Three Friends

Three Friends
Three Friends

Monday, July 21, 2014

Beating Breathing Trouble and Pain - Naturally!

I haven't written on here as often as Spinster Beth and Slick because I don't always do the same things they do - but that is the point of the blog, right? I don't run, but watching my husband, and Slick and Spinster Beth, I am inspired to try ... someday. My kids would probably enjoy the effort (sadly, they wouldn't even need bikes to keep up with me.) But I am writing today about Essential Oils because for now that is what I use most for better health. 

back in January at work 

I have to share a story about a friend of mine who has been struggling with her health for several months. TLDR: She had trouble breathing, a couple of infections that were not getting better, an open leg wound that would not heal, was mentally and emotionally compromised by all the prescription drugs they had her on, and miserable. Read the end paragraphs for the changes that occurred after moving to holistic methods and Essential Oils.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Iron Girl Half Marathon 27 April 2014

Iron Girl Half Marathon, Columbia, MD April 2014
Picture by kind stranger

I did it! 2:31:22. 11:34 pace, which is rather shocking. I expected to come in around 2:46.

It was awesome. I am so glad I did it! Even in the last few miles, when I was struggling, I didn't regret signing up. It was so exciting, and exhausting. I'm still amazed I did it. I went from couch potato to half-marathoner! If someone had told me three years ago I'd run a half-marathon before I was 45, I would never have believed it.

Now, I feel like I can say "I'm a runner!" Not just "I run."

I'm a runner!

Nice Stats! 

The event started an hour late because some cones along the route were misplaced and the Howard County Police were concerned, either that runners would get off course or that runners would get hit by cars. At 0700, I positioned myself in the corral with the 11:30 pace group, and waited. Long story short, at 0730 we were told to go ahead and leave the corral and hit the portalets again. It was about 45 degrees ... imagine 978 shivering, mostly-scantily-clad women huddling together in a starting gate! Everyone was tensed up against the cold, so we all moved around and warmed up again, grumbling and grousing. At 0755 they herded us back into the gates and we were off at 0800. This time, I moved in with the 12:00 pace group, and I'm glad I did!

Pace at the top -- I am really happy with how even my pace was through almost 2 hours of running. The elevation is in green. That uphill just before 7.5 was ferocious! 

I normally run solo, but for 13 miles, I didn't want to run alone for fear I'd get too absorbed into every little ache or pain (or fall prey to negative thoughts). The two ladies leading the 12:00 pace group kept us at a pace closer to 11:15-11:30. It was very hilly, and we went up the hills at a faster pace, and caught our breath on the downhill side for the first half of the run (trust me, that's a little easier; sustained downhill running is very jarring). I had such a good time running with the pace group. It made it so much more fun, and the miles just flew by!

Not a 12:00 minute mile in the bunch! By mile 10, I was on my own. Mile 11 was bad. 

At the halfway point, one of the pacers said something about refueling even if we didn't think we needed to. To my detriment, I did not. I had four honey packets (swiped from Starbucks), a box of raisins, and some almonds with me, but I didn't want to eat anything. At mile 9, my legs suddenly started hurting (depleted glycogen stores?) and I started struggling. I started sucking down honey packets, but I was having to regain lost ground and I spent a bit of miles 10 and 11 walking. I was only able to stay with the pace group through mile 9, which made me kind of sad, but now I know--refuel halfway through, even if I don't want to.

There weren't many spectators along the main part of the route, except for the water stations every 2 miles. But around mile 11, close to the mall and the finish line, there were more spectators cheering us on, and it made it easier to find enough energy to keep going. The spectators were pretty smart -- "Only one more hill to go!" Those hills were terrible! The second half was mostly uphill.

I was so happy to see that finish line. I was really, really tired. It had gotten to the point where it didn't matter if I was running uphill or downhill, I was just exhausted. I was so surprised to come in at 2:31. I really didn't think I'd manage that pace. When I stopped for the tag guy to take my timing chip off, I thought I was going to fall over. What hurt the worst, immediately, was the boot camp callouses on the outside of my big toes (if you've ever worn Navy boondockers, you'll understand those callouses). I took my shoes off and walked around in my toe socks for a while, and wore sandals to work Monday. Aside from the toes, my I-Bands hurt, but today, 2 1/2 days later, it's subsiding. I might even run a bit Friday.

I honestly could not have asked for better weather. 45 - 50 degrees, humidity around 50%, beautiful sunshine, and a cool breeze. Awesome.

Here I am at the Iron Girl 5k last year.

