dear friend of mine, a blog written about faith from the perspective of someone who has had every reason to abandon hers but hasn’t. The genuine kindness and empathy of having had one’s life not necessarily be what was ‘planned’ shows through in every word. The never-ending hope and faith that sometimes comes naturally, but is also sometimes hard-fought is a a beacon to me when I need it most.

Run. Dog. Cat. Me. is a blog about running. And a dog. And a cat. And Me. Not ME “Me”. It’s about Terri Lee the “Me” of the blog title. Terri Lee is one of the people responsible for the Women’s Running Training Program that is responsible for my presence here in my little corner of The World Wide Web. Terri Lee is smart, funny, open, occasionally downright heartbreaking, and all of it is 100% Real. Just like Me. Her “Me”, not me “Me”.

rebuildingholly – my generous benefactor – is another of those Just Flat-Out Real bloggers. And that’s what makes her inspiring. I also have a huge amount of admiration for the results she got from the 5K she was part of putting together this year. 1,000+ participants and $25,000 raised?! Totally my hero! And. You have to ask her about The Poo Bag. (Sorry for the edit of the title Holly, but I can’t say “s**t” in my blog because my mom might actually be reading and then I’d have one in a tree of my own! I knew you’d understand.

Minimalist Living is just plain admirable for the way he lives his life.
HCRP and I occasionally joke about divesting ourselves of all the extraneous crap in our lives and moving into an RV to “simplify our lives”. And I’ve started to say “Here honey, read this blog and we’re going to start divesting of stuff!” In fact I may have actually uttered the words. But at the moment I am still too attached to the security of my ‘stuff’ despite the discomfort being weighed down by it all sometimes brings. Which is probably why this blog inspires me so much. And no, I don’t comment often, because there are in fact limits to even my hypocrisy and this is one of them.

DR RACHEL RUNS is:
A doctor which means she survived med school.
She lives, and therefore runs, in New England. In Winter. That’s just craziness right there. Inspiring and admirable craziness, but craziness nonetheless.
She is a Pace Per Mile Reporter. That requires some serious running and some serious blogging about running.
And she’s a doctor.

365 Days of Pure Vegetarian © I love cooking and I am a vegetarian (lacto-ovo-pescatarian variety) so what could be better than a vegetarian blog?
I’ll tell you what!
A vegetarian cooking blog that posts absolutely visually stunning pictures of food!
Even if you never make the recipes the images alone are a feast for the eyes.

And finally . . .
Brain Tomahawk is another blogger who I am honored to say is also a personal friend. He’s smart, funny, makes up some of the best ever made-up words, and our friendship disproves the myth that Yankees (he’s an actual New York City Yankee, not just someone who lives north of Nashville) and Southerners can’t get along. We have singlehandedly transcended The Mason Dixon Line.
And he cooks.
And loves cats.

Seven Random Facts
I am allergic to oatmeal, it breaks me out in hives. Yet it is one of my favorite foods. There are times when I absolutely crave it. To the point that I’ll eat an oatmeal raisin cookie (maybe six) with a Benadryl chaser and just nap through the hives.

I have no middle name. None. Never have had. It’s not like I had one and left it somewhere and it never showed up in the Lost and Found. I just don’t have one. My mother once offered to pay to legally change my name to add one, but I couldn’t think of one I liked to go with Julianne.

Artificial sweeteners make me violently ill. Even if I don’t know they’re an ingredient in something I end up nauseous and develop a near-migraine level piercing headache. I consider myself akin to a canary in a coal mine with them since I am firmly convinced they are one of the worst things we can put into our bodies. I refer to them as “rat poison”.

If I tell you “I have no opinion” or “I don’t care” I have no opinion and I don’t care. I’m not just dodging the question. When I do have an opinion or care one way or the other about something you’ll know. (See above for a perfect example.)

I have a very good nose for wine. This was HCRP’s contribution to this list when I asked him for another random fact about me.  I suppose it’s no coincidence that one of my favorite running headbands says “Will Run for WINE”.

