Nothing New Under the Sun

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past week or so. That's not unusual; sometimes too much of my life takes place inside my head.

I started running just a little less than two years ago. Over the past eight months, my running career has been spotty, at best. Every time I try to get restarted, life gets in the way or I hurt myself and I stop almost as soon as I've started.

So, I started thinking about how I got back on the road to fitness. It didn't begin with running, it began with healthy eating.

After I'd been doing well with that for a few months, I decided it was time to start exercising. Still, no running. In fact, I wasn't even considering running because I'd always hated it. Instead, I jumped into cardio, strength training, and yoga.

I tried running after about two weeks of consistently exercising and still hated it. So, I started walking for 60 minutes, 3 mornings a week. The routes I chose were hilly and challenging.

After two weeks of that, I gave running another shot with a new strategy. It stuck for 16 months.

For a while, I've been telling myself that The Runner's World Half and Festival, in October, is my goal race, wanting to cut a full hour off my time from last year. That would mean needing a PR in at least one of the races, which are all run on very hilly, challenging courses.

So, I'm changing my goals:
  1. As of now, I am commencing my month of six-days-a-week cardio with no running. I need to build some lung capacity and muscle strength before I hit the road again.
  2. At the RW Half Festival I want to have as much fun as possible with all the friends that will be there and get below 5 hours total for all three races. (Last year's time was nearly 5:30:00 total.)
  3. In November, when I run the Across the Bay 10k, I am going to try for a PR. My 10k times have been some of my slowest, so I don't think this will be a terrible stretch.
  4. My new half marathon goal race is the Frederick Half in May 2015. It's my current PR. I had to defer my entry for this year because of my lack of training but I have the time and I know what I need to do.
If I reach my June goal, I am going to allow myself to buy $50 of running gear, $20 of which will be covered by a gift card given as a birthday gift by some generous friends. I could really use a second pair of workout capris.

Thanks to everyone who's continued to support me as I've dragged a bit for the past few months. Knowing that people believe in me has made a big difference and kept me from falling into what have previously been years long exercise breaks.

Learning About Myself

As part of a leadership training program in my organization, I took the Enneagram personality assessment. If you're in to that kind of thing, follow the link and learn your type. Because used a paid site, we got in-depth results. Turns out, my score for Type 5 (the Thinker) was only three points higher than my score for 9 (the Peacemaker).

Interestingly, these types have a lot in common: the shared traits with which I most strongly identify are the tendency to withdraw and become isolated and the difficulty connecting with and expressing emotions. Apparently, Nines (which I grudgingly concede I probably am) often have trouble discerning their true type because their identities are so tied to other people.

Anyway, I've found one bit particularly fascinating: for both Fives and Nines, part of the advice for personal growth is regular exercise.

"[Fives] tend to be extremely intense and so high-strung that it's difficult to relax and unwind. Make an effort to learn to calm down in a healthy way... Exercising or using biofeedback techniques will help channel some of your tremendous nervous energy. Meditation, jogging, yoga, and dancing are especially helpful for [Type Fives]."
And for Type Nine: "Exercise frequently to become more aware of your body and emotions... Regular exercise is a healthy form of self-discipline and will increase your awareness of your feelings and other sensations. A body awareness will allow you to concentrate and focus your attention in other areas of your life as well. Exercise is also a good way to get in touch with and release aggression."
I've experienced this. When I was running regularly and eating well, I was so much more aware of my emotions and less overwhelmed by them. I cried more often but felt better. I didn't have the frequent headaches and nausea and fatigue that are probably related to the emotions I've been covering with food and suppressing with hours of television instead of feeling and releasing.

So, maybe part of the reason I'm afraid to get back at it is that I don't know which emotions are going to come up when I do. I'm not giving up, though, so I guess we'll see.

Did you click the link? What's your type? Did the description ring true?

Stop the World!