 To my left is a half-marathoner. Both years I ran that 5k, I was in awe of the women who ran the half; to me, that was like running to the moon. In this photo, I wasn't thinking that I would be running a half on the following year. But every time I saw a pink 13.1 sticker on a car, I wanted to earn one too. It just seemed impossible. Me? Run a half? I could barely manage a 5-miler!

But I'm not this person anymore .... 

Sept 2010

I'm this person now! 

Navy-Air Force 5-Mile, D.C., Sept 2013

I am looking at the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon next. Runs through DC and past all the big memorials. September 2014! I'm so excited! Who wants to sign up with me? 

Thanks so much to everyone who supported me through the last few years. Running is a very selfish thing, and I imagine it gets tiresome listening to me babble on all the time about I-Bands, pace, complaining about the humidity, how hungry I am all the time ... thanks particularly to "Slick" from this blog, who bears the brunt of all my runbabble! 

Tillie, me, Slick after a rough morning climbing the walls in 2012

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Big Day is Nearly Here!

It's nearly time for my first half marathon!

So exciting! It's the 27th, at 0700. So just a few days away ... so what important pre-race matters am I pondering?

Hydration? Nope, there are 7 water stations. No need for a water belt!

Food? Got my Starbucks-purloined honey packets and raisins ready to go!

Weather? Supposed to be just under 50 degrees at the start, and might climb to 60. No problems there!

Parking? Parking is a cinch, right next to the finish/start at The Columbia Mall! (Which is home to the newest Athleta store, which I am doing my part to support).

No, I am pondering the most important thing of all ...

What to wear?!

The pink skirt has had a race outing already, the Navy-Air Force 5-miler/Half Marathon in DC last year. The "Woman of Steel" skirt has seen a Halloween 5k. The blue-gray is new and has only been worn for a practice run.

And what about the shirt? It has to match!

In all seriousness, I'm getting jittery about the run, and I am simultaneously enjoying the anticipation and wishing it were Sunday morning already. The one thing I'm not wishing is that it were already over, which I think means I'm really looking forward to it and not dreading it much, even though I've only managed to get up to 10.5 miles in my training (and that involved walk/run intervals). I don't have a time in mind (although I am hoping to come in at or under 2:45), and I am only competing with myself, and against the much-larger and terribly-out-of-shape person I was 3 years and 62 pounds ago. I don't ever want to see her again!

Last September, doing the 5-mile part of the Navy-AF 5 Miler/Half Marathon...maybe I'll do the Half this year? Who can say! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Halfway to the Half

 Seven more weeks till the Irongirl Half Marathon ... am I going to be ready? It's getting down to the get-serious point.

Ducks in a shallow puddle ... is this a metaphor for my training?

I was doing great till a few weeks ago, then I hit a slump.

 Train Tracks to Nowhere

 My doc strongly advised me to bring my added-sugar consumption down to normal (which is 24g a day for women) as opposed to the 80 or so I was consuming through granola bars, super-sweet yogurts, protein bars, etc. Have you ever looked at your sugar intake? It's pretty much in everything. You have to make a special effort to exclude it from your diet. I don't mean the naturally occurring sugars in fruits and dairy products. I am referring to added sugars. Nutrition labels don't differentiate between the two, so you have to look in the ingredients and find all the different words for "sugar." I don't eat pre-prepared meals, so that helped. I just had to go through my snacks and weed out the sugar.

Once I got the sugar intake under control, it was certainly worth it. I stopped feeling shaky/hungry all the time, and I lost 5 lbs very quickly. I feel much better now ... but when I cut back on the added sugars, I inadvertently cut back on carbs, as well. That made it really hard to train. I think I'm on the right track now, but I lost a few weeks in training. I was supposed to be at 10 miles by now, but I only managed 9 yesterday. To be fair, it was really windy :-). 

So despite that little setback, I feel as if I'm on the train again. 

Ignore the trees. This train is goin' somewhere!

Although I'm 2 weeks behind, I did accomplish most of yesterday's run without having to walk much. I did have to stop three times to get rocks out of my shoes, and twice to blow my nose (I just cannot manage the snot-rocket, no matter how hard I try). And of course, I stopped to take pictures. 

Here's my pit stop. Charming, isn't it? There's a lot of construction on base, which means a lot of port-a-potties.

I have no qualms about using a port-a-potty (Or, in this case, "Bobby's Potties.") This one comes with a nice little table I can use to set my stuff on while I avail myself of the facilities. 

My overshirt (which I put back on two minutes later because the wind was so cold) and my water belt.

