Archive | February, 2012

My Running Nemesis

29 Feb

Monday night, I almost died.

Well, at least that’s what it felt like.

I got home from work tired (because I had stayed up too late Sunday night) and didn’t feel like going on a run outside in the brisk air. So I talked Travis into going on a walk with me and the dogs, and I’d go to the Rec after dinner.

Bad idea. Remind me to never do that again, will ya?

My mistake was eating an antelope burger (they’re actually very tasty) and about half a pound of brussel sprouts for dinner.

Remember how I discovered less than a month ago that I couldn’t eat a salad before a run? Apparently that same thing is true for brussel sprouts.

Only this time, the brussel sprouts really tried to finish me off. I was running around the track at a really easy pace (11:30ish/mile) and I started feeling a little sick. Assuming that the ketchup on my burger had given me acid reflux (which it has been known to do, and of course I forgot to eat Tums before running), I was just going to muscle through. I was on my 17th lap (1.6 miles) when in the span of ten seconds, all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe.

I got off the track and sat on a bench, and I was actually really scared that something bad was happening. My chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it, like I just couldn’t inhale enough oxygen to expand my lungs. My face was tingly and hot, and felt like it had swollen up to 5 times its normal size (but I felt it with my hand and it seemed normal). This was exactly what had happened during my run after eating the salad, only 10 times worse. That time, the symptoms had slowly subsided on their own, so I felt okay to just wait it out – even though it was incredibly painful!

After about 5 minutes, I started to feel better. I sat there for another 5 minutes and then granny-walked to get my stuff and leave. My stomach hurt as I was driving home and immediately after I walked in the door, I laid down on the couch.

I felt ok for about 10 minutes and then my hips and legs started aching – like how your body feels when you have the flu. Then the chills set in – I had two blankets covering me and I was still shivering. Finally, I got the worst headache I’ve ever had – stabbing pain in my forehead. I asked Travis to make me some tea and bring me some Tylenol, which he did willingly. But it was hard to drink the tea because I had to sit up, which made my headache worse, and I had to take my hands out from under the blanket, which made me colder.

After at least 10 more minutes of agony, Travis suggested a warm washcloth for my forehead. I didn’t think it would help, but what could it hurt?

That was the ticket. My headache and chills didn’t go away immediately but by the third re-warming of the washcloth, my headache was bearable and I wasn’t shaking anymore. By the fourth, I was sleeping. Wonderful.

I don’t plan to go to the doctor because 1) I’ve had this happen before. 2) I woke up yesterday morning feeling fine. 3) I don’t believe in doctors.

No but seriously, I went to the ER once for chest pains. It was the same kind of scenario – my chest felt tight, I couldn’t breathe deeply, etc. They diagnosed me with acid reflux, gave me some meds, and sent me on my way. Apparently, the combination of chocolate, coffee and ibuprofen caused acid reflux to such an extent that the acid inflamed the lining between my lungs and ribs, causing friction which feels like chest pain. It took several days for the chest pain to go away. I had to literally sleep sitting up because it hurt too bad to lay down.

Then another time, I gorged myself on fried food at a friend’s house (hello sweet potato fries and arepas!) and woke in the middle of the night convinced I had to throw up. After racing to the toilet and sitting there for 10 minutes with nothing happening, I realized that it was probably acid reflux. Sure enough. I propped myself against the wall and was fine in the morning. Acid reflux is a weird condition.

Since my brush with death (I’m being melodramatic if you can’t tell), I’ve done a little research on acid reflux and discovered that there are more offending foods than I thought. Here’s the short list of Food to Not Eat Before You Go on a Run if You Have Acid Reflux from WebMD:

  • Meats. Ground beef, marbled sirloin, chicken nugget-style, and chicken/buffalo wings.
  • Fats, Oils & Sweets. Chocolate, regular corn and potato chips, high-fat butter cookies, brownies, doughnuts, creamy and oily salad dressings, fried or fatty food in general.
  • Fruits, Vegetables & Juice. Orange juice, lemon, lemonade, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, tomato, mashed potatoes, French fries, raw onion, potato salad.
  • Other Beverages. Liquor, wine, coffee, and tea.
  • Grains. Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti with marinara sauce.
  • Dairy. Sour cream, milk shake, ice cream, regular cottage cheese.

Um, doesn’t that include about everything? Except spoonfuls of peanut butter I guess. My most-often offender is tomatoes or tomato-based anything.

I also discovered this about heartburn (a symptom of acid reflux): “Heartburn usually is described as a burning pain in the middle of the chest. It may start high in the abdomen or may extend up into the neck. In some patients, however, the pain may be sharp or pressure-like, rather than burning. Such pain can mimic heart pain (angina).” {source}

So I’m convinced that my chest pains were caused by acid reflux. I do have a doctor appointment scheduled in March and will ask about this then (ok, Mom?).