It's been close to three months since I've written. Everything keeps moving and I'm fighting hard to keep going forward at the same pace as my life. Let me tell you about it.
  • I went to Los Angeles and did my part to help with The Justice Conference, an event that World Relief helped found just a few years ago.
  • After LA, I headed up to Seattle for five days of vacation. Yay for a $120 trip to Seattle!
  • Upon my return, I learned that my roommate was moving out and I began the hunt for a new roommate to share my apartment. The hunt was, ultimately, unsuccessful, mostly because I didn't feel like living with someone I'd met through Craigslist.
  • My promotion, that took effect February 1, was announced to the organization. I moved up from Administrative Assistant to Marketing Coordinator. 
  • I learned that a friend from work had bought a house in Baltimore and was going to be looking for a tenant. I jumped on that train.
  • Once the decision was made to move into the city, I started sorting, purging, and packing my belongings. I also started daydreaming about building my own tiny house one day and took a few steps to start saving toward that end. Building a tiny house will also involve even more sorting and purging over the next few years.
  • Throughout April, I moved things to my new home. It took two full carloads and one cargo van to move all my things, including my furniture. For some, this doesn't sound like much but I'd like to be rid of at least one more carload, maybe both, by the end of 2015.
  • Last weekend was the final move - furniture and the last few boxes. On Monday, I spent about seven hours cleaning my old place. It's amazing how messy things can get after almost 2 1/2 years.
Things I haven't been doing include running (or any other exercise) or eating healthfully or socializing with people. Instead, when I wasn't packing or cleaning, I was lying around, watching various television shows, and trying to pretend I didn't need anything from anyone.

I wasn't keen on living in the city but there are some really good things about it, chief among them that I will be able to commute by foot every day. Soon enough, I plan to be a run commuter, making my morning trip to work my mileage for the day. I'm looking into a good pack for this purpose so that I can comfortably transport my clothes, breakfast, and lunch for each day.

Another good thing is that there are no fast food restaurants on my route. And, even if there were, I am much more reluctant to walk into a fast food place than to patronize the drive-thru. So, I'll be avoiding a lot of my poorest eating habits. For the moment, we don't have a kitchen in the house, so I'm pretty much eating raw veggies and fruit and pita chips because they're easy.

Also, I'm considering going car-less. It's much more expensive to have my car in the city and it's getting old enough that sooner or later it's going to need some major repair or another that will wipe out my savings. If that happens before I decide to sell it, I'm going to donate it somewhere instead of getting it repaired.

Life is changing and I feel like I've finally let go of the illusion of control enough to be moving at the same speed it has been. Stay tuned for more updates.

A Lot to Love

I don't go out of my way to promote many things but I want to tell you all about an amazing idea that my friend's twin boys brought to life.

I'm not sure how old they were when they had the idea but it was already making news back in 2012, when they were ten.

Ben and Sam are twins. They make twin monsters. Ben designs and Sam, with the help of their lowly assistant/dad, Ray, sews, and they have stuffing parties to get the monsters ready to go. When one monster is sold, it goes to the purchaser and its twin goes to a child who could use A Monster to Love - maybe because he's in the hospital or she's a refugee who just arrived in the United States.

I've admired the boys' initiative ever since I learned about it a little over a year ago but it really hit me today what a blessing their efforts are.

A college classmate has twin boys, one of whom happens to be named Ben. Less than a week ago, Ben was diagnosed with a brain tumor and, today, he had surgery. In order to gather prayers and support, another college friend organized "Wear Blue for Ben Day" because that's been "his color" since he was born - a way to tell the boys apart.

Wearing #blueforBen
I posted a photo on Instagram of myself wearing blue and mentioned that it was for my friend's son who was having brain surgery.

Later, I got a message from Ray asking for an address where they could send Ben a monster. When I told Ray that Ben has a twin, his response was, "WHAT? Awesome we will send two..."

Though I have no doubt that Ben will receive numerous cards and any number of gifts, I can imagine that his monster, made by another set of twins, not so many years older than he is, might become a little boy's treasure.

Every time I've thought about Ben over the past few days, I've been overcome by sadness - questions about why any family would have to endure this kind of trial - but, alongside that sadness, there has been the evidence of an incredible response of love from thousands of people, near and far, many of whom have never met Ben and his family - including two teenage boys in Colorado who make monsters.
These are the actual monsters being sent to Ben and his brother. Photo courtesy of Ray @ A Monster to Love
If you think of little Ben, please pray or send good thoughts for him and his family. The surgery went well, he's in recovery, and has even been alert enough to ask for things. His family won't know what kind of tumor it was for as much as a week and I'm sure the waiting will not be easy. From there, they will have to decide further treatment options.