I love NCAA Football! I am a Nebraska Cornhusker Fan.
I am not particularly thrilled with all this conference hopping that’s going on and the current configuration of The Big Twelve really having ten teams and The Big Ten really having twelve teams is like one of those “If a man gets on a train in Cleveland that’s traveling 500 mph and Mary has eleven apples then what does purple smell like?” math word problems to me.

Which leads us to the final random point about me that woudn’t otherwise be revealed on this blog:
I suck at math. Really, I do. I can do simple, single digit addition and subtraction in my head but past that if there isn’t a Schoolhouse Rock ditty to help me remember it – I’m toast.

So.
There you have it.

Pick Your Own Title

I started writing this late Saturday night after we got home from the 5K we ran.

Blame Tonia
Or
Why Run? / Why Running?
Or
Julianne, you think too much
Or (my personal favorite)
What’s Run Got To Do With It?

I mostly like that last one because this happens to be one of my absolute, all-time favorite songs ever.
But.
I digress. (Don’t play like that, you were warned long ago.)

Tonight I ran in my first 5K Race since December before The Decline and Fall of Ye Olde Knee which has seen me sitting out two 5Ks and one Half-Marathon. My personal performance and results of tonight’s race are (for purposes of this post) inconsequential; however, I promise a complete synopsis – and pictures – at a later date.

I also owe (really, seriously, I quite happily Owe this one) an entry as a result of having been nominated for an Inspiring Blog Award. I’m still fully digesting that one, as well as coming up with the requisite “seven personal revelations about myself that would not ordinarily appear on my blog” that actually gives me a fair amount of leeway given that I pretty much stay focued on my (arguably questionable and possibly insane) thoughts on and during runs. I mean there’s that Obscure Food Allergy, The Near Phobia, and Food Hoarding thing.
Again with the digressing.
There really is no stopping me.

Wait, why am I writing again?
Scrolls up . . .
Inspiring Blog . . .
First 5K in six months . . .
Tina Turner’s hit machine Private Dancer album . . . (I don’t link to everything – do your own Googling!)
Oh!
I remember.

So tonight after the 5K HCRP and I get home and he proceeds to ice his knotted up calf muscle (again, another post for another time), following the icing with a soak in the tub with epsom salts to ease the pain and tightness. As he was finishing, I decided a soak wouldn’t hurt me and so I settled into my own soak and started reading my latest Kindle Borrow: Amby Burfoot‘s “The Runner’s Guide to The Meaning of Life” (I generally link to Amazon.com for books, but in this case you can get an autographed copy direct from the author and I would much rather promote that option.) This book was recommended to me by a dear friend and fellow runner who also happens to be one of my personal Running Mentors, the above-mentioned “Tonia” you can blame for this post.

As I was reading I came across the following: “Runners don’t quit. We fade, we ‘hit the wall’, we’re sometimes reduced to a walk. But we keep on.” and I was stopped in my reading tracks.
Since I took up, and got hooked on, running right about ten months ago I have been asked no small number of variations of the question “Why running?”. I started to follow that with several “Or” alternative takes on the stated question; but really they all come down to the same thing – whether the question had to do with my choice of this particular sport, my choosing a sport at all given that I have never been especially athletically inclined, my decision to embrace athleticism at this particular age (I was 46 when I started – I’m 47 now because really, that is so very much older and wiser), or whatever the mechanics of the question – it always comes down to “Why running?!” And until tonight my answer depended on how out of the blue the inquiry happened to have hit me.

The truth is there were several reasons I began the running training program I did a little over a year ago that started this whole little odyssey.

I wanted to learn to enjoy running.
Because my husband did.
Because I always envied runners I would see out there looking all zen and In The Zone.
But mostly because when I saw What Women Want and it got to the faux Nike ad I bawled like I did when ET died PLUS during the part after Shelby’s funeral in Steel Magnolias PLUS when Johnny Castle rescued Baby from The Corner all rolled into one.  Yeah, it was THAT kind of cry!