Not one to be deterred, yesterday I was back to running. A 3.5 mile tempo run with Travis. I was admittedly a little nervous but the run was good. Legs felt strong. Lungs felt strong.

My takeaways from this whole situation are:

1. Stop eating vegetables before a run.

2. Go on a run right when I get home from work, instead of eating dinner first.

3. Avoid running at the Rec. There are bad vibes in there.

4. Take Tums before every run, even when I don’t think I need them.

I’m a slow learner, folks.

Have you had any brushes with death while running?

Training Recap: 2/20 – 2/26

27 Feb

I completely stuck to last week’s training plan, and even got in some extra workouts with my bike seat testing. Yay for me!

Monday: 3.14 mile easy run (34:27, 10:58/mile); 3 mile easy bike (11:40, 15 mph); physical therapy exercises

Tuesday: 3.18 mile repeats (33:15, 10:27/mile); 3 mile easy bike (11:35, 15.5 mph)

I warmed up for .5 mile, then did 1 x 800, 2 x 400 (approximate), 1 x 800, and cooled down for the last .5 mile. My 800 times were 4:00 and 3:59, which I was very satisfied with (McMillan says I should run 4:05). I definitely pushed myself. I didn’t time the 400s, since they were approximate.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 3.5 mile tempo hill run (36:32, 10:24/mile); 7 mile easy bike (30:00, 14 mph); 10 min strength

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6.24 mile long run (1:10:37, 11:19/mile)

Sunday: 15 min dog walk; 11.75 mile bike on trainer (45:00, 15.7 mph)

Total Running Mileage: 16.06

Here are my splits from my long run:

It was pretty windy that day so I was pretty pleased that I averaged an 11:19 pace. Mile 1 and Mile 5 included stops for the dogs (and I just let the app run but stopped my watch), so that’s why they were slower, and why the minutes don’t add up to the final time (though I doubt any of you were actually checking that!).

Verdict of The Bike Seat: The combination of a new stem and my old seat is still not perfect but it’s a LOT better than it was. I made it 45 minutes on Sunday with minimal discomfort, but 60 minutes would’ve been a stretch – although I’m not sure if that’s because of the seat or because I was so bored! I wanted to ride outside, because that’s the real test, but it’s been SO windy here lately. Nonetheless, this is a good enough solution that I’m going to return the $90 seat I bought.


Yesterday, I went to Walgreen’s and restocked a couple of my must-haves:

This Aveeno lotion is the only beauty product I “splurge” on (it’s $17.99 a bottle). I used to alternate between a heavy lotion like Eucerin in the winter and then a lighter moisturizer in the summer. But this one is great year round and it has SPF 15. They also have an SPF 30 version, but it’s the same price and a smaller bottle.

If you ever use lotion for removing eye makeup (it works really well), just don’t use this one. It will make your eyes water like an onion (because of the sunscreen). I learned the hard way.

I love Burt’s Bees – the original. There is no substitute.

And I also picked up some fun things:

Colors (l to r): On a Trip / Wet Cement / I Need a Refresh-Mint

This picture is pretty bad but the color on the left is bright purple, the middle one is a grey purple, and the last one is a bright teal. Can’t wait to paint my nails!

What is your favorite beauty product?

My Current Food Obsessions

26 Feb

Last Sunday, we had lunch with about 3 other couples from church. Ana Helena was the cook and as always, everything was delicious. My favorite part was the crepes for dessert. We piled them with warm berries, homemade chocolate syrup and whipped cream, ice cream, fried bananas, and walnuts. I am in love with crepes. Thanks again Ana Helena for such a wonderful dinner (we didn’t go home until 4 pm)!

As I was eating the crepes, I remarked to Travis that I need to learn how to make crepes. I crave them all the time. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized they probably weren’t that hard to make. Then on Friday I saw the Blueberry Cream Cheese Crepes post on Part-Time Housewife and knew: I need to make crepes.

I didn’t have the ingredients on hand to make her recipe so I used her crepe recipe and improvised the rest. (Note: I think it would be easier to combine all the ingredients at once instead of in steps, but perhaps that’s just my rookie thinking. The egg/flour mixture got stuck all up in my whisk.)

We don’t have much food in our cupboards or fridge in general right now, but I had thawed a chicken breast and we had a few marinated artichoke hearts left from making little pizzas. So we combined those with some garlic and spices. I also found a long-forgotten tupperware in the freezer, full of a soup that had failed but could be used as a sauce. So while Travis went to work on grilling the crepes, I prepared the rest.

Our crepes actually turned out well, if you ignore a few lumps.

I put the chicken mixture on the crepe, topped with some cheese.

Then I rolled them up, placing the seam on the bottom, and topped them with what looks like disgusting green poo, but actually is a pureed vegetable soup.

