Monday, December 31, 2018

Books in 2018 - Fourth Quarter

This completes my un-originally titled Books in 2018 Series.  The first quarter list can be seen here, and the second quarter list is here, and the third quarter list is here.

  • The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - My friend Liz recommended this one in one of her monthly reading lists, and it did not disappoint.
  • The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - Ditto about my friend Liz recommending this in one of her monthly reading lists and it not disappointing!
  • Marlena by Julie Buntin - I randomly picked this one up off a library display, and it was a little slow at times but overall worth reading.
  • The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce - This reminded me of The Walk series by Richard Paul Evans and I loved it.  Some days I am so ready to set off on this type of journey myself.  I read about this one on Liz's blog too!
Reading in compression socks with legs
elevated = winning
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  Maybe you should just consult Liz's blog for all of my reading list this quarter!  I don't always like nonfiction as much as fiction, because I read to "escape" sometimes, but this one was worth reading.
  • The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yah.  I picked this one up from the youth section while waiting for Albani to pick our her books at the library, and it was one that could be enjoyed by any age (the main character is 12, but I sure remember what it was like to be a 12-year-old girl!).  It was almost a PG-rated version of The Sisters Chase, which I read in July.
  • Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell.  This one was set in the Ozarks, by an author who lives in the area, although not the exact area where I live.  It was super cold while I was reading it, so the title seemed fitting.
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Another one from Liz's blog.  At first I couldn't get into this book at nearly stopped reading it; I only continued because I'd read everything else I had checked out from the library and hadn't had a chance to go back.  But then it picked up and I loved it!
  • The Christmas Bargain by Sarita Leone.  This was meh; I only finished it because it was short.
  • The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans.  I put all of Evans's books that my library had that I had not yet read on hold so I could read them at Christmastime, and this was my favorite of the 4 I read in December.
  • The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans.  Another touching read!
  • The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans.  I'm a broken record raving about his books, but I will say this was one of my least favorites.
  • The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans.  This was a super quick read, and fittingly I read it on a Sunday when we normally would have been at church but were at home due to Albani having a projectile vomit-inducing stomach bug.
  • Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh.  I wasn't sure if I'd like this one when I started it, but in the end I did.
  • Lucky Alan by Jonathan Lethem.  This was a collection of short stories, and I struggled with the wording/phrasing of it.
  • Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott.  This one was creepy, but I also recommend it!
  • You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld.  This was a set of unrelated short stories.  I enjoyed the writer's style and plan to read more books by her.
I think in 2019 I'll just make a list of the books I read without elaborating.  I always give vague descriptions/recommendations because I am lazy I don't want to give anything away for someone who hasn't read the book, but I'm not sure those descriptions added anything!  One thing I learned from breaking my books down by month is that I read more when it's cold outside.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Treadmill Tricks

I typically avoid the treadmill; I just don't enjoy running on it like I enjoy running outdoors.  I made it through winter 2017-2018 running 7 days a week with only one run on the treadmill, on a Sunday when we were iced in at home.  I also did one run on the indoor track at the YMCA (7.5 laps = 1 mile, but I went for time so I didn't have to count laps!). Otherwise I found a way to get outside every day, through a combination of lunch break runs, screw shoes, and the right gear and strategies.

After my calf injury in September, I was able to return to running on the AlterG treadmill at 40% body weight about a month before I could run outside.  Although I will never love any treadmill, I sure embraced this one - because my other workout options were the elliptical, bike, and pool!  I ran most of my November mileage on the AlterG, and during that time I learned a few tricks.

I've always covered the treadmill display when forced on it by icy roads, leaving only the pace and incline uncovered so I can see them to adjust.  I've also always frequently changed things up with the pace and incline, plus on the AlterG I could gradually add a little weight throughout the run.  I listened to Pandora radio on all of my AlterG treadmill runs, and during many of them I would change something each song - up the pace, up the weight, or up the incline.  It would break things up to have something to "look forward to" at each song change.

The downside of having the display covered is that you have to uncover it occasionally to check your time/distance, and this was becoming a game for me; I was basically seeing how long I could go without checking and trying to gauge my time by other things (e.g., number of songs that had played, how much daylight there was outside, who was coming in the PT area, who was coming or leaving the adjacent gym)!  Then I started setting the timer on my phone to go off when the amount of time I wanted to run was up - and I never had to uncover the display again!  This quickly became my favorite treadmill trick.  I'd usually set my timer for an hour and run until it went off.  I did this on the elliptical when I was injured too!