It was something I had done (by force) and failed miserably at (in gym class) and was (as we Southerners are wont to say) deadset and bygod determined to finally do and do well. Or at least do right. At least once.

And why lie
I wanted to lose weight
Yeah, I’ll admit it, I was seeking The Happy Side Effect. I think the consequence of that is that coming slower than I’d have liked and honestly becoming less and less The Point all the time. The Numbers I’m chasing now are on timing clocks more often than my bathroom scale.

But it was mostly that What Women Want faux Nike ad thing. At first.

Tonight when I read the quote from Amby Burfoot it suddenly came to me that running is the only sport that could ever have been a fit for me. Because I may hit walls, I may slow to a walk, but I never quit. And that’s what I love most about running. And why I love The Road.

She said: Don’t give up

Okay, she didn’t “say” it, she wrote it.
More accurately, she blogged it.
Don’t give up written by my second favorite Running Blogger in the entire Blogosphere.

Go ahead.
Read her post.
You’ll thank me.
I’ll wait right here ’til you get back.

See?
I told you so.
You’re welcome. 

I needed to read what she wrote about keeping some piece of running.
I needed to read what she wrote about achieving a running goal.
I needed to read what she wrote about giving ourselves time and space.
I needed to read “DON’T GIVE UP” and “but don’t quit”.

I needed to read these words because after Sunday’s five mile run – out of town where there was every reason not to run that I didn’t use any of – my knee was screaming. Not the sharp, shooting, debilitating scream I’ve heard before (The Scream that is my deepest fear at the start of every run) but screaming nonetheless.

Monday the knee was still stiff and whiny and the thighs were whimpering in sympathy. For the record: Sitting in a bucket-seated vehicle for seven hours after a five mile run isn’t necessarily the best post-run plan.

Tuesday was supposed to be a run day. Monday night I couldn’t sleep. Tuesday the knee was still stiff and the thighs were only speaking to me in angry, sore-muscle tones.  Tuesday there was no running.  I pretended not to care.  I pretended I wasn’t relieved that I wasn’t going to have to worry about feeling The Scream.

And this morning I woke up thinking “Maybe running really isn’t your thing. Maybe you are ‘too old’ to have started this. Maybe it’s time to just go back to walking and forget about half-marathons and PRs and all the rest of it.” and I re-set my alarm and slept past The Time For Running. But in my head I was ticking through the weeks between now and September 15th – My Second First Half Marathon – figuring the smallest increments of distance I can add week to week and still be up to twelve miles by August 25th in time to get at least two runs in at that distance and still have a taper week before The Half.

Then I read these words: “I wanted 2011 to be the year I ran. No goals, just run.” and I flashed back to last summer when I started this whole crazy “I’m going to become a runner” adventure.
I didn’t set out to run a Half.
I didn’t set out to PR anything.
I just wanted to run. And enjoy running.
I didn’t care if “all” I ran in a given interval was one minute or one hundred minutes.
I wanted to, as Terri Lee so simply and eloquently put it, “just run”.
That was it.

Which is precisely what I intend to do tomorrow.
Just run.
At my comfortable, workable, enjoyable pace.
And I’ll walk when I need to walk to recover my breath and recenter my intention.
No pressure.
No guilt.
No worries about whether or how long it takes to finish that Half in September.
Just run.
Run until I hit that sweet spot. And then run a little further in it.

And my knee?
It’ll be just fine.
Like the run.

Week One of The Cave People

In two words: Went. Well.
In two other words: Got. Results.

Neither of us did any running.
I had a reason.  See Previous Entry.
HCRP . . .  He can start his own blog.

