Monday, November 22, 2004

I finally made it to a local high school track to get a more accurate idea of my mile times.

According the results, I'm running a 12:33 mile. Granted, this was on an entirely flat surface, which I think helps with maintaining a consistent speed.

I'm only runnning 30 minutes at a time now, and I'm perfectly happy to stop after 30 minutes, so if I wanted to finish a 5k I estimate that I'd need to work up to 36-38 minutes.

I had planned on doing a 5k in early December, but I might hold off to January until I can work up to the increased time. I could also walk/run the December 5k. We'll see.

A lot of the blogs that I read are writing about food and the upcoming holiday season. The tone is one of worry. I had never realized how lucky I am not to have this problem. The Thanksgiving tradition in my family is to rent a ranch house with some other families at a church camp in the Texas Hill Country. So while Thanksgiving for me has always meant lots of tasty food, it also has meant lots and lots of hiking. It's not a surprise, then, that Thanksgiving is my hands-down favorite holiday.

And this year, instead of just hiking the trails I think I'm going to try some actual trail running. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This weekend Rainey and I rode our bikes to our city's annual marathon. This event shall hereafter be known as "The Day the Nipples Ran Red."

I've heard of this phenomenon before, but Lordy, to actually see it in person was a painful sight. I stupidly figured that the reason so many of the men ran without t-shirts was simply due to coolness and possibly vanity, but clearly chafing is a serious factor in this decision.

Rainey and I followed the runners along their route for several miles, cheering them on. People defintely have different running styles: some trudge, some let their arms hang down, some run with their bodies canted forward, others seem to bounce like they have springs in their legs.

Then we rode to the finish line and cheered on the runners for about an hour. It was pretty inspirational. There was a father pushing his son in a wheelchair. There were mothers and fathers carrying their children the last few feet. Their were fat women and men. There were friends running their family and friends in. Their were people walking and happy to be finishing. There were people who worked the crowd and got us cheering with their antics. Many came through the finish line at a serious sprint, their eyes trained on the clock, obviously trying to beat a certain time. There was man who had carried a sign throughout the race that said "3:45". I watched him come in at 3:44:30.

The course was supposed to be open for 6 hours. Rainey and I looped back to the middle of the course and saw a few stragglers, including an elderly gentleman. I certainly hope they all finished before the cut-off.

Also, can I just say that marathon runners are hot!

After that Rainey and I rode all over town. All told, we logged about 30 miles. It was a gorgeous day and it was great to be outdoors for hours and hours.

I've continued my 30-minute runs and am trying to put in some speed play. I must say, however, that running has an interesting effect on my digestive process. The last few runs, about half-way through I start having serious stomach distress, so that by the time I'm finishing up I'm desperate to get home to the bathroom. I appreciate knowing that I can use running should I ever need a natural laxative, but I certainly wish it wasn't so effective. Will have to make sure I plan my runs near strategic bathroom locations in the future.

I have a free session with Rainey's personal trainer at the Y tomorrow. I'm not yet sold on the idea and am not sure if I can justify the expense, but I'm going to enjoy the free session nevertheless.

Friday, November 05, 2004

One more 30 minute jogging workout and I'll be done with the Couch to 5k program. These last two runs have been fine physically, even though I am struggling with boredom towards the end of the run. Even my high-energy Queer as Folk soundtrack fails to allay that boredom. I keep expecting to attain some Zen-like state of peace during my runs, but my brain (my monkey-mind) just keeps chattering away.

I love the way I feel after the run, though. Refreshed, alert. Righteous, even, though it makes me feel guilty and silly to say so.

I've been doing a lot of thinking regarding exercise and weight loss, specifically related to this thread at the discussion forums on The discussion basically warns that Weight Watchers is a low-calorie diet geared toward people who are minimally or moderately active, and that if you are more active you may need to consider eating more than allowed by WW. The reasoning is that if you combine low-calorie with high activity that you create too much of a calorie deficit and the body reacts defensively by resisting weight loss. Some posters suggest that one should eat double the Activity Points to stay on the right side of the fine line between weight loss and a counterproductive level of calorie deficit.

A friend has recommended her personal trainer to me, at the local YMCA. It's not something I've considered before, but the trainer is inexpensive (relatively) and has a reputation for being knowledgeable about nutrition issues. I haven't decided whether I'll go this route. Partly, it's the time commitment, and partly it's because I don't want to get my body used to a level of physical activity that I can't realistically maintain over the long-term, and partly I dislike gyms. I also have a mad frugal streak that really thinks exercise should be free, and pooh-poohs gadgets and gym memberships.

But, it would be cool to learn how to use free-weights. They gym has a pool, too, and a rowing machine (a Concept2) which is tons of fun and which totally fuels my secret dream of being on an Olympic team in some sort of obscure sport. I figure I have a shot in either rowing, archery, or trampoline. Totally possible. Yep. I'd get my face on a cereal box, but instead of Wheaties, it would be on my new favorite cereal, Weetabix. Yum!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Since my last post, I've done two more 28-minute jogs.

They were fine. I felt fine. I didn't feel like I struggled.


I find this very perplexing, seeing as how the first 28-minute jog I tried was hellish. But I certainly am glad to know that if I keep trying, things don't seem so dire anymore. It's a good lesson.

I also think that I shouldn't run on tracks very often. I seem to find running in circles to be mentally challenging -- i.e., boring. So it's back to the streets for me. If I keep up this jogging trend I think I'll subscribe to Audible and download episodes from This American Life to further help with my attention problems.

I also went on a long bike ride with Rainey Sunday to a local Army base, that's also an historic landmark. I love my bike. I don't know why I don't use her more often (my bike's name is "Chiska", which according to a co-worker is "pachuco" (Mexican slang) for bicycle, specifically slang used in the 50's in the Rio Grande Valley by Mexican-American hoodlums. It makes me feel like I'm in starring in a musical version of West Side Story -- except that it's set in Texas and all the song sequences are choreographed on bikes. Can't you just see it?)

I'm thinking of signing up for a December 5k. I just need to figure out the distance I'm covering now in my runs so that I can plan for the 5K and estimate the time for which I'll need to shoot.

One more week on the Couch to 5K plan, with three scheduled 30-minute runs, and then I'll have to start devising my own training plan. I think I'll do some research on tempo or interval runs. If anyone can tell me a place to look, please share, because I have a fuzzy idea about these concepts. Also, I've started using my heart monitor, based on a maximum heart rate calculated according to my weight and age. Somehow, I don't trust this figure, so if anyone also knows a way to perform a self-test for max heart rate, again, please share!