Yes, I realize that picture does not want you want to eat this. But I have two more that you will want to eat.

After we ate our crepes, we went to see Sherlock Holmes 2 at the cheap seats (and it was just as good as the first!) and THEN we went to…


I still had not made it to Yogurtland after my January of not eating sweets. The night we had decided to go was the day we got about 2 feet of snow and even though Travis and I slid our way over there, they were not open “due to the weather.” Single tear.

So I was determined to make up for it with this run. Travis kept making jokes about not going. After the movie, he said, “You wanna just go home instead of going to Yogurtland?” Um, NO!

And then when we got to Yogurtland and saw that it was the high school hang-out and pretty busy, Travis was like, “It’s too busy. It’s going to take forever. I don’t think we should go in there.”

“I will wait as long as it takes,” I replied.

This girl needs froyo, yo.

I chose 4 different yogurt flavors, and a slew of toppings. Travis was boring and chose 1 yogurt flavor and “2” toppings (it only looked like 1).

Mmmmm… I’m so glad that Denver has Yogurtland.

Saturday morning, I had yet another treat awaiting me. We had 2 crepes left over from the night before, and this one I determined was going to be a dessert one.

So I slathered it with almond butter, topped it with blueberries and frozen Cool Whip, then folded and doused it with chocolate syrup.

Savory crepes have their place, but dessert crepes are the best. It was good, I actually wanted to eat Travis’ crepe too and went to our bedroom to ask if he was going to eat his crepe. After no response from him, I decided that I actually was full. So when he got up, I made the same crepe combination for him!

I was hoping that my crepe and frozen yogurt obsession would be cured, or at least decreased, by these treats. Nope. I just want more.

What food can’t you get enough of lately?

By grace this love springs forth.

24 Feb

The other night in our church small group (what we call care group), our discussion leader asked us 2 questions:

What area in your life is encouraging right now?

What area is discouraging?

As I thought about that, so many encouraging areas came to mind:

I’m encouraged that I’m still running and my legs and lungs feel great.

I’m encouraged that I pray every day, and often more than once a day, because I want to.

I’m encouraged that I’ve finally found a daily routine that works well, and allows me to read the Bible, write my book and train for a marathon.

I’m encouraged that I feel more at home in Colorado than I ever have before – having great friends helps a lot.

But the area I’m most encouraged in?

My marriage. 

And that my friends, is something that makes me want to run around, yelling and screaming and skipping!!

In my last post about marriage, I talked about how Travis and I had taken up going our own ways on weekends. We asked each other, “What are your plans for this weekend?” and both did our own things. After that post, though, things changed. We still ran the same errands on the weekends. But we ran them together.

Yes, it meant things took longer. And that we spent time doing things that weren’t our first pick (grocery shopping for him, Home Depot browsing for me). But we were together. And we were having FUN!

We’ve also been going out on one impromptu date each weekend – which has given us time to talk, laugh and enjoy one another.

And those things have made something else happen.

When Travis comes home from work, instead of giving him a slight head nod and a “Hey beads” while I continue making dinner or changing out of my running clothes, I intentionally stop what I’m doing and go hug and kiss him hello. He’s happier because I’m talking his love language. I’m happier because I actually want to hug and kiss him (which sadly, hasn’t always been the case).

When I talk to him on the phone, I enjoy hearing his voice.

When he smiles and his eyes crinkle, I feel so in love with him.

We laugh over well-timed movie lines and inside jokes.

We watch the dogs frolic from our kitchen window, silently daring them to jump the fence (but stopping them before they do – most of the time).

Travis muses aloud about Roth IRAs and whether or not he should take the new job (he did BTW and today was his last day!). Instead of rolling my eyes, ignoring him, or lamenting that we’ve already talked about this, I listen and offer him my advice…again.

Travis asks me to come look at, or help him with something, and I don’t get frustrated.

Travis wants to buy a ridiculously expensive antelope hunting tag and I don’t demand the same amount of money to spend on myself.

I win a pool table competition and instead of running out to buy a new shirt with my $30, I offer to take Travis out to lunch.

The best part about all of this? 

I did none of it. It all happened organically, by the grace of God. I honestly look at all this and think, How did this happen? I surely did not cause this! This is not MY handiwork!

God did this. He inspired my obedience in one little thing: painting our front door. I hated that door. Oh, how I hated it. I painted it once, 3 coats of painstaking strokes. Only to have it peel off in my hands as I removed the painter’s tape. The door remained white for at least another a month. It took me that long to get over being angry.

Finally, at Travis’ request, I tackled it once again, this time armed with pink primer (closer to the red paint than white). I still remember standing in the hallway next to our kitchen, glaring at the door. I did. not. want. to paint the door again. I was done with it. But out of a desire to serve my husband by helping with a house project, I did it. And I swear, that was a turning point in the way I thought about our marriage.