We have different reasons for adopting this new eating style he and I.
Mine is to basically ‘clean up’ my vegetarian diet by eliminating grains, legumes, (limited) dairy, and (what few) sugars I consume. In reality the legumes and brown rice have been the biggest challenge since, like most vegetarians, I have replaced much of my meat consumption with the legume/grain combination as a protein source.
Oh, and I miss my Greek Yogurt.
And cheese. Not that I ate a lot of it, but I do miss my cheesy little boyfriend Colby Jack.
*le sigh*

HCRP’s is to kickstart his weight loss which seemed to have stalled out even during his half-marathon training regimen. That and I essentially told him “HCRP, we’re going to do this Paleo Diet thing. By the book for at least one month to see what kind of results we get.”
He weighed in Monday morning to establish his baseline weight. Tuesday is our Official Weigh-In Day and we each weighed in with visible results. (More on mine in a minute…)

This morning as I was showering I heard the telltale *beeep* of the scale firing up and thought it a tad odd for him to be weighing in between Tuesdays (he generally doesn’t) but didn’t say anything about it.
We’re taking part in a class at our church that meets on Saturday mornings. At the start of each class we go around the group and share the good that has gone on in our lives in the past week. We went around the group and when it came HCRP’s turn nobody was more surprised than me when he spoke. This past week, with zero running/working out (don’t judge him – I’ve kept him busy assisting me with final plans for My 5K) he lost four pounds!
I didn’t say much at the time, but a few minutes ago I sauntered into the living room and asked if he was convinced that this Paleo Diet was going to work. He agreed that yes, it was.

Score One for The Cave Woman!
And her Cave Man. 


The only – and I mean o-n-l-y – way to succeed on this particular Eating Plan is best summed up in the word “Plan”. As in Meal/Menu Planning. Which is how I’ve spent my afternoon.

Sunday Dinner is kind of a big deal around here, and with tomorrow being Easter Sunday I’m pulling out all the stops. Our menu for tomorrow is:
Grilled Lemon, Dill Salmon
Grilled Lemon Garlic Asparagus (brushed with coconut oil)
Roasted Orange Ginger Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Carrots with honey, paprika & a dash of cayenne
Strawberry, Walnut & Spinach Salad with Avocado Dressing
It should be yummy.
And as soon as I figure out how I’m doing all of it I am more than happy to share recipes. Actually the only thing to “figure out” is the Avocado Dressing. The rest if it is just sprinkling spices and drizzling either olive or coconut oil.


Le Knee has been Le Pain Free for a good couple Le Days, so I am hopeful that Monday after work I’ll get in a good, one mile run. My Plan Of Action is to walk 1/4 mile, run (slow and easy) 1/4 mile, walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile.

My 5K is next Saturday.
This time next week it will be All Over but The Dust Settling and cutting the check to The Ronald McDonald House.
Until May 1st when we begin planning for next year’s event.
I’m already planning to expand the event to include a 10K.
Never rest on your laurels, especially when you don’t even have them yet.

Oh, speaking of Unrested On Laurels checthis out!

This is Your Intrepid Middle-Aged Woman Blogger wearing a Size 12 Dress that has languished in a box marked “Skinny Dresses” in the eight (that’s ‘8’ in number years) years since YIM-AWB was last able to fit into it.
YIM-AWB  loves This Dress.
YIM-AWB  has missed wearing This Dress.
YIM-AWB  is very happy to be back in this dress.
YIM-AWB, before actually seeing herself zipped into This Dress was just certain she was still “too fat for” one of the “Skinny Dresses”.  She was, apparently, quite inaccurate in her assessment of her own size and shape.
YIM-AWB is, in a break from long-held custom, quite happy to have been proven
wrong mistaken.

YIM-AWB would also like to point out to One And All the flat, well-cushioned, supportive footwear at the bottom of This Dress.
Yes, she has Learned Her Lesson. 

And so it comes to this

Alternate Title: How cute, harmless looking little flats kept me from getting back to running.

I got my first pair of Real Heels the Christmas I was fourteen years old.
These weren’t glorified Mary Jane Slingbacks with a minuscule wedge ‘heel’.
These were Heels.  Black, pointy-toed, nearly-stiletto slim, three inch Heels.
And I.  Was.  Smitten.
In the years that followed I became a connoisseur of Heels.  By my early forties I had a veritable reputation and had attained Consultant/Rockstar Heel Wearing status among my peers.  People asked my opinion about Heels.  People gave me Heels they “couldn’t” wear.  I accepted their gifts  but not – at times – without a touch of pity as I took possession of My New Babies.
When my best friend was diagnosed with MS and realized her Heel Wearing Days were behind her it was me she called to come over and go through her shoes with her, and it was to me that she entrusted many pair of beautiful, slender-heeled pumps and sandals.  I was to be her Proxy Heel Wearer.  And I did so.  But there was always a trace of guilt when I’d wear a pair from my Lisa Collection.