So, how did I change my diet? I gave up all sports gels/gummies and replaced them with honey packets and raisins. It is highly advisable to stop running to consume a honey packet. I'll spare you the details, but it is hard to run and maintain steady breathing while coughing and choking.

Instead of peanut-butter granola bars, which I love :-( , I switched to packets of mixed nuts. No more protein bars, either -- between just those two items, I was slightly exceeding my daily sugar intake. After a run or a workout, I eat a banana and some nuts. My snacks are cheerios in soy or almond milk (dairy milk upsets my stomach), boiled eggs, and string cheese. The carbs are still difficult -- I still need more. I'm working on it!

The biggest challenge was my coffee/tea habit. I love sweet, light coffee and tea. But the sweet/light part had to go. I bought some Truvia and put just the barest sprinkle in black coffee. I don't want to rely on artificial sweeteners, but Truvia is from Stevia, I think, so it's natural. And I use just a wee bit. It's all worth it, because it's making me healthier. Sugar is not necessarily evil, but we sure do abuse it.

Seven weeks to go. I'm nervous, but the last 2 years have taught me something. On race day, everything is different. Race-day nerves don't stand a chance against the energy and excitement of the runners and spectators and music! It's just magic.

Told you it was windy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Think I Can ...

Train to run a Half Marathon!

There was a time when this sign represented something difficult for me:


Two miles was a struggle. Two miles was counting every step, eager for it to end. Two miles was hard.

Two miles isn't even on my radar anymore. Three miles is a short run. If I only run 2 miles it's because it was too warm outside to keep going, or I was in pain. 

I have signed up for the Irongirl Half Marathon, which will take place on 27 April. The Irongirl came to Columbia in 2012; it's a women-only half-marathon and a 5k. I participated in the 5k the first two years, but inside, I was wondering if I could ever run 13.1 miles. It seemed impossible. But then again, there was a time when 5 miles seemed impossible, and I dashed that off this afternoon after work.

Pausing Mid-Run to Photograph Two Curious Deer
I can't quite remember what pushed me over the edge of the decision to sign up for the half. I was kind of thinking of it toward the end of last year, then at some point I just made the decision to do it. They're expensive -- more than what a week's worth of groceries cost. But I think the accomplishment, in the year of my forty-(coughmumble) birthday, will be priceless.

I have begun to train. The route for the half-marathon is a bit hilly .... That spot just past mile 5.24 looks pretty rough! Then the entire last half is uphill all the way! Yikes!

So I've been training in Columbia's Centennial Park for my long runs ... steep hills, but not as long as the ones in Columbia:

Elevation Gain: 687 ft
Elevation Loss: 686 ft
Min Elevation: 316 ft
Max Elevation: 383 ft

I love Centennial Park ... once around is 2.4 miles. It's a gorgeous place to visit.

Particularly in the Autumn.

For my shorter runs, I run after work in the quieter parts of the military base in the next county. It's quite scenic in its own way.

Okay, it's prettier in the other three seasons. This time of year it's just kind of barren and dreary. But there is always wildlife! Deer, fox, groundhogs, geese, ducks ...

And a pretty lake...
The downside is the non-stop construction and the heavy truck traffic in spots. For one memorable week, the sewer lines were being replaced. Oh, the odor ... indescribable.

A look back .... 

My first 5k ... the Irongirl

First 5-miler ... Navy-AF in DC
 So far, my only relay (8 miles)
I am so excited for this half. I'm only up to 7 miles distance, but I have a bit over 3 months to train for it and I'm halfway there. 

So far my biggest challenges are dealing with my blood sugar issues (the family curse) and talking myself out of purchasing any more running apparel. Athleta is my biggest weakness ... and they're opening a store in Columbia next month. I might have to do like gambling addicts do at casinos, and self-ban.
First 10k (of only 2 so far) with Slick
I'm counting on you all to keep me motivated!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Natural Remedies for the Cold and Flu

You're trucking along in your work out schedule, hitting the gym regularly, extra rest at night... and then one of the kids comes down sick. You're in the clear - so far! - and want to stay that way. What can a body try using to keep the fuzzy head, queazy stomach, fevers, etc away even while taking care of the sick kid(s)? And what might help the children recover a little faster? 

Well, in our house, we use natural means over chemicals whenever we can. Late in 2012, we discovered Young Living Essential Oils to help us overhaul our medicine cabinet. My "Crunchy Skeptic" husband was not so sure of their use or that they would really work at first. So we kept the cold medicines, "sniff-sprays", cough drops, Theraflu, Vapo-Rub, and so on in our cabinet for the first couple of months.