A banner created for the Facebook event by a friend of Ben's family.
And, if you have any kids who need gifts, check out A Monster to Love. They are doing good stuff!

13.1 Training Group

If you've been reading my blog for any time at all, you know that I've been struggling with the motivation to stay active. Considering the fact that one of the two races I'm signed up for this year is coming up in less than three months, I knew I needed to get my act together if I wanted the whole experience to not suck.

Last week, I went on a group run at Fleet Feet Baltimore (FFB) as part of the launch of the Brooks Transcend. The shoe wasn't really for me but I met a new friend while out for a few miles and she encouraged me to think about doing my half marathon training with FFB.

My biggest concerns were money and travel - the program costs $129 and most of the group runs are at least a 20-minute drive from my home, usually more. Cindy offered to carpool, which put to rest one objection, and then I got my tax returns and a raise in the same week, putting to rest my concerns about the registration fee. Along the way, I also got advice from more experienced runner friends who thought a training group sounded like a good idea for me at this time, to provide both encouragement and accountability.

I was not into being awake this morning.
This morning was my first run with the training group. It was a fun bunch of people. I was in the 1:1::run:walk group. We were estimating 12-13 minute miles but actually ended up with 13-14 minutes. Since we did nearly six of them (about twice and long as I've run in months), the slow roll helped me endure the distance.

Posing for the camera before we headed out to run. Photo courtesy of FFB
My group of runners was fairly large and some people moved ahead while others fell behind. As is typical of me, I ended up smack dab in the middle of these two groups, running by myself. It didn't bother me but, apparently, it bothered the program director, who made me choose. She was worried that I was trying to keep up with the folks ahead of me. I wasn't, for the record, I was just running my own pace.

It's amazing how running with people made the time on the road more bearable. On my own, over the past week, I'd run three other times. Even getting in 2.5 miles was killing me. With the group, 6 was doable, even enjoyable. Someone else was calling out our intervals, so I barely paid attention to my watch. And, because I was not alone, I knew I wouldn't cut my distance short unless there was a very good reason.

I did punk out on one run interval but it was on a steep uphill and, since everyone else was jogging so slowly, I kept up with the group easily.

This "long run" pretty much wiped me out. I forgot what a lovely feeling it is to be tired from working out. I didn't sleep well last night either, so I ended up napping for three hours this afternoon - just making up for the time I was awake between 3 and 6 a.m.

I think I made the right decision signing up for a training program. Next money to spend on running: new shoes. Mine are worn out.

What helps you stay motivated?
Have you ever trained with a group? Was it a positive experience? Would you do it again/recommend it? 

Recipe: Vegan Cole Slaw

I just invented my first (on purpose) vegan recipe that is good enough to share! I've invented a few others that weren't even worth repeating, much less sharing, but this one is excellent.

I've been loving me some cabbage lately. Last week, I roasted some and it was superb. This week, I wanted to go with something raw instead. And what better dish for raw cabbage than cole slaw?

The challenge was the sauce, which is usually mayonnaise-based. The eggs were out with a vegan diet. Oil and salt were out with the Eat to Live Challenge. I did a little research but all the mayonnaise replacements I found had oil in them. So, I got creative.

For the salad:
1 head of cabbage (I used half red and half Savoy)
1 medium onion
1 apple
Carrots (I used 5 small ones)

For the dressing:
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 large clove garlic
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup vinegar of your choice (I used red wine)
1 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1/2 tsp dill seed
1/2 tsp fennel seed
freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Soak the cashews in water overnight.
  • Slice the cabbage, onions, apple, and carrots however you'd like to. I sliced everything thinly, including the carrots.
  • Drain any excess water off the cashews and put aside. Add all the dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add back the cashew water as needed to get the sauce to your desired consistency.
  • Add the sauce to the sliced vegetables and toss until they are coated.
  • Enjoy!
I made a few dressing recipes from Eat for Health but they were all so bland. This one is incredible. The cashews make it creamy and a little sweet, the garlic adds some zest, the lemon and vinegar balance the fat in the cashews, and the dill and fennel provide great flavor. SO GOOD! Someone please try it and tell me what you think.
The finished product is beautiful and delicious.