And then, I took up running.
At first I believed I could strike a balance between My Two Lovahs.  If I only wore Real Heels on Sundays to church when I wasn’t really on my feet much, and maybe out to dinner with HCRP when I wasn’t really on my feet much, I could totally satisfy both of them: Fitness and Vanity.
That lasted about two weeks.
Then the Calf Cramps came to town. (Awesome garage band name isn’t it?  “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Calf Cramps!)   And The Heels – even the Lisa collection – Had. To. Go.  I sent them to a good home.  A dear, sweet, heel-loving, and not mid-forty year old newbie runner friend at church.  And with that
 I resigned myself to a future filled with cute flats, and little (I’m talking less than 2″) kitten-heeled slides and what-passes-for pumps.

Spring springs and it’s time to unpack the Spring/Summer clothes and shoes.  And everything is peachie-keen.  After all, as I’m putting on all those clothes that have been stored since last October things are too big, too bigger, and too biggest.  I’m talkin’ fall off without being unbuttoned/unzipped too big.  It’s awesome!
Until this past weekend.
Saturday night HCRP and I went out to grab dinner and go see a friend play and sing at a Songwriter’s Night at a local coffee house.  It was a beautiful, summer-like night so I broke out my favorite pair of summer sandals.  They’re flats – like nearly barefooted flats – and all cute and hippie-strappy, and I’ve had them forever and they just make me happy to wear.
Sunday I broke out my cute, pink, kitten-heeled slides to wear to Church after which we had to run a couple errands.  And by 1:30 My Left Knee was screaming.
Yes, that Left Knee.
The one I’ve been rehabbing from Runner’s Knee since February!
The one I’ve been following Chiropractor’s Orders about the care and rehabbing of.
The one that had, after two weeks of aerobic pace walking and strength training, been pain free for the entire two weeks.
Until Sunday it was pain free.  Sunday it went back to being un-pain free.
Monday it was more un-pain free.  Which meant no getting back to running.
Tuesday it was even more un-pain free.
And early on in all of this un-pain free-ness I knew exactly what had happened.  Cute little flats and low, kitten-heeled slides with zero cushion, shock absorption, or support.  Apparently this little knee of mine requires cushion and shock absorption lest it decide to get all tweaked and un-pain free.
And on Wednesday when I saw The Incredible, Amazing, Super-Genius Chiro Doc he agreed with my assessment of the cause of the un-pain free-ness.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

Remember when I said I gave away “all my heels”?
Well maybe I lied just a tiny bit.
I did keep one pair.
I kept these.
These are my Red Bandolino Pumps.
These are fairly representative of My Heels. High, sleek, sexy, and very powerful feeling.
I love and adore these shoes.  Moreover, my husband loves and adores these shoes.
I haven’t worn them in months, but I do reserve the right to wear them for a special night out and most assuredly one where I don’t walk further than ten feet at a time.


These are the cute little kitten-heeled slides that were the undoing of my knee Sunday.

These are what I walked out of Payless wearing and was deeply grateful to have found in my size.

For contrast, here are the three side by side by side.
I’m going to need a moment of silence to grieve.
And to accept my heel-free, well-cushioned future.

Embracing The Caveman

It is a well-known fact that most overweight people who take up running do so not just for the joy of wearing out $100+ pairs of shoes and collecting Race Bibs. No, we are also looking for what I call the Happy Side Effect of weight loss.
Okay, I was/am.
So was/is HCRP.
And, to a certain degree we’ve each attained a level of success in that pursuit. I guess when you run enough miles pursuing something eventually you’re going to catch up with it!