Things have only gotten better from there. Yes, we still have disagreements and tension from time to time. But it is no longer the door-slamming, fruit-throwing, cuss-word-yelling that our marriage my responses once were (Travis has not resorted to my form of temper tantrums).

Which proves that I, unfortunately, do not have any marriage advice. Because I could not have written this story. God’s ideas are always infinitely better than mine, though often harder to understand. Why did it take me almost 5 years of marriage to get to this place? Why did God bless me with my husband, though I abused him for so long? I don’t know.

But I do know that the best advice for anything is: Get to know God. The real God of the Bible. Jesus, who died for your sins. He is amazing. And He is the only answer you ever need.

That is not just a trite saying. I don’t say that flippantly. I say it with the full force of my being and my heart behind it. I say it as I look back on 5 years of hating the wife I was and wanting to throw in the towel. I believe that God has the power to redeem and glorify any marriage, even ones that have been torn apart by infidelity, loss or deceit. Because this God – He ransomed us from our sins. He has granted us eternal life. Surely He can do ALL things!

Put Him to the test. Ask Him to do amazing things in your marriage. Stay alert to the ways He works in your life. He will stun you.

Though I am dry and barren

By grace this love springs forth

Love for You and Your kingdom

Joy in Your glory Lord 

Tracking Your Training

24 Feb

Everyone has their own preference for tracking their training. Some people keep it all in their heads. Others have complex, color-coded spreadsheets with different columns and rows for every minute aspect of their lives.

I’ve posted what my training plan looks like before but here it is again for your viewing pleasure:

Basically, I take Hal Higdon’s plan, put it into a spreadsheet, rearrange the workouts so that they work for my schedule (I take Wednesday off because we always have care group or ladies’ night), and make it pretty. Pretty simple.

What happens afterward:

I print the plan out and hang it on the inside of my bathroom closet door.

I stash a pencil in my closet and cross off every workout as I do it with a big X across the box.

If I skip a workout, I scribble it out.

I’ve used this system for all of the races I’ve ever done. I like the paper because I can look at it easily when I’m home (and I can look at the electronic version at work); I get to cross off my workout when it’s done (my Type A personality loves that!); and it’s easy for me to keep track if I switch days. If I do Thursday’s workout on Monday, I cross off Thursday. Then when I get to Thursday, I can easily see which workout I have left to do. There are plenty of weeks when I do every workout on the wrong day. But I’m really trying to not do that this time around because I do plan my workouts in this order for a reason.

After my workouts, all of my stats get recorded on

I’ve also used this program since I started training for my first half marathon in 2008. For each workout, I can record the time of day it was, what the weather was like, my effort level, how I felt, and add notes.

I’ve looked into other websites like Running Ahead and Daily Mile but I just really like MapMyRun. And now that it shows you splits from iMapMyRun, AND they’ve added the Gear Tracker back in (so that you can easily track how many miles are on your shoes), I will never leave. I am a person that if I find something that works, I stick with it. I see no need to keep reinventing the wheel.

{Side note: This sometimes is not a good thing. For example, yesterday, when I put on one of my favorite outfits, I looked in the mirror and saw it with “new eyes” – my cords had gotten a hole so I sewed it up with thread that wasn’t quite the right color and the sweater is from junior high so it has a quite a few pills and looks a little ragged. I realized that these might not be considered “work appropriate” but eh, I wore them anyway. It bothers me when perfectly good clothes have to be thrown out or not worn because they get holes in them. Although that probably disqualifies them from the description of “perfectly good.”}

Anyways, I love MapMyRun. The only thing I wish were different is that you could easily choose which Month/Year you want to view. Right now, you have to scroll back using the arrow button, which works but is time-consuming.

And last but not least, my Polar heart rate monitor produces a fun little report for me every Sunday night at midnight of the week’s workouts. It shows how many workouts I did, how long the cumulative time was, and how many calories I burned. Lately, those numbers have been pathetically small and since my chest strap needs to be replaced (which may not happen any time soon, considering it’ll cost me $35), my “calories burned” has been zero. Which makes a tiny bit sad – even though I know I am burning calories with or without my heart rate monitor, I like to see the numbers! Not having a chest strap also means that I can no longer view my heart rate during my runs. So I’ve been running them by feel.

Speaking of which, last night I headed out for my tempo/hill run after work. The dogs are always super hyper when they get to go on a run, especially after being cooped up all day, so they usually pull me along faster than I want to go and I have to keep yanking on them to rein them in. Well yesterday, my legs felt good. I was tempted to rein it in because What if I go out too fast and screw myself later? Then I thought, Negative thoughts be damned. If I feel good, I’m going to run fast.

So I did.