Midterm Report Card

I have been doing the Eat to Live Challenge for three weeks now.

That feels like a lie because I went off-plan A LOT this week. Peanut butter straight from the jar to fast food, I went off the rails.

Today was the worst. I ate Burger King for lunch and then Taco Bell for dinner. I felt awful after lunch. And the so-called "food" didn't even taste good. Except for the first few French fries, everything was either flavorless or tasted faintly of plastic. But that didn't stop me from making a run for the Border a few hours later.

My lunch and dinner tasted about like what I imagine plastic play food might.
It was as if I had to test it; I had to see if I could really feel a difference so soon, if it was really the food making me feel gross.

TMI alert: After my Taco Bell dinner, I felt so bad I actually contemplated making myself throw up. I felt like crap. The ability to avoid regurgitation is a point of pride for me, so thinking of doing it on purpose shows just how disgusting I felt. I expected to feel some effect after eating well for two-and-a-half weeks but I didn't expect to feel the impact so immediately. Headache. Nausea. Grogginess. And my skin felt tingly for a while.

Though I'd like to beat myself up for deviating from the plan (again), I'm looking at this experience as part of the grand experiment.

It's hard to get back on once you're off but not impossible.
Has eating a mostly plant-based diet changed my body in only three weeks?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. My body loves eating a plant-based diet and "cheating" has helped me to see what a vast difference eating primarily whole foods has already made in my health. Though I don't enjoy feeling sick, it has helped me recognize some of the "symptoms" I'd been experiencing for the past several months/years that have disappeared in the past couple of weeks.

Going into this challenge, I was not expecting to come out the other side a vegan but, with each passing day, I am increasingly convinced that it might be the best option for me.

I'll do my best never to make people feel like this around me.
Here's to renewed commitment for the next three weeks.

In Which I Wax Eloquent About Cabbage

"What a superbly featured room and what excellent boiled potatoes. It is many years since I had such an exemplary vegetable. To which of my fair cousins should I compliment the excellence of the cooking?" Mr. Collins, BBC's Pride and Prejudice
Brussels sprouts were on my grocery list this week. Since I was a child, they have been my favorite vegetable. I wanted to roast them, so fresh was imperative. As I perused the produce section of Wegmans, I found that Brussels sprouts were $2.99/lb. but plain ol' cabbage was a mere $0.79/lb. When I left the store, I was carrying two nice heads of red cabbage and not a single sprout, from Brussels or otherwise.

I discovered a while ago that I love most vegetables roasted. Cruciferous vegetables are some of my favorites. Until now, I've always coated them in oil and salt. Today, I just put a head of cabbage, sliced into eight wedges, into a 400*F oven and let it bathe in the heat for 45 minutes, with one flip for even cooking.

In the midst of the cooking, I asked my roommate if she smelled baking bread. When I took the cabbage out to flip it, I realized that my cabbage was creating that gorgeous, buttery fresh bread scent. Even before I got a taste, my mouth was watering. If it smelled that good, how could it taste anything but wonderful?

To make it a meal, I sauteed some tofu, marinated in Braggs Liquid Aminos, and threw some pomegranate on top.

Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The cabbage was a delight. Some of the outer leaves had crisped perfectly, adding a beautiful texture. The innermost leaves were the best, sweet and savory at the same time, while retaining a bit of the crisp texture cabbage is known for.

This is what it looked like. Love the deep colors!
I was a little annoyed when I realized that eating the pomegranate and tofu in the same bite as the cabbage overpowered the flavor of this exemplary vegetable. Because of this, though it was all in one bowl, I ate each element of my meal separately.

The only reason I was able to eat the last bite without sadness was that I knew the other half of the cabbage was waiting for tomorrow's dinner and a whole other head is waiting in the crisper drawer of my fridge.