My Left Knee (why does that sound like the really bad title of a really bad runner’s memoir?) has finally had enough rest, elevation, stretching, icing, rolling on a foam roller, braces, knee bands, and generally anything-but-running that it is now accepting of moderate exercise.
Wednesday we hit the gym to begin adding strength training to our overall program which had been The Plan all along once we/he finished that first Half. I backed off the amount of weight on the leg machines and did only one set and all was well.
Thursday we headed to our favorite outdoor running venue where I walked once around the 1.6 mile track at one of the lakes with a friend while Rich ran it twice. That little bit of walking it once wisdom was thanks to my friend saying “Uhhh… No.” when I asked “Should we go around again?” in what probably sounded the way eager puppies sound in people’s heads when they stand there wagging their tails with tennis balls in their mouths. I have smart friends. Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t all okey-dokey and rarin’ to run.  I was feeling notsomuch twinges at the end of the once-around, but definitely a little bit of stiffness and mild inflammation in the tendon by the end of the walk. But no actual pain and this morning everything is a-okay in Kneeville.
Tonight we’re back to the gym for (still modified for me) strength training, and tomorrow while Rich runs three times around the lake I’ll walk once and a quarter then turn around and head back to sit, soak in the sunshine, and read a good book.

But back to the topic of today’s post.
So HCRP and I have been running along, following The Runner’s World Runner’s Diet and dropping a pound or two one week then gaining it right back the next. Oh, yeah, I had that fabulous six pound weight loss of a couple posts back but I gotta be honest and say that was basically dumb luck + the generosity of my metabolism staying ramped up even when I wasn’t able to run + the fact that in not running my apetite has reduced itself to crap. (On the up side: I have been eating breakfast most of the days since making Meus Amplitudo Mea Culpa). But really, we haven’t been getting the consistent results we’ve been wanting.

Being a big believer in the old adage about the definition of insanity being continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results, I started poking around Ye Olde Worlde Wide Web for alternatives that blend weight loss and what I like to call Fueling The Machine. As I was doing this poking a Facebook post of a friend who is a fitness machine (martial arts, running, body building – and does he have the results to show for it!) about starting the Paleolithic Diet a few weeks back towards the end of dropping his body fat percentage. Of course at the time I read his post (which accompanied a picture of a ginormous t-bone steak and half a plate of broccoli) I thought “All well and good for you Carnivore!” and dismissed this as an undoable for me since I don’t eat meat. (Actually, tomorrow it will be one year to the day since I stopped eating meat. Happy No-Meativersary to me!)
But the phrase “Paleo Diet” kept swirling around in my brain. Which led to the following thoughtversation. (Don’t you love how I just make up words? I need to become some kind of spokesperson for a society or association of word makeruppers like my friend Terri Lee is the spokesperson for Butt Falling Off Syndrome or BFOS. I digress . . . Which is another societation I could be spokesperson for. The Nationally Associated Society for Compulsive Digressors – NASCD. We need a poster. And a logo. Wait, I did it again… See?!)
Dang it. Where was I?
*scrolls back up*
Caveman eating without eating meat . . .
Runners need carbs . . .
Oh. Right.
The Thoughtversation.
Me: That Paleo Diet thing does sound interesting.
My Brain (MB): Yes, yes it does. For a CARNIVORE!
Me: True. But I do still eat fish, eggs, and dairy.
MB: Fine. Google it.
Me: Fine! I will!
GoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Ah HA!
MB: What?
Me: Look! That No Meat Athlete Guy says it can be done. And he is HARD CORE Vegetarian. He might even be Vegan.
MB: Okay fine. But what about that “Runners need carbs” thing?
Me: Vegetables and Fruits are carbs. Ask Atkins people. They practically break out in hives at the sight of anything vegetablier than lettuce!
MB: Atkins people eat more than lettuce.
Me: Whatever. Not an option.
MoreGoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Hey. You. Brain. Check this out. Written by a Runner for Runners on a Runner’s Magazine Website! HA!
MB: That’s one article.
Me: Oh yeah? *insert googling sounds* Well look at this: The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Dr. Loren Cordain. One of the guys the vegetarian runner dude had dinner with.  And it’s not “one article” it’s a BOOK!
MB: Huh. Well. Well huh.
Me: That’s all you’ve got? Look dude (yes, MB is sometimes a ‘dude’) I’m willing to try this. Obviously what we’ve been doing isn’t really working. And if I’m going to be able to train for a half-marathon without incurring any future knee injuries, and HCRP is going to be able to shave that nineteen minutes off his half-marathon time it seems to me that one of the biggest obstacles is the extra weight we are each lugging around. This isn’t necessarily a “weight loss” diet per se, but I can’t help but think that dropping grain-based carbs and dairy from our diets might help a little in that direction. Besides, Dr. Jeff has been none-too-subtle in his “go gluten free” messages and what better way to maybe kindasorta go along with that ‘nudge’ without actually going along with it than to do the same thing with a different label? Huh? This way we get the same benefits and results without him being able to come and say “I told you so!” because really, we didn’t do what he told. We did something different. Entirely.
MB: Well. Okay there is that. It’ll be like the Certs of dietary changes: Two, two, two benefits in one!
Me: You have entirely too many 70s references readily available.
MB: You’re the one who watched all that television as a child.
Me: I have Googling to do.
So after all that I ended up with the aforelinked book by Dr. Cordain and the The Paleo Diet Cookbook notsomuch because I need ideas for cooking – I love coming up with interesting and creative uses for food all on my own – but because, well, it was a reasonable excuse reason to buy a new cookbook!