The last half mile was a 9:09 pace! The hill I ran seems so challenging in the moment but when I look at it on a graph like this, it looks like a negligent bump. In reality, it’s a 100 foot gain in .2 miles. So it’s not the worst hill ever but it’s decent. Add some ice and snow to the sidewalks, two impatient dogs that can run fast on ice, and you’ve got a challenging run!

When I got back from that, I took my laptop to the guest bedroom and biked 7 easy miles while watching The Biggest Loser. Meh. That show is just ok. Too much drama for me. I like to see their workouts and what they’re recommended to eat but that’s about it.

My 30 minutes on the bike revealed that my seat problem might not be totally fixed. It’s definitely WAY better but not 100% resolved. But I wasn’t wearing tri or bike shorts (just my running pants) and I was on a trainer (which just like a treadmill, exaggerates every tiny discomfort because it’s all you have to focus on). The real test will be this Sunday – I’m going to wear my tri shorts and go for an hour. Can I do it?

How do you like to log your workouts?

Are you a fan of The Biggest Loser?

Favorite Things

23 Feb

My blog friend Danielle is hosting a Favorite Things Link up!

Here are a few of my favorite things:

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

I have read this devotional almost every morning for the past 5 years and STILL love it.

All books by C.S. Lewis 

He was a genius. If I could meet anyone in person (besides Jesus Himself), Lewis would be the person I’d pick.

Nike Zoom Structure Triax

This is my 4th pair of these shoes and they still treat me well. Although, I recently read that the Mizuno Wave Riders are good for wide feet and high arches so I might look into those.

Quaker Oatmeal Squares

My favorite cereal EVER. But I only buy it when it’s on sale but it’s against my morals to buy a $5 box of cereal. Kidding.

My dogs

Even though I get frustrated with their bad behavior, I absolutely adore my furbabies. I think they’re the cutest dogs ever.

This race picture My Brooks Speedy Bullet Jacket

I have worn this jacket for every single run I’ve done outdoors in the past 4 weeks and have been surprised time and again at how well it keeps me warm, even though it is windbreaker thin. Worth all $108 I spent on it.

And that race pic from the Snowman Stampede last Saturday? Priceless. (Was I praying to not die? )

The Subaru Forester

I heart the newest version so much. And I feel so out of place in Colorado without a Subaru. That is the color I would want too. As soon as our Focus dies…


We’ve found two great places for sushi in Denver: Namiko’s in Arvada and Sushi Uokura in Golden. We almost always order a California roll, but I like to try new rolls and honestly, I have yet to have a sushi roll I didn’t like.


What are some of your favorite things? Head on over to Danielle’s blog and join the link up!

Eating Plan for Lent

22 Feb

Quickly, I just want to mention that it’s 56* in Denver today. Absolutely wonderful. I just want all the snow to melt already so that I can stop wiping off dirty dog paws!

On to today’s topic:


Ever since my January goal of not eating sweets ended, my eating has been kind of haphazard. I do really well until about 4:00 and then the wheels fall off. I get home from work hungry and have a snack before I run. Then I have a snack when I get back from my run while I’m cooking dinner. Then I have a drink or treat before bed.

I also discovered that while my tastebuds enjoyed my new favorite breakfast, my stomach did not. After almost a whole week of feeling incredibly bloated and gassy, I realized that the only consistent thing that had changed about my diet was that I was eating Fiber One and Uncle Sam cereal every day – often combined. Both cereals are high in fiber. And contrary to the hype that fiber should be added to every single food possible, there is such a thing as too much fiber.

My body should be no stranger to fiber. I eat  at least 3-4 servings of fruit and 2-3 servings of vegetables daily, plus plenty of whole grains. So the only thing I could think of was that by adding the high fiber cereals, my body was getting too much fiber. I stopped eating those cereals and within 2 days, I felt normal again. Travis is thankful that I am no longer gassing him out of the house (ah, the beauties of marriage).

Yesterday afternoon, I thought maybe it was just the Fiber One cereal that had been giving me problems. So I ate 1/4 cup of Uncle Sam with some yogurt. Bad idea.

Welp, I guess I’ll just have to go back to my trusty, sugar-filled Honey Bunches of Oats and Frosted Mini-Wheats. Such a hard life…

Even though the fiber bloat is gone, I’m still feeling meh with my body right now. Maybe it’s because I was running 10 miles a week and eating like I was doing 25? I don’t know. But I do know that I have found myself bringing my normal snacks to work, and within an hour of eating a healthy, well-balanced snack, I’m hungry again. I feel like I am always. eating.

When I read another chapter in Love to Eat, Hate to Eat the other morning, and the author suggested keeping a food log, I decided to try it, hoping that it would help me to be more mindful of when and how much I’m eating. Enter the food log:

Mine looks different than the one she includes in the book, mostly because there is no way I could fit my handwriting into the tiny squares of her graph. But also because I like tracking my food in meals/snacks instead of by food group.