Even if you don't like cabbage, give this a chance. It's a game changer!

Three Chips

I ate three chips today. It's not the first time I've deviated from the Eat to Live recommendations in the past 11 days - I had Taco Bell last Friday, a few pieces of chocolate here and there, and scattered spoonfuls of peanut butter. Those three chips do, however, mark the first time in this journey that I’ve eaten one of my “favorite” foods and found that it wasn’t satisfying. In fact, they tasted off, almost as if the oil in them had started going rancid.

Previously, I would have wanted to eat three more chips and three more chips and three more chips… Today, I had no desire to eat another chip. In fact, I just realized that I am not hungry at all, as in there is not a single type of food that I can think of that I want to eat right now. Considering the ginormous salad and half of a watermelon* I ate for lunch, I should not be surprised, but I am.

This not being hungry thing is a new experience for me. Even when I’ve been so stuffed full of food that I knew I shouldn’t eat another bite, that feeling often didn’t translate into “I don’t *want* another bite.” More often than I would like to admit, I’ve been at that point and still managed to shove justonemore French fry/bite of pizza/piece of candy down my gullet.

In fact, because of my seemingly endless capacity for food, I’ve never quite believed people when they stopped eating because they were full. I always thought they were enacting a crazy charade perpetuated by our culture of thinness, pushing away half full plates of delicious food to keep up appearances. More often than not, when I got a doggie bag, I did so because I didn’t want to appear disgusting to my fellow diners. I would often eat the leftovers immediately upon my arrival home.

That kind of eating had very little to do with fueling my body and very much to do with comforting or, more accurately, numbing myself. After a while, even when I didn’t want the numbing effect of too much food, it had become a habit I felt like I’d never be able to break.

I’m too wary to think I’ve fully broken the habit even now. Every day, I still think about stopping at Burger King or Taco Bell on my way home from work. It will take me many more than 11 days to feel confident that my addiction to highly-processed, food-like substances has been broken. It may even take more than 6 weeks. Yet, the fact that I did not crave more chips after those first few feels like a huge step in the right direction.

*Full disclosure: It was a tiny watermelon. I could hold it in my hand. It was smaller than a cantaloupe.

I'm About to Get Effusive Up in Here

I went for a run today. I readily admit that, despite my loud, obnoxiously announced commitment to a plan, today's run was my first in nearly two weeks. The days have gone by, I can't change the choices made in the past but I can move forward.

The three miles I ran today were the best in months.

The park was beautiful and nearly empty.

It was cold outside but the weather wasn't harsh.

The sun was shining and the sky was perfectly blue.

My body was ready to go. From the minute I started I felt better than I have in weeks and that feeling continued through the end of my run.

It was a true delight to be on the trail, feeling my legs and arms move in time to my breathing. I took joy in the activity in a way I haven't since October, at least.

Clockwise: A bridge halfway through my run; in front of a frozen pond at the trailhead after I finished; I love the park in the winter with no leaves; completely even splits!; NEON!
And, honestly, the only thing that has changed significantly has been my diet. Over the past five days, the vast majority of the food I've eaten has been unrefined plant foods instead of the steady stream of highly refined, fat-soaked food I'd been shoving down my gullet for the last half year.

Eating more healthfully has had a direct and almost immediate impact on both my desire to run and how well I am running. It's taking some practice and experimentation to make the food as appealing as I'd like it to be but I'm getting better and discovering some tricks that have made most of my meals delicious.

If you've been thinking about cleaning up your diet, I would encourage you to make the decision and take some concrete steps to make it a reality as soon as possible. You will not regret it.

Just Give Me Some Salt. Please!

Do you ever desperately wish that you'd never opened your mouth?

I'm feeling that today.

I wish I'd never told anyone anywhere ever that I was doing this (damn fool) Dr. Fuhrmann challenge because then no one would know if I quit. Perhaps that's why I announced it loudly and frequently to my friends and blog readers - it makes it that much harder to give in to my cravings for

A cheeseburger...

Homemade or from a great burger joint, not some crappy fast food imitation.
and a burrito the size of my head...

Chipotle would be best...
and some French fries.