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be going through our pantry, fridge, and freezer(s) and strafing all the grains and grain-based foods. (I’m not throwing them away, but one of my co-workers is gonna love me every time she makes spaghetti with whole grain noodles for the next six months!) And tomorrow evening I’ll be making up a menu and shopping list. I’m pretty much going to ‘automate’ our breakfasts and lunches and get creative with dinner.

For me it’s going to be a matter of just not eating pasta, bread, and potatoes and upping the vegetable and fruit quotient. There are a few – very few – staples of my diet I’ll have to find a new ‘source’ for. Such as yogurt. I’m hoping our local Whole Foods stocks the So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt because yogurt is a huge breakfast component for me.
HCRP may struggle a little more with the absence of bread, rice, and pasta but I’m pretty confident in the end results I expect us to see and that going a long way towards offsetting that struggle.
And yes, once this has become a habituated dietary pattern for us there will be allowances for occasional ‘cheats’. But honestly, based on everything I’ve read from people who have gone this route and stayed on it, I think we’ll find that we don’t necessarily miss all that grainy goodness as much as we might anticipate on the front end.

But today and tomorrow?
Oh honey, we’re goin’ out with a bang!
And a bagel.
And probably cookies.

The Velveteen Runner

In Margery Williams’ classic The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real the following discussion takes place between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse:
“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”


For some time now I have struggled with fully embracing the idea that *I* am A Real Runner. Never moreso than in the past several weeks while I haven’t been able to run. Oh I’ve put forth the rhetoric of “Well, I must be a real runner because I have a runner’s injury!” But that’s felt forced and hollow at best.

Last night Rich and I were on our way to a meeting with the Race Planning Team for what I affectionately refer to as “My 5K” and as we were driving through a particularly beautiful subdivision, rather than commenting on the (ridiculously early blooming) Azaleas and landscaping and whether or not I would have chosen that color to paint the shutters and trim on the house, I heard the following statement fall out of my face: This street would be a pisser of a run! in reference to the rolling hills we were driving up and down.
After a beat of stunned silence I said “Well dang. I must be a runner now!”
Rich?
He laughed.
I giggled a little bit. Kinda the way newly-minted thirteen year old girls giggle the first time they’re asked their age and get to say “I’m thirteen!”  But even with that it wasn’t Real for me.

But today.
Today The Realness of me Being A Runner hit me right smack between the slightly-tear-filled eyes.