I also think if you have to run on the treadmill, workouts always go faster than easy runs.  I like music over podcasts because I can zone out at times without missing anything, but the occasional podcast is fun too.  I would watch marathons on my DVR if I ran on my treadmill at home (I have the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon saved and protected for such occasion!), but on the AlterG at most I could watch people playing basketball or doing bootcamp in the adjacent gym.  I mostly watched my shirt covering the display and the fan on the wall in front of me, hah.

One thing that is worse than treadmill running is no running.  There are times when the treadmill may be necessary for safety (e.g., winter weather, road conditions, lightning, traveling in a sketchy area) or because of other life obligations (e.g., childcare).  I don't plan to run on the regular treadmill at all if I can avoid it, but after so much time on the AlterG I now know I can make it through any ice storm the Midwest throws at me!

For as expensive as an AlterG treadmill is, the display is
decidedly unfancy

Friday, December 7, 2018

Letter to an Injured Runner

Hey you!  With the running injury.  You identify so much as a runner that you are currently calling yourself an injured runner to explain your lack of running.

We know that every serious runner has been injured, yet that doesn't make it any easier when you're the injured runner.  It's so easy to lose track of how it feels to be sidelined when you're not, no matter how many times you have been before.  The hole in your daily life seems ever-present.

This wasn't your plan, and you may never embrace it or even get beyond disdain for it, but it isn't about that.  It is about adapting to the new plan.  God's plan is better than anything we could dream up, even though it often doesn't feel that way, especially for us Type A planner runners.  When our plans don't work out, it's because He has better ones.  Trusting that is hard no matter how strong your faith.

But faith also means knowing that tomorrow will be better than today.  You'll be back there; never lose that faith.  It may not be tomorrow, or the next week or month or even year - or without false re-starts and bumps in the road - but you will get there.  Never stop fully believing.

It's okay if your belief falters sometimes though; don't feel guilty if this happens.  It's okay to not be positive at all times.  It's okay to mourn for the races you're missing.  It's okay to be disappointed as the DNSs accumulate.

It's lonely.  It's likely many of your closest friends are runners, and you're not seeing them as often since you can't meet to run, plus no one wants to talk about cross-training (including you!).  Maybe not running makes you less energetic and social too.  It's okay that as you become more and more excited about your friends crushing races, that you become more and more sad that you're not.

Other runners often say, "It's only running," but it's okay to disagree with that.  Sure, it IS only running, but it overflows into countless other areas of your life.

People tell you to do the things that you avoid when you're training, but maybe you realize that you don't feel like you miss out on anything at all?  You don't want to stay out late or have another glass of wine or go camping or skiing.  You want your normal routine and passion back.

People will say "enjoy your well-deserved rest" and "your body needs a break".  It's okay to roll your eyes when they turn away.  They have the best intentions, but they don't understand.

It's okay to feel bad about how upset you are about not running.  It's okay to think, "Who am I to be so distraught over this when so many people have so many bigger problems?" while simultaneously having a breakdown.

Big goals take big risks, and any time you are training for PRs you are riding the line between running your best and getting hurt.  Take what you learned about yourself and move forward.  Address your weaknesses; this will help your injury recovery plus it will also help your times later.

And finally, keep calling yourself a runner; you still are.

A runner with injury experience

*A couple of posts that really spoke to me during my injury can be found here and here.

**I wrote this while was injured, but didn't hit publish until I began running again.  I had this fear that I might never run again and then what right did I have to tell anyone else who was injured anything?

I made this face most of the time I was injured

Thursday, December 6, 2018

What I'm Craving While Injured...

Here is a mix of my healthy eating options and the downward spiral that was my eating when I couldn't run!  I crave healthy foods when I'm running, but I sure don't when I'm not.  I guess I need either the endorphins from running or the mood boost from sugar.  I tried to eat foods that would help my healing most of the time, but I admittedly ate a lot of desserts that I would not have during training.

This mango salsa topped teriyaki salmon with quinoa, rice, edamame, and kale was amazing!

At the end of September I started limiting caffeine to only before key workouts and races; therefore in October-November I had none since I was injured (at the publishing of this post I have still had zero).  I got several herbal teas that were a fantastic replacement for hot caffeinated morning drinks, and this one was my favorite.

I tried one of these when I was on a work trip, and it was AH-mazing so I had to try the other flavors.  I highly recommend them but they are far too pricey for me, so I'll be figuring out how to make them myself from the ingredient list.

I tried these when I was injured and eating all of the crap food.  They are probably slightly less unhealthy than standard cookies, but they are still processed packaged food.

We picked and ate our last garden watermelons in October.  Some were amazing; some were light yellow inside and thrown out.