Yes, those look sufficiently golden and crispy.
Interestingly, none of my cravings are for sweet things. I am madly craving salty, savory, rich flavors. Clearly, fat is pretty high on the ingredient list, too.

Hopefully, this doesn't sound like complaints. This is a choice I've made and I am going to stick to it but, I have to tell you, it's pretty freaking difficult.

I just keep reminding myself that, if I still crave them, all the salty, fatty, processed foods I want to eat in large amounts RIGHT NOW will be available when I'm done with this process. There's also the chance that I won't want them as much or at all and my health will be better for it.

Maybe I'm not doing a great job of sucking it up with running but I'm doing okay with food.

Now, off to eat my lunch of rice, peas, cauliflower, and acorn squash.

Three Days In

Dinner = a salad as big as my head
I am 1/14 of the way done with my 6 week Eat to Live challenge. A friend embarked on a similar endeavor recently and told me that the third day was, by far, the most difficult. I pray to God that she's right because I am not feeling that great right now.

There's nothing going on that concerns me but I'm definitely experiencing some of the unpleasant symptoms Dr. Fuhrmann warns off in his books: growly stomach, slight headache, occasional lightheadedness, desperate cravings, grumpiness, etc.

Fuhrmann attributes these symptoms to detoxification from all the sugar, caffeine, and fat consumed in the standard American diet. In his books, this is also called "toxic hunger" because they are signals for many people to eat something sweet or salty to experience the dopamine rush these foods, apparently, cause.

I only say "apparently" because I'm trying to experience the next six weeks as a skeptic and I haven't dug into all the studies Fuhrmann cites. So, while I don't want to take everything he says at face value, I am fully committed to following the plan for the entire six weeks unless a medical reason to stop arises.

I'll admit that my commitment almost crumbled when my co-workers decided to get take-out at our favorite place today. If I hadn't already been so vocal about this challenge with them, I might have decided to "cheat," which, for me, would have amounted to needing to start over.

There is room in Fuhrmann's plan for indulgences but, if I have the food I need available, I'm not going to deviate from the recommended foods within this six week period, no matter how sorely I am tempted. There is something inside me that wants this experiment to be as untainted as possible. Should get interesting when I'm traveling for work next month.


Later: I had a delicious salad tonight and discovered the beauty of Bragg's Liquid Aminos as a substitute for sodium-laden soy sauce. I need to learn to stop eating when I'm full, though, instead of trying to continue eating because I haven't eaten the volume of food recommended. Overeating salad is so much more uncomfortable than overeating chocolate or pizza.

Six Weeks

I am starting a six-week eating challenge that begins tomorrow. The principles of the challenge can be found in Eat to Live and Eat for Health, by Dr. Joel Fuhrmann. I've been gradually making the move toward eating a diet rich in unrefined plant foods for six months or so and, after reading these books, decided to try something more radical to see how it goes.

I'll write more about the particulars of the Eat to Live plan in the next several days but for tonight, I wanted to mention what I'll be eating over the coming week.

I've been drinking smoothies for breakfast since early November. I even took my Nutribullet along on Christmas vacation to continue the practice.

My normal recipe includes:
a large handful of greens (spinach, kale, mustard, collard, beet, etc.)
a banana
frozen fruit (cherries and blueberries currently)
a small handful of raw nuts
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
a splash of vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened soy milk

1/2 to 1 cup brown rice
1 cup roasted acorn squash
several cups cooked vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, whatever I grab from the freezer)
homemade vegan Caesar dressing for the veggies
an orange

a giant salad with:
1/2 to 1 cup lentils
fresh parsley and dill
dried cranberries
homemade vegan ranch dressing
possibly some sauteed tofu

I'm actually more worried about being able to consume this large volume of food than worried that I won't be satisfied by it. The lack of large amounts of salt, sugar, and caffeine will probably cause some grumpiness as I adjust to this different way of eating.

My motivation for this change certainly includes weight loss but only because I know from experience that when I'm carrying less weight around, I feel better both mentally and physically. I'll be rather surprised if I don't lose weight over the next six weeks and I will be weighing myself once a week on Mondays. However, a lower number on the scale will not be my sole measure of success; I will be carefully tracking the way I feel throughout this experiment, as well.