On Sunday my husband is running his First Half Marathon!
And I am more excited for him than that one little exclamation point might indicate. I am like a bajillion exclamation points excited for him.
He’s been a runner for thirty years, and this is his First Half.
He’s playing his excitement pretty low-key, but I know it’s there.

I was typing up an entry for my online journal and when I got to the “Yeah, I’m really okay with not running this one with him and getting my own Finisher’s Medal because there’s the Air Force Half in September and The St. Jude in December” lie part I got completely choked up and had to stop writing there to come and write this here. And as I was closing one Wordpad document and opening another suddenly that whole “being Real” thing from The Velveteen Rabbit started running through my brain and it finally and fully hit me: I Am A Real Runner.

So, for all my fellow Velveteen Runners out there, let me tell you How You Know You’re Real: You know you’re A Real Runner when you feel the pain of the race you can’t run when you can’t run it.
At least that’s how it worked out for me.

P.S. Of course I’ll be posting Proud Wife pictures of Dearest HCRP at His First Half-Marathon Finish Line on Sunday! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! I wouldn’t let you miss that for the world!

Big Day for My Little Blog and Progress!

Yesterday was a really great day for me for two reasons:
The First Thing was a comment I got right here on this little blog from one of my running mentors/friends/blogging heroes Terri Lee, author of Run. Dog. Cat. Me. Check her out. She’s smart, funny, determined, and one of those people who gives freely from the benefit of her experiences not just as a runner, but as a person.
Anyway, her comment was “GIRL! YOU HAVE BEEN NOMINATED KREATIV BLOGGER! CHECK IT OUT: http://rundogcat.me/2012/03/13/you-take-a-few-days-off-and/” And for as flattering as the nomination itself was, when I went to her post (which I would have done anyway because I love reading her!) her comment about me and my blog had me absolutely puddled up sitting at my desk at work.
I’m still a little verklempt just thinking about it.

The Second Thing actually happened before The First Thing and it took place in the single most unexpected place on planet earth for Good Things to Happen: My bathroom scale!
Last Tuesday when I weighed in I had gained three pounds. Which wasn’t at all unexpected given the fact that I haven’t run in . . . awhile. Let’s just call it “awhile”. I’m tired of thinking how many days/weeks/soon-to-be-month since I last ran without pain or incident. (Although the fact that my last incident/pain-free run was a ten mile run is a nice thought. I digress . . . ) Anyway, I was prepared to have gained back some weight last Tuesday and was fully expecting the same thing yesterday.
Boy was I in for a shocker!

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a FIVE in the tens column there.

At first I doubted the veracity of my scale’s statement so I stepped off, reset it, and stepped back on. When I saw the same number twice I grabbed my phone (Because doesn’t everybody keep their cell phone handy in the bathroom when stepping on the scale? I mean, accidents happen most frequently in the home and bathroom scales have got to be responsible for a significant percentage of those. Oops, I digressed again!) and snapped a picture before Le Scale could change its mind, and that second digit!

For the record: My toes aren’t horribly disfigured or even particularly camera shy. I am however a Good Southahn Girl who happens to be woefully delinquent in removing chipped polish, I am also well-versed in The Rules about such things and feel that they apply equally to posting pictures of one’s feet in any context so I placed my poor little neglected toes in the Toe Polish Protection Program for purposes of sharing the important part of the picture which is . . .

The F-I-V-E in the tens column. I honestly can’t remember the last time there was a five in the tens column on a scale I was anywhere near. With or without a camera handy.

So that was yesterday.


Today’s Big Improvement is that I have ‘stepped down’ the level of support I’m providing to Ye Olde Patellar Tendon. After several days back to wearing the big, bulky brace

and ending two of those days pain free I decided to drop back to one of those groovy little knee bands.

So far, so good.  And in the interests of full disclosure – mine is black, not red.  So no, that isn’t my knee.
If I continue having no pain at the end of the day, I think on Saturday I’m going to get out and walk a mile or two at a good clip and see how it responds to that.
But no running.
Yet.