I’m recording:

  • What I ate for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and 3 Snacks (including pre-/post-workout fuel)
  • When I ate it
  • What my mood or feeling was when I ate it (specifically if it was emotional or not)
  • How much water I drink
  • If I complete my morning routine of reading the Bible and writing
  • If I complete my training schedule for the day
  • Any victories
  • Areas that need growth

And at the bottom, I have these 2 verses that inspire me to more disciplined eating:

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:14)

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)


For some reason, I have a hard time believing that God cares about my eating habits. But reading through this book with a group of women from church, I am little by little accepting that God does care. Because it obviously affects me a lot and occupies quite a few of my thoughts. So my main goal with tracking my eating this way is to be mindful of when and why I’m eating, so that I stop running to food for reward and pleasure, and start running to God instead.

It just so happens that today is the first day of Lent. In the past, when I’ve given something up for Lent, it hasn’t had the desired result of helping me be more mindful of my relationship with God. But this, I think, has potential. So I am going to commit to tracking my food this way for Lent. 40 days.

Here we go.

Do you observe Lent? 

Living in the moment, trusting, thanking.

21 Feb

As I started my “day off” yesterday with reading the Bible, I kept thinking of things that I wanted to accomplish. Clean the house, run 3 miles, have lunch with Travis, work on my book, write a blog post, get my bike set up, go through old books, spend time relaxing with a book, catch up on DVR-ed TV episodes, get files off old computer… With each new thought surged the threat of being overwhelmed. There are too many things to get done! But I wanted this day to be relaxing! 

My ability to turn a day off into a stressful situation really is a remarkable talent.

I was able to stifle those thoughts, though, because of something God has been teaching me over the past couple of months. You see, I used to live my whole life like that. I was paralyzed by all the things I wanted to accomplish, and overwhelmed by the things I hadn’t even started. Just like with running, negative thoughts were my companion then too.

I’m too tired to accomplish all of this.

If I do this, I won’t have time to do what I really want to do.

Why am I always the one who has to do this? 

I don’t have enough time to get everything done.

I can’t do what I really want because that’s wasting precious time.

But God has kindly called me back to the present, time and time again, saying, Don’t look at the whole week, the whole day or even the whole hour. Live in the moment and do what is right before you now.

So yesterday, I continued on with my Bible reading, then worked on my book for 45 minutes, went on my run, did strength training, had lunch with Travis, made 3 runs to my local bike shop, and then relaxed. I watched Desperate Housewives, blogged and caught up on quite a few posts in my Google Reader. Did I accomplish everything I had thought about at the beginning of the day? No. But I went through the day peaceful –  because I was trusting God, instead of my own agenda.

Doesn’t this sound very similar to the idea behind running long distances? Don’t focus on the whole distance at once, or how many miles you have left to go. Focus on the present moment. Put one foot in front of the other. Trust your training.

As I was driving to work this morning with a feeling of dread, I was telling God about why I wasn’t excited to go to work, and it dawned on me that my feeling of dread comes from a fear that I’m insufficient. That I’ll be given a task that I can’t handle. I’ve joked about most of my jobs, “A monkey could do it.” But this job? And the job that I had in 2010 that made me so stressed? Definitely not monkey jobs. My job is challenging. And that’s why I don’t like it.

Not that I don’t appreciate a good challenge (hey, I’m training for a full marathon, right?), but I’m terrified of failure. Again, negative thoughts abound.

I won’t have the energy to focus when I need to.

I don’t know how to make the project go better.

I won’t write what they’re looking for.

I don’t have the know-how to be a marketing professional.

When I realized that, and started connecting the dots between the negative thoughts I have while running, relaxing, working, and just being, I was in awe. How did I not know that negative, self-defeating thoughts were so much a part of my life? They’re everywhere!

This is something that still stuns me: I’m a pessimist. All my life, I had been confused by the question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” (What kind of question is that anyway?) I just assumed I was an optimist because that was the good thing to be. Everyone likes an optimist. Pessimists are annoying. But that’s me.

{see the irony?}

But God has been doing a work in my heart for the past couple of months, ever since I started reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. On Christmas morning, I stood in our church sanctuary, my soul drowning in ingratitude, only focused on how much I wished my life were different. I started reading Ann’s book after that service. In the second chapter, she laid my heart bare: “Non-eucharisteo, ingratitude, was the fall — humanity’s discontent with all that God freely gives.”