I have perfected my oatmeal raisin bar recipe.  My husband devours these for breakfast almost daily so I have to make a huge batch to get many myself.

We harvested the last of our blackberries in early November.

We love baked fries!

Sweet potatoes continue to be a staple for me; the left one is topped with cinnamon and the right one with peanut butter.  I've been eating more almond butter but peanut butter is still my favorite.

One of many "injury treats"; this cookie dough shake was expensive but I won a gift card at work so it was free for me.

My healthy frozen treat, a smoothie made with almond milk, beets, frozen mango, and protein powder.

Not a healthy treat but frosting is my favorite injury food.

This was a frozen yogurt cookie sandwich from Orange Leaf, and wasn't actually that good...disappointing.

On the other hand, these mini-pumpkin cookie sandwiches were phenomenal...I ate the whole package.

I tried to eat a lot of healthy plates to promote recovery too (sweet potatoes with coconut oil and cinnamon, asparagus, roasted tomatoes, boiled fresh beets).

I found this at a local grocery store and craved it; the bread was very hearty and the ranch, although I am sure not at all healthy, really made the sandwich.

I don't recommend the caramel toffee, I DO recommend the peanut butter & honey.

Another one of my favorite snack combos: apples and almonds.

Sweet potatoes with cinnamon, beets, Brussels sprouts (Aldi produce special this month), and sweet and sour tuna.  I discovered and loved the pouches of seasoned tuna, which I purchased at Aldi but are available at any grocery store in different brands.

I used to eat a lot of veggie burgers when I was a vegetarian, but I hadn't had them for awhile.  These were decent, but I am going to try a different variety next time.

Cuties (also an Aldi produce special)!  Albani and I mow through these things.  They are tiny so I usually eat 4 at a time, and she has eaten up to 6 in one sitting.

Butternut squash, yellow squash, black olives, salmon, and beets.

When you're sick on a work trip and your colleagues bring you this...

...but they forget a spoon (the Indian was amazing, though)!

Second round of amazing Indian on a work trip. Two of us in the group wanted to eat Indian for every meal since there were about 6 Indian restaurants within a couple miles of our hotel, but we got vetoed (I would have fought to make it happen if I hadn't been sick).

The rest of the trip I ate Panera, which was right next to our hotel, because I was ill and tired.  I love their Pick 2 options!

Take 2 of Pick 2.

Finally, The Urban Cup in Springfield makes some amazing cupcakes (Italian creme, chocoholic, strawberry cheesecake, and pumpkin varieties shown here).

Since I resumed running, I've been eating well again (i.e., off multiple sweets daily).  It blows my mind how much different my food cravings are when I'm running vs. not running, even though I continued daily exercise.  I gained 9 lbs while I was injured (!!!), but before I got hurt I'd been somewhat run down and was 3 lbs below the 5 lb range I like to stay in - which probably did not help the injury-prevention case.  Good thing I started back to running before the Christmas treats started coming around!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