Wish me luck! ...or maybe discipline and perseverance?

Have you ever embarked on a fast or "restrictive" diet for a set period of time? Why?
Did you continue any of the changes when the set period was over? 

Quitting Can Be Good, Right?

Okay, I want you to do something for me. Close your eyes.

Oh, wait, don't do that! Stop stop stop stop stop!

Pretend you have your eyes closed. That's better. Now imagine me, all geared up for running right down to the Garmin on my wrist.

Don't I look sporty and cute?

Now, imagine me, that sporty, cute woman, throwing a tantrum. Red-faced, jumping up and down, arms flailing, screaming at the top of my lungs, "I QUIT! I QUIT! IQUITIQUITIQUITIQUITIQUIT!!!"

You can stop imagining now. Really, stop. I know it's fun but I need you attention.

Though the scenario I asked you to imagine never happened, it was exactly what was happening in my head this morning.

As I drove to the park in which I often run only to find it closed, to another part of the same park to find that there are no trails in that section, then home, with the thought of running in my neighborhood, to be met by a cold, steady rain that has lasted for the past several hours.

There are people in my life, people I respect, who will read this and be tempted to tell me to, "Suck it up." Feel welcome to do so, though I doubt the effectiveness of that tactic. In fact, I doubt the effectiveness of any tactic.

I know it's probably not true but I feel like I've tried everything to motivate myself, down to reminding myself that motivation is completely overrated, but NONE OF IT IS WORKING!

My ability to resist my own resolve is staggering. My ability to ignore all evidence that exercise is good for me, to forget how much enjoyment and personal satisfaction I've obtained from it would be quite impressive if it weren't also depressing.

Come hell or high water, I am going to run my half marathon in May. But, for today, I quit.

There Are Perks

I have a new favorite movie. I'd seen it on the library shelf over the past few months but never decided to pick it up until I saw it at Target in the $5 bin.

To me, the movie and the book are all about finding the place you fit without trying too hard to fit in. That may or may not make sense but I'm not going to expound.

Because I loved the movie, I decided to read the book. I finished it in less than 4 hours.

Stephen Chbosky wrote the entire novel as a series of letters from the main character, Charlie, to an anonymous friend. Charlie is a smart kid who has some trouble "participating" in life because of how a couple incidents in his past, one recent and one more distant, have affected him.

Fortunately, with support from his family and friends, particularly Patrick and Sam, and a stint in the psychiatric ward, he's able to work through the hard times.

If you're cool with some young adult fiction, check out this book. Also, see the movie, which, according to Rotten Tomatoes, is a certified fresh, "heartfelt and sincere adaptation that's bolstered by strong lead performances."

Have you seen any great movies or read any fantastic books lately?

Cautiously Optimistic

In the past few months, there have been several times that I thought, "Hey, I'm getting back on top of this running thing!" There have even been a couple times that I announced as much to the world. This post is not like that.

This post is a very quiet, "Maybe I've got this thing going again."

On Monday, I started the base-building phase of my half marathon training plan. So far, I've stuck to the plan. I've done four runs (three as part of the plan) over the past week, for a total of 6 miles. The buildup feels so slow and lazy but I can tell that my body really needs to ease into this. Though I would prefer to head out for a 12-mile long run tomorrow, the scheduled 3 miles will have to do.

The first three workouts, I ran 1 minute, walked 1.

Yesterday, I switched to a 2:1 interval. There was only one run interval that I had to stop early and it was because I decided to sprint to finish my first mile and needed a little extra recovery.

So, it seems like I'm getting back into the swing of things. Which is good, since I have a half marathon approaching more quickly than I am willing to believe.

I have been feeling a little sore and tight. Next week, I'm going to add 1 session of strength training and 1 of yoga to my workout regimen. The ultimate goal will be to slowly work back up to actively working out 6 days per week, preferably with some two-a-days thrown in the mix.

I'm planning on shaking some things up with the way I eat shortly, too. Stay tuned.

Are you in training for any upcoming races?
How's it going?