After reading that, I saw ingratitude everywhere in my life. In fact, every single one of my struggles could be traced back to being ungrateful. When my schedule was busy, I focused on the one thing I didn’t have: rest. When I was reading blogs, I focused on my lack of readers and popularity. When I was running, I focused on my lack of speed. When I was hiking, I focused on my lack of breath. When I got Christmas gifts, I only focused on what I didn’t get. Instead of being thankful for a free schedule, I focused on not having a baby. I focused on not being busy when I was and on being busy when I wasn’t. I was never satisfied.

And I see all the threads of these struggles intertwining – my perfectionist tendencies, how easily I get overwhelmed, my negative thought patterns, my constant dissatisfaction, my judgment of myself and others, my fear of the future, my confusion about life. All these struggles are just different facets of one struggle: trusting God.

When I worry that I won’t be enough or that I’ll fail, I’m not trusting God to provide grace to me in my moment of need.

When I analyze my life and worry that I’m not living up to God’s expectations for me, I’m not trusting that He’s the One ordaining my circumstances. My days are in His book.

When I whine about my slow running pace or curvy body shape, I’m not trusting God’s loving providence of making me slow and curvy.

When I get overwhelmed by my to-do list and all the things I think I *should* be doing, I’m not trusting that God is intimately involved in my life, and working everything together for my good.

As I learned while reading Ann’s book, being thankful in all circumstances requires us to trust God – to open our hands to “all that God freely gives.” We don’t get to judge what we get, and determine whether or not it’s what we wanted or would have chosen. Instead, we get down on humble knees and receive everything that our loving, wise, faithful, good Lord ordains to give us. And then we trust that He will sustain us and give us strength to be faithful in everything He has allowed.

I have seen over the past 2 months that this actually works. Being thankful in all circumstances – actually being intentionally, mindfully thankful for specific things – produces joy, gratitude and contentment. I’m serious. Try it.

So today, I’m grateful that I have a job writing, and that God has promised to bless me in all that I do.

I rejoice that I have two legs that can run, and without pain! Who cares about speed?

I praise God for guiding me through each day, and for guiding my life as a whole, and for giving me these verses to savor:

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2)

“My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.” (Psalm 59:10)
 What are you thankful for today?

Training Recap: 2/13 – 2/19

20 Feb

Following suit of the past several weeks, this week’s training was a little on the meager side. But now that marathon training has really started, I am no longer allowed to blow off workouts. It’ll actually work out well because Travis has to work on his Master’s report and study for the Professional Engineer exam every night and weekend, and I can be devoted to my training.

This is a pretty boring report:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 2 mile tempo run (19:57; 9:58/mile); physical therapy exercises

Wednesday: 5.14 miles on bike trainer (20:00)

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Snowman Stampede 5 Mile

Sunday: Rest



I spent the majority of my day off today driving to and from my local bike store, Wheat Ridge Cyclery. I ended the triathlon season last year vowing to not ride my tri bike again until I got it fitted because it was just painful to ride. As it turned out, my friend D has done a lot of research on the angles and measurements for a correct bike fit and last Saturday, I took my bike over to her house and she helped me adjust my bike as well as we could without buying new parts. We came to the conclusion that 1) I needed a new stem that would bring my handlebars up and back and 2) I might need a new seat.

I was hopeful that my bike would be comfortable to ride without sinking more money into it but during my quick bike ride on Wednesday night, I only made it 20 minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a new seat.

So during my first trip to the bike store, I bought the Specialized Windie XC Sport (143 mm) for $65.

The sales guy recommended it because it had a long nose, which is good for tri bikes where you’re sitting farther forward on your seat than you do on a cruiser, and the cutout, which helps alleviate pressure on the pelvic bone. It also has minimal foam padding, which the sales guy said is optimal for longer rides – lots of padding will make your butt go numb after 2-3 hours on the bike. That is completely counter to logic in my opinion but I took his word for it.

I took it home and tried it out but while I didn’t have any pelvic pain, the seat made my sit bones hurt. I figured it was because the seat was too narrow and of course, this seat has been discontinued so no one has the wider size.

Back to square one. On my second trip to the store, I grabbed the Specialized Ariel Comp Recreational XC (155 mm) for $90. It still has the cutout but has more padding, which I thought might help with the sit bone pain.

It didn’t. And it brought back the pelvic pain.

I decided to see if a new stem would help. Even with moving each seat as far forward as it would go, I still felt too far from the handlebars. So I went back to the store (it sounds ridiculous, but the store was only about 7 minutes away).

The sales guy brought me a “80” length (mm?) stem with a 17% (?) angle for $60. (I know nothing about bicycles.)

My old stem was a 100 and had no angle.

That actually helped a lot. The second seat I bought still didn’t feel good so I ended up putting my old seat back on, just to see. That ended up being the most comfortable combination of the day. And if I can avoid spending $90 on a new seat, I definitely will.

So I’ll get back on the bike every couple days over the next few weeks and see if this really is the solution. I really hope it is so that I can start riding my bike on my trainer without grimacing!