November Rain: November in Review

November 2018 in Review

Total mileage for the month:  114.3 (95 on the AlterG treadmill) -- in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357, September - 305, October - 10
  • Oct. 29-Nov. 4: 5 miles (all AlterG), 14:00 cardio cross-training, 2:40 strength training -  which is a lifetime exercise PR week.
  • Nov. 5-11:  11 miles (all AlterG), 12:00 cardio cross-training, 2:20 strength training
  • Nov. 12-18:  36 miles (34 AlterG), 8:25 cardio cross-training, 2:00 strength training
  • Nov. 19-25:  26.2 (19 AlterG), 7:00 cardio cross-training, 2:15 strength training
  • Nov. 26-Dec. 2:  52.4 (31 AlterG), 4:05 cardio cross-training, 2:30 strength training
Note:  If you aren't familiar with the AlterG treadmill, I wrote about the it here, when I strained a tendon in January 2016 and used it during recovery (also the last time I took any time off running!).  It is much easier than "real" running, so counting those miles in my weekly mileage felt like cheating, but I covered the distance so I counted it with an *.
Decorating our self-cut Christmas tree/bush in ugly sweaters & cozy pants
  • Nope.  I missed the Bass Pro Marathon, which was slated to be my longest long run before the California International Marathon, as a pacer for a friend aiming for her first sub-3:00.  I watched her win the race in 3:08, and watched three women I train with go 1-2-3 in the half.  Although I had mixed feelings about going to spectate, I had a wonderful time seeing so many amazing runners who are also amazing people. 
  • Nov. 8 - unstructured 6 mile progression run on the AlterG treadmill at 50% weight, starting at 6:58 pace and finishing at 6:00 pace (6:37 average).  This wasn't planned, but this was the first day my leg felt pretty good on the AlterG and I couldn't help myself!  Keep in mind that these paces at 50% body weight are much easier than "normal" running, but I figured at least it was practice with faster leg turnover.  This was also the first day I felt like there was hope for my injury. 
  • Nov. 14 - 6 mile tempo on the AlterG treadmill (5:40 pace) at 60% weight with 2 miles warm-up and 2 miles cool down, for my first double digit run since I got super injured in Indy!  I decided to see if I could fit 10 miles into an hour session on the AlterG and was successful.  Again, running on the AlterG is much easier than running outside, so I went by effort, although that is also deceptive because leg turnover, breathing rate, and heart rates don't coincide like they usually would.  Afterward I found the table below that says it was about 6:25 effort (which I doubt), but at the very least, this had to be better for my fitness than the elliptical or spin bike!
  • Nov. 19 - unstructured 9 mile progression run on the AlterG treadmill at 65% weight in 51:40 (5:46 average pace).  I didn't plan this one either but just kept cranking the pace down until I was at 12 mph (5:00 pace) for the final half mile.  I don't even run strides quite that fast normally, so my legs aren't used to the turnover, but it's so much easier when the machine is supporting 35% of my body weight!
  • Nov. 28 - 11 mile progression run on the AlterG treadmill at 70% weight in 1:02:50 (5:43 average pace).  This is supposed to convert to about 6:25 average pace real running, but after returning to running outside I don't buy that (the AlterG is cheating, for sure, hah).  I started at 10 mph and upped the pace by 0.1 each song until I got to an hour of running, then cooled down to 11 miles, making for my longest run on the AlterG ever (yay??).  I was working hard by the end so that's what matters I guess.  There is a noticeable difference between running at 60% and 70% weight though - and a HUGE difference between 50% and 70%!  Moral of the story: don't gain 25 lbs.
  • Full body strength workouts:  I completed my full strength circuit twice per week and also did 10+ minutes of core work more days than not.  
Long Runs:
  • None really, but I ran several 10-11 milers on the AlterG.  While it's not like running outside, it's better for my training than sitting on the couch!  On December 1 I ran 7.2 miles outside and tagged it a "long run."  I plan to get back to double digits outside on December 8 as long as my calf still feels 100%!
11 miles at 70%
  • Yes x 1 million...but less than in October!
  • The first half of this month was really hard for me.  I tried to remain positive, because the fact is that all of us are in need of some type of healing, and if anyone seems like they aren't it's just because we don't see all parts (or even most parts) of anyone else's life.  It seems cruel, but this world is quite imperfect.  I mourned the loss of my training cycle, my loss of fitness, my weight gain, my energy dip, my mood slump, and everything else that accompanied my injury.  I sure need running for stress-relief (I am not sure I could continue long-term in my present job if I could never run again, which also terrified me)!  I started and erased many posts about all of this, then I read this post and decided I couldn't say it all any better than she did.
  • Returning to running at the end of the month was oh-so-sweet!  I started back on November 23 (Black Friday) with 3.2 miles, after a false start 2 miler on November 18 that showed me my leg wasn't quite there.  I don't even care if I just run 5 miles easy every day for the rest of my life and never PR in anything again; I just need to run!  For the first week I alternated running every other day outside with every other day on the AlterG at 70-75% weight.
  • I have no idea how long it's going to take me to regain the fitness I lost - it does not seem that cross-training and the AlterG helped nearly as much as I'd hoped - but I am thankful for the opportunity to try.  I have put CIM 2019 on my race calendar, and have 52 weeks to train for that!
Life events:
  • The first weekend of our month was dominated by the Bass Pro Marathon.  Albani and I volunteered at the expo all day on Saturday, and then I watched the events on Sunday.  The experience had some bitter-sweetness to it since I was supposed to be running in the event, but was overall a positive experience.
  • We bought a power washer, and also re-did our flower beds.  It was far too cold for both!
  • I went to the MOABA (Missouri Association for Behavior Analysis) conference in St. Louis the third weekend of the month, and returned even more passionate about our science.
  • Thanksgiving of course.  We also cut our Christmas tree from my in-laws farm while in Kansas, and started decorating for Christmas.
Don't you read comic books while volunteering
at race expos?
Repping OMRR
This booth was a hit - they rotated critters about every hour
We bought these
Always take snacks appliance shopping!
Cousins at Thanksgiving
My dad in his brand new Tesla!
Farm fashion
Cutting our Christmas tree
Climbing cousins
Opting outside - we read our library books
outside on what might be our last warm day
More opting outside (it was 65*)
Mismatched trees are the best!