What, you don’t ride in jeans and slippers?

Race Redemption: Snowman Stampede 5 Mile

19 Feb

Saturday morning, I did not want to race. I woke up with a slightly congested head and I was tiiiired. Travis was too. We were crabby to each other all the way to the race. The 5 mile race started at 9:00 and the race site was about 30 minutes from our house. I had wanted to leave between 7:45 and 8:00; we ended up leaving around 8:05. I wasn’t too worried about it because I wasn’t taking this race that seriously. The idea of beating my most recent (and only other) 5 mile pace of 9:59/mile was laughable.

We parked our car by 8:35, easily grabbed our bib and timing chip, went to the bathroom, and before we knew it, it was time to go. We didn’t have time to go back to our car to stow our race shirts, so we just wore them underneath what we already had on. It was 15 degrees as we lined up at the start line. I was wearing my 2XU compression tights (I think those tights have magical powers) with my UnderArmour tights over them; wool socks; a long-sleeve t-shirt (and race shirt) under my bright yellow Brooks jacket; stretchy gloves; ear warmer; and sunglasses. Even though we didn’t have a ton of time between when we got to the race and when it started, we didn’t feel rushed at all.

We even had time for a pre-race picture:

The first mile of the race was really congested. Travis ran at my pace and we tried to find a balance between getting around people and not burning up all our energy. There were so many people that we didn’t even see when we passed the first mile marker. The first time I looked at my watch was when I heard some women near us talking about pace. My watch read 11:38 and I really hoped that that was not our pace. The effort I was putting forth definitely felt like more than that!

Between Mile 1 and Mile 2, we could see the lead runner coming back on the other side of the river (showoff). I kept running at the fastest pace I felt was maintainable for another 4 miles. We got to Mile 2 at 21:38, but we were also running faster at this point than we had been at the beginning so I couldn’t really tell what our pace was until Mile 3. But I was satisfied to know that we were at least running faster than a 10:45/mile.

The sun was out in full force now and even though it was probably still only 20 degrees or so, we started getting a little too warm. I took off my gloves and ear warmer and since my glasses were fogging up (go figure), I pushed them up to the top of my head. Travis was glad that he was wearing shorts and wished that he also had taken off his fleece.

At the turnaround point, we crossed over the river and headed south along the other side.

We hit Mile 3 at 31:20 (sub-10-minute mile) and were still passing people but my negative thoughts reared their ugly heads. I can’t keep this up for 2 more miles. All of these people I’m passing are going to pass me back before the race is over.

Luckily, since I had been thinking about my mental running battle this week, I was able to fight those thoughts. Yes, I can keep this up for 2 more miles. I’ve already made it 3 miles at this pace. Just focus on the stretch I’m running right now. I can do this. I’ve got this.

Having Travis with me was a good encouragement too. (Doesn’t he have a cute smile? It makes me melt.)

We finally hit Mile 4 at 41:15 (another sub-10!) and I was definitely feeling tired. Travis helped me to keep my pace up and I noticed that I had started to run with my head tilted to one side (a sign I was getting tired) so I tried to be mindful to keep good running form. We crossed back over the river and I recognized where we were. The finish line was close… I could hear the announcer over the speakers. I could see hear people clapping and cheering. Then I could see the finish line through the trees.

We rounded the corner, pushed the last hundred feet, and were done. Official time: 51:30, 10:18/mile. 265/440 overall.

Looking at my splits, I think I would’ve beaten my previous 5 mile time if we hadn’t had to fight so much congestion during our first mile:


But it is what it is. I’m just glad that I got out there, ran a fast race, stayed positive, and didn’t give up. 

After the race, we grabbed some bagels, orange slices (my new favorite post-race snack), and stretched a bit. There was a vendor giving out samples of Athlete’s HoneyMilk (which I LOVE) so I had one of those too. Then we headed home, showered and made French toast. I ate mine with syrup and warm berries. Mmmm…

We spent the afternoon organizing our home office in preparation for Travis starting to work from home next week and I took a glorious 2-hour nap. For dinner, we ate Qdoba and then went to a friendly pool tournament with some of Travis’ work buddies. The buy-in was $5 a person and we had an odd number of people so I ended up on a team with Travis and his friend Dave. Our team ended up winning and then the 3 of us played cutthroat to decide who would win the pot. Somehow, I ended up winning. We did give Dave his $5 back, plus an extra $10, since he was definitely the best player on our team (and I most definitely was not) but I walked away $20 richer (not counting our original $10)! Sweet! Travis and I are going to use the money to go out to lunch tomorrow, since I have the day off. I’m thinking Yogurtland. 😉 $20 will buy me quite the dish.

I’ll be posting race reviews later this week, for this race and the Ralston Creek Half. The short version is that both races were very well-organized and I would totally